Let’s take a moment here, folks, to take the long view of Tamalaria. It’s a fantasy realm that I created a long time ago, before I even started writing the associated novels. I had maps drawn up, creatures and monsters and races created and scattered throughout, and most of the city-state and kingdoms established a couple of years before Byron of Sidius even came to mind. How is that possible?

It’s made possible because I’ve been a table-top roleplayer/dungeon master since the age of 12. I was on my third group of players around the time I turned 15, and it was with that very group that I decided I wanted nothing more to do with source books and pre-scripted campaigns. I wanted to make up my own world, design my own horrors for heroes to wage battle against. I wanted, in essence, to create my own stories for people to enjoy in an interactive format. Lacking programming knowledge or skills, making up my own campaigns was the perfect way to do so.

Thus was born Tamalaria, and its first denizens were played by Sean Salatka, John Leonard, and Frank Berms, old friends of mine from the Buffalo, New York region. The continent itself at that time only marginally resembles the current vision (of which, yes, I have a map somewhere tucked away in a box), and had been drawn up hastily on four sheets of notebook paper which were labeled on the back so they could be put together during gaming sessions for perspective. In those early days, the center of Tamalaria consisted mostly of three regions. The first was a set of sloping hills known as the Central Hills (what would later expand and become the Allenian Hills), a swamp area called Murinka, and a wooded realm called Vernon’s Woods. This corresponded to a character, Lord Albrecht Vernon, who in the campaign game’s history had been an Elven Gaiamancer and loremaster who created the woodland to act as a staging ground for the creation of hundreds of wood golems.

With the help of my older brother Newt, I refined the mechanics of a percentage-based role playing system to work out the numbers of the game sessions. But more influential than that, he suggested that I use some of the mythos of the fantasy and scifi novels/series I’d been reading, as well as video game elements, and incorporate them into my campaigns.

I was then set on the path that would ultimately result in the birth of the Tamalarian Tales.

More next time.