Thursday, May 11, 2017

New Adventures, New Art, my writing method, and more opportunities to level up

Concept Art by: Alexia Veldhuisen
For the sequel to "The Draw of GlenFallow"
About the artist:  Alexia Veldhuisen is a talented professional artist, creating unique art for her first project with Sinopa Publishing LLC.  You can see from this concept piece above, that she possesses a remarkable talent for creating powerful imagery.

You can learn more about Alexia:  HERE


Stories sometimes take on a life of their own.

Such was the case when I sent out my first OGL adventure for the play test groups to play with. Each group came back with feedback of various sorts, but each also had the same question:  "What happens next?"

Thus was born the project for the sequel.

Even as I work to finalize the publication version for "The Draw of Glenfallow", design has begun on the sequel.  Just as had been done for the other modules, I began with a story concept, and I developed that by asking myself that same question, "What happens next".

Such a great question.

Without spoiling the story for those of you who will be playing through it, let me just say that I have decided to build on the story of the Tale of Glenfallow adventure (formerly Pieron's Keep) to tell the evolution of Pieron, and the restoration of Glenfallow.

Adventurers will play through adventures as they witness their friend grow in prestige and power.

Pieron will, at times, call upon the characters in his time of need and will, in other modules, make appearances related to the continuity of his story.

As each module is being designed for a single session of play, and they are setting neutral, this provides the opportunity for a parallel story to be told alongside the game master's main campaign story line.

Characters will advance in level as they advance the story line.

And so the story has taken on a life of its own.

A few insights on how I develop these modules for publication are included below.  Keep in mind that I am the "low level publisher" and my process may not be best for you, it may evolve as I learn more about the business, and others may have better methods.  But this is how I'm doing things, and so far it is working out nicely.


First Step: Develop Story Concept
When I put together the concept for the adventure, I want to address a few things at the onset.
I first want to know level range of the anticipated group, so I can plan challenges accordingly.
The next thing I want to know is what story do I want to tell.  This is the meat of the issue and where the story line takes shape.

Create a rough concept of the cover image.  Think on this with the initial story concept, but you will revisit it through each iteration of the product. Make arrangements with an artist for this if you won't be doing the cover yourself.

Finally, I want to conceive my setting.  I want to know where the action is going to be occurring so I can plan encounters that make sense.

I like to develop adventures from outlines.  These make my life easier as a writer, allow me to track my encounters, and help me to build the pace of the adventure.  I also find that helps me plan the player aides (hand outs/maps/etc.), art, and to anticipate the page length (so I know if I need more encounters/challenges/more complex story).

My initial draft lays out the story concept, usually has some initial "read to group" concept material included, and begins with layouts of the encounters.  I work in various story hooks for the game master to use if they need to point the group toward the adventure from other avenues, and get to work on the game master information that I need to include to help form the  story from their perspective.

I check the math.  I look at the encounters/experience awards/loot and compare it to the expected party levels.

Personally, I tend to design highly challenging encounters at multiple stages in the story.  This is similar to the concept of low level boss fights before getting to the floor boss in video games.

Send to play testers:
This is where the play testers take the module off the rails, and find plot holes, inconsistencies I missed in draft, encounter problems, and generally strip the module down as they put it through it's trial by fire.

Even as a new publisher, I am very aware of just how important this step is.  If the play testers tell you there is a problem LISTEN!  If they have recommendations, or if there is something they feel the adventure needs LISTEN!

Play testers have been used for decades now with rpg companies, and there is a good reason for it.
Get people who aren't your friends, people who don't know you, and people from different types of play preferences to put your work to the test.  You can't please everyone, but if a diverse group of people are all telling you something, then you should hear them and act.

All the work you've done before is the brew, and this is where you pour that brew into it's bottle.

Writing and rewriting your material at this point is building the working model of your product.  This is what the adventure will be.  Take the notes from your play testers, read them, digest that input, then apply those suggestions that make the most sense.  Be open to criticism, because it will afford you the opportunity to take what may be a good adventure, and turn it into a great adventure!

Format your art and writing into what will be the first version of you final draft.  Pay attention to page facing, space allotments in your formatting (bleed and page lines for print considerations), layer your art on then apply your text as the last layer (making it easier to edit if you find something you don't want, or need to add something that wasn't there).

Review and final play tests:

For my methods, I like to have the play testers that have played through then look at the revision, while having other play tester groups play through that revision.  Take the feedback from both groups with a fresh perspective (new eyes).  You will need that perspective to make any changes that are needed prior to final product.

Almost done:
Final formatting, check listings of all play testers, contributors/artists, copyright/legal/license pages, ISBN (where needed), and build your final cover.  Once done, order proof copy and look it over, have other people look it over, and make notes on any corrections that need be done.

Once any final changes are made, you are done.  This is it.  Time to release the work.

So I find myself today, working on the tail end of the Review and final play tests stage... which means I'm running up on my self-imposed deadlines (who ever said 'no pressure' may have been understating things).  I'm waiting on final art for "The Draw of Glenfallow" and making some final changes to "Tale of the Wizard's Eye" then sending them to the play testers for a last going over.

Today is May 11th, 2017, which means I have 14 days left to finish, upload, and order proofs for "Tale of the Wizard's Eye".  Yikes!  Final art work for "The Draw of Glenfallow" will be in and done by June 7th, at which point I'll be working on the "almost done" stage as play testing is wrapping up.

But in all seriousness I'm in a good place for time constraints.  I am taking the position that as a new publisher, getting two titles out in the first publication month is a good thing.

I hope that you enjoy playing these adventures as much as I enjoyed creating them (which was quite a lot).

As always, thank you for joining me on this grand adventure of mine.

Remember you can find Sinopa Publishing LLC on Facebook: Here

Please remember to share the adventure.  I'll see you next time!

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