Friday, March 9, 2018

A New Way to Craft a D&D Story: Part V

Disclaimer:  This is Part V in a now five part series (possibly six part series) that is looking at my thought and creation process for the last quest that our local D&D group played.  The short of it is that I bought a booster pack of pre-painted miniatures with the intent on writing a quest that included each of the miniatures.  Part I went into my initial thoughts with each of the miniatures, Part II looked at the developing story, Part III dealt with Gauntlet Charles' inclusion in the story and how involving his sister and husband inadvertently allowed me to conceive of the rest of the story, and Part IV took the story to a mining settlement along with a cut story line that involved a carrion crawler and the final run in with the Bullywugs.

So now the PCs head away to the east (apparently through the swamp, which is something that I had not thought of until now) after Cruenthas.  At this early time I had the idea of putting Cruenthas up in a tower, because wizards love towers, although that eventually turned into generic ruins that ended up requiring no map or real dungeon delving, but that comes a little later in the development cycle.

But I even included Horwan offering the hint that he was aware of a ruined tower out to the east, and again, mentioning something about "Everyone knows that evil wizards love towers, right?"  And "There were stories about a coven of witches that used to inhabit those ruins, but those were just stories we'd tell the children when then would misbehave."

Once the PC's came upon the ruins, I had it planned out that there was in fact a tower, possibly falling apart, but could be seen over the eight foot high stone walls that surrounded the structure; the walls were still intact.  Once inside, the ruins, inside the tower they would hear noises and shuffling from the cellar.  Upon opening or entering the cellar, the Clay Golem would attack.  After the battle, the PCs would find a journal left somewhere in tower that outlined what Cruenthas' plans were and why he did what he did.

At this part, I had some problems with the whole use of the journal.  First off, I don't really like the idea of the villain revealing their plans, or the idea that they were stupid enough to leave behind something that detailed their plans.  Or even that he would have written this down in a journal that could be found.  So the solution would be for Cruenthas to have never written anything about what he was doing. 

But, you cannot take that approach when writing a quest that keeps the players interested.  While some of the finer points that I have not revealed here work well in the context of telling a story, the players need some kind of information to be given to them.  What I ended up deciding upon was that Cruenthas was aware that someone had been tracking him and would end up being lead to the tower ruins, but not wanting a confrontation (for reasons that have yet to give/develop) he left the journal out in the open to be discovered, along with a note in the journal directing addressing the PC's.

I did not come up with a real satisfactory end story filled with pomp and circumstance, which is something that I know a number of the quests I've written lack.  The PCs had the final encounter with the Clay Golem, confirmed that the one they ended up trailing was indeed Cruenthas. . . and then what?  I did not leave any additional hints as to his location as I didn't really know myself at the time of writing.  I have an idea for where I want Cruenthas' arc to go, but nothing is solidified yet, or at least nothing that I want to reveal here.

So that was really it.  I was super happy with how this story developed, all because I wanted to not only try out a theory about using the pre-painted booster packs, but also as a test for myself.  Not that I consider myself to be this great storyteller, but that I wanted to create something that felt very solidified in the D&D universe, using monsters that I may not normally think of to use.  Like Bullywugs.  I see them nearly every time I flip through the "Monster Manual," but had never thought about using them before.  Now forced to use them because one was included in the Monster Menagerie II booster pack, I found that they worked very well within the setting, and also gave me an excuse to get the PCs out of Baldur's Gate as there were not any known (or marked on the map) swamps, although I admittedly ended up having a swamp be created magically, but it still worked I thought.  And I guess stay tuned for the P.S. where I will "briefly" talk about a last minute change because I wanted to avoid an anapotism.

And thanks for sticking it through with me until this bitter end.


P.S.  Welcome back weary reader to the section where I briefly (whatever that means coming out of my brain at this point) talk about a couple of the things that I ended up cutting out of this quest.  The biggest omission was something that I already talked about in Part IV, which was the encounter at the mine in the Trielta Hills.

And speaking of Trielta Hills, that was something else that I ended up having to change an hour or so before we started playing.  While finishing up and looking up descriptions of the various towns I had the PC's going through, I discovered that the town of Triel was not the Halfling settlement that I had originally thought it to be.  The town of Triel is actually a predominantly Human settlement.  I then decided to move everything in Triel to the Trielta Hills, but then where would the Gnomish Mine be?  It had to be far enough away that Horwan could not get back post-surgery.  It also had to be far enough away for it to make sense for Bara Gol'iza and her swamp/Bullywugs would not have been noticed by the rest of the population.  I then looked over maps and came to the conclusion that what used to have been known as the Hill of Lost Souls, but I could not find any information about it; plus on all of the 5th Edition maps, the lone mountain area was unnamed.  I decided that this mountain would work well for a small Gnomish mining camp.  This change then required me to go back in the story and change all of the references to having to travel north, to northeast.  Not a big deal, but something I still felt I had to do.

The other change was that I ended up changing Horwan's family name from Greenpatch to Dogwood.  For a short while, I toyed around with the idea Horwan was from a family of uncommonly attractive Halfilings, with the dogwood tree producing somewhat pretty flowers.  I liked the idea that before Horwan and Carlotta were married, that it was common for all the single lady Halflings to pine over  and gossip about whom among them he would end up marrying.  Then the small Halfling community was not too happy with Horwan when he ended up marrying a Human female instead, and because he had decided to build a Human sized dwelling into the side of his own hill.  I decided to cut this part out mainly to make the flow of the story go a bit more smoothly.  Although I did like the name Dogwood more than Greenpatch, so I ended up keeping that aspect of it.

At the moment, that is all I can remember about the removed content, although there was probably more, but nothing as "important" as what is already here.

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