I grew up playing Dungeons & Dragons, among other roleplaying games, with my friends. Perhaps that’s where my love of storytelling began, who knows. I still play these games today with a couple of good friends and my wife. We’ve explored all kinds of genres and settings, from various editions of D&D to Pathfinder, Shadowrun, Firefly, Dresden Files, and others. Yes, there are RPG rules based on popular franchises and book series. How cool it would be for there to someday be “This Corner of the Universe – The RPG!”
Some of the ideas and moments from these gaming sessions have leaked into my writing. As the This Corner of the Universe galaxy has expanded, naming the 100+ identified planets has been a challenge. Several clusters have been named after the RPG characters my group has created, mostly in the corporate-controlled systems. Seshafi, Lagrin, Syntyche, Sade, Ia, Ardea, and many others were all named after druids, fighters, and so forth that my friends created for game night.
Heskan himself is named after one of my own RPG characters from ages ago. He was not in a science fiction setting, nor any sort of captain. “Lord Vindicator Heskan Oskworlder” was a psionic religious zealot and it was open-ended whether the god he worshiped was real or not. Garrett Heskan only shares his name, I assure you! Originally his first name, Heskan became my captain’s last name only after I realized in narration I was referring to all characters by their surname.
The secret twist to Confidence Game was also inspired by a detail from game night. My wife created a backstory for one of her RPG characters, a ship captain named Siren Smythe, for the Firefly setting. That character too had a ship named Zanshin, and we even went to far as to create a logo for her ship:
I won’t tell you more about Siren’s backstory in case you haven’t read Confidence Game yet, but it’s another example of RPG-derived inspiration. (By the way, Confidence Game ebooks are on sale for only US $0.99 throughout March 2018. You can find links to the major sites on the landing page, here.)
Playing RPGs is a great stress reliever for my crew of friends, a chance to escape “adulting” one night a week, catch up, and let our imaginations wander. I’m very lucky to have these folks in my life, and to have their creativity to lean on when I need a little help in my own made-up worlds.