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Friday, August 30, 2019

James Raggi offers an Update on the LotFP Ref Book - Its Not What One Expects



I'm offering this without comment here on the blog. My commentary is offered on the accompanying Tavern Chat podcast episode  

OK everyone! ACTUAL NEWS! It took a little longer than planned to get going after Gen Con, but I have a major update. 
I have reached an agreement with a freelancer, Göran Stahl, to be a consultant/taskmaster to get this damn thing done. He is a lifelong RPG fan with knowledge that reaches from the 1974 OD&D boxed set to the latest indie obscurities, he's into horror movies and heavy metal, and he is quite familiar with LotFP. 
We had a long session this week discussing RPG writing and LotFP's approach to it, my personal style and how it is that I work, and how that relates into the hows and whys of this project being so damn delayed. I think we've found a way forward. 
The issue identified, and this is a good chunk of the problem, is that I'm using existing GM guides in the industry as a format guide, and then what I've been attempting to do for years is sit down and attempt to express my ideas in a format that I don't really believe in. That I actively hate when reading it from other games. "If I just come up with the right turns of phrase then it'll all be great!" But there aren't enough genius turns of phrase to make that format any good, and I've known it for a long long time, and that's why I've been writing and trashing so much over these years, never happy with anything. Even when I was making what I thought was major progress over the winter, revisiting that now is sterile as all fuck. 
But when I talk about any of the subjects that the Ref book will contain, I'm a motormouth. I can go on rants about how things should be done, and the failures that occur in games when things aren't done right. There is energy and flow that just dies instantly when I sit down on try to communicate that in written form. 
So I had the idea that I'll just talk about everything that needs to be in the book and record it all. Stahl is onboard, and will act as producer-interviewer-facilitator (his official title will be "Consultant") to the process, and had great ideas about how to go about the whole thing. Our meeting made me have dreams that the final product will be to regular RPG GM books as METAL's Reborn Through Hate issue, or ISTEN's Mädchen issue are to the usual music magazine format... 
I know that referencing metal fanzines from 1997 and 2001 means exactly zero of you know what I'm talking about, but that's kind of the point. The presentation of this book can not be the same old presentation that's always been used, or it will never get done. With the added bonus that if it's done right, it'll be on its own an engaging read and be a valuable addition to the RPG canon. 
So I'm basically going to ghostwrite my own book. He'll prepare his questions and bullet points, and I'll have my own notes and bullet points from all the work I've already done. When we have the recordings, I will hire someone to transcribe them. Then I will work with an editor (maybe this will be Stahl, maybe it won't) to determine how much verbal cruft needs to be taken out to make everything readable, and whether the conversational format serves the book. If not, we edit it down to something that does, and how that's done may change section to section. Whatever best communicates what needs to be communicated at the moment. 
The key at this point is that everything going forward is collaborative and not just people waiting for me to get something done alone in front of my computer. 
I will be traveling to Stahl's location for the first two sessions next week. After we see how those go, we'll figure out the schedule moving forward. When he's available, I'm available, until we're done. 
I'll update at the end of next week on how things went.

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