Author’s Toolbag: Gaming Part One

Sometimes your characters are gamers too...
Sometimes your characters are gamers too…

As an author, particularly a Science Fiction and Fantasy Author, there’s not a lot of ways to draw directly from real-world experience to determine what is “real” in my writing.

There are a number of methods to deal with that, to fill out a world, to get a feel for how things work.  World-building, of course, is a massive part and I’ve written a series of blog posts on that which you can read elsewhere (History/Society, Magic and Science, Geography and Climate).  Another great method is to base things off of real-world events and experience (since history oft repeats itself, such restructured events and outcomes will feel ‘real’).

What I’m going to talk about today, however, is gaming.  Now, even as I say that I can mentally picture a number of people cringing.  The potential critics thoughts range from someone who pictures a group of LARPers out beating each other with foam weapons to the guy with the full scale replica of the battle of Gettysburg to the computer nerd who has set up a simulation of the Romulans fighting the Borg (Romulans lose, sorry).

The truth is, though, that gaming at a variety of different levels is what you do anyway as you work through your plot and story. You think about what you want to happen and how you want it to happen and then what needs to happen for that to work out in the end.  What I propose is to formalize that a bit to give you a more realistic idea of outcomes.

There’s a variety of different types of gaming that you can apply, all aimed at different goals.  These goals can range from helping you to more fully develop your world to figuring out what it would take to win a desperate battle to finding out how difficult a puzzle or scenario would be for your characters to figure out.

That said, there’s a variety of games for you to apply and happily, most of them are fun too (see Science Fiction and Fantasy Gaming Overview for a breakdown of games).  Roleplaying games provide a lot of positives for a writer.  First off, being the DM or GM of a game gives you a lot of experience in coming up with ideas and storylines on the fly.  Second, it forces you to really think about the worlds your players are exploring.  Tabletop wargaming, whether on the skirmish level or all the way out to massive armies, can help you to visualize where characters are and just how stacked the odds are against them.

That’s all for now.  Next week I’ll go into the process of applying gaming to your world-building, writing, and plotting.  (Part Two here)

Eoriel Saga Character Biographies

The latest installment of character biographies is now available, this time for the Eoriel Saga.  These biographies are up to date as far as the first book, Echo of the High Kings and include biographies for most of the main cast of characters with a small number of characters that I’ll add as I get time.

Depending on how much people like these, I may expand this to include other characters or I might just post the appendices for the later books with appropriate spoiler warnings.

I have been able to add a few details on characters which hasn’t been explicitly stated in the books.  As a bit of fair warning, these biographies are based upon “common knowledge” so they may not entirely resemble the truth… or they might well be entirely fictitious!

Thanks for reading!

CoSine 2016 in Review

CoSine Panel on How to Intelligently Torture Your Characters
CoSine Panel on How to Intelligently Torture Your Characters

CoSine 2016 is now come and gone.  As with last year, I really enjoyed this convention and I fully plan to return next year, schedule permitting.

 

Unfortunately for me, I didn’t get much time at this year’s CoSine, since I had to work all day Saturday and Sunday.  I did get to participate in a couple panels on Friday and the author signing on Saturday.  The Guest of Honor this year was the most excellent Jim Butcher, author of the Dresden Files.  If you haven’t been reading his books already, you really, really should.

My first panel was on Doing Horrible Things To Your Characters (Intelligently).  It was a fun panel and I got the chance to be on it with Sarah Hoyt, Jim Butcher, and Connie Willis, with Marie Desjardin as the Moderator.  It was a fun panel, with references to Joss Whedon, Twilight, George RR Martin… and that was just the opening question.  Without a doubt, my favorite panel thus far this year and setting a high bar for future panels.  Marie was a great moderator and all the panelists had some great things to say.

The signing on Saturday was great, although I wish I’d been able to attend more than just that.  Still, it was good to talk with some of my readers in person (and hopefully to convert a few new readers as well).

Speaking of which, the opening release of The Freeport Mutineers went great!  It peaked out around #6 on SF and Fantasy Short Reads on Amazon and I’m hoping that it reached a lot of new readers.  If you missed it while it was free, don’t worry, I’ll put it up for free again in March during Starfest in Denver.

All in all, CoSine was a great convention and I’ll definitely be returning next year (hopefully with more time at the convention!).

 

The Freeport Mutineers Available Now!

The Freeport Mutineers, by Kal Spriggs
The Freeport Mutineers, by Kal Spriggs

The Freeport Mutineers, a short story in the universe of the Eoriel Saga, is available now from Amazon.  The best part is, like any good story about pirates, it’s absolutely free! (well, for today and tomorrow)

Troubled by the rumors spread throughout the Southern Fleet, the young officer turned to the Marines and Sailors under his command… yet he and they were betrayed, arrested, and convicted of mutiny, all under the orders of the ambitious Lord Admiral Hennings.
 
Faced with the prospect of not only his own death, but that of the men under his command, Wachter must somehow find a way to do the right thing.  Yet there is little hope with he and his men jailed, weaponless, and condemned, while the town of Freeport lies under martial law and the threat of dark sorcery.
 
Only one course lays open to him, to break his oaths and to swear allegiance to the cause of another, to become exactly what his enemies have accused him of being: a mutineer.

Free Short Story: Look to the Stars

Look to the Stars, a short story by Kal Spriggs
Look to the Stars, a short story by Kal Spriggs

My short story, Look to the Stars, will be available for free January 22 & 23 on Amazon since I’ll be at CoSine this weekend.  You can get it here.

Mason McGann is a smuggler, a liar, and a cheat. With his ship impounded by customs, he figures he has no choice left but to auction off information about the lost Dreyfus Fleet. But things are never what they seem when you hold information that can change the course of history.

Look to the Stars is a short story in the Shadow Space Universe

The Freeport Mutineers Cover and Blurb

The Freeport Mutineers, by Kal Spriggs
The Freeport Mutineers, by Kal Spriggs

I now have the draft cover for my soon-to-be-released short story: The Freeport Mutineers.  This is an epic fantasy story set in the Eoriel Saga universe.  The basic premise is simple, a young man, faced with true evil, must decide what to do.

Troubled by the rumors spread throughout the Southern Fleet, the young officer turned to the Marines and Sailors under his command… yet he and they were betrayed, arrested, and convicted of mutiny, all under the orders of the ambitious Lord Admiral Hennings.
 
Faced with the prospect of not only his own death, but that of the men under his command, Wachter must somehow find a way to do the right thing.  Yet there is little hope with he and his men jailed, weaponless, and condemned, while the town of Freeport lies under martial law and the threat of dark sorcery.
 
Only one course lays open to him, to break his oaths and to swear allegiance to the cause of another, to become exactly what his enemies have accused him of being: a mutineer.
The Freeport Mutineers will be published on 23 January, 2016.

See Kal at CoSine

For those of you in Colorado, I’ll be at the CoSine convention in Colorado Springs this coming weekend (22-24 January 2016).

CoSine is a smaller convention but one I really enjoy because they have fantastic programming, great organization, and everyone there is super friendly.  The guest of honor this year is none other than Jim Butcher, author of the Dresden Files.   There will also be a host of great authors and panelists.

One of the cooler aspects of the event is they have drinks and food on Saturday night at the Author Reception and Signing.  For authors, it’s a great way to hang out in a much more relaxed situation.

I’m a bit more limited this year because I’m also having to do Army Reserve training during the weekend, so I’ll miss out on most of Saturday and all day Sunday, but I’ll attend a couple panels Friday afternoon and I’ll be there at the Author Reception on Saturday.

Here’s my schedule:

Friday:

4 PM: How to Intelligently do Horrible Things to Your Characters

5 PM: The Singularity and Social Media

Saturday

5:30 PM: Author Reception and Signing

Please come down and see me at the Con (or that other, way more famous guy, Jim Butcher).