Jesus Christ is Not a Weapon … Unless it’s a +4 Christ of Ogre-Slaying

And now, a random gmail chat rant brought to you courtesy of John C. Hay:

John: So – is there a parallel between the various editions of D&D; and the schisms in the church? I mean you’ve got 1st edition, it’s esoteric and hard to follow, but it points the way. It’s tied to some older stuff, mostly miniatures wargaming, but tries to give it more meaning.

me: i’ll just give you fair warning now. i’m probably going to blog this.

John: Analog Gamer started the metaphor on accident. I think he fails to realize how appropriate it is. 2nd edition comes along – it says ‘here – this is the truth of it. what we’ve been trying to say all along but it kinda got lost somehow, what with you Monty-Haul gamers. Behold the love of THAC0, your source of solutions. well at least in this one situation. everything else is blind luck really. 3.0 and 3.5 come along, and it’s like the Lutheran schism. Gamers nailed a list of issues to the door of 2.0 and said look is this fun? or is it Creatures and Calculus. 3.5 refines the original 3.0, but schisms off again, streamlining things. Making it more approachable to the masses. And now we have 4.0 coming. this grand fusion with the modern world – computer integration (and the recognition that laptops are part of the gaming table now), simplified, one-system-fits-all rules, and the sort of simplicity that can bring in people off the streets. I can’t decide if I should be horrified at the parallel or burned at the stake for making it.

me: would this be the postmodern edition?

John: either post-modern, or possibly Prosperity Theology. grins Maybe it’s the evangelical movement. it’s finally easy enough that you can bring anyone in to play.

me: bringing the game to the masses

John: but 2.0 is definitely Catholicism. weighty, rule heavy, cumbersome and presided over by Pope Gygax. may he rest in peace.

me: one of us is going to hell.

John: at the very least. of course even playing D&D; makes my soul forfeit. then again – look at how strictly proponents of a particular system cling to it – there are still people who only play 2nd edition … and there’s an army of 3.5 events scheduled for GenCon.

me: and, ironically, i got tired of the constant in-fighting of D&D; and switched to palladium. which got back to the essence of what D&D; was about. as part of my spiritual/D&D; journey, i spent some time with the weird west stuff. which gave me an excuse to do lucien’s module.

John: Nice. I have all his stuff for Mutants and Masterminds. But I’m a fan of Superheroes games.

me: lucien. errant prophet of the D&D; church

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Random Love Day – First Readers

Readers are what all writers want, but an invaluable asset to a writer is their first reader. My wife is not my first reader because she’s not much of a reader. I’m a member of a few writer’s groups and they are a mixed bag at best when it comes to critiques, though they usually come into the game late in the revision process. Which is why I’m thankful for my first readers.

I mostly depend on two: Lauren David and John C. Hay. Both are writers as well as voracious, two handy traits in your first readers. They each have different strengths or rather, I look to each of them for something different. Lauren isn’t a genre reader (or writer or fan). So she approaches the story with an unjaundiced eye, strictly about the story, the characters, the dialogue, internal consistencies, and how well the story works. John is my grammar Nazi and history nerd. If I get one more lecture from him about my overuse of gerunds …

Did I mention that everyone should have first readers like these?

John lives a few states away, however, I refer to John’s critiques (in love) as the “anal exam”. Oh yeah, he reaches up into my story and gives me … notes. Never have I hated a Microsoft word feature more than their notes. I was ecstatic when a story I sent him came back with only 17 notes (that story was immediately sent out). However, I’m never giving him a novella again: it came back with enough notes to be their own short story. So part of me lives in fear of the John crit, the other have gets anxious for them [thus he’ll get gmail chats (I don’t care that your message says *Busy*), emails, or a phone call]. Still, he’s spared Lauren’s reading experience.

I sit across from her, pretending to read something else. I check when she laughs (I keep a hash mark count of how many pages she’s turned), note when she grimaces and make sure that she’s doing each at the right places. I time how long she lingers on a page because it might be poorly written or the pace stalling her interest. And her every cough or shift is met with “is everything okay?”

I remember the days when I used to think that I crapped gold and anything I wrote was God’s gift to literature. Now, thankfully, things have gotten to the point where I don’t want to embarrass myself in front of my first readers. They are the first faces of my eventual audience and they will openly mock me if I don’t bring my best game. First readers, good first readers, are invaluable. When you find them, treasure them. (Back off! These two are mine!!!) And be sure to bribe them often.

I’m off on a Starbucks run for Lauren as soon as I post.

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