Friday, May 2, 2014

The King is Dead: A Gothic 18th Century that Never Was


 
I’ve spent some time this week working on the introduction for the player’s playtest packet.  I’m actually surprised at myself for working so hard to get an introduction right, but it really is important.  It’s part manifesto, part sales pitch, and part summary. The introduction draws the reader in and sets the tone of the whole work. 

One thing I realized while working on the introduction is that the old “A Land in Need of Revolution” section from the early The King is Dead material only tells half the story.  It embraces the Gothic vampire slaying and the 18th century conspiracy-and-criminals angle, but it doesn’t acknowledge the gonzo kitchen-sink part of the setting.  Admittedly, the actual games I’ve played with Robin haven’t really involved that part either, but I really do want The King is Dead to be a setting that embraces all of what Savage Worlds offers.

Writing the new introduction has forced me to reexamine my focus, to fine-tune my vision.  The films and television programs with the biggest influence on the setting were always crazy mash-ups, and I need to push those influences to the forefront.  It also made me switch the tagline to “Revolution in a Gothic 18th century that never was” instead of “Gothic revolution in an 18th century that never was.” 

That change in word order is significant (to me, at least).  “Gothic revolution” honestly doesn’t make sense as a phrase anyway (what? The revolutionaries all wear black and listen to industrial music?), but emphasizing the setting as a “Gothic 18th century” underlines that The King is Dead is about an alternate reality, a stranger reality.  It also, subtly, increases the importance of “that never was.”  The world of The King is Dead isn’t just a world where the Golden Age of Piracy (early 1700s) and the French Revolution (1780s) are happening at the same time, it’s also a world with wizards, witches, and maybe even werewolves. 

(I’m totally going to have to include a section in the GM’s guide called “Dark Bargains” wherein I detail several supernatural power groups that are willing to lend their aid to the revolutionaries at the price of making humankind prey to more than vampires.  The werewolves are lurking in the deep, dark forests and the fairies are waiting in their graves.)

In any case, work proceeds slowly.  I need to figure out a schedule that gives me time to devote to my wife while also giving me more than three hours a week of real writing time.  I can crank out a short blog post in half an hour after my morning coffee, but I can’t warm up to real work in that time.

 

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