Hitch a ride on the Steelback

Running Lost Hemisphere has helped me get to know a number of amazing people in the gaming industry, but it’s also planted me in the path of a number of great authors, in no small part thanks to their writing for Privateers Skull Island Expeditions endeavor. Dark Convergence introduced me to Dave Gross, who then dangled Prince of Wolves under my nose. Chris A. Jackson took me to sea with Watery Graves. Miles Holmes tried to sucker me into liking Cygnar with The Way Of Caine, but Menoth protected me from his scurrilous ways. At least, until we hung out for a bit at GenCon a few years back.

Don’t get me wrong, I still long for the days the crusading armies of the devout walk the streets of Caspia and the True Law is reestablished, but Mr Holmes is a charming fellow as well as being a talented writer. I had the opportunity to enjoy one of his works in progress. If it was described by a 1990’s movie trailer narrator, the terms high-octane and thrill ride would apply.

On a distant planet being mined for all its worth, the Steelback is a massive raised mega-highway that links settlements and arcologies. Through the story we got to ride along with a convoy of transport drivers as they try to make their run across the Steelback, beset by raiders and ne’er-do-wells masterminded by a far more sinister foe. It’s a touch Mad Max, a touch Car Wars (which, in all fairness, is a touch Mad Max), a hint Wild Wild West, and frankly, way more fun than I was expecting. If you looked into Road/Kill when it was being kickstarted, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Welcome to Atropos

“A new life awaits you in the Off-world colonies! A chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!”

Yeah, it didn’t sound like such a good idea in Bladerunner, and it’s not going to be so rosy here either. Johnny Cash himself sings us in as you’ve just made planetfall on a hostile world in the year 2177. Grab a coffee and take a seat as we begin with an orientation session from the man. Hey, at least that mug is yours to keep!

In chatting with Mr Holmes today I’ve been informed that he’s working to turn his trucker tales of the Steelback into a trilogy, and supporters of his Patreon get early access to chapters, along with (depending on tier) hard copies of the book(s), t-shirts, 1-on-1 feedback calls with the author, and more. This sort of thing has been rabbiting around in my head lately.

What? No, not having my illusions shattered by actually hearing the voices of people I otherwise only communicate with via text/email… the idea of being a patron of the arts. Back in the day, it was a huge deal in the higher echelons of society to be able to claim patronage over an artist, a sculptor, a composer. You were basically an art world sugar daddy. You’d provide your artist of choice with funds, resources, perhaps a roof over their head, invitations to galas, and in return they’d get their art on, dazzling all and sundry with their brilliance, and sometimes their art would be for you.

We now have access to things like Patreon, allowing us to support all manner of creatives and their projects, and while we’re all stretched thin thanks to COVID 19 and the impact it’s had on our lives, I would also think that there’s a spotlight now on how much we all rely on the creative community to help us get through. From music to television to visual arts and the written word, we’re watching more Netflix, we’re reading more books, we’re keeping the radio cranked.

While we’re using the fruits of the industry more than ever, many of these creatives, and the industries that support them, are suffering. No concerts. No gallery shows. No movie theaters. Not even any comic conventions where we can go and pay $30 to an aspiring artist to get a custom sketch of Stilt-Man. Everyone involved in helping run the public gatherings, from event coordinators to the dudes who set up the lighting, have suddenly found their skillsets in very low demand. Everyone who relied on those public gatherings to promote themselves or sell their art, has been scrambling to find alternate channels.

Especially with the holiday season around the corner, perhaps consider seeing if you can support creative types. If you don’t support FLGS’s then there’ll come a point where you suddenly don’t have an FLGS any more. Same applies to creatives. What they create is helping keep everyone sane through lockdowns and closures and isolation. Support creatives when you can, or one day you may find yourself with a lack of creatives.