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Old 01-23-2012, 09:03 AM   #1
Turhan's Bey Company
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Default Mirror of the Fire Demon designer's notes

I promised something DN-like back when GDFA1:MOTFD was being written, so here are some thoughts on it which may be of some use to people who are interested in it or in working with the adventure outline themselves.

A primary design goal here was ease of use, which raises the question of what the adventure is supposed to be used for. It seems to me that adventures, in the context of GURPS products, imply a plot, or at least a specific objective. It's not just "here's an interesting situation"; it's also "here's what you want to do about it." For sandbox games, you want Locations or Hot Spots, not Adventures. To that end, the content is deliberately about pursuing the objective: how to get PCs involved, and how to keep them involved. This is, as some have observed, good for novice GMs, who need some hand-holding, but it's also good for more experienced GMs who might not be strong at keeping players on task or, having downloaded the adventure only a few hours previously and given it a single read-through, would benefit from having that sort of thing explicitly pointed out. Some GMs won't need that kind of advice at all, but I wouldn't expect them to be buying adventures (as opposed to Locations) in the first place.

(The secondary design goal is, of course, reusability. That was pretty easy to achieve, actually. DFM1 wasn't out until MOTFD was well along, so I more or less had to come up with a mini-monster manual, and reusable tactical maps are pretty easy.)

The structure of the outline was awkward to work with initially and it took some time to work out what it all meant and why it was arranged that way. The three major components (once you're past the first chapter laying out general concerns) are:

1. Places where things happen.

2. Things that (are likely to) happen.

3. People things happen with.

As laid out in the outline template, this makes a bit more sense for adventures which aren't so much like MOTFD. For example, a modern detective story will have locations (scene of the crime, police station, morgue/crime lab, homes or places of business of persons of interest, coffee shop, courtroom, etc.), things that happen (revelation of various bits of evidence, argument between persons of interest, "bong bong" sound when significant things happen), and people they happen to (heartless executive/ex-spouse/etc. who is the obvious prime suspect, sweet and lovely relative/current spouse who could not possibly have done it, interfering DA, quippy lead detective, butler, police informer, hooker with a heart of gold). In such an adventure, there's not a strong link between the three high-level categories. A confrontation between the investigators and the DA might happen at the police station or the courtroom. An interview with the hooker with the heart of gold might happen in the police station or the cold, windy streetcorner. Any number of fights between people of interest (one of them accusing another of the crime) could happen just about anywhere and involve any combination of said people. The three-part structure allows the author to set all those out separately in a mix-and-match fashion.

The problem with that structure and MOTFD is that it's not appropriate to the adventure, because MOTFD does have strong associations between places and events. Adventurers won't run into wandering monsters in town or ask questions of the oracle when they're in the final dungeon. Indeed, as one of the playtesters pointed out, it's was a pain to shuffle back and forth between the "places" and "events" chapters, so for this adventure, the events were subsumed under the places where they happened.
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Old 01-23-2012, 09:25 AM   #2
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Default Re: Mirror of the Fire Demon designer's notes

I guess that this tells us that there really should be a Dungeon Fantasy Adventure Template...
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Old 01-23-2012, 09:29 AM   #3
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Default Re: Mirror of the Fire Demon designer's notes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Turhan's Bey Company View Post
As laid out in the outline template, this makes a bit more sense for adventures which aren't so much like MOTFD.
I found this out pretty fast when I was writing an adventure that wound up not being published and on Obsidian Portal instead. The template just doesn't work for dungeon crawls, since much of what happens (Events) are tied to kicking down a door (Locations). I do have to commend you on the time line and letting it have repercussions; that's as about as close to separating the two as you can get.

A question and a request and a possible erratum. When the group encounters as-Sharaks in the desert, what kind are they? Agni or random?

Do you have room-level maps, with items and monsters placed, a la a Wizards adventure?

Should the weapons of the demons be SM +1?
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Old 01-23-2012, 09:37 AM   #4
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Default Re: Mirror of the Fire Demon designer's notes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuroshima View Post
I guess that this tells us that there really should be a Dungeon Fantasy Adventure Template...
Not necessarily. I tweaked the adventure template as necessary to fit the demands of this particular adventure. However, I can easily conceive of a DF adventure to which the orthodox template is entirely appropriate.

For example: delvers are trapped in a large dungeon composed of an endless series of different types of environments (large, featureless plain; room full of columns limiting lines of sight to orthogonal straight lines; forest/stalactite room with irregular footing and lines of sight; room full of mobile terrain; tavern or similar refuge (yes, in the middle of a dungeon); areas of darkness; grandly decorated temple; and so on). As they explore, they run into various people/monsters/entities which they might fight, but might also get information from which will allow them to figure out an exit. The three parts still exist (places, events, people), but they're not strongly linked. There are different kinds of encounters (fight vs. talk), those encounters can happen with just about any of the entities to be found in the dungeon, and they can happen in any room.
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Old 01-23-2012, 09:50 AM   #5
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Default Re: Mirror of the Fire Demon designer's notes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rasputin View Post
When the group encounters as-Sharaks in the desert, what kind are they? Agni or random?
Dealer's choice. Flame powers are appropriate, but so are the sand powers of the Prithvi. Moreover, the fire demon already employs at least some demons without flame-related powers (speeding blades) and it's nice to be able to spring surprises on adventurers (Jala!).

Quote:
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Do you have room-level maps, with items and monsters placed, a la a Wizards adventure?
Nope. I considered it, but decided against it because

a) Monsters and portable items move around the room. I didn't want to put things on the maps that I knew wouldn't stay there.

2) Resolution wouldn't be high enough. The dungeon map is at the edge of legibility at it is, and I didn't want to add more details that wouldn't come out.

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Should the weapons of the demons be SM +1?
No. Large weapons are optional for large characters, and I decided not to take the option.
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Old 01-23-2012, 10:37 AM   #6
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Default Re: Mirror of the Fire Demon designer's notes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Turhan's Bey Company View Post
2) Resolution wouldn't be high enough. The dungeon map is at the edge of legibility at it is, and I didn't want to add more details that wouldn't come out.
I found that the majority of referee prefer the room layout to be depicted in combination with a terse text description. It more effective when you have the visual detail reinforcing the text and vice versa.

Line symbols work the best at the scale that the Fire Demon Maps are drawn at.

For example in Room 13 of the Hidden Fortress there are some statues one the map. They are shaded statue symbols which look great on a battlemap but at that map size they look dangerously close to a grey blob.

A line symbol of that statue would have a White Square on top of which is a White Filled Ellipse, and on top of that a Round circle of the head. That symbol could be easily distinguished at the scale the Fire Demon maps are drawn.

If the cartographer wants to put the time in, then little details like the shoulder line and the hair line can be added. But you have to keep in mind that it will be a 1/8 inch in size when printed.

This is link to the symbols used by Harn fans when drawing detailed interior maps.

http://www.lythia.com/2012/01/harn-map-key/

Harn Pottage has several maps showing the detail that can be achieved.
http://www.lythia.com/2008/01/review-pottage/

I recommend all three Harn Pottage to folks need generic locations for their DF campaigns.
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Old 01-23-2012, 03:53 PM   #7
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Default Re: Mirror of the Fire Demon designer's notes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Turhan's Bey Company View Post
Nope. I considered it, but decided against it because

a) Monsters and portable items move around the room. I didn't want to put things on the maps that I knew wouldn't stay there.

2) Resolution wouldn't be high enough. The dungeon map is at the edge of legibility at it is, and I didn't want to add more details that wouldn't come out.
I was thinking more as out takes sitting on the computer or scribbled down.
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Old 01-23-2012, 05:40 PM   #8
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Default Re: Mirror of the Fire Demon designer's notes

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I was thinking more as out takes sitting on the computer or scribbled down.
Ah, I see. Still no, though. Given my concern (A), I didn't bother thinking it out in that much detail, knowing it'd be wasted effort.
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Old 01-23-2012, 10:00 PM   #9
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Default Re: Mirror of the Fire Demon designer's notes

I will say that for me, I don't really want a generic adventure that follows so sort of generic template so that it can be adapted to other genres or settings. DF is different and does not work that way. If you want a template I would think Temple of Elemental Evil would be a good one because it has a town near a dungeon and lots of details that bring it to life.
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Old 01-25-2012, 01:50 AM   #10
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Default Re: Mirror of the Fire Demon designer's notes

I would find a lot of use from a blank version of the tactical map tiles
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