Last Friday in November that won’t be busy.

November filled up in a hurry and I’m convinced this will be a good thing.  This month is going to rock.

Reading:  I started Child of Fire, the first in the 20 Palaces novels by Harry Connoly and its almost got me for the duration, 40 pages in.  I’ll give it a few more.  C’mon, I want to love you.

Planning: I’ve been really disciplined about the writing but I have not been disciplined about the re-writing and revision.  I need to look over my red ink and start re-writing a bit.  I also crave that kind of bird’s eye view over what I have written already that a solid reading over will give me.

Writing: Still chipping away at the fantasy novel, between 750 and 1000 or so words a day for the past 30 days straight.

The blog had a dormant week but I didn’t game this week.  Some weeks its on, some weeks its off.  I reckon the RSS feed isn’t going to go sour.  Next week we’re testing my con scenario for the Burning Apocalypse con, in which outcast adventurers (a heretic, a rogue wizard, a thief with a price on his head and a bastard knight) come back to the city with a dragon’s hoard to throw around.

Also worth noting, Hal Whitewyrm ran across a Tarrasque on the streets of Myth Drannor.

And you?

Hal heads into his 5th chapter: Lust for Life and the Fantastical

The play-by-post game is cruising right along and tomorrow will head into its fifth chapter.  I’m kind of shocked that it is working out so damned well.  I am really enjoying it.  It has been a great way to get acquainted with Burning Wheel Gold and has reminded me how much I love writing, leading me to attack other writing projects with a 750-1000 words a day discipline that I have not felt in the past decade.

There were a few moments in the middle of a tense battle that might have taken all of ten to twenty minutes at a table but took the better part of a day and a half posting that drove me a little nuts.  That is just part of the game.

There is an Adventure Log and we use it as a place to write about our favorite moments in each chapter and here’s what I wrote:

Its no one thing this time. I enjoyed getting to write about a gathering of Forgotten Realms Deities, that was good fun.

But more than that, I really dig how much Daniel throws himself into it. Not just being excited about the battle with Xerez but that too. When I post about good smells coming up from the inn’s kitchen, he writes about how much he enjoys breakfast. When people start playing music, drinking and dancing, Hal starts singing songs. I like his lust for life and that is what I enjoyed the most this chapter, the way Daniel takes little cues and enjoys experiencing the Forgotten Realms through Hal so damned much.

The system, the mechanics, the situation are all business as usual in importance but there is something about play-by-post that allows for a tangible enjoyment of experiencing something fantastical that feels different than it does at the table.  Maybe I’m a better writer than I am a speaker or maybe there is something about text over the spoken word or maybe I’m trying techniques on a forum that I would not dare to use at the table.

Maybe I should dare.

We need to consider the very real possibility that it isn’t about me at all (“Its not all about you, Judd.”) but Daniel is allowing his junior high-kid wonderment filter through while playing his teenage dream character with the perspective of an adult.

The whole experience is making me see gaming at a new angle and that is interesting to me.

The sun’s not up but the calendar says its Friday

Reading: I’m going back and forth between King’s Gold by Arturo Perez-Reverte, Unclean by Richard Lee Buyers and Untold Adventures, an anthology of D&D short stories.

King’s Gold is fun but I have this tendency to put the book down and not pick it up again for a while and its happening again.  Its odd because I really love the Captain Alatriste novels.  I wish I had some time on a beach somewhere so that I could just read them all in one delicious, swashbuckling sitting.

Unclean is a Forgotten Realms novel set in Thay and so far its not bad but there is no gnoll character yet and that makes me sad.

Untold Adventures is a book I picked up on a whim at the bookstore while I waited for Janaki to arrive in town.  I told myself that I’d read two stories of my own choosing and if they were good, I’d buy the book.  The first two were good, especially Jay Lake’s story, The Decaying Mansions of Memory, which concerned my favorite D&D artifact.  That artifact is a blog-post-a-comin’, I think.

Planning: Edgar vs. Maynard III this Saturday.  Hell yes.  Edgar/Maynard II is probably the best sporting event I’ve ever witnessed.  I can’t wait to see them fight for the belt again.

Writing: Here’s what I’ve been doing.  I wake up at five in the morning and write until I have a thousand words.  Its non-negotiable.  I can’t snooze until six in the morning.  I can’t make up the words later.  I wake up at five, dammit.  First thing in the morning I become a whining baby, looking for a plea bargain, looking to cut any deal that will get my back under the covers.  It feels great to write but I don’t want to talk about what it is specifically just yet.

Alexander has been meeting me via G+ Hangouts so we both log in, grunt a good-morning, wish each other luck and silently write.  Its really cool to know that if I punk out, Alexander will be tut-tutting me in NYC.

I’m inspired by Storn A. Cook and Aaron Kuder.  They draw every damned day.  Ask them when the last time they can remember when they didn’t do their thing.  They probably won’t be able to remember a day when they didn’t get some art done.  Also, Janaki told me about something she read by Octavia Butler about writing, about how she’d wake up every morning before work and write; that was a big inspiration.  I remember kvetching to Bret about not writing and he’d say, “So go write…”

The Ballad of Hal Whitewyrm is really hitting its stride.  This third chapter was really cool and had some of my favorite GMing and favorite writing moments so far.  Check it out.  And you can leave a comment over here if you care to.

And you?

Play-by-Post: Forum Play

Over 3 weeks and close to 200 posts later and The Ballad of Hal Whitewyrm is still cruising right along.  I’m enjoying the play-by-post’s slow pace, allow me to learn the differences between Revised and Gold and allowing Daniel to become more acquainted with Burning Wheel.

I’m fascinated with this new way to play.  Here are some things that I’m thinking about and noticing as our game chugs along (also worth noting that there are other BWG play-by-post games springing up).

Shabbat and the Jewish Holidays:  Daniel’s observance of the Jewish holidays is really helpful, as it enforces breaks and pauses in play.  I know that I don’t want to start anything too intense in the hours just before sun-down on Friday and as the sun went down tonight on Rosh Hashanah, I knew I didn’t want to begin the coming conflict with the pack of great wolves and the bad-ass orc who road in on said wolves with an elf boy in their saddle-bags.  But in pausing right there on the edge of conflict, we’ll be set to go and excited to be back once we get back to it after a few days off.

Funny side-note, having this game’s pauses be dictated by Daniel’s religious observance is as connected to Judaism as I’ve felt in years.  Score one mitzvah point for Daniel.

Conversations: To me, this is one of the places where play-by-post falls down a bit and I’m developing ways to cope with it.  When we have a back and forth, I post questions and don’t wait for Daniel to answer them and keep the conversation going, with plenty of seeds for Daniel to grab onto.  I don’t want to actually have a conversation because over a forum that is annoying but I want the text to be a kind of outline of the conversation we’re having.  Its odd, check the link for an example.

I like GMing gatherings via forum and text more than I do in person.  Its easier to split things up and have NPC’s talking to one another and show their relationships by how they interact.

Rolling Procedures: Playing via forum, one really notices how often BW asks its players to make choices and those choices can lead to waiting for posts so the shit can really start.  We’re getting used to this and I’m sure I’ll have more to say as the game progresses.

Smiles and Nods: I’m thinking of the two guys I’ve gamed the most with in these past few years, Aaron and Pete and the way they show appreciation for cool shit.  Pete might jump up and say, “DAG!” and Aaron is more of a quiet nodder who will say, “That is fucking awesome,” quietly while he digests and starts to reply.  Over forum, there’s no real way to do that.  We have out of game talk via italics but for the most part, we’ve kept that to mechanics and system stuff.

For the most part, Daniel and I give each other smiles and nods via twitter.  I know I’m cooking with fire when he tweets at me.

We also have a forum threads for Idle Banter, one for each chapter of the game.

The other thing we’ve done is made a space for our favorite moments in our Adventure Log.  So far we’ve been using that as a place to say a favorite moment that the other person has written and its not only a nice attaboy but a nice way to check in and see what’s working for the other.

The Obsidian Portal and the Dream Forum: I can’t help but think of a forum made to support our play.  I see a forum where we can script and the scripts will be revealed as soon as we’ve both entered our choices and maybe even lines up our scripts and gives system help for outcomes.  As it is, OP is fine.  I like the wiki, the way I can insert a link to an NPC easily and the way the whole thing is set up.

Double-back: As a GM, it is nice to be able to go back and take a hard look at my decisions, re-read not an AP thread about the game but a thread where the game is being played.  That is damned interesting

Text Performance Art?: It is neat to have people following the game, watching and reacting.  I wish the forum software allowed for more interaction with little side comments like on ENworld’s forum.

There is a whole community of folks playing play-by-post games or just using the Obsidian Post site as a place to store information, maps, NPC’s and such for their games.  I see a bit of a disconnect.  When people talk about good sites, they talk about funky fonts, youtube videos and lots of time-consuming production time spent on making their OP site look good.  Different games, different priorities and its all good.  Everyone on the OP forum has been very friendly and welcoming and I get the feeling that folks understand that people use the site for very different reasons.

Daniel did make a sexy title page headed for our game, to be fair.

One-on-One: This is the last element of the game that I wrote down to write on in this blog post and it might just be the most important.  Playing via forum is glacially slow and I’d think that the more people, the more slowly it would move.  I bet there are games that would lend themselves well to this kind of group play (Polaris, Universalis both come to mind immediately).

As it is, I’m really happy we went with one-on-one play, allowing us to learn the system and the medium.