In March, I'll be leading a session on how to use RPGs like D&D to help you write, which has rapidly become one of my favorite topics ever since I launched the Dungeon Crawlers series. It's a pretty straight line between these games and fiction writing - Patrick Rothfuss even said, while doing a guest spot on Acquisitions Incorporated's C Team live stream, that if you play TTRPGs you're 25% a novelist already, and if you DM/GM, you're even further along.
Over the past year though, in part because I 'outed' myself as a fan when I started writing the new series, I've been DMing for multiple groups, some with brand new players, some with veterans, and some with both. And since I'm doing this simultaneously to working on the new Dungeon Crawlers novella (no title yet, but looking at early spring release on Kindle, print to follow), I've really got the idea of collaborative storytelling on the top of my mind. Figured I'd use this space to talk about it a bit more often.
So last night I'm running a game using a modified version of Ghosts of Saltmarsh. The book makes it easy for me to do the part of DMing I love, which is, rather than building fights and designing dungeons, finding ways to make the players more invested in their characters' personal stories. As a novelist, this is something we don't often get to do--essentially hand-tailoring the experience for one person and one character and interacting with them in real time. We write in isolation, and we maintain (despite sometimes saying otherwise) control over the actions of the character. When you're doing this in real time with another person, though, it is incredibly rewarding in a way regular fiction writing can never be.
I constantly say that if the player gives me a thread for their character, I'll build something from it. And last night ended as our rogue with some bad history with Yuan-Ti made eye contact with the reptilian gaze he wasn't expecting (an encounter I'd been hoping to throw his way for months now).
A player who recently joined us has given me a backstory about a very strange missing parent, and I was able to improvise a card reading using a tarokka deck I bought more than a year ago and haven't had a chance to break out in a Ravenloft campaign yet. That was particularly fun as a writer--she drew her own cards and I, with no background in real-world tarot and only minimal knowledge about the tarokka deck, just used the visual queues of the cards to tell a story for her character to hear and unravel.
Their mission this session was a diplomatic one but I had a feeling the room might be more hungry for combat than conversation; I arrived with a game plan for both and let the characters take us where they wanted to go.
Which was to fight an ancient, belligerent crocodile.
Will any of this inform my own professional writing? Probably not. But it got the creative energy flowing and gives me ideas for how to tell my own characters' stories in print.
Are you playing an RPG these days? What sort of stories do you tell? Leave your comments below. I'd love to hear.
So I tried taking a break after the Crimson Child launched - it's been a busy year, with not just Book 5 in the Indestructibles series, but also a sequel to Echo and the Sea and the first volume of the Dungeon Crawlers series all arriving. But sitting still has never really been my thing, so in the downtime, I got the idea of creating a Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition setting for a group of players I DM for that would be a parody of Harry Potter--a dangerous magical college set in a D&D world for players to explore, and even some useable rules for a certain game involving flying brooms.
And so what started out as a couple of ideas ended up as a 25-page campaign guide for levels 1-5 or so. Now I don't know what to do with it.
Since this, as a parody, is not something I'd ever formally publish, I wanted to share the Beta version of the campaign with you. Feel free to play it with your own D&D group, mess around with it, see if the game-within-a-game is fun. I'm open to feedback, too, if there's details you'd want to learn about the Hawksmith Academy or how Skuabdah, the flying sport, is played (or have ideas for improving it!). Download a PDF of version 1.2 below (I'll post here and on social media if an updated version is posted as well).
The Indestructibles are back and better than ever in The Crimson Child, the fifth book in the ongoing series, now available in print and ebook formats:
Since the beginning, Doc Silence has warned the Indestructibles, his team of super-powered protégés, that magical threats would be the most dangerous. The team has faced down alien invasions, time traveled to post-apocalyptic futures, and more since they first banded together, but now, for the first time, they are confronted with not one but two sources of dark and dangerous magic.
Together, Jane, Billy, Kate, Titus, and Entropy Emily will go up against an evil necromancer, warping his victims into weapons in a reckless pursuit of wealth; and an even stranger threat, a young girl with inherent mystical abilities who has become a pawn in an interdimensional power struggle. When an entire town disappears, the Indestructibles – a solar-powered girl, a boy with an alien in his mind, a ballerina vigilante, a werewolf with confidence issues, and a Whovian with a black hole where her heart should be – must band together with new allies to stop dark forces far beyond their comprehension.
This is their greatest challenge and most personal mission yet. Has all their training been enough to prepare them?
The first three Dungeon Crawlers novellas have been available in ebook format for a little while, but I know a lot of folks have been asking if they'll ever appear in print. Well as of today, you can get all three stories together in the collected edition Lost in Revery, now on Amazon. If you've been waiting for a physical copy to read the new series, now's your chance! I also adore the new cover.
More Dungeon Crawlers stories to come this summer--stay tuned!
I'm psyched to announce that the sequel to Echo and the Sea is now available: Poseidon's Scar!
Echo and her crew are back and dealing with the fallout from their actions in Atlantis at the end of Book 1. Find out what happens when they journey to Artem's birthplace, face an ancient evil rising from the bottom of the ocean, and end up with a new, mysterious companion with an evil of her own hot on her trail.
Poseidon's Scar is available in ebook and paperback formats - check it out!
Hi, everyone. Four years ago I had the surreal experience of publishing my first novel, the Indestructibles, with PFP Publishing. Four years, four Indestructibles books, two spinoff series, and a bunch of One-Shots and shorts later, the Indestructiverse has grown so much. The series recently relaunched and it felt like it was the right time for a new website. I've been living under the less euphonious indestructiblesbook.com, which was built when there was... one Indestructibles book. With the Dungeon Crawlers finding a new audience, and with a sequel to Echo and the Sea coming out in the first quarter of 2019, it felt like the right time to create a new space here under my own name.
Thanks for following the series and everything that's happened the past few years. I've got some exciting news coming up about new books, new projects, and more. I hope you'll stick around.