Saturday, November 5, 2016

For Jasper

While I hadn't planned to write a blog entry until later this weekend (as I'm taking a brief break from NaNoWriMo tonight and possibly tomorrow), an item in my Facebook stream caught my eye. The main item was from a friend expressing frustration over how some gamers can be so inhuman... That in itself is a story and discussion in itself. What caught my eye was a response from one of his fellow designers expressing anger and disgust over an incident which hit close to home:
"A couple of days ago, Jasper, my neighbor's dog, one of my best friends with my boys... was roped by a man, dragged away and shot dead because he was deemed an annoyance. I just learned about it this morning.
"(Update: The RCMP was contacted and though there were witnesses to Jasper's roping, there were none for his shooting. No witnesses, no arrest. Sigh. But read on.)
"You've seen me post about Oafy the Chaos Muppet before. I'm brainstorming about a way to make Jasper a staple, a recurring aid or NPC, to the HSD and the Marmoreal Tomb. An icon along with Oafy, something that is awesome for the game, and respectful of who this awesome dog was in life.

"I also call on whoever would be inspired by this to go ahead and post stuff about Jasper, use his memory as a way to channel your love of all our furry friends, and create awesome stuff for the game. Go ahead.

"Stay tuned. For Jasper."
It's no secret to my friends and family that I'm an animal lover. I grew up on a farm with a dog and countless farm cats over the years, and, despite my allergies, will not hesitate to play with a person's pet if they allow it. My wife, who is also allergic to animal dander, is just as much an animal lover as I. Both of us have a burning hatred of animal abusers.

I never knew Jasper, nor do I personally know the person who posted this sad news. At the same time, I have no connection to or experience with the Hobby Shop Dungeon (HSD) or the poster's project. However, I have known the love of several loyal dogs, all of whom I know would have laid down their lives for me. Despite batting 1 for 3 in that respect, I'm going to write some things in the vein suggested by the poster this weekend for one or more systems under the banner of Project Jasper.

Whether or not you know the poster personally; whether or not you have adventured in the Hobby Shop Dungeon or have contributed to the Kickstarter; if you love animals, I encourage you to spread the word and post something for Jasper on your favorite forum or your own blog. If you can spare the money, buy and donate supplies and toys to an animal shelter or humane society near you. Better yet, if you can spare the time, volunteer there. Both you and the animals will be glad you did. I'm sure Jasper would be glad too.

Friday, November 4, 2016

In the Beginning...

"The story so far: In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”
― Douglas Adams, "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe"

I have just spent the better part of my Thursday overnight shift breathing life into a series bible for Project Frying Pan. If there's one thing I have learned thus far in the process, it's this: Creating a universe from scratch is a lot of hard work, even if it's been percolating in the back of your brain for over a year. The sheer act of organizing, clarifying, defining, and just plain expressing it is daunting, exhilarating, and exhausting all at the same time. I have drawn upon my favorite aspects of various authors' universes as well as some of my own unpublished writing to find interesting bits to add.

No worries! I'm not dead yet!

While I will be taking a brief rest from the Project Frying Pan creative process this weekend, it is far from over. While the series bible (Did I forget to mention Project Frying Pan is the first in a series?) stands at an ephemeral eight pages in length, there is more to come and more to develop. The Frying Pan-verse (there will be a better name for it, I promise you), is in its infancy not only in the present, but also in its past and future.

Research will continue apace as I delve into the worlds of astronomy and con artistry. Project Frying Pan may be a science fiction book, but it's still got to have some basis in reality, after all. Of course, that's just a small part of the bigger picture. Historical research as well as some further reading in the genre is needed as well, all of which I look forward to.

Another part of the process is going to be resolving how to set parameters for the development of characters, technology, and all that other fun stuff. Being a tabletop gamer, I've got what I consider a number of useful tools at my disposal for defining things. The big decision is what system (and edition) to use. No system is perfect and part of my brain is itching to pair Project Frying Pan with another ongoing project on this blog.

What's ironic is that this fits Douglas Adams' opening quote to "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe" perfectly. I have no doubt that someone, somewhere is now foaming at the mouth, fingers feverishly poking at their keyboard in an effort to "educate" me on how "wrong" I am to use an RPG as a tool to define my characters and the universe they live in. In fact, that subsection of my aspiring authorial peers is doubtlessly a speck compared to the massive hipster horde pounding away at their keyboards about how whatever system I choose is wrong and how my use of tropes and aspects of other authors' universes is so "derivative" and "unimaginative".

As a writer, I readily acknowledge that there's nothing new under the sun - it's just a matter of what you do with it. That's where the real challenge lies. While I look forward to that challenge, I realize that failure is a possibility, and at the same time, it's a learning experience. No plan survives first contact with reality, let alone "the enemy". A slight change has already been made to one character and I'm sure more changes will be made to Project Frying Pan before all is said and done. The main thing to remember above all is this: "Don't panic!"

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

And so it begins...

So, it's been no secret that I'm a writer or that I write game material and some fiction. However, most of the time I keep what I write secret until it's done or at least until I know nobody is going to steal my ideas. At any rate, I'm throwing my hat into the ring for NaNoWriMo 2016 with a book I'm writing. We'll call it Project Frying Pan. Why? Because in the tradition of George Lucas, I don't want things getting out before it's time. Only two or three other people know the true nature of the project, and I know they'll keep it.

While I have the general idea of the project's plotline set up, have capsule descriptions of the characters, and actually have a head start on chapter one, there's a lot of work to be done on research so I can get things right. These last two months are going to be precariously balanced between my job, home life, my writing, getting some design work done for Beyond the Wall, and a Shadowrun campaign I'm running. I may not get Project Frying Pan done in one month, but I intend to put a good sized dent in it before the year is through.

But enough talk. It's time to act. I've got research and writing to do.