Publish and be damned

I always wanted to be a writer, always. What’s more, when I was growing up the thing I really wanted to be was a games designer. I could think of nothing else that would be as cool, nothing.

Obviously I’ve grown up a bit since then. Not much, but still. Nowadays I get my writing jollies through endeavours like this one. Thank God for the  internet, without it I’d still be looking at notebooks and searching for the perfect pen before starting (and quickly abandoning) my magnum opus. This way I can just go bleuuuurgggh on the keyboard and no-one minds, mostly because few notice.

Getting to the point, writing for gaming. I’ve done a bit in the past, and it’s been very well received which is enormously gratifying. It’s all stuff like this though, commentary, reviews, blather. I very, very rarely write crunch. Now, my definition of crunch is quite wide, and it includes world building and scenario writing. Those are the two areas I really don’t touch very often and I think that puts me in the minority of GMs who blog.

You see, I never had the confidence when I was starting out. I never really knew where to start. The single best book I ever got as a present was the 1st edition Dungeon Masters Guide, but frankly, I didn’t understand half of it. If I were 11 years old now, and I’d gotten the 4e DMG it would be a different story. So rather than plug away at my own creations I always bought pro published stuff, modules mostly. I still do.  Again, I think this puts me in the minority. I always enjoyed reading modules, they were as good as novels to me, some still are. Where my imagination works best is in filling out the encounters at the tabletop. I can work on personalities, descriptions, and plot twists. I can do this because someone else has gotten me started. I’m rubbish with a blank piece of paper.

But I’m aware that the vast majority of people write their own stuff, or at least change the pro stuff so much it might as well be their own. I think I’d like to have a go at that, after all this time.

There’s still a massive stumbling block for me and that’s the following idea. I’d have to make all my stuff 100% original. Because I always have in the back of my mind that childhood ambition of being a published games designer. Which means it can’t be derivative, or  ripped off from any of the stuff I admire. Really this is a big deal for me. When I wrote my scenario for last years DragonMeet, I named the woods the adventure took place in the Gloomforge Woods. Between you and me that’s the internet handle of the guy who wrote Eberron, Keith Baker. I know, I know, hardly plagiarism on a grand scale but it’s enough for me to know that it can never be published in it’s current form, and so I may as well not bother creating anything else if I can’t come up with my own ideas nd no-one elses.

Stupid? Sure. I can see that. But there it is anyway.

It’s not helped  by the fact that my current gaming beau (D&D4e) has so much stuff available for it that I don’t  need to do my own stuff. I’ve got enough gaming ammunition to see me out. I’ve already got, in print, 3 campaigns that take players all the way to level 3o.  

I think the way to go is to start small.  Really small, like a single encounter. Then add another, and another. Then pull them together with a location and some plots. Keep adding stuff to the pot. Even writing the preceding line I’m getting all nervous!

I’ll let you know how it goes. Wish me luck.


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