Season’s Greetings!

With the holidays upon us, Christmas imminent and the New Year following closely behind, I wanted to put fingers to keyboard one last time this year to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I would also like to thank you all for following, supporting and nurturing me; some of the support I have received really has blown me away, so I hope I return the favour and make you all proud of my achievements.

 

Like most of us I imagine, Christmas has been a particularly busy time for the KPLangers crew and myself. In between manically sorting presents, cards and visits to family there has been the usual day job to attend – ironic, as I work shifts – alongside copious amounts of plotting and writing to develop. In amongst all of this I made time for a 24 hour round trip to Dragonmeet in London, where I ran the Mutant Chronicles demo table for Modiphius, though more on that later.

 

2014 has been a turbulent year for me, with high and low points. With Red Scar Publishing going from strength to strength though, I’m very much looking forward to 2015 and what it may bring! There are plenty of exciting developments on the horizon, not only for Red Scar, but for the whole gaming community in general. As I look back on my personal development for 2014, while I by no means consider myself an accomplished writer yet, I’ve certainly learnt a lot this year and had plenty of opportunity to practice my art. Fantasy has been my staple diet ever since my father handed me a battered copy of the Fellowship of the Ring at the tender age of 10. I had every suspicion that this copy had also spent some time submerged in water during one of his post work baths; it wouldn’t be the first or last time he had dozed off whilst reading in the bath. I managed to devour the entire trilogy within two short weeks regardless, and then spent many an hour with a good friend hunting Uruk-hai and Nazgûl in the woods close to our school. My love for fantasy grew as I also discovered the authors I consider to be the literary greats of my teens: Margaret Weis & Tracey Hickman, R.A Salvatore, Robert Jordan, Robert E. Howard, David Gemmell and Terry Brooks. I enjoyed plenty of other titles, but I would consider these to have had the greatest influence on my young imagination. I also supplemented these with short forays into science fiction, enjoying works by Michael Stackpole, Timothy Zahn and Arthur C. Clarke. Add an unhealthy dose of horror from Stephen King, H.P Lovecraft, Brian Lumley, James Herbert and Dean Koontz and I think you’ll begin to build a picture of how my impressionable young mind sought a release for the creativity these works inspired.

 

In 1989, at the age of twelve, I was introduced to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and was swept away on the infinite possibilities of adventure! I fought running battles with my father at the time as he initially resisted my exuberance for a game that carried some considerable stigmata back then. He did relent eventually; as soon as he realised that we weren’t sneaking off to slaughter animals so that the freshly harvested blood could be used in satanic rituals. My first character was an unhealthy wizard named Saruman – original I know. I’ve played a broad spectrum of systems since then, which has gone hand-in-hand with the literary works I’ve read throughout my lifetime. I’ve had many highs and some lows along the years, and have been blessed to have remained in contact with several of the key members of my group throughout; some of whom I still game with. Fantasy, though, has always remained my staple genre and I have always considered myself, if anything, a budding fantasy writer. This year I’ve not only had the opportunity to break myself free of this self-imposed pigeon hole, but I’ve also recently been offered the chance to combine science fiction and horror writing together to produce a roleplaying adventure! More to come on that in the new year, alongside updates for Red Scar, my other literary works and the long overdue Fate Core review.

 

Dragonmeet was a huge success for all involved. Many thanks to Chris Birch and Modiphius for inviting me up and allowing me to represent them by running demo games of Mutant Chronicles and Achtung! Cthulu – despite not having played Call of Cthulu for approximately 20 years! I met some great people on the day and talked with some very talented creative minds. I also had some great feedback from the people who sat at the demo tables with me; hopefully you all enjoyed playing as much as I did GM’ing! Highlights for me were having the chance to meet the Modiphius family – who are a kind and welcoming bunch of superstars – running the MC demos, meeting the team behind Mutant: Year Zero, chatting to the guys at Prodos and Mantic and taking a look around the huge selection of stands and wares on display. A low point for me was missing the Steve Jackson/Ian Livingstone seminar – the one seminar I’d promised myself I would attend. When I finally realised I was late for it, I hustled my way to the seminar room door and yanked it open: only to find my view, and the entrance, blocked by a wall-to-wall crowd of bodies. Disappointed doesn’t quite cut it.

 

I’ll leave you with a photo of me doing my best to provide an overview of the Mutant Chronicles setting and the 2d20 system. Sat on my left as you look at me is a respected game developer and writer, whilst out of shot to my right is a full time writer and developer for Modiphius who is currently working on the Mutant Chronicles RPG. No pressure then.

 

Dragonmeet

 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Catch up with you all in 2015!

 

(Un?)Necessary Disclaimer:  I can take no responsibility for any of the links highlighted in this post. Where possible, I have provided a link to an author’s official page or a company’s official site. Where this hasn’t been possible, I have provided a link to the relevant Wikipedia page. The links provided are used at your own risk.

On the teachings of Confucius

I quite often quote the great Chinese philosopher Confucius and his statement referring to finding happiness at work: “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

 

This is a statement I very much believe in, but not something I have yet managed to achieve. I wouldn’t want to be misconstrued here as I enjoyed my time in Her Majesty’s employ: It was a career I chose, I gave it my all, made some lifelong friends and I have no regrets. However, I don’t think I was ever truly happy there. I’m also grateful to be employed in the position I currently hold. I’m in well payed employment which bears a commensurate amount of responsibility and I effectively take care of myself (if you exclude the passengers travelling on the trains that I try to keep running to time). Despite all of that, I can’t say I’m in the job I imagined I would be doing while at secondary school, where – had you have known me then – you would have met a naive daydreamer who chose to spend an inordinate amount of time surfing, roleplaying and chasing conquests.

 

I still smile to myself when I think of the picture of baffled amazement I must have presented to the recruiting Sergeant on my second visit to the Army Careers office (I’d been told I was too old for Junior Leaders on my first visit). The Sergeant had just finished extolling the virtues of different corps and regiments to me and rather than sit back and ask questions, I proceeded with some panache to display my profound lack of knowledge on all matters military and replied, “But I’m just here to join the Army?” With a rather bemused expression, he checked my grades and showed me pictures of helicopters and tanks, at which point I was sold and my career in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers – REME for short – began.

 

However, life and experience have taught me a lot of lessons since then and slowly but surely I am beginning to take my first tentative steps toward changing my career, with the aim of finally achieving the fulfilment at work that Confucius alludes to in his statement. In fact, it will be life-changing for team KPLangers also; I will be able to work from home at healthier hours of the day, which means I will be where I need to be to support my amazing partner and our wonderful family. I keep reiterating the point, but my friends, family and loved ones support in this is invaluable and I really can’t thank you enough. I’d particularly like to take the time to thank Mr and Mrs J for their editing work and Chris Birch, founder of Modiphius, for the excellent advice and insight he has provided as I find my feet.

 

Plans are rapidly gaining pace, although I still can’t share too much here yet. There’s lots to be done and the learning curve is just as steep as ever, but my diligence, passion and belief have already paid off as I now have two fantastic digital artists, Arthur Tanga and Toma Feizo Gas, working with me to see my plan through to fruition. Please take the time to check out their work at Arthur Tanga Creations and Vulcan Deisgn Forge. To say that I’m excited to have them on board is an understatement and I think you’ll agree their work is first rate; I’m really looking forward to seeing my concepts come to life under their artful expertise.

 

Next steps for me are finalising a video submission to the prestigious publisher of roleplaying products, Paizo Publishing, before then working furiously to finish the work I’ve undertaken in readiness to approach a second publisher for licensing. The video presentation will be submitted shortly and I promise to keep you apace of developments.

 

“Wait a minute,” I hear you cry, “What of your other submissions?” Still no news on either I’m afraid, although my current project will supersede one of them. Rest assured, as soon as I hear more I will be sure to update you; if you haven’t already done so, please head over to my facebook page to follow me for more regular posts. I’ve also promised you a review of the Fate Core rules system, published by Evil Hat Productions, which I will ensure I deliver. Having had several conversations about this system with some close friends I’m very much looking forward to taking an in-depth look at it.

 

If you do stop over at my facebook page, it may well be worth taking some time to read the article that I have linked from James L. Sutter, managing editor for Paizo Publishing. It is an informed and well constructed argument concerning the unwritten contract between author and fans of their work, written in response to the furore that arose over Neil Gaiman’s 2009 blog entry, in which he stated to a fan that “George R. R. Martin is not your bitch.” As an aspiring author and publisher it certainly gave me pause for thought and plenty to consider.

 

Do you have any thoughts on Confucius’ statement, or another quote of his that you find pertinent? Perhaps you are one of the people that Confucius refers to, having found the fulfilment in your working life that means you no longer view your job as a necessary evil. Or maybe you have your own story to tell of youthful naivety? I’d love to hear your thoughts, stories or comments on this please.