DEAR ADVENTURE WRITING MOFOS:
In your modules/expansions/adventures, what I want is:
In the front matters, of variable length and however long it takes for you to get it out, set the scene, some verbose and stylized flavor text, fluff maybe, that I can read this and say: "Daniel wrote this on a Lovecraft tear and it is hilarious". Include satire. Ineffable wonder is terrific but not if its not gameable... Or if the concept is so high-concept that the game becomes an abstraction of whatthefucks, then maybe tone it down a couple notches but I am not the boss of you
I personally don't go for books-as-art/collectibles. Cleverness and usability, newness of thought in terms of gaming situations, that's key. I don't want it to be ugly, though. If we ought to emulate Z--'s approach in anything it's that he puts a great deal of effort into the things he does, and I admire him for that. Or at least, it appears he does. It's his livelihood and nobody ought to try to pull it out from underneath him, and I take ownership of my part. Don't make it like you generated half with some online website and filled in the rest. I can use a website for that myself and they are generally free. I'm paying FOR YOUR BRAINWAVES or maybe I will if you impress me.
In the entries, terseness. Just enough to oomph me. Clarity: I want to be able to know the theme of the area already. Put standout features in bold, treasure easily sussed, traps evident at a glance (or maybe just TRAP and I can cook it up kaboom). Stonehell by Michael Curtis and Gillespie's Barrowmaze are good examples where just enough is given in the general scheme of things. I should be able to look at the entry and in one fell swoop know what is about to happen
Random monsters that make sense somehow and introduce novelty, hilarity and dread and will interact with keyed static encounters. These should provide impetus against standing still and silly-dallying too long. Else, don't include them if you want the tone of your thing to be relaxed and merely exploratory. Shitty randos that are boring and just attack is a waste of ink. Moldvay reaction roll or something similar called for in situations of total ambiguity, BUT these things are wandering around for a good reason, right? Motive: these skeletons are lugging parcels for the Oppressive Douchebag Necromancer and would love to break up the monotony of post/biology workday and they resent his managerial style is better than "SKELETONS HIT LUCIENNE WITH SWORD FALL DOWN"
I want original monsters from your brain. Homages are okay. Radiation infused stirges are good, and they puke radiation into you because they are excited. A stirge is not okay to stat out because that's wasted ink. I'm pretty sure they are hard to hit, flimsy, and drink blood if they hit and latch on. I got that already. Staying on the ASE-as-example, the little robot dwarf guys who want to use you as parts, those are terrific. If it was all goblins, I wouldn't even have read the thing. I'd almost go without stats entirely since you could essentially let me kludge it into my own system. NO STATS!? A hush falls over the crowd and a looming sense of alienation toward the writer and off you guy, Dearie!
Awesome items for foolish players to let their PCs experiment with (I'm going to include experimentation rules in all my games maybe, I need to work out a system where I describe items more thoroughly instead of FUCK I GUESS ITS A LASER GUN). No more magic swords. I've seen every variation of magic sword ever and I get bored by swords and not engorged by swords if you take my meaning
One thing I love to see lately is permanent or long-lasting changes to PCs from items or interactions with the dungeon. Possibly death (there are more fun outcomes than death); possibly rocket-fired batwings. Something that changes a PC from "Eric the Warrior" to "Eric the CHROME SKYVIKING". I've killed, personally, a great number of Warriors and have no remorse, but a well-marbled pig invested with the semblance of a personality gets me upset when my mutant chomps his head off because the personality makes it taste better, you see. Mike Evans' Hubris has a good deal of this in the funnel so that the survivors are going to be unique and weird right at the start. One reason I dig DCC is that it allows me to purposefully encourage, with a minimum of work up front, a large group of memorable PCs that players get invested in. They ought to maneuver their shitty uninteresting ones into the line of fire, somehow. Many times these days, I think players get disappointed when their 0-levels bite it and it's natural, but if you do it enough you get less attached to individual PCs and more attached to the development of the survivors. Sometimes, you get invested in the pigs and goat-wives and Wargeese which says something to me.
My own policy is there ought to be chock full of hooks for the next thing in the back, and a number of setups for the thing in the front. Possibilities. Maps to other places. Let's do what the Old Ones did and link our own little Multiverses together by way of mutual reference. It's fantasy, and we all do it anyways, why not drop hints about other folks' works in there? Like a cult from Paul's book? Include it in your module and people will (without even knowing its happening) like it also, provided your thing makes a good time.
Don't name NPCs. That sucks. More later. THinking about Keep On the Borderlands, here.
Enough loot to make their eyes light up but not enough to break the economy. Or I don't know, your call.
I was in an "anti-table" mode for a while, but I have reconsidered. If it's thematic and provides some chaotropy, then hurrah (like, the reams of possibility in Kabuki Kaiser's stuff, versus ANOTHER LIST OF DOGS TO GROOM)
We're old enough and wise enough, now, to leave the graph paper in our youth. The world is not laid out, mostly, in uniform grids - sensible though it may be. I think Doug pulls this off nicely since his maps are arty and nicely represent scale and relationship without the tedium of 20 foot squares all the damn time.
Less scribbletits for the sake of scribbletitillation since I am somebody's dad and maybe I want to hand my daughter this book-analogue without my conscience nagging at me. I want her to be able to read it, comprehend it, and not lose SAN when she's 7 or 8. Call me uptight and I know demihuman and semihuman bodies are beautiful and natural etc etc but maybe
On that note, design some factions that have other motives besides SENSELESS GORE, and make it possible for pacifist approaches to have a possibility of winning the day. I really believe that games are much More Fun when we are all cracking up laughing because of interactions with the world and each other that are not merely rolls to see "DID I HIT AND KILL IT THIS TIME? IS IT KILLING ME?" And that one guy who has not yet, in 2016, learned to roll his attack and damage and Deed dice with one hand together all at once at the same time together for the sake of expediency and clarity and hold on what's that word I'm looking for let me get it from my bag I here it is what was the monster's armor class again? We should all respectfully model accurate and useful behaviors to people and hope they pick them up without a lecture, since tirades are good Sunday morning IMHO but not at game time; that's for laughing and laughing and maybe pissing your pants laughing from fear and terror and MAN THIS GAME IS TERRIFIC BUT I WISH JOEY WIULD HURRY IT UP BY GOD'S STONY YARBLES
Your mileage may vary of course but if you don't agree with my opinions, you're wrong and stupid, as this one or two guys I see on the Internet are prone to saying, and I will see to it personally that you reform or are ostracized. (A little satire for you but if you don't get it then count yourself lucky). This is about games, not maybe about selling games (to me it's a non-issue but for some a primary motivator which I think tangled up your approach) or our identity as a tribe and who the biggest dick swinging is but as I said choose for yourself
ON TO ELEVENSIES AND MORE CAFFEINATION THANKS FOR READING MOFOS