Tricks, Traps, and Puzzles in RPG’s and Stories.

I used to Gamemaster a lot for … well, not necessarily AD&D, but my own system based on that game. It was lots of fun. I especially enjoyed designing clever tricks, traps, and puzzles. This has carried over into my writing, as well. Many of my books and stories have some kind of puzzle in them. In RPG games (like AD&D) puzzles are an integral part of the game. I mean, after a while, even the most bloodthirsty person will tire from the endless hack and slash of your basic dungeon crawl. Tricks and traps add a special degree of unexpected flair to your basic gaming session. They force the players to think—and usually require them to put the thief in the party to work; though the best ones require input from the whole group. There are loads of pretty standard tricks and traps to choose from: poisoned needles, trap doors, poison gas, etc…. The best, though, are the ones you design yourself to really challenge the players. Probably the most difficult to pull off in a gaming session are riddles. This is because it’s all too easy to write a poor riddle (I know … I’ve done it). Basically, you write something that seems crystal clear to you at the time of writing, but when it comes time to spring it on the players, either they come up with two or more equally valid answers which you didn’t think of, or the riddle is too opaque and vague, and they just can’t solve it. In the case of riddles and RPG games, it’s usually best to go with actually published riddles, something some company somewhere wrote down, researched, and developed, supposedly with the help of experts, or something. The above is true of other puzzles you might feel inclined to include in your game. Some puzzles, like riddles, may just be too difficult for the players to figure out. That happened to me once, with one of my favorite puzzles of all time: an invisible maze. I won’t go into the details of the puzzle—I believe I have elsewhere—but I will just hold it up for the lesson it taught me. A puzzle/riddle in an RPG is useless if it is unsolvable.

This is NOT true in writing. No, when you are writing a story, you, the author, are the one who determines what the purpose of the puzzle is in the context of the story. You can use your basic tricks and traps from the RPG setting—the poisoned needle or the trap door, or what-have-you—or you can design your own. In such a case, almost anything goes because, generally speaking, the puzzle will be solved by the characters in the story because you are the writer and you are in complete control. There is no risk of, say, a riddle being unsolved because it’s too opaque, because you know what the answer is and you can just write it in—unless, of course, you want the riddle to remain unsolved, but that I would probably counsel against lest you irritate your readers. Regardless, you should still make the effort to design good riddles (and avoid the published ones for copyright reasons) but that is because they are a reflection of your skill as an author and not because you may inadvertently stump the characters. Puzzles in writing serve a similar purpose to what they serve in an RPG—they provide a break from action and just give the reader something to wrestle with. There is one more point to make about puzzles in writing: distance. Generally speaking, the puzzle shouldn’t be solved the sentence after it is presented to the reader; otherwise, they won’t have a chance to think about it and be impressed with its cleverness. The presentation of the riddle must be separated by a certain amount of distance from its solution in the story. The characters must struggle with it for a certain length of time, otherwise, the reader will not struggle with it—and what’s the fun of that? Give it a few pages, at least, so that the reader has a chance to ruminate about it for a while.

Anyway, those are some of my thoughts on tricks, traps, and puzzles in both RPG settings and writing. Enjoy!

The Book Blast for Prism by Matthew D. Ryan

mbb_tourbanner_prism_releaseday

Prism is here. Welcome to the Book Blast. Prism is a short, stand-alone novella totally unrelated to my series From the Ashes of RuinI took a break from that series to keep my creative juices flowing.

 

This Book Blast is being hosted by GoddessFish. Throughout the day today, we will be visiting a large number of blogs on the web, each of which will share some information about the book such as excerpts and blurbs. We will respond to comments and inquiries on each of the sites and engage in discussions about various aspects of the book.

 

As of today, Prism is available for free download at Smashwords. I must make a note and apologize to both my commenters and hosts: I intended to have it up and available for free at both Barnes and Noble, as well as Amazon. Unfortunately, due to the holiday season, I didn’t get it uploaded on Smashwords and Amazon until yesterday. As a result, as of this moment, it is not listed on Barnes and Noble and it costs $0.99 on Amazon. Smashwords distributes to B&N, so it should be listed for free there some time during the next few days. As for Amazon … I sent them an email last night, not sure I used the correct page, though. I will continue trying. Eventually, the price match feature at Amazon should kick in and list it as free there, as well. It is my intention to keep it free for at least several months. Eventually, I will start charging a buck or two. So, if you want it free, get it sooner, rather than later. And remember—at least for now—it is only available for free at Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/693400.

 

 

The blogs participating in this Book Blast are listed below. Just click on a link to visit any one of the sites; you’ll see the cover and be able to comment. I’ll be awarding a $15 Amazon Gift Card to one randomly selected commenter on the tour (that is, a commenter on one of the participating host sites, NOT atoasttodragons). I’ll also be awarding a $10 Amazon Gift Card to one randomly selected blog host.

 

 

 

  1. Book Giveaways: http://bookgiveaways. jessicaandgracie.com/prism-15- amazon-gc/
  2. Books, Dreams, Life: https://staceyschneller06. wordpress.com/2017/01/02/ prism-release-day-book-blast/
  3. 3: BooksChatter: http://bookschatter.blogspot. co.uk/2017/01/tour-prism.html
  4. 4: Edgar’s Books: http://edgarbooks.blogspot. com/2017/01/prism-by-matthew- d-ryan-book-blast-and.html
  5. It’s Raining Books: http://its-raining-books. blogspot.com/2017/01/prism-by- matthew-d-ryan-spotlight-and. html

 

  1. Long and Short Reviews: http://www. longandshortreviews.com/guest- blogs/prism-by-matthew-d-ryan- spotlight-and-giveaway/
  2. Stormy Nights Reviewing and Bloggin’: http:// stormynightbloginandreviwing. blogspot.com/2017/01/prism- giveaway.html
  3. Straight From The Library: http://straightfromlibrary. blogspot.com/2017/01/straight- browsing-from-library-prism- by.html
  4. The Avid Reader: http://the-avidreader. blogspot.com/2017/01/02-book- blast-giveaway-prism-by- matthew-d-ryan-GF.html
  5. The Silver Dagger Scriptorium: http://silver-dagger-scriptorium.weebly.com/

 

  1. Welcome to My World of Dreams: http://jhthomas.blogspot.com/ 2017/01/win-15-gc-prism-by- matthew-d-ryan.html
  2. Wake Up Your Wild Side: http://galestanley.blogspot. com/2017/01/release-day-book- blast-prism-by-matthew.html
  3. Deal Sharing Aunt: http://dealsharingaunt. blogspot.com/2017/01/prism-by- matthew-d-ryan-free-book.html
  4. CBY Book Club: http://cbybookclub.blogspot. com/2017/01/book-blast- giveaway-prism-by-matthew-d. html
  5. T’s Stuff: http://teresanoel.blogspot. com/2017/01/book-blast-for- prism-by-matthew-d-ryan.html

 

  1. Mixed Book Bag: https://mixedbookbag.blogspot. com/2017/01/prism-by-matthew- d-ryan-book-blast-and.html
  2. Fabulous and Brunette: http://fabulousandbrunette. blogspot.com/2017/01/prism-by- matthew-d-ryan-book-blast.html
  3. Hope. Dreams. Life … Love: http://elainepcantrell. blogspot.com/2017/01/prism. html
  4. Author Deborah A Bailey: http://dbaileycoach.com/ brightbooks/2017/01/release- day-book-blast-prism-matthew- d-ryan/
  5. Am Kinda Busy Reading: http://www.amkindabusy.com/ 2017/01/02/prism-by-matthew-d- ryan-release-day/

 

  1. Readeropolis: http://readeropolis.blogspot. com/2017/01/read-excerpt-of- prism-by-matthewdryan1.html
  2. Writer Wonderland: http://writerwonderland. weebly.com/goddess-fish-tour/ prism-release
  3. Room With Books: http://roomwithbooks.com/ prism-release-day-book-blast/
  4. Queen of All She Reads: http://queenofallshereads. blogspot.com/2017/01/release- day-book-blast-giveaway-for. html
  5. Books Are Love: https://hello-booklover. tumblr.com/post/155281243531/ prism-by-matthew-ryan

 

  1. Reviews By Crystal: http://reviewsbycacb.blogspot. com/2017/01/giveaway-prism-by- matthew-d-ryan.html
  2. This and That Book Blog: http://thisandthatbookblog. blogspot.com/2017/01/prism-by- matthew-d-ryan-goddessfish. html
  3. Fundimental: http://www.fundinmental.com/ giveaway-prism-matthew-d-ryan- matthewdryan1-goddessfish/#. WGo_3VMrLIU

The Book Blast and Release of Prism by Matthew D. Ryan

prism_ebookcoverThe Book Blast for my next ebook, Prism, is quickly approaching. It is scheduled for January 2nd, 2017. Prism is a short, stand-alone novella totally unrelated to my series From the Ashes of RuinI took a break from that series to keep my creative juices flowing.

 

The Book Blast for Prism will be hosted by GoddessFish. Throughout that day, we will be visiting a large number of blogs on the web, each of which will share some information about the book such as excerpts and blurbs. We will respond to comments and inquiries on each of the sites.

 

Prism will be available for free download throughout the day and for at least several months afterward. Eventually, I may start charging a buck or two. So, stay on the alert and jump on it when it comes out.

 

Those wishing to be part of the tour should contact Goddess Fish.

 

The blogs participating are listed below. Just click on a link to visit any one of the sites; you’ll see the cover and be able to comment. I’ll be awarding a $15 Amazon Gift Card to one randomly selected commenter on the tour (that is, a commenter on one of the host sites, NOT atoasttodragons). I’ll also be awarding a $10 Amazon Gift Card to one randomly selected blog host.

 

1: Book Giveaways
2: Books,Dreams,Life
3: BooksChatter
4: Edgar’s Books
5: It’s Raining Books

6: Long and Short Reviews
7: Stormy Nights Reviewing and Bloggin’
8: Straight from the Library
9: The Avid Reader
10: The Silver Dagger Scriptorium

11: Welcome to My World of Dreams
12: Wake Up Your Wild Side
13: deal sharing aunt
14: CBY Book Club
15: T’s Stuff

16: Mixed Book Bag
17: Fabulous and Brunette
18: Hope. Dreams. Life… Love
19: Author Deborah A Bailey
20: Am Kinda Busy Reading!

21: Readeropolis
22: Writer Wonderland
23: Room With Books
24: Queen of All She Reads
25: books are love

26: Reviews by Crystal
27: This and That Book Blog
28: fundinmental

The Upcoming Book Blast and Release of Prism by Matthew D. Ryan

prism_ebookcover

The time for the release and the Book Blast of my next ebook, Prism, is quickly approaching. January 2nd, 2017 is just around the corner. Prism is a short, stand-alone novella totally unrelated to my series From the Ashes of RuinI took a break from that series to keep my creative juices flowing.

 

The Book Blast of Prism will be hosted by GoddessFish. Throughout that day, we will be visiting a large number of blogs on the web, each of which will share a graphic of the cover as well as excerpts and blurbs. We will respond to comments and inquiries on each of the sites.

 

Prism will be available for free download throughout the day and for at least several months afterward. Eventually, I may start charging a buck or two. So, stay on the alert and jump on it when it comes out.

 

Those wishing to be part of the tour should contact Goddess Fish.

Holiday Deals for my series “From the Ashes of Ruin.”

Hi All,

Just a note to let everyone know: from now until January 7th, 2017, in celebration of the holidays–all of them, but especially Christmas–I’m offering special holidays deals on the ebook novels in my fantasy series, “From the Ashes of Ruin,” at Smashwords. “Drasmyr,” of course, will remain free. “The Children of Lubrochius” will be available for $0.99 if you provide the code: ZH97C. “The Sceptre of Morgulan” will be available for $0.99 if you provide the code: PT26G. That’s a savings of $6.00. Six dollars! That’s a price of about $2 for nearly 300, 000 words of pure fantasy fun, plus a 120k word prequel. Can’t beat that! Anyway, here’s the fancy graphic:

smashesblnk_1

 

Wrapping Up The Cover Reveal Of Prism

All right, it’s been several days since my Cover Reveal Tour for my novella, “Prism,” ended. The winner of the comment contest was Gabrielly. Last name is, of course, being withheld for privacy reasons. Congratulations Gabrielly. And thank you to all the other commenters and especially the hosts for each site (and Goddess Fish–it wouldn’t have been possible without them). Thanks again. “Prism” is due to be released January 2nd, 2017–which is sooner than one might think. Here is the cover:

prism_ebookcover

Behold: The Cover Reveal: Prism by Matthew D. Ryan

It’s time for the Cover Reveal of my next ebook, Prism. Prism is a short, stand-alone novella totally unrelated to my series From the Ashes of RuinI took a break from that series to keep my creative juices flowing.

 

This Cover Reveal of Prism is being hosted today by GoddessFish. Throughout the day today, we will be visiting a large number of blogs on the web, each of which will be sharing a graphic of the cover. We will be responding to comments and inquiries on each of the sites. We will also award a $10 Amazon Gift Card to one randomly selected commenter on the tour (that’s one for the entire tour, NOT one per site).

 

Prism will be released on January 2nd, 2017 and will be available for free download for at least several months. Afterward, I may start charging a buck or two. So, stay on the alert and jump on it when it comes out—you can get your copy for free.

 

The list below is a list of participating sites. Just click on a link to visit any one of the sites; you’ll see the cover and be able to comment. The book has an awesome cover (designed by Digital Donna); I’m sure you’ll enjoy this.

 

1: T’s Stuff
2: The Avid Reader
3: Long and Short Reviews
4: Dalene’s Book Reviews
5: Stormy Nights Reviewing and Bloggin’

6: Book Giveaways
7: Kit ‘N Kabookle
8: Christine Young
9: The Silver Dagger Scriptorium
10: Welcome to My World of Dreams

11: It’s Raining Books
12: Straight from the Library
13: Paperlore
14: Author Deborah A Bailey
15: Books,Dreams,Life

16: THE TLE BOOKS
17: The Blackwood Blog
18: Readeropolis
19: Am Kinda Busy Reading!
20: Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer

21: This and That Book Blog
22: Cover2Cover
23: The Snarkology
24: Two Ends of the Pen
25: Edgar’s Books

Cover Reveal: Prism by Matthew D. Ryan

The Cover Reveal for my next ebook, Prism, is set. Prism is a short, stand-alone novella totally unrelated to my series From the Ashes of RuinI had to take a break from that series to keep my creative juices flowing. Fear not, the next book in that series is still on schedule.

 

The Cover Reveal of Prism will be hosted by GoddessFish and it is scheduled for Wednesday, November 16th, 2016. Throughout the day, we will be visiting a large number of blogs on the web, each of which will be sharing a graphic of the cover. We will be responding to comments and inquiries on each of the sites. We will also award a $10 Amazon Gift Card to one randomly selected commenter on the tour (that’s one for the entire tour, NOT one per site).

 

The final ebook of Prism will be released on January 2nd, 2017 and will be available for free download for at least several months. Afterward, I may start charging a buck or two. So, stay on the alert; jump on it when it comes out and get your copy for free.

 

The list below is a list of participating sites as it stands today. We expect more to join between now and the actual Cover Reveal; so, stay-tuned. If you wish to host for the tour make sure to contact Goddess Fish to set that up. The book has an awesome cover (designed by Digital Donna); I’m sure you’ll enjoy the event.

 

1: T’s Stuff
2: The Avid Reader
3: Long and Short Reviews
4: Dalene’s Book Reviews
5: Stormy Nights Reviewing and Bloggin’

6: Book Giveaways
7: Kit ‘N Kabookle
8: Christine Young
9: The Silver Dagger Scriptorium
10: Welcome to My World of Dreams

11: It’s Raining Books
12: Straight from the Library
13: Paperlore
14: Author Deborah A Bailey
15: Books,Dreams,Life

16: THE TLE BOOKS
17: The Blackwood Blog
18: Readeropolis
19: Am Kinda Busy Reading!
20: Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer

21: This and That Book Blog
22: Cover2Cover

Upcoming Cover Reveal: Prism by Matthew D. Ryan

Hi All,

The date for the Cover Reveal for my next ebook, Prism, has been set. Prism is a short, stand-alone novella totally unrelated to my series From the Ashes of RuinI had to take a break from that series to keep my creative juices flowing. Never fear, the next book in that series is still on schedule.

 

The Cover Reveal of Prism will be hosted by GoddessFish and it is scheduled for Wednesday, November 16th, 2016. On that day, we will be visiting a large number of blogs on the web, each of which will be sharing a graphic of the cover. We will be responding to comments and inquiries on each of the sites participating for the duration of that day. We will award a $10 Amazon Gift Card to one randomly selected commenter on the tour (that’s one for the entire tour, NOT one per site).

 

If all goes according to plan, Prism will be released on January 2nd, 2017 and will be available for free download for at least several months. Afterward, I may start charging a buck or two. So, stay on the alert; jump on it when it comes out and get your copy for free.

On Writers’ Groups

A few months back (in March, I think), I joined a Writers’ Group. A few weeks ago, it basically disbanded. It counts as the fourth such group I’ve ever joined. Anyhoo, I figured I would comment on what I’ve learned from such endeavors. Or, at least, give my opinions.

In my view, smaller is better. I say a maximum of five people is preferred. This latest one usually included about eight or so, at the meetings, and perhaps as many as fifteen in the group in total. And, of course, everyone wanted to expand and get more people. Not me. I didn’t mention it to anybody, but I wanted fewer.

There are several benefits of working with only a few people instead of a lot. First off, it is much easier to digest the comments of four other people instead of fourteen. Secondly, you will also have a better chance of getting your work looked at in a reasonable amount of time. In this last group, two people would submit their work on any given week, and the next week we would discuss it. That worked pretty well for a while, like when it was eight people, because then you would only have to wait a month to get more feedback as you cycled through again. Unfortunately, though, as the group got bigger, the time between your submissions grew. And I, for one, join writers’ groups primarily to get feedback, not give. I give in exchange for that, but my primary interest is still getting. Call me selfish, if you like, but I think that is the primary goal. Thirdly, the feedback you do get is usually much more in depth. With a large number of people, it just seems likely to degenerate into little more than proofreading. You simply don’t have time to get fourteen different commentaries on a ten page short story, unless you spend like five hours at each meeting… but who wants to do that?

I also think it is a good idea to focus on a single genre like speculative fiction, or fantasy, or what-have-you. Just keep it in one genre if you can. For myself, it would be fantasy. In this last group, we had poetry, sci-fi, fantasy, memoir, romance, and I’m sure a few more. It’s all very interesting, but I don’t really know how to comment on any of those except fantasy, and maybe sci-fi. Don’t get me wrong. You do learn things reading different genres, but I think you get the most bang for your buck from a genre-focused group.

So, to sum up, my ideal group would consist of five people, all involved in fantasy. We would meet every other week and we would focus on two people out of the group at a time.

Don’t know what else to say on that topic, so I’ll close it here.