Thursday, May 29, 2014

Down The Rabbit Hole

The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. "Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?" he asked."Begin at the beginning," the King said gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop."(Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 12)

Yes indeed where shall I begin? I suppose I should begin with what I expect the final result to look like—my design goals for the project.

My current regular group's time challenges have made it nearly impossible to run a continuous coherent adventure. Most adventures take several months over several 3 hour sessions with the roster changing from week to week; sometimes dwindling from 5 to 2. It has taken nearly 7 months to complete a cut down and modified version of TSR’s classic, N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God. and during that time one of my players stated that he would like to start over with a new adventure since he couldn’t remember the past storyline including notable NPCs and why they were in the dungeon in the first place.

I have been mulling over this idea for some time now and recently inspired by The Iron Tavern Press's Pocket Sized Adventures to write an ongoing serial adventure in the vein of pulp serials from from the golden age of pulp magazines, matinee serials and radio serials.

So, I have placed certain limitations on the project such as: each adventure must be playable within a 2-3 hour time frame and each adventure may have a cliffhanger that leads into the next, but an individual "episode" might also be self contained with its own conclusion. Also I want to keep the setting small and local as inspired by Michael Curtis's interview on the Spellburn podcast where he talked about his design choices for the adventure and campaign world for Goodman Games' recent Kickstarter campaign The Chained Coffin.


  • enjoyable, exciting, and playable in about 3 hours
  • procedural and serial episodes with cliffhangers
  • small local settings
  • allow for complete change in PC roster throughout the adventure
  • appendix N and pulp feel
  • potentially system neutral

Next Steps:

  • read more Michael Curtis Adventures and the like
  • research episodic television and radio shows, their creation, and script writing techniques
  • research adventure writing techniques
  • read more from Appendix N (ongoing)
  • watch, read, and listen to old film, radio, and pulp magazine serials (ongoing)

As my day job is a documentary filmmaker, I intend to document the process as much as possible and perhaps create a fully produced documentary how to series. As such I would like to conduct interviews with publishers, bloggers and others who are also creating content. I expect this page will change over time, but the journey will always be the same. If you ever wanted to create your own adventure or just want to follow along on my journey let me what you think and stay tuned for the next exciting episode of “Building The Middle-kingdoms.”