Return to the Athasian Wastes

I’ve mentioned before that the 4e version of Dark Sun is out and is awesome. It’s cool enough that I’ve even decided to overlook the fact that the Dark Sun files still aren’t available for the Character Builder software – mostly because I know how much of a wrench the new themes must have thrown into the system.

My players have agreed, and are coming together to produce a campaign that they can put a lot of claim into on their own, and it makes me pretty pleased to watch them come up with characters for this new (to many of them) world. While I know it won’t be a big deal to many of my readers, I would expect to see a couple more posts about the birth of this campaign, as a large part of the techniques I use for world-building when I write are also used when I plan campaigns out.

For this campaign – I sat down and thought about the themes I wanted to explore. First and foremost, I wanted to see a lot of political maneuvering between noble houses. I’m a big fan of Dune, Song of Ice and Fire, and Legend of the Five Rings – I’ve always been a fan of politics in fantasy and science fiction. I also wanted to include one of the all-powerful Sorcerer-Kings to serve as a foil to the players (or give them something to aspire towards). Once I’d decided on those two things, my choice of locations for the start of my campaign became clear – Raam.

Raam fit most all my needs. The sorcerer-queen is disinterested in governing the people, the nobility are at each other’s throats as they vie for the apparent power vacuum, and it’s a relatively unexplored city in  the terms of published Dark Sun stuff. This meant I could put my own stamp on it freely, and could reshape the world around the city as I saw fit.

The players have taking up roles as members of a single merchant house, eager to carve out a place for their family against the broad background. All they needed was a suitable opponent, and plenty of morally gray choices. I’ll talk more about those the next time.

On being a bad blogger

Two Months? More? Let me check the dates… Looks like my last post was September 8th, so not quite two months. Close enough for horseshoes, certainly. When last I wrote, Hockey Season had not yet started, and now the Habs are off to a surprisingly good start (despite trading the greatest netminder in the game today to St. Louis, which I’ll never understand). So yeah, it’s been a while.

Suffice to say, I’m trying to make amends by getting some news posted, and by getting the blog back to regular posts once again. Since I’ve been lax in updating, I figure a post about writing posts is in order.

Bluntly, I’m not always sure what I should right about here. For me, writing isn’t some mystical process where characters talk to me or tell me how they want the story to proceed. My Outlines don’t change significantly from first draft to final (unless I reduce characters to make the story tighter, which happens frequently in the first rewrite). I sit down at the desk and I write. Words get added to words, sometimes slowly and sometimes quickly, but the process itself doesn’t change much. Some nights it’s fiction, some (like tonight) it’s a blog post.

With blog posts, my biggest difficulty is coming up with topics. I don’t always know what people would like to read. In that respect, by all means, let me know what you’d like to see. I’ve got several posts planned now, but certainly if someone has a better idea I’ll be happy to go with that instead. Want more world-building? Just the day-to-day insight into my process? More waxing poetic on the nature of Romance in Science Fiction? Leave a comment, I’ll add it to my queue.