(di — changed title to more accurately reflect content.)

Following my thoughts yesterday, I had a thought process last night which led to this one: what’s in an encounter? What are those elementary particles that make up an adventure? Is it a map? Is it an encounter? Is it a monster? Is it a magic item? Is it a town, a character, an event, a set piece? Is it a bit of prose, or “boxed text?” Is it a footnote? What’s in an encounter? What makes the game what it is? The background story? Some detail the players are never privy to? What makes an adventure?

This driving question brought me to the design concepts behind Escape from White Cliff. I created more than I needed in the first encounter cluster. In fact, the first time around, I created ten encounters from five “points,” then cut half of them, and relocated some, then cut some more, and still wound up with more encounters than I ultimately needed. What I have left are something like five combat encounters, four skill challenges, and one curse.

That’s just from the first encounter cluster. One pentagon. One of fourteen. I made nine new creatures and I used all of them at least once. We wound up skipping two of the encounters. I did remember to mention all the key plot points. That was probably more important than using all the combat encounters. And you know what I gained from all this? I have a lot of background for what’s going on in the adventure. The encounters serve as backdrop, even if they’re never used.

One of these days, when I get a proper illustrator, I’ll need some of these creatures drawn up and colored. And I can get someone to do the cartography for me. It’ll be sweet.