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Posts Tagged ‘dungeons and dragons’

Blog Posts Come in Threes too!

Today was rough. Server issues at work first thing this morning and then some meetings and a trip to the Red Cross to donate blood (up to 2.75 gallons so far). After all that, more work and then I remembered I was shooting for another blog post to follow up on Tuesdays. So here it is!

I spoke fondly of the World of Kroth and all the books and characters in it. Yet when I finish The Goblin Queen, I’ll need to move on to work on another book (to be honest, I’m not sure what – I haven’t given at much though at this point). That will leave me sad and disconnected with Kroth and its heroes and villains. The remedy to that comes in a small package – my children.

Both of them dabbled once or twice some time ago in trying out Dungeons and Dragons, the table top role playing game. It was a learning experience for me and it was a little rough, as fifth edition was just beginning to come out. 5E has been solidified much more now and the kids have been bugging me to try it again, so I’ve taken the plunge and immersed myself in the rules again, trying to relearn a game I remember so fondly from my youth.

It’s been close to 20 years since I’ve played it, and that was second edition and some third. Perhaps 5E will be as great as many claim it is, but for me 2nd edition was about as epic and wonderful as it can be. Time will tell. No matter what, it’s a lot to take in given the changes in the game. Some are slight and some are considerable, but all in all it does still feel like the same game at heart. I’m pleased to see they’ve tried to simplify it a lot since the horror days of 3.5 and 4.0, with a dice roll and a rule applying to everything. I’m a game master, damn it, let me do my own thing without feeling guilty that I’m not playing the game as it was meant to be played!

So the kids made characters already. I’m not surprised at their choices, but I was a little annoyed. They both choice to be half dragons (in 5E they’re called Dragonborn, but I don’t have anything like that in Kroth, plus I find the Dragonborn to be perhaps a bit overpowered). So half-dragons are my compromise, and they are reminiscent of Lariki, from Rise of the Serpent. Human enough in all ways save that they have a fine covering of scales that is easily mistaken for skin unless someone looks close in the right light. Also a resistance to damage based upon their parentage (my books don’t deal with subtypes of dragons but since we’re playing D&D, I figured I’d adapt).

As for the character classes, they went with a paladin (my son) and a monk (my daughter). It should be interesting to see how it unfolds. The first adventure will be them being sent out to rescue a merchant’s runaway daughter. She ran off with a minstrel who wooed her and left the safety of Griffinmount behind. The mountainous island Griffinmount is on has some grasslands and hills on the interior where a few farms are located, but it’s a dangerous place overall. Mountains ring the island and provide shelter for griffins, wyverns, and other dangerous aerial creatures. The hills and plains are home to wild boar, hyenas, snakes, and the occasional bandit hoping to waylay silk farmers.

Silk farmers? That’s where the forest and jungle come in. A small camp outside of forest provides a home for those skilled at collecting the strong webbings of the spiders that inhabit the forest and turn them into silk of unmatched beauty and strength. The spiders are harmless to people, even if they are numerous. Venture too far into the jungle and all bets are off – the silk spiders have larger cousins that are far less tolerant of intruders and far more dangerous. Not to mention the large snakes, some poisonous and some strong enough to crush a horse, as well as other threats.

And somewhere in all this Dahlia, the merchant’s daughter, has managed to get lost with her companion.

Griffinmount is located off the tip of the southeastern portion of Kroth, so there is no direct involvement of any of the books. Yet. The reality of this setup is that, hopefully, this game will provide future inspiration for stories and books. Although, to be fair, I expect enough silliness to occur (the kids are 8 and 10 years old) that I might whip up some shorts to release for pure entertainment purposes out of them.

Oh, and since I doubt I’ll get another blog post in before the weekend, Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom’s out there!

 

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

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The Pen is Mighty Because of the Sword

I’m asked all the time where I come up with all my ideas for stories. Partly because I’ve got a ton of them – after all, that’s why I haven’t been blogging as much lately, I’ve been writing hard on new books (Voidhawk – Broken Shards, the 7th book in the series and a tie in to the Blades of Leander / Order of the Dragon series) and helping my wife out with her Claimed by the Beast books. I tell people I’ve always been writing and always been coming up with ideas. People, places, things – all the essentials for writing.

Then this weekend happened. My wife had a bachelor party to throw this weekend and I stayed home with the kids. Ages almost 8 and 5.5. They both love telling stories and making things up (more than just the ones where they try to get out of trouble), so I figured – what the heck, let’s try something different. I did some research since I lost all my original books years and years ago and found out that a brand spanking new fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons was being released. Better yet, the 110 page core intro book was available as a free download!

Well, I downloaded and read through it to see what the changes were since the editions I enjoyed playing (first and second, 3, 3.5, and 4 were all too complicated and took away from the spirit of the game, in my opinion). 5th Edition seems geared to go back a little and make it more fun and less complicated. I hope. Then I reached the end of the book and realized there was no monsters, no DM guidelines, and nothing else of much help.

So another Internet search led me to packing the kids up and heading to a hobby / comics store a few miles away to pick up the starter kit and sets of dice for each kid. That included an adventure, some pre-rolled characters, and some generic monsters. It’s a long cry from something a real campaign can be developed out of, but it’s a start.

That day we began the adventure. We didn’t get far beyond an initial encounter. It got my daughter (the almost 8 year old) excited and my son uncertain and possibly freaked out. It also helped him focus on his basic math skills. The next day after my wife got home she joined the adventure and we finished the first milestone. Woohoo!

And somewhere along the way I realized something. This wasn’t what started my love of creating and writing, but it helped a lot. More than a lot, it was essential to helping me figure out a lot of how to come up with ideas and make them complete and well rounded. After all, since my first time playing Dungeons and Dragons when I was 11 years old I quickly became the dungeon master. No, there’s no whips and leather outfits involved, it means the guy (or girl) that runs the game. In my case, I usually created my own worlds and adventures to put my victims— er, friends— through.

So, genre and characters aside, I learned how to tell a story because I used to fantasize about using swords and sorcery to battle dragons and rescue maidens. My kids are enjoying the game so far (the girl loves it and the boy is coming around, especially when he was responsible for putting some serious hurt down on the leader of the bad guys). I suspect the colorful descriptions I’m giving, especially when battling feral wolves, goblins, and bloodthirsty bugbears, helps make it more fun for them too. Oh, and the family that slays together, stays together. 😉

 

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Fictional Event Planning

January 14, 2013 Leave a comment

I love how I can almost hear readers of this blog asking, what the heck is he talking about? For most of us, dealing with the day to day events is bad enough. Why fantasize about events that may or may not exist? Or even worse, why simulate them in our heads and map them out?

More years back than I care to recall, I had a group of friends that would regularly get together for role playing games. Typically the game being played was Dungeons and Dragons, but from time to time we tried out other ones as well (including a few we made up on our own – just to prove how socially awkward many of us were). Amongst our tight knit group it fell to a couple of us to run these sessions. That made the person in charge game master (GM) or dungeon master (DM), depending upon the game.

I tried different styles of running games over the years. Sometimes I’d come up with an idea and set down to prepare all the reference materials for it. These might be maps, encounters, creatures, and outlines or it might be little more than a suggestion of things to come along with possibilities the players might encounter or do. Of course playing with real people is the ultimate experiment in Chaos Theory, so that meant I had to be ready to roll with whatever they threw at me as well. Linear progression was virtually impossible!

And that, in a nutshell, explains how I came up with fictional event planning. Every gaming session was an event filled with multiple scenarios and opportunities. Maybe it was interacting with a serving maid in a bar to find out that the tavern’s latest shipment of ale was stolen or maybe it involved fighting a group of troll bandits that had stolen the aforementioned ale. And let’s not forget how much cuter the serving maid was after the ale was returned and a the first couple of rounds offered for free as payment for the adventurer’s services!

Fictional event planning is far more far reaching than gathering a group  of imaginative people to conduct fictional events in a made up setting. It’s used in all walks of life, from writing papers in college to telling jokes to preparing business cost analysis or life cycle management. Heck, we even use it when driving down the road and predicting what traffic around us might do and how we might react to it.

There’s another group of people to have learned to become pretty good at organizing fictional events: writers. The great thing about being a writer is that as long as something looks good on paper, you’re done! Real world implementation virtually never works out the way it appears it should on paper, but this is fiction. It works the way I want it to (or the way the characters tell me it’s going to).

I sat down last night to take a break from stressing over taxes and (hopefully) overcoming this miserable respiratory ailment I picked up last week. I started brainstorming about the third book in my Blades of Leander series now that book two, Victim of Fate, is in the hands of the editors and artists. While pondering book three I realized that I had more or less become a wedding planner. Although in my case wedding = epic fantasy story and planner = guy who writes down what my characters tell me to.

I’ve made the connection in the past many times. Planning a story is very much like planning a gaming session. Sometimes the objective is out there and the trick is to create an environment and obstacles for the characters to experience and overcome to reach the obstacle. At other times I come up with a scenario and toss the characters into it so I can see what they come out with. I like to think of the latter method as the rock tumbler approach.

Oh, and about those other guys that spent significant time running the gaming sessions… one of them has a couple of books published (Food and Philosophy and Porn – Philosophy for Everyone: How to Think With Kink) and he’s a professor. Another one has done a few commercials and is working hard to achieve success as an actor by the name of James Knight. Great guys that I still consider good friends, bonds forged by gaming and other adolescent pursuits. It just goes to show that not every gamer dork is doomed to a life of living in their parent’s basement watching pirated cable and becoming addicted to World of Warcraft and Internet porn. And it let me do a little name dropping, which is always fun!

Disclaimer: Yes, I tried out World of Warcraft when it was released. I quit inside of two months, becoming disgusted with the game play and cartoonish look. There’s just no substitution, in my opinion, for pen and paper RPGs.

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Taking A Step Back to Go Forward

My current writing project is pure fantasy, as I alluded a few posts back. It’s going to be vintage sword and sorcery, completely with any scary critters to make J.R.R. Tolkien proud. Don’t worry though, I’ve no intention of invading Middle Earth. No, this one is going to follow band of characters along an unusual but still familiar fantasy storyline.

Many years ago (more than twenty but not quite 30) I learned about a game called Dungeons and Dragons. I was young and impressionable when I was introduced to it, and it’s safe to say it may have been my first love. This is back in the day when special effects were hardly special and the thought of medieval entertainment was the furthest thing on the mind of entertainment companies. Thus my imagination, aided with the rules set forth by Gary Gygax (may he forever Rest In Piece) and TSR (a few years later) provided countless hours of entertainment. These days I still remember it fondly. It’s been years since a break out gaming session occurred amongst old friends and I, but I wouldn’t be opposed to it if the opportunity presented itself. And for the record, I’m talking about the classic first or second edition of the game, none of the newfangled D20 rules that over-complicate things.

So for this newest story as I was stumbling around with character ideas it occurred to me that I already had great characters that had lived countless adventures and endured loves and losses beyond my ability to remember. Why not use them? And now I’m nearly 10,000 words into my next fantasy book, which I anticipate becoming a series with ease. I’ll even share a touch of the characters in the hopes that it wets more than just my appetite.

Alto – A farm boy turned warrior who learns nobility. Eventually he’s destined to…yeah, like I’m going to give that away!

Kar – Fiesty wizard who encourages learning and insists his companions to constantly challenge everything.

Karthor – Kar’s son, a priest of Leander, the god of growth and light. Karthor and Alto are the same age and quickly become fast friends

Patrina – Northern warrior princess (or at least daughter of a chieftain). Hmm, two good looking and competent young men from a neighboring and sometimes hostile nation to choose from…what could go wrong here?

And did I mention the increasing raiding from (mostly) goblin tribes into both realms? What about the possibility of a greater power behind it with its own ulterior motives?

So much potential…and that’s just the first book!

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.