This next week, Laura and I will be at our annual family reunion. We join our entire extended family -- my parents as well as my sister's and brother's families -- all onto a houseboat with provisions, board games, cards, books and medical supplies (including sunscreen and aloe lotion) sufficient to support us for a week of wake boarding, swimming and working together. It's an annual pilgrimage which forges the bonds of our family in the back of beyond on the most jaw-droppingly scenic lake I know.
Not surprisingly, perhaps, Laura and I are anxious to show off our game to our family now that it is done. And what better way than to write a Sojourner Story Module just for our family reunion. I wanted to write something that celebrated family and decided to feature one of our famous ancestors.
Well, the problem was that our famous ancestor turned out to be infamous.
William Adams Hickman -- 'Wild Bill' Hickman, as he was called even by contemporaries -- had what might claimed with understatement to be a colorful history. Stories told about him (some claim BY him, some out-and-out lies) included that he was a horse thief, a body guard for Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith as well as Brigham Young, a polygamist with at least nine wives, a raider who raided and burned down government wagons, an associate of Mountain-man Jim Bridger as well as Orrin Porter Rockwell, a sheriff and county prosecuting attorney, assessor and collector all rolled into one, not to mention a an assassin. There was a book written about his exploits at the time (alleged to be written by him but by and large concocted sensationalism by the guy who actually penned it) entitled: "Brigham's Destroying Angel: Being the Life, Confession, and Startling Disclosures of the Notorious Bill Hickman, The Danite Chief of Utah."
Well, at least I suppose I see where my roots in writing fantasy spring from my family tree!
William Adams Hickman was my Great-great-grandfather. Ask about any Hickman in the Western United States if their related to 'Wild Bill' and they will almost certainly answer in the affirmative.
So the question became: how do I make an entertaining game based on this sometimes-notorious and often mythic life?
Why, you EXAGGERATE IT, that's what!
That's how I cam to write 'The Legend of Wild Bill Hickman: A Sojourner Tales Adventure as told by Himself." It's a 'tall tale' of 'Wild Bill' trying to win a bet with Orrin Porter Rockwell back in the late 1800's right around the area where Lake Powell exists today. As our good friend, Carmen Deedy likes to say, "Oh, honey, it's not JUST true ... it's BETTER THAN true!"
So, if you would like to see an example of the kind of game you might make for your own family -- no matter how bent the branches of your family tree -- download this Sojourner Story Module. If you've got your own D.I.Y. version of Sojourner built, you might even play it. It's presented to you in EPUB format for iPads and Nooks, and Kobos; MOBI and AZW3 formats for Kindles old and new. Perhaps not all of the names and places will have the same depth of meaning they have for my family, but I think you'll enjoy the ride.
After all, what's a family tree if it doesn't produce a few nuts now and then!
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