Friday, October 29, 2021

Adventure Work in Progress: The Queen of Decay

 "The Princess Bride"  by Ted CoConis ©1974 Ballantine
Inspiration can come from the strangest of places. I wanted to share the background on a work in progress I have about halfway completed.

A sci-fi enthusiast who discusses book covers followed by a lot of the people I follow on Twitter posted this image, which was a 1974 cover for The Princess Bride by Ted CoConis.

There was a lot of discussion about how poorly this cover represents the content of the book. Which I think is a fair appraisal. It's pretty clear that the artist did not read the book, or even have the vaguest idea of what was in it when he designed the cover.

He is, rightly, quite proud of his work and it shows up in his website portfolio. I love the work, but it certainly doesn't scream The Princess Bride to me.

One of the commentators in the original thread, Paula Richey, made this fantastic comment. About how the art loses its appeal given the context. But might be more appropriate for a story about "battling through a hallucinogenic swamp to rescue a hot princess held captive by an evil necromancer."

Needless to say, my Low Fantasy Gaming group were all in agreement that this was a fantastic idea. My GM recommended that we mock it up as a module for a laugh.

As I have my own adventure module template sitting in Google docs, and bookmarks to dozens of pieces of cool fantasy art, I made a mock module, in which I presented the hot princess and The necromancer, as well as a module premise.

I got such great feedback on my fake module design, that I decided to pursue it. Sadly, this means the original joke is going to be lost, as I cannot afford to license the original artist's work. Even if it is the inspiration for the module.

In the meantime, I will be regularly updating this post as I work on and expand the module so leaders who are interested can follow my progress on this design.

Earliest Iterations

Here are its initial incarnations

Phase 1: Complete Joke

Phase 2: Taking the Joke Too Far

Phase 3: Deciding it Wasn't a Joke.

Phase 4: In development - Public domain art, more hexes added, world data added.

Those three phases came in the space of about 2 hours.

Current Stage

As I work on the document, I will post further updates below.

COMPLETED! I finished Queen of Decay for the OSR Game Jam in March 2022. Read about it here, or see it for sale on


  1. Cool. And yeah, that art is super out of sync with that story. Lol.

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