Topic: Insect Shrine of Goblin Hill vs. The Grinding Gear comparisons
Insect Shrine's manuscript is effectively done, and just needs playtesting.
The Grinding Gear's manuscript just needs two locations written, but has been played in its entirety multiple times and the process of writing the manuscript is just turning scratch notes into English.
Insect Shrine is a grand adventure spanning a decent-sized wilderness area. It's huge. The Grinding Gear is a single location. Not so huge.
Insect Shrine is a sandbox with certain leading events drawing the PCs into a grand web of intrigue and danger. Starts slow (yet hopefully interesting), ends in madness. The Grinding Gear very well may be over the top insanity in the very first described location.
Insect Shrine and Grinding Gear both offer numerous opportunities for a TPK, but in my estimation the behavior that will lead to such is completely different in each adventure. The "moral of the story" playstyle-wise may be exactly the opposite between the adventures.
However, both share one thing in common: Challenge. One impression I get from online actual play reports is that when running their own material, referees will tailor it to their party, and will err on the side of survivability and player success. They don't want to be dicks to their regular group, and being a Killer DM is as undesirable as being a Monty Haul. However, they give themselves permission to be brutal, and players forgive such brutality much easier, if using a published adventure. Then the referee is more easily a neutral arbiter, and isn't directly responsible for whatever carnage ensues. Does anyone else notice this?
Now I don't believe I am publishing Killer DM stuff, but I do believe in a good challenge. And challenge means risk of failure. That I enjoy.
I can't wait to get both of these finished and out the door, and I can't wait to see how you guys react to them.