I’m writing a Pathfinder campaign for a publisher of sourcebooks and pre-gen campaigns, This project is both one of the biggest gamewriting assignments I’ve worked on, and a cool throwback to my younger days playing tabletop games. I’ve always enjoyed playing pre-gen campaigns, usually because the gamemaster could relax a bit more and enjoy it too.

In some ways, it’s amazing to working on my own, with no technical constraints, no teammates with their own ideas, no brand manager with veto power, no “vision holder” who read a Techcrunch trend piece this morning and wants to redo the last six months of work… and there’s really no one to check in with, besides my editor. It’s very freeing, but sometimes I really miss having a team to tell me whether it seems fun so far.

This campaign story’s coming along well, with a Major Plot and the required surprises, and some smaller side mission for worldbuilding, but after several drafts, I still have no idea what to do with this demi-boss and then boss fight. Typically, this is my least favorite part of a campaign to play… I’m much more interested in solving puzzles and talking to NPCs than aligning my attacks on the big bad.

I thought I’d look through the monster manual for some inspiration. Pathfinder is open-source, so it’s really more of a monster wiki, where gaming groups, small publishers and independent designers can contribute their own enemies. About 10 minutes in, I stopped feeling like I was looking for a random monster to plug in to my adventure, and started thinking about scrapping everything I have to make use of these wild underwater creatures, or cave terrains, or trashing my entire plot to make this campaign all about combat with carnivorous plants.

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