Writing A Different Kind of Story

When I’m not writing short stories, reviews or my first novel, I’m writing about something else. Unlike other kinds of writing, I find that this kind is not really a solitary practice. In fact, I pretty much write the setting out, pop in some bad guys and outline a goal. I then find other people to be heroes and they make up the dialog and decide how the plot is best advanced.

Sounds like a fantasy project doesn’t it? Well, you could call it that. It’s called module writing, and it ties into RPG events. It’s fun, though it has its difficulties.

It’s sometimes difficult to do this when I have other projects going in addition to the other interests and/or addictions I have. But, it’s almost always rewarding. I take no small amount of pride when I put together a supplement of my own for the game, though I imagine those who write modules professionally have a better organizational system than I do. I can set to task with Keynote on my iPad or use the Dungeonmaster’s Toolkit app to keep things straight (provided the app has the right plugins for the proper systems). More often than not though, I imagine my personal game notes might drive another GM mad. I have no coherent record for ‘The Box Boy’s Ghost’ campaign, which was written around a real, unsolved crime right in Fairmount Park. Or the Whatley House encounter, deep within the mountain ranges of Colorado. Or the Scion campaign in which I pitted my players against the nightmares of the Egyptian Titans. Sure, I have my feverish notes. But, I sometimes wonder if I collated them if there’d be any gain beyond that of my own satisfaction – and the satisfaction of my players of course.

The toughest part though is that the narrative is largely written by the characters. What they do and how they react, determines much about any scenario I give them. And more often than not, just like a good battle plan, it does not survive the initial encounter. It’s like ad-libing and free association had some malign lovechild, intent on making things turn out WAY different than expected.

Though, admittedly, that’s part of the thrill. Tomorrow, I shall see how it all turns out for the test-run demo I’ll be running for Gamma World at Days of Knights, date soon to be determined for the actual event. If you’re interested in playing sometime in February and are in the Delaware area, pop by DoK’s and ask tell John you’re interested.

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