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  • Writer's pictureNathan Foley

7/3/2023 - Breaking the Programming and Building Fantasy Adventures

I am feeding Kieran down in the basement at 6:14 PM. We were digitizing the Disneyland tape in the living room when Kieran woke from his nap–he only lasted 10 minutes. I came down and began my crosswords when I realized something, so I stopped to write it down.

I downloaded the crossword app so I could do something both stimulating and healthy for my brain. I had started doing this feeding thing when I still used Reddit. I would scroll my feed while I fed him. After a few weeks of doing that, I realized how unhealthy it was, so instead of continuing to use social media, I decided to use my time more productively and maybe give my brain a bit of exercise while I was at it. I downloaded a crossword puzzle app and a brain teaser puzzle game called Transmission. I finished Transmission pretty fast, but I liked it a lot. It’s a puzzle game that simulates communication networks and the transfer of information across different modules.

Back to the crosswords though.

The thing is, I started to focus too much on just finishing each crossword puzzle and not letting my mind explore. I would come across words I hadn't heard before and I'd think to look it up, but I wouldn't and instead I’d go back to the puzzle to finish it.

The task must be completed.

Today, I almost did that again, but I stopped and forced myself to think about why I felt like I couldn't step away from the puzzle to look up these words and explore them. I realized I was laying out tasks to do instead of sinking in the chair and exploring. Why else did I get this app if not to exercise my brain? I realized that if I allowed the time spent on the crosswords to also be about learning, I would be even better off instead of just punching in letters and moving on to the next puzzle.

So, I realized just now that I’ve gravitated towards solving this task and in turn shunning the exploration that could come with it. It's a constant battle to overcome that programming. Hell, I almost didn't open up the journal to write about it because it would get in the way of the puzzles to be finished.

I started writing this segment when I first had Kieran, but as life does, it got in the way for a while. He wouldn't fall asleep and was enraged by it. I couldn't blame him, he's been up for too long and had grown overtired by that point. Anyway, I've managed to keep this train of thought going for a few hours (it's now 9:36 PM) without losing the essence of what I wanted to say. I'll get into the words I looked up once I'm on the laptop. Gonna try to put him down in the pack & play soon.

Alright, he’s in the pack & play and hopefully down for the night. Here is what I looked up while doing the crosswords:

Liana - a long-stemmed, woody vine that is rooted in the soil at ground level and uses trees, as well as other means of vertical support, to climb up to the canopy in search of direct sunlight.[1] The word liana does not refer to a taxonomic grouping, but rather a habit of plant growth – much like tree or shrub. It comes from standard French liane, itself from an Antilles French dialect word meaning to sheave. (Wikipedia)


Carillon - a musical instrument consisting of at least 23 cast bronze bells in fixed suspension, tuned in chromatic order (i.e., in half steps) and capable of concordant harmony when sounded together. Customarily located in a tower, it is played from a clavier, or keyboard, containing wooden levers and pedals wired to clappers or, less commonly, from an ivory keyboard with electric action operating the clappers; but only the first method permits expression through variation of touch. On some instruments a part of the range is capable of automatic play by use of perforated rolls. (Britannica)

They aren’t anything totally ground breaking, but I hadn’t seen those words before and was curious. I figured if I saved the searches in my personal Discord and came back to them, I’d commit them to memory and stretch my brain a bit, so there we go.

Fucking fireworks right outside right now, what the fuck. They are threatening to wake up Kieran. Stupid 4th of July.

I want to get more involved in planning out this D&D stuff. I really want to do it and need to make sure I spend consistent time putting it together. I started reading a blog on the Lost Mine of Phandelver and I like the writer’s approach to how he DM’d the campaign–at least to start, I haven’t gotten super far into the blog series. I need to give them (Nic, Julianne, Ben, and anyone else who wants to join) a more interactive beginning to the campaign instead of just plopping them down and saying, “This is your quest.” The way this blog talks about its start is intriguing.

Instead of starting the party on the quest, already on their way down the road with Gundren’s cart, the DM starts them in a tavern in Neverwinter. Gundren bursts into the tavern and boisterously offers to pay for the next round of drinks for everyone present, slamming a gigantic ruby onto the bartop as payment. Gundren is shadowed by a large, stern human man, Sildar, with a broadsword across his back. He is not approving of Gundren’s behavior, but he stands guard nonetheless. Gundren then announces that he is looking for adventurers to guard his caravan, offering to pay, of course.

That is a simple, yet colorful way to open up the adventure. As the DM in this blog adds, it also has the opportunity for added roleplay. I could add another NPC that follows in after Gundren, offering to pay far less for a much more grimy job. I could also add another NPC that either joins in on the adventure (only to meet an untimely demise) or another NPC that challenges a PC to a competition for their spot in the party.

One thing that I need to do better this time around is to encourage routes other than combat in the settings like Cragmaw Goblin Cave and other dungeons. Obviously there will always be combat, but in the moments where another route can be taken, I need to find ways to make that obvious, at least to start. If they get used to thinking about what actions they can take that are non-combat, it can lead to more variety in experience.

I’ll continue reading this blog and read through the adventure some more and gather up all the materials / tools I’ll use to DM it. We’ll have a ton of fun doing it, I know. I just gotta get the ball rolling and start it for everyone. Once we get it going, it’ll be easier to keep it rolling. It’s just a daunting task having to get it all started from scratch.

I think it’s time to sleep. Good writing. Later.

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