Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Boxed Worlds & Focused Locales

I peer over at my wall-spanning bookshelves (well, one wall of them, anyway) and see a chunk of my Dungeons & Dragons shelf occupied by several thick boxed sets crammed with fantasy world settings. Their names ring boldly in the annals of fantasy roleplaying games: Dark Sun, Raveloft, and Forgotten Realms. Lately I’ve been thinking about getting rid of them. Virtually unseen nearby sit several thin, saddle-stitched D&D modules, some of which provide more localized settings for fantasy adventures beyond the actual scenario material. Some of their names – notably B2 The Keep on the Borderlands and X1 The Isle of Dread – also stand tall in the annals of D&D. I’ve spent more time adventuring in these smaller locales than the vast expanses of the boxed sets and their numerous support supplements. Perhaps these more compact modules offered a young gamer both examples of solid settings as well as the invitation and inspiration to expand upon them. Perhaps I didn’t immerse myself in the larger boxed settings because by the time they were released I’d moved beyond my carefree, younger days of after-school and summertime gaming into a professional life that put a premium on free time.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Boldface Highlights Adventure Essentials

Tim Shorts tried something different with his recent, Patreon-supported micro-adventure, Into the Ruins. He used bold type to highlight “things of note” within scenario entries. Certainly boldface type has its traditional place in paragraph formatting, most notably as an introductory paragraph subhead labeling the subsequent text: “Chamber 3: Guard Post. Five orcs cluster around a wooden table, tossing dice and drinking ale....” But reading Tim’s micro-adventure and then perusing some classic modules from my youth demonstrated that peppering adventure text with notable boldfaced words has been a layout convention since the beginning of the roleplaying game hobby. I suppose I’ve always been subconsciously aware of this, but it took Tim blatantly pointing this out to bring it to my attention and kindle my interest in how it was used in other published work, particularly modules supporting my earliest immersion in Basic/Expert Dungeons & Dragons and Advanced D&D.