I have been thinking about a lot of things recently, and one thing I kept thinking back to were a number of people who have greatly influenced and changed the way I write. I have been looking over old Living Greyhawk adventures I wrote in 2003-07, I have to say that my writing style has greatly evolved over the years, from "Burned Flour in High Dough" to "Whose Cuisine Reigns Supreme" to "Encounter at Ramat Bridge" and now into my latest Saggakar adventures, my style has definitely evolved.
I consider these five people to hold an important place in my personal development and I value their contribution to my craft a lot, whether it is because they did things right or did things wrong. I was able to grow from their work.
This article focuses on my organized play adventures.
Eric Menge Back in 2004, I took a trip to Quantico VA for RaptorCon. I was, in those days a fairly new triad and had yet to travel much beyond the borders of Quebec (for LG). While I had heard stories of "other regions", I thought everywhere resembled our region: a well-hidden convoluted plot that was hard guess and where players had little to do with what happened. Then I went to RaptorCon. Eric' masterful storyline was exactly what I wanted to do with Tusmit. It relied on known NPCs, important plot points, unique adventures, all things I wanted to bring to the players of Tusmit. That weekend, I slept about 4 hours across three nights. But it was worth it.
KF Cole I met KF later, when I was in Colorado. He and I hit it off. He really enjoyed the stories and plotlines I worked on with the County of Urnst. Then after the death of LG, he contacted me and asked me about creating a new world, based on an organized play campaign. Start small and grow from there? Sounds familiar? Though I admit that at first, I was lukewarm to the idea and my involvement in the early project my not have been as good as we both wanted, I still think a lot of good material happened. To this day, we keep in touch and I sent him a (very early) draft of the Tyrants of Saggakar Player's Guide.
Louis Porter Jr Did you really think I'd skip LPJ? Though LPJ did not influence HOW I wrote, he did influence me in the way I go from idea to document. If you've never worked with him, he is a man of ideas (sometimes he's got too many). Ideas taken from a variety of sources, and he likes to take a trope, flip it on its head, then give it a few spins and see what happens. This way of playing with the tropes has been central to the creation of both Saggakar and Legacies. He also got me back into the world of comics. I have been reading a lot of comics from the 60s to the 90s (the more modern stuff I don't like very much).
Bradley Fenton (note that I have nothing against Brad, I disliked HOW he planned things, and this criticism is about that methodology, not the man) Brad is an influence in how NOT to do things. Brad is the man who got Living Greyhawk started in Quebec, getting us the nation of Tusmit. His original proposal for a 5-year storyline was awesome. It dealt with the return of the previous Pasha, which is exactly what we did in the end. How we got there was very different but the plot was solid. What I disliked was how he wanted to do it. Rather than having a series of major plotline adventures, he had planned out every adventure with great details, perhaps too much so. With each revelation integral to the plot (a good thing), but spread out thinly over 3 years... Without any room for anything that was not related to the core storyline. From him, I learned to define the overall idea the "points A and B" but to let things evolve between those points, to work with stories at a granular level and advance the plot that way. Perhaps it is just me. Okay it is VERY likely just me.
Lady D'Anne Goldstein How can I write such a list and NOT put down D'Anne's name? She stormed and beat up really bad on so many "great" ideas I had over the years and she has been a springboard for ideas. She did go over a lot of my stuff, and forced me to improve and make things better, avoiding contractions, numeric values and colloquialisms while writing. We took a nation in transition (the previous story arc had ended and no major plot line had yet started) and within a year turned it into one of the most vibrant regions in the west.
Of course, I owe all of them a big thank you, for putting me on a the path I am now and allowing me to avoid pitfalls. So from me to you: a big thank you!