Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Q and A with Aaron Rosenberg

The Strider teamed up with Shadow Council community members to ask Warcraft author Aaron Rosenberg about his books and games. You can read his introduction here, and read his answers to your questions below!

Thank you to everyone who participated!

Q. Do you play World of Warcraft?

A. I do, yes, though sadly not as often as I'd like. There just aren't enough hours in the day to do everything. :)

Q. Who is your favorite main character in Tides of Darkness?

A. That's a tough call. I really like both Lothar and Turalyon, but I had a great time writing Orgrim because I got to show what was going on inside his head. I have to admit, I also have a fondness for Thoras Trollbane, though--he doesn't get much screen time but he was a blast to write when he was around.

Q. As far as story settings go, what do you find easier to write, Warcraft or Starcraft? Or to be a bit more precise, do you prefer a more science fiction based story or the classic fantasy? --Leiander

A. WarCraft is definitely easier, as is fantasy in general. You simply don't have to explain as much, both in terms of how the setting works and in terms of the races. Everyone understands what an orc is right away, but explaining the protoss and the zerg is a lot harder.

Q. How difficult did you find it to reconcile Warcraft II's black and white depiction of the Horde and Alliance with the more recent gray areas expanded upon in later-published games and lore which pose the Horde as being actually a somewhat good force? --Hectara

A. It wasn't that hard to do, actually. The games, as with any visual medium, are more surface-oriented, so you don't know what the characters are thinking and feeling, what motivated them and drove them to those actions. Books let you examine those elements and understand their perspective. No one ever considers him- or herself to be evil--everyone feels he or she is doing the right thing somehow, and in a novel you can portray that.

Q. How would you describe your experience in working for Blizzard? --Deveran

A. They're great! They've been so friendly throughout the process of each book, and so helpful as far as feedback and support. I'm really glad I've gotten to work with them on so many books already, and I'm definitely hoping to continue the relationship.

Q. Since you write, create video games, and play role-playing games, how much do you find the different storytelling mediums influencing each other? Are the stories in your video games like those in your books, etc? --Malorn

A. Actually, I don't write video games--I write tabletop roleplaying games (though I would love to write video games as well). But yes, the stories and styles and elements certainly influence each other. Creating a game involves a lot of worldbuilding, and as a result when I write novels I want a very detailed world and a full understanding of how it works. I like to think that gives my settings more solidity than they'd have otherwise. I don't tell many stories in my roleplaying games--just short adventures and short fiction snippets to give people ideas of where they can go with their own stories--but certainly every game I've created has given me ideas for novels set in those worlds.

Q. In what systems do you play tabletop RPGs?

A. I play almost anything, actually. I've done a lot of World of Darkness (old and new) over the years, a lot of Dungeons and Dragons, a lot of d20 and OGL, plus I've played things like Ars Magica, Marvel Super-heroes, Amber, Immortal, etc. And of course I've played each game I've written. :)

Q. What do you find more challenging: writing, RPGs, or video games? What is most rewarding? --Malorn

A. They each have their own challenges. Writing an RPG is all about building a world and creating the rules so others can tell stories there. Writing a novel is all about telling a particular story. I suppose the RPG is harder because it requires creating everything from scratch, whereas a novel set in a good existing world (like WarCraft or StarCraft) already has elements in place.

Q. Have you ever turned a book into a game? --Malorn

A. Yes, when I wrote the Deryni Roleplaying Game. That was fun because I had a whole world already and just had to make sense of it and show how others could tell their own stories there as well. I've also turned one of my own stories into a game, though it wasn't a novel--I wrote a short story called "Spookshow" and liked the idea so much I created a game by the same name. Sometimes a story's setting just cries out, "There are more stories here! Share them!"

Q. How does writing compare to roleplaying? Do you ever miss the character control in roleplaying? --Darsha

A. Writing is more all-inclusive than roleplaying--even if you've only got one central character you're writing the secondary characters and creating the plot and describing the setting all by yourself. When you're roleplaying, someone else (the GM) is handling the plot, the setting, and the secondary characters, and others (the other players) are handling all the other principal characters, so it's a lot more collaborative. That also means I've got a lot more control over my one character when roleplaying, but when writing I get to control (or at least narrate) all of them at once.

Q. Do you have an original series in the works?

A. Not right now, no. I have ideas for several, of course, and I'm talking to various editors about those and other projects, but nothing definite right now.

Q. Do you have other non-Warcraft related projects coming up, that we can look forward to? --Deveran

A. The third book of my Warhammer trilogy, Hour of the Daemon, should be out in November. I have another book coming out next year that I can't talk about yet. After that we'll see.

Photo courtesy Aaron Rosenberg/Oct. 2007