Despite my best efforts (after having promised myself I would not get distracted), I have spent the last few weeks being nothing BUT distracted. So, it has taken me longer than planned to get back to Dice Chewing. I would love to say the time has been spent productively on writing stories, learning fun new facts and growing as a person. But mostly, I have been lying on the sofa, complaining the weather is either too hot or too cold and eating ice cream. I have also been working on the Anatomy of Fear anthology- a Kickstarter funded project which you might have seen mentioned on Twitter.
Speaking of outrageously successful Kickstarter campaigns (check that out for a super smooth segue), for this instalment of Dice Chewing, we are diving in and delving around the magical mind of indie author Zack Argyle – creator of the Threadlight Trilogy. Zack recently successfully funded a Kickstarter for the deluxe edition omnibus of the trilogy (and when we say successfully, we mean REALLY successfully).
Here, he gives us a little insight into his years of playing Dungeons & Dragons and talks about how running his first campaign gave him confidence in storytelling.
“Being a GM is what gave me the confidence to write my first novel. Like many fantasy nerds, I had ideas floating around in my head for years, but my writing had only ever consisted of poetry and songs. I had never seriously considered doing a full-length book. I mean, who even has the time for something like that? If I write a song and it’s not good, I’ve only wasted a few days on it. If I wrote a book and it was bad…Instead, I just kept dreaming up ideas and setting them aside. Until I ran my first D&D campaign.
I’d been playing Dungeons & Dragons for a few years at this point with coworkers who were all experienced, and I fell in love with the creativity and companionship of it all. I decided that two must be better than one, so I kept playing in that campaign while spinning up a second one with my closest friends who had never played: my wife and four other friends. That was 6 years ago and we’re still playing together. I ran a modified Storm King’s Thunder and made everyone give me written backstories that I used to alter the campaign. Different sessions, while moving the overarching plot forward, gave opportunities to dive into each of the backstories, and I fell in love with trying to surprise them. One session later in the campaign, they had just defeated a group of enemies from a cult that had been chasing them since the very first session, and one enemy remained. One of the party members, whose backstory provided a gap in their memory, threw off his hood and approached the enemy. The session ended when the enemy recognized the character, threw himself prostrate at his feet, and whispered, “First Lord.” Everyone at the table audibly gasped, turning to their real-life friend, feeling utterly betrayed. That player turned to me, and after a moment of confusion, understood, and smiled.
That moment changed something inside of me. It helped me realize that I _could_ create a complex, epic story with interweaving storylines that could actually work. It gave me the confidence that—whether it would be great—I could do it well enough that it wouldn’t be a waste of time. And thus, the Threadlight trilogy was born. And while there is nothing in the story itself that can be attributed to D&D, the existence of the stories themselves can.
I’ve never played any other TTRPG than D&D, for no other reason than I’ve been in two campaigns for so many years that there hasn’t been time to try another. For the second part, I think my path worked well. Try it out with people who have played before, and then create your own group with the people you want to stay close to over the years. Our D&D friends are our best friends, and the campaigns we play are almost just an excuse to spend time together. I’m convinced that everyone can love role-playing with the right group and right GM. Take it into your own hands to create that table, and your friends will stay.”
In the next Dice Chewing post, we speak with author Jacob Sannox about the influence RPG has had on his writing. You can find out more about Zack, his books and work here: https://www.zackargyle.com/
Until next time, happy Dice Chewing!