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A month or so ago, Jeff Stevens contacted me on Twitter to ask if I would be interested in contributing to a collaborative book of encounters he was putting together. I’ve been a fan of Jeff’s books on DM’s Guild for some time, so I was more than happy to get involved.
To cut a long story short, the book is out now and it’s great. You should buy it. But in case you’re not convinced, I asked Jeff to write a short guest post about the book. Enjoy!
Recently, a group of writers and I published a collaboration project on the Dungeon Masters Guild. The idea for the project came to me while reading the Strom King’s Thunder adventure. Chapter 3: The Savage Frontier is a large sandbox-type area where nearly anything can happen. I started working on encounters for DMs to use in this section of the adventure. While writing, I had a thought. And that thought was ‘it would be cool if I could get other writers to add encounters to this project’. I saw it as an opportunity to promote our writing styles across our individual audiences. Maybe there is a Glen Cooper fan out there who hasn’t checked out Richard Jansen-Parkes products yet. Or, a Jeff C. Stevens fan out there who hasn’t checked out Chris Bissette’s products yet. (If you haven’t, you should. They are fantastic!). There is a lot of great talent on the Dungeon Masters Guild and I want everyone to know!
In all, the 66-page module contains 24 standalone encounters written by nine writers. Seven of which are best-selling Dungeons Masters Guild writers. Whoever picks up this module is in for a treat! I contacted several Guild writers and asked if they would be willing to contribute to the project. The majority replied with a strong “yes”! Those who didn’t have the time to contribute now said that it sounded like a fun project and to contact them again if I created one of these modules again.
As a writer, I often buy adventures on the Guild in the hopes of learning from others and improving my own skills. I try to promote other writers when I have the chance and I often leave a review of the product. The writers on the Guild are fantastic people! There are several that I have developed friendships with just in messaging back and forth, asking for help with this or that on an adventuring that I’m working on at the time. I’ve received a lot of help in layout suggestions, adventure writing tips, and cover image suggestions from several Guild writers. M.T. Black and Tony Petrecca were very helpful in my early career (Ha! My first published adventure was June 2016.). I often message JVC Parry, Glen Cooper, and Chris Bissette to chat about adventures and just to keep in touch. In messaging Chris, I learned that we both have a similar taste in music – and I’m 45!
I’d already had some type of relationship with many of the writers that I contacted for encounters. I contacted a few other writers that I didn’t have a relationship with and they were also very eager to contribute to the project. Like I mentioned earlier, the writers on the Guild are fantastic people!
My criteria for the writing? I made that simple. A little too simple (see #2 below). I asked for ‘traveling encounters. ‘Things that could happen while traveling from one town to the next – or – things that could happen while the party camps’. I wanted to create a book of encounters that a DM could easily drop into their story. Something to fill in the gaps when the party travels from one area to another. It’s easy to say ‘you travel 8-hours and arrive safely’. It’s more fun to say ‘The dead body of a gnome lays in the road. His body is wet and covered in a sticky substance. You look around the area and find it odd that there are no tracks, not even his’ ,and then have the complete encounter written and sitting in front of you. And that’s what these are – complete encounters. Mini-adventures. Some are a single page long that may take you 15-minutes to an hour to play. Others may take you an entire gaming session to complete. New creatures, a few new magic items, hand-drawn maps, and original art. You get a lot of bang for your buck with this book. I can’t even speculate how many hours of gaming time it holds.
I learned a lot of lessons while working on this project.
- I should have given each of the writers a layout template to use. That would have made the task of putting the whole thing together much easier!
- I should have assigned areas and creatures. I gave the writers free reign over the encounter that they created. I didn’t want to limit their creativity. But, that means that there are a couple of duplicate creature encounters and situations in the module. They are each different in their own way, but I would have liked each encounter to be completely different from the others. Still, the duplicates do not take away from the final product.
- I should have allowed myself more time. It’s tough to put a timetable on a project like this. The other writers sent me their submissions quickly. It’s the editing, layout, and artwork that take the most time. My personal deadline for publication was 12/9. I only missed that deadline by a few days, so I’m happy. But the stress leading up to it was no fun.
Overall, the project turned out great. I hope you agree!
If you happen to pick up Encounters In The Savage Frontier, please leave a review, comment, or a rating. It not only helps promote the product, it is way for you to share your thoughts on the product as a DM.
– Jeff C. Stevens
Encounters In The Savage Frontier is out now and priced at $2.95. It includes adventures by Ken Carcas, Glen Cooper, Jean A. Headley, Richard Jansen-Parkes, Josh Kelly, JVC Parry, Tony Petrecca, Jeff C. Stevens, and, of course, myself. It’s also full of fantastic art by Daniel F. Walthall. You should pick up a copy right now.