When I left Wizards of the Coast in 2001, I did so primarily to write fiction. I had some ideas for novels and other work, but I wanted to keep my foot in the gaming door as well. (Lots of you have read this story before, so I'll try to be succinct.) I lined up some freelance work to tide me over and started doing some of my own stuff as well. "My own stuff" quickly turned into Malhavoc Press, which blossomed suddenly and dramatically with a life all its own. Very quickly, it became clear that Malhavoc was something that I should focus all my efforts on, and that Sue should as well. Although not without a few bumps, it went wonderfully and it's still going wonderfully. Malhavoc has afforded me the freedom to do every game book I've wanted to do. Ptolus, in my mind, rivals 3rd Edition itself as the coolest thing I've ever produced.
But over the last five years, there's been a little nagging voice in my head. "Hey. Hey? This is great and all, but it's not why you went out on your own. What about all that other stuff you were going to do?" And that voice has only gotten louder as the years have passed. You see, I've worked on game material professionally since 1988 (in fact, it's all I've ever done). And it's been a great 18 years. But there are other areas I'd like to explore creatively. And in the last year or so, various doors have begun to open that have made some of my other goals suddenly a lot more attainable.
I have to say I greet this news with mixed emotions. Monte is one of my heroes, one of the only two game writers I go fanboy over. The other is Aaron Allston, who has also left the industry. I've had the chance to talk to both and they're exactly like you hope a professional role model would be when dealing with a fan: cool.
However, when I spoke with Aaron Allston via email, when I first started out and asked him for any advice as I was getting my writing career off the ground, he said "explore other possibilities, I don't think the RPG industry can sustain a career".
And now that Monte is leaving, I find myself wondering how long I *can* in fact continue in this industry. It's gotten me thinking. There's a lot (and I mean a lot) of things I could do and make more money. I love the creative outlet, but even that has diminished over time.
I dunno. Maybe it's time to "take steps" as Michael Beihn's crazed SEAL would say while cutting himself under the table in "The Abyss".