The Temple of Elemental Evil Designer Diary: Editing A Classic
by Tim Wadzinski
Editing this monster two-volume set of old-school goodness took a long time. A really, really long time. The year 2020 is a blur for many reasons, and I can’t remember how many nights were actually spent editing the roughly 723 manuscripts (that might be a little high…) submitted by the design team. Many of those summer nights were spent outside on the back deck surrounded by my familiar (the neighbor’s cat), ceremonials candles (citronella, to keep the stirges away), ritual music (a REALLY long Spotify playlist of instrumental heavy metal songs), and a demihuman minion (the wife’s ceramic garden gnome).
But let’s back up a bit… When I first heard we were going to tackle The Temple of Elemental Evil, I was scared for three reasons: 1) It’s big. 2) I’d never owned or played the original. 3) I had to admit to Chris Doyle and Joseph Goodman that I had never owned or played the original. (Loss of street cred…) One quick PDF purchase later and I was in business. I spent significant time going through that PDF and discussing its issues, map quirks, and continuity errors with Chris, which were ironed out to the best of our abilities in the final product. (You’ll see a summary of all this in chapter 2 of the finished work.)
I was particularly interested in seeing what we did with the demigod Iuz and the lesser god St. Cuthbert for 5E, because it would be the first time I’d edited new stat blocks for such powerful creatures. I pushed for sidebars on Iuz’s lair’s regional effects and St. Cuthbert’s lair actions. There’s no guarantee they’ll come into play when you run OAR #6, but the team came up with some great stuff.
Quick digression: Playing around with the gods like this took me right back in time, to when my college buddies Todd, Jeff, and Andy would sit around with the old 1E Deities & Demigods book and play “God Wars.” Two of us would square off; we’d each flip to a random page and blindly point at a stat block, and whatever god we landed on was our combatant. (Just like in the cover art!) We’d then roll initiative and play out the celestial battle to see who’d triumph.
As you might imagine, a project of this size—17 chapters, 120 stat blocks, 44 new magic items and spells, 20 handouts, 31 maps, and 10 pre-gens—requires a significant amount of back and forth between the editor and the design team. Chris and I would text and email relentlessly, and set up Zoom calls to go over more detailed discussions about possible changes, re-workings, etc. And all this after working full-time for our day jobs, mind you. You’d think maybe we’d get tired or a little crabby or terse or something, but that never happened. (Okay, sure, he did annoy me that one time… Kidding.) It’s been a true pleasure working with the team on this massive project, which realistically turned out to be the equivalent of two OAR projects done at once. The adventure is awesome, the artwork is stunning, and the module’s background and intro material is required reading—trust me. We hope you love it.
Original Adventures Reincarnated #6: The Temple of Elemental Evil is now available everywhere. Check your FLGS for your copy today, or you can order it through the Goodman Games Online Store.