REVIEW: Savage Encounters: Villains & Lairs

Available: DM’s Guild

Villains & Lairs is the perfect product to review first for the blog since I absolutely love villains and everything to do with villains. Just the other day I was texting my wife about villain quotes.

Hero quotes get all the fame: “Hasta la vista, baby.” “For Aslan!” “There must be some mistake. I’m not a–I’m Harry. Just Harry.” “Yipee ki-yay, mother f**ker!”

But some villains have excellent quotes as well. Why aren’t these more famous? “Even when you have nothing to lose, you still can’t do it. You’re weak. And I’ve outgrown you.” “If God were a villain, he’d be me.” “I never wanted the throne. I only wanted to be your equal!” And my favorite: “Let the mayhem begin.”

Bet you can name the owner of every hero quote. Can you name any owners of the villain quotes?

But I digress. The point of this post is to review an RPG supplement. However, I wanted to establish my love of villainy and all things villain. After all, how many people do you  know who can name all of the James Bond movie villains from memory? There is no one better qualified to give an opinion on this product. Continue reading “REVIEW: Savage Encounters: Villains & Lairs”

Mark Shea Has It Right

For someone who disagrees with much doctrine and practice within the Catholic Church, I’m starting to find some common ground with its apologists. Dave Armstrong’s recent critique of the atheist interpretation of Scripture (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5), for example. I’ve found another one that I agree with over at Mark Shea’s blog.

Steve Wohlberg, one of the leading proponents of the eschatological interpretation known as historicism, has written a book called The Trouble with Twilight, and launched a website to promote the material. Mark Shea talks about how both Stephanie Meyer and J.K. Rowling received ideas for their respective fiction from “visions.” Then the novels basically wrote themselves. Wohlberg continues:

When those mesmerizing tales first burst into the brains of these two women, neither was an established writer. Both were novices. They weren’t rich either. Now they are millionaires many times over. Their experiences are similar, with common threads. Both of their novels are permeated with occultism. Based on this, it’s appropriate to wonder, is there a supernatural source behind these revelations? If so, what is it?

I looked through a lot of online material about Steve Wohlberg. I can find no evidence that he’s ever wrote fiction. I have. I’ve written fiction for classwork in high school (which always received high marks). Out of high school I wrote two unpublished stories and started (but never finished) two others centering on a high school freshman who becomes a vigilante hero in the tradition of Batman. I tried my hand (but never finished) fan fiction, an untitled crossover between the TV shows Quantum Leap and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Maybe one day I’ll finish that story. Prior to my conversion to Christianity, I wrote three erotic stories under two different pseudonyms (I’m not linking to them, but you can find them if you know what to search on; I won’t deny authorship if you come up with the right stories).

My point is that I have written, and can write, fiction. I’m familiar with the process. Wohlberg obviously is not.

When writing fiction, if the characters are well-defined, the story shapes itself. It’s like I become a reporter, merely relaying the actions of my characters to the audience through words on a page. For all the fiction I’ve written (yes, even the erotic fiction), the action took place almost before my eyes, and I just wrote what I saw. Characters have a way of taking on a life of their very own, whether they are occultic or normal, whether they are integral to the story or just a side character that appears in a single scene.

For this reason, most of the fiction workshops found in Writer’s Digest magazine focus on developing compelling characters. Once the characters have been developed, the rest usually takes care of itself.