When I first started to write seriously, I didn’t think that I’d ever write professionally. I didn’t know how a writer came up with ideas for short stories, novels, or screenplays. Or magazine articles. I can put the ideas together, but I can’t come up with enough ideas to sustain a long writing career.
That, I think, is the mark of the amateur. The beginning writer is daunted by the task of coming up with ideas. Won’t you eventually say everything that you need to say?
Probably not. I have 17 unfinished articles on my fast food blog, 16 on my apologetics blog, 8 right here, and 18 sitting on Google Drive unsure if I’ll try to sell them, blog them, or use them as guest posts for the Christian Apologetics Alliance blog. And that’s just nonfiction — that doesn’t include the novels, short stories, screenplays, or graphic novels I’d like to write.
So it’s safe to say I’ve conquered the problem of coming up with ideas.
The problem now is how to complete the conceived projects.
Three stories would make excellent role-playing campaigns, I think. I don’t think I’ll be able to actually run them as RPGs, though. So maybe I’ll turn them into novels.
Four Slackers Try to Win $1,000,000
Way, way back I was driving down the road and listening to the radio. Our local radio station offered $1,000,000 prize money to anyone who could offer proof that extraterrestrials had visited earth.
The contest wasn’t local, but was sponsored nationally by Clear Channel. That was clear from reading the official rules. Those rules made it extremely difficult to collect that reward money, requiring a signed executive order from the President of the United States recognizing the authenticity of your proof.
But, I digress. I thought immediately of four slackers who started looking into paranormal events, trying to find the elusive proof that wins $1,000,000.
This was fueled by the fact that I had just purchased the Dark Matter campaign setting for the Alternity Science Fiction RPG and religiously watched The X-files.
I tried running this campaign with one of my fellow Wendy’s managers (Amanda), a dear friend from high school (Caleb), and my ex-fiance. It didn’t work. My ex finally admitted to me that she hated RPGs and only played to please me. She dropped out of our weekly game.
I played only two more sessions with the others. Then we had to miss a week but swore to get in touch about the following week. I’m still waiting for that call, Amanda!
So, what to do with this campaign? Perhaps I can use the characters of Ian Opeth and Raven O’Keefe and invent two of my own. Then, I can write about their misadventures in winning that $1,000,000. I suppose that means I’d have to at least dedicate the book to Amanda and Caleb. They are, after all, responsible for half of the protagonists.
One Last Game
I owe this idea to the fact that I miss my old gaming group. I haven’t spoken to any of them in years, and I always promise myself to run one more RPG campaign before it’s too late. And that, of course, raises the question: What if I don’t?
Enter Daemon, a self-published work later picked up by a major publisher. A computer programmer dies, and his obituary triggers a dormant virus that he designed. Its purpose is to kick off Armageddon, and it sure does a great job!
Combine the two: when the GM of a college gaming dies, his group is reunited at the funeral, talking about how they always wanted to play one last game. They get the chance: their GM built a cunning and lethal real-life dungeon crawl with segments rooted in fantasy, sci-fi, and modern conspiracy/spy-fi.
Everything You Know is Wrong
I got the idea for this when I was watching one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies — either Dead Man’s Chest or At World’s End. I’m pretty sure it was At World’s End, since I have a vivid recollection of the seeds of this campaign forming in my mind as I watched Pintel and Ragetti pretend to be kraken slayers by mounting the giant carcass shortly after escaping Davy Jones’s Locker.
I scoffed at the idea of a kraken being under the control of a band of pirates — even immortal ones like Davy Jones’s crew. Krakens, after all, are undersea emperor-gods, ruling vast territories of the ocean.
That set me thinking about brooding, emo, romantic vampires. Really? C’mon. Vampires are evil, and they must kill in order to live. They aren’t interested in marrying humans, even attractive ones like Kristen Stewart.
And flesh-eating zombies? As undead automatons, they require no food. The only reason a zombie would eat human flesh is if their creator ordered them to do so. And only a really sick puppy would do that.
But the worst? Reign of Fire with its instinct-driven, cannon-fodder dragons. Are you serious? There is a reason that Dungeons & Dragons was named after dragons. They are super genius, immortal beings who would have easily destroyed all of the humans in that final battle.
What if I led a group of newbie gamers who only saw the schlock Hollywood has given us recently? They would be in for some nasty surprises. Vampires aren’t trying to date your daughters, zombies only follow orders, pirates work for the krakens, and a single dragon could slay an entire army and lay waste to a large town.
The “Everything You Know is Wrong” campaign was born.
If this becomes a novel, I’d have to port some movie fans from our real world into a D&D-like parallel universe. We could watch their evolution from Hollywood Mindless Audience to street savvy D&D player.
And of course, they’d have to violate rule #1 of dungeon crawling to disastrous consequences early in the novel: They’d split the party. Oh, the humanity.