Friday, October 7, 2011

Your Imagination is a Lie

When I was in Junior High, I started playing role playing games, such as Dungeons and Dragons.  After a while, I wanted to make an RPG of my own.  I came up with ideas for giant robot games and games about wars between the gods, but never got very far in the creation process; it was just fun to think about.  The idea I liked the most was called “Crossbreed.” 

In Crossbreed you created your character not by rolling dice, like in D&D or by building them in a complicated mathematical model, like in Champions, but through genealogy.  Crossbreed required you to build a family tree going back a couple of generations and, whatever your parents and grandparents were determined your character was.  So, for example, if your father was a human and your mother was a wood sprite, your character was something like an elf.  Bird man + woman = angel and so on.  It was a fun idea, but I realized it would have required a giant rulebook to figure out all the possible permutations, and I dropped it.
"It says beast hybrids are on page 11238."
Years later, I realized Crossbreed could work if I made it a video game and had the computer do all the work.  I tried designing it as an RPG like Ultima or an MMORPG like World of Warcraft.  I still would like to make it someday (and even pitched it to a seed company once), but my interest dwindled over time.

Then I started thinking about Crossbreed as a novel.  What if the gods were playing a game with mortals by seeing what happened if all the races interbred?  What if each chapter was the story of a different race and how this game changed them?  I whipped up a quick outline, starting with the story of the elves and how they clashed with the dragons and had to flee their burned forest through the caves of the dwarves.

Then, just as I was getting ready to write it, I rediscovered Elf Quest.  Elf Quest was a popular comic book series I had read as a kid.  The comics were out of print and now freely available online.  I started eagerly reading through them again.

(Someone even made a terrible fan trailer.  Click above if you like women in heavy makeup looking nervous.)

In the beginning of Elf Quest, the elves are attacked by a savage band of humans.  The humans, trying to force the elves out of their forest, burn it to the ground.  The elves are forced to flee by forcing their way into the caves of the dwarf-like…
My novel wouldn't have had the orgies, though.
Hey, that sounds familiar!  They stole my idea nearly a decade before I had it.

Oh.  Wait.

By the way, they kill some birds in Elf Quest, too!  DBIM SURPRISE!

(For those of you new to my blog, the DBIM is my catalog of bird deaths I encounter in fiction.  I found fewer people visit my site on days I post on the DBIM, so I hide it at the end of some posts).

Title: Elf Quest (issues 9, 10, and 15)
Genre: Comic Book
Severity: 2 (two deaths, eaten, one mitigating factor)
Date: 1978
Description: As our heroes come upon giant hawks, they shoot and kill one and then eat it.  They are later put on trial for their crime, but exonerated.  Later, the king of the hawk rider elves is shot down with his hawk.  Both are killed.
Mitigating Factors: The birds that are killed are mourned.  The heroes will obviously never hunt giant birds again.
Aggravating Factors: None.

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