So I’m working on a pen and paper rpg for a group of friends to play. Its set in the video game Fallout universe, a post-apocalyptic futuristic wasteland. Think Mad Max, Book of Eli, The Road, and Terminator combined with a little 1950’s super mutated animal horror movie  (like THEM!) spice thrown in for good measure. It’s a really neat setting and I’m excited to get started on it. Its been a new learning experience for me, putting together new characters in an unfamiliar system, for the first time.  And the setting itself is rich in story elements. My game is set, well beginning, in the Capital Wastelands, the nuclear irradiated ruins of old DC. This was the setting for the popular video game Fallout 3. And from there they will be heading south to Florida, to Cape Canaveral to catch the last work space shuttle off planet .  It’s a game full of raiders, mutant animals, mutant people, and super science.

So you may be saying to yourself, “I sense a ‘but’ coming.” And you’d be right. The but is that I find the whole process tedious. I want to play, and I want the game to be good, BUT I don’t want to actually write it. I just want it to spring fully grown and brilliant from my head like Athena from Zeus. And with rare exceptions (namely my misbegotten poetry and three of my previous games) it has, of course never been that way. The sad thing is that I’m a pretty creative person. And I’ve been told on multiple occasions from people that I am a great (vocal) Storyteller. Its just the process of writing everything out that I find annoying. And I know, I’m far form the first writer in the the many millenia of human history that has ever felt this way. My thought though is what if this is what really separates the known writers, the great writers, from the unknowns or never has-beens. Stephen King, one of my favorite writers, said in his aptly named book “On Writing” that a successful writer basically has to whore themselves to every publishing company on the Earth to get published and not let rejection get in the way of his or her continual writing process and always working to get published over and over again. He said this same dedication has to inform their writing too. They have to write everyday, even if they have to force themselves to do so. I suppose except for the passionate, genius few this is probably the case. You have to force yourself  to get it out and not let it just languish in your imagination.

Writing a rpg is much like this, if not more so. Since in some way you will be acting it out, it is more like writing a play than writing a book. You aren’t writing conversation, you are writing dialogue. And in some cases you are writing dialogue for hundreds of characters. If you don’t write it out, the character doesn’t turn out as well. This is especially true for your main antagonists in the story. They need to be witty, clever, and memorable.  If you have and evil villain you need their lines down so you can have their voice. They need to be more than the generic Evil Overlord. And making them so isn’t hard. But remembering that in the heat of the moment can be. So I find it best to write it all out and review everything before each came. It also makes a handy resource when you want to give that great one liner every villain has that they are famous for, whether it’s the evil queen from Willow declaring “I MUST DESPISE YOU NOW!” to Vader’s “I find you lack of faith disturbing.” they have to be perfect. After all does “I find the absence of some sort of belief in something higher than yourself in the universe unsettling and somewhat disappointing.” have the same feeling? No, it doesn’t.

So, all said and done, I suppose I have to write it down. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it, right?

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