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Time Warp

HellCraft - Now What? (And a Big, Big Thank You to AGD)

By now, it should come as a surprise to no one that misunderstandings between men and women lead to problems. As it turns out, this is also true of men and purely metaphorical women, or in this case, my muse.

A little background: In high school, I was not particularly athletic or popular or self-confident. I compensated by developing my skills as a storyteller. Lots of AD&D campaigns, but a fair amount of fiction too. Through high school and college, my muse and I developed a very good working relationship. She'd toss out the ideas and I'd craft the words (or vice-versa).

Why go to the trouble? Why, to get girls, of course. Writers get all the girls. Except when they don't. But even then, when you've renewed your membership in the Loser Club for the thirty-billionth Friday night in a row, it gives you a way to pass the time.

OK, so the reason I wrote was to meet women. The muse was cool with this.

Fast forward ten years. I actually meet one at a writers' workshop and go so far as to marry her. The muse is shocked and outraged and stops speaking to me.

Talk about Hell having no fury! Other than grudgingly showing up once a year to help me with the family newsletter at Christmas, the muse sulkily keeps herself locked up in her room in my mind (past the Star Trek episode guide and turn left at the Marvel Comics trivia index).

Then, over a period of months, I start playing Diablo and Hellfire. I discover AGD. The muse is intrigued, nostalgic for those good old AD&D campaigns of high school and college.

Then Dalai Lama posts the first chapter of Belchard's Saga. Seeing a door open, the muse turns up with Dumptruk's Temptation, acting for all the world as if she'd just gone to the store for a couple of hours. Jealousy's one thing, but nothing stands between my muse and a supportive audience, especially a big one. A global audience is more than she can resist.

After Dumptruk's Temptation, we turn out Dolt Lungren's Last Stand, and then, The Battle Net. And then, one day, she says, "You know the Defiler on the last level of the Hive?"

And I say, "Yeah?"

"What would happen if it got loose in Tristram?"

I never meant for it to be a 90-page novella. It just sort of happened that way, but it was amazing. It's been years since so many words have come so easily or fit together so well. She'd just sit on my shoulder, the fingers would move across the keyboard and there they were. I can tell my muse was with me the whole time because I never got stuck and wound up playing solitaire for a couple of hours, which is what always happens when she takes a powder.

Here's the part where I give thanks where thanks are due:

Obviously, I need to thank the folks at Blizzard Entertainment for creating the world of Diablo in the first place. After all, without them, there'd be no Diablo, and no alt.games.diablo, and no HellCraft. Who knows whether my muse would be speaking to me or not yet. Additional thanks are due along these lines to the people at Sierra On-Line for creating Hellfire, the only authorized Diablo Expansion Pack. They were the ones who added Bards and Barbarians to Diablo. They were also responsible for adding the Defiler and a certain man in a cow suit.

I want to thank Vic Sagerquist and Chris Schiel for generously allowing me to score HellCraft with some of their excellent original MIDI compositions. These guys are more than talented and I've scattered links to their sites throughout this web. Click on them. You'll be glad you did.

Next, to TimeGoddess: I had a nagging sense of deja vu when I wrote the first epilogue and called it "A World Without Fear." Looking back into the fanfic archive, I can see why. Sorry about that.

I have to thank Dalai for posting Belchard's Saga in the first place, and also for coining the term "Strife Bringer."

I should also thank Stephen van Ham for coining the term "Hand of Fate." Speaking of which, there's a very fine serial in its own right. When's the next chapter?

Lewis Carroll, of course, deserves credit for inventing the Boojum in "The Hunting of the Snark." It's been awhile since Dalai or Stephen wrote anything, but we haven't had anything out of Lewis Carroll for a century!

I think those are the only people I (intentionally) plagiarized.

I need to thank those of you who have to pay for your connect time for not flaming me for using up much, much more than my fair share of bandwidth. Some of the HellCraft chapters were awfully long for a non-binaries newsgroup.

I'm using this box to make sure that everyone knows that I owe the biggest thanks of all to my wife, Catherine. Not only for providing the voice of Red Vex, but for being my inspiration for even getting out of bed in the morning.

Muses come and muses go, but you're the greatest, baby!

My thanks to Stephen, Dalai, ald, Purple, Jimmy Nilzohn, MerryDoc, Andy Steinberg, Lo Fi Cat, Cindy, SilverRaven, and everyone else who took the time to post comments and praise. You made my day again and again and kept me going. I've saved your posts in a zipped file whose official name is HellCraft Feedback.zip. It's unofficial names are "The They Like Me, They Really Like Me File," or, more accurately, "The I Love Me File." Note: If you're ever given a choice between standing in front of an O. Lord-Ultralisk or a writer's ego, choose the O. Lord-Ultralisk.

Finally, an extra big thanks to Rich G. Your support and praise have been vocal and unwavering. The fact that that you're a talented writer yourself makes it even better. My muse adores you. In fact, she says you satisfy her in ways I never could. She says that if she were a real person, she'd be a sure thing for you. (Don't get too excited, I suspect there's a little payback directed toward me in what she says).

So what's next?

A few RL things need my attention when I'm done basking in the afterglow: My family, my job, the rest of my Web site, my client's Web site....

After that, I have a couple more fanfic ideas that my muse and I have been kicking around. One is a story about Valeria Desdemona etc. etc. of the House of Halla. I actually started writing this one before I started HellCraft, but then decided it was going to be too long and went with HellCraft instead. These things do tend to spin out of control.

After that, well, I've got a laundry list of writing projects that have been on the back burner for way too many years. It looks like I may actually sit down and write them now.

And for that I owe AGD a debt of gratitude that I may never be able to repay.

Thank you.

Thank you.

---Steve


Originally published to alt.games.diablo March 24, 1999

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