Indie Adventures

The Novel, Slow but Steady Progress by Matthew Marchitto

I’ve been slowly chipping away at what I’ve only referred to as The Novel for a while now. I started writing it way back in 2017, but really it probably started in 2016 with The Book of Jewels. The Novel takes place in the same world, but the technology has been up-jumped to a steampunky version of the early 1900s. The core conceit started as a very self-indulgent “steampunk with orcs!” bellowed from the depths of Wouldn’t That Be Cool. But it’s evolved beyond that, having Hrusk—our half-orc half-gnome main character—butt heads with weapon manufacturers and corrupt authority figures. All while swinging swords and shooting bolters.

The book is tentatively titled A Tusk too Many.

I think it’s getting close to being done. I’m currently rewriting the final chapter, and then I’m going to go through the whole manuscript to make a bunch of little changes here and there. After that I think it’ll be done. Then the question is, what do I do with it?

I’d considered putting it out on submission and trying to get a literary agent, and maybe I still will. But something about the story feels off, I don’t know if it’s the plot or the characters or what. And the thing is that wherever this loose doohickey is that’s messing with the story’s guts, I can’t seem to find it. It might need a total rewrite. Like, start with a new blank page kind-of-rewrite. Ultimately, I think there’s a good chance I’m going to end up trunking it.

So why finish? Why keep writing it if I know it’s tittering on a knife’s edge, likely to end up in the digital equivalent of a dusty attic? Because I believe in the idea of finish your shit. It’s important to go through the whole process from beginning to end, there’s a lot to be learned by simply doing. And I think I’ve already learned a lot writing this book, hopefully that’ll make the next one better.

GOBLIN DESSERTERS, a micro-RPG about trying to not get eaten by ogres by Matthew Marchitto

I felt inspired by HONEY HEIST and CRASH PANDAS, and CriticalRole’s one-shots of the former and the latter, so I decided to go ahead and try to whip up my own micro-RPG. I had a lot of fun writing it, and hopefully it’s also fun to play. This is my first time doing something like this, so I’m sure there are plenty of flaws in it. But, I figure the only way to get better is to put it out there and see what people think. If you give it a try please do send me a message and let me know how it went!!

GOBLIN DESSERTERS

Welcome to GOBLIN DESSERTERS, a world where monsters rule and humans are at the bottom of the food chain. You are a goblin soldier on the frontlines of the century long goblin and ogre war. But you’ve had enough, what’s the point in dying for a war that never ends? You’re going to desert and find yourself a nice little haven where there’s all the human meat you can eat. But you’ve got to make it out of the frontlines first.

Creating Your Character

Name: Are you Grimgut Orgreslayer? Hexa Wolfsbane? Canker Cutthroat? Or maybe just Bob, there’s nothing wrong with Bob. Give your goblin a name!

Motive: Why are you deserting? Are you afraid of dying? A pacifist? Or a veteran who’s seen enough? Or maybe you’re just looking to settle down on a nice human farm. What’s your motive for deserting the war? And do you have an end goal?

Appearance: Goblins in GOBLIN DESSERTERS come in all shapes and sizes, whether it be scrawny, rotund, burly, sinewy or anything in-between. One thing they all have in common is green skin and big pointy ears.

Stats: You have three stats:

  • BRAWN: This is all things physical, like pushing, lifting, jumping, biting, punching, kicking, swimming, and climbing.

  • BRAINS: This is all things that require mental aptitude, that includes dexterous tinkering, discerning some clever bit of information, and being able to manipulate a conversation.

  • RESOLVE: This is your ability to resist fear. Each goblin has three fear points, when you fail a resolve check, you lose a fear point. Lose all three fear points and you become scared.

Assign one of the following numbers to each stat of your choice. 4 (this is what you’re good at), 2 (this is what you’re okay at), and 1 (this is what you’re bad at).

When you do anything in the game, you make either a BRAWN, BRAINS, or RESOLVE check. Roll a number of d6 equal to your stat. Dice that roll 1s, 2s, and 3s are failures. Dice that roll 4s, 5s, and 6s are successes.

Difficulty of Checks:

  • Normal - 1 success needed

  • Hard - 2 successes needed

  • Very Hard - 3 successes needed

Fear and being Scared

Goblins are prone to being chickenshits. You have 3 fear points. Whenever something really fucked up happens, the GM will call for a RESOLVE check, if you fail you lose 1 fear point. When you lose all your fear points you become scared, and start screaming and flailing and running, and generally having a very loud freakout.

Your goblin friends can attempt to restore a fear point to you. They can either slap the shit out of you (BRAWN check), or try to talk you out of it (BRAINS check). They make a BRAWN or BRAINS check versus your RESOLVE check, if they have more successes than you have failures, you regain a fear point, if not then you continue to have a meltdown.

Ogres want to EAT YOU

Goblins might be easy to kick around, but they’re damn tough to kill. The only way to kill a goblin is to get eaten by an ogre.

Ogres are giants that tower over goblins, and they’re also really hard to kill. Cut off a limb and it’ll still try and wobble toward you. The only way to kill an ogre and all its appendages is to crush its skull.

When an ogre grapples you, you and your goblin friends will have a series of chances (at your GM’s discretion) to break free. But if you pass the threshold of an ogre’s gaping maw, you enter last chance.

Last Chance: Once you’ve passed the toothy threshold you have one last chance to save yourself. Your friends can’t help you with this, you’re on your own. Describe what you want to do, roll whatever check the GM deems appropriate, and pray to your goblin gods. If you fail, that’s it, your goblin’s dead.

If your goblin dies, then you take control of an ogre. Your ogre has 5 BRAWN, 1 BRAINS, and no RESOLVE because they cannot become scared.

Bonus Dice

There are a few ways to gain additional bonus dice to your rolls.

  • Do something cool.

  • Use an item creatively.

  • Be especially savage.

  • Get weird.

  • Impress the GM.

Items

Your body is littered with little pouches, sacks, and hidey holes. You can carry as many items as you want. Choose three items to start with, or roll a d20 three times.

  1. Broken sword hilt: It would be nice if it had a blade, but you could still use it to bludgeon someone to death.

  2. Wooden shield: It’s really just the top third of a tree stump with a bit of rope, but it’ll get the job done.

  3. Metal armour: You’ve tied old, dented pots and pans together to make...armour?

  4. Food rations: Dried manflesh is a great post-cry pick-me-up.

  5. Ogre heart: You’ve heard this can be used with old magic, but you’re not sure how.

  6. Werewolf skull: A trophy or heirloom? Either way, it’s dang cool.

  7. Black powder: Who thought it was a good idea to trust you with explosives?

  8. Chicken: An adorable live chicken. You’ve heard that humans used to eat them, barbaric.

  9. Gyrocopter certificate: You won it in a raffle, so you’re pretty sure that means you’re a qualified pilot.

  10. Vinno homme: Delicious wine made from the finest pulped human meat. You can even taste the bone fragments.

  11. Map: A map of the surrounding area. Handy.

  12. Tinker box: A little box filled with precision tools, good for fixing gizmos and picking locks.

  13. Hungry sac: A membranous sac filled with teeth, it’ll eat anything you put inside. It’s kind of scary.

  14. Orb of annihilation: Cool name, it’s a black marble.

  15. Executioner’s axe: It’s big, mean, and sharp.

  16. Crossbow: It’s string is made of unicorn hair, and anything shot from it catches fire.

  17. Lightning rod: It’s a long metal pole.

  18. Jewelry: A handful of rings, earrings, and necklaces. Pretty.

  19. Your baby teeth: Why would you keep these?

  20. Incubus snot: Snorting this stuff gives you a hell of a high.

Special Items

Special items are unique, often magical, and usually do something cool. These are hidden throughout the world, good luck finding them!

Magic wand: Six inches of hard oak laced with pixie dust and dipped in a phoenix’s earwax. Point in a direction and hope something good happens. Roll 1d6 and see what happens from the list below.

  1. A lightning bolt shoots down from the sky.

  2. Whatever you’re pointing at turns into a bunny.

  3. Whoever you’re pointing at develops really bad indigestion.

  4. Summon Cerberus, the three headed hellhound of Hades.

  5. Your pouches are filled to bursting with gold coins.

  6. Teleport the ogre king to your location.

Excalibur: A legendary magical sword, used back when humans thought they were tough shit. This blade can cut through anything, literally.

Warhorn: A hollowed out Minotaur’s horn covered in magical runes. When blown, every creature within earshot becomes horribly confused, as though they’re trapped in a labyrinth.

Sunspot lantern: An elegant brass lantern that never goes out. There’s a piece of the sun trapped inside, so don’t open it—ever. (When opened everything in the vicinity catches fire.)

Dragon scale armour: Not only is it protective, but it also lets its wearer breathe fire. And it’s cozy.

Alchemical concoction: A vial filled with peculiar rainbow coloured fluid, it’s unsettlingly viscous. Drink it and roll 1d6 to see what happens from the list below.

  1. You’re filled with adrenaline, too much of it. You go into a rabid rage.

  2. You see the entire universe, the end times, and the beginning of it all. You immediately learn the solution to one problem you are facing.

  3. Everything around you slows down, time has stopped. Wait, no, time hasn’t stopped, but you’re moving incredibly fast. You gain super speed for a short duration.

  4. You feel light, like you weigh nothing. And why’s the ground  receding beneath you? For a short duration you’re as light as a feather.

  5. You feel heavy, like you weigh a ton. And why are you sinking into the ground? For a short duration you weigh a metric fuck-ton.

  6. This potion thingy isn’t agreeing with you, and you feel sick. You vomit acrid sputum in a direction of your choice, slathering the area in acidic fluid.

The Difficulty of Playing the Long Game by Matthew Marchitto

I was reluctant to post this. After rereading it, I realized it has a negative tone that I don't like. I think it's indicative of the headspace I was in when I wrote it. But, maybe sharing it will help a few folks realize that they're not the only ones struggling with insecurities while we wander down the long road that is Artist's Avenue.

***

It can be hard doing something for a long time and not getting much back in return. That’s what it’s felt like writing for the past few years. It’s also frustratingly expected. The first few years are trudging through mud, all the while you might be planting the seeds of what will become a beautiful grand oak. Or you’ll learn too late that your soil is trash and nothing will grow.

You’ve got to have an unwavering focus on a moving target. It can feel like running in place, watching that target drift away. Like you’re really not good enough after all.

I haven’t been self-publishing anything for the last few years because I didn’t have it in me to play the long game. It was too much money for books no one would read. So I tried a different approach, submitting to traditional publishers. But it feels like I’m not writing fast enough. I want to be writing 1,000 words a day, making the equivalent of one novella a month. It never quite works out like that though. And it feels inadequate, but maybe part of this whole process is learning to go slow.

The novella I’m working one right now is pretty dang cool. I’m not sure what I should do with it when it’s done. I’ve been thinking of self-publishing it, and I don’t know why. I’m not good at marketing, don’t think I want to be good at it. My self-pubbed work always does poorly, never breaks even.

Maybe that’s part of playing the long game too. Just keep trudging, keep digging, make it at a loss because it doesn’t matter as long as you’re creating. I dunno man.

The Writing Schedule by Matthew Marchitto

THE PLAN

Over the course of three or so months (including June*), the plan is to write about 90,000 words of my current work in progress. I’ve been using a word tracker app to set monthly goals, it shows how much you have to write each day to hit your word count goal, and it’s been extremely helpful in motivating me to stay on track. (The app I’m using is an old one called WriMo Demon, I don’t think it’s available for download anymore, but I’m sure there are other similar apps.)

After I finish the first draft, I’m going to set it aside and hunker down to finish The Underbelly War. My goal will be to write another 30,000 or so words. At that point the story should be finished, and then I’ll set it aside.

After that, I’ll dive back into the inevitable mess that the 90k novel will be, and start rewriting/editing it.

Throughout this I’d like to carve out some time to write a few short stories that’ve been knocking around inside my head. 

 

THE GOAL

Get some shit published.

So yeah, that’s the current plan. I might provide some progress updates along the way.

Are you working on anything, from a short story to a beefy epic, and if so how have you planned out your writing schedule? 

 

*I started about a week into June, but as of today I’ve written 23,000 words of the 90k novel.

Camp NaNoWriMo and the Mighty Newsletter by Matthew Marchitto

Camp NaNoWriMo turned out to be a success. I’d pledged to write 20,500 words, and I hit that goal plus 55 extra words.

The project was the sequel to The Horned Scarab, tentatively titled The Underbelly War. I had already written 10,000 words of the rough draft, and wanted to use Camp NaNo to spur me on to finishing it. I’d guesstimated that the story would only need 30,000 words to tell, but I’d been wrong. Looking at the rough draft and all the dangling plot threads, I’d think it needs another 20,000 words before it’s a complete (albeit rough) story.

I don’t know when it’ll get those extra words. As I’ve said on here and on my twitter, The Underbelly War is unlikely to see the light of day. The Horned Scarab just didn’t make enough to justify the expense of self-publishing a sequel. So for now, I’ve written 30,000 words of it—including some rough endings—and made a ton of notes for whenever (if) I return to it.

In its place I’ve been working on submissions for shorter works, but I’m going to devote the majority of my writing time to finishing a full length novel. Once done, I plan on shopping it around to be traditionally published. Wish me luck.

 

The Mighty Newsletter

In other news, I’ve made a newsletter. You can subscribe here or on the sidebar of my blog. It’ll be a sorta monthly email letting you know when new stuff I’ve made comes out, as well as book recommendations, and sometimes even a mini-blog only for subscribers. I plan on including other goodies in it, short stories, poems, and even giveaways. SUBSCRIBE and you’ll get it all sent right into your inbox!

Gnomes, Big and Small by Matthew Marchitto

I’ve had multiple secondary worlds tumbling around inside my head. One of them is Aftania,* a world that is unashamedly inspired by things like Dungeons & Dragons and Warcraft. It features all manner of monstrous creature as well as the expected “races” like elf, human, orc, and gnome.

Absent from this world are Dwarves and Halflings. Anyone that knows me would think the absence of Dwarves was weird, fantasy dwarves are one of my favourite races (coming in close behind orcs). But I decided to condense them all into gnomes. So, gnomes, in the world of Aftania, can be small three-foot humanoids, slightly larger (halfling-size), or burly and wide shouldered with bushy beards like Dwarves. This makes gnomes more similar to humans in that they can be a whole variety of sizes and shapes as oppose to all being made out of the same mold.

It also gives me more freedom to make certain body types and features more common among certain gnomish cultures. Maybe the mountain gnomes to the north are the burly ones, while the gnomes with deep ancestral roots in urban areas are smaller. It allows for a lot more variance.

It bugs me when all of a race are the same. It doesn’t make sense that elves high in the mountains have the exact same culture as the completely disconnected elves on the other side of the continent. Same goes for physique, though I’m not sure if this is a remnant from Tolkien or the influence of video games/pen and paper RPGs.

I’m trying to keep all the things I love about this kind of high fantasy but with a few twists that make it uniquely mine.

*Aftania is actually the name of the largest territory, and is also where the majority of my current stories/characters reside. The planet is referred to as Mo’den (an orcish word), but particularly arrogant Aftanians insist on calling the planet “Aftania.”

 

NaNoWriMo 2016 was a Bust by Matthew Marchitto

National Novel Writing Month did not go well this year. I only wrote a pitiful 15k words, far below the goal of 50k. But I did draft three short stories in those words, so there’s something that I can work with and hopefully refine/rewrite into something decent. 

A few things threw me off balance this November, one of which being the election. Even though I’m not American, it still managed to occupy a lot of my time and thoughts. Another hurdle was my own disapproving brain meats. I’ve gotten to the point where nothing I put out into the world seems to stick, being it self-pubbed works, submitted stories, or even this blog. There’s been some serious soul-searching as to whether I should continue to pursue writing. Ultimately, I think I’ve decided to throw in the towel and focus on other things. I’ll still write and post short stories here (and maybe on Wattpad), but the idea of writing as a profession is probably going out the window. 

I hope you all had a better NaNoWriMo, and let me know your word count totals!

5 Things I learned from Self-Publishing by Matthew Marchitto

1. Writing the book is easy

I never thought I’d say that, but it’s true. Writing the book is the most doable part of the process. I know how to write a book, not perfectly or without flaw, but I can do it. Even on those nights when hitting the word count feels like slogging through waist deep sludge, each clicky-clack of the keyboard a stab of self-doubt, I know that ultimately, I can do it. Maybe it’ll take longer than I expected, but it’ll be done.

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