It is a bit odd announcing winners to a competition we’ve only just launched but version 1.0 of the competition started in April with a deadline in May. Despite the problems with the competition, a pair of writers kept working on their adventure, sending me regular updates and taking a keen interest in how version 2 of the competition was shaping up. For shear perseverance they deserve to win but the real reason they are winners is because they have produced a great adventure.
The Sanctum of the Fiery Ladder by Joshua Kitz with Kyle Hurtubise is in many ways, a very traditional D&D adventure with a fairly simple plot. What lifts the adventure is how they have taken a basic idea and made it their own. This is the secret to good writing. There are very few truly original ideas, even Shakespeare commonly reused other people’s plots. But the difference between writing a tired, cliched adventure and a new and exciting adventure is giving it a distinctive feel – an X Factor that marks it out from similar adventures.
Sometimes this X factor is great prose and beautiful language. Sometimes it is an original setting or familiar monsters used in a new way. And sometimes it is in the details, the way clues are presented to the players or the character of the NPCs. There are many ways to make your adventure special.
The open-playtest PDF for Sanctum of the Fiery Ladder should be coming out at the end of June. Realistically, because I have a week off soon (anyone else going to Glastonbury?) it will be out in the first week of July. Until then, congratulations Joshua & Kyle.