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Wanderhome Writing Exercise – First Character Creation

Hello friends! As mentioned in my previous post, I will be using the Tabletop RPG Wanderhome as a writing exercise to help brain storm and get my creative juices flowing every day before I work on my full length novels. I’ll also be posting this process here whenever I feel I have enough to make a reasonable post. Vague, I know, but I think I’ll recognize adequate end points for posts. At least, I hope I will.

Wanderhome is a game about creating anthropomorphic animal characters and living through them to go on a journey with friends. I, however, will be playing the game solo and as such, I will be using the indicated questions and story points as small writing or creative prompts. Sometimes, I will also pose questions to anyone who happens to read these posts, giving you the opportunity to leave a little paw print on this story.

Wanderhome is written by Jay Dragon. Any Wanderhome art shown in this post is not mine and belongs to Jay Dragon. The Book can be purchased at www.PossumCreekGames.com. I will using limited images from the book to show the process of creating this story.

How these posts will Flow

My hope is that these posts will read almost as a stream of consciousness. I’ll record the process of coming up with ideas, noting prompts from the book itself, and then I’ll actually write out my character(s) living them. Text in italics will indicate that we are in story mode. For now, I plan to write these in third person in order to make it easer to jump between different characters as they arise. If that doesn’t make sense, hopefully it will be the end of this post where I will create my first character. I think eventually I will create more Main characters, but I’ve decided this journey starts with a single character and hopefully he’ll meet some friends along the way. I also hope to use this project to really explore some different sides of me, so characters may come and go as I need them.

If you’ve played a Tabletop RPG like Dungeons and Dragons before, you’ll know that often times there is an element of randomness. In D&D this might look like the simple roll of a die. Wanderhome, as it is, has almost no randomness. It instead relies on a group bringing ideas to the table. As a solo player I will be bringing my own randomness to the table. Meaning that I will be using Dice rolls to randomize the places my character(s) will travel to as well as some traits of the Kith, the side characters which inhabit this world or NPC’s as we call them in roleplaying games (Non-playable characters). I’ll also be using a deck of tarot cards to get a general feeling for the various locales my characters visit. My hope is that the tarot cards will guide the emotional theme of each point on our journey.

Those are the rules for now that I’ve added to the the rules already set down by the game, and I’ll adjust them as needed as we travel through this experience.

Creating My First Character

It’s time to create our first character, the eyes through which we’ll begin to experience this world. In this game, we create characters by first choosing a playbook. If you’ve played other games, this might be more recognizable if we called it picking the character’s ‘Class’.

Initial Details:

Character Name: Simon
Pronouns: He/Him
Playbook: Poet
Animal Species: Porcupine

The Poet class is essentially a writer and given that a lot of this exercise is for me to explore my writing and re-fall in love with the act of writing, I feel that choosing this class has a nice meditative, introspective quality to it. I chose a Porcupine because I felt I really resonated with it on the list of animals to choose for this class. After all, I’m big on personal space and I am very hard to really get to know on an more personal level since I had behind my own emotional quills.

Prompts to learn more about my character:

Based on my writing, people assume I am:
– Outgoing
– Romantic

I am actually:
– Anxious
– Introverted

Describing My Look:
– Delicate Spectacles
– Ink-Stained hands
– A shoulder bag for carrying books

Choose 1 you read from constantly and 1 you have memorized. Tell the table about them:
This is an example of a prompt. I am given a list of choices, and must choose some options and explain them through the character’s eyes. Whenever this happens, we will slip into the actual storytelling aspect of these posts.

Simon rifles through his small shoulder bag stuffed to the brim with a few meager necessities and a change of clothes for the journey, but mostly full of books, both old and new. Two stand out. The same two that always do. He pulls them from the bag and eyes them each in turn.

In his left paw, he holds a water logged book, stained from years of rereading and use. The spine is broken several times over and each page, filled with curling letters, has been dog-eared at one point or another, their words and ideas resonating with the book’s multiple readers. The book, entitled A Peculiar Adventure, was gifted to him by his mother before he left. A family heirloom of sorts, read to her by her mother and then read to him by her. He knows the words by heart. If he lost the book, he’d simply close his eyes and picture them in his mind. But he’d rather read them on the page. Sometimes the physical act of reading is just as important as the words being read. The feel of the pages on one’s paws. The sound of crisp paper turning. The weight of the thick brown cover. These things, he thinks, are all just as important as the “Once upon a times” and the “Happily ever afters.”

In his right paw is a recent acquisition but one that he thinks about constantly. “Everything is On Fire” seems to be a memoir, a story told by an narrator of a world falling to pieces and the terror of not being able to fix or change it. Simon can feel the desperation when he reads it. The terror of waking up every day and knowing everything is out of the author’s control. He wonders often to himself if the author ever found peace or if he’s still out there, believing the worst of everyone and everything. Simon wonders if the author knows there is good in the world as well. He thinks that if only the author would take a walk in the warm sun, they might find a bit of calm amongst a tempest of uncontrollable angst. Simon, who also suffers from strong anxiety, often thinks of this book which he’s read several times, as a worst case scenario. It is his guidepost for how he might feel if he let his fear of the unknown overtake him. The book is his guidepost, except instead of working towards it, he works to move steadily away from it, though the guidepost never seems to be left too far in the distance. Anytime he turns his mind’s eye, it’s there, sometimes on the horizon, sometimes just a few steps back.

He sighs, the hint of a smile on his face, and places the books back in his bag, squeezing them in tightly amongst his other belongings.

I am also keeping all of this info in a journal, allowing me to sketch ideas whenever I might want a better visual of the characters or the world.

Some things Simon can always do:
(These are pre-chose by the playbook. I will simply list them here.)
– Self-Depricate
– Cite his sources, in hopes that they can help.
– Write down a moment that feels relevant to his project
– Provide a new perspective others might not have.
– Ask: “What used to be here?”
– Ask: “Can you explain?” He will get a token if he sits down and talks through it with someone.

Character Sketch

I decided to make a quick sketch of Simon. I will definitely improve upon this as he becomes clearer in my mind.

Hopefully I will do a better sketch of him and add some color later on.

Questions for you!

The final step of the character creations process is to ask people at the table a couple questions and have them give me an answer for my character. Now, I may end up doing this with people in my life, but I thought it would be fun to ask out to the internet universe and see if anyone responds. Remember, this is meant to be aimed at Simon the Porcupine. Otherwise, feel free to be creative in the comments and I might use a submitted answer!

Questions for you:
– What did your style of writing teach Simon?
– What’s your favorite part of Simon’s writing?
– Are you with okay with the way Simon writes about you?
– What do you have to keep explaining to Simon about the world?

Feel free to pick one and answer!

With my character created, my next post will start us on our journey and I’ll start to play with locations and randomizing the world! Creating this character through the Wanderhome system was very fun for me, and I’m very interested to know if any of you found this interesting as well! Feel free to let me know in the comments and thanks for creating Simon with me!

3 replies »

  1. What do you have to keep explaining to Simon about the world?

    That not everyone he’s nice to will be nice to him, but he should be nice anyway. That not everyone he cares for will care for him, but he should care anyway. That not everyone he helps will return the favor, but he should help anyway. The most rewarding act is the one done with no expectations of reciprocity.

  2. What did your style of writing teach Simon?

    My style of writing taught Simon to laugh and enjoy the moments that bring joy and happiness. To not overthink and let his “Quills” down once in a while. It taught Simon that not everyone is out for themselves and sometimes you may find a surprisingly ally that’s really out to see you succeed 😊.

    I’m soooo excited for more of the story. Thank you for sharing and including us in the journey. I excitedly await the next post

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