Tag: rpg

New year; new projects. And thoughts on Fading Suns

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Has it really been an entire year since my last post? Well, no John Scalzi am I! I plan to remedy the lack of communication issue in 2014, especially since I’m working on some projects this year that I can’t wait to talk about.

On the novel front, I’ve switched my focus. I had been working much of last year on my epic SF/fantasy trilogy. Some good research, some good outlining, and a decent amount of narrative written. But I reached a stopping point at the same time that thoughts of finally getting that sequel to Singularity Deferred out of my head started to peak. So, I’ve shelved the trilogy for now and picked up the sequel–which should make 6 people on Amazon and a couple on Smashwords happy.

Now, some truly awesome news: I just started working with FASA on one of my mostest favoritest role-playing games evar! Fading Suns. (Some additional info.) I’ve been into this system since the late 90s, ever since I got the “Emperor of the Fading Suns” strategy PC game, and then checked out the RPG it was based on. (That game has a truly amazing soundtrack that could be ripped off the CD! I’ve used it for years as part of my writing soundtrack.)

So they released a newly revised edition of the core rules about a year and a half ago, and a new game master’s guide this last December (with much old, revised material). Now, they’re working on redoing the supplemental source books. And that’s where I come in!

I can’t say much, but I’m working right now on a source book that’s going to contain a pretty big ratio of new content! It’s very exciting! And the fact that I get to have a role in the creation process really is like a dream come true.

As for the game itself, I’m quite pleased where it’s going. I won’t get into the messy details, but the original creators of the game were supposedly working on an entirely new 3rd edition of the game before Crazy Stuff Happened, and the line changed hands and people left…. And what happened instead was the Revised Edition was released. And as much as I was really looking forward to a new version, I think this is better. I mean, at the core of Fading Suns is a very good rules system that really did only need some fixing and enhancing. Which they did. It’s a much better system now.

Though, I’m still unsure about the physical copy of the new book. It’s a nice, portable size now, but it doesn’t lie open on the table anymore. Which is a shame. But I think I’ll live. ūüôā I’m excited to see what the source books end up looking like.

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GenCon-inspired motivation

Last week I attended the largest gaming convention in America, GenCon. Four days of role-playing games, sci-fi cosplay (not me, personally), writers’ workshops,¬†dealer room (and by “room,” I mean ginormous arena of more product in one place than a human mind can comprehend).¬†It was amazing!

I’ve been known on my blogs to babble in incessant detail about the¬†minutia¬†of an experience. I’m going to try to avoid that here, else this post will go on for days. Four, to be precise. So, instead, I’m going to attempt an overview and then get into a few details now an again.

What brought me to GenCon this year, several years after my previous and first trip, was the decision to volunteer to game master some rounds of Posthuman Studio’s amazing RPG, ECLIPSE PHASE. To be honest, and perhaps to the surprise of the volunteer wrangler if he chances upon this, I’d not actually run an EP game before. Oh sure, I’ve been GMing RPGs since I was 10, some (oh… my… god!) 30 years now. (Pardon me while I take a stiff drink or five.) And I’d been reading EP materials for more than a year, trying to convince my regular gaming group to let me run some for them (to no avail). So, when I saw the call from Posthuman for GM volunteers, I jumped at the chance. I think I literally jumped.

What followed was weeks of intense EP studying and, finally, getting a couple groups of my friends to allow me to test the adventures I’d be running on them. Gladly, that went well. More importantly, the actual GenCon rounds I ran went fantastically well! (Fortunately, I’m the kind of GM who, if I run into some kind of road-block, I create workarounds and can wing it really well, with the primary goal of making sure everyone has fun. (Which, by the way, does not mean everyone gets to Monty Haul their way through the adventures… I did indeed end up killing a couple of characters in a most dramatic and worthy fashion, and just about Total Party Killed one group. They really enjoyed the tension-filled drama!)

Anyway, to wrap this part up, ECLIPSE PHASE is an incredible game, and Posthuman Studios is filled with great people! (I found it very amusing, and cool, that nearly everyone I saw working the Posthuman booth sported body mods: lots of facial piercings, hair coloring, tats. …and they were young–20s, certainly. A realization that helped lead me to a personal revelation which I’ll deal with soon. Anyway, great people, cool company (they actually put their $50 core rule book free online under Creative Commons! Can you believe that?!) I’m hoping to involve myself with them more.

So, that’s what took me to GenCon. But better yet, the wife and I decided we’d make it a family vacation with the daughter. We all searched and scoured the GenCon schedule for things to do, and successfully found a few things to do together; but, ultimately, all three of our schedules were pretty filled all four days.

Wife and I played an interesting board game that’s about to come out and was funded with Kickstarter, called “Oh My God There’s an Axe in My Head!” I’m looking forward to getting a copy. The three of us attended Tracy and Laura Hickman’s (you know, Tracy of Dragonlance fame) Killer Breakfast. Fun! But he wasn’t nearly as clever and quick as I expected him to be. Meh, that’s OK–it was a cool experience, and I love his writing. Daughter attended workshops on Doctor Who jewelry (read: Shrinkydink) making, makeup, anime stuff, and more stuff. She and wife make funny-cool felt doll ninjas and zombies, and played a “furry”-based RPG.

One of the things wife (I really need to get permission from her to use her name in public) did on her own was attend a Shadowrun improv show. She found it funny, and it really revitalized her Shadowrun interest! (I used to GM her and some college friends through many adventures back in the early 90s.) Now we’re browsing the ‘net-tubes for copies of Shadowrun 4th edition. Guess what I’ll be doing again, soon. *wink*

The vendors were legion! And, man, if only I’d had money, and lots of it. So much to buy! I had my eye on an interesting non-collectible card game that allowed you to create and play through a dungeon adventure solo or cooperative or multi-player. What I did end up getting was the new FADING SUNS book, which, sadly, after the controversial departure of their lead designer (wow, they’ve completely locked down their forum since I was there last, when stuff hit fans–yikes!), isn’t the revolutionary new version we fans had been expecting. By the looks of it, it’s a version 2.5, though the lady was trying really hard to say it was virtually 3rd edition. In any case, it does clean up and streamline the 2nd edition rules, which is well worth it in any case! Whatever questionable things the company has done/is doing, I still love that game! And I got the ECLIPSE PHASE¬†supplement¬†book, GATECRASHING. (Their books, by the way, are some of the best quality I’ve ever seen, period.) Daughter picked up a Doctor Who sonic screwdriver and a very nice pocket watch that, without any influence by me, happens to look very much like my own pocket watch that she didn’t know about. She’s my daughter. *smile*

I didn’t get to meet Wil Wheaton though I so wanted to. $25 to meet and get an autograph, which I don’t begrudge him at all! But that’s just too much for me. I did get to meet, speak with briefly, and get to sign my Nook, author Michael Stackpole. I’ve been a fan of his for years, but more so after I found out the work he did putting the “Dungeons & Dragons is evil!!1!” people in their place in the 80s. And even more more so after listening to his Stormwolf advice and hosting Dragon Page podcast.

Which leads me into the real meat of this post.

I attended a few writing seminars and panels (though not near as many as I wanted to!), including one of Stackpole’s. I heard from editors and publishers and authors about the business of writing, about networking with others in the industry, and other topics that deal with the writing career, as opposed to the act of writing. (Heck, as I’ve written before, I’ve been studying the art and craft of writing for year– *sigh* decades.) Oh, I also watched the taping of four episodes of Writing Excuses podcast. Sadly, I couldn’t get Brandon Sanderson’s autograph. *pout* Hearing from professionals about the profession was more than just informative, it was illuminating. It was motivating! Half the people on the panels were young, or started very young. And once again, for the tetragabazilionth time since I started grad school a few years ago, I felt the very sharp and painful pang of regret at all the lost time! I am starting a new career path, based on my passion now at middle age. Not only do I only have half the time in front of me to accomplish and enjoy my goals, but I’m trying to do it with a demanding full-time day job and a family while my peers and competition both are doing the same thing at the peak of their vigor and freedom.

Well, yes, this feeling of loss and desperation was sharp, as it always is–but what I also felt and was/am quite glad for it, is excitement and anticipation and hope. For example, working for someone else as a slush pile reader should be an intern-like job for a young person, but I’m excited about the chance of getting to do it, and gaining the skills and experience it will provide. Trying to network at my age and position will be difficult, but now I have a head (and some notebook pages) full of tips and suggestions of how to do it properly and effectively, and I’m excited about that as well.

And so this is what I came away from GenCon with: the renewed thrill and appreciation of my RPG hobby, renewed motivation and hope for my writing, and a renewed plan and energy for my editing/publishing goals. And, interestingly, one of the things that the helped these renewals, was the fact that in 4 days I barely looked at Facebook. The realization: I need to stop using Facebook.

Sadly, that’s not entirely feasible as Facebook is a great tool to me for learning news and info about books and authors and publishers, getting scifi/fantasy inspiration, networking with others in the industry, keeping up with gaming news and releases, and, of course, promoting my own works. So, leaving altogether would actually be a bad idea.

What I did do, though, is set up a new account and liked/subscribed/friended people and pages and groups and interests that focused entirely on writing, speculative fiction, publishing, and other manner of related subjects. (See, my original account was filled with socio-political-economic-philosophical matter that compelled me to not just visit every moment I had a break from work/family/work, but read and respond with negative-feeling emotion that, while was very important to me, sapped my mood and attitude and encouraged misanthropic crumudeonry. Those socio-political-economic-ideological beliefs I still feel very strongly about; but, I decided, it was time to make all that take a backseat to what I want to be most important to me, aside from my family. My writing and writing-related career.

So, here it begins… again. Wish me luck!

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Update the nth

 

Funny, it’s never¬†occurred¬†to me to post more regularly, like my¬†heroes¬†John Scalzi, Cory Doctorow, Patrick Rothfuss, and Charles Stross, so that I can just do regular posts and not silly, bloated “update” posts. Funny; I should really start considering that. ūüėõ

But anyway, here’s a bloated “update” post:

I just updated this site to remove the option of buying individual short stories (silly idea in the first place) to link to where they can be bought for soopercheep on Smashwords in one collection. As of this writing, only $1.49 for all five stories. However, starting tomorrow (Sunday, March 4), you can take advantage of the Smashwords Ebook Week promotion and get 25% off ($1.12 if my maths is right–and if not, that explains my English degrees….).

Enough hawking. What else is going on? Well, as this wonderful, funny, and very very accurate post, “25 Things I Want to Say to So-Called Aspiring Writers,” so ardently proclaims: a writer writes! I’ve been… not writing as much lately, so much as, doing stuff around the subject of writing. That is, I’ve been editing my novel, and looking for publishers and agents. I’ve got a feeler out for one agent in particular that I would really like to work with and I’m eagerly awaiting his reply. But, if he, like So. Very. Many. agents and editors out there, aren’t taking on any more submissions — I’m pulling the trigger on self-publishing this novel with the help of Kickstarter.

The novel’s been heavily edited, it’s been workshopped, it’s ready to see the light of day. And I’ve been setting up the framework to get it done: pricing marketing materials, proofing services, Lulu versus CreateSpace, and recording the audiobook to put out as a free trial of the book itself. (A tactic heavily recommended by such self-made successful authors like Scott Sigler and JC Hutchins. (At least, I’m pretty sure they advocate it. I mean, they did it when they got started. It could have been another writing hero of mine, Michael A. Stackpole, who is, while also a NY Times bestselling author, a huge self-publishing advocate. And while he furiously reminds authors to never forget the self-marketing, I’m not sure he’d advocate giving something like an audiobook away for completely free. *shrug*)

Anyway, so I’m getting that all ready to go.

I’m also working on an “Inception” role-playing game rules set. It uses Savage Worlds as its basic rules, but then it incorporates a Jenga tower (as inspired by Chad’s “Lucid” RPG). My version is a lot more crunchy than “Lucid,” and I’ll be play testing it next week. When I’m done, of course I’ll put it out for free, considering all the copyrights I’d probably break otherwise.

I’m also working on a new story that’s been flitting around my mind for a while. It’s a tough little thing to write, though. I know how it must start, I know how it must end, and I know some stops in between, but getting the points to connect has been a challenge.

And I’m working on the outline for my next novel: a YA fantasy inspired by my daughter’s imaginings once as we hiked a trail. I’m sure people will want a sequel to the novel I’ve already finished (my test readers sure do!) But this one needs to be written first.

And, finally, I’m working on a “shard,” or adventure for the Fading Suns RPG. It’s essentially writing on spec: one writes a shard, and submits it for potential approval. If they like it, they may send something more my way. I so very much want to write for them, for this world! I fell in love with the Fading Suns setting and story when I discovered the “Emperor of the Fading Suns” computer game, circa 1996, and discovered it came from an RPG. Ever since, I’ve been semi-obsessed! I really want the shard to be my top priority; I desperately want to write for this system. Especially as their new edition comes out later this year! But, alas, I’ve all of the above to try to get put away.

And that’s my writing life right now. Hopefully I can start posting the cool and interesting things that come my way near daily. So, Until next time….

 

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