Hello and welcome back to Industry Interviews! This week we’re having a chat with Phil Beckwith of P.B. Publishing, one of the DMsGuild’s best known authors! We chat about his most famous adventure The Haunt and his unusual sources of inspiration!
Phil Beckwith of P.B. Publishing is the author of the platinum best-seller adventure The Haunt as well as around a dozen other amazing adventures! Phil and I worked closely together on the Minotaur Trilogy and Monsters of the Guild. Not only does Phil publish on the DMsGuild, but he has a thriving patreon, twitter and facebook.
What drew you to publish on the DMsGuild, and what was your first published product?
I was always a storyteller at heart, even before I delved into the depths of D&D, and RPGs in general. So when I picked up the 5th edition Player’s Handbook, I knew this was the game for me. Then about 2 years later I caught whispers of a new and fantastic opportunity for RPG developers, a platform and license to create D&D products of our own that would allow us to frolic in the previously untouchable Wizards of the Coast IP (such as the Forgotten Realms), and I knew there was no way I could ignore that. So, I started to write my first adventure… and it was terrible… but I didn’t care, I had written an adventure and I was going to release it, come hell or high-water! You can still check that adventure out on the guild, it’s called Something Smells Fishy, it’s a murder mystery in a small fishing village set just south of Waterdeep.
What inspires your projects?
Honestly, that is a hard thing to pinpoint! I think, mostly, fun things from my childhood. For instance my adventure, Struggle in Three Horn Valley, is heavily inspired by my super fond memories of playing with the Dino Riders action figures as a child.
Out of all your products, which is your favourite and why?
My favorite product would probably have to be my hardcover Adventure Anthology… though I think that is cheating the question a bit! LOL. It’s a hard question, it’s like trying to pick your favorite child! If I absolutely had to choose one, I would have to go with Struggle in Three Horn Valley… I mean, what’s not to love about pteranodons swooping in and carrying the party’s dwarf character away to a next 200 feet high on a cliff, leaving their companions on the beach? Or being chased through tall grass by the whip-like tales of clever velociraptors herding and hunting the characters. Throw some pirates in there too and man it’s a whole heap of fun!
How did you come up with the idea for The Haunt?
That is a great question, and has a couple of threads of inspiration. Firstly, I was intending to write the sequel to the aforementioned Something Smells Fishy, and the draft ideas had an old haunted house sitting in some subterranean town… now the idea as a whole was terrible and I soon abandoned it, however that haunted house became the first inklings of The Haunt. I knew I wanted to flesh that house out a little more and have it as its own standalone adventure module. So I started to brainstorm ideas on how to represent a haunted house, and provide a truly horror filled, and terrifying experience whilst playing a D&D game, which is known to be a very hard thing to achieve. This was when my mind went back to an old creepy PC game called The 7th Guest. The way that the game let the story of the haunted house unravel through the use of spectral scenes, and visages reenacting the events from its horrific past, I felt really lent itself to D&D. It also really helped me set the mood of the module early in the adventure. I found that I wanted to write an adventure that would tell the story of a long dead family that had fallen victim to the evil meddling of a night hag, and the remaining evil effects that the events had on family manor.
Which elements of The Haunt are you favourite, and how did you come up with them?
My absolute Favorited thing about The Haunt is, much like many other people, The Evil Doll character. There was a point where I had written most of the module, I had my encounters laid out, my main BBEG fight scene done, but I felt The Haunt wasn’t quite there yet. I felt that it still needed a secondary antagonist that would set The Haunt apart from the rest of the undead related horror adventures on the Guild. Add a little spice to the mix.
One night I was ever-so-quietly packing away my daughter’s toys in her room while she slept. I had rolled a nat 20 on Stealth that night and was sneaking like the best of them! …and then I turned to make my escape… BAM! Dead centre of the dark room, was my daughter’s toy doll. Sitting straight up, and her dark tangled hair was flung over her face, much like those Ring movies. Scared the hell out of me as I let out a little ‘whelp!’ And I knew then, that I had found my show-stealer.
What would you say is the most difficult part of putting together a successful DMsGuild adventure?
For me specifically, it is time. I create my adventures around my busy life. I work as an IT Project Manager in my day job, and I am father to 3 beautiful kids, and husband to an absolutely stunning and amazingly supportive wife. So my D&D adventure writing day begins at 9pm at night, and usually runs through to 1am in the morning (leaving me with as little as 4 hours sleep per night usually). I often have to force myself to stop and go to bed, I could write for days if I let myself. So finding the time can be difficult, especially with so many other active parts of life in full flight.
Have you got any advice for new authors on the DMsGuild?
I’ll give you three. Firstly look at what the top 20 or 30 products on the guild are, what they are doing, and how they are doing it. That will not only give you an idea of the types of products that are doing well at the current time, but might also show you what might be glaring holes in the market too. Second, join the community of creators, get involved and be active. Join places like The Dungeon Masters Guild Fan Club facebook group, and the DMs Guild Creators group…here you can ask question, seek advice and even hook into collaborative projects with a multitude of other authors. And lastly, always try to use an editor where possible, guys like Ken Carcas, RP Davis, and Josh Heath are all in the aforementioned FB groups, approachable, and will add so much value to your product. It really is a must in my eyes.