Updated Reading List

In addition to doing research last week on what a “novelette” was, I decided to change my reading list to add inspirational material for the subject of the piece:

1.  GURPS Time Travel

2.  Strunk & White

3.  Space Opera

GURPS Time Travel is one of the Third Edition GURPS source books. Those are absolutely killer resources for both factual information and inspiration.  I checked a copy of Strunk & White out of the city library because it has been a long time since I last re-read it and I’d like to refresh my knowledge of its grammatical bits and bobs.  And I have been enjoying reading and enjoying Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente through May.

I did finish skimming Bethorm:  The Plane of Tekumel.  It is the first book I have finished reading this year.


A Writing Challenge

I was busy this past week doing a fair number of things, some of them writing-related.

I have scheduled an event at the Comic Store in Nashua for June 1st.  It is part of the Magical History Tour.  I will be playing Bethorm:  The Plane of Tekumel.  I intend to have an introductory group adventure on hand in case anyone would like a demonstration of the game.

I have been feeling more confident in my storytelling and creative writing abilities this year, so I decided to do something which I have not done since 1987.  I have set a writing challenge.  I intend to take a crack at writing a novella.  The target word count is 7500 words, far longer than anything else I have written.  I may fail.  From my experience, the attempt will result in something salvageable if I do fail.  I may not.  The only way to find out is to start typing the thing.

This week, I also noticed that the daily word count for my diary, my personal journal, was a little low.  472 words per day.  That’s not good.  Two decades of experience have shown me that I need to brain dump at least five hundred words during the day or  I will feel unwell the next day.  So, I started doing @TimClairePoet ‘s writers’ boot camp, “Couch to 80K”.  You can find it on his podcast “Death of 1000 Cuts” on SoundCloud.  And it’s working!

On The Magical History Tour

This blog entry is a link between what I was doing early in 2016 when I stopped updating this site and early 2018, when I started updating again.

2017 was a mixed year for me.  In March of that year, I decided to begin a long-term project.  I wanted to go back to the earlier table-top role-playing games and settings and explore them.  Note:  I have a somewhat unusual opinion of Dungeons & Dragons.  I do not consider it a role-playing game.  It is, from my experience, a transitional form between a miniatures war-game and a role-playing game.  So, the first table-top RPG I could find in print at the time was the current version of Tunnels & Trolls.  The first edition of that game dates from 1975.  That was my first stop on what I came to call the “Magical History Tour”.

That month, in a hastily scribbled note on a loose piece of notebook paper, I stated the intention to start a solitaire campaign of Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls.  Tunnels & Trolls was designed with the ability to play the game solitaire.  It was far more difficult to find other people to play a role-playing game with in the Seventies than it is now.  I set up a binder with a storage pocket for loose notes.  And I kicked off a campaign journal.  I play solitaire sessions by logging them, noting dice rolls and significant game events.  I also found a PDF on DriveThruRPG which served as a guide for solitaire role-play.


On the Pathfinder Open Campaign

I have been going through the archives of this blog to look for inspiration.  In March of 2106 I posted about the Pathfinder campaign I had started.  It began in March of 2103.  I hosted at my FLGS.  By agreement with the store staff, it is an open campaign.  Anyone may join the game and play as long as they show up with a character of the appropriate level and and a set of dice.  I have a set of guidelines for being invited back to the event, largely based on the guidelines used for Paizo’s organized play events.  It has been running for five years.  A lot has happened in that time.  I have only had one regular player who joined the campaign at the start.

I have changed the setting name.  I call it “Golarion of the Slack” to differentiate from the published canon version of Golarion.  I changed the name of the first campaign arc to “The Ambition of Oda Thelsikar”.  That arc recently ended when the player group, now called “The Noble Raptors”  (randomly determined by the GameMastery Guide) traveled from Sandpoint to Riddleport.  There I started the second arc, titled “Riddles and Pirates and Drow, Oh My”.  I like to slip pop culture references into my creative writing.  It is loosely based on the “Second Darkness” adventure path published by Paizo.  It is a Drow invasion from the Darklands!

#ttrpg #PathfinderRPG

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On Tekumel

As I posted previously, I have begun learning how to play Bethorm:  The Plane of Tekumel from UNI Games.  Any references I make to playing in the Tekumel setting are derived from Bethorm and are not intended as a challenge to copyright.  I have been searching the Web looking for reliable information on Tekumel.  References in later posts may come from the sources I have found.

Tekumel is the creation of Professor M.A.R. Barker.  It is a science fantasy setting far in Earth’s future.  Professor Barker primarily created material related to the Tsolyani Empire.  Tsolyani values are far different from those of 20th Century Americans.  Slavery is a fact of life.  A Tsolyani person is aware of their part in society and acts to play out their assigned role.  The value of a person’s life is determined by their social status.

Tekumel is an unusual world.  It was terraformed by space faring humans and colonized by them.  They were joined by alien allies.  There are two intelligent species native to Tekumel, who were conquered by the human colonists.  The time period for play using Bethorm is long after the discovery of Tekumel by humans.  Human civilization on Tekumel is tens of thousands of years old.  It has fallen from the technological high point of the colonists.  It is now savage, from a 21st Century person’s point of view.


Content Advisory

Since we live in an age where content advisories are necessary, I have devised one for my creative writing.  Advisory:  My creative writing is not intended to be read by minors, sensitive people, house pets or other defenseless mammals.  May induce rational thought supported by evidence-based reasoning.  If you experience ennui for more than four hours, consult a counselor acceptable to you to resolve any existential crisis you may be having.

On Journaling

I started keeping a personal journal in the Autumn of 1982.  I was in college and I kept forgetting to do important things.  So I started writing reminders to myself in an empty notebook.  Perhaps I had a memory of that passage in The Hobbit, which states that Bilbo only remembered things when he put them down in his “Engagement Tablet”.  I have continued to keep a journal since that time.  The purposes I use it for have changed and grown over the decades.

I discovered that I need to journal at leave five hundred words a day after about fifteen years of observation.  If I write less than that during the day, I feel unwell the next next.  The upper bound is 2000 words in a day.  If I write more than that, it means I am feeling anxious.

While it is fairly common knowledge among readers that the first diary published was The Diary of Samuel Pepys, it seems that far fewer people are aware of the first journal which was published.  It was The Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth.  She was the sister of the poet William Wordsworth.  And the most interesting part of the journals I have read so far her stay at some place called “Grassmere”.  There is a difference between a diary and a journal.  “Journal” is the more general of the two terms and covers a number of different forms of publication.  A private journal, a record of events, is a diary, from the Wikipedia article “Journal”.

Much more recently, I began splitting off special-purpose journals to better organize my creative writing.  I have the organizational skills of a cat.  As I mentioned in a Twitter thread, the first such journal I started was a “campaign journal” for the Pathfinder Open Campaign I host every month an FLGS.  I was writing adventure and setting notes on loose sheets of notebook paper or in my personal journal.  And losing track of them.

The second such journal I started was late in 2016.  Both my ancient desktop and my notebook computer suffered fatal hard drive crashes.  This is significant because I had the developed the habit of typing my flash fiction pieces into a word processor.  My latest work to that point is still locked in the hard drive of a dead computer.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is I was backing up my files on multiple flash drives.  So, about the other journal.  Late in 2015 I was in a bad place.  I decided to start journaling more.  And then I started revising my creative writing.  That came to a crashing halt when both my computers failed.  So I started a “creative writing journal”.  I gathered up all the flash fiction printouts I had made since 1999.  I started copying them into an empty notebook.  And when I got stuck for a story idea I wanted to revise, I began ransacking my memory for the books I had read over five decades and the influences they had on my creative writing.

#amreading #amwriting #journal