About Me

I'm Phil! American living in Japan. Teacher. Ex-independent professional wrestler. Student of Japanese. Traveler. Article writer for Mythic Scribes. Also written four manga, novels, and various short stories and poems. For my fantasy-related blog, check out http://www.philipoverbyfantasy.blogspot.jp/.


Drill Bits: random thoughts, bloggy stuff
Japan Hammer: topics about Japan
Story Time: stories I felt like posting

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Why I Love Fantasy Part II (Tabletop Games)

This is part two of "Why I Love Fantasy."  I left out some stuff last time, so I wanted to add more to get the full picture.

I guess I was around 13 when I started playing D&D.  It was always sort of a "forbidden game" around my parts growing up in Mississippi.  People thought it was about devil worship or some such.  To me, it was just about being someone else for several hours a night.  I remember we'd all gather over at a friend's house and have to wait until midnight to play for fear parents may drop a ban hammer on us.  My first character I made was named Raxtar.  I still remember this!  He wielded a halberd (a long pole-arm) and probably wore splint mail because that had the best Armor Class at Level 1.  I don't remember what Raxtar did in that first game, but I'm sure he did something cool.

Weekends were D&D time, plain and simple.  At first, I was a player.  The first major campaign I remember involved us being sucked out of the real world into a sort of alternate reality fantasy world.  We spent many a night hunched over a kitchen table, rolling dice and trying to keep one friend who was a "little too loud" quiet. 

As I got older, I became the DM of my group and we had an ever-rotating cast of characters.  The main PCs in my game were a thief, a necromancer, and a warrior.  Throughout my game I had several others rotate in and out, but those three were the main ones.  I always tried to make things that happened in my game seem important, so that the characters were emotionally invested in some way.  The way I did this was by using the old standard "this person is your brother/sister/mother/father."  It's sort of a natural way to connect someone by blood.

I had my PCs in a place called the United Orc Republic.  A place ironically named because there were no orcs there.  Just a sinister army called the Black Horde.  The Black Horde were both evil and cool, so they had an appeal on various levels.  When my PCs fought someone, it usually meant something.  But I had a lot of memorable "random" encounters.  A bugbear with a yellow curtain draped over his neck, a group of strangely named assassins (Akanaka Blacka), "shadow guys," tech-mages, robotic death knights, basilisks, an orc named "Butt" and many others.  In any case, my D&D game ended around the time I started college and never really picked back up from there.  I have played on and off since then, but nothing captured the magic from age 13-18. 

It was amazing how much I missed out on "real life"  during that period.  But it's also amazing how I don't really regret it either, because those were awesome times.  I didn't have girlfriends really or have an interest in sports outside playing soccer off and on.  D&D was my passion.  I remember sitting at K-Mart in the stock room doodling pictures and planning games for the weekend sessions.  Something that linked me to wanting to become a writer later on.  My PCs were my audience, and I'd do whatever I could to hook them, to entertain them, to get them wanting more.  One day I thought, "What if I could do that for more than three or four people?" 

Thus, my love for writing was born. 

I sometimes think back and wonder what my life would have been like if I never rolled that first d20.  I think it would have been a lot less interesting, that's for sure.

Part III coming soon, in which I'll discuss video games.

Any memories of your D&D (or other game) days?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Why I Love Fantasy

It's been a long love affair.  Fantasy and me go way back.  I can't really remember a time when fantasy wasn't a part of my life.  Drawing pictures in my room, creating worlds for my GI Joes.  I've always prided myself in that I've never "grown up."  I'll always love creating stories and reading about different worlds.  It's just ingrained in me.

It started at an early age.  Probably not as early as most, but early enough.  While other kids were playing sports, I was either playing video games or reading.  When I was in elementary school, I used to love this book series called Wizards, Warriors, and You.  It was just like the Choose Your Own Adventure books that were immensely popular, but had a distinctly fantasy theme to them.  I remember being wowed by those books.  Just to be able to make my own story in a way was so cool to me.  Greek mythology was also a big factor in my early geekdom.  There was this massive Greek mythology tome in the library that no one else ever read.  But I'd stick my nose in it every chance I got.  Since my mom was a teacher, I'd stay after school a lot.  I spent a lot of time in the library, just engrossed in the legends of Hercules, Perseus, and Theseus.  Even though I could barely read these names, I loved the stories.

Things would change drastically when I became a teenager though and I fell in love with Legend of Huma by Richard A. Knaak.  Ever since, I've been a huge fantasy fan.  I owe this mostly to my friend Danny, whose room was covered with fantasy posters.  I remember being so jealous of how cool his room looked and how drab and boring mine did.  What attracted my eye the most though was a bookshelf crammed full of fantasy novels.  Most of them Dragonlance.  I grew up with those books, so I'll always praise Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman the most for keeping a book in my hand throughout my childhood. 

From Weis and Hickman, I discovered R.A. Salvatore, another writer who had many epics I became engrossed with.  I crawled through the caves of the Underdark, and journeyed with Drizzt and company to Icewind Dale.  Such great books with memorable characters and lots of action.

Then at some point, I just started buying everything.  Seriously.  I must have thousands of books in my dad's attic.  Just sitting there, collecting dust now.  I started getting more into other speculative fiction, including horror.  Reading Stephen King and Jack Ketchum really got my blood pumping. I delved into Kafka and Gogol.  Some Elmore Leonard dashed in there. Then later came George R.R. Martin, Steven Erikson, Robert E. Howard, Joe Abercrombie, China Mieville, and Andrezj Sapkowski.  And the list goes on and on (I'll stop name dropping now.)  Each writer's words soaking into my skin, staining my brain, and just making me love the world of fantasy even more.

I get excited every time I "discover" a new author.  I get a great recommendation or find an awesome review.  A writer I like spreads the word about a writer he likes.  That's why I really relate to a community like Mythic Scribes.  It's home to lots of burgeoning writers and some already established ones.  I hope that word continues to spread and more and more people get involved. 

I have a passion for fantasy more than most believe.  I want to share the worlds I started creating in my bedroom at a young age.  To delve deeper into my mind to find those word weaving through, begging for me to use them.

I hope that will become a reality soon.  62,000 words later into my novel, I'm coming one step closer to completing my first full-length book.

And just think, it started in Arlington Heights Elementary all those years ago.  In a perfect world, some kid  is sitting in that library right now, picking up that same worn, hard-back Greek mythology book, and losing track of time.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Phil's Links Across the Web

Give Up:  You'll Never Be Published http://mythicscribes.com/publishing/give-up-never-be-published/  

This article focuses on a problem a lot of beginning writers have.  They don't stick with anything.  They give up easily or find something better to write.  I'm guilty of this as well, which is why I'm glad I wrote it.  I can go look at it whenever I feel like giving up.  Most of my articles are mostly written for myself. 

How to Obliterate Writer's Block  http://mythicscribes.com/writing-process/how-to-obliterate-writers-block/

This article deals with getting rid of writer's block, in a humorous way.  I tend to try to use humor in my posts, to varying results.  

The Impatient Writer's Guide to Getting Published http://mythicscribes.com/publishing/impatient-writers-guide-getting-published/

Another humor column.  My first of the sorts.  I rather enjoyed this one and hoped more people would have gotten to read it.

Final Fantasy Re-Imagined http://mythicscribes.com/miscellaneous/final-fantasy/

I really liked this article, my first for Mythic Scribes.  Dragon's Dogma almost fits this criteria that I mention in this article.  So I was on to something maybe?

Wrestle Kingdom VI:  Live Review http://www.puroresuspirit.com/2012/01/10/wrestle-kingdom-vi-january-4th-2012-live-perspective/

ALL TOGETHER at Budokan http://www.puroresuspirit.com/2011/09/02/all-together-august-27th-2011-live-perspective/

Two articles I wrote for Puroresu Spirit, a website that focuses on Japanese pro wrestling.  I'm very passionate about wrestling as most people know, so I was happy to write articles for this website. 

Phil's Facebook http://www.facebook.com/philip.overby

My Facebook page where I make updates every so often.  

Phil's Twitter https://twitter.com/The_Drill99

My Twitter page which I use mostly for posting links and recommending other links.

I'll be posting a real blog soon, I promise!  But in the meantime, you can see what I've been up to recently.  Thanks!