Friday, July 11, 2014

Look Down - Exhibit Hall Style

Now bring me GM number three-four-oh.
Events are in, as our new website shows.
You know what that means?

Yes! It means I'm free!

It means you get your yellow exhibitor's badge.
You're selling games.

But that was Tom's idea!

You wrote all these.

I thought
I might as well.
No one plays Tunnels and Trolls
so we were starving!

You will starve again
unless you learn to work it at the con!

You know I've been running games for nine-plus years,
to play at the con.

Five years you ran some games,
The rest you skulked around the show!
Yes, GM-three-four-oh-

My name
won't rhyme with "oh!"

But I'm still
Do not forget my name!
Do not forget me, GM-three-four-oh.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Nice Things About Writing Fiction

Working on Echo of the Dreamers and putting together Stars, Specters, and Super-Powers brought to mind several things I had forgotten. There's really a lot to love about writing fiction as opposed to writing RPG stuff.
  • I get to create characters, throw them together, and bring them to life. I can include NPCs in an RPG scenario, but the stars of the show are the players, and I don't even get to meet them. (Of course, if we're talking about playing games, that's a whole different deal.) 
  • I might still need a cover artist and maybe, maybe someone to dress up a map, but that's all I have to ask anybody else for, and I can get by without even those. Oh, and I guess I should pretend to need an editor. I hear that's all the rage with people who talk about being writers. Still, for the most part, I can do the job myself without having to muck about with humanity. 
  • There's no pressure to descend into the hell-pit of crowd-funding. While role-playing game enthusiasts are increasingly expecting frills that only piles of cash can provide, a novel is still all about the words. Throwing money at it might give you some advantages, but that's more about promotion than quality.
  • Graphic design is waaayy less complicated, and there's no need for cross-referencing, sidebars, or anything like that. The only person who needs to understand my notes is me.
  • Once I get going, fiction writing has a current that I can get swept up in. Sure, I have to plan it out in advance, but that plan gets revised constantly as I go along. In a lot of ways, I get to experience the same thrill of discovery that the reader (hopefully) will. I may know how it ends in general terms but, like Merlin says, "until you've tasted it, what do you really know?" 
  • RPG stuff is completely meaningless to non-gamers. Anyone can read a story. Well, almost anyone.
But still, glurb glarg rargh blargh. I hate conclusions.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Qalidar Basic

So, this is out now. I just wasn't happy with the Quick Start thing, so I turned it into "Basic." It'll also be available in regular game stores this fall.

There'll be no more reboots of abridged Qalidar rule books from here on. If I put out any more rules material between now and the complete rules, they'll be supplements for this one, like maybe an adventure that has a few more levels worth of progression in the back - stuff like that.

What I'm actually planning to do, though, is move forward with the real thing. Oh, and finish that novella. Sooo close, now.

Read the sales blurb and buy it here:

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Meandering Monsters

I got this in the mail last week and have since tried everything I could think of, even to the point of compiling and publishing a bunch of my old short stories, to put off the review I promised to write. I hate reviews.

And, of course, you won't take my opinion seriously anyway, because Jerry's my friend. If you have other reasons for not taking my opinion seriously, I'd rather not hear about it. Anyway, maybe some of the stuff I tell you about what's inside will still be useful.

Volume 1 of Lorian Darkshade's Guide to Meandering Monsters contains a few new monsters for Tunnels & Trolls, some scenarios featuring those monsters, and a small assortment of magic items and spells. Each section is introduced with a vignette about an encounter with that creature, narrated by the eponymous Lorian Darkshade. There's also a map showing a small section of Jerry's campaign world.

The art by Mike Hartlieb is excellent. He's a friend too, though, so... yeah, more bias. Here, just look at the cover. If you like the cover, you'll like what's inside. There's also some of what I think is clip art, which is professional-looking and fits the tone of the book.

When I first opened up the book, I was disappointed that there were only three monsters (five if you count the sub-categories of the lizard man entry) but that's because I hadn't thought about what the real goal of this book was. It's not a "monster book," really. At least, it's not the kind of monster book most RPG'ers are used to. The monsters themselves aren't really the point here. What he's really providing is an assortment of cool ways to use those monsters.

In Tunnels & Trolls, all you have to do to make a monster is pick a number and give it a name. Here's an example: MR 75 Gleipichtorger. There, I'm done. That's a new monster I created just now. Of course, any halfway competent GM will have other details in mind, and the current edition of the game also offers "spite effects," which... okay, I don't want to explain all that stuff. Doesn't matter, anyway. The point is that, more than any other role-playing game I've encountered, T&T relies on very basic stats combined with improvisation to make its monsters come alive. That can be an advantage. If I'm used to decompressing my stats from that one number and, in the middle of an adventure, I invent the gleipichtorger, I can toss that sucker right in without missing a beat.

On the other hand, it doesn't give you much in the way of inspiration. Sometimes you're trying to throw something together, you're busy improvising everything else, and you want some creative stuff that's already been fleshed out. That's what you're getting here. For one thing, Jerry has done all the math for you. All the numbers that you would normally derive from that MR have been included in the entry. He's also included spite effects and added his own mechanic, triggered disadvantages, as well.

More than that, though, the vignettes give you a feel for how delvers might perceive these creatures, and the adventures give you a feel for how they might fit into the world. Even if you don't use any of that stuff directly, it's the kind of thing that makes the creatures come alive, and fires up the kind of the daydreams that turn into adventures of your own. Sort of "imagination fuel" I guess.

Speaking of imagination, what you need to do now is that imagine that I have artfully summed up this article here, perhaps even offering a final insight that challenges your entire worldview. Remember, you're really impressed with this post. 

Get your copy of Meandering Monsters here:

Monday, June 09, 2014

Stars, Specters, and Super-Powers

Behind this gawdawful cover are the following short stories, all by me:
  • Starshadows in Sideways Time: In the far future, a space ark fleeing the dying universe is assaulted by mysterious alien entities.
  • All Your Friends Are Monsters: Two medieval warriors escape a gladiatorial slave pit with the help of an ally who might be more dangerous than their enemy.
  • Turmierre Returns to the Sky: Horgic and Charn meet their benefactor and discover the purpose for which they were freed.
  • A Bad Habit: An enhanced agent in a world of government-controlled supermen begins to explore new abilities.
  • Its Own Place: A traveler’s entire reality begins to unravel after encountering an occult ritual.
  • Mister Blue Sky: An emotionally scarred super-powered hero and her friends go up against a quirky magical menace with the help of a famous otherworld champion.
  • The Man Comes Around: Unfortunate hikers are caught up in the battle between an alien scientist and the villainous Covenant.
  • Misfits and Mistakes: In the midst of an alien invasion, competing factions of super-powered beings struggle to claim one powerful but unpredictable resource.
Print for $9.99
Kindle Format for $0.99

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Carnage 2014 Events

I've submitted my games for Carnage 2014:

Shadroc's Last Stand - 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons
Friday Night 7pm-11pm
The necromancer Shadroc has tormented you for most of your careers, but not anymore. Realizing he's no longer in control, he turned and fled. He slipped past you in Dyvers, led you into an ambush in Verbobonc, framed you in Gradsul, and you've all agreed never to speak of what happened in Westkeep. Now you've got him cornered. He's hiding out in a hellish mountain valley pocked with noxious geothermal vents, and he has nowhere else to go. That's a good thing, right?

The New Voice - Qalidar: Resistance
Saturday Afternoon 1pm-5pm
A charismatic new minister, Reverend Nyles Toth, has been winning followers with a message suspiciously favorable to the Synarchy. Some of those followers have disappeared. Discover any ties Toth has to this conspiracy and, if there is a connection, discredit him before he can do any more damage.

A Strange Shootout in Silver Springs - Qalidar: Resistance
Saturday Night 7pm-11pm
Gunfights aren't common in this out-of-the-way Ozark Mountain settlement, but that ritzy new resort establishment up on the hill has attracted some strange customers. The fact that a bunch of folks were shooting it out last week is odd enough, but some of the bodies were even odder. They say one of them had some kind of stubby horns or something, and reflective plates fixed right in over his eyes, if he even had eyes. And that other one - well, the constable whisked his body off right away and won't talk about it, but old Skip Simpson from down by the bluff says it was bent up all wrong, and it smelled like tar.

Other Peryton Gamers events can be found here (eventually). As always, while I think I'm likely to get these slots, check the program to be certain of the final time and date.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Finding Me at Gen Con

If you're looking for me at Gen Con this year, a good place to start would be one of the events I'm running or at the Peryton Publishing booth, one of many listed as 1317. Here's a map (click to enlarge):
You can find the original, non-perytonized version here.