Wolfgang Baur (open_design) wrote,
Wolfgang Baur

Choose Wisely

It's time to choose the Open Design adventure that I'll be working on for the majority of the summer, and part of the fall. Per yesterday's poll, I'm providing you all three options under consideration.

Note that the following three adventures will be designed for OGL/D&D 3.5 Edition; if you'd like to push for a 4E project, well, without a GSL it is slightly premature, but there is an option for 4E fans as well.

The final adventure will be delivered as a PDF to all its patrons in September for the shorter proposals, or in October or November for the longer project. A print version will be available for patrons as well.

Which will be the next Open Design? As with the first Open Design adventures, that is up to you.

Tales of Zobeck, the Clockwork City
I've been trying to come up with a way to provide a non-exclusive project that also has exclusive elements, and this might be it. The Tales of Zobeck anthology is in some ways similar to the Six Arabian Nights project, in that it would feature at least 6 and maybe as many as 10 short adventures, playable in one or two nights and for a variety of levels. Depending on how long people are willing to wait, I could write all of these, and I'd love the adventures to be fairly open work, shared with the patrons. If people want a shorter turnaround (say, September), the adventures could include some familiar names, such Jeff Grubb, Clay Fleischer, Zeb Cook, Joshua Stevens, Nicolas Logue, Tim Connors, James Jacobs, plus at least one or two new authors drawn from the senior patron ranks. This portion of the commission would be a limited edition.

In addition, this project would include a 30,000 word city summary/sourcebook by me. This material is half-written and it is a bit of an oddball, since I'm kind of overprotective of the setting bible/writeups. I'd want to complete this first, then share it with senior patrons and other designers, rather than sharing a lot of it in the Open Design style. This would cover most of the crucial locations in the city, the use of kobold PCs and the Kobold ghetto, a quick overview of history and pantheon, and a bit of clockwork magic.

This sourcebook is NOT a Ptolus-length treatment of the city, but it is enough that the shared world can truly be shared. Some version of the sourcebook would be made available to the broader public, a bit like the Player's Guides for the Paizo adventure paths.

Because of the cost of so many authors, plus the extra time, text, map, and art required, the commission should be about 60% higher than the straight adventures. However, I'm reducing it to the same level as the others because the sourcebook part of this project is not exclusive. It will be available to the public eventually, probably in print form. The adventures, which are the bulk of this commission, are a limited edition and will not be made available elsewhere.

Tales of Zobeck offers a combined MINIMUM length of about 80,000 words (about ~128 pages), plus EIGHT design essays on NPCs, culture jamming, creating PC races, or whatever topics the senior patrons request. Senior patrons may pitch Tales of their own, and they will receive a signed print copy of the final book.

Senior Patron (Suggested $75 to $150 donation)
Patron ($25)
Supporting Member (Any donation)

KQ Forum thread about "Tales of Zobeck"

But What About 4E?
WotC will be making plenty of 4th Edition D&D products this year. Open Design may make one (depending on the terms of the GSL), or it may not.

Currently, I have a 4E skunk works project underway, called Wrath of the River King. If you want to support it, great, but please be aware that it is very speculative (since the license is not available yet). Also, given what I've heard about the GSL so far, the resulting adventure cannot be released until October at the earliest.

So, what's "River King" about? I have a pretty good pitch and had some patron discussion with the 4E License Donors. However, I'm keeping the details to myself for now, other than saying it's a kidnap scenario that spirals WILDLY out of control. Design for low to mid-level (3rd or 4th?) is probably the goal, given the novelty of the rules set. Length is currently set at about 30,000 words, but... I'm liking the concept well enough to expand it significantly. It is not a limited edition.

If all that hedging doesn't scare you off, you can donate to Wrath of the River King, in any size donation you like. Donations of $30 or more gain full access to the discussion of this project. Donations of $100 or more gain access to a playtest game I will run at GenCon plus a print copy of the adventure, signed by me.

The success or failure of "Wrath" is unrelated to the current Open Design. Whether it is ever fully funded, it will not displace the current 3E project. If the terms of the GSL makes this project impossible, your money will be refunded in full.

For now, this is mostly a theoretical discussion of how 4E will change adventure design.

KQ Forum thread about "Wrath of the River King"
Court of the Shadow Fey
The party visits the Plane of Shadow and becomes embroiled in dueling, attempted assassinations, and infiltration of the Queen's bedchamber to defeat the Queen of Night and Magic and her Moonlit King. This builds on some themes first brought up in Castle Shadowcrag). In the grand finale, the party defeats the Queen and her Moonlit King, and then must flee the wrath and wreckage of the shadow plane, scarred somehow by the price of the high magic they invoked. The adventure includes at least a half-dozen Shadowfell Shadow plane locations, a new type of badass fey, as well as riddle and trickery encounters, lots of stealth and social skills, and a major dueling scene versus a shadow fey master of the blade or a shadow fey sorcerer.

About third of this is planar journeying, such as visiting the Sun God for help. Other encounters involve disguises and court politics around figures such as the Blind Seer and the Black Prince, and the last third of it requires fighting the unique monstrosities that lie just behind every shadow, from the Snake-Godling of Eternal Darkness to the Black Crone and the million-footed Lord of Roaches. Layers of dark fey nastiness present the party with some tough trade-offs ("Should we really be bargaining with this twisted servant of evil?").

Minimum length of about 50,000 words (about ~72 pages). Everyone who has participated in the past knows by now that every project I write in this format seems to run over... Court of the Shadow Fey also includes FOUR design essays on the Fey, planar adventures, social encounters, stealth, or other topics as chosen by the senior patrons.

All senior patrons will have the option of contributing a Courtier or Servant of the Queen as part of the NPC roster for the Court.

Senior Patron, Court of the Shadow Fey (Suggested $75 to $150)
Patron, Court of the Shadow Fey ($25)
Supporting Member, Court of the Shadow Fey (Any Amount)

KQ Forum thread about "Court of the Shadow Fey"

Lords of Lost Arbonnesse
This pitch was originally titled Lords of Lost Atlantis, as a placeholder name to suggest where it is headed. Lords is an island/water adventure, somewhere between pure Indiana-Jones pulp and pulp Cthulhu style. Lots of room for player heroics on an epic scale (though not necessarily requiring the Epic Handbook; could be 5th level) and raising/sinking a small continent. As a real wrath-of-the-gods type adventure, I'd expect major sea monsters, deadly terrain elements, lost islands with mysterious temples, hints of a cataclysm in forbidden lore, demonic involvement, the corruption of a great culture and perhaps an artifact or lost tech in there somewhere. A storm and shipwreck seem almost a requirement though that will be tough with high-level PCs.

The plots feature large-scale seaborne and undersea elements as the party goes to a lost continent and the deepest, blackest portions of the ocean, where the Mythos creatures are waiting.... Or perhaps its more a matter of the sahuagin king and other threats to health and sanity. The adventure concludes with some high-stakes bargaining with the Deep Ones, aboleth, or Mer-Kings, to decide the fate of a land lost to the sea and the souls of everyone who drowned with it.

Length of about 50,000 words (about ~70 pages), plus FOUR design essays on the Mythos, horror, high-level play, etc.

Senior patrons will suggest major monster set-pieces and create the trap-puzzle elements that make the combat sequences exciting.

Senior Patron, Lords of Lost Arbonesse ($75 to $150 suggested)
Patron, Lords of Lost Arbonesse ($25)
Supporting Member, Lords of Lost Arbonesse (Any donation)

KQ Forum thread about "Lords of Lost Arbonesse"

Feel free to discuss right here, but please note that I've opened up some threads over on the KQ.com forums just to keep the LJ discussion from turning into a giant hairball.

Commission Timer, Donations, and Refunds
As in past projects, if the commission is not met within 30 days, your money will be refunded in full. The two standard levels of patronage remain the same, $25 for standard access as a member, and $75 to $150 for Patrons of the Arts, aka the senior patrons. I'm adding a new option for people who cannot afford the patron level, which I'm calling Supporter donations.

Supporter Donations. This new level of access saves you some cash in exchange for your silent support and patience. In this case, you give up most of the commentary, discussion, design essays, Q&A, playtest reports, art/map previews, and so on. What you do get is a complete adventure, in PDF form, plus a chance to vote for your favorite proposal. If you change your mind later, you can always upgrade.

The Gen Con Game. In addition to the perks presented above, the senior patrons for this project will also have the chance to participate in a Zobeck game I'll run for some of them at GenCon this year. If too many people apply I'll limit it to the largest donors, the first to sign up or something similar. Or run two slots. I'm looking forward to meeting a LOT of people at the show this year, and gaming with some of you as well.

That's the scoop. Please support the Open Design project that interests you most!
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