The King is Dead: I Have Made a Liar of My T-Shirt

The irritating thing is that I have three of these shirts -- and Robin has two.
The King is Dead is late – or, at the very least, woefully behind schedule – and it’s my fault. The long and the short of it is that I simply got overwhelmed. My anxiety disorder and the my day job joined forces to create a downward spiral of depression and the stress relievers necessary to continue to function (mainly, just trying to have a social life) leeched time away from writing.

But at least we got VARGR out in May, right? In a way, we actually got the project out ahead of schedule.

The biggest problem has simply been that my day job changed. A lot. Even though I’m functionally in the same position that I’ve held for the last seven years, the actual duties and processes of that function have changed dramatically. I used to have time to write blog posts while at work; that obviously isn’t true anymore.

The job’s a thousand times more stressful than it used to be, requiring me to actively engage in activities that trigger my anxiety, but I don’t dare quit because I’ve got great benefits and a bonus and a retirement plan and I don’t know if I could even find a job in today’s market because I’m over forty years old and have never been management and the job I do is even harder at my company’s competitors and I’ve got a mortgage and a car payment and freelance pay in the RPG industry is not great and etc., etc.…

(You get the picture.)

In an attempt to de-stress, Robin and I have spent a lot of time since Chupacabracon hanging out with some old high school and college buddies of hers. I lost all of my non-social media friends in the big divorce from my family several years back (and I hardly saw them before that anyway because of various personal rifts), so actually hanging out in person with people who share my interests (in politics and other aspects of life as well as gaming) has been an incredible blessing. Unfortunately, that’s meant a reduction in the weekend time I’ve had to actually write – but I’d probably be dead or my marriage would be in the toilet if we didn’t take time out like that.

Another thing that’s pushed The King is Dead back a little is Savage Rifts® – or, more precisely, some of the lessons Sean Patrick Fannon has shared with me that he learned while writing that project. Even though I’ve always chafed a little at the sometimes arbitrarily precise Savage Worlds skills list (I loathe the fact that Climbing and Swimming are unique skills instead of single Athletics skill), it turns out a lot of Savage Worlds fans are really invested in the core rules of the game and do not like setting-specific changes. This has meant revisiting the bonuses secret societies give characters – something that Savage Rifts® has helped provide an answer to.

Thankfully, things are getting better. Robin has been assisting a lot more with the actual writing of The King is Dead (so much that we’ll actually be sharing the writing credit) and the weird reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder we get in San Antonio from having to hide from the punishing heat is getting better. I’m now so past my self-imposed deadline of July 2016 that I’m no longer worried about it, and life is conspiring to force me to stay home and write regardless.

(I should be writing all day today, for instance.)

With that said, I’ve also learned I can’t do this alone. Anxiety and depression often make you want to go it alone, to not burden others with your unworthy problems – and RPGs are really meant to be collaborative endeavors like movies and TV shows. One of the most important pieces of advice for Game Masters is “If you want to dictate the story, then write a novel” and this is just as true for writing a game book as it is for running the game at the table.

I was trying to do The King is Dead solo, asking even Robin to contribute nothing besides editing. That was a horrible mistake on my part. Sharing the responsibilities and joys of building Malleus with her has been reinvigorating (and I apologize to Robin for all the complaining I do anyway). I should probably investigate bringing others into the project, too. I’m certainly better prepared to start taking realistic steps toward completing the book now.

I should have known that, you know? That’s why people hired me as a freelancer and were happy with my work (both bringing it in on time and fulfilling the assignment so spectacularly). Sheesh… Effin’ anxiety.


  1. Hi, Sean!

    Just wanted to say that I'm super excited to see The King is Dead coming along and that the delay, while bittersweet, is appreciated much more than a product coming out half-finished on time. I think it's especially awesome that you're including your wife in the writing process of something you've obviously spent time crafting with such care and dedication.

    I came across your blog and The King is Dead all at once a couple or few years ago and have been inexorably drawn back to it here and there ever since. You seem to truly grok Savage Worlds and the way you and your wife game (and the content of it), i.e. 1700s fantasy/swashbuckling, really feels vividly realized in TKiD.

    Best of luck and keep up the great work!

    1. Thanks, Jon! Encouragement is always welcome. I'm glad you like the blog.

      We're hoping to have the next TKiD adventure -- the one that was supposed to be the first adventure -- out by the end of the month. We've made some changes to bring TKiD more in line with normal Savage Settings because feedback showed people really do prefer the normal SW skill list. We've mainly got formatting and hunting for art ahead of us, so it should at least be out before the US elections.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts