For a long time, I've wanted to write a fantasy series – an epic sword and sorcery in the style of Robert E. Howard and Clark Ashton Smith; that style of fantasy has always compelled and attracted me. It's probably been obvious through some of my recent posts that I've been working along these lines, and there is something that has been in the works for a while that I think it is now time to announce – I've been bursting to say something for weeks, but now that I actually have some progress on the first book, I think it is the time.
I can now officially announce that I am writing a series of tie-in novels for the 'Adventures Dark and Deep' roleplaying game, published by Joseph Bloch. This is something that I am extremely excited about; this is my favourite of the OSR role-playing games, and those of you who remember my OD&DITIES days will understand why this is of great interest to me. One of the first fantasy novels I can remember reading was the first of the Dragonlance novels, and I spent many lunchtimes reading that trilogy in my school library. To be following in those footsteps is extraordinary.
To provide a little background, Adventures Dark and Deep is a D&D 'retro-clone', though one with a key difference; while games like Labyrinth Lord and OSRIC mirror games that actually existed, Adventures Dark and Deep is a clone of a game that was never given a chance to exist – the 2nd Edition of the AD&D rules that Gary Gygax would have published had he retained control of TSR. It keeps the core ideas of First Edition, and then follows it up with all of the planned changes and additions that were to have been added – the amount of research into old articles, interviews, even forum posts is absolutely astonishing. Even that aside – it's an excellent game bursting with flavour and inspiration, and I think one of the two games that showcases for me everything that the OSR is all about. (For the curious, the other is 'Stars Without Number'.)
There are a lot more details available at the BRW Games website and the Greyhawk Grognard blog, and I encourage those reading this to click on the links and take a look for themselves; there is an extensive publishing schedule planned for this game that I am looking forward to, including – coming pretty soon – the Castle of the Mad Archmage, which is the closest we are ever likely to get to seeing the original Castle Greyhawk, the mother of all megadungeons, actually in print. This one is destined for my shelf as soon as it comes out. (And feel free to pick up the Adventures Dark and Deep books; they come highly recommended!
As for my novels, the current intention is a four-book series for 2014, with others to follow in subsequent years if the interest is there. I don't want to give any spoilers of plot or characters for the present, but I will say that it does not start in a tavern! The task I have set myself is to evoke the spirit of the game without making it feel like I am simply re-telling the story of a campaign. (Having said that, there are a few moments that I probably owe a few of my players for...) I think the feel is the most important element here – Adventures Dark and Deep gives me an awful lot of material with which I can work, and I want to use it to its fullest advantage. It deserves nothing less.
What I have in mind at the moment to launch this tie-in series is a four-book run. The structure I have formed is a single book followed by a trilogy, all including the same characters, though I think there is a good chance that it will evolve into a more conventional four-book run as I write it. The adventure will not start in a tavern, I assure you...my goal here is to evoke the spirit of the game without resorting to the clichés that are too often seen in adventures. While I don't want to write a 'after-action report of a campaign', I do want to get the feel absolutely right, and to that end I have ritually burned a copy of the Dungeons and Dragons movie. (God, I looked forward to that when it was released.)
The setting for the novels is a world of my own creation, the northern reaches of a fading empire that for many generations has been beset by wars on all sides, with dark forces massing for a final killer blow. There will be dungeons, and dragons as well – it would seem very strange not to have such things! Halflings, Orcs, Elves and Dwarves will be present, but I intend to write the book in a sword-and-sorcery style. I'm not going to hide that I'm a little nervous about this one – I really want to get this right.
This is the first series on the queue for the year, so over the course of the next month the blog will have a lot more details on this, discussing my inspirations and thoughts. The first book will be on sale by January 31st at the latest, I might do a little better than that. (This is the 'Project B1' and 'Project B2' that have been on my side-bar. Bonus points if you can work out where I got the names from!) As with the other two series, the intention is to release one book each quarter. The first is to be titled 'Swords of the Damned', which might give you some clue...