Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Giving up on fixing the Temple of Elemental Evil

For the past week or so, I've been working on something I've been calling T5. It was essentially meant to be an expansion of the existing T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil, adding new elements like additional preliminary adventures similar to the moathouse, allowing the PCs to have a better chance of being of sufficiently high level to take on the Temple itself, adding a new dungeon level 5, which would be a heretofore-hidden temple of the Elder Elemental God, with a section of errata for the notoriously buggy text. My intention was to do it, make it pretty, and then let it loose into the wild (for free, given the nature of what it was).

But damn, the module has beaten me. There is just too much wrong with it to apply patches.

The problem was not with the new material. That's (especially the connection with the EEG) been something I've been working on for years, conceptually. Fixing the missing text from T1 is a snap. I've got the original T1, and a comparison with the relevant portions of T1-4 was easy. Going through the text of T1-4 was a bit more of a bear, but there are some collections of errata online, and I think I've gotten most of the wrinkles out of the text.

But once I realized that the very maps themselves were fakakta, and the errata got longer and longer, I realized that my approach wouldn't work.

As the errata were mounting up, and the additions were growing, and then came the realization that I would at the very least have to do new maps, I just couldn't do a T5 in the original way I intended. It wouldn't be playable; you'd need to have two books open at all times, side by side, for the whole thing. It's would be completely unworkable.

I would have to do a T1-5, completely redoing the original text, integrating all of the changes, and errata, and additions, with new maps.

Unfortunately, as I realized the path that I'd have to take, so too did I realize that doing it this way would go way over the line in terms of legalities. It's one thing to publish errata and additions to something. It's completely another thing to take an existing, copyrighted text, and make changes and additions to it, and then publish it. The former would probably be treated as a derivative work. The latter would get me a C&D from Hasbro's lawyers lickety-split.

Which doesn't mean I'm not going to do it. It just means that it's going to have to remain completely in-house, never to see the light of day, and only my players are going to get to experience it. Unless something drastically changes, like Mike Mearls reading this and deciding that it's something that Must Be Done and helps makes it happen. But for now, it'll have to remain a labor of love, done for my own gratification. And I'm okay with that.