Now I have been pulling what few hair I have left to come up with a solution to my rut on my Arcanis adventure. The adventure has a clear path, the reason for the antagonist to do what they do is reasonable, and the interesting elements abound. So why then do I think it is flat?
Because it fails the Taldor test big time.
So what is the Taldor Test?
Taldor is one of the nations in Paizo's Golarion. It is a nation that I would consider to be generic med-fan. It has a little flavor of its own, but is not overly unique, especially when compared to say Ustalav (Gothic horror), or Rahadoum (anti-theist paradise). The Taldor test is something I came up with after I played a few adventures of Pathfinder Society, and gripe about how little of the setting they actually used in their adventures. Most would take place in an interesting location, then would take you away
To pass the test, an adventure must require major changes to set it in Taldor. This means that the setting of the adventure is important. Though there are a number of elements that come into play when determining whether an adventure passes the test, an obvious way is to see if the party has to change something in how the game is played. "When here, you must hide your holy symbol" or "This is enemy territory so avoid letting people know you work for us" or "While in this town, don't mess with the gelatinous cubes". Removing these unique conditions would make the adventure lose a LOT of its flavor.
Passing or failing the Taldor Test really tells you nothing about the adventure itself other than how important its setting plays into it. I personally favor adventures than pass the test, because I love it when the setting is a drive for adventure. I'm not talking just about an opening story about it, but a plot that uses and becomes better because of it.
Here are a few PFS examples. The first part of the Heresy of Man passes with flying colors. It uses local flavor as a vessel for adventure. The other two parts, however, fail miserably.
The test runs on the main elements of an adventure rather than the artifices around it. Early PFS (Seasons 1-4) usually fails the test. Pathfinder adventure paths and modules usually pass the test with flying colors.In contrast, the hard points of the Arcanis campaign rarely fail. (The soft points are a mixed bag). For
So why am I stuck on the Arcanis writing? I fail the test. Miserably. I need to find something that will make my adventure both please the PCI folks, and make me happy so the adventure takes, draws, and thrives from its location and surroundings. It becomes better because it is Arcanis.
This morning I woke up with a strange idea of a plot device that might accomplish everything in one swoop. A plot twist like M Night Shyamalan... But it makes sense and makes the adventure be more like Arcanis... I will keep working on this see where this latest idea takes me and whether it makes the adventure pass the Taldor test.
Back to work...