1/27/17

HOW I MAKE AN ADVENTURE

Following up upon PatrickStuart, Goblin Punch, and JP Claytonian, here's mine.

TOO MANY IDEAS

I always have tons of ideas floating around. Always has. Some are for books, which I never get to write, some are fun-sized, they're for adventures. I have tables of ideas with small percentages telling me how much of this and of that has been done. I have ideas standing in folders at 90% and they've been at 90% for years. I have ideas at 5% and just can't get them out my mind, but I can't write them either. And if they've made it that far, to the list, it means they're solid. They're all good, they're fucking brilliant but they're like tough nuts to cracks, all of them, things that long for life but don't have a form yet, and go bump in the dark at the moment.

I have my regulars. They stick with me, and I never write them. And I have plans for them. I can't think about an adventure, I can't write anything whatsoever without being able to imagine it in my hands, like an object. I know what the adventure name is, and who will do the art, and sometimes what will be on page 56, and how. I have all this in mind, for each of the 20 or so of them. Like a fucking publishing house robot. That's why what you saw so far, RotU, MmoK, Castle Gargantua, and 71B are like the tip of the iceberg, there's a whole hidden world below, but it's coming out at its own pace.

Sometimes, it's nothing much. Like Castle Gargantua began because BECMI multiplied by 8 the HD of gargantuan monsters with this wizard named Gargantua, and that was insane, and I love Rabelais, and Jack and the giant, and boom the title happened in my mind, and I had to write it. And before I started I just remembered there was this idea number #7 somewhere about a megadungeon that's been explored so many times that the adventuring parties had become the real monsters. So I was happy because idea number #7 could happen too. And at the same time, I was pushing deeper my solo play systems after Mad Monks of Kwantoom, and refining them, and improving them, so I thought «hey, let's make it three ideas in one, Boom!».

Generally speaking, the thing that makes me take the step and tricks me into writing over 200 (digest-sized) pages is that I sincerely think that this all will be a simple 32-pages affair I'll end by the weekend. But then the « how cool is that! » effect kicks in and there are sections and sections piling up with new madness that I don't have the heart to break. When I start, it all gets in the flow and that's why I end up that way. And like everyone, I like feeling a sense of progress, I like feeling like « wow this one is better than the last one ». Every single time. I hope it's true but maybe it's not, and that's just me trying to put all that into perspective, and maybe there's none.

THE FLOW

The problem is that once the idea has started, I can't stop it. I see it everywhere. I buy books connected to it, I read them, I take notes. When I open G+, I look at the art people have done, and I think about how I could use it in my adventure, and how expansive the people are or reasonable, and I check their portfolios, and I look for fonts. When walking in the streets I'm like « Oh, this is so Rabelais », etc. It recedes after a while for projects that have become real big, but always lingers about, till it's released.

THE WORST METHOD EVER


Watch out. I start with the layout. Remember, I need to imagine the adventure in my hands, I need to SEE it becoming real. I usually start with a single piece cover PDF, then the book block, and that's how the files are named PROJECT SOMETHING BOOK BLOCK 1.4, PROJECT SOMETHING COVER 0.2, etc. So I start with a layout, and I plan ahead for all the sections, the titles, the subtitles. That's the math part. On the creative part, I keep tabs and notes about everything. Sometimes it's just a small notepad, sometimes it's heaps and heaps of notes. And I write, and do the layout, and connect with the artists, all together, at once. And then I write, from A to Z, in the pages' order, like a robot again, typing a bit too hard on my keyboard. Meanwhile, I take new notes, I hand-draw diagrams to deal with the back-and-forth interaction that's bound to happen when you do this. Details become major things, major things get scrapped, 100 pages of them sometimes. Idea number #17 connects abruptly at page 36, so I rewrite pages 1 to 35. It takes ages, it's beautiful, it's a process. The true weird thing is that, while it's the opposite of what one should do, this process works for me. I'm getting good at it, I anticipate, I handle multiple consequences and twists together like a Time Lord, so that eventually, I don't redo anything much by now.

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