Writing Prompt: 05/31/10

"Your phone rings. When you answer it, you make a startling discovery: the person on the other end is dead. What does he/she say and why are they calling you?"

Write for 15-30 minutes. My response will be posted 6/02/10.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Author's Comments: Unbounded Rage

I don't usually explain my writing in an author's comment-- I feel that it should stand on its own, but this one does need a little backstory.

What you're reading in "Unbounded Rage" is actually a character description. I originally wrote this in 2008 as the prelude to a Dungeons and Dragons 3ed campaign that a friend of mine was running. Davian Urthradar was my character, a member of a new class called sorcerer that may be the only thing the writers have gotten right in the DnD settings since they left behind all pretense of tabletop gaming and made the world's first role playing game with a fucking physics engine!

You'll have to pardon me. I started playing DnD when I was six years old and recovering from a broken knee. That was in 1980. I watched the game improve in 2nd edition, and expand mightily with the dozens of sourcebooks that offered new rules and even new ways to develop your characters.

Then I saw TSR get sold out to the assclowns at Wizards of the Coast, inventors of the Magic: The Gathering game. From there, the game has gone straight downhill. Worse than that, WotC has gone on to purchase every RPG they could get their hands on and convert them all to their overly complex d20 system. The original Star Wars RPG once had the simplest rolling system ever devised-- and the rest was in your imagination.

WotC has largely forgotten (if, indeed, they ever knew) that RPGs are about imagination. You don't need 400 skills for each character to roll. What you need is the imagination to play out the scenarios rather than simply rolling dice. When you add a mathematical percentage to everything, what you get is a tabletop video game. It leads to fewer arguments of the "But I critical hit that ancient wyrm red dragon! He's dead in one blow!" variety, but it also depletes the splendor of the game.

Having bolted along that tangent about as far as I want to for today, I want to return to "Unbounded Rage." Sorcerers use the same spells as regular mages in AD&D 3ed, but they create the magic spontaneously. Xykon, undead lich of the Order of the Stick webcomic (See the link to the right) is one of my favorite examples of a sorcerer.

I'm explaining this in order to tell you that sometimes the words are only part of the story. In the case of "Unbounded," the original draft scattered the words across the page, making it look more like a prose poem than a piece of general fantasy fiction. I wanted it to look almost as if you were in Davian's head, trying to make sense of his scattered, scarred memories and flashes of linkage between them.

While I love Blogger, it does have some limitations. One of them is that it took my random scattering and arranged the lines neatly instead. The result of this is that I think much of the impact of the actual piece is now gone. Instead of a glimpse into a young man's questions of memory and self, you're instead left with a rather stale freeform poem with too many ellipses, most of which are in the wrong spots.

Anyway, if this ever hits paper publication it'll be published the way God intended: free and without clothes (Like me!) or rules (Like Obama and Pelosi!). I may try to monkey with it and see if I can make it look something like it's supposed to look, but I don't want to completely bork it, so we'll see what happens.

Write on!

Christopher Rivan

Virgins Slain, Dragons Rescued.
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