Of late, I’ve been working harder on tabletop stuff than I think I ever have before. I have a lot to write about. Unfortunately, I can’t share any of it. I’ve been trying to increase the amount of work I do on my monster book each week, since at my present rate I’m progressing too slowly to finish it within the single year that I promised. Of course, I can’t share any of that content, since it’s part of a book, and it’s no fun sharing bits of it before it’s done! I’ve also been working on the Dungeon Moon game, which of course I can’t share because the entire goal of that setting is to run it for other people in the online tabletop community. Spoiling all of its secrets simply won’t do! I already cheated a little bit by posting the toy rowboat on Friday.
It’s been suggested that I ought to write about my processes and challenges with these projects, which seems interesting enough. Lets try that.
One of my goals with this monster book is to make every line of writing count. In reading other monster books (both mainstream and indie) as research, I’ve found the amount of wasted space very frustrating. Perhaps I simply don’t care about the kinds of things which other people care about. That’s entirely possible, I do have a bit of an odd perspective. Regardless, I want every line of writing in here to be a line of writing that I would be happy to pay for. Once you have it in your hands, you can tell me if I’ve succeeded in that.
Before starting on my second drafts, I tried to figure out some unique sections I could include in my monster entries. Information which was useful and interesting, and which most monster manuals don’t have. Among other things, I was linked to a person who suggested “Rumor Tables.”
“That’s a pretty cool idea!” I thought. “A small list of rumors the players might hear, which might send them off in search of this new unknown creature. I like it!” So I’ve been including it. But I’ve written a fair number of second drafts, now, and I’m starting to feel less certain of that decision.
For one thing, I feel as though they’re starting to get repetitive. I find it difficult to write more than one or two for a given monster. I’ve been playing with the style a bit, trying to find the best way to make it work. I think I like rumors best when they’re written in the style of a crazy story related by a yokel. Here are a few examples of rumors I’ve drafted.
- Call me crazy all you like, but I swear, I’ve walked that path through the woods a dozen times. And that boulder has never been there before!
- An elderly leatherworker has heard tell of a creature whose skin is tougher than stone. He’s getting on in years, and he’d love to create one last masterwork before he retires. If someone were to bring him the skin of such a creature, he’d reward them handsomely…
- Something happened in the village just east of here. Everybody is dead, and no one quite knows why. The only person who got out alive was the blind beggar.
- Three of farmer Logan’s pigs were slaughtered and eaten last night. It looks to be the work of a wild animal, but the only thing big enough to leave those marks is a bear. And with 3 feet of snow on the ground, you can bet none of those are out and about!
- I was talking to this feller the other day, and he just up and walked away from me. “Help, I don’t know where I’m going!” he shouted. “Then stop walking!” I says to him. “I can’t!” he whined. Pft. Can’t stop walking. Dumbest joke I’ve ever heard. Haven’t seen him since, though.
- I was doing my business in the bushes out on the road, when a fine looking woman passed through. Strangest thing, she didn’t have no horse or guards, or more than simple clothing. Still she musta been loaded, figuring as she wore diamonds on her face, like spectacles!
Are these really that useful? It’s starting to feel like all I’m doing is imagining a non-fatal encounter with a monster, and then jotting down a way the PCs could learn about that. I’m starting to doubt that this is worth the page space it’s taking up.
Further, I’ve also begun to wonder if I completely misunderstood what was meant by “rumor tables.” I understood it to mean a list of adventure hooks. Perhaps what was actually meant was “A list of rumors about the creature which may or may not be true,” like what Courtney does with his Ecology posts.