The output of WoAdWriMo is a series of free adventures in varying quality, consisting of a raw, hot-blooded gush of ideas in PDF/Word Doc form. That might sound like a criticism but the output (as reviewed below) benefits from the rough-and-brave thought-vomit you tend to get from creating under pressure. The documents themselves are well presented, there aren't as many graphics or maps as you might hope for but in all cases that loss is subliminally felt by the respective authors and replaced with rich narrative, passion and energy.
At time of writing, only the 2007 entries were available, so I chose two very different ones to review.
Zero Sum Gain by Bobby DerieZero Sum Gain is an adventure for Shadowrun 4th Edition by Bobby Derie. The adventure is based around the Shadowrunners being blackmailled by a woman who has had her own lover kidnapped. It's dark, gritty and of adult content. The 'good guys' aren't particularly nice and the whole adventure is cast in a sea of human social effluent. Although essentially linear, the adventure is arranged as a series of scenes such that a GM can chop and change. Each NPCs has enough motivation and backstory for successful ad libs. The final confrontation is likely to be a mix of tough decisions depedent on the players route through the scenario.
The start of the adventure begins with the GM doing a one-on-one-roleplay with a character and although some players might resist being thrown into plot (as mine definitely would), Bobby does well to offer was around this. Each scene is well written, with tips on how to get around foreseen plot barricades while breaking up the familiar 2-column layout with pictures, some of which are impressionistic and take a little staring at before you see what they are. I must admit wishing I'd not been so clinical with some of my projects.
Zero Sum Gain is repleat with resources for the GM: NPC stats and descriptions, maps and lots of feeling. With such a large amount of content it is difficult to believe it was written in a month. If you like gritty, hard hitting near-future adventures then download it. The adventure is generic enough to be run in any dark near-future setting. Great work, well done!
The Blue Mountains by Jay A. HafnerThe Blue mountains begins with the attractive strapline: "The Blue Mountains are your clan’s next home. It is your task to do a simple cleaning up before the clan can move in." which sums it up rather well. It is an adventure written for D&D 3e in the Frostburn setting of Conan and the Hyberian Age (by Robert E. Howard and others) that describes an alternative prehistory of Earth with ancient gods, palaces, tombs and so on. It takes the daring line of requiring the GM to know a fair amount beforehand, including the Frostburn setting and Norse mythology. I soon found that this was not entirely required but would allow a keen GM to turn it into a strong campaign.
The scenario is peppered with optional new rules that dovetail into D&D 3e. These include new races and some new rules that diminish the power of magic as weilded by the players. The background is thin but Jay has taken the sneaky (and effective) move of adding hyperlinks to the Wikipedia articles on Norse, Pictish and Finnish mythos. A good when time is short. A quick blast through the different locations the characters will go adventurin' and the descriptive half is over. The rest of the document is set aside for maps and stat blocks, which is very welcome. It helps bring everything together. I would like a little more description and tie in to the setting but there are so many big ideas crammed into a small package (in a short amount of time), that it would take a considerable amount of time to fill out. We can only hope that Jay does as the setting is enthralling and the style of writing very easy. Nice one, Jay.
Thoughts on WoAdWriMoWoAdWriMo is a great idea and superb source for free adventure material. It would be great to have all the WoAdWriMo material in one place, 2007 entries are on a defunct blog called Treasure Tables, there's also a blog and a main site (that looks like a blog) so it's a touch confusing. Perhaps a little graphic showing that a site is part of the WoAdWriMo network might help. Where the scenarios are list, it would help if there was a little more information. Perhaps a 'difficulty' grade hinting on whether it's a simple dungeon crawl or a more expansive plot idea. The text describing the scenario should read more like the back of the book. Thus, scope and tone of the adventure can be gleaned before downloading (especially important for adult oriented works like Zero Sum Gain). These aren't problems per se but would help pull the whole event together.
Like most resources, WoAdWriMo has a nifty community forum, which rightly shows that there is a burst of activity around the event month and then tails off either side. It's good to see that people want to talk about their works as they work on them. The forum is relatively new (available only this year) but I think it will be a good solid feature for next year.
An event that enthuses people (who do not ordinarily share their campaign material) to throw something onto the web for free is a great idea. It's a philanthropic challenge that should be applauded. If you're looking for a whole adventure or ideas to fit into you existing campaign, there is a wealth of ideas at WoAdWriMo. Well done to Jeff for bringing it about with such energy and congratulations to all the participants past and future. I wait with baited breath to read through the 2008 entries.