As the Ravenloft: Mist Hunters series of adventures are published, we'll be chatting with the designers to learn more about their writing process, their experiences working in the Domains of Dread, and more! Travis Woodall is the designer of the second stand-alone adventure in Mist Hunters, RMH-02 Back to the Front.
Can you share a brief synopsis of the adventure in your own words?
In RMH-02 Back to the Front, Kabe, after doing what they do best, discovers that the scholar that Alanik has been hired to find is likely holed up in Falkovnia--a domain on the brink of annihilation at the hand of an endless horde of zombies. Once in Falkovnia, they have precious little time to find Radaga and escape into the Mists before the next New Moon once again calls the undead to the walls of the few settlements that remain.
What does your writing process look like?
Noise-cancelling headphones, a beer, and long nights. I tend to skip the more formal outline and brainstorm process for things that I write myself and go straight to what I think the final layout will be. By the time I've sat down to actually start writing, I've already got a general idea of what I want to happen based just on the adventure's 'blurb;' from there, it's just filling in the details along the way.
Did any media influence your Mist Hunters adventure?
Oh, without a doubt. The Walking Dead and World War Z were obvious choices. But I always loved the long, slow descent to and beyond the edges of ethics and morality as it was portrayed in Apocalypse Now. The dead are an ostensible threat; it's the living that you truly have to worry about -- the evil of which they're capable of committing is unfathomable. Otherwise, I find a song or two that I feel suits the feel and theme of the adventure that I'm designing, hit shuffle, and go to work. In this case, it was Disposable Heroes by Metallica. I couldn't find a better song to reflect the trauma and terror that Falkovnians endure on a daily basis.
Is there anything you'd include in a 'director's cut' of this adventure, or anything that didn't make it past editing?
Thankfully, I have a role in the editing process, so I was able to skip the "first round" of edits (this can be a good thing or a bad thing). That said, there's tons of story potential provided by the denizens of the Domain and I would have loved to have been able to expand on that. It's a city full of people that know death is coming for them, but are kept in check by fear; I could think of dozens of encounters that could have made great use of that.
What Domain of Dread (from Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft or imagined) would you like most to visit?
Personally? None of them, thanks. Oh, from a designer's perspective? I'd love to go back to Falkovnia; it's rife with opportunity. That said, as a huge fan of the movie Dark City, it was very fun to be able to dive into I'Cath -- even for a bit; I'm sure I would love experiencing it as a player.