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Adventure Diary & Inspiration Board

Almost everything is in place for my year-long solo campaign “L’amore tra i mostri” now that I’ve purchased my “adventure diary” and “inspiration board.”

An adventure diary is simply a dedicated book for writing solo session reports as events happen. No big deal, really, but, ever since I kept the first one of these back in the summer of 1984, I know quite well that they can be more than mere places to record basic plot.

In ’84, I was far away from friends, and the World of Greyhawk boxed set in my possession cried out to be explored. So, I created characters and allied them to Heward, Greyhawk’s god of bards. To me, Heward was the Dr. Who of that realm. He possessed a bizarre dwelling “said to be extradimensional in nature, far, far bigger inside than it appears from outside, and a nexus between many alternate worlds, planes, and times” (TARDIS). He was “of uncertain age—both youthful and elderly at once” and tended to dress “in fine garb which is long out of style” (Troughton? Pertwee? Baker? All of the above?). He never carried a weapon, instead preferring to use magical “tuning forks” (sonic screwdriver). Thusly inspired, my style of narrative was that of the format of Dr. Who episodes, complete with cliffhangers, and Heward was the narrator of the adventure diary, expressing how the heroes (his companions) were faring as he helped them in their fight against the evils in the realm. Ultimately, I hoped to create a “season” of Greyhawk episodes in the style of a Dr. Who season. (BTW, Iuz was my Davros.)

Stumbling naively through solo sessions, I learned a lot back then. There's a special feeling of "divination" when imaginary events are "captured" in a special book. I also gleaned two very helpful hints:
  1. Don’t let a PC be the narrator. PCs die. Either go third-person or choose a closely-associated NPC (like Heward) who won’t die and can express events from his or her unique perspective. 
  2. Write entries in permanent ink. 
Why number 2, above? To avoid one's own revisionist history. Writing the diary entries in anything erasable invites the temptation to “fix” the past. I caught myself doing that once or twice and deemed it cheating.

The adventure diary I’ve chosen for “L’amore tra I mostri” is a handsome number made in Italy that I purchased this week from Barnes and Noble. I’ll be writing in it in black ink, using a third-person narrative, and, thanks to the 9Qs format, I’ll be assigning the events of each Q for each adventure to a single page.

Also purchased this week was a heavy duty cardboard tri-fold display board (in the pic at the top of this post) to function as an inspiration board. When I was a kid, I had a cork board hanging on my bedroom wall and that was where I would tack up my ideas in progress. When I wasn't writing or playing, I could glance over at the images that I had drawn or taken from Dragon magazine or Omni and get more ideas.

Little did I know that I was utilizing a technique that production companies and interior designers used all the time. When I went to my first big video game design team meeting as a writer in my 30's, I saw my first "real" inspiration board and I understood professionally what I had sort of gathered years before.

I don't have a cork board on any wall of my apartment as per the wife's orders, so the tri-fold display board - which can be easily folded up and stowed behind a door - will hold relevant images, maps, etc.

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