Friday, 2 November 2012

NaNoWriMo: Day One

I am the Warden!!

Those of you following this blog may have noticed I'm not inclined to have my face on camera. I'm not sure why, it's a quirk. I'm more comfortable behind the camera than in front, let alone keep a video journal of anything. However, sooner or later, I have to face my fears and try something.

Throughout this year's NaNoWriMo, I'll planning to keep a video journal of my progress and capture the randomness of my thoughts and process. It might not happen on a daily basis, but I would like to post at least one per week and share it. Think of it as a way to force me into following through with this project. Today's entry provides details on what my novel is about - a fantasy tale called Messenger - why I chose it and the foundation I'm trying to lock down.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Attention All Gamebook Fans

I am the Warden!!

As I'm about to let the cat out of the bag, there was an ulterior motive for this past weekend's Under the Hood article on gamebooks. Not in writing it, but researching it. With all the paperwork signed, sealed, and electronically delivered, I can officially announce my involvement in a new gamebook for the upcoming solo RPG, Adventurer.

The concept of this game is to create a core RPG system allowing players to create their own character and maintain an ongoing campaign throughout a series of gamebooks instead of switching characters with every different book. It's an interesting and unique concept put together by Shane Garvey and Stuart Lloyd combining the individuality of 1980s style gamebooks with the flexibility and character development of RPGs. You can even gain experience and levels with each gamebook adapting to your level. Its publisher, Adventure Games Guild, release a beta version of the game's rules last week, so feel free to check it out and judge for yourself.

My particular entry is currently titled Fire Across the Plains and involves the sole adventurer encountering a rising escalation between an isolated community of half-breed (half-elves, half-orcs, etc.) and the noble Emerald Knights. As each side accuses the other of instigating the conflict and threatening the other with war, the adventurer must get to the bottom of this predicament and find a way to keep the peace between them. It's a sandbox style adventure rather than a dungeon crawl and I'm really looking forward to putting the pieces together.

I have to admit, it's going to be a challenge putting it all together for the sheer reason that I've never written a gamebook before in my life. Played, yes, but never written. I've pulled out my reprinted special edition of Warlock of Firetop Mountain as inspiration, but the trick to making this book work will be allowing fluent choices without overwhelming the player with too many options. I want to set it up so that the player can choose which side to align themselves with and still reach the same conclusion, even play both sides and choose whom to align with. All I can say is that I'm glad I have a giant bulletin board in the office, cause I'm gonna need it.

As I get cracking on this project (with a projected first draft due date of early January 2013), stay tuned to this very blog for updates and thinking-out-loud posts as I do with all my work. 

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

NaNoWriMo: The Quest for 50,000 Words

I am the Warden!!

While I'm waiting for videos to upload from my phone, it's time to start thinking about this year's NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, I think). Scratch that! It's time to start doing something about it, not just thinking about it.

Ever since I first found out about this annual goal for aspiring writers to write at least 50,000 words within the month of November last year, I've aspired to do something about it this year. In typical fashion, it feels like every other month would have allowed time and investment in such a project and November 2012 seems overburdened already, but such as it is. Despite my workload, I'm going to try and find a way to make it happen.

So what am I planning to write about? That's a good question.

There are two projects in mind. The first is a Killshot short story involving a detailed analysis of how a young fellow becomes a professional assassin. The second is a fantasy novel. That's about as far as I've gone with either idea. Every day for the past week, I've darted back and forth between which project should take priority and neither one seems to secure the lead in this race. With the starting pistol hours away from going off, it's time for me to make a decision.

As much as I could make use of a Killshot novel, there's a big part of me craving something different. Step away from the same type of work I've been doing these past couple of years and write something for myself. In other words, it feels as if I want to write a Killshot novel so that I'll have a Killshot novel to sell. With the fantasy novel, I have no aspiring plans other than the standard idea to sell it as a self-published ebook if I like the final result, but that's not the priority.

Then again, I have no idea what this fantasy novel will be about, let alone details of the world. Any ideas bouncing around are not concrete enough to announce here, so it would literally involve a more complicated endeavour than the Killshot novel, where at least I know the plot. And it would involve the real world, something that's already created with millions of supplements available on a daily basis. It would be harder to write a fantasy novel at this point with the workload already on my plate and numerous appointments on tap for the month. (I'm already losing out on the first day when I go in for the first cortisone injection tomorrow morning.)

The thing about harder projects is that they're very attractive options for me. A challenge mocking me in the background and I'm always up for showing a challenge who's boss. It may not be the best idea - how can it be any worse if I don't even have an idea? - but it looks like I need to piece together 50,000 words of fantasy.

Maybe I could just write some S&M fanfare using alternate names for Middle Earth characters as a backup plan. 

Monday, 29 October 2012

Reloading Killshot: Let's Get Mystical, Part 2

The Nine Cuts of the kuji-kiri. Used for reference only.
I am the Warden!!

Seems I broke a small promise to you and went a bit off course from my Reloading Killshot series. With so many things on the go, I guess it's bound to happen, but let's not think of it that way. Let's think of it as appropriate to the topic - ninjas. One minute, your mind is thinking about them and how they might come in through the window to kill you in your sleep until eventually you begin to wonder about other problems... and then BAM!! they slip out of the shadows and dig a knife into your back.

Last time, I wrote about ninja magic in the upcoming theme, Way of the Killshot. As historical accuracy has already been tossed out the driver's seat, playing up on the mystique and terror of these ancient assassins is now par for the course. The trick is devising a magic add-on that not only plays along with the ninja's other assets without overpowering them (i.e. other focuses), but also extends the mechanics without breaking them and enhances the aura of these characters without snapping players out of their expectations.

As the idea of "magical ninja" is intended as a variant for players and Directors to play around with rather than a regular feature, I've created a first draft ninja focus called the Shinobi. These ninja specialize in the mystical art of kuji-kiri, itself based on the actual practise of hand symbols as part of meditation in various Japanese martial arts (including ninjitsu). Each symbol (or cut) represents an aspect of human consciousness and was taught to real world students as part of their path to enlightenment and training. All nine cuts are featured on the diagram to the right.