Posts Tagged ‘Pathfinder’
Thursday, December 30th, 2010
Continuing the series I started on Monday, I’m wrapping up the things I enjoyed most from the past year. It’s been an eventful year for pen-and-paper rpgs, with the resurrection of not one, but two beloved franchises. There’s been a lot of chaff too, but let’s concentrate on the good stuff.
Dark Sun once again graces the table of people who like their fantasy post-apocalyptic and dark. I’ve praised this before in these electronic pages, and it should be no surprise to see it in my list for top picks this year. It is, simply, the best use of the 4e engine so far, modifying the set-up to create a world that feels on the verge of total collapse.
On the Post Apocalyptic front, I finally had a chance to play the new version of Gamma World. It’s just as over the top and crazy as it has always been, and possibly even more so. Mutations rise and fall in the heroes, while technology is dangerous and unreliable. Character generation is random and quick, and players aren’t expected to live long. It’s a blast.
My winner for great games this year though has to be Fiasco. It’s a loose, narrativist rpg designed to set up the kinds of nightmarish failed heist stories that make for some of my favorite movies (Big Lebowski, Snatch, Fargo and the like.) Invariably, it spirals out of control and everything falls apart, and in the breaking becomes even more entertaining. Highly recommended.
Of course, any recap of the year in RPGs would be empty if I didn’t mention Paizo’s Pathfinder, for which I’ve written a bit of fiction. If you like your D&D more pulpy and a little old school, (but not retro-clone levels of old-school). It’s a good time, with some great settings.
Thursday, August 12th, 2010
And just like that, it’s over! The fourth and final installment of my serial story Blood Crimes is up over at Paizo’s Pathfinder Tales Web fiction site. I’m pretty happy with the story and have had a lot of fun leaving my mark on the world of Golarion. It’s a great setting for a bit of two-fisted pulpy adventure, and Blood Crimes really let me play with some of the noir and pulp tropes in a high fantasy setting. They’ll have the story up in perpetuity, but for easy picking you’ll be able to find links to each chapter over in my Bibliography.
In other news – don’t forget that this weekend kicks off the big “Out of this World” Blog Tour. I’ll be hosting Pauline Baird Jones (Girl Gone Nova), and will be making the rounds as well. It promises to be a great round of essays, discussing the awesomeness of Science Fiction Romance, and all its permutations. Check it out.
Wednesday, August 11th, 2010
In the wake of a long month, for those who couldn’t tell when they didn’t see me there, I could not make it to GenCon. The Post RWA crud combined with a few other factors and knocked it out of the realm of the possible for me this year. This makes me sad, as I always look forward to reconnecting with my nerd roots and GenCon provides a great opportunity to do so. On the other hand, I was able to knuckle down and make serious progress on my WiP, so I suppose I can’t complain too much.
A reasonable assumption would be that, having missed the ‘Best Four Days in Gaming’, I would be unable to review the events there. Fortunately, thanks to the magic of the Internet and my willingness to pass judgment on things I haven’t seen (ask me about Jonah Hex) I can still sum up the events even though I was completely divorced from them in real life. Without further ado, my Gen Con wrap-up:
- Wizards of the Coast revealed the new D&D setting for 2011. Sadly, it’s Ravenloft. Mind you, I don’t hate Ravenloft as a concept, but it is effectively impossible to convey a horror setting when one of your players can hurl lightning bolts. The standard D&D solution is to make the monsters tougher, which only has the effect of dragging out combat, and forcing a GM interested in Storytelling to manipulate an encounter (since in my experience, players effectively never run from an enemy).
- Green Ronin unveiled DC Adventures – the newest incarnation of the DC Comics universe as a game setting. This time around it’s using an updated version of the award-winning Mutants and Masterminds rules, and frankly, I couldn’t be more excited. I’m a terrible whore for DC – I’ll take the JSA over the X-Men, any day of the week, and don’t get me started on the awesomeness of Hellblazer. I’ll happily dive back into a new game that lets me mine the years my brain has dedicated to keeping those stories straight. Disclaimer – I pre-ordered this, and am reading through the PDF currently. I expect a review will pop up here sometime.
- Fantasy Flight unveiled the latest iteration of their Warhammer 40k rpg – at long last fulfilling the desire of players everywhere to run cybernetic killing machines for their characters with the Space Marine-centric “Deathwatch”. I played more than my fair share of 40k as a miniatures game, and I can see the appeal of this on one hand, on the other given how hard it is to shoot something in their ruleset, I expect they had to do some work to effectively replicate the Astartes’ ability to mow through opponents with bolter fire.
That’s my big three – I know that tons of other stuff happened in / around GenCon, but I figured I ‘d hit the ones I had genuine opinions about. In related news, this is the last week for my Pathfinder Web fiction out at Paizo’s website. The story will stay out there in perpetuity, and there are links in my bibliography, so feel free to check it out.
Thursday, August 5th, 2010
It’s a third week, and a third chapter for Blood Crimes out at the Pathfinder Tales web fiction site. If you’ve been enjoying the story so far, then be sure to check out the next installment, as everything starts to fall apart for Omaire and her friends.
Wednesday, July 28th, 2010
Next week is GenCon, the “Best Four Days in Gaming” or so it’s called. I wouldn’t know. For me GenCon is a working con, just as much as World Fantasy or RWA. This year it comes hot on the heels of RWA, so that I barely have time to do laundry before I repack and head out again. It’s a rough turn-around but one that is sadly necessary.
As someone doing media tie-in work, GenCon is a chance for me to interact face-to-face with the people whom I see only as e-mail addresses and twitter feeds the rest of the year. Ideally, I try to arrange time with them before hand, since I know that they are as busy as I am. This is as much a courtesy to myself as it is to them – my order-craving side tends to come out in a convention situation, and I like to know exactly what I am supposed to be doing and when.
There’s plenty of interesting seminars on this year’s writing track as well – for those who were unaware, GenCon hosts a writing symposium in-house that gets bigger year after year. There are even a few seminars for those who write genre romance, as well as for those doing (or interested in doing) tie-in work. I will end up having plenty to do to keep myself busy over the four days of the con, even if gaming isn’t likely to make an appearance.
For those interested, I’ll be holding down a corner of the Fantasist Enterprises table in the heart of Author’s Avenue. If you’re attending this year’s GenCon, stop by and say howdy!
Saturday, July 24th, 2010
Blood Crimes my new story for the Pathfinder RPG setting has been released into the world, or at least has started showing up on Paizo’s Pathfinder Tales site. You can find it Here. Go read it, I’ll wait here.
Are you back? You probably noticed it was a serial release – they’ll be putting out a chapter a week for the next four weeks. Be sure to visit again each Wednesday to read the next thrilling chapter.
Likewise, head over to The Galaxy Express to read my contribution to Parallel Universe. The Literature of Hope hits a lot of the things that make Science Fiction Romance one of my favorite genres to read or write.
Keeping up with Appearances
In other news, this next week will see me at RWA, trying not to melt in the heat even while I work on knitting and learning. After that, it’s a trip to GenCon, where you’ll be able to find me in Author Avenue. Look me up and say hello!
Monday, July 19th, 2010
As I mentioned previously, my short story “Blood Crimes” is going to be the featured serial on Paizo’s Pathfinder Web Fiction site – it’s a fun and gritty little tale of life on the streets in the undead-ruled kingdom of Geb, and features some characters who I really grew to like in the short time I spent with them, so I hope you enjoy it. The story is serialized in four parts, starting next week.
Speaking of my random tours of the Web, I am pleased to announce that I am participating in this year’s Parallel Universe – a blog party for writers of Science Fiction Romance hosted out at The Galaxy Express, and timed to coincide with RWA. My bit, “The Literature of Hope” will be posted the evening of the 24th, but I hope that you stop by every day and read the essays, since plenty of wiser heads than mine have been asked to contribute. Parallel Universe runs from tomorrow (20 July) through the end of the month.
Wednesday, July 14th, 2010
This is part two of an Essay I started on Monday, dealing with the fun and frustration of writing fiction for franchise tie-ins, specifically as it relates to the work I’ve done for the Pathfinder RPG.
As I said in the previous essay, there’s a lot of fun in being allowed to play with other people’s toys, provided that you show care and respect. This holds doubly true where gaming fiction is concerned, because you end up walking a delicate tightrope between including effects that reader-players recognize and can understand with trying to keep them from thinking “Somebody just botched their Stealth check”.
With Pathfinder, I had certain elements that had to be included. Knowing that one of the characters was a spellcaster, I had to constantly think of ways that magic could be used to short circuit the plot I’d laid out. Having readers think “Why didn’t he turn invisible/teleport/levitate” out of that situation only added more complexity. I ended up keeping a list of all the spells available to that character tacked to the bulletin board next to my desk, and would look at for every scene to ask which spells might throw a wrench into the works.
The biggest issue for me, however, was presenting a thrilling story that felt like a tabletop session with it reading like one. My approach to that was to focus on a single point of view and tell the tale from as tightly restricted a POV as I could. This does lead to some interesting times – the central character in Feast of Fools is self-centered and somewhat lacking in the brains category, and he tends to interpret the events around him in the most favorable light towards himself. Still, there are moments (the Featherfall stands out) where what’s happening is obvious to the reader even if it’s not to Ollix.
In all, I had a blast writing for Pathfinder – it’s a great world, with a rich pulpy feel and can tell all kinds of stories just by moving from region to region. With luck they’ll let me shave the nib on my pen and revisit.
Monday, July 12th, 2010
I’ve had the opportunity to do some writing in other people’s worlds – something that presents a unique set of issues for most writers. As a result, I thought I’d present my thoughts in a pair of essays looking at the challenges and rewards of this unique calling.
First, some background – in addition to my own writing, I have had the good fortune to write stories set in the Pathfinder fantasy setting (from Paizo Publishing), work in George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire setting with Green Ronin, and did service as a contract writer for Bioware’s Star Wars: The Old Republic. There are plenty of people with more Tie-in work than I have, but hey, it’s my blog. I also contributed to the New Ceres shared-world setting, for the anthology New Ceres Nights – while not tie-in per se, the similarities between Shared World and Tie-in loom large.
Why, with all the possible words and worlds that every writer has kicking around in his or her head, would anyone chose to do Tie-In Work? A lot of big names have answered that question before me, most recently in an essay over on IO9. For me, it had a lot to do with love. I have a real affection for the properties with which I worked, and I hope that carries through in the stuff I did for them. I can’t imagine writing for a setting I didn’t like – the research and quibbling over details would become a lot less like geeking out and a lot more like hard work.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of work involved. Just like writing a Historical novel, you have to do your fair share of research (probably more than you think you need). You’re working with material that people love and respect, and which in many cases has a lot of standing history. You’ll want to remember when “X” was introduced to the canon, or how a particular setting handles the everyday elements of life, like food and cleansing.
There is a real feeling of being part of something larger than myself when I work with a tie-in property. I get to add to the mythology of the vast scopes, and invest them with a small piece of myself. In return, I have to promise not to break the toys I’ve been privileged to deal with – I can’t destroy things out of hand, or upset the balance too much (without permission). I can’t level cities or upend empires, but that means I can concentrate on the kinds of stories I prefer – small tales of people who make do in the world and hope for the best.
On Wednesday, I’ll talk a little bit about the specific coolness and challenges of writing fiction for a game setting without making it sound like a recap of my Sunday night D&D session.
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