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Citadel on the Wilderlands: Week Four

This week, I’ve been diving into Robert E. Howard’s horror stories. Obviously, Howard is best known for Conan, but some of his horror stories are excellent.
Citadel on the Wilderlands: Week Four

My design doings continue apace! This week, I focused on completing the first design pass of several of the wilderland areas in the citadel’s vicinity. While I will no doubt (repeatedly) revisit these locales in the future, I wanted to solidify my view of some of the surroundings. Doing so will allow adventure ideas to gestate in my brain while I work on other parts of the book.

One of the nice things about having a deadline (October 31 2023) so far in the future is that I can work on any part of the project that inspires me or that takes my fancy. Slow and steady incremental design is the way forward. There’s always a bit of any project you don’t want to do, but I’m hoping this approach keeps such areas to a minimum.

This kind of “slow burn” design also provides loads of time for research and reading. Last week, I posted up a first look at the Swerkwood.

First Look: The Swerkwood
A tangle of stunted and gnarled wind-blasted trees dripping with mosses and lichens, the Swerkwood is a wet, gloomy place.

I took heavy inspiration for the Swerkwood from real-world locations such as Wistman’s Wood on Dartmoor, which I recently discovered (thanks to Guy Shrubsole’s fascinating The Lost Rainforests of Britain) are temperate rainforests. If I had been working to a traditionally more imminent and urgent deadline, I would not have so much time to read and think. Distant deadlines are good deadlines.

This week, I’ve been diving into Robert E. Howard’s horror stories. Obviously, Howard is best known for Conan, but some of his horror stories are excellent. In particular, I enjoyed The Black Stone, The Horror from the Mound, People of the Dark and The Valley of the Lost; I’d love to incorporate elements of all four into Citadel on the Wilderlands.

The Counting of the Words

I continue to make slow and stately progress. This week, I even slipped in some light design at the weekend because the weather was atrocious.

Five hundred words a day may be my sweet spot. It isn’t a massive chore, and it’s easily doable in around 30 minutes, which makes it easy to fit into my daily schedule. (Friday's high word count stems from me porting in some weather tables from The Picaroon Peninsula and then massaging them to better suit the citadel's environs).

The other great thing about working in small 500-word bursts is that it gives your brain time to subconsciously noodle about between sessions. This, in turn, means I don’t suffer much “design fatigue”. This makes me happy!

First Look Friday

I’ll be posting another first look this Friday for Gameatory members. (If you aren't a member, sign up today!) I like this process as it creates focus and “forces” me to complete a rudimentary first draft to share. I hope you enjoy looking at my nascent designs; remember, I’m more than keen to get your opinion on the material I post here.

Got a Question?

Leave it in the comments below, and I’ll do my best to answer it.

Creighton Broadhurst is the Publisher of Useful Items at Raging Swan Press. He lives on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity. He is not planning to voyage far.