My Favorite Bit: Gregory A. Wilson Talks About The GRAYSHADE Kickstarter

Gregory A. Wilson is joining us today to talk about the Kickstarter for the Grayshade dark fantasy trilogy and RPG, ending July 15th. Here’s the description:

Welcome to Grayshade! We are creating a whole world of defiance within darkness, of assassins and power and finding who holds it – to read about, play in, and experience, and we hope you’ll join us.

Through a new 5E-powered RPG and a dark fantasy trilogy, Alligator Alley Entertainment and Atthis Arts introduce you to a dark fantasy realm set within the shadowed alleys and barren cathedrals of The Gray Assassin. The novel, Grayshade, is complete now and will deliver at the conclusion of this campaign, and an audiobook narrated by Battletech/Shadowrun voice actor Tren Sparks, which we can produce if we fund, is available as an add-on!

The Grayshade Kickstarter funds the first elements of this immersive new world, from the mind of Gregory A. Wilson (IcarusTales and Tomes from the Forbidden Library).

THE WORLD:

Cohrelle is a city of extremes, balanced between three dominant forces: the merchants, whose dedication to profit is only slightly overridden by their dedication to collecting it; the religious orders, which preach the tenets of their faiths to restive flocks of parishioners desperate for hope in the city’s darkness; and the government, the principal goal of which is to avoid all-out war on Cohrelle’s streets. Within the religious arena, the Order of Argoth, the Just God, dictates all, with the Service of Argoth carrying out the Order’s edicts. Grayshade, a skilled and loyal assassin, is the Service’s greatest acolyte—he navigates the back streets and alleys of Cohrelle with attention and precision.

In The Gray Assassin Trilogy you will experience, through Grayshade’s eyes, a world of shifting loyalties, dark faiths, and convenient alliances, of great wealth and devastating poverty, where the only thing certain is the promise of change and the most precious and rare commodity is hope.

In the Grayshade tabletop role-playing game, you’ll be able to enter that world yourself, taking on the role of one of Cohrelle’s citizens and living out adventure, intrigue, danger, and triumph upon the broodingly intriguing streets. Once within it, the world of Grayshade will be your adventure.

What’s Gregory’s favorite bit?

GREGORY A. WILSON

When we first launched the Kickstarter, a number of people commented on how much my assassin, Grayshade, looked like me on the cover, and I mostly laughed it off. But I kept thinking about it, that maybe it wasn’t really such a joke…and so I finally opened up. Grayshade, in a real way, is me, and I need to admit it.

I’ve always kept myself at a bit of a distance. I had to, when I was younger, to survive. I was terribly bullied as a kid, physically, mentally, and relentlessly.  GenX kids knew we had to be tougher, to stay brilliant, to make our families proud, and to figure things out on our own. I felt that I had nowhere to go, and so I retreated behind a smile.

I couldn’t survive more hurt, so I wouldn’t allow others to hurt me. I decided that I would be kind and caring—always—but I would preserve my safety behind a wall of reserve. There, inside my fortress, I would suffer, but surely the pain inside the fortress was better than annihilation outside of it. The years passed, I got married, I had children, and the reserve with them lessened, then fell away. For them, the risk seemed worth it. And it was.

But the hurt, the pain, the trauma remained, working on my body in physical and psychological ways. I told no one outside my home, because I was afraid. Tell my colleagues, and what will I get but pity and doubt of my abilities? Tell my friends—especially writing ones—and what will that do but mark me as an unstable person whom you can’t trust with a friendship or a career? And God forbid I tell readers. Reveal weakness and everyone will use it to hurt you. Everyone always has.

Then I started to write Grayshade, a book inspired by an 80s TV show about an agent who goes rogue because he can no longer suffer in silence, and now wants only to help people­–which I thought of at first as a simple secret agent tale. It is, in a way, a simple tale about a rogue agent in a dark city. But of course, this story is so much more to me.

Grayshade himself has retreated behind a wall of reserve long before the book begins, the result of the need to protect himself from the corrosive effect of death upon death, even those he believed were righteous ones. He can have allies, not friends. But as the story tries to show, this is a fool’s game. You cannot have a conscience and be protected from monstrous actions. You cannot face trauma after trauma and not pay a price. Eventually, even the strongest walls fall, and the carnage is terrible. I know. Eventually, there will be a reckoning. The result of that reckoning is much of what occupies The Gray Assassin Trilogy. It is also much of what occupies my real life—sorting through the destroyed remnants when the wall of reserve falls.

Then the Grayshade project stopped, again and again, as publishers went out of business and companies minimized risk. Life changed, the world changed, and as my doubt grew, I retreated even further behind my own walls, or what was left of them. But before I could disappear completely, I found a team, a group of people who knew this story needed to be told. They stood by me as people joked that Grayshade looked like me. But this team knew the story, and this team believed.

I’ve been afraid to speak of this story in this kind of way. But I’ve done it here because at the end of this journey, within and without the book, is hope, something we desperately need these days. Even through all the darkness, there is hope in Grayshade, one born of defiance and conscience despite all his misjudgments. Perhaps he can have a family and friends—a chosen family—people to protect instead of orders to follow.

And I have hope too. Trauma remains, but I am seeing it, and learning about it, and working to integrate it and heal from it. Pain endures, but so do I, and I don’t have to do it alone, behind a wall of my own making. I can step outside, and join friends and family there. I will.

This campaign is for my story and the associated 5E RPG, but it’s also for so much more. If you look at the page and the updates, you’ll see it is also for friendship, community, and hope, and if you look at the team we’ve assembled, you’ll understand why I want this so much for them as well. We are making art together, and with others’ help, we will succeed.

For those looking for a tale of hope from despair and defiance of darkness, I hope you’ll consider our project. It is partly my story, and it turns out that I am proud to tell it.

LINKS:

Grayshade Kickstarter link

Gregory A. Wilson’s website

Twitter

BIO:

Author and World Creator Gregory A. Wilson is a professor of English at St. John’s University in New York, where he teaches creative writing, speculative fiction, and other literature courses. He is the author of the epic fantasy The Third Sign, the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Silver Medal winning graphic novel Icarus, and many short stories in various anthologies. His first RPG adventure, Tales and Tomes from the Forbidden Library, was published in 2020, and the second edition of his academic book, The Problem in the Middle: Liminal Space and the Court Masque, was published in 2019. He is also the lead writer for Chosen Heart, a CRPG currently in development. He co-hosts the critically acclaimed Speculate! (speculatesf.com), an actual play podcast in its 12th year. He is co-coordinator of the Origins Author’s Alcove and the Gen Con Writers’ Symposium. He is the lead singer and trumpet player for the progressive rock band The Road, currently working on its fourth album. Finally, under the moniker Arvan Eleron, he hosts a successful Twitch channel focused on narrative, with a number of sponsored TTRPG campaigns featuring dozens of authors including Amal El-Mohtar, Cat Rambo, Carlos Hernandez. He lives with his family in southern Connecticut, in a former sea captain’s 200 year old home.

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