Hello everyone! I just want to start of by saying sorry for the long break! It’s summer holiday time for me here in the UK so I’ve been home to visit my parents and to a friends wedding in Alabama, USA. First time in the states and it was quite an education! Anyway, regular blogging (~3 times a week) should be resuming now that I’m back on my normal work schedule. Remember, if you ever want more JVC Parry D&D content, you can always check out my patreon!
Perhaps it’s quite fitting that my return to Deconstructing Dungeons falls on my first ever published adventure – Seeds of Chaos! I wrote this adventure with the intention of publishing it, and had only run it once, as a one-shot, for a group of 7 players, 4 of whom were new to the game. I wrote the whole thing out on a spiral bound notepad before it ever made it onto a laptop, and drew all the maps with pencil and paper too. After play-testing it with the group, I made a few changes, clarified some wording and then started putting finger to keyboard. The whole process took maybe a month, and the title was published on August 1st 2016.
When Seeds of Chaos first hit the shelves, it was a poorly formatted pdf document that was straight from a word doc. I seem to remember downloading a template from DMsGuild, but I wouldn’t recommend that new publishers follow in my footsteps there. It’s so easy to use tools like homebrewery or GMbinder to get a sharper product now. All of the maps were made by myself in photoshop, and are little more than line drawings really. Because of this, I think the maps are clear, but far from professional. Originally, the product had no artwork other than the cover (which is from WikiCommons) and the awful maps. Since then, I’ve updated the layout and interior artwork using homebrewery and the DMsGuild art packs. Eventually, when I get down my list of titles, this product will become print on demand, and I’ll commission a new cover, maps and maybe some interior artwork too.
As it stands, the pdf is Pay What You Want (PWYW) which is discouraged by most. The reason a lot of folks will warn you off doing PWYW is that you will receive thousands of downloads, most of which will never be read. Only a fraction of those who download it will pay for it, and even fewer will leave a rating or review. Here are my numbers from Seeds of Chaos at the 2 year mark (August 1st 2018):
Downloads (total) – 4688
Downloads (paid) – 176 (4% paid)
Ratings – 17 (0.4% rated)
Reviews – 10 (0.2% reviewed)
I think it’s pretty clear from those numbers why people advise you sell your work, rather than go PWYW. Even if you set a price point for your work at $1 or even $1.50, you’ll probably still achieve similar numbers of downloads, and instead of making ~$75 in two years, you’ll make ~$130. Despite this, I’m still leaving Seeds of Chaos at PWYW for now. Partly as an experiment to compare numbers, and partly as a thank you to everyone who’s supported me, a way people can check out my work for free, and because I’m aware that not everyone can afford to pay for their RPG material.
Moving away from the numbers, Seeds of Chaos as about an elven lord whose garden has become overrun by rampaging satyrs intent on ruining his landscaping. These goat-like fellows were once his gardeners, but seem to have been possessed by some preternatural force, and need stopping! As characters move through the garden, they start to uncover the source of the corruption, and have to solve a few challenging puzzles in order to progress. This adventure is an introduction to D&D, and thus tries to teach the basic mechanics of the game to DMs and players alike. It contains traps which teach saving throws and ability checks, fights which help people learn new combat mechanics, and provides the basic building blocks for creating and narrating a basic narrative. I think I did a pretty good job of weaving all these elements in together, as well as providing ample opportunity to roleplay with the lord, and with his possessed gardeners.
Not including maps and artwork, the adventure is only 4 pages long. It uses a lot of bullet lists rather than dense text, and follows a relatively linear structure. All of this should make the adventure a great introduction to D&D.
What I did well: I think I’ve done a good job here of writing an introduction to D&D. It contains fun puzzles, locations and combats. It provides opportunity for roleplay and exploration, and has some limited opportunity for player agency, just enough to teach new players that D&D is more than a board game, but not so much as to overwhelm them.
What I did poorly: The maps! Yuck! Even though I could do a better job on the maps now, or even pay someone to do them for me, I’m holding off until I get to the Print on Demand stage for this product. At that point I’ll spruce up the layout and other artwork, and probably fix up some text and get it edited professionally. Once that’s done, I’ll try and set a really low price point for the PoD version, maybe even just cover shipping, so that people can still enjoy something of mine for free!
Giveaway! I can’t really give away a free copy of a PWYW adventure now can I? Instead, if you retweet or share this post on Twitter or Facebook, you’ll be in with the chance to win a copy of my Adventure Compendium I or II. I’ll be picking two winners on Sunday 9th September 2018. Good luck!