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Michael Prescott on Creating Trilemma, Adventures, and Sandboxes

“My adventures are inspired by the weather-stained heroism of Middle Earth, the grounded, emotional honesty of Earthsea, and the fantastic whimsy of stories like Rupert Bear,” says Michael Prescott. Trilemma combines detailed fantasy locations with a campaign hex map to offer GMs a world of adventure. Trilemma is home to Tristhmus a crossroads location where three continents meet. The setting holds 48 adventure locations each with a map and description. Locations like Sky-Blind Spire, have been detailed for free at the Trilemma blog and this one includes the dire pelican (large enough and angry enough to eat a man), a new monster. These locations are being combined into a hardcover book on Kickstarter.

To make the GM’s job easier, Michael has a well-detailed index included in the book that lists every page a plant, monster, material, and more gets used. The table of contents describes each location carefully and fully, making it a quick lookup resource. Adventures can be run as one-shots, linked together into a mini-campaign, or combined with the world map for an entire sandbox campaign just waiting for PCs and a GM to guide them.

Michael’s long interest in RPGs includes D&D, Burning Wheel, Dungeon World, and Torchbearer. Five years ago, Michael entered the One Page Dungeon contest, which fueled his interest in location building. He has done freelance work for Bedrock Games, a Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay licensed book, and Torchbearer. His patreon supports his on going work. He pours much of his creativity into maps and locations of his own devising. He sees the connected cultures and adventures as a sandbox setting but needing adventurers to truly make it a world. The various encounters include dungeon crawls but also cover social dynamics, exploitive guild conflict, exploration, and more. Many new monsters and magic items are detailed without rules with stretch goals provide monster stats for Basic D&D and Dungeon World. Michael took the idea of connections in Burning Wheel and applied that idea to his work. Connections are like alignment, but directly link one person to another and drive them to act and be acted upon.

Michael sees a clear distinction between what a writer/artist does and what a publisher does. Before he launched his Kickstarter, he had his marketing response ready, understood his various marketing segments, and had several stretch goals in the works. His Kickstarter includes an ongoing story of conflict in a dungeon (Clutch of Shadows) that unlocks further events as goals are reached. The stretch goals, in old school fashion, are randomly rolled from the list Michael created. Michael also plans to pay his contributors more as the Kickstarter size increases, rewarding them for their hard work. He also knew to be careful in the size and scope of stretch goals, as some could be so large that they perhaps should be expanded into books for after the Kickstarter.

For D&D 5E and Pathfinder players, Michael explained that his locations would work if players are okay with not having a carefully balanced formula of what monsters their PCs should face at various levels. Whatever creatures make sense to inhabit the places of Michael’s world are there, so PCs need to tread carefully with the bigger and more dangerous ones.

Michael wrapped things up with a big thanks for the community’s response to what he is making. Michael finished with “There are a ton of free adventures on my blog. I would encourage anyone wondering, "Would this be useful for me?" to come and check out the adventures that are already published under creative commons. If they like them, then come back for the rest!”

This article was contributed by Charles Dunwoody as part of EN World's Columnist (ENWC) program. Please note that Charles is a participant in the OneBookShelf Affiliate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to DriveThruRPG. If you enjoy the daily news and articles from EN World, please consider contributing to our Patreon!
Charles Dunwoody



Adventures are great and despite how many exist, there can never be enough. This looks like a lot of fun.

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