Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Writing Slumps and Research Surplus

In the last two weeks I have done nothing.

Well that is not totally true, I mean I have been working at my job, still reading with the kids, playing D&D with my kids and Pathfinder with the big kids.   Still doing things that I need to do around the house.

But I  have not done any writing at all.
And this is a big problem.

Not so much for "The Witch", although that is also affected, but I am supposed to have a new adventure for Ghosts of Albion ready to go for Gen Con and I am not done with it, nor have I playtested it yet.

For the Witch, I have been going back to my stacks of research.  I am re-reading Margaret Murray's "The Witch Cult in Western Europe" for inspiration.  Yeah, yeah I know, every credible anthropologist on the planet has derided her work, that would be an issue if I was writing am anthropological textbook.   Instead I am looking at it different this time.  Murray posits that "witches" are an unbroken line from pre-history to now.  What if I went in the opposite direction?  What if I took the neo-pagan tropes and reverse engineered a pre-historic ancestor using the fairy tales of the ages AND placed this recipe in a D&D-ish style world to stew for a few thousand years.  What sort of witch would that be?

Also thanks to the magic that is my new Father's day gift I have been downloading a ton of ebooks.
So far here is my research list:
  • The Witch-Cult in Western Europe - Margaret Alice Murray
  • Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft - Sir Walter Scott
  • Salem Witchcraft and Cotton Mather A Reply - Charles W. Upham
  • Brood of the Witch-Queen - Sax Rohmer (fiction)
  • Grimm's Fairy Tales (the originals) - Jacob Grimm
  • The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft & Demonology - Russel Hope Robbins (one of my faves)
I am also re-reading the "Malleus Maleficarum", but frankly there is not much here for a game.
The book is laughably bad in most places when it is not sadistic, misogynistic, and overly focused on the curses a witch will put on men's genitalia (for a group of people that are supposedly celibate the writers of this book are very preoccupied with sex).

Frankly it has the mentality of a 14 year old, and a very puerile 14 year old at that.  

And lets not forget that real people were actually tortured and murdered because of this book.  While it might not be the "Witches' Holocaust" of later writers, 1 innocent person murdered is 1 more than I would like.
While I might glean some tidbits out of it, all I got out of it the last time I read it was the Malefic Witch I wrote from my 2nd Ed Netbook back in 1999.  I want to write something people want to play, not torture.

Not that I want only good witches, I like evil ones too. Grimm is a great source for that especially if you read the original versions.  Evil, child eating hags that live in the woods? Oh yeah there is room for you in my book, right next to so-beautiful-it-is-frightening faerie witches and the domestic goddesses and potion makers.

I have the traditions defined, the class, some magic items, some monsters and about 500 spells.  That will be trimmed down, but still expect a lot of spells from me.  I have art.   And it may go against some "old school" credo but I have some art from Larry Elmore to put in it.  I have always wanted to have a book of witches with Elmore art in it and now I can do so.

For my Ghosts of Albion adventure I am re-reading Sherlock Holmes and I now have a copy of  Jess Nevin's WONDERFUL The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana.  And let me tell you this. It is worth every penny I paid for it. I bought it before the prices sky rocketed but it still was not cheap.

Act 1 is done.  Act 2 and Act 3 are mostly done.  I have the characters.  I have my monsters.  What I don't have is a good way yet for the players (not the characters) to figure out how to stop the monsters before they break out and eat London on New Years' Eve.  Whatever clues I need to move the plot forward need to be in Act 1, so I might need to tweak that a bit.

Hopefully I'll get some writing in soon.


Xyanthon said...

Tim, sounds very interesting. I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

The Happy Whisk said...

I hope you get back to writing soon, as well. If you want, I have some leftover Crazy Glue. I can send it to you. All ya gotta do is apply it to both your ass and your chair, and you'll be good to go.

Dangerous Brian said...

I've been meaning to ask, how closely will the spells mirror neo-pagan religious practices? Will they be spells that can be cast of the fly or will they require a great deal of time and ritual preperation to boost their effects?

Timothy S. Brannan said...

@DB: A little of both really. I have spells and rituals that can be used.