As I have allowed people to read pieces of Atolovus over the years, I’ve heard many comments about the descriptions of my fight scenes. Some think I’m too descriptive. I’ve studied martial arts off and on through the course of my life, never worrying much about belts or the like because I feel it to be a western tradition.
I believe a person’s skill speaks for them more honestly than any belt, and a good teacher need see only a practitioner’s skill to determine it. I have seen teachers who favor some students over others, who promote one student with less skill before another standing beside him or her with more skill. It also keeps teachers honest.
This is a philosophy I try to include in my battle scenes. One reason for this is to allow the reader to come to their own conclusions about the characters in question without revealing with explanation in some cases attributes of the character. I use many of my own experiences with the arts to physically play out the fight sequence as I write them in. It is more time consuming to be sure, but I think it also makes the scene more vivid and helps the reader follow it through to its conclusion. I like my fight scenes to be believable—even if we are talking about larger than life characters.
I believe people who read or watch Fantasy, Science Fiction, or action, do so at least in part for the action scenes, and most of those I’ve spoken to feel gypped when the scene is unbelievable.
Most everyone in the Fantasy and Science Fiction community knows how important world building is. Not world building as in an environment for a 20th century novel or a lurid drama set in the seventeen hundreds. I’m talking about Avatar, Balder’s Gate, Lord of the Rings, Fire and Ice, and TSR AD&D, Gamma World, and Traveler; all games I played throughout my childhood and on into my adolescent and adult phases.
I have two hand drawn maps. The first was started in my teen years and has evolved into a six by eight feet view of four full continents, some of which has yet to be explored and many oceans and seas hanging from a wall when I actually have enough wall space to hang it. Why would that be a problem? First, I live in a small house, and write in what we jokingly call the dungeon, our basement. Secondly, my maps are hand drawn in pencil, so I can keep up with changes as time impacts the environment and the societies who live within it. Over time, the paper begins to yellow, and the whole thing starts to get dirty from smudges and the like. I’ve redrawn this world at least four times, twice from memory when it was destroyed, and later when some idiot drenched it in water. Finally, I decided in 2005 I needed something more professionally done, something that I can replace easily.
I got Campaign Cartographer for Christmas this year. It’s been on my gift list for the better count of ten years. Finally I just gifted it to myself. The reviews said that it is a professional program, but it is also complicated. I’ve been meaning to play with it, but I simply haven’t had the time. But that is going to change. If anyone out there reading this uses this program, I’m open to whatever advice you care to share.