Some months back, I started a side-project I nicknamed “Running the Asylum” to occupy part of my mind that was bored and stirring up mischief. I concluded at the end of the experiment (which ended, but was never truly “finished”) that I was wasting my time if it wasn’t related to the Rumors of War ‘verse.

Reading over my notes from the Royal Alchemist Society I wrote (the documents are dated from about this time in 2006, just a little over five years old at this point) gave me some ideas about what I’m capable of in terms of creating setting, characters, and stories. It isn’t like my talents have changed over the years, just my focus.

Then, as now, my talents seem to lie in the realm of creating setting, background, and characters. With Rumors of War and “To Catch A Goat,” the focus was to start at the “daily life” level and fill out a “broad strokes” world. It seems with The Royal Alchemist Society, I started at the “broad strokes” level and worked down to a “daily life” setting.

So, where do my strengths lie, exactly? Am I better at one of the other? Looking back on it, The Royal Alchemist Society is on the bland side. It’s designed to be a gaming supplement, not a standalone story. You know what I was able to prove with it, though? I used random generators, and I created a world and characters around it.

Similarly, I used a generation system for “Running the Asylum,” and I created a place, characters, and a story around it. The main problem I faced wasn’t in the way I created these things, or the quality of the material I created, it was the fact that I didn’t publish my results. They don’t have to be my best work ever, but no one will ever know.

On my hard drive, and in my notebooks, I have all of my work for “Running the Asylum,” and no one will ever see it, because I decided what I created wasn’t good enough, and I moved on. On my hard drive, and in my notebooks, I have all of my work for The Royal Alchemist Society, and no one will ever see it…

My problems now are the same as they were five years ago. I have this work, which I enjoyed creating, which is languishing in development hell because I don’t have time, energy, or motivation to continue it. I haven’t shown any of my work — why did I bother working on the project in the first place? What have I learned?

…I want to adapt the material I was developing to the Rumors of War ‘verse. All of it. And I want to do it right now. Waste not, want not, right? But what’s the context? What’s the meaning of the work, and how do I use it? Is it really a good idea to reuse older work for this purpose? And what am I actually trying to accomplish?

No, talking myself through it like this has reminded me. I’m looking for other projects because I’m lazy or dissatisfied with my current ones. If I want to revisit old work this badly, it’s because I’m trying to distract myself from what I should really be working on. I have several projects that will die, just like The Royal Alchemist Society, if I turn away from them now. Right now, I continue work on “To Catch A Goat.”