As announced last week, today we are releasing the first adventure created by the members of the MetaArcade Creators Pilot Program: Necropolis of Vaarh is intended for low-level characters and will take you across the perilous stretches of the Scorching Veldt. Like Naked Doom and The Ascendant, it is available to all players for free!
It is only fitting to continue the practice of Community Spotlights with today’s blog and introduce you to the author of Necropolis of Vaarh, Stefan Jones. Based in Portland, Oregon, Stefan is a published RPG author and no stranger to the Tunnels & Trolls universe as the author of the Tunnels & Trolls solo #23, Dark Temple.
So, enjoy and don’t forget to check the weekly trivia question from Steve Crompton! And if you are interested in joining the MetaArcade Creators Pilot Program, please sign up here.
Who are you and what do you do? Tell us about yourself and where you’re from!
I grew up in New York but migrated west in time for the “dot com” boom, eventually ending up in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon. I recently retired after several decades of software QA and documentation work.
What’s your background in writing? How did you get started and how did you develop your skills over the years?
I’ve always been an avid reader, especially of science fiction and fantasy. My first published work was a review in the old Space Gamer magazine. Since then I’ve written lots of RPG material, articles for magazines like WIRED and Whole Earth, and great piles of technical documentation.
Writing for my day job (everything from bug reports to end user manuals to APIs, “application program interfaces”) has really helped my game writing. I can write quickly and unambiguously, while still being creative and (I hope) interesting.
Looking at the big picture, what role do stories (in general) or your stories (in particular) play in the world?
Stories can explain complex subjects, provide hope, and inspire. Unfortunately, some kinds of stories perpetuate hate and justify rotten behavior. We need to tell the right sort of stories!
Is fantasy a favorite theme in your writing? What kind of themes do you enjoy working on/creating the most?
I started out as mostly a science fiction fan, but I have come to increasingly respect fantasy.
I love “evoking” a mood, or hinting at events and places, with a few phrases and descriptions. Faves: Ruins and ancient lore and things better left lost in the past burbling their way back into the world to cause trouble.
From where do you draw inspiration when writing? Explain a little about your process.
There are few totally original ideas. I read tons of stuff (history is especially important), look at stuff while walking my dog, and pay attention to plots of movies and TV.
Late at night, or when walking my dog, I occupy my head thinking about scenes, monsters, items and settings; I first draft things in my head. Working out a description is a good cure for insomnia.
How do you know when an adventure is “finished?”
When all the crazy stuff I spewed out in the “inspiration” phase is either weeded out or fully detailed in game-terms.
Do you have a favorit adventure that you’ve created? Tell me about it; what makes it your favorite?
Hmmm. The one work I’m most proud of is the adventure seed collection “GURPS Alphabet Arcane.” That was a lot of work but it came out really well.
Who are your favorite writers? Whom do you look to for ideas, feedback, or inspiration?
Jack Vance is the primo fantasy writer, a huge influence. There’s Tolkien of course, the #1 “serious” worldbuilder. Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett are more recent influences. On the science fiction side, Olaf Stapledon, Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Jack Vance, David Brin and Frederik Pohl.
What do you hope to do in the future? What are your aspirations in the RPG world and/or in the world as a whole?
I hope to make writing RPGs my retirement “job.” I hope to turn enough stuff, and make it good enough, to earn some extra spending money.
What is your biggest pet peeve in the RPG world?
System proliferation! There are so many out there. I don’t know what to pay attention to. Really, it is insane how many Kickstarters there are.
What are your hobbies outside of writing?
I build and fly model rockets, including some pretty large ones.
Most importantly: what superpower would you have and why?
Flying seems to be the most useful superpower. Super strength, to leap or tear my way out of trouble, or to konk out bad guys without really hurting them, would be a good second choice.
THIS WEEK’S TRIVIA CONTEST
Last week’s question was pretty tough, so I thought it might be nice to go way back and do a question for those of you who have just started playing Tunnels & Trolls Adventures. (If you have been playing for a while this will give you a chance to revisit the first solo in the Crown of Klade story arc.) If you haven’t played Tunnels & Trolls Adventures, now is the time to try it and have a good chance at also winning a prize for your efforts!
The Question: In The Ascendant you have to drink from a stein, what do you find in the stein? (besides what you drink)
Post your answer in the comments section below or on the MetaArcade or Tunnels & Trolls Facebook Pages. I (Steve) will choose an answer at random from the correct answers, contact the winner and mail you a free signed copy of Grimtina’s Guard, plus a free signed comic. (If you already have Grimtina’s solo I’ll send you a different T&T item)
Note: you must live within the continental US so we can ship it to you. The deadline for posting your answer is Monday May 14th, 6 pm pacific time.
Last week we asked: In Stop Thief! What is the name of Diamondfist’s ship? The correct answer is “Nightwind.”
The Trivia Contest winner this time round is Charles Isaac who was chosen at random from the correct answers. We’ll be sending Charles a signed copy of Grimtina’s Guard solo, or an alternate prize if he has that.
It’s time for the rest of you go to (or revisit) The Ascendant and find out what in that stein. If you haven’t played Tunnels & Trolls Adventures or the Trivia contest before, give it a try!