I Ask Again: What Now?

Cross-posted at Sword’s Edge

I can see the end of Dark Horizons on the—dare I say it/write it—horizon. So, what to do next? What to do with SEP? Most blogination happens over at Sword’s Edge, with the occasional personal post over at my tumblr page, so whither SEP?

I’m wondering if serial fiction is the way to go. It keeps me writing. The problem is that it does take up so much of my writing time, I do little else. Also, it works best when there is a large (as in five or six) buffer of chapters/posts, which means I likely wouldn’t be prepared to transit immediately into a new story. Finally, I would have to decide what to write. I have so many ideas and inspirations, and they change so often, it’s a tough question to answer.

If I free up my writing time, maybe I can get some products out there. The Osiris Files have stalled, mostly based on the stalling of the release of Mundus Novit. It is the plan that should the Files go forward, they would no longer be linked to MN. While I remain enthusiastic about MN, the lack of certainty regarding its status—now and in the future—means I would prefer to focus my efforts elsewhere.

So, those of you still visiting, if you feel invested in SEP at all, what would like to see? More serial fiction? More product? Something else entirely? Or should this just become a legacy site and I should focus my efforts elsewhere?

I’d put up a poll or ask for comments, but I would likely be embarrassed by the response. Instead, just email me if you actually have an opinion.

The Osiris Campaign: System and Style

I am two sessions into my first Mundus Novit campaign using Mutants & Masterminds (Second Edition). It’s interesting how a rules set and player interest can change a game’s direction.

I know True20 pretty well. I’ve run a few different games with it (so far, two “historical/alt history” and one modern spec ops) and I like the feel of True20. While I don’t think the Powers as presented in True20 Revised fit my conception of Mundus Novit, it certainly could fit yours. The odd thing is that with just the inclusion of a -2 penalty on actions for being Wounded, True20 feels more “gritty” than M&M. Not actually gritty, just in comparison.

For my games, I made it a -1 cumulative penalty, so if a character has 3 Wounds, the character has a -3 on all checks, including Toughness. That gave me a level of grit that made me happy.

But I digress.

I gave my players a bunch of choices for playing Mundus Novit. The decision was to go super-hero. I did stipulate it would be without bright costumes and such, but gave the group a choice between the Authority and Planetary as campaign paradigms. While the campaign adventures are Planetary flavoured, the crew is more the Authority.

Here’s what I mean. By now, everyone should be aware of my love for Warren Ellis. While Nextwave indoctrinated me, it was Planetary that made me the raving fanboy that I am. His work on the Authority just reinforced that.

For me, Planetary was about powerful individuals while the Authority (at least during Ellis’ run) was about intense situations. That is not to say that Planetary did not have intense situation nor that the Authority did not have powerful individuals, but these were secondary.

To me, Planetary is about the characters and the story while the Authority is about the powers and hitting stuff. Because the Authority focuses so much on the powers, it seems like the Planetary characters are less powerful by comparison. In raw power, this is absolutely untrue. However, the powers are not the focus of Planetary, so one tends to focus on the characters and the plot.

Mutants & Masterminds is perfect for the Authority. I don’t know if the shift in our campaign flavour is due to the system or just the characters created using it. It may be a reflection of the power level at which I set the campaign.

I set the power level at 10 for a few reasons. One was that I test-built a few characters. To get the kind of character I wanted, level 10 seemed to be the sweet spot. The characters weren’t uber-powerful, but they could do a lot. Thing is, I could not test or even understand all of the powers. I still don’t.

There are some powers that don’t cost much that can really affect specific parts of the campaign. Ranges and speeds can get pretty silly at rank 10. One of the characters has Datalink with a range “to the moon!”

Now, when I built my test characters, I didn’t understand about things like Alternate Powers. That’s kind of a big thing. All the characters in the game have alternate powers. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it does change how one plans the game, and how the game moves.

This is yet another example of how one really needs to run a game to understand how it works. I still say that there is value in a review of a game that the reviewer has not played, as long as that fact is clear in the review.

Stick around. I’ve got more to say about the Osiris campaign.

Quo Vadis?

Where are we going?

That’s a good question. This recent, short hiatus did provide me with some time to think, as I nursed a couple of sick kids through a lot of coughing and nose drizzle.

Here’s what I concluded. I concluded that pushing SEP as a serious venture has run its course.

Who are we kidding? SEP is really just me, Fraser. There isn’t much actual business going on, though there might be some in the near future (more later). So, the site is getting rebranded into a more personal site. The SEP connection with products, reviews, etc will remain, but this is my site. There are no longer any partners in SEP. I have people who help, but the vision and direction—or lack thereof—is wholly mine.

I am SEP.

Will this tarnish the professional veneer of SEP? Likely not as much as not publishing anything for a couple of years.

Given all that, I was also pondering possible projects in the future. I want to continue to generate content and possibly even products. I’m torn, though, as to what I would like to pursue. Here are the projects that interest me:

1) Updating the Albenistan series.
The only product in the original trilogy that I am still proud of is the Khorforjan Gambit. It’s not about content, it’s about presentation. Raid on Ashkashem was produced from a Word document. I’m not sure what Dean used for the Qalashar Device, but I’m not happy with that layout either. I wanted to redesign the series to be more like the Khorforjan Gambit, but if I’m going to do that, why not go ahead and correct the errors and issues that have been noted with all three products?

And if I’m going to do that, I can update the series. Move it forward to the present, or even the near future.

Then I’d collect all three into a single volume of just the adventures–none of the extra stuff, just the campaign.

That’s a lot of frikkin’ work, but these are my babies and I want them to look good.

2) An e-book based on the Scouts, Spies and Other Guys series at Collateral.
Scouts, Spies and Other Guys became the name for the series on gaming in the military genre I produced for the podcast Collateral, from the Accidental Survivors. I put a lot of work and research into those episodes (from Collateral 10 to Collateral 27, not counting Collateral 18).

While I didn’t do scripts for all the episodes, I started to transcribe Military Solutions (episode 10), the introductory episode, and figured it’s about 150 words per minute. That means with the 17 episodes in the series (not counting any extra episodes), I have a total of around 50,000 words, or between 150 and 200 pages, depending on the layout.

I think there’d be interest out there, but like updating the Albenistan series, this would be a lot of work.

3) True20 guide for Mundus Novit
Honestly, Mundus Novit will be out soon. I’ve seen the first proofs, but there were revisions that were necessary.

While Mundus Novit was originally written for d20 Modern, the setting is being released systemless. The Modern system supplement will be released in conjunction with the setting book. Like Freeport, this gives the opportunity to do other system books. True20 is the one I’d be ready to do, and have actually started work on. That has stalled, given that I was uncertain about the actual release date for Mundus Novit, and what the reception will be.

4) Osiris Files
As discussed here, this is a series of adventure overviews. These are not adventure modules per se, rather a concept is presented and considerations as to how approach it are discussed. The first two are done, but this is a series, and I don’t want to start releasing anything until the series is done. However, my motivation has waned because I honestly don’t know how well these will be received. Is it worth my time and effort?

I mean, I’m basically a fiction writer. That’s what I like to write. It’s what I’m passionate about.

I know that Dark Horizons is going to be collected for a PDF and print on demand book. I’m going to extend some scenes, fix some errors, and perhaps change some aspects. However, the book will essentially be the same as the web series. I have no idea if anyone will bother to buy it, but most of the work is already done, so this one’s a no brainer.

But what about beyond that? Anyone who reads my blog will know how many ideas I come up with. Do I want to start pursuing these ideas? And if so, do I want to release for free and later for pay, like Dark Horizons? Do I want to continue doing modern genre? I don’t have a lot of ideas for modern, but sword & sorcery doesn’t fit too well with the main output at SEP.

I think I’m going to wait and see how Dark Horizons works before making a decision on this one.

Now, I don’t know how I’m going to decide what I’m going to do. For some stuff (Mundus Novit and fiction), the market will help me decide. If either Mundus Novit or Dark Horizons are successful enough, that’ll decide it for me. Yes, I am mercenary like that. Otherwise, I’m going to see what my time availability is like. While all require effort and time, something like transcribing can be done in short spurts without any real degradation, while creative work—for me—suffers if I don’t have at least an hour to devote to it at a stretch.

If anyone has any strong opinions, you know where to find me.