It’s a safe bet to assume that many of you lovely readers out there have at least flirted with the idea of publishing your own D&D content. With options ranging from Dungeon Masters Guild to even Etsy, the only thing that stands in your way are rage-inducing legal practices. Which is how my group and I ended up publishing a homebrew Dungeons and Dragons movie tie-in.
Oh! And how for a brief time made me despise the mere mention of D&D! And make me feel like my brain was going to snap in half.
As is, there are sources of great information out there even without me flapping my gums. But even then, there were entry-level pitfalls that we encountered that made me almost walk away entirely. And if that happened, I never would’ve had something published to my name. So, I thought why not just add my three cents to the advice pile?
Patience Is A Virtue…In Many Ways
Okay, this hydra’s got a few heads. Multiple kinds of patience are needed with writing D&D content.
First, patience with your work conditions. For example, time zones. Outside of a cover artist situated in Europe, my group’s basically two people on the East Coast and one guy on the Pacific. This might not seem like too big of an issue, until the three hour time difference has the Pacific Coast guy posting an update the rest of us won’t see until the next morning. (Y’know, because we meatbags need sleep.) It was something we had to accept and work around as best we could.
Which brings us to the second sort of patience you’ll need– with your teammates. This ranges from teammates having issues with finicky programs, to having lapses in confidence, to constantly asking for rewrites. On bad days, this can be hard. But even then, you’re all working towards the same goal.
Which also brings us to the patience you need with the process of writing D&D content. Like with anything creative, it’s time-consuming. And like with anything time-consuming, it’s easy to jump ahead in the process when you shouldn’t. Say, for example, that you decided to start putting the book together before the content itself is finalized. Assembling the book itself is actually tremendous work. Every single page has to be stitched together, its contents juggled in a way to make it flow and one page effecting the others. So imagine what would happen if massive chunks were taken from the content you already put in. That would mean not only redoing the one page, but possibly several more following it…
In addition to a patience with the craft itself (D&D modules follow specific formatting), you also need patience in yourself.
But, speaking about that…
You Need To Take Care of Yourself and Each Other
The bulk of our module was completed during a vacation/mental health sabbatical I took from my day job. Unfortunately, my grandmother happened to pass away around that time and her funeral took place on the first two days of said sabbatical. So, obviously, I wasn’t in the right headspace to shove myself into crunch mode to make the March 31 deadline later that week. (It was a movie tie-in, so we wanted to match release dates.)
Which, as you can guess, I totally did anyway. And I won’t lie, I actually thought about walking away from the project entirely at multiple points.
It wasn’t just me going through a hard time, of course. Pacific Coast guy was dealing with an illness that also infected his family, and my fellow East Coaster had both a day job and three kids. All of us were feeling the crunch, but were killing ourselves trying to make it.
At that point, I had since accepted that I need to recognize any limits I had when working. But even then, I felt awful about telling my teammates that I need to slow my work in order to take care of myself. But, to my relief, the others were absolutely okay with me stepping away. In fact, Pacific Coast guy even messaged me later to check up on me. To say that meant the world to me was an understatement.
Writing D&D content is great, but it’s still a job. And every job worth working values taking care of yourself. Not to mention that looking out for each other’s wellbeing is important. After all, work culture often romanticizes exhaustion; it’s easy to work yourself raw and be too scared to say anything.
As for the deadline we tried to make…Well…
Pushing Limits Vs. Recognizing Them
Yeah, unfortunately, we missed the deadline by a week. And while our sales are pretty good and we even snagged a few mentions on Youtube, it still bites. (At least for me.)
Pushing your limits as a creator is a virtue I would defend any day. (Right next to legit good lo-fi music being the duct tape of working playlists.) To create something often means pushing yourself to actually complete it, let alone have it be something you can be proud of.
But as we established above, limits are still something to be wary about. And sometimes if you push your limits too far/for the wrong reasons, the end product might not be the best it could be. (For example– the skeleton of a module we would’ve released on the deadline wouldn’t hold a candle to the more polished version we released a week later.)
Sometimes you miss deadlines; that both bites and sometimes can’t be helped. The take-away here is seeing both pushing and recognizing limits as two sides of the same coin, both of which need to be balanced somehow.
Of course, sometimes pushing your limits might just be the act of making yourself chip away at your own story, one bit at a time.
And remembering that “owlbear” is one word. And that computers like to auto-correct it without you noticing.