[Guest Post] Melanie R. Meadors on Playing In Someone Else’s Sandbox

When Marc Tassin invited me to write a story for the anthology he and John Helfers were editing, Champions of Aetaltis, I was over the moon. I had always wanted to work on an RPG tie-in project, and since this had a sword and sorcery type setting, it seemed right up my alley. Some of the first fantasy novels I read as a teen were Dungeons and Dragons tie-ins, and I’ve enjoyed the Pathfinder Tales books from Paizo as well. It didn’t take me much thought at all to agree to work on this project with two editors I admired.

When I got the setting guide to the world of Aetaltis, where the stories of the anthology were to be set, I started reading it with glee. I couldn’t wait to get started, and I was sure inspiration for a story would hit me as I pored over the pages. There were two hundred pages, to be precise, with details about races and classes of characters, facts and maps about the settings, and everything I ever wanted to know about the history and gods of the world. But when it came time to actually write the story, aside from having a little struggle coming up with the proper “champion” (and you can read more about my struggle with that here) I became really worried. There was so much stuff in the world guide, so much of it was already estab-lished. What if I completely screwed something up?

Thankfully, I’m not a shy person and went straight to Marc with my fears. Not that I asked him to hold my hand or anything, but I pitched my story idea to him as specifically as I could, and asked him to please verify that the world stuff that was involved with my story seemed accurate. I told him straight out, “Hey, I’m new at this shared world stuff. I just need your OK that I’m going in the right direction.” Sure enough, I was fine. I wrote the story and submitted it to him by the deadline.

Then things started to get really cool.

I hadn’t thought much beyond needing to get my story written and then taking care of edits when they arrived. To me, my characters existed in Aetaltis, and there were creatures and mention of other places in the story, but that was it. It was self-contained in my mind. But of course, to the world developer, this one story was a piece to a much bigger puzzle. My story’s characters and the events in it would become the stuff of leg-end in Aetlatis. And possibly most awesome of all was finding connections between stories in the anthology, things that were completely unplanned but just coincided. Two stories, for example, that had a staff in them. When Marc emailed me one day and asked if I could fiddle with the description of a device in my story to make it match one in another story, which would actually be a legendary weapon, I realized for the first time just how cool writing in a shared world really was. My story was more than just a story, it would become a bit of the mythos of the world. People could read my story and create a game out of it, just like the Aetaltis role playing game world was the basis for my fiction story.

The same goes for pretty much any tie-in. When you write a story based in the world of a video game, RPG, or movie franchise, your story becomes part of that world’s cultural literacy. Something small in the world might have inspired your story, but something small in your story might inspire someone to write another story, or game, or even movie. Your work becomes part of something bigger than it would have been if it was just a stand-alone tale.

A simple story becomes legend.

The World of Aetaltis, a new classic heroic fantasy RPG setting for use with Fifth Edition, is now on Kickstarter. Books, accessories, maps, & more for your 5E roleplaying game!

About the Author

Melanie R. Meadors is the author of fantasy and science fiction stories where heroes don’t always carry swords and knights in shining armor often lose to nerds who study their weaknesses. She’s been known to befriend wandering garden gnomes, do battle with metal-eating squirrels, and has been called a superhero on more than one occasion. Her work has been published in Circle Magazine, The Wheel, and Prick of the Spindle, and she was a finalist in the 2014 Jim Baen Memorial Science Fiction Contest. Melanie is also a freelance author publicist and publicity/marketing coordinator for both Ragnarok Publications and Mechanical Muse. She blogs regularly for GeekMom and The Once and Future Podcast. Her short story “A Whole-Hearted Halfling” is in the anthology Champions of Aetaltis, available on Amazon.

[New Release] Drawing Destiny eBook Now Available

Drawing Destiny Cover

THE TAROT HAS AWAKENED…
…And nothing will ever be the same again.

The Tarot, a mystical divination deck of cards, has appeared in the Sixth World as a powerful artifact. It works its will on anyone who finds one of its magical cards, from runners surviving on the street to corp executives battling in the boardroom. And not just people’s lives will be changed, for the Awakened Tarot deck is more than just a formidable magic item, it has an agenda all its own, and will seek to use those it comes in contact with to set its plans in motion…

Drawing Destiny is the latest original Shadowrun anthology, featuring twenty-three original stories about this brand-new artifact introduced into the game universe. Featuring stories from Michael A. Stackpole, Jennifer Brozek, Chris A. Jackson, Lucy A. Snyder, Aaron Rosenberg, R.L. King, Russell Zimmerman, Monica Valentinelli, Josh Vogt, and Jason M. Hardy, and 14 more authors, these stories reveal how the Awakened Tarot will impact the Sixth World for better, and sometimes, for much worse… The cover was designed by Echo Chernik, who also designed the Sixth World tarot deck.

In addition to the tarot theme, the collection highlights different characters and their place in the Sixth World, and includes the Italian Federation which I used as the basis for “My Enemy, Mi Amici”. You can read my design notes on the Catalyst Game Labs Tumblr account, and you can now pick up a copy of the eBook on DriveThruFiction.com or Amazon. I hope you enjoy the collection!

My World Con 2016 Schedule

Here are the panels and events I’ll be participating in at the show.

Launch Pad

Thursday, August 18 15:00 – 16:00, 2210 (Kansas City Convention Center)

Launch Pad is an annual event whereby a group of invited writers, editors, and creatives learn about modern science, specifically astronomy, so that they can in turn use it in their work and inspire others. Members who have attended Launch Pad discuss how it has affected their writing and ideas.

Changing the Medium

Friday, August 19 14:00 – 15:00, 2206 (Kansas City Convention Center)

A look at what is involved when adapting a property from its original medium to another. How does a movie become a game or a book turn into a television show? What artistic licenses must be taken and how do you remain true to the spirit of the original?

The Golden Age of Firefly

Friday, August 19 18:00 – 19:00, 2206 (Kansas City Convention Center)

Although there hasn’t been a new episode in 13 years or a movie in 11, Firefly fandom is going strong with comics and a myriad games ranging from Fluxx to Tall Card to Firefly: The Boardgame and more. Is this fandom even more stubborn than Mal Reynolds and the Browncoats?

The Build-A-World Game Show

Friday, August 19 21:00 – 22:00, 2503A (Kansas City Convention Center)

The Build-a-World Game Show is a live action worldbuilding game designed and run by Monica Valentinelli. Two teams of panelists compete to build a fantastic world in under an hour for fun and prizes. The Build-a-World Game Show incorporates audience participation, takes place in three rounds, and results in a fan-voted winner!

Developing a Tabletop Roleplaying Game

Saturday, August 20 13:00 – 14:00, 3501D (Kansas City Convention Center)

Monica Valentinelli discusses how RPG games are developed, examining some of the processes and differences in making a roleplaying game. Come along and find out about the process, from pre-production to playtesting!

Game World, Fictional World: RPGs and Authorship

Saturday, August 20 14:00 – 15:00, 2504B (Kansas City Convention Center)

In Roleplaying Games, things don’t always go to plan. What happens when our games become fiction? Authors who love RPGs, have used them as a basis for their work, or have had their work made into RPGs discuss how roleplaying can help the creative process…or make it go horribly, horribly wrong.

RPG: Firefly

Sunday, August 21 11:00 – 14:00, Gaming (Kansas City Convention Center)

Come and learn how to play the story-centric Firefly RPG with developer/lead writer Monica Valentinelli. Players will play as the main cast; materials will be provided. Please sign up for this event in advance at the Games area or online on the MAC2 Warhorn page.

[New Release] Tales of the Dark Eras Anthology

Tales of the Dark Eras

Today, I am pleased to announce that Tales of the Dark Eras, a collection of alternate history stories inspired by Dark Eras, is now available. I wrote a Hunter: The Vigil story set in the early 1690s called “Suffering of the Unchosen”, about a distraught father who has accused the local hunters of killing his wife and child near Salem Village. Motivated by his grief and anger, the local farmer intersects with the Knights of Saint George to bring his family’s murderers to justice…or so it seems.

Walk through the ages…

As a companion to Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras this anthology reveals secrets of the mystics, whispers rumors of the dead, and shines a light into the darkest corners of the world.

Tales of the Dark Eras includes historical stories based within the shadowed past of Vampire: The Requiem, Mage: The Awakening, Werewolf: The Forsaken, Changeling: The Lost, and other Chronicles of Darkness settings.

In the Chronicles of Darkness…

Explore the shadows with tales by Howard Ingham, Malcolm Sheppard, Pete Woodworth, Renee Ritchie, Jess Hartley, Monica Valentinelli, Danielle Harper, Matthew McFarland, Mike Tomasek, Eric Zawadski, Meghan Fitzgerald, and Dennis Detwiller.

Tales of the Dark Eras is now available in print and digital!

Announcing Drawing Destiny: A Sixth World Tarot Anthology

Drawing Destiny Cover

I am pleased to announce today that I will have a story titled “My Enemy, Mi Amici” in an upcoming Shadowrun anthology from Catalyst Game Labs. The collection, which is edited by John Helfers, is inspired by the Sixth World Tarot. I chose the Higher Power card as my theme, and you can find a preview of the art below.

If you want to learn more about the anthology that’ll be released in August, you can read my design notes on Tumblr or follow along here on my website. I’ll announce when the anthology will be released following Gen Con. Huzzah!

Higher Power tarot card

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