Writing and Playing Dungeons & Dragons

As those who have read my books may know from my author profile, I was exposed to the fantasy genre back in 1980 when I played my first game of Dungeons & Dragons. Not to date myself too much, but I was still in grade school. The game was a big part of my life until I was 25 or so, and for various reasons I won’t mention, I gave it up. The next time I played D&D was Christmas of 2013, when I ran a short one-off game for my family as a group activity.

Dungeons & DragonsThat game had a big impact on me. Although I hadn’t intended for it to be so, it inspired me to write my third novel, and even provided some plot events that made it into the book. I didn’t play again until just a few months ago, when I picked up the 5th edition Starter Set and the three core rule books (Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual for those unfamiliar with D&D).

I walked into Goin’ Gaming, a game and comic store in Troutdale, Oregon, bought some miniatures and got to know the owners, Alan and Becky Schmid. (See other posts about the store and the owners and how that factored into my writing career.) They host D&D games every Thursday evening, and the group needed more players. I showed up at the next game session and was warmly welcomed.

Other walk-ins saw our enthusiasm and the group has grown to seven players, all of whom I now consider to be my friends. We play at least once a week. After our current campaign wraps up at the end of June, I’ll take over as Dungeon Master, and that gets me to the point of this post.

Once I read through the 5th edition rule books, I began to get ideas for the plot of my fourth novel. My vision is to write three trilogies in the Taesia world, of which The Taesian Chronicles is the first trilogy. The fourth novel will be book one of the second trilogy. (Forgive the seemingly strange logic for the way I’m structuring the series; there’s a method to my madness.) I brainstormed the plot and am very happy with it. But, that plot would also make an outstanding D&D campaign.

With the group’s permission, I will switch from being a player to being the DM. Our current DM, Joseph, will become a player, and the group will run through my new campaign. In a sense, we will be play-testing my plot idea. I don’t anticipate the game campaign directly translating into a novel. That was done with Against the Giants, and what was one of the best modules ever written failed horribly as a novel. However, as what happened with my one-off adventure played by my family over a Christmas holiday, I think there is some wonderful inspiration to be generated by the game that can feed into the novel.

It is my intention to run the D&D campaign first, at least for several weeks, before I begin work on my fourth book. The creative energy required to write a campaign and the amount of time it takes to flesh it out severely limits my available bandwidth for novel-writing. I can do one or the other, but not both. I don’t usually write much during the summer months anyway, so work on the book probably won’t begin until autumn. At that point I will have a pretty good idea if my plot idea holds water, and I will hopefully also have some great source material from the game itself. Players often come up with dialog or creative solutions to challenging problems that make excellent material for books.

We’ll see how this goes. Stay tuned.

Sales of Kindle vs. paperback

My first book, Ohlen’s Arrow, was released in 2013. I chose to sell it as an ebook only. Initially, it was available for Kindle via Amazon, Nook via Barnes & Noble, and iBooks via Apple’s iTunes bookstore. In 2014, I released the sequel, Ohlen’s Bane. Again, it was sold as an ebook only, via the same three channels.

In 2015, I released the third book, Paragon’s Call, with what became the trilogy The Taesian Chronicles. Sometime during the process of writing Paragon’s Call, I made the decision to sell the three individual books as Kindle ebooks exclusively, removing the Nook and iBooks versions, and then selling The Taesian Chronicles as a paperback as well as a Kindle ebook.

I have noticed something interesting about this sales strategy. Several readers have purchased The Taesian Chronicles in paperback, and told me they have held off buying my books until they were released in paper form. One reader told me she had been waiting since 2013! To some people, if it’s not a dead-tree edition, it’s not a book.

In fact, I’ve noticed more enthusiastic and voluminous interest in my writing efforts now that I’ve released something in paperback than I ever have when my works were available as ebooks only. People seem far more impressed by the heft and size of The Taesian Chronicles than they were when I told them I’d written three novels [as ebooks only]. Perhaps ebooks just don’t seem tangible and real to people.

I’m toying with the idea of releasing special paperback editions of the individual books that make up the trilogy. What do you think?