Years ago I spent a lot of time with friends playing Advanced Dungeons and Dragons™. You know, the game where you rolled dice and looked up a table in a hardback book to find out what happened.
After a hard day’s adventuring, slaying orcs, trolls, goblins and so forth the characters would retire for a hard-earned ale or four in the Green Dragon inn, a name we lifted from Tolkien. This was inevitably the cue to crack a few beers for real, if we hadn’t already. I’d never have guessed, back then, that I might one day sit in the real Green Dragon, on the Hobbiton Movie Set. Well, I did. And it was exactly what I imagined – a rusticated, Arts and Crafts-inspired building with mullioned windows, adzed beams, and a wonderfully home-like feel to it. Awesome.
The problem with AD&D was that it didn’t do what we had in mind, so we developed a unique world – and rule system – in which the Rule of Funny applied. Our place names were ripped from Bored of the Rings with its hilarious Tolkien homophones, from motorcycle parts manufacturers, from some of the nicknames we used when running (OK, so we were all in the Hash House Harriers). Gaps were filled with the names of musicians. And so our characters set out across Twodor, past the Greg Lake and through the villages of Toyah, Toyah and Toyah…
Later, one of my friends and I wrote the story. Of course this was personalised – the dynamic behind the storyline was driven by the people involved, and wouldn’t suit as a commercial work.
But the idea of writing some sort of high fantasy story always appealed. In 1993 I started writing a story I’d thought up, coincidentally using the name of my chief ‘dungeon’ character – though that was where any resemblance ended. My ideas were otherwise all new, set on a bespoke world and following the adventures of an anti-hero and a goblin woman he ran into, with her chihuahua, in the middle of a wilderness.
I kept stalling. Then in 2008 I had another go, re-writing from scratch. And stalling. Other projects kept intervening, not least because they had income attached to them in ways the fantasy story didn’t.
I kept at it. And that’s come to fruition this year with a larger concept – a wild concoction of hard sci-fi, fantasy and deep myth. A science experiment gone wrong: a world of magic, abandoned to its own devices, where the mages can overpower the gods – where the gods are in their twilight. A setting spanning 5,000 years of history – from swords and sorcery to gunpowder and steampunk. My stories can be set anywhere on that continuum.
Watch this space. It’s being unleashed soon. Bwahahahahahaha!
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2017