The Fell Gard Codices

The Aleatory Process VIII

November 27th, 2012

I thought I’d wrap up this series of posts with a few reflections on what the aleatory process is giving me. How’s it working out, now that I’ve written nearly 300 000 words and mapped out a couple hundred rooms of dungeon?

I’d say I’m happy with it. It’s constantly suggested new ideas to me, approaches I never would have imagined if left to my own devices. Case in point: I’d decided that Ulixa was a thief who wanted to lean illusionary magic. Looking at the odds of rolling up a dwimmerlaik, I thought it’d be a long while before one of them appeared. And then something like three encounters later I rolled up a mortal dwimmerlaik. I could have decided that the dwimmerlaik would be an enemy, or that she’d have to kill him but not before he gave her some sort of hint to launch her along a mysterious path … but that didn’t feel quite right. In fact, it seemed obvious to me at once that the dice were telling me that the dwimmerlaik would join the group, and Ulixa’s story would be about how she related to this oddball and whether she could use him to get what she wanted. I’m fairly happy with how that’s worked out so far.

I think the balance is right between the amount of definition I give myself on the tables and charts, and the freedom I give myself to work what I roll up into a story. After I generate the dungeon, I move the characters through it as I like — though sometimes using the dice to resolve various kinds of challenges. Of course I have the characters increasingly in mind as I decide how to implement the results I generate. But it all seems to be working out so far.

And I think that what’s happening is that the sense I have of the story, the quasi-unconscious stew of themes and imagery that are working themselves out through plot and character, is being manifested through the medium of the dice rolls. If there were only a few random rolls being made, perhaps it’d be different. But having made thousands of rolls in the course of telling the tale, I end up finding my aspirations for the thing coming through. Somehow, the more I open myself to the randomness, the more the story attains a sort of purity — the more I get what I want, perhaps, without my ego intervening.

So as of this point, I’m happy with how it’s all developing. And I’m looking forward to getting back to working on it on a regular basis.

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