Friday, June 28, 2019

DUNGEON SAMURAI VOL. 2: KAMI NO KISHI is live!


Six months after being spirited away to a land filled with deadly monsters, Yamada Yuuki and Hiroshi Matsuo are about to face their toughest challenge yet. They and their fellow samurai must dive deeper into the world-spanning dungeon, going where no man has gone before, in a quest to confront the demon who brought them to its realm.
But as the samurai grow in skill and power, so too do the monsters. Legions of bloodthirsty beasts stalk the shadow-filled halls of the labyrinth, far more dangerous than those on the upper floors. Strange spells echo in the corridors, visiting death and madness to the unwary and the unfortunate. An ocean of agony and suffering lies between the humans and the bottom floor.
To stand fast against the coming onslaught, it is no longer enough for Yamada and Hiroshi to serve as samurai. They must don the mantle of the Kami no Kishi: the Knights of God. 
--
The second novel of the Dungeon Samurai trilogy, KAMI NO KISHI, is live exclusively on Amazon! Backed by an incredible group of supporters, KAMI NO KISHI builds on the previous novel, KAMIKAZE, bringing more desperate battles in the dark, more bloodthirsty monsters armed with more powerful skills, and more romance!
DUNGEON SAMURAI is the most authentic isekai dungeon crawler yet written, a grim campaign through a winding labyrinth where death awaits behind every corner. If you've missed the first installment, check it out here
Work on the final volume is underway, and is expected to be released in July. Sit tight and keep your eyes peeled for DUNGEON SAMURAI VOL. 3: SEISEN!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

How to Level Up Your Bad Guys

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Everybody loves main characters who grow into heroes. Over the length of a series, tested in fire and steel, they overcome their weaknesses, become even stronger and more capable, and become more than they are. Indeed, character growth is the foundation of shounen manga -- readers want to see the hero grow from a zero to a hero.
But what about the bad guys?
Everybody loves action scenes. But the heart of an action scene is uncertainty. There is always the possibility that the hero may not win, that the girl will be lost, that the bad guys win. With uncertainty comes tension and drama, with the hero struggling against the odds, making the final victory all the sweeter.
But when the hero is too powerful for his adversaries to handle, boredom sets in.

Monday, June 24, 2019

The Golden Mile Part 8

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The Babylon Night

There was just one last thing left to do.
Connor, Karim, Fox and Wood pulled security in the hallway. Tan, Ngo and Yamamoto rushed into the server room. Tan retraced his steps through the aisles and made his way back to the terminal server.
Many servers were melted and destroyed, but the laptop lying on the floor was still intact. He glanced at screen.
And grinned.

DUNGEON SAMURAI VOL. 2: KAMI NO KISHI now available for preorder!

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Volume 2 of the pulse-pounding DUNGEON SAMURAI series is now available for preorder in Amazon! Featuring more samurai action, more ferocious monsters and more DOKI-DOKI, Vol. 2 is the most authentic dungeon crawler isekai story yet. To find out more about Vol. 2, check out the blurb below.
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Six months after being spirited away to a land filled with deadly monsters, Yamada Yuuki and Hiroshi Matsuo are about to face their toughest challenge yet. They and their fellow samurai must dive deeper into the world-spanning dungeon, going where no man has gone before, in a quest to confront the demon who brought them to its realm.
But as the samurai grow in skill and power, so too do the monsters. Legions of bloodthirsty beasts stalk the shadow-filled halls of the labyrinth, far more dangerous than those on the upper floors. Strange spells echo in the corridors, visiting death and madness to the unwary and the unfortunate. An ocean of agony and suffering lies between the humans and the bottom floor.
To stand fast against the coming onslaught, it is no longer enough for Yamada and Hiroshi to serve as samurai. They must don the mantle of the Kami no Kishi: the Knights of God.
--
Kickstarter backer Xayvier posted this glowing review:
--
The way that Kit Sun actually shows the humans constantly adapting their tactics and equipment to newer threats and situations is refreshing compared to some stories that I have read where things remain somewhat stagnant. Not only that, but he also continues to show the 'behind-the-scenes' parts of military endeavours such as the miners, the farmers, the blacksmiths, etc, that fuel the war-machine, as it were, without getting bogged down in minutiae. Every little glimpse of this background detail is woven in to the story seamlessly, and you barely notice it happen without looking for it. Our heroes also constantly adapt too, growing as individuals, and as a group.
If the story had remained like the original entry, I would have been fine with it, but Kit Sun manages to not only take the original entry's strengths and maintain them, he manages to amp things up without them being overwhelming.
Overall, this is a great sequel to the original entry, and manages to not only match it's predecessor, but surpass it in every way. Definitely worth reading!
--
If you dare the depths of the dungeon, buy Dungeon Samurai Vol. 2: Kami no Kishi here!
And to stay updated on my latest writing news and promotions, sign up for my mailing list here!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Going Native review roundup


The reviews are in and Going Native & other stories is a hit! I am very proud of my book and am grateful that I was given the opportunity to share it with the world. Going Native received some incredible reviews, so without further ado, let’s see what the critics have to say!

JD Cowan writes: “This collection features six stories, all of which are remarkably strong pieces and very different from each other. The only similarities are that they are all weird tales, proving that genre really is more than aesthetic and has its own voice. If you are in a mood to read new pulp stories with the beating heart of the old tales then this collection is for you.”


Jon Mollison writes: “If you want to read some of the most unusual and creative short fiction out there today, give Going Native a shot.  It will introduce you to the sort of energetic experimentation that can only be found well outside the usual publishing houses that dominate the industry today.  And keep the name J. Manfred Weichsel in mind – he’s an author that shows a lot of promise in this short volume, and you’re sure to be seeing a lot more of that name in the years to come.”


Nathan Housley writes: “All in all, an excellent set of stories, with a heavy suspicion of those who would claim to be our betters, a heavy pulp vibe, and a place at the Great Conversation of the West.”

Read the rest of Nathan’s review here: http://thepulparchvist.blogspot.com/2019/04/going-native.html

Keith West writes: “Weichsel is a writer who is not afraid to push boundaries or take chances.  On the whole, he’s successful.  There’s a fair bit of sex and violence here, so his work won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.  But if you want something different than the usual paint by numbers science fiction and fantasy from a writer who will surprise you, give Going Native a try.”


Misha Burnett writes: “Weichsel is unapologetically Pulp Revival, and his work shows that refusal to be bound to the conventions of any one genre–he’ll use whatever tools he needs to get the job done.”


I also sat down for an interview with Superversive Press, where I talk about the stories in Going Native and go into some of my thinking on various topics such as the current state of publishing, the meaning of superversive, and social satire.


So what are you waiting for? Buy Going Native & other stories now if you haven’t already, and see for yourself what all the critics are talking about! http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07Q33KNGD


The Golden Mile Part 7

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The Void

Vast emptiness.
The ritual hall was empty. An expanse of empty space, large enough to cram a small army, stretching from the doors to the end of the hall. There was no incense, no ceremonial props, no altars, just… nothing.
Nothing sacred.
At the far side of the hall, there was a flat half-disc of infinite darkness. A gateway to an abyssal, unending void. But it wasn’t empty. It was full.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Golden Mile Part 6

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Cosmic Horror

“OPEN FIRE!” Yamamoto yelled.
Shaking off their hesitation, the team laid down a storm of steel, tearing into the creature. Tan raised his carbine to his shoulder, switched to full auto and held down the trigger, walking rounds up and across the closest abomination. At this range he couldn’t possibly miss.
Rounds tore into the creature, digging out divots of oily matter and geysers of pale fluid.
He smiled.
Whatever it was, it could bleed.
It could die.

Friday, June 21, 2019

The Golden Mile Part 5

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The Charnel House

Tan wasn’t going to march into the belly of the beast. Not with just a handgun.
But he didn’t have to.
Inside the trunk of the gravcar were two duffel bags. Go-bags, laden with mission-essential gear, one belonging to Yamamoto, the other to Tan. Tan took his, found an empty patch of ground, and unzipped it.
Ballistic helmet, reinforced with rifle-grade applique plates, and fitted with fusion goggles. Plate carrier, stocked with magazines, tools, front and side and rear trauma plates. War belt, weighed down with pistol, more mags, more kit. M83A1 carbine in an ultra-compact configuration, red dot sight paired with super-short barrel and suppressor. And as much spare ammo, batteries, food and bottled water he could shove inside the bag.
Every STS operator kept a go-bag near his person at all times for emergency rapid deployment, capable of keeping him supplied for 72 hours of high-intensity operations. The last thing the Black Watch did before leaving HQ was to take their go-bags with them. Bringing them out on an unsanctioned operation like this was illegal.
But if only they got caught.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

The Golden Mile Part 4

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May God Help Us All

They took the stairs.
There was one place in the arcology guaranteed to be nonsecure by design. No RFID readers, no cameras, no drones. No way to jam it either.
The emergency stairs.
The moment Tan shoved the door open, a fire alarm rang. But only on the lower floors. The bottom third of the Golden Mile. From the upper floors there was only silence.
It wasn’t right. But they had no time to wonder why.
From down below, through the scream of sirens reverberating crazily in the narrow shaft, Tan heard the distant pounding of heavy boots. He stole a glance at his argees; the QRF was still trapped in the elevators, halfway between floors, calmly breaking out equipment and preparing to extricate themselves. That meant the regular guards were coming up.
It was a cold comfort.
Yamamoto leading the way, they raced up the stairs. On the thirty-ninth floor, Tan peeked down the stairwell, keeping tabs of the guards hot on their heels. He saw flashes of black and white and gunmetal, but that was all. The security team were sticking to the outer walls, minimizing their exposure.
And aiming their guns high.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Golden Mile Part 3

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We Can't Fight a God

Reaching into their jackets, the men donned thin tactical gloves. Just in case.
Yamamoto rolled up his jacket sleeve, revealing a paracord bracelet. He unbuckled and unraveled it halfway, leaving a braided handle in his hand and a dangling bight.
Tan waved his phone against the RFID scanner.
The door unlocked.
Yamamoto opened the door. With swift, deft movements, he tied the paracord around the chain.
“What are you doing?” Ngo yelled.
Yamamoto ran the paracord across the upper edge of the door.
“Leave! Now! Security is on the way!”
Yamamoto closed the door.
Held on to the handle.
And opened it again.
With a metallic clatter, the door chain disengaged. Tan barged in.
The apartment was beyond minimalist. A sofa, a glass coffee table, a holovision. Vast swathes of empty space.
And Ngo, in the kitchen, standing by the island.
“Get out! Now!”
Her voice mutated and rippled, a mezzo-soprano transmuting into a discordant chorus of a thousand tongues.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Golden Mile Part 2

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Wizard of the Net

The Golden Mile was the most secure arcology in Babylon.
X-ray machines and armed guards protected the main entrances. Just out of sight, lurking in the security command center on the fifth floor, a quick reaction force of twenty VC operatives, armed to the teeth and empowered by the Treaty of Babylon, stood ready to respond to security incidents. Cameras watched every square inch of the public spaces, augmented with biometric recognition software and controlled by an ever-vigilant artificial intelligence. RFID-tagged implants controlled access everywhere within the tower. Armed drones roamed the higher floors, waiting to cut down intruders and traitors. This wasn’t just an arcology; it was a fortress.
Which was why they were going in through the front door.


Monday, June 17, 2019

The Golden Mile Part 1

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The Mission Remains

In Babylon, the city of skyscrapers, the Golden Mile stood apart.
In the heart of Downtown, in the business district named after itself, the Golden Mile was the city’s earliest arcology. From afar, the tower was a rounded column of pure golden light, looming high above the offices and commercial buildings around it. The first twenty floors were shopping, commercial and light industrial spaces. The next twenty stories were residential apartments. The top twenty floors were luxury housing for the elite of the Void Collective. In between each section was a sky lobby, partitioning the tower into equal thirds. It was a city within a city, a tower whose three thousand residents could live and work and play without ever stepping outside.
Designed by the Guild of the Maker, filled with cutting-edge tech from the Singularity Network, owned by the Void Collective, it was a testimony to the power of the New Gods and a statement of religious harmony.
It was also an abomination.
Five blocks away, in a small public park, six people gathered in a pavilion under the cover of night. Sited far from the streetlights that illuminated the running trail that cut through the park, the pavilion was shrouded in shadows, sheltered by the canopy of a copse of evergreen trees.
Even so, it couldn’t escape the glare of the Golden Mile.
Zen Tan sat alone on a rounded concrete bench. The rest of the team—his team—fanned out around him. In the darkness he could barely make out their faces. Only shadows and silhouettes. But he had served with them so long, he knew immediately who was who. He felt the weight of their gaze on him, heavy with anticipation.
He nodded. And spoke.
“Thanks for coming. I appreciate you going out of way for me.”
“No problem,” Yuri Yamamoto said. “Your message sounded urgent.”
“It is. But it’s a personal job. You don’t have to help.”
“It involves the New Gods, doesn’t it?” Kayla Fox asked.
“Yes.”
“Then it’s professional.”
“Personal and professional.”
“Does it have anything to do the phones you recovered?”
In their last mission, Tan had surreptitiously cloned a half-dozen phones belonging to members of the Court of Shadows. Including one from a Speaker of the Court, a cross between an ambassador, aristocrat and high priest.
“No, it’s got nothing to do with this,” Tan said.
“Did you get anything out of them?” Fox asked.
“Most of them—the ones belonging to the sicarios—were burners. Nothing in the emails, and they were only used to call each other. They’re useless to us. The last one, the one belonging to DeMille, has military-grade encryption. I’m still trying to crack it.”
“I thought you’re a wizard with computers.”
“I don’t have access to government supercomputers. I’m using a cloud of virtual machines to brute-force images of the phone’s memory. It’s slow, but that’s all I can afford. And anyway this job doesn’t have anything to do with that.”
“Don’t tell me: it involves a woman,” James Wood said.
Tan sighed. “Yes.”
Karim Mustafa gently nudged Wood. “Told you so.”
“But it’s more than just a woman,” Tan said. “It’s… it’s big.”
“Quit beating around the bush, ZT,” Will Connor said. “Just tell us what’s going on.”
Tan clasped his callused fingers together and glanced about. His companions carried themselves with the loose, casual demeanor of alpha wolves. They were all relaxed, but they were also vigilant, constantly looking over each other’s shoulders, trusting everyone else to do the same for them.
The six of them were Team Black Watch of the Special Tasks Section. The finest collection of gunfighters and law enforcers in Babylon, arguably the world. When insane Husks preyed on the innocent, when magic-toting criminals stalked the streets, when the New Gods schemed in the night, they were there to stop them and set things right. The New Gods might be the true rulers of the world, but the Special Tasks Section held them to the law, and the Black Watch was the tip of the spear.
Up until six weeks ago, anyway.
After the three-way gang war in Riveria, the Black Watch was suspended until the Office of Professional Standards investigated their shootings and cleared them. The suspension was political and everyone knew it. Where the STS were concerned, Professional Standards rubber-stamped post-shooting investigations and let the STS continue to do its thing. They had to. The STS was the thin blue line preventing the New Gods from preying on the nation, and with so few operators and a demanding operational tempo, STS operators could not be benched for the weeks and months needed for a proper post-shoot investigation. The kind of monsters the STS dealt with regularly were too much for the regular cops. Even the Enhanced SWAT teams of the Public Security Bureau—the STS’ parent agency only on organization charts—could barely cope. Every STS operator was essential to the continued life of the nation.
But here they were now.
The Black Watch hadn’t done anything wrong. They’d merely carved a bloody swathe through the ranks of the Court of Shadows and, to a lesser extent, the Pantheon and the Liberated. But in the process, they had learned the true mission of the STS. It wasn’t to protect and serve the public. It was to play the New Gods off against each other, to serve as a cat’s paw to all sides, and protect the balance of power among them all. Executive Assistant Director Pearce himself had admitted to that. And if—or when—Tan finally cracked DeMille’s phone, he might even find hard evidence of that.
But their crime wasn’t learning the truth. It was disagreeing with the mission. Strenuously.
For their sins, the Black Watch was removed from the field. Maybe even permanently. But that was out of their hands. Every operator was supposed to be sequestered from each other, officially disallowed from making contact. Officially. There were ways around that, and Professional Standards hadn’t exactly gone out of their way to enforce the rules. They might not have badges, uniforms or legal authority any more, but if anyone could do this job, it was them.
“I have… a friend. Marcie Ngo. Public Security, Criminal Investigations, assigned to the Babylon Field Office. We were close, once, but after I joined the STS she drifted away. A couple of years back, she signed up with the Void Collective. She paid her dues, attended the rituals, even got herself a place in the Golden Mile. But three hours ago, she emailed me and said she wants out.”
“She wants to quit the Collective?” Fox asked.
“Yes.”
“I haven’t heard of anyone quitting the Collective,” Wood said. “Not while they’re still breathing.”
“Me neither. But she’s not initiated as a full member, not yet. She told me she’s learned the truth about the Void, and it scares her. She wants to leave. But they won’t let her go.”
“What did she learn?” Yamamoto asked.
“She didn’t say. But whatever it is, it shook her up, bad. And it’s something the VC don’t want the rest of the world to know.”
“Sounds like they’ll initiate her against her will,” Wood mused.
“Count on it,” Yamamoto said.
“Did she try contacting the police?” Mustafa asked.
“The Golden Mile is ecclesiastical property,” Tan said. “Above the twentieth floor, the VC enjoys extraterritorial authority. They have their own bylaws, their own security force, and from what I hear even their own courts and jails. Babylon PD can’t go in without VC permission.”
“Unlawful containment is a federal crime,” Mustafa argued. “If Babylon PD won’t act, the STS will.”
“Y’know, two months ago, I might have agreed with you,” Fox said. “But now? After Riveria? Why would they?”
“The Golden Mile is the heart of the Collective,” Yamamoto said. “Without evidence, without an invitation, a raid would trigger a war between the PSB and the Collective. And we all know what the PSB feels about that.”
The STS’ vaunted independence only went so far. Ultimately, even the Commandant of the STS had to answer to the Directors of the PSB.
“I’ve got neither,” Tan said. “Only an email.”
“How do you know this is legit?” Wood asked. “This could be a trap.”
“We haven’t done anything lately to offend them,” Mustafa said.
Among the New Gods, the Void Collective was the most well-behaved. They didn’t go out of their way to seize more turf and followers the way the more aggressive factions did. Which didn’t necessarily mean they weren’t up to no good, only that the STS hadn’t had cause to crack down on them recently.
“She… she called me ‘Z’. No one calls me that.”
Connor snorted. “Big deal. Pet names don’t count for nothing.”
“It’s not just that,” he sputtered. “The email she sent? It was cut off. Look.”
Tan held out his phone, opening his email and selecting the second-last mail she had sent.
Hi Z,
I know it’s been years since we last talked, but I’m in deep shit and I need your help.
I don’t know if you’ve heard, but I joined the Void Collective two years ago. Last week, I finished my probation, and earned a place in the Golden Mile. They told me I was ready for initiation. One of the elders sat me down and explained to me what to expect.
He told me about the initiation ritual. I pressed him for answers, worked him over, used all my charms, and got him to divulge everything. Including what was in the Void. And what I had to give.
I didn’t sign up for this. I was looking for faith, but this… this is demonic. Pure evil. The VC lied to everyone about their teachings. The Void isn’t empty. It is full.
I told the elders I wanted to quit. They told me I’m committed and it’s too late to back out. Security confined me to my apartment and won’t let me leave.
I need help. Come to apartment #37-89. Please
The rest of the email was empty space. Tan gave the team two minutes to read the mail, then retrieved his phone.
“That’s not the only message she sent,” Tan said. “I received this ten minutes after the mail.”
He scrolled to the last email. Also from her.
Dear Zen Tan,
*All is well. I was under a significant amount of stress and suffered a mild psychological disorder. I have been treated by the finest doctors in the Void Collective and I am well again. *
Ignore my last email. I am able, ready and willing to participate in the Initiation. Do not come for me, unless you also wish to embrace the Void.
“Creepy,” Fox said.
“That mail is not convincing anyone,” Connor said.
“Agreed,” Tan said. “Something is up. At the very least, someone doesn’t want us going in.”
“But you want to,” Yamamoto said.
“Yes.”
“Why?”
“Something terrible is going on inside the Golden Mile. We have to save her.”
“She made her bed, she can lie in it,” Wood said.
Heat crept into Tan’s voice.
“Look, in her previous email, she already said the VC lied to her. She didn’t ask for this.”
“I feel you, but there’s thousands of people in the Golden Mile, and just six of us. If we do this, it will piss off the VC big time. Is it worth it?”
“Our job is to protect the people from the New Gods.”
“We’re not STS any more,” Yamamoto said.
“But the mission remains.”
Tan stared at Yamamoto. Yamamoto stared back.
“You’re committed to this job?” Yamamoto asked, finally.
“Yes. I’m going in, no matter what.”
“I’m not saying I can’t do this,” Yamamoto said. “Only that it’s ultra-high-risk. There’s no margin for error, we could incur the wrath of the VC, and this time, the STS isn’t going to back us up.”
“And inside the tower, there’s a woman who needs us to save her.”
“You mean she needs you,” Fox said.
“Well, yes. If you’re not on board with this, it’s fine. Just let me know and I’ll do it myself.”
Fox glanced at Yamamoto. Yamamoto looked around at the assembled operators.
“What’s your take, guys? You in?”
“Is this gonna piss off the Void Collective?” Connor asked.
“Absolutely,” Tan said.
Connor teeth gleamed in the light.
“I’m in.”
“Count on you to make war on the gods when you can,” Mustafa said.
“The VC don’t worship any gods. Just the Void, whatever the hell that is.”
“A lie,” Yamamoto said. “Only a lie, nothing more.”
“You sound sure about that,” Mustafa said.
“I know what my god has to say about the Void. What about yours?”
Mustafa closed his eyes, silently communing with the minor god he had contracted with.
And sighed.
“I’m in,” Mustafa said.
“What’s wrong?” Wood asked.
“It’s the nature of my contract with Galen the Wolf,” Mustafa said. “He grants me power, I do his will. And it is his will to defend the innocent and destroy the evil at every turn. I can’t disobey.”
“You sound reluctant,” Tan probed.
Mustafa shrugged. “I have my duty. Thus, I shall go.”
“I have my duty too,” Wood said. “They might have taken our badges, but not the mission. I’m in.”
“I’m coming too,” Fox said. “Can’t exactly leave my spotter hanging in the breeze now, can I?”
“Well then,” Yamamoto said. “We’re all in this together.”
“Thanks,” Tan said. “I owe you. All of you.”
“Don’t mention it.”
“What’s the timeline for this op?” Wood asked.
“The sooner we do this, the better,” Tan replied. “Tonight, if we can.”
Connor folded his arms.
“An op like this, on such short notice? You got any ideas how to do this?”
Tan smiled.
“A few.”
--
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If action, adventure and horror are right up your alley, check out my latest novel DUNGEON SAMURAI VOL. 1: KAMIKAZE!
To stay up to date on my latest writing news and promotions, sign up for my mailing list here!

Friday, June 14, 2019

Writing the Prepared Professional

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One of the reasons I love thrillers is the genre's dedication to authenticity. Cops talk and act like cops, spec ops guys see the world much differently from ordinary people, and so on. The genre provides a dramatised window into the lifestyles and activities of these professionals, and how they see the world.
Key to portraying an authentic violence professional is preparation, both mental and physical. People who do bad things to bad people know the costs and consequences of violence, and prepare themselves accordingly. They tool themselves up to meet the threats they expect to face, and seek out training to expand their repertoire. Done properly, a writer can awe the reader by demonstrating the triumph of the prepared individual even in the most extreme of environments.
Conversely, when not done right, it leads to many eye-rolling moments.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Designing for Games vs Designing for Stories

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A week ago, PulpRev author Jon Mollison wrote a Twitter thread about the role of clerics in Dungeons and Dragons. Among the key insights was this:
Wrong. Clerics are a great #dnd class because they fill a proper function within the game - secondary brick with defensive tac support.
Designing the class to reflect a literary archetype puts the horse of post-game rationalization before the cart of the in-game game.
He nails it on the head. Designing for games is vastly different from designing for stories.
Readers engage a prose story through the plot, characters, and prose. The writer guides them on a journey in the mind, directing the story from start to finish.
Gamers engage a game through its mechanics. By playing as their avatar, they create their own experience.
Readers and gamers have different ways of approaching their chosen media. The requirements of these media lead to different design choices.