Categorized | Blogs

Flames

7th Sea: A Pirate’s Pact by Danielle Lauzon

Posted on December 22, 2018 by Flames

Hi all, Matt’s letting me take over the blog today to tell you about my newly released Choice of Games novel 7th Sea: A Pirate’s Pact. I’m Danielle Lauzon, a long-time freelance writer and developer for Onyx Path and a one-time line developer for 7th Sea Second Edition.

    If you aren’t familiar with 7th Sea, it’s a game set in an alternate world 17th Century Europe (and the rest of the world as well). It’s a game about romance, high adventure, and sorcery in the vein of Errol Flynn movies, Alexandre Dumas books, The Princess Bride, One Thousand and One Nights…I could go on, but I think you get it. And in all this we feature not quite but just reminiscent characters and situation from a recognizable history in a fantastical world. Magic is real, myths are real, and you play Heroes fighting against evil and corruption.

    If you aren’t familiar with Choice of Games, that’s okay, neither was I when this project was first pitched to me. The most I knew about it was that they did online novels, some kind of choose your own adventure thing. Which is sort of it, and not really. While the novels are reminiscent of choose your own adventure books, there is a game element that lies just beneath the story which makes things like breaking down the door a test of strength rather than an inevitability because you clicked the “Kick in the door” button.

    Choice of Games regularly looks for new authors, but they want you to write 100,000 words. And if you don’t write, that word count is daunting. So, I didn’t ever investigate what they did over there on my own. That is until Hannah Schaffer, our at the time Marketing Director, a multi-talented lady and probably the nicest person I’ve ever met, came to the group with a contact with the Choice of Games people. They were willing to let us do a novel in the 7th Sea IP, and well, we couldn’t really pass up the deal. So as the setting expert at the time, the job fell to me. Let’s be real, I’ve never written a novel in my life, unless you count that 50,000 words of drivel I did one year for NaNoWriMo. And I don’t count it because it will never see the light of day. I was not prepared, and that 100k word count had me scared. But I did it anyway and wrote twice that amount in the end.

    There’s a long story about the writing process in here somewhere, but I’m going to shorten it from learning how to write a novel at all, to writing interactive fiction in particular. I’ve written plenty of narratives, fiction, game mechanics, LARP scenes, stories, fan fiction, hell, I write songs for my dogs. But interactive fiction was completely new to me. And it is a different beast entirely. When writing prompts for a fight scene, it isn’t “Do you, or Don’t you?” It’s “How do you?” Every choice given to the reader must have at least three options to choose from, all with different outcomes. And this simultaneously blew my mind and gave me so many ideas for running games at my table. What if there is not a binary option for the outcome of this scenario? What if the binary of success or failure isn’t even in question, but the how and the why you do a thing is the most centered part of the narrative? And for 7th Sea Second Edition, this fit in so nicely to how the game is designed that I felt I had found a missing link.

    That’s not to say that because I figured out how to GM 7th Sea well, that the Choice of Games novel suddenly became easy. The opposite is true. Now I had to come up with only three ideas for how to solve a problem, maybe four, because if I did more than that, my hands might fall off from all the writing. And how many ways are there to fight a giant octopus that’s trying to eat your pirate ship anyway?

    I did end up running A Pirate’s Pact as a 7th Sea scenario for my local group. And instead of giving them the prompt choices, I just let them decide what they were going to do with the information that the novel reader has before a set of options. And they always seemed to pick one of those options even if they didn’t know the others. And it was always the most ridiculous and over-the-top option, which then I would go back and use that information to rewrite the options they didn’t take to ensure they were equally awesome.

    It was interesting to both write the interactive fiction and run it as a scenario at the same time. It really cemented in my mind that this fiction wasn’t just a novel, but an actual game. And trying to translate that 7th Sea game experience into the interactive fiction was hard. 7th Sea is such an open-ended game where you are mostly good at everything you do, and all options for solving a problem are equally valid if you describe it well. Yet interactive fiction is more constrained than that. Translating the 7th Sea Attributes into stats for A Pirate’s Pact was difficult and often muddled because you can use any Attribute for any roll in the table top game as long as it makes sense. Parsing that into the novel and making sure that each stat was clearly defined took some serious work.

    Another big challenge for me in writing A Pirate’s Pact was the romance element. Again, if you aren’t familiar with Choice of Games, think of a cross somewhere between Dragon Age and Mass Effect when it comes to relationships with secondary characters. The game wants to give you the option to have romance, to win over your companions, and to then woo them at every opportunity. And here I am, this person with zero experience in writing anything romantic, trying to come up with flirty and sexy dialog. Let’s just say that first passes of those scenes were bad. Really bad. But then I learned a lot about writing fun and flirty dialog, so at least there’s that. And to be honest, I had a lot of help in that regard, coming both from my illustrious editor Rebecca Slitt, and from friends who were willing to let me pitch cheesy romance dialog at them.

    I really quickly want to talk about some of the characters in the novel. Specifically, Maurice LaFleur, the merchant captain you first encounter who doesn’t stay captain for long as his ship is sunk by pirates and the crew is rescued by another set of pirates which starts our adventure. Maurice is a bit of an homage to my father, who he shares a name with. I was estranged from my father before his death in late 2016, and I started writing this novel shortly after he died. I wanted to write one of those wish fulfillment fantasy things where you write about someone, but make them better than they were in real life. In the game, Maurice is a dashing young merchant captain with an old soul. He is romantic, caring, loyal, steadfast, and interested in your best interests. He’s understanding and sticks by you even when maybe he shouldn’t. In short, he’s everything my father never was, but I wished he was.

    I wrote several of the characters based on people I know. Some are more obvious than others if you know the people. Christine is based on a dear friend from college (they do not share a name), especially her relationship with food. Lex is based loosely on an internet friend who is an inspiration for all things fantastical and daring. Reuben is an amalgamation of all the friends I have in my life who use humor to cope with tragedy. Peyton shares a name with a friend who shows me daily how to be a badass. And the rest are probably just me wearing different hats.
    And the rest is just a fun romp through a setting I love. If you’re interested in checking out A Pirate’s Pact, you can purchase it here: ChoiceofGames.com/seventh-sea-a-pirates-pact

    Tags | ,

    Print This Post

    Leave a Reply

    11 Tales of Ghostly Horror

      Monthly Newsletter Sign Up

      join our monthly mailing list
      * indicates required

      The Devil’s Night WoD SAS

      Free Devil's Night | White Wolf

      Become a Fan on Facebook!

      Reviews Wanted!

      The new Review Guidelines have been posted on the Flames Rising website. We are currently seeking a few good reviewers to help us expand our collection of horror and dark fantasy reviews. RPGs, fiction, movies, video games and more are all welcome on the site...

      What do you get out of it?

      Beyond helping out fellow Flames Rising readers by letting them know what you think of these products, we're giving away some pretty cool stuff. Regular Reviewers can earn free products to review, which is their to keep after the review is submitted to the site.

      Note: We are especially looking for folks interested in reviewing eBooks (both Fiction & Comics). We have lots of great titles in digital format and even get advance copies sometimes.

      Use the Contact Page to submit reviews or let us know if you have any questions.