Today marks the release of the third part of Acts of War: Stormbreak, so I thought I’d talk a bit about the process of writing a serialized novel, especially one where you, the audience, helps decide where the story goes. Writers generally want to know where their novel is going before they sit down to write, but when Matt Wilson and Mike Ryan proposed the concept of serializing book three and tying it to Organized Play leagues and events, I thought it would be a fun and exciting challenge reacting in real time to the mercurial whims of battle. It’s been every bit of that.
Part one was easy. All I had to do was work with Matt and Mike to come up with a general story and an outline and then write. Business as usual, really. The only difference in the process is the story needed to end on a cliffhanger, with two distinct roads the story might realistically take after the results of the Organized Play league were tallied. Essentially, all I needed to do was give you all a setup and then let you play it out.
When the results came in from part one, we knew who had to prevail in part two, but we needed to give the other side a chance at redemption. Of course, the plan was always to introduce the skyships into the mix. So while Cygnar and its allies were victorious in Riversmet again, Khador had bigger plans, the kind of plans that could win the war and wipe its enemies off the map. Part two became a story about a short-lived victory for Stryker and friends and the terrifying discovery of what Khador was really up to, a true raise-the-stakes moment. Like part one, I ended the story on a cliffhanger, with two possible outcomes that would be determined by league play. This time it was a race-the-clock scenario. Cygnar had to get to Merywyn before Khador could launch the skyships Stryker suspected they possessed—either that or face down the most terrifying weapon the Iron Kingdoms has ever seen.
I was champing at the bit to get the results from the second go-around of league play. I mean, I was gonna get to write about the biggest and baddest war machines in, uh, WARMACHINE. When the results came in with Cygnar and its allies the winner, Matt, Mike, and I put our heads together and came up with a story that shows Stryker and co throwing the proverbial monkey wrench into Khador’s plans. Of course, Supreme Kommandant Irusk is not a man easily caught off-guard or unprepared, so Stryker’s victory comes at a cost and Khador is far from out of the fight. I won’t spoil the story for you, but it’s all or nothing for both sides at this point.
Where does the story go from here? Well, I hope to see a lot of you at Lock & Load so you can witness the deciding battles on what will be a totally bonkers and eye-poppingly awesome game table. The games will be played out on the deck of Khador’s Stormbreaker class skyship. What hangs in the balance is now the fate of Corvis and the lives of Lord General Coleman Stryker, Artificer General Sebastian Nemo, Major Asheth Magnus, Supreme Kommandant Gurvaldt Irusk, and Assault Kommander Oleg Strakhov.
The outcome of those conflicts will presage earthshattering (or is that Caen-shattering) events I can’t wait to write about. Again, no spoilers, but folks, things are gonna get real bad and real permanent, and the outcome of the events at Lock & Load will determine the direction of the end of the story and upon whom the curtain falls.