Robert Pleasant shares his story and the challenges of creating a tabletop adventure that has now been nominated for the ENnie Award.
From a Passionate Homage to ENnie Award Nominated Game
To say that Robert Pleasant has been an active member of the Bay Area’s fandom community would be an understatement.
Many know him from his work at fan convention as a volunteer or event organizer. On stage for the Cosplay Wrestling Federation, he has taken on the role of numerous characters like Mumen Rider and Bill Nye. Readers are familiar with his published work for Multiversity Comics and G33k-HQ. Now many will know Robert Pleasant as an ENnie Award nominated game writer.
The ENnie Award
The ENnie Award is an annual fan-based ceremony that honors the best in tabletop role-playing games. The winners are determined by a two-round system. In the first, the submitted work is approved by a five judge panel. In the second, the community votes on the finalists. The winners are announced at Gen Con, one of the largest tabletop-game conventions in the world.
Robert Pleasant D&D Adventurers League module, “Where Can She Be”, has been nominated for the ENnie 2020 Award for Best Organized Play. With the public vote ongoing, I got the chance to chat with him (via Facebook Messenger). Among the topics discussed was creating his work, his favorite parts, and what it means to be nominated for such a prestigious award.
Creating “Where Can She Be”
8Bit/Digi: Without spoiling too much, what is the premise of “Where Can She Be”?
Robert Pleasant: An elusive thief has stolen valuable treasures from across the Moonsea, and the players need to follow the clues to find her and stop the next heist. The clues are all based on previous adventures set in the area from throughout D&D Adventurers League history. If we’re being honest, it’s a D&D homage to Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego. Also, there are game shows and a group of kenku bards that perform a capella.
8Bit/Digi: Have you created original characters for this game or do players bring their own custom character?
Robert Pleasant: So this is a module for D&D Adventurers League. That means that players will use the characters they’ve created and leveled up as part of the organized play system. Any AL legal characters between levels 5 to 10 are okay to use. Of course, there are a number of NPCs (non-player characters) that are made for the adventure, including the aforementioned kenku a capella group, the thief herself, and her many pun-named minions.
8Bit/Digi: In regards to the NPC’s and pun-named minions, which ones were your favorite you created?
Robert Pleasant: I think the pun name I’m proudest of is Hyrisk Loriturn. You gamble with him, naturally. Though I also like the kobold named Stitches Fersnitches. Of course, I have a soft spot for the entire kenku band. Each member is named after a song that includes someone saying their name (Maurice, Kilroy, etc) but their stage crew members are all given names from songs as well (Roxanne, Lola, Mr. Kite, and so on).
Nominated for an ENnie Award
8Bit/Digi: What do you feel was the biggest challenge to creating “Where Can She Be” and how did you overcome it?
Robert Pleasant: For the Community Created Content (CCC) program, there’s a process for getting approved. First, you need an event attached to it – for me, that was North Bay Dungeon Day, a charity event I’ve organized for the past few years. After that you have to pitch the adventure and hope the AL team approves it. Fortunately, “Where Can She Be” made the cut.
Then I had to actually write the darn thing, balance the encounters, playtest repeatedly, make sure the adventure ran in the time slot, get the finalized version approved, and so on. It’s all a big process, but well worth it.
8Bit/Digi: Is this the first time you have been nominated for an ENnie Award and has “Where Can She Be” been nominated for any other award?
Robert Pleasant: This is my first nomination and my second Adventurers League CCC module. It’s only nominated for the Best Organized Play category (since AL is the organized play system for D&D 5th edition), but that alone is an honor.
8Bit/Digi: What was your reaction when you learned that you had been nominated for the ENnie Award and how did you celebrate the news?
Robert Pleasant: It’s funny, I only found out I got nominated when I heard a friend did (check out Noah Grand’s “Jaunt to the Center of Faerun,” it’s also a nominee in the same category and is just as deserving of a win). I went to the ENnies site to see for myself, and only then did I notice my adventure was also on the list.
Suffice to say, my reaction was that of shocked surprise, but I was beyond happy to have made the cut. So I celebrated by ordering a nice dinner.
The Player Experiences
8Bit/Digi: What do you want your players to experience and what do you feel would be the biggest take away for anyone who plays “Where Can She Be”?
Robert Pleasant: Above all else, I want my players to have fun. This adventure is designed as a tribute to the many adventures set around the Moonsea in Adventurers League, from the first three AL seasons to some well-known CCC locations. I want players to draw on their knowledge of the realms, get invested in the world, and use their past adventures (including Story Awards) to guide them.
And if they get a laugh out of the punny names and the all-kenku a capella group, all the better.
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