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Friday, 17 September 2021

A time capsule of ideas

I love a notebook. No, that's understating the case; it's a fetish really. There's something about starting a new project with a fresh notebook, feeling the glide of the pen, watching the ideas start to flow on pristine pages.

But when is the right time to start? I have cherished notebooks going back years, still uncracked, waiting for a project that's worthy of them. And then there's the project itself. Is it ready for the notebook stage or does it need to cook a while yet?

Worse than that, there's the problem of finding an idea again. Once I've jotted it down the brain seems to favour wiping that neuron to use for something else. And a full notebook is the Augean stables of inspiration. There might be gold nuggets in there, but boy do you have to work to dig them out. Makes me feel like that poor bugger in Memento

I came across a notebook just now while tidying out my desk drawer. Circumstantial evidence points to it being fairly old. The handwriting looks nothing like mine, for one thing. Also I don't think you'd find one for under a quid these days. Adjusting for inflation would date this relic to 1971. That can't be right… 

Aha, here's a clue: "Megatron wants chips to make robot brains." We're back in 1985, then, when I wrote the Transformers gamebooks, so the roleplaying notes here would have been intended for Dragon Warriors.

Here's one: "Spells. State what you want to do. Chance of success depends on how much you are having to thwart someone else's will, therefore on the strength of his will. Cf the door in LotR."

Or: "Have to set up a 'box of tricks' to do spells. Stops sorcerers moving about too much once they're casting."

I may have been thinking there of the cover art for War of Wizards, which showed a little shrine-cum-workstation beside the sorcerer. It's before I'd heard of Encounters of the Spooky Kind, in which magical shrines were an essential prerequisite and vied for height like the towers of San Gimignano.

Another: "Go into a trance to use magic. Deeper trance, stronger magic. But you have to be led around because you're 'out of reality'."

(It was the mid-'80s. Altered states were a big thing with me back then.)

Another tack here: "Magic as release of the content of the subconscious. The more power you call on, the deeper into yourself you're delving, the more likely to work in reverse against you."

This one is interesting because here we are thirty-five years later and look what I recently wrote in the Jewelspider notes:

"Consider inspiration in the literal sense. When you are singing, for example, and you begin to go beyond normal use of skill and start to channel a divine or pagan presence, with a song so marvellous that everybody stops to listen, the rafters ring out, goblets chime, and even time holds its breath. This is no longer controllable by the singer and the entity, god or goddess that imbues them is manifesting in the song and, being a god, is inhuman, beautiful and terrible – who knows what will happen?"

Now, if I can just make that work in rules terms!

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