|My first edit copy of Tombstones of Terror|
photograph by Dylan Hartwell
By this I mean there are dungeons to explore, monsters to kill, loot to collect, and a town to save. I normally use all original monsters that I've created, but with Tombstones I'm reaching out to the core bestiary of Labyrinth Lord. I've also included random town encounters, which is something I rarely do.
In fact, as I flipped through my edit copy today I was struck by how my process of creating a published adventure has changed from my first release. I suppose I'm getting better in many ways, but after having gone through the largely self-imposed discipline of my own process six times, I may be ready to re-think some of my standard procedures.
For example, I always make my own monsters and flesh out lots of NPCs. I may try to start relying on the standard monsters and sprinkle in my own original beasts. Instead of writing up lots of NPCs, I may start creating random encounter tables and, again, use NPCs sparingly. I'm starting to see that I can save a lot of space by going this route. I'm also redesigning my monster stat block format horizontally instead of what I consider the more traditional vertical orientation. This format change alone significantly increases the density of my products.
Since I love the print versions of my work far more than the electronic, I typically limit myself to 36 pages. At that amount I can print, package, and ship at a far more affordable price than otherwise. I can't diminish the print size, or compromise on other text features, so this is one area to increase bang for buck. However, no matter what I do or don't do, the final product has to pass my own ideals of utility and aesthetic. I will always want to go back and edit published work and tweak a thing or two, but I'm happy to reflect that none of my print products have passed from me to you without a little bit of my own heart included. I don't think my games are awesome, but I happen to think they're worth the few bucks that I charge to make back my printing and shipping fees.
I like to branch out and try something a little different with each of my products. This one is no different. With Tombstones, I'm trying to create a print-specific layout that is very tabletop friendly. The seven maps open with the room descriptors all on one page on the other side of the seam. Doing this is exciting, but a little difficult on the layout/logic side of things. Just when I think I've got layout all set, a single word can throw my entire alignment off in a cascading chain of dominoes.
Something else that's very different is something I didn't plan on at all. Pete Spahn at Small Niche Games suggested I submit part of my next project as an addition to their Brave the Labyrinth (BtL) second issue. So I did. I submitted a single map and key, along with a little art from Tombstones, for publication and he accepted it. Because part of Tombstones is going to be in a published product soon, I'm going to push the release date of Tombstones of Terror to October. I don't want to compete with BtL and I find the Halloween release date far more appropriate. In fact, I'm even going so far as to completely redesign my cover of Tombstones so as to better accommodate what has become my favorite holiday of the year.
So, Constant Reader, the bottom line is that you'll have to wait a few more weeks before you can get your hands on my next product. However, in so waiting you will get a free sneak peak into the crazy world of the Digital Orc via Brave the Labyrinth issue 2. As always, thanks for your time and attention. I hope you feel both well spent.