Leave yourself room for later. If there’s anything I’ve learned from doing lots of worldbuilding—for my own linear fiction and for the collaborative fiction of RPGs—it’s that trying to fill every last nook and cranny of a setting is a daunting task. And actually filling up everything is choking, stifling. Don’t fill up everything. It leaves no room for the future, and it leaves no room for anyone else.Continue reading
Category Archives: Stories
Progress for Deep in Trouble
It’s been a while since I last wrote about Deep in Trouble, Cesi’s sequel to Bury’em Deep. A friend of mine inhaled Bury’em Deep recently, and her enthusiasm has reinvigorated mine. It’s also prompted me to revisit the setting and my ideas for how Deep in Trouble would work, and I’ve started making progress again!Continue reading
Mass layoffs, squandered investments
Sometimes there’s a story circulating in the zeitgeist and I have to write about it. Today I’m actually publishing those thoughts instead of shelving them.
There’s a story going around the tech-world (and the people who invest in the tech-world) that laying off staff right now is important, necessary, and a sign of good judgment. It goes hand-in-hand with messages about having over-hired during the pandemic, and messages about an expected recession. I suspect it’s misguided, even if the other connected messages are true and accurate.
Honestly, this current layoff-streak looks to me like companies chasing each other, trying to convince investors that they’re serious and diligent. Better yet, that they’re responsible.
Turns out James Surowiecki sees the same pattern. He has an article on this here. He thinks this looks like a parallel to stories about “downsizing” from decades ago. I see any number of connections to other stories about austerity and responsibility.
I might judge this differently if it seemed like the tech companies involved were firing according to a plan or a consistent basis for judgement. Instead, it looks like they’re firing willy-nilly at all levels. Beyond that Business Insider article, the reports I’ve heard from people working in the affected companies all suggest that this current wave of layoffs is haphazard at best: one reported that the company was still hiring, often for the very positions they just opened by firing experienced workers. It seemed their company paid little attention to the composition of the teams they were firing from, or the relevant experience of the people they fired.
All of that makes me think that this move, firing roughly 6% of a company’s workforce, is more about needing to be seen as doing something rather than about doing the right thing.
So what are the costs incurred by this? If these companies are firing at scale, firing 6% of their employees while still making profit and while still sitting on war chests of as-yet uninvested funds (e.g. Ruth Porat’s segment of Google’s Q4 2022 call)—is that actually a sign of good judgment? Or are these companies shooting themselves in the foot?
In other words, is that story about firing people being the diligent, serious thing to do either true or accurate?
For argument’s sake, I’m going to accept as given that the other two stories are true. I’ll agree that these companies over-hired during the pandemic, and that the economy will either experience a recession this year or at least perform worse than hoped.
I’m not going to dispute any of that.
But what price do these companies pay with these firings? Does it make sense to fire these workers?
Let’s step back. When does it make sense to fire someone?
I posit two general cases:
1) It makes sense to fire someone when they hurt a company more by staying than they do by leaving.
2) It could makes sense to fire someone if their role is no longer relevant to the tasks performed by a company—but that ignores the benefit of reassigning them to a different role and saving on onboarding costs.
I admit, there may be other cases. But I think these two cover the majority of reasonable firing situations.
#2 is probably easiest to understand as a company-wide refocusing of effort. If a company totally shuts down an operation, stops trying to make or support a certain product, etc., it might make sense that some of the staff involved would no longer be relevant to the company’s goals. In that case, firing could make sense.
In counterpoint, I maintain that the company is probably better served by retaining whatever staff it can and assigning them new work in whatever the company’s area of focus may be. Onboarding staff takes time. Training staff takes time. Even if you have to retrain reassigned staff, you’re probably still saving money by conserving your staff pool.
Also, I haven’t seen a dramatic shift in stated plans among the various tech companies that are so eager to fire people. Thus, I don’t think these layoffs fall into case #2.
As for #1… what does it take for an employee to hurt a company more by staying than by leaving?
I’m going to ignore the case of an employee being a toxic piece of shit who harms others around them. That seems like a very clear cut entry in case #1, and it doesn’t match what I’ve heard about the current wave of tech layoffs. If that’s the reason for these firings, they’re firing a lot of the wrong people.
So. How does one calculate the costs of someone staying? How does one calculate the costs of someone leaving?
The costs of keeping an employee can be loosely summed up as “pay, benefits, and overhead.” Employees cost salary or wage, they cost payroll tax, they cost whatever is offered as benefits… there are probably other things I’m missing here: I’m not an expert and this is not intended to be professionally rigorous. But a lot of the costs associated with employee benefits and overhead are reduced by economies of scale: the more X you’re buying, the more efficient that purchase is likely to be. It costs less to offer a ridiculously nice physical work environment for your Nth employee than it does to offer that for your first ten. Based on what I know about negotiating power, etc., I’m willing to bet that those economies of scale remain true to some extent across other realms of company overhead and employee benefits.
Basically, cutting X% of a workforce will reduce a company’s costs. But it will probably reduce those costs by less than X%. Pay isn’t evenly spread around a company’s employees: the C-suite is far more generously compensated than other employees are. And trimming away the costs of benefits offered to that X% likely won’t reduce the total price of those benefits on a 1-to-1 basis, due to the aforementioned economies of scale.
So how much does it cost to fire someone?
In these layoffs, fired employees will receive severance pay. That’s a potentially squishy number, but according to Business Insider, Microsoft expects to pay $1.2 billion in severance for approximately 10,000 employees (averaging $120k per person). If you take Microsoft at their word about their severance package being generous—I’m reluctant to, but this’ll make my math easier—we could guess at a cost of $100k per fired employee.
We can also track how much work-time these companies are losing by firing these employees. What do I mean by that? I mean: there’s a time cost associated with bringing employees up to speed. It’s incurred at the start of any employee’s time at a company. To a lesser extent, it may be re-incurred with any shuffle of personnel.
Friends working in tech tell me it takes roughly six months for someone to be brought up to speed and usefully contribute to a highly specialized team, while ”a quarter or two” might be the normal range for other teams. At the six-month end, firing 6,000 people who’ve been at the company for six months or more is 3,000 wasted worker-years (for reference, Google has fired 12,000 people; Salesforce 7,000; Microsoft 10,000). Even if I assume everyone fired got up to speed in only one month (which isn’t borne out by the spread of teams that lost members), that still comes out to a cost of 500 worker-years for firing 6,000 people. That time was paid for already. Firing those employees, to me, looks like squandering that investment.
What is harder to quantify?
The above math assumes we only count the time of the employee being brought up to speed. It makes no accounting of the time and effort other people on their teams put into helping them catch up. I won’t try to account for that here. Any estimates there would be even more speculative than what I’ve done so far, and I think my assessment of the squandered time investment is already damning.
Another item I can’t quantify here is the cost of the institutional knowledge lost in this firing process. From others’ reporting, some of the people fired have been with their companies for up to 16 years. The company-specific and project-specific knowledge and expertise accrued over a decade-plus of work at a company can’t be understated; knowing who to speak to when seeking answers for specific problems, being able to tell others how older systems work, and having personal experience of previous solutions to prior crises all matter. As with the invested worker-time, all of that is being squandered.
Which brings me to another difficult-to-quantify cost which my friends in tech anticipate: decreased product resiliency. Because “automate yourself out of work” is the standard MO for many development teams, the repercussions of firing chunks of those development teams aren’t likely to be felt until a quarter or two from now when something inevitably breaks. When that happens, it’s a roll of the dice whether the person who designed the system and knew it best is still available within the company. The recent layoff wave, with its apparent scattershot approach, is well-designed to exacerbate those system failures by unpredictably removing the relevant expertise. Maintaining existing products and internal infrastructure will be harder, and that additional load will likely make future development more difficult as well.
All of this is exacerbated by the way in which the firings were carried out, which look a lot like intentional corporate self-harm from the outside.
Those laid off report learning of the firings by surprise. These people were frozen out of their ex-employers’ communication systems with no time given to pass on custody of any of their work to their coworkers. While many of these articles focus on Google, I’ve heard similar reports from people at Athenahealth. Any sane and competent organization—one that wants to preserve continuity of service, continuity of experience, and allow people to pass on custody of their projects to another person without leaving everything in a mysterious mess—would do this differently. Anyone picking up the projects of those who were fired will have to do their best to decrypt whatever notes made sense to the person who thought they’d return to their project the next day. It’s the opposite of good management.
Given that most investors look for companies that take advantage of market downturns to grow their business, this wave of firings seems short-sighted. It appears to have been conducted in a way that guarantees the erosion of product resiliency and handicaps meaningful transfer of projects from those fired to those who remain.
A final element I can’t quantify here: morale.
Companies, whether they like it or not, are communities. Communities function smoothly when their members are able to trust each other and predict each other’s actions. When a company fires 6% of its staff for no apparent reason, that damages any existing trust and puts the lie to predictability. It makes remaining experienced employees more likely to quit, or seek employment elsewhere.
Also, as a reminder, people may be friends with their coworkers. I am not in a position to quantify friendship. I can’t speak to what portion of the people fired had at least X friends, or whether they were real SOBs that everyone was glad to see leave (an ideal candidate for firing case #1). But seeing one’s friends lose their jobs for no apparent reason, seeing them suffer as a result, is disheartening, discouraging, and encourages anger and resentment—none of which are conducive to greater productivity.
Furthermore, I think this article about the pressure recessions exert on union organizing misses a critical point. Tech companies have been trying to quash union formation for years now. When tech companies show they are willing to fire people for no apparent reason, that may discourage and foster fear amongst their employees. But it can also be another incentive for workers to take actions their companies don’t approve of—like organizing. If they might be fired at random despite playing by the rules, what do they have to lose?
Scared people will certainly pay lip service to frightening authorities. But we have about two more years of Biden’s first term left to go. There’s no time in recent history when employees have been more likely to receive federal support in their unionization efforts. If these companies wanted to undercut pro-union sentiment, they chose a strange way to do so.
In summary, I don’t think these layoffs make much sense. The story tech executives are telling, of these layoffs being a sign of their seriousness and diligence and responsibility, simply doesn’t hold water. Even if dramatically reducing costs right now were necessary for these companies, the way in which these companies went through this firing process verges on self-harm.
My reasoning is as follows:
If a company over-hired, and there’s a recession coming, it makes sense to slow down hiring. It makes sense to reduce expenses. If the company were operating on thin margins and had little cash in reserve, that might require drastic measures and targeted cuts.
When a company is still making profit, and is sitting on a war chest of a hundred-billion-plus dollars, it can afford to eat into that reserve in order to conserve its existing expertise and expand its future capabilities.
Instead, Google spent $59 billion on buying back shares (see Ruth Porat’s segment of that Q4 2022 call). That increases stock price. It does nothing to improve a company’s fundamental performance.
Firing a swathe of employees largely at random has considerable costs. It incurs severance pay. It squanders prior investments of time and money. When firing at random, the money it saves in expenses does not match the proportional impact on institutional knowledge and capability. The firings damage worker morale and foster resentment. And the future cost of time lost to fixing broken systems without the people who knew them best, alongside the associated reputational costs when those systems’ failures impact the company’s customers, are injurious.
As far as I can tell, the only way that these firings make sense is if the companies involved expect a dramatic drop in revenue. In a moment of grim comedy, these firings may create the environment for those losses, and make weathering them more difficult.
But this brings me back to my suspicion that these firings weren’t about actual diligence and responsibility. The alternative is that these firings have little to do with the companies’ future performance, and everything to do with signaling to investors.
In response to lower than expected earnings over the last quarter, some investors are pushing for cost-cutting measures. This is fairly normal behavior. Investors who expect a recession are also pushing for companies to prepare, or at least to be ready for slower growth against economic headwinds.
How do companies show that they’re taking these concerns seriously?
By firing lots of staff, by creating a narrative of responsibility and seriousness, these companies are attempting to communicate that they’re sober, clear-headed, business-minded. As with the stock buybacks, this message is a reassurance that the company cares about their investors and will do what it must to improve their stock value. But this privileges short-term behavior over long-term investment.
As someone who owns some shares in some of these companies, this is disheartening. These are bad decisions. They’re bad decisions that have been executed poorly in the most injurious ways. They look to me like a surgeon grinning, hands smeared with blood and full of mostly healthy freshly-excised tissue, reassuring the audience that the cuts they just made were all well thought out. I can only hope the audience is not convinced, and doesn’t reward this behavior.
I have few doubts that these companies will weather our next economic storms mostly intact. They have many billions of dollars in reserve, they can afford to choose poorly again and again. But this? This was a mess.
It’s also an opportunity. Those workers still employed by these companies can make their voices heard. Even if they still believe that the company they work for earnestly shares their best interests, they can organize and push their companies to focus on long-term planning instead of the market-rewarded sugar-high of quick fixes and flashy cuts.
Mrs. Pollifax, elderly women as spies cont.
As I was writing last week’s post, I knew that I was forgetting something. I’d read fun stories about an elderly woman involved in espionage before. Or more accurately, I’d listened to them: some of my childhood’s many long car rides were filled with hours of Dorothy Gilman’s Mrs. Pollifax books on tape. Young Henry thought those books were both hilarious and excellent.
I haven’t read them since. But I want to. I want to read them again, find out whether or not they’re as fun as I remember them being. In my memory, they were a perfect storm of ridiculousness and good genre fiction.
That said, I’m a little hesitant too. The first books in the series (there are many of these books) were written in the 60s. The last one was published in 2000. Given the gulf of years, I bet I’m going to stub my toes on something.
But I’m willing to bet it’ll be worth it. At worst, they’ll give me a place to start in my hunt for similar genre fiction. And if they’re anywhere near as good as I recall, I’ll probably be guffawing my way through them.
Plus, for all the absurdity and narrative contrivances that I remember in the several Mrs. Pollifax books I listened to, I think they captured several very important points that flashier spy stories forget. It’s valuable to be overlooked and underestimated. And—maybe this was just my impressionable youth speaking, but—Dorothy Gilman was nearly of an age with my grandmother, and Mrs. Pollifax’s surprising skillset reminded me of my grandmother too.
I remember growing up with plenty of stories about my grandmother. She fixed a stranger’s broken car on the side of the road (in Uganda or Kenya I think), using safety pins and pantyhose to replace a timing belt. She reversed a van at speed down a dirt track while being chased by a bull elephant. She had other adventures too, but more regularly she would weigh and vaccinate hundreds of babies in an open-air clinic, or help local women establish clinics in their villages and towns. And when I knew her as an older woman, she kept a thriving thicket of a garden, pointing me to the various things she wanted me to cut or harvest, showing me the good berry brambles.
So when I read Mrs. Pollifax, I see a little bit of my grandmother. They’re not the same person at all, they’re not doing the same things, but… in some ways they’re cut from similarly capable cloth. And reading that in a piece of spy fiction, when the protagonist sometimes underestimates herself almost as badly as her opposition does, is simply a treat.
Anyway, yes, I’m looking forward to picking up those books again. Maybe I’ll have something more for you here when I do.
I’m visiting family, and I’ve neglected to prepare a post for today. I am part way through A Taste of Gold and Iron, by Alexandra Rowland, and I’ll probably post about that soon. It’s fun. Court intrigue, gay romance, fun.
I hope that you’re doing well and staying safe and warm. Happy holidays.
Reader’s experience & author’s influence
Sometimes, you start a chapter and just know that this is the creepy one. You know it as you skim that first page. And when that happens to me while I’m lying in bed in the dim light and drifting towards sleep, my self-preservation kicks in.
I don’t always manage to do this, but the most recent time it happened, I stopped myself. I set the book aside and reminded myself of which world I existed in, and resolutely tried to go to sleep without the drowsy conjured nightmares of this fictional world. That mostly worked.
The problem was, once I’d done that I struggled to pick up the book again. I knew that I was going to return to the story at a spooky moment, and I still had that lingering sense of dread that had warned me away from reading more just before sleeping. Having put the book down that way, it took extra work to pick it back up again.
I haven’t finished that book yet.
I was right about that chapter though. It was spooky. I read the rest of it, after psyching myself up to do so, and I’ve read some more after that chapter since.
But the material since hasn’t been as spooky as I’d expected. It was a very sharp peak of spookiness. As I’ve kept reading, I’ve struggled to tell how much of that diminishment of spookiness is in the story, and how much of it was inside my own head. Did the story actually reach such a heightened peak, or did I create more of a peak through some combination of reading late at night and apprehensively avoiding the book for a few days?
And, critical for me as a writer, how much of that experience was desired or intended by the author? How was that experience created?
People have funky and idiosyncratic responses to stimuli. Sure, there’s some general consistency, but when you’re trying to produce specific emotional responses in your audience via art you’re going to run into some odd responses. People will experience things that you didn’t anticipate, or that you thought weren’t there. It’s even worse when you have little control over how the art will be consumed. Once you’ve released art into the world, you give up any semblance of control over how it’s interpreted and just have to hope for the best.
Back to the spooky piece at hand…
The question that nags at me here is: how much of that experience came from the author’s decisions, and what can I learn from that? How much of that can I use in my own work? And how much of it was inside my own head, and won’t be shared by anyone else reading the book?
I’m lucky. I know that some of my friends are reading this book right now, and I’ll have a chance to talk with them about it soon. I already have a few questions lined up. But until then, I’ll keep reading and stewing, wondering what precisely is going on underneath the surface.
Today is Thanksgiving in the US. It is also the Day of Mourning, as organized by United American Indians of New England.
I grew up in Vermont.
Maybe more importantly, I grew up knowing that I was on Turtle Island. I was surrounded by stories of and from the Abenaki people who had lived there long before my settler ancestors arrived, and who live there still. I studied the history of the Iroquois Confederacy and their governing principles. I learned about how the First People in the Northeast had lived on the land, tending to it and to the well-being of the life around them, seeing the connections between each.
My fascination with stories was fueled by Wolfsong, an Abenaki storyteller. I went to every event of his that I heard of, and I can still hear his voice in my memory. His tales resonated deeply with me. I listened to him enough that (this must have been insufferable, adorable, or both) I would sometimes mutter them to myself while he told them. His stories certainly meant more to me than the ones people told me were my own.
For better and for worse, I was told that I have Mohawk and Huron ancestors (among many others). The family members who told me that were pretty reliable with tracing family connections back in other places, but… I haven’t done that research myself, I can’t trace that back, and I won’t claim it as truth. I am far too aware of the tradition of settlers claiming American Indian descent to be comfortable with it.
But I’m thankful for that old family story. I have no doubt that it drove some of my search for greater understanding of many groups of First People, and gave me greater respect for their traditions. I know that it informed some of my family’s engagement with ecological education and stewardship, environmental advocacy, and community building.
At the same time, I’m also descended from people who were on the Mayflower—and I *can* trace that back. I know that my ancestors received aid, and made treaties and honored them. I know my ancestors also broke those treaties and engineered the death or expulsion of many. I know that I have benefited from that, directly or indirectly.
I say all this to remind you, my mostly USA-based audience, that however much Thanksgiving is a time for giving thanks, this is also a time for remembrance and acknowledgment. The highly sanitized origin myth for this holiday was cobbled together during a time of civil strife, and it erased the sobering legacy of the violence that preceded and followed that feast.
So. Please, listen to what American Indian communities have to say, today and on other days. Learn about our past, and how that has shaped our present. If you want somewhere to start, try UAINE.
Back to LARP writing
I’m writing LARP material again!
It’s been a while. I’ve sat on an idea of mine for a little over a year, and I’m finally having the excited conversations with other LARP friends that keep pushing me to develop it. It’s a good feeling.
I’ve also been writing material for a different LARP that my friends are running. This means taking limited information about national histories, and group goals, and maybe a sentence or two about group flavor, and turning that into 400-500 words of group background with coherent flavor. It’s a rewarding exercise, something I haven’t done recently but have plenty of experience with. Plus, it’s wonderful being able to just produce creative work and share it with people immediately.
I’ve stopped doing that here, for a number of reasons, and I regret that sometimes. Maybe I’ll change that again in the future.
As for the fun LARP ideas I’ve been having, they’re tied to a combination of old story ideas I’ve mused over for about five years and a set of scene ideas that have inspired me in the past two years at Wayfinder. The basic concept: PC groups of treasure hunters and historians return to the ancient places of their ancestors in the Shunned Lands to recover lost relics, and in the process discover both why their old stories refer to a prior golden age and why that golden age ended in catastrophe. The rest of the game is all about facing the consequences of releasing the disastrous remnants of that ancient history.
My excited conversations have mostly been about puzzling through how to produce specific scenes, and what we’d need to make them work. It feels really good, engaging with my WFE friends like this outside of the camp season. That collaborative problem solving and supportive creativity is something I always miss during the rest of the year, when I spend most of my time staring at words and trying to cudgel them into some more effective shape.
Perhaps I’ll be able to work more of that into my other writing routines, and carry that excitement forward.
News, LARP writing, Pomodoro
One of my writing group friends suggested I try writing in 30 minute sprints, with a little (also pre-measured) time off between sprints for breaks, other work, other projects. It’s a minimally different variation on the Pomodoro technique. I’m surprised I hadn’t learned this work method before.
I was hesitant to take their suggestion. I usually struggle to fall into the zone that I find so helpful for writing. Writing without being in the zone feels like pulling teeth, getting into the zone takes a while, and… round and round the problem goes. But I’ve been pretty desperate to get more writing done, so I tried it.
It’s fucking phenomenal. I don’t know why it’s working for me right now. And I’m not going to look a gift writing-hack in the mouth.
The other important piece of implementing this for myself has been stricter limits on what I can and can’t do before I start writing in the morning. Listening to music is good, physical movement is good, but reading anything is dangerous, and watching a video is right out (doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s news, documentary, someone’s Let’s Play, or what). I could probably find something that would be okay for me to watch (maybe a sped up painting process for a fantasy landscape), but that would require me to navigate past lots of other enticing videos which would drag my eyes in.
Safer not to risk it. More productive not to risk it.
This is a little awkward, since it means I can’t safely read news before writing. Not even the tech news I use to doublecheck my various sci-fi projects. I also have to avoid responding to any notifications on my phone, which pile up quickly. In fact, this makes it difficult to use my phone at all, even though it’s currently my alarm clock, morning music source, and timer for this approach.
But the upside to this improved morning mental hygiene is that when I set that 30 minute timer I make significantly more progress.
A little context.
I used to regularly produce 2k words a day, mostly without a struggle. Being in that rhythm felt a lot like any other fitness regimen: it hurt to get up to speed, and every so often one of those days would be a total drag. But when I was regularly writing 2k a day, it felt… familiar. Not necessarily comfortable, but certainly not onerous. And at the end of producing that 2k, I felt good. Energized.
Writing with this timer system, with better morning mental hygiene, feels like that. I’m reaching rates close to my 2k a day. It feels great. And when the timer goes off, I can do something else that’s been weighing on my mind before I go back to writing… because I’m free of the need to be writing. I’m not constantly should-ing myself, scolding myself for insufficient focus or insufficient productivity.
I think that’s the biggest lesson I’ve found so far. This external practice frees up my internal judgements. When the timer is on I know it’s time to go. When the timer is off I know it’s okay that I’m not going. That state of being okay with not writing is incredible for my state of mind.
I’ve felt able to let go and make more new stuff that isn’t connected to anything else (yet). That isn’t helpful to my pre-existing projects, but it feels good, like I’m clearing out old pipes that had rusted nearly shut with arterial blockage. Setting aside time like this lets me turn off the voice that’s constantly worrying about what I should be doing right now, what I should be doing next, and just make stuff.
I guess what I’m trying to say is… I’m really appreciating this. I don’t know to what degree this is better brain weather, or better mental hygiene, or a useful way to guide my brain in the right direction. I don’t especially care. I’ll probably try tweaking the lengths of work sprints and breaks, but I’m definitely keeping this.
It’s even helped me feel so much less stuck that I’ve felt free to help friends with material for their LARP. I’m putting together group backgrounds based on a few objectives and a thin thread of preexisting setting, and its rewarding to quickly share those with an appreciative audience. Helps to remind me that I’m competent at this, pulling voice and larger worlds together from a few scraps.
Contracts, Art, and making World Seeds
My World Seed creation process has slowed down. The hard part isn’t the words, though.
The hard part is finding artists. Locations keep coming to me, but without art I’m reluctant to publish the Seeds. I know I have good written content, but the art really helps. It convinces me that I’m offering something more than my own words (the value of which I’m far too ready to dismiss).
Sorry, I was wrong about the hard part. The hard part is having a contract I’m willing to use with artists. I’m sure I can find artists via several different channels, if I reached out through those. I have a short list of places to put calls for art, after all. But I don’t want to reach out without a written contract.
I might be letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. Unfortunately, from the horror stories I’ve heard I’m also confident that having a bad contract can and will come back to bite me.
My first two World Seeds have art made by people with whom I have some kind of personal relationship; either I know the artist myself, or they’re within my immediate circle. There’s some basis for mutual trust. There’s some history of collaboration with myself or with someone else I know.
Without that, I don’t want to move forward on a wing and a prayer. Is that a mistake? Maybe. It certainly feels like one. It feels like I’m sitting on my hands and doing nothing, even though I keep adding to my collection of location descriptions to use in the future. I’ve posted forty nine of those so far to Patreon, and have thirty one more finished first drafts waiting in the wings (eighty in total). I average a little over a new one every week, more or less.
I have a few leads on contracts and contract advice, and expect to receive those reference materials in the near future… but there isn’t a clear timeline for that beyond “soon.”
Maybe, then, the right choice is to put together art-free versions and sell them for less. At least if I do that I’ll be moving finished products out the door, things that will require a minimum of additional work to fill with art once I have a contract ready. Doing that would allow me to publish an art-free Seed within a couple weeks, and another one within a couple months.
That isn’t what I’d dreamed of for this project—I’d thought about selling art-free Seeds while first developing this project, but incorporating visual art was always the goal. Sadly, that’s not where I am right now. If I want to make visible progress, it’s time to change course and ship something while I wait for the contracts and visual art to catch up.
Expect to see those art-free versions come out soon. In the meantime, if you want to see the currently available World Seeds, check out my stuff on DriveThruRPG.com.