Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My Paul Jaquays collection grows, but with a sad realization

Yesterday I got a package in the mail. It wasn't a White Box, but it was very cool, namely The Enchanted Wood by Paul Jaquays! Since it is considered his best work by himself, and he is a very well regarded adventure designer I was quite keen on getting hold of it. The last time it showed up on eBay it was very expensive, so I got lucky.

Since I have quite some time to spend every morning on commuter trains, I took the scenario with me and read some of it. The parts I have read closely are very good. The parts I have just skimmed look very good. All well that ends well, right? It would make a short post if that was the end of it.

The bad news is that the very cool idea behind this adventure is the very same I have been developing myself, for an adventure I was going to release later this year! Personally I was so proud of that one. It had the proper sense of wonder, and also some atmospheric and moody setting pieces I had hoped would blow your socks off. Now it's already done.

Well, nothing really is new under the sun, is it? Now I wonder if this means I should let my project slide into oblivion. Paul is a way better adventure designer than me, that's for sure. The Enchanted Wood is not exactly widely read (is it?) and is out of print, so I am thinking that maybe it can be redone. The question is of course how much it can be like his adventure with it all looking silly and derivative. I will have to think on that one.

Quite annoying, but fun as well! Great minds think alike, eh?

8 comments:

  1. Interesting. Might still be well-worth trying your hand at publishing your effort.

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  2. My creative writing teacher recently published a novel he originally started, and laid aside, over twenty years ago. Why did he lay it aside? One day while he was at the book store he found a book with the same title and premise as his own.

    Older and wiser, he returned to the project after two decades. Who cared if it was "original"? He would finish it with his voice, characters, and vision. The year it was published it was noted as The Washington Post Favorite Book of the year.

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  3. http://www.waynesbooks.com/images/graphics/enchantedwood.jpg

    Enchanted Wood (Adventure Three)
    "The Enchanted Wood is a grouping of adventure scenarios designed for use in conjunction with SPI's fantasy role-playing game, DragonQuest. The Enchanted Wood is provided as an aid to the gamesmaster (GM) in designing and conducting a Dragon-Quest campaign.
    This adventure booklet is composed of several chapters, including descriptions of the missions available to characters and particulars of the people and places involved in the adventure. Accounts include both physical descriptions and commentaries intended only for the gamesmaster.
    The Enchanted Wood is not intended as a solitaire adventure. It is intended to be used by a gamesmaster, and much of the material presented herein should not be read by the players. The players should be given access only to those sections specifically designated for them.
    This adventure is designed for a party of four to six characters. If more characters wish to participate, the gamesmaster should toughen the adventure by increasing the number and strength of non-player characters. If fewer than four players take part in the adventure, the reverse applies."

    1981 ... Paul Jaquays ... 48 pages ... SPI 3551 ... ISBN n/a

    http://www.waynesbooks.com/dragonquest.html

    For those looking for more detail.

    As for my opinion on the matter: It isn't going to duplicate his work, is it? Then go and do your own. :)

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  4. One of the surest tests [of the superiority or inferiority of a poet] is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest.

    -- T.S. Eliot

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  5. I don't consider this a bad thing for you but a very good thing. If you are spontaneously recreating the ideas of a master you've got a strong imagination.

    I would be especially encouraged to finish now. You know the core idea is solid. While the presence of a version of it by someone like Jaquays might make it pale to self-evaluation it makes me want to buy it that much more.

    Finally, a note of synchronicity but I just posted a review of another Paul Jaquays adventure, Hellpits of Nightfang.

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  6. There are very rarely new ideas generated. Just make it your own. In fact, aren't most dungeons, scenarios, modules just variations of different themes?

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  7. Seems to be Paul Jaquays week, eh?

    From your feedback I get the impression I still have some work to do.

    Oh boy, is that Jaquays quite a designer or what? I like what I read, a lot.

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  8. Paul reworked a lot of "The Enchanted Forest" into what would be FR5 The Savage Frontier for TSR. So Paul even borrowed from himself!

    I would go ahead, I doubt your adventure is a scene by scene set piece of Paul's work...

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