A Strange Journey

I haven't blogged about Cairn in the last couple of days, but that's not because nothing is going on behind the scenes. I'm going through the text everyday, and meetings have been had about Cairn and Souljar Games. So stuff and things are going on.... In general, I'm going to try to take the weekends off from blogging, just so I can focus on writing and editing and I can give you guys a break. Of course, I'm going to break that rule by blogging on Sunday. I'm a rebel that way.

First, some old business. I've noticed that only three people have become followers of this site. I remind you that this is where you'll get all your Cairn RPG news from now on, not the Kickstarter page. So if you want to know how the game is progressing and what I'm up to, this is the place. Now, it's certainly possible that you don't want to follow the game's progress that closely. Hey, that's cool. But this is also a way to participate in the process. I'm already throwing ideas out there and asking for feedback. I'm reading and listening and considering. This gives me a good sense of what you want, and gives you a good idea of what I'm doing. So become a follower.

Second, I was writing last night and something occurred to me. This has been a strange journey.

Originally, I was just slated to provide a scenario as a stretch goal reward. I expected to be handed a finished text and just write an adventure. Easy-peasy. In fact, I remember telling Mike Nystul that there was no way I could jump on-board with work on Cairn, since I was already working on his Infinite Dungeon (which is now being published by D3 Adventures).

Then, I was asked to write a quick chapter on bartering. Because animals don't understand money and use bartering instead. Mike wanted the animals to have a different value system, instead of just being humans in animal costumes (which I understand is a thing, that I don't understand. But hey, I don't judge). I'm a proponent of capitalism, and not a huge fan of Communism, but I swallowed hard and wrote a justification for animals not using money.... It wasn't easy, but I think Hegel would be proud.

Mike liked the chapter, and asked if I could maybe start helping with writing the species. Now this was the fun part. One of the things I wanted to do was capture the energy of each animal. I wanted to encourage you to sit at the table and act like your animal. If you're a Squirrel, hunch over and gnaw on your Doritos. Suddenly sit up, dart your head around, and freeze. (And now that I think about it, I'd love to come up with a quick mechanic that rewards you for actually acting like your animal. Not your character, YOU). Anyway, I wrote a couple of animals up and sent them off. Then I got more....

This was beginning to look suspiciously like I was working on Cairn....

Meanwhile, Mike was working hard on his end writing his parts of Cairn, and managing Castle Nystul, and writing Axes & Anvils. It was a lot of work and he was beginning to feel overwhelmed. (Boy do I know that feeling. I'm feeling it now....) Would I, he asked, be willing to read over his material and develop it? There was nothing going on with Infinite Dungeon; the work was done and I had nothing else going on. So sure. Send the files.

Now I was definitely working on Cairn. In fact, I was developing it.

What exactly does a line developer do? In many ways, he's like a managing editor. He reads over the material for clarity and consistency. He spots the holes. He keeps track of the tone. You don't want to set out to design an angst-ridden game of vampires and end up with a happy little game of vampires. He says things like "hey, you know, vampires can't see themselves in mirrors in the mythology. You didn't address that in the text. Can our vampires see each other in mirrors? Maybe we should address that...." The line developer (I prefer the title line editor) serves as the canary in the coal mine in a sense. What is the game supposed to do, and is it doing it?

Now, I'm publishing the thing. As I've said elsewhere, I did this because a) I wanted to see my work get published; b) I wanted to see the other writers' work get published; and c) I think you deserve to see the game and saw a way to honor your original commitment to Cairn.

But at 4am, when I'm tweaking the language for Harmony, I remember.... I was just supposed to be writing a scenario.


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