Sunday, 15 January 2023

For Maximum Fun, Follow the Instructions

This Gamemaster is overjoyed to have run two sessions of Fun City to date. Overall the prognosis is good. The campaign looks healthy, there is no shortage of players expressing interest in participating, and everyone is having a good time.

Last session had two serious challenges attacking the level of fun around the virtual table. To address this, a royal commission was struck. Today the findings can be made public.

Let’s address the two major considerations that came out of the last two gaming sessions one at a time.

The players found it hard to see everything at once

More than one player said something along the lines of “I cannot see everything all the time for all characters” or “I found it hard to know what was attacking.” With Dynamic Lighting and limited vision and barriers to sight, the characters had limited visibility. This led to the players having limited awareness.

Partly this is by design. The Gamemaster has paid some coin to Roll20 to explore their Dynamic Lighting feature. I did this to push the edges of what the VTT offered, and to instill fear and terror in the players. The dark is meant to be scary, and not seeing how many opponents there are is meant to be disconcerting.

However, the game is still meant to be fun. This Gamemaster is willing to concede that particularly with the most recent battle against the animated skeletons in the crypt, the terror sliding scale may have been set too far in the “Stark Raving” direction and needs to be pulled back to the “Giggling” setting.

Plan for next time: Instead of Dynamic Lighting, the Gamemaster will set the map underground to Explorer Mode. Intent here is that everything is blacked out and hidden until one player explores it. After one player has seen it, all players have seen it. We can try it. Perhaps for the most scary dungeons underground the Gamemaster will go back to Dynamic Lighting.

The Gamemaster reported poor system performance

Roll20.net quit once on the Gamemaster. Browser just said "No!" and went away. The site was very slow the rest of the evening. The “Spinning Beach Ball” showed up much more frequently than requested.

After a thorough investigation (and by that I mean “actually reading the site instructions” on Graphics Performance Troubleshooting and Optimizing Roll20 Performance ) a number of solutions presented themselves:

  1. Stop using Dynamic Lighting. Yes, yes, yes. Already addressed above. We’ll try that route.

  2. Limit the number of lines on Dynamic Lighting. Essentially this means the room with the skeletons, which had lots of pillars, puts more load on Roll20.net than a standard box of a room. Understood, but some rooms have to be complicated to contain complicated threats.

  3. Reduce number of light sources. Check. Install Gust of Wind traps to blow out torches, leaving the Player Characters in the dark. I can do that.

  4. Reduce number of tokens that have vision. This one I had not thought of. Currently the game has seven players and two of the PCs have animal companions or familiars. I thought about introducing a deposit of $150K to reduce the number of active Player Characters. That kind of goes against the spirit of Fun City, though.

  5. Keep map sizes small. Aha! Here we go! One page lists a default size of 20 cells wide by 20 cells tall. Another page says:

    Maps or pages are typically recommended to be 25 x 25. As the map size increases, the effective area that must be rendered increases which can negatively impact performance. This can also be highly subjective to the individual systems used by players in your game.

Aha!

The first map used by the Gamemaster, created with Inkarnate, was 40 cells wide by 40 cells tall. This was the surface map of Fort Runefort.

The second map, the one of the crypt beneath Fort Runefort, was 52 cells by 67 cells, and was created by Dungeon Scrawl.

Personally, I blame the tools, for being so delicious and wonderful to use. The Gamemaster got carried away

Plan for next time: Maximum map size with Dynamic Lighting enabled will be twenty-five cells in any one dimension.

That sounds like fun.


Friday, 23 December 2022

Campaign? No. One-off? No. It’s a Bash!

I sent out invitations to “Fun City” and one of my dear friends wrote back:

Is this intended to be an ongoing campaign or a one off? I admit to being sorely tempted.

First: Small Victory Dance! Always celebrate when your friends express interest in what you write.

To answer his question: “Fun City” is a Pathfinder First Edition campaign. It is not a One-Off. I prefer the term bash as in: “Fun City will be the latest bash set in County Playground.”

Let’s take those one at a time.

“Fun City” is a campaign because it is a continuing set of interwoven adventures. Each single session will be a scene or an act within an overall story arc. “Fun City” (the Pathfinder First Edition campaign) will also span multiple playing sessions as the Player Characters learn more about “Fun City” (the place).

However, it’s going to be the most flexible and forgiving campaign I’ve ever run, for a number of reasons.

  • I expect some of the players will drop in and drop out, as everyone has different demands on their time. I want to be flexible and accepting of player schedules.
  • The last campaign I ran, I got deeply caught up in the background details and tried to, uh, make them the foreground of what the players faced. I’m not sure how successful that was.
  • I put a lot of pressure on myself to have a deeply compelling complicated campaign last time. Not going to do that to myself any more.
  • This time around, I intend to stratify and simplify the setting. I’m still enthusiastic the setting. I will provide background details if the players want them, while the majority of my efforts will be focused on “let’s have a simple and fun time tonight with the game pieces in front of us.”

A One-Off, by contrast, is meant to be a single self-contained adventure. Ideally a one-off lasts a single session. “Make It Big,” the last one-off I ran, went for two sessions. I guess that says something about my skill at estimation. I estimate I can only get better.

I considered running a sequence of unconnected one-off sessions for “Fun City” and decided against it.

  • My personal preference is to build a setting full of interesting people, places and things, all connected. With a campaign, it’s easier to share my enthusiasm for that unified setting.
  • Some of the players may drop in and drop out, but some will want to game regularly. For those regulars, I want to provide an opportunity to take a character from Level One up to Level Double Digits. That “growing a character” is something I always enjoyed as a player, and I want to provide that as a GM.
  • It’ll be easier for players to contribute to a setting they’re familiar with.
  • I have the time and resources to prep a campaign.
  • I want the game world to be internally consistent. A campaign just logically seems to flow from that.

The noun bash is what I think of in my head, though, when I think of what I’m doing. Instead of “a campaign set in County Playground” or “a one-off set in County Playground” I consider what I’m doing as the latest bash set in County Playground. All three of the definitions for that noun line up in a way I admire.

  1. (informal) A forceful blow or impact.
    • Just to be clear, I am not advocating in favour of hitting players here.
    • The Player Characters, on the other hand, frequently give and receive bashes with the NPCs. Often to much merriment.
  2. (informal) A large party; a gala event.
    • There might be eight characters at the first “Fun City” session. That there’s a large adventuring party.
    • I like attending a gala event. Hosting them, too.
  3. (UK, informal, often in the phrase ‘have a bash’) An attempt (at doing something).
    • Yeah, that also tracks. I am making an attempt at creating maps, at trying new tools and using existing tools in new ways, at evoking an engaging setting, at showing my friends a good time.

When I was pulling together this blog post, this diagram came to mind:

Complete        Where                  The GM hands your PC his lines
Extemporized    this Bash                  and a script. "Your cue is
Chaos           probably lands            when the dragon bites you."
|               |                                                   |
V               V                                                   V
+---------------+---------------------------------------------------+

I am not enthused about running a series of unconnected one-offs like the far left would imply. County Playground is already plenty comical because, hey, that’s how I roll. Some structure would help.

On the other hand, I don’t want to veer too far to the other end and structure out everything.

The final point I wish to make here is that in preparing for this I found email messages from November of 2007, back when I had a different setting but the same comic tone. It warms my heart to think of every dice roll, every pun, every word written in every email or blog post and every word shared across a gaming table for the last few decades contributes to a fulfilling time. I reserve the right :-) to throw out all the terms used above and say that I’m working on a Pointillist style of RPG Gaming and I hope you’ll contribute to the art.


Monday, 19 December 2022

Moderating My Desire For Crunchiness

I like role playing games that are crunchy, like Pathfinder First Edition. I could extend that word from crunchy RPG games to include other interests. I prefer Linux over other operating systems, Vim over other editors, and extensive world building in my RPG settings. I like getting into the details.

Occasionally this has led to problems

Obsessing over the details can slow things down. Some examples:

  1. Let’s say this is the first time you are playing Pathfinder 1e. You learn that you could do a Full Round Action, a Standard Action, a Move Action, a Swift Action, a Free Action, an Immediate Action, and/or something that is Not An Action. By the time you finish understanding all of that, I would bet it is next week.
  2. I did up a campaign, and created a Epub book as a guide for my players to create PCs, and I gave the book an ISBN. Because I thought I might sell that Epub book on Amazon to… someone…. The logic of that escapes me now.
  3. I am the GM who likes drawing up a wiki that details out how the opponents fight with each other, manipulate their underlings, and motivate the characters. After a long day at work, coming back to this once a week, it’s doubtful my players have the same enthusiasm for this exposition that I do. I remember vividly the night I was trying to rush through some world building to force a plot point and one of my players in my gaming group said, “Please. It is too much.”
  4. I like role playing games. In a pandemic, my group has shifted to Virtual Table Top games like Roll20. This expects a map. I’ve created a lot of pressure on myself to produce “High Quality” maps, so we can obsess over whether the character is five, ten, thirty or thirty-five feet from the target monster.

That last point is really telling. When I first started playing RPGs, we sat around a table in a comfortable room. No one in my group could afford miniatures nor figures, so we played without a map.

We had a blast.

I have a plan to solve the problems caused by Sybaritic Crunchiness

I’m staring a new campaign called “Fun City.” My goal with this is to share my enthusiasm for these topics with my friends, without drowning anyone.

My specific approaches to achieving this goal:

  1. I’m going to expect players to drop in and drop out of the campaign. I’m going to expect new players to join and for familiar players to say, “I don’t remember who our opponent is, and I’m exhausted. May we wing it tonight?” And we will wing it, and that will be okay.
  2. I’m going to leave the background for the campaign in the background. If the players ask, I will answer their questions. If they don’t ask, I will let the campaign world simmer, and eventually turn it into a novel or six.
  3. I’m going to work on a small number maps, not a volume of maps.
  4. The maps I do work on will be of varying levels of quality. That is okay. The initial maps might take a while to get adequate. Later maps will be better and will be done in a shorter amount of time. All art works that way. At least, the majority of art that I produce has worked that way.

In the past, I’ve started a campaign, devoted time and energy to the details, set unrealistic expectations for everyone, and felt burnt out. I’d like to break that habit.

I started a new job in October of 2021. It’s fulfilling, but so often I find myself looking at the task list in front of me and thinking, “I’d rather be Gaming with my friends.” When I dig into why I’d rather be Gaming, what specifically I like about RPGs and Pathfinder and world-building and map making, I find soon enough I can’t stop thinking about ideas I want to share with my friends.

So, I’m going to moderate my approach. Build something to share, and always start each session by thinking, “How may I best share this enthusiasm I have with my friends?” The best nights in the past have come from that starting point. Future sessions will grow out of those seeds of enthusiasm. I will build a city one piece at a time, and the end product will be fun.

Fun City, here we come!

Wednesday, 29 December 2021

This Linux-loving beta reader wants your book draft in Microsoft Word format

A friend I have known for twenty years has completed a draft of a novel. I look forward to being a beta reader for this work.

My friend, to whom I shall refer to as M, asked me earlier today:

What format would you like the book in? Word? PDF? Google doc? Pages? Paper? I can generate any output you want from Scrivener (okay, okay. Probably not markdown or LaTeX or anything ‘exotic’.)

This question from M got me asking several other questions.

I am, at my core, a book nerd. For over twenty-five years I have been paid well to be a computer nerd. Occasionally I play at being a gamer nerd hence the title of this blog, but that’s a divergent branch for another blog post. Today I’m going to take everything I’ve learned about tech for the last twenty-plus years and force what I believe about beta reading and book editing through that tech perspective. The end result is ideally a blog post but my metaphor reminds of a machine I once cleaned; it was used to make hamburger.

To squeeze out this delicious meaty repast of well-grounded answers which you, gentle carnivorous reader, will delight in consuming, I shall consider these questions.

How does a book draft get made?

Well, when a pen and a spiral-bound notebook love each other very much…. nine months later a draft emerges, crying for attention. Actually, I have completed a fifty thousand word draft in thirty days on five separate occasions, so this metaphor has fallen apart faster than an inebriated hookup.

My main point: I prefer to create a physical first draft of a book using 250 pages of spiral-bound notebook and a pen with blue ink. There’s usually two paper books, one of 150 pages and one of 100 pages. If I use fancy books, I feel pressure to produce fancy thoughts, so I use cheap spiral-bound notebooks to produce my, er, enlightened bespoke masterpieces. Call each page two hundred words. I try to complete ten pages a day. Get it done fast, get it down, don’t worry about the coherency. Capture the idea, the feeling, the passion within that concept and between those characters. Some days I only get eight pages done. Usually I get ten. If I get eight and change done in a day, then over the course of thirty days that creates 250 * 200 = 50,000 words.

The first problem after that: my handwriting makes the eyes of the reader bleed. The second problem: not all of those fifty thousand words are shining, beautiful, coherent or even worth keeping. The third problem: who wants to receive an unreadable set of spiral-bound notebooks? Probably the same number of people who want to pay to post that package: zero.

So, next comes a second, digital, draft. I transcribe my handwriting into a file in Markdown format. I do it myself because at this stage in my writing career I cannot afford the transcription service who could read my chicken scrawls. If I wait a month or two, I have a better sense of what to add (and what to remove) when creating that digital draft. I have a lot more freedom to edit and improve and revise that second draft knowing that there is a physical backup in the spiral notebook. I also adore the comfort of having a completed off-site digital backup in case my paper copies burn away.

So, a digital draft is in place. Now what?

What happens during a beta read?

The beta reader reviews the draft and provides feedback. My favourite questions to ask of a beta-reader include “Where did you stop reading?” and “Which parts were confusing?”

This process goes easier if a set of requirements is addressed:

  1. The feedback comes in the form of comments.
  2. It should be easy for the beta reader to add the comments.
  3. It should be clear to the author what part of the text is referenced by each comment.
  4. If there is more than one beta reader, there should be a plan to pull all comments by all readers together.
  5. Once all of the conditions above are met, aim for simplicity. If multiple tools can get the job done, choose the least complicated one.

As I said above, I’ve been a computer nerd for a long time. I find Linux easy. So, easy is a relative term. “Easy” is a goal we’re seeking here.

What difference does the file format of the draft book make?

Lots. Exploring the pros and cons of eight different file formats covers the rest of this blog post.

Paper sheets in a box

Paper is my favourite way to start to start a book draft. I go back to paper during later drafts, printing off a copy and reading it while annotating a second “outline book” in Post-It notes with improvements.

Pros:

  1. Scale out the display. Instead of looking at my beloved book through a small laptop-sized pane of glass, I can (and have!) spread out a paper draft of a novel across the entire living room floor.
  2. Operating System independent. I can use paper no matter what OS you choose.
  3. A universal transfer format. (As long as we agree that universal here means “you write in a language I can read.”)
  4. Batteries not required. No Internet needed, neither.
    • Works well during power outages.
    • Works well during ferry trips
    • Works well at that island retreat you’re staying at where the Internet connection is spotty at best.
  5. Understood by a large swath of humanity.
  6. Well tested. Proven to work for hundreds of years for countless authors and beta readers.
  7. Arguably the lowest initial “up front” cost.
  8. I cannot tell you the last time I had to upgrade the OS on my pen because of some stupid vendor requirement.

Cons:

  1. Expensive to transport. One day, I hope to live in the same building as my beta readers, but until then, I will fling bits and use a digital file format.
  2. Difficult to maintain. A single master paper copy is easy to lose, to damage, to destroy, to misplace, or to fragment.
  3. Storage can become challenging. Child, dog, all the other physical papers crowding the shelf and The Ravages of Time conspire to hide that one draft I want.

Markdown in vim

This is what I use and love. I’ve raved about it before. It’s not a good fit here for beta readers, though.

Pros:

  1. Markdown is plain text. I like plain text for editing. I really, really, REALLY cannot emphasize this enough.
    • Markdown is essentially plain text with some additions that add some (but not all!) of the structure you’d want. Headings are distinct from list items and both are distinct from emphasized text.
    • Text files are files I can take anywhere. This is extremely important to me.
      • I wrote a hefty novel in StarOffice format. When the vendor discontinued that software, I had to figure out how to export that to a different format. Eventually I got tired of tasks like that and started writing in Markdown.
      • I wrote a large wiki of facts about my novel’s setting in TiddlyWiki format. Platform independent, right? The theory is that all the facts could be stored in a single HTML file; the browser read from and wrote to that file. When the browser vendor discontinued local file system writes, I had to figure out how to export that to a different format. Eventually I got tired of tasks like that and started writing in Markdown.
    • The Page Layout, margins, widows and orphans, and all of that typesetting can come at the end, later, after you’ve decided which words to keep and which to toss.
    • Text files are going to be with you after vendors discontinue their file formats.
    • Text files can be read by any of your friends. I’ve written files in OpenOffice and LibreOffice format, sent them to friends, who then say, “I cannot read this. Can you send it to me in Microsoft Word?”
    • Don’t just take my word for it. Some stranger on the Internet :-) wrote

    These Markdown files can be edited anywhere, on any device. You’ll never corrupt or break them. They are future-proof, and infinitely portable. And they sync like butter.

  2. From plain text I can produce any output.
    • With Pandoc I can (and have!) taken Markdown input and produced output in the following formats:
  3. Vim lets me run a wiki and a text editor in one platform-independent tool.
    • I have over a million words accessible in one place.
  4. Vim works through a terminal
    • In theory, this would let someone start an ssh session to a home machine and work on a novel while somewhere else.

Cons:

  1. Vim is not easy to learn.
    • After using it for over twenty-five years, I find it makes everything easier.
    • The first five years were the hardest.
  2. Comments are not easy for beta readers to create.
    • Comments in Markdown are a confused term.
    • I want comments from a beta reader. “Commenting out” a line means something different to a systems administrator.
  3. Hard to transport.
    • If my novel is 38 chapters and each has its own markdown file, then you’re sending an archive of files to someone else.
    • Kind of the opposite of the Google Docs option below.

If you’ve got a way to change my mind, please let me know!

PDF - Adobe Portable Document Format

Adobe PDF has been around since 1992 and is a great way to read documents. I’m highly confident that if you create a file in PDF format and send it to me, what I read will match what you read.

Pros:

  1. Easy to open
  2. Every OS has some sort of PDF viewer
  3. Pagination and page layout is consistent across all Operating Systems.
  4. There is a way to make comments on a PDF file, in theory.

Cons:

  1. No one creates a draft in PDF. One always creates a file in some other format, then creates a PDF output and sends this second file on.
    • That’s creating a second step.
    • I’m not against multiple steps in practice. Things are easier if we can avoid additional steps.
  2. The author has to have two files open: the commented file to read from, and the source file to incorporate those changes. Additional displays help here. Not everyone has the screen size to make this enjoyable.
  3. PDF comments can get caught up in OS and Adobe details.
    • The ability to write comments to a file, send that commented file back to the author, and have the author read those comments varies from OS to OS.
    • I’ve had problems with this in the past.

LaTeX

Pros:

  1. I can specify in gory detail exactly how I want my document to look.
  2. You can find gems like the SFFMS typesetting class. As in, write your novel in any kind of plain text, then convert it to LaTeX, then apply this style sheet to handle margins and all the other typesetting details.
  3. Platform independent
  4. Free

Cons:

  1. The reader has to chew through the gory detail of exactly how I want my document to look.
  2. Only typesetters and mathematics professors care for this level of detail.
  3. The SFFMS class was created in 2003. I’m dubious about how thoroughly it is used these days.
  4. Not easy to set up.
  5. Not easy to become proficient in this.

Pages

This brings us to the first product in the set of proprietary vendor tools. Pages is what Apple Incorporated calls a word processor.

Pros:

  1. Free with Mac OS once you’ve bought your Mac.
  2. Can open Microsoft Word files in docx format.
    • This allows using the “Comments and Changes” function in Pages to read and write comments on a MS Word file.

Cons:

  1. Not OS independent.
    • Everyone has to have an expensive product from Apple Incorporated to make this work
    • “Other than accessing iCloud through a browser, there is no program that can officially view or edit a Pages file using Windows or Linux.” - quote from the Pages wiki page.
  2. So proprietary that pandoc cannot create output in “Pages” format. Pandoc has to create something like Rich Text Format or Microsoft Word format, then import it into Pages, and hope that the formatting and “smart quotes” and such doesn’t get kicked too hard.
    • Note that RTF is itself (a) a proprietary format, and (b) released 34 years ago, and (c) last updated 13 years ago.
    • This is another reason why I like plain text for editing.
  3. Not easy to work with very very large files in Pages. Also not easy to sew together numerous smaller files.

Scrivener

I haven’t tried Scrivener, so I should really stop here. I’m putting forth my opinions based on what I’ve read and heard about from second-hand sources.

Pros:

  1. Great way to collect individual ideas, and sort them. (“The Corkboard”)
  2. Supports numerous output formats.

Cons:

  1. See “Pages” above for my rant about proprietary formats. Content in Scrivener is stored in /.scirv format.
  2. I don’t want to spend the money for the licence for a proprietary format.
  3. Personally, I think I have built part of what Scrivener provides using Vim and Markdown.
  4. To the best of my knowledge (and I confess I have not tried this), there’s no way for one Scrivener user to send a draft in /.scirv format to a second Scrivener user.

Google Docs

What if, instead of moving files around, the draft existed in a single place In The Cloud, and everyone involved in the process worked on the same single draft? Hello, Google Docs! I have used this at employers for corporate information that was, er, “internal”. (Now I’m wondering again about how “internal” your document is when it’s stored In The Cloud.)

Pros:

  1. If there are more than two people involved, this provides a clear consistent method to ensure everyone is looking at the same copy of the same file.
  2. Free
  3. Easy and straightforward to use.

Cons:

  1. There Is No Cloud. It’s Just Someone Else’s Computer
    • Do you trust that “Someone Else” with your novel?
  2. The editor I worked with on my first published work thought the lag with Google Docs was so slow, the editor rejected that option outright.
  3. This goes against how I think.
    • I prefer to think of First Draft, Second Draft, Third Draft, … Final published work.
    • Google Docs just extends and adds comments to one file, indefinitely, until all parties are exhausted. Or that first file is cropped and a second file is created.
  4. Google is still a vendor. This is still a proprietary product.
    • What happens if/when Google goes out of business? If you tell me Google will never go out of business, I will tell you that Blockbuster was also popular for a while, as were Compact Discs for music.
  5. Not easy to use this once your Internet connection goes out, gets slow, is spotty while you’re at that island retreat writing.

Microsoft Word

Pros:

  1. Used everywhere.
  2. “Track Changes” feature is easy to use for comments and feedback.
    • If you move a block of text within the draft, the comment follows it. Nice.
    • Pages can use the same “Track Changes” feature that MS Word provides.

Cons:

  1. I am not a fan of Microsoft
  2. I am not a fan of Microsoft Windows
  3. I am not a fan of the Microsoft Word GUI
  4. Proprietary file format.
    • Microsoft already changed it from .doc to .docx and you just know they’re going to change it again.

Final recommendation is Microsoft Word

As a beta reader I would like that draft in Microsoft Word format. I will open the draft in my copy of Pages and add comments, and M will see my comments when I send it back.

I also reserve the right to improve my position on this after time and experience. I mean, that’s what I’ve done throughout my life. Over twenty-seven years ago I wrote a master’s thesis in Microsoft Word, and did not enjoy it, so I started looking for different products. I will keep looking.

Monday, 6 September 2021

First Post in almost Four Years

I blow the dust off this blog, put the key into the account and get it to turn over, at least once, after a gap of almost four years. 

This blog has been quiet. The good news behind that is: I've been writing. Completed four more NaNoWriMo-equivalent drafts, each over 52,000 words, in the last three years and change. One in November 2018, one in June 2019, a third in November 2019 and a fourth in November 2020

Next step: getting much of that published.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Novel Accomplished

I've finished 50,100 words for my National Novel Writing Month entry.
I had a really good time. I thought hard about an outline, I made progress every day, and I have a completed first draft that I really enjoy. It was not easy, fitting the writing of a novel into working full time and raising a family. It was, however, truly rewarding. Now, to take a deep rest, then Christmas. After that: revising and producing the second draft while finding an agent and a publisher.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Why All The Silly

Why All The Silly

Recently I watched Thor: Ragnarok in the cinema with my family. I am a fan of the Marvel movies and I enjoyed this movie the best of them all.

I met a good friend of mine a few days later for dinner. He told me that while his wife and daughter went to the film, he decided to skip it because, as he put it, he "thought it looked too silly."

His comment surprised me in three directions. For one, I began to wonder what a Serious Super Hero Movie looked like. I guess that would be Batman: The Dark Knight by Christoper Nolan. Or the Daniel Craig set of James Bond movies, like Skyfall or Spectre.

For another direction, I wondered about the campaign style I run, and what this friend and the other participants must think of it. My campaign setting is called "County Playground." It is not called "The Suffering of Carlos the Grim on His Descent Into Hell." I'm trusting that at least one of the players will give feedback when I ask for it. I have asked for feedback, and no one has said, "Too Silly. Dial it back."

For a third, I am really enjoying the novel I am writing for National Novel Writing Month. It is not a "GrimDark" tale. It is an adventure comedy in a fantasy setting. When I have bad days, I wonder how it will sell. When I have good days, I ignore whether it will sell or not, and just write.

I can appreciate A Song Of Ice And Fire and the moody television it inspires. Myself, I like to use my free time to make stories and role playing game (RPG) campaign settings where the plot, tone, and characters promote laughter, not weeping. Although to be honest, some of the puns do evoke tears.

I read an interview with Taika Waititi, director of Thor: Ragnarok, and thought he said it best:

This film is so bold and colorful and vivid and bright. 
It’s a celebration of comic books. I think in this day and age, 
when cinema’s so dark and sad, and such a reminder of how 
dark and sad the world is, it’s so nice to have a ray of light, 
and a movie that makes you smile.

The director's words are on my mind, when I get inspired by Kings Of The Wyld and Galavant, and when I work on my own creative pursuits.