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Stoneholme Vocabulary: Development Blog #1

write for AAW Games, design bible for Stoneholme

The demand for an Underworld-specific prologue that leads into Rise of the Drow proper has grown to the point we can no longer deny this project needs to happen! As a first step toward developing the Stoneholme trilogy into a polished setting and adventure on par with RotDCE, here’s a collection of vocab terms to aid writers in keeping to the tone of the setting. None of this is set in stone (sorry), but it can serve as the beginnings of a design bible for the project, for those interested in writing for roleplaying games.


Interjected amongst these terms are relevant notes regarding design and development that might pique the interest of readers, give some insight into the development process, and are useful for writers to keep in mind!


Continue reading Stoneholme Vocabulary: Development Blog #1

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Feeding the AaWBlog – 5 Points of Nutrition

ink quillHave you noticed the gold pieces accumulating on your account?
Thinking about submitting some articles to the AaWBlog?
Awesome! We look forward to reading them!

Despite the voracity of the AaWBlog, however, it’s a surprisingly picky eater. To keep this monster well fed, quite a bit of preparation is required on my part and there’s a few things that stand out to me when I’m looking over its meals for the week.

If you want to contribute, give them a look!

 

#1) Consistency
This is number one on my list because it was the first thing that came to mind, probably because I find it terrifically annoying. I’m not even concerned if you’re wrong (most people misspell demiplane, for instance), I just want to see that you are consistent when you are wrong. Coming across multiple different spellings of a name is problematic and troublesome, but more than anything it says to me, “I did not revise this.”

#2) Stick to the Style
Editing can be time consuming but it does not have to be time consuming; a particularly well-written adventure of 20,000 words might be polished up inside of a day, whereas a sloppily composed piece of half that size takes the same amount of time. Adhering to style and formatting guidelines makes you more attractive as a writer and shows that you put time and effort into what you’ve submitted. 

Celurian-Wishing Pen

#3) Variation
“George slashed the dragon’s throat. He plunged his sword into its neck. His armor became covered in blood,” doesn’t read well. While accurate and possibly grammatically correct, it is extremely bland and monotonous. Break out the thesaurus and use less common words, and take the time to structure your sentences in an interesting and engaging way.

#4) Address the Text
Oftentimes I will leave a comment about something being confusing, only for the writer to message me directly and explain what they initially meant. That is not the purpose of the comment; its intent was to highlight that this or that part of your thought did not come through clearly when read. Fix the sentence to read differently, or add the information that didn’t initially come through. 

books#5) Have a Dialogue, not a Debate
Nobody likes being told what to do, especially when their creative content is concerned. The mistake that many writers make is assuming that when something is commented upon, it is  necessarily to remove or drastically change it. One of my favorite joys of this task is when a writer comes back from a remark about a plot hole or what have you, creating a wonderful, complimentary element that justifies both while genuinely improving the material.

Storytelling, no matter how it is done, is a collaborative effort; the group you playtest with, the folks who do layouts and the artists all have a hand in how your tale plays out (even in oratory, how a listener ultimately realizes what you’re describing—that’s collaboration). A voice or two guiding you along, refining your work, is a valuable tool not to be discarded.

 

Do you have a contribution or idea for Meta Thursdays?  Send us your ideas (after reading the submission guidelines) to submit(at)adventureaweek.com with “Meta Thursday” in the subject line!

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4 things NOT to do when writing for an IP

Rise of the Drow hardbackI’ve had the pleasure of working with several different publishers, making material for use within a number of established campaign settings (Fantasy Flight Games, Frog God Games, AdventureAWeek.com, LPJ Design, Amora games, and more). If you’re breaking into writing and want to work in this field, I’ve garnered a few things from my (still comparatively few!) experiences creating content within the confines of broad, cherished worlds.

 

1. SKIP YOUR RESEARCH
If they haven’t sent you material for research or it isn’t freely available, ask for it. Even if it gets rolled into your pay a little bit, having this on hand will save everybody time in the end, establish that you are professional, and will see that your material resonates with fans of the existing product. Make notes for yourself (I made an entire visual Neo Exodus timeline) and refer to them often. Check d20pfsrd.com to see if any key creatures exist in their setting if you aren’t already intimately familiar with it
—you’ll be glad you did.

Immersion is the name of the game with this one. Don’t get your feet wet, jump in.

 

WORLD_MAP2. WRITE YOURSELF INTO A CORNER
That timeline should come in handy for this, but a good general rule is to avoid absolutes. Making something that prohibits the existence of another element (undead is the popular one here, but serpentfolk get slapped around like this too) inside of a world is generally something that the original creators have already made a decision about. That’s not to say you can’t break precedent (see below), just that as a general rule of thumb, you want to supplement an existing IP, not complement it.

Write to enhance the setting, not evolve it.

 

3. LEAP BEFORE YOU LOOK
Submit an outline first and avoid surprising the person receiving your material. While the extra content you designed might be fun, there are myriad reasons for why it might not be a good fit (a similar piece might already be in the works, it may be prohibitive because of something you didn’t know about, etc.) and that’s why this part of the process should never be overlooked. If you do end up adding more content or material than originally requested, make certain that it’s inside of the themes and aesthetic already present in your work and the larger library of material.

Clear your big ideas with the people upstairs first.

 

Image_Portfolio_1.14_Fantasy Butch Mapa 014. BE INFLEXIBLE
You’re playing in someone else’s toybox; if they want the red car, give them the red car and find a new toy. Be prepared for some of your ideas to get shot down or become morphed into things you never anticipated or intended. Try to improve the process by cooperating—collaboration can cause some truly beautiful confluences and is not to be underestimated. There’s a lot of sayings for that, but we’ll hold off on the metaphors here. Just be open to compromise—you’ll be pleased with the results.

Be agreeable and things will be agreeable.

003-Bedtime-Candle-q75-544x595

[EDIT] Ryan Macklin has a great blog post that went up earlier this week about pitching your game. It is fantastic and you should definitely read through it for your own sake as a writer. I will point out that when he ‘pitched’ Mythender at me, he did so while dramatically spinning and yelling in my face (which I don’t personally recommend, though it was definitely effective).

 

Do you have a contribution or idea for Meta Thursdays?  Send us your ideas (after reading the submission guidelines) to submit(at)adventureaweek.com with “Meta Thursday” in the subject line!