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Failing A Personal Challenge

I began my second Weekend Oneshot challenge at 10:30 AM on February 14, a Friday morning. As with my first adventure, I purchased a fresh pack of Magic: the Gathering Core Set 2020 cards to open. To be honest, busting the MtG pack is the most entertaining part of the challenge because I have no idea what I'll be writing, and I love the challenge of putting together a sequence of events based on random tables/draws/ideas.

And my pack results weren't bad! I had to finagle the setup, but I had fun piecing the elements together:

The premise evolved over a few hours: a titanic bird (griffin protector), is slain by a jealous winter spirit, The Cold Lady. Seeking to pick apart the titan's brain, the Cold Lady freezes the titan's carcass so that its brain won't spoil (mind rot). Years pass, and the Cold Lady's ice golem (pattern matcher) builds a defensive perimeter of the titan's bones (bone splinters). The PC's, while trying to rob the Cold Lady of her murdered riches, come across a crazed exorcist (soulmender) and the reflection of an evil cat spirit that attacks the party's reflections from frozen ice (frost lynx).

All in all, it was going great!

I began by drawing an area map using ink pens, alcohol markers, and graphing paper. Unlike my first Weekend Oneshot, The Iron Dreamer, I wasn't doing any shenanigans with image editing on my map cleanup. I'd draw out the map, scan it in, and let the graph paper lines be a natural grid. Just like the mapwork done in Zak S.' A Red and Pleasant Land:

Except my method was, you know, shittier:

What was supposed to be a hilly countryside with a flair of magic winter ended up looking like a pile of chocolate ice cream with some mold growing on one end. Granted, I'm still new to using alcohol markers, and the color from the little bastards goes on darker than I anticipated.

Essentially, spending several hours getting this map drawn was what spelled the doom for completing the adventure. When I was finished (spending a good chunk of Friday), I wasn't satisfied with the results, but going back to redo it would take too much time, so I sauntered on.

From that point, I tried drawing "zoom-in" segments of the map to better illustrate exploration elements. Here is the southwest segment with three abandoned cabins:

I tried crosshatching the ground to prevent the image from being a blob of brown, but instead the outcome resembled a frantic mess (because... it was). I'm not saying that this method can't work, but I need to practice with the markers first before taking these shortcuts.

To save some time and keep uniformity, I scrapped my current "zoom-in" idea (after drawing two more segments) and decided to "zoom-in" on the actual world map. Here is the segment I used for the three cabins:

The picture is much smoother! But there's a glaring issue: I'm trading sloppiness in presentation for sloppiness in utilization. The cabins themselves have rooms, furniture, and slimy mattresses full of gross mold, and even with "theater of the mind" gaming styles taking over, a usable exploration map still comes in handy.

There's nothing usable about the map above when it comes to exploring the cabins. They're just boxes with no listed doors, windows, or rooms. The end.

So what did I learn?

I learned that going out for a few drinks with some buddies at the 12-hours-until-deadline mark can seal the deal when debating whether or not I need to pull an all-nighter to finish an adventure that "just isn't working out."

Heck, I set an alarm to wake me up at 7:00 AM this morning (just 3.5 hours before deadline!) so I could finish, and I just couldn't muster the effort to do it. I sat down in front of the laptop and entered full on "fuck it" mode. I could finish it, but the final product wouldn't be adequate. My first Oneshot Weekend, The Iron Dreamer, came out fairly quaint! Hell, maybe this one doesn't need to be abandoned. Screw the time limit. Just muster up some dedication, redo the maps, and pop out a cleaner adventure! There's potential, right?

But no.

How about I leave this neat idea alone.

How about I learn to cut ties with a project and move onto something else. Too often, creators like me fawn over one idea, probing it with absurd amounts of analytical brainstorming: how do I market this? How do I set it up? What should the art direction be? How much do I need to back up? Do I write for 5E, OSR, or a rising new system?

But sometimes the question we need to keep asking ourselves is this: is it worth it? So for the second Weekend Oneshot, my answer is simply: no. It's not worth it. The purpose of a Weekend Oneshot is to produce an adventure in only 48 hours. If I can't hold myself to that personal pact, then I need to let an unfinished adventure die with it.

So there it is. In the (hopefully) large list of Weekend Oneshots to come, the 2nd Weekend Oneshot would have an asterisk next to it marking it as "did not complete." Here's hoping it's the only Weekend Oneshot to ever sport that asterisk.

But let's also hope that, should others incompletes come along, I know to move on and cease fretting about the could-have-beens.

Here's to you, Thaw, my 2nd Weekend Oneshot...

No move over, I've got something else to write!

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