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  • Writer's pictureB.A. Simmons

The World of Planet Archipelago

No, I did not just strike a redundancy. Well, maybe I did, but it was purposeful. Not to argue semantics, but there is a difference in the meanings of those words. The word "world" is more vague in its definition. It denotes existence more than it does a geographic location or celestial body, though it can still mean those.

Just think of the word as meaning "your existence as you understand it".

"Planet" on the other hand is far more specific. A planet is a celestial body (as well as a geographic location). To be a planet, a celestial body must be spherical, or rounded by its own gravity. It must orbit a star or stellar remnant, not another planet; and it must be clear of other orbiting debris or planetoids.

Great! Now that we've got that out of the way, let's talk about Archipelago. I've just put the words "the end" at the bottom of my first draft of the third book in the Archipelago Series. In writing this book, I've established the world of the series. The characters have traveled across large stretches of this mostly water planet, bringing you descriptions of the seas, islands, creatures and plants found there. The only places they haven't yet visited (I emphasize the word "yet") have at least been mentioned.

Mind you, I have not taken them everywhere. No, not nearly; for the Planet Archipelago is more than just the world of my characters. In 2009, my father, Steve Simmons created a new role-play game. I say new, because he has created several games in my lifetime, but this one combined his love of medieval history and science fiction. A planet with human and alien life, struggling for control and supremacy over each other. A world of islands and seas, without continents or magic. Just you, the player character, and your wits against a hostile world.

After writing the basic rules and drawing a few maps of the islands he'd created; and armed with a host of dangers as any game master should, he was ready to test the game. Myself and my cousin Shawn Gooch, both of whom had grown up playing my dad's games, were his beta-testers. We created a few characters and set off for an adventure.

We played as often as we could during that summer, my dad expanded the world of Planet Archipelago for us as we sailed between islands and then off the maps he'd made. New islands were created for our characters to discover and the adventure became an epic odyssey on a fantastic world.

Eventually, as it always does, real life pulled us away from the game. We moved on, playing occasionally with new characters and inviting our friends and children to play with us. While I studied at Utah State University (Go Aggies!) I began writing again. I attempted to write a story based on the beta-test of Planet Archipelago. Life was too busy and it didn't come to anything. I graduated from college and took a job teaching junior high English and history. There, I started an after-school gaming club (like my father did when he taught in public schools) where I run games for my students. One of their favorites to play (we have at least one scenario a year) is Planet Archipelago.

Then, as the 2015-2016 school year came to an end, I decided it was time to turn myself into a serious writer. I'd written short stories and poetry, but this time I determined to write a novel. Several ideas had (and still are) working themselves through in my head, but the one that pulled at me the most was Archipelago. I wrote The Voyage of the Entdecker that summer and decided to get it published no matter what. As it seemed unlikely I'd ever get past the slush piles that editors and agents in traditional publishing create, I decided to take an alternate route.

Enter Glass Spider Publishing, a local (for me) hybrid publisher who took a look at my first chapter and loved it! Or at least, they thought it good enough to publish with their logo on it. I have not looked back. Yes, it is a ton of work, writing, promoting, going to events trying to sell my books. I've learned much, met many wonderful people and still love it as much as I love teaching my junior high kids.

As for my dad... he still works on Planet Archipelago. Expanding and making the world bigger. The game is now available to purchase online and we (I helped a little) are looking to expand that too. Just recently, we created a Patreon account where donors can support us in furthering the game and the books. We ask that you try the game, read the books and when you discover that you enjoy one or both, please continue to support. You'll be investing in a world without magic, but the magic won't be missing in the enjoyment you take from our work.

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