Constructing Redwing’s Gambit: Research and Background – Part 1 of 5

When I was plotting Redwing’s Gambit, the Fate version of Bulldogs! was just a glimmer in Brennan Taylor’s eye. I knew that the game was going to employ the same system as Spirit of the Century from Evil Hat Productions, but that’s as far as my knowledge went.

The first question I asked myself was not about what story I wanted to write, but how I wanted to present the tale in such a way that felt more like Fate than d20. I had played Spirit of the Century and I also participated in a game run by Ryan Macklin, too. In my mind, Fate really emphasizes and focuses on relationships or the ties that connect and bind the characters to one another.

To help me make my decision, I dove into cinematic reference material to feel out the structure or the architecture of the story. (In other words, I wanted to design an elevator pitch that captured the mood.) Farscape. Star Wars. Firefly. Star Trek. I, Robot. Earth 2. Dune, etc. Of the many science fiction titles I had at my disposal, I leaned more strongly toward a Farscape crossed with Firefly feel. Farscape has a cast of several alien races — including the ship Moya — but still manages to focus on story in spite of the sheer volume of aliens the writers have to describe. Bulldogs! has several alien races and a theological war, too. Firefly has close-knit relationships, all of which are human, but mixes up action and mystery to survive another day.

Now, in both shows, the crews are on-the-run. They’re rogues. Renegades. Pirates. Escapees. I didn’t want to mirror that in my story because I felt it was too easy and distanced itself from the heart of what Bulldogs! is. Sure, there’s pirates in Bulldogs! but the galaxy is only so big and it is at odds with itself. What makes the Bulldogs! setting unique to me are the alien races and how they interact with one another. Those connections create a lot of conflict — which is great for both a game and a story.

Before I could craft a plot, though, I felt I needed to draw up the characters and use the Fate system to ground them. Enter the treatment and the characterization of the full cast and crew.

Other Parts to this Series

  • Constructing Redwing’s Gambit: Easter Eggs – Part 5 of 5 will be published on April 23, 2012.
  • Constructing Redwing’s Gambit: Revisions and Cut Text – Part 4 of 5 will be published on April 16, 2012.
  • Constructing Redwing’s Gambit: Structure and Plot – Part 3 of 5 will be published on April 9, 2012.
  • Constructing Redwing’s Gambit: Characters and Treatment – Part 2 of 5 will be published on April 2, 2012
  • You are reading Constructing Redwing’s Gambit: Research and Background – Part 1 of 5

About Redwing’s Gambit: Redwing’s Gambit, the first novella for the Bulldogs! RPG, debuts today in digital. This story was written by Monica Valentinelli and will be published by Galileo Games, creator of the Bulldogs! RPG. This RPG was originally published with a d20 system in 2005. It has since been updated and released in a new edition which employs the Fate mechanic in 2011.

Fun With Paint and Other Non-8 Bits

Been a busy last couple of weeks; I was in Las Vegas for the GAMA Trade Show representing Steve Jackson Games. I’m on deadline as well; one project is for a game and the other is editing-related. I’ve been a bit… disgruntled? Kerfluffled? Irate? Why? Well, this word begins with “P” and doesn’t rhyme with Poole. In a word — politics. Problem is, I went back and read some of my other “Can I even try to make sense out of these rants?” posts and I felt I was being too negative and pretty weak. The news and subsequent rants got the better of me and my mood to the point where it was counterproductive. So, to remedy this, I took some time off from my deadlines this weekend for sanity purposes and dove back into art. The fastest way to boost my mood is to simply create. Simply… be.

I have a few toys I want to paint with more intricate designs; a blank My Little Cthulhu and a larger Munny. To ramp up my skills, though, I wanted to paint some less expensive figures.

An Iteration of Frankenberry Painted on a Toy

I opted to go with an iteration of Frankenberry instead of a regular Frankenstein because it’s not Halloween. Hah. This was a small kit I had on hand produced by RoseArt. The body and head are hollow; the arms articulate. After New York Toy Fair and my visit to the Funko booth, Frankenberry was stuck in my head.

I used a medium viscosity paint, which is why you can see the brush strokes. Found out that to have more of a glazed/professional look, you’d have to either use spray paint, craft paint, or I’d have to thin and blend the paint I have. The detail was actually painted, though I cheated on one side and used a Sharpy. Definitely doing that again, though I found some Sharpy paint markers that will do a better job.

Since I knew the brush strokes were going to be an issue, I incorporated them into the second figure, which was a cat. I used a dry brush technique after blending and mixing several shades of blue-green and black. The shine you see on the head occurs in low light, too. As part of the glaze, I used a silver paint and then covered it with a medium gloss.

A Blue Painted Cat

All in all, it was fun to make a mess, and it’s given me that burst of inspiration to simply go forth and doooooo…

    Mood: At peace.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: About three or four today.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Walk
    Yesterday’s Projects: What you see here, game.
    In My Ears: Kaena: The Prophecy
    Game Last Played: Final Fantasy XIII-2
    Movie Last Viewed: Kaena: The Prophecy
    Book Last Read: [Redacted.]
    Latest Artistic Project: STILL been too long. Suckage.
    Latest Release: Strange, Dead Love for Vampire: the Requiem

Have Towel, Will Travel

If Douglas Adams were alive today, he would have been sixty years old. When he passed, he was only 49. I never met him, but The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has delighted me over and over and over again for many years. It’s impossible to encapsulate why I’ll gladly cart a towel around on May 25th or how I’ll be thrilled to (when the time comes, mind you) celebrate my 42nd birthday, but I’ll give it my best shot.

Humor is one of the most challenging forms to write; satire doubly so. Hitchhiker’s takes everything I love about what science fiction can be and pokes fun at it in a non-insulting way. I wish I had an ounce of that ability! Instead, I enjoy the work for time immeasurable and occasionally write my own bits of bad poetry.

Happy Birthday, Douglas! And thank you!

    Mood: Rested.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Working on it.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: I came. I saw. I walked for jerk burgers.
    Yesterday’s Projects: Game
    In My Ears: BBC Radio
    Game Last Played: Grepolis BASTARDS!
    Movie Last Viewed: Jurassic Park
    Book Last Read: [Redacted]
    Latest Artistic Project: [Blank]
    Latest Release: Strange, Dead Love for Vampire: the Requiem

Too Much Plot


I was in a pretty foul mood yesterday in part because I figured out what’s wrong with Argentum, the novel I’m working on. It’s too complicated. Seriously. The layers of mystery, symbolism, characterization, and setting caused this first book to read like a Dickens novel on steroids. It is five books crammed into one and I know why I did it. Because I was afraid that I’d only write the first book and then WHAM! that’d be it. End of discussion. Move on to something else. Abandon this child. Stabby Stabby.

Sigh. You get the point.

Ah, well. Time to get crackin’ and unravel these plots. Goals aren’t going to achieve themselves! Also, caffeine withdrawal suuuuuuuuccckkkkssss…

    Mood: Motivation, station
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Withdrawal. Sucks. Seriously.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Quick walk
    Yesterday’s Projects: Mostly day job
    In My Ears: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
    Game Last Played: Final Fantasy XIII-2
    Movie Last Viewed: Not sure…
    Book Last Read: [Redacted.]
    Latest Artistic Project: STILL been too long. Suckage.
    Latest Release: Strange, Dead Love for Vampire: the Requiem

Woman, thy Name is Divided

Mean People Suck

I wish I could bring myself to write pages and pages about how I feel about the current assault on women’s reproductive rights and sexuality, and the bullying tactics used the world over to shock-and-awe us, but I just can’t. So instead, I will try to simplify how I feel by saying:

    Picture a woman. Focus on her face, her body, her clothing. What does she look like? What color is her skin? Her eyes? What are the first words out of her month?

    Now, clear your mind.

    Picture a strong woman. Who is she? Hold old is she? Can you describe her appearance? What does she say?

    Repeat the exercise for a sexy woman. An intelligent one.

Are these women the same? They should be, because they are.

    Mood: It’s early yet. Wait until I wake up.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: A cup. Sadly. ONLY a cup.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Quick walk
    Yesterday’s Projects: Mostly day job
    In My Ears: Rumour Has it by Adele
    Game Last Played: Final Fantasy XIII-2
    Movie Last Viewed: Dr. Who ZOMG
    Book Last Read: [Redacted]
    Latest Artistic Project: Been too long. Suckage.
    Latest Release: Strange, Dead Love for Vampire: the Requiem
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