This also doesn’t mean that I’m finished with writing for them either. In fact, I just finished up my work for another level-based fantasy game and have another contribution in that vein on my schedule. However, when it comes to my personal life, it’s time to change things up.
The downside of this realization is that Stonehell is effectively in stasis for the foreseeable future. I hate to do it, but my lack of interest in writing dungeon adventures is blatantly obvious when I look over what I’ve written so far. I have high expectations for the sequel and I’m not meeting them. I’ll come back and write the second book once I can get excited about the dungeon again. My apologies to those of you who’ve been looking forward to the sequel, but I’m not going to take the sleazy route of writing a piece of shit and asking you for your money for it.
“OK, Mike, if that’s how you feel, what’s next?” I’m glad you ask.
Unless something gets changed (which is entirely possible), the next issue of Fight On! will feature the first of a series of articles I’ve written aimed at “modern” horror and fantasy. I use quotation marks because the default period is the 1920s (all the better to fit classic Call of Cthulhu) rather than the 21st century. I’m extremely proud of this series, more proud of it than anything I’ve done for my own enjoyment in some time. The article features a map (a glimpse of which is below)done by cartographer Ravi Shankar who I met over at the Cartographer’s Guild. Ravi does some excellent work and I encourage you to check out his portfolio—especially if you’re looking for a good cartographer.
The series has personal connections for me, which is one of the reasons it has me so excited. Wildwyck County is based on real life portions of New York State where I had many happy experiences. The chance to return to that place (even in a fictionalized and highly spookified form) is a great pleasure. In fact, it’s even inspired me to return there in real life for a few days to engage in some R&R&R (rest and relaxation and research). I plan on taking some photos to use in future articles to support the artwork I’ve already contributed (chosen, but not created by me, thankfully) for the initial article.
Connected to the ‘Wyck (as the locals call their home)are the eternal autumnal lands of the October Country. I’ve been rambling about and designing for the October Country for over two years now on the blog Secret Antiquities and it represents my second big project. I’ve got enough material to begin playtesting the setting and I hope to assemble the finished material into a book once I’ve worked the kinks out. If I had to pick a work that I’d consider my magnum opus, the October Country would be it. I call it my Rosetta Stone setting because any story I want to tell—fantasy, horror, intrigue, pulp, or weirdness—can find a home in the October Country. It’s a personal place, but one I hope has enough common touchstones to be universal.
I’m not sure how I’ll handle that setting in the future. I’d like to see it in print, but I’m not certain I want to go down the road of self-publishing again. I’ve gotten lazy and like it when all I have to do is string the words together and let somebody else worry about the art, the editing, the layout, etc. Unfortunately, I’m hesitant to relinquish ownership of the material, so self-publishing may be the only course. But that’s all carts far, far in front of horses for now.
This brings me to my last concern: the future of this blog. My original plan was to keep it up until I released the Stonehell sequel and then quietly retire it. Now, with the sequel on hold for the foreseeable future, I’m at a loss at what to do. I have no interest in writing more about fantasy games like D&D here for now, but this blog draws a lot of traffic and has a robust following. Do I mothball the blog until I come back around to level-based fantasy games again or do I repurpose it to reflect my new interests? And if I do that, what happens to Secret Antiquities? Frankly, I don’t know.