The Ronin and the Bushi
When I’m not writing bad novels or d20 adventures, I’m the admin for a non-profit independent school. Money is always tight, and when money gets tight people get upset. Yesterday was another 12-hour day that culminated in Harley swallowing the (rightful) frustration of an angry founder. As the sun set on the valley, I slung my laptop over my shoulder and walked home along the empty highway.

It is times like these that the idea of going ronin appeals to my imagination. Harley, cutting off his topknot, slinging his katana over his shoulder and wandering from village to village, chopping wood in exchange for room and a bit of rice wine, and occasionally saving the day.

This is one of the unlisted benefits of being a fantasy hack. Your imagination is your best friend, and it is easy to romanticize your way out of grim situations. I’m not poor, I’m a suffering artist. You’re not unpublished, you're just the next bestseller waiting to be discovered. And so on.

But walking home yesterday, it struck me how cowardly and selfish my plan was. You don’t go ronin because you’re strong, but because you broke under the pressure of responsibility. The solitary swordsman wandering the western desert isn’t a picture of stoicism. He’s just fleeing in slow motion.

I know that my personal revelation isn’t anything new. We could probably find it in the last 5 minutes of every bad pseudo-samurai anime produced in America, where the lone wolf comes back to care for the people he nearly abandoned. But realizing it on an emotional level was a powerful experience, and radically different from passively observing it.

So what about the bushi, sacrificing himself for the call of responsibility? There’s a story in there for me, not because the idea is new, but because it moved me so powerfully last night.

So straighten up those kimonos, kids, and get your swords polished. We’re going to war.


At 12:56 PM, Blogger Marcy said...

Is this the part where I say you have to actually have hair in order to have a topknot? ;)

At 2:14 PM, Anonymous Jeremy Jones said...

Well, if it helps, while you were consideirng chopping off your topknot, I was spending hours upon hours telling tales with my students at this small, non-prof independent school... what were we telling tales about? The second six hour session we spent going through DCC #17: Legacy of the Savage Kings. Man oh man, are we have fun with it! It is by far our favorite crawl. You spin a mean adventure, my man. Many, many thanks!


At 3:33 PM, Blogger Grimbones said...

*grin* Thank you, Jeremy! Your timing is impeccable.

I just read a scathing review about Legacy on one of the PDF websites; seems like people either hate it or love it.

It’s funny. You think you have a thick skin because you can take rejections, but it’s the reviews that really cut deep.

At 3:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Did you know there is a website devoted to all the Jeremy Joneses in the world ?



At 3:50 PM, Blogger Grimbones said...

"Is this the part where I say you have to actually have hair in order to have a topknot?"


Well, you can only go ronin so many times before it refuses to come back. My stint as Hunter put a serious hurt future hairstyles.

At 5:06 PM, Blogger SnakeOil Sage said...

Harley is some girl's ultimate "bishie" fantasy. *Laughs*

At 8:36 AM, Anonymous Dieter said...

Hey Harley. Just thought I'd let you know I've syndicated your blog over at LiveJournal so us LJ folks can read it there. Any other LJ people who are interested should add grimbones_feed to their friends list.


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