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The Thunder Tyrant

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  1. Fun fact: back in the early-mid 00s, Mage Knight was a Collectible Miniatures Game -- figures were plastic, came pre-painted, and were on "clix" dials that showed their stats and you turned them as they took damage. It was the basis for Wizkids, a tabletop company made by the guys who made Shadowrun originally, and allowed them to go on to make Mechwarrior and Heroclix miniature games. Then they tried to phase out like six sets of old figures in exchange for an entirely new ruleset and basically murdered their own game. Very fun while it lasted, though, and I think you can still buy cases/crates of the old figures. Favorite boardgame: Go, probably, even though I play so intermittently I often forget the rules. Cards: Munchkin or MtG. TTRPG: WoD/VtM by lore, Shadowrun by play, and probably Into Electric Bastionland for approach/rules.
  2. I don't experiment a great deal, as a general rule, for roleplay. I tend to value the "social" and "game" aspect of roleplay versus the writing element, so I keep the manipulation of prose narrow in comparison to when I write fiction for publication. Within those parameters I tend to keep four things in mind: - Character. This goes without saying, I'm sure, but it does drive the majority of stylistic motifs in my prose. The major factors are dialogue, internal monologue (present or absent, in the style of dialogue or synthesized into the narrative), and considerations of things like role, archetype, and inspiration. - Context. The setting (overarching) and milieu (immediate environment) are key here, and these tie into characterization in that how a character reacts to a setting will color the writing. My oldest character intensely dislikes cities and in that context the writing portrays cities as dirty, loud, and confining. A newer character of mine is cosmopolitan by upbringing, and so their posts might portray a cityscape as vibrant, alive, busy, and with a sense of wonder or belonging. The setting is also important, especially when dealing with established media; a Cainite in the Old World of Darkness will necessitate a different suite of tones than a 'runner in the Sixth World of Shadowrun or a Jedi during the golden age of the Old Republic. - Intent. What am I writing the post for? Am I setting the stage for a scene? Am I GMing for a group? Am I writing a combat post? - Intuition. Most of the above is internalized into my writing process and only occasionally requires conscious effort. I tend not to concern myself with length or complexity of language, as those things are often accounted for in by one of the aforementioned considerations. I write the post that feels most natural; whether that post is short or long, simple or intricate, is dependent on where my internal compass points me at that given moment. I have very few reading prejudices when it comes to roleplaying. The writing ability of roleplayers is very variable, and I recognize that not everyone possesses the same concern with prose or the same interest in pursuing the craft of writing. I tend to accept whatever someone can offer, provided they made an effort. I appreciate good pacing and the ability to manipulate cadence and rhythm, but if a roleplayer is less than adroit at doing so, I don't hold it against them. My main concern is with playing the game, so to speak: if you can knock the ball out of the park with every swing that's great, but as long as you know how to hit the ball consistently, I'll be fine with your efforts. I have an endless surfeit of novels to read if I want great prose; for roleplaying, I settle for the ability to pass the baton back and forth with other people in a bit of shared improvisation. The same is true for my writing. I aim to write well and reserve experimentation or stylistic concerns for my professional work.
  3. I haven't seen The Wire, but I've only heard good things about it. I'll have to sit down and watch it at some point. I also watched FMA: Brotherhood and forgot how well constructed it was. And just how little anime I've really watched over the years.
  4. It was a TTRPG. Ty Frank created it and then brought it up to Daniel Abraham and they started collaborating. I don't know Ty's publishing history other than that he was GRRM's assistant prior to The Expanse, but Daniel Abraham had put out several novels before working on The Expanse. I finally watched Twin Peaks earlier this year. I still need to finish the Return/3rd season, but the first and second season are some of the best television ever written.
  5. Star Wars isn't a children's movie series. Never has been. The fact that it's suitable to be watched by children does not, per force, make it for children. The film series has three axes upon which it revolves: family (generational trauma + redemption), the corruptive influence of power (Anakin's downfall, the Republic's downfall, the Empire's downfall, the Sith Rule of Two), and the conflict between freedom and oppression (every movie in the sequence). In the due course of six films (not including the latter three), we see: the political engineering of an empire by a corrupt elected official, the purposeful genocide of a tribe of people by the protagonist, the off-screen murder of children by the protagonist, and the intentional destruction of an entire planet's alleged defenseless population in the pursuit of political hegemony. We see the explicit dismemberment of the same child-killing protagonist, who then proceeds to catch fire, at which point we spend several seconds watching him burn while he screams in agony and hatred at his mentor. Also, murder. Numerous murders, ranging from Uncle Owen and Aunt Bea to clone troopers explicitly betraying and gunning down Jedi in cold blood. None of this is particularly child friendly. Of the three themes, only one is really explored in a way that is understandable by children. Most children either won't notice or won't especially care, for instance, about Palpatine's machinations over the course of three films to put himself into power. They won't care about the juxtaposition of the Empire, the Rebellion, the CIS, and the Republic -- except that it provides an easy means of identifying the bad guys. They won't really contemplate, to the same degree that an adult might, what it means when the Empire destroys Alderaan. George Lucas never envisioned Star Wars as a saga of children's films and that's not what Star Wars is. At it's heart, Star Wars is about family and politics. The former is suitable for people of all ages. The latter isn't. If Star Wars has themes and visuals that aren't fit for children, it's because they weren't made for children. You're welcome to rewatch the films to see for yourself or to read the scripts directly; Lucas's earliest scripts and world-building have been readily available for years. Feel free to avail yourself of the material. I did years ago. As much as people might gainsay them, the prequel trilogy is probably the closest Lucas got to his vision of Star Wars because he made those films with absolute creative control. It's built off of his earlier drafts of the saga. It's also rife with political intrigue, child murder, and dismemberment. The most personal story of the prequel trilogy, against the backdrop of war and the rise of an authoritarian government, isn't a story of redemption. It's the story of one man's descent into darkness as Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader. That's not the fare of children's films. The protagonists of children's films don't choke their wives nearly to death in a fit of rage. They don't get viscerally dismembered. They don't confess to murdering children in one film, only to do so again in another. Is Star Wars high cinema? No. It's also not a children's film series, though. It deals with some fairly serious topics and it does so in ways that, while not risque, are nevertheless explicit and not at all aimed at young viewers. EDIT :: As a personal anecdote, I saw Episodes I, II, and III in theatres when I was younger. I can remember, especially, watching Episode III in the theatre when I was fifteen. The scene with Anakin and the younglings and then the scene where Obi-Wan dismembers him were both definite "hold on, what the fuck" moments for me because I didn't expect the movie to go to such a dark place. Looking back at it now, you can definitely see I-III as not ony being darker than IV-VI, but also having their own gradient as the prequels grow steadily darker and more explicit with Anakin's downfall. Honestly, anything in VII-IX is tame compared to Anakin's fall to the dark side.
  6. The 1986 Transformers film also has one of the best lines from Optimus Prime, and I've used some variation of it before: "You, who are without mercy, now plead for it? I thought you were made of sterner stuff." Also, this entire scene. I've used my three favorite pieces from it in roleplay before and I'd gladly do it again. "There are no pacts between lions and men." "You won't have eyes tonight, you wan't have ears or a tongue -- you will wander the underworld blind, deaf, and dumb, and all the dead will know: this is Hector, fool who thought he killed Achilles." And during the actual fight scene, while not a quote, is practically speaking through actions and expressions: when Hector actually lands a blow and scratches Achilles's armor, he looks down at the gouge and the expression on Pitt's face is somewhere between contempt and admiration. The entire conversation they have is drawn from the Illiad, too, from this specific passage (using the Fagles translation): Achilles glared at him and answered, "Fool, prate not to me about covenants. There can be no covenants between men and lions, wolves and lambs can never be of one mind, but hate each other out and out an through. Therefore there can be no understanding between you and me, nor may there be any covenants between us, till one or other shall fall”
  7. Ask to see a pain management specialist. You probably have nerve compression from slipped/bulging discs. A pain management specialist can inject nerve blocks that will provide a variable amount of relief -- between 1 and 5 years, which is a huge breadth of potential help, but that's the issue with spinal injuries. Sometimes it takes more than one round of injections and, depending on the efficacy, you might have to do them every few years. I just had eight injections, four on each side of my lumbar spine, because of two herniated discs. Took about two, maybe three weeks to really set in, but I'm mostly pain free now, and the pain I do feel is more "arthritic" than "nerve being compressed/agitated." It beats the shit out of spine surgery, which is always a gamble even with a fantastic ortho.
  8. Buy an Instant Pot. All meals become easy meals.
  9. Couple of pictures from this year's Superstars Writing Seminar. First is with Marie, the coordinator of the conference, the second is with (mostly) assorted staff and authors. The two goateed older men are Kevin J. Anderson and Johnathon Mayberry, respectively. Also Stone on the left, I guess.
  10. The Last Dragon, Bruce Leeroy.* *not an actual dragon, but the only one that comes to mind.
  11. Not entirely apropos of nothing, I'm peeking my head back into Valucre for a short time to offer up this AMA for folks who are interested in writing or publishing -- whether you've considered pursuing the idea seriously or just find yourself curious about the inner workings. @supernal and I have talked about the topic on occasion, but with the publication of my most recent credit in this anthology I wanted to give people the opportunity to ask questions about writing as a profession and the attendant ups, downs, and quandaries of publishing. Which is an awkward segue into the question: why ask me when you can probably find answers from writers who are household names on Youtube, or Reddit? The answer is because I'm not one of those famous authors. I'm published as a professional (per SFWA standards) and I've won an award (Writers of the Future), but I'm still in the nascent stages of my career. The period that a lot of authors reminisce about is still part of my immediate frame of reference. Besides that, having come into the field much more recently, I'm much more aware of the ongoing changes in the publishing industry regarding things like independent/self-publishing versus traditional. Authors who have been established for ten or fifteen years predate the self-publishing explosion that came with Amazon's Kindle store and many of them have little interest in the most recent social media platforms (Twitch, Youtube, the gram). I'm also one of the only authors I know to transition from freeform roleplay to professional publication, so I know very well the strengths and weaknesses that freeform roleplay gives to a writer. In as short a biography as possible: I started roleplaying in 2006 and stopped in 2012, returned in 2015 and went on break again in 2017. I started writing with the goal of making it my career in 2014 after earning a history degree in 2013. I won Writers of the Future in 2017 and made my second pro-rate sale in 2019. I've written five novels (and going on six), so give or take one a year. I've written maybe two dozen short stories, which explains why I only have two credits with that medium: award or no, I don't write much short fiction. I've shared tables of contents with Brandon Sanderson*, Jim Butcher, Larry Niven, Tim Powers, Kevin J. Anderson, and others; I've also had the chance to talk directly with a lot of these authors (and more besides) about their own processes and approaches. I'm going to try and make regular checks on the site from now until Sunday and answer any/all questions I can. I might try to stretch my time a bit longer than that, but right now I'm somewhere between 3/5ths and 2/3rds into the rough draft of a novel, so after that I'll have to crawl back into the word-mines and get to work again. I'll try to answer every question; my only request is that you don't ask for critiques. At some point in the future I might offer to do critiques or beta-reads, but I don't have the time to do so now and it wouldn't be fair to anyone who asked. This AMA is "1.0" because I hope to have more iterations -- 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, and so on -- as I have more of my work published and claw and climb my way into something resembling a writing career. With a little luck, each successive AMA can chart the path I've taken into and through the industry for the community's edification. Ideally, it'll end with X.0, wherein I retire as a strange and reclusive hermit. (*Just because I have the image on hand: here's a picture of Brandon Sanderson getting my autograph at the Writers of the Future award ceremony. I'm inordinately proud of having that picture, even if I had to let someone dress my hair and knot a tie around my neck for it.)
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