The last two weeks didn’t go as planned.
They began with my wife getting sick for the third time in as many months. The day job became hectic and exhausting. I started a running battle with a sink and a dishwasher that keeps backing up. It all added a lot of stress and cut into my evening writing as I needed more time to decompress at home. Things were capped-off by my in-laws unwittingly poisoning me with sugarless gummy bears. I’ll admit, those bears were tasty before the 24 hours of intestinal Armageddon…
These events wreaked havoc on my weeknight writing. I’ve been interspacing projects so that they aren’t all in need of updates at the same time. My monthly social media setups are examples. Keeping Night Wings rolling, and writing new installments of Ice & Ash and The Brownies are others. Aside from my big media setups, I often get these and more done on weeknights. That keeps my weekends free for big projects.
Not so that week. :-/
Instead of working on A Contract in Azure and Indigo as planned, I spent half the weekend finishing things due Sunday and Monday. Thereafter, I decided to spend most of Sunday on more small projects. The day job may be on track to be a stress factory for weeks, but I do have options. With my weeknights questionable, I got a ton of things done on Sunday so their loss didn’t matter so much. That way I could devote weekends to Azure & Indigo regardless of whatever horse hockey comes up between them.
In that task, things turned out exceptionally well that Sunday. I got a lot of prep-work and even finished a few projects.
The next week started, and my wife’s health slowly improved. The day job remained just as bad as I had expected it would be, though. Then a two-day snow, sleet and ice storm rolled in mid-week… and gave me the unanticipated boon of a long weekend.
I put it to good use.
Unable to commute to work Thursday and Friday, I wrote on various projects staying home. I resisted the temptation to work strictly on Azure & Indigo. Instead, I stuck to the plan of clearing my creative table of small projects and media setups first. Investing a couple days toward that end turned out splendid. Aside from a few minor things, my media stuff is done and set until the last week of March!
Now I can focus exclusively on Azure & Indigo for almost two months of weekends. I won’t have to stress over a crazy workplace making it difficult to keep up with my weeknight writing for a while. And when I returned to the day job on Monday and found it an absolute shitshow, I felt my actions were proven a wise choice indeed.
I didn’t dive back into Azure & Indigo on Saturday, however. No, that day was disrupted by the need to clean up the mess outside and chores. But I did get inspired to start crafting RPG sessions for this year’s PortCon in June with what remained of the day.
I’m running four games this year with my rebuilt from scratch JARP storytelling system. Its mechanic features rolling dice that generate a handful of verbs. Players can then use those to influence the narrative and unfolding story at critical points… if they can string said verbs into coherent and/or entertaining actions. At non-critical times— or when the players choose or have no other option— the outcome of actions are decided by my storytelling alone. In game mastering that, I consider relative strengths, how I’m trying to guide the scenario, and what would make the better tale.
Everything is descriptive. Little is tracked with numbers. It’s cooperative storytelling with the player impacting the narrative through their character. The gamemaster decides all else within a light framework of rules.
My four-hour session ideas for 2020 are…
- The Heart of the Museum: A game set in my Toys Against Darkness universe, which is kind of like Toy Story meets Supernatural. These games have become a PortCon tradition for me. This year our intrepid toys are forgotten during a day trip and end up in a museum’s lost and found overnight. There they encounter the ghost of a little slave girl from ancient Egypt and her loyal doll. The toys must face an evil sorcerer-priest that’s using her as a shield from divine retribution to free her spirit.
- Origin: A semi-gritty superhero game set in 1989. A world like ours that to this point had lacked supers, it’s thematically similar to a mash-up of Stranger Things and the TV series Heroes. In it a group of friends that play a FASERIP style superhero RPG awake to a strange day of high school. Manifesting the powers of their characters from the game, things take a dark turn quick: Events reminiscent of those that ended the game in an apocalyptic cliffhanger are beginning to occur.
- Cults & Creatures: A present-day game of building paranoia that slow-burns into Lovecraftian horror. A group of everyday role-players that gets together for a weekly D&D campaign are unnerved when their DM and his terminally ill mother disappear. The mystery deepens when they are approached about a unique prototype RPG from the late 1970s he’d recently found. He was going to sell it for a significant sum of money, and the buyer is still desperate to get their hands on it…
- Weekend Warriors: An action-adventure comedy game also set in the present. An unemployed gamer about to lose their house finds a hole in their basement. It inexplicably leads to fantasy dungeon. Returning with a gold coin worth over $1,000 found in the dungeon’s first room, they convince their equally-in-need-of-money weekend D&D group to launch a full if impromptu expedition. As everyday folks, things should go hilariously wrong in short order. But there’s a chance to become unexpected heroes as well.
The convention theme this year is “D20”. Hence the many reoccurring meta-beats on role-playing games and gamers. ;-)
Okay, and finally, on Sunday I spent the whole day getting back into gear on Azure & Indigo! I read and edited my first two reworked chapters again. Then I rewrote and edited most of chapter three to 600 words shy of its end. Solid progress. Next weekend and those after will be entirely focused on the novella… now that I’ve got the small projects cleared and/or rolling. Time to get it done. And done right!
Have a great week everyone, and keep writing!
~Jason H. Abbott.