The Mindripper, or, You Want Me to do What With my Adventure?

In the time that I have been writing for TC, I have tried to push myself as a gamer. I enjoy many different facets of the hobby so if I have had a good opportunity to make myself a better GM or a better player, I have tried to take it. One part of the hobby that has gotten my attention recently has been the writing side of things, namely, adventures.

A few weeks back, I had what I thought was a brilliant idea: Since I’m already planning to run a bunch of sessions at KantCon and other cons this summer, why don’t I just take some extra time and write up the adventures formally. Who knows? Maybe I could get them published and make a few bucks to help subsidize my convention-going habit. The idea felt good, so I contacted a few companies, got some approval for the idea and sat down to write.

Then I realized that writing an adventure is fucking hard.

My brilliant idea failed to take into account the fact that, when writing adventures in the past, I have never, ever just sat down and written things out in their entirety, especially not with enough attention to detail to allow someone else to run the adventure based on what I have written. Adventures have always been 1 part pre-planning, 3 parts on-the-fly idea creation and 7 parts oh-crap-I-need-an-idea-and-the-game-is-in-three-hours. Working to get all of the setting bits and all of the character bits and all of the story bits lined up before I have even rolled die one is an intimidating thought. In fact, it’s downright paralyzing.

Enter: The Mindripper.

The hardest part about writing an adventure is bringing out the ideas and laying them down on paper before you think you’re ready to do so. It’s like they’re waiting there in their safe, warm places, incubating, waiting for their shells to harden before they get passed down the neural pathways that see them spilling onto the printed page. The Mindripper takes them and wrenches them out of their soft places and lets you gaze in awe at their half-formed glory right in the seconds before you being poking and prodding them into their final shape.

Now, if the Mindripper were really a physical object, this entire process might be a hell of a lot easier. But it’s not. The Mindripper is no more and no less than the willingness to suck for a while before you make it all good again. I know that I can craft fun adventures; I have done so numerous times in the past. I have to be disciplined enough to send my mind down the pathways that are usually reserved for game sessions and find the inspiration that makes it homes there naturally. What comes out of those initial jags of inspiration might be crap warmed over, but it’s a place to start. And if you’re lucky, what you end up digging out looks more like a mucky diamond that just needs to be cut and polished.

That’s my challenge to myself, and to anyone else that thinks they would like to write an adventure, or anyone else, really: develop the discipline to just do it. Find a way to pull those little knots of idea gristle out of your brain and put them down somewhere. Sometimes, it will be easy. Other times will feel like you’re trying to pull your gonads up through your cerebral cortex. But do it.

My hope is to someday see something that I wrote be published for consumption by other gamers. To do that, I need to work. So I’ma get to it.

[tags]rpg, rpgs, role playing games, books, writing, publishing, adventures[/tags

2 thoughts on “The Mindripper, or, You Want Me to do What With my Adventure?

Add yours

  1. Tracy,

    Nice article. I’ve actually written a module that I’ll be publishing soon and there was definitely several “oh no, what have I gotten into…” moments throughout the process. I’ve explained to several individuals, that writing an adventure to DM for your friends on game night and writing it so someone can pick it up cold and run it is a VERY different experience.

    That said, it is very rewarding once you see the final product and even more so if you get the opportunity to watch others running your game.

    Kudos to you on your perseverance and congratulations on getting published.


  2. Writing for an organized play campaign can be a good way to practice having a structured finished “product” with support. In general you are assigned an outline or concept, given an adventure template, and have the support of administrators for the campaign that review your work and offer help. By writing for organized play/RPGA you also gain a perspective on what large diverse audiences want and learn how to write for a wide audience.

    That said, yeah! It is really hard! 🙂


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