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Places by the Way Design Blog 1.0: Back to Work

posted Jan 8, 2017, 3:53 PM by Douglas Sun

I am old enough to remember when it didn't feel like the holidays had ended until NCAA Football had picked a national champion. But the holiday season is in fact over, and it is long since time to get back to work.

The Kickstarter campaign in support of Places by the Way #1 ended on December 18, and I have said much since then. Truth is, there hasn’t been much to announce; my layout artist and I are still in process. But even so,  it seems like a good idea to at least post to this blog and throw out some bullet point-style information about how things stand right now:

First, I have decided to start referring to each entry in the series by number. Each entry consists of two separate products, and it was getting cumbersome to state both titles in tandem over and over again. For instance, In the Shadow of the High Forest and The Village of Darkharrow are separate modules, but together they comprise Places by the Way #1. The content is similar, but the former is set in the Forgotten Realms and the latter is generic in its setting, so they are also separate modules. So, together, I will refer to them as Places by the Way #1.

For the print version of each module, my layout artist and I have decided to use a small, 5” x 7” paperback format. Ever since the first folio-style adventure modules published back in the day by TSR, it has been conventional to use the standard 8.5” x 11” format. However, this makes them rather skinny — hard to distinguish on the shelf — and the spines are fragile. Show me a copy of the original Keep on the Borderlands with a spine that isn’t at least a little torn, and I’ll show you one that was never used.

Since they are rather short to begin with, this was bound (as it were) to be a problem with Places by the Way. So we decided to use the smaller format to give the printed products more heft, and make them sturdier and easier to find on the shelf. I understand that this will be something that my target audience is not used to, so I hope this decision doesn’t affect ease of use.

I have started writing The Bitch Queen’s Prize, the Forgotten Realms component of Places by the Way #2, and am making good time, I think. For some reason, I am finding it easier to start with the Forgotten Realms version, and then denude certain elements, as it were, to make the thing OGL-compliant and generic in setting.

I'll post more thoughts as they come to me.