12 to Midnight

Brainwashed intro

07.13.05 | 4 Comments

The following is my first pass at writing an Author’s Introduction to Brainwashed. I can already tell it’s too long, so I’ll have to find a few paragraphs to cut once I start on layout. Thought you might like a peek at the full thing.


mission creep: the gradual process by which a campaign or mission’s objectives change over time, especially with undesirable consequences.

Fear Effects, our version of sanity rules, was well into production when I answered a call from Ed. I remember he started the conversation with “You’re gonna kill me, but I have an idea.” He went on to explain that he thought it would be a good idea to write a few examples of how his horror rules would work in practice. If he, Jerry, and myself each wrote one short encounter demonstrating the rules, it wouldn’t greatly impact our Fear Effects production schedule.

I thought it was a good idea, and after an impromptu conference call with Jerry we voted to implement it. However, I suggested that if we were going through the trouble of adding sample encounters, it would be really nice if they were all related instead of just independent scenes. I volunteered to write an outline that we could all work from, and that was that.

The original idea was for a five page adventure summary, similar to the style I used in Green’s Guide to Ghosts. I had just finished reading F. Paul Wilson’s excellent novel Gateways, so the idea of an adventure in which the heroes intervened on behalf of a brainwashed “cultist” was fresh in my mind. (Incidentally, if you like modern horror, definitely don’t miss Wilson’s Repairman Jack series. The first book is called The Tomb.) However, I can’t blame Wilson for the creatures that populate this adventure. They are entirely my own creations and are an outgrowth of the need to demonstrate specific “levels” of horror dictated by Fear Effects. Guess I’m just that twisted.

Several days later than promised, I came back to the group with my outline. It was quickly apparent that my idea wasn’t something that could easily be split up among three people. It would require too much coordination to make sure we maintained consistency. So I ended up taking on the challenge of writing the entire thing myself.
I quickly hit five pages and I knew there would be at least that much again before I was done. Fear Effects edged closer to the finish line, and I kept writing. I replaced the outline style with the longer, traditional adventure writing style. I hit 12 pages and predicted 18. Then I hit 18 and predicted 24.

The adventure (the working title was Intervention) wasn’t complete, but Fear Effects was. After much deliberation, we decided to release Fear Effects without the adventure that was written specifically to showcase it. It was clear that Brainwashed wouldn’t be ready for several more weeks, and we couldn’t afford to sit on it until it was. However, that left us with an entirely new problem.

When we planned on the Fear Effects cover (illustrated by the multi-talented Cris Griffin), we did so with Brainwashed in mind. We’d expected the two to be bundled together, so the cover served dual purpose. It was a great illustration of “fear”, and the “tinfoil hat lady” was a direct reference to the adventure. Now we’d need another cover, and it would need to illustrate the adventure in such a way as to not spoil any surprises. We seriously contemplated getting another artist’s interpretation of the same scene as depicted in Fear Effects. That could be fun exercise and would help establish a visual connection between the two products. But in the end I put on my “art director” hat and chose another scene. I didn’t want us to give the impression that Fear Effects is only effective for this single adventure.

In my “art director” mode I know I can come across as a real hard-case. I have very high expectations when it comes to art, and Nicole Cardiff’s work on this cover met them in every way. The same is true of our interior artist, Steve Bentley. I gave him my concepts and within a few days he delivered the amazing work you see in this publication. Thanks to both of you for your outstanding professionalism. You and Cris will definitely be hearing from us again.

Finally, thanks go to you—our customers, fans, and friends. Being an indie publishing company is a hard road, and at the end of the day the thing that keeps us going isn’t the money, but your kind words and support. As long as you keep supporting us, we’ll keep delivering. Thanks.

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Comment by Ed
2005-07-13 19:27:18

Dude, I like it. Don’t cut anything!


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Comment by Jerry
2005-07-14 10:50:01

Me too.

So the maps are done too?

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Comment by Prest0
2005-07-14 11:44:56

Nope. Honestly I’ll probably do those last.

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Comment by Jerry
2005-07-14 12:47:17

Huh. I tried to make my post funny and the words I put in brackets are not there.

I had placed in brackets something funny. Cannot rememeber now,

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