A year ago, I set about writing a Beggars Companion supplement for Maelstrom. Having struggled to write PARANOIA: The Underplex, a process that seemed to span a whole year and still turned out a product that felt a little wayward, I wanted to set myself a clear goal. At a minimum of 1,500 words a day, I wanted to have a completed text ready for the end of December 2010.
I had spent a good while before reading source materials, histories, reference work, and sociological accounts. I hit the writing from day one with enthusiasm, but cannot claim to have kept to it. However, if I slipped during the week, I made up for it at the weekend. I kept plugging away, sketching out the high level structure, filling in the high level pass, then homing in on the detail. I created the main descriptions of the various types of beggars, roughed out the new rules for referees, and, last of all, wrote the adventure; ‘The Long Road‘ adventure would add up to a fifth of the length of the final work, and flowed surprisingly easily. By the New Year, I had about 25,000 words complete and very little more to add (so I thought).
Alas, complications arose in respect of publishing the work and it languished for much of the rest of the year. I didn’t give the text too much attention over that time, but another 7,000 words crept in somewhere, and a couple of thousand crept back out before the end. I swear I read through that thing six or seven times, but I know my blindness left many elements I plan to correct. Just yesterday I noticed a quote from another work repeated within a couple of pages of the first reference – and can’t account for just how I might have missed that!
At Dragonmeet on Saturday, I handled a printed copy of the work and watched as the pile on the Arion Games stand slowly halved in size. Yesterday evening, the PDF version went live at RPGNow and I’m happy to say at least another half dozen sold within the first few hours.
I believe I’ve written a decent overview of beggars and their historical tricks. As I mentioned to someone at Dragonmeet, I believe many of those tricks survive to this day – including an early variation of the Nigerian scam carried out by a fellow called the Ring Feller. While I wrote the book for Maelstrom and had the Tudor period in mind, the quantity of system specific content remains sleight. You will find a lot of generic material here and the option to apply it either as material for character creation or ideas for non-player distractions. The end of the book includes a fiendishly unpleasant table for determining random ailments for those sleeping rough; and a small extension to the classic herbal section of the original Maelstrom rules (oft referred to as a seminal aspect of the game system, along with it’s freeform approach to magic).
I’m happy I managed to write it to deadline, and happier still it finally made it out as both a physical book and a PDF. I hope many people will read it and find something useful or interesting. I certainly found it a very interesting book to research and write. And now I plan the next couple of projects with a spring in my step and just a pinch of excited enthusiasm.