133: Duncan confused, Bridgette phlegmatic


Having finished Derry Girls, I’m now listening to the playlist of every song on it, which is probably the moment when David Kohl would club me to death. My cries of “I’m skipping a lot of them” would not stop his wrath.

There is no “us” in Arcana but I think there should be so there.
Once and Past


Those who have the strength to read to the end of the newsletter will have noted I’m trying to get the DIE RPG arcana done for around the end of the arc (or shortly after). The Arcana is a mix of things – it’s material for the Beta, and a mixture of experimental weird stuff and stuff which actually goes into more depth and gives more examples of how to do it. So some stuff for people who want to push further and some stuff for people who may want some more guidance how to get there.

One of the bits of the DIE RPG beta which seemed to work well was the worked example of how you can generate a fantasy adventure from persona’s various emotional messes in the real world. Quite a lot of people have said it’s a bit where it clicked for them.

My worry was that as it’s one example it only shows one way of doing it. Putting multiple long examples in the (already hefty) main text was a problem though. I realised I could do more in the Arcana.

I also realised that this is a place where it would be useful to hire other people to write up their own sessions, showing what diverse people did to create diverse experiences. I envisage the format being similar (but likely less detailed) than my example in the main manual – as in, a description of the Persona, your prep for the session, your thinking behind the prep and a little about how it ended up working.

If you’re ran a game of DIE and are interested in writing this up, drop me a line to the usual DIE RPG mail with a brief description of who you are, your experience in RPGs and the bare one-sentence outline of what your game was like (Including the amount of prep – I suspect I will select some people who are more planners and some people who are more improv). Feel free to link to any writing samples too.

As time is pressing I’ll only be keeping my inbox open until next Wednesday (November 6th). The deadline will likely be a couple of weeks after that, so I’d ask only people who’ve already ran a game apply to this, as you don’t really have time to cram it all in. To stress, this will be paid work.


I was just getting a tea before I quickly skim-proof (i.e. not really proof at all) this and saw that the comps for DIE 9 had arrived. Emma Rios alt cover.

Out next week.


Quick bits!


I was on holiday last week, which was the reason for the skip. I went to Crete. I did literally nothing, and a surfeit of it. I went through seven novels, four of which are for DIE, one which was for Once & Future, one which was a fantasy novel I noped out of after 300 pages (I’m trying to nope out more. That it was 300 pages out of 450 shows how bad I am at it) and this little hard sci-fi beauty.

I don’t want to drill into the details, as it’s the sequel to the also-excellent Children Of Time, a movie which I always hail as “IT MADE ME CRY OVER SPIDERS.” Children of Time’s backbone was uplifted Spiders – by which I mean, derived from Spiders’ earth biology, not a dude with a Spider-mask and some cheap CGI. The most alien beings in that book are those who we are presently sharing a planet with.

Children of Ruin takes the trick, and expands it. At one point the cast is what I’d count broadly as five separate species, each with their own defineable psychological model, and with each species including separate identifiable people inside them. And then there’s all kinds of mashing between them and…

Children of Ruin’s delight is manifold. I described it urgently to a friend as “Imagine if Star Trek wasn’t shit” which is deeply unfair, but speaks to the energy herein, the sheer amount of intellectual force and playfulness that Tchaikovsky is deploying here. It shows you can have something which has all the scale and drama of that pop-sci-fi but while also writing something that is dazzles and reaches onwards, ever higher.


I’ve been answering some tumblr asks, and asked some questions about my script format. I haven’t actually got a full script online at the moment, but thought putting up some samples to show various modes of mine may be useful. Let’s start with Once & Future.

You can see all the pages below here and you can click through the below images to see at a bigger size if it’s too small for you.

And excuse typos and roughness - and as a caveat, be aware that there’s rewrites at various stages, both before and after the scripts I’m grabbing for. The concept of Final Script doesn’t really exist for the way I work.

O&F is explicitly me trying to get out the way of Dan. Its written in something akin to my WFH-writing mode – very little of the formalist nonsense I’ll try with Jamie and less of the collaborative worldbuilding epicness of DIE. If I don’t have to say something, I try not to.

However, this is the first panel. Not page, panel. For me, especially early on, I try to tell my collaborator what’s going on. You set ground rules for mood going forward.

However, this is basically the mode I’m trying to stay in…

…which is where I try to stay. Gosh, there’s more exclamation marks than I’d normally do. Hmm.

You’ll note I include reference where required (and O&F only gets more and more art reference the more we go in) and the occasional joke. Some of that’s just trying to create the mood when reading the script you want the final art to have. You could just say “Duncan confused, Bridgette phlegmatic” and leave it like that, but early on I want to make sure the import of it is underlined.

If I don’t get a bunch of unsubs for this nonsense, I’ll include more stuff down the line.


Holiday doesn’t mean I stop. Not that I wrote significantly – a lettering pass for O&F 4 and some e-mail was it, which is far less than normal – but there was a lot of space to consider things and the direction for projects. A lot of reading around the projects, including a couple of things which aren’t 100% certain yet, and swimming in the pool while thinking about them. As such, I come back in a deep plotting mode – I just asked Stephanie if there was anything she especially wanted to draw later in DIE and she’s come back with a wonderful idea. This is all very blue sky period, in some ways, which makes sense as I spent most of the week beneath blue skies.

(Also PROJECT PRIVATE BUKOWSKI kicks into gear, which is pushing interesting demands on me.)

I was also at MCM at the weekend. I was going to write more, but I suspect I can boil it down to a simple: it’s grown from something where the comics always felt a little of the afterthought to a rock solid comics con. I also look at the level of professionalism and polish in the small press, and I’m aware that if I was coming up in 2020, I’d be fucked. The Brit scene is a hell of a thing.

One last thing – the UK Election was announced this week. If you’re not registered register to Vote here. Registering for mail vote is a good idea too, and perhaps even to set up a proxy in case. It’s a hugely important election. I’m sure I’ll write more nearer the time, but it all starts with this, and without this, there really is nothing else.

Kieron Gillen