Every year at this time, I always reassess what I’m doing creatively, reboot it, and start afresh.
This was always prompted by the end of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, that month-long celebration of the arts and creativity in all its shapes and forms.
This year, for various reasons, I’ve not gone to anything in the Festival, even though it was back after two years’ absence due to the pandemic. Sure, I’ve experienced some tiny part of the mood through social media and news stories, but I’ve not had that cultural soaking I used to so enjoy prior to 2020.
However, my creative tank is as full as ever. And I have two things to thank for that.
First, Storytelling Collective. As previously mentioned, their Write Your Own Adventure course in July reignited my spark immeasurably. And their forthcoming Short Story September course is set to fan that flame even further.
Second, rediscovering the wonder of Chaosium tabletop role-playing games. Call of Cthulhu has always been lurking in my life one way or another, but now I’m equally keen to get invested in their other two flagship lines, Runequest and Pendragon.
Together, these two things have me at the start of autumn’s road with a determination to not only create, but to do so with a focus I’ve not had for years.
My creative plans
In the age-old tradition of self-accountability being a great motivator, here are my plans for 2022 and beyond.
The Edinburgh Files
My first Call of Cthulhu scenario The Pharaoh’s Sacrifice is set in Edinburgh in the 1920s. My next one, A Red, Red Rose is also set in Edinburgh, this time in the 2020s.
Early in the Write Your First Adventure course, in the module on setting an achievable scope, I had an idea.
An insane idea.
To write ten linked Call of Cthulhu scenarios, five in the 1920s, five in the 2020s. To have them work as standalone adventures, but also have them work together as a campaign of sorts. Where investigators in the 2020s discover things that those in the 1920s have done, or the 1920s players discover partial clues that they must ensure remain intact for at least 100 years so that the 21st century group can discover and use them.
Ambitious, yes. Foolhardy, probably. But … I have the ten scenarios very loosely mapped out already, and I’ve started the draft of the third scenario — The Burry Man — so I’m relatively confident I’ll see this one through to fruition.
It also allows me to flex my social media marketing muscles, where I can cross and upsell them to customers, package them in bundles and make those Edinburgh-based puppies of eldritch horror work.
One other thing that writing the scenarios has reignited is my love of the myths, legends and spooky tales of Edinburgh itself, as well as my photography of the locations and items that feature in them.
This has given me the idea to create Edinburgh Lore — a PDF book of photos, history and tales that accompany The Edinburgh Files, but possibly also has wider reach, maybe on Ko-fi or similar, or perhaps even as its own website.
This one’s in early stages of percolation, but it’s definitely something I want to pursue.
The forthcoming Short Story September course is — like the Write Your First Adventure one — focused and targeted on a specific goal: write a short story and submit it to zines, anthologies and other publishers of short fiction.
This appeals to me immensely. With the other projects I have on the go, long-form fiction is not on the radar. But short fiction feels like it can fit in and around the other things, and I love the idea of building up a portfolio and touting the stories within it round various places to try and see one of them end up in print/pixels.
Getting a short story accepted is therefore definitely a goal for this period, and if I achieve that, it may well lead to all sorts of other places.
I’m currently running Pathfinder 2E and Starfinder games, and enjoying those a great deal. Whilst I love Starfinder with all my little sci-fantasy geeky heart, the Pathfinder one is probably nearing an end.
This gives me space in my gaming calendar.
Space for Chaosium games to fill.
And fill it they shall. I’m currently recruiting and scheduling a group to run through my Edinburgh Files scenarios as a Call of Cthulhu campaign.
I’ve begun to immerse myself in the absolutely glorious mythic fantasy world of Runequest’s Glorantha, and I’ll be scouring the tribes for a group of heroes to embark on a campaign through that fabled world in the next few months (and I may even contemplate writing a scenario or two for that as well.)
Then the new edition of Pendragon is on the horizon. A game of Arthurian fantasy that looks like it evokes everything from The Green Knight to John Boorman’s Excalibur, it is — at the very least — a book I am going to absolutely devour when it comes out. Then I’ll be trying to drum up a group for that as well.
Then there’s The Trinity Code, my Powered by the Apocalypse hack set in a modern-day world of conspiracy, supernatural phenomena and espionage. I’ll be pursuing that one too (a definite K0-fi or maybe even a Kickstarter project, this one.)
Bring it on…
On the whole, it’s fair to say I’m inspired.
As usual, some of these plans may change, some projects may fail, others might even come along and take their place.
But for now, and for the foreseeable, this is what my spare time looks like…
It’s fair to say my Xbox won’t be getting much action for a while…