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Jul 19, 2018 13 tweets 6 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Hey #DnD adventure writers, I have some advice I want to share because I haven't seen many folks talk about it and I feel that it has been integral to both my success thus far, and my writing style as a whole.

Let's talk about toyetic adventure design. Here comes a thread:
What do I mean when I say "Toyetic"?

It originally refers to "the potential media properties have for being merchandised into toys". See the wiki for it:

For me (a #trpg writer) the term means "the degree to which something feels like a toy or playset"
Before writing elf games I worked in film, and before that I wanted to be a toy designer: to work for Playmates or Hasbro designing action figures. I had an eye for character designs and for elements that encouraged play and fun.

It turns out writing #DnD isn't that different.
D&D characters are similar to action figures. The more you play them the more you make stories around them totally different from what they were intended for. They get roughed up, changed, made different.

They're avatars for imagination: Whether you keep them shiny or fuck em up
The more I had that in my mind, the more I approached adventure writing like toy design. If PC's are toys like Snake Eyes, Princess Leia, and He-Man...then adventure/module designing is like making a playset.

When I write an adventure, I'm like "this is my Castle Greyskull"
Playsets were that rare thing only your friends had. You could put your action figures in like they were meant to be there. They had traps, and secret doors, and slime pits! All the cool ones had something unique!

This is equally true of #DnD adventures.
A toyetic adventure is one that's distinctive in location and place, with noteworthy encounters that cannot be had in any other module (as written), while also supporting a cast of colourful characters.

Its goal is to enable fun/dynamic play FIRST, and everything else SECOND.
Some examples:

Castle Ravenloft is toyetic as fuck. Distinctive look/feel, built in villain, lots of unique encounters.
Maze of the Blue Medusa is toyetic as fuck for the same reasons.
Tomb of Annihilation is also toyetic. A combo of jungle + dungeon + skeletors + dinos!
On the flip side:

Most of Tyranny of Dragons isn't toyetic. As awesome as dragons are, almost nothing about those adventures is rooted in a distinctive place. It HAS dungeons, but they feel generic: they just serve the purpose of having a place for the plot to happen.
In my own work: Lucia's Chocolate Factory in Blood in the Chocolate is written to be extremely toyetic.

It's a unique/distinctive place. Lots of memorable traps/challenges. One central villain figure. Lots of monsters with unique silhouettes. Could easily be a playset.
"Okay Kiel, but why does all this matter?"

It matters because, imho, all modules can result in memorable stories but TOYETIC modules more often result in stories that players link back to the setting/adventure itself. That's BIG for us writers because it aids in being remembered
I like to believe that as #trpg writers and designers we are essentially toy makers for adults. We make products that spark imaginations and encourage play.

We don't write stories. Those happen in #DnD no matter what. We provide toys and playsets for people to play with.
So to my fellow writers: I encourage you when writing adventures to think like toy designers. Imagine the unique playset you always wanted but never had. Your snake mountains, your barbie dream houses, your towers of omen.

Think like a toymaker. Write toyetic adventures.

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