• Quest Friends!

Building Roulettia: Final Week

My Goal: By the end of the month, write a 5+ page Cypher System module containing everything a GM would need to run an adventure in Roulettia.

Weeks 3 & 4: Write the remainder of the book front to back, then ask the cast of "Quest Friends!" for feedback. While waiting for feedback, work on a Cartesian mini-module.

10,107 words.

Not quite the 50,000 needed to fulfill the standard NaNoWriMo conditions, but a heck of a lot more than I've ever written on a project like this before. How do my final stats relate to my original goals, and what lessons did I learn working on this project?


5 Pages

5 City Districts

2 Minigames (Hopscotch & Item Exchange)

20 Items

3 Alien Descriptors

3 Creatures & Minor NPCs

3 Important NPCs

3 Organizations

3 Pre-Gen Characters

1 Adventure

1 Cartesian Mini-Module

Finished Module

20 Pages

5 City Districts

2 Minigames (Hopscotch & Item Exchange)

20 Items

3 Alien Descriptors

6 Creatures & Minor NPCs

3 Important NPCs

3 Organizations

0 Pre-Gen Characters

0 Adventures

0 Cartesian Mini-Modules

1 Index

Lesson 1: Don't worry about having too few words; worry about having too few ideas.

The final version of the Roulettia module currently contains less content than the original vision, and yet its page length is 4 times as long. This is despite me worrying on almost every entry that I wasn't entering enough information. Looking back at all the content I wanted to write, I'm baffled that I expected it to only fill five pages, but honestly, even if it did, those five pages would've been packed with good stuff for GMs to use.

Lesson 2: Keep your ideas. All of them.

Even though I spent an entire week assembling all of my ideas into a thorough spreadsheet, there were still many moments when I was writing out the module and realized the module required information I didn't already have on hand. And entering that information was hard. The mental energy I needed to exert to write words right often left me too tired to come up with good ideas - slowly generating those parts of Roulettia certainly felt like a far cry from the excited brainstorming sessions that usually inspire my worldbuilding. However, this difficulty was assuaged when I had spare ideas on hand. These were ideas that originally didn't make the cut, but, when re-contextualized in a new setting, fit into the module perfectly.

Lesson 3: Write with the expectation to cut...

A rule I've heard many times is "it's better to have too much than too little," and for this project that was extremely true. Not only did having more information than I needed give me a pool to work from when I was out of ideas (see Lesson 2), but it also gave me insurance when I inevitably fell behind schedule. I'm not a good planner - the scope of my goals always dwarfs what I can actually accomplish. So by having content that I could easily cut without hurting the core of the product (i.e. pre-gen characters, an adventure, a Cartesian mini-module), I was able to design a timeline where I could fall behind but still finish. As an added bonus, the contest that was cut from the module isn't just lost forever, either! The Cartesian mini-module in particular has sparked an idea for a book I'll start work on after this one is released.

Lesson 4: ...even if you're deviating from the source material.

"Quest Friends!" is an improvised narrative podcast, and, as a result, many of the worldbuilding details in that podcast are either designed purely to advance our specific story or are just not well-thought out, because they were improvised. While writing, it was key that I seriously re-analyzed the facts about Roulettia as presented in "Quest Friends!" For example, while making the top of Funbuck's Funhouse and Hotel a convention hall works really well for our story, where the main event of the arc is a combined exhibit & auction, as a module, it doesn't naturally breed ideas in the same way having that space be Tommy Funbuck's personal penthouse does. I also had to be willing to cut characters that were nothing more than story MacGuffins (sorry, Q-Bo, you're adorable, but you're also literally just an excuse for Lorraine to hire our heroes and get the story started). Conversely, a lot of module content came from ideas I had to cut while planning the podcast, because while they worked as general worldbuilding, they were unnecessary for the specific story "Quest Friends!" is telling.

Lesson 5: I need a nap.

I am e-x-h-a-u-s-t-e-d. Time for me to sit back, relax, and - wait, there's a new episode coming out on Monday? In that case, I better get back to editing the show that brought you on this module journey with me in the first place!


P.S. If you'd like to take a look at the module before it's officially released, I'm looking for some feedback! If you're interested, message @Quest_Friends on twitter or send an email to questfriendsquestions@gmail.com.

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