I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 19

November 15, 2019
Hard to believe, but I'm just about halfway done with my full 2E AP. I've now got a good thread of story and I've dropped a lot of locations, but I don't feel like I can tie down the second half without making some map decisions. I need to know where in the Northfells the rest of the action is going to occur. Looking over the map and what I've got so far, I see a few changes I need to make. I should have a few more small forests near the "starter towns" of Fallinghollow and Jannasthorpe. I also think I want the end to be in the large swath of forest to the north. Just north of *that* might be some other kingdom, but I think I want it to be a frozen ocean, to put a better limit on the Northfells. So I just painted it blue! Here is my updated overland map.


 
So here are the locations I've name-dropped so far, and where I think they fit well on this map.



Now, with all that in mind, let me place numbers for each of my chapters. I already know that 1, 2, and 3 are all near Fallinghollow, 5 and 6 are in Velkendir, and so on. But I want to put down every chapter number, so I know where I can put the rest of the action. So I put this together:



I have to admit that I've kept myself a few steps ahead of these blog posts, and I've already seen that adventures 11 and 18 are going to be partly aquatic; there are lots of aquatic monsters appropriate for those levels. That's part of why I needed an ocean at the top of the map--it's a place for krakens and baomals and such. But I don't yet have everything planned; I don't yet know what adventures 12 to 15 are going to look like, other than that they'll line up with my overall outline from the beginning of this project.

I'm now reconsidering the name of my overall AP as well. Heartwood Blight is good, but the biggest forest on my map isn't really at the heart of anything. Whatever that big forest is called, I'll add "Blight" to the end and make that the adventure path name. Icewood Blight? Maybe, but that implies the whole adventure path is winter- or cold-themed, and it's not. I'll keep thinking, and any suggestions are welcome.

But now I've literally got a map to adventure, and I'll keep pushing forward!
 

Getting the Most from Monster Damage

November 13, 2019

I've stepped briefly away from the Heartwood Blight Adventure Path for another project (see here), but I'll turn back to it soon enough. In the meantime, though, I had a good conversation to bring here.

I’ve been working with a new-ish freelancer on monster design for Pathfinder 2nd Edition. His narrative prose is very strong, and his monster design is good, but I recently talked with him about his monster’s damage, and I thought it would be good to share this.

His monster, which we’ll ca...


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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 18

November 5, 2019
This adventure path has been rolling along consistently in the design process: I think about where I need the story to be, look at monsters available for the chapter's level, list out 12 encounters in a variety of themes, write up the 1500 word (or so) adventure, then seed in the right amount of treasure for the level. Repeat over and over!

I knew I wanted to get back into the forest threats for the 7th level adventure, and I have my eye on that scrap of forest at the eastern edge of my map. I...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 17

October 31, 2019
Warning! This post is long, because it includes 10 percent of an entire adventure path!

Last time, I talked about how I had to do some creative thinking to fill out the 17th level adventure. In building the 5th level adventure, I found I had way too much cool stuff I wanted to pack in. A hobgoblin/barghest thieves guild, a sinister alchemist, and salt miners all working for the secretive devil cult, plus a raid on the devil cult in the Owlbear House, and mind-controlling vampires, and plots ag...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 16

October 30, 2019
I've been working on a couple different components of my adventure path at once: the pieces that are urban and focus on the devil activity. This is something of a side quest; the main thrust of the adventure path is about evil fey and demons, after all. But a devil-focused, urban, intrigue-based subplot allows players who really like that type of adventure to shine, and gives the whole adventure path some variety.

I've been specifically working on the 5th-level adventure (which introduces the ...
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Sparwell Lodge is Here!

October 25, 2019
My second Pathfinder Second Edition product with Rogue Genius Games is now out! You can get it right here. It's called the Ghosts of Sparwell Lodge, a haunted-house adventure for 4th level characters. This is a reworking of my Pathfinder 1st edition adventure Six Griffons Haunt (my first Run Amok Games product!), which is itself a reworking of a D&D 3.5 edition adventure I wrote called The Haunted House of bin-Khadij. Each time the adventure has grown and been refined a bit more, and I'm very...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 15

October 24, 2019
So, I've now got my first three adventures done, and they do sort of what I wanted when I outlined this; the heroes are getting their first taste of troubles, and relying on NPCs a lot (in particular, the scholar Gendal). I ended that by pointing to a place called the Wailing Grove, and someone named Nelthek Sharpleaf (which isn't a very viking-themed name, so I'm already planning to change it to Njoln).

Looking back at my outline, I see that levels 4 to 7 were the ones where I want the heroes...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 14

October 22, 2019
So, I've got the 1st level adventure, and I've got the 3rd level adventure. Now I need to connect them by filling in the 2nd level adventure. I look at how the first adventure ends (an arboreal has killed a duergar from the Wastingdeep Mine, the scholar Gendal is kidnapped) and how the third adventure begins (upon returning to Fallinghollow with Gendal, stuff happens) and see that the second adventure is about rescuing Gendal from duergars. That seems like a dungeon crawl to me, and having th...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 13

October 17, 2019
Last time, I presented the first adventure in the adventure path I'm writing. Today, I want to talk about how to end it. I haven't yet put this together, because I think it will depend a lot on how the 19th-level adventure goes, but I want to put down some thoughts about the 20th level finale of this campaign.

* It need not have 12 encounters. I've been building every chapter with 12 encounters to make sure there's enough experience for the heroes to level up for the following chapter. Since t...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 12

October 10, 2019
Okay! Here is the entire 1st level adventure. This is how the Heartwood Blight Adventure Path will kick off!

Chapter 1: Raiders of Fallinghollow (1st level)

The heroes all begin in the town of Fallinghollow, a small community in the Northfells of about 1,000 people. It’s best if the heroes have some connection to this town, such as by being from there, or having recently moved there. They might be connected to Headman Sigrir, the town’s efficient and no-nonsense mayor; Sheriff Arskej, who i...


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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 11

October 8, 2019
Now that I'm 11 posts into this project about writing an entire Pathfinder Second Edition adventure path, I'm ready to start! That is, I'm ready to take a look at how I'm going to design the first adventure, which will launch this adventure path right. The start of an adventure path needs to do these things:

* Establish the Theme. The way the adventure path feels should be established in the first adventure. If the adventure path is going to be a gritty, urban, noir theme, the first adventure ...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 10

October 3, 2019
Okay! Now that I've got some names I can plug in, let me finish up the 16th level chapter I outlined earlier. This is a bit long, 1,600 words rather than 1,500, but I can trim it up a bit when I ensure it's connected to the 15th level adventure that comes before it and the 17th level adventure that comes after it, which I already know is going to be an urban adventure culminating against the pit fiend Balzzevarian, which I set up here.

Chapter 16: Monastery of Frozen Stone (16th level)

The hero...


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Name Checks

October 1, 2019
I'm taking a quick step away from my lengthy blog series where I'm writing an entire adventure path to talk about names. More specifically, I'm talking about how you check them. Here's what I do, whether I'm writing something myself or developing an adventure for someone else. At some point near the end of the writing/development, you're going to want to run your document through a spellchecker. Have a Google window open at the same time. For each proper name you find, before hitting "Accept,...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 9

September 26, 2019

So I’ve been throwing out names as they come up (for example, the town in Chapter 3 is Fallinghollow), but I now want to be a little more definitive about this. What is the region going to be called? What will the towns be called? And, perhaps most importantly, what is the entire adventure path going to be called?

Naming adventure paths is hard. Here at Paizo, adventure paths are almost all my small team does, and all of us agree that finding a good, evocative name for an entire adventure pa...


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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 8

September 24, 2019
Let me get right to it: below is my entire 3rd level adventure for my adventure path! I'm 1/20th of the way done! It's right near 1,500 words, and therefore my target length. I dropped this text into my layout program (a free product called Scribus) and see that it's just a few lines shy of 3 pages. That seems perfect. Here it is!

Chapter 3: The Cat’s-Paw Deception (3rd)

The heroes returned the missing scholar Gendal to his home in Fallinghollow, but the forest town of Fallinghollow has troub...


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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 7

September 19, 2019
Every writer hits a point of "Oh, crap. Word count!" at some point. Sometimes it's that you're done with a project and don't know how to fill the rest of the words you've been assigned. Much more often, it's when you realize that you have many, many more words than your word count allots to you. This latter problem isn't so bad; it forces you to refine your presentation, picking only the best and clearest words. It's really hard to kill words, but being forced to do so makes for better projec...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 6

September 17, 2019
Last time in my series of posts about designing a whole Pathfinder Second Edition adventure path from scratch, I worked out a robust outline for the 3rd chapter, which amounts to an adventure for 3rd level characters that will get them to 4th level. I'm now doing the same for 16th level, because I wanted to jump into this for a low-level adventure and a high-level adventure.

The 16th-level thinking and ultimate outline is below. But I don't want to bury the takeaway of this exercise at the bot...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 5

September 12, 2019
Welcome back! My last post described one adventure in my adventure path, Cat's-Paw Deception, for 3rd-level characters. That outline isn't quite yet done, because the adventure doesn't yet have any treasure. Fortunately, the Pathfinder Core Rulebook makes choosing treasure easy. Page 509 provides that a 3rd-level adventure should give out a total of 500 gp of treasure. This breaks down as 2 Level 4 permanent items, 2 Level 3 permanent items, 2 Level 4 consumable items, 2 Level 3 consumable it...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 4

September 12, 2019
Okay! Enough of the overview planning and such. Let me tackle a couple of the 20 adventures in this adventure path (one level's worth of encounters) to see what that takes. I'll pick, semi-randomly, Level 3 and Level 16. This gives both a low and a high level, and both levels work fine in isolation--that is, I'm far enough away from the Level 1 start of the adventure path and the Level 20 conclusion of the adventure path that I don't need to worry quite so much about the details of the meta-p...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 3

September 9, 2019
I'm continuing the adventure path design! With a powerful villain now in play, it's time to think about lesser minions and lieutenants that will serve as the foes for lower levels, leading into the final fight against Treerazer. 

So let's think about sub-villains, and the foes the heroes will face at lower levels.

I've already boxed myself in a bit with my super-short word count, as I can't rely on lots of lengthy stat blocks for villains with class levels--or, as Pathfinder Second Edition uses...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 2

September 3, 2019
More planning for my adventure path! I'm not thinking at a high level about art and maps. These are both important to any product, but they require separate skills; people who can do both well are rare and should be treasured. They both have some wildly different costs.

Art comes in two general types for the third-party publisher: custom and stock. Custom art is made to your specifications, and is a lot more expensive. You'll get exactly what you need in art, and your art piece will be unique...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 1

August 29, 2019
I've had a lot to say about writing adventures, but I want to think a bit bigger. I'm going to write a Pathfinder Second Edition adventure path. Sort of. Over many posts. In this first post, I'll provide some thoughts about the framework. Later posts will get into the details. I hope talking through this is helpful for mapping out your own large RPG projects!

Let's think about scope. A Paizo-type adventure path is about 300 pages long. A hardcover campaign book for other systems would also be ...
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Things You Haven't Noticed About Pathfinder Second Edition

August 19, 2019
This blog is probably Part 1 of multiple parts, as I'm still learning the new edition, but here are a few things that weren't immediately obvious to me:

1) Touch spells don't require an attack roll unless they say so. In First Edition, any spell with a Range of "touch" required you make a touch attack roll against your foe to hit it. That's not the case now. Now, plenty of spells have a Range of "touch" but don't require any attack roll. The spell text says if it does. For example, chill touch...
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Mother of Monsters Super-Adventure for 5E D&D!

August 16, 2019
I've had the privilege of contributing adventures to an exciting upcoming product: an entire adventure path for 5E D&D called Mother of Monsters. This is a fantasy Greek-themed adventure path set in a vibrant world with a lot of adventure opportunity. It's Kickstarting now, and you can back it right here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/zagoragames/mother-of-monsters-the-awakening-of-naehurdamia

Several things really impressed me from the beginning with the way Adrian set this up. He'd ob...
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Intrepid Heroes Take Flight!

August 15, 2019
I've done a LOT of gaming in my time, but I'm doing something totally new now. My Starfinder group--which recently finished Dead Suns to the great enjoyment of all--is starting up the Dawn of Flame adventure path. This time, though, we're podcasting it! You can check out our episodes at IntrepidHeroes.net. Each one is around 45 minutes to an hour long.

We're looking to fill a particular niche here: actual gamers at play. I've seen a lot of the "actual play" genre get overwhelmed with professio...
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RIP Blake Wilkie

August 14, 2019
I just learned that one of the artists I used for several Run Amok Games products, Blake Wilkie, passed away yesterday. The look of Run Amok Games products wouldn't be the same without Blake, and I regret I didn't have the opportunity to express my appreciation before his passing. My favorite cover art he did for me was the cover of The Underdelve Menace, but his distinctive comic-book style shows up a lot. RIP Blake.
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How I Redeemed Lawyers

August 9, 2019
Here's a quick story about my hand in the creation of Pathfinder Second Edition.

There are a lot of backgrounds in the book. Backgrounds give you, among other things, training in a skill and a specific skill feat. These skill feats map to the skills: you might get the Medicine skill and the Battle Medic feat, but the background shouldn't grant a mismatch between a skill and a skill feat. In reviewing the backgrounds, though, I noticed precisely one mismatch: the Barrister background gave you t...
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Second Edition Tips!

August 7, 2019
I'm back from GenCon, and one of the best things about it was being able to finally talk, in full and unvarnished detail, about the new Pathfinder rules. No more saying, "wait and see," as it's now here! If you're an adventure author for Pathfinder Second Edition, here are a bunch of things, in no specific order, to keep in mind when working with the new system.

* New XP. There's a new method for calculating experience points, and it's entirely based on the level of challenges compared to the ...
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Teeth of the Storm - for Second Edition!

August 2, 2019
Great news! Pathfinder Second Edition launches today, and I've partnered with Rogue Genius Games to present (on launch day!) a Second Edition update of my popular 1st level gothic horror adventure, Teeth of the Storm. No simple conversion, this is rebuilt and re-imagined from the ground up with Second Edition in mind. Teeth of the Storm is the perfect way to kick off a new Pathfinder Second Edition campaign--if your heroes survive! You can get it here!



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My GenCon Schedule!

July 26, 2019
Hey, I have my GenCon schedule finalized at last! Generally speaking, you can find me at Paizo's booth in the Exhibit Hall during Exhibit Hall hours, talking about our new edition. I have lots to say about it, so come by!

I'm also presenting in three panels. These are all in ICC:212, the Paizo seminar room (which is the same seminar room as last year).

Thursday, August 1st
In the Exhibit Hall pretty much the whole time it's open. There will be long lines for our new book!

Friday, August 2nd
Dungeo...
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About Me


I'm Ron Lundeen, developer for Paizo, Inc., active gamer, and RPG freelancer. I've recently had products in print for Paizo, Wizards of the Coast, Raging Swan, Open Design, Headless Hydra Games, and Rite Publishing. I'm still taking freelance writing assignments, but also focusing on writing for Run Amok Games.


 

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