The terror is unique. That dream where you go to work, or school, or church, or to the park only to realize you forgot to put on pants - it’s a bit like that: a mortifying revealing. That’s what it feels like to be a newly published author. I feel like I’m not wearing pants, except instead of my pasty white legs, my imagination and creative core is exposed - and the internet can see it - and that makes me want to barf with nerves.
That’s not to say that I don’t have confidence. I would never have agreed to write things for other people to read and use at their game table if I lacked confidence. I also have healthy self-esteem - but there is something indescribably unsettling about seeing your best intentions printed on glossy paper.
A lot of people talk about having a thick skin. A thick skin is supposedly required if you want to make things and share them with others. Apparently the best way to avoid the icky feelings stemming from criticism or failure, is to don a big suit of armour. I don’t really subscribe to this notion. I do not think that putting on armour is ever the right solution for me. Instead, I think it’s ok to simply admit your own madness. You have to be a little bit crazy to share your creative works with strangers - that madness is what keeps me doing it. Be mad, be you, be vulnerable - That’s how I get through. That’s how I write this stuff.
I started writing Dungeons and Dragons material a few years ago on the Kobold Press Blog. My ambitions were not high: write, revise, and share. I have loved RPGs my whole life, and thought, “why not try and share, why not try and engage?” The result was a bunch of short articles that were more experimental than focused. It is worth pointing something out here:
The Kobold Press Blog allowed me to experiment - this is invaluable. Everyone should read that blog.
Eventually, and with absolutely no idea what I was getting into, I started writing small adventure scenarios. The scenarios were released under the title, Prepared!. The intention was to provide one-off side-tracks for DMs whose players had wandered off the trail a bit. They had maps (thanks to Meshon Cantrill), monsters, rewards, fun stories, and as much flavour as I could fit into 1200 words.
Then, the editor in chief of Kobold Press contacted me about putting together a print collection of the articles. A dream come true! I was tasked with editing and standardizing the adventures, along with designing four more with monsters from the Tome of Beasts. So, with a sense of wonder and adventure, I took the project on and had a blast writing it. It’s coming soon.
Somewhere in there, Wolfgang also asked me to write a temple delve - a longer format adventure that uses scary monsters from the Tome of Beasts and the recently released SRD. Getting an email from Kobold Press asking you to design an adventure is pretty overwhelming. I probably pitched half a dozen things before we agreed on the direction and type of fantasy I was going to write.
Turns out that type was, gross.
At its core, the Sanctuary of Belches is the story of a town in peril. But instead of being in peril from invading forces, the town is besieged by terrible horn playing (is there a such thing as good horn playing? I’m not a jazz fan) and clouds of noxious belches. I wanted to explore ‘gross’ as fully as I could - and I think I delivered. At one point, Wolfgang referred to the manuscript as “earthy”, which I took to mean not quite gross enough - so I added a pretty gory final battle to push it over the line.
It means a lot to me, to have an adventure from my head out in the world - the nine year old boy who fell in love with D&D is particularly thrilled. Thanks to Kobold Press, and all the kobolds working in the warren for making it happen.
Be kind, game on!