YADnDW (Yet Another DnD Wiki)

My D&D group is experimenting with Google Wave to plan between sessions, and one of them requested a wiki. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while… or, rather, I’ve been thinking about writing the stories down. The campaign is going really, really well and the story as it has developed thus far is really cool. Unfortunately, I have this block when writing stories down that are already done. One of my favourite things about writing is exploration: I want to start a story and see where it goes, finding out what the characters will do as they encounter new and different situations. Writing something where I already know everything is boring.

Logically, I know that I have to write these things and practice them to become a better writer, it’s just hard. I’d like to say that working on this wiki will help me get into it, at least in regards to fantasy fiction, but this isn’t the first D&D wiki I’ve started. The previous one was about three years ago, and after loading a tremendous amount of game rule data in, I abandoned it. The new one will be focused on setting and story rather than rules, but in some ways that makes it even harder to develop.

With buy-in from my players and their growing interest, though, I’ve got more motivation than I did before. It’s the same premise as exists behind blogging: the knowledge that there’s an audience helps keep me going.

Curious to see how it’s developing? Check out the Chronicles.

What’s your working space?

cleandesk

I decided to do some cleaning on Saturday, prompted by needing some room for my Macbook. I kicked myself halfway through the process for not taking a picture before I began, because my desk was all kinds of gross: covered in milk splatters from where I eat my cereal every morning; papers, receipts, books, trash, and dirty dishes crowding the workspace; where the Macbook is now, a large, black tower PC previously resided; the monitor was far closer to the front of the desk.

I needed room to move the Macbook down onto the keyboard tray, which meant I needed room to move the keyboard somewhere else (a giant Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000, which I HIGHLY recommend; more on ergonomics on Wednesday). I’d previously been using the laptop on the small table in our formal dining room, and the height was too high to be comfortable for my arms. And I also wanted to move my desktop (which still drives the Dell LCD monitor) down onto the floor.

My rather small desk was originally purchased to fit into my bedroom back when I lived in a townhouse with a couple mates of mine. The room was maybe half the size of my current office, and between a twin bed, this desk, and my computer chair, it was packed. Obviously, height rather than width was a priority, but now that I have room to spread out, my desk can be occupied by more personal rather than just essential items.

Up top are two pictures. On the left is my niece Lynette, who died in a car accident in 2001. She’d just had her senior pictures taken a month before she died, and I keep my favourite on my desk where I can always look up and see her smiling.

The picture on the right is of my wife April and me on our first date (which happened to be on Valentine’s Day in 2006) and serves as part of the frame for a wood carving from my friend Cody. This may be one of my favourite gifts ever, and has some good inside jokes built into it.

Stubbs was my nickname from grade school (based on my last name, Stublefield), and doing a roundhouse kick above my name is Chuck Norris in all his glory. To the left of my name is a cutout of the pope holding a staff, a reference to my nick in Counterstrike for a long time: The Pope (followed later by Gun Totin’ Pope when my doubles teammate ditched out on me; our team name had been The Fundamentalists, despite the fact that I wasn’t Christian at the time). The words on the right say, “It’s DM Magic!” For those of you who know, dmmagic is my new(est) online nick, and I’ve been slowly converting accounts to it for the last year. This is a reference to my many years of running Dungeons & Dragons for our group of friends, and it became a catch-phrase for explaining why something happened the way it did.

Below all this are my Klipsch speakers, which flank my various D&D manuals and my collector’s edition of World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King.

I refer to the D&D manuals occasionally when writing fantasy fiction, and the Ptolus book is mostly there to remind me of my hubris and what not to do (I should probably write an in-depth review of Ptolus some day…).

What’s your working space like? Do you keep it cluttered or neat? And are ergonomics a primary concern for you or just a big word you could care less about?

Week of Cody

Last January, Cody left us for Orlando, Florida so he could attend some crappy school to learn something completely worthless. This week, for one week only, he has returned.

I’ve been preparing for a couple of weeks now, buying the requisite books, planning a LAN party, making phone calls and scheduling people, etc. And I had hoped to get a set of stories together so they could go live this week, because I knew I’d be unable to write.

Then last week hit. I was able to keep up with writing, but I wasn’t able to get ahead. I couldn’t focus on Thursday night, and on Friday we went out for fondue with some people I work with, followed by a movie at church. Early on Saturday, April and I began the trip to Kansas City so we could attend my old friend Justin’s wedding, and immediately afterwards we went to an Asian Lawn Party with April’s brother, Adam. When we arrived back on Sunday, we had enough time to unload the car, eat, and sit for at least half an hour (maybe even a whole hour, I don’t recall) until I was required to put on my robe and wizard hat and do some role-playing at Dan’s. Suffice it to say that when I got home after 11 p.m. on Sunday, I elected to sleep rather than write.

So, it’s Tuesday, and still there are no new stories for this week. Last night, April and I went to see a house (more on that tomorrow), and then spent the rest of the evening looking up houses online. Tonight, I’m running a new game of Dungeons & Dragons (4th edition) in honour of Cody’s week back in Springfield. I’ll be hanging with Brenda tomorrow evening, and then throwing a LAN party for Cody on Thursday. I might write on Friday, but I might also spontaneously combust. Only time will tell.

Until then…

I spent the evening playing around and getting nothing much accomplished, though I have about 20-25 hours worth of writing to get done in the next week and a half just for the current project I’m working on, let alone the other billion or so I have the desire to be doing. And tonight, just as I was going to sit down and write a blog entry that has been on my mind for a few days, April called, which takes first priority.

As you may or may not know, she is currently in New Orleans on a mission trip with our college group, and things have been somewhat lonely here. Also, I often get busy and forget paltry things like food when she’s not here to set plates of edibles in front of me, so my entire schedule is off. Suffice it to say that, without her here to bounce ideas off of and talk to, I feel like a large part of me is missing, making accomplishing anything a bit more taxing.

Ironically, she’s often a distraction when she is here. I think I’m doomed to a life of procrastination.

April will be home on Friday (which I managed to get off work o/  ), and I would not be surprised if we go to the new library Saturday evening to hang out and read/write. I’m really excited about my next piece, and I need to spend a lot of time thinking and developing the two that will follow it.

Once I get these seven introductory, campaign setting stories done, I can start expanding on each one in turn and writing more about the cultures and the world. It frustrates me how incomplete and inadequate my current work is, but I only have so much time. In a way, though, my frustration is greatly encouraging to me. It means that my primary desire is to be doing the work, and to see it done well. My feelings reaffirm the ideal that I want to write, rather than to have written, and it makes me feel good to have finally reached that stage after so many years of writing with the goal of having (past tense) created something decent; I just wanted to be able to look back and say “I did that.” Now, I want to develop and dream and craft. What remains is to find the time and right combination of circumstances and environment that is most conducive to my actually being productive…

Speaking of combinations, something I discovered tonight: Grey Goose + Double Stuf Oreos. Just trust me on this one and try it. Not mixed together, mind you… but drink it over ice and be eating Oreos at the same time. You’ll thank me.

I don’t think I can do it

I’ve been DMing (being the dungeon master for a game of Dungeons & Dragons) for around 7 years solid now, and I’ve been playing D&D for closer to 10 years. With Cody having moved to Florida, that puts our gaming group at 2 players and 1 DM, which just isn’t feasible for a good game, so I pretty much called it and decided not to run a game anymore. But I don’t know that I can do it. As I start to get back to work on my own creative projects, I think about how great they would be as a campaign setting. How I could get back to D&D the way it was when we  first started, before I bought the fancy campaign settings and we got the expansion books, back before everything got so complicated. Back to having one set of dice, some graph paper, a notebook, and our imaginations. No fancy pre-printed maps or campaign settings, no certificates and fake licenses, just straight-up, old school D&D.

It’d be a few months before I can be ready to start a new game with a new world, but I’m thinking about it. Maybe try and find some new/additional people to join in, run it either at Metagames or our apartment (which is feeling increasingly cramped), and just get back to basics. I just wish I knew people to invite (that I really liked). I don’t want to put an ad out and get some random person who’s a jerk, but the few people I know who game either already have a group or I don’t actually want to game with them. That or they’re too busy as it is.

We’ll see what happens, but I’m excited about the thoughts I’m developing regarding the world I’m building. It’s classic, but different, with some intriguing twists. I really need to get some more work done on it tonight or tomorrow night if things aren’t too busy, but I also need to start reading the next book for my mythology class, and my second block class starts next week. And there’s still work all day and FnC 3-4 nights a week. In the little off-time I have, it’s hard to force myself to sit down and do more work, however enjoyable it may be… I really look forward to this summer and dropping some of my current workload so I can work on other stuff that I’ve been wanting to do for years.