More Tabletop RPG

It has begun. Again. Sort of.

Remember how a while ago I talked about getting into tabletop role-playing? Well, that didn’t materialize quite as expected. That is, until now. My world has come together. It is beautiful, complex, and massive in scope. It is filled to the brim with intriguing, self-interested characters, spanning the scope of good and evil and every shade of grey in between. And, perhaps most importantly, we’re using a simpler system that I can pretty easily run on my own.

I just did a bit of a test run to determine how well I could handle the system (New World of Darkness, it’s called) on my own. And I got to experience the joy of flying by the seat of my pants.

I’ll set the scene for you. We have our two player characters. To avoid bogging this down in world-specific terminology, I’ll stick to layman’s terms. So the player characters: one of them is a northerner (from a culture analagous to that of the Vikings) and one of them is a southerner. Already you are beginning to see the vast complexity of my world! So the northerners and southerners don’t like each other all that much. There’s plenty of them living together, but tensions, because their people have warred off-and-on for years, until a recently agreed-upon truce put an end to the fighting for good (for now). Our characters don’t care too much about their differing nationalities, and so they get together to go a-questing.

To avoid arousing any suspicion, the northerner disguises himself for the journey, as they are traveling in southerner lands. At this point, all of my ideas were used up. I realized with a small amount of (well-hidden) panic that I had no idea what to do next. So I improvised. “You see a burning church,” I told the players. Of course, they wanted to investigate. “Um…” I said, “The town has been abandoned, but some people were staying in this chapel before vandalizing it.” They decided to look around the town.

At this point, I was struck by the notion that, since my players both appeared to be southerners, I could have some xenophobic northerners attack them. My plan was for them to discover that these men were only attacking them because they supposed them to be vile men of the south, at which point my northern player character could attempt to talk his way out of the situation. My dream did not materialize. My players aren’t that type of dudes. So they just smashed the skulls of their antagonists, took their shit, and continued their journey.

I know, it doesn’t seem like much. But it was fun as hell to do some on-the-spot storytelling, and I remembered why I became so interested in writing and developing fantasy stories in the first place. The opportunity for exploration, both of character personalities and the strange and unknown world that surrounds them, is incredibly appealing to me. I even had the last brigand to die say something along the lines of “You damn southerners…” just before expiring. Even though the players didn’t get to experience the full depth of the situation I had laid out for them, I loved just knowing that there was possibility there. There was the option to learn something more about my world and the people that inhabit it, and sometimes it’s those tiny, almost unnoticed hints that make a place seem real.

So that was my first experience GM’ing a tabletop RPG session. I had a blast, and I’m only disappointed that I didn’t learn about this delightfully dorky activity sooner in my life. One more test run and then we’re all gonna gather, including my lovely girlfriend (she’s cool like that), and start the gears turning on a real story.

Oh, and I even got my own set of dice. These ones, in fact:

Black and gold, son!

So now I’m a real RPG (Role-playin’ Gangsta).

Keep creating your own worlds and stories, folks. And even when it’s fantasy, always keep it real. Peace out.

 

 

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After a Long Absence…

 
 
 

Well, this month has been kicking my ass.

I’ve been attempting NaNoWriMo. For those of you who don’t know what that means, white people call it National Novel Writing Month. It’s a worldwide event that urges authors or, in my case, would-be authors, to attempt to write 50,000 words in one month. I tried it last year, and I was unsuccessful. This year? Well, it’s November 28th, and I’ve got about… 13,000 words. So I’d say I’m on track!

In seriousness, regardless of whether or not I meet my goal, I love doing this. It’s a great impetus to get writing, and that’s definitely something I’ve needed lately. And regardless, I’m that much closer to the end of this godforsaken book.

In other news, I’ve started training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in addition to my usual Muay Thai. What’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, you ask? First of all, you sound really white right now. We call it BJJ, or Jitz if you have no self-respect. But back to your question: if you’ve ever watched a UFC event, BJJ is all the gayest looking parts. It’s submission grappling, with a whole lot of time spend between another man’s legs, or tightly holding one between yours.

And I’ve bragged about this in about a half dozen formats already, but I can’t go wrong with the confidence booster here as well. Tonight, for the first time, I was able to tap a training partner, specifically with an Americana from side control.

Image

Like that. Except that in my version, the guy getting the submission outweighed his opponent by about one hundred pounds. Yeah, whatever. So I squished a smaller, weaker person using my big fat ass. This little guy managed to choke me out four times during our roll beside my one moment of success, so I’m not ashamed!

Anyway, let this not be the last post for another while. I’ll update soon with the latest in the world of writing.

Peace, y’all.

 

Motivation in a Vacuum

So if you’ve read any of my other rambling posts, you’ve realized by now that this blog will have a lot to do with writing. In truth, that’s what I want to do with my life. Just like a child imagining himself as his favorite pro wrestler, or baseball player, or… I don’t know, what’s a third dream occupation? Celebrity glass-blower? Well, just like that little boy, I often imagine myself as a successful, well-loved writer of fantasy fiction. It’s not about the fame, of course. I simply love to write. But if the jolt of joy I felt when I saw that this amateur hour weblog had six views in one day is any indication, having George R. R. Martin-level success feels amazing. So that would be nice, too.

Today, however, I don’t want to talk about my future aspirations. I won’t even talk about the story I’m working on currently, although I’ll probably shed some light on my pet project later. Please, please. Return to the softer, more spacious parts of your seats. No, today I would like to talk about what it takes to write–at least, what it takes for me to write.

I think that every story–screenplays, books, and short stories alike–comes from some source of inspiration somewhere. I don’t think any writer has a problem with inspiration, at least not in their glorious creative youth, before they become jaded and angry and alcoholic. Inspiration is that little spark that sets off the story. It’s the question that must be answered, or the character that won’t stop pacing around in your head, or the world that must exist in more imaginations than your own. Inspiration is a wonderful thing, but there’s on aspect of inspiration that you don’t realize when you first aspire to write: it’s very, very rare.

Inspiration can happen at any moment. Aha! Eureka! That sort of thing. It’s like a bolt of sexy, creative lightning. But how often can you expect to get struck by lightning? Even writers. I guess if inspiration is like lightning then writers are like lightning rods; they’re more prone to the phenomenon than other people, who… I guess are like people lying in a ditch? That metaphor seems to have wandered away from me. Anyway, my point is that even writers don’t get to experience the privileged presence of inspiration that often.

Therein lies the rub, my friends. Because, no matter how much you think you enjoy writing, you’re going to have to hate it sometimes to get any work done. You’ll get that delicious taste of a truly inspired idea, and you’ll be raring to go. Then, if you’re like me, you’ll make a map, or maybe write up some character descriptions. Maybe you’ll jump in and try to start writing right from Chapter One. If you’ve got a little more juice in the tank, you might even outline most of the story–enough so that you have a vague idea of where you’re going.

And then you’ll drop the project for months at a time. Not entirely–you’ll still think of it. A lot, most likely. But thinking of cool new things and awesome future scenes is easier than actually writing. So you’ll just leave it. Either that, or you’ll suck it up and do the hard work.

For me? It was the first option. For two years the story I’m currently working on milled around on my hard drive wishing someone would talk to it. I still thought about the story. A few times I’d open up the document. But I rarely touched a key after doing so. Because motivation and inspiration are not necessarily the same thing. And motivating oneself in the absence of inspiration is a truly difficult task.

That’s the shitty part of being a would-be writer. You think you like writing. But you won’t enjoy it a lot of the time. Getting those first words down on the paper is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. Finishing a first draft–not worrying about making it sound pretty, but just getting the damn thoughts out of your head and onto the page–that is a nightmare of a challenge. It sure as hell is for me.

But I’m not letting my lack of motivation halt me anymore. Sitting around always telling yourself that you’ll do it tomorrow, and just letting the fun ideas run the show is not the way to go. I won’t be a slave to the whims of inspiration, and if you’ve ever yearned to be a writer, published or otherwise, you shouldn’t either. Have your idea, and then kick that bastard book’s ass.

More on my stuff later, friends.

Pro-tip: Listen to Neil Young’s Harvest. Shit is the mood music of the gods.