Origin of Sins
It's the UK Gaming Expo this weekend, my first con of the year, the first time I've done UKGE and the first con since DIE RPG has been released. Also, first time I've been away from Iris for a night. Expect me to be emotional. What else is new?
Friday 2pm-3:30pm: Signing at the Rowan Rook & Decard Booth (2-330)
Saturday 2pm-3:30pm: Signing at the Rowan Rook & Decard Booth (2-330)
Sunday 11am-12pm: The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen Live Game (Main stage in Hall 2)
2pm-3:30pm: Signing at the Rowan Rook & Decard Booth (2-330)
Usual signing rules apply – I'll basically sign anything, but if things are busy, I'll limit what I sign. Also DIE RPG will be available at the con, so do come along and buy it and/or some of RRD's fine rpg products and/or services.
When I'm not doing any of the above, I will be doing (er) stuff. Like checking the phone to see how Iris is doing.
Oh – Here's the latest Shipping update from RRD. As of yesterday, there were 1750 US and Canadian books still to ship, which is pretty exciting. Other regions are progressing too. While I'm not on twitter properly, it's been fun to RT folks getting their book. RRD have put together a beautiful package.
And the Character sheets updated this month for those of you with the game, do be sure to re-download them.
After Sins of Sinister AIPT's X-men monday got Si, Al and myself on to talk about the event.
We talk a lot. It's hard to pick a quote, but here's one of mine.
As Al said — riffing is relatively easy. For those who followed me when I was active on Twitter, you’ll see that I was fond of really terrible puns. Puns are just re-arranging elements in unconventional ways. I tend to think the kind of memetic re-engineering which Sins of Sinister ran off is kind of a similar muscle? Taking elements, re-arranging, and letting them go.
That said, I think Al may be underselling the shivery brain joy of this approach though — sure, we’re evoking a bigger story with a few strokes, but that’s what Grant Morrison’s best work and things like the Metabarons run off, and they’re just great. Give the shiny toy to the reader and let them play around with it, for as long as they want. That feels democratic and magical. It’s your story now. The story lives off the page. And especially in a shared comic universe, you never know when something will be picked up and run with in future. God knows DC got enough mileage from picking over tiny ideas in Alan Moore short stories, right? Just because we didn’t go in great detail in many stories doesn’t mean they won’t inspire someone later.
Lots more. Really, Si's first answer is the definition of a joyous LOTS MORE. Go nose
Oh - and Tom Muller's design work for the Sins of Sinster trade. This is great stuff.
Immortal X-men 12 is out next week, so a lettered preview will be out in the next few days. However, until then, here's some unlettered preview. Here's an example page...
I'm looking forward to the lettered preview dropping. If they choose the opening, I suspect X-readers will find it fun.
I'm reprising my Guardian masterclass on June 6th. 7-8:30pm. Online. You can buy tickets here.
Cripes! That's next week. I better re-acquaint myself with the material sharpish. There's some small tweaks I want to make, but I think it's a pretty solid walk through all things comics.
I answered some Tumblr asks. Here's some of the best ones...
Q: Given that you're working with RRD on the Die RPG, can you and Grant somehow be persuaded/bribed to make "Honey Heist: the comic" happen? I mean, I'd back the Kickstarter for that one. Much more seriously (although I probably would back that Kickstarter), any particular thoughts about RPG adaptations of stories and story/comic adaptations of RPGs? It occurs to me that you've done this in both directions, and I can't think of anyone else who has.
Joking aside, I'd love to see RRD do comics. There's some great universes there which would work great in comics.
Joking aside, I’d love to see RRD do comics. There’s some great universes there which would work great in comics
This could go on much longer, I suspect, but I'm going to try and keep it simple.
Comic adaptations of RPGs
There's a key thing here - most comic adaptations of an RPG isn't an adaptation of an RPG. It's an adaptation of the game world where the story is set. This is a significantly different thing.
Exceptions are telling, in that they lean a lot more into the explicit conventions of RPGs, to play with, parody or critique. These are rarely actually direct adaptations of a world. People don't read a D&D comic to have characters keep on having short rests to get their hit points back, or whatever.
In reality, comic adaptations of RPGs are less like an adaption, and more like a tone piece - like the pieces of fiction in an RPG manual. They're about what the game is trying to evoke (and sometimes not even then, right?)
RPG adaptations of comics
I'd note that DIE isn't actually an adaptation of DIE the comic. They were developed simultaneously together, with elements appearing first in one or the other, and being ported back over. They're both me trying to execute an idea in the ways which best suit each medium.
Classically, most RPG conversions of comics is basically the same as any piece of fiction. The only real difference to converting a comic to a novel is that you've got a bunch more free art to use in your manual with a comic, which saves money.
I'd say the best RPG conversions are those which understand the art they're converting and create a game which allows players to experience their version of that. This doesn't mean they're the best game (though they may be) but they understand what is interesting about the fiction they're converting. More commonly (though perhaps less so now) is basically just taking the fiction and lobbing it all into whatever RPG world you have.
Compare and contrast MERPS from the 1980s and The One Ring from the 2010. MERPS is a cut down version of Rolemaster, and while it has a bunch of tolkein detail, it doesn't ever really feel anything like Middle-Earth. It's just an RPG set in Middle Earth. Conversely, The One Ring is all about walking and feeling sad because you're walking, and having your hope and despair score go up. It understands and shows the understanding of middle-earth in a way which MERPS simply didn't.
People often talk about Powered by the Apocalypse games as Genre Emulation (which isn't 100% necessarily true - it can be, but that's a goal a designer chooses to have). In PBTA you dig down to the fiction and work out what elements need to be mechanised for it to feel like the fiction they're representing. I think that's true of any game adaptation - it involves looking, thinking and working out how you can put that magic in a bottle.
TL:DR: I did not keep it simple.
Q: If you could magically get one of your works adapted into an animated series, which one would it be? Do you have a favourite style or studio you’d like to work on it?
A: Ludocrats, because…
1) Ludocrats is such a berserk mess of visuals and joy that an animation studio could really go to town with it.
2) We really lost a lot of money on Ludocrats, and would love to get some of it back. Our favourite studio would be any studio which would give us money for Ludocrats.
Q: Is it true you’re leaving the x-office?
A: It’s not a job for life, especially for me. I’m here to tell a story, and when the story’s done, I’m out. If I take a job, I’m already thinking how I’m leaving.
I haven’t done the firm math, but I think you’ve got more issues of X stuff from me still to read as have already been released. 16 have come out so far, yes? Yeah, there’s more than that to come.
My math may just be wrong though. There really is a bunch of stuff to come.
Tom Brevoort includes a memo he sent around the office about what a single issue of comic should do. It's broadly where I come from when writing single issues. The problem, as always, is what you think is important may not align with what a reader thinks is important. I do love these casual advice mails – when writing this I got a mail from someone thanking me for my notes on How To Do Crossovers mail I sent a while back, and I thought I should perhaps lob it here. Looking at it, it's full of too much stuff about the future of the MU to post raw, but maybe I can edit it another time.
David Brothers' writing over on Shelfdust about Daredevil 304 is really good. David doesn't do much criticism any more, so this was a treat.
I love an indie superhero comic with swagger. I'm not following it closely, but Radiant.Black is doing so much fun stuff, and here it's a classic “let the readers decide vote” for which character will get the direction. I could never do this, being such a control-freak, but I love to watch.
I wasn't aware of 1950s singer songwriter Connie Converse until this NYT article, which got me listening. Strong, timeless folk hanging in space
My First Dungeon finished their eight part run of DIE RPG with a cast re-union which they invite me on to talk about what they did with it. This was a lovely game, with lovely players. Strong!
I have a 25 year habit of flicking Zelda fans' earlobes, but [the Gizmodo Link as Trans Joy article gave me life.]
Kelly Thompson, Mattia De Iulis and Hassan's new Image comic THE CULL gets a five page preview. Looks interesting stuff, I think. Hey! Rian did the design. Hurrah for Rian.
This is an interesting take on Demihumans in RPGs – essentially conceptualising them as social groups rather than actual species. Fantasy Species as metaphor is something that's always stuck with me ever since I read Cryptonomicon when a character ids as a Dwarf and realises that no-one else realises this other coder is an elf – as in, magical, beyond understanding of mortals, etc. Worryingly, I fear that's all I remember about Cryptonomicon. It was a long time ago.
This article about Panetone has been in my tabs since it was published, and I finally read it. I put it here in celebration. I also – what Marvel hero makes a suit of armour out of delicious italian sweet bread? Panetone Stark.
This incredibly raw recording of Chris Cunningham's cut of the Empire Strikes Back's Luke/Vader duel is my everything. Jim saw this live. I can only imagine. Clearly, I would love a Sci-fi film which embraced this as its aesthetic.
As there's been a lull in comics releases post Sins of Sinister it means I've had the whole of May away from you. That means the newsletter has sprawled somewhat due to links building up (I even didn't include some), so I'm going to keep the outro short.
I've been okay, basically. Mainly I've been making firmer plans for my next projects. The indie books all have talent provisionally attached, assuming we can work out the fine details. I've started more active research. I've been moving int tightly plotting the climaxes of all the Marvel stuff that lies ahead which has been fun and surprising. It's got a sense of momentum to it I'm finding really powerful. I'm starting to get my head back into writing more DIE stuff – I need to write an adventure for the first expansion, for example. I'm also writing adventures for a couple of RPG stretch goals, which his nice – I really enjoyed writing one for Rae's Apocalypse Keys.
Oh, and Jim Zub was in town post a con, and we got some folks together for drinks. He lobbed some photos online, so I'll include one here
Awww. Was nice to see Human Faces.
Right – need to get this out. More ramble next time – I've got a question about the newsletter I want to float.