Over the weekend I had a chance to chat with Kim Hartsfield, the author of the latest module to come out of Troll Lord Games. Kim has written for TLG before, he wrote "They Call Him Guff", a short one-shot adventure and which is still available for purchase. I asked Kim to tell me a little about Dark Journey which has been in the top 5 in sales at RPGNow.com since its debut.
Me: Dark Journey is selling really well. Why do you think that is?
Kim: Dark Journey is really "old school". Like Steve [owner of TLG], I feel that term is misleading and overused, but it fits. A fun-house, dungeon crawl with little background, but full of danger and fun... It's a low-level adventure... a classic dungeon crawl. Players that have been RPGing for years will find it to contain a lot of nostalgia. It is easily converted to d20 systems, including Pathfinder, D&D 3.x, OSRIC, probably Savage Worlds. Even systems that make it difficult to port over, the plot and fluff can easily be used in other systems, just not the mechanics. Its not really difficult.
Me: How did you come up with the idea of the rooms, the general layout?
Kim: The old AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide had a dungeon making matrix. I used that for the first level, that's why it looks so random. But that's the way I did it back in 1984 when I first started writing. The other levels, I laid out a bit more symmetrical, especially the lowest level. The content was just 25+ years of writing dungeons. I just tapped that old, nostalgic mind of mine.
Me: How long do you think it would take a typical gaming group to go through Dark Journey?
Kim: It would take multiple sessions. I would imagine 3-5 sessions, with each session being 4-6 hours... maybe 18-24 hours. And it has three levels and 100 rooms. That is large for a pre-written module.
Me: So what do you do when you are not writing for TLG? Tell me a little about yourself. I've met you once at the Troll Dens, but I was in and out that day and we didn't get much of a chance to talk.
Kim: My day job is repairing / maintaining medical equipment for Siemens Medical. I have been doing that for about 5 years. Before that, I was in the Navy for 10 years. I am married to Marianne Hartsfield, have a 23 year old daughter and a 11 year old son and make my home in Mississippi though I was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
Me: How did you get involved with Steve and Troll Lord Games?
Kim: I heard there was going to be Lake Geneva Gaming Con in Lake Geneva, at Gary Gygax's house. I was living in Little Rock and wanted to go. Then I found out that the company putting the con together was located in Little Rock. I called Steve, having never met him, and said I was going to LGGC and offered to help if he needed anything. He didn't, but I talked with him at the con and said, since I lived in LR, we should get together for a game. Then he had Breakdaddy [Jason Alexander] contact me when we got back.
The rest is history.
Me: Cool, are you working on anything else for Castles & Crusades now?
Kim: I am currently writing a monster book. Pete Bradley [artist and layout for TLG] has most of it, about 150 monsters. I am going to write up about 50-75 more.
Me: Excellent, I bet people will be excited to see that. When is it going to be released?
Kim: I hope to have it out by GenCon, but that's tenuous at best.
Me: I look forward to it and to seeing you at GenCon. Thanks for taking time to talk with me.
Kim: No problem, thank you.
Kim Hartsfield's work can be found in print at the TLG store and in PDF at RPGNow and DrivethruRPG. To learn more about him, you can check out his blog. A word of caution: it's not for the faint of heart. He can also be found on Twitter. His wife, Marianne Hartsfield, who also enjoys gaming, is on Twitter as lilbytes and has a very entertaining and informative website.
Our Two for Tuesday deal is going to feature Kim -- now through Midnight tonight, when you purchase Dark Journey, you can get his other adventure, They Call Him Guff, for free! All you need to do is click here: Kim's Two for Tuesday Bundle