A few people have asked for a walkthrough of a game of Dungeon Solitaire, Tomb of Four Kings. Below you will find a linked pdf of a walkthrough of a winning game with some epic battles and dicey encounters. You can even stack a deck and play along if you want. Once I’ve got this better edited I will probably add it to the official rules, but until then it stands on its own as a supplement.
My last post dealt with the importance of understanding the tone of a fight scene, but there is something even more important. Real fighting, be it on a small or large scale is not inherently entertaining. Nevertheless, we are drawn to the story of a good fight because of the dramatic engagement of the characters. Without drama, the action can be a tedious, boring, or otherwise off putting.
Whether you’re writing something like the battle for Helm’s Deep or the duel between Hamlet and Leartes, the buildup to the fight is arguably more important than the fight itself. It is during the buildup that we come to understand why the fight matters. Ask yourself what’s at stake for your characters and in the larger context of your story. “The readiness is all,” Hamlet says at last, and because the entire story has built up to this moment, we are prepared for a fight of truly dramatic proportions.
Think of your fight scene as a kind of story within the story. It should be a necessary part of the overall narrative. It should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. It should have a setting, a plot, and characters. It goes without saying it should have external conflict, but it should also have internal conflict. These elements should be established in the buildup, so when the action starts they all come crashing together. The fight should be a climactic focal point for dramatic elements in the narrative.
In terms of plotting the action, things should never go as planned. There should always be surprises, turns in the action driven by the elements in play. Perhaps reinforcements arrive, treachery unfolds, or fear strikes. A good fight will have at least one or two good turns, when the advantage shifts from one side to the other before the final victory or defeat.
*First published on ShadowSpinners.
Physical violence and fighting can be a wonderful source of conflict in fiction … when it’s done well. A fight should tell a story that’s integral to the overall narrative, and the tone of the action should not feel out of place.
Most violence and martial arts portrayed in fiction is filled with various levels of fantasy, even in otherwise realistic stories. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, but frequently I think writers are attempting one thing and doing another.
When writing a fight scene it’s important to understand the kind of fight you want to write. You can imagine your fight existing somewhere on a graph with realism vs. fantasy on the x-axis and serving the story vs. the inconvenient truth on the y-axis. Great scenes can be written anywhere on the graph, but it helps to know where you are and what you’re up against.
In this context, realism is an adherence to the laws of physics and the demonstrated behavior and abilities of real people.Fantasy may break these rules, but should have a set of internal rules the characters and actions adhere to.
Serving the story is the necessity of certain actions or outcomes for the sake of the overall narrative. The inconvenient truth is everywhere the rules of realism or the internal rules of fantasy are in conflict with those actions and outcomes. Sometimes it’s okay to break the rules, but go too far and readers will be put off.
Martial arts and fighting are rich fields touching upon physics, culture, technology, anatomy, phychology, history, and human ability. It pays to do some research! As with most things, the more knowledge and experience you have, and the clearer your objectives, the more confident and convincing your fiction will be.
*First published on ShadowSpinners.
GIANT is in print and available now! Order your copy for $7.99 + s/h through LULU.
*Use the code APRIL30 and get 30% off print books until April 12th.
From the back:
Future wars are waged with huge humanoid machines known as giants. Human pilots are encased in neuro-conductive capsules behind layers of armor plating, their senses and nerve impulses merged with the artificial systems of the giants they control.
Giant is a wargame played with paper, pencils, and six-sided dice. Inside is a complete game, including rules, a visual reference, a record sheet, a master battle map, and eight ready to play maps with various terrain. It’s perfect for travel or when you want an action packed game with minimal preparation.
Each player controls up to three giants, chosen from fifteen different types. Arm them with missiles, guns, and lasers. Then send them into the battle!
- Record sheets & maps available for free download on the games page.
Here are some records from past games:
In a cave up past Kegan’s Bluff, Malcom Roberts and his friend Steve find a strange staircase that spirals deep into the earth … and into the dark recesses of the human mind.
My story “Spiral” is now appearing in The Lovecraft eZine, Issue #34. Jump right to the story and start reading here. I was very excited to see the illustration by John Donald Carlucci, a stark black and white image depicting a pivotal scene from the story. Perfect!
Thanks to Mike Davis, the editor of The Lovecraft eZine, and to John Donald Carlucci for his excellent illustration.
About a year ago I got into my head to design a war game featuring battles between giant robots. I wanted to create a game simple enough to be quickly learned and played with nothing more than pencils, paper, and dice. It had to have focus, with just the right amount of complexity to provide strategic and tactical challenges, and the promise of endless possibilities. Finally, it had to generate interesting, vivid, action packed battles!
During the past year in development, writing, and play testing, Giant has stayed very true to that initial vision. I recently finished work on the cover design, and the final game, with its 20 page illustrated rule book, including eight pages of ready to play battle maps, is almost ready for an independent release. I’m looking forward to getting this out and into the hands of tabletop game players.