Goodman Games is proud to showcase our amazing Third Party Publishers, and we want to give each of them a moment to shine. That’s the reason for our Community Publisher Profiles. This time up, we’ve got Daniel Vance of Vance Games!
Mother’s Maze is a level 0 funnel with multiple paths to success for maximum re-playability, and Temple of the Hamster is a level 3 adventure said to entertain even the stoutest hamster hating heart. Their next adventure, Arawn’s Challenge, is coming soon!
Daniel Vance decided to start publishing DCC products for the same reason that many of our third-party publishers did: he just loves the game. “DCC is my go-to game,” he says. “I just really like the way it works, from the spell checks to mighty deeds. The luck mechanic makes the game so much easier to run. So it seemed natural to write adventures for the system.”
He adds that the Goodman Games philosophy of adventure-writing came naturally to him. “The whole idea of not having endless empty rooms or meaningless content seems obvious, but I don’t know if people were really doing it before Goodman. Also his idea to write shorter duration adventures that can be played through in one sitting is pretty stupendous.”
writing has another specific philosophy behind it as well. “I have always felt
that it is better to let the players choose their own objectives and story arc…no
matter which way the players choose to go, I try to make it the ‘right’ way out
of the adventure. This means I have to write multiple exits for dungeons that
By writing multiple endings, the players are allowed to drive the adventure rather than the other way around. While this does make an adventure longer, it also means it can be played numerous times with different outcomes.”
Daniel says he keeps notebooks and notebooks of ideas, and gets some of his best ideas from hearing things wrong. Temple of the Hamster came from finding a rubber hamster toy and the desire to use it as a miniature at the table. Mother’s Maze was very much inspired by the movie Logan’s Run.
But he’s also very inspired by one classic D&D module in particular: the Tomb of Horrors. “That was the first adventure I ever saw being played, although I wasn’t allowed to join in, but I watched the whole thing and I was hooked. For me the Tomb of Horrors is one of the most finely crafted adventures ever written. And if you study it carefully, I think it has a lot to teach us about adventure writing. Gygax knew how to put down something awesome.”
But even though Daniel does the writing, Vance Games is not a one-person show. His wife Carmin is also heavily involved in the process. “She is the sieve I use to separate out ideas that suck,” he says. “I am usually just finishing up the writing when Carmin starts cranking out illustrations. Around this time, I try to get our other illustrators Kevin Vecchi and Tino on board. After that even I begin working on illustrations.”
Carmin’s illustrations are often pulled from the adventure antics that occur during game play. These are usually drawn from the playtest. She says it helps to make her illustrations more authentic. In her words: “Ultimately every illustration is a love letter to the judge.”
And speaking of the artists, Kevin Vecchi is legally blind and still cranks out some great art. Daniel and Carmin met Kevin at the DCC mecca known as Gateway Games in Cincinnati, the same place where Mutant Crawl Classics was born. “I cannot overstate how awesome that place is,“ Daniel says. “I probably wouldn’t have written anything if it weren’t for Todd Bunn [the owner of Gateway]. What can I say? He is a pretty encouraging dude.”
In his real life, Daniel is an art teacher with a Master of Fine Arts in sculpture. Carmin works by day as a chef, but in her former life she made occult supplies.