More Barium: 8/30/16

It’s time for more Barium. The past two days have been productive, and I’ve entered the part of the year where I’m trying to hit 2k words a day every day.

I should note, this is all very first draft stuff. No guarantee that it will end up in a final draft in this form, no guarantee that it makes much sense. No guarantee that it follows or establishes continuity with other Barium pieces I post here.

But there’s a lot more of this coming, so enjoy.

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Flash Fiction: Dress for Success

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!

For more other stories in the same setting, check out the first piece with Pat & Pat, I Bow to None, and The One You Don’t Hear.

 

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Flash Fiction: Unwelcome

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!

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Whoops: The Campening

Sorry folks, I’m away at camp! I will have posts for you next week, but definitely not this one.

Flash Fiction: “Ricky’s” Shell Game

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.

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More Barium: 8/9/2016

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.

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Flash Fiction: Vacation

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!

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Exemplars & Eidolons: Post-Mortem

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.