If I wrote again...

Thursday 28 Mar 2002

I promised you last time that I'd talk about writing the next time, and then is now, so here it is.

If I wrote again, some things would change. First of all, it would almost certainly be fantasy - I wasn't happy with my brief foray into sci-fi, even though there are dozens of those stories in my head. So fantasy it is...but Adventurers, it would not be. The reasons for this should be pretty clear to you by now, so I won't go into them here.

Some things I've used before would not be present in the new fantasy, chiefly the high magic levels. Imagine: no instant teleportation from place to place. No automatically being able to scry/find anyone, anywhere. No fireballs from every third-rate wizard on the block. Hmm...the possibilities are intriguing. A world without much magic. A world without ANY magic? A world, perhaps, where magic doesn't work, or is hard to control and thus has very few wielders, or maybe is outlawed and looked down upon?

Following this train of thought, would that just apply to "wizard" magic or also "priest" magic? Hmm. I bet that the adventures of a group that didn't have powerful magic to rely upon could be interesting. You'd never know who might die, and the risks taken by such a party would seem more dangerous to the reader. A good example of this can be found in the third book of the first Icewind Dale trilogy by Rob Salvatore, where Drizzt and friends (dwarf, halfling, barbarian) have to cross a huge swamp without any wizards or priests. I read that years ago, but it stuck in my head. Now, I'm not ruling out healing altogether...just the conventional methods. A priest shouldn't get to touch someone and cure all their wounds; instead, they should have to spend an hour cleaning, binding, stitching, applying salves and powders...and if indeed any magic flowed from healer to wounded, the former should be exhausted with the effort, and the latter with the process.

No halflings, no dwarves, maybe no elves. Too many cliches. I can do better than that. Warriors and thieves, much easier - they present no problems as do spellcasters as noted above. The adventuring party would need to be a mix of archetypes and weirdness...people with flaws, quirks. I'd have to work harder on strong but rapid characterization, as opposed to having hundreds of episodes to flesh that out. Some of the villains would need strong characterizations, too - another thing that Salvatore does well (e.g. the assassin Artemis Entreri, who is actually more interesting than some of the saga's heroes.)

Overall setting? Hard to say. I am still strongly tempted to make it an alternate future of the Adventurers, so that I can use their offspring (or invent some!) without violating true continuity or closing any doors. Doing this would necessitate somehow eliminating most or all of the Adventurers, though, which could get messy - another good reason to make it an alternate reality. You're probably wondering why I favor this link to Adventurers when I've said that I want to get away from Adventurers. The reason is that I've got most of the characters invented already, and the ties are strong (I began this whole idea years ago, before I was sick of writing Adventurers.) I think we're headed toward "grim and gritty" if I go with this option.

Just to play devil's advocate against myself, I will mention the other main option: Adventurers have retired, their children somehow get brought together to perform some great quest. This seems wimpy and sappy, but also not grim and gritty. I think I know which I prefer, though your mileage may vary.

The best way to pull all of this off still seems to be my original concept: a world ravaged by cataclysm. All the old kingdoms and landmarks are gone, everything is new, lots of people are dead, new powers rise from the chaos, magic is so forgotten that it might as well be dead, the gods don't talk to the mortals and vice versa. It would be a whole new playing field.

What you are reading here is the possible fine-tuning of ideas that have been floating around in my mind for more than five years. Fantasy, yes. AD&D, no. Characterization and interaction, yes. Raw power, no. The idea would be to make good fantasy that's notably different from what I've written before. I know I can do it, if I can just find the time, which won't be anytime real soon. But at least I can give you a glimpse of what might someday be.