The other day my wife, my daughter and I went shopping. I try to take some reading material for those moments when The Bumples (that's my kid) takes a nap and I stay in the car with her, or for when my wife hits up the fabric store and I most decidedly do not*.
Upon this day I elected to take with me a binder of game notes.
Within it, I found part of a D&D 3.0 adventure of my own devise, titled "The Lake Of Woe". It had Nelwyns in it, 'cause I was totally in a Willow mood.
It also detailed the NPC council members of a little town, the sole purpose of which was to lead the PCs to the secretive Nelwyn village. Seriously. It was just a stop on the road, good for two or three encounters meant for exposition and exposition alone. And yet I had written down names, classes and levels for NPCs that I'd use, like, once. Tops.
And I started to remember the giddy pleasure I took in the act of creating all this minute, ridiculous detail. Man, was that ever fun. Useless, ultimately (especially since I never actually ran the damned thing) but defnitely fun. Looking back on it, however, I can recall that I started doing it...and didn't seem to know when to stop.
That's a struggle of mine; getting carried away with my creations. There are times when I want to, say, explore the minute, mundane details about a place, or a person, or a device; it makes for interesting backstory but rarely good drama. Micromanaging is fascinating but ultimately only fun for one person, and that's why The Sims sold so well, I guess.
The good thing, though, is that I can now look at "The Lake Of Woe" (unfinished as it is) and see it as something wholly different:
Dude, I've got two towns, several NPCs, a couple of plot hooks and at least two interesting encounters sitting there, ready to be yoinked and re-used. Next time I need a boisterous, ill-mannered gnome who hates Nelwyns (or anybody else for that matter), the hard work is done and it's called Butterhock Stickertoes.
And he has a pageboy haircut. Because, yes, I wrote that in my notes.
[Quick Aside: I must be a Willow fan or something because I keep mentioning it in this blog. What's up with that? That said, Allen Varney's Willow Sourcebook (Tor Books, 1988, ISBN 0312930836) rocks, and if you can land a copy, do so. Well-written, full of interesting plot hooks and NPCs, and it has ersatz AD&D 1st Ed. stats to boot.]
*Frankly, our local Jo-Ann Fabrics wouldn't be so bad if it had art supplies, too, but it doesn't. Ergo, it loses.