Tag Archives: stories

Keith Baker’s Stories and Dice

A few years ago, I stumbled on Keith Baker’s Stories and Dice blog post.  Keith got a gumball machine from his wife which he would like to fill with dice.  But rather than just buy a bunch of dice, he was asking people to send him dice along with a story.  The story doesn’t have to be about the die.  I sent him one, but it never did end up posted on his blog.  I’ve actually had this post pretty much ready to go since 2014. Rather than just delete it, I decided I’d finally just post it here.

There were many stories I could have shared with Keith.  But I knew exactly which story I would tell him: the very first time my brother and I roleplayed.  After talking it over with my brother a couple of times, rehashing the details (this happened a very long time ago), here’s the story I sent to Keith:

Years ago, my brother, Alex, used to take piano lessons at my friend Dennis’s house.  One day a week the two of us would get a ride there after school.  I would hang out with Dennis for the full two hours; Alex would come and hang out once his piano lesson was done.

One day, Dennis was flipping through the Palladium Fantasy Role Playing Game (PFRPG).  He had recently enjoyed playing it with some friends, and so talked Alex and I into giving it a try.

Now, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the PFRPG, but it is a rather complex system, especially for people who are brand new to role-playing.  It took Alex and I weeks to build our characters (remember, we only had two hours every week), but finally we were done and Dennis was ready to GM for the first time.  Our very first quest was to deliver a package somewhere.  I don’t remember most of the quest’s details except that we were told we couldn’t open the package or it would explode.  Alex wanted to try anyway, but Dennis wouldn’t let him.  And so our characters set off to deliver the package to a nearby town.  After travelling down the road for awhile, it was time for a random encounter.  Dennis’s choice was truly random: he ended up sending some sort of ogre-like creature after us.  The ogre was far too powerful for our level one characters; predictably it killed both of us.  And thus ended our first foray into role-playing games.  It was several years later before we attempted to role-play again (with a different system!) 

D10 for Keith Baker

Unfortunately, the die I chose to give Keith has nothing to do with my story.  Several years after this disaster with the PFRPG, a different friend invited me to play the Middle Earth Role Playing Game (MERP).  I had a lot of fun, and tried to find the book for myself.  I went into a local store and the guy working suggested I give Vampire: the Masquerade a try, saying it was similar to MERP. He didn’t actually have the Masquerade, but did have a copy of Vampire: the Dark Ages instead.  So I bought that.  While Vampire is NOTHING like MERP, it was still a lot of fun; Vampire: the Dark Ages ended up the game that actually got me and my brother roleplaying.  

Vampire and the other White Wolf games use D10’s.  I ended up buying a lot of D10’s, and so it was one of those that I chose to send to Keith for Stories and Dice.

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#WriteTuesday: Scaling Back a Little Bit

Over the weekend, I finally sat down and read the February issue of bUneke Magazine.  I try to read it every month so I know what’s going on (and also to find articles to highlight on the Sustainably North Twitter, @SustaintheNorth).  In the February issue, Anna East writes about getting things done.  You can find her article here:

Anna East’s article hit me pretty hard because I know I am very, very guilty of not finishing projects I am working on.  Take right now: I’m part way through the story I’m writing for the Make Your Way Anthology, I wanted to start another short story about aliens in the wild west, I have three RPGs that I’m building on RPG Maker (Tears of the King, Memories, and Soccrpg).  And I have various other short stories I have started and failed to finish for one reason or another.

I think Anna East’s problem is my problem, too: I want my work to be perfect.  So when a project is failing to live up to my impossibly high standards, I stop working on it.  I also have a million ideas and there’s never enough time to get them all written, so that doesn’t help either.

And I’m busy.  I know that this is a problem that everyone has: there just never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done.  But specific to me, I started my other blog, Sustainably North.  I started volunteering my time with bUneke Magazine, writing a monthly column.  I’m trying to get a bunch of reading done (I did make a goal to read 25 books this year, plus I just really like reading).  And then I do a fair amount of writing for my day job too (even more right now because I’m helping out on a few bigger projects that are coming up).  All of this has been making me feel fractured and really time-pinched.  Plus after a full day at work, I find myself coming home and just not wanting to work on anything else because I’m done for the day – I’ve got nothing left.

And since I have no intention of stopping Sustainably North, volunteering, reading, or working on those projects at my day job, I am going to dial back on projects at home.  As much as I would really, really like to work on a story about aliens in the wild west, I honestly do not have the time for it right now (especially since it got stuck in worldbuilding).  Plus the plot just isn’t worked out right now anyway, while the story for the Make Your Way anthology is plotted and just needs to be written.  So I’m going to stop working on the wild west story, and just focus on getting the Make Your Way story written.  And at this point I need to make sure I don’t bog myself down with feeling that it isn’t good enough; this is a first draft right now, so of course it won’t be perfect!  It has to be written before I can worry about polishing it.

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Apocalypse Madness

Apocalypse Madness.  I’ve written a few blog posts about it, and about writing stuff for it.  But I thought I would give an actual run-down on what it is and how exactly it works.

I started Apocalypse Madness in August 2008.  At the time I had come across the Icatian Crier Magic card, which had the following as its flavour text: “A thousand years removed from her home, her news of war had lost its context, but not its relevance.”  I remember being blown away by that quote, thinking it had so much story potential.  So I talked to a couple of friends and got them to agree to write stories inspired by that quote.  The idea was that every month, someone would post a new quote, then everyone who contributes to the blog would have to write a story inspired by it.   I didn’t want to be the only one choosing the quotes because I didn’t think that was fair; if it were always me it would probably be the same kinds of quotes that caught my attention. Taking turns posting quotes would make it a more interesting experience for both writers and readers.

During its heyday, Apocalypse Madness had stories of all kinds of lengths, from super short poetry to multi-post epics.  For some reason that I’ve never figured out, the stories tended to have a dark tone.  This was true even when we were writing about the most lighthearted quote we could find.  Check out “Problems,” “A Love Story for All Time,” and the always popular “Explosion” if you want to see what sorts of things everyone was writing.

The blog had a core of about five writer who contributed regularly until 2011, when the blog petered out.  It was in March that the beginning of the end happened: there were five quotes in a row with no stories written for them.  Finally, in August of 2011, I stopped asking people to come up with quotes.  And so Apocalypse Madness died.

But then at the end of 2014, a funny thing happened.  My brother was set to run a workshop for the Northern Ontario Writers Workshop (NOWW).  And in his bio for that workshop, they listed him as still contributing to Apocalypse Madness.  I spoke with him about it (after making sure he hadn’t actually been writing stuff on Apocalypse Madness for years without me knowing about it), and he didn’t really care that it said that.  But I made the decision at that time to revive the blog.  For one thing, there would at least be fresh stories and content if anyone curious came looking.  And for another thing, Apocalypse Madness was a great excuse to keep me on a writing schedule (this was decided before #WriteFriday came into being, by the way).  Sure, it’s not making me write something daily.  But having a story a month is a great place to start.  And really, there’s no excuse for failing to write some form of a story on this schedule: even if your daily life is too busy, surely you can fit in at least one microfiction a month?

But of course, Apocalypse Madness isn’t really the same without the community.  In its heyday, the authors didn’t just write stories – they also commented on other people’s stories.  When I revived the blog, I told the original core authors about it.  A few of them contributed stories and quotes for the first few months.  But now, just five months in, it’s only me.  But I’m not giving up.  I made writing a story a month on Apocalypse Madness one of my goals for the year (which I am happy to say I am keeping up with).

If you would like to join, leave a comment on this post, or shoot me an email at inkscribbler (at) gmail (dot) com.  This month is actually a great time to start – I made the decision to have no quote for the month of June.  Instead you can write a story inspired by any of the previous quotes!  This is going to happen in December as well.

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