The Game's the Thing Afoot

May 03, 2022 1:56 pm


May 2022 Story Club

This Month's Short Story: The Vengeance Business

Lensa is trapped in a soul-destroying marriage to an abusive husband that can barely keep his car dealership afloat. Her life is something to be endured. One day she finds a demon shrine in the woods, dedicated to the ancient spirits of vengeance. What price will she pay for freedom?


Get your free short story!

Hey, I was thinking of releasing this story on my website to draw people into my world. I had a plan to build a few stories that would lead into Rule One, and this would be the first. Let me know if it works for you as an introduction, or if Rule One worked better. (You've got your copy of Rule One, right?)

Convention Days

In pre-COVID times, we used to have role-playing game conventions. A time of meat pies, and pizza (before I was diagnosed as gluten intolerant, alas) and crowded halls. Of buying too many dice sets and books from the stores. Of playing weird boardgames found in the library library and trying to figure out the rules late at night. But they were a long time ago.


But Melbourne announced a convention—the first in what seemed like centuries. So I dug up my in-progress Vestige World roleplaying system and ran four convention games. The idea I had when developing this world for my fiction was that I could use roleplaying games as a creative test lab. Develop cool stuff, and see what people responded to the in the game, and what didn't.


(As an aside, I assume most of you have heard of roleplaying? Like Dungeons & Dragons, and Critical Role? Well, if Critical Role is the 'Hamilton' of roleplaying games, these convention games are more like the pub band you get on Saturday nights.)


So what did I learn? I thought it would be hard to pitch the setting to people, but it’s been fine. (So far, I’ve pitched it as:

  • Lord of the Rings meets World of Darkness.
  • Onward Meets Final Fantasy VII.
  • …urban fantasy, in another world that’s not earth, but still has telephones and skyscrapers.

And if I use tropes and twist the,m it's okay! Like--the world was ruled by the Dark Emperor ruled the world two thousand years ago... but now he's been defeated and his castle is the city's most popular tourist attraction.


But if I wander too far away from a trope, people will point it out. Like vampires. I had vampires in initially as one of the critters, but people who played the first incarnation of the game (and those who read the first draft of Final Night) commented that the vampires weren't anything like what they thought of as 'vampires' so I changed them to ‘revenants’. (They drank blood in the first version, but the sticking point was that they had to make a pact with a ghost lord to return from the dead, which was not a thing that the platonic idea of vampires in people’s minds did.)


Anyway, so it's good to get out there using one of my favorite hobbies to share my ideas that might work its way back into my stories. I think the direct transcription of roleplaying games into written stories doesn't work (at least for me) but it's a great idea furnace to model and design how the world works.


Have you found that one creative pursuit helps another? Let me know.


Publication Reshuffle

So I've been working on Novel #1, which is now in editing. I was writing Novel #2 but that needs a bit longer to cook. And then I got feedback from people that had read both Final Night and Novel #1, who thought that Final Night wasn't the best prequel, or lead in, for the novel.


The main thing was the switch in POV characters from undead teenage Lukie (who's a side character in the novel) to the novel's main character, who's a government analyst in her mid-forties, who gets shocked into the supernatural world with a chance encounter. (It was inspired by binging the first season of Killing Eve and musings on what would happen if Buffy didn't get her powers until middle age, but I digress.)


The plan is that I'll release Final Night later this year (yes, I'll be publishing something!) and will have a few sequel novellas to it. And then shuffle my promotional fiction to be Rule One with a few lead-in stories (hence my interest on what you think of The Vengeance Business above.)



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A vicious murder. An injured soldier. Thousands of souls in danger of destruction.

Fiona thought that when you stopped a war, it stayed stopped.

But the hatreds between the vampires, werewolves and magicians are not so easily settled. Old enemies are forming new alliances. A murder leads Fiona, Rob and Julian to discover a plan that spans decades. And the secrets that surround Fiona are drawing closer to the surface. Can she keep the peace while uncovering the truth of her shattered past?

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Jodie Hamlon's first book rocketed her to the top of the best seller list. One would think writing another would be easy, but she has hit a wall. Between her crazy mother Joyce, her ornery Great Dane named Boston, and the nervous breakdown she has yet to pencil in, the last thing she needs is demons!

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