Thursday, September 16, 2010

Confession: I hate writing adventures and I'm not super good at it either

Hm, maybe one of those goes with the other.

Most of us in life would prefer to play to our strengths wouldn't we? I mean, it feels a whole hell of a lot better to WIN a basketball game than to lose it, right?

I've certainly done it. I even think I've done it well, but it's always an EXHAUSTING process for me. It's a fight. And these days, I know before going in to write an adventure that I'm heading for Viet Nam.

Huh, maybe that's another reason why I hate it. That's probably not the best attitude to have.

And here's the thing, I know exactly why I struggle when writing adventures, and after years of thinking about the problem, working on it, and growing as a writer (in my humble opinion anyway), I still struggle just as much.

Knowing what the problem and not being able to fix it, that sucks. Cue up another Vietnam analogy I think.

Here's the thing: I *love* writing adventures for my group. I have a group of friends coming over, and I am going to craft something to entertain THEM. It's like cooking, something I also enjoy doing for friends.

Having a group of friends over and providing them with happiness, and using that happiness to set the stage for a night of just enjoying their company, that is the most awesome thing in the world.

But when I write the adventure, I have THEM in mind. I know my players. I know every inch of their character sheets. Every quirk they have as a player. Everything they love and everything that will make them grit their teeth in rage for an entire game session.

I push their buttons. Play to their strengths. Play to their weaknesses. Craft the adventure to give each of them one moment of pure gaming enjoyment.

The minute you take me out of that space. Out of writing an adventure for a specific group of players, the entire process is banjaxed beyond belief.

I sit and stare at my blank page, no faces in my head, trying to figure out what the average adventuring party is into.

Dungeons, I guess...

...

...

And so it begins...

1 comment:

Desert Rat said...

An interesting confession, Chuck.

I too don't enjoy writing them overly much. I've certainly written them in the past (I wrote a whole campaign for Traveller 4th Edition, that sadly never made it to press, several con adventures, and a few other things), I think it's the rather strait-jacketed nature of the written adventure, module, or campaign that I instinctively recoil from wanting to write them, even though I can create them pretty easily.

When I run a game of my own design, I don't write things out. I create significant NPCs, cool scenes that I think would make great encounters, and a skeletal outline (no more than a sentence or two) of a series of events I want to take place. Some of them only happen if the players are there to impact. Some of them will happen even if the players aren't there (and may make things harder for the players later on if they aren't there).

I'm running a Dark Matter Campaign, and my notes for the latest episode (I run them in the style of TV episodes, with an overarching metaplot that the players have only seen hints of so far) consist of 4 pages of stat blocks for NPCs/beasties, and 12 sentences. That's it. and have of those 12 sentences will never make their way to the table.

And like you, it's hard to divorce games I run from what my players like.