So, I've got some very exciting news--last week, I agreed to write another adventure path chapter for Paizo. That's all I can say right now--the name and subject of this adventure path hasn't been announced. I do want to talk in broad strokes about the process, though, since people might find that interesting.

Last Monday night, I got an email from Paizo's senior developer asking if I was interested in writing another adventure path chapter. This is the email I've been waiting for ever since I turned in my first adventure path chapter--to find out whether I'd done well enough to be asked to do it again. He revealed the nature of the AP in very high-level detail. I agreed fast enough to be definitely saying yes, but waited long enough that I didn't seem too overeager; you know, playing it cool (I responded in less than 15 minutes.That was just long enough to tell my wife, "hey, I'm going to need a lot of free time between now and mid-April, if that's okay by you, to do another AP chapter." She was also excited.) 

I got the outline of the adventure path on Tuesday. I've seen something like this for The Choking Tower: it's a 40-or-so page document that provides a background and overview of the entire AP, plus relevant in-world history, and then has about 4 to 6 pages about what they want to see in each chapter (including the back matter articles that will be in each chapter, and notes whether the adventure author should also consider writing some of the back matter, too. For example: when I wrote The Choking Tower, which starts in a town called Iadenveigh, I was also encouraged to write the gazetteer on Iadenveigh as well in the back of that chapter. I was also encouraged to write at least one or two new monsters for that issue, and I picked two.) The outline ends with some guidance about freelancing, sources, and the anticipated cover art for each issue.  It's pretty comprehensive, completely spoils the entire path for the author, and is a mandatory read all the way through.

The 4-to-6 pages about my particular chapter gives some number specifics: what levels my adventure spans, how much experience and treasure to give out, the number of maps I'm allotted and what they probably ought be used for, and so forth. I was given the final "end boss" for my chapter, but I was pretty free to make up other NPCs within pretty wide boundaries. Sometimes a role was given ("this NPC has to be a goblin cleric," for example) but I'm otherwise free to decide all the other details. It was suggested that I write a back-matter article again, and also that I write at least one new monster (I hope to write two, again). In all, I'm assigned 36,000 words for the adventure, another 3,500 words for the supplemental article, and 2,800 more words for the monsters. That's 42,000 words.

The outline also lists the resources all of the authors should be familiar with, and each chapter lists any other resources you should be familiar with for your specific chapter (for my specific chapter it was, basically, "make sure you go read this whole other adventure path for background."). Paizo is very good about giving authors pdfs of resources they don't have--if I said, "hey, I don't have X and it's a resource for something I'm writing," the .pdf shows up in my downloads in the next 24 hours or so. Sometimes I even get things a bit in advance--I needed the Bestiary 4 before it hit the shelves for my last AP chapter, and I got a preview version of that so I could dig in to what they wanted. That's awesome support.

The assignment also included my deadlines: I had to expand my 4-to-6 page outline into a more complete outline by the next Monday. My last outline was about 5000 words, so that's not a lot of time. My milestone (where I turnover whatever I've got, just to show I'm making progress and not putting things off to the last minute) is due five weeks after my outline. My final turnover is due six weeks after that. So I only have 12 weeks from learning the project exists to doing all the research (including, you know, going to read a whole other adventure path), all the writing, and all the maps, and editing, and so on. It's pretty grueling. 42,000 words in 84 days is only 500 words a day, but that doesn't take into account maps (which, if done right, are pretty time-consuming), research, and the inevitable rewrites when you find something in the research that conflicts with something you're doing.

So why am I writing this right now, when my robust outline is due tomorrow? Because I managed to clear my weekend, dig into my outline, and knock out a pretty good encounter-by-encounter breakdown, building off what I was given in the assignment. It's long--about 6,000 words--but my wife is right now doing a read-through to trim down my tendency to be too wordy. I'll clean it up tomorrow morning, read through the assignment document again to make sure I haven't missed anything, and then send it in. Then, I have what are probably my only couple of "writing days off" for the next 12 weeks--I shouldn't start writing anything until I hear back on whether my outline was on the right track, or whether I need to change any or all of it. If it's like last time, I won't have to wait more than a few days for that.

In the meantime, I have an entire adventure path to read.

I'll keep you updated as I go along here. It should be another great ride!