Over the summer, I ran my group through the first adventure in Tomb of Horrors, and it was an enjoyable experience for everyone that culminated in our departing Paladin (leaving town for graduate school) sacrificing himself so the party could escape. I look forward to the group uncovering the remaining adventures in Tomb of Horrors throughout the campaign, so I was eager to interview one of the designers for the book, Scott Fitzgerald Gray.
In a sprawling interview, he offers advice to freelance writers in the roleplaying-game industry. He speaks about his design work for Wizards of the Coast (e.g., Tomb of Horrors, Seekers of the Ashen Crown) including a candid exchange about the level of lethality in 4th Edition and why some new DMs may not fully appreciate the fine art of customization and improvisation. He speaks about his latest book, A Prayer for Dead Kings and Other Tales, details his writing and editing process and comments on the growing mainstream acceptance of the fantasy and science-fiction genres.
Settle into a comfortable chair and enjoy my interview with Scott Fitzgerald Gray.
Thank you for agreeing to spend some time discussing your work. The bio on your site answers several questions including the veracity of your name, and states you have been able “to make a living doing exactly what [you] want to do by way of creating and shaping words.” You have identified yourself as a writer, screenwriter, editor, story editor, script consultant, writing teacher, and designer and editor of roleplaying games. So I must ask, how did words become so important to you?
Happy to be here, and thanks for the opportunity.
That’s a tough question, insofar as I can’t really remember a time when words weren’t important, so it’s hard to judge. However, I think the easiest way to sum it up would be to describe myself as an imagination addict, and to say that words continue to feed that addiction. Everyone who has kids knows that very early stage, ages 2 to 3, where everything is imagination. I remember that stage in my own life, in faint and scratchy flashbacks. I can remember even as i was learning to talk, making up my own stories and my own little worlds in which those stories took place. I can remember learning to read a few years later, and the mind-blowing revelation that reading suddenly gave me access to other people’s stories and worlds. I can remember starting to write my own stories in fourth grade and the incredible feeling of accomplishment, as unaccomplished as those stories were. I can remember my first exposure to speculative fiction and fantasy, the first time i saw “Star Wars”, my first exposure to Dungeons & Dragons — all of these seminal moments of imagination which, taken as a whole, kind of underline a hunger for the worlds and experiences that all start with words.
Continue reading “Ego Check: Scott Fitzgerald Gray, Freelance Editor and Designer for Wizards of the Coast”