• Justin Handlin

Magical Adventure Building w/Remley Farr

Updated: Feb 21


Crit Academy is joined by best-selling author Remely Farr. Remley has worked on many successful Dungeons and Dragons adventures, you may know his work from 'The Madhouse of Tasha's Kiss' or 'Happy Jack's Funhouse'. In this episode, he shares with us his adventure writing process, specifically his Weekend Oneshot Challenge. This is an RPG writing event where he completes the writing, art, cartography, and editing for a one-shot RPG adventure within 48 hours, using Magic The Gathering cards.


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Winner: cyxod17

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Magical Adventure Building


Remley, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Major: English writing, now teaching, played d&d at 3.5 and came back to 5e after doing pathfinder.


What is your most memorable D&D moment?

Three eyes of grumsh wreck the module.


Do you have any moment where you failed as a DM/Player?

My first real OSR run as a DM. I didn’t telegraph well, and I made it look like the system relied too much on skill checks. People lost interest and said it was too hard.


You have a very interesting method for writing D&D adventures. Can you tell us about your method?

Writing workshops from college

Hated the “get random topics and incorporate them” exercises.

Wanted to just do my own thing.

Theater class instructor, “you won’t always direct/act what you want to do”

See it exemplified in community theater.

Also commissions! Basic motto was: “Got an idea, I’ll make it happen!”

Started with comparison: Tomb of Annihilation and Ixalan. Then 48-hour challenge. Based on 24-hour play fests. Incorporated MTG cards to show I wasn’t “preplanning.”

Also teaches me how to grab an idea that I didn’t have and make it happen.

My MOST financially successful adventures are commissions, not my originals.


I understand that you have a pack of Magic the Gathering cards with you. Can we walk through the process together?

Six key components: you aren’t limited to them, but must include them somehow.

  • Setting: where is this happening?

  • Antagonist: who is causing the mayhem?

  • Drama: what’s happening?

  • Goal: what does someone want?

  • NPC: who is here

  • NPC: who is here

First trial: Theros pack

  • Setting: Omen of the Forge

  • Antagonist: Dreamshaper Shaman

  • Drama: Agonizing Remorse

  • Goal: Plummet

  • NPC: Brine Giant

  • NPC: Nyxborn Marauder

  • GOGOGO just get it done, no minutia. Make it happen. Art, writing, cartography, layout--I control it all so I can do what I want.

Second trial: M20

  • Spent too much time on map.

  • Didn’t GOGOGO!

  • Turned out my project didn’t work, and I just scrapped it.

  • ONE PAGE ADVENTURES: just busting open packs and using first two cards to establish some kind of backbone.


What kind of challenges do you run into?

Cutting content. It MUST fit. You DON’T need it. You’re writing a manual just as much as you are writing prose. Also graphics can help/hurt.


How did you overcome those challenges?

Lately the art. I’ve been tinkering with doing art on my own. All Dwiergus books, and interior art for Everyone Plows the Graveyard farm. I encourage everyone to deviate from traditional art. Art style makes all the difference.

  • Silent Titans (Dirk Detweiler Leichty)

  • Veins of the Earth (Scrap Princess)

  • Mr-Kr-Gr (Mun Kao)

  • Lorn Song of the Bachelor (Nadhir Nor & Karl Stjernberg)

Do you have a favorite resource that you use?

Bryce Lynch’s rants on adventure writing: https://tenfootpole.org/ironspike/

  • Made me quit being so damned wordy.

  • FIRST actual constructive criticism I received.

  • I loved the fawning, then got hit in my tracks.

  • He was right: too wordy.

  • Don’t write books. Write adventures. Write toys. Write manuals.

Any new secret projects coming up that you can give the listeners a little taste of?

  • Establishing own independent publishing house for OSR content--just like everyone else in the field. Waiting on time.

  • Kip and Wingo vs. Evil.


If you have any questions for Remley, please join us live. We will pull questions from your submissions.


Unearthed Tips and Tricks! We bring you new and creative content for you to bring with you on your next adventure


Character Concept:

Indebted Gladiator

"They say you can't squeeze gold out of empty pockets. I'm proof you can wring out some blood."


Debt can be an ugly thing. Owing anyone anything can come back to bite you, even if you come by the debt honestly. An indebted gladiator is one who is making amends, working to pay off obligations, or keeping an extortionist at bay. Some might fight to remove a stain on their reputation or to earn enough coin to free loved ones from captivity. Depending on the circumstances, the gladiator might be reckless, having little left to live for, or careful, with everything to lose. Indebtedness rarely lasts forever, though, unless you make another unwise bargain or you owe someone dishonest who just doesn't want to lose a good gladiator.


Monster Variant:

“This fiendish-looking subterranean creature is a terror to behold. Its piercing claws and horned head give it almost a devilish appearance. Its most notable feature is its massively long tongue that splits at the end with its own set of vicious teeth. Perfect for pinning down its prey while it guts their body.”

Bouldertooth

Origin: Hydra

Lost Features: Multiple Heads, Reactive heads, wakeful heads


New Features:

Tremorsense, burrow 40 ft.


Multiattack: The bouldertooth makes two bite attacks.


Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (1d10 + 5) piercing damage. If the target is a Large or smaller creature, it is grappled (escape DC 13). Until this grapple ends, the bouldertooth can bite only grappled creatures and has advantage on attack rolls to do so.


Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (1d10 + 5) slashing damage. The target must succeed on a DC 15 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.


Legendary Actions:

The bouldertooth can take 3 Legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. The Grungar regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.


Attack(Costs 1 Actions). The bouldertooth makes one attack with its bite or claws.

Burrowing Retreat. The bouldertooth uses the Disengage action moves up to 20 feet.

Unsettling Roar. Creatures within 30 feet of the bouldertooth must succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or must subtract 1d4 from their next attack roll or saving throw.


Encounter:

Necromantic Mists

The characters are approached by a devastated town’s survivors; a priest, perhaps, or local elder begs them to ensure that this effect does not repeat itself here, or any other town. The survivor describes a thick black mist that swallowed the entire town. Those that didn’t manage to escape, were swallowed up but the choking mist. After a few minutes of convulsing and trembling, they fell to the ground dead, only to raise a few minutes later as mindless zombies. He even offers to seek support from the churches in the nearest major community (a few days distant) in raising a reward for them to do so.


Ayam Meshki (F, dwarf necromancer (VGtM)) has begun experimenting with a new spell that creates a necrotic mist that not only kills in mass but also immediately converts those filled with the mist into mindless zombies. The loss of control of the mist proves the spell hasn’t been perfected yet. The characters must deal with this threat before he masters his spell and forms a powerful undead army at his command.


Magic Item:

Corrupted Heavy Crossbow of Triumph (From our WiP Magic Item Generator)

Weapon (Heavy Crossbow), rare (requires attunement)


When you hit with an attack using this magic weapon, the target takes an extra 1d6 necrotic damage. In addition, while you hold the weapon, you have resistance to radiant damage.


The blade is coated in an aura of black mist. Flames within 10 feet flicker and dim to half their range.


When you kill a creature with this weapon, a rush of triumphant glory imbues you with eagerness for the next fight. Whenever you make an attack roll or saving throw for the next minute, you can roll a d6 and add the number rolled to your attack roll or saving throw. This feature cannot be used again until you finish a short or long rest


Dungeon Master Tip:

Vampire Clans

Vampires sometimes form extended alliances that include several vampires, who are sometimes related by blood. They call these families "clans." Such clans develop networks of servants, mortal and otherwise. This makes them perfect for the aristocracy as nobles build their life around making connections and forming alliances.


Clan vampires especially prize dhampir servants, whom they exalt as beings favored over normal mortals. The dhampirs are afforded special privileges in vampire society, and they are given names honoring ancient or legendary vampires.


Player Tip: Don’t be a Dick

Roleplaying a Dhampir

A dhampir, whatever his or her base race, can be mistaken for some sort of fey creature due to pale skin, willowy features, unnatural charisma, and slightly pointed ears. Closer inspection, however, reveals subtle traits inherited from the vampire parent.


The image of the dhampir is that of a mysterious outsider swathed in shadow—a lonesome antihero seldom at peace with society or self. Dhampirs are mortal. They have no exceptional vulnerability

to sunlight or radiant damage. Because of this, true vampires sometimes refer to dhampirs as "daywalkers."


A dhampir raised among accepting (or merely unknowing) people could have a normal childhood, another might face severe prejudice, while yet another might be raised to believe in his or her natural superiority.


As might be expected, dhampirs aware of their true heritage sometimes develop a morbid fascination with death, shadow, and undead. This leads to quirks other living mortals find disconcerting, including blood-drinking, macabre fashion sense, gallows humor, extreme bloodlust, and other dark behaviors.


Petey's Pork Pie Emporium (Dwiergus #1)

Lady Falyse is missing! But rumors abound that she was list seen working as a server at Petey's Pork Pie Emporium, a local homestyle restaurant. But wait... she's moved up to Corporate? Where is that? And why do all the employees seem so oblivious to her disappearance?

Winner: dj_flashpoint

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