Hey all, Sam here.
Welcome back to another installment in the Weekend Writer series on Free State of Geek. The first Friday of each month, I share a bunch of different writing and creativity prompts…and on the final Friday of the month, I end up sharing some snippets based on that writing. For the Fridays in-between, the focus is on a deep dive into a book on creative writing and the craft of writing itself. I’m really enjoying writing all of these posts, even if they are some of the longer to complete ones that we do here. I’m finding them quite helpful with keeping my focus on creative endeavors, and inspiring myself to write and create and find my passion with creativity again, and I hope you are finding these posts useful as well.
Okay, so if you missed it, here’s the link to the April prompts again. I’m actually going to share two bits of writing this month….a short snippet from what I wrote based on this month’s prompts, and a little bit from one of my stories that I’m working on a bit right now.
I decided to choose: Option 2: Misty Forest – The characters find themselves in a dark and misty forest, inhabited by those souls lost on the way to the afterlife. Will they find their way out of there, and back into the world of the living?
This prompt is from the Sidequest Decks from Inkwell Ideas, and I really love these as a starting spot or inspiration for shorter encounters within a TTRPG campaign, or as a springboard for writing a fantasy or sci-fi story.
Here’s a little snippet from what I was writing. When I thought about the prompt, I realized it was something I wanted to incorporate into part of the TTRPG romance story I’m working on, so I didn’t want to write too much until the characters had reached that point, and obviously I don’t want to share too much because that could mean spoilers for my book.
The halfling is the first to wake, sitting up to find himself in a darkened gloomy forest, an eerie lit-from-within mist drifting in and then dissipating. Seeing the half-orc prone a few feet away he scurried over to her side, taking note of the deep gouges along her torso. They should have been gushing blood; they were deep…fatal even, but her chest rose and fell as she continued breathing normally. Something definitely wasn’t right.
Shaking her awake, he then started traveling to his other companions, waking each in turn until he reached the dwarf. He was no expert at the healing arts, but he knew enough, and she did not look nearly so bad as the rest of the group. But as he tried to wake her, there was no response, which did not make the situation any better. They needed their healer awake, and then they had to hope that she had enough magical capability left to help them out because they all looked terrible.
“Does anyone know where we are?” the human asked. Their adventures had left them fairly well traveled, but nothing here seemed familiar to him.
“It looks like some of the edgewater encampments I’ve been to during some of my shadier dealings, but…I haven’t been here before.” The rogue was checking over his weapons, trying to make sure that he was prepared in case trouble came for them, but he couldn’t help but feel that they were already in trouble deeper than he was capable of handling.
“I have,” the half-orc said. “And you’re not going to like it when I tell you.”
“Where are we, V?” the halfling asked.
“My ancestors spoke of a forest, one where we all eventually find ourselves. Those who are true to our ways are able to find the path onward and find new life. Everyone else is hunted and pulled apart into nothingness. I’ve seen glimpses of a place that matched the stories, and it looked just like this.” She shrugged. “I think this is the Forest of the Dead.”
I will say that I edited bits of this snippet, because I didn’t want to put the characters names in here, because again, it feels like a mid-to-late story moment…and I’m guessing it will be revised a number of times before the story is finished, but I am loving the ideas that I’m coming up with for this section of the story. I think it’s going to be really really cool. I just need to keep myself focused and keep working on writing.
Here’s a snippet from the beginning of the in-game story for the D&D-romance story I’m working on. It bounces from snippets showcasing the in-game campaign at the table, and then tells the out-of-game romance, which is inspired by my real life relationship with David. As with the stereotype of the start of TTRPG campaigns happening in a tavern, I made the conscious decision to begin the in-game story there. I mean, it’s an expected trope of the genre, and who am I to mess with that?
I actually enjoyed writing this snippet, especially since the POV character pretty much ended up being the bartender at a crossroads inn and tavern, which I plan to be sort of a home base for the adventuring party, making the bartender a recurring NPC, so it was important to establish what she was like and what she would mean to the rest of the characters.
Also…can I say that it is really weird to try and plan out a TTRPG campaign where you yourself are the DM AND all of the PCs. Part of the fun of being either a DM or a player is that you never know what the others at the table are going to do or say, and that leads to some hilarious encounters and shenanigans at times. It’s very weird to be controlling all aspects of that and trying to plan out shenanigans in a way to make the story feel like a tabletop campaign but also still function as a fantasy story/novel as well.
All right…here it is…part of the beginning chapters from my D&D romance book, still tentatively titled Roll for Romance…
Welcome to The Squirrel’s Keg, a tavern and inn of middling repute, one of the many centers of activity for the Guild of Adventurers. This is where you have each wandered, some after a long journey fraught with road bandits and the beasts of the forest realms, and others after a difficult day of study or in aiding the local farms or temples. Just a short trek from a crossroads of two of the nation’s main roads, the town of Marsh Hollow feels fairly average in all aspects. Stepping into the three story mudded plaster and wood built building, you see immediately to the right a large wooden board covered with slips of paper of varying sizes and wear. Only a few of the parchments appear to be a bright cream, signaling their newness. Just past the job board is the bar that runs the length of the room. A half-dozen tables are scattered through the middle, with a few deep booths along the wall to the left. In the back corners are slightly bigger tables mostly hidden in shadow, and between the tables is the stairwell leading up to the inn’s rooms for rent.
So, adventurers, what would you like to do?
* * *
The dwarven lady barkeep stepped up onto the top of the bar and scanned her gaze across the tavern. There were not many options for potential adventurers, but it was still early in the day. A few new quests had arrived, and some of them seemed pretty interesting. It would depend on which groups claimed which job, but any of them had the potential to become the start to a fantastic adventure, perhaps even the sort of adventure the bards would sing about when they stopped into the tavern to perform in exchange for room and board.
After posting the job requests on the board, it was clear that a majority of the patrons did not at all care about taking on extra work. Adventurers were an odd sort of people, always running out and seeking danger and the hopes of glory and riches. Yes, it could absolutely be a quite lucrative life option, but it was also one where a large number of them went out and never came back.
“Gert, can I get another ale?” asked Keldan, one of the regular patrons. Gert the barkeep hopped back down and moved over to refill the mug. The occasional bar fight was about as interesting and dangerous as this life ever got, and that was just fine with her.
Gert scanned the tavern again, taking note of the random travelers who had decided to pass the night with some drink and a quick sleep in one of the small sleeping rooms upstairs. Best her trained eyes could see there were a couple options for training in martial fighting, with or without wearing heavy armor, and then there were a few who had the grace and fluid motion that either lent itself well to sneaking through forest or shadow, or that indicated someone more of a learned background. Then there were those few in the shadowed back corner. They either meant to rob the place or get up to some other sort of mischief. For now she planned to do nothing, but she was getting ready in case they did decide to make a move.
She put away the few coppers that Keldan had slid across the counter and made herself look busy by wiping down the top of the bar’s surface.
A small group of farmers, as well as a couple blacksmiths, made their way in as the sun started to make its way below the tree line. They ate, drank down a few rounds, and then left without a fuss. Still, the group in the corner did not move. Nor did they request any sort of refill to their mugs, which were likely still untouched. It was a bit unsettling, and yes, quite obvious that they were planning something. Gert just wondered how much longer before they decided to act.
There were not many weapons in the room, and there definitely was not enough coin or treasure to make this a worthwhile pursuit. Then again, even thieves, thugs, and criminals had to start somewhere. Was it the sad state of affairs that led to Gert not reporting them when her suspicions were first aroused? Perhaps. But this property had seen many a drunken fight and it had stood past a great many attempts at robbery. She just had to hope there were enough good people willing to stand up and defend this place if something did happen.
A halfling and a half-orc walked into the bar together, and while certainly an odd couple, Gert had seen much stranger partnerships in all of her years. You couldn’t make a judgment on someone purely based on their race. They both seemed to be the traveling sort, decked out as they were in stocked packs, cloaks, and furs. If she had to guess they were outlanders, specializing in traversing the less well-traveled roads. The halfling carried a battered bow that had probably been passed down to them, and the half-orc carried a dinged up greatsword, but both seemed familiar enough with carrying the weapons, which meant that they were not exactly new at weapon wielding. The half-orc gave the halfling a small boost onto a stool at the end of the bar and then sat down next to him. “Two ales, if you please,” the woman said.
Gert nodded and started serving up the drinks. “That’s four pieces of copper, good lady.”
The half-orc chuckled as she tossed over the coins. “I ain’t no lady, but thanks all the same.” She gave a full-mug salute to Gert and then dumped back the mug, probably drinking down half of it in one long gulp. On the other end of the spectrum, the halfling gulped down a couple cautious mouthfuls, his eyes continuing to scan everything around them.
After collecting the money, the barkeep moved to the other end of the counter, wiping down a couple spots as she did. In her years here she had learned that most paid very little attention to a worker, instead focusing on their own conversations and business. That was how Gert learned most of the information she collected, from when patrons spoke unguardedly.
Later even more patrons entered the establishment, a few were some of the regulars, and the rest seemed to be solo adventuring folk. And aside from a small fight over a game of dice, it was a quiet evening. At least until things were winding down and the regulars had made their exits. It was then that the unknown grouping in the dark back corner made their move. Or they tried to anyway.
Gert didn’t shy away from the “surprise attack” from the bandits, having expected something for some time. She also barely reacted when the few adventuring folk lifted up their weapons to protect The Squirrel’s Keg. Having slipped Veeta the half-orc and Reed the halfling a little extra food and a round of drinks on the house, Gert had known that they would be likely to help. But they were joined by others, none of whom appeared to know each other.
The dwarf who had been the most recent patron to enter had been doing some sort of spell casting that Gert did not exactly recognize, but it left her warhammer completely unused…until Keldan had crossed the bar and taken it from the dwarf’s belt, wielding it with the steady proficiency of a semi-retired blacksmith. Between the thuds of the hammer upon armor and flesh, there was also decently proficient use of many daggers, bows and arrows, and a few lucky shots from low-tier spells.
All in all, the scuffle only lasted less than a half-minute, and the armored human ran to retrieve the constable as the others restrained the would-be bandits.
The dwarf stalked over to Keldan and swiped her hammer from his grip, shoving it back into its belt loop. Then she set a hand on his side where a bandit had gotten a deep sword slice in. Her other hand gripped an amulet on a chain around her throat and she muttered a few words as a warm golden glow emanated from the hand touching him. Gert watched as the wound slowly started to knit itself together, going from a large gash to what amounted more to a small scratch. Huh, so she was someone capable of healing magics. When she let go of the amulet, Gert thought it looked like the symbol of a deity, but she was not well versed in which gods utilized which iconography.
“You know,” she told the group. “I just posted some new jobs from the Adventurers Guild. If you are all looking for work, it seems like you’d make a decent adventuring party. Think about it.” Then she pulled a small coin purse from below the bar and tossed it over to a table near them. She said nothing else about the coin, hoping they understood that it was a thank you payment for helping her tavern with fairly minimal damage done.
All right, well that is all from me for today. If you have any writing or creative projects you’d like to share, please either send me a link in the comments, or tag me on Twitter/Instagram @SamRushingBooks. I seriously would love to gush over your creativity.
Thank you so much for stopping by, and I’ll be back soon with more geeky content.