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Writer Q & A - Mike Ferguson

Posted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 10:09 am
by Mike_Ferguson

I'm just following Jay Little's lead here - since Joseph created this Adventure Design forum to talk about the ins and outs of writing adventures and other sorts of gaming material, I thought I'd throw out the invite to talk about the things I've written, as well as general topics that might interest gaming writers or gaming fans.

I've been writing for Goodman Games for a few years, mostly in the Dungeon Crawl Classics arena. Here's the stuff that's been published so far with both my name and the Goodman Games logo on it:

Dungeon Crawl Classics:
Crypt of the Devil Lich (GenCon 2004 Tourney Module)
Curse of the Emerald Cobra
The Adventure Begins
Gazetteer of the Known Realms
Talons of the Horned King
Devil in the Mists
Dreaming Caverns of the Duergar
The Adventure Continues
Chronicle of the Fiend (GenCon 2007 Tourney Module)

Complete Guides
Complete Guide to Liches

If you have any questions about these projects - or about writing games in general - you should always feel free to drop me a line on these forums. I may not provide instant feedback, but I promise I will try to answer any and all questions directed my way. I also occassionally write about writing on my blog, which can be found here:

... and I should have a full-blown website up sometime after GenCon.

Questions? Comments? Humorous anecdotes? Post 'em here!

Posted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 10:13 am
by ynnen
I'm always curious what another writer's absolute favorite encounter is that they've written... What's the one creature/puzzle/combat/room/etc that you're most proud of? What was the impetus behind it? Was it a product of the entire process, or did you end up "designing around" your favorite element so it had a place to fit?

Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 8:59 am
by Mike_Ferguson
Obligatory ***Spoiler Alert*** ...

Hmm ... there's an encounter with the derro in "Dreaming Caverns" that I like a lot, mostly because it represents my favorite sort of encounter - one that requires some thought, and a little planning.

Impatient players - or oblivious ones - find themselves ambushed, and the obvious means of escape turns out to be a trap of sorts (there's a key required for the escape route, and if the players don't have it, they're in trouble). Players that pay attention to a couple of small clues should have the key, and at a minimum, be aware of the fact that they face danger when entering the area ... and at best, should be able to turn the tables on their derro attacks and surprise them instead.

I'm not a big fan of straight-up, knock-down fights (although there's certainly a place for them in a dungeon crawl!). They get boring after a while. I prefer encounters that can vary from extremely challenging to fairly simple based on the decisions of the players alone. You don't get that when you just toss the party into a 30' x 30' room filled with orcs. When you change the terrain and the starting conditions a little, you can make things pretty interesting, pretty fast.

I also really like the encounters I've written for some of the DCC Tournaments (Crypt of the Devil Lich, and Chronicle of the Fiend). Typically, when I'm writing an encounter, I focus first on how that encounter fits the adventure and the story that I'm writing, and everything else takes a back seat to that focus. There's been a few encounters that I've abandoned while writing my own modules because the tactics and mechanics of the encounters - while really cool - started bogging down the adventure, and really didn't enhance the story behind the adventure in any way.

With the tournaments, the mindset changes a little - you get to focus on what's going to challenge the players most, and story becomes more secondary. In particular, the Chapel of Kheteria in "Devil Lich" was lots of fun to write - and, in many ways, it's similar to the low-level derro encounter mentioned above. Players that aren't paying attention or are overly impatient are going to get *wrecked* in that room. Clever players who pay attention to the details will still probably have a rough time, but should be able to prevail.

Re: Writer Q & A - Mike Ferguson

Posted: Tue Dec 25, 2012 7:25 pm
by modemaus
I would be interested to hear your thought process regarding starting from scratch with a new party on a 0-level DCC RPG module that could easily serve as the launch pad for a full campaign? For example, how would you go about making the challenges interesting for characters with such little skill and potential? How would you/would you even explain how the characters came together? How much detail would you put into the surrounding area? Anything that crosses your mind in this process would probably be great wisdom, as this is sort of a Wild Wild West/Anything Goes situation being that DCCRPG is still so young.

Thanks a bunch!

Re: Writer Q & A - Mike Ferguson

Posted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 6:42 am
by VengerSatanis
Hey Mike, thanks for posting. Looks like you've written a lot of great stuff. Are you currently working on anything DCC related?

Will check out your blog later today.


Re: Writer Q & A - Mike Ferguson

Posted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 9:14 am
by Mike_Ferguson
VengerSatanis wrote:Are you currently working on anything DCC related?
Hey VS,

No - in fact, I'm not working on anything gaming-related anymore.

And modemaus - I'm afraid I can't answer your DCC RPG-related questions. You may want to direct them to Harley Stroh, or other GG folks currently involved in the development of the DCC game.

Best of luck to all in the games they're running or playing or writing, and may your dice be kind to you. :)