Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lost Oasis

The first published adventure for Ravaged Earth was released on today - Amazing Exploits #1: Quest for the Lost Oasis.

Here's the official ad copy:

Amazing Exploits is Reality Blurs' brand new adventure line for Ravaged Earth!

Within the pages of Quest for the Lost Oasis, your heroes will journey through the desert sands in their quest for the mythical City of Birds. This adventure includes 6 brand new archetypes fully detailed and illustrated, ranging from the Bedouin Nomad to the Daredevil Playboy, so your group can jump in immediately. All you need is your copy of Ravaged Earth, Savage Worlds, and your gang for play.

My fedora is off to Reality Blurs for the excellent job on this one. Adam Shaw's artwork was excellent, Sean Preston's layout crisp and the color cover extremely evocative.
From the design standpoint, it was fun to write and research. I read about the fabled lost oasis of Zerzura when I researched Cairo. Many nobles, military men and explorers searched for Zerzura in the 1920s and 1930s, lured by fanciful tales of treasure and beautiful whitewashed buildings. It wasn't until the novel The English Patient that Zerzura was resurrected again.
Now I'm a journalist by trade, so I'm no stranger to research. With all of my adventures, I conduct intensive background research into the subject I'm going to write about, even if it's a paper and pencil game. I believe if you give players a meaty story, they'll feel part of the world and immerse themselves in it. With Quest for the Lost Oasis, I made the hunt for Zerzura and the search for real-life explorer Laszlo Almasy the central goal. Along the way, the heroes meet a grizzled British renegade, Bedouin nomads, Fascist Italian soldiers and undead guardians.
Plotting adventures is the toughest part in the design process. You start with all of this rich historic research but need to fit it in the appropriate places and give the players enough action sequences and combats to let them shine. It's a tough balancing act to pull off but when you do, it works. I've been on game design panels at conventions and the one thing the industry panelists tell you is never lead characters by the hand. Quest for the Lost Oasis works as an adventure because the heroes are traveling to a location. They're in control of their own destinies. It's up to them to find Zerzura and uncover its secrets.
Reality Blurs will release additional Amazing Exploits for Ravaged Earth. The second Amazing Exploits got a green light this week with permission to make it slightly longer than Quest for the Lost Oasis. I can't reveal what it will be, but it's one adventure I've been chomping at the bit to write for years, and I'll finally get the chance.

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