In my last post on writing, I spoke about writing for Arc Dream, and making the leap from writing lots down for myself to getting things published. One reason I didn’t say was why I like to get things published. The answer is a not completely comfortable combination of generosity and vanity. Generosity because it’s great to be able to share what I’ve done, and others getting value out of it. Vanity, because it’s nice for me to see others appreciate my work, and to see value in it.
Someone actually giving me money for my work is the most direct way I can think of to see that there’s value in it. Maybe this is all a bit too self-analytical, and writing for publication (or self-publication) is simply another hobby that nicely exists alongside my actual gaming.
After Blood of the Gods for Arc Dream, my next bit of writing was for Newt Newport and D101 Games. Newt seems to be receptive to my ideas (ah, that vanity/appreciation thing again). He peer-reviewed an early copy of Blood of the Gods, and the first draft was much improved by his input. I’ve done bits and pieces of editing and proof reading on a good few D101 products. Perhaps most significantly, I co-edited the marvellous game of fallen Chinese immortals doing good deeds and kung fu, Monkey.
I’m still rather pleased with Drowned Lands, the first thing I wrote for D101. What is it? Well, here’s the setting pitch (from which you can, if you want, take a good guess at when it was written):
The summer of 2011 was blisteringly hot and humid,
both in Britain and in the rest of the world.
Perhaps nothing too unusual.
Then it started to rain.
Still nothing unusual.
It started to rain everywhere in the world, even in deserts.
And it didn’t stop.
It’s a setting included in Worlds of Wordplay– a version of Graham Spearing’s Wordplay RPG including various settings that is published by D101. Drowned Lands is based in VSCA’s Deluge setting toolkit, which, like Wordplay, is creative commons. My setting a rather British post-apocalypse, based around the south coast of England, where I grew up, after a hundred years of constant rain.
While talking about D101 games, I should mention OpenQuest. From the start (before I was writing for D101), I loved OpenQuest, which is a take on fantasy gaming using an engine in the same family as Basic Roleplaying and Runequest, but to my mind more elegant than Basic Roleplaying and simpler than Runequest. I should say here that I also have a soft spot for Runequest’s crunchier take, especially when it comes to combat, but OpenQuest scratches a different itch. I should also mention that OpenQuest 2 is out soon, and the PDF I’ve seen looks great!
I’ve helped a bit with OpenQuest 2, but my big thing for it is a setting I cowrote with Simon Bray called Here Be Dragons. Now this one came into being almost by accident. Both Simon and I submitted articles to Newt on similar themes- mine being a city ruled by a Dragon, and Simon’s on creatures called Dracorians and a scenario based around them. Newt suggested combining them into a book, so we wrote more and did so.
The writing for this one was absolutely frantic, with ideas and e-mails flying back and forth. We were done with a first draft remarkably quickly. I think the result is glorious- a swords and sorcery setting with Simon’s art and maps, a lot of dark stuff, bits inspired by Greek mythology, a city that was my take on Byzantium, and parts of the style owing as much to Pratchett as to anything else. I like writing with a coauthor. It makes me efficient and the results, based on the two times I’ve done it, surprise me in a nice way.