Howlmark: Prepping the Adventure

Howlmark, Holiday Adventure
To say things are stressful right now would be an understatement. So it has been nice to escape a bit and work through the process of setting up the first Howlmark Holiday Adventure. In fact, it’s scratched two of my essential itches.

First, it’s creative. Setting up a D&D campaign is like designing a Star Trek holonovel. I set the parameters, create characters, and set up scenes,–but from that point the players take over. Howlmark will be run on rails 1, but there’s still going to be a lot of variation as to how the different scenes work out. I’ve had a ton of fun setting up scenes, creating NPC’s 2, and writing my introductory journal entries. Even though I have zero assets for doing so, I even managed to create a few of my own maps, including my first-ever dungeon crawl. The maps aren’t great, but they are mine. I’m kinda psyched by that, to be honest. I may even replace one of the free maps I downloaded for a scene with a map I create myself. Because, why not?

Second, I’m learning. I’ve written many times in the past about my need to be always learning something, and that’s never changed. If I am not learning something, I don’t feel settled–my brain wants to be active. The pandemic has afforded me a number of opportunities to learn new skills, or implement things I’ve been exploring for a while 3, but sometimes I need to learn something which isn’t for “work.” I want to learn it just for me. Just to see if I can. Howlmark has afforded me all sorts of opportunities to learn things which have almost zero connection to “work 4.” To get the adventure ready I’ve had to seek advice on managing encounters, explore the virtual table top so I know it well enough to help others use it, and delve into the peculiarities of D&D’s fifth edition rules 5. I needed to figure out how to create compelling characters, import monsters, and tie the scenes together into a narrative. It has been fun.

And fun is the key. When so much of life has contracted in order to break the chain of infection, I always feel “on 6.” And the longer this goes on the more mental exhaustion I tend to feel from “work.” I did better managing this stress during the first shut-down, which helped me recognize that my productivity expectations had to be altered–but this time I’m struggling to give myself that same permission. The disruption of “normal” for these many months has created fatigue, which is what’s making my typical endeavors so exhausting. I need recreation to get some relief, and designing Howlmark has been that avenue for me. It may seem counter-intuitive to folks, but I’m finding the more time I throw myself into recreation by setting up Howlmark the less exhausted I feel about “important” tasks.

This week I’m bringing the players into a discord channel and we’ll set up the time for our first gaming session. I’m very excited


  1. Scene 1 leads to scene 2, etc. The alternative is a “sandbox,” where players get to determine how they go about pursuing the adventure. 
  2. Non-Player Characters. 
  3. I am now in love with OBS and can’t understand why I ever used Ecamm live. 
  4. Though I will eventually work this knowledge into my pastoral call, because I’m weird that way. 
  5. The last Dungeon Master’s Guide I read was second edition, things have… changed. 
  6. This is always true for pastors, it’s more so now.