So, today is my turnover date for my latest AP chapter. I was told I could have another week or so if I needed it,, but I wanted to get it done and out the door. I've got yet another freelance gig that's due on the 11th, and I wanted to be able to turn to that.

What were the last few days like? Pretty hectic.

I took a look at my saved files for The Choking Tower, and that adventure had a lot more still outstanding words on the Friday before my turnover was due--I remember that weekend being a pretty mad scramble.  Although the text for my new AP had more actual words, there was actually a bit more to do.

First, I had two encounter areas that I hadn't mapped at all; those needed to be tied carefully to the text, sketched, then re-drawn. At the last minute, I decided on a few other minor adjustments to some existing encounters, so some more map work was required. 

My wife, who edits everything I do, hadn't yet seen this at all. She'd looked over my outline, and she'd heard me bouncing ideas off of her and our gamer friends over the last several weeks, but she hadn't looked over the whole thing in detail. And since she doesn't get time off of her job (wrangling our three kids) unless I take over that job, giving her time to review meant time I wasn't able to specifically devote to writing (since I was spending the time fixing bikes and playing at the park--good times, if not specifically productive to the task at hand).

I also had not given the whole adventure a start-to-end read-through myself. The Choking Tower was one adventure in four distinct parts;, and the four parts didn't really impact each other. This new adventure is highly interdependent; actions early on affect later encounters in specific, detailed ways . I had to make sure all those connections still worked.

I still had my key villain to write up. I'd given her some statistics (mostly from my friend Greg, when I asked "how could you most effectively build a villain of this class?" and then had to tell him "okay, woah, that's way too effective, how would you tone down X and Y?"), but I had to formalize those and then craft her backstory to match. The outline I was given gave a lot of her overall backstory--she's one of the main villains of the AP--but I needed to distill that down and make it a bit more personal. I felt very unfinished, not having the Big Bad ready to go yet. To top it off, she carries an artifact that I'd only somewhat sketched out in my mind, and I needed to design and finalize that., too, and work its effects into her statistics.

I wasn't really sure how much treasure I'd given out. I thought I was pretty much on track for the overall "must include at least this much gp in treasure" from Paizo's instructions to me, but I wasn't sure. So I had to add up each and every piece of treasure the PCs could gain in my adventure--all 17 encounter areas and fifty-something sub-locations. That was a lot of math, and a wore the batteries out of a calculator on Friday night doing it!

Then, there was tying up all the stat blocks. If you look at most AP chapters, you'll see that there are about 13-14 new stat blocks, and the rest of the opponents come from a Bestiary or NPC guide. Those stat blocks are pretty detailed, although Paizo provides its freelancers with a helpful Excel spreadsheet to help with all the fiddly math. It turned out I had 15 stat blocks, and I needed to make a few minor changes (equipment and such) to many of those at the very end. A quick specific example: one of my stat blocks is a summoner, and another is his eidolon. I was asked to use the Pathfinder Unchained rules for a summoner--which I happily did, since I received a preview copy of that book to do so. While browsing the Paizo forums on Friday, I saw someone lament that his eidolon has fewer evolution points under the Pathfinder Unchained rules. Whoops--I'd used the number of evolution points from the old rules instead. So I had to fix that. Then I had to fix it again, because the type of eidolon I was using got some bonus evolution points. So lots of back-and-forth finessing the stat blocks.

I also got a very pleasant surprise about word count. After doing my own editing, and getting my wife's edits (she always trims my excessive prose down a bit--a shame I don't have her edit these rambling blog posts!), I found my adventure was at 35,800 words. My word count limit was 35,600. I'd already told myself that being 500 to 800 words over would be fine; I was more than 600 words over wordcount for The Choking Tower, and James Jacobs assured me it was okay. To end up within 200 words of my target was a very nice surprise! I had an entire encounter I was prepared to leave on the cutting room floor (or "sacrifice on the altar of Wordcount," I've heard), and it was nice to not have to cut it.

Anyway, I got all the various pieces complete at 3 am last night, and started attaching files to four different emails (stat block spreadsheets are required for each stat block used, and they're big). Then I found out my scanner wasn't working, so the two maps I'd finalized I couldn't scan in. Yikes! I sent off absolutely everything else, scanned the last two maps this morning at work, and then sent those off, too. 

With the adventure, new NPCs, gazetteer article, and new monsters, I put together a grand total of  about 43,300 words . And they're all away, to be edited and developed and laid out by the professionals. I'm exhausted, and both relieved to be done and nervous how it will be received. And, as with my last AP adventure, really proud to be a part of Paizo's flagship product..

I hope they'll let me do it again!