This is well formatted and clearly written. I admire that a great deal. I also don’t think there is anything wrong with the use of GM voice. But I get the impression that you are more of a writer than a GM.
As a story/ piece of writing:
Someday a literary scholar will undertake a study of roleplaying writing (if they haven’t already), and in that contrived and irrelevant thesis the scholar will be forced to recognize the existence of a novel and modern literary voice or perspective: the GM VOICE
In the GM’s voice the speaker or narrator is addressing simultaneously the player and the character. If this voice occurs as it does here, in a GM supplement, the voice is both addressing a traditional audience which is following the story in a linear fashion, it all addressing the GM who plays the role of a writer or co-author and in this case it also addresses the “in game” or in story world as it if were real and independent. Let us consider the description of the first encounter.
Dozus starts with a limited third person present tense perspective
“After two days of steady traveling, the archaeologists cheerfully announce that the Sanctuary is but a few miles away. As they top the next dune, however, there is a distressing sight: an encampment of nomadic lizardmen. Notorious bandits native to the Inhap, the lizardmen are no pushover, especially given their ability to dive into and "swim" through the sand, making them difficult to track. As one of the archaeologists - a slender woman with a heavy accent - unhelpfully points out, the encampment is directly over the site of the temple.”
In these line we are told of events that happen to the characters from thei character's perspective: The lizard men are notorious from the character’s perspective, their presence is distressing from the character’s perspective, the archaelogists comment is unhelpful from the character’s perspective
This tells us what is happening almost as if it is story, but then we switch to a future tense: “Unless one of the party is lucky enough to speak Inhapi, the lizardmen will have to be removed by force. Expect strong resistance from the dozen of the tribe…”
Next we return to a more traditional narrative: “The three nod to each other and the old archaeologist begins to chant in a strange tongue. For several minutes, nothing seems to happen. Then, suddenly, the archaeologist slams the base of the staff into the ground.”
Later on Dozus will start to address the story tellers themselves: “so some knowledge of Sumuho’s history would be valuable”
You, the readers and member of the Citadel prefer this type of writing. Why?
Why didn’t Dozus just write this up as story? What do we gain from this write up that we would not gain from a direct story? This already a very linear narrative, there are few asides or maybes. If this had just been written up as a story would the Citadel be more or less inclined to give it as much love? Writing this as a linear traditional story would not make it any less useful as a roleplaying adventure template, in part because except in the climax section were are not forced to deal with any encounters that could have truly different outcomes.
As roleplaying encounter:
1) The lizard men: It is stated that the perhaps talking to the lizard could be a solution, but we know nothing about their style of communication. We can assume that they are violent gnome slaughtering bandits, so their motivation seems clear, but what if you are characters are not inclined to go slaughter a group of intelligent beings that have done nothing wrong to them. A simple solution would be have encounters with the lizard men that would generate specific animosity between the players and the lizardmen. Otherwise perhaps the lizard men could be developed a bit to make them more than just “monsters”. What if the players fail or reach a stalemate with the lizardmen? Why wasn't that considered implicitly by the author?
2) The puzzle: Here the players just need to repeat what the NPCs tell them is important. This is interesting in that makes sure your players understand where they are going, like a backstory pop quiz, but it doesn’t dig into the players either. The most efficient method for solving this puzzle is to make the character puppets for the NPCs. Not fun. Could the players talk the door into opening by teaching it phenomenology?
3) Setback: It is saving throw and set piece. Again the players are not strongly involved.
4) Climax: Did the archeologist really need the PCs? To make this more powerful their should have been some event that forced the PCs to bond with archeologist prior to this. A GM could insert one, but it should have been in the write up. Did the archeologist give off clues that they intended to betray the PCs? The PCs are no more than passengers in this plot.
5) Twist: I like the picture of the talking head. At least this has some open ended stuff going for it.
"Interactivity. If I wanted to write "standard fiction," it would be straight prose. "
Most modern fans of speculative approach the medium as spring board for their own ideas not as place to genuinely pursue or absorb the art. They are less concerned with the actually material than they are with the personal fantasies and possibilities that the story offers. Thus sci-fi and fantasy fans don't are willing to except bad writing or poor acting if there is an interesting idea behind the story. That has always been true, but I think that has shifted away from philosophical or political dialogs and focused on personal escapism. So called golden age Sci-fi/fantasy such as "We", "Anthem" and the Lord of the Rings were allegorical for political or social issues. Post Star Wars speculative fiction deals more providing a context that would appeal to the readers own fantasies. "Ender's Game" is the dream of every weak scared awkward kid. So I see modern fantasy and sci-fi writing as something written for the audience to play in.
Are you making the argument that story telling is less engaging than the story suggesting of RPG writing because in story telling the audience is just receiving and in story suggesting they are participating? Go to Comment
Hmm, this is cool. I had read the same news item (or one almost like it) and immediately started a new In Work. Of course, I never finished it, so I'm thrilled you did! I like val's thought here, some great tragedy unleashing a swarm of these creatures. They will drink your sorrows away! Go to Comment
Formed into a perfectly even cylinder, this is a fine looking cap lined with ermine and wrapped in bright green silk. Runes are embroidered in royal blue all around and a tall, narrow cone sticks out the top, a golden tassle hanging from its peak. For a finishing touch, thin yellow silk forms a veil flowing around the shoulders and the back of the head.
When the apparently wise Prince Shexing could not come to a solution to his royal problems, he consulted his vizier Yin-Tsu, the famous mage. Yin-Tsu could always divine some solution by searching his great tomes of knowledge and reading of omens. Eventually, the Prince became overly dependent his vizier, demanding solutions to the simplist of problems. For a while, Yin-Tsu was only slightly annoyed by his liege's constant cries for help. The wizard's resolve broke when Shexing began claiming Yin-Tsu's solutions as his own, granting no credit to the eternally wise advisor. The next time the prince asked a favor of his vizier, Yin-Tsu presented him with a gift: a magical cap that would grant its wearer the wisdom of the spirits. Delighted, Prince Shexing accepted the gift and dismissed Yin-Tsu from the viziership, a move he was happy to make so that he could finally focus on his life's work. Knowing that Yin-Tsu was wise indeed, Shexing put on the cap and prepared to solve all the Empire's problems. Just as Yin-Tsu had said, the prince's mind was filled with knowledge. Ah, finally! he thought, I can be a great ruler now! Summoning his scribes, Shexing began to dictate new commands and laws to answer the Empire's needs. The scribes looked dumbfounded as they wrote. After he finished, the pleased prince demanded to look upon his work. The scribes awkwardly handed Shexing the scrolls he dictated to them. Anger and confusion grew in Shexing as he read the scrolls: they were complete babble, a seemingly random assortment of verbs, nouns, and adjectives strung together with no syntax or style. The prince angrily dismissed his scribes and began to write the commands himself. After they were all written, he looked again upon his work. To his utter dismay, it was again prattling nonsense. What could be wrong? he thought. This hat gives me great knowledge! What causes this miscommunication?! Shexing ruled for only a few more months before going mad and forcibly displaced from the throne. The remainder of his reign was marked by a bizarre pronouncements and angry chattering.
When a person wears the Thinking Cap, they are immediately filled with complete knowledge. Even the most complex puzzle or equation becomes child's play in their mind. However, when it comes to expressing these great thoughts, they are at a complete loss. Although the words make sense to the wearer, they come out as complete nonsense. There is no code hidden in the words, and they follow no pattern: they are simply the ramblings of madmen. The unfortunate wearer, however, is completely unaware of their nonsense and will continue to prattle on their eternal wisdom. The wearer also develops an attachment to the cap, convinced (rightfully so) that it does grant wisdom; if the wearer is not told that this is a Thinking Cap or does not know its purpose, they will simply develop an irrational emotional attachment to it. The wearer will refuse to remove the hat and will resist any attempt to forcibly remove it. After 2d12 weeks of wearing the Thinking Cap, the wearer will go insane. Go to Comment