Search Results for: Thought for every thursday

A Thought for Every Thursday – Angels vs Demons

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

Every Thursday 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…

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For this week’s thought, let’s get a little personal. In modern society, there’s a tendency to label things (and people) as good or evil. No shades of grey. Just good or bad with little leeway.

Only…that’s silly.

It’s likely that in the history of humanity, no one has ever been 100% good or 100% evil. Even the best of us have done questionable things, while even the lowest and most corrupted of us have probably (even if accidentally) done something to help another person.

Now the question is: which of your voices is stronger?

How good and evil are you?

To solve this riddle, I designed a simple exercise called ‘voices.’

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Voices

Imagine a little angelic version of you lives on your right shoulder. This mini-you represents all that is good, wise, and optimistic in your life.

Now imagine a devilish version lives on your left shoulder. This little demon represents your impulsive, dark side.

Give each one a voice.

If they could talk, what would they say?

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Past A Thought for Every Thursday entries 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

A Thought for Every Thursday – How far are you willing to believe?

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

Every Thursday 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…

* * *

Two Worlds

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Human beings experience some pretty strange phenomena.

Things like déjà vu, synchronicity, placebo effects.

Despite the belief (or hope) that these effects are spiritual or otherwise outside the realm of explanation, most of them have causes rooted in science.

And yet…

A few phenomena exist that have yet to be fully explained.

Things like ghosts, past-life memory, ESP.

Which leaves us with three distinct possibilities:

These things don’t really exist. People make them up.

These things do exist, but have scientific reasons we’ve yet to find.

These things do exist, but have causes outside the realm of science.

Which one do you think is most likely?

And why?

Walk to the light

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Past A Thought for Every Thursday entries 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

A Thought for Every Thursday – The Omega Project

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

Every Thursday 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…

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The Omega Project

Imagine you’ve been elected to lead all of humanity.

Your goal: bring every living human together for the purpose of completing a singular, grand project.

The project can be anything imaginable, so long as it’s scientifically plausible.

What will you lead humanity to do?

p011gyw7

More pyramids?

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Past A Thought for Every Thursday entries 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

A Thought for Every Thursday – Thunderbolts from Above

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

Every Thursday 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…

* * *

I call this little series of questions The Adversary.

In most major religions across the world, the primary god or goddess is typically a benevolent or sometimes even an actively good figure of power.

They care. They want the best for their creations. They have positive feelings toward humanity.

But…

What if that assumption is completely off-base? What if humanity, in its infinite fallibility, has mistaken the intentions of its creator(s)?

With that in mind:

If there is a god or gods responsible for the creation and guidance of the human race, do you suppose:

…it’s possible this being is less than the benevolent deity described in several major religions?

…it’s possible this being might not have humanity’s best interests in mind?

…it’s possible this being might one day reject its creations?

…it’s possible this being has a dark purpose in store for us?

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Well? What are your thoughts?

divine_vengence

Squish!

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Past A Thought for Every Thursday entries 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

A Thought for Every Thursday – Gotta Love It

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

Every Thursday 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…

* * *

This week, I’ve got two relationship questions for you. Both involve the complicated matter of people being hesitant when getting into new romances.

swipe

Hey you! Slow down with the swipe-rights!

The first question:

You’ve met someone. You like them. A lot. So much so that you’re afraid of getting your heart broken.

The catch is; you’re not quite sure whether or not your feelings are mutual.

Which of the following are you most likely to do?

End the relationship now before they break your heart

Stay with them and take the risk

Try really hard to make them fall in love with you

Or _______________

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And the second question, which involves skeletons:

 We all have them in our closet. Maybe they’re childhood traumas, bad exes, fetishes, phobias, or *gasp* maybe even cats.

At what point during a relationship should someone let their skeletons out?

Immediately

After the 3rd date

Before things get serious

The very moment things get serious

Lock the closet door and throw away the key

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Well? What are your thoughts?

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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

 

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…

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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.

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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

 

A Thought for Every Thursday – Walking Contradictions

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…

* * *

Walking Contradictions

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This week I have several questions for you.

All have a similar theme: why do humans exist in a state of near-permanent contradiction?

For example:

Why do Americans lash out against the two-party system, yet few ever vote for a third party?

Why are people so willing to criticize and denigrate others, but so resistant to criticize or improve themselves?

Why do people kill in the name of their ‘peaceful’ religion?

If rush-hour traffic is so detrimental to public safety (and sanity) why do most businesses open and close in the same small window of time?

Why are people who condemn drama (in social situations) usually the most likely to start the theatrics in the first place?

How is it that the people who admit they have the least amount of knowledge are often the wisest among us?

Explain if you can.

And take your time.

untitled2

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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

A Thought for every Thursday – So Many Opinions

Welcome to the latest installment of 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…

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But Are We Really?

The old saying goes, “Everyone is entitled to their opinion.”

Let’s explore that a little deeper.

When people talk about opinions, they’re not really talking about truth. They’re talking about their personal feelings as they relate to various topics. They’re talking about emotions, instincts, and impressions. But most importantly, they’re talking about themselves.

Perhaps they don’t like a certain kind of food.

Or the way a car looks.

Or maybe it’s more serious, and the person really dislikes something going on in our society, sometimes to the point of being enraged by it.

Generally speaking, opinions are emotionally driven. They’re often formed when a person achieves a limited understanding of something and associates a positive or negative emotion in regards to it. Typically, though not always, the person with the opinion (regarding something important, not something frivolous) feels the need to express the opinion.

Loudly.

To anyone willing to listen.

And sometimes to people who aren’t so willing.

So now let’s talk about that saying again. When we talk about entitlement, we’re talking about something that a person has an inherent right to possess. And when we talk about opinions, we’re talking about feelings and emotions, something that doesn’t always mix well with truth and reality.

So…

Is a person truly entitled to their opinion?

Always?

What if it’s ignorant or based on misinformation?

And are people who possess a wide variety of powerful opinions narcissistic?

Or are opinions inalienable no matter what the circumstances might be?

And when someone says, “I respect someone else’s opinion,” regarding something they strongly disagree with, are they really telling the truth?

images

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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

A Thought for Every Thursday – What’s in a Heart?

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…

* * *

What’s in a Heart?

What’s a gesture worth?

What’s the value of symbol, an image, or an idol?

If you think about it, we’re surrounded by symbols. They’re on our cars, on our sports team logos, on businesses, roads, and flags.

Some of these symbols appear to be of more importance than others.

Like how the McDonalds arches are more widely known than the Maserati ‘M’.

Or how the US flag is always hoisted higher on the pole than the others.

Human gestures can also be symbolic. Like remaining silent during a somber moment, flipping someone a middle finger, or standing (or not) during a ceremonial moment.

These symbols and gestures are obviously important to many people, otherwise no one would be up in arms whenever someone else didn’t observe the popular protocol.

Let’s talk about that.

If a person remains silent during a somber moment, does it really, truly imply their respect for the moment? Given how our thoughts are our best-kept secret, is it possible many (or even most) people are thinking about something completely unrelated to the moment at hand?

What about symbols such as military standards, sacred buildings, and flags? If a person stands at attention (or otherwise appears to pay their respects) does it really reflect what’s in their heart?

Is it possible that many of the people giving apparent respect don’t actually give a damn? Is it probable?

And if it were true that some of the people who appear to give respect don’t actually care much about whatever’s happening in the moment, does that mean we’re kidding ourselves when we praise the appearance of respect and turn our noses up at the apparent lack of it?

Because it’s what lies in the heart that really matters, right?

Gestures and symbols are nice things to have, but do they really have the meaning we think they do?

Also…when’s the last time you stood at attention before a symbol (a building, a flag, etc) when no one else was looking?

I don’t know the answers.

Which is why I’m asking you.

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taco-bell

I’m willing to bet a LOT of people worship this symbol…

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

A Thought for every Thursday

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

It’s simple:

Every Thursday here 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.

Oh, and I promise it’s all in good fun.

So…

Here we go…

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Don’t Shoot the Messenger

Many times during our lives, a large percentage of the people you know will hear about something that’s happened in the world. Maybe it’s something big that just happened and everyone saw it on the news. Maybe it’s something somebody famous said. Or maybe it’s a national event we all read about on the internet. Regardless, it’s something everyone hears about, and something everyone has an opinion about.

Sometimes it’s something we can all agree with.

And sometimes not so much.

Whenever this happens, there’s often a messenger, aka a person or people who said or did something unusual.

Like that time Martin Luther King gave a society-changing speech.

Or when the Cold War ended.

Or when (insert celebrity name) said something controversial about (insert a touchy subject.)

Often when this happens, the message becomes secondary to the messenger. As in, the person or people who said or did something fall under more scrutiny than the actual thing they said or did.

Sometimes someone unsavory says something controversial (but maybe true) and their character gets attacked, thus destroying their message. And sometimes someone beloved says something unusual (but maybe not so true) and their message is automatically accepted because of their popularity.

See where I’m going with this?

So this week’s question is:

Is it fair to ignore a thought-provoking or hard-to-hear thing if the person saying or doing it is less than awesome? Should an important cultural commentary be shrugged off if people don’t like the messenger or the way the message is being delivered?

or…

 Should all the attention be paid to what is being said or done, and not to who the messenger is?

What do you think?

Is it ever fair to shoot the messenger?

Maybe sometimes…in certain situations?

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untitled

Kudos to anyone who gets the correlation.

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

Thursday Art Assault – Sketching Pretty Girls

We’ve recently ended our long-standing Thought for Every Thursday series.

It may one day make its return.

But for now, please enjoy the latest installation of  Thursday Art Assault

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For my latest round of short stories, I’ve decided to sketch my own cover art.

It’s a challenge.

…and I love it.

This next piece is a sequel to this.

Here’s a quick progression:

Nadya – or at least half of her. I started with strictly pencils, sketching her face on a huge sheet of watercolor paper. Surprise, surprise….watercolor paper is excellent media for fine pencil sketches, especially realistic pieces.

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I used a blend of charcoal, graphite, and dark pencil lead to deepen Nadya’s eyes and hair. Here’s my arsenal….

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Nadya, the Deathless is a character in the novel Hollow Empire.

Thanks for stopping by. More paintings are soon to come.

Prints are available here.

For art inquiries, hit me up on Facebook, Twitter, or via email.

If you like Nadya, you might also like these.

J Edward Neill

Painter of shadows

Thursday Art Fart – Two Dark Towers

We’ve recently ended our long-standing Thought for Every Thursday series.

It may one day make its return.

But for now, please enjoy the first installation of  Thursday Art Fart

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Dark cities…

Wasted landscapes…

Unholy dwellings…

These are among my favorite types of art to create.

And so I have.

City of Nowhere

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City of Nowhere – 24×48″ is among my more massive of my works. To make it happen, I slathered an entire canvas with red and black paint. After the base layer dried, I carved a stencil into two large poster boards and applied white spray paint to the non-blocked out areas. And then, to top it off, I dotted a few white stars and added some glossy black acrylics to the individual towers.

Boom. It’s huge. And I’ve nowhere to hang it…

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Dark Oasis

The stencils for City of Nothing were so time-consuming to cut, I felt I had to use them at least once more before tossing them. And so the necropolis of Dark Oasis was born. Creating the clouds with spray acrylics was a blast. Detailing the swirls within the towers…also fun. Dark Oasis is smaller at 18×24″.

I’m not sure which one I like more.

Oh well.

Prints are available here.

For purchase inquiries, hit me up on Facebook, Twitter, or via email.

If you like these, you might also like these.

J Edward Neill

Painter of shadows

A Thought for Today – Seventeen Years The Wolverine

Welcome to A Thought for Today, a knockoff… er, homage of J Edward Neill’s A Thought for Every Thursday.

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

It’s all in good fun.

Here we go…

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Seventeen Years The Wolverine
OR
I’m the best there is at what I do. But what I do is… play Wolverine… for 17 years…

Hugh Jackman played Wolverine in nine films. Three in the original X trilogy, three solo Wolverine/Logan films, and three from the new X series. Deadpool is the only Fox X-Men theatrical release that Hugh Jackman did not appear in (though referenced in the movie and during the promotional tour). Jackman stated that Logan (released 3/3/17) will be his final appearance as Wolverine.* For his work on these films, he’s received modest financial compensation (only enough money to buy nations) and two awards – Saturn and People’s Choice. Putting aside the money and assuming, after 17 years, Hugh Jackman really is retiring from Wolverine, what type of recognition does he deserve? In this day and age where 17 years in any job is unique, what would his service merit? If you were the 20th Century Fox executive charged with the fond farewells to Hugh, how would you express ‘thank you for all you’ve done’? A dinner and speech? An award? Solid gold Wolverine claws? Retiring the character (likely in favor of X-23)? Your decision, what does he deserve?

· X-Men (2000) – Won the Saturn Award: Best Actor category
· X2: X-Men United (2003)
· X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
· X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) – Won the People’s Choice Award: Favorite Action Star category
· X-Men: First Class (2011)
· The Wolverine (2013)
· X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
· X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
· Logan (2017)

*Writer’s Note – I’d lay odds that Jackman will cameo in Deadpool 2. And Deadpool will sew his mouth up. And we’ll all laugh despite hating the X-Men Origins: Wolverine reference.

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If you want real philosophical questions from J Edward Neill, check out his A Thought for Every Thursday entries are right here.

For more writing from Egg Embry, wanna-lancer, go here to read about buying a role-playing game resume.

A Thought for Every Thanksgiving!

 

It’s holiday season here in the USA. Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s, and blah, blah, blah…

For various reasons, families are gathering, football is being watched, and liquor is being poured.

Suppose you had a little more control over this whole thing.

Imagine you’ve been put in charge of creating a new national holiday. You can call it whatever you want. You can use it to celebrate anything you like. It’ll be a national paid holiday, observed by the government and appearing on every calendar.

So…

Name your new holiday, tell us what it’s all about, and assign one day of the year you want it to be observed.

turbacon-_-daily-meal

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Past A Thought for Every Thursday entries 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

Anti-Meme Fridays – Bad Word Porn

Welcome back to Anti-Meme Fridays.

After a brief vacation and a few months of posting A Thought for Every Thursday articles, we’re here with some fresh new meme-hate for your entertainment.

Here’s how it works:  The first meme is always pulled from Facebook or Twitter, and its logic deconstructed in the most sarcastic way possible. The second meme is anti-motivational and/or funny. Because…really…that’s all a good meme should aspire to be.

It’s all in good fun.

Mostly…

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Meme 1 (Bad)

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Of all the memes out there, of all the spammy, unfunny, overused things people post on the web, these are my least favorite of all.

The random saying meme.

Let’s break down this one specifically.

Based on the number of times daily I see “I love ____ kind of people” memes (about 10-15 times per day) I have to assume there’s a crap-ton of weird people, black sheep, odd ducks, and rejects out there.

Which means…these people aren’t really rejects. Because apparently everyone loves them.

Here’s a thought for you: we’re all rejects in a way. We’re all alone. We all have our eccentricities. And we all have weird stuff about us. These things don’t imply a beautiful soul. More likely they indicate our upbringing, our insecurities, and our social anxieties.

And while some of these things might endear us to others, plenty of people’s strange and oddball tendencies are just plain unlikeable. Or scary. Or even ugly.

I guess what I’m saying is, instead of posting a meme announcing your love of weird, otherwise unlikeable people, maybe just message your buddy Bob or your girlfriend Sally and tell ’em you wanna hang out.

And leave my timeline unsullied.

🙂

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Meme 2 (Not quite as bad)

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I’d like to think we can all appreciate a dick joke.

Right?

No??

Fine.

Whatever.

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That’s all you get today.

Past Anti-Meme Fridays.

Farewell for now.

J Edward Neill

Oh, here’s a few of my deadly serious books:

WebImageFront  

 

Anti-Meme Fridays – The ‘When you…’ plague

Welcome back to the Anti-Meme Friday series.

After a brief vacation and a few months of posting A Thought for Every Thursday articles, we’re back with some fresh new meme-hate for your entertainment.

Here’s how it works:  The first meme is always pulled from Facebook or Twitter, and its logic deconstructed in the most sarcastic way possible. The second meme is anti-motivational and/or funny. Because…really…that’s all a good meme should aspire to be.

It’s all in good fun.

Mostly…

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Meme 1 (Bad)

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It’s not that this meme here is particularly awful. It’s ok, I guess. If cute and only mildly amusing are your goals, you could do worse…maybe.

The problem here is the proliferation of ‘when you’ memes. A while back, someone decided to post a pic with text saying “That look when you…” and the entire meme-spewing world decided to copy the format. Forever. And ever. And now every other meme ever made begins with “When you…”

Thing is…

…though amusing the first few thousand go-arounds…

…its time has passed.

Can we please just kill this meme-theme? Please?

Thanks.

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Meme 2 (Not quite as bad)

If you absolutely must post a meme.

A. Make it at least a little offensive

B. Tosh.0 always a good place to start

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That’s all I’ve got today.

Past Anti-Meme Fridays.

Farewell for now.

J Edward Neill

Oh, here’s a few of my deadly serious books:

WebImageFront  

 

Anti-Meme Fridays – The Facebook Eye Doctor

Welcome back to the Anti-Meme Friday series.

After a brief vacation and a few months of posting A Thought for Every Thursday articles, we’re back with some fresh new meme-hate for your entertainment.

Here’s how it works:  The first meme is always pulled from Facebook or Twitter, and its logic deconstructed in the most sarcastic way possible. The second meme is anti-motivational and/or funny. Because…really…that’s all a good meme should aspire to be.

Rest assured this is all in good fun.

Mostly…

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Meme 1 (Bad)

bm2*

*No. For the love of god, please DON’T share it. If I wanted to take an eye test, I’d have gone to…I don’t know…an eye doctor.

These memes should all be lumped together. You know the ones I’m talking about. They’re the ‘Share if you can see it‘ or the ‘Can you count how many backwards ‘C’s’ appear in this image?’ or ‘Only 10% of the population will see this‘ kind of memes.

C’mon, people. I get that you’re bored, but please don’t clog up the feeds of other people with clickbait crap. At least take a bad selfie or make a gif of your cat farting. All you accomplish when you share ‘Share if you see it’ junk is annoying your friends and aiding the proliferation of spam links.

Stop.

Please.

Thanks. 🙂

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Meme 2 (Not quite as bad)

funny-meme-2

I’m not sure if this is meant to offend feminists or mock people who claim not to like feminism.

Either way, it’s mildly amusing.

I guess…

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That’s all I’ve got today.

Past Anti-Meme Fridays.

Farewell for now.

J Edward Neill

Oh, here’s a few of my deadly serious books:

WebImageFront DDP 1 101 Questions for Humanity

The Return of Anti-Meme Fridays

Welcome to the triumphant return of the Anti-Meme Friday series.

After a brief vacation and a few months of posting A Thought for Every Thursday articles, we’re back with some fresh new meme-hate for your entertainment.

Here’s how it works:  The first meme is always pulled from Facebook or Twitter, and its logic deconstructed in the most sarcastic way possible. The second meme is anti-motivational and/or funny. Because…really…that’s all a good meme should aspire to be.

Rest assured this is all in good fun.

Mostly…

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Meme 1 (Bad)

bad-meme-1

First, let talk about astrology. Not to be confused with astronomy, it’s a pseudo-philosophy stating that the planets and constellations are reliable predictors of human behavior. Hint: they aren’t.

Let’s be clear that the only effect planetary bodies (other than Earth) have on humanity is gravity. Also, birth signs (such as the aforementioned Taurus) are completely made up and arbitrary. The universe doesn’t recognize things like months and calendars. And the stars making up constellations are typically millions of light-years apart.

Whatever. It’s an argument I can’t win.

But more than my concern for the brain-patterns of astrology lovers, whenever I see someone sharing these kinds of memes, only one word comes to mind: narcissism. It screams, “Look at me! I’m a _____ sign! Fear me!”

Also…basic reading and writing skills. Pretty much every “I’m a Gemini/Taurus/Scorpio badass” meme has at least one obnoxious error.

Sigh…

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Meme 2 (Not quite as bad)

good-meme-1

Cute.

The meme and the girl.

Also cute? My review of Rogue One.

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That’s all I’ve got today.

Past Anti-Meme Fridays.

Farewell for now.

J Edward Neill

Oh, here’s a few of my deadly serious books:

WebImageFront DDP 1 101 Questions for Humanity

Dragon Con 2019 – Review Part 1

This was a slightly different Dragon Con Experience. Normally we have a 4-day pass (although, Thursday is now a hopping place and people are really getting things going on Wednesday. Soon it will just be a whole week of debauchery!). This year we didn’t have the 4-day and made the executive decision to buy a Friday and a Sunday pass (and go ahead and pre-purchase the 4-day for 2020). This means we are going to need to cram 4 days into 2 days.

As it turned out, this was probably the best decision we could have made… but more on that below.

FRIDAY

One of the nice things about doing the day passes was that there was nearly no line on either Friday morning (around 9 AM) or Sunday (9 AM as well). Maybe it got busier as the day progressed, but it did seem off that the day-of line would be so little, but the pre-purchased might have a longer line (or at least it did on Thursday for some people).

I normally go through the schedule and pick about 3 to 4 panels to go to every hour. This way if something has too long of a line or they cut the line off we have a back-up plan (and sometimes a back-up to that back-up). It also comes in handy on Sunday when your legs don’t want to do much more walking and the next panel is 4 hotels away:

“Hmmm… what’s happening in THIS hotel?”

I’d went through the schedule and found a handful of things on both days. There wasn’t so much Courtney “centric” things that she saw, but since we both watch most of the same things, it works out. First thing, we tried for the David Tennent line. Now, while I have watched Doctor Who, I have not really seen his Doctor (yes, I understand this is blasphemy… hey, Netflix removed them just as I was starting to watch). We were in line about 30+ minutes and was told the room was full.

Great way to start the day off!

This actually threw off our plans since we were going to do that and then head over to be one of the first for the Dealer’s room, but this meant we had an extra hour to kill. So kill it dead, we did by hanging out in the gaming room, grabbing food, and then having to walk around America’s Mart in order to get into the Dealer’s area.

Image by Emilie Farris from Pixabay

They were on 4 floors this year (2 years ago they were on 3). They had the comics/pop art on the 4th floor and I’ll give them credit when you actually support the funny books, you can get a nice turn-out. Roy Thomas, Marv Wolfman, Demattis were there (to name a few). The only companies were Aftershock and Scout (I think that’s right), but I was impressed considering it wasn’t so long ago they were in the closet.

It took us about 45 minutes per floor. They had the usual stuff. Not much in the board games, which I’ve seen CMON there in the past and I don’t think they had a booth. A couple of 1/2 trades places. A couple of older comic book dealers, and then some guy who had “grab bags” of comics. Look, I don’t understand the Mystery Box thing, but do your thing, right? So Court saw the booth and asked if I wanted to take a look and I said, it’s grab bags, I’m good. And the owner is right there and does the whole “No, they’re great. Guaranteed a variant cover, blah, blah, blah.”

Yeah, I’m good. I don’t need random variant cover for a funny book I didn’t want in the first place. I’m sure it’s great. It’s just not for me.

Courtney managed to find a bunch of decals related to Veronica Mars, Gilmore Girls, and Firefly that she got for her car. I didn’t buy anything… nothing grabbed me hard enough. Plus, I was counting on some additional time on Sunday (mistake!) to potentially find some comics.

We had a panel at 4 or 4:30 on Indy comics. You know, one of those panels where I’m hoping to glean some additional knowledge from the panelists on steps to take or just some general tips. And while there were some good ones, it was a little disheartening to hear from more than one of them that the best way to get an Indy book is to work for Marvel and DC first.

Blink… blink…

That’s not all they said, but it was kind of funny that a couple of them agreed that’s how they got into the correct position to do an Indy comic.

Then we went to an Arrow/Legends panel where only Paul Blackthorne was there (even though 2 others were on the list). They never made any mention of it. I liked him in Arrow. I really liked him in Dresden Files. But it was just odd that it was only him.

However, this is when the strangeness happened:

I learned something un-Con related this year: I’m suddenly allergic to Aleve. During the Indy comic panel, I took some and within an hour my face looked like Sloth from Goonies.

Aleve is something that I started taking for aches and pains and headaches for about 10 years now. When we were playing a ton of softball maybe 5 years ago, I was taking it every other day some weeks. Never had a problem. About 2 or 3 months ago, I had my lip swell up. This is something that I sometimes get over the years (Courtney does not believe this even after I’ve explained that it was only enough swelling that I noticed, no one else really would). The swelling would happen, and in a couple of hours, it would go back down. Mostly, I never thought anything of it. Occasionally, I would think “I wonder if I ate something I’m allergic to” but then forget about it. Anyway, I had an episode where the swelling was enough for Court to see. So I recorded everything I ate that day (I didn’t think about the Aleve). Maybe a month later, it happened again, but none of the same foods, and I didn’t think about the Aleve. During Gen Con I actually took Aleve at least once, but I don’t remember having a swollen lip.

Anyway, about 3 weeks ago, I had a reaction where my eye swelled up and it was in the back of my mind suddenly. Then I took some at DCon, on an empty stomach… and yeah, my Friday night and Saturday was pretty much me on the couch with a cold compress on my eyes, waiting for the swelling to go down. I talked with my mom (a nurse) because I wasn’t sure if this was something I needed to go to an Urgent Care or whatever, but she said that as long as I saw it getting better over the course of Saturday, I was good.

This happened about 6:30 and we got some Benadryl from one of the hotel stores and then headed home. Fun stuff. Being allergic to Aleve means I’m pretty much allergic to Asprin and Ibuprophen products, so it is Tylenol for me only now.

Just weird how it has occurred over the last couple of months, during a time when I haven’t been taken pain killers all that often.

***

Next week we can find out if the swelling did go back down, or if I just embraced my new “swollen” look!

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

[UPDATED] Rick Loomis, Rex Draconis, Justice Velocity, Wranglers of Westhallow, Broken, and More – It’s an RPG Project and News Roundup!

One of my buddies, Wolf (read some of the articles he did here and here), requested I help to spread the word about one of gaming’s greats and his struggles.

“Rick Loomis was one of the founding members of the Game Manufacturing Association, serving as its president several times. He started Flying Buffalo Games, was one of the first people to ever run a Play-by-Mail game, and published numerous pieces of gaming goodness including Tunnels & Trolls and Grimtooth’s Traps.

Unfortunately, he was also recently diagnosed with lymphatic cancer.
There is a GoFundMe set up to help his family to pay his medical bills.”
Another option to help launched yesterday at Bundle of Holding. From their site:
“Adventurer! In a good cause we’ve revived our July 2017 Catalyst Bundle, featuring the Catalyst line and other tabletop fantasy roleplaying game .PDF ebooks from Flying BuffaloRick Loomis, founder of Flying Buffalo, publisher of Tunnels & Trolls, and designer of the first-ever solitaire adventure (Buffalo Castle), is facing overwhelming medical bills from his treatment for lymphatic cancer. Rick’s family has started a GoFundMe campaign, and we’re also helping with this great collection of Buffalo’s Catalyst supplements that work with any fantasy RPG. Notably, the CityBook series presents dozens of individual shops, establishments, and characters you can add to any urban fantasy adventure.”

***UPDATED 2019-08-24 at 20:00***

From Steve Crompton’s post to the GoFundMe page:
“Fate is a strange mistress. For today is August 24th and that is Rick’s Birthday. Unfortunately today is also the sad, sad day that I have to tell you all that Rick Loomis passed away, just seven hours before his birthday of complications of his cancer.”
More in the link here.
The industry has lost a legend and many people have lost Rick in their lives. My heart goes out to Rick’s family and friends in this tragic time.

 

Pictures taken from the Rex Draconis Facebook page.

Rex Draconis RPG, based on the novel series by Richard A. Knaak, and the RPG by Richard, Phil Beckwith, and Micah Watt, is available in-print via DriveThruRPG. Rex Draconis is something I’ve written several articles about as I see it as the best love letter to Dragonlance there is.


 

Speaking of Phil Beckwith, he has a 5e RPG on Kickstarter ending soon.

Wranglers of Westhallow (for D&D 5E) from P.B. Publishing on Kickstarter

END DATE: Sun, August 25 2019 8:57 AM EDT.

“Wranglers of Westhallow is a rootin-tootin, yeehaw Wild West D&D 5E adventure book with focus on lighthearted comedic fun.”


 

Dungeons&Lazers sent a message about how well their tabletop miniatures Kickstarter is going. The Facebook post above gives an idea of what they’ve unlocked so far. Check out the Kickstarter here before it ends on Tuesday, August 27 2019 1:00 PM EDT.


 

The Esper Genesis Threats Database is available with over 200 sci-fi monsters and NPCs for 5e at DriveThruRPG.


 

Justice Velocity from Polyhedra is live at DriveThruRPG and worth checking out! My copy arrived yesterday and it looks great! Check out their press releases here and here for more details.


 

M.T. Black, my fellow journalist at EN World, has another DMs Guild project live:

The Lonely Scroll Adventure Contest: Saltmarsh

“Lonely Scroll Adventure Contest: Saltmarsh book. This volume contains 47 “one-page adventures” created for the Lonely Scroll Adventure Contest around the theme of “Saltmarsh”. The entrants included new talent, rising stars, and a few veteran designers as well.

The competition was founded and curated by M.T. Black. The judge was Tony Petrecca.”


 

Another project that’s worth looking at before it ends:

Cities of Hârn by Columbia Games

END DATE: Mon, August 26 2019 2:59 AM EDT.

Cities of Hârn is a medieval RPG setting. All seven cities will be updated, colorized, with more content than ever before!”


 

I had a chance to do a short interview with WS Quinton about his Broken RPG Kickstarter.

 

Broken! ~ A Break KickStarter created TTRPG from Sinopa Publishing LLC on Kickstarter

END DATE: Wed, September 11 2019 11:59 PM EDT.

“Get the game for $1 Get the game and vote on design for $5 Exercise the power of your voice & vote to create a fun RPG 5E or M.A.R.S?”

 

EGG: Looking at Broken, I’m into the idea of what you’re doing and think it has a lot of potential. That said, the goal is $15k, but the pledge levels are $1 and $5. That requires 3,000 backers at $5. What do you have in mind to reach that number of backers? Or will there be higher pledge levels?

WS QUINTON: Nope, $5 is highest. We’re looking for those 3k backers. The $15,000 is needed for all the art and layout, editing etc. I’m just hoping we can stir up enough interest to bring out a well crafted game that folks want to play. It’s ambitious as hell and will be hard to fund. But I want folks to be able to get the game regardless of their means. Which is one big reason the tiers are so low. As far as reaching backers, I’m reaching out to every blogger, podcaster and YouTuber I know, and several I don’t. I’m asking backers to advocate on social media for their choices to help bring in more backers to their own preferences.

 

EGG: Are you planning to run this for thirty days or longer so you can get more feedback from backers?

WSQ: Thirty days, then we’ll work and get the playtest out in December and spend the next six months digesting feedback to make the final version the best we can. Also I showed the preview to one of the directors at Kickstarter. Because they’re really pushing the Break Kickstarter theme. I got a response back that was very encouraging as well as her saying she was showing it to folks at Kickstarter so they could watch for it. With luck maybe we’ll get a project we love nod.

 

EGG: That is excellent news! Do you have any thoughts for backers who vote for an option that does not come to pass?

WSQ: Yes, enjoy Broken in its final form. Let us know what you want in the flavor that didn’t come out on top. If there is enough interest we’ll bring that option again to a future campaign. In the meantime, enjoy the game.

 

EGG: Going back to the number of backers, you’re looking for around the same number as Grimmerspace, Old-School Essentials, Kids on Bikes, and Pugmire, to name a few. If you achieve that kind of reach, what are you expecting in terms of product? Size, shape, contents?

WSQ: We’re aiming for at least 160 pages for first book. Probably more like 200 if we get MARS selected as game mechanics. Again these are our minimum projections. 6-by-9 inch digest format as that was very well received with Whispers of Persephone. Its also an economical option for print on demand copy cost considerations. We really want this game to be high quality at low cost and easily accessible to everyone. Yeah, we need huge numbers of backers. But that is the burden we bear for low tier costs and a lot of full color original art. It is clearly unconventional so the Break Kickstarter theme fits nicely.


 

I want to thank Scott Woodard and the Pinnacle Entertainment Group for writing a post about my review of their book, Flash Gordon™ Roleplaying Game core rulebook. I really enjoyed the game and I’m glad that they liked my review enough to honor me by spilling some digital ink onto the [web] page. Check out Pinnacle’s post.

My review on d20 Radio.


 

This week, I had a ridiculous number of articles published:

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

  • Tessera Guild – This article right here. It was a good week.

Gen Con 2019 Recap – Part One

For a third year, I managed to make the pilgrimage up north to the great state of Indiana and another installment of how many hours of sleep does a person truly need.

Also known as Gen Con 2019!

This year we stayed at the Westin, which was amazing as we were directly across the street from the Convention Center. It meant we could sleep in another 10 minutes or so, and when it came time to walk back to the hotel, it wasn’t a 15-minute walk, but more like a 5 minute one.

Day 1

Heroic Dark

Thursday began with a 10 AM game of Heroic Dark, which was developed by the same guy who did the Sythicide game (of which I ran a short campaign of around 10 to 12 sessions last year). Heroic Dark comes with an interesting premise in that the group gathered to play end up coming up with the setting and genre that they are going to play. The Creator mentioned that he’d game mastered a previous game where it ended up being Sailor Moon style girls fighting the big bad. Basically, each person has the opportunity to add something to the game based on some categories laid out before you: Monsters, Magic, Races, etc. So you could end up with anything from a Fantasy world to a world where, due to the development of some wickedly awful technology, humanity is now using demon parts in order to build their mechs. And the Angels have had enough, vowing to terraform the planet in order to start over.

We’d laid out a bunch of thoughts: Demons, zombies, mechs, terraforming, angels, and so on, and that’s where we ended up. Then, the GM had about 10 minutes to come up with some kind of story to run us through. Talk about putting yourself under some pressure. But he managed to bring together an adventure where the spare demon parts were disappearing, and it was up to us to figure out what was happening to them (turns out the Angels were purifying them and then using the now holy parts to fuel their own war machines).

The game is currently available in playtest form, with a Kickstarter likely due next year. You can find the game here!

Mutants and Masterminds

Normally when it comes time to pick the games, I leave it mostly to Egg, as he is the game guru. However, since the very first year, I’d wanted to find a way into a Mutants and Masterminds game. I’d read and heard, over the years, that if you wanted to play a superhero roleplaying game, it was the one to go to. This session ended up being a jaunt back in time to the Golden Age of comic books. A time when the Flash was not Barry Allen or Wally West, but a man named Jay Garick. A time where Superman leaped over buildings rather than fly.

Running as the Justice Society, Superman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Aquaman, Hawkman, and Hawkgirl (yours truly) attempted to save a woman wrongly convicted of murdering her husband… but we only had a handful of hours before she would be sent to the electric chair. Mobsters were rattled, giant robots were battled, a train was stopped from going over the edge of a ravine, and the mastermind foiled!

Using a pre-generated character was interesting, but it also meant there were TONS of stats to navigate through. All three of us liked the game but wondered how easy it would be to pick up if you were starting a new character using the system.

 

It was finally time to sneak over to the Dealers Room, which was just as enormous as it had been in previous years. It always seems like the first time in that room you are just trying to get a foothold on where some things are located. Throughout the weekend, Lee and I managed to make it through the whole thing probably twice, which is our best run at it so far.

After dinner, we ventured over to Lucas Oil Stadium to play on the field.

Amber

I kid Egg about diceless games, saying that they are Communist. Mostly I prefer games with dice… then again, I don’t have the horrible luck he does (seriously, it is odds defying). Amber is one of those diceless games that’s been around for decades, but none of us had ever played. Based on a series of novels I learned a few things about the game.

First, the people who are into Amber, are REALLY into Amber. Think of your favorite series of books (probably Game of Thrones or Dark Tower for me) and then multiply that love you feel for them by a hundred… and you’d still be short. They know everything about the world… everything…

Which can make it a little bit to penetrate such a thick history. The story seemed to trump everything throughout this session, which I’m not sure if that is how most Amber games go, or just more of a GM preference. I must admit that this one didn’t work for me. In addition, it ran over by 2 1/2 hours, so we didn’t get done until 2:30 in the morning, which threw off our schedules a bit for the remainder of the weekend (that lack of sleep starts here).

 

Day 2

Song of Ice and Fire

Sleeping as late as we could, our next game was to see the Song of Ice and Fire game system. However, when we arrived we realized that this game wasn’t exactly what we thought it would be when we selected it. Using the roleplaying game’s rules as a base, it was really a LARP (Live Action Roleplaying) which meant that you moved around the room and interacted with other players while a Jousting tournament was going on.

I just wasn’t in the right mindset for this one. Maybe it was the experience from the night before or just not getting locked in with my character, but I wasn’t feeling it. The session was interesting enough though, and some of the moves people did during the game turned out to be very interesting. The final recap at the very end opened my eyes to some of the possibilities I might have been able to explore had I been a little more engaged.

***

That’s the end of Part 1, next week I’ll finish up Day 2 and reveal the best game I played all weekend (by the same company as a Best game of Gen Con from a couple of years ago!).

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Kickstart the Comic – Mine To Avenge: Book of Layla #2

With many of the Kickstarter projects, you are never entirely sure that the thing (comic, game, etc.) is actually going to see the light of day. So it is always nice to see a Kickstarter you supported for issue one get an issue 2. It’s those comics that we should be celebrating.

I wrote about the first Kickstarter here.

***

Mine to Avenge: Book of Layla #2

Creator/Writer – Robert Jeffrey II

Artist -Matteo Illuminati

Colorist/Letterer – Loris Ravina

 

Kickstarter Campaign ends on Thursday, July 4, 2019 at 2:00 PM EDT.

***

The Pitch:

The  history  books  call  it  a  house  of  horrors.  A  testament  to  the  true  depravity  that  inhabits  the  souls  of  man.  

 

The Story:

The  little  girl  who  escaped  the  demonic  forces  which  occupied  the  LaLaurie  New  Orleans  mansion  on  a  sunny  day  in  1833,  though,  called  it  something  else:  the  site  of  a  rebirth.  The  little  girl  swore  on  that  day  that  she  would  never  be  anyone  else’s  victim,  and  so  began  a  centuries  long  campaign  of  bloody  revenge.  The  Retribution  Cabal  (RC)  was  born,  protecting  only  those  descendants  of  America’s original sin.  

Now  on  a  cyberpunk  stage  where  technological  wonders  leave  no  place  for  creatures  of  legend,  the  LaLauries  and  their  denizens  reappear,  continuing  their  blood-soaked  quest  for  obtaining  ultimate  power.  Time  will  tell  if  the  remaining  members  of  the  fractured  Cabal  can  stand  as  the  bulwark  between  humanity  and  the  rising  hordes  of  darkness.

 

John’s Thoughts:

Robert Jeffrey II was a regular contributor to TesseraGuild, where he talked about comics and sci-fi and Sliders (he and I actually did a Sliders panel at a local convention this year!). I know that he eats, breathes, and everything else comics.

Mine to Avenge is letting him really stretch his legs and prove over and over his talent as a writer.

The Rewards:

If you supported the first issue, it is a minor thing to either get the digital copy of Issue 2 ($5) or a print copy ($10). However, if you are catching up then digital for both issues is $8 and print for both is $15. There are different artists covers and $90 gets you everything. But if you’d like to have a custom cover, for $250 you can get one where you design it (an option I’m not sure I’ve seen before).

 

The Verdict:

Ancient evil… a family’s quest and burden… and now, in the future, the evil returns, but is there anyone left to fight it?

Heck, I don’t know, but I’m certainly going to find out!

***

To find out more about Mine to Avenge: Book of Layla #2, check out the Kickstarter Page here.

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Press Release: PALLADIUM BOOKS® WEEKLY UPDATE – MAY 30, 2019

PALLADIUM BOOKS® WEEKLY UPDATE – MAY 30, 2019

BY KEVIN SIEMBIEDA

ONE GAME SYSTEM – EVERY GENRE – COUNTLESS WORLDS – ENDLESS ADVENTURE

I hope those of you who had a long weekend enjoyed yourselves. I worked through most of it figuring I’d have three days of quiet to move along Rifts® Bestiary™ and I did. Email problems and computer issues plagued us since the last Weekly Update, devouring Wayne’s time, so we are only now getting into the laying out phase of Rifts® Bestiary™ Volume One. I took that time to go back into the manuscript and do additional embellishments on some of the beasts. I really want this book to be a crowd-pleaser and wow people. I also wrote what I thought might be a Foreword to the book, but I’m not sure I’m going to use it, so I’ll include it here in this Weekly Update as my Closing Thoughts.

Those difficulties we had sending out mass emails meant we were unable to email the May 23rd Weekly Update, and we apologize for any inconvenience that may have caused you. We hope you didn’t miss out on the mind-blowing Rifts® sale that ran from last Thursday through yesterday. We were able to send out a couple “sale ends soon” emails that should have reached most of you.

NEW Sale: All Dead Reign® and most Nightbane®, and select other titles featuring the undead and darkness, are on sale now through next Wednesday at prices to send chills down your spine. The sale takes place here in Palladium Books’ online store PLUS a similar sale is taking place on DriveThruRPG for PDF titles. We figured with the new season of Fear the Walking Dead returning this weekend, we’d put Dead Reign® and other dark settings on sale. But it is only for a short time, so please spread the word!

Otherwise, we continue to push forward with work on several titles. While our main focus is getting Rifts® Bestiary™ Volume One to the printer and into your hands, other books are coming along too. At this stage, that’s mostly writing, editing and artwork by others. The next book release will be The Rifter® #83, filled with truly great adventure source material. Then Dead Reign®: In the Face of Death™ sourcebook and Garden of the Gods™ sourcebook for Palladium Fantasy. As I mentioned last Update, I may flip the release order of those two and do Garden of the Gods™ then In the Face of Death™. I still haven’t decided yet, but fantasy is calling me. Then with a little luck and hard work, Chaos Earth® Psychic Scream™ and/or The Rifter® #84 will quickly follow and all four of five titles will be available by the end of July. On top of that, we have people working on Rifts® Antarctica and Rifts® Titan Robotics™, along with a number of other titles, including books for Palladium Fantasy.

NEW SALE – DEAD REIGN®, NIGHTBANE® AND OTHER BOOKS – AT PDF PRICES – NOW THRU JUNE 5, 2019

Are you are aching to destroy zombies and battle the forces of darkness? Yes! Then this sale is for you. ALL Dead Reign®, Nightbane® and other select physical books are on sale (except for those that are extremely low or out of stock) at prices to wake the dead! Palladium Books – today thru Wednesday night, June 5, 2019. A similar sale for PDF titles is also happening at DriveThruRPG; see details below.

  • Dead Reign® rule book
  • Dead Reign® Sourcebooks – ALL
  • Nightbane® rule book
  • Nightbane® sourcebooks, most, including Dark Designs™
  • Fantasy: Dragons and Gods™
  • Fantasy: Old Ones™ (adventure source book)
  • Fantasy: Land of the Damned™ Two: Eternal Torment™ (undead and monsters)
  • The Rifter® #78 (the Modern Necromancer)
  • Rifts® Vampire Sourcebook
  • Rifts® Africa (4 Horsemen of Apocalypse)
  • Rifts® Madhaven™ (haunted New York City)
  • Rifts® Megaverse® in Flames™ (demon invasion)
  • Rifts® Heroes of Humanity™ (CS fighting demon invasion)
  • Rifts® Dark Conversions™ (undead and monsters)
  • Rifts® Chaos Earth® Resurrection™ adventure sourcebook
  • On sale now thru June 5, 2019. Enjoy and please spread the word.

A KICKSTARTER YOU MAY WANT TO SUPPORT: THE WORLD BETWEEN NOVEL (FANTASY) BY SARAH ORR ATEN – 7 DAYS LEFT

Many of you know Sarah Aten from Gen Con, the Palladium Open House and her activities online. Sarah is a dear friend and a great helper. And she is writing a Fantasy time travel novel that she is funding via Kickstarter, now thru June 6, 2019. Get all the information you need from the Kickstarter, and if it sounds good or you want to support our friend Sarah, then please do so. For more details, here is the link to The World Between Kickstarter. Sarah, unleash your imagination! I look forward to getting my book.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1825805433/the-world-between

Rifts Bestiary

UPDATE: RIFTS® BESTIARY, VOLUME ONE – JUNE RELEASE

It has taken a while but this monster of a book is entering the final stage of production, and nobody is happier about it than we are. Next stop, the printer.

Don’t forget, we are not just collecting monsters and animals from Rifts® books and reprinting them. I am updating each and every one of them, making every creature feel like something new and expanded. Each one a comprehensive description filled with fun surprises and ideas for adventure and various uses by players and G.M.s alike. Beasts from across the Megaverse and ranging from delightful and helpful to monstrous and alien. Roughly 100 monsters and animals in the Rifts® Bestiary Vol. One, alone. Plus words from Erin Tarn about the wilderness of North America. June release.

The Rifter Number 83

UPDATE: THE RIFTER® #83 – JUNE RELEASE

The artwork has been coming in all week. Another book soon to go into final layout.

  • Treasures of the Megaverse® by Carl Gleba.
  • Operation Minotaur for Beyond the Supernatural™ by Hendrik Härterich.
  • Half-Ogre race for Palladium Fantasy RPG® by Ian Herbert.
  • Prophet O.C.C. for Palladium Fantasy RPG® by Ian Herbert.
  • Hunter/Vigilante for Heroes Unlimited™ by Matt Reed.
  • The Superspy/Secret Operative for Heroes Unlimited™ by Matt Reed.
  • News and Coming Attractions.
  • 96 pages – $14.99 retail – Cat. No. 183 – June release.

The Rifter Number 84

UPDATE: THE RIFTER® #84 – END OF JUNE OR EARLY JULY RELEASE

Wayne has made his selections and I will be assigning artwork soon. Another great issue full of fun and ideas.

  • Source material for Rifts®, Heroes Unlimited™, Beyond the Supernatural™, and more!
  • John Zeleznik cover.
  • 96 pages – $14.99 retail – Cat. No. 184 – end of June or July release.

In the Face of Death

UPDATE: IN THE FACE OF DEATH, A SOURCEBOOK FOR DEAD REIGN®

The next book on my schedule. I expect this one to go quickly. Artwork is done. As soon as I am finished with Rifts® Bestiary™ Volume One, I dive into finishing In the Face of Death™. A June/July release.

Garden of the Gods

UPDATE: GARDEN OF THE GODS™ – SUMMER RELEASE

The cover is being painted and the interior artwork that is already coming in is looking great. This Palladium Fantasy sourcebook should be fuel for countless adventures and will be followed by the Lopan world book which explores the rest of the island nation, its people, and more adventure.

Garden of the Gods™ is a unique adventure engine that should give players and Game Masters plenty of fuel for their characters and games. The Raw Preview Edition gives you a great idea of what you can expect when the finished book is released later this summer. We cannot wait to get all these books into your hands. I am shooting for an end of July/Gen Con release, but August is probably more realistic.

Chaos Earth Psychic Scream

UPDATE: RIFTS® CHAOS EARTH® – PSYCHIC SCREAM – SUMMER RELEASE

The interior artwork is being worked on even as you read this. Another epic sourcebook by Taylor White with additional material by Kevin Siembieda. Shooting for a July release, but no promises. I am pumped about this title.

UPDATE: RIFTS® TITAN ROBOTICS

Finished artwork and concept sketches are already starting to come in and looking fabulous. Half the art has been assigned and I will be assigning the rest very soon. As those of you who have purchased the Titan Robotics™ Raw Editionalready know, there is a lot of new tech, power armor, robots, etc., in this book that needs to be illustrated. I now have a trio of artists working on the book, and will be assigning others. A summer or fall release, which depends on how quickly some other projects come together.

UPDATE: RIFTS® BESTIARY, VOLUME TWO – FALL RELEASE

Nothing new on this front, but we all want it to be released as quickly as possible. Looking at a fall release.

Rifts Antarctica

UPDATE: RIFTS® ANTARCTICA

Nothing new to report. I think Rifts® Antarctica™ is going to surprise and delight a lot of people. It is also a great example of the fun you can have with the Raw Editions. The sold out Rifts® Antarctica Raw Edition is a far cry from what the finished book is going to be. Those of you who bought the Raw Edition get a glimpse at Palladium’s creative process. When you compare the two, you’ll see what we kept, what we eliminated, what we added, and how we embellished the material to reach the creative finale of the finished book coming this fall or winter. Fun and educational for those of you who aspire to be writers yourself or just like to have the inside track at Palladium. And true of all Raw Editions vs the finished book. Probably a fall or winter release.

UPDATE: THE DISAVOWED, LIVING NOWHERE, BEYOND THE SUPERNATURALSOURCEBOOKS, AND OTHER TITLES

These titles and several others are NOT forgotten and are in various stages of active production or waiting for production. As always, just because a book is not specifically listed in every Weekly Update, it does not mean it is discontinued or in limbo, it means there are more immediate things to talk about or there’s no substantive news to report. We are anxious to put as many of the books you’ve been waiting for into your hands as possible over the next 18 months. That includes Chaos Earth® First Responders™, Rifts® AntarcticaRifts® CS Arsenal™, Rifts® Living Nowhere™, Beyond the Supernatural™ sourcebooks, more Fantasy sourcebooks and other titles. So if a book you are waiting for is not mentioned in an Update, it means there is nothing new to report, but it should still be in the pipeline and news for it will be coming in the weeks or months ahead. Right now, we are focused on releases for the next six months, which by our count is 6-7 titles. And many of them are in various stages of production or development.

NEW ON DRIVETHRURPG.COM – STOP THE DARKNESS SALE – ALL PDFS FOR DEAD REIGN®, NIGHTBANE® AND SELECT OTHER TITLES ON SALE – NOW THRU JUNE 5

Are you are aching to destroy zombies and battle the forces of darkness? Yes! Then this sale is for you. ALL Dead Reign®, Nightbane® and more PDF titles are on sale! Starting today thru Wednesday night, June 5, 2019. A similar sale for book titles is also happening at PalladiumBooks.com.

  • Dead Reign® rule book
  • ALL Dead Reign® Sourcebooks
  • ALL Dead Reign® Paper Miniatures
  • Nightbane® rule book
  • ALL Nightbane® sourcebooks
  • Fantasy: Dragons and Gods™
  • Fantasy: Old Ones™ (adventure source book)
  • Fantasy: Land of the Damned™ Two: Eternal Torment™ (undead and monsters)
  • The Rifter® #78 (the Modern Necromancer)
  • Rifts® Vampire Sourcebook
  • Rifts® Africa (4 Horsemen of Apocalypse)
  • Rifts® Madhaven™ (haunted New York City)
  • Rifts® Megaverse® in Flames™ (demon invasion)
  • Rifts® Heroes of Humanity™ (CS fighting demon invasion)
  • Rifts® Dark Conversions™ (undead and monsters)
  • Rifts® Chaos Earth® Resurrection™ adventure sourcebook
  • On sale now thru June 5, 2019. Enjoy and please spread the word.

Recent PDF additions include the Palladium Fantasy RPG® Interactive Character Sheet: a Microsoft Excel-based character management system. Packed with features and data collected from every official Palladium Fantasy sourcebook to enable you to create Fantasy characters quickly (25 minutes!) and help you to update and manage them for years to come. The Rifter® #79 (Rifts®, Palladium Fantasy®, Heroes Unlimited™, Gaming through History, G.M., and more), The Rifter® #78 (the Modern Necromancer, Palladium Fantasy®, Rifts®, Splicers®, more); Rifts® Heroes of Humanity™, the Coalition’s response to the escalating Minion War™ crisis, Psi-Battalion, CS Demon Hunter, special training and more).

Dead Reign® Paper Miniatures Volume Three: ZombiesDead Reign® Paper Miniatures Volume Two: Civilians and Dead Reign® Paper Miniatures Volume One: Survivors. There are also paper miniatures for Heroes Unlimited™, Palladium Fantasy® and Rifts®. A new, up-to-date, PDF Palladium Books CatalogNightbane® Dark Designs™ sourcebook with 60 new Common Talents, 38 new Elite Talents, 18 new Morphus Tables, all other Morphus Tables collected and more. Systems Failure™ RPG, a 160 page RPG that deals with alien invasion and a post-apocalypse setting that is fun and dynamic. Civilization is on the verge of collapse when the so-called “bugs” invade and turn humans into zombie-like slaves. Monsters, heroes and fun. A complete RPG and setting. Rifts® World Book 34: Northern Gun™ Two: 256 pages of technology and fun. 30+ power armors, 30+ body armors, 15 combat vehicles, 45 vehicles (hovercycles, etc.), 10 robot haulers, the Robodome and more. Bizantium and the Northern Islands™: the northernmost part of the Known World, the Cold Born, Necromancy ships made from dead sea serpents, 15 creatures, Random Sea Monster Generator, and more. Rifts® Northern Gun™ One. This fan favorite might be thought of as the big book of giant robots – an in-depth look at Northern Gun, 70+ weapons, 27 robots, NG O.C.C.s, key people and places, and much more. Mysteries of Magic™ Book One: The Heart of Magic™ with Wizards, their Apprentices, nearly 60 new magic spells and remember, magic and monsters in the Fantasy RPG are easily adapted to Rifts®, Chaos Earth®, HU2 and other settings. Wolfen Empire™ Fantasy sourcebook, the Great Northern Wilderness and Killer Winters, 12 Wolfen Tribes, Wolfen military and society, 15+ creatures, 5 full adventures, 101 adventure ideas, random encounter tables, notable people, places, plus FREE Sneak Previews of The Rifter® #80The Rifter® #81The Rifter® #82, and more on DriveThruRPG.com.

Talking Classy Barbarians with Kim Frandsen

The Open Gaming Network’s newsletter had an offer to write for them. That’s how I met Kim Frandsen, my editor at the Open Gaming Network. As with every editor I’ve had, he helped me to hone my craft, introduced me to a number of people in the industry, and is someone I count as a friend. So, when Kim shared one of his projects with me, I knew I wanted to repay his kindness and talk to him about The Barbarian: Keeping it Classy

[UPDATE: The Barbarian: Keeping it Classy is live. Find it here.]

EGG EMBRY (EGG): Thanks for talking with me. Currently, you’re finishing up a project (really several). Can you share some The Barbarian: Keeping it Classy details? 

KIM FRANDSEN (KF)Sure thing, Egg. So, this is basically an experiment, and something that was born out of my own annoyance. I have a liking, as a player, for having multiple options in a single book. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but it just seems right to me. But a lot of the time, when I see a new subclass or something of that sort revealed, it seems to be just that single subclass included in the book. And to me, that seems wrong, as I like choice – I like a LOT of choice. So, I set about the book as an experiment of trying out the DMsGuild for the first time and providing the kind of book I like. I took a good look at all the tropes, stereotypes and references to the barbarian that I could think of, and then I tried to turn them into something that players can use in their games. 

That originally started as just an idea of 10 new paths for the Barbarian, but by the end of it, there was 14 of paths, a new race, 5 backgrounds and a bunch of equipment. It got a bit bigger than I’d originally intended, but that’s how many of these projects run😊 

 

EGG: This project is all you, correct? Every word from your keyboard?  

KF: Everything in the book is mine. EXCEPT the path called Path of the Slayer. That came from the mind of a good friend of mine called Rodney Sloan, who does 5e and Pathfinder as well, and who worked as my copy editor on the OGN. We saw an opportunity as one of his paths fit perfectly into my book, and one of my paths (the Path of the Northman) has made an appearance in his book as well, and was released just a few days ago in the Undersea Sourcebook: Race and Class Guide. 

EGG: Who’s providing the art?  

KF: The cover and some of the larger pieces of internal art is Dean Spencer. I have a real love for his work, so I wanted to showcase some of it. Incidentally, he came out with a piece of art, just as I was writing the new race for the book (redscale lizardfolk), and I just HAD to include that one in the book. The other pieces of internal art are all in the public domain, and was sorted by Bob Greyvenstein, who also did the general layout (and who did a fantastic job, I think). 

 

EGG: Where will it be available? When (roughly) will The Barbarian: Keeping it Classy drop? 

KF: It’s only going to be available on the DMsGuild. I’m hoping this weekend. But it might be delayed (on purpose) till next Thursday/Friday. It really depends on when the layout is finished. 

[UPDATE: The Barbarian: Keeping it Classy is live. Find it here.]

EGG: Why the DMsGuild as opposed to a “standard” release?  

KF: Well, that’s part of the experiment that I mentioned earlier. I’ve had a number of books released on DriveThruRPG, and there are certain advantages to releasing there, such as easier access to putting your book out as Print-on-Demand. However, I think the 5e audience mainly uses the DMsGuild, at least for their D&D purchases, and I want the book to be available to as many people as possible. And it’ll be interesting to see if I’m right. 😉 

 

EGG: Can you share the details of a few classes from the book?  

KFCertainly. I already mentioned the redscale lizardfolk earlier, so I’ll start with them. They’re a new player character race, created from normal lizardfolk stock, by a red dragon looking to make slave creatures. They’re strong and wise, good swimmers and have a bite attack and the ability to deal fire damage with their weapons by coating them in blood. 

I’ll cover just 2 of the paths as well. First is the “Path of the Immortal” – which is inspired by the stories of Achilles. This gives you a bit of the legendary abilities of his, like an improved armor class, extra damage against creatures that wound you, and decreased damage from non-magical weapons, beyond the normal resistance.  

The other one is the Path of the Skinchanger, and it’s inspired by He-Man. I wanted a Barbarian that transformed when he raged, so I have a class that’s thematically tied to his gear, transforming and gaining abilities as long as you have your weapon/armor/shield (your choice) on you, gaining superhuman strength eventually. After writing it, I realized that a quick re-skin would allow you to do Dr. Jekyll/ Mr. Hyde and the Hulk as well, which is an added bonus😊 

EGG: You’ve done a small meme campaign to get the word out about this. How has the reaction been? 

KFA lot of laughs. Hopefully not just mine😊 – No, the reception has been good from what I can see, but it’s definitely an acquired taste, and not for everyone. I just wanted something a little different to posting my stuff in every single group imaginable. I know that’s probably imposter syndrome talking, since we all see it, but I really dislike doing it. So, I’d rather have something fun. And yes, I do have one more planned for when the book releases. – One that I think incapsulates every author ever when a new book comes out. 😛 

EGGThe Barbarian: Keeping it Classy is not your only project. What else can you share?  

KF: I always have multiple projects on the go (at any given time, there’s at least 5 on the backburner with a few more active), but the 3 that are currently going on are 2 Starfinder ones (That I cannot talk about due to NDAs), and another 5e one that I CAN talk about. 😊 We’re doing a follow-up to two books that I did together with Ishmael Alvarez called Aurora’s Whole Realms Summer Catalogue and Aurora’s Whole Realms Autumn Catalogue. Spiritual successors to the old Aurora’s Whole Realms Catalogue, based in the Forgotten Realms, and full of new equipment. 😊 

 

EGG: For those not familiar with you, what other projects have you participated in?  

KFThat is WAY too long a list to put it all in here. But my work has probably been seen by most people in Paizo’s Pathfinder Player CompanionWilderness Origins – But I have more than 40 books behind me as an author or co-author and another 20 as editor, plus some 100+ blog posts. Anyone interested can find the full list here: https://paizo.com/people/Curtisin 

EGG: On to some sadder news (for me), you’re no longer my editor at the Open Gaming Network as you’re moving on to greener pastures. Can you share a few highlights from your years there? 

KFWell obviously working with a bunch of talented authors has been interesting to say the least. I’ve learned a lot, hopefully taught even more and often thought to myself “herding cats is easier”😊 – In all seriousness though, I’m grateful to have worked with so many talented people, and singling anyone out would do them a disservice. I will say though, that the most INTERESTING thing we did was to host the DesignFinder Contest. While I wasn’t among the judges, I was the person that the winner had to work with afterwards, and I was the only one, apart from the judges, who saw all the entries. And there are some talented people out there, who simply need to polish their skills, and they could REALLY make an impact. 

 

EGG: For fans interested in learning more about your and The Barbarian: Keeping it Classy, where can they find out more?  

KFI’m relatively active on social media – though I’m new to Twitter. People can follow me here:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/kim.frandsen.12 

Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/TGbloke

Instagram Page: https://www.instagram.com/frandsen3442/

Kickstarter Reflections – Mailing List Blues

Copies now available for order! Click the image to see how!

I’m in the process of final fulfillment of my Kickstarter for the Gilded Age, but I’ve got all these thoughts swirling around in my head about the process over the last year or so.

So I’ve taken rants from my emails to friends and put them on here so that you can see how dumb I am sometimes and how innocent mistakes can lead to bigger things…

Anyway, this is Part 1 of who knows how many posts about Getting Ready for a Kickstarter/How to have a Successful Kickstarter/ or maybe just:

How to Fund a Kickstarter and lose your mind at the same time!

Other Kickstarter Reflections Posts

Kickstarter Reflections – Mailing List Blues

Kickstarter Reflections – Starting at the Finish Line

Kickstarter Reflections – Shipping And Handling Not Included

***

Mailing List Blues

 

One of the things that I continually come up against is:

How to inform people of “Your Stuff”?

This Blog was kind of part 1 of this thing.

I have 2 books, 2 novellas, a couple of comics… not Jeremy Neil yet, but working on it. So how do you get people from going – “That’s a nice blog post, now what are these cats going to do in this video?” to “Oh that’s a nice blog post, now what books has John written?”

I still don’t know. I’m sure I’ve gotten a handful of sales from the blog (or at least I hope I have), but I certainly haven’t gotten any kind of numbers to talk about. It feels like Jeremy does ok with the blog, though he has (at least) 3 things going for him:

  • A new release like monthly.
  • A million books that could each sell 1-2 copies a week and get him some nice folding money.
  • A couple of posts which have gone viral – one which literally gets like 150/day and 75/day. Even if only a very small fraction of people ever buy one of his books, he’s getting in there just based on sheer volume.

So what’s the answer?

An Email List.

The original mailing list software!

That’s what all these podcasts and blogs and grandma’s who don’t actually know what an Email List actually is, but they are also sure you need to be doing this.

Again, if you wait for them to stumble upon you, then you are going to be clearly disappointed. So I turned to giving away Gilded Age #1 in order to get emails on Instafreebie.com. I did the trial for a month and probably averaged 1-2 a day for the month. I went ahead and signed up for $20/month in order to get more. I’ve got 70ish people in roughly 2 months. So that’s a success for me.

All of this is looking toward the Gilded Age Kickstarter. I get the 1st issue into people’s hands and maybe I can actually fund this thing.

Since it had been a couple of months for the very first person who got the issue, I decided this would be the perfect time to send out the “Welcome to my email list” message. On part of a Thursday night and too much time on a Friday night, I got C working like I wanted it to, and crafted my initial message. I even got it set up where if you join the list from here on out, you’ll get an automated “Thanks for joining!” message (though I’m currently unsure this actually is working the way it should – something else to add to the list of things to do).

About 11:00 PM on Friday I kicked off the campaign.

MailChimp has all sorts of analytics going on. They know where the people are (what country) how many people have opened your email, who clicked on links within it (I actually had a link to both Tessera and the free copy of Gilded Age just in case). They tell you how many have unsubscribed…

And they tell you how many people have reported “Abuse”.

Hmmm. I didn’t see anything about that before. Why do I have 1 of those already and the campaign is like 10 minutes old.

A little research and I find that “Abuse” is whenever you click that little button in your Gmail/yahoo/whatever that says “Report as Spam”. That triggers an “Abuse report”.

No biggie. I’m sure that happens all the time.

***

Let me back up slightly. When I prepared to send out to my subscribers, I had to upload the Instafreebie’s contact list because I hadn’t automated the process yet (should have done that immediately, but I didn’t know if it was going to work all that well and…). I was surprised to see that I had about 900+ people on my MailChimp list already (by clicking on the submission form on my website). The name column was odd for a ton of them – like numbers and letters, but I thought, perhaps that either these were fake OR possibly C did that as a way to identify people. Either way, if they were fake, they’d bounce back or whatever, and if not, then yea! Shouldn’t be a problem, right?

***

So back to the reports… slowly over the next hour, I got about 2 more “Abuse”. I started worrying. Hmm, I wonder what that will end up meaning. Oh, and I really am wondering what the threshold might be?

Well, according to MailChimp, you should have only 1 in 1000…

I’d sent out 1047 and had 4 at this point… I passed the threshold. I went to bed and it was at 5.

When I woke up on Saturday, it was at 8 and MailChimp had issued me an email telling me that I had to use a “Double Opt-in” which they enacted on the website – Oh Good!

The funny thing was I had spent over an hour trying to do that very thing on Thursday night. I went through the various tutorials and videos and whatever and could NOT get it to work. Oh, and now I could not import any further contacts. On the plus side, they would allow me to send a “Reconfirmation Email” to everyone on the list (who hadn’t already unsubscribed or bounced emails) to ensure they really did want to be on the list.

So I take the time to set that up on Saturday night and sent it off, BUT I also sent support an email saying – What my initial email was about and gave a link to the Instafreebie site and that the reports were probably from a “Stale list”.

 

Here’s where my further frustrations come from. They replied:

“Downloading a free digital publication does not grant the expressed and verifiable permission for bulk emails as set by the standards of ISPs, SpamCops, and corporate filtering services.

In order for book downloads to be accepted an opt-in box would need to be added to the form allowing for contacts to make the clear choice to opt-in in.”

 

To which I responded:

If you follow the link to where the comic is exchanged for their email: https://www.instafreebie.com/free/2V0z3 you will see that it is about as explicit as it can be to let them know what it is they are signing up for. The title is “Sign up for John McGuire’s mailing list”. There is a “Claim” button and there is a notice at the bottom that says “By submitting your email address, you understand that you will receive email communications from John McGuire.”

It would seem to me that anyone signing up to claim my comic book would do so with full knowledge of what they were exchanging.

I’m just a little confused by the statement above.

 

And this was their response:

While the top of the free book download does mention that this is for your mailing list the overall expectation that is given from the form is of a book download. It can be very easy to miss those top three words.

Because permission is based on something being optional–and therefore, the contact makes the choice to sign up or not–it will need for the form to be changed so that the contact can get the book download without choosing to sign up for newsletters.

***

Whaa? So I can tell them that this is for my mailing list. I can provide them with a product in exchange for their email… which they have to enter in order to CLAIM the item. And that isn’t enough? I have to say – “Hey, sign up for my list or not. And oh, here’s something just because!”

Maybe I’m misreading. Maybe I’m misguided. Maybe I’m wrong. But come on! That doesn’t make any sense.

***

Either way, those 70 people are possibly gone! Any legitimate people who signed up through the website are gone! I’m basically back to my starting point. Sigh.

The one silver lining to this is that 15 people reconfirmed. Hopefully, some more will do so in the next couple of days. And it seems the automated bit from Instafreebie directly into MailChimp actually still works (I guess because they are doing it and not me, I don’t know and I’m not going to bring any attention to it). So, in theory, any further people who get Gilded Age #1 will automatically join the list.

Just another chapter in the saga of “Things I wish I had done correctly the first time”

***

This actually marked the proper start of my Mailing List. It now has around 200 people on it, many of which actually came from the Kickstarter itself (so kind of backward from what you might think). I knew that I should have started clean… I knew it and still, I clicked that button because the number was so big, and I wanted to get started. There is no time to wait to do it the “right way”. And that’s on me.

Still learning… every day.

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Things I want my son to know

Being a dad isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

It’s much, much better.

Long ago, in the months before my son rocketed into this world, I dreamed of all the challenges I would surely face. I was younger then, and full of doubt. Let’s be honest…I was frightened. I thought to myself, ‘Raising a kid is going to be the hardest thing I ever do. How can I possibly be a guide for another human being? Everything will change. And it’ll happen in ways for which I can never prepare myself.’

Well…

I was wrong. And right. And everything in-between.

Not long after my one and only son (the G Man) arrived, I realized three things:

  1. I’m not frightened to be a dad – I’m thrilled
  2. This is going to be far more exciting than I’d expected
  3. Also…I’m about to be a single dad

Just like that, it happened. The G Man was only two-years old when he and I found ourselves thrust out of our suburban paradise and into a tiny apartment. Suddenly, his life completely changed, and all my expectations for child-rearing flew right out the window. It wasn’t as terrifying as it sounds. The word I use to describe it: spectacular.   We were broke. We were cramped into a tiny space. We lost all our previous friends and family.  We were two dudes on a tiny island.

And it was mostly awesome.

Somehow, we survived. Three-thousand trips to the local park. A million-and-a-half hours spent poolside. Strep throat. The flu. A few hundred band-aids. A rescued Japanese maple tree. Four-hundred thousand fish sticks. And several Christmases, just me and him, waking to our annual two-man treasure trove of gifts.

And then there was the day he decided he wanted to grow a ‘Devil lock.’ Thank you, Glenn Danzig & The Misfits…

Here we are, five years later. We’ve left our tiny apartment and moved into a slightly-bigger-than-tiny-house. We have cats. Most weeks, we treat ourselves to Taco Tuesdays and breakfast-for-dinner Thursdays. We do all the ordinary dad/kid stuff, only we do it alone instead of within a typical family unit.

This is our life.

* * *

It’s a Tuesday night, and the G Man is relaxing on the couch. He’s in the middle of reading literary classic, Calvin & Hobbes – Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons. Meanwhile, I’m in the background painting something on a canvas. It’s a pretty typical evening for us. We skipped Taco Tuesday in favor of our latest dinner invention, a little something G Man calls, ‘Chicken with onions in its butt,’ which tastes even better than it sounds.

During a lull in my painting progress, I lean back in my chair and consider the night. As far as weekday evenings, it might not get any better than this. Our bellies are full. We’re listening to an uber-relaxing album – Slayer’s Seasons in the Abyss. It’s almost bedtime. But not quite.

What’s next? I wonder.

The G Man is at his most impressionable age. I remember being his age (seven) and it was the same for me. Everything my friends told me, I tended to believe. Everything I saw on TV, I absorbed as if it were utter truth. As I look upon him now, I understand his vulnerability. The things he learns during his next few years, he’ll carry with him for the rest of his life.

This is the task for which I was born, I think. I must become both teacher…and student.

The G Man looks up at me. He sees me staring in his direction, and he’s annoyed.

“What?” he asks.

“Nothing,” I reply. “Just thinking.”

* * *

And it’s true. I think too much.

Some of the things I worry about:

  • Will the G Man get bullied?
  • Will he be a bully?
  • Will he like sports?
  • Or science?
  • Or both?
  • Will he continue to be hard on himself?
  • Or will he find the same confidence I did?
  • Will he keep reading books?
  • Or will he become an iPhone zombie – addicted to social media, selfies, and rabbit-eared Snapchat filters?
  • Will he think critically? Will he study every situation based on its own merits?
  • Or will he see something on the internet and automatically believe it’s true?

These, and a thousand other questions stew inside me. But like all things, they quickly pass. I can’t yet answer these questions. And ultimately, no matter the subtle lessons I try to instill in my son, he might very well do the opposite of what I teach.

And it’s ok.

When I look around myself, I realize we’re in a tough world. Actually, it’s always been tough. As a whole, humanity has a tendency to group-think, to segregate into specific herds, and to compel each other to believe what the rest of their chosen herd believes. It’s not particularly healthy. To be honest, it’s poisonous. The worst part of this isn’t what the adults decide is truth. It’s that the adults tend to pass the herd-mentality on to their children. They don’t teach their children how to think – rather they teach them what to think.

*

Believe what mommy and daddy believe.

Go about life the same way.

Love the same things.

HATE the same things.

*

As I look upon my son, I understand something. All the small lessons I worry about on a day-to-day basis…they’re just that – they’re small. The real lesson is singularly large.

It’s this:

*

BE WHAT YOU WANT TO BE

*

You want to be Link? Fine. But you might want to wear shoes. Hyrule isn’t always the softest place to walk.

Be what you want to be. Easy to say. Sometimes hard for parents to accept, and often even harder for kids to comprehend. For me, what this means is my son doesn’t have to live up to my expectations. He doesn’t have to follow in my footsteps. If he doesn’t want to go to college, fine. If he decides he wants to become a god-fearing, bible thumping preacher, ok. Go for it. If he looks at his life and decides what he really wants is to be a beach bum who smokes weed all day and kicks sand in society’s eyeballs, I’ll shut up and deal with it.

It’s not a parent’s job to mold children into perfect little statues. Quite the opposite.

It’s not even our job to prepare them to become a integral part of society. Society doesn’t care about people. Only people care about people.

It’s our job to open our children’s minds to possibility, to teach them to adapt, to accept risk and reward, and to know the difference between belief and truth. Above all these, it’s important to teach them how to think critically, especially when dealing with us. We aren’t the unfailing gods and goddesses our children think we are. It’s ok to let them see us fail. Actually, it’s essential.

And sometimes the best way to teach these lessons isn’t with ‘we need to talk’ conversations, but instead through subtle everyday interactions:

*

He asks a question? I ask my son the question right back.

He wants to discuss a topic about which I know very little? I admit I don’t know and we research the facts as a team.

He asks for my help with something? I challenge him to resolve the problem by himself.

He asks for a tough answer regarding religion, politics, or sex? I don’t surround him with my own biases, but instead open the door for him to decide on his own.

*

I realize this thinking is in the minority. A quick observation of other parents reveals a wide spectrum of techniques, many of which include healthy doses of indoctrination. That’s fine. It’s the way it always has been and always will be.

As for the G Man and I…we’ll be doing it our way.

We’ll have plenty of questions. But not always the answers.

We’ll be individuals, not clones.

And we’ll definitely invade Hyrule while wearing shoes.

Our new heavy metal album cover…

For more stories about me and the G Man, go here.

J Edward Neill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 RPG Kickstarters You Should Back – Forbidden Lands, Devil’s Swamp, Metahumans Rising, Warlords of Mordecai, Mini-Dungeon Tome, and Super Powered Legends

This week, before we look at some awesome RPGs on Kickstarter, let me point you toward the Gaming To The Rescue – RPG Hurricane Relief Roundup article on EN World. It’s a list of the RPG bundles that you can purchase with the proceeds going to charities that are assisting with the recoveries from the recent hurricanes. After counting down Forbidden Lands, Devil’s Swamp, Metahumans Rising, Warlords of Mordecai, Mini-Dungeon Tome, and Super Powered Legends, I recommend checking out those bundles and helping to improve the world while rewarding your gaming table with new content!

 

6) Forbidden Lands – Retro Open-World Survival Fantasy RPG by Fria Ligan
Ends on Thu, October 12 2017 3:00 PM EDT.

“Retro open-world fantasy RPG by the grand masters of Nordic roleplaying, based on the award-winning Mutant: Year Zero game system.

Forbidden Lands is a new take on classic fantasy roleplaying. It is an open-world survival tabletop RPG with art by legendary Swedish fantasy artist Nils Gulliksson and the masterful Simon Stålenhag, lore by acclaimed fantasy author and game writer Erik Granström and game design by the Free League team that brought you Mutant: Year ZeroCoriolis: The Third Horizon and Tales from the Loop RPG.

In Forbidden Lands, the player characters are not heroes sent on missions dictated by others – instead, they are raiders and rogues bent on making their own mark on a cursed world. They will discover lost tombs, fight terrible monsters, wander the wild lands and, if they live long enough, build their own stronghold to defend.

The glorious boxed set with two books and a large full-color map will give players freedom to hexcrawl the world the way they want while still taking part in an epic campaign that will, in the end, let them decide the fate of the Forbidden Lands. Also, the unique rules for exploration, survival, basebuilding and campaign play can easily be ported to your own favorite game world.

Nils Gulliksson’s art enthralled a generation of Swedish kids in the 1980s. For many, he was – and still is – the fantasy artist. His iconic gritty inked style showed a down-to-earth yet wondrous brand of classic fantasy archetypes. Now, thirty years later, these illustrations will come to life as never before. Forbidden Lands will contain both classic art pieces and new work by Gulliksson.

So, what do we mean by a retro RPG? In Forbidden Lands, you will play raiders and rogues in an unforgiving world, but what you do is up to you. RPGs from the late ’70s and early ‘80s often had this open approach to adventuring. You were free to roam a map and discover its secrets and treasures. This is something we aim to recapture – with the support of modern game mechanics. The sandbox approach to gaming gives the players the freedom to make their mark on the game world however they want – if they can survive long enough to tell the tale.

The aestethics and art style of the game is also influenced by retro gaming and the iconic work of Nils Gulliksson. The books themselves will have a handcrafted, old look like old tomes from the Forbidden Land itself!

Still, Forbidden Lands is a modern game, based on the award winning rules and mechanics from Mutant: Year Zero and Tales from the Loop – and taking them to the next level. In this game, we aim to merge the best of the old and the new to create a fresh, exciting fantasy RPG unlike anything you have seen before.”

Wanna-lancer* Rewards:

“STRETCHGOAL 17: OPEN GAME LICENSE

If we reach this goal, we will create an Open Game Licence document for the Year Zero game rules engine used in the Forbidden Lands as well as in Mutant: Year Zero, Coriolis – The Third Horizon and Tales from the Loop RPG. Using this, creators and fans will be able to produce their own content, fully compatible with Forbidden Lands. The OGL document will be in PDF format and available for all backers.”

*Wanna-lancer™ – A gamer that’s pursuing freelance RPG work. Some back RPG Kickstarters that offer rewards to create NPCs, spells, items, adventures, etc. in order to build up their resume, make contact with publishers, and learn what’s expected on assignments.

 

Egg’s Thoughts:

Forbidden Lands uses the Year Zero game engine as does Mutant: Year Zero, Coriolis – The Third Horizon, and Tales from the Loop RPG. Is it a good system? Here’s John McGuire’s praise for Tales From the Loop and below are the awards that the engine has earned since 2015. The system is versatile and well-loved and, if the Forbidden Lands Kickstarter reaches 1,800,000 SEK (just north of $220,000) then the Fria Ligan/Free League will create an Open Gaming License and everyone will have the opportunity to create content using their mechanics. That opens up a world of possibilities for fantasy, post apocalyptic, sci-fi, and the growing kids on bikes genre. For me, their pitch, these awards, and the OGL possibilities are all I need!

Mutant: Year Zero

  • RPG of the Year [2014] by the main Swedish gaming magazine Fenix [Swedish version]
  • Best RPG at UK Games Expo 2015
  • Silver ENnie Award for Best Rules at Gen Con 2015

Coriolis – The Third Horizon

  • ENnie Judges Spotlight Award at Gen Con 2017

Tales from the Loop RPG – Roleplaying in the ’80s That Never Was

  • Gold ENnie Award for Best Art, Interior at Gen Con 2017
  • Gold ENnie Award for Best Game at Gen Con 2017
  • Gold ENnie Award for Best Setting at Gen Con 2017
  • Gold ENnie Award for Best Writing at Gen Con 2017
  • Gold ENnie Award for Product of the Year at Gen Con 2017

 

You can see examples of their work at DriveThruRPG here.

You can support this Kickstarter campaign here.

Forbidden Lands

 

5) Devil’s Swamp – A Call of Cthulhu RPG Adventure by New Comet Games
Ends on .

“Investigate ancient terrors in the heart of the Bridgewater Area during the 1920s. Dare you enter the Hockomock?

The Devil’s Swamp is a Call of Cthulhu adventure book for the classic 1920s era, licensed by Chaosium. The book contains a series of five or more adventures set in the Hockomock swamp in Massachusetts to be used with 7th edition Call of Cthulhu RPG.

This product is produced under license from Chaosium Inc. (www.chaosium.com). Call of Cthulhu is the Registered Trademark of Chaosium Inc., and is used with their permission.www.chaosium.com

The Devil’s Swamp includes adventures that can usually be run in one or two evenings. They can be run as independent one-off adventures or strung together as a mini-campaign using the same characters. All of the stories are set in the Hockomock which literally means ‘the place where spirits live.’

As a member of the Bridgwater Preservation Society, you and your friends investigate the stories people plague the city and area with. The stories the police won’t investigate, or quit on way too easily. Living next to the Hockomock, at the heart of what will later become known as the Bridgewater Triangle, gives you easy access to delve into any of the stories that arise.

The Hockomock Swamp, named the Devil’s Swamp by the original English settlers, is a known site for paranormal activity. Everything from Bigfoot, aliens, thunder birds, huge snakes, strange lights, Puckwudgies, Native American curses, cultists, mutilated animals and more have been reported in the area. So join me and my team as we help unravel the Mythos tied to the mysteries of the Hockomock.

The Devil’s Swamp is written by Ben Burns, features the artwork of Evgeny Maloshenkov, the cartography of Bryan McWhirter, player handouts by Elizabeth Bakowski and edited by Alex Burns. In other words the entire team that produced The Star on the Shore. We are the same company, just a change of name.”

 

Egg’s Thoughts:

At Gen Con 50, John McGuire, Leland Beauchamp, and I had the opportunity to play Call of Cthulhu with Danny O’Neil of Hammerdog Games. Danny brought the atmosphere and horror of that game to life (you can read John’s account of it here). After that session, I’ve been interested in playing more CoC and this Kickstarter is offering just the right product. 1920s swamp with D&D-looking monster. Sold!

 

You can see examples of their work at DriveThruRPG here.

You can support this Kickstarter campaign here.

 

4) Metahumans Rising RPG Redux by House Dok Productions
Ends on .

“Metahumans Rising is a tabletop role-playing game (RPG) embodying the drama, creativity and action of the superhero genre.

Chimera’s Gifts

The cars on the street quake under the pressure wave as the high flying heroine, Guardian flies past, moments before colliding with a colossal reptilian creature augmented by machines. The shock wave of her blow shatters windows setting off dozens of car alarms. As the dust settles, the draconic beast’s targeting laser locks onto Guardian. From his vantage point, Crossfire ran his hand over his mask, exhaling in anticipation.

“Don’t get cocky down there. Chimera brand piñatas aren’t packed with any treats you want.” A master archer, Crossfire finds his target unleashing a volley of warhead arrows. The targeting array over the beast’s eye explodes an instant before a stream of searing blue-white energy can lance Guardian’s chest. Reeling back, the ground trembles as the creature’s wings billow releasing egg like pods from its flanks. The pods open as blue skinned soldiers emerge ready for battle.

“No commentary Cross, just find help!”

Out numbered.

Out gunned.

The world needs heroes.

The world needs you!

Are you ready to join the fight?

What is Metahumans Rising? Remember how you felt the first time Superman lifted a car, Spider-Man battled Green Goblin above the Manhattan skyline, or the Avengers found Captain America? It’s that feeling.

It’s pushing yourself beyond your limits. It’s a game ready to put you in the driver’s seat of your own iconic superhero tales.

Metahumans Rising blends elements of classic and modern role-playing games to create a framework for collaborative storytelling. From the start, Metahumans Rising helps Game Masters and players establish the elements, tones, and themes of your personal story along with character concept and motivations.

Paul imagines the masked archer Crossfire
Paul imagines the masked archer Crossfire

Character motivations directly impact game play allowing players to influence the story and add additional challenges. The greater the personal struggle the more Willpower characters earn, becoming more capable of overcoming even the greatest threats.

If this sounds like it can shift the direction or focus of a story, it can! Don’t worry GMs, the core book includes guidelines for quickly generating threats ranging from street gangs to giant monsters to a planet killing meteor hurdling towards earth. It’s easy to integrate two fisted action with environmental threats, ramping up the danger and comic book feel.

Guardian - Granddaughter of the World War II hero American Steel, she carries on his legacy.
Guardian – Granddaughter of the World War II hero American Steel, she carries on his legacy.

Bringing it all together, Metahumans Rising not only encourages classic archetypes like the hero torn between everyday life and superhero career, it gives you the tools to help make these stories happen. Create the world you always imagined and explore tales you never thought possible.”

You can read my interview with Dave Silva here.

Wanna-lancer Rewards:

“Pledge $150 or more

Member of the Hall of Legends

One physical and PDF copy of Metahumans Rising. Exclusive Rewards: Send us your character concept, your ideas will become a full hero included in the core book and collected in out online Hall of Legends with original artwork by Jake Perez + 4 8.5 x 11 glossy images. 2 high resolution desktop background images. Plus all previous rewards.”

Egg’s Thoughts:

Why am I covering this game? Because it looks awesome, because you get to play a superhero, because Dave Silva of House Dok Productions did an interview with me [it’ll be up on Thursday], and because you can create an iconic NPC for the universe as a backer reward. The game uses an original engine, features a superhero universe, and looks great, and it was an easy decision to cover it.

 

You can see examples of their work at DriveThruRPG here.

You can support this Kickstarter campaign here.

 

3) Warlords of Mordecai by Jerod Ready
Ends on .

“Warlords of Mordecai is a simple, engaging turn-based Role Playing game that is entertaining and accessible to game lovers of all ages

Our mission here at Warlords of Mordecai is to provide a simple, yet engaging turn-based Role Playing game that is entertaining and accessible to game lovers of all ages and experience levels. As our game continues to grow and evolve, we hope to expand our reach into the hearts and homes of those who need a break from an ever consuming digital world.”

Egg’s Thoughts:

This is an all-ages RPG. Compared to “adult” RPGs, there has not been a ton of all-ages options on Kickstarter this year, yet those we’ve had – Gauntlets & Goblins, Tiny Dungeon 2e, and this – look fun and perfect for the target audience. These games are a good start toward creating an array of all-ages RPGs and that’s what I want to see, a variety of choices with something for everybody.

For its part, Warlords of Mordecai offers something unique, it’s a RPG/card game targeting the youth market. I’m interested in seeing how it plays since it’s not just one game type or the other.

 

You can support this Kickstarter campaign here.

 

2) Mini-Dungeon Tome for 5th Edition or Pathfinder RPG by AAW Games
Ends on .

“Easy grab-and-go mini-adventures! These beautiful hardcovers include 120+ short adventures for 5th Edition or Pathfinder RPG.

Over 120 adventures for 5th Edition & Pathfinder RPG!

 

 

Mini-Dungeons are two-page adventures for 5th Edition or Pathfinder RPG which are setting agnostic and are easily inserted anywhere in your campaign. These grab-and-go adventures are great when you need something in a pinch! This tome contains 120+ adventures spanning over 240 pages (more with stretch goals)!

 

 

 

 

Our goal with this project is to consolidate all our published Mini-Dungeons into a complete hardcover volume published as one book for 5th Edition and one book for Pathfinder RPG.

The layout will be completely redone from the ground up and new stationary backgrounds, graphic effects, and artwork incorporated. Finally, pending stretch goals–we’ll add more content and wrap this all into a single, easy to use volume with reference tables, monster glossary, and more. With additional stretch goals we hope to add special guest authors, new artwork, and a gorgeous cover to this hardback book.

We’re starting this project with 100 adventures and 200 pages; each Mini-Dungeon Stretch Goal increases the book by 2 pages, so let’s get rolling and see just how big we can make theMini-Dungeon Tome!

Update! Thanks to our backers and unlocked stretch goals this tome will span over 250 pages with 120+ adventures!”

 

Egg’s Thoughts:

Are you an Adventure-A-Week fan? Do you want a quick grab-and-go adventure? If so, this Kickstarter is the one stop shop for all of their published mini-dungeons and it’s worth checking out. But, if you’re not familiar with their work, they have a number of free samples on DriveThruRPG to test out here.

 

You can see examples of their work at DriveThruRPG here.

You can support this Kickstarter campaign here.

 

1) Super Powered Legends Sourcebook for M&M by Rogue Genius Games
Ends on .

“A full-color M&M sourcebook bringing the heroes, villains, and locations of Jacob Blackmon’s “Super Powered Legends” world to you!

Welcome to the world of Super Powered Legends!

In 2015, rpg artist and writer Jacob E. Blackmon began to create a super-heroic universe featuring iconic characters for use with the 3rd Edition Mutants & Masterminds rpg by Green Ronin Publishing. Over the last two years, there have been over 100 PDFs produced featuring over 180 heroes and villains to fill this world of wonder.

And now, Rogue Genius Games is collecting these PDFs into one massive tome: The Super Powered Legends Sourcebook!

At its base funding level, the Sourcebook will feature all heroes and villains from every Super Powered Legends product — including the Disaster Day! adventure — up to date. In addition, the Sourcebook will feature information about using each character as a hero or villain respectively.

As stretch goals are reached, the Sourcebook will expand to include additional information about different locations within the Super Powered Legends universe. This includes familiar countries like the United Kingdom, Romania, and China; and how these nations have changed to accommodate the existence of super-powered beings in their borders. Other locations include hidden worlds on Earth, such as the sunken nation of Atlantis and the mysterious City of Monsters: Agartha. Beyond Earth, exists interstellar beings of cosmic power and high adventure. These alien worlds will also be expanded upon with additional stretch goal funding.

Included in all of these expanded areas will be new art by Jacob Blackmon.

Sign up today to get the Super Powered Legends Sourcebook for M&M! Because sometimes you a need characters everyone knows, even if they’re meeting them for the first time.”

Cover art by Jacob Blackmon
Cover art by Jacob Blackmon

 

Egg’s Thoughts:

Let me try and sale this in a different way. Rogue Genius Games is Owen “Starfinder Design Lead” Stephens’ company. What’s the hottest game of 2017? Starfinder, Owen’s game. This is an individual with a keen eye for good game design. Because I believe in him, it’s easy to believe in the product he’s pushing. In this Kickstarter, he’s sharing Jacob E. Blackmon’s The Super Powered Legends Sourcebook, a collection of heroes and villains for the 3rd Edition Mutants & Masterminds RPG by Green Ronin Publishing. This is an instance where if Owen likes it, it must be good and if you play M&M, this is a safe bet.

 

You can see examples of their work at DriveThruRPG here.

You can support this Kickstarter campaign here.

 

* * * * * *

 

Signal Boost:

 

Tiny Dungeon 2e – Minimalist fantasy roleplaying is back! by Gallant Knight Games
Return to the minimalist fantasy tabletop RPG Tiny Dungeon in this revised rules, now with micro-settings, additional content, & more!
Ends on Fri, October 6 2017 11:13 AM EDT.

Why signal boost this? Because Alan Bahr was nice enough to do an interview with me here, and the game is all-ages, and I have the privilege of gaming with Alan.

 

Gamma Turquoise: Santa Fe Starport by Kort’thalis Publishing
Post-apocalyptic campaign setting, tools, and scenario… gonzo, eldritch, science-fantasy, mutant wasteland. O5R by Venger Satanis.
Ends on .

Why signal boost this? Because Venger Satanis is love!

Post-apocalyptic campaign setting, tools, and scenario... gonzo, eldritch, science-fantasy, mutant wasteland. O5R by Venger Satanis.

 

Design Camp 2 – The Conversion! with Ben McFarland, Jason Sonia, and Brian Suskind
We’re planning a short winter project to showcase the process of converting a D&D3.0 adventure to 5E & PFRPG while updating the design.
Ends on Wed, November 1 2017 4:53 AM EDT.

Why signal boost this? This is wanna-lancer college! Take out a student loan and join in because Egg Embry will be there!

 

* * * * * *

 

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

Want your RPG Kickstarter reviewed? Have some RPG wanna-lancer thoughts to share? Contact me here or on Facebook (Egg Embry) or on Google Plus (+Egg Embry).

5 RPG Kickstarters You Should Back – Tiny Dungeon, Fever Swamp, Survive This!, The Folio, and Robert Asprin’s The Cold Cash War

There are a number of exceptional RPG Kickstarters out there. This week I’m reviewing five of them – Tiny Dungeon, Fever Swamp, Survive This!, The Folio, and Robert Asprin’s The Cold Cash War. Let’s count’em down!

 

5) Robert Asprin’s The Cold Cash War by Battlefield Press International
Ends on Thu, October 5 2017 11:00 AM EDT.

“A role playing game setting, for the Savage Worlds and Cepheus System, based on Robert Asprin’s The Cold Cash War.

Image courtesy of Wayne Barlow
Image courtesy of Wayne Barlow

THE CORPORATE WARS ARE ON!

International conglomerates plot a complete domination of the free world, facing off against world governments, who want only freedom, in a calculated and vicious battle of wits and blood. Come see multi-national corporations have launched a lethal campaign against the world.

For the first time ever, a role playing game setting based on the original works of Robert Asprin and Bill Fawcett. This setting book incorporates the novel Cold Cash War and the Combat Command book Cold Cash Warrior.

Image courtesy of Bill Fawcett
Image courtesy of Bill Fawcett

Have you ever wondered how corporations fight each other? The answer is simple, they employ mercenaries in remote locations to wipe out each other. This is no easy task, but luckily the wars are conducted with advanced electronics known as killsuits. These suits simulate the damage taken by a soldier from nonoperational limbs to death, without actually hurting or killing the individual soldier. You can be a member of any of the corporations, such as Oil, Energy, Communications or Aerospace. You can be part of the Japanese Conglomerate. Battling for supremacy in the market without actually hurting your rivals employees. However, what happens when someone takes this one step further and starts employing mercenaries to take out your rivals, permanently? In this setting you play a a government agent, mercenary hired by a corporation, an information broker or a corporate executive. Get involved in corporate espionage, assassination or even stomping the enemy. If you do not want to be a corporate drone, then side up with one of the world governments. Its your choice, and the world depends on what you do. Try to stay alive and find out who wants you dead. You can find this out in this 250-page book for the Savage Worlds and Cepheus Engine (2d6 OGL Sci Fi gaming) game systems. Written by Stephen J. Miller and Jonathan M. Thompson (the team that brought you Gaslight Victorian Fantasy) and illustrated by the talented Eric Lofgren.”

You can read my interview with Jonathan M. Thompson here.

Egg’s Thoughts:

I’ve spoken to Jonathan at length about the Cold Cash War, attended a Q&A, and completed an interview with him. He’s a nice guy whose passionate about his products are infectious. When he’s done, I know that the Cold Cash War is going to feel exactly like Robert Asprin’s setting in both Savage Worlds and the Cepheus Engine.

 

You can see examples of their work at DriveThruRPG here.

You can support this Kickstarter campaign here.

 

* * * * * *

 

4) Tiny Dungeon 2e – Minimalist fantasy roleplaying is back! by Gallant Knight Games
Ends on Fri, October 6 2017 11:13 AM EDT.

“Return to the minimalist fantasy tabletop RPG Tiny Dungeon in this revised rules, now with micro-settings, additional content, & more!

Tiny Dungeon returns in a newly revised and revamped edition!

The TinyD6 ruleset returns to fantasy in this revised ruleset, now with micro-settings and more!

Cover Art by Michael Leavenworth
Cover Art by Michael Leavenworth

Using the rules in this book, you’ll be able to play heroic adventurers, daring treasure hunters, imperious magic-users, and more! Explore numerous worlds and discover legends, adventure and fantastical beasts.

Character creation is simple, fast, and exciting. You pick your character type based on the exciting stories your Game Master is going to tell, you pick a few Traits that each grant a single benefit, and you’re done!

Sometimes as the GM, you don’t have time to plot lengthy, detailed worlds, but you want that experience. Well, we’ve got your back, and that support comes in the form of micro-settings! Micro-settings are short settings filled with adventure hooks, and designed to put your adventures and campaigns into high action-adventure.

Our goal is to fund a softcover edition, a limited number of hardcover collector’s editions, and the Tiny Dungeon 2e dice. We’ve planned several stretch goals which will increase page count, add more art, add more special rules but all of our goals will provide you with more fun and engaging fantasy content!

 

Tiny Dungeon uses a simple, fast, and dynamic ruleset to handle actions. The game uses up to three six-sided dice as part of action resolution.

If you roll a “5” or “6” on a die, your check succeeds. Most checks are made with two dice. However, if you are deemed to have “advantage” on a roll, you gain a third die to roll. If you have disadvantage, you lose a dice (rolling only a single die).

Characters are made quickly and easily. You will select a fantasy race (such as dwarf, salimar, goblin, human or more), three traits, and write down some basic information and you are ready to play!”

Look for my interview with Alan Bahr about Tiny Dungeon this Thursday on the Tessera Guild.

Egg’s Thoughts:

Disclosure: I game with Alan Bahr (Dan Davenport is our GM) so I’m biased.

Based on the volume of backers, there’s a lot of confidence this is a game being done right. Tiny Dungeons is a game designed for adults but is minimalist enough to make it ideal for all-ages. The game is focused on the rules and mini-settings instead of a massive world and overarching story. The fact that it’s a fantasy RPG for everyone makes this a game I’m ready to play! To sweeten the pot for RPG freelancers, they’ve already decided to offer this:

Gallant Knight Games will open submission for a line of PDF releases detailing new rules, micro-setttings, adventures and more!

This will be open to the wide world, and we’ll release one PDF each month in a subscription service via DriveThruRPG. At the end of the year, we will collate them into a year omnibus we will offer in print and PDF!

This will be paid work (we pay $0.10 per word to our writers), and you’ll work alongside Alan Bahr to prep these products for release (we’ll pay for art, layout, graphic design, editing, and more)!”

Play the game and submit to create content for it. I dig it!

 

You can see examples of their work at DriveThruRPG here.

You can support this Kickstarter campaign here.

 

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3) Fever Swamp: an OSR swamp-crawl adventure by Melsonian Arts Council
Ends on Mon, October 9 2017 6:59 PM EDT.

“We plan to enter the Fever Swamp, plunder its treasures, unearth its secrets, and escape with more than an obscure disease.

Fever Swamp

The Melsonian Arts Council is a micro press publishing house which specialises in short works that startle and entertain us. Its output is by turns erudite, lucid and beautiful, or dumb, obtuse and ugly. We have previously and are still releasing peculiar zines, games and adventures.

Master Gearing is a local boy with dreams of big lights and tall cities. His works have appeared in Britain’s favourite RPG periodical, The Undercroft, and as stand alone moments of inspiration in the form of his collaborative Broken System #000.

Andrew Walter is an illustrator whose work has been featured in The Undercroft, Wormskin, and various other OSR products, as well as on underground metal and punk releases. He likes schlock horror and loud noises.

 

Fever Swamp is an adventure, compatible with Lamentations of the Flame Princess and most other Dungeons & Dragons clones.

The result of this fundraising effort will be an A5, saddle stitched, 30-something page book containing a geographically linked series of vignettes that explore the particular palette chosen by the author. Flavours of nihilism, questions of inherent evil, and the abject failure of civilisation. And dampness, so damp.”

Egg’s Thoughts:

Artistically, this has the most modern Adult Swim art style I can think of. It’s LotFP compatible so that decides some individual’s level of interest. Between the art and the setting, I’m curious how the full product will look from end to end.

 

You can see examples of their work at DriveThruRPG here.

You can support this Kickstarter campaign here.

 

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2) SURVIVE THIS!! Dark Places & Demogorgons RPG Core Rulebook by Bloat Games
Ends on Tue, October 10 2017 9:00 PM EDT.

“SURVIVE THIS!! Dark Places & Demogorgons RPG Core Rulebook is an OSR roleplaying game set in the 1980s from Bloat Games.

“In the 1980s strange things happened everywhere!”

Bloat Games proudly presents our latest tabletop roleplaying game: SURVIVE THIS!! Dark Places & Demogorgons. Dark Places & Demogorgons is an OSR RPG set in the 1980s where you play as teenagers from a small town where strange occurrences began popping up all around. The adults seem lost as what to do, the police are as clueless as ever and aren’t helping. It’s up to you and your friends to figure out what’s going on and stop it from happening again!

Dark Places & Demogorgons (Blue Cover) Art by Tommy Stamper
Dark Places & Demogorgons (Blue Cover) Art by Tommy Stamper

Taking advantage of the Open Gaming License, Dark Places & Demogorgons use the familiar ruleset of 1970s Original Fantasy Roleplaying Game with some added modern mechanics and concepts to make a uniquely fun and entertaining game experience.”

Egg’s Thoughts:

Excited about the arrival of Stranger Things season two on Netflix? Need a game to get you into the headspace of the first season’s D&D? Bloat Games is offering the RPG you’re looking for, Survive This! The game looks like the best parts of retro fun! Much like Swamp Fever above, I’m curious how the final product will be presented. Will it have a uniquely awesome old school feel? (I’m betting the answer is yes!)

 

You can see examples of their work at DriveThruRPG here.

You can support this Kickstarter campaign here.

 

* * * * * *

 

1) The Folio: Storyteller’s Arcana 1E & 5E gaming supplement by Art of the Genre
Ends on Wed, October 11 2017 2:50 PM EDT.

“1E & 5E Gaming Supplement for DMs and Players in the tradition of the old orange spine Arcana

So you are probably asking, what exactly is The Storyteller’s Arcana?  Well, when I was 14 I managed to get my hands on a newly printed copy of TSR‘s Unearthed Arcana and AD&D was forever changed for me.  That book introduced me to so many great wrinkles in the system, and over the past thirty-five years I’ve tried to translate my own gaming knowledge into a series of notes and rules that I think can resonate with all gamers, be they OSR die-hards or newly minted 5E campaigners.  By compiling and expanding on everything I’ve addressed during my time around a table, it is my hope that this new ‘Arcana’ will hold a special place on the shelves of gamers just as those old Orange Spine hardcovers do.

Is that a Larry Elmore cover? YES! Now I know that all the previous Orange Spine covers were done by Jeff Easley (as were the 2 Folio orange spines), but knowing how much Elmore has meant to the OSR community I thought it was high time to get him onto a classic hardcover.

Build on your Orange Spine Collection with a Larry Elmore classic cover!
Build on your Orange Spine Collection with a Larry Elmore classic cover!

What exactly comes in this book?  Well, obviously I can’t lay out all the details here, but I’ve broken this 128 page book down into three distinct parts and below you’ll be able to get a glimpse of some of the topics I’ll be covering.”

Wanna-lancer* Rewards:

“Pledge $750 or more

Ultimate Folio Fan

Backer receives all PDF and physical copies of the three hardcovers (signed), and an original piece of art from the project, and can help design a Trope NPC class that will go into the book (with writing credit). LIMIT 5”

*Wanna-lancer™ – A gamer that’s pursuing freelance RPG work. Some back RPG Kickstarters that offer rewards to create NPCs, spells, items, adventures, etc. in order to build up their resume, make contact with publishers, and learn what’s expected on assignments.

Egg’s Thoughts:

If I could, I’d post every cover for The Folio. Jeff Easley, Brom, Larry Elmore, and more… the cover art for this series is comprised of new work from my favorite childhood artists and they all show that they still have it! This art is everything I want in a 1e and 5e D&D-compatible RPG. Add to that, you can design a Trope NPC class for the book… there’s not a lot of instances where your work can appear under a cover by Larry Elmore, so this is a rare chance!

 

You can see examples of their work at DriveThruRPG here.

You can support this Kickstarter campaign here.

 

* * * * * *

 

Signal Boost:

Long List Anthology Volume 3 by David Steffen 
Ends on Fri, October 6 2017 8:00 PM EDT.

“The third in anthology series of stories loved by Hugo voters, stories by Seanan McGuire, Mary Robinette Kowal, Cat Rambo, and others

Every year the Hugo Award administrators release a longer list of stories that received the most nominations by the fans who vote for the Hugo Awards.  The purpose of the Long List Anthology is to get more of the works loved by Hugo Award voters to readers in one convenient package. This is the third annual volume of the anthology.  There are some familiar author names in the book, as well as some authors who are new to the series.

Volume One and Volume Two were both funded on Kickstarters–including works by writers including Eugie Foster, Elizabeth Bear, Amal El-Mohtar, Aliette de Bodard, Scott Lynch, Rachel Swirsky, Kai Ashante Wilson, Ken Liu, David D. Levine, Alyssa Wong, Ann Leckie, and Catherynne M. Valente–and they both succeeded and have gone on to sell steadily on ebook vendors after the Kickstarter as well, selling more than 10,000 copies.

The base goal of the campaign will include only the short stories.  There will be stretch goals to add novelettes and novellas.  The goals listed here include only stories that I’ve heard agreement back from the authors–some queries to authors are still pending, there may be another story or two added as an additional stretch goal.  If these stretch goals are reached, I may add on other goals as well.

This project is not endorsed by nor affiliated with the Hugo awards, WSFS, WorldCon, or any associated entities. The Hugo name is used with permission. Please note that the anthology is NOT called “The Hugo Long List Anthology”. It is called “The Long List Anthology”, or the full wordy title: “The Long List Anthology: More Stories From the Hugo Award Nomination List”.  (I’m noting this because it’s pretty commonly referred to by the wrong name)

COVER ART

"The Alchemist" © Amanda Makepeace
“The Alchemist” © Amanda Makepeace

The cover art is “The Alchemist” by Amanda Makepeace.  You can find more information about her work on her website.”

Egg’s Thoughts:

Tessera Guild co-founder, Amanda Makepeace, has a beautiful piece of art gracing the cover of this book. Just as I gushed about the artwork for The Folio above, this is a chance to own a book with an amazing cover. Just as they recommend on the Kickstarter, check out Amanda’s website for more.

 

You can check out the first anthology on Amazon here.

You can support this Kickstarter campaign here.

 

* * * * * *

 

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

Want your RPG Kickstarter reviewed? Have some RPG wanna-lancer thoughts to share? Contact me here or on Facebook (Egg Embry) or on Google Plus (+Egg Embry).

When to Walk Away from the Game (And when not to)

I’m standing on a bump of red Georgia clay.

It’s muggy out here. I’m sweating beneath the stadium lights. The baseball feels slick between my fingers.

It’s the ninth inning, and the game is tied 1-1.

For a Thursday night game in northwest Atlanta, we’ve drawn a nice crowd. We’re playing a tight contest against the state champion Cherokees, and the fans have decided to stick it out to the end.

Cherokees’ fans, mostly, I figure.

That’s fine.

Before the first batter struts up to home plate, I scan the seats. Of the hundred or so spectators, I recognize only a handful. I don’t know them, and they don’t know me. My name’s not on my jersey. I’m here for me, not for them.

If there’s one thing that’s been consistent about my stint as a baseball player, it’s my anonymity.

I’ve embraced it.

I prefer it.

Normally I’d tune the crowd out, but it’s the ninth inning and I’m tired. Tonight I notice everything:

Jason’s girlfriend is loud. I smile to myself. Jason’s our catcher tonight, and he’s doing a damn fine job. For the last eight innings, I haven’t had to shake off his pitch selection even once. If anyone deserves cheers, it’s him.

Buster’s wife and kids hunker right behind the first base dugout, waving to him as he takes his spot at second base. Buster’s the only guy on the team older than me. He can’t hit a lick, but he hustles, and so everyone loves him.

I can hear Matt’s fiancé chatting with Ben’s brother and wife. Matt and Ben can’t hear a thing; they’re in the outfield awaiting my first pitch. I’m pretty sure Ben’s wife is still gushing about his first-inning home run.

As well she should.

Every other player on both teams has at least one fan in the crowd. They’ve invited friends, wives, and girlfriends. Several players’ kids zoom around in the bleachers, savoring one of their last free nights before the school year begins.

The whole crowd is a cacophony of support.

And here I am…on an island.

It’s all Jason’s fault, really. Last winter, I’d all but retired from pitching. My body felt great and my competitive fire was still intact, but I’d convinced myself to devote more time to writing and less to pursuing a baseball career that’d never go anywhere.

Because…let’s be honest.

I’ve never hurled a fastball harder than 85 mph.

The most home runs I’ve hit in a season? Three.

Baseball, like everything else in my life, was something I was good at, but never great at.

And then Jason had called me.

“Hey buddy,” he’d said with no shortage of cheer.

“Hey,” I grumbled. “Who’s this?”

“Jason,” he said. “You know…J.J. From the Muckdogs?”

“Oh. Right. Hey, Jason. How’s things?”

“Never been better,” he said. “I’m married now. Life’s great. So listen…I know you said last year was probably it for you, but I’ve gotta ask. One of our guys just went down with a shoulder injury. We need your arm.”

“I haven’t thrown a pitch in six months,” I told him. “You know that, right?”

To which he replied, “Then I guess we’d better get started.”

Jason’s butterfly wings fluttered in the breeze.

And here I was, dishing out a pretty good game against a superior opponent, closing out what was probably the best season in my career.

Go figure.

The inning’s first batter stalks up to the plate, and I shoot him a dirty look he probably can’t see. He’s already homered off me tonight. There’s nothing I hate more than giving up bombs. If this game goes into extra innings, it’s his fault.

And mine.

I strike him out with an impossibly slow curveball. He complains to the ump, then takes his seat with a few choice words in my direction. I’m never one to gloat, but I allow myself the world’s smallest smirk.

The second batter walks up. He’s no doubt the Cherokees’ best player. Standing a monstrous six-foot five, I’m pretty sure his bat is heavier than most of the players on my team. He’s already got two hits tonight.

Focus, I tell myself. I figure if I can somehow get the big guy out, I’ll retire the final batter and give my team a shot in the ninth.

He crushes the first pitch.

The crack of the wooden bat echoes in the night.

But…

He hits it dead-on at our center fielder, who flinches, but snares it in his glove.

Whew.

Two outs.

I breathe the warm night air. I feel comfortable, as at home on the mound as I am anywhere on Earth. I’m no longer aware of the crowd or anyone in it. If they’re cheering, I can’t tell whether it’s for my team or for the Cherokees’ next batter.

I admit to myself – I take a sort of grim pride in having no loved-ones in the crowd. In a strange way, it’s motivating for me to persevere alone. Sure, I have my teammates. But in my mind, in this moment, they could be anyone. I want to secure the last out and win the game, not for them or even for myself.

But because it’s a pitcher’s job.

The inning’s third batter is a stout, muscular, serious-looking guy. I like him already.

It’ll be fun to strike him out, I tell myself.

I get him swinging at a slow changeup for strike one.

He takes a good hack, but fouls off a fastball for strike two.

In theory, I have him where I want him. No balls, two strikes. He’s mine to toy with.

Jason calls for another changeup. The batter wasn’t even close to hitting the first one. A changeup’s the obvious call.

Jason’s an effin’ genius.

But…

In my narrow little mind, I’m just about to do the second dumbest thing in my life. It’s almost as bad as pouting about not getting a new video game.

I shake off Jason’s call for a changeup.

I reject his curveball and slider calls, too.

I want a fastball, I’m thinking.

I want to blow it right past this guy.

Jason looks confused, but he trusts me. I’m supposedly a wily veteran who knows what he’s doing.

I rear back and fire a fastball.

It’s got good velocity, but it’s up in the zone. And it catches too much of the plate.

Boom.

Home run over the center field fence.

I don’t even have to turn and watch it soar out of the park. The crack of the bat tells me everything.

Crap.

I retire the next batter, but it doesn’t matter.

I lead off the next inning with a triple, and it still doesn’t matter.

The Cherokees’ closer strikes out the final three Muckdogs, and we lose the game 2-1.

To rephrase, I lose 2-1.

After the game, my teammates are supportive. They remind me I’ve just pitched nine innings against a tough team and allowed only two runs. Some of the spectators approach me, smiles on their faces.

“Good game, man,” they say.

“That’s a tough team you played tonight.”

“Played your heart out.”

“It was you we were cheering for.”

I shrug it off. In my mind, the only thing worse than receiving a compliment for winning is earning one for losing.

And I’m deaf to anyone who says otherwise.

Later that evening, as I’m trucking home on the silent roads north of Atlanta, reality hits me.

I didn’t play my heart out. In fact, I played with no heart at all. I stood on the mound, arrogant, maybe even selfish, and I blew the game for our team. If not for my pride, we might’ve won a thriller against a tough opponent.

Instead I’m driving home in the dark, tired, alone, and defeated.

The closer I get to home, the more I awaken. I realize as the years have gone on, baseball has become a cerebral game for me. It’s all brains, no passion. All numbers, no excitement. The youthful love I once played with is now a cold, hard, competitive obsession.

I need a new hobby, I conclude. Something exciting. Something to reignite the fire.

Also, I owe Jason a beer.

Somewhere in my house, tucked away in boxes no one has opened in many years, the remnants of my baseball days lie sleeping. My old gloves are tucked away, doubtless in need of a good oiling. My collection of game-used baseballs sits in a musty corner, the seams loose in their decades-old leather. I’ve even saved my old uniforms, three in total, hidden away as keepsakes.

The Muckdogs, the Angels, the Yankees –

all covered in dust.

I wonder if they still fit.

Now and then, I crave to hit the field for one last season. It might be possible. For reasons I can’t fathom, I’ve worked hard to keep my throwing arm in shape. To this day, I leave baseballs at random around the house, which I fidget with and grip as if I’m about to throw curveballs. I even have a trio of game-ready, pine-tarred bats in my garage.

It’s strange, isn’t it?

I wonder what it might feel like to break out my gear and head out onto the mound again.

I sometimes think–

No.

I have to be honest with myself.

Those days are over.

After my game against the Cherokees, I never again took the mound. It’s not as if age caught up to me or the fire died in my heart. It’s just that the time had come. The once beautiful game had turned into an obsession. I spent more time training and keeping my arm in shape than I did paying attention to my life.

And once I discovered writing, the two tasks were at odds.

Most days, I’m at peace with giving up the thing I loved most. I look back at baseball with the same fondness I would an old girlfriend. We had our moments of glory, she and I. I’ll always think fond thoughts of her.

But I can’t go back.

Unlike pitching and writing, some things aren’t at odds with one another.

For example – writing and drinking scotch.

They’re like BFF’s, they are.

It’s a balmy evening, not unlike the fateful night I last took the field. Warm mist rises from the grass beyond my back door. Fireflies float between the trees, putting their lives at risk. The local bat population has realized my backyard is a feasting ground, and they’ve turned out in droves, gobbling up moths, mosquitos, and unlucky lightning bugs by the thousand.

The G Man and I like the bats so much we’re planning on building bat houses for them to inhabit. We’re weary of the mosquitos, and we figure a few friendly neighborhood predators might help.

As it turns out, flying bats are more interactive than wooden ones.

They don’t often swing and miss.

As a toast to the bats, tonight I’m soaking up several glasses of Balvenie 21-year. This scotch is the real deal. It’s another from Speyside, Scotland, aged in casks previously used for port wine. A girl I once knew gifted it to me as a surprise. I’ll savor it to the last drop.

Balvenie 21-year’s color is darker than most scotches, and its flavor unrivaled. As I pop the cork, I’m startled by the scents of rich soil, light smoke, and sun-warmed rain. If one could literally drink the sunset, Balvenie is what it would taste like.

I wish I’d had a glass after my final game.

It might’ve made walking away easier.

It’s a cool, damp night in early November, and I’m sitting in local Atlanta bar Kaleidoscope.

Used to be, I’d come here to chase girls, rare cocktails, and long, lonely evenings at the bar.

Not tonight.

Tonight I’m here for baseball.

Tonight, of all nights, I’m here to watch game seven of the World Series, in which my beloved Chicago Cubs face off against worthy nemesis, the Cleveland Indians.

I almost feel bad for the other people who’ve braved the night to be here with me. Jerry, a Cubs’ fan in his own right, isn’t prepared for my level of emotional commitment. I’m here to watch every pitch, every strike, ball, and tense moment in-between. Jerry likes baseball, maybe even loves it.

But me?

I’m a junkie.

Jerry thinks I’m crazy. And tonight he might be right.

Jerry’s wife Chan sees the look in my eyes. I’ve hardly touched my Long Island ice tea. Before the game’s first pitch is thrown, I’m knotted up into a nervous ball. Me, the guy who has trouble cracking half a smile. Chan’s not seen this side of me.

No one has.

And then there’s my date, who doesn’t know what she’s signed up for. Having flown into town to see me, she’s pretty much signed an oath to spend every moment by my side. I guess I probably should’ve asked her to come the week before.

Nope.

The week before, when we faced the Los Angeles Dodgers, was almost as bad.

Kaleidoscope is packed tonight. I chose this spot in particular because it’s not a sports bar, which means I won’t have to spend all night in deep discussion with fellow fans. I want to be alone with my angst. I want to gaze at the television all night, uninterrupted, unnoticed, and anonymous.

It’s only here I can do it.

…friends and girlfriends notwithstanding.

Play ball.

During the game’s first at-bat, the Cubs’ Dexter Fowler smacks a home run. My heart roars and my blood heats up to volcanic temperatures. I’m pretty sure someone else in the Kaleidoscope masses lets out a cheer, but I pay it little mind.

Cubs lead 1-0.

The second inning arrives, and the Indians tie the game. For as happy as I was fifteen minutes ago, I’m now just as gloomy. I’d hoped the Cubs would win 20-0. And now those dreams are dashed.

My second Long Island arrives.

I don’t remember ordering it.

“You really should relax.” My date smiles.

“Relax?” I say.

“Yeah.” She snuggles close. She’s as supportive as they come, and I love her for it. “Everything’s gonna be ok,” she swears.

“Not me. I’m not gonna be ok.”

And then a few glorious things happen. In the tops of the fourth and fifth innings, the Cubs pile on four runs. They take a 5-1 lead. Every part of my body begins to sing.

But then…

In the bottom of the fifth, the Indians score twice and narrow the margin to 5-3.

My hearts skips twenty beats. My muscles hurt. I’d probably feel better if I were out there pitching for the Cubs. At least then I’d have some control over the game’s fate.

In the sixth, the Cubs score another run on a David ‘Grandpa’ Ross homer. It’s his final at-bat in the major leagues, and he goes out in style.

“A home run in his last at-bat…in the World Series?” I shout to no one in particular. “You have got to be kidding me.”

Cubs lead 6-3.

Life as a baseball fan, hell…life as a human being just got better.

Two scoreless innings pass. The Cubs’ Jon Lester steps into the game and looks just as good as ever. After three solid innings of work, he steps off the mound.

And up steps Aroldis Chapman, he of the 101mph fastball.

I’m feeling good about where we’re at. A 6-3 lead late in the game. A third Long Island. The Kaleidoscope crowd gradually turning over to the Cubs’ side.

And then, with two outs in the eighth inning, disaster strikes. Chapman leaves a slower-than-usual fastball up in the zone, and Rajai Davis of the Indians hits a three-run homer, tying the game at 6-6.

Jerry looks at me, awaiting my implosion.

Chan takes the opportunity to ask for the check. She’s not interested in seeing my heart shatter and spill all over the floor.

My date, luckily not a baseball fan, shrugs it off.

“They’ll still win,” she says. “Just watch.”

“No…” My mouth hangs open. “No, this isn’t happening. One-hundred eight years, and we blow a lead to lose in game seven? No, no, no.”

“Relax, man,” offers Jerry. I’m envious of how tipsy he is. I probably should’ve downed my Long Islands before the ice melted. They’re mostly water now.

It’s then I make the third worst decision of my life. It’s not as bad as talking back to my grandma or throwing a fastball when Jason called for a changeup.

…but it’s close.

“I’m leaving,” I announce.

“What?” Jerry sits up. “You can’t just leave. Game’s still tied. There’s more baseball to play.”

“No.” I push my chair away. “I can’t do it. I can’t sit here and watch the Indians walk off the field with a win. I just can’t.”

I pay my tab and pull the car around. My date hops in, and we’re off. She doesn’t understand the significance of my leaving. She doesn’t know about 1985, when the Cubs had a 2-0 game lead and blew three games in a row. She wasn’t with me in 2003 when the infamous Steve Bartman reached for the ball and undid an almost certain trip to the World Series for my beloved Cubbies.

She doesn’t know and she doesn’t care.

Ignorance is bliss.

We pull into my driveway. It’s late, as in late, late. I’m a thousand-percent sure I’m going to walk into my house, check the score on my phone, and learn the Cubs gave up a run in the bottom of the ninth to lose the series.

But wait…

No…

I check my phone.

No one has scored since I abandoned Kaleidoscope. The game is tied 6-6 in extra innings.

Fuck.

I should’ve stayed. 

My phone rings. It’s Jerry. He’s still at the bar. He’s braver than I am.

“You watching this?” he asks.

“I can’t,” I groan. “I mean literally can’t. No cable here. I can’t— wait…I’ll listen on the radio.”

“Can’t believe you left, man,” he tells me.

“I know,” I say. “I’m sorry.”

I hang up on Jerry and scramble to find a radio feed. I get lucky, and within moments the top of the tenth inning pumps through my living room speakers.

And there I sit, on the floor.

My shoes still on.

My heart pounding again.

My date smiling in the background. She gets it now, at least a little.

I listen to the radio feed as though I were a kid:

Ben Zobrist, a wily veteran with a penchant for big hits, slaps a double down the line. The Cubs go up 7-6. I start vibrating.

Miguel Montero smacks a base-hit to left field, lifting the Cubs to an 8-6 lead. I’m not just vibrating anymore. I’m quaking.

I only wish I could see the action, not just hear it.

And then, clinging to a one-run lead in the bottom of the tenth inning, the Cubs’ Mike Montgomery stands on the mound. I imagine his face as the Cleveland crowd roars all around him. I wonder if he’s as calm as I was.

Anyways…

There’s two outs.

Cubs are up 8-7.

Two men are on base.

The radio announcer goes silent for a split second. Montgomery bends one in, and the hitter rolls a soft ground ball to the Cubs’ third baseman, Kris Bryant.

I’m paralyzed. I can’t see anything. It’s all in my imagination.

Cubs win.

Cubs win.

Cubs win.

* * *

If you like stories like these, go here.

If you prefer red wine over baseball, try this.

J Edward Neill

Gen Con 2017 Recap – Part One

You can read Part Two Here.

Before

For as long as I can remember, for as soon as we learned of its existence, there was talk among my gaming crew about going to Gen Con.

“More games than you can imagine.”

“Artists all over the place.”

“Play games until you can’t see anymore. Then wake up and do it again.”

Yet, it might as well have been El Dorado or some other bit of myth. When you are in Georgia, Wisconsin or Indiana or wherever the convention was being held (“somewhere in the Midwest, right?”), that might as well be on the other side of the globe. Add to the fact that none of us had any money at this point.

A pipe dream. And like most pipe dreams it lingered for a while. Random mentions of it throughout our college years, but no one was ever serious. Heck, we had Dragon Con for all of that “stuff” right in our back yard.

Then as our college days faded and with it all the extra time we seem to have in our youth… well, now we had money, but no time to go do it. And even though we still got together from time to time, many of us had moved away, got married, etc.

You know, the adult stuff.

But it was an itch for one of my friends, Lee. He had always been the one to bring it up. Sometimes out of the blue, always trying to gauge potential interest. Even as people wearied of Dragon Con embracing other “stuff”, he continued to look north.

Last year he was convinced. Sort of a now or never some 25+ years since originally bringing it up. Egg Embry joined him and off to Indiana they went.

I must admit I was jealous. I had the opportunity, but after the trip to Alaska at the beginning of summer, a trip to Indiana didn’t seem the best decision.

When they got back the talk had changed. It was no longer something they wanted to do again… at some point in the future, but they were already planning for 2017. And there was no reason for me not to crash their party this time.

Who would have thought the nerds and geeks would need to take over the football stadium. Awesome!

Day 0

As a comic writer, I’ve done a few conventions over the years, but aside from Dragon Con and New York Comic Con, nothing else compares to the size of Gen Con. They took over Lucas Oil Stadium (where the Colts play) this year because the Convention Center didn’t have enough room. 4-day badges sold out. 60,000+ people.

And every one of them either want to play games, buy games, sell games, or maybe just soak it all up.

We arrived on Wednesday night, managed to get checked into our hotel room, and then headed out to see what trouble we could get into, maybe grab a bite to eat, get the lay of the land.

Indianapolis is flat.

And after a few hours of walking around, I was extremely happy with this situation.

We’d already planned out our gaming sessions back in May/June. The goal was to play about 7 different gaming systems. You see, we’ve been pretty much Dungeons and Dragons players most of our gaming lives. We’ve dabbled in the White Wolf Vampire/Werewolf games. There were at least one West End Games Star Wars campaigns. Even a bunch of one-offs with Palladium’s Rifts and Macros sessions. But this was an opportunity to play different things, branch out a little bit, maybe even figure out that the might be *gasp* a better system than D&D.

Day 1

Vampire 5th edition was held at 10 AM on Thursday, which also coincides with the actual “start” of the convention (basically when the dealer room actually opens). What this really means is a mass of people – and by mass of people I mean thousands of people – are lined up in the convention center waiting to be let in. It was so packed in that area there was enough room for two people to walk past each other if you sucked in your gut and possibly leaned into the other people pressed against the wall.

So it would reason our game was at the far end of this area. If only we had Fezik to clear a path… drowning in the sea of people we somehow pushed, slipped, sidestepped, and probably pissed off a handful of people who thought we were trying to cut in line, we made it to the room and a short time after we started the game.

This was actually a playtest. Whether you’d played Vampire back in the day or not, they were making tweaks to the rules (a good thing for me because all I remembered of the system was that I rolled a lot of 10-sided dice). For the adventure, we were provided pre-generated characters. They had their various stats right there as well as a brief background and desires. Well, I say brief, but it was two pages worth of information before you even reached the stats.

The story was one of a drug deal gone sideways. Personally one of the best moments of the session was when the Game Master said to us “yeah, you’re pretty much off script at this point”. In my head, it was like we had figured out a loophole in the story – and since this was a playtest, it kind of meant we actually were contributing to making the adventure better down the road.

As to the system itself – I enjoyed that when you’re playing a vampire the Hunger is always present. Mechanically they simulated that by having one of your die a different color (red anyone?) and if you rolled a 10 on the special die then things could get… messy.

I did see something in this game that would come up again and again in other games we ended up playing over the weekend. Playing non-combat focused characters works really well in a campaign as there will be plenty of places to really roleplay your abilities, but in a four-hour session where you’ll never play that particular character again… well, it makes things a bit more awkward once combat actually breaks out. It’s not so much that I mind other players being able to do cool things in battle, but more that I wasn’t sure how I might contribute with sub par physical stats.

Lil’ Egg Embry Reporting…

After the game, we rushed out to meet Dan Davenport and his wife, Lisa, for lunch (both extremely nice people who made the wait for our food all the more bearable) (check out Dan’s Blog here). Egg had connected with him online, so this became a great opportunity to put a face to each other. Of course, I’m not sure they knew what they signed up for as Egg peppered the two of them for a complete history of their gaming days. I kept waiting for him to say”Egg Embry, press corps, follow up question on my previous question about the

“Egg Embry, press corps, follow up question on my previous question about the aforementioned item…”

When lunch was finished, we made our way back to the convention center and dove into the Dealer’s room…

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Hope you enjoyed Part 1, Part 2 will be up next week.

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

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His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.