Part Four: After the Storm
As I said before, it took two months to finish up my levels for CW
Each "level" was a package containing:
- the level itself, the Word document
- "raw" map...scanned images rotated and made into one fluid map; kept handy for backup and archive
- "populated" map...raw maps that have area labels attached, elevations noted, shading effects added for trap radii (or other, more sinister purposes), and any other important notes
- any handouts, either written as separate Word files or hand-drawn images scanned in
We also had to check that all the pertinent data was entered into the two spreadsheets we were using and make sure the Appendices were updated. This required a good deal of discipline to do right away, and sometimes I slacked off, but eventually everything was filled out, helping us keep track of what had been done and needed yet to be finished.
Finally, though, what I referred to in my dedication as "the storm," the primary writing, was finished...all 450,000+ words of it.
This is NOT, however, to indicate that it was over.
After we talked Joe down from a very tall building in Chicago, he tossed to gether an impressive spreadsheet. The spreadsheet listed all the members of "Team Whiterock" (authors, editors, the GG "Stat" editor, artists, cartographer, etc.), and week by week duties.
The spreadsheet Chris mentioned came up sometime around here.
Almost immediately came the art requests. While handouts are one thing and are planned well in advance, the art requests - the little illustrations, full-page splashes, and chapter banner art - for CW
And I'll say this again...the artwork for Castle Whiterock
is, IMHO, incredible
. By far the best I've ever seen in a DCC (or a great many other books). It is one of my top three favorite moments as a writer to see an artist read my words and then recreate in pictures EXACTLY what was in my head...if they don't improve on it!
The role of the writers shifted to a "support" role as the Editorial Ettin took over. We would make changes the editors suggested if they were big enough to get kicked back to us or if time was tight, we were essentially "on-call" to answer any questions about plot, stats, or design, and a few times we had to explain our crude chicken scratches to Topo Rex for our hand-drawn maps.
For example, we redesigned the climax of the Narborg invasion to make it grander in scale. The mapping for the Far Garden demiplane needed some tweaks (and I had forgotten to send Jeremy one of the maps!).
While this was going on, the writers were also reviewing each other's work. Harley and Jeff had Chris and I look at the Morrain Gaz and the Cillamar chapter, and they were looking at the dungeon...we came up with ways to integrate kingdom, city, and dungeon.
For example, after talking with Jeff, part of Benthosruthsa's hoard became a Morrain carriage with a portrait and several bottles of a very special wine, all fabulously expensive. After reading the city chapter, Scithia the "handmaiden" became interested in the dirty war fought in Cillamar's underbelly.
There were odds and ends to pick up...this creature needed descriptive prose, that character didn't have a name or needed a different one, that sub-quest needed to be put into the same format as all the rest.
Eventually, after both Ken and Aeryn had reviewed a level and given it an "all-clear" tag, Joseph put it into a .pdf proof that incorporated all the art requests (our first chance to see them).
The next task was to review all the proofs...again, looking for stat block errors, grammar, spelling, continuity, and anything else we could catch.
For instance, one of my favorite villains in Whiterock, Most Bloated Muthren (I love that name!), originally wasn't armed with a scythe
Ken's story about Muthren's scythe came up at this stage, for example.
While this was going on, we decided to add two more appendices.
One listed all the 3rd party monsters and templates, where they originally appeared, their read-aloud description, and the company that made them. While Chris had been wise enough to already include that in most of his levels, I *cough* lacked that foresight and had to start from scratch. Tracking down all the monsters was a bear, because although some - like the vespertilliac - may appear
to have first shown up in in DCC #20: Shadows in Freeport
, they were actually from another book (that I had to buy online to get the page number).
The other appendix listed all the keys...where they are found, what they unlock, and who has them. Man, if you thought tracking down the vespertilliac was hard... I can't promise that each and every key is in there, but by Crom's Teeth you'll be hard-pressed to find one that isn't!
So over the course of a week, I personally read the entire dungeon three times...once for edits, once for keys, and once for 3rd party monsters/templates. I feel confident to guess that Chris, Harley, Ken, Aeryn, and Joseph all did the same.
Every change that was made had to be updated in the Glossary, which Chris and I had fortunately started long, long before. That bad boy has all the names of people, places, and items referenced in the entire dungeon...even some names that just get dropped as part of backstory
and never mentioned again, nor have much to do with the dungeon, like Aaradil the Clay-Master (area 10B-1; he made a very expensive bowl) and Voltigeur (area 6-10; there's a tapestry that shows the island where this city lies).
We threw in all these details for GMs to play with or ignore. Maybe an NPC is collecting the works of Aaradil and needs that bowl? I just made that up, but that's a plot hook based off an otherwise-useless detail...and we all KNOW that players often latch onto the most extraneous detail and run with it.
(...at least mine do...)
Just about the last thing written was the Introduction, which we released as Castle Whiterock
spoiler #1. Chris had written one as part of the core files waaaaay back when this whole thing started, and I used that blueprint, especially the timeline and the general info on the Company of the Black Osprey, to build the current Introduction.
At last, finally, in fulfillment of prophecy, Castle Whiterock
was sent to the printer.
NEXT: The Bullet-Proof Box