The Writing Block

For the month of November, there is a writing activity called National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. In 2011, I participated and wrote over 50,000 words in 25 days. It was a lot of fun. I wrote with abandon and was surprised at what came out of my head as a story. A mystery story which entitled “The Pretzel Twist”. Glady Rudd, living on her family’s farm was a baker of pretzels. Her next door neighbors have thirteen-year-old twins, a boy and a girl. The twins enjoy Glady’s pretzels and also playing on and around the farm. They discover some interesting antiques covered up in the Rudd barn. And the root cellar is more than what they ever expected.

So now we are in 2018. Where did that story go? I wish I knew. It never got edited. Today I am working on another type of story. In the last couple of years, I have started gaming in role-playing. Specifically Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC RPG). I started out playing some Dungeons & Dragons 3.0/3.5 but found it too full of rules. DCC RPG is full of rules or numbers. Basically through a dice in the dice chain, add a +1, +2 or +3 and you have what you need.

Ok, so here is where I am at. I’ve bitten off the challenge of writing an adventure. Crazy. I am probably yet to new to RPG gaming that I will write something totally stupid and more than that, something that is totally unplayable. What if I get references to creatures wrong? What if I can’t even produce one good creature. Or even yet, what if I can’t produce a good story, one that people will like playing?

Yet, just like with writing a book, the writer needs to know the audience. Or at least write to an audience. Do I know my audience well enough to write them something playable? If I take the advice that comes from my heart, I just write and see what comes from it. I was surprised and pleased with the story I wrote seven years ago. Can’t believe it was seven years ago.

I can say that, yes, there are words written for the adventure. But I also have discovered that in order to write, I need to read. So, I’m trying to read and retain. Wow, as one gets old, retaining material that is read is harder.

May you have wonderful gaming over the holidays. Happy Thanksgiving and may you have all that you wish for as the year 2018 comes to a close.

Joan

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Developing and writing for your players

We are well into October and I have set myself to creating, developing, and writing an RPG module. When put into this position, I find that I’ve suddenly become frozen and can’t seem to push the creative juices to move ahead.

Backstory? Oh, boy, where has my main character come from. What will be interesting for my players to want to pursue the end of the adventure? I much enjoy the magic of the mountains in the Shudder Mountains which is the setting in Michael Curtis’ “The Chained Coffin” box set. I’m not a proponent of reinventing the wheel, but also I am not a proponent of “stealing” ideas or plagiarism. I do know Michael Curtis and have been in conversation with him. I’ve been advised on what I can and can not do. I am grateful for Michael Curtis’s advise. I hope you will be able to someday read and play what comes from this conversation.

My players began with me doing something off the top of my head for a “Ladies Game Night” at a local bookstore where we play Dungeon Crawl Classics weekly.

Life. Yes, life is distracting. Wow, I’m sure that is a new piece of information for you all…NOT. So, finding time to just sit and write is a gift. I don’t get gifts often. Therefore, I’ve not been gifted lately. I am trying with this blog post to spark some creative juices and see if they set a fire. When I don’t feel creative, I find that my mind can easily drift quickly to something else to do. Then, I am a guilty feeling person. The guilt sets in and I seek to find something that will get the creative juices following. It is a Catch 22 with me. Reading would be good, but then I feel like…oh, I need to be writing. Then when I turn to write, I’m thinking…I don’t have enough information to write. Ugh. Writers! I need your help!

So, on with this cycle hoping that it will end soon. The organizing of ideas is a tough area for me. I’m not a seasoned writer, at this time, so I’m developing.

Has anyone written a module that plays on one level and by the time the level is done, there has been enough XP to level up and move on to the guts of the adventure? So that you have almost two modules in one? As I mull over this question, I can list a couple that works in this way…”Sailors on the Starless Sea” and the tournament module, “The Carnival of the Damned“.

So, yes, this blog has sparked some creative juices…I will see you on another day with some development of this crazy module idea.

A Late GenCon 2018 review.

Gathering myself after being at GenCon, I realize that time flew quickly by. It is more than a month after four days of glorious gaming and I’m just now writing.

This past weekend was Hall of Heroes Comic Con in Elkhart, IN. I was a volunteer both Saturday and Sunday and ran Dungeon Crawl Classics on Saturday. This was the second annual Comic Con for Hall of Heroes and the first year for having a separate gaming area hosted by Secret Door Games where I run Road Crew games for Goodman Games Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG.

But back to GenCon 2018. I ran six events for Goodman Games and was surprised to receive a silver medal for running the next highest number of events for Goodman Games. The good medal winner ran eight.

It is a weighty medal. And I am most thankful to be a part of this “warm, fuzzy gelatinous cube” tribe.

I ran two “Sour Spring Hollow” level 0 events, “Qnight’s Haunted Quest” and two “Sailors on the Starless Sea” events. And I love it how with each table of players the adventures run so differently. The players make my time judging DCC RPG worth every minute.

On Saturday, I had my schedule of running events so messed up. But I didn’t miss a beat even though I was exhausted. Each day of GenCon I ran a total of 8 hours of DCC RPG in the Goodman Games gaming room. I also was able to play in a couple of games. I enjoy, so much, the fun of getting crazy “inside” a PC. One of my characters was in an X-Crawl game with Brendan LaSalle. Her name was Joan “of Arc” Rivers. We were asked to pick an actor to portray us in a movie and from there all chaos ensued.

This is what I love about Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, the gonzo play that it offers.  I also play in another RPG group which plays a popular role-playing game. I don’t find it as enjoyable. So serious, or at least it was with a previous member of the group. As a new player, I was being taught that min/maxing a character was the norm. Then I was introduced to DCC RPG and the ‘casual” way of rolling up players. Ok, I think you all can guess what “casual” means. Old Gygaxian way – roll 3d6 and place the number straight down the ability line.

Oh, this was liberating for me in character design. And the classes from the core book are straightforward. You are either human, elf, halfling or dwarf. And in leveling up, if you are human, you get to choose to become either a thief, warrior, cleric or wizard. At the time of leveling up a human, the ability numbers are fairly important as you can use them to your benefit. Clerics with high personality are nice and wizards with high intelligence are nice. Of course, agility for a thief and strength for a warrior are key also.

Ok, so went for a bit of a tangent there. After four days of gaming and purchasing, I came home tired and with a lighter pocketbook. Yes, I still say pocketbook. Actually, I’ve been saying a cracked and broken plastic card. It has been well used purchasing Goodman Games products.

Did I see any of the Exhibitors Hall? Well, yes, for a quick moment but for the most part, I spent most of my time drooling over the Goodman Games booth. There is so much wonderful stuff there and wonderful stuff came home with me.

I want to thank Goodman Games for the support they give to their game masters during GenCon and at other conventions. The next convention I will be attending will be Gary Con in Lake Geneva, WI in March 2019. At that time I hope to have in playtest a module I am presently writing. We need more women writers in this genre. I hope you see my name there.

Play well and always roll those crits! Judge Joan of Arc the DesTroyer mybanner

 

The Writing Bug or Bugs in the Writing?

In mid-April, I was struck with the “Bug”. The writing “bug”. So I wrote a little adventure starter for the “Gongfarmer’s Almanac” to be released at GenCon 2018 in August. A Keystone cop type theme. I titled it ” The Heist for the Royal Jewels”. It got play tested once during a BBQ party at my house. It was a blast as players from both Better World Books and Secret Door Games came to “test” this out. You can find my adventure starter in volume #5 of the “Gonfarmer’s Almanac 2018”.

I dislike writer’s block. And the fact that every story needs the first words to get typed or written on a page. It also does not help to have chronic tendonitis in my left thumb and up the inner arm ending up in the shoulder.

So, I am taking this time in writing my blog to get the writing juices flowing. Knowing that reading and watching themed books and videos can help with this, I am trying to get some time in on some well-needed Appendix N reading and also some theme related movies and videos. And listening to Queen’s “Under Pressure”.

Thinking I have a good title for the module I am writing, I come to want to edit before the story is even written. “Cart before the horse”? Yes!  So many things that I’m doing wrong with the writing process at this time.

Looking for organizing strategy. So, I say there are bugs in the writing with having the writing bug.

 

Running MCC RPG for the first time.

I ran MCC (Mutant Crawl Classics) RPG “The Museum at the End of Time” by Jim Wampler this past Saturday at Secret Door Games, Elkhart, IN.

Image result for museum at the end of time

The SeDoTu Crusaders had a great time, along with this judge, as we crossed the Glow Desert and entered the museum. One player lost all four PC’s early on. I don’t like when players aren’t able to play. So, I try to be creative with where new PCs can come into the game. As with a group that had previously entered the museum, I chose to add another group that had gotten lost/found in the museum.

The only thing about learning MCC is the mechanics of the Artifact Checks and the Artificial Intelligence check. Ok, you can laugh, but the “A” for both words confused me. “Oh bother. Which am I checking again? AI or Artifact?” Then I don’t know if I have the formulas correct. What do I check what against, again?

So, the usual antics occurred with this group. It’s not that they repeat the same gonzo stuff. The group of players that come to my games seems to come up with new and crazy stuff to try. One player said that I must have DCC underwear. I immediately came back that it doesn’t take any underwear to play DCC. (Well, maybe I said something else.)

I love to play DCC RPG and am falling quickly into playing MCC RPG. Just hope I can wrap my head quickly around the AI checks and the Artifact Checks.

But first, I need to make sure that I am prepared for the six events I will be running at GenCon 51 on August 8-12 for Goodman Games. See you at GenCon.

For the Writing of the Thing.

I’ve got the creative thoughts rumbling for adventure writing, but I don’t seem to have the energy or what I think I should have for the organization of these creative thoughts.

I work on a Chromebook. I’ve looked into apps for writing and help with organization, but I’ve not found one that willing fits the flow of my thoughts. I tend to “write by the seat of my pants”, therefore the organization is on the same line.

Index cards? Yep, shuffle them up and throw them on the desk. This should work, right? Ugh.

I had so much fun writing “The Heist of the Royal Jewels” for the Gongfarmer’s Almanac 2018. Having some encouragement to come up with more like it, I’ve come up with another idea. But I think I have overwhelmed myself with information. I just need to settle on just one thought and create around that.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer and author. Of what, I’m not sure. I’ve had lots of encouragement to write and get published. It’s the getting started and like what I’ve written in order to submit something.

I find it fairly easy to blog, journal, and just discuss what I’d like to do. Finding ways to be coached in the process is the challenge. I had fun in 2011 writing during NaNoWriMo (Nationa Novel Writing Month) in November.  I wrote over 50,000 words in 25 days. It was a good challenge. I had fun finding that I had a story within me to write. And as I look back over the story, it has a “dungeon crawl” within it.

So, now that I have summoned these words…I hope it sparks some coaching from those of you who write and have written an adventure module or more. I also hope that these words can get me to write, at least, the first sentence to an adventure module or two.

Free RPG day Road Crew report

Yes, well… it was my first Free RPG Day to participate in. One FLGS decided not to have it and by the time I had asked them whether they were having it, I was told that they had missed the order date for getting the Free RPG Day swag. The other FLGS ordered their Free RPG Day swag, but owner and managers went to Origins and those that were left to run Free RPG Day… were like me… had not run the event before.

So, what did I learn about running Free RPG Day? Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. And that last minute “emergencies” will always come into play. Yes, I think one can be ready for last-minute emergencies. Meaning, have a backup plan. I will not go into detail, as I do not have details, at this time, to share.

With that said, I will try to give a report on what the experience was for me. As an “emergency” presented itself to me just days before Free RPG Day, I scrambled to make the time changes. Well, with the FLGS owner and managers heading out of town to Origins, this became an almost impossibility to connect with the organizer who was going out of town also. Granted, I think this was only the third year for the FLGS to host Free RPG Day. And it also happened that last year Origins was on the same weekend.

I will also say that with it being my first Free RPG Day event, I was less than wise about how to even go about planning and preparing for the event. I followed Facebook and Google+ for information from “the tribe”. It is quite helpful pre- and post- event for learning what can be done to better and make the event better in the future. Even though I run weekly games and bi-weekly games, I am no expert on running featured events. Just like when I went to GenCon 50 last year, I looked to others to help guide me with where to go and how to begin events. I had never gone to a gaming convention before. I could not have told you what it was like as a player, let alone how it was going to be as a GM (game master).

So, this past Saturday for Free RPG Day, I show up at the FLGS at the scheduled time. I was informed that I was two hours early. “????” Ok, so I hang around listening in on some of the games. There are some GMs, I gathered, will give looks to those lurking around listening. I’m not sure what these looks are to mean, but they did not feel welcoming to me, the observer. So, I move on.

Well, the time finally comes for my afternoon DCC RPG game to start …and… no players. Where were the DCC RPG players? Another judge had a game scheduled for the first time slot at noon… no one showed. For this FLGS, this is odd. Any other Saturday the DCC RPG tables are loaded. Feels to me like the Free RPG Day flopped. BUT… as I looked around, DnD 5E was going well. Pathfinder had their players. And a newer RPG, Kobolds Ate My Baby had a table loaded with players. I should know, as I was one who sat down to play it.

Later that evening, our regular DCC RPG group … at least 3 players… came to finish “The Carnival of the Damned” by David Baity.  Crawling through the “Fun House” and meeting with death. I have one player that receives chills at the sound of the “Dead” stamp. With this last game one of our 0 level halflings, Wee Biscuit with a Luck of 14 has earned his Level 1 “badge” to be the luckiest halfling in all of the Shudder Mountains.

This coming Thursday evening, the Thursday Knights will get to close the carnival as they meet the Black Jester. With the carnival moving out of the Shudder Mountains, the players are asking me to stretch a bit from DCC to MCC (Mutant Crawl Classics). At this time, Goodman Games posted that they are out of the first printing and the second printing will come in July. I do have the Free RPG Day which had both the DCC Lankmar and MCC RPG introduction modules. I plan to run the MCC RPG “Museum at the End of Time” with both FLGS groups.