I was in my late 20’s when I created an imaginary character for the Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) game, which didn’t fit the mold already, established by any fiction that I had seen before. The character was a teenage girl named Elisha who was raised by her mother living on the outskirts of a small village. Her mother’s recent passing left her an orphan all alone in a dangerous world trying to survive when a group of adventures (the player characters) arrives at her home.
Elisha character was created in D&D first edition rules by my over active imagination. I created her for the purpose of running a game with friends upon returning to Vancouver in the future. Three months later, I had a coincidental encounter with a young woman near Williams Lake who looked identical to Elisha. I mentioned this encounter to a gamer friend and asked him “have you ever created a character and then meet someone who looked identical?” His answer was “no, but he thought it was an interesting occurrence”. I continued to work on my D&D adventure which unintentionally started on my journey to become a writer.
In the early 1990s, I moved to a small city east of Vancouver and settled down having spent far too much time working in northern Canada. I continued playing D&D and other RPG games when my work commitments allow. Elisha became a non-player character in many of my adventures. I told my gaming friends that when I retired at 60 or 65 years old that I would try to get something published. In 2010, I stumbled across Blackbyrne Publishing and decided to send the publisher a D&D second edition adventure I wrote. The following year I became a published writer with “Where is my Spellbook”, as a 4 edition D&D adventure and later converted to the Pathfinder RPG system. I continued to contribute to Blackbyrne Publishing’s Age of Lords Campaign Setting books.
During play testing some ideas at a local hobby store… I discovered that the teenage gamers had access to creative material that was science fiction when I was a teenager. These kids drew pictures on their character sheets or create color drawings of the character on a computer with relative ease. If they were so inclined, even create costumes of their character and wear the costume to a gaming or comic convention.
I’m not a salesman, I can write, but I don’t have the gift of the gab to sell what I write. At a small convention, a published author told me I was selling my RPG adventures too cheap. A gamer in Toronto bought “Where is My Spellbook” the previous year had told me it was a great adventure and wanted to know if there was a follow-up adventure coming out in print. There was one in the works, but no set time when it would be available and I couldn’t give him a good answer. I was doing everything on the sales end of things wrong. I talked to the owner of Blackbyrne Publishing about my frustration, but a publisher publishes a book, campaign setting, or an RPG adventure; however, they usually don’t have the time or money to promote you as a writer. It was time for me to hire someone one who was a gamer. After checking various sources I discovered a commercial for a comic shop in rural Ontario. It featured a gamer girl named Shantel Knight (aka. Zombie Bit Me) dressed up as Catwoman and thought she was perfect. I contacted Shantel and hired her to create a costume for a half dark elf character that we named Cyrign. I began to write Cyrign’s back-story through the eyes of Elisha by adding additional pages to Elisha’s already extensive diary. We attended Fan Expo Canada in Toronto and Shantel’s portrayal of Cyrign made the local paper. “Cosplay” is the act of dressing up as a favorite character from comics, gaming or anime and quickly growing in popularity. This lead to me coining the phrase “Cosplay Artist” to describe a finite group of cosplayers that were not only dressing up as already established characters, but they were working with game companies to create a unique character then appear at conventions and marketing the game. This is what Shantel and I had just done. As a comparison: Hollywood has ‘actors’ and the gaming industry has ‘cosplay artists’.
I have done freelance writing for small companies, created a comic book called Bad Pixies, and attended local conventions as an RPG writer. I also created a small publishing company called Vedder Press to self-publish in my spare time. Now in my 50s… Elisha has appeared in several published formats, but I don’t have time to write a really good story about her. After more than 30 years of working for the same company I feel it is time to exit the building while having some fun with productive writing. Early retirement approaching soon, along with a Pathfinder project in the works I feel it is time to shift into writer mode and enjoy being a gamer.