Friday, April 20, 2012

The Nature of the Beast

You know, I used to think that getting a book written was essentially doing battle with the Beast.  The agony of suckage and rewriting, the ecstasy of some brief stroke of genius, the back-and-forth and rest and retrial - all of it an epic struggle, yes?

Nope.  Come to find out that all of this, the writing and rewriting and feedbacking and editing?  That was just the training montage.  Eye of the Tiger, and so forth.  The Beast is actually called Publicizing - pitching, querying, networking, marketing, social-media-whatevering, please-look-at-my-stuffening - and it's licking its chops waiting for me.

On second thought, maybe I need to practice a little more with the backswing.

So it's come to this, has it? A fight to the death, mano a mano, man to man... just you and me and my... GUARDS!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Tale of the Tilting Tower, or, Fun With Unintended Consequences

Well, life has lately been long on income-earning opportunities and decidedly short on fun, but let me pull up something from the old cranial DVR for an evening's entertainment.

In fact, let me tell you the Tale of the Tilting Tower.

By ogrish standards, Oh was something of a disappointment. She was lamentably intelligent for an ogre, and curious, and got decidedly less than the expected thrill out of ripping the limbs from living creatures.  So it wasn't all that surprising when she eventually wandered down from the Foothills of Gurn and got herself mixed up with a human adventuring party.  It was the usual story - the same vaguely-defined but creeping world-threatening menace that bands of misfits always seem to find - and eventually it led to a tower.

Which wasn't so much a tower as a giant rusted-out metallic spire, thousands of years old, which leaned precipitously to the west like the hand of a stopped clock.

Of course, long-extinct caretakers never leave anything of interest or value on the ground floor, so there was nothing to do but to get in there and start climbing.  That's a lot of stairs under the best of circumstances, and this wasn't the best of anything: the tower's tilt, combined with the rust-eaten floors and decaying supports, made every room and hallway a slow, treacherous task.

The seething nests of monsters didn't help either.

Being a sensible bunch, Our Heroes were determined to keep falling deaths to a minimum.  So it was decided that Kara, the light and architecturally-sensitive rogue, would tie one end of a rope's length about her waist, while Oh likewise girdled herself with the other end: she was careful to walk nowhere but in her companions' tried-and-tested footsteps, and her handsome ogrish weight would make her a fine anchor if Kara's explorations ever ended with a shriek and the sound of collapsing floor-tiles.

Our Heroes had made it pretty handily to the twelfth floor when yet another quick and brutal skirmish broke out, this one in a damnably cramped room full of ruined furniture.  Oh, being a strapping young lady of 10 feet and about 600 pounds, couldn't maneuver through the doorway to help her little friends.  Mightily frustrated by the sound of their struggle, she raised her great-club and smashed the wall to ruins.

"Are you sure you want to do that?" asked the DM.

"Absolutely!" said I, with a glance at Oh's 9 Wisdom score.

The monsters were helpless against the heroes' combined might, and soon lay dead or banished.  "Well!" said Regar, wiping the blade of his axe.  "Let's press on."

And so they resumed their careful exploration, the party waiting in gathered safety as Kara wound her way through empty doors and crushed corridors, delicately searching out a safe path to the next stairway...

... until, with her first giant-sized step forward, the screech of breaking iron sounded under Oh's feet.

She was gone in an instant, leaving nothing to her astonished comrades' eyes but an ogre-sized hole in the floor, a black chasm sucking up rope like a strand of wet spaghetti as Kara's terrified soprano shriek whipsawed around distant doors and portals at the speed of gravity...

They didn't die, I'm pleased to report.  A single axe-stroke broke the rope, and I think it was about the sixth floor down that finally broke Oh's fall.  But they make them of sterner stuff up in the Foothills of Gurn, and as the saying goes, "the only hit point that matters is the last one."

So ends the Tale of the Tilting Tower, and to me, its lesson is this: if you REALLY want to have fun with your characters (be they shaped by the rolls of a die or bound within the pages of a book), treat them every once-in-a-great-while to a truly disastrous mistake.  Where the Law of Unintended Consequences is concerned, you can't beat a first-rate felony. 

Oh sorry.