Today we have a guest post by Tee Morris, co-writer of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novels. The latest book, Dawn’s Early Light, is out March 25th, and I have been eagerly awaiting it! Check after the post for a giveaway from the Ministry team!
When I was asked what type of guest post I wanted for my part of this blog tour, my first thought was about the Fate game, Ministry Protocol, that they kickstarted last year. (I backed, of course.) I am very much looking forward to running this game for my group.
Undiscovered Country: When a Gamer becomes a Player
by Tee Morris
It’s one thing when you yourself are a gamer, but when you are on the verge of becoming a player in the gaming industry, that’s a whole different world. Pun intended.
I will be the first to admit that I am not a hardcore gamer. Why not? Maybe I just have bad luck. I had enjoyed a few Dungeons and Dragons campaigns in high school and was about to embark on a GRUPS Heroes campaign in college, but rounding up a group of friends to focus on role-playing apparently was a lot harder than it should have been. I stepped away from gaming until this new card game called Magic: The Gathering popped up in my social circles. I admit to be quite taken by the artwork; but even with mixing elements, concentrating on one element, building multiple decks, I was usually out within the first hour. Years later, I heard people talking up the various Munchkin games, so imagine my excitement what I finally sat down to play one of these highly-praised games—Munchkin Cthulhu.
And imagine my disappointment when I was taken out by a “killer card” in the first round. The. First. Round.
I’ve continued to find time to game, either with the occasional card, board, or video variety, despite my fear and frustration established by previous experiences. But I was became the hardcore gamer. That’s why I was a little stunned when Pip and I were approached by Galileo Games to take The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences into the RPG arena.
Gamers are a tough crowd to please. I have seen them tear apart a title for a variety of reasons. Sketchy rules. Flawed settings. Rough artwork. If there was a problem, gamers would not only question the creative people behind the title but question any property with those creatives tacked on it, and here I was about to be one of those players. Whatever we would offer the gaming community, I wanted to make sure that the experience would be a positive one.
We sat down with J.R. Blackwell who was just coming off a very successful game, (also with Galileo Games) Shelter in Place. The zombie apocalypse RPG had just won the 2012 ENnie Award at GenCon. I had always admired J.R.’s creativity. Writing. Photography. Podcasting. It was a real joy having someone of her caliber on board as Game Designer. (She was also one of the two people that got me into steampunk, so there was that as well.) Then came PJ Schnyder, our Game Writer; we knew from her writing for the Ministry in the second season of Tales from the Archives. She is also an award-winning writer herself, so between PJ and J.R. (I know, it’s like swimming in alphabet soup…) we knew we were in good hands.
Then came the planning session between us and the Galileo team. Pip (who is no slouch when it comes to gaming as she’s a veteran of Shadowrun, WarHammer, and D&D to name a few) and I were told about a system we didn’t know—FATE Core. We got a look at FATE dice, or what some people still call Fudge dice. The idea was that you have characters that possess aspects, and the FATE dice will determine what aspects are activated in certain scenes. Additionally, the characters will also have gadgets from Research & Design, and these various steampunk weapons or tools of the espionage trade also possess aspects. So in this game, christened The Ministry Initiative, gamers assume the role of Ministry agents, armed with gizmos and gadgets of steampunk lore. “Essentially,” J.R. told us, “we wanted to find a system that was like your novels. Character-driven.”
We were hooked.
Since the successful Kickstarter, we have commissioned steampunk FATE dice, seen amazing illustrations from Kurt Komoda, Jenna Fowler, and Jared Axelrod, and are closing in on seeing the final draft (pending our approval, of course) of The Ministry Initiative. The release of the game could be happening very close to the release of Dawn’s Early Light, and perhaps that is adding to my anxiousness. This marks the third release in the Ministry series, but The Ministry Initiative is a debut with a new audience: gamers. Much like Dawn’s Early Light, I want The Ministry Initiative to be the game people talk about, the game people can’t wait to play. A lot is riding on this FATE Core RPG, and this new realm is one I never expected to find myself in. I have no idea what lies ahead.
I do know what I hope for our game: When people walk away from it, they say: “When can we play that again?”
Like our books, games are portals to other worlds. The Ministry Initiative joins other games like Dixit, Ticket to Ride, Shelter in Place, and Bulldogs, where after a week of social networking, project updates, and days at the office, gamers dive in and unplug from the digital world to connect with each other, allowing time to relax and to indulge in some therapeutic imagination.
It’s not a bad thing, taking a time out to enjoy a night off the grid and getting social around a game. Does gaming solve world problems? No. Gaming does, however, reminder you of what truly matters. So game on, everybody, and join Pip and myself in a wonderful world of spies, secrets, and steampunk.
We’ll bring the Initiative and dice. You bring the chips and soda.
Tee Morris has been writing adventures in far-off lands and far-off worlds since elementary school. Inspired by numerous Choose Your Own Adventure titles and Terry Brooks’ Shannara series, he wrote not-so-short short stories of his own, unaware that working on a typewriter when sick-from-school and, later, on a computer (which was a lot quieter…that meant more time to write at night…) would pave a way for his writings.
Tee has now returned to writing fiction with The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, written with his wife, Pip Ballantine. Their first title in the series, Phoenix Rising, won the 2011 Airship Award for Best in Steampunk Literature, while both Phoenix Rising and The Janus Affair were finalists in Goodreads Best in Science Fiction of 2011 and 2012. In 2013 Tee and Pip released Ministry Protocol, an original anthology of short stories set in the Ministry universe. Now in 2014, following a Parsec win for their companion podcast, Tales from the Archives, Tee and Pip celebrate the arrival of their third book, Dawn’s Early Light. When Tee is not creating something on his Macintosh, he enjoys a good run, a good swim, and putting together new playlists to write by. His other hobbies include cigars and scotch, which he regards the same way as anime and graphic novels: “I don’t know everything about them, but I know what I like.” (And he likes Avo and Arturo Fuente for his smoke, Highland Park for his scotch!) He enjoys life in Virginia alongside Pip, his daughter, and three cats.
Dawn’s Early Light
As I said, the book is out March 25th, and I can’t wait! The previous book is the first eBook I’ve ever bought on release, and the last book I’ve stayed up late reading.
Where to Find:
About Tee and Pip
New Zealand born fantasy writer and podcaster Philippa (Pip) Ballantine is the author of the Books of the Order and the Shifted World series. She is also the co-author, with her husband Tee Morris, of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novels. Her awards include an Airship, a Parsec, and a Sir Julius Vogel. Morris is the author of Morevi: The Chronicles of Rafe and Askana and the co-author of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novels. In addition to his work as a fantasist, he is also a social media pioneer and the author of Podcasting for Dummies and All a Twitter.
Tee’s website: http://teemorris.com/
The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheMinistryOfPeculiarOccurrences