Last Call for Dark Deeds: The Origin of Freeport
Dark Deeds in Freeport patronage project is waiting for you!
Wolf asked me to talk a little bit about the origin of Freeport, so let’s go on a journey back to 2000. Early in that year, I had decided to start a new company, and I was in the process of putting together the first release, Ork: The Roleplaying Game. I was working at WotC at the time, which is how I got to know Wolf. There was a lot of talk on the roleplaying side of the company about the proposed Open Game License and d20 STL. I remember being in a meeting in which adventures were discussed. Some folks at WotC were hoping that third party publishers would release a lot of adventures since WotC itself had trouble doing them profitably. And I thought, “I bet I could sell a module for 3E and make a profit.”
I planned then to write an adventure and release it at GenCon 2000, the same day the Player’s Handbook for 3rd Edition D&D was coming out. The question was, what kind of adventure? I knew that WotC was taking a “back to the dungeon” approach, so I wanted to offer something a little different. I was probably over-thinking it because D&D players don’t seem all that prone to tiring of dungeons, but in any case, that’s how I decided to make it a city adventure. This, of course, necessitated creating a city…
I began to think of the features I wanted the city to have. First, I thought it should be on major trade routes, a place where adventures from far-flung lands might come together. Second, I wanted it to be easy to drop the city into existing campaign settings. Those two factors argued for a port on an island. That would let a GM just drop the island in any convenient place on the campaign map and be ready to roll.
At its core, the city had to be built on the assumptions of D&D, but I wanted to add a twist or two. The first element, pirates, came naturally once I determined it was a port city. Who can say no to swashbuckling after all? The second developed as I was working out the plot of the adventure. Basically, the investigation focus of the story made it like a Call of Cthulhu adventure for D&D. I thought it only appropriate then to add some cosmic horror to the mix. I did not want to be so blatant as to actually use Cthulhu, but this is what led to the idea of an ancient serpentman empire destroyed by the Unspeakable One.
In the end, the city melded classic D&D elements, pirates, and Lovecraftian horror. It was the centerpiece of Death in Freeport, which did indeed release on the first day of GenCon 2000. It went on to win an Origins Award and the very first ENnie Award. For something I thought might be a one shot experiment, it really worked out.
Now here we are 10 years later with a new Freeport project starting up. This is something I certainly never thought I’d see back in 2000. I look forward to creating this new chapter in the story of Freeport with you all.
It’s last call time for the Dark Deeds in Freeport patronage project! On December 3 the project will either reach its goal—and the cost of patronage will rise—or it will sail off into the sunset! Come join us today!