So after axing my Arcanis adventure with a delightful blow to the head (and torso, and arms), I took the pieces, pulled out some new duct tape and brought it all back together! This time, I like what I came up with and the adventure is back.
So what was wrong with it? You ask, not wanting to write an adventure I dislike. The answer is not obvious, and touches on a lot of intangibles.
First, the PCs' motivation. As written initially, the PCs had no motivation to do anything in the adventure. The PCs were to investigate something without any real reason to do so.
Second, since the PCs had no reasons to investigate, they had reason to make a choice one way or the other. If you don't care about A or B, what difference does it make? Why pick one over the other.
Third, the events felt forced, or rather, completely random instead of having a logical flow. Those who know me, know the importance I place on the flow of an adventure, that the encounters feel natural and logical. This one didn't have any flow. It was just flat.
Finally, I could not come up with a good climax, the adventure did not build towards anything. It had no real timeline.
So we had a story where the PCs were tangential to the actual plot, had no reason to care. That bugged me like crazy. The more I tried to work on it, the more I confounded the problems. In short, I was digging myself deeper into a hole.
So what to do?
When I posted the axe to the head post, I really took the plot and chopped it into small pieces.
I thought of my basic set up. And worked up from there. So I started on the introduction, working up from Cody's comments. With this new set up, I was able to put nearly every one of the elements back in the adventure, because the new set up made them relevant, instead of forced in. Once I redid the start, the rest came together really quickly, like when you have something you know is good and exciting.
So the adventure is back with my reviewer, hoping he will like it as much as I do! I'll keep you all posted as to what happens, but I guess it will be very quick from writing to production...