I’ve always enjoyed writing. The ability to express my thoughts seems less limited through the written word. I get tongue-tied when speaking about a topic (or to a person) that excites me. Although I’m not a bad speaker, my biggest problem is completing a thought before it passes my lips. Writing – unlike speaking – allows for an edit cycle not available in conversation. So, ultimately, it keeps me out of trouble in those instances where I want to avoid being controversial or provocative, or when I just want to sound more intelligent than a lead pipe.
Don’t quit your day job
Roleplaying games initially became popular in the 80’s, and the most popular of the time was Dungeons & Dragons, written by my old friend Gary Gygax. I’d been playing for years before I met him in 1988, and it was quite an interesting turn of events that led to that meeting. My second wife Michele and I had moved back to Georgia, and I was looking for work. I had been working with databases, and had crafted a rough application to track characters, monsters and treasure using dBASE III+, and was shopping it around the different game companies to see if I could sell it. Several companies responded with form letters and writer’s guidelines, but only two sent anything that indicated they had read my letter. One of those was a personal letter from Gary. I responded, and was surprised one afternoon to find a message from him on my answering machine.
Dangerous Dimensions – er… Journeys
Originally, I was going to re-write my Abervon campaign to be published by New Infinities, Gary’s company. But by the time it had been transcribed into electronic format from the original handwritten manuscript, NIPI was no longer in the market for supplements, and Gary made an interesting offer – while he couldn’t use Abervon, he was going to be publishing a new multi-genre roleplaying game system, and wanted me to co-author the fantasy game system with him. And of course, I said yes. What started out as a nine month work for hire job turned into a three year project, as we crafted the core rules and magic system.
It ended badly, however, with a copyright infringement lawsuit brought against Gary by TSR, Inc. It would never have been an issue (and indeed, the suit had no merit) except there were people at that company at the time who had a grudge and were willing to throw large sums of money at the lawyers to hurt Gary’s new game. The only good thing that came of it was that TSR spent so much money on their personal grudge that a few years later, my friend Peter Adkison at Wizards of the Coast was able to buy TSR and remove those responsible for the lawsuit. Sadly, that was the end of Dangerous Journeys for me.
After the Dangerous Journeys incident, I was offered a chance to edit and co-author another game with my close friend Liam Hale. We put together the corporation for Quintessential Mercy Studio, got the funding, and produced Rapture: the Second Coming™. It was the very first roleplaying game of “theological terror”. It was a great horror game, but due to some poor management and financial planning, QMS eventually went under. I guess Rapture was more of a game of financial terror.
Twisted Bedtime Stories
While Liam and I were running QMS, we had other products planned and in development besides Rapture. Since Rapture was his brainchild, the plan was to publish it first, and then follow up with the book I’d been wanting to publish for years: Twisted Bedtime Stories™, an anthology of erotic horror short stories. I had aquired a number of great stories and interior art pieces, completed all the contracts, and had the editing done and all layout finished except for cover art. And then QMS ran out of money. So, the book was never published. That really ended my professional desire to write at the time. [Although I did later go on to write a number of my own short stories and self-publish my own version of Twisted Bedtime Stories™ on Amazon.]
A few years later, I wrote quite a bit of the stories and plot for the North Georgia chapter of NERO – a live action roleplaying game, also known as a LARP. It was purely volunteer, and I eventually became a plot director for NERO North Georgia. While it was pretty fun to direct a campaign, there are always pressures in keeping such a large number of players busy, and eventually I burned out (with quite a bit of help from the General Manager). Besides, along the way, I had acquired a job working for NASA, and after adopting our daughter, I had other things I would rather be doing than waging political battles with people who have more ego than skill.
So now, as of 2018, Christi and I have written a new tabletop game called Quest! Roleplaying for Kids™, and I’ve co-authored a novel with a friend from NASA named Todd King. It’s called The Lightbringer’s Sigil™, and we formed a company to publish those and future works.