A Many Tale is a story inspired by a plethora of sources. From TTRPGs, to fantasy fiction, to comics, to anime and cartoons.
The heart of A Many Tale lies with TTRPGs, and the stories-from-chaos approach to telling tales. The original concept of AMT is a direct result of my own search for writing exercises beyond prompts and practice.
The daily work on novels, while rewarding, can become monotonous. The shiny "new idea" looms on the horizon, begging to be attempted at every corner. In the midst of several past novel drafts, I had an idea: an exercise to rid myself of that "new idea," yet remain consistent in practice and discipline.
Fun training, essentially.
The proto-AManyTale was born. A project I worked on just about everyday, writing a page or two on top of drafting and revising my main projects. If I watched a western that day, I'd write a western story using random die rolls. If I watched scifi, odds are I'd write a scifi tale. So on and so forth.
Dice don't interrupt this artistic flow, they enhance it. Let's get into why.
Dungeons and Dragons and Paizo's Pathfinder were a titanic influence in my storytelling. LEGOs were the childhood freedom, and D&D was the adolescent development. A system of rules and world building suddenly became defined outside of simple childhood play.
Those maps I drew as a child became tangible, explorable worlds. Armed with statistics and rulesets in how to explore them, I began Dungeon Mastering for my friends in my basement and never looked back.
Years go by. Worlds are crafted. Stories are told. Countless drawings litter the cabinets. Character sheets feel more like old biographies than a simple piece of paper.
I always wanted to be a writer. There was no doubt in this. And as I grew older, and began writing novels, and short stories, the Dungeons and Dragons became the playground to test ideas.
Several years into serious novel writing (I did not attend University), I realized something quite profound.
The improvisation abilities acquired after nearly a decade of DMing provided an ability I didn't anticipate. Yes, world building, and story cadence, and theme were all enhanced by playing at a table with direct interactions with the audience.
But so was my improv. I didn't get writer's block. Ideas flowed like magic. At the table, you always have to be turned on and ready to explore a player's interest.
So while I write, I do that same thing.
When I realized this, I leaned in. And I leaned in hard.
The rush of all those years of "playing" suddenly becoming "training," hit me. Randomness can make a story become more focused than any fixed outline ever could. It requires a subtle hand, and an instinct for how to utilize the breadth of options. But it certainly is impactful.
I've always wanted to craft a zine. Whether that be a comic (which I did in 9th grade), or a newspaper (which our friends did in Middle School, shoutout to Geeks Weekly), or a piece of prose fiction.
In the last few years, the OSR (Old School Renaissance) community in D&D has exploded. Zines and adventures have popped up everywhere with all kinds of incredible, mind boggling art and innovations. I've followed this side of the industry for awhile. I buy loads of these zines, but don't play them (as a result of running campaigns in my home-brew novel worlds). I have stacks of zines simply for admiration. They are illustrious works of art.
When the novels became tiresome, and I needed another outlet, the realization of this "improv" impacting my writing came to light. Over several months, the seed of A Many Tale germinated. I've always loved MouseGuard and Redwall, and especially Watership Down. And I always loved old school serialized fiction.
I started exercising my brain more. I would write bits of Opaline's story here and there, beginning his life by playing Isaac Williams' phenomenal Mausritter system. Using the TTRPG setup, I'd write prose based on the character's actions using a Solo-RPG "oracle" as they call it. I'd dictate the story in some ways, and then cater my prose to the narrative that fate called for. Wherever the dice fell, so did Opaline's path.
Then, a year later, the realization smacked me. The summer of 2021 gifted me a little nugget of inspiration:
What if I combined D&D zine artwork, this story I've worked on, and the early 20th century serials? I could publish Opaline's story every week in installments, with new covers for the world to enjoy it both visually and narratively.
So I did.
I asked my friend, Joshua Hetzer, to be editor on the serial. I asked my Mother for some funding. And then I went to work. Built the website, wrote the first 8 stories. We secured the logo design, the top insignia, artwork, prints, and so on and so forth. In 4 weeks we had everything up and running for Steel City ComicCon 2021.
Why publish this way? What about Wattpad, or Medium, or getting stories into magazines?
Well, I'm a novelist. I'm drafting several works, and editing others. A Many Tale is a side project. A side project I am very proud of, but still not a novel. I don't want to self-publish my work. The novels and series accompanying them will be traditionally published.
But this? A Many Tale is free. For me, this is a fun exercise. For you, this is a look into what I can do as an artist, and hopefully a meaningful story that is equally as fun as it is heartwarming (or heart stopping!).
I didn't want to use a premade website or program. Given the means, I'd build our own site, our own feel, and create a space for the story alone. I didn't want to self publish chapters or "books" of AMT. Here is the story, in its entirety and perpetuity, for as long as I feel its necessary to tell.
For editors or agents who may be reading this, I have novels ready to be looked at. If you enjoy A Many Tale, Episode 3 and Episode 7 are excellent examples of where most of my novels lie in terms of tone and style. Send me an email, I'd love to show you what I'm working on!
To everybody else, thanks for reading this expatiation on AMT. Read on, enjoy the serial, and share it with your gaming groups, family, friends, local nerds, local jocks, and so on!
Shoot me an email, let me know your thoughts!
Why does Opaline spin a top?
While I was working on the original stories, my Mother got me a Damascus spinning top for my birthday (I'd just shown her Inception). I'd been mulling over how Opaline would know how much time he had left on each planet. Then, she gave me the gift box in the middle of me writing a scene. I put in Peridot gifting him the top that exact day! Shamelessly inspired by Mr. Christopher Nolan.
How do you write the stories?
Most are done with all kinds of pencils (Viarco, General's, etc) and legal pads. I love that tactile feel. Then I type up the stories with an old school Alphasmart 3000 and transfer them into Scrivener via cable for the final edits. I do most of my novels in Scrivener so this gives my eyes a break.
What System do you play in writing?
Old School Essentials. The book is pretty, the rules simple. I hack it a lot. Its all very barren, otherwise it makes the writing slow and boring. Mausritter was used when creating Opaline's life as a literal meadow mouse, before he grew into the hero we all know! I played a lot of Pathfinder (6 years) and hacked up 5th edition for our current friend campaigns.
Who are the Guest Artists?
Friends! People that I know from growing up, as I take a lot of pride in the groups we established in our Highschool Art room with the legendary Joe Ludwig. Most of the beginning stories will be illustrated from people from my childhood. We'll also have all sorts of people coming in to participate. Artists come from everywhere, thats the fun of it!
Does the author illustrate some as well?
Yes I do. I did dozens of drawings to figure out my canonical interpretation of Opaline. Eventually I settled on the design you'll see in my drawings. I do covers as a way to get ahead. If I illustrate, that gives me weeks to write the next months' stories rather than giving them to an artist 4-5 weeks in advance. Plus, I like to draw, and need the practice.
Why have Guest Artists?
Man I love fan art. Its an amazing way for creators and fans to interact, and a fantastic path through which an artist can get "discovered." Combining the idea of comic covers and fan art, I wanted to have new cover designers to build a community in which the audience can be actively involved, and have their pieces be showcased!
We DO NOT pay for cover art. Its simply not possible right now. But I am always willing to do work for work. If you are interested in being one of our Guest Artists, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet The Team
JACOB JOHN WHITE
I write this story. I also have a Border Collie who dictates my schedule, numerous hobbies which all influence my work, and I maintain a slight obsession with learning. I also love training, and threw discus for many years, amongst other athletic pursuits. Email me about the Pleistocene epoch, assyriology, or really anything you know about. Always love a good discussion. I'm an avid barefoot walker and lover of Gilmore Girls, even if I love Haunting of Hill House (not the book) more.
EDITOR IN CHIEF
This website is filled with the beautiful works of artists, writers, and creative minds. I am not necessarily one of those people. I'm here to read through each week's story before it's released, nitpick grammar and spelling, and generally ensure that Opaline's adventures through time and space have some sense of continuity (whatever that means). In short, I do editing work for A•Many•Tale, and I love it.
Meadow mouse fishermouse, currently exploring Loche's Garden in the Curse of the Genesar Peridot after she touched the Glaire of the egg of Creation. No big deal. Trying to help. Sometimes succeeding. I've seen a lot. Always running from ancient unfathomable Eldest Olde gods, and also cosmic vampires. Mostly keeping away. Lover of people and conversation. Reluctant combatant.