Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ciao to the Tree Maze and Golden Barge

It's been a productive week here up in the hills and nothing makes me more happy than knocking a couple projects off of that ever-growing hobby project list.

I waxed enthusiastically last week about recovering a piece of my D&D tween past—the dreaded Tree Maze of the Twisted Druid. Happy to say complete with faux typewriter font, craptastic illustrations and hand-drawn map that it is ready and rearing to be played next Tuesday (a free PDF of that madness will be out after right that.)

The actual writing I found surprisingly very difficult, in fact I would go as far as to say it was one of the hardest pieces I have written in the recent past (and this coming from a guy who had to write ballbuster grad school papers and churn out insane amounts of timely copy in a newsroom.) The trick of trying to complete something fragmentary and so distant in memory and life space, while not bleeding over into total mockery or wholesale revision is a crazy balancing act.

Here's a concrete example, I retrofitted and reworked (slightly) an excerpt from a wince-worthy short story I had written in junior high (a year or so after the adventure) to serve as the requisite module intro:
“The Twisted Druid needs a punch in the nuts.

Once known to the world as the Druid Onald Agon he lived a life alone deep in the dark wild forest among the tall elms, live oaks and grackles. Alone day after endless day his brain turned in on itself and thoughts of raw power ate at him.

It was then that the old pecan tree, twisted in trunk with blackened gnarled bark, began talking to him. Telling him to do things. Dark things.

First it was little things like cutting the heads off chipmunks. Then evil and eviler things until his heart became as black as the trunk of that ancient tree. And in that great embracing darkness he began drawing around him and corrupting others of the forest in a maze made from living perverted trees.

It made him laugh.

But the Realms of Men cannot abide such Evil forever. Heroes are gathering and it is time to enter the maze, slay the Druid and take his ill-gotten booty.”
It doesn't quite satisfy me. It's only partially “true” to the writer's voice (no way would I have put “nuts punching” in the lede) and vision of 11-year-old Chris stuck in this weird and evocative ruined pile for his summers. It perhaps bends the stick too much in the self-mocking direction...yet...yet, I think the whole package will be heaps of fun to run next week. And I suppose for elfgames that's what really matters, right?

Nicely the sense of accomplishment from knocking out that silly and vain project, lit up the fires for finishing the Golden Barge as a publicly-presentable adventure and not just the jumble of pen-scrawled cocktail napkins, bullet points, chicken scratches and wine-stained maps that I use to run games with.

Not exactly sure yet what I want to do with it but likely on the suggestion of the players put it out:
1. as a stand-alone gift-booklet for anyone humoring me enough to play in my Golden Barge session at North Texas RPG Con

2. bundling it up with the rest of my write-ups of the surrounding Slumbering Ursine Dunes as a mini-sandbox and throwing it into the Live Weird or Die compilation of Hill Cantons setting hoo-ha and alternative mechanical bits.

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