(First Time in Decades, part Two)
When I started out running a D&D-based game for friends a few months ago, I was thinking about converting the adventure into something I could publish. I talked about that game back in March, in this blog post: http://billbodden.com/2019/02/11/first-time-in-decades-part-one/ Since then, several things have transpired.
First, the game came to a natural conclusion, and there was serious talk of another member stepping up to run the next game. As happens with most regular gaming sessions eventually, in the interim one person moved away, and one had a schedule change and was no longer available on the appointed night. Others had work-related obligations that made gaming on a regular basis difficult if not impossible, and the group kind of fell apart. That’s the post-college gaming experience in a nutshell, and one of the big reasons why so many people turn to console gaming instead: it’s available when you want, you don’t depend on anyone else to be able to play, and if you take advantage of streaming capabilities, you can game with others — either as co-participants, or as an audience.
So after my game wrapped, I put the finishing touches on the write-up, and turned it over to the person who was managing the project: Travis Legge. https://www.patreon.com/TravisLegge Travis and I first met at Madison, Wisconsin-based GameholeCon last year (I think – maybe we’d met before and I just forgot) and talked about a project wherein multiple people would each contribute a chapter to an extended D&D campaign using the Scarred Lands setting. I was intrigued, but also had concerns. Collaborative work takes a lot of communication to pull off successfully, and a solid guiding hand to keep things moving and make sure all the strings line up, or at least connect, to keep the storyline flowing.
The group–recruited almost entirely by Travis–got together via online chat and hashed out the chapters; mine was chapter number four. I regret to say that, despite having a clear understanding of how important communication was, I was terrible at it. Part of my problem was not being proactive about checking the online co-working site that had been established, thus missing several messages from people before and after me in the progression, asking what I needed or what the end conditions were so they could pick up the threads from there. Being professionals, they got along fine without my input, but I regret my utter failure to collaborate properly with my fellow designers.
My chapter–Desert of Lost Relics–has been up since early July. Sales have been steady, though not spectacular. As I brooded over the disappointing sales, I came to the realization that, on this particular project, money wasn’t as important to me. Essentially, I got to run a game for my friends for about a month’s worth of weekly sessions, and they seemed to enjoy themselves. That I’m getting a dollar here and there as people pick up a copy is a bonus. That’s not a great way to run a business, but in this case, it’s enough. Sure, I hope to make some more money from sales of this adventure, but I’m content with having had the experience and from the little bit of money that has come in. It’s rare that I’m in that sort of position with published work, but that’s one of the advantages of working on community content, along with looser deadlines.
Recently, I uploaded another e-book to the Scarred Lands site on DriveThru RPG: Children of the Mighty: Unique Races of Ghelspad. It contains a selection of some of the most interesting player character races in the world of the Scarred Lands. I included both first-level and fifth-level versions of the characters to give players more flexibility if they had to jump into a game on short notice.
I have hopes that, over time, these books will cover their expenses and start providing me with income, modest though it will be. Most are close to if not already in the black financially, so I may not have to wait too long. I now have three books in the Scarred Lands download site: Consumed, which I uploaded back in April, is a one-shot adventure suitable to any D&D campaign, but features monsters from the Scarred Lands. They may have come through some kind of portal, or the players themselves may have been transported there by accident. Either way, this adventure is perfect for one night’s adventuring, to fill a gap in a regular campaign, or to kick off a new series of adventures.
Writing for games isn’t as easy as it seems: there are a lot of factors to consider, not the least of which is what kind of books are players looking for? In the end, having a career based on one’s hobby can be rewarding, but it’s all too easy for the work to take over your life, leaving less time to relax and enjoy yourself. As with most things in life, it’s important to strike a healthy balance between work and play. I’m still trying to get a handle on that.