Observation noted. Thank you Sir! I would like to write a high level module so I think experienced DMs and Players would use it so they may do not need it.I found this a hindrance, in fact, as it either a) tended to push me towards pushing the PCs to do whatever it was the Development was written for (which I then had to fight against), or b) left me high and dry when the PCs did something entirely unexpected because under Development I'm expecting the module to provide the next step and there isn't one.
A legendary reply from a legend! Most useful! Thank you Sir!There's no single right way to do this. A few observations:
- You actually have 2 distinct encounter areas: The Door with the elven head nailed (?) to it & the Shrine of Orcus. I would give each its own area description.
- The Door seems to assume (a) that the elven head automatically notices the PCs even if they're invisible and sneaking, and (b) that once it becomes aware of the PCs it immediately becomes hostile and attacks. Both of those assumptions, from my perspective, are flaws because they steer away from creative out-of-the-box solutions and kind of force it towards a combat encounter. For instance who is this head? What is/was her name? How'd this elf end up animated and bound to this door? If it was done against her will, shouldn't she be a potential ally against the cult of Orcus? You also make note of her languages... but then don't give her any talking points / information to convey to the PCs / questions to ask the PCs.
- With the Shrine of Orcus, you fall into a bit of a trap that many modules do with their boxed text – you wait until close to the end to mention the monsters. In rare cases, you can get away with it if the monster is not the center piece of the encounter, but just part of the backdrop. Also, if it's a monster with, say, the False Appearance trait or a hidden monster, you can not mention it at all (or reserve mention of it if the PCs have sufficiently high Perception). However, a demilich doesn't usually hide nor does it have False Appearance – i.e. it's clearly more than just a "skull." It's OK to add additional traits and mess around with those assumptions sometimes, but in this case I recommend you don't do that. A demilich is a legendary monster. Its presence should be in big bold letters right at the beginning of the area description for the Shrine of Orcus!
- The magical environmental effects you have listed under "Atmosphere" are something I'd recommend against. But YMMV.
- Also "fighting men" is... how do I say this... 70's era terminology. It's no longer considered politically correct, particularly if you're publishing for modern 5e D&D (and not, say, a niche OSR product).
The room dimensions don't change based on point of entry.I do not believe adding room dimensions is a necessary idea if the adventure uses a map which allows several ways of approach as you WILL reference the map immediately before going to the encounter.
In which case, write "see map before describing". Otherwise, if I don't have to reference the map to get simple things like dimensions it's one less round of page-flippingAny non standard room can’t be described easily, in any case.
It's easy to overdo this, however.For my own stuff, I would also work to reduce text like "all ability checks, attack rolls, and saving throws" down to "all roll" or something similar. Sometimes I'll even drop an element entirely if I can't describe it succinctly. Honestly, trying to bring down the word count is a time-consuming process. But I find it's worth it.
Yeah, this gets it done nicely. I snipped the remainder of your write-up as it's just a few posts up.THE SHRINE OF ORCUS
40' x 40' with 20' domed ceiling; dark (unlit torches on wall)
It's easy to overdo this, however.
For example, saying "all rolls" when you really only mean attacks, saves and checks is a recipe for disaster as read literally "all rolls" includes damage dice and everything else. If you're the only one who'll ever read it, that's fine, but I think the OP's intent is that this be distributed to others - meaning any choice between clarity and brevity has to fall to clarity.
Ayup.Agreed. I would likely only do "all rolls" if it were intended for me alone. Though, to be fair, advantage is only ever applied to attacks, saves, and ability checks. But your core point stands. Taken too far can harm clarity or end up omitting valuable details. It's a difficult skill to develop, and easy to mess up, but excellent to have when done well.
A generic "all walls floors and ceilings are dull gray fitted stone with sometimes-crumbly mortar between, unless noted otherwise" at the start of the level or chapter covers this off. Then one only has to note the materials and-or colours if they vary from this.One thing I'm still trying to determine is when it's worth adding details as to the materials of the room. The Hole in the Oak regular often has details as to what the floor, walls, and ceiling are made up, sometimes with details, and I admit that it can really help me visualize a room prior to description. But is it worth it? I lean toward no, unless it's a feature that stands out.
Easy. A room with multiple exits therefore also has multiple entrances, and you often never know which one the party's going to come in. If you get in the habit of always describing exits clockwise (or counterclockwise, as long as you're consistent) going around the room from wherever the party comes in*, and even point out to the players now and then that this is how you're doing it, they won't be as easily able to get a read on you.Another aspect that the given example doesn't have to deal with is how to describe the exits of a room so that they telegraph something about why you'd choose to go that way.