Thursday, November 1, 2018

What Ho Frog Demons is Out, Here's its Origin Story

What Ho, Frog Demons is out (you can buy it here, print is still in the works).

One thing I can guarantee you about the entire four books of the Slumbering Ursine Dunes series is that while published details can and do vary to protect the wicked they all do represent years and years of actual at-the-table play (above and beyond the many hours of more straight playtesting that comes post-manuscript).

Michael aka Migellito (aka the player of Father Jack of Fever-Dreaming Marlinko fame) relayed a ritual that would happen each and every session of the Hill Cantons weekly game for two years regarding the Frog Demon Temple, which lays just a few miles out of town right on the road to the primetime adventure spots of the time in the Marlinko Canton:
“Chris, every week: "So, you want to go to the frog demon temple?" 
Us, every week: "NO!" 
After about two years of playing and probably more than 50 sessions, we finally say "you know what.. ok, lets go to the frog demon temple". 
We walk up the spooky dead tree aisle to the temple. We go inside the main door. We start down the.. HIRELING DIES. 
We immediately leave the frog demon temple.”

It took another 1-2 years and several levels more powerful before the Nefarious Nine, the Google Plus campaign group that never numbered nine, actually came back to loot and pillage the temple.

In emergent play places and things take on quickly a significance, dynamic, and meaning beyond the design origin. I had never intended the FDT to be anything more than a punctuation in the campaign. Much like the Manor of the Beet God (also presented in What Ho) had intentionally been designed as a “Saturday Night Special”, the kind of self-contained 1-3 session micro-site that MAR Barker threw at players to spice things up between longer explorations.

The original intention of What Ho as a stretch goal was to just throw these sites straight and unadorned at you in a 18-24 page adventure. But like the emergent play of the campaign proper the Hydra Cooperative's publishing mission seems to zig zag and explode out of proportion out of the sheer love of imagining the hell out of things. Untethered by worries about the bottom line we just wanted to make something that blossomed like the play it was based on.

So here we are. The book is out and its busting out of its britches at 114 pages. We threw everything we could at it (a whole Marlinko hexcrawl, tons of NPCs, an infection index, tons of Vanican monsters, etc). If you feel so inclined you should check it out, feel free to mangle it beyond repair. And drop me a line if you thoughts about it (good, bad, or critical I want to hear).