Tuesday 16 December 2014

DFD Redux

Well, today my confidential agent passed on the copies of Death Frost Doom and Red & Pleasant Land obtained at Dragonmeet.

Red & Pleasant ... I'm still digesting. But here are the two most revelatory things about the
Raggi/Zak/Jez/et al. DFD rework/reprint, at least when it comes to adventure writing..

One, the writing starts out with a very brief rumor and some ways (aimed at the referee) to get the players into the situation. And then the adventure. There is no turgid, omniscient history drop ("and in the year 853 by the Dronish Calendar the Great Tetrarch decreed..."), no dull and generic village, no table of rumors.

The place has a history ...and mysteries ... but these are revealed as the players would see them, through the areas of the adventure. Anything that isn't revealable through the adventure isn't part of the text.

Two - and related in some way to One - the writing is aimed directly at the referee. Suggestions made, campaign-specific adjustments insinuated, multiple mechanical options outlined, previous printings and actual play runs referred to, soundtrack suggested. Again, there is no omniscient hokey-pokey, but neither are descriptions short. Likely player choices are boldfaced in the text and the ensuing effects described after.

What this all suggests is that history should be a scaffolding, to keep continuity correct and provide grist for specifics, but needs to be tucked away in an Appendix or even conveniently forgotten for the final product. The start of the adventure should draw the DM/reader in, allowing them to share in the discovery that the players will later experience in a much more immersive way.

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