A place wherein this Dwarven Cleric can share his love of maps, dice, miniatures, and all things involving gaming and general geekery--not to mention the occasional witty non-gaming observations--whilst escaping from the humdrum existence of his routine Terran existence.

Hail and Well Met, fellow traveler! May my Stronghold provide a place for enlightenment and amusement, and somewhere to keep your dice dry. Enter and rest awhile.

06 October 2011

Recap: OSR Challenge September 2011

This post has taken me nearly a week to finish, thanks to illness and being smashed by work at the office.

But wow.

I can breathe again.

Looking back at September, it was a wild month. I dealt with a lot of personal stuff, not the least of which was writer's block, and yet I still managed my goal of 26 short adventures.

Before I go any further, I would be remiss if I didn't (1) thank /Matt at Asshat Paladins for the original idea and (2) congratulate all those who made it through September alive.

A few thoughts below....
Here's the idea and rules as originally set forth by /Matt:
(ORIGINAL POST: July 14th)
This September, I challenge the osr blogosphere to present a month of short adventures, one a day for 25 days. And not just any short adventures, either. Adventures that don't require maps or too much descriptive text or even huge NPCs lists. I challenge you to write minimalist adventures that can be used straight from the post.

Can you write a bare-bones adventure that allows the GMs to add their own fluff? Can you avoid piling it high with extras that they're not going to be interested in using? Can you minimize wasted material that'll never even be show-cased in the game? Then take the osr Challenge!
Where do I start?
  1. It was harder in some respects than I expected. I went into it thinking, "This will be easy; I have all my rooms pre-generated and they're all contained in a certain type of locale. All I have to do is fill in the blanks." That notion was quickly proven incorrect. I think I limited myself unnecessarily; there were times when I thought of a great idea and then said, "No. I've already done something similar" or "No, there's no way to squeeze that idea into a dwarven stronghold" or even "Ugh. Why did I start doing this in the first place?" If I had it to do over again, I probably would open it up a bit more and figure a broader locale to set these in.

    The writer's block didn't help much either. A person who has not truly experienced long-term writer's block just won't understand what it's like. It's difficult to begin to explain to someone who hasn't experienced it, and to explain it fully is nigh impossible.

    In addition, it didn't help that I never bothered counting the number of days I needed to fill. /Matt originally suggested skipping Thursdays; for personal reasons I chose to skip Sundays. /Matt set forth the goal of 25 days, the number of days in the month less five (5) Thursdays. I did not stop to think that there were only four (4) Sundays. That leaves 26 days needing Short Adventures. That realization didn't strike until I put the final touches on #25 and sat back thinking, "I did it. I'm done. I don't have to think any more today." And then my eye glanced at the calendar and my mind started counting. And re-counting. I think I honestly counted the days four or five different ways and times. And then I almost wept.

  2. It was easier in some respects than I expected. I was actually kind of impressed how the ideas flowed once I got started. I'm a long-time veteran of NaNoWriMo (I'm assuming most of you know what that is; if you don't check the link. I'll be here waiting for you.) and as a veteran, I've experienced those times when the novel starts writing itself and where the characters start acting like living creatures. I had never experienced that in working on creating an RPG setting, however. It was a fantastic feeling.

  3. I made some mistakes. There were some weak adventures, I will freely admit that. I resorted to "the easy way out" on occasion just to get in and out for the daily post.

    I should have kept more current than I did, even with the writer's block. This is where my NaNoWriMo experience torpedoed me: every November I'm used to getting a day or two behind and then surging forward with one massive chunk of writing. This tactic didn't serve me so well in this instance; perhaps if I was working on one cohesive body of RPG work. However, trying to do individual, unrelated short adventures? It led to shortcuts, burnout, and substandard work, in my opinion.

    One mistake I made, which followed immediately from my mis-counting, was one that I told myself all September I would not make. I intentionally avoided going to any of my co-participant's sites because I did not want to read their adventures. If I went to their site and found that the post I was looking at was for the OSR Challenge, I moved on immediately. You see, I didn't want my creative well compromised by someone else's work; I didn't want to reach into my bag of tricks and unconsciously pull out someone else's wand of magic missles. That all ended on September 30; I thought I was finished up and jumped to /Matt's site and read his most recent post. Then I realized I was missing one last room in the stronghold; from that point on all I could think of was summoning and demons. I've already apologized to /Matt in an earlier post, but I want to do so again and give this bit of an explanation--it's not an excuse, just an explanation. Any plagiarism there, no matter the size, was unintended.

    I also made the mistake of not following the basic rules as closely as I should have. Some of the adventures were not as bare-boned as they should have been. I will admit to adding more fluff in some of them than most of you probably wanted. There were some things that probably were irrelevant to the story, and maybe too much detail that would never have cause to be discovered in game-time. I want to apologize for this, but I find it hard to do; I just had too much danged fun doing the Challenge.

  4. You like me, you really like me. It was nice to know that I had and have something to contribute to the hobby. Receiving feedback from OSR bloggers that I've read and respected for several years was a huge boost to my ego and to my self-confidence. For that, I am extremely grateful. Knowing that my contributions to the hobby are being read makes me want to work on improving every aspect of my writing game: ideas, hooks, mechanics, mapping--all of it needs to improve and now I have some additional motivation. So, thanks to all of you who read, whether you left me feedback or not.

That about wraps it up; I was looking forward to working on this in October, but alas, it was not meant to be. Perhaps next year.

What's next? Well, I want to go through and clean up the September Challenge Short Adventures a bit. I need to add in some of those LONG NPC stat blocks for a few more NPCs. (My NPC background posts for the Short Adventures kind of took a back seat at one point; when I realized how short my time was and compared that to how long the NPC stat block posts took to draft, not to mention the NPC backstories, I decided that something had to break and the NPC posts were it. But a couple of them, at least, are crying to have their stories told.) I may want to flesh out some of the magic items and the NPCs that I mentioned in passing that really didn't have anything significant to do with the Short Adventures. Once the clean up is done and all the important NPCs have their stories told, then I plan on PDFing them together for download. So, I have my work cut out for me.

Once again, thanks for the idea, /Matt, as well as all the work you've done on this. /Matt really does deserve some kudos: he's compiled all of the September Short Adventures into groups for easy reference: 2011 Adventures by Blog and 2011 Adventures by System. If you haven't already, jump on over there and take a gander at his blog as well as all the 2011 Short Adventures. I'm only beginning to get caught up on them all and there's a wealth of creativity to be mined.

I look forward to next year's installment. Heck, I look forward to the next challenge, period.

Until then, keep your dice dry!

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