Monday, January 10, 2011

To Win Boriscalion

Back in the late eighties and early nineties, I was trying to get myself published in Dungeon magazine. I sent them several query letters, most of which were politely declined with their standard rejection letter. Then, finally, after six or eight attempts, they sent me the "your idea sounds intriguing, why don't you send us a completed manuscript" letter.

The adventure was called "To Win Boriscalion". It was a single player vs. DM adventure for a 1st - 3rd level fighter. A fairly straightforward dungeon crawl, the fighter was to enter an abandoned keep and search for any treasure he might find. The big treasure was "Boriscalion", a magical sword with orc-slaying powers. The idea was that it would be the first magical sword the PC would obtain. Basic concept I know, but I thought that it worked.

I thought that until I received the rejection letter from Dungeon--signed by none other than Wolfgang Baur.  The points that they raise are valid, although with a little tweaking they could be fixed.  The reason that I didn't fix them is that, at the time, Dungeon was no longer looking for AD&D adventures.

For posterity's sake, here is the rejection letter that they sent me:

And since this is a blog mainly about mapping, here are the maps that I submitted with the manuscript.

Perhaps I'll take the time to rewrite "To Win Boriscalion" and offer it as a free download--or maybe even as a product for sale.  Yet one more example of "If I only had more time..."


  1. It's awesome that you still have the letter.

    Do you still have the write ups? Those maps are really , really nice.

  2. Yeah. Still have the whole write-up. In fact, I still have it in the manilla envelope that they mailed it back to me in. It's a "Dragon/Dungeon/Amazing Stories" envelope. I completely forgot that TSR had anything to do with Amazing Stories.

  3. Dude, those are professional quality maps! Nice

    By the way, I think "set piece", "clear and limited end goal" adventures are the way to go for casual gaming and especially for the new gamer. Open-ended sandbox type games usually a bit much for the beginner, and they assume too much time input available. A clearly defined adventure, with a new big and obvious piece of cheese at the end, is perfect.

  4. Great maps and I hope you find the time to re-write/re-release this. It sounds like a great adventure for a single player/small group. Cool that you kept the whole thing! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Jim-- Thanks for posting about your filing cabinet drawer of treasures. It was THAT post that prompted me to go back and dig this up.

  6. I remember play testing that thing. I remember it killing my fighter rather abruptly. However, I don't think my guy was very smart (and by extension, I was not very smart at the time, either).