It’s been quite an exciting few months.
My wife and I were kicked out of our rental, and since we are hardworking individuals, we were able to find, finance and move into a house. Yep, we bought a house. It’s been quite rough on writing, with all of the packing, plan making, not knowing exactly when escrow would close… there was a day or two that we thought we’d have to move into a hotel.
All this as an excuse to why I haven’t made much progress on my newest book. I have about 50 pages written, which isn’t bad. I haven’t, however, been very diligent about writing every lunch break like I used to. Well, I have been writing, just not the book. At times like this when I find it hard to concentrate on a large project, I like to work on smaller bits of fiction.
One of my favorite parts about writing has always been the world building. (In fact, I have several pages worth of notes written about the world in which my latest novel takes place so, saying that I have only 50 pages written is a bit of a misnomer.) One of my many hobbies is being a GM for a tabletop RPG.
For those not in the know: GM is short for Game Master and RPG is short for Role Playing Game.
Now, if you have no idea what this is, I can say “Dungeons and Dragons” and you’ll go “Oh! That.” and have an impression of what you think an RPG is all about. Before categorizing me into the nerdy recesses of society (a location I will gladly reside, thank you very much) let me explain RPGs thusly:
It is a group activity where several people agree to tell a story together, as characters in the story, using a system of rules to keep everyone on track and dice to randomize certain events. The role of the GM (my role) is to give their story context and keep it on track and fair. I also take it upon myself to make sure everyone is having fun, even though that is not a required aspect of RPGs.
So, what I’ve been doing is researching a new RPG system (system of rules) and creating a world for my players to interact in (context). I also took an extra step in partially creating their character (more context) to make sure they are appropriate for the world that I’m creating.
Since some RPG sessions can last several hours (we’ve had 6+ hour games in the past) and some of my players would rather not carve such a large time out of their schedules, I’ve adopted an episodic aspect to my game sessions. I’m modeling each game session after an episode in a TV series, with an appropriate “introduction to the problem” first act, the “problem solving” second act, and the “resolution” third act. I’m hoping that each session will only last a few hours, but until we play, that’s really unknown. So far I’ve written 5 “episodes” that comprise the first “season” each two to three pages in length, with lot of rules research in-between.
All that to say that yes, I am still writing, but just in a different capacity.
And a little sample of this type of writing was recently published! I listen to a podcast called “Happy Jack’s RPG podcast” in which RPGs are discussed on a weekly basis. They have given me great insight on how to solve certain problems while GMing as well as suggestions on different game systems to try (and the main reason why I’m trying out Savage Worlds and have my eye on GURPS).
They recently held a contest called “Two Sides, 1 Epic” in which the listeners were tasked with coming up with an RPG game session that only filled two sides of one 8.5″x11″ piece of paper. That is fairly limited, as in some of my other games I’ve needed several pages worth of notes, maps drawn up, and other miscellaneous items to make the game work.
At any rate, I only became aware of the contest a few days before the deadline. I created a submission based on an idea that I had floating around in my head, and while it wasn’t very refined, I submitted it anyway. I didn’t win a place or an honorable mention, but all of the submissions were gathered into a publication and has been made available on the Happy Jack’s website.
It’s not something that I’m extremely proud of, but it is another step in the direction of creating and sharing things. And really, it’s showing me the importance of re-writing, giving my work time to breathe between edits and how to design a system agnostic game session.
All in all, a very exciting few months. I hope to get back into a regular routine of writing, but now I’m a home-owner and everyone says that’ll suck up all my time now. I sincerely hope not.