Friday, February 20, 2015

Home Brewing

I have grown frustrated with my studying of "Masks of Nyarlathotep" for Call of Cthulhu. The brilliance of the adventure/campaign is clear to me, but there is just so much to know! As I slowly read its secrets and try to frame them in my brain, I find myself yearning for the comfort, familiarity, and creativity that goes into creating my own adventures.

The truth is, I don't think I'm a "book adventure" kinda guy. I wish I was. I see the appeal: a polished, perfected adventure, with all the materials you need in one book, and all I have to do is read it and present it to the players. But I think what I've come to discover about myself (especially in the process of getting my Masters degree), is that I am much more of a writer than a reader. More of a content producer than a content consumer. And so, it is looking less and less likely that I will be able to get myself through "Masks of Nyarlathotep." I'm not completely ready to throw in the towel just yet, but I'm close enough to say that it's probably going to happen.

That's not to say that I find no value in published adventures. Far from it. My intention, moving forward, is to mine published adventures for ideas and stuff that I can jury-rig into my own adventures. Also, when I say I'm a producer instead of a consumer, that's not to say that I don't enjoy a good story at all. Of course I do! But when it comes to presenting material, I feel like that material has to come from my own brain. Because original material gives me an advantage in being an instant subject matter expert on it.

Take, for example, the Call of Cthulhu adventure I did last Sunday for a group of ten players, "One Night in Innsmouth." I spent almost a whole week before that adventure writing down notes and ideas, narrative bits to describe to the players, stuff like that. I was ready for almost anything those players threw at me. Compare that to Masks, where I can't see myself going more than 30 or so minutes before having to dig into the book for more info to present to the players. In my Innsmouth game, I knew what the players needed to do to get certain pieces of information, and I had a timeline with which I could pace the entire adventure. Masks has that too, but the difference is I have to learn it, rather than create it.

I think the compromise I've come up with is that I will create my own adventures, but I won't try so hard to reinvent the wheel everytime I commit words to page. That aforementioned Cthulhu adventure was an almost page-perfect rip on Lovecraft's own short story "The Shadow Over Innsmouth." I didn't even really try to hide it. And it still went really well, and my own spin on it allowed me to be creative without being derivative.

And, with that, I will get back to working on my next Cthulhu adventure!
The process in my head for making adventures doesn't quite look like this, but maybe a little bit...

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