To our game group, a couple of dozen people in Northern California’s Diablo Valley playing hundreds of five-or-six-player sessions between 1978 and 1983, “Dungeons and Dragons” was not yet an accepted rite of geek passage, a million-dollar industry, or a major cultural influence. In those days it was barely known outside SFnal convention circles or college campii; I learned of it through a fan friend who was heavily involved with legendary game-guru David Hargrave‘s Arduin campaign — “campaign” being the term for an ongoing adventure milieu, a created world like (and often modeled on) Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Lewis’ Narnia, or Leiber’s Lankhmar.
The most addicting element for me is “worldbuilding”, or devising a campaign — establishing an ecology of people, monsters and treasure within a self-consistent storytelling framework. It’s an excellent outlet for structured creativity, as I found in 1995 while running a printing press one day and letting my mind wander. Why not create a new world? So I grabbed a pad, scrawled a coastline and bay, added some mountains and a river basin, and began writing about who lived there.
Ten years later I had compiled several notebooks and folders, maps and diagrams, charts and lists, races and religions, legends and monsters, all written in two-to-60 minute slices — an ongoing project for when fancy and spare time conspire to devise magikal artifacts, lost cities, or alien cultures. It was a lot of fun. But it was also pretty lonely: I was spending idle moments in creative bliss, but the bliss was purely solitary. I don’t play D&D all that often, and part of me felt a bit … unrequited, and somewhat silly.
Then I decided I had some stories to tell, about and for people who feel “spiritual but not religious,” or “religious but not THAT religious.” Stories about a traveling cook who used to be a holyman because I used to be a journeyman printer who wanted to be a rabbi; stories with what I like to call “working-class spirituality.” Besides, I’ve always wondered what it would be like to actually make a living in one of these invented worlds. Everybody wants to slay dragons, but somebody also has to clean up after them (and, probably, pay rent).
The Rimless Sea stories are intended as fables and entertainment: I want to make you laugh or wonder or say “Whoa.” The fables emphasize a particular point: that “faith” is where and how we meet the world; that there’s always a warm hand to help, if you offer one; that who we are and what we do matters. As for the entertainment, this “worldbuilding nonsense” has brought me great joy (and occasional comfort) during the past several years. I hope you find it as enjoyable as I have. Sans further ado, here’s what the just-arrived need to know. Thanks for reading this far!