Poetical descriptions for “not blogging” aside…

I feel as though I have been especially quiet on this space recently. Even with the reposting of Vendetta, I feel like I haven’t been writing much — which is an entirely fair feeling, as for the past seven days I was merely reposting what I had written a week prior. It was a nice break, honestly, but it was also draining in its own unique way. I wasn’t creating in any particularly special way (though I was sure to make some minor tweaks here and there to the document as I published its individual parts) and I think that I was missing that element of design spark throughout the whole affair. I’m going to try fixing that in the near future, and get myself back into the swing of publishing my ideas to this writing space. The creation… the making up ideas to help illustrate higher concepts, that is why I started this in the first place. I’m not in this (or attempting to be “in this”) to show off my totally cool system for swords & sorcery fantasy or whatever else you can find on the internet a dozen times over. I keep telling myself that I’m trying to write something I would love to play, and as I sit here and tinker late at night/early in the morning with mechanical ideas and storytelling caveats I find myself frequently playing a certain soundtrack.

Part of It All
I stage-manage a lot. I’d like stage-managing to be a job I get to do a lot of — a job with a legitimate paycheck, work schedule, and colleagues in the field; the whole nine yards. This past year, I was lucky enough to stage manage the Atlanta premiere of [title of show] (you can see our poster when the page loads; top immediately right of the site’s page listings). It’s a show about two guys writing a musical about two guys writing a musical about two guys writing a musical — and it’s hilarious, and it’s uplifting in so many different ways as far as I’m concerned. This is the soundtrack that I listen to as I labor over what I could possibly be bringing to the world of gaming, wondering if I should just give up now and get myself a “more realistic” pipe dream; specifically, it’s the song “Nine People’s Favorite Thing” that get’s put on repeat… and when it’s not that song, it’s “Die Vampire, Die!” instead. And I’m either telling myself that I should be writing something that I would love, or that I shouldn’t be letting my own self-doubt cripple everything I want to be.

Some solid after-school special style advice there, you know.

My showing of [tos] was immensely lucky in that the author himself, Hunter Bell, was not only in-town at the time — but he was in the audience and stayed afterwards to talk to us about the show. He talked about his experiences with it, and what he saw in our performance; we talked about our experiences with it, and got feedback and anecdotes that tied everything together. It was really great hearing the author himself praise what we had set out to do. My highlight of this story comes when I asked him how the show looked overall… lighting transitions, sound cues, black-outs, lights-up, and all of that. I was asking how the entire package looked above and beyond the sum of its parts, how it looked as I was calling it from up in the light booth. He said it looked great, and I think the man apologized for the second act being a bitch to call lights for.

That’s just been on my mind as I write write write and listen to these songs to help motivate me; that the creator would say something like that about what is, honestly, a great show. It makes sense if you remember that Hunter Bell and Jeff Bowen wrote the original draft for three weeks and then just sent it off and hoped for the best. I think that’s what I’ve been trying to say so far. I need a bit of that cut-loose right there. Everything is a work-in-progress, but I should at least have something to point at and say “This is what I’ve accomplished,” and it will be mine regardless of what people think.

Having said all that and honestly meaning all of it: I have not yet staked the Vampire of Despair in my life, and I do not have a playable module of Children Who Play With Monsters completed. I could blame it easily on the fact that, instead, I stayed up for two days writing out the 7000 word document that is now Vendetta — and while this would be true and mildly impressive, it still represents a missed deadline that I set for myself. I’ll excuse things getting off track because of the seven-day posting spread, though, even if it also served to hamper any writing for CWPWM that I was hoping to accomplish. There was no helping that turn of events, overall. I’ll just do better in the future is what it boils down to.

Updates on that front though: CWPWM remains in a state where I can put together a module easily enough if I just sit down and actually commit to getting work done; package the character creation rules in with the conflict rules, include the rulings behind Flashbacks and the Fable, and throw in some examples with a prototype character sheet — and that would about cover the earliest, most simplistic testing to be done about whether or not it really plays like anything at all or if I need to rework that front. I’ll put this together some time soon. However, I’ve been distracted by other projects…

Favorite Things
The obvious one is Vendetta. I actually put together an idea for a character sheet the other day, and a friend of mine has now begun to help me test the system. I figure I’ll include updates on how this testing is going from time to time, including insights on how to improve the game, new mechanical ideas, and any set-backs, realizations, moments of genius that occur. Honestly, I don’t know what to expect, but I am anticipating the worst as my ideas might fall apart — so I figure I’ll be pleasantly surprised overall! It may be about time to put together a Page just for Vendetta at this point. If my work on it keeps up at this rate, it might wind up being my first product! But seriously, I’ve started considering putting together individual pages on this blog for my projects as they approach different levels of completion. I think I will set the criteria at:

You can have your own unique page when you’re completed; you can share a project page when you have a test module.

Beyond Vendetta, work began earlier this week on a new idea that I am very excited to explore. And once again (I’m detecting a theme in how I am inspired to design! And it’s a theme I have no problem with) it takes its cues from movies and television. This project, which for now I’m simply going to refer to as [leon], is going to be my attempt to capture the intriguing elements of humanization in stories told heavily from the perspective of the mundane people whose lives are invaded by men or women trained to kill on command. Theoretically, in this game, the players would take on the role of these everyday people who have it in their hearts to risk their lives and their livelihoods as they get wrapped up in dramas they could not conceive, desperate to save the soul of someone else’s monster.

Not A Lot To Talk About…
Yeah, I don’t have much to say today. Nothing of a lot of interest anyway! Just some mission statements, really. Work More On CWPWM. Test More Of Vendetta. Outline Some Plans For [leon]. I have a lot of notebooks in front of me right now for all of this. One is currently host to an unrelated game’s notes from a year ago; one is the current home for random phrases and ideas that I don’t want to lose, and my random scribbles linking them together with other orphaned concepts; a stack of note cards sits nearby so I can — at a moment’s notice — throw an entire concept down on a card and tuck it safely away somewhere for me to explore at a later date; and a black and red legal notebook is the place in which I am putting all of my ideas that have made it through the fires. The ideas that have some sort of shape to them, some sort of design in mind, an actual form and purpose… these guys go into the black and red notebook in excruciating detail. I’ve made myself a promise, as I was writing my information in the front cover of this book.

When I publish my first game, I will let myself write a company name on the inside cover. I’m excited to do that. It’ll be a fun objective and reward.

As always, please leave any comments, questions, or thoughts in the comment section below. What do you do when you have to grapple with excruciating self-doubt? How do you overcome your fears associated with the projects you’re working on? What promises have you made yourself to reward your continued hard work and efforts? Feel free to talk about them below!

I can, of course, be reached at alfred_rudzki[at]yahoo[dot]com for any further questions or comments. Thanks for reading!