First, I love the atmosphere of the temple. I get a very Half-Lifey kind of feel from it for some reason, and you've got some good descriptions in there.
While I understand you wanted to keep it somewhat vague for customization, the vagueness makes the whole sub feel sort of blank, like you started to create a beautiful painting but only sketched an outline. What really gives some of the great subs in Strolen's their "oompf" is the detail: whos, whys, wherefors, hows. So it's seems to be a temple that acted a place of worship and had some necromancy underground. Who was their god? Why the reanimation rooms? Why the traps for the penitents? We love hearing stories here, tell us yours.
Also, there's some detail that's lacking. For example, the artifact chamber:
"Here, anything of value was stored by the temple. Inside there is not much left, except a strange idol. The idol radiates evil.
Guarding this chamber is a Wight, tasked with destroying all who enter who do not speak a command word."
So the party goes into this chamber. What's it look like? How big is it? Then there's nothing left but an idol. What sort of idol? Is it gemmed, gilded, stone, wooden? How can I tell it's emanating evil? Then a wight shows up, apparently. What's the spoken word that it's listening for? What significance does the word have? These are details that really make or break a sub.
Overall, I really like the idea of the abandoned temple. But giving a skeleton of a temple dungeon just isn't quite what we're (or at least I'm) looking for. Detail-rich subs are best, IMHO.
I'll hold off voting for now in case you want to tweak it. I think it's really the start of a great sub. Go to Comment
You'll find no argument with me. I simply find my prose is inadequate to convey most of what I want to say.
I agree with you on more than you think. Certainly the best of fiction can completely engross a reader more than a mediocre RPG. And, at least from where I stand, the standard for what makes "decent" sci-fi/fantasy is lower than "decent" mainstream fiction (mainstream for lack of a better word) if the sci-fi/fantasy gives a fresh take on something.
And here you will find me lacking as a writer. I've neither great prose nor stunning ideas. If anything, my general modos operandi is to take things I've seen in history and translate them into a fantasy setting. Yes, that's what Tolkein did, God bless 'im, but I'm no Tolkein. And as a reader, I find myself preferring sci-fi/fiction that's well-written over that which explores unique ideas.
Exempli gratia: My favorite fantasy novel of all time is "The Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss. What I love about it, is that it excellently written. Does it have some unique ideas? Sure. There's naming magic (not brand new, but I like the take), there's a culture whose first language is signed (pretty cool, though actually not seen until the sequel), etc. But my favorite parts are the human ones, the ones that are just written spectacularly well.
I contrast "The Name of the Wind" with the Demon Cycle series by Peter V. Brett. It is full of rather unique ideas, a cosmology of demons, a unique rune-based magic system the likes of which I've not seen elsewhere, etc. etc. I read the first book, and I the ideas were enough to make me pick up the second. He's written two more I've not touched. Why? I find the writing to be mediocre at best. It's dull, it's repetitive, it's over dramatic. It's not interesting.
If I had my way, I would write like Rothfuss. But my skill is closer to a Brett. In short, when I say "I'm interested in making settings that one would want to *play* in, not just *read* about," I mean that I personally lack the skill to put my ideas into novel or story form. I write game things because I can do it well enough, and I do not write prose fiction because I cannot do it well. Go to Comment
Thanks for the analysis, axlerowes. Your deduction is correct: I'm first a writer, then a player, and last a GM - if at all.
So why write in this way? Several reasons. For one, note the headline in the browser: "Strolen's Citadel: A Role Playing Community." Most of the subs here are meant for game usage. There's a scant two pages in the "Articles - Fiction" section, and some of those aren't even prose. I try to write for the intended audience to some degree.
Another reason is, I consider gaming and game settings my favored medium. An analysis of my hard drive fill find many character sheets and setting ideas, and mere handful of attempted prose fiction. The Citadellian submission format is something I'm generally better at.
Reason the third: I wrote this for the "Five Room Dungeon" quest. This follows a fairly specific and linear format - I think you'll find most subs in that quest and with that freetext follow a similar outline. While aware that the GM must be prepared for many contingencies, I wrote this to fit the format while allowing some player selection.
In regards to the "GM VOICE," as you address it: You're right, this isn't exactly formatted to be dropped into a WotC book or anything. My syntax and tense are inconsistent in that way. I do try to write for multiple audiences, be they GM or player or just reader. I try not to pigeonhole the reader into thinking in a specific context, though it's geared broadly toward gaming.
On a tangential note, I know of two specific cases where this sub was used by GMs. One was Muro, as mentioned in his comment. The other was a fellow by the name of Ray who saw it in on Roleplaying Tips Weekly. He did as I anticipate Strolenites to do: adapt the dungeon to his own system and setting, adding and trimming where needed. Ray sent me the sheets he used, modified and including a few possible contingencies, maps, etc.; sadly I've lost the ZIP file in the years since, but he did keep the players more or less on the track I outlined above.
I do appreciate the viewpoints, axle. The devil always needs his advocate, and it does make one think. Go to Comment
Interactivity. If I wanted to write "standard fiction," it would be straight prose. Role-playing fiction is meant for a player/GM to use in their games. While one could certainly take standard fiction characters and drop them into a game, I'm interested in making settings that one would want to *play* in, not just *read* about. Go to Comment
I like it. A very "intellectual" dungeon. Like AG, I do feel like there is something missing - another twist, perhaps? But it does have a very charming atmosphere that makes me want to play it. Go to Comment
Pretty neat. Indeed a classic adventure, give a nice feeling of familiarity and nostalgia. I thought something more would have happened with the Astrologer, a betrayal or something. That'd make for another nice twist. :) Go to Comment
War Drummer - Part of a fife-and-drum marching duo, the drummer is the only survivor with the fifeman having caught an arrow in his chest. A strange sort of frenzy has come over him; he marches on, drumming silently and never sleeping. The Runner - The lightest footman in the nation, it's his job to relay messages from headquarters to the battlefield. He regularly darts back and forth between the marching army and the capital leagues away. Secretly, he's been selling the marching orders to enemy commanders. The POW - The only soldier who doesn't officially work for this army, he was captured weeks ago. They've been keeping him around to try to get him to talk or, barring that, use him as a bargaining chip. He's been beaten and abused severely, treated as an effigy of the hated enemy to be assaulted. In truth, he is the lowliest of conscripts and barely knows what end of the sword to hold, let alone the strongholds and plans of his home team. The Satrap - Though she works for the nation, she is not a soldier but a bureaucrat. She careful watches the action of the army, especially the performance of the generals, sending back notes and reports via the runner. She is also claiming any territory marched on in the name of the king, making sure to expand the empire and get herself promoted. Since part of her job is to find what is lacking in the unit and eliminate the weakest links, most of the troops dislike her. Go to Comment
Eerie cults run by weird sorcerers are always welcome in my book. :D
I like the idols. They're appropriately vague, effective for any setting. Ifrengal seems an interesting character. I'd love to read more about him. Why is he a master of sorcerery? Why does he have this desire to control people so? Background on him would be pretty sweet.
I'd like some more detail on the cult itself as well. What kind of pitches do the Shithiran use? How do they deal with existing religious groups? What exactly is Na'Shithiran? This kind of detail would really work well for this sub.
As a first sub, this one's got great potential. I won't vote just yet, but I'd be happy to once you can work out some more of this detail. Hope to see lots more like this, epsilon! :D Go to Comment