Wandering Dev Diary #3
As always there is so much to work on and so little time. Especially with some of the real-life stuff going one. Nevertheless I have been doing my best to work on my projects. The most significant project in the past two weeks has been my first attempt at a published adventure. This adventure is a bit of a pet project and passion of mine. You see, it is based on the SCP universe. This is an internet-created community which has developed a universe of strange phenomena, items, and creatures known as SCPs. Think a weird combination of Men In Black, X-Files, and Warehouse 13. I love the idea of it and some of the SCPs are amazing. Due to its availability in creative content licensing, I am working on developing a D&D adventure adaptation. Needless to say, it has been a bit of a process.
This was the first major step I needed to get nailed down before going from amorphous idea into full-fledged project. Before I had a story idea, the work on this project consisted of interesting SCPs that would make for unique encounters. Anyone who delves deep enough into the SCP Wiki will find plenty to work with, as I have. So what story are we working with? The Church of the Broken God. This is less of a story as it is an antagonist. Something that would work at odds with the Foundation, and likely against players. It is very cult-like and it has a single-mindedness that makes it perfect for being the main concern of the an adventure. So that is what I am going with. The “point” of the adventure is to explore a dungeon that happens to be an old SCP containment site and see some weird things that aren’t easily fought, diplomicized (yes I made that up), or dealt with. The “hook” comes in the form of curiosity and the Church.
SCPs & Fantasizing Them
Whether you know much about SCPs is unimportant to understand the difficulty in applying the universe to D&D, which is a fantasy setting. Many SCPs involve modern objects, materials, and concepts. This alone creates some difficulties. My first order of business was to continuously make notes of interesting SCPs. Ones that make interesting stories, could challenge a party, and (of course) not inherently guarantee a TPK. This then has had to be whittled down to those things that would be recognizable, at least, to a group of powerful fantasy heroes. Shower curtains, computers, and mailboxes all have to be removed from this list.
The list is ever-changing, but coming together nicely. Given the centrality of the Church of the Broken God, certain items gain presence automatically. Others are just interesting to me and others have made their way into interesting potential scenarios. Not every SCP will be included to challenge the party. Some are to distract and confuse them, providing lots of entertainment at the table, but not necessarily any long-term importance. But, that’s the goal of the adventure. You might draw a whole campaign from its events. Or it may be the silliest module you play in your game. I just want to bring out curiosity and creative thought.
I should also note some SCPs are making their way in through, well, fantasizing them. I mean this a little different from the definition. Essentially, take a modern item and make it applicable to a fantasy world. The best and least spoiler-y example are the anomalous ducks. Rubber duckies do not exist as we know them in the D&D world. While you could easily add them, I find it better to convert them. Instead of rubber, they are simply wooden carvings. Everything else about them, including their arbitrariness, remains.
Explaining The Foundation
Much of the work I have done has come in one of two categories. First is that which I have discussed: ideas. What to use, how to use them, and how to fit them in D&D. The other half of the work and the foundation (if you pardon the pun) of the adventure was something I didn’t realize I would be writing. It was something that presented itself as obviously needed as soon as I started though: background info. This doesn’t mean a world and history, but a description and outline. What are SCPs? What is the Foundation? What is all the lingo?
What began as an intro to the adventure, quickly became an appendix. A how-to for DMs to not just run the SCP adventure, but to be able to improvise the various items and descriptions found as if the site of the adventure is part of something bigger. Because that’s the point: the Foundation is this huge, secret, mysterious entity with much to discover. The appendix is something that describes what keter is, what euchlid is, and how unsafe safe can be. I understood, as I was writing it, that there was very little needed to run the adventure as it would be. But to run it with the implication of, and confidence in, a much bigger mysterious world (and thus help drive curiosity) would require a brief, but detailed accounting. Much of this was obtained from the website, but it is important for it to be within the adventure itself. Fewer resources are better.
Of course, as I write this dev diary, I realize that this is not enough. The appendix is something to read once or twice fully, more if you are truly interested, but it should not be required reference during the game. Nevertheless there are a number of categorical titles. Some may take to the universe easily, but others may require reminders. I now plan on creating a “cheat sheet”. This would be one page, something that can be clipped to a DM’s Screen for reference, while the appendix itself is about 6 full pages.
Not Getting Ahead Of Myself
This may be something you sympathize with. You know, if you have been following me, it is a problem I have been trying to reign in for a long time. Still, with this project, I find myself forcibly doing it. There are thousands of SCPs but only a couple dozen will make it into the adventure. There are many organizations to tap, but I concern myself with only the Foundation and the Church. Without going to out of control, I already know of more to do. When I came up with the basic plot hooks and events, I knew I could drive a series of adventures. I hope that this first one comes out good enough to warrant a sequel. Or three. Still, this adventure has been excellent. With the creative commons licence on the material and a well developed (but very free-form) universe, I have a lot of wiggle room and plenty of support. It is a passion project and a learning experience. If you are interested in looking over / editing / play testing let me know, I have a list forming. If you want every iteration and updates as I write them, you can become a patron of the blog, the first iteration of an intro and appendix A are up now. If you simply have your interest piqued, just keep an eye out here as I develop it. I am always willing to share some info about my chaotic creative process.