Monday, April 6, 2015

Adventures in Honesty and Imposter Syndromes

I've been keeping a secret for a few months now, one that I can finally share with the world.

How I turned down writing the new Star Wars movie...

No, only kidding. But it comes pretty close.

First, let me confess something - I've never really been much of an adventure writer. When I was an impressionable teen, running Star Frontiers, most of the games were just one continual, ad-libbed mass of combat. Taking the fight to the Sathar Empire, and adding ridiculous ideas from every film or TV series I'd recently seen, whether this is adding T-800 Terminators, or bloody Transformers from the cartoon series. 

Of course, not everything I ran was ad-libbed. James Bond, one of my favourite RPGs of all time, involved playing through the excellent adventures that were provided for the game. But often, the players would go off on tangents and find their own ways of completing the adventure, and the "making it up on the fly" element would come into play again.

The cover for the one of the many
Ghostbusters adventures I started...
When my game group dispersed and went off to universities and so on, I wanted to get into writing RPGs. Strangely, the concept of writing a game was not the first thing to come to mind. Instead, my love of the Ghostbusters RPG lead me to try adventure writing. I've chronicled my attempts elsewhere on this blog, how I wrote a couple of adventures for West End Games (the first about a health food god - Yogurt-Sothoth - taking over New York, the second about using a time travelling Delorean to travel into the past to kill Dracula). The amazing people at WEG were very positive about my writing, but real life got in the way and they remain the only completed adventures I've written.

The second renaissance of RPGs found me at art school, and running World of Darkness in a complicated multi-chronicle crossover game that involved absolutely zero adventure writing. I created the world, and the players just ran across the landscape of vampire/werewolf/mage/wraith infested London, and it was great.

Even on Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space, the smart people at Cubicle 7 hired a host of brilliant adventure writers to fill the Adventures books in the core sets, and the final chapters of the new corebooks. I was out of ideas when it came to Doctor Who, having exhausted my "Who-knowledge" making sure the game worked and kept in tone for the series.

So, when a few months ago, a game publisher that I respect and admire contacted me out of the blue to write an adventure to contribute to a larger campaign for a new RPG, I was surprised, flattered, and enthused. 

I try to be as honest as possible in all things, and my response was an immediate "Great! I'd love to... but..." and I confessed that adventure writing was not my forte. Well, it's not. I didn't want to be the one to ruin their campaign, but I said I'd give it a go, but I'd understand if they gave the gig to someone else. After all <imposter syndrome kicks in> I'm not anyone special in the RPG world, I'm just a guy who works in a shop and writes games in his free time that I hope people will like.

They very sensibly gave the gig to someone else, and I was sworn to secrecy about what the gig was, what the game was and how it would be used. 

Of course, that game was announced a few days ago. That game was Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana - the RPG that will feature in Wil Wheaton's Tabletop RPG show.

A webseries that will be the biggest thing to hit RPGs since... I dunno... the introduction of Hero Points. It'll be huge. It'll be a perfect example of roleplaying - the adventure, the fun, the storytelling, the ad lib... everything that we love about the hobby...  And it'll put it out there on the internet to show the world why we do it, why we game, and it'll hopefully inspire a whole new audience to get involved and to try the games for themselves.

It'll be awesome, and I can't wait to see it.

Of course, a part of me is kicking myself for not just lying and saying "sure, I can do it!" - Friends on Facebook were probably confused by my comments a while ago quoting Ghostbusters:

...But I know darn well that adventure writing isn't my thing, and that if I had just faked it, you wouldn't have had amazing tweets from the legendary Wil Wheaton himself like this...

You'd have probably had something like "Well, that didn't make any sense" or "that was a massive plot hole"... Or, "I can't believe this adventure turned out so bad, it's ruined the show for everyone!"

With everything that's been happening with me during the time the adventures were being written it's probably doubly best that I didn't try contributing, I honestly don't think I'd have been able to give it my full attention.

So it was close. I was nearly part of the awesome. Nearly. But thankfully, I didn't screw it up for everyone else. Maybe in the coming months I'll try writing adventures and scenarios, just like I did in the old Ghostbusting days, and when Season Two happens I'll be better equipped to help.

I'd like to thank Chris Pramas and everyone at Green Ronin for even considering me all those months ago. I was both honoured and surprised to even be asked!

Personally, I know that Titansgrave is in excellent hands, and I can't wait to see how the series turns out. It is going to be excellent.

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