Goals for the Gloomhaven Novel

Goals for the Gloomhaven Novel

November 4, 2020 Edit: Basically none of this is applicable anymore, since the novel is no longer a Gloomhaven novel, but a world of my own creation. But I’d still totally be down for writing a Gloomhaven story one of these days! The new iteration of this story is called Flightless.

I’m making good progress on the Gloomhaven novel. Plus I’m getting really nice compliments from my weekly writing critique group on the submissions.

That means I’m even more excited about where the story’s going.

Gloomhaven means a lot to me, and I know it means a lot to other players, too. That’s why I want to honor the experience of the game as much as possible.

To that end, here are my goals:

No spoilers allowed

If you’ve never played Gloomhaven, trust me, it’s no Monopoly. The world is persistent, meaning you permanently alter it as you play. The choices you make impact which scenarios, characters, events, and items you unlock.

In Gloomhaven communities, there’s often a strict “no spoilers” rule. It’s best to let players uncover the world on their own terms.

The novel is following the “no spoilers” rule.

That means the only main characters you’ll see will be from the starting classes (those you can play from the instant you open the box). Settings will either be early-game, or original. I’m not going to be revealing any boss fights from the board game, either.

That way, whether you’ve played one session or a hundred, there are no spoilers, while still keeping the story fresh.

No experience necessary

Speaking of, even if you’ve never played a game of Gloomhaven — or never even heard of it — I want you to be able to enjoy the novel just as much as someone has.

I don’t want anyone to feel like they must have the context of the game experience to understand what’s going on in the story.

Gloomhaven is cost-prohibitive and time-prohibitive for many who would otherwise enjoy it. I don’t want that to keep people from being able to explore the world.

I’m also leveraging a fairly standard 3-act plot structure, which many readers are familiar with, even if they don’t realize it. That way, the book feels approachable to everyone.

It should feel like Gloomhaven

Gloomhaven has a feel to it. There’s a rhythm.

I want to echo that in the game, but subtly, so it doesn’t feel like I’m just parroting game mechanics. (No, “With Initiative 4, he moves forward three hexes and attacks for three.” Yawn.)

So those familiar with the game will experience city and road events, item shopping, and scenario, card, and initiative selection within the novel. I’m even creating my own scenarios and running them to make sure the characters or enemies aren’t overpowered, and that everything is well-balanced.

But my hope is readers never feel hit over the head by all of this. I want the story to feel like a seamless and subtle tribute.

It should sound like Gloomhaven

I co-own a messaging strategy and content marketing firm, and our signature service is helping businesses capture and codify their brand’s voice.

I’ve applied that tried-and-true method to this story.

See, Gloomhaven has a certain sound. Isaac uses a particular writing style in the scenario book that gives the game’s voice a true brand of its own.

So I’ve gone through much of the scenario book to capture those words, phrases, and literary devices. I’ve built out a Brand Voice Guide for Gloomhaven, and I’m using that to inspire my writing.

I want this novel to feel like an extension of the scenario book, so it’s a new story that feels familiar to Gloomhaven fans. The way it sounds is a big part of that.

No exhausting set-up and tear-down

If there’s one complaint I hear over and over about Gloomhaven it’s, “THIS GAME TAKES FOREVER TO SET UP AND TEAR DOWN.”

It’s true. (Although once I got the Broken Token wooden organizer, life got MUCH easier.)

So I’m hoping to keep all of the tedious parts of the game outta here. I tend to have a hard-driving, plot-moving writing style as it is, so I’m not going to spend much time in Council-of-Elrond or Tom-Bombadil-like scenes. (I mean, I’m a Tom Bombadil fan, but it’s no Ents-Flooding-Eisengard moment amirite?)

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