|Bob Gibbons / Alamy Stock Photo|
A quick aside: A while back I decided to try my voice at reading for Blogs On Tape, and this post was an obvious choice. I was a bit stuffy at the time so my voice is a bit more nasal than usual, but it turned out alright and went up a month ago. Anyhow, the rest of this may benefit from reading or listening to the post first.
Undoubtedly, it isn't a universal skeleton for all good content posts. But whether David was aiming for it or not, I think it epitomizes a lot of what makes content "gameable", and other desirable qualities that seem to increasingly define good OSR/DIY D&D content. Here's what I think is great about it:
- It isn't tied to any sort of mechanic, so is system agnostic. Anyone reading this post could use it in their game, OSR or not.
- It's an object that can be plopped anywhere in any world, literally growing on the ground (bonus, it has a justified reason to indicate a good camping spot), so is campaign/setting agnostic.
- It acts as a customizable Hook; a way for the GM to point the players toward something they have prepared. It may be a deus ex machina if used this way, but it is well-veiled and couched in the game world. And it is otherwise a great kickstart to an un-prepared/improvised adventure, too.
- It is interactive, the players can poke at it, and we know what happens when it is interacted with. PCs are always putting things in their mouths, and if yours aren't, they will undoubtedly hear rumors of it, being a treasure-hunter's delicacy.
- And when they do interact with it, it doesn't become an afterthought - it's now an aspect of the character; it changes them, at least for a time.
- It's a double-edged sword, presenting its own drawbacks while it promises potential fortune.
- It won't feel dry or boring on repeat "encounters" (in fact the characters may start seeking them out proactively), and gives us tools (tables) to manage that.
- It oozes specific, weird, evocative flavor. It might not have an ideal Terse-to-Evocative ratio, but I think the prose-y-ness is a good purple and doesn't overstay its welcome. It was fun to read aloud, and implanted a great seed for relaying the experience to players.
- In a way, it embodies a GM tool as in-game artifact in a way I haven't recognized before. This is just really cool to think about. I suppose Summon Wizard Tower is similar.
- It's by someone whose name I didn't recognize when I read it, on a blog with less than 50 posts. That's one of the things I love about the OSR, it can seem like a bottomless well of amazing stuff. And it contributed a bit of a kick to finally start this blog.
I haven't posted much original content in the wild, so I don't want to presume to define an ideal rubric here - I think some more analysis and distillation can be done to work toward that (not to mention I'm sure something like it probably already exists in the bottomless well), and I'd love for others to add to this list or create their own. But in any case, I hope to live up to this post with my own work.