Okay! My writing is done, and I have two more things to share on this whole project. The first is what to do when the writing is done, and the second is a bit about layout. So now I know that there are 28 points in this whole series, and I'm declaring myself too lazy to go back and add "of 28" to all the prior posts!

Completing the writing doesn't mean you're done! You should aim to complete a freelance writing project at least a few days before your turnover date, so you've got some time to do the clean-up tasks that make your product really shine. Here are the steps I've taken with my adventure path, and they've taken me a couple of days so far.

* Adventure, Assemble! I've put all the disparate parts of this--all 20 chapters--into one big document. I created a sort of "overview" section that lists all the individual chapters with a one-sentence summary of each, and a second "gazetteer" section where I collect the details of all the areas of the adventures I've already described. In doing so, I realized there's a whole city on the map in between Velkendir and Kensley/Kolsvatni that I never used, so I make up a quick entry for that as well (it's totally fine, and in fact maybe preferable, to have places seeded on the map that the campaign doesn't visit). Both of those new sections are below. With everything together, I see that my text is 37,944 words long. That's more than my intended 30,000, and this is where I'd cut that down if I had to stick to a particular word count (although here, I don't).

* Check Your Notes. If you made any notes elsewhere about things to remember or things to include, review all those now and deal with them. I usually have an array of sticky notes around my monitor with things to remember, and I cross those off (or throw them away) once I've dealt with them. For this project, I went back through my blogs to find things I told myself I'd do, so I could do them (for example, change "Treerazer" to "Treereaver" throughout).

* Seek XXs. When I write, I put "XX" anyplace I need to later finish a thought, look up a page reference, or so on. One of the last things I do is search the document for "XX" and fill all that in.

* Review Numbering. I go through the entire document from front to back making sure all the numbering and such is correct. Did I skip from Area C to Area E? Do I jump from Part 3 to Part 5? In addition to fixing those, I decided to capitalize my encounter headers: "Encounter 2A (Moderate 13)" instead of "Encounter 2a (Moderate 13)" for example. Making this change all the way through the document is much easier than doing it piecemeal. 

This is also the time to make sure your maps are numbered in a way you like, and to make sure all your map references in the text point to the correct place on your maps. (This is a lot of where my XXs are, in other adventure writing, because it's less likely I'll miss one in this check-the-map-numbering step.)

* Check Threats and Treasure. I like to go through an adventure when I'm done and just list out all the different creature types I used, putting tick marks next to any that I use more than once. That lets me know whether I've duplicated one type too much, as I prefer a variety of opponents. I also do the math on all the treasure I've given out to make sure it's the right amount/number of items for the rules system I'm using. 

Here, because of the scope of the project, I did something a little different. I printed out the treasure tables in the Pathfinder Core Rulebook and the monsters-by-level table in the Pathfinder Bestiary. I then read through my entire adventure path, checking off monsters I used or treasures I gave out. When I got to one I'd already checked off, I put a tick mark next to it. This showed me a few places where I'd skewed to using the same monster a LOT or gave out the same treasure many times. So I changed those up a bit. (Regardless, the heroes still fight against many arboreals and demons in this adventure path, which is just as I'd designed.)

* The Spellcheck/Google Search. This step takes some time! For me, it took about 2 hours. I opened up the spellchecker and went through the entire document. Every term that Word didn't recognize. I looked up in one of two place: in the rules if was a rules term (yes, shortbow is one word, as is greatsword, and I ensured the correct spelling of weirdly-named monsters like the nilith and the wemmuth) or on Google if it was a name. As I've mentioned before, I wanted to change names that could be confused with something else or were inadvertently offensive. For the most part, I made only minor changes here (for example, the catfolk leader Aslam is now Aslaim). I also said everything out loud to see whether it sounded silly or strange (for example, I learned that the giant named Castharn sounds like I'm slurring the words "cast iron," so I changed it a little). This is also my last chance to change anything that just looks immersion-breaking or confusingly spelled (for example, the dragon name Yaxivar was a little too "Yakity Sax" looking to me, so I dropped the first a, making the dragon's name Yxivar instead). I did come across one potentially-offensive thing! The peacock mascot of the Green Reach Bards was named "Porgo the Proud," but I learned that "porgo" is a slur thanks to Urban Dictionary (the first hit of my Google search on that word. So I changed that.

It's important you do this spellcheck-and-search all in one sitting! First, you want to remember what you've already accepted so you don't accept two different strange spellings (for example, I had "Nelthek Sharpleaf" in one earlier place in the text and "Njoln Sharpleaf" in a later place--they were supposed to be the same person! If I'd just hit "Accept" to both at different times, I wouldn't have caught this error). You also can see whether you have names that sound confusingly similar (I have a place called Rimefall and a linnorm named Rimecurse, but I elected to keep both names as-is).

* Edit! Going back over the whole document, front to back, is a vital step. It's one that shouldn't be rushed and absolutely shouldn't be skipped. If you can have someone else take a look, have them do so (and give them time to do so). To be frank, I've already done everything else on this list except for this last one; my wife's edit is still ongoing, and I know I'll have several edits to incorporate.

If you're lucky enough to have multiple people who can read your stuff, ask them to focus on what they do well. My friend Greg isn't a detailed editor, but he's fantastic about saying what parts can be cut or are just too wordy. If I were trying to cut 38,000 words down to 30,000, Greg would be the first person I'd ask to look over my text because I'd get back big red slashes and comments like "This whole part can go."

With these steps nearly done, I'm doing some layout while I make decisions about how to present this product. I'll show some of that next time.

Now, here's the last of the text for the adventure path, which goes right at the beginning!

Adventure Path Summary

The Skaldwood Blight Adventure Path pits the heroes against the machinations of a demon lord named Treereaver, who plots to infest the forested Northfells and, from there, to take over the world. The Northfells is a forbidding land, where danger awaits on every hill and trail. This adventure path is intended to take the heroes from 1st level to 20th level. Each of the 20 chapters is designed for a single level of play, and the chapter number matches the character level it’s designed for (so heroes are 11th level for the adventure in Chapter 11, and should advance to 12th level when they embark on the adventure in Chapter 12). A summary of each chapter in the adventure path is as follows.

Chapter 1: Raiders of Fallinghollow. The heroes save the small town of Fallinghollow from a band of kobolds and learn that arson on the outskirts of town was planned by an evil arboreal and a wicked druid.

Chapter 2: Descent into Wastingdeep. The heroes learn that a knowledgeable scholar named Gendal has been kidnapped from Fallinghollow and must confront duergar kidnappers in the Wastingdeep Mine to recover him.

Chapter 3: The Cat’s-Paw Deception. Fallinghollow is in trouble again, this time from a group of malicious fey who have tricked a tribe of proud catfolk into assaulting the town.

Chapter 4: Four Circles. The heroes learn that Fallinghollow’s troubles have been planned in a distant forest called Wailing Grove. There, the heroes find evidence of a broader fey plot and of a devil cult in the city of Velkendir. 

Chapter 5: Red Crown Reckoning. The heroes travel to Velkendir to expose a diabolic cult following a devil named Red Crown. The heroes trace the clues left by the secretive cult to locate its lair. 

Chapter 6: Devils of Velkendir. After assaulting the devil cult’s lair in the upscale Owlbear House, the heroes save the leaders of Velkendir from death at the cult’s hands.

Chapter 7: The Direwood Regents. The heroes learn that the arboreal regents of the Direwood have fallen to corruption, and they must cleanse the wood of their evil.

Chapter 8: Forgepeak Fires. The heroes venture into an extinct volcano. Here, demons seek a magical cinder that an evil dragon wants to use to reignite the volcano.

Chapter 9: Death in the Trollgnarl. The heroes enter the twisted thicket at the heart of the Direwood to eliminate the demons working to create a magical gate to expand Treereaver’s influence.

Chapter 10: The Demon Lord’s Barrier. The heroes learn that Treereaver is sequestered behind a magical barrier around the Skaldwood and rescue the remains of a band of brave bard-rangers.

Chapter 11: The Prismatic Academy. To recover a magic rune that will allow them to pierce the supernatural protections around the Skaldwood, the heroes must visit an abandoned university.

Chapter 12: The Jortoft Wedding. The retired professor who can help re-create the magic rune has been kidnapped in his own sprawling manor house by malevolent fey.

Chapter 13: The Thorn Prince’s Maze. The heroes must navigate a magical hedge maze to rescue the professor from the clutches of the evil and whimsical Thorn Prince.

Chapter 14: In the Lake of Eyes. The dangerous and deadly Lake of Eyes harbors evil giants, aquatic monsters, and an albino kraken whose ink is vital to scribe the magic rune.

Chapter 15: The Possibility Bargain. The professor needs a sigil from a lich rival to complete the rune; the heroes must chase down the lich to learn that the sigil is in the hands of the devil known as Red Crown.

Chapter 16: Monastery of Frozen Stone. The true identity of Red Crown can be discovered in a remote monastery amid icy peaks, and the heroes must survive the monastery’s dangers to learn it.

Chapter 17: The Reaper’s Plague. With the name and location of the Red Crown in hand, the heroes travel to the city of Kolsvatni to slay the fiend and drive the devil cult from the Northfells.

Chapter 18: The Rimefall Consequence. To use the breaching runeto enter the Skaldwood, the heroes must venture to the fallen town of Rimefall and traverse the dangerous passages beneath the frigid waterfall.

Chapter 19: Pillars of Corruption. The heroes must deactivate or destroy Treereaver’s pestilential pillars in the Skaldwood to show the way to the demon lord’s lair.

Chapter 20: Heart of the Skaldwood. In the desolate center of the Skaldwood, the heroes finally confront Treereaver himself.


Northfells Overview

The Northfells is an untamed region to the far north of the continent. Winters here are long and many monsters roam wild. Civilization is clustered in many small communities, and warriors who can vanquish rampaging beasts and protect their communities are highly prized. The Northfells haven’t been united under a single authority in all of recorded history, and the most prosperous cities are independent city-states that vie with each other for wealth and influence. Fey creatures are common in the Northfells. The major locations and landmarks of the Northfells are the following.

Direwood:The Direwood is in the eastern part of the Northfells, along the Steinvik River. An old road travels along the river and through the Direwood, used only by rare travelers making their way to the village of Rimefall or the slightly larger town of Fallinghollow. The Direwood is known to harbor several tree-folk known as arboreals who keep the trolls at the center of the Direwood—a tangled region known as the Trollgnarl—from inflicting their depredations on the rest of the Northfells.

Fallinghollow:This community in the Northfells has about 1,000 people, making it small for a town in the rest of the world but a significant settlement in the sparsely-populated and dangerous Northfells. Headman Sigrir is the town’s efficient and no-nonsense mayor; Sheriff Arskei is both lazy and short-sighted, yet feels entitled to the sheriff job her grandmother held. Gendal Ink-Hand is a wise and friendly scholar who retired to the community a decade ago from the larger city of Kolsvatni. Anna Ninefingers is the town’s peevish alchemist and healer. The most prominent non-human in Fallinghollow is Hap Frysten, the town’s halfling wainwright.

Jannasthorpe:Jannasthorpe is a small community of no more than two dozen hunters, trappers, and their families. Sigrid Truebow is the town’s mayor and best hunter, and she’s a force for good in the wild lands.

Jortoft:A sleepy community of foresters and herbalists, Jortoft is the southernmost town in the Northfells. It has fewer than a thousand residents, but is known to be a bit more cosmopolitan due to occasional visitors from the southern lands (most of whom consider Jortoft to be unreasonably far north). Its most significant resident is the retired professor Hansdirk Koladsfar, widely considered the most brilliant and well-read person in the Northfells. 

Kolsvatni:Kolsvatni is the second-largest city in the Northfells, behind Velkendir, and has nearly 5,000 people. Kolsvatni has been ruled by a faltering and foolish series of High Jarls who have ceded virtually all their power to the Church of the Sun-Mother. Those who openly venerate other gods are few; it’s not yet technically illegal to worship gods other than the Sun-Mother, but adherents of other faiths find themselves with few friends and fewer business relations in the increasingly theocratic city. The current high priest of the Church of the Sun-Mother in Kolsvatni is Hjalmar the Stern. Despite the church’s power, a plague has recently been sweeping through Kolsvatni, and Hjalmar seems powerless to do anything about it. An air of palpable desperation clings to the city.

Lake of Eyes:This mist-shrouded lake near Jortoft has a malign reputation. It is rumored to harbor evil giants, cultists of dark gods, and even worse creatures. Few venture to the lake, and fewer still are familiar with its secrets.

Monastery of Frozen Stone:This ancient elven monastery dates from before the latest human occupation of the Northfells. The vast swath of icy fens separating it from the rest of the Northfells make traveling there difficult, and it is widely believed to be abandoned.

Rimefall:More than 200 feet tall, the thundering Rimefall produces a nearly constant freezing mist where the Aurora River dumps into the northern sea. At the top of the waterfall is a squalid town of fisherfolk who pluck fish from the river in nets before they’re cast over the falls. Also called Rimefall, this remote settlement has little to recommend it to anyone other than ancient ruins of long-vanished inhuman conquerors.

Sandby:Sandby was a small fishing town on an island in the lake known as the Moon’s Tears, just north of Kolsvatni. Sandby’s hardworking citizens supported the Prismatic Academy, a remote university on the same island. A mysterious extraplanar incident caused the disappearance of everyone on the island (in the university and Sandby alike) about 20 years ago, and the island has been considered haunted ever since.

Skaldwood:This sprawling forest of evergreens is a trackless expanse filled with powerful fey and ancient magic. It is one of the wildest and most primal places on the planet, and no mortal has traveled very far within it without getting lost or vanishing entirely. A brave group called the Green Reach Bards—made up of thrill-seeking bard-rangers who’ve escaped confining lives in the southern lands—patrols the edges of the Skaldwood from the Bravado Bastion at the forest’s southern edge. Yet even the Green Reach Bards, for all their bluster, admit that the Skaldwood is wholly untamed. 

Sorenshal:This city of nearly 3,000 farmers and philosophers sits at the north end of several fertile river valleys, all claimed by the High Jarl of Sorenshal, Farhelt Half-High. Sorenshal’s population is comprised chiefly of humans and halflings. Public debate is a favorite pastime of the people of Sorenshal, when they aren’t working to supply much of the food to their religious neighbors in Kolsvatni to the west and their mercantile neighbors in Velkendir to the east. Sorenshal is a tidy, pleasant place whose buildings are low and long, except for its many tall granaries.

Velkendir:Velkendir is a large city of nearly 10,000 people, the largest city in the Northfells. It straddles the Langebeck River and is an important hub for commerce, both overland to larger cities like Kolsvatni and Sorenshal and along the river. High Jarl Arvid the Golden rules Velkendir, but a close second in power to him is the shrewd Coin-Thane Torhild, head of the city’s mercantile guilds. While High Jarl Arvid pushes for unity among the factions of Velkendir, Coin-Thane Torhild revels in friction to help her maximize prices. Velkendir is busy and grimy, and its buildings are predominantly made of wood, slate, and tar.