Galens Gamble Bootcamp in Hindsight

I have had a series of posts about my Bootcamp project experiences over the last year or so and today I’m taking a look back on my BootCamp Project Galens Gamble.

I decided to participate in the first Bootcamp course made by Johnn Four and when I started the BootCamp project it sounded fairly straight forward and manageble. I couldn’t wait to get started!

Easy pickings

Pick a product
Come up with an idea for it
Write it up
Edit it over a few defined phases
Lay it out
Publish it

Bootcamp time

There is a timetable laid out in the course, just 30 days and each day has it’s own todolist/agenda. From Idea to published product in 30 days is the idea behind it all however I was never good with timetables like this and especially not when it’s something I have to do inbetween dayjob and normal life. So I never expected to follow the timetable too closely but rather would do each day’s todolists in my own time.

So I poked around my brain alittle for an idea and a product, having just written and released Time Hunters sourcebook I came to the conclusion that an adventure featuring a Time Hunter on the job would be a great idea!

In hindsight, an adventure might have been a poor choice as I have never written an adventure for others to use. I have written plenty for myself as a GM, with all the firsthand behind the scenes knowledge in my head and my shorthand and disorganised notes. But to write for someone else to read and understand and put to use was a completly new challenge and to make matters more challenging I decided to make it systemless as I did not want to get bogged down by creating stats and powers.

Writing Galen

So work began, I created an outline to write after:


Encounter #1 – party is approached by time hunter
Time Hunter Thyrgion enters town, rumours
Thyrgion is asking around about a particular name, one of the players
Thyrgion either finds the players or they seek him out
Thyrgion knows one of the pc’s by name by reputation from an ally
Thyrgion wants to hire the pc’s to assist him in stopping a small warband

Encounter #2 – ambush on the road
picking up a package Thyrgion has stashed with a farmer
The howlers are looking for Thyrgion
The Howlers send out a small ambush force
The party and Thyrgion is ambushed on their way to the town the howlers are looking to siege

Encounter #3 – a town under siege
Several buildings are on fire
People are running scared, hiding in their houses
The town tavern is now the Howlers HQ
Scouts have been placed on rooftops
Black Star is searching the town
The Cleric is not in the chapel as expected
Face off with Galen and his warband
Learn that black star is the assassin and she is loose, time is short!

Encounter #4 – time trail chase
Pick up the time trail
Chase it through the city
Come across sites where black star has been, see havoc/killing done

Encounter #5 – catch a shooting star
Find Black Star just as she enters the building with the cleric
Confront black star as she engages cleric
Thyrgion takes on black star
Cleric is struggling with keeping a dangerous foe from entering the reality
Thyrgion cannot defeat black star solo

Encounter #6 – aftermath
Cleric is grateful for the help, he can resurrect
The town is also grateful
Rewards all around
New enemies – galen, black star, merchant network, clerics foe
New allies – the town, the cleric, time hunter thyrgion (if he survives)

I began writing and writing was good, but after the first draft I was not pleased with the content and how it flowed. I began to rewrite the entire thing and re-arrange things. I had a hard time figuring out how to create a hook that would suit every concievable character, eventually I decided that a GM that buys systemless has to tweak and fiddle to make it fit his campaign and system so he likely knows his players better than me. Therefore I chickened out and simply wrote in this in the introduction and that it was up to him to hook his group. I did put in a short list of very general ideas for inspiration.

Editing Gamble’s Change

I changed the start, instead of Thyrgion looking for the adventurers the whole thing starts in the middle of a fight where Thyrgion and the characters are already together. I was inspired by some interweb talks about starting sessions with action “You are running down a dark alley, howling fills the air behind you as you turn the next corner you come face to face with your pursuer…. WHAT do you do”. While not as elaborate “what do you do” scene, I created a fight scene starting off at the farm where Thyrgion wants to pick up a personal package. In hindsight, I’m wondering if this personal touch/affair with Thyrgion disrupts the main story. It is unrelated to the main plot and could make players wonder why they are following him around. However I wanted to flesh him out alittle, give him a personal story along the main story as well as mesh in more background story for GMs to play with if they would want to.

Another change I made was switching location on the assassination attempt, instead of having BlackStar roam through Dulta looking for Adwind I moved Adwind into the Crimson mountain range. A GM could let this information slip in and have the party skip Dulta completely if they want. In hindsight, I like the extra background story I got to write for the Rotlands and the Crimson Mountains as a result of moving the location. Both got a dark history and suits well to the summoning of a Demon Lord of Rot & Decay.

I also put in a Overview chapter where I go over the whole story as well as providing background story on some players and why things are even happening at all. Instead of just jumping into the adventure story, I felt that an introduction that sums it all up and provides you with a story about what is going on and why would be a good way to go about it. Get you sort of prepped before you get into the adventure story itself.

It was during the Editing that I began re-writing and changing things around and it turned out to become my Kryptonite! I was never good at going over my own writing before and it turns out nothing much has changed there. It took me roughly 9 to 10 months to get through the Editing, mostly because there would be long periods where I was burned out and did not want to look at it anymore. Eventually I got through it and decided that this was my first ever adventure product and however much I would want it, I could not expect to create a perfect one as my first one. If this was ever going to get finished, I would have to let go of perfection. That is not to say that I dropped Editing midway, but it would have be good enough. In hindsight, I should have stuck to a more structured editing I think, one thing at a time one chapter at a time and then re-writ/change and edit the new script. I began re-writing and changing things in the middle of editing and I think that was a big factor in burning out.



The Gork Beast Nel’dratha Dragons
served as food for the background story to the Rotlands and Crimson mountains.

Bootcamp Bonus

It was time for fleshing out the bonus content, the appendix. I decided to put the NPC’s in the Appendix so they would not interrupt the story itself. Along with them I decided to put the Time Hunter character class in as a bonus as well, I did not want to force anyone who bought this to also buy the Time Hunters Sourcebook. To help me get some feedback on Galens Gamble I also put in a survey link that would grant you a free copy of the Time Hunters Sourcebook, because I was very curious about how Galens Gamble would be recieved.

As an added bonus I wrote a chapter about loose ends, what could happen to the world if BlackStar successfully kills Adwind the priest and the Demon Lord enters the realm? What could happen if she did not? What about Galen Greymantle if he survived how would he feel about the adventurers? I don’t know if it’s ironic or not, but this chapter was most likely the one I was most in tune with and I think it could inspire me to write a sequel maybe create a campaign?

Working art

I would have liked more artwork, more npc images. But I have long ago decided that TinyGork has to be self-reliant and if I want to buy artwork it has to come from TinyGork’s own pocket. TinyGork’s pockets were more or less empty, so if I wanted any artwork I would have to create it myself. I created the cover a long while back so that was done, I had also created a headshot of BlackStar so I had 1 NPC image atleast. In the winter of 2013 I was at an annual Christmas market held at Gavnø Castle and I brought my camera, turns out they have a huge public garden and at the time it was in decay which I thought would suit my Rotlands perfectly so some of my pictures from there was photoshopped into images for the book. Likewise one of my photo’s from Møns Klint was used for the chapter about the druid’s forest. But a few location images and a headshot was not much artwork, so I decided to create some more myself. This resulted in a emblem for the secret cult that works to summon the Demon Lord, re-using the emblem from the Time Hunters Sourcebook for Thyrgion, a pair of daggers for Galen, an emblem for the mercenary band Howlers was all I could manage to get done before I simply just HAD to get it all finished and out. I needed this project to be completed, it was a triumph in waiting and I could not wait much longer. In hindsight, I would have liked to have more artwork a good depiction of the town Dulta where people live in square holes dug into the earth for one, but also an image of Galen Greymantle would have been great.

Last minutes boots

In the very last moments I remembered that I had almost forgot to put in a flowchart of the story, this was an idea that struck me very early on. I think I read someone somewhere commenting that they would have liked some kind of overview or diagram in the modules they buy. So this was something I would really want to get in the release. In hindsight, I forgot and remembered very late in the game and the end result could be better it was a rushed online-tool created flowchart when I could basically just have hand drawn it myself.

So now I had a finished product that basically nobody knew about and I was going to launch it on DrivethruRPG and I might get some views the first day before it would drown in other new releases. So what kind of pricetag should it have? 32 pages with alot of story and bonus stuff, I decided that a launch price of $5 would be fair for the first 30 days. In hindsight, I suffered from Rookie jitters and eventually lowered the price to $1. I will be completely honest with you here, only 2 people have bought it and I simply feared that it was because of the price and the fact that I am completely unknown to customers who would buy a systemless adventure. But today I am comfortable with the pricetag of $1, I am not here to make a million bucks. TinyGork is about sharing my ideas with others, especially GMs and it’s just as much about seeing what you will do with it, how you will change it and tweak it and chop it into bits and put it back together how you like it. Bascially I want to give you my ideas to help you shape your worlds, I want to be your muse you could say 😉

Bootcamp Galens Gamble result

So I churned out 32 pages of Bootcamp, roughly 10 more than estimated, which proves that it’s not easy to prevent creep of content. So after a years work, what did I get in return for my efforts, well let me show you the list:

galensgamblecover

galensgamblecover

  • An introductory overview of the adventure, the big picture.
  • A flowchart of how I see the adventure unfold.
  • A systemless story adventure taking place in a rural region close to a big mountain range.
  • 4 main NPCs, Thyrgion the Time Hunter, Galen Greymantle, the Assassin BlackStar, the priest Adwin Thwarne as well as Rlazr the foul imp and a 10 minor named mercenary NPCs.
  • 8 special items devided among the main NPCs.
      Galens two daggers “Galens Fangs”
    1. A medallion “Weavesun”
      The statue of martyrs
      Bulwark of Hrath, an ancient armor
      Dawnbringer, the red bladed bastard sword
      and more…
  • A small town named Dulta with 5 named NPC descriptions.
  • 4 specially designed locations: the druids forest, the town of dulta, the rotlands and the crimson mountain range. Among the background story provided are Vampires and Undead Dragons.

BONUS CONTENT

  • A chapter dedicated to following up on the Aftermath of the story, hooks and ideas for continuing the story in one or more new adventures.
      What would happen if the Demon Lord was not banished and what happens if he is?
    1. How would the Mercenaries and Assassin regard the heroes when all is set and done?
  • A short intro to a mercenary band called the Howlers, included in the Appendix.
  • A short intro to a secret cult named “The Order of the Rotten Diamond”, included in the Appendix.
  • The Time Hunter systemless character class, complete with duties, role, ideas to skills, feats/talents and spells is included in the Appendix.
  • A survey for providing feedback to Tiny Gork and earning your FREE copy of the Time Hunters sourcebook.
  • Optional hook for the future campaign setting: Shadow Council

If you want to buy Galens Gamble go to http://bit.ly/1KCri6U at DrivethruRPG.

The end?

All in all, Bootcamp Galens Gamble has been quite the experience and next time I write an adventure (if ever) I think I will draw on this experience and do it differently. I think I will aim for more simplicity in the future, maybe shorter stories or a completely different way of presenting an adventure idea to you altogether. One of my first thoughts when I finished was that I would not write an adventure again, but I am not so sure even though this was a tough marathon I hope it will also prove to have been a crucible that strengthened my skills.

I know my BootCamp posts have been one of the series that has been followed the most, so I would like to thank all you that kept up and read all my ramblings along the way. Thanks to Johnn Four for creating the Bootcamp course and his advice along the way, Thanks to other Gamerlifestylers for providing spiritual backup along the way as well. Thanks to my girlfriend Lisbeth for accepting TinyGork’s cut into our time together and even her many advice and ideas as well.

This concludes my first BootCamp series, thanks again for reading.

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