What Have I Found Myself Writing Now? Numenera Roleplaying Modules?

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 7.236% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I started a perfectly nice little time-travel story last week: Ambitious, funny, well-characterized.  Yet when I sat down to write last night, what did I wind up doing?
Writing 1,000 words of a Numenera roleplaying module.
Looks like my brain wants to drag me into The Ninth World, kicking and screaming, and I suppose it’s a form of fiction so I’ll keep writing.  The question is, what the hell do I do with a Numenera module when I’m done writing it?  Shanna Germain generously informed me that I could sell my own module if I paid the $50 licensing fee, which seems about right, and it turns out that you can upload a PDF to DriveThruRPG.com and rake in 70% of the profit.  (At least until you make $2,000 at it, at which point you have to get a full Numenera license.)
The problem is, that I feel a good PDF should involve art, so I’d want to pay an artist to do at least some spot illustrations, and then I’d have to lay it out in a PDF in some sort of semi-professional way.  And while Numenera is hot right now – RPG’s Top 10 list is mostly Numenera at this point – I don’t know what “hot” means.  The Devil’s Spine (a Numenera adventure) is the #1 seller at DriveThru right now, and Vortex is #7, but what’s that mean in terms of sales?
So my mind is all like, “If I pay an artist a couple of hundred bucks to do some black-and-white illustrations, maybe offer them 20% of whatever profits gleaned, I can make it look passable.  And then… do I break even?  Can I sell this?  How quickly can I get this to market, while people are still hungry for Numenera?  Can I be, you know, the Activision of Numenera modules?”
Because I’d want to get this out within the next month, tops, and maybe within the next two to three weeks.  And then, I dunno what kind of sales one could expect to get on these.  Might be a net loss.  Might be impossible to find an artist.
The problem is, I’m writing it.  I can’t not write it.  Like the way my short stories bubble to the surface of my psyche, it’s arriving whether I monetize it or not, and Numenera isn’t accepting outside submissions.  So come a week or two from now I’m gonna have like 7,000 words of roleplaying adventure sitting on my hard drive, and I feel like I should be trying to make a profit off of it… but I want it to look nice and be clean as well.  I don’t want to sell dreck with my name on it – no, goddammit, I want this to be like The Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues, a damned fine module that’s fun to read even if you never play it.
What’s the short, spoiler-free pitch (for I’m running my players through this starting next Monday, and don’t dare let them know what they’re in for)?  It’s this:

Nothing truly dies in the Ninth World; the technology of old civilizations was so advanced that mere time cannot stop them from carrying out their purpose.  The great wonders of the past may crumble, may degrade and function erratically, but the massive networks that held together star-spanning empires keep working long after people have long forgotten their purpose.
Unfortunately, the past’s more trivial works are just as enduring.

Anyway, I don’t know.  If you’re a good, quick artist and feel like drawing some crazy-ass roleplaying things for a mild amount of money – for I’d never ask anyone to work for the exposure, just for “not enough cash as you’re worth” – then contact me.  If not, well, eventually I’m gonna finish this damn Numenera module, and then if anyone has any advice or thoughts on it, I’m willin’ to listen.

2 Comments

  1. Platypus
    Mar 9, 2015

    Hey, did you ever finish that Numenera module?
    I tried running the system but I’ve found it really hard to come up with Ninth-World-flavored content. I tried some pregen modules like The Devil’s Spine but they all feel too linear.
    I managed to create a one-shot module I liked, but the main villain (a sandworm spambot, offering sandworm-specific body enhancements in exchange for upvotes in a long-dead reputation system) was mostly inspired by the Odfreys you wrote about in http://theferrett.livejournal.com/1864487.html.

    • TheFerrett
      Mar 9, 2015

      I never did! Or, to say, in fact I did, but then I hated the way it worked in playtesting and didn’t have time to revise because my novel sold.

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