Today’s horrid humid heat inspired another return to a setting and set of characters I’m coming to love. Have another round with Latour!
Yet another post inspired by Chuck Wendig’s weekly challenges. I took the “three-sentence challenge” and decided to push it a little bit; I have used five sentences from those provided, and included a modified version of a sixth. I’ll include a list of the sentences I used at the end of the post. Until then, enjoy!
Sorry folks, I’m away at camp! I will have posts for you next week, but definitely not this one.
Noir Body Horror. That’s the subgenre combo I got for this week’s flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig. With that in mind, I’ve left you a bit of something to puzzle out through implications and scant description. It’s in the same setting as When Dawn Broke, so brain transplants and advanced surgery and donation practices are the norm… as are criminal tissue transplant enterprises and such business establishments as “chop shops.” I’m afraid I went a tiny bit over the word limit, but it’s very nearly 2k.
I’ve got another bit of scene for you, something I was playing around with yesterday while trying to figure out how to shape the conflicts near the middle of the book. I don’t think I have posted all of the relevant background material for this segment, and it doesn’t directly follow from previous ones, so I’ll give you a brief intro. Daemon is an unbraked AI, highly illegal in this setting, and is confined to a large black box sitting in the cargo bay of the family’s ship. There’s a simple terminal with actual physical keyboard built into the box, the better to prevent Daemon from interfacing with and spreading to any other systems. Barium and Cesium’s parents have been contracted by figures unknown to recover this black box and deliver it. Barry and Cesi have been surreptitiously chatting with Daemon for some time now.
I’ve mentioned wanting to write Tintin stories before, and Chuck Wendig’s “vacation” prompt for this week finally sparked something. This is mostly an experiment with transposing the voices of the old characters onto new faces and updating the setting, while still trying to find appropriately Tintin-ish things for the characters to do. Enjoy!
It turns out that Exemplars & Eidolons was almost exactly as awesome as I thought it would be. It also turns out that I failed to sufficiently anticipate the bottleneck that I would create by not printing out more materials for my players to use while making their characters. So much for “less than half an hour.”
To be fair, most of character creation was finished faster than that. The dice-rolling and number generating side of things, and the decisions that people had to make about equipment and such, were really quick. Choosing their gifts, with the limited information that I gave them, was really quick too.
What took time was copying information about their gifts onto their character sheets, and coming up with facts about their characters. The first of those has a pretty obvious solution; I can give out more pre-printed materials after people have chosen their gifts, instead of being the only person with access to the full text of the gift entries in the book. The second seems a little trickier.
The game suggests that players write three facts about their characters. As the text puts it in the one page cheat sheet, “One fact should be about their past life and how they obtained their skills. Another should be about the family or social ties they have, and the third should be about some special trait or personal quality.” It took a little convincing from me for them to say ridiculous and awesome things about themselves. I also had to tell them that these were intended to give them more hooks or ways to interface with the world, instead of being intended to shut them away from it.
Maybe it’s because first level characters in Exemplars & Eidolons don’t look like all that much on paper, but I don’t think they really believed how badass I was encouraging them to be. The truth is, if I were only looking at the numbers on the sheet without having read the rule book, I might think that most E&E characters were doomed to suffer ignominious deaths at the hand of a few goblins with pointy sticks. In point of fact, I think just about any E&E character would totally wreck those goblins, probably on their own… but it’s tough to embrace that when you look at your character and don’t *believe* it.
So how am I going to make that side of things go faster? To some extent there’s no way for me to rush the creativity of my players. If they can’t come up with anything they like, they can’t come up with anything they like. I’ve certainly had that problem today, getting 720 and 530 words into two different tries for a flash fiction piece and liking neither of them. But I think I should write three examples of different kinds of facts for each of the prompts and include them in the additional materials that I print up. I can also include my little reminders about how people should make their facts more badass than not, and how they should create further engagement with the world if at all possible. Maybe I’m deviating from the original intent, but I don’t want players to hobble themselves because they decided to make their fact about “some special trait” be ‘dies their hair green’ when other people are throwing around things like ‘walked barefoot through the Valley of Knives both ways, in the middle of winter.’
And, if all else fails, they can write their facts while we play. Heck, that might be the best possible option. If I prep some adventures right now so that I can start game the moment people have the relevant numbers, and start with the characters already undertaking some task, I’m pretty sure a bunch of improv trained LARP campers can come up with some personal character details.
Oh, yeah, the session was awesome. I’ll probably talk more about it later, but suffice to say that improvising and flying by the seat of your pants is really easy in this system. It’s great, and fighting spooky snake sorcerers in a dark and creepy space is scary.
There’s a tradition at the overnight LARP camp where I work, one that has been carefully nurtured by my friend Zach, of playing RPGs when you’re not busy LARPing. Zach has run a wide variety of games at camp, but in the past few years he’s used Old School Renaissance games almost exclusively. I think I’ve finally discovered why.
Sorry for missing last Friday, I was busy driving to a family reunion and didn’t have something prepped ahead of time.
Anyway, I have good news! I’m making progress on my project for the fall. It’s possible that I’m not supposed to start it yet, given that this is in fact a school project, but I’ve already bitten off too much to chew so I don’t feel guilty about it.
I think I’ve already mentioned this, but the goal that I’ve set for myself is to not only write a middle grade sci-fi space adventure but to edit and write a second draft of it too. I’m not sure what the technical length requirements might be, so I’m using the 50,000 word novel as my measuring stick. Given that I’m openly inspired by Diane Duane’s So You Want To Be A Wizard (which the internet tells me is roughly 124,000 words) my 50k target is possibly conservative.
I have previously hit a regular 2000 words a day for a month at a time. My hope for this section of the summer is to push myself back up to speed, get into the rhythm of writing that much every day, and thus prepare for producing a novel not just once but twice. There’ll be an interruption to this pattern when I run off to work at LARP camp for kids, but with a little bit of luck I’ll be able to make it stick.
And if I cheat things just a bit, by getting some additional material for the project done while I’m ramping up to the pace I’ll need, I don’t think I’ll lose any sleep over it. Besides which, much of the material that I’m writing now is stuff that may never see the light of day. I’m writing scenes for the story (which will be about Barium Deep), but I’m also writing about the background of the setting and trying to figure out how things work. The more I can establish now (and the more excited about writing this story I can be) the easier it will be when I have to be writing it all through the fall.
This means I’m doing research. I’m reading articles on AI and augmented / mixed reality and space exploration and 3D printing and whatever other technological things I can find that seem appropriate to incorporate into my space setting. And I’m reading and watching things that feel like the right tone or genre or subject matter: So You Want To Be A Wizard, 2001: A Space Odyssey, some of the Vorkosigan books, Digimon Tamers, etc. It’s a bit eclectic.
Actually, here’s a cool video to watch. It’s totally not the same technology, and it’s a very different time period, but something about the claustrophobia, compactness, and industrial nature of submarines seems like it translates well to spaceships in my mind. That training & orientation video really emphasizes the intricacy and condensed nature of the WW2 submarine, and those both feel like things that would carry over to the future of putting humans in tin cans in space. You use the space you have on important things, like the machinery that keeps you alive and keeps your ship powered and moving. Unless you’re fabulously wealthy, everything else is extra.
My first title for this was “Deconbusting Ghoststructures,” but I’m setting my sights a bit lower than that.
New Ghostbusters and Old Ghostbusters are not the same movie. Thank goodness. I can watch both of these movies, enjoy both of them, and not have to worry that I’m stuck watching the same thing twice. There are plenty of moments that are obvious homages to the original, and they pretty obviously had to tie the new movie to the old one given the subject material and premise, but I feel like they’re different enough that the connection is almost more baggage and drag than it’s worth. The name and premise are enough to make this a target of nostalgia-hazed criticism, when it really ought to be viewed (and reviewed) as it’s own thing.
The fact is, New Ghostbusters is an enjoyable movie. It fits into the summer blockbuster mould. It made me laugh, it scared me a bit, it was fun. I have some problems with it, but on the whole I’d say it’s worth watching.
Now, with that out of the way, I’ll engage in hypocrisy and do more to compare the two.