Also, I’m trying to make use of the Dice Tales community on Imzy, with a post there about how to make combat feel more integrated with the rest of the action, instead of it coming across as a mini-game that stops the flow of everything else. If you’re on Imzy and you find that an interesting topic, stop by and add your thoughts — or put up a post of your own! The Imzy community is for anybody who wants to discuss RPGs and narrative, not just for me.
Comment over there!
The Dice Tales series is nearly done, but still has a little way to go. The most recent two installments are “A Story in Song” and “Other Relics,” both discussing the kinds of narrative artifacts left behind by this ephemeral mode of storytelling.
Comment over there!
If it weren’t for the fact that I had several already lined up and scheduled to go live, you probably wouldn’t have a Dice Tales post this week. But I did, so you do: “Ephemerality,” on the difficulty of recording the narrative text of the game, and what hoops you’d have to jump through if you tried.
Comment over there.
Last week’s Dice Tales post was “The Secret Life of Game Junkies,” discussing the ways that players keep the game going between sessions, but this week is something else: a call for reader requests. Dice Tales isn’t over, but it’s coming toward its end, so if there’s something you want to see me post about before it’s over, now’s your chance to say so!
As usual, comment over there.
Well, one corner of it, at least.
In addition to this week’s regularly scheduled post — “Game Hangover,” on the ways that playing in or running a game can leave you drained afterward — I also have a related post up on Tor.com. Though it isn’t explicitly labeled as a Dice Tales entry, “How Your Role-Playing Game Campaign Can Inspire Your Novel” is an outgrowth of that series; I got recruited to write this piece specifically because of Dice Tales. So if you’re interested, go take a look, and comment over there!
There was no post last week, but this week you get “Open Doors and Brick Walls”, about those moments when the GM and the players see a challenge completely differently, and how to identify and resolve those mismatches when they happen.
Comment over there!
I’ve also been interviewed at My Life, My Books, My Escape on the novella and the process of writing it.
And for those who are interested in these kinds of things, I’ve put up the soundtrack for the novella on my site. It’s shorter than a novel soundtrack, of course, because a novella is shorter than a novel, but there are still six pieces of music I associate with it — all of them, unsurprisingly, drawn from my old game soundtrack for Ree.
I have survived our housewarming party, and with that in my tail-lights, let me catch up on a few things. And by a few, I mean a lot.
Like my newest Onyx Court story! “To Rise No More” is the tale of Ada Lovelace’s childhood friendship with faeries, and also her ambition to build herself a pair of wings to fly with. No seriously, I didn’t even make that part up. (The wings, not the faeries. But she did also refer to herself as “Babbage’s fairy helper,” so, y’know. Maybe not that part, either.) It went up at Beneath Ceaseless Skies on my birthday, which I found to be excellent timing.
Shifting gears to a different series, the Barnes and Noble blog has just revealed the cover to Lightning in the Blood, which is the upcoming sequel to the still-upcoming-but-will-be-out-next-
And while I’m at it, I’ve finally gotten an excerpt from Cold-Forged Flame posted to my site. One week — one week and it will finally be out . . . .
Also, I’ve been busy with the Roundtable Podcast, hosted by Dave Robison and Marie Bilodeau. And I do mean busy, as I’m in not one but two episodes. The first is part of their “Twenty Minutes With” series . . . which, with the introduction and everything else, wound up being more like Fifty Minutes With. But dear god, the introduction alone is worth it: Dave Robison has a habit of describing his guests in epic terms. I have never heard my own life sound so much like a superhero origin story.
So that’s the first episode; the second is part of their “Workshop” series, wherein a writer (or in this case, a writing pair) describe a project they’re working on and then get feedback from the assembled hosts. We dug into an urban fantasy premise for this one, a setting where a new drug is causing people to develop magical powers, and had lots of thinky thoughts on both the way the drug fits into the world and how to write the “psycho ex-girlfriend” trope in a sympathetic and complex manner.
And finally, I’ve got myself a brand-new setup on Imzy. Where by “brand-new,” I mean “there’s basically nothing there yet” — but I figured I should mention, for those who are busy exploring this new site. Then, having done that, I decided to spend my other community-creation slot on putting together one called Dice Tales, which is a spin-off of the blog posts I’ve been doing at Book View Cafe. Speaking of which: the most recent installments there are “Keeping Up with the Joneses,” on power escalation over the course of a campaign; “With Great Power,” on the GM’s ability to screw players over and responsibility to use that wisely; “GNS,” on Ron Edwards’ old Gamism-Narrativism-Simulationism framework; and then a two-parter that consists of “Game Planning I – Arcs, Acts, and Chapters” and “Game Planning II – Sessions and Scenes,” which are pretty much what it says on the tin. But the Imzy community is not just a place to reblog those posts; I’m hoping it will become a great discussion of storytelling in RPGs more broadly. So if you’re on Imzy and you find that kind of thing interesting, come on over!
Man, I’m behind on linking to these things. Have a bunch of Dice Tales posts!
“PvP(ish)” — on how setting up PCs to be in conflict (or at least contrast) with each other can be a good thing
“Older and Wiser — Or at Least More Powerful” — on character advancement in a campaign
“In Medias Res” — on the narrative challenges of introducing a new PC mid-campaign
“Every Title I Can Think of For This Post Sounds Like Spam” — on the mechanical challenges of same. (All my title ideas had to do with making things bigger, helping them grow, etc.)
Comment over there!
We’re continuing the discussion of character creation, in three more installments: Finding Flavor, which talks about how the advantages/disadvantages section of the mechanics is my favorite place to generate a character concept; A Matter of Leverage, on how gaming has influenced how I think about setting a character up for a story; and Team Players, where the collaborative aspect of character creation takes center stage.
Comment over there!
A whole bunch of audio links have piled up in my inbox lately, so here — have things to listen to!
I’ve raved before about how awesome a narrator I have for the Memoir audiobooks. But if you haven’t checked them out, and need to hear just how fabulous Kate Reading is, here’s an excerpt from In the Labyrinth of Drakes. It’s spoiler-free, so if you haven’t caught up with the story yet, don’t worry about hearing anything you shouldn’t.
If you’d like to hear me reading from Cold-Forged Flame, the Varekai novella coming out this September, here’s a recording from SF in SF. My reading starts around 36:30, after M. Thomas Gammarino, and then there’s a Q&A after.
While I was in San Diego for Mysterious Galaxy’s birthday bash, I recorded with the Geekitude podcast, which is posted here. My segment starts at the hour and twenty-two minute mark, and we discuss a host of things, ranging from what it’s like to wrap up the Memoirs, to hitting your thirties and not being made of rubber anymore, to RPGs and my experiences with them.
Here’s a brief video interview I did with ActuSF during Imaginales. The questions are entirely in French — my interpreter, Hélène Bury, was translating them for me, but too quietly for the camera to pick up — but I answer in English, before Hélène translates it for the camera.
I don’t have a fifth thing. Curse the internet for establishing that five things make a post! We’ll have to be satisfied with 80% of a post instead.
Traveling and moving house and so forth have kept me so busy, I’ve neglected to link to my recent Dice Tales posts. (Fortunately I had the foresight and organization to get them written and scheduled well ahead of time, which is why the posts themselves have continued unabated.)
So now you get a threefer! The first post, Coping with Failure, talks about what happens when the dice say “nope, not happening,” and how you keep that from derailing the story/turn it into a narratively positive thing. So You Want to Be a . . . begins our discussion of character creation, and Decisions, Decisions goes through the choices you have to make when creating a PC for a game.
As usual, comment over there!
Two links for you today!
The first is my latest Dice Tales post at Book View Cafe, on the topic of “Preserving Agency”. How do you handle social manipulation (or outright mind control) without taking agency away from the player?
And, as a bonus for this Monday, I’m on The Once and Future Podcast talking about a whole slew of things, from the Memoirs of Lady Trent to gaming to anthropology and more. Enjoy!
This one is for all the RPG fans out there. Gallant Knight Games are Kickstarting Tiny Frontiers — an authorized SFnal port of the Tiny Dungeons system.
Why do I bring this up? Because I’ll be contributing a micro-setting to Tiny Frontiers — a place and a situation, with a few hooks for plots you could run in it. I’m still in the process of writing that up, but as a teaser, I’ll give you two words: alien. god.
The Kickstarter has five days to go, with several stretch goals of various types: funding goals, social media goals, and so forth. My setting will be included in the core book, regardless of whether those goals are reached, but there are plenty of other goodies to be had! So if this kind of thing sounds fun, do head on over and take a look. It may be tiny, but it’s a giant pile of fun. 🙂