A Thought for Every Thursday – Deep Space Drama Part 1

Each of this week’s questions center on space and humanity’s relation to the deep dark cosmos.

The questions are straightforward.

Your answers…not so much.

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The Final Frontier

 In the modern era, the United States government has allocated as much as 4.41% and as little as 0.49% of its yearly budget to pay for deep space exploration and related sciences.

Given the choice, what percentage would you spend?

*

We Come in Peace (or not)

 Imagine you are earth’s emissary to a strange, faraway planet. Upon landing your spaceship, you immediately encounter what appears to be friendly alien life.

What are the first three things you say to them?

*

The Few and the Many

 Imagine the world will end in five years.

The government’s plan is to construct one spacecraft for each family. Each ship can hold a family of four. The ships will fly to a nearby star system and drop you off on a habitable planet.

The problem: You and your spouse have four children.

 Stay on earth and wait for the end? Leave two kids behind?

Or convince your spouse to send the kids alone without you?

* * *

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

Past Thought for Every Thursday entries are right here.

Until next week…

J Edward Neill

3 Kickstarters You Should Back – Legacy: Life Among the Ruins 2e, Luminous Echo, and Heroines of the First Age

It’s Gen Con 50 this week. I’ll be in Indianapolis gaming, meeting folks, and continuing my quest to jump from wanna-lancer* to freelancer. As I’m headed out of the door, let’s countdown three RPG Kickstarters that you should check out.

 

*A wanna-lancer is a gamer that wants to become a freelance writer.

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3) Heroines of the First Age by Voidspiral Entertainment
Ends on Friday, August 18 2017 1:01 AM EDT.

“An epic fantasy tabletop RPG about the larger-than-life legends and the mythical monsters that lived at the dawn of time!

 

 

HFA is a tabletop role-playing game about larger-than-life monsters and the dawn of civilization. HFA is the intersection between monstergirls, RPGs, and myth & legend. It will be delivered in color printed glory and instant PDF downloadability.

Heroines of the First Age is Powered by the Apocalypse, which focuses on the actions, reactions, and consequences of the things the players do in the game.

Inspirational Media: Utawarerumono, Nibelinglied, Maoyusha, Wintersun, The Epic of Gilgamesh, Monster Musume, Conan the Barbarian, Beowulf, Kobayashi chi no Maid Dragon, Black God’s Kiss, Everyday Life with Monstergirls, The Iliad, 12 Beast, Enuma Elish, Monstress, Myth, & Legend.

The Broad Strokes

There are two main assumptions that Heroines of the First Age makes:

Monsters make up at least a portion of the civilized peoples in the world. The Player Characters are heroines and heroes drawn from these demi-humans. There may or may not be baseline humans, depending on how your group wants to roll.

This is the First Age. It is the dawn of civilization. People are just coming out of the forests and caves to create towns and agriculture. Grand armies are being assembled for the first time in history. The world is fresh, new, and exciting, and there’s so much of it that has never been explored before.”

Egg’s Thoughts: 

They’re offering rewards that let you design a character, an archetype, and the chance to create a short story for their fiction anthology. “Story Commission – We’ll work with you to create a short story about a character of your choosing! It will be included in the fiction anthology PDF.” Want to publish a short story? This offer scratches that itch and adds to your RPG resume.

 

You can find additional products from Voidspiral Entertainment at DriveThruRPG here.

You can find this Kickstarter here.

 

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2) Luminous Echo: The Forgotten King extended campaign by Project Lux
Ends on Friday, August 18 2017 12:55 PM EDT.

“Be part of the expansion of the beautiful realms of Mhodica and The dream World

Luminous Echo is a world containing ten years worth of lore, characters, artifacts, and amazing weapons by world renowned artist Wen-M.

Our first project on Kickstarter, “The World Compendium” showcases these beautiful arts as well as an outline of the two realms. The campaign was a huge success exceeding over 300% of the goal thanks to 500+ backers. We were also able to expand the book by 25% as well as introduce base stats for 3 popular RPG systems of the community’s choosing. (DnD 5e, Anima, and Pathfinder.) We also invited some of our most beloved artists to participate.

Since our first campaign concluded last year, the book has certainly come a long way.”

Egg’s Thoughts: 

I reviewed the parent project to this Kickstarter months ago (here). The word for that Kickstarter and this one is “ART”! Gorgeous, evocative, detailed, and lovingly rendered art. It’s worth looking at just to drink in Wen-M’s stunning work.

In this Kickstarter, the vanity press reward allows you to design a weapon and a short story or a character and a short story. Both are good rewards and resume builders, but the real win is Wen-M will draw it and you get a sketch. The art for this is gorgeous enough to make that beyond tempting.

 

You can find this Kickstarter here.

 

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1) Legacy: Life Among the Ruins 2nd Edition by Modiphius Entertainment
Ends on Thursday, August 24 2017 12:07 PM EDT

“A tabletop RPG about rebuilding after the apocalypse, now funding its second edition. Tell your saga of rediscovery across generations!

Legacy Life Among the Ruines 2e

The World Before is fallen, torn apart by an apocalypse so extreme that reality itself was shredded and warped in its wake. 

Your ancestors survived thanks to a combination of luck, preparation and grit, and now the time has come to leave their shelters and start rebuilding the world. 

You soon find the wasteland has other inhabitants: families with different perspectives on the world, secretive factions with the own agendas, and bizarre monsters stalking the wasteland. 

As generations pass and your family makes sweeping changes to the world, what stories will you tell?

The first edition of Legacy: Life Among the Ruins was one of the first wave of Apocalypse World-inspired games, bringing a grander scale to the post-apocalyptic genre. Three years down the line, we’re making a second edition that brings together all the great things from the first edition and makes the changes needed for the game to be the best it can be.

With your help, I hope to fund a beautiful print run of the game to end up in your hands and in shops worldwide. I also hope to fund some cool extras: Legacy-themed dice, upgrades to make the book even nicer, dry-erase playbook handouts, alternate takes on Legacy from other writers, and more!

If you’d like to take a closer look at the game, I’ve put together a quickstart. This document gives you a jumping-on point for Legacy, letting you try out the core game rules and pre-generated player options before breaking open the full suite of options available in the main book.”

Egg’s Thoughts: 

Artistically, this project delivers all the images you could want of the back-of-the-figure-standing-defiantly-before-the-post-apocalypse-landscape-art! Two covers so far and they both scream against-all-odds.

What’s the system? A version of Power by the Apocalypse. I had a chance to exchange a line or two on Google+ with Douglas Santana Mota who is working on Legacy. He shared his thoughts on the system, “We believe it’s a game that is poised to satisfy gamers quite outside the [Power by the Apocalypse] tribe”. It looks and reads strong. How do I know? Well, they believe in the project enough to offer a quickstart. Read it and I think this will be an easy decision.

What wanna-lancer options do they have? Create a character playbook, a family playbook, or your own apocalypse. Create. Your. Own. Apocalypse. The Purple Spaghetti Apocalypse. It’s an option.

 

You can find additional products from Modiphius Entertainment at DriveThruRPG here.

You can find this Kickstarter here.

 

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Signal Boosting

Why am I signal boosting my EN World review of Hero Kids? Because that’s a fun all-ages game and well worth checking out! Why am I talking about Shades of Vengeance‘s Champion of Earth again? Because Ed Jowett is a nice dude and, if you’ve been following my blog, that’s my kryptonite.

[DISCLAIMER] I am in the beginning stages of doing freelance work for SoV.

 

* * * * * *

 

Gaming At The Kids’ Table With Hero Kids
Posted Monday, 14th August, 2017 03:46 PM

Read my review here or check out the game on DriveThruRPG here.

 

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Champion of Earth: Robots & Cyborgs join the invasion! by Shades of Vengeance
Ends on Saturday, August 19 2017 6:59 PM EDT.

In the first expansion to our fan favourite card game, new enemies join the invasion! Defend the Earth with brand new weapons!

You can find this Kickstarter here.

 

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Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links to DriveThruRPG.com.

Savage Worlds: Fast, Furious, and Fun! - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

 

See you at Gen Con 50!

 

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Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

Interested in being a wanna-lancer? Start with the official Wanna-lancer Checklist t-shirt or wall clock or ice tea glass!

* * * * * *

Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by:

5 RPG Kickstarters You Should Back – Spire, HC SVNT DRACONES, Dark Obelisk, Sixty Mile Sky, and Befouled Maze of the Demi-Lich

The maze of a demi-lich, good dark elves, dark obelisk, mechs in space, and furries in space. Kickstarter is offering some variety in the RPG choices this week. Let’s count them down (and show some love to Battle for the Purple Islands and the Champion of Earth card game).

 

5) HC SVNT DRACONES: Sound and Silence by Weapons Grade Funk
Ends on .

“Sound and Silence is a comprehensive setting guide and lore expansion for the HC SVNT DRACONES role playing universe.

Sound and Silence is the first setting guide to the HC SVNT DRACONES role playing game. This is a lore book, full of beautiful artwork, expansive stories, and detailed information about the HSD setting and the roles players can embody there. For Guides, players, and fans alike, this book is the quintisential reference for culture, setting info, and history that didn’t make it into the rulebooks.

Sound and Silence is a single book broken down into two parts:

Sound is the name of the lore compendium intended for everyone’s use. It contains story ideas, descriptions of corp activity, layouts of cities, details on agent interaction so you can flavor your characters better, and a descriptions of unique grottos and universities for inclusion in your stories. Players and Guides can both go through this book without worry of spoiling anything in-game. Sound contains over 100 pages of content and is a great way to inspire people looking for character ideas for themselves of their NPCs.

Don’t know what this is… Other than weirdly awesome!

Silence is the second half of the book, containing detailed accounts of many of the aspects left vague in the HSD core rulebook. Things like the origins of the Palemen, what’s going on with Earth, and who the Shadow Presidents are. It has large sections on the nature of Transcendent technology and what humanity actually found when they made use of Hydra. This book is primarily for Guides, to give them fun things to let the players discover through play. It’s about 100 pages long and includes stories and behind-the-scenes info that make for great hooks in large operations.”

 

Egg’s Thoughts:

This campaign gives you the setting for the HC SVNT DRACONES rules system. The art for this project is beautiful. For most fans, sci-fi anthropomorphic decides their level of interest. In space, no one can hear you meow. At the gaming table, no one judges you. (Save the GM… literally part of their job.) A good rule set and a fun setting – like Sound and Silence appears to be – are going to go far toward creating a fun gaming night. Well worth checking out!

 

You can find HC SVNT DRACONES’ core rulebook here.

You can find this Kickstarter here.

 

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4) Dark Obelisk: Druid Enclave (Pathfinder/5E RPG City Setting) by Infinium Game Studio
Ends on .

“A richly-detailed RPG city campaign setting, the Druid Enclave from Dark Obelisk 2 has NPCs, Quests, lore, >100 maps, and much more!

TL;DR: The Value Proposition

If you’re looking for a richly-detailed, lavishly-mapped city campaign setting with plenty to do and see, Druid Enclave is an outstanding gaming asset for any Pathfinder or 5E/Fifth Editiongaming context.

If you want to get on board with Dark Obelisk, or if you are playing any Pathfinder or 5Eadventure that involves any city or Druid context, and want a way of fleshing out some detail, this book will be valuable to you.

Art credit Jack Kaiser
Art credit Jack Kaiser

What is This Book?

This product is a 300+ page full-color PDF and hardcover roleplaying supplement that will enhance any Pathfinder or 5E campaign in any setting.

The Druid Enclave will be a richly detailed hardcover gaming sourcebook, and companion to one of the most ambitious and massive indie RPG adventures in recent memory.

Finally, if you’re new to it, this campaign is the quickest, easiest, and best-value way to get on board with thousands of pages of adventure.

Creative Input Add-Ons

  • $75 Muse: Design a Character: Name, and help design, a character. Your character will be included in the book, and have custom full-color artwork associated with him/her/it. These Add-Ons will be limited to 5.
  • $125 Vibrant Muse: As Muse, but the character will have a persistent role to play in the greater Realm of Aquilae mythology and Dark Obelisk Adventure Path storyline. These Add-Ons will be limited to 2.”

Egg’s Thoughts:

I’ve mentioned the Dark Obelisk series before. This outing is more great fantasy material for Pathfinder. This project continues Infinium’s streak of beautiful art which is made all the more awesome because you can opt to design a NPC and have it drawn.

 

Want to sample some of Infinium Game’s work, they have several free products on DriveThurRPG here.

You can find this Kickstarter here.

 

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3) Sixty Mile Sky by Benjamin Arndt
Ends on .

“A game ruleset designed to run a Sci-Fi roleplaying game in a variety of worlds. This game uses a d10 system powered by the apocalypse.

What is Sixty Mile Sky?

There was a need for a sci-fi role-playing game that did not downplay the lethality of space, but remained story-focused and gave players a variety of explicit mechanics to deal with problems in non-violent ways. This game is build to fill that need.

Campaign design in Sixty Mile Sky is structured to create episodic sessions that all drive toward a main goal. That goal may change, or evolve as mysteries are solved or allegiances shift, but there is always a sense of overall purpose.

Mechanically inspired by games like Dungeon World, Blades in the Dark, and Dungeons & Dragons, Sixty Mile Sky is a d10 based game, where classes are equipped with moves to help guide the story and create dynamic answers to conflicts.”

Egg’s Thoughts:

This is a relaunch of the Sixty Mile Sky Kickstarter with a lower goal (already achieved). Everything that I liked about the original campaign is still in place. Still using the Powered by the Apocalypse system, still offering the option to design a NPC, weapon, or tool, and still a game that plays more heavily in sci-fi. Well worth a look.

 

You can find this Kickstarter here.

 

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2) Befouled Maze of the Demi-Lich, 5e DnD Adventure Module by Wyrmkeep Entertainment
Ends on .

“An adventure for 10th to 12th level characters who embark on a rescue mission against a lich and his bewitched maze.

Are you a gamemaster looking for an interesting and challenging adventure for your players that can be completed in one session? Well, I have just what you want: Befouled Maze of the Demi-Lich is a fantasy role-playing game mini-adventure module designed for a band of 6-8 5e DnD characters of 10th to 12th level.

A common saying among the wise is “Curiosity kills the rogue,” but sometimes interesting possibilities seek you out instead of the other way around. And so it is with a party of adventurers who decide to veer into the forest to investigate some strange lights. They find a small shine inhabited by a old, wizened man in grey robes.

He greats the travelers and reveals to them, via a tarot card reading, an intriguing side quest: saving a demigoddess’ beloved companion, who was kidnapping by a lich named Ulsus Malachite and held in a bewitched hedge maze.

The party is a little apprehensive about contending against a lich, even if the undead fiend is in a weakened state, but the old man’s hint of priceless rewards for a successful rescue, including one heart’s desire, makes the endeavor seem worthwhile.

Of course, this maze will surely be full of terrible beasts and devious traps ready to destroy the unwary, but such is way of the adventurer. Will the party survive to claim the prize? And what exactly does the lich gain by this kidnapping? So many mysteries…”

Egg’s Thoughts:

This game was on my radar to review and then the creator, Joe Pearce, reached out to discuss the book. I was happy he did (it’s nice to hear from the creators, especially the nice ones).

I love the OSR look of the project combined with 5e guts. The adventure revolves around a maze so the wanna-lancer* options are unique – dedicate a bench in the maze that offers a piece of the maze’s puzzle. I dig that it’s an out of the box vanity press reward. Well worth checking out.

*Wanna-lancer™ is a gamer questing to become a RPG freelancer.

 

Want to sample some of Wyrmkeep Entertainment’s modules, check out their DriveThurRPG here.

You can find this Kickstarter here.

 

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1) Spire RPG by Grant Howitt/Serious Business
Ends on .

“Join the dark elf resistance against their cruel high elf overlords in this urban fantasy-punk tabletop RPG.

Artist's impression of the finished book

You are a dark elf. The touch of the sun burns your grey skin, and you hide from the light in twisting corridors, crumbling temples and the lawless undercity of the metropolis known as Spire. The high elves, rulers of the city, alien and capricious, allow you to live here as an underclass forced to beg for scraps.

Your religion, your culture, and your people are being destroyed all around you. You have seen your fathers, your mothers, your grandparents subjugated by the high elves, and you have had enough. You have joined the resistance: the ministry of Our Hidden Mistress, worshippers of a forbidden goddess.

You have sworn in blood that the high elves will fall, that you will destroy them through subterfuge, and insurrection, and terror.”

Egg’s Thoughts:

Evil high elves versus good dark elves in a fantasy-punk world. The stylized art from Adiran Stone brings to life the idea of fantasy-punk with just the right amount of elves gone punk. Like so many projects, the art speaks volumes and this one puts me in mind of the setting.

For the wanna-lancers, their £165 pledge, Make a Mark, offers either an amazing deal… or they’re calling you a rube. You decide.

“You will be immortalised in the game as a hapless rube for the player characters to take advantage of, complete with a brief backstory and a suitably changed-up Spire name. We’ll work with you to make the NPC as gullible as possible (subject to final approval by the creators).”

 

Want to sample some of Serious Business’ games, check out their DriveThurRPG here.

You can find this Kickstarter here.

Spire RPG

 

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Signal Boosting

Why am I signal boosting projects from Kort’thalis Publishing and Shades of Vengeance? Because they speak to the RPG/CCG fan in me, and [DISCLAIMER the First] I am in the beginning stages of doing freelance work for each of these companies,  and [DISCLAIMER the Second] I have a small bit of material appearing in the Battle for the Purple Islands. Very excited about that last bit!

 

1) Battle For The Purple Islands by Kort’thalis Publishing
Ends on Thursday, August 10 2017 11:23 PM EDT.

“The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence returns; OSR scenario of warring factions competing for dominance in a purple world gone mad.

The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence has done well as an O5R campaign setting. I’ve been asked countless times if I’m ever going to go back to the purple islands.  Well, this Kickstarter is a resounding “YES!” to that query.

The purple islands (there’s three of them very close together, and are usually considered a single place) is an eldritch science-fantasy setting with gonzo sword & sorcery.  Both books will be usable with any sort of Lost World, Mars, Dream Lands, Hyborian Age, alternate Earth ruled by civilized apes or menaced by dinosaurs and sleestak, or a world of savagery, super-science, and sorcery.”

Egg’s Thoughts:

I covered this (and praised Venger) last week, it says it all. Well, not all… I have a small bit appearing in this Kickstarter. I’m proud of that.

Love. Me. Some. Venger. Through RPG, I’ve met a legion of incredibly nice folks. Jeff Duncan, Dan Davenport, Dan Dillon, Ed Jowett, Nathan Tucker, Chris Helton, Justin Halliday, BJ Hensley, and so many more that I’m forgetting. They’ve all been welcoming and I could not be happier to know them. High on my list of RPG friends is Venger. He’s helped me with direction, published some of my work via his recent NSFW Trinity of Awesome Returns series – Stairwell of V’dreenHis Flesh is Key, and High-Stakes Q’uay-Q’uar – and always been open to helping me along the path to RPG freelancer. When he launched his sequel to The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence, I was happy to support it.

Why should you check out Battle for the Purple Islands? Because it’s unlimited budget grindhouse glory in the form of a RPG! It may be purple, but Venger creates some dark games!

Why should you support Venger? Because, if you’re like Egg and you want to create fantastic games, reach out to Venger on Google+ or at his blog. He has worthwhile advice (and books of advice) to share. He’s open and direct with what works and what doesn’t. He’s worth talking to.

 

You can find this Kickstarter here.

 

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2) Champion of Earth: Robots & Cyborgs join the invasion! by Shades of Vengeance
Ends on Saturday, August 19 2017 6:59 PM EDT.

In the first expansion to our fan favourite card game, new enemies join the invasion! Defend the Earth with brand new weapons!

 

Egg’s Thoughts:

Shades of Vengeance is offering the core card game and/or their first expansion for it. It’s everything and the kitchen sink sci-fi which looks hilarious. I’m looking forward to the game.

 

You can find this Kickstarter here.

 

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Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links to DriveThruRPG.com.

Savage Worlds: Fast, Furious, and Fun! - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

 

* * * * * *

 

Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

Interested in being a wanna-lancer? Start with the official Wanna-lancer Checklist t-shirt or wall clock or ice tea glass!

* * * * * *

Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by:

4 Dark RPG Kickstarters You Should Back – Traveller, Chronicles of Darkness, Gaslight Victorian Fantasy, and Battle for the Purple Islands

This week’s RPG Kickstarters focus on games ripped from the darkness of space, the worst of human history, and the color purple. Let’s count down the darkest RPG Kickstarters going this week.

Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras 2 by Onyx Path

4) Traveller RPG: The Great Rift & Deep Space Exploration by Mongoose Publishing
Ends on Saturday, August 5 2017 10:57 AM EDT.

“A Deep Space Exploration box set for the new Traveller RPG, covering the Great Rift.

Welcome to the Great Rift, a mostly unexplored region of the Third Imperium universe close to the Spinward Marches and Trojan Reach!

This Kickstarter project is to create a brand new box set for the Traveller roleplaying game, detailing not only the sectors of the Great Rift but also providing a comprehensive guide to deep space exploration and the mysteries that can be found far from the shipping lanes.

You can download preview PDFs showing some of the content right here:

Preview of the Deep Space Exploration Handbook
Preview of the Armstrong-class Exploration Vessel
Preview of the Vestus Subsector
New Sector Map of Reft

The Great Rift box set will contain:

  • Two full colour, 96 page books covering Corridor, Reft, Riftspan Reaches and Touchstone sectors.
  • Two gigantic (28″ x 48″) two-sided, full colour sector maps.
  • The Deep Space Exploration Handbook, a 32 page book featuring all the rules needed to conduct deep space exploration, plus the specially designed ships needed to traverse the void.”

Egg’s Thoughts:

When thinking of darkness, Traveller has gone the extra parsec by producing black covered books about space. The mock-ups below are exquisite.

Are you a fan of Traveller? This Kickstarter covers the latest expansion for one of the original RPGs. The current edition looks slick and Mongoose Publishing believes in their product – they’re offering a variety of previews. Gamers that want a legacy sci-fi RPG can discern if this is for them or not from those samples.

 

You can find this Kickstarter here.

 

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3) Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras 2 by Onyx Path
Ends on Saturday, August 5 2017 12:00 PM EDT.

“Contribute to help create a prestige edition of Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras 2 and help pick which Eras we include!

We have shared the world with monsters for millennia…

Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras 2 starts out presenting a chapter for each of six historical eras; each of which features two Chronicles of Darkness game lines which include Vampire: The Requiem, Mage: The Awakening, Hunter: The Vigil, Changeling: The Lost, and more! The rules in this book are compatible with second edition Chronicles of Darkness. Each terrifying time period and location is examined through the supernatural creatures that dwell there:

DARK ERA: The French Revolution (1789 to 1799).
Vampire: The Requiem
and Demon: The Descent:

To the immortal Kindred hidden within the House of Bourbon, the old ways of monarchical rule and royal privilege seem as eternal as the endless stretch of their nights. As the first stirrings of the Carthian Movement take shape alongside disenfranchised mortals yearning for liberty, fallen angels seize this opportunity to tear down the Machine’s Infrastructure creating the penultimate struggle for survival. As the Revolution reaches its height and the Terror begins, the God-Machine’s wayward children wonder whether Hell on Earth might be within reach after all.

DARK ERA: The Great War – Western Front (1914 to 1918).
Geist: The Sin-Eaters
and Werewolf: The Forsaken:

The Great War displayed humanity’s potential to commit to wholesale, ceaseless slaughter of their own species. In such an era, the Scar tears asunder, and the Beshilu rejoice in the mire of the Western Front. Meanwhile, soldiers who, by every right known to mortals should be dead, stand back up to rejoin the battle — or fight back against the Reapers stalking battlefields throughout Europe. Now, both werewolves and Sin-Eaters will struggle to coexist, do their duty, and avoid getting caught up in one of history’s deadliest wars.

DARK ERA: Light of the Sun – Europe (1600s).
Deviant: The Renegades
and Mage: The Awakening:

Galileo. Kepler. Newton. On the heels of the Italian Renaissance, reason and belief clash at every turn. Scientific discoveries disproving heliocentrism are subverted and deemed heretical. Scientists, mages, and astronomers are arrested by the Inquisition, and their books are banned. In response, intellectuals on the brink of discovery turn to alchemy and the magical arts, and create deviants to defend their laboratories and universities. Not all in this age agree violence is the option, however, and worry the Church’s power is too strong to fight. What’s more, no one expected the deviants to have a mind and will of their own.

DARK ERA: Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (100 to 50 B.C.E).
Changeling: The Lost
and Promethean: The Created:

As the locations of the most significant manmade structures in the world are revealed, adventurers from Greece to beyond seek them out to bask in their glory. It is tragic, however, that some wonders must be kept secret. The Gentry do not respond well to their Hedge being disturbed, and the seven wonders are coated in thorns for the unwary. There is no telling what they will do when they encounter the Created, who have heard of these wondrous places immune to war, the ravages of time, and Disquiet. Though the Created seek to protect the wonders like a mother would a child, the Gentry have their own reasons for safeguarding them.

DARK ERA: Rise of the Last Imperials – China (1644 to 1911).
Mummy: The Curse
and Hunter: The Vigil:

The last Imperial Dynasty, the Qing, was established following the takeover of Beijing. Masters of northern China, the powerful Great Qing successfully usurped weakened Ming rulers, but their rule was marked by their suspicious treatment of the Han Chinese. Despite this, the Qing emperors preserved centuries of Chinese arts and literature while searching for mummies rumored to be active in the area. Caught between the present and the distant past, mummies clash with Rival Arisen, sweeping Han Chinese hunters into their wake who must face many threats to uphold the Vigil.

One Thousand and One Nights – Islamic Golden Age (750 to 1258).
Beast: The Primordial
and Vampire: The Requiem:

Aladdin. Scheherazade. Ali Baba. Sinbad. During the Islamic Golden Age, great strides in economic development and scientific knowledge occurred throughout the Islamic world and, at the same time, the tales of Scheherazade expose the wonders of magic to all. In this gilded era of human achievement, Kindred and the Begotten join forces to stay at the top of the food chain. Through their eyes, experience a thousand and one dreams…and nightmares. Who doesn’t like a good bedtime story?

Writing will begin on these chapters, as well as on any added Dark Era chapters once this Kickstarter is over. Having been through this process with the original Dark Eras Kickstarter, we believe this is the best way to create a strong set of Dark Eras for all of you.

Shepherding the writing will be developers Monica Valentinelli, Matthew Dawkins, and Meghan Fitzgerald.

If you are unfamilar with our Dark Eras books, here’s a chapter text sample from the first Dark Eras book, featuring Requiem for Regina, Vampire and Changeling in Elizabethan London: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B7FqViticwNuUkhPaFpQY2I5eFE

And a chapter text sample from the Dark Eras Companion featuring Princes of the Conquered Land, Mage and Mummy in the Mutapa Empire of Southern Africa: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B7FqViticwNuVDRSVFIzWGNMWkE ”

Egg’s Thoughts:

Think of the darkest periods of human history then add vampires, werewolves, mages, hunters, demons, and more as chronicled by Onyx Path. That’s the level of darkness for Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras 2.

For the wanna-lancers* of the world, Onyx Path is offering an interesting opportunity with the “Dark Collaborator” reward:

“You will be brought into the inner circle to participate in the creation of either one of the Dark Eras 2 chapters or our next Chronicles of Darkness project as a Consulting Developer. You’ll be included on every communication between the developer and the writers from the beginning to the end of the project’s creation.”

Instead of the usual chances to develop a NPC or item offered during other Kickstarter campaigns, this reward allows you to work with Onyx Path on an entire chapter of this project or their next product. It’ll let you dive in and see all of the parts and learn from one of the most important companies in the gaming industry.

 

You can find this Kickstarter here.

 

* Wanna-lancer = a fan that wants to become a freelancer for RPGs.

 

* * * * * *

 

2) Gaslight Victorian Fantasy 3e for Savage Worlds by Battlefield Press, Inc.
Ends on Saturday, August 5 2017 4:18 PM EDT.

“A new edition of Gaslight Victorian Fantasy for the Savage Worlds game engine.

“Gaslight is certainly more of a sandbox game. You are given the world, the rules and then let go. There is no over arching plot or theme like Rippers or Ghosts of Albion. It is, in feel, much closer to the old Ravenloft: Masque of the Red Death game. Which is pretty cool.” – Timothy Brannan (author of the Ghosts of Albion Role Playing Game)

ENnie Award winning publisher, Battlefield Press presents its premiere Victorian setting in a new edition for the Savage Worlds game engine. Complete with a new cover by the talented Robert Hack.

Imagine a Victorian world, but not as history tells us it was, but as the literature implies that it was. Believe that the literature from the period were more than just stories, but instead first hand accounts of the events that happened in the world. Imagine a world populated by the lost boys of JM Barrie, the Beast Men of Dr. Moreau even tales of an immortal vampire named Dracula. Included in these are organizations bent of determining what is best for humanity, and they have launched a secret war against others so that only one will prevail.”

Egg’s Thoughts:

Their cover is glorious! It feels like every ounce of the darkness of the Victorian genre distilled into a single image. I could see this on the cover of Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Are you ready for the pre-cursors to modern fantasy storytelling laid out for you to play? This amalgamation of powers and opportunities… this could be a glorious expansion to Savage Worlds!

 

You can find this Kickstarter here.

 

* * * * * *

 

1) Battle For The Purple Islands by Kort’thalis Publishing
Ends on Thursday, August 10 2017 11:23 PM EDT.

“The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence returns; OSR scenario of warring factions competing for dominance in a purple world gone mad.

The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence has done well as an O5R campaign setting. I’ve been asked countless times if I’m ever going to go back to the purple islands.  Well, this Kickstarter is a resounding “YES!” to that query.

The purple islands (there’s three of them very close together, and are usually considered a single place) is an eldritch science-fantasy setting with gonzo sword & sorcery.  Both books will be usable with any sort of Lost World, Mars, Dream Lands, Hyborian Age, alternate Earth ruled by civilized apes or menaced by dinosaurs and sleestak, or a world of savagery, super-science, and sorcery.”

Egg’s Thoughts:

Love. Me. Some. Venger. Through RPG, I’ve met a legion of incredibly nice folks. Jeff Duncan, Dan Davenport, Dan Dillon, Ed Jowett, Nathan Tucker, Chris Helton, Justin Halliday, BJ Hensley, and so many more that I’m forgetting. They’ve all been welcoming and I could not be happier to know them. High on my list of RPG friends is Venger. He’s helped me with direction, published some of my work via his recent NSFW Trinity of Awesome Returns series – Stairwell of V’dreenHis Flesh is Key, and High-Stakes Q’uay-Q’uar – and always been open to helping me along the path to RPG freelancer. When he launched his sequel to The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence, I was happy to support it.

Why should you check out Battle for the Purple Islands? Because it’s unlimited budget grindhouse glory in the form of a RPG! It may be purple, but Venger creates some dark games!

Why should you support Venger? Because, if you’re like Egg and you want to create fantastic games, reach out to Venger on Google+ or at his blog. He has worthwhile advice (and books of advice) to share. He’s open and direct with what works and what doesn’t. He’s worth talking to.

 

You can find this Kickstarter here.

 

* * * * * *

 

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links to DriveThruRPG.com.

Savage Worlds: Fast, Furious, and Fun! - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

 

* * * * * *

 

Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

Interested in being a wanna-lancer? Start with the official Wanna-lancer Checklist t-shirt or wall clock or ice tea glass!

* * *

Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by:

13th Doctor Who: Roleplaying Game

“Jodie Whittaker is a woman and the 13th Doctor.” The most controversial event of July 16th, 2017. It split the inter-webs into two opposed camps:

  1. Greatest actor of her generation
  2. The “D” in “Doctor” stands for “Dicks”

Jodie Whitaker composed as Doctor Who from Metro.co.uk

I chose the Greatest Actress camp before turning my mind to what possibilities a female Doctor will create for Doctor Who: RPG? Will this be doom or opportunity for Cubicle 7‘s game series? Before I get into the peaks and valleys of my speculations, let me offer some background.

* * * * * *

BACKGROUND

Example Page from Sword & Wizardry

Tabletop role-playing games are synonymous with sword and sorcery. With so many fantasy systems to choose from, companies look for ways to make theirs stand out. Frog God Games came up with an elegant way to ensure that the 3rd printing of their retro-clone, Swords and Wizardry, had the broadest appeal possible. They hired Stacy Dellorfano (of ConTessa fame) to lead an all-female design staff for the newest printing of their ENnie Awardwinning game. What inspired this? Frog God Games shared this on their Kickstarter:

…we were talking with designer Stacy Dellorfano about the fact that many OSR games have a physical appearance and presentation that really targets the 40 year old guys who’ve been gaming since forever, and doesn’t have nearly as much appeal to younger or female gamers of the generations following that first wave of players from the 1980s. In point of fact, old-school games, with their light-rules aspect and emphasis on a game master’s “common sense” interpretation of situations, are actually a really good tool for anyone who feels like rules-lawyers may be spoiling the game by trying to be over-authoritative or even overbearing with a GM. But if the appearance and presentation make the game look like it’s purely a throwback and not a modern tool for good gaming, then there’s a real obstacle to the game’s push into the mainstream gaming community.

As a result of this analysis, we engaged Stacy as a designer to produce an edition that’s no less appealing to older male gamers, while being MORE appealing to younger and to female gamers. Stacy put together a team, all women, to address this dual objective. We think her team has done an awesome job, and when you see the design results, we think you’ll agree.

This project came out of a discussion largely about how to get more women interested in OSR games, and evolved into a request to create a product that would appeal to all genders and challenge the idea of what an OSR game should look like. For many of the women who illustrated the book, this is their first foray into freelancing in the tabletop RPG industry. By participating in this project, we’re raising their visibility and adding more female voices to the industry.

What this is not is an “RPG for women”. This is Swords & Wizardry the same as it’s been for the last two printings, just with new artwork and layout for the new printing.

Yet the naysayers say to me – “But Egg, can women – WOMEN?! – design the look of a REAL retro-clone?”

Absolutely, Mr. Naysayer! Stacy and crew produced an iconic S&W 3e! Every page looks phenomenal and the book flows! This printing is beautiful. 1,213 backers on Kickstarter agree.

“But Egg, that’s the drawings! What about the… the writings? What about the WRITINGS, Egg?!”

Since S&W kept the existing writing with upgraded art, let’s look at a different project, Atlas Animalia by Metal Weave Games. This book covers the biology, game hooks, and more for monsters designed for 5e, Pathfinder, FATE, and more, including OSRs. This is a book of terrifying beasts to slaughter, or be slaughtered by, for your RPG of choice and there are no men listed as writers or editors. The project looks first rate (as the image below shows). I was excited about this campaign (I covered it here) and I was not alone, 798 backers pledged their money on Kickstarter.

Atlas Animalia example page – LAND SHARK!

“Um, well… but Egg, how do those numbers compare to games designed by mixed gender or ALL-MALE creative teams? Egg, I bet if we whip’em out and compare, the number of S&W 3e or Atlas Animalia backers on Kickstarter will be WAY smaller!”

Ok, let’s compare the number of backers for some retro-clones, monster manuals, and remakes on Kickstarter. I’ve picked out a few games that are close in nature to S&W 3e:

Based on this limited sampling (it’s not even close to exhaustive), S&W 3e had two to six times as many backers as the other OSRs in this list. S&W 3e had more backers than some new editions of older games/settings (Alternity and Scarred Lands) while not as many as others (Torg: Eternity and Scion).

While looking for RPG products that are, more or less, apples-to-apples comparisons with Atlas Animalia was more difficult. Still, there were a few:

Atlas Animalia fell into the middle of the range for these campaigns. If these lists (OSRs and monster manuals) were blended, Atlas would be on the upper half of the combined listing.

While this is a drop in the ocean of market research, I’d still hypothesize that RPGs created and written by women do well in the gaming market.

Do you think Frog God Games and Metal Weave Games made the right choice for their respective products?

END BACKGROUND

* * * * * *

Jodie Whittaker is the 13th Doctor and Cubicle 7 makes Doctor Who: Roleplaying Game. When it comes time to produce the Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space: The Thirteenth Doctor Sourcebook (2017-20??), should Cubicle 7 put a female lead designer/female writing staff in place to handle this project?

Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space:
The Thirteenth Doctor Sourcebook (2017-20??)
The first female doctor by [INSERT ROCKING FEMALE RPG CREATOR]

Jodie Whittaker as Doctor Who from DoctorWhoTV.co.uk

This is the opportunity to hire a heavily female (or completely female) staff to deliver this sourcebook. Frog God Games and Metal Weave Games had successes with female crews developing their products. There’s no reason to believe that a female Cubicle 7 team would not produce yet another AAA Doctor Who product. The serendipity-by-design of this would be the way to market it.

That said, while they’ll likely update the core rulebook to include the 13th Doctor in the near-term, Cubicle 7 releases their Doctor Who sourcebooks after the current Doctor passes the torch. We’re years away from the release of their 13th Doctor sourcebook. This debate has time for nuance.

This article is not a condemnation of Cubicle 7. It’s the opposite. I’m a fan of C7. For Gen Con 50, I won the dream “date” to attend the ENnie Awards with them. I’m excited about meeting them at the show (and I hope they win some ENnies – Don’t forget to vote!)

As a company, they’re doing a rocking job with the Doctor Who RPG. As such, when I composed this article I hated to suggest that they mess with a winning formula. If they keep with their current creative teams, I know they will deliver an excellent product.

C7 has not announced their plans related to the 13th Doctor sourcebook and they should not until Jodie is ready to pass on the role. With the lead time that Cubicle 7 has on this, a company as competent as they are will gather together the perfect team to knock this out of the park! With their track record, I am confident they’ll make the best decision for their fans.

 

* * * * * *

 

SWORDS & WIZARDRY 3RD EDITION CHALLENGE!

Am I telling the truth about Swords & Wizardry 3rd Edition? Does it really look amazing? Can women design the look of a retro-clone? Why, yes they can, but you say you need proof, naysayer? The proof is in the product and the product is a single dollar in PDF format. Over at Frog God Games’ website, you can pick up the PDF for a buck and find out for yourself.

NOTE – When you’re doing the dropdown, it’ll say “-$33.99”. It’s confusing but you’ll see it’s one dollar at check out.

Frog God Games’ Swords and Wizardry 3rd Edition PDF

 

* * * * * *

 

Does S&W 3e and Atlas Animalia sound good to you but you wish there were a female-created board game? How about SPARKED: The hilarious and inspiring board game for women? A board game created entirely by women. 758 backers on Kickstarter.

 

* * * * * *

 

I’d like to thank every woman that ever gamed or created games or created art for games or thought kindly toward a gamer. You have made this world a better place. Thank you for all you’ve done for me. I cannot say that loud enough.

Sincerely,

Egg Embry

 

* * * * * *

 

Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

Interested in being a wanna-lancer? Start with the official Wanna-lancer Checklist t-shirt or wall clock or ice tea glass!

* * *

Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by:

3 RPG Kickstarters You Should Back – Plush ConTessa Mascots, Era: Hitman, and Samyaza

We’re going to go from hitmen to stuffed animals as we look at tabletop role-playing games on Kickstarter you should back! Let’s count’em down!

Bea the Eyeball Monster from the Plush ConTessa Mascots Kickstarter says “Fund me, Seymour!”

3) Plush ConTessa Mascots by Stacy Dellorfano of ConTessa
Ends on Sunday, July 16 2017 5:31 PM EDT.

“Support ConTessa’s mission of diversity in tabletop gaming by funding plush versions of our mascots!

For nearly five years, ConTessa has been changing the face of gaming through the awesome power of positive representation. To pay for all that, we sell ConTessa merchandise in the form of pinback buttons, magnets, lanyards, and t-shirts. Through these sales, we’ve been able to grow the program, allowing us to run bigger events at more conventions where we can reach even more people.

One of the most commonly requested forms of merchandise we’ve been asked for are plush versions of our adorable mascots, which we had commissioned years ago as illustrations for both merchandising and promotional purposes. Until now, that possibility was too expensive, but thanks to a combination of our growth, and the fine folks at Budsies, we’re finally able to offer up plush mascots – with your pledge!

We’ve set this Kickstarter up so we only have to sell 50 toys in order to create 100, so your purchase not only helps us create the toys, it also helps us build stock we can sell to fund our trips to conventions all over the US (and hopefully, someday, the world).”

Bea and Tessa.

Egg’s Thoughts:

Plush Bea-Holder!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

If this were QVC, you know my grandparents would already be dialing the 800 number! “I know lil’ Egg sure likes The Dee and Dees…” They’d get me Bea and Tessa plus the upsell fuzzy dice!

To get Bea the Eyeball Monster unlocked, this campaign needs to reach $5,000. Don’t let Bea down!

Ok, Egg, I love the plushes! But what do they have to do with your experiment? What can stuffed animals do for the wanna-lancers* around the world?

Glad you asked. This Kickstarter offers the opportunity to play a RPG with members of the gaming industry. This is a chance to put a face with the dice, so to speak. What better way to get to know someone than gaming with them? This is a golden opportunity to combine work and pleasure! The professionals and games are:

  • Stacy Dellorfano: Swords & Wizardry: Zaya’s Promise
  • Darcy Ross: Numenera: The Nightmare Switch
  • Senda Linaugh: Love & Justice (a hack of Lasers & Feelings)
  • Emily Morgan: All Outta Bubblegum: Attack of the Kraken
  • Pranks Paul: Star Wars Edge of the Empire: The Tail of Cat Bane

Ok, let me jump from what passes for Egg-humor to why this project is on my mind: These plushes are more than stuffed animals. They represent a real opportunity to help expand the gaming industry by making it as inclusive as possible. ConTessa is “…an organization dedicated to increasing diverse representation in tabletop gaming by running events led entirely by marginalized people, and enjoyed by everyone. We run our own conventions online, and attend popular conventions around the United States, bringing games, seminars, workshops, and panels using our innovative convention-within-a-convention format. We aim to provide open, inclusive, and safe environments that diversify what a leader looks like within our hobby.” This is for a good cause… whether that’s diversity or Plush Bea-Holder is entirely up to you.

 

You can back this Kickstarter here.

 

*Wanna-lancers are RPG fans that want to be RPG freelancers. In Egg’s case, he’s building a resume of RPG writing credits by backing Kickstarters offering rewards like creating NPCs, magic items, adventures, and more.

 

* * *

2) Era: Hitman by Shades of Vengeance
Ends on Sunday, July 16 2017 6:59 PM EDT.

“Be a super-powered assassin – Era: Hitman, now in Paperback!

The much-loved super-powered assassin RPG returns to Kickstarter to bring you a printed Rulebook for the first time!

In this game, you are a hitman, an assassin who eliminates targets for anyone paying the right amount. 

Whether your skill is stealth, approaching your enemies unseen, firing a bullet from a neighbouring rooftop, hacking automated defences or demolishing a building to eliminate everyone inside, you are always in demand. With the protection of the Guild, you need not fear retribution once you escape the scene of the crime – the scrubbers have your back. Every trace of you, every piece of camera footage, everyone who will testify that you were there will vanish without a trace. 

All that falls to you is the kill itself and, in that, you’re an expert.

Pledge £30 or more
ABOUT $38

Client

You get to submit an idea for an assassination mission, which we will put into the list of backup challenges on the Shades of Vengeance website, with credit to you for the idea!

You also get the Physical and Digital Versions of Era: Hitman, along with the Digital Extras!

INCLUDES:

  • Create a Session!
  • Digital Rulebook
  • Digital Extras – Bonus Campaign and Extra Material
  • Paperback Rulebook
  • Name on Contributors List”

Era: Hitman

Egg’s Thoughts: 

The concept for Era: Hitman is on the nose for RPGs are played – killing for cash. Maybe I’ve played at too many violent tables, but Era: Hitman’s lack of pretense spoke to me. Hack. All. Day. Long.

Perfect.

Building from that core, they’re able to seamlessly expand it with their wanna-lancer/vanity press reward, Client. The game’s about hitmen and in this reward, you’re the client and you create the mission. It is immersive and you can already envision the whole project from this reward.

Need more? They have a quickstart guide here.

 

You can back this Kickstarter here.

 

* * *

1) Samyaza: A Cyber-Fantasy RPG Roleplaying Game by Craig Gladden
Ends on .

“Samyaza is a table top role-playing game built to tackle a more technologically advanced world with magical and fantastic undertones.

Samyaza is a tabletop role-playing game setting using a mixture of cyberpunk, fantasy, and science fiction. The Samyaza setting spans from the years 1995-2230. I’ve built a setting that uses real world issues of today, what the 80’s thought the future would look like, and some fun twists to keep you on your toes. You will be able to explore the world’s newest marvel, Samyaza, the first city to take flight. Or, should you choose, fight on the ground in New York as the city rebels against it’s corporate overlords. You even have the option of exploring the new Martian front in the year 2230, as the “native” life pushes back. I wanted to create a setting that was flexible and allowed my imagination to really run wild.

I wanted to have the freedom to create whatever story I wanted and add any enemy without worrying about it not fitting within a specific setting. This brought me to Samyaza’s first campaign books, the Utah Saga. It’s a two part story built with cyberpunk at the helm but fantasy as it’s second mate.

“The year is 2079, our heroes find themselves in Salt Lake City, home to the mega corp The Church ™, a company that makes it’s money from the public’s fear of the after life. Just as the churches of old, this company has taken up the belief that God will forgive all of your sins, but for the right price. Yet there seems to be something more to them. They had been witnessed at recent sites which the news reported as comet crash sites, only to find that the news had been falsified and that the comets were, in reality, relics from the moon. Weapons made for the 1st Lunar War (2033), made of technology beyond their years. The relics seem to call out to the heroes, expressing a need to return to the moon. As the heroes look up towards the moon, they feel a shift in the wind. Maybe The Church ™ isn’t what it seems, maybe there are forces they don’t yet see at work fighting to change the very course of history.””

Samyaza Floating City

Egg’s Thoughts:

Samyaza is a new system and setting for a cyber-fantasy campaign. With this Kickstarter, you get that plus the opportunity to design a NPC, weapons, vehicles, cyber-enhancements, or a whole party. If you’ve been itching to make something for the near-future set, this may be the one for you.

For a fantastic Q&A about this game, visit Dan Davenport’s blog here. Dan hosts a range of RPG Q&As with game creators and they are a wealth of knowledge about the products.

 

You can back this Kickstarter here.

 

* * *

 

Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

Interested in being a wanna-lancer? Start with the official Wanna-lancer Checklist t-shirt or wall clock or ice tea glass!

* * *

Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by:

Shadow of Forever – my last sci-fi book for a while

First, let’s get business out of the way.

I’ve just released Shadow of Forever. It’s the sequel to this, and my fourth sci-fi book overall.

You’ll find the Amanda Makepeace cover art below. Amanda has created more than half my book covers. She does great work, don’t you think? I’m glad our shared time in high school didn’t result in her hating me. I’d have lost a valuable friend and ally in my creative endeavors. 🙂

Click me to buy!

Shadow of Forever – available in ebook and softcover formats. Joff Armstrong and Callista return for their deadliest adventure yet. Think space vampires, star-killing machines, and galaxy-wide viruses…

*

Anyway…

I’m here to admit that while Shadow of Forever and its predecessor were challenging and rewarding to write, I’m moving on from science fiction for a bit.

Does that mean I’m going to stop writing books? Nope. Not even close. I’m currently working on a non-fiction story during which I’ll drink a different brand of wine while writing each chapter (yes, I’m serious!) It’s tentatively named Reality is Best Served with Red Wine. I’m also working on several short stories (they hurt less) and exploring Season Two of this, in which I’ll reunite with author John McGuire.

So…

Why the temporary withdrawal from sci-fi? Well…it’s complicated. I love, love, love penning stories about humans in deep space, cool scientific theories, and eldritch horrors lurking between the stars. But my challenge is…sci-fi just doesn’t sell as well as other genres. Even when one writes approachable-to-everyone sci-fi (as I do) the stigma remains. When many readers see the word ‘sci-fi’ they assume a male-dominated, violence-filled orgasm of spaceships mixed with bizarre scientific theories. That’s not really my gig, but many readers have been conditioned to think otherwise. It’s a hard mountain to climb.

Fact is, non-fiction and fantasy are where it’s at. Let me explain.  I can punch out 5-6 non-fiction titles in the same span of time as one full-length novel, meaning multiple mass-appeal entries into the market. And with fantasy (my favorite genre to write) the readership isn’t as narrow. Fantasy has so many nuanced sub-genres, so many plot and world-building options, the audience is easily ten times that of sci-fi and horror offerings.

Will there be a Shadow of Forever sequel, thus making a trilogy of the Eater of the Light series?

Quite possibly.

Will I complete a follow-up to A Door Never Dreamed Of, my wildest sci-fi tale yet?

Maybe.

But probably not for a year or two.

If I sound like I’m waffling, it’s because I am. My newest love, painting 3D canvasses in collaboration with other artists, takes up more and more of my time these days. I admit that relaxing on warm evenings with a paintbrush in one hand and a glass of pinot noir in the other makes for a pretty good life. It’s easier than writing, editing, and marketing books. It tends to satisfy my immediate need for peace and tranquility.

And yet…

The writing bug remains.

So stick with me, loyal readers. I’ve got thirty-two titles on the market, meaning I’m committed to this writing gig for pretty much forever :). As the years roll on and the words keep flowing, I’m planning to touch every major genre (except maybe romance and were-bear erotica.)

That’s a promise.

Give Shadow of Forever a shot. It’s my counterpunch to hyper-technical sci-fi.

And if you prefer quick & quiet quizzes (yeah…alliteration) just try this out.

Love,

J Edward Neill

Cover Art Reveal – Shadow of Forever

There once was a boy who took to the stars…

He sailed into the darkness…alone.

…and waged war against the horrors he found.

And now, he’s back.

***

Now available – the sequel to Darkness Between the Stars.

Shadow of Forever

Cover art by Amanda Makepeace

Shadow of Forever

Earth is no more.

Every human settlement in the galaxy has been destroyed.

…except one.

On a planet far from home, Joff Armstrong watches the stars and counts the years until the Eaters of the Light return. He knows it’s only a matter of time. He ended one of their worlds, but thousands more remain.

No one believes him.

No one understands the coming darkness.

And so, as humanity’s twilight nears, he will steal his way into the stars.

Alone.

One man against legions of star-killing undead.

Searching for a way to stop the darkness between the stars.

* * *

The complete novel is available here.

Book 1 – Darkness Between the Stars – is here.

Find more of Amanda Makepeace’s art right here.

J Edward Neill

Shadow of Forever – A preview

Ghosts

*

 “She’s getting what? To who?”

The rain thundered against my house’s glass walls. Rivers of water slid down the panes, blurring the greyest afternoon I’d ever seen. With her arms crossed, Callista floated above the table while wearing a too-big smile.

“You heard what I said.” She feigned a yawn. “Your sister’s getting married.”

I sucked in a deep breath and leaned back in my chair. I felt calmer at once. It wasn’t as if I’d spent much time with Aly in the last several years. Whom she married and why wasn’t any of my business.

“I guess I thought she’d never do it,” I said. “I mean…you know how Aly is. She’s a loner. She’s always working, always doing her science.”

Cal floated down and sat on the table’s edge. She looked absurdly beautiful, especially with the grey rain dimming the world beyond her.

“I don’t think it’s love.” She stretched out her legs. “Not that I really know what love is like. I got the impression, without cheating and reading her eyes, she’s marrying him for business’s sake.”

I retreated into thought.

I thought she’d marry the young man who used to bring her flowers. If anyone, it should’ve been him.

This can’t be for love.

After what happened to us, she doesn’t want children.

I guess it’s ok…

…if this is what she wants.

“They’re moving to Arcadia?” I asked Cal.

“Moving?” Cal shook her head. “Nope. They’ve already moved.”

“Am I invited?”

She smiled. “I am your invitation.”

I stood and walked to the window. I had to step over piles of clothes, eating containers, and a mound of soggy towels. I wasn’t much for cleaning up after myself. My only visitor ever was Cal.

And she doesn’t judge me.

“When?” I asked as I gazed into the rain.

“Seven weeks,” said Cal. “It’s going to be lavish, whatever that means.”

“It means I’ll have to shave,” I murmured.

“And maybe dress in something other than a twenty-year old tunic,” Cal added with a grin.

A gust of wind caught the rain beyond my window. The day was as dark as twilight, and the sheets of falling water moving as though alive. I lost myself for a moment. In the spaces between the rain, I imagined eyes. In a peal of thunder, I swore I heard voices.

“Maybe she’ll listen now.” My voice was almost a whisper.

“Listen? What do you mean?” Cal floated to the window.

“If she’s marrying him, she’ll be wife to the governor. She’ll have his ear when he makes policies. She’ll be…influential.”

“Joff, don’t—”

The thunder rolled, low and powerful. I touched the glass with my palm and imagined monstrous shapes moving in the rain. They weren’t there, not really.

And yet I see them.

“Don’t take it lightly,” I said. “If anyone can help make people believe, it’s Aly. She knows.”

“Everyone knows,” Cal argued. “It’s just—”

“They don’t understand,” I interrupted. “To them it’s just a story. It’s not real.”

Cal let out as long a sigh as a little blue nano-girl could. She knew exactly where my mind had wandered.

“The last time you tried to argue this with her, you two didn’t speak for a year,” she reminded me.

I know, I thought.

“And Aly, she’s the only person on this planet as stubborn as you,” Cal added.

I know that, too.

“So just how is it you’re going to change her mind? How, with nothing new to show her, will you convince her?”

I wish I knew.

“I have…information.” I pulled my mind out of the rain. “Two-thousand three-hundred thirteen more stars have gone missing since we talked. And it might be even more, but I’m only working with one orbital scope. No telling how many other stars they’ve destroyed.”

Lightning flared beyond the window. The rupture of cold white light burned shapes into my eyes. I caught myself shivering.

The Strigoi.

They’re out there.

They’re—

“Joff?” I heard Cal say my name. “Joff, are you listening?”

I blinked, and the shadows fled my mind. I was just Joff again, standing in my kitchen. The only light in the house came from Callista. There were no Strigoi, at least not out in the rain.

“Sorry.” I wiped the sweat from my forehead.

“As I was saying, it’s not just about Aly,” Cal continued; she must’ve been talking the entire time I’d stared into the rain. “You’re asking an entire planet to mobilize against something they’ve never seen. You want four-million people to leave their lives behind and go to war.”

“Their lives…” I mumbled. “You mean the ones they won’t have.”

Cal went silent. In part, it was because she knew I was right. The Strigoi, eaters of the light, were out there. We’d seen them butcher hundreds of people on the planet Ebes. We’d heard their voices echo in the void. And we’d killed them together, burning away one of their planets using the only thing that truly caused them pain.

Sunlight.

But Cal also went silent because she knew there was no point in arguing. We’d done the same dance several hundred times. I’d always tumble into a dark state of mind, and she always tried to pull me out.

By then, she knew better.

* * *

For the rest of Cal’s time at my house, I didn’t mention the Strigoi. I knew she hated it. All it ever accomplished was to put us both in foul moods.

So for her sake, I did my best to imagine a future without all the darkness. That afternoon, after I filled my belly with food, we took a walk in the rain. The worst of the storm had passed, and the warm drizzle felt as good as any shower. Even though I expected the wind and falling water to disrupt Cal’s nano-light, she fluttered through the storm with ease.

“How do you do it?” I asked her. We were tramping across a muddy field in the thick of the rain.

“I can survive in the vacuum of space.” She flitted between rain droplets as though dancing between swords. “I can turn myself into a stream of particles and travel down nearly any energized conduit. You think a little rain should bother me?”

“I just thought…well…” I stammered. “My dad used to say electricity and water were no friends of each other. And I found it out for myself one day. I used a powered wrench to fix a nut on a tractor’s coolant line. The line popped. So did the wrench.”

Cal laughed. She scattered herself into a few hundred-thousand nodes and then retook her perfect shape farther down the path. I’d seen her do it countless times before. It never ceased to amaze me.

“Now you’re just showing off,” I said. “You must be glad to have your old body back.”

“I am. But didn’t you just call me a wrench?” she laughed again.

“Yeah. I guess I did.”

Most nights, we’d have stopped walking at the green river. But that eve, just as the rain began to die, we crossed a narrow bridge and entered the fields beyond. I didn’t mind being soaked to my bones. It felt liberating, as if I’d washed away the morning’s darkness.

In the day’s last light, I looked across the fields. I saw the remnants of all the work I’d done to help the people who’d lived in the village near my home.

I saw the tops of the drain pipes we’d laid, exposed after years of heavy rain.

I glimpsed the lines we’d carved in the soil, the pattern of the farm that once had grown.

The crops were mostly gone, having long ago weeded over. It was the trouble with farming on Sumer. The rains were so heavy and the crops grew so quickly that within a decade all the nutrients were sapped out of the dirt. And without much animal life to provide natural fertilizer, most farms wore out their usefulness far swifter than they would’ve back on Earth.

“It gets old sometimes,” I said as Cal and I meandered along the riverbank.

“You mean being human?” she quipped.

“No. I mean thinking of everything like a farmer would. I can’t walk anywhere without thinking about soil densities, nitrogen levels, and drainage.”

“Uh oh.” Cal made a face. “Is this where you tell me another story about farm boy life? About tractors and griddlecakes.”

“No, I guess not,” I grumped.

“I’m only kidding.” She circled me and sat on my shoulder. “You can tell me any story. You know I like to hear them.”

“Nah. Not tonight.”

Together, we sat on the riverbank. The last of the rain died and the fog slithered away into the dark. I pulled off my boots and dipped my feet in the river. Back home, on an Earth that was no more, the water would’ve been frigid. But the little green river swirled around my ankles, warm and pleasant.

“You think Doctor Abid ever imagined us sitting here like this?” I kicked up a little plume of water.

“Oh. Him.” Cal made a sour face. She’d never forgiven her creator for sending us into space, alone and likely to die. “I don’t think he imagined anything for us…other than dying.”

“You know, by putting us in the Sabre and shipping us off to Ebes, he saved us,” I pointed out. “If we’d have stayed on Earth, if someone else had gone in our place, we’d be dead. Just like…you know…Mom and Dad. Just like everyone.”

“Does that mean you’re thankful?” Cal looked at me.

“No. I mean, not exactly.” I couldn’t think of the right words. “It’s not like he did it to help us. There’s no way he could’ve guessed what would happen.”

Cal offered a slender smirk. “Well then there’s your answer. He didn’t imagine us here. Not on Sumer. Not sitting by this river. Not alive. Not together.”

“You’re right.” I nodded. “I’m sorry. I’ll never bring him up again.”

She didn’t answer. But I knew she was happy to hear it.

* * * 

Later that night, as I roamed around the lower level of my house and clean up my messes, Cal drifted down the stairs and into the room. I worked by the light of three blue lamps, in whose light she floated and danced. Within one of the lamplights, she hovered longer than the others. The shadow she made on the pale wall was the same size as a person.

And for a moment I watched her.

Wishing.

When she left the light, her shadow vanished. She had a serious look in her eyes. She’d been upstairs for hours, no doubt plotting whatever she was about to say.

“Your sister’s getting married.” She flitted around me as I carried off a pile of clothes.

“Yeah. I heard.”

“She’s moving on with her life.” Cal ignored my sarcasm. “She’s making happiness for herself. She’s joining the rest of humanity.”

I dropped my clothes at the bottom of the stairs. There was no sense in avoiding Cal. She had something on her mind and she meant to share it.

“I know where you’re going with this,” I shambled back into the light.

“Well…” She crossed her arms. “I want to know what you’re going to do with your life. You’ve talked for years about dying early because of the Strigoi poisoning, but that hasn’t happened. Not even close. You have all these reasons for staying out here and being a hermit. And I…I just want to see you happy. This obsession of yours isn’t healthy. After Aly’s wedding, I think you should live in the city with me. We don’t have to move to Arcadia or anywhere fancy. But I think you should be with people again.”

“With people…” I murmured.

“Yes.” I could tell she was upset by the way the light in her body intensified. “Besides, I’ll have a body in a few months. A real one. It’s almost finished. I’ll be as human as you. Same voice. Same face. You don’t have to…you know…love me. But we should live close together. You should talk to other people. You should live a full life. I want it for you.”

I hadn’t expected her outburst, but I should have. For years, she’d dropped not-so-subtle hints about the hopes she had for my life. It was hard to see her so upset.

I stopped moving, stopped thinking, and gazed across the room at her.

“I like it out here. It’s peaceful,” I offered.

“No.” She shook her head. “You like it out here because you can walk in your field and stare at the sky all night. You like it because no one questions you or challenges you. You like it because you don’t have to be human. You get to pretend you died on Earth with everyone else. Well, guess what? You didn’t.”

I might’ve been angry.

But Callista was right.

*

 

* * *

Ghosts is the second chapter of upcoming science fiction novel, Shadow of Forever.

The first chapter is here.

Shadow of Forever is the sequel to sci-fi hit, Darkness Between the Stars.

It’ll be out in the first half of 2017.

Both books are by J Edward Neill

Both covers are by Amanda Makepeace.

Vanity Press: What Kickstarter RPG Rewards Are Available? – Alternity 2017 and Green Ronin Publishing Talent Search

Ready to design a planet? Seriously, a planet. Your business card could read, “[INSERT NAME], Planetary Architect and Wanna-lancer”. If that, or trying out for Green Ronin Publishing’s female-centric RPG talent hunt, appeals to you, read on.

Alternity from Sasquatch Game Studio

Alternity 2017 – A Science Fiction Roleplaying Game by Sasquatch Game Studio LLC
Kickstarter campaign ends on Thursday, May 4 2017 11:59 PM EDT.

“A modular Science Fiction Tabletop Roleplaying game limited only by your imagination. Choose your future!

Alternity is back—and it’s better than ever!

Strange new worlds and deadly aliens? Mercenaries for hire? Post-apocalyptic survival? Explore your favorite visions of sci-fi adventure in the new Alternity Science Fiction Roleplaying Game from Sasquatch Game Studio.

Many Worlds, One Game: The Alternity Core Rulebook includes a wealth of campaign-building guidance and a modular rules design so that you can model your favorite SF setting or create your own. We’re also launching with one “pre-built” setting, our Protostar universe . . . but we’ve got plans for more worlds if you want ’em! We plan to unlock at least one more setting through our stretch goals for the project.

Alternity Rule Books

What’s your future?

In 1997, Bill Slavicsek and Richard Baker created the original Alternity game—a powerful tabletop RPG engine for science fiction adventure across a wide range of genres. Now, twenty years later, Sasquatch Game Studio is creating a new sci-fi RPG inspired by the original game. We’re rebuilding the game mechanics to take advantage of 20 years of advancement in the art of game design. We’re marrying bold new ideas and exciting new subgenres to the original scope and vision of the Alternity game. And we’re bringing it all together in a convenient, full-color, handsomely illustrated Core Rulebook with supporting adventures and sourcebooks.

But don’t wait for the Kickstarter to finish! A Beta Test release of the Alternity game is currently available as a free download on DriveThruRPG! The Beta release includes an overview of the rules, an introductory scenario, and a sample adventure. We’ll be collecting feedback from testers and backers throughout the coming weeks to make Alternity awesome!

Want to see more about the development process? Visit our website at: http://www.sasquatchgamestudio.com/Alternity and check out our Alternity Design Blogs!

* * *

Alternity or Primeval Thule? Alternity is going to look amazing!

Sasquatch Game Studio is the design team behind the Primeval Thule Campaign Setting and the Princes of the Apocalypse campaign adventure for 5e. Our Alternity team includes the creators of the original game published by TSR. You can learn more about us and our products at www.sasquatchgamestudio.com.”

* * *

Egg’s Thoughts:

Sasquatch Game Studio, the designers behind Primeval Thule Campaign Setting, produced the first vanity press purchase I participated in. That setting – best described as Conan meets Cthulhu – stands tall among the 5e products I’ve bought along the way. The quality of their production (writing, direction, and art) is second to none.

Using Primeval Thule as a guide post, I think Alternity will be one of the best sci-fi products available. Being a new, wholly original iteration of the original TSR game, Alternity will provide both a retro-fix and break new ground.

As an added bonus, they have a vanity press pledge level that allows you to name and design a planet for their Protostar Mission Guide, the first campaign setting for Alternity. Ever had a whole sci-fi planet you wanted to design? Here’s your chance to do that and work with some of the top talent in the RPG industry. Based on my experience, I cannot recommend this enough.

* * *

Green Ronin Publishing’s Talent Search Submissions are open!

“This is just one part of Green Ronin’s larger and ongoing diversity initiative. In this specific case, we’re interested in hearing from women-identified and non-binary individuals with a passion for dark fantasy. What we’d like to see are writing samples that illustrate a grasp of the elements typically involved in RPGs: rules design, world-building/setting write-ups, character profiles, and fiction vignettes, as well as writing that aims to hybridize these elements. Familiarity with the Lost Citadel property is not a requirement at this stage.

We will be accepting your submissions from today until May 15th and the winner will be announced to the public as part of our Lost Citadel Kickstarter on June 6th.

  • Submissions should be no longer than 3,000 total words.
  • Submissions should be sent with an introductory email that includes your name and contact information; during the evaluation stage we will be stripping the submissions of identifying information and assigning each a code number as part of a blind reading so they can be judged without regard to name, existing reputation (or lack thereof), or anything other than the quality of the work.
  • Submissions should be saved as a document file and sent as an email attachment to lostcitadelrpg@greenronin.com. Don’t worry about heavy formatting, tone-appropriate font choices, or other stylistic flourishes.

While the setting is dark fantasy and its core expression will be in 5E, you are NOT required to adhere to those specifics in your submissions. We welcome submissions featuring mechanics from any edition, or those for our in-house system (AGE), or even those featuring other popular systems you feel might be dark fantasy-appropriate.

Green Ronin Publishing – Lost Citadel

Keep in mind that this is not a math test disguised as a talent search. While submitting a well constructed Pathfinder stat block may be acceptable, it doesn’t go very far toward showcasing one’s talent and/or ability as a writer, only one’s ability to do math. Remember, the idea is to make a strong impression with your writing.

By submitting your work for evaluation, you represent that you are the sole author of the material being submitted, agree that Green Ronin and its agents have the right to read your submissions for the purposes of this search, and acknowledge that Green Ronin is under no obligation to use, buy, license, or adapt your talent search submission for any other use.”

* * *

Egg’s Manplanation:

Green Ronin Publishing is a Top Five RPG publisher. To be picked by them during this talent search would be a career jumpstart. Add to that, they’re targeting the expansion of the RPG industry by getting more women behind the keyboard. If you meet the above criteria and want to test out the freelance RPG waters, this is the talent hunt for you.

* * *

Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

Interested in being a wanna-lancer? Start with the official Wanna-lancer Checklist t-shirt or wall clock or ice tea glass!

* * *

Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by:

Break out the fake hacking, techno, martial arts, and black leather! Why a Matrix relaunch could work.

I’m a huge fan of  The Matrix, and from a creative side of things, an even bigger fan of the overall universe/ concept of the property. On the other side of things, I’m lukewarm to outright “will turn the movie off because I’ve been bored to tears” when it comes to Matrix: Reloaded and Matrix: Revolutions.

The movie, along with a few other creative sources, propelled me into my career as a writer of all things super heroic, epic, sci-fi, and all around kick ass.

So when I heard that Warner Brothers was giving some thought to possibly restarting the franchise, I thought I’d just share a few opinions. Really trying not to rant here.

There’s enough of that on the internet, so call this a “calm laying out of ideas/ thoughts”.

Original Recipe or Crispy is the true answer we seek……

-In the second movie Col. Sanders, I mean The Architect, established that there had been other “One’s” in the vein of Neo.

He explained that fights/conflicts like the ones of the Matrix trilogy had happened before, suggesting that this was sort of an endless loop.

So like it or not, the Wachowski’s left the door open for more stories to possibly be told for a concept which they no longer completely own (when they sold the idea to New Line Cinema/ Warner Bros.).

Unless they signed a kick ass deal which put the complete rights of the franchise in their hands, then WB always had the possibility of telling more stories in this universe without them, and they inadvertently (or maybe that was their plan from the beginning) provided a really solid jumping off point for future stories to be told.

It would be nice for Warner Bros to bring them in on a creative front, but legally speaking, they probably aren’t obligated to. Definitely sucks, I know.

Or not, which leads me to my next point……


-As much as I love The Matrix (one of my favorite movies of all time and a trend setter for modern sci-fi film) the subsequent sequels were a’ight to just horrible. I’m not a huge fan of the Animatrix as a whole. Enjoyed some of the shorts. Others just weren’t my cup of tea.

So any other stories that could be told in this universe, which is extremely expansive, should be told probably by someone else.

I like Sense 8 well enough, and even enjoyed that Channing Tatum roller skating in the sky space opera movie they directed, but with the subsequent Matrix sequels and other movies they’ve directed since then (though I hear Speed Racer has a cult fan following) I’d rather have them on as producers, or hands off, sort of in the vein of Lucas and the current round of Star Wars.

The Star Wars franchise has hit an all time creative and pop culture high with handing off the reigns to other creators, examples including Rogue One and Star Wars: The Force Awakens

-There are some awesome creators who can tackle this material in the form of screenwriters and directors who could kick ass in this universe, and I think they deserve a chance to tell stories set in the world of The Matrix. Once again, look at the Star Wars franchise, and the hiring of such modern/ talented storytellers as J.J. Abrams, Gareth Edwards, Rian Johnson, Phil Lord and Chris Miller to continue to expand this universe.

Heck, I’d be up for writing an expanded universe comic for The Matrix.

Warner Bros: hit a dude up.

Please let this be good. By all that is holy, please let this be good.

-I think between this possible relaunch and the burgeoning Harry Potter film-verse restart with Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, I feel that Warner Bros. is trying to get a viable franchise in their hands because the DC film-verse is currently just not cutting it.

Though the Matrix movies steadily got bad in quality, they still made a crap ton of money, and that’s all these studios care about.

-Lastly, don’t do a reboot. Just pick up with another The One as suggested by Col. Sanders. Create a new story, new conflict, higher stakes, etc.

That’s about all that I have. Just a few opinions.

Please discuss below, share, and be civil. 🙂

Tessera Guild at the Atlanta Sci-Fi and Fantasy Expo 2017 – March 11 and 12

Come meet the members of the Tessera Guild at the third annual Atlanta Sci-Fi and Fantasy Expo on March 11th and 12th, 2017.

North DeKalb Mall in Decatur, GA. Admission is free.

Robert Jeffrey IIJohn McGuire, and Egg Embry, along with Sir Leland Beauchamp, will host four panels over the two days:

 

I AM BlackSci-Fi.com
Saturday, March 11th from 3:00 to 3:50 EST

Hosted by Robert Jeffrey II as well as William Satterwhite

“Since its inception BlackSci-Fi.com’s goal has been to be “the premier site for the latest updates on Sci-Fi, Sci-Fact and Fantasy entertainment, news, people, places, and events and the measure of their impact on the African-American community, while also seeking to inform and inspire the imagination of individuals who aspire to live beyond the boundaries of everyday life”

Join Editor-in-Chief Robert Jeffrey II, and contributing writer William Satterwhite as they discuss the in’s and out’s of working for BlackSci-Fi.com, the websites goals and future plans, while touching on the general state of Black speculative fiction.”

 

You wrote something. Now what?
Saturday, March 11th from 5:00 to 5:50 EST

Hosted by Robert Jeffrey II as well as Bobby Nash and Milton Davis

“Join writers Bobby Nash, Milton Davis, and Robert Jeffrey as they discuss what happens after (or during) writing a book (novel, comic, short story, etc). Enjoy this insightful look into each writers path to becoming a published author followed by a Q&A session.”

 

John McGuire co-hosting: Freelance Writing and the 9 to 5

Freelance Writing and the 9 to 5
Sunday, March 12th from 3:00 to 3:50 EST

Hosted by John McGuire, Robert Jeffrey II as well as Nicole Kurtz, and William Satterwhite

“The Ups, the Downs, and Everything Between
By day, mild-mannered 9 to 5-er, but by night they create worlds! Join freelance writers as they discuss keeping a balance between the daily rigors of their 9-5s and writing careers.”

 

Sir Leland Beauchamp co-hosting: Dice, Kickstarter, Cash-in

Dice, Kickstarter, Cash-in
Sunday, March 12th from 12:00 to 12:50 EST

Hosted by Egg Embry and Sir Leland Beauchamp

“Role-play, write-up, and crowdfund your RPG adventures!
Have an original adventure, series of monsters, or tabletop game? Interested in crowdfunding its publication? Join Egg Embry and Leland Beauchamp for a a beginner’s guide to monetizing your tabletop RPG products. We’ll create a D&D creature to take through a hypothetical Kickstarter (idea to pitch to funding to production to delivery to what comes next).”

 

Egg Embry co-hosting: Dice, Kickstarter, Cash-in

For directions to North DeKalb Mall and this free convention, visit the ASFE website here.

 

 

* * *

 

 

Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

Missed the show? Interested in being a wanna-lancer? Start with the official Wanna-lancer Checklist t-shirt or wall clock or ice tea glass!

 

 

* * *

 

 

Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by:

Want to destroy the stars?

 Darkness Between the Stars

* * *

3,000 years from today, Earth is all but recognizable.
Stark cities made of black towers and white houses dot the planet. Tiny robots and powerful dream-inducing software keep humanity entertained. Nearly everything is automated.
But on one rural farm, a lone family lives a remarkably old-world lifestyle.
They harvest wheat. They repair their machines by hand. They drive the only combustible engine car left on Earth.
At night, the family’s youngest member of watches the stars and dreams of one day flying between them.
And when he sees them begin to disappear, he knows what will happen…

The beginning of the end.

Darkness Between the Stars

A science fiction journey by J Edward Neill

* * *

DarknessPaperbackFront

Consume me.

Review me.

Thank you,

J Edward Neill

Sci-Fi! Action! Adventure! Oh My!

First and foremost, posts are coming.

Like, soon. 🙂

Wanted to kick things off though with a new release announcement. If you’re looking for some awesome comic books, and sci-fi adventure check out some new offerings that I’ve written below.

The Scribes of Nyota: Our Voices, Our Imagination, A Compendium 

I’ve got a story in The Scribes of Nyota: Our Voices, Our Imagination, A Compendium, titled The Crossing: Moonlit Skies titled The Crossing: Moonlit Skies.

Edited by Maurice Waters, President of BlackSci-Fi.com and Creator Shawn Alleyne of Pyroglyphics Studio, “The Scribes of Nyota” aims to inspire imagination, while shining a light on a segment of society whose stories aren’t often heard.

Definitely check out the book because there are a collection of awesome stories and art to be found in the anthology.

The Crossing: Moonlit Skies, tells the story of two dimension hopping heroes, who find themselves on the run from crazy moon god worshiping acolytes.

In other words, for our protagonists, a typical Monday.

There’s gun play, hover trains, snappy dialogue, and high action. The story acts as sort of an interlude within a comic book series concept that fellow Tessera Guild member/ novelist/ comic book writer John R. McGuire and I have come up with.

Stay tuned for more news on the comic book series, but for now you can take a dip into the world of The Crossing by picking up the anthology here.

 

Terminus Team Up #1

Who doesn’t love sci-fi superheroics with great dialogue, awesome art, and kick ass stakes?

Not you intrepid reader! You can find all this and more in a story I wrote titled Terminus Team Up #1: Amber Fox vs Terra Force.

A description of the book reads “Amber Fox is just your regular dimension hopping acquisitions expert. But sometimes you end up needing to take a job from the more shady of characters. So when Amber is hired to steal a rare item of note from a team of super-powered individuals known as Terra Force, she may have overstepped her bounds. And let’s just say that Terra Force don’t take too kindly with people breaking and entering…”.

You can also pick up Tessera Guild member John McGurie’s second issue in this series that takes place in the world of his creator owned project The Gilded Age, here.

And more posts are coming, I swear.

What if the stars started dying?

3,000 years from today, Earth is all but unrecognizable.

Stark cities made of black towers and white houses dot the planet. Tiny robots and powerful dream-inducing software keep humanity entertained. Nearly everything is automated.

But on one rural farm, a lone family lives a remarkably old-world lifestyle.

They harvest wheat. They repair their machines by hand. They drive the only combustible engine car left on Earth.

At night, the family’s youngest member of watches the stars and dreams of one day flying between them.

And when he sees them begin to disappear, he knows what will happen…

Follow Joff as he begins his journey into the Darkness Between the Stars.

Now available on Amazon.

The first chapter is free right here.

darknesskindle

The cover art is by Amanda Makepeace. Find her here.

Free ARC copies are available for reviewers. Find me here.

J Edward Neill

Author of A Door Never Dreamed Of

A Door Never Dreamed Of gets all cut up

For the next few evenings, my sci-fi novella A Door Never Dreamed Of is only $0.99 (or £0.99 in the UK.)

It goes a little something like…

A thousand years from today, nearly all of humanity is jacked-In.
We sleep, connected to machines, dreaming our lives away.
For most people, it’s the perfect life.
But for the few who never jacked-In, it’s exile.
Abandoned, persecuted, and betrayed, the Outs plot their vengeance across the centuries.
And when they open the Door, only one way of life will survive…

dnd

Buy A Door Never Dreamed Of here.

And learn more about my other titles here.

Thank you for reading,

J Edward Neill

Cover Reveal – Darkness Between the Stars

A young boy will journey into the Darkness Between the Stars.  And he may never return…

I’ll have 20 softcover editions to give away as ARC’s (advance review copies.)  If you’d like one, and if you’re willing write an honest review, look me up on Facebook, Twitter, or via email.

And now, the amazing Amanda Makepeace cover art:

darknesspaperbackfront

darknesspaperbackback

A free preview (the entire first chapter) is here.

Darkness Between the Starsnow available via Amazon

* * *

J Edward Neill

Author of sci-fi hit, A Door Never Dreamed Of

Creator of the Coffee Table Philosophy series

A Thought for Every Thursday – How or Why?

Welcome to the latest installment of my new weekly series, A Thought for Every Thursday.

Every Thursday at Tessera Guild I’ll pose a question (or several) regarding a specific current event, a modern moral issue, or a philosophical conundrum. Instead of answering it myself, I’ll look to you for the resolution.

It’s all in good fun.

Here we go…

* * *

Finally, a Simple Question

In past ATFET’s, we’ve been pretty wordy.

This week we’re keeping it quick and easy.

So…

 Given the choice, would you rather know HOW the universe works, meaning you’d understand all the hard science behind each and every interaction taking place in our existence?

or

Would you prefer to know WHY our universe and all the individual objects within it exist, meaning you’d grasp the purpose behind everything?

Explain your reasons.

* * *

Past ATFET’s are right here.

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

See you next Thursday!

J Edward Neill

 

All Hallows Book Sale Part III

I’ve got a game for book lovers to play this Halloween.

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Every Monday through every Thursday until All Hallows Eve, I’ll be offering random Kindle books for free.

The catch, I’m not telling exactly which ones will be free on which days. You’ll just have to guess.

Each book will be free one day of each week. With six books to choose from, some days will have two freebies.

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Here’s the books:

Dark_Moon_Daughter-InitialCover 415+yIHxswL__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ WebImageFront 101 Questions for Women Cover soul-orb-ddp-cover the_strange_things_p_cover_for_kindle

Trick or treat!

J Edward Neill

The quest for book reviews – A Door Never Dreamed Of

It’s my top-selling book of all time.

It’s a deep glimpse into the darkest corner of humanity’s future.

It’s about two sides squaring off against with the entire world at stake. There is no evil. There is no good.

There is only…

A Door Never Dreamed Of

DoorNeverDreamedPaperback1

All I ask is if you pick up A Door Never Dreamed Of, you kindly leave an honest review on Amazon.

Oh, and here’s a quick and easy guide on how to review a book in 60 seconds or less.

Open the door tonight…

J Edward Neill

Funny. It doesn’t feel ‘Dark.’

Ok.

I’m done writing philosophical books for now.

I’ve got no plans to publish anything else like this weird little thing.

And I’m pretty much out of horror ideas.

So it’s like this. I’m getting back to my roots. It’s time for more darkness, more shadows, and more end-of-the-universe type books. It’s my bread and butter. It’s my dice-move on the dance floor.

My new book? It’s called Darkness Between the Stars. It’s now available to buy right here.

Here’s a splash of the Amanda Makepeace cover art:

DarknessTesseraBanner

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Oh…and here’s the entire first chapter:

* * *

Earthbound

  

Many years before they selected me to save humanity, I knew who their choice would be.

Maybe that’s why they picked me. Maybe they planted the idea in my head when I was only a little boy. Or perhaps it was a simple matter of me guessing right. But somehow I knew.

I’m meant for something else, I remember thinking.

I’m not destined to be earthbound.

Those were strange thoughts for a six-year old boy. No, they were beyond strange. They were surreal. It was the year 4901, and I had no concept of what those feelings meant. I didn’t know anything about deep space travel, the Thousand-Year War, or humanity’s exodus from Earth. Everyone else in the world knew about these things, but not me. Not little Joff.

All I really knew were my father’s wheat fields, my mother’s love for me and my sister, and my teddy bear, Alpo, who was missing his right arm.

Alpo’s story was a funny one. He was named after an aluminum can. And it wasn’t just any can, but a three-thousand year-old one I found in the dirt in one of Dad’s fields. ‘Alpo,’ it said in faded yellow print. Maybe that’s why Dad used to say our fields were the most fertile of all. Something about being on a landfill. Something about wheat growing better on top of thirty-century old garbage.

Whatever.

I didn’t care. I was six years old. The same night I found the ancient can, I sprinted home and renamed my teddy bear. Everything in the world seemed right.

Those were the best of days. We were happy, all of us. We lived in a valley with mountains on three sides. Our fields of golden wheat swayed to breezes that never stopped. All around our little stone house, pale streams tickled the earth, clean and crisp as anything. Life wasn’t always easy, but it was quiet. Our family was untouchable, a last island floating on an ocean of technology.

Although weren’t entirely isolated.

A city lay just outside our valley.

By modern standards, Donva was a small town. To a six-year old boy who’d rarely been beyond his valley, it was awe-inspiring. They’d named Donva after the woman who’d first suggested a settlement there. Like most cities back then, it was all blacks and whites. Not the people, mind you. The buildings. Skinny dark towers jutted skyward from its heart, while warrens of pale, impossibly clean dwellings sprawled in the towers’ shadows. People lived in the little white houses and worked in the big black spires. Donva was so tight-knit that almost everyone walked everywhere. The only time anyone took a train or a hover-truck was to leave the city entirely, which most people rarely did.

I remember one of my earliest visits.

We were in the car on a warm, sunny morning. It was Mom, my sister Aly, and me. We weren’t piloting one of those fancy, matte-grey hover-trucks, but instead we rode in a combustion engine car. Yes, those. The same kind they say fouled the air centuries ago. And so rare in 4901 that only a hundred or so existed, while even fewer actually worked.

So when we rolled into town on a shiny white road everyone else used for walking, we got the best looks from people. They smiled, waved, and stopped to say hello to Mom. They didn’t begrudge our pretty chrome prize, but instead welcomed the sight. It was the way things were in Donva. It wasn’t like the big cities, the scary cities.

I’d have had more fun that morning if not for Aly. She always made it a point to start little wars with me every time we were in the car. That day was no exception.

“You’ll never get to sit up front,” she told me for the thousandth time.

“Yes I will,” I argued. “I’ll be bigger than you someday. Dad says so.”

“But I’ll always be older.” She made a face. “Which means the front is mine. Forever.”

I felt myself getting angrier. If there was one thing I hated, it was injustice. Aly saw me grinding my teeth and grinned at me. I waited for Mom to stop our brewing battle, but she didn’t. I think she wanted us to fight it out without her help.

“We’ll run out of gas someday,” I told Aly. “Dad’s big tank will go dry. Then we’ll have to walk. There won’t be any front seats. You’ll see.”

She laughed at me. “It’ll be funny, you on your skinny legs. You’ll get half a kilo, and Mom will have to carry you. Isn’t that right, Mom?”

In her fancy black shades and wide-brimmed white hat, Mom didn’t say a word. She turned the wheel and drove down a side road. I think I saw her shake her head, but from the back seat it was hard to tell.

“I’ll break your dolls.” I decided to fight dirty.

“I’ll tear Alpo’s other arm off,” Aly shot back.

“I’ll steal your books,” I huffed.

“I’ll chop off your hair while you’re sleeping.” She smirked.

“Oh yeah…well…I’ll steal your skypad,” I dared.

Aly’s mouth fell open. Mom slowed the car and took off her sunglasses. I knew right away I’d gone too far.

“What did I tell you about the skypad, Aly?” Mom stared at my sister, calm as a cloud before a storm.

Aly glared at me. If she’d have turned any redder, her head might’ve burst.

“If your father catches you with it, he won’t even bother to sell it,” Mom continued. “He’ll throw it in the combine and grind it into powder. You know how he feels about those things.”

“But Mom—” Aly tried.

“Tomorrow we’re coming back here,” Mom cut her off. “You bring the pad. We’ll sell it, and you can use the money for whatever you want. But no tech. No vids, no sprites, and no dream-makers.”

“Mom—”

“Non-negotiable,” said Mom.

And that was the end of it.

We kept driving. Aly hated me, and I didn’t say another word. I hadn’t meant to get her into trouble. I’d just blurted out the thing I knew would win the argument. I’d always been good at winning. Not so much at surviving the aftermath.

If Aly was heartbroken, she had every right to be. Our father’s disdain for technology was legendary. He didn’t like vids, which usually just spouted ads for other tech. He really didn’t like sprites, which floated around people’s heads and played whatever media their users wanted them to. And he really, really disliked dream-makers, which were known to be addictive, so much that some people never slept right after just a few days of using them.

But above all those things, Dad didn’t like skypads. Skypads were like pieces of almost indestructible paper. You cold bend them, stick them to walls, wear them, whatever you liked. And using a skypad, with the right hacks, you could connect to and view everything. If you wanted to watch a signal from a satellite on the far side of Earth, you could do it. If you fancied eavesdropping on feeds from near-orbit space stations, it was easy to make happen. But worse than anything, if you wanted live video of world news, which Dad despised, all you had to do was click a button, and every channel in the world opened up beneath your fingertips.

I was sure all Aly used her skypad for was to vid-chat with her friends, but that wouldn’t matter to Dad. He assumed the worst of most technology. And therefore he’d banned it from our household.

That night at dinner, Aly and I sat in silence at the table. Dad heaped potatoes and greens on our plate, and both of us nibbled. It didn’t take long before Dad noticed us.

“What’s on your mind, Joff?” he asked me.

“Nothing,” I fibbed.

“Aly?” he pried.

“Nothing.”

Dad took another bite. He knew something was up. But as was ever his way, he didn’t get angry.

“Nothing?” he said while he chewed. “The funny thing about nothing is that it’s always something. You went to Donva today. That’s something. You brought home salt, spices, and a new kettle. That’s something more. And I’m sure you both saw your mother’s new hat. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? That’s definitely something.”

Aly dropped her gaze to the floor. I knew what she was thinking. And I also knew our father.

He knew about the skypad.

He’d already found it.

“Just tell him, Aly,” I whispered.

“Tell him what?” She stared a hole through me.

“You know…”

Dad gave both of us The Look. We knew what it meant. Whenever he broke The Look out, it meant he wasn’t going to say another word. No one at the table, Mom included, was allowed to speak, eat, or leave until The Look was answered.

And on that night, the only right answer was for Aly to admit she’d been hiding a skypad in her room for almost three months.

I wanted to answer for her. My sense of justice told me that the sooner we fessed up, the better. But The Look that night was less for me and more for Aly. Dad wanted her to fess up, not for me to protect her.

I’m not sure how long we sat there and waited. The steam stopped rising from our potatoes and our greens got cold. Aly looked to Mom for an escape, but Mom just sat there with her hands folded in her lap. She and Dad were a wall. There was no getting around them, no climbing over. The only way to get through was to tell the truth.

“I…” Aly’s voice cracked. “I have a skypad. And I know what you’re going to say, but…it’s not what you think. I don’t care about watching the fights in the wasteland. I don’t hack into the space stations. I just talk to Sara and Melina. That’s all.”

“And?” Dad still wore The Look.

“…and sometimes steal a show from the satellites. But nothing gory, Dad. No war feeds.”

I knew she’d told the truth. Not because I believed her, but because Dad lifted his cup and took a deep swig of warm milk. He wouldn’t have done it had Aly lied. It would’ve gotten a lot worse.

“So…does that mean I can keep it?” Aly asked.

Our father let out a great gust of air. I sensed he was just a little sad.

“No,” he said.

“But why?” Aly pleaded. “I’m not using it for bad stuff!”

“I know you’re not. But the answer’s the same. It’s done, Aly. It’s gone.”

She looked angry at first, then stunned. I think her plan had been to blame me for everything. But it was obvious Dad had known all along. He’d destroyed the skypad while we’d been in the car arguing about it.

Which meant it wasn’t my fault.

 

 

* * *

 

The next months were a strange time.

The same as every day, we worked in the fields. It was summer, which meant keeping up the irrigation trenches, feeding the chickens, and doing lots of maintenance on our aging machines. Dad was teaching me to be a blackthumb, which meant I had to learn all about machinery, and that I came home every night with oily hands and dirty clothes. At six years old I probably should’ve been attending school in Donva with Aly, but Dad didn’t want that for me, and I didn’t mind.

“We’ve got enough tech designers and programmers to last ten generations,” he’d say. “So here you’ll work, learning machines. And if ever you need a job in one of the cities, you’ll be the best damn blackthumb they could hope for. You’ll be a master, and you’ll command whatever salary you want.”

And so I watched, worked, and learned all the things my father wanted, even though being a blackthumb wasn’t what I cared about. I did it because Dad wished it and I loved him, though in my heart I wanted something else. I didn’t know exactly what that something else was. But I felt it inside me, a dream smoldering in my mind, a hot thumping in my chest that wouldn’t go away.

I suppose, if I’d understood it better, I would’ve tried to snuff it out.

I don’t know if life would’ve been different. Maybe they’d have picked someone else.

Maybe not.

It wasn’t until near my seventh birthday, on a cold winter’s eve after a long day’s work hauling wood down from the mountains, I learned something about why my father was the way he was. I don’t know why I decided to go to the storage barn instead of rushing home to dinner. Tired as dirt, I wandered off the path and dropped my last stack of firewood against the barn’s outer wall.

And then I pushed the sliding door open and walked inside.

The barn was dark inside. We didn’t have any animals in it; the cattle were in a different barn. I slid inside to escape the howling wind and catch my breath before dinner, and I pushed the door shut behind me. The smells of old wood, of tools that hadn’t been used since summer, and of cold, hard soil drifted through the air. I reached out for the old bench that sat just to the door’s left, and I sank onto it, limp as a dishrag.

If I’d had a blanket, I might’ve slept the night in the barn. I was that tired.

Yet no sooner did I lean back against the creaky old bench than I smelled something else. It wasn’t wood or rusty tools or dirt.

Smoke, I know.

What’s that old saying Dad made up? About smoke and fire?

I stood back up. I don’t know why I did it quietly. Most of me knew no one else could possibly be in the barn with me.

Or could there be? I wondered.

I followed my nose. Soundless as a falling star, I crept through the darkness. I’d been in the barn a thousand times in my life. I knew where the door to the tool room was.

Five steps forward.

Turn right.

Seven steps through the narrow hall.

Now touch the door.

I reached out and touched the planks to the tool room’s door. They were warmer than I expected, and the smells wafting between the cracks caught me right in the nose. I put my ear to the door and listened. A voice, so far away, made its way to me. It wasn’t Dad or Mom, or even Aly. The voice was too small, almost like it came from…

…a skypad.

I can’t remember just when I’d learned to be so stealthy. Maybe it was part of having an older sister and knowing how to sneak past her bedroom without her coming out to chase me. But somehow, someway, I pulled the door open wide enough to see inside.

And Dad didn’t hear me.

In the little room, in the quiet heart of the old barn, he sat there on a stool, his workbench laid out before him. An old-world cigarette dangled between his fingers, but he wasn’t smoking it. Nor was he working. He had his back to me, and over his shoulder I saw the skypad’s soft blue glow. He’d stuck it to the side of our red toolbox. I saw it plain as the sun shining, a crown of wrenches standing just behind it.

I stood there and I watched. My shock at seeing Dad so absorbed in the very thing he’d always said he hated didn’t last. I guess I wasn’t really surprised. Maybe I’d known all along.

The program he’d found, The Dusktime Dispatch, flickered on the skypad’s screen. It was a blurry image, doubtless stripped from a satellite thousands of miles away. To hear the voices talking, I had to tune out the entire world, which was easier than I expected.

“What we’re looking at is all that remains of the city they used to call Lun-dun,” announced a man in a flak-jacket and a black beanie hat.

“Yes, Lukas. We know that,” said the newsman.

The two men appeared in separate frames on the skypad. On the right, the newsman sat in a too-clean office somewhere in a vast city. Meanwhile the man in the black beanie, Lukas, occupied the left frame, its edges burning bright red from the approaching sunrise. Lukas looked brawny and a bit dangerous. The skeletal remains of a vast city, which must’ve been a thousand times the size of Donva, stretched out behind him. The sight scared me more than a little.

Lukas adjusted his black beanie and continued:

“Now, as we’ve talked before, today’s the day we’re sending a team into Lun-dun to test the Exodus craters for radioactivity. It’s our hope, after all this time, the levels of poisoning might’ve dropped well below critical toxicity.”

Me being not quite seven years old, I shouldn’t have understood all those fancy words. But I did. I’d read all of Aly’s school books a dozen times, probably while she was hiding and watching the very same skypad Dad and I were watching now.

“When does your team depart?” the newscaster asked.

“In one hour,” said Lukas. “They’re suiting up in their safety gear now.”

“Well…” The newscaster looked concerned. “We’ve talked about this before, about the ERM, the Exodus Reclaiming Mission. But what we’ve never really discussed, Lukas, is exactly what you and your team hope to reclaim. Now that you’re there, and now that we’ve got every skypad in the world tuned to this feed, what can you tell us? Can you say what it is you’re looking for?”

Even on the grainy little skypad screen, I swore I saw Lukas hesitate. It wasn’t even a flinch. It was something about the way he breathed.

Whatever he says next will be a lie, I thought.

“Resources,” said Lukas. “Of course, much of Lun-dun was burned away during the Exodus. But there’s still resources. Precious things beneath the craters.”

“What precious things?” The newsman sounded skeptical.

I didn’t know why, but in that moment I wanted to hear Lukas’ answer more than anything I’d ever heard in my life. I didn’t just want to know; I needed to.

And that’s the exact moment Dad flicked the ashes off the end of his cigarette and glanced over his shoulder.

“Joff?” he said.

I didn’t know how to answer. I just stood there, frozen the same as the icicles hanging off the barn’s roof. I’d figured he’d known I was there. After all, he’d always known everything.

But this time it turned out I’d truly surprised him.

And worse, him facing me meant the skypad was blocked and I couldn’t hear what Lukas said.

Oh God. I shivered. Dad’s never gonna trust me again.

* * *

Look for Darkness Between the Stars in stores now.

In the meantime, if you liked this little chapter, you’ll definitely like A Door Never Dreamed Of.

J Edward Neill 

 

A Tale of Sliders and Tow Trucks

Life has a way of repeatedly kicking you in the nether regions at times.

Like, repeatedly.

Case in point: about a couple of weeks ago the head gasket on my car went caput, with a giant C. Smoke and/or steam began spewing from the hood, my car began making a weird sucking/ popping sound, and only by the skin of my teeth was I able to make it out of rush hour traffic to an empty driveway to wait for a tow.

A reenactment of Robert's descent into madness

A reenactment of Robert’s descent into madness

Car was taken to a shop, shop said it would take 5 days, maybe 7 max to repair.

Cool.

7 turned into 8, 8 turned into something else, new days of completion were provided, patience was provided by yours truly, and then those days were missed.

Patience began wearing thin, other missed days were promised, terse conversations followed, and FINALLY the car was repaired. Head gasket was said to be in tip top shape, and I was back on the road.

So fast forward to 6/30 (remember, this whole thing began on 6/15) I’m driving along, listening to Collider Heroes Podcast, maxin’ and relaxin’, enjoying the AC, and then I notice my temperature gauge is running hot.

And then guess what happens?

Smoke and/or steam began spewing from the hood, my car began making a weird sucking/ popping sound, and only by the skin of my teeth was I able to make it out of rush hour traffic to the side of the road to wait for a tow truck.

So there I am, sitting in the car, ticked beyond comprehension after getting off the phone with the repair shop. Told them I wasn’t paying for a repair that should’ve been handled correctly before to which they agreed, and they said to have my car towed to the shop again to be checked out.

Another reenactment of Robert losing it on the phone. Note: notice that my cell phone appears to be modeled after an old landline phone. That's so retro!

Another reenactment of Robert losing it on the phone. Side note: notice that my cell phone appears to be modeled after an old landline phone.
That’s so retro!

What to do? Stew in my anger as traffic whizzed past my immobile vehicle?

Heck no!

This situation called for something epic, something that would get my mind off of the fact that I was slowly roasting even with the windows down:

A live reaction session via FB for the first episode of that 90’s cross dimensional hopping sci-fi adventure, Sliders, through the Netflix app on my phone.

Below is the insanity that flowed from my fingers as I waited for rescue.

Enjoy.

 

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The OG’s of Cross Dimensional Travel, a.k.a The Fab Four

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Epilogue: The car got repaired the next day and is rolling along a bit better.

Thanks Sliders for getting me through it all.

Bonus: Here’s a little diddy from the Crying Man himself, Mr. Rembrandt Brown.

 

Little Mia Doesn’t Stand a Chance

In the old world city of Ellerae, one person goes missing every day.
Poor little Mia doesn’t stand a chance.
Or does she?
One dead. Every night. Forever…  

Let the Bodies

A terrifying follow-up to the short story Old Man of Tessera.

FREE for the weekend.

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Let the Bodies is one of four short stories appearing the novella, The Hecatomb.

TheHecatombWeb

As ever, I appreciate your reviews.

Love,

J Edward Neill

Movie Casting for A Door Never Dreamed Of

Not all that long ago, I dreamed up a book.

And then I wrote it.

And loved every moment of its creation.

When it hit Amazon, the reactions were pretty much identical. “Make this into a movie,” my readers suggested. “Now!”

Gosh, I’d love to, I thought. A Door Never Dreamed Of might make an even better film than this and this. We’ve got opportunities for epic-scale fights and small, quiet moments of reflection. We’ve got beautiful women and huge, scary dudes. As long as we keep Michael Bay at…well…bay, it could be a sci-fi tale for the ages.

Ok. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.

Maybe.

No matter. Here’s my dream cast for A Door Never Dreamed Of:

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Moz

 

Michael B. Jordan (Mozelle) – Every story worth its salt needs a hero. And who better than Creed’s shredded, skillful M.B.J. to play Moz. He’s exiled to a far-off space station. He’s millions of miles from Earth, which he dreams of every night. He’s ready for the Door to open and the war to begin. Suit up, M.B.J.. Time to fight!

 

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Anjel Chloe Grace Moretz

 

Chloe Grace Moretz (Anjel) – Gosh, Chloe grew up fast. Her Kick Ass roots revealed not only her acting ability, but her confidence and badass-ness. Therefore she’s perfect for Moz’s love interest, Anjel. She’s also an exile, but she’s definitely not as ready for war as her lover. Brains over brawn, people. Remember…

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Kodi-Smit McPhee Rafe

 

Kodi-Smit McPhee (Rafe) – You remember him as Nightcrawler from the X-Men movies. But in A Door Never Dreamed Of, he’ll play the unlucky Rafe. Awakened from his perfect, plugged-In world, he’ll have to face off against impossible odds, with nothing other than the fate of the world in the balance. Get some, Kodi.

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Absinthe

 

Margot Robbie (Absinthe) – What kind of villain is worse than a maniacal, evil tyrant? A cold, calculating woman, that’s what kind. She’s stunning. She’s smarter than everyone. She has plans that stretch well beyond Earth. I’m confident Margot has the looks and the chops to pull of the cunning, sneaky Absinthe, whose plots know no boundaries.

 

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Gerrard Gerard Butler General

 

Gerard Butler (General Gerrard) – The name similarity is a coincidence. Despite his flop in Gods of Egypt, Gerard’s been awesome in pretty much everything else he’s been in. And as General Gerrard, he’ll get to set the stage for humanity’s biggest conflict. Ins versus Outs. Jacked-In dreamers versus exiles. When he makes plans, you’d best worry.

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Bautista Zamo Kosi Dalip Singh

Dave Bautista (Zamo) and Dalip Singh (Kosi) – As mentors to Mozelle and badasses in their own right, these two behemoths get to suit up and wage war alone against entire jacked-In cities. I wouldn’t want to fight either one, but especially not if they were wearing battle suits that make them weigh 10,000 kilos. Would you?

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Frigg Idris Elba

 

Idris Elba (Frigg) – Idris has some serious acting chops. This we know. He’s also got a commanding voice (Jungle Book – Shere Khan) which he’ll need in order to become Frigg, commander of the Achilles space station, and Mozelle’s big, bad boss.

 

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Yeo Gary Oldman

 

Gary Oldman (Yeori) – Is there a movie Gary shouldn’t be cast in? I mean really? Ever since Dracula, he’s been my personal favorite actor. Here he’ll get to play the cantankerous old warrior, Yeo. He’ll have to adopt a weird accept (not a problem) and he’ll get to blow up Paris. All by himself. Sound fun, Gary? Bring it.

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Emperor Gad Hassan

 

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Gad Hassan (Emperor) – A small role, to be sure. But as Emperor, the cranky, ambitious In scholar, Gad will fall in nicely. He’ll get to poke lots of fun at Margot Robbie. Brave, indeed. Or foolish…

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Kate Beckinsale Silk the Scientist

 

Kate Beckinsale (Silk) – Perhaps no one has more sympathy for our lead character than the jacked-In Silk. We’ll nerd up Kate with glasses and an ugly, post-modern dress, and she’ll fill in nicely as one of few people who really gives a rip about anything happening on Earth.

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Judi Dench Old Woman Krubera

 

Judi Dench (The Old Woman of Krubera) – Wise and benevolent. Fair and calm in the face of any storm, Judi Dench will greet all comers with her wit and utter wisdom. She doesn’t even get a name. It won’t matter. She’ll have a crucial role in all things to come, and she’ll do it all so very quietly.

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The screenplay is in the works. The book is done.

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J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead trilogy

Creator of the Coffee Table Philosophy series

Short Film: Code 8

You are in for a treat today! Code 8 is a short film that was created as a proof for a feature film. The creators ran an IndieGoGo back in March of this year–a mega successful crowdfunding campaign. This is a movie I want to see! Here’s a description from that campaign:

The film takes place in a world where 4% of the population are born with some type of supernatural ability. Instead of being billionaire superheroes, most ‘specials’ live in poverty and resort to crime, forcing the police to become more militarized.

The story follows a young man with special powers (Amell) struggling to find work as a day laborer. After a dispute over payment, he finds himself in a confrontation with a police officer (Kang) and the autonomous robots backing him up.

Extreme Sci-Fi – A Door Never Dreamed Of

JupiterEventTeaser1

A few days ago, a friend asked me which of my books I’d most want to make into a movie.

‘This one,” I answered. “A Door Never Dreamed Of.”

It goes a little something like:

A thousand years from today, nearly all of humanity is jacked-In.
We sleep, connected to machines, dreaming our lives away.
For most people, it’s the perfect life.
But for the few who never jacked-In, it’s exile.
Abandoned, persecuted, and betrayed, the Outs plot their vengeance across the centuries.
And when they open the Door, only one way of life will survive…

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Get your copy today, and open the Door.

Your reviews are appreciated.

J Edward Neill

Author of the darkest dark fantasy series ever

And creator of the Coffee Table Philosophy series

A Door Never Dreamed Of – Opened!

A thousand years from today, nearly all of humanity is jacked-In.

We sleep, connected to machines, dreaming our lives away.

For most, it’s the perfect life.

But for the few who never jacked-In, it’s exile.  

Abandoned, persecuted, and betrayed, the Outs plot their vengeance across the centuries.

And when they open the Door, two sides will meet.

But only one will survive…

A Door Never Dreamed Of

A sci-fi novella

Now Available!

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The beautiful SOFTCOVER, featuring the stunning art of Amanda Makepeace.

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The deadly E-BOOK. Ending Kindles everywhere.

J Edward Neill

Best Works Featuring “Regular Folks with Super Abilities”: Part 1

2016 is going to bring no shortage of superheroes and super-villains on both the large and small screens. We’ve got Batman vs. Superman, Daredevil: Season 2, The Suicide Squad, Luke Cage, Agent Carter: Season 2, Captain America: Civil War, and the list goes on and on.

I’m personally a huge fan of such stories, in all mediums, and as a geek/ fan of pop culture I think that we’re living in a golden age of comic book storytelling, both on and off the pages of comics.

What I’m also a huge fan of are those stories of everyday people blessed/ cursed with awe inspiring abilities who don’t necessarily decide to put on a cape and tights to save the day. Folks who find themselves caught up in a set of crazy circumstances, while trying to continue to live their lives.

Pay the bills. Deal with relationship issues. Keep a job.

Now I’m not saying that these stories don’t eventually go the way of your typical tale of super heroics, but most of the one’s that I’ve become a fan of haven’t necessarily gone this route. As in the case of comic books, there’s a huge amount of action and adventure, with a smattering of some of the best elements of great science fiction.

Sometimes some of these examples start off as solid science fiction, but wind up playing within the spectrum of  the “regular folks with powers” sub-genre.

At the root of most of these works is a focus on how the characters involved decides to work with the abilities they’ve been either blessed or cursed with. There’s no immediate call to save the day, though we eventually get there in some of these cases.

For a while there have been a number of really notable examples of movies, novels, television programs, and comics that have played within this arena. There have also been some that have been not so stellar.

This will be the start of a list that I’ll try to add on to as I come across more examples of what I think is a pretty interesting sub genre of the tights and fights area of fiction.

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The 4400 (Television Series)

The USA Network for me was always the home of comedies like Psych and marathon broadcast sessions of dramas like Law and Order: Criminal Intent. It wasn’t a network that delved too much in the fantastical, at least at the points where I had cable.

So color me surprised when The 4400 dropped. I’m planning on doing another post that will go into detail on the awesomeness of the television series. Needless to say USA surprised me in a very good way.

The 4400 told the story of a group of 4400 individuals who disappeared worldwide over the years, beginning in 1946. In 2004 they are brought back to a Seattle, Washington beach and a division of US government agents are tasked with figuring out what happened to them, why they’ve been brought back, and to basically watch over them.

What is soon revealed is that a large amount of these individuals have abilities, and the show then becomes a mixture of X-Files meets X-Men. For the first season we follow a pair of agents, Agent Diana Skouris and Agent Tom Baldwin who tackle a sort of “ability” of the week story line, while we also watch how this plays out on the larger story being told.

The show ran for 4 seasons, with an abrupt cancellation in the last season. There have been four novels set within the continuity of the TV show which builds the world even further that should also be checked out.

Though the show focused on the concept of people with abilities, as mentioned before, these individuals weren’t trying to be superheroes. You have people who abused their abilities for selfish gain, saw the abilities as a blessing, or even tried to use them for committing disturbing acts.

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For example there was one episode during the first season where one returnee attempted to use his ability to simply save his neighborhood, after seeing the state of decay it had experienced in the years that he’d been away. But even then, you see the effects of what happens to an untrained individual who, though they had a set of “super” abilities, paid the consequences of the harsh reality he’d attempted to change, good intentions be damned.

The story grows in scope over the later seasons as we see the true purpose for these individuals being brought back, and definitely throws in a large amount of sci-fi elements. But at the core of this larger story we always come back to how these abilities are affecting these normal, everyday folks who are in essence caught out of time.

Chronicle (Film)

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Simple synopsis of Chronicle: A group of teens at a party find a glowing rock, investigate, experience nose bleeds, black outs, and develop telekinetic abilities.

And everything else afterwards is f&^%$ing awesome.

What works about this movie is this simple synopsis. Only towards the end of the flick do we get some obligatory, grandiose hero vs. villain fight. Don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome, but that’s not the strongest part of the flick.

No, before then we simply get a tale of kids gaining super abilities, and just being kids.

They get a handheld camera, and just do what teens nowadays would do: show off, and have fun with these new found abilities. Whether it’s pulling pranks at a grocery store, or just flying through the Washington state skies, the teens are just enjoying these awesome abilities.

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We have the popular nice/ intelligent dude (Steve/ Michael B. Jordan), the middle of the road likeable guy (Matt/ Alex Russell), and the sympathetic outcast (Andrew/ Dane DeHaan). Through the gifting of these abilities an unexpected friendship organically grows between the three, and makes you enjoy these characters even more.

In addition to this focusing on the budding friendship between the trio, we also get a really good example of something that I’ll tackle in Jumper: a focus on what a person who has been physically/ mentally abused might do with such a set of abilities.

One of the strongest, and depressing character arcs that we see in this movie is Andrew’s, played masterfully by DeHann. He’s the butt of everyone’s joke at high school, he’s the kid with the alcoholic father who verbally and physically beats him down it seems with every single day.

Imagine what a kid like that might do if granted god like abilities? Put on an outfit and fight crime?

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Nope, he’d be more inclined to probably F’ ‘ish up, as he lashes out with a huge well of pent up pain and frustration that’s been building over the years.

Andrew probably should’ve seen a counselor in the years before the events that play out in Chronicle, but that’s not the case. Even as his new friends try to intervene and help him to see the awesome guy that they see, it’s too late.

That’s why this story works extremely well for me. You have a kid who doesn’t go the typical route that teenagers endowed with abilities might go in the world of super heroic tales of do gooders.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit the dude gets a bit too super villain-esque at the end, but the build up to that, and even the final fight make up for this.

Chronicle is a great movie, featuring a believable take on teens gaining super abilities that shouldn’t be missed.

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 Jumper by Steven Gould (Novel)

First, let’s start with this: get that movie out of your head. The one featuring that guy who played the whiny Anakin Skywalker, and Samuel L. Jackson with yet another weird wig.

The movie was fun in spots, bad in others, but got too convoluted and grandiose in the story that it was trying to tell. Nice special effects, but kind of “blah” at the middle.

Jumper, the novel was much, much, much more in terms of a sci-fi story about a kid who discovers he has the ability to “jump”, or teleport. But David Rice, the stories protagonist, doesn’t do this for the sake of fighting crime, or saving lives (at first). For a large chunk of the book this kid is running from an abusive relationship.

David’s mother left him when he was a kid, fleeing the abuse that her husband was tossing out. Rather than eventually be continually hurt by him, or worse, she decides to leave the household, unfortunately leaving David to be the sole receiver of David’s ass-hat of a father’s abuse.

So when David discovers that he can teleport, he becomes the ultimate runaway kid. And you do nothing but root for him the whole time that he does this. Imagine being able to wondrously get away from a person who does nothing but berate you, hit you, psychologically just break you down to the point where you just want to die.

That’s where David is at in the book, and we see his growth into a stronger individual as the story plays out, the further away he gets away from his father.

Later on in the story David does use his abilities for good, but this is only after he suffers a personal tragedy of sorts. Throughout the book he’s constantly escaping the crappiness that life had heaped on him, and it makes for a compelling story.

Just as Jessica Jones focused on what someone with super abilities who had been psychologically and physically abused might deal with that, I think Jumper does the same in telling a science fiction based story of a runaway who is trying to simply escape a set of crappy circumstances.


 

That’s it for this round. I’ll add more in upcoming weeks to this list. Thanks for checking it out and happy viewing/ reading.

End of Year Check-In: Writers Edition

I like writing. I love writing. Writing kicks all kinds of butt.

Writing for me has always been a way to get these crazy ideas out on paper, to give them some type of life. Ideas of those who save the day, and those who seek to destroy said day. Characters who struggle internally with self doubt, and those who are so full to the brim with cock-assurredness that they drown on it.

Writing about anything and everything is what I like to do. It’s my trade, and I’ll continue to do it for as long as I can.

So in keeping with this, I’m going to do a rundown of some of the writing that’s come and gone in 2015, and what’s slated for the future. Sit back, relax, and read on!

                                                                               2015

 

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Route 3 #3

What began way back in 2013 has now been completed in 2015. 🙂

And I’m darn proud of it.

My wife has been extremely influential in keeping me going with this series (and everything else that I write), and for that (and many other reasons) I love this woman a lot. Living with a creative type is not the easiest thing to do, and I commend her for it. Love you T’.

Without the help of John, Tony, Mark, Tanya, Pete, Sean, Ann, Omi, Anthony, Vincent, Khari, and the whole Terminus Media crew, this book could never have come to fruition in the awesome way that it has. I can’t thank these folks enough.

As of this writing, the third issue seems to be doing fairly well in terms of the reception. Feedback has been pretty positive, as folks are either jumping onto this series for the first time, or have been down with the Route 3 cause from the beginning.

With the completion of this initial story arc, I’ve completed the first part of my goal with telling Sean Anderson’s story. Here’s hoping to have many opportunities in the future to build the story of this potential hero in the making.

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Radio Free Amerika # 3

Once again, major props to creator/ writer/ artist Barron Robert Bell for giving me a chance to play in his sandbox known as Radio Free Amerika. 2015 saw the release of Radio Free Amerika # 3, and a limited print run of the Radio Free Amerika graphic novel, Radio Free Amerika: Season 1.

As in the case of the Route 3 series, the third issue wraps up the first story arc of Mose B and his crew as they struggle to fight the good fight. Reception to the book has been pretty kick butt, and word continues to spread about the series.

On the writing front, it’s been an awesome opportunity to help lay out a world spanning story of war, hip hop revolutionaries, and important current event topics.

Stealth: Vol. 1, The Life and Times of Allen White (Prologue)

stealthTo be asked to help tell the origin story of a hero that you admire is a once and a lifetime opportunity. So when William Satterwhite, creator of the webcomic Stealth, approached me about writing the origin story of Mr. Allen White, a.k.a Stealth in an original graphic novel, I jumped at the opportunity

Add to this the artistic awesomeness known as Jamar Logan, and we’ve got a winner on our hands.

In 2015 we released a 19 page prologue opening the larger story, and once again, the reception we’ve received has been awesome.

The book has  superhero fights, it has an emotional moonlit conversation in a graveyard, it has a little bit of everything. Heck I’ve even got a scene in the book that got my little brother sort of choked up.

 

 

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Machina Obscurum: A Collection of Small Shadows

Once again, I’ve got to say thanks. First to my Tessera Guild crew for accepting me into the fold, way back when, and secondly to Jeremy Neill for sending out an invite for me to contribute to Machina Obscurum: A Collection of Small Shadows.

As a kid I started off writing prose. These pursuits began with a time travel novel which will never see the light of day, and numerous short stories afterwards. I kept up with writing short stories in high school, submitting some of them to my literary magazine. Fast forward to college and afterwards, and the focus then became the journalism.

Fast forward a bit more and now I’m writing comics, while still doing the freelance journalism. Prose unfortunately took a back seat, but the desire to go back to what I’d started with stuck with me.

The CrossingSo then comes Mr. Neill with his offer to contribute to an awesome anthology, and I thought to myself “sit your butt down and write”.

Enter stage left The Crossing: Moonlit Skies. This is a short story set within the larger events of The Crossing, which is a comic book series Mr. McGuire and I are collaborating on. The short is filled with adventure, and a bit of action set on a world far, far away.

 

 

 

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BlackSci-fi.com

During the back half of 2015 my output with BlackSci-Fi.com picked up in a big way. Maurice Waters is doing awesome work with his creation, and I’m just grateful to be able to hitch a ride on this awesome website.

The stories that I’ve written have run the gamut. I’ve been able to write about the personal experience of a cosplayer who was featured on a variant cover of the new Marvel Comics series Sam Wilson: Captain America. I also had an opportunity to review a gut wrenching yet timely anthology titled, APB: Artists Against Police Police Brutality.

So all in all I’m really looking forward to what 2016 will bring in the way of future opportunities.

 

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Tessera Guild

This year was a good one with my blogging pursuits, though it could’ve been extremely better. The goal has always been 2-3 Friday posts per month, and I need to start doing better with that.

The great thing about this website (aside from the awesome folks I write with here) is that I can write about any of my creative or nerdy interests. This year was no exception to this, and hopefully my output displayed the fun I find myself constantly having with writing for this website.

To top it all off, I just realized this was my first full year as a Tessera Guild contributer. 🙂

2016

 

 

DATC

Dark Universe II & The City II

My plan is to contribute to the second installments of each of these awesome anthologies, after being invited to play around in these universes.

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Route 3: Vol 1

Next year will bring the collected Vol 1 of issues 1-3 with a brand spanking new cover, bonus Route 3 content, with the ultimate goal of bring the book to a comic book store near you.

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RFA: Season 1

Terminus Media’s first collected trade paperback (extra content included) will be released in comic book stores in early 2016, and I’ll be grinning from ear to ear when I see this and Route 3: Vol. 1 on a comic book shelf.

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The Crossing

John McGuire and I are going to wrap this puppy up with a nice bow. Clean up the pitch. Knock out the first issue. Get it to a publisher.

In addition to this I’m brainstorming an original novella set within this world, which will flesh out the early days of Crossing, The Right Stuff style. I had so much fun with the short story, that want to keep things going with the prose in addition to comic book series.

Kaboom. Magic.

Stealth: Vol. 1, The Life and Times of Allen White (Graphic Novel) 

The hope is to have this entire project completed by the mid to late 2016. Jamar’s killing it on the upcoming book as shown below, and I’m focusing on adding to/ refining the current script.

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peyah_with_mask2 (2)The Best (Title is definitely subject to change): So guys and gals, you’re getting an exclusive preview of artwork from a comic that I and the talented Takeia Marie are partnering on. Without giving up too much, the story features alien zombies, futuristic guns, kick butt space vehicles, and an intergalactic war.

Don’t worry, we’re not taking the Michael Bay approach and jettisoning a great story, and strong character development.

We’ve got that on lock.

With me on the scripting duties, Takeia on the art, with us both building the story of this world, we’re going to kick sooooo much butt with this.

Below (and above) is concept art done by Takeia of one of our stories main protagonists, Peyah, and some of the hardware that she’ll be using.

I’m having a ball writing this, and I hope it’s reflected in the final product.

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Terminus Team Up: Amber Fox  vs. Terra Force:  A cleaned up version of the first issue in this awesome series (with new colors/ cover/ logo) will be released for the first time digitally this year featuring my scripting duties, Sean Hill (Dark Shaman, Route 3) on pencils and inks, and Lauren Brown on the brand spanking new colors.

Did I mention the awesome new cover? 🙂

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BlackSci-fi.com: Still reporting on a host of topics for the website. Assisting with a major overhaul of the webpage, and there will be an announcement soon about my work with the website coming soon.

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Well, that will wrap everything up for now. The list is definitely subject to change with additional projects, so I’ll keep everyone posted.

If you want to purchase any of the projects mentioned in the 2015 portion of the post, or even from my earlier work, head to http://robertkjeffrey.wix.com/robertkjeffrey. Thanks for the support, and spread the word.

2016’s here.