Showing posts with label real life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label real life. Show all posts

Brief Work Notice

My last, large editing project has come in, and I have a new game design gig starting on Monday. Consequently, I will (probably) be too busy to post here until the editing project is done sometime in March. You know, for the two of you who care about such things.


When I do post, I have some writing/editing tips for you—things I always wish I had known and now I do.




On Being Late to the Party (and a Quick Update)

So far, my months of too much work are going well. I've finished editing one novel and one novella, and the other projects have been sufficiently late in coming that I've had time to do so. I guess I made a good decision saying yes to too much!

Also, the gamebook is definitely going to be a thing now (meaning I've signed a contract). It's going to be several months coming, but it will come. So that's something to look forward to.

The other day, I had a mini-rant on Twitter about being late to the party. Let's all agree to stop using this phrase and just enjoy things, yeah?





When Things Fall Through

I got some hard news this week. The editor who was looking at Sea of Souls decided to pass. I still have a lot of good things going on, but this one just . . .


So that was a hard day. But to my surprise, it was only a day. Maybe it's because I still have other things on the horizon or because I've been focusing on being thankful and redefining success, but this loss didn't kill me like it would have years ago—maybe even a year ago.

When I lost the Nexon gig last summer, I scrambled to find work, e-mailing everyone I knew and following every thread. And one thing I learned is that like 80% of those threads—even the ones that came with promising words at the start—also fall through, but it doesn't matter so long as one or two of them sticks.

Heck, even my surfeit of work is not a sure thing until I have projects in hand. But that's okay; the whole reason I take on so much is so I don't have to freak out when some of it disintegrates.

So yeah, I'm thinking maybe I don't (yet) have what the Big 5 publishers are looking for (yet), but I have what Broken Eye Books, Scribendi, [redacted game company], and a few other clients are looking for—and I have an amazing family with enough money to feed them for a while yet. So things ain't so bad. I even briefly imagined life without any writing at all, and you know what? It was still a pretty good life.

(Don't worry. I'm still going to write.)

A part of me (a very, very small part) is even glad Sea of Souls dropped, because now I have more time for other projects people do want. And, man, if there's one thing I need, it's more time.

If those fall through, too? Well, I'll figure that out later. Until then, I'll keep enjoying what's in front of me.



A Look at 2017 and the Alleged 2018

2017 was . . . an interesting year. Aside from the dumpster fire, I went from four years of reliable, steady work to juggling chainsaws.

Don't misunderstand me. Before Torment, I had no work at all, and our enormous family was slowly hemorrhaging money. Torment was literally (in the literal definition of literally) a Godsend, and although freelancing has been bumpy as hell this year, the connections I've made in the last five years are the only thing that has made any of it possible.

So! Looking back at 2017:

1) Torment was released. Not unlike the first one, sales have been unimpressive (so I hear; it's not like I see any financial reports), but the critics love it as do most of the people who have played it.

If history is any indicator, we can expect its successor to be the next crowd-funded success in another fifteen years.

2) I worked for Nexon . . . and now I don't. I realize now I didn't talk about this much on the blog, but yeah, I was doing game writing (and a little design) for a prototype for Nexon which the high-ups ultimately passed on. They not only passed on the prototype, but also the whole team, which unfortunately included me. But hey, I got paid for several months and had time to write on the side, so I ain't complaining.

3) I became a professional editor. I have begun editing for both private clients as well as the online editing firm Scribendi. The combination of these has made for steady work (private clients aren't always there, but they pay great and are super fun; Scribendi is always there).

When I started, I was somewhat hesitant about my editing abilities. I knew I had great attention to detail and a lot of experience with plotting and world-building, but I felt like there was a lot I didn't know about the editing world. Now, thanks in part to Scribendi's training courses, I super know what I'm doing. I edit. I'm an editor. And I love it.

4) I started streaming. Thanks to the magic of the internet, I've been able to play games I've been meaning to play, hang out with my family, and meet other gamers all at the same time. Streaming is a lot of fun, and I expect to keep doing it for a while. (I wish I could do it more, but making money on streaming is a lot more work than advertised.) If you'd like to join us, I stream most Sundays here or you can catch up on previous streams here.


As wacky as this year has been, I'm pretty happy with the state of my life. Torment was fun and amazing and I regret almost none of it, but I also essentially ignored my family for four years with a single credit to show for it. As a result, I learned important things about freelancing that have resulted in me making more money (or "enough" money, which really is better) with less time.

With that, here's a quick look at what 2018 might look like:

It starts with a lot of work. Like too much. But it's all awesome work, and some of it might lead to more work, and most importantly it means I don't have to worry about money for a while, which is always nice.

Cunning Folk. I've been talking with publishing folks about a book that long-time readers will recognize. I recently read my first draft and . . . yeah, I definitely wrote it a long time ago. There's a lot of dust to blow off it, and a lot of pieces that need a writer more experienced than past-Adam was, but there's also a definite possibility to publish some version of this book. I'm looking forward to that.

Blogging. Perceptive readers will notice that I've posted regularly for six weeks in a row now. Will this return to the glory days continue? Stay tuned to find out!

Streaming with my parents. My parents come to visit us a few weeks every year. This year, I'm going to see about introducing them (and myself) to a little game called Portal, and you can watch the fun.

Sea of Souls? The outline's on the editor's desk. We'll see.

Post-Apoc Ninjas? Also on editors' desks, but keep in mind it's been there for a while.

Gamebook? There are some unknowns here, so I can't say much about it. More news when there is news. (But, man, is it fun to write!)


So how are you all? Highlights from 2017? What are you looking forward to in 2018?



Freelancing (and Mini Work Update)



Based on a true story. (And my apologies to Alex Norris whose schtick I have borrowed.)

If all goes according to plan, I will have a novel, two novellas, and a large RPG rulebook to edit, plus I may have a new part-time game design gig. I realize this is a good problem to have, but I'm looking at where I'm going to fit everything in the next 2–3 months.

I can fit everything. It's just a question of how much my unpaid projects suffer—I suspect quite a lot.

Also, this is exactly the time of year my parents are coming to visit.

Oh no.

I'm grateful though, for real. Among other things, I feel less guilty about taking a week off for the holidays. It's been a long time since I've taken a guilt-free vacation. I'd almost forgotten that was a thing people did.

So! How are your holidays going?



Success You Can Control

When we start writing, a lot of us do it, at least in part, to be "successful" (maybe just me, but I'll assume a lot of us because it makes me feel better). By successful, I mean like famous, best-selling, award-winning, rich, amazing whatever. And we know, we KNOW we can't control it, but it so feels like we can. Shoot, I've been writing professionally for almost a decade and have been rejected more times than the 45th US president has lied on record, and I still feel like I can control it.

(Sad that this had to get political? Me too, man. *heavy sigh* Me too.)

It's not just writing either. This is true in basically every creative industry and probably a fair number of non-creative ones as well. But what do you do when success doesn't come? Like, for years and years and years and . . . nothing?

There are lots of ways to deal with it, but I think they all boil down to these two: either give up or redefine success.

Now, when I say "redefine success," I don't mean give up on your big goal-dream of making it big; that's just giving up. I mean redefine your goals to be something in your control so that you're not just pulling yourself out of bed each morning, but rather you're jumping out of bed because you have another successful day ahead of you.

This is what I've been doing lately. I've still got big dreams, and I'm working hard toward them: I have a novel outline in the hands of a Big 5 editor. I have a mobile gamebook in the works. I hope to carve time to write some more novellas. But my happiness isn't resting on those things. They're way too far out, and too much of it is out of my hands. Saying my book has to sell or my game has to hit it big is just begging for depression.

So where is my happiness? Partially, I'm still trying to make myself truly believe these things, but here's where I want it to lie:

  • In making enough money each day to feed my family well and maybe take them to a movie every once in a while.
  • In spending time with my family.
  • In having time and purpose to create something that I love.
  • In having time to play a game or watch Netflix every so often.
I have so many freaking projects that if I put my happiness in any one of them -- or all of them all at once -- I'd end up working 28-hour days only to have the project flop while simultaneously missing out on what makes these projects worth doing at all.

So I'm trying to take things slow, one day at a time and enjoying my family at each step. How about you? What does success look like for you?




The Importance of Being Mercenary

A thread I posted on Twitter that is important enough (and I think about this stuff often enough) to post it here.














Got Me a Jorb

Last month, as you'll recall, I lost my game design gig. For the past several weeks, I've followed every lead I have and pulled together pieces of several jobs. Unfortunately, none of them are big enough (or steady and consistent enough) to serve as a Family-Providing Job.

But that's the past! I am now officially a remote editor on the roster for an online editing and proofreading firm.

Okay, that sounds super boring, but let me tell you why it's exciting IN LIST FORM!
  1. It's a steady job! Game design is super awesome, but it's hard to consistently find contracts for a remote designer/writer/whatever I am.
  2. It's ridiculously flexible! I can stay on the roster as long as I edit a minimum 10,000 words a month, which is like a day of work for me. That means that I can still do game design contracts, freelance editing, and writing gigs as they come up, and this editing firm will still be there when I'm done.
  3. It'll make me a better editor! I get tons of practice, advice from professionals, and even free training, so every job I take for these guys improves my skills for my private clients as well as my skills as a writer.
  4. I set my own hours! Do I need to make extra money one month? I can work crazy hard and do that. Do I need to take a week off suddenly without asking for permission? I can do that too. Nobody cares, so long as I meet my minimum (and feed my family, which my family cares about, I guess).
  5. I work to a task rather than to an arbitrary number of hours! On Torment, I was paid monthly no matter how much I worked -- and I worked a lot. I don't regret the time I put into that game (the opposite, actually; I wish I could have put more time into it), but it wasn't really sustainable. On the other hand, most projects pay me only for the hours I do, which is more fair but gets tricky when they don't have enough for me to do or when there's too much for me to do in the hours they've budgeted for me. I much prefer to get paid for a task and then be left to work at my own speed. I don't have to stress about working too slow (within reason), and if I work fast then I get bonus freetime.
  6. As I said on Twitter a few weeks ago, I freaking love editing! I get to help people! And clean things! And make money doing it!
Reasons #2-6, by the way, apply to freelance editing as well. And freelancing pays better. AND I get to work on awesome projects like novels and RPG rulebooks. But yeah, that Reason #1 is kind of important. Editing resumes and college essays and dissertations might not be a manic dream job, but it's exactly the glue I need to hold all these other job pieces together while still keeping my family alive and junk. (And I do get to edit novels sometimes).

Other theoretically more exciting updates, in no particular order:
  • My Sea of Souls outline is still in the hands of the person who will decide its fate. That's publishing, man.
  • I'm working on a gamebook for a mobile game company. It's no steady job (and no contract has been signed, so I can't say anything concrete), but it's pretty exciting. Gamebooks are basically my prestige class.
  • I'm doing some proofreading and editing for Monte Cook Games and enjoying every minute of it (and not just because I get to read all this awesome stuff before anybody else). I love all my clients, but MCG might be my favorite.
  • On Sunday nights (US time), I'm currently streaming Ori and the Blind Forest, which is one of the prettiest most explory-fun games I've played.
  • I might MIGHT be able to breathe new life into ye olde Cunning Folk (which could be exciting for the two of you who've been reading this blog since forever).
As always, more on these if/when I have it.

In the meantime, how are you doing? What are you playing? Or watching? Or whatever you do for fun?



Let Me Edit Your Book

While I'm in between design gigs, I've decided to offer up my services as a freelance editor. I've been critiquing and editing novels for years (in addition to virtually every single conversation in the incredibly verbose Torment), and I'd like to use that experience to help you.

If you'd like to have a professional author with an obsessive eye for detail take a look at your novel, I'm your guy. I'm offering several different levels of editing, including a sample edit so you can try before you buy. If you can't find what you're looking for... well, I'll be surprised.

Details on the Editing Services page, here.



Update, August 2017

Hey, guys! If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, then you probably already know this, but for those who don't: my new game design gig (mentioned in the last post) has ended and I am currently looking for new work.

Being unemployed is weird, but I think I'm through the emotional worst of it (he says, just before his family runs out of money entirely and he discovers new meanings of "worst"). I have a few leads, though nothing concrete yet as of this writing. Honestly, I'm excited at the possibilities, but that's easy to say, isn't it? Possibilities are always exciting.

Here are some other things that are going on:

1) I'm still thankful. Remember that gratitude posting I talked about last year? I'm still doing it, day 257 and counting. And I'm really glad I have been. Not even counting the rotting landfill that is American current events, I've had a number of depressive times in my own life this past year. Forcing myself to literally count my blessings has really helped me get through them.

If my notifications are any indicator, it's helped other people as well. So no worries. I'm gonna keep going.

2) Sea of Souls. Last time, I mentioned a Middle Grade novel tentatively titled Sea of Souls. This novel has been outlined and the outline sent to the person who requested it. We'll see what they think. Me? I'm excited. This novel feels important to me, more so than most things I've written, and I'm anxious to see what comes of it.

3) I'm streaming on Twitch. What's streaming, you ask? Basically, you get to watch me play a game while you and other fun folk chat at me (my family, in particular, is pretty fun to chat with). I've been playing games like Thimbleweed Park, Black the Fall, and Old Man's Journey -- mostly games with strong narratives because that's the kind of thing I enjoy. If you'd like to watch, head over here on US Sunday nights: https://www.twitch.tv/adamheine_th, or you can catch up on old streams at YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/user/AdamHeine.

(Yes, I realize I stream the same time as Game of Thrones. Whatever.)


I've got some other things going on, but I can't talk about them yet as they're all just possibilities at this point. None of them are guaranteed provision for my family, but they're exciting possibilities with the potential to provide. I'll tell you more when I can.

How are you guys doing? Tell me in the comments.



Current Status

For a long time, not a lot had changed, hence the lack of updates. But here's what's going on in my life right now that you may (or may not) be interested in:

1) Torment is out. You probably already know this, but if you don't let me say it again: TORMENT IS OUT FOR PS4, XBOX, PC, MAC, AND LINUX. It's also getting some pretty great reviews, with a metascore of 83 on Metacritic. I don't think I could be happier with all of our work.

2) I have a new game design gig. I am not (currently) working for inXile and instead am doing narrative design for Nexon. I do very much hope I get to work with the fine folks at inXile again in the future, but I'm also pretty excited about what we're doing at Nexon. Such is the life of a freelancer.

3) I'm currently drafting "Secret Middle Grade Fantasy Project." I want to tell you more, but I can't. Suffice to say I'm excited about this project.

4) I'm also writing another Middle Grade novel. This one tentatively called Sea of Souls. It's very different from anything I've written, which makes me both scared and excited. I think it could be pretty great, but we'll see!

5) I'm considering starting a Twitch stream. Because obviously I have all this free time. If you don't know what Twitch is, don't worry about it yet (I'll explain more if/when I do). Right now, I'm just trying things out and deciding what I want to do with it (and why). Any thoughts you have on the topic are welcome.

6) I'm finishing up Rurouni Kenshin. Thinking about what to watch next. Probably Iron Fist (since I'm fully invested in the Netflix Marvel universe), but there are so. Many. Shows.

7) I'm (finally) playing Banner Saga 2. And discovering I really suck at it, but also discovering how not to suck at it, which is fun.


As for other things you might be interested in -- like Izanami's Choice, some kind of sequel to Izanami's Choice, Post-Apoc Ninjas, etc -- I have no new news on these things (hence the long periods of silence). But that doesn't mean they have disappeared. As always, I'll let you know when I have something to share!

So that's what's going on with me. What have you been doing lately?




On Being Thankful

I don't remember why, but decades ago I decided, as part of reflecting on the day, I would name whatever good things had happened that day. Whether they were big, awesome things like getting to speak to the girl I had a crush on (it happened once!) or small, stupid things like getting a green light on my way home from work. My teen years, like most, included some dark times, but I believe that habit helped me through.

Today, when I'm having a crappy day or bordering on depression, I'll force myself to name five things I'm thankful for that day, whatever they are. The first one or two are easy but have little effect. The third or fourth is always difficult to think of. I often want to give up. But by the time I get to number five -- for some weird, nigh-magical reason -- I actually feel better (and usually name one or two more things because it's easier all of a sudden).

With social media, I've seen at least a couple of people now post one thing they're thankful for each day for a year. My brother, in particular, has kept going and is now on year four. These posts don't often make me laugh out loud or inform my day (the two main things I hope for in social media), but they make me smile. They provide pleasant bright spots in what can sometimes be a dark feed.

They remind me there are things to be thankful for.

With all the crap my feeds have been filled with, I don't know why I haven't started the same thing sooner. But I have now. You are more than welcome to follow on Facebook or Twitter, but honestly it's not for you. It's for me, to remember that there is always something good -- there is always light.

And if that light touches even one other person? Well, that's awesome. That's the one thing I want most to do.

In the comments then: What are you thankful for today? There is nothing too small.

5 Things You Might Need to Hear Right Now

My hand-crafted echo chambers are full of mourning and outrage (with a sprinkling of praises and celebration). Reading through it is hard and not good for anything useful of any kind. Expectations have been shattered, and some are genuinely afraid for their lives or livelihood.

If your echo chamber is similar -- or if it's your life or livelihood that's endangered -- I'm not going to tell you it'll be okay or it will get better. I don't know that. I don't. But I do know a few things you might need to hear right now.


1) Take care of yourself. If you fall apart, nothing else you take in or put out will matter. There is no shame in taking a few days off to cry or laugh or escape. In fact, there may be shame in not doing that.
 
2) Turn off the Endless Browser of Outrage. I'm in a much better place than I was a month ago, but even I feel the gravity of the downward spiral with each turn of the scroll wheel.

STOP IT. Your life is not in here. It's out there, with friends and family. Nothing here will affect what you do out there, so if the Browser of Outrage is stealing your life, kill it. Take that life back.

3) Love someone. Love everyone. Be nice to nobody in particular. Be the change you want to see in the world.

I mean in real life. You can love people online too, but it's way more effective in real life.

4) Do you create? Then create. If you can't create for anything right now, then don't. Create for you. If you can create for a purpose, do that too.
 
5) Have a booplesnoot.


I Took Two Weeks Off Social Media and All I Got Was This Lousy Blog Post

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook then you may have noticed that I took the last two weeks off from social media.


So there were a lot of reasons, but mostly it was my kids being off school for two weeks and the aforementioned big ugly reason I haven't blogged much. (My kids are not related to my anxiety, but both things affect how much time I have to get creative work done).

"Okay, so... what'd you get out of it?"

Right, well first you need to understand how Twitter and Facebook factor into my normal life. 

On a good day, the first thing I do is get through all the e-mails the US sent me while I was sleeping. Then I sift through Twitter/FB (and any associated articles) while I'm eating breakfast. It's my newspaper. I have a couple of lists of people for whom I try to read everything I missed, and for the rest I just read whatever Twitter and Facebook deem important for me to read. I usually do this again at lunch and then at night when I need to decompress.

On a bad day, I will additionally be checking them constantly -- every time Unity compiles, every time Torment loads a new scene, every time I come back from the bathroom, every time I get a glass of water or someone asks me a question or a cat mews outside. Hell, I checked Twitter three times just now while I was writing that sentence.

Lately, I noticed I was having more bad days, hence the social media vacation.

So what happened these two weeks? A list:
  • The first 2-3 days were hard as hell. I felt disconnected from everything and everyone. When Unity was compiling, I had to sit there and watch like a chump.
  • I found myself checking fivethirtyeight.com and Izanami's Amazon ranking about ten times more often than their updates can possibly justify.
  • I gathered news from primary news sources. It was super weird.
On the other hand....
  • I had way more time for Torment, my kids, and Shadowrun Hong Kong.
  • I watched the third debate without commentary and it didn't make me mad even a little (exasperated isn't the same as mad, right?).
  • I remembered how to solve Rubik's cube.
  • I didn't get depressed even once.

Let me say that last one again: I DIDN'T GET DEPRESSED EVEN ONCE.

When it came time to get back on, I was actually afraid. Did I want to go back to the monster that sapped 2-3 hours of my day and an immeasurable quantity of my joy?

Well, yes I did. Because among other things, that's how I connect with the world and that's how people connect with me. (The second day of my break, my mom IMed me to say my posts helped her get out of bed in the morning and now she didn't have a reason. I love my mommy.)

But I didn't want to do it the way I had been doing it, so I decided to change a few things.


Limiting the time is easy (for certain values of easy). For one thing, I don't need to read every single damn post that went up since the last time I checked. If I'm afraid of missing something? Hey, look: actual news! For another, I really really really really need to stop checking every time I'm in mid-thought.

Yeah okay, that part's not actually easy. But you know what they say.

How to limit anxiety? I spent a lot of time thinking about that (because I had time, you see). Turns out social media can cause depression (shocker), but why? Well, for me it was mostly all the outrage. There are a lot of legitimate things to be outraged about, but when you're scrolling The Endless Browser of Outrage, it kinda bores into your skull. I mean, that's why you're not supposed to read the comments.

I needed to remember that the world is not outrage. It's mostly pretty mundane -- or even happy -- especially the part of the world that has any effect at all on my life.

So for now, I'm trying to pay closer attention to my emotions as I read. Am I getting upset? Bored? Depressed? Maybe it's time to stop scrolling.

Will I stick with it? God, I hope so. Maybe you can help keep me accountable on that.

I don't know how or whether this applies to anyone else. But having done so I would definitely recommend a break from social media from time to time. And if you do take a long break (like a few days or more), before you turn it on again stop and think about how you want to consume it.

So what's your deal with social media? How do you handle the terrible signal-to-outrage ratio?



Two Reasons I Haven't Been Blogging Much

Reason #1: Because the intersection represented in this not-to-scale diagram is very small.

The red circle is the real killer. That shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who has read this blog before. Something about having 2-3 fulltime jobs and only 24 hours in a day. WHATEVER.

I do tend to talk about things on Twitter and Facebook from time to time, so I'm not silent (most of you probably got here from one of those platforms, so you know). There has just been very little I have required a long-form medium for.

But also, there's been Reason #2:
I know. I completely ruined the Venn diagram thing I had going. But you know what? That's what anxiety does it ruins everything and makes you talk in all-italic run-on sentences.

Before you worry about me too much, don't. My anxiety is relatively mild and hasn't lasted for more than a couple of days at a time (I only had one really bad weekend a few weeks ago). I don't even know that it would count as clinical anxiety. I just know that whenever I thought about writing a post on something, my brain shouted, "HERE ARE ALL THE REASONS YOU SHOULDN'T DO THAT, YOU UTTER SCREW-UP!" and then it would launch a 3-hour marathon of Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen.

Mainly, I just had to remind myself to focus on my work, take a walk, get off social media, and talk to my three-dimensional loved ones (though not all at the same time). I won't say my anxiety is over, because the triggers are all still out there, but I'm coping all right.

Anyway, I'm just letting you know the blog still isn't dead. It may never be (because where else would I post long-form thoughts?), and it's definitely not dead now.

So. How are you guys doing?

And hey, how do you deal with anxiety when it pops up in your life (for those of you in whom it does)?



Giveaway winners and the future

The Izanami's Choice signed giveaway is over, and our two winners have been selected. Congratulations to Jeanna M. and Jackie! I've e-mailed the winners and will send out your copies as soon as I can.

For the rest of you, I know. I'm sad, too. I wish I had signed copies for everybody! But you can still buy your own copy at any of these fine places: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Broken Eye Books. I can't sign them for you, but maybe some day. Yeah... some day.

So what's up next? Several things:

1) Torment. We're pushing toward our release (early Q1, 2017), so expect to hear more about that as we get closer.

2) I'm working on my own stuff (specifically, I'm plotting the project listed as "Secret Fantasy Project" on the Works in Progress page).

3) I hope to write more in the world of Izanami's Choice, but that's not up to me yet. (In a way, it's kind of up to you. BUY MY BOOK!)

4) I'm obsessively watching my Amazon sales rank, because I heard you're not really an author until you do that.

5) I'm coming up with the next No Thank You, Evil! campaign for my kids.

6) I'm trying to finish Stranger Things before somebody spoils it for me. I mean spoils it more.

All of which means I'm... still doing more than one human should be capable of in 24 hours. Yeah, I don't know how it works either (most of the time it doesn't, I think).

As always, watch this space (or this one, or this one) for what I'm doing, whether any future giveaways surface, or whatever the latest ridiculous thing my kids' said is. And stick with the newsletter to make sure you don't miss any new fiction I have coming out.

No Thank You, Evil!

I consider the age suggestions on the sides of game boxes to be total lies. Boss Monster (13+) is one of my 9-year-olds' favorite games to play on their own. My 6-year-old daughter kills at Love Letter (10+). One of my sons, when faced with an inevitable loss at Star Wars Risk (10+), blew up his own planet so the rebels would either have to call the game or spend another hour of gameplay going around the long way. He wasn't pouting. It was a carefully thought-out tactic.

He was 7 at the time.

So of course I try to get these kids into role-playing. Unfortunately, most RPGs have a lot of rules which, although my kids are capable of learning them, make playing the game kinda like wrangling velociraptors.

"You can't cast fireball. You don't have any material components or enough 3rd-level slots to.... Fine, you cast the spell."

Numenera's story-focused rules are great for kids, but the Ninth World is kinda creepy, and homebrews, although fun, are a lot to keep track of.

So when Monte Cook Games announced they were doing a kid-focused RPG, based on the rules of Numenera, I knew I was in. No Thank You, Evil! is the perfect game for our family.

Part of that, admittedly, is that my kids are ridiculously amusing to GM. They're fearless to the point of idiocy (requiring me to come up with clever ways in which to not kill them). They have no in-game morals, so persuading, lying, and attacking are all perfectly valid options (and usually all suggested simultaneously). And most of all they're deviously clever.

Two days ago they were trying to convince a guard they were innocent and should be set free from prison. The guard said it wasn't his job to determine innocence, and that if they were in prison it was obviously because they were bad (the guard was aptly named "Justin Justice").

Later on, a mostly successful escape attempt resulted in the PCs being outside while Justin was trapped inside. "I told you you were criminals!" Justin shouted through the door.

"But you're the one in prison," said Joel. "That means you're bad."

As the GM, I didn't know what to say to that. I didn't say anything for several minutes because I was laughing. Justin eventually tried to argue, but Joel had a point. Justin is still trapped in that prison trying to work it out.

But as amusing as my kids are to GM, it works mainly because No Thank You, Evil! enables their creativity. The game's got rules -- even advanced rules for kids who grow beyond the simple version -- but it encourages players to try crazy things. For example, of the six characters my kids created, only two use corebook character classes, none of them have corebook weapons, and at least three try to use their self-defined abilities to slide past the rules at every opportunity.

Sometimes I even let them, because it's funny.

The thing is NTYE doesn't break when you do this. Everything players try to do boils down to one simple rule: roll a d6 to attempt it. They all get it (a little too well, actually -- I have to keep telling them their rolls don't count until I've told them the difficulty), and they all feel free to try anything at any time, knowing that something fun will happen no matter what.

There are some things I questioned about the game. I thought it was weird to ask my players to describe a character I just introduced, and sometimes I feel like the world is too whimsical for my boys who want quests and villains. But (1) I don't have to do any of that stuff -- I mean, I could make the world all Forgotten Realms if I wanted to -- and (2) it turns out my kids like this stuff.

Like, the whimsy keeps everything light, even though one of my boys threatens everybody he meets (and another doesn't waste his time with threats; he just goes straight to zapping them). The moment I described above with the prison guard occurred after they had befriended, and then betrayed, him to get out. Justin liked them, and they turned on him. It's a dark, almost villainous turn, but Joel found humor in it.

And it works perfectly well within that world.


My daughter hit Justin in the face with a sandwich. It did 1 damage, but he also lost his next turn because, honestly, the sandwich was pretty delicious.
As for asking them to describe people, what a time-saver! I'm starting to think I should do this with grownups, too. I didn't have time to detail a full adventure for our most recent session, so I asked them to describe the main villain and name several characters (hence the name Justin Justice). They love it, and it's less work for me!

When I GM adults, I feel like there's a lot of pressure to either have everything prepared or to think quick on my feet. I no longer have time for the former, and I'm terrible at the latter. But my kids don't care! If I stumble on a plot point, they start yelling out ideas. Sometimes I even run with them because they're so crazy I just want to see what happens. It's true collaborative storytelling -- the best part about role-playing.

So, hey, if you're a gaming parent who's been looking for a family-focused RPG, maybe check out No Thank You, Evil. You might be surprised what comes out of your kids' heads.




Why "It's Just a Joke" Doesn't Make It Okay

I had a little rant on Twitter earlier. It's primarily in response to Donald Trump's terrifying implication that maybe 2nd Amendment people can "do something" about Clinton, but it's also build up from years and years of online death threats to people followed up with "that's just the internet" and "geez, it's just a joke."

What's terrifying about Trump's joke is not the joke itself, but the fact that so many people are nodding along, the fact that he says crap like this all the time, the fact that he could conceivably be our next President, and...

Well here's what I said on Twitter.


The great paperwork coup

Anyone remember the coup? Probably not. It's pretty boring, and the news is filled with far more interesting things. (Though I'm sure life under the junta is more interesting if they think you're making trouble.)

For our children's home, it's meant paperwork requests at inconvenient times, lost paperwork at any time, and surprise government inspections (well, one inspection -- fortunately I was dressed at the time).

This week, it meant this fun enactment, while applying for my yearly visa extension:
Immigration Official: Sorry, you need a new document this year from your district office.
*goes to district office*
DO Official: We can do that, but we need this document that you left at home.

 
*comes back the next day with missing document*
DO Official: Now we need this other document from city hall.
*goes to city hall*
City Official: We can't do that at all. We could do this instead, but you either need to go back to America or get this document certified by the consulate.
*goes to consulate*
US Official: We can do that, but you need an appointment. Come back Tuesday.


So what's life been like under the coup so far?

WORST.
FETCH QUEST.
EVER.


The States of Things

Torment:


New part-time project:


Izanami's Choice:


Currently playing:

SpeedRunners
Ultimate Chicken Horse
Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director's Cut

Current mood:

Currently answering questions in the comments: