Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

A story in the middle of the night

Somewhere between 2:30 and 3:30 this morning, I was in that kind-of-awake state that wasn’t full awareness but still enough that the missed sleep caught up with me later in the day.

There was an idea. Really just a snapshot series of images and a few sentences of story, and I think I fought falling back to sleep entirely because I wanted to make sure I had them right, and I wanted to remember them later, but at the same time, getting out of bed to write them down would have disrupted the chain of thought. And I could see this character and the setting, and the weather and his casual, knowing grip of a sickle during a confrontation outside a stable.

This morning, I got up and wrote it down as part of the backstory for the Dungeons & Dragons character I’m creating, and doing that – just sitting at the keyboard and making something up – was something I felt like I hadn’t truly done in a long time, and it felt awfully damn good.

I sent those briefly-fleshed-out notes and my halfling rogue’s stat sheet over to the guy who’s going to be overseeing this adventure to see if I’d worked the numbers right and to get feedback on the way my character is shaping up. I also confessed to being a little bit intimidated by the rules and calculations.

See, over the weekend, while I was finally finishing up repainting the office – which I started almost a year ago – I started listening to the Penny Arcade / PvP / Wil Wheaton D&D podcasts as a kind of psyche-up and to get a feel for how the game flows (I started with Series Three, but the first two are archived here). And the podcasts have been absolutely stellar in the way of getting me excited about the game, but man – they figure and refigure their bonuses and penalties and actions and options with a blazing speed that leaves me saving vs. HeadSpinVomit. I mean, I don’t mind doing a little math in gameplay for strategy’s sake, but what have I gotten myself – and my lovely wife – into?

Kato responded with an Email of +10 Reassurance, some important notes about my character stats (several of which I had, in fact, not quite nailed, missing a crucial adjustment), and a few other pointers.

He also said he liked the little bit of backstory – That vivid scene, incidentally? My character’s not even in it: It’s his great-grandfather.  –  which felt like the first fiction I’d written in too long.

Absolutely worth an hour’s lost sleep in the dead of night.

May 11, 2010 - Posted by | Fiction, Games, geek, Ohio, writing | , , , , ,


  1. I think that’s perhaps the part I liked best about the backstory: that it didn’t involve your character directly, yet it was important to him. Makes him more real.

    And I wouldn’t worry to much about how they figure and refigure their bonuses like mad during the D&D podcasts. You shouldn’t (and won’t) be doing that during our game. At some points they were very heavily metagaming–stepping outside the world and treating it purely as a game of numbers and rules instead of engaging in it organically. I was a little disappointed that their DM didn’t step in and tell them to forget about the numbers and just act. I don’t mind strategy at my table (in fact, I encourage it), but a 30 minute discussion about how to maximize damage is too much. :)

    I can empathize with feeling good about writing fiction again. When I started DMing again a few months ago, it gave me the opportunity to be creative and write interesting fiction for my game. I hadn’t written anything like that in a long time and it was refreshing.

    Comment by Kato Katonian | May 11, 2010 | Reply

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  3. […] created a character, found myself half-dreaming scenes from his family history, got excited about buying dice, and eventually sat down at the table for my first real D&D […]

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