Friday, April 13, 2012

Sample Dwimmermount Page Spread

Things are progressing rather nicely with regards to Dwimmermount. With just a little over a day till the end of the Kickstarter, pledges have topped $40,000, which is four times the original goal. This means that, not only will there be a thirteenth level of the dungeon in the final product, but there will also be an illustration booklet after the fashion of those TSR included in classic modules like Tomb of Horrors, Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, and Hidden Shrine of the Tamoachan.

I'll have more to say about the illustration booklet soon, but, right now, I wanted to share with a very small sample of the layout to be used in the final product. Adam Jury, the very talented guy who made Thousand Suns look like a million bucks, is once again working his magic and the result is one I like one very much. Nothing you see here is final, including the text, but it ought to give some idea of the approach we've adopted, including the use of sidebars to highlight important information. As the layout is finalized, I'll be sharing additional peeks, but I was so pleased with how things are already progressing that I wanted to show it off.
You can see two more sample pages over at Adam Jury's blog.

44 comments:

  1. Thumps UP!!!!!!!!!

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  2. I have a question on occupant numbers, and it can be extended to how we stock in general in old school gaming.

    One room is "currently" occupied by eight kobolds and another has 16. Why fixed numbers, and when exactly is the current time? Surely numbers rise and fall as life goes on in the spaces, as individuals move about, whether according to routine or becase of unexpected events not mecessarily linked with the party.

    Doesn't it make sense to key not only rooms, but also paths through the dungeon? Dungeon maps could be overlaid with key routes, emphasising flow of occupants rather than collections. This presumably applies even more to a megadungeon than a smaller location or a simple scenario-like setup, in that returns over a longer period of time are expected.

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  3. Where's the gp value on the inert Dwarves? :)

    Congratulations on Dwimmermount's very successful Kickstarter! I'm looking forward to the finished product!

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  4. Will it lay flat? I find that impotant in an adventure.

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  5. From the looks of things, I'll be able to convert it to AD&D 2E on the fly. Great success!

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  6. Will Dwimmermount be digest-sized (6" x 9") like Thousand Suns, or letter-sized (8.5" x 11") as is RPG-standard?

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  7. Porky, you should check out this link. I  think it'll answer many of your questions.


    http://tinyurl.com/7v622dt

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  8.  I cannot answer that yet, since I just don't know.

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  9. Porky, you should take a look at this link. I think it'll help  answer many of your questions.
    http://tinyurl.com/7v622dt

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  10. Fletcher VredenburghApril 13, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    Beautiful and congratulations

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  11. Dwimmermount will be too thick to lie flat as a softcover. It should be easy to have it comb-bound at your local print shop, though.

    And hey, an iPad always lies flat... ;-)

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  12.  You are overthinking. These occupant numbers are "captured in time." In other words, the referee can waste a lot of time plotting movement paths and general random locations for these encounters, or he can efficiently have the first time encounters frozen in time until activated by the players.

    Obviously, after a room is played, the referee makes notes as to the disposition of the occupants and contents, but that is way easier than trying to actually behave like an ecosystem.

    Your suggestion is great for videogame design - the movements can be automated in the background. It doesn't work like that in Dwimmermount.

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  13.  Amen. Thumbs so far up I dislocated both shoulders.

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  14. This looks good.

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  15. You could do both or completely change what's going on. Instead of 14 Kobolds, it could be 14 DEAD Kobolds.  Your the GM and if you don't like something change it. I would suggest too checking this link below.

    http://tinyurl.com/7v622dt

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  16. Making notes after the first encounter is obvious. The issue in this regard is really only why we set the first encounter so strictly given the scope for variation. Instead of a fixed eight it could be, say, 1d6+4, or 3d4; both give a similar mean average. Anyway, it's a minor point I guess.

    As for tracks, it's not really any more of an automation than the DM managing monsters during encounters. If routes were marked on the map - no more than that - the GM could easily mark alternate positions or track movements using dice, group size face up. It would help get the existing info out of blocks of room description text and into simple visual prompts.

    I realise we don't traditionally do it this way, but major products generally take into account a range of approaches, and it seems a large part of the OSR is of a younger, 'new school' and/or video game generation. Older players can also learn new tricks without feeling threatened, or even being challenged. The Kickstarter in this case means funds aren't short for the small amount of extra work. After all, James presumably already knows exactly how the various elements interact. If the Kickstarter format offers us a range of bonuses, why not have extras like this too, a variety of options covered for greater overall utility?

    Which is to get away from the point. This isn't intended as criticism, or aimed at Dwimmermount specifically. It's something I'd imagine many of us would be interested in having as an option with any large published location.

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  17. #35 is indented, none of the others are.  Just in case you hadn't noticed it yet.

    Looks great, though. :)

    -Ed Green

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  18. Ed -- thanks for the heads-up. This text is actually pre-edit, so nothing is fully set in stone yet. :-)

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  19.  Well you convinced me to bump mine commitment from $40 to $60.  Looking forward to it.  Congrats on the success, 42K and rising. 

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  20. Looks great! I pledged for a hardcover yesterday.

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  21. I like the mini map and the level indicators on the page margin. Little tools like this are super-useful.

    Does the minimal highlight the areas being described on that spread?

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  22. Mini map, not minimal (stupid autocorrect)

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  23. 31 and 32 have some plural/singular and repeated text  before and after a line break. You should select some backers to act as proof-readers.

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  24. This version of the text hasn't gone through any proofreading at all; I always try to build books with a "Just get me a chapter that has all the paragraph types/arrangements that you'll need, and I'll build the design from there." methodology so the design can be refined as the text is also refined, and each can inform each other.

    We probably should have mentioned the unedited text part a little more loudly, though. Any playtest-style comments are welcome, of course!

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  25. Adam, the Kickstarter campaign says it's supposed to be a hardcover. Do you know something we don't? :-)

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  26. Kickstarter backers get the hardcover, yes. Eventually we'll enable the print-on-demand services from partners like RPGNow so you could have them do a softcover for you, or as Adam says you could print the PDF lots of different ways.

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  27. Filling out my prototype megadungeon tracker helped me understand what the likely territories for different monster factions are and how individuals might move within that area. I think that if I had tried to learn this from having it written into the text ahead of time I would have rejected it as over-complicated, whereas doing it myself let me learn through doing. 

    I'm fully down with your desire to support a range of approaches and look forward to exploring some new ones using the tracker (and the instructions and examples for its use) and the alternate cartographies we can present in the separate map books!

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  28. It's unfortunate that areas 9 and 40 require you to flip the page to "run" that area. Hopefully this is not the case in the final version. Running a module is much easier when you don't need to flip pages to deal with an area. And by extension, it's easiest when strongly related areas both fall on the same 2-page spread.



    Also, it's a little light on the word count per page. The full page (p. 9) appears to have only ~700 words, largely because of the huge margin. Without that margin, you could probably get 25% more words per page, which translates into a savings on both art and printing, and also have more flexibility on avoiding the aforementioned page-flipping issue.



    Admittedly the margin is used for things like treasure summaries and level links. But the former is repeated information (especially the redundant room names and prose description of the treasure location), and I'm not sure it provides much utility. When was the last time you heard someone actually complain about the lack of treasure summaries in a module? Why just treasure, and not general room trappings? The treasure summaries are also spatially displaced from the areas to which they apply.



    Those reserved sidebar areas are great when they provide useful info, but in these cases the utility is worth the word count loss. Horizontal capsules (preferably at the bottom of the relevant area description, or maybe at the bottom of pages) would be much-more space efficient. Or at least, only "steal" space when there's actually a sidebar on the given page; pages without sidebar info should have area descriptions that fill the horizontal span of the page.

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  29. Adam:  your design looks good, as usual.  Thanks for helping to raise the bar on RPG book design through your projects (most notably from my POV, Eclipse Phase, of course). 

    Allan.

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  30. I don't consider 700wpp to be light in a typical RPG book; I think it's pretty average. Over the years I've found that people actually like having a nice border to lay their thumbs down on (and sometimes scribble notes in!). But I'm no stranger to fitting a LOT of text into a book, and I prefer to err on the side of, ah, just above average. :-)

    Not breaking encounters between spreads is something I aim to do, but for everyone who doesn't want encounters broken, another person hates columns of unequal length.

    Horizontal capsules at the bottom of pages are an interesting idea, but they'll suffer even more from spacial displacement. I'm going to give them a shot to see how I feel about them, but integrating them with some of my design preferences is tricky.

    As I go through the book (remember, I'm working from one pre-edit chapter currently) more items and cross-references will be added into the sidebars, as will iconography.

    And of course, "utility vs word count loss" is always a matter of opinion. I aim to maximize the utility as opposed to the word count per page.

    (One of the other comments I've received about the layout is "Boy, those stat blocks sure are space efficient ... and as a result, they're alphabet soup." ;-) )

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  31. Looks like your Kickstarter LITERALLY JUST ENDED. Wanted to give you the first official congratulations on your blog.

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  32. With regards to words per page, it's possible I just don't get out enough beyond the OSR products and tangentially related stuff. Frog God Games stuff is regularly 1200+ words per page. Advanced Adventures appear to vary, but most of the ones I own are well over 1000. TLG modules are around 1000. Goblinoid Games stuff is 900. OSRIC, LL, S&W (non-FGG), and BFRPG are all 800-900. Even LotFP modules are 900 words per page -- at digest size! (I'm not talking averages across a whole product, mind you; these are estimates on full pages of text that include subsection headers that act akin to module area names, in terms of the necessary space they consume.)



    "… but for everyone who doesn't want encounters broken, another person hates columns of unequal length."

    Preferable solutions for the unequal column length problem are: 1) artwork commissioned to exact sizes based on individual page spacing needs (in an ideal world: edit first, then layout, and commission artwork last); 2) a small library of spacing/filler art; 3) ad-hoc variation on inter-paragraph/section spacing.

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  33. Thank you for posting this. I really find this blog interesting and informative.

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  34. The layout looks fantastic, I much prefer a lower word count, I like the margins and will like them even more if they have all kinds of goodies stuffed in them.

    Congrats on the completion of your kickstarter project, I'm really excited to see the finished project!!

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  35. You'll be happy to know that we are following your "ideal world" workflow with regards to the timing of artwork commissioning; that's how I aim to do all of the books I work on.

    Dwimmermount is going to get a lot of love and TLC.

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  36.  Great to hear you're on the team Adam.  I'm most familiar with your Shadowrun work and you did some amazing stuff there.  SR20A is one of the best designed RPG books (from a layout standpoint) I've ever seen.

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  37. Awesome, thanks for the update!

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  38. Of course, more words per page means smaller margins and smaller font size. Or less art.  And if you look at James' thoughtful review of "In the Shadow of Mount Rotten," which fits 1,300 words on a page, you'll see that people notice those compromises. ;)

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  39. Thank, Dave, I appreciate the kind words!

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  40. Just saw this post. No, the map on the first page is just to quickly show which page the full map is on (the map will typically go near the middle of the chapter to minimize page-flipping.)

    But your idea is ... interesting. Might be hard to do in a super-legible manner given the size of the map. Something to tinker with.

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  41. I am a low-level backer and non-grognard long-time lurker of this blog who was not sure whether I should participate in the Kickstarter, but after having had a chance to look at this preview, I am glad I did - running this will be fun!

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  42. Looking for testplayers for testing Sample Dwimmermount dungeon. It would be online on http://rpol.net.

    You can find me on my blog:  http://grungirpg.blogspot.com/

    Or by mail: grungisghost@gmail.com

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