Last Episode I started to look at estimating the total page count, keeping in mind that I may want to create a full-fledged campaign at some point in the future. Today I am going to drill down a little deeper and assign page and word counts to each section of the module so I can better determine how much content I really have room for.
Estimating Word Counts for Common Sections
Before it is possible to assign a total word count for my adventure, it would be very beneficial to study one of Paizo’s in order to come up with a few rule-of-thumbs that I can apply to each section type. For this purpose, I am going to use an Adventure Path module which has a format that most closely resembles what I am going for in terms of layout and length.
Using Adobe Acrobat, I was able to roughly count the words for each section. See the summary below:
- Outside Front Cover (1 page)
- Inside Front Cover (152 words) (1 page)
- Title Page (11 words) (1 page)
- Credits (605 words) (1 page)
- Table of Contents (221 words) (1 page)
- Foreword (1,219 words) (2 pages)
- Adventure TOC (70 words) (1 page)
- Adventure Background (511 words) (0.5 pages)
- Part 1 (2,651 words) (3.5 pages)
- Part 2 (5,223 words) (7.5 pages)
- Part 3 (5,032 words) (6 pages)
- Part 4 (5,334 words) (7.5 pages)
- Part 5 (4,889 words) (6 pages)
- Part 6 (12,008 words) (15 pages)
- Concluding the Adventure (640 words) (1page)
- Appendix 1: NPC Gallery (2,790 words) (4 pages)
- Appendix 2: Treasures (1,312 words) (2 pages)
- Appendix 3: Continuing the Campaign (3,886 words) (6 pages)
- Appendix 4: World-building Supplement (3,566 words) (6 pages)
- Appendix 5: Pathfinder Journal (4,729 words) (6 pages)
- Appendix 6: Bestiary (8,013 words) (12 pages)
- Appendix 7: Next Month (323 words) (0.5 page)
- Legal Appendix (1201 words) (0.5 page)
- Advertisements (4 pages)
- Inside Back Cover (137 words) (1 page)
- Outside Back Cover (1 page)
Based on this example, we are looking at 4,450 words for the introductory material (up to the end of Adventure Background), 36,288 words for the adventure itself, and an additional 25,957 words for the appendix material. This gives a grand total of 66,595 words for the whole shebang.
If we take just the adventure section with 36,288 words and divide it by the 47 pages they appear on, that is about 775 words for a typical page. This jives with what I heard on Paizo’s forums. Note that this would not necessarily be a good rule-of-thumb for certain appendix sections that contain larger illustrations (like the Bestiary Appendix) or for layout pages with little text (like the table of contents).
Another useful piece of information that we can extract from data is the percentage of words in the adventure section that makeup the stat blocks. Filtering these out yields about 7,553 words in total. That is pretty darn close to 20%. Good to know!
My Adventure Layout
A few considerations before I begin:
While I don’t want my adventure to appear exactly as an Adventure Path module, there are some commonalities that can’t be avoided and are expected in any book – even an e-book. This includes things like the front and back covers, credits, table of contents, legal appendix, etc.
Its’ also important to keep in mind that the analysis I did last episode was only for establishing a point of reference. I don’t have any real restriction on my total page count so there is no need to squish everything together in order to save on nonexistent publishing costs. That means I can afford to be more generous with the space allocation for layout contnet if it provides a cleaner presentation.
After an hour or so of playing around and trying various word-count assignments, here is what I came up with. You can click on the image for a larger view.
Well, you can see right away that I am at 80 pages (excluding covers) instead of my estimated 64. This is due to having an introductory section that you don’t see much of anymore these days but which I find useful, and a longer adventure section than what would be normal for the medium Character Advancement Track.
After thinking about the page number discrepancy for a while, I think I am going to proceed with the 80-page format and about 55,000 words total. These extra pages should allow the use of more full-page maps which I prefer for printing purposes. It also gives me a bit more breathing room for the adventure itself since I was a little concerned that only 32 pages wouldn’t be enough. I guess I can always trim out some of the non-essential appendices later if required.
What do you guys think. Is this too long? Too ambitious?
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