Monday, May 26, 2014

The Black Knight and His Quest

I have owned a game store for ten years, but I've been writing D&D adventures for over thirty. I write them for fun, of course, as I'm hardly a game designer. I'm not exceptionally good at it, I just write them because I want a sense of complete ownership of my game. That sense of ownership should be familiar to many of you. It's the reason why my customers tell me they don't buy adventures, regardless of their quality.

Could my gaming material be published? Maybe. I've been published before in other genres, and believe me, it holds little allure for me. It's damn hard work and it's not enjoyable. I'm the last person to publish a vanity product. Yes, I write an endless number of blog posts, but I enjoy that and it's on my terms. That said, it would be pretty amazing to have my own amateur D&D adventure published, just for fun. It combines my trade with my love of creating such things.

Even better, because I don't need my ego in this process (despite this post), and I want it to be amazing, I've handed my adventure over to Amber Scott. Amber is my favorite Pathfinder designer, known for deep insights in her RPG writing, something I attempt to include in my home game. It keeps me engaged. After decades, orcs and goblins hold little interest unless they're part of some intricate conspiracy.

The adventure is featured in our Kickstarter campaign. You can get it when it's published starting at the $25 "My Store" pledge level.

The Black Pit (Pathfinder compatible adventure, 32 pages, title is a placeholder)
Designed for four to six PCs of level 6. By the end of the module, the PCs should be midway between levels 7 and 8.
By Amber Scott

When I wrote The Pit adventure, I wrote it for my own group, in the context of my campaign. I spent many hours cleaning it up before I submitted it to Kobold Quarterly the month before they stopped publishing. I sent it over with the full knowledge that it needed work. Stripping out my context left it flat, sanitized. Someone would need to fix that. Someone not me. It was worth fixing though. It had some good ideas gleaned from lots of research on salt mines.

So Amber will make the adventure good, meaning useful, well rounded, insightful and more compliant with the rules of the game. I've already received an outline from her and man, it's like seeing your kid do something great. It's not you, but you had something to do with raising them.

Coming up with an idea and giving it to someone like Amber is all I need from the RPG publishing world. It feels like a capstone to my ten years selling such things.  It will be awesome, which is both a conceit that I know I've got a good concept, and knowledge of Amber's expertise. Giving it away as an exclusive Kickstarter reward makes it all the more special to me. I'm tempted to have it printed, but nope! Kickstarter reward exclusive.

What's it About?

(Highly subject to change -- Amber insists I stress this)

It starts in a small town, ravaged by an ancient enemy. A salt dragon from the local mine has awakened and has begun raiding cattle, abducting townsfolk, and worse, salting the fields with its briny breath. That's just mean. The mine is a potentially valuable location for the town, with salt worth nearly as much as gold, if it could be mined once again. It has been a long time since anyone has mined the "black diamonds" within, a rare, blackish purple, crystalline salt worth a fortune to the local trade consortium.

Also, a wealthy noble in town reports that his ancestors haunt him in his sleep. They were patients at the old sanitarium at the mine. If the spirits of his ancestors could be put to rest, there is a big reward in it for the adventurers. I'm sure the rumors of strange goings on and dabbling with alien magic are all hogwash. It's said they tried some pretty freaky things to save the lives of those poor souls, sick from a malady that no divine magic could cure.

King Maedoch, The Black Knight, is sending the adventurers on their mission. This dour leader barely keeps the failing town together, forgoing his shining armor and wearing black, he says, until the enemies of the town are completely vanquished. He speaks in barely a whisper and has no patience for adventurer shenanigans (think Edward James Olmos as Lieutenant Castillo from Miami Vice).

There are many challenges to overcome on this quest. Travel will take the party over The Wall, the farthest vestiges of civilization. It was once a punishment to man The Wall, one step away from a short life in the salt mine. The men of The Wall wore shackles around their ankles, not because they were prisoners. No, they wore shackles because the songs of the harpies would make them step off The Wall to their deaths, or worse, they would be plucked from the walls and taken away by the foul beasts.

The party will travel beyond The Wall, past the ancient lighthouse and deep into The Forest of Pillars, where they'll have to avoid The Silent Stalkers, a village, supposedly of primitive canibals, along with the previously mentioned harpies that infest the tall monolith cliffs. If they're lucky, they'll make it to The Pit without the salt dragon noticing as well.

It seems nearly impossible, but the rewards are tremendous. Liberating the salt mine will not only enrich the adventurers and help put the dead to rest, it will revive the failing town with revenue for years to come. There is also talk of the treasures once collected by the commandant of the mine, that are likely still there. You are the towns last hope. The Black Knight is counting on you.

Again, highly subject to change. Also, if you like the topic, check out:

Salt: A World History
The Wieliczka Salt Mine

And of course, you can help us publish The Pit by backing the Kickstarter.

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