Friday, March 18, 2011

Trials and Traumas of Writing Anime RPG by Shaun Cashman

For those unfamiliar with our little group here, Shaun is my husband and author of Anime RPG, a D20 supplement for 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons. He offered to share his experience with the writing process for this book. - Gothic Panda

I am so excited to see this book finally in print. It was a long and, at times, painful process to make. Thinking back, it’s sort of a funny story. You see, I actually started this book eight years ago. Gothic Panda and I thought it would be really fun to try and blend some of the silliness of anime with role-playing. We looked around and all that was out there was (Big Eyes Small Mouth) BESM and a few other stand-alone systems based on individual series like Sailor Moon. Since Wizards of the Coast made D&D open source, we thought it would be fun to make an anime game based on the D20 system so I did a bunch of research, put together some classes, and we started play-testing ideas. This was back with third edition. I’d actually written some supplement books for Fantasy Flight Games so I felt confident I could make an anime-themed book based on the D20 system.

I had about 75% of the book written when bam! my laptop died taking with it everything that wasn’t on paper, which was most of the book. Months of work down the drain in an instant. I had forgotten the cardinal rule of computers: Back up everything! I was so upset that I had to walk away from it for a year or two. During this time, Guardians of the Order released an anime D20 book but it borrowed too heavily from BESM so I wasn’t worried that I would have to compete with them. I tried again and this time wrote the entire book. I was in the process of formatting it in Pagemaker when…yeah you guessed it, my second laptop died. Stupid me, I still didn’t think ahead to make a backup. I remember literally beating the computer with my fist and head, screaming obscenities, and giving up on the book entirely.

A few years passed and for whatever masochistic reason, I decided to try again. By this time, fourth edition was out and the open source license on third was no longer available. I had to basically scrap most of the rules I had initially written and start again from scratch. Only some of the flavor text was salvageable. This time I backed up everything. Like in four different places. I was neurotic about it. Finally though, after about a year and a half of work it was done. My computer didn’t crash. I found a printer and sent them my files! Yay! A few weeks later I get an email from the printing company. They had gone out of business. Gah! I found a new printer and then a few weeks ago I finally got to hold a finished, printed copy of the book. It was a good feeling.

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