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10 QUESTIONS ABOUT Sherwood: The Legend of Robin Hood 2e for Savage Worlds WITH Jonathan M. Thompson (Battlefield Press International)

Battlefield Press International‘s Jonathan M. Thompson and I met face-to-face at Gen Con 50 and since then we’ve talked a fair amount about RPGs. I’ve blogged and interviewed him about projects from Gaslight Victorian Fantasy 3e for Savage WorldsRobert Asprin’s The Cold Cash War, and The Awakened III Anthology to Dragon Kings Player’s Rulebook for 5E. For his latest Kickstarter campaign, Sherwood: The Legend of Robin Hood 2e (Savage Worlds), we sat down to discuss what this project is and where he’s taking it.

  

EGG EMBRY – Jonathan, we’ve talked before, and I want to thank you for returning. You’ve got a Kickstarter campaign running through the holidays, don’t you. What’s it for?

JONATHAN M. THOMPSON – We are running a KS until Jan 4, 2018 for a new Savage Worlds edition of our setting Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood. It needed to be cleaned up and revamped a little. Sherwood was our very first Savage Worlds product, and it needed to have a little work done. Now this work does not mean that those that worked on it before did a bad job, in fact it was just the opposite. We are really trying to bring it in line with the way our other Savage Worlds products look.

EGG – This is a Savage Worlds’ setting. Why is Savage Worlds ideal for Robin Hood?

JONATHAN M. THOMPSON Savage Worlds is designed with “pulp adventure” in mind. I believe that the swashbuckling aspect of the Robin Hood genre just screams Fast, Furious, Fun, which is the motto of the Savage Worlds game system.

  

EGG – Why a 2e? What improvements are you planning?

JONATHAN M. THOMPSON – Mostly like it says on the KS page. We updated some edges, added some preconstructed archetypes and edited things so that they made more sense in this version of the book. We had some people helping out during the process too, telling me what they wanted to see in the book, and when it was possible we incorporated their feedback. Those people have requested to remain anonymous.

  

EGG – This isn’t your first Robin Hood game, is it? What other Robin Hood-centric projects have you done?

JONATHAN M. THOMPSON – We have done versions of this book for Pathfinder, D&D5e, and Swords & Wizardry. I have also recently worked on a new adventure book from Fearlight Games for their Hood: Swashbuckling Adventures in Sherwood RPG.

 

EGG – In your opinion, what makes Robin Hood and his world worth exploring?

JONATHAN M. THOMPSON – The world of Robin Hood is essentially our world in the late 12th century. There was a lot going on during the period. Turmoil in England, things happening in Europe and the Third Crusade was happening in the Middle East. These things can we weaved into the story you are trying to tell.

  

EGG – What do you feel is the quintessential Robin Hood book/comic/movie/game/whatever?

JONATHAN M. THOMPSON – Of course as everyone knows that would have to be Errol Flynn’s Adventures of Robin Hood from 1938. I truly believe that this is the first thing people think about when they think about Robin Hood.

EGG – Last time we talked, it was about Robert Asprin’s The Cold Cash War RPG. What happened with that game and what are your future plans for it?

JONATHAN M. THOMPSON – We didn’t quite make the goal on that one, we are going to relaunch the KS in June. We are going to be releasing a one sheet adventure in advance of the KS with some pregenerated characters from the novel included to play. This will give you a little bit of an idea of what will be going on in the setting in the future.

  

EGG – What other projects are you currently developing?

JONATHAN M. THOMPSON – I am working on a few things for different companies, but as far as Battlefield Press is concerned we are currently developing a new project called The Dinosaur Protocol.

Generations ago, in the late 21st century, the Earth was dying, and some thought it was the fault of man. In the end it did not matter, mankind could not survive on the surface any longer, and so a way was developed to save the human race. Top engineers and scientists, built arks deep underground to save mankind from its own folly.

Generations passed, and the descendants of the survivors thought it was finally time to finally emerge and return to the surface of their world. They exited the tunnels dug by their ancestors and arrived on the surface of the Earth. It was not the Earth described by their ancestors, this was a new place, lush forests, plenty of food, and something no one expected, flora and fauna that had not existed in millions of years. Even more surprising were the prehistoric animals running around, and yes, even dinosaurs.

It was clear that this was a new Earth, and one more dangerous than the one their ancestors left. Armed with the skills and technology left by the ancestors, mankind now must survive in a new world.

 

EGG – Any parting thoughts? Where can we find out more about Battlefield Press International and this Kickstarter?

JONATHAN M. THOMPSON –  Go to Kickstarter and search for Sherwood: The Legend of Robin Hood 2e (Savage Worlds) or you can get there by following the link:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/battlefieldpress/sherwood-the-legend-of-robin-hood-2e-savage-worlds

 

You can find their work on DriveThruRPG here.

To support their Kickstarter campaign, click here.

 

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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).

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

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

 

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Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

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

* * * * * *

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

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).

The Last Jedi – Thoughts

I don’t think I’m the right person to review certain movies.

Back in college my wife and I went to the movies about every other week… so we saw our fair share, but compared to some of my other friends, it was merely a drop in the ocean. Add to it the idea that we were only going to see the top end movies… and by that I mean we’re seeing mostly the big movies. The summer blockbusters, or the movies that… well, the ones people have actually heard of.

Obviously, this limits your exposure to some hidden gems, but it also (sometimes) helps to avoid really bad films. You know the ones I’m talking about – terrible comedies with the latest sitcom actor or some romantic movies with no discernible plotline or most of the disaster movies or most of the “Big Giant Animal attacks” movies.

If we saw a trailer that showed a movie we didn’t think we’d like… we didn’t go see it. It wasn’t a moral imperative to make sure to hit all of the movies.

This means, most of the time, I’m predisposed to like movies I got to the theater to see. It means I’m not trying to nit-pick things to death, but am really trying to enjoy the ride.

And hey, people go to the movies (or watch them at home) for any number of reasons. Maybe you just really like the experience. Maybe it’s your trade and you feel like you have to keep up with them.

The reason I even start this with all of the above is that when I like something, I’m “in”. I’m not waiting in the wings to shout “Aha! I knew you would screw this thing I love up!” No, I’m “in” for as long as I possibly can be. I love with my whole heart these bits and pieces I grew up with. And if you want me to not love it any longer, then you have to do a TON to push me away.

So I have to watch the commentary about The Last Jedi over these few days since I consumed it with a bit of a raised eyebrow. I’m never sure where any of the people who poke at their so-called loves are really coming from. Unless I specifically know you, I have to believe that perhaps you have been jaded by something else and you were waiting for this movie so that you might just say bad things about it. That maybe, long ago (in a galaxy far, far away) you might have been “In” for Star Wars. Maybe the Prequels did it. Maybe it was Disney buying the franchise. Maybe it was the wiping away of the extended universe. Maybe it was Han shooting last. Heck, maybe it was Rogue One. Maybe it was JJ Abrams. Or maybe it was just that you only want to love the original trilogy.

And that’s all ok.

 

I liked The Last Jedi. Like I said above, I’m predisposed to liking it. Heck, I may love it, only future viewings will inform that emotion.

I liked that there were certainly call-backs, but many times those call backs were slightly subverted. I liked that Luke had changed in 30 years. Luke at the end of Return of the Jedi is a million miles away from what he was at the beginning of A New Hope, so to think he’d still be in the same headspace never occurred to me. Do I agree with every little aspect of how he got there? I don’t know. I’ve only had a couple of days to digest. I’ve only talked it over with a couple of people

Rey’s parents reveal – perfect.

Snoke’s big scene – I really dug it, but then again, I haven’t been obsessed with trying to figure out who this guy really was.

Leia – Moreso than The Force Awakens I understood that she is the Rebellion and the Rebellion is her. That she is the one person who will never give an inch, never surrender, never give up, and she will always be that true north star for the Rebels. If you are ever confused about what you should do in a situation within the Star Wars Universe, figure out what Leia would do and then do that.

Finn – I like that he’s always running. He’s human and unsure of himself and scared of his past.

Poe – I like that he’s brash, but he’s not Han Solo. He makes mistakes (big ones), but he’s trying to do right… as best as he can. I like that he got more of a chance to be a real character.

Rose – I like that she gives more of an every person viewpoint of the Rebels. She sees these people as the heroes they can be.

Kylo Ren – For the people confused about whether making Rey the main hero of these movies means they are not about the Skywalker family… I don’t get it. Episodes 1-3 were about the fall of a man. Episodes 4-6 were about his redemption. And it feels like Episodes 7-9 might just be about his legacy.

All of that doesn’t mean there aren’t moments that felt a little clunky or a little out of place… it just means the good outweighs any bad. These movies don’t have to be perfect (I mean, there is only one Empire Strikes Back).

A friend on Facebook wrote that The Last Jedi may not have been the movie you wanted, but it was the movie you deserved.

That may be the truth.

***

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?

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

SHORT FILM: DEAD ISLAND – TRAILER (2011)

Before the review, let’s get the two elephants out of the room.

  • Elephant One. This is not a short film. It is a video game trailer. That said, for a video game trailer, it does an amazing job of being a well-considered short film.
  • Elephant Two. I’ve never played the video game because reviews indicate that it does not live up to its trailer’s potential. This review is just for the short film/trailer.

***SPOILER WARNING***

If you broke this film down to hashtags, they would read:

  • #FamilyVacationGoneZombie
  • #FamilyThatSticksTogether
  • #NotWithoutMyDaughterUntilDadThrowsHerOutAWindow
  • #LastFamilyPhoto

Dead Island Logo

A young mother, father, and their tween daughter are on an island vacation when zombies!

[If you type “zombies” is there a need to type “attack”? What else will zombies do? “When zombies text.” “When zombies channel surf.” “When zombies vote.” No zombies do those things!

… er… hmm…]

The film’s premise is straight-forward which allows the storytelling to be intricate.

The film is wordless but not mute. The emotion is built by the soundtrack and well-acted characters (“well-acted” within the limits of six year old CGI. What looked triple-A in 2011 looks unpolished today). The storytelling is a reverse chronological order tale – it literally runs backwards – intercut with flashbacks.

It’s an unfolding action-horror sequence but the amazing part is, for so brief – 3 minutes and 6 seconds – a tale, it pulls hard at the heartstrings with more skill than many productions. That’s because of the star of this film, the editing. The editing elevates the storytelling from a straightforward horror scene to an emotional story worth seeing.

Dead Island

Not sure I’m right about the storytelling and the editing being the stars? Compare the original cut to IGN’s chronological edit that runs from the logical start to finish. Seeing the story from different perspectives triggers different emotions. Watch them both and you decide which is better?

The movie has one glaring plot question (not a plot hole, just a question that goes unanswered) – Why was the tween daughter out of the parent’s room while the zombies were rampaging across the resort? The parent’s room only has one bed so it’s easy to assume they got their daughter her own room to sleep in but… where? That answer may be way the girls was running down the hall in the first place.

Dead Island – Trailer (2011)

Original cut:

IGN’s chronological edit:

 

 

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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).

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).

Steampunk Fridays – Interview with one of the Creators of The Jekyll Island Chronicles

When I was younger, my grandparents would drive to Jekyll Island (on the coast of Georgia) to go fishing. They’d wake up before the crack of dawn, somehow get my smaller frame from the bed to the back of the car, and drive the forty-five minutes to the beach where we’d spend much of the day fishing and learning about various fish worth eating and not worth eating.

So when I saw that there was a steampunk related comic called The Jekyll Island Chronicles… I had to reach out.

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How long have you been creating/working in comics?

There are three of us in this endeavor and we all have been either reading or making comics since we were kids.  I (Steve) used to sit in my room and draw my own versions of Spider-man and the Fantastic Four.  Our actual jobs are all doing different things, so becoming graphic novel authors became a side hobby for us later in life.  We actually started working on The Jekyll Island Chronicles in January of 2013.

At what point did you sit down to become a writer/artist? Do you remember the first thing you drew/wrote?

I think I am the one with the most graphic arts background.  My dad worked in a factory during the day and would come home at night and paint portraits for friends and family members, to make extra spending money.  He taught me how to draw when I was old enough to hold a pencil.  I remember a book of Disney characters that I drew when I was a kid.  I remember him sitting at the kitchen table with me and building dinosaur models.  I have since graduated to more extensive and difficult kits, and scratch built a bunch of my own.   Creating art has a wonderful, calming effect on me.

All three of us have been heavily involved in writing projects of our own in the past as well.  Ed wrote another book several years back and Jack and I have been writing plays and sketch comedy for our church for many years.

Who inspires you? Or do you have a favorite artist or creator?

Jack loves experiences:  he is a Disneyphile through and through.  He would build a scale (and highly detailed) model of Disneyland in his house if he could.  Ed is a voracious reader and plows through novels constantly.  He loves sci/fi, mysteries, and westerns.  And I get inspirations everywhere, no place in particular.  Sometimes, I just like to walk through a retail shopping center and look for things that inspire me.

How do you manage your daily/family life with your creative work? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2?

Hah!  We all have really demanding jobs.  This is our hobby.  Nights, weekends, while watching tv or sports at night.  I am usually sitting drawing thumbnails on my ipad to make life easier for our artists.  We try to meet periodically to line up on story and plot development (maybe once or twice a month).  We tell our spouses we don’t play golf (at least not well), so this is our club membership.

It’s often difficult to get word out about independent/small press comics. What do you do to market and promote your books? Anything work really well or really poorly?

It’s been an eye-opening experience.  I have an author friend at work who told me that marketing of books has changed over the years—authors are really much more responsible for this and publishers are, well, publishers.  I have found this to be generally true.  Not bad.  Just generally true.

Our publisher at Top Shelf, Chris Staros, told us pretty much the same thing after we signed our book deal.  They publish the books, invite us to the Cons where they are present, put the books out in the proper channels, but we do the heavy lifting on the marketing (Facebook & websites, blogging, boosting posts, local book signings, reaching out to newspapers and magazines, etc etc etc).  We had to learn how to do a bunch of stuff, from a literary marketing standpoint, that we have never done before.  But Chris is a great sounding board for us and happily answers any questions we have.  It’s so good to have his knowledge and experience base in our corner when we need it (which is A LOT!)  We are working with a PR firm on putting together proposals for the release of Book Two.  So, we are hoping to have more firepower in that area.

What’s your process look like when you’re writing? Do you go with the full outline? Or are you a fly by the seat of your pants type?

We have to have an outline.  We use the classic three-act story structure, but because we are a series, we have to layer that structure over each book as well as the entire series.  I guess that’s why trilogies make sense.  For Book One, I had a lot of the basic story arc in my head, and Jack and Ed helped me fill in a bunch–like the whole Jekyll Island connection.  Book Two was more of a blank page than Book One, so it was harder.  We use note cards with plot points and move things around constantly in the beginning.  When we get the arc locked down, we divide and conquer the writing duties, usually giving one person an act to tackle.  We come back, read together, edit together, and make suggestions.  The key is to hold your writing loosely.  You can’t be so dogmatic to “have it your way”.  If that happens, you frustrate everyone and it flies in the face of collaboration and making each other better.  We are long-time friends, so that makes it easier.  But even then, every once in a while, we have to work through things.  It really is a lot of give and take.

I currently live just north of Atlanta, in Suwanee, Georgia, but I’ve been to Jekyll Island dozens of times when I was younger. So it was very cool to even see that this book existed. What inspired you to create Jekyll Island Chronicles?

Ed was instrumental in coming up with the idea to place much of the story at Jekyll.  When I explained the original idea to him, he asked if I had ever been to Jekyll.  I had been in Atlanta for 25 years and had never gone there, and only just heard of it but never really knew about its history.  So, my wife and I took a weekend, went to down to the island, toured it and my brain exploded.  It was the PERFECT set up for the characters and the scenarios, which were all post-WWI and at the height of the gilded age at Jekyll.  It is a Georgia treasure and our hope is that people, especially Georgians, will become a little more knowledgeable about their own history.

What’s been the reaction to the book?

It’s been extremely positive.  Of course, our family and friends have been our biggest cheerleaders.  We’ve gotten good reviews on Amazon (especially) and Good Reads.  Every once in a while we get someone who “doesn’t get it” or takes issue with the alt history portions of it.  We even had one guy who reviewed it and got the plot/character points wrong, so did he even read it??  But then again we were named one of the Top 10 Books Every Young Georgian Should Read for 2017 (all graphic novels go in that category)—so that was a nice feather in our cap.  We already had a second printing.  We had a line of people waiting to sign the book at the NY Comic Con, so that was pretty cool.  We’ve gotten a lot of interest from podcasters, bloggers and people wanting to do interviews.  This is our first rodeo, but so far, so good.

Are there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again in your work?

We started this whole process with themes.  We wrote down the things/principles we believed and wanted to be true for our story.  First, we saw a lot of cynicism with heroes—dark heroes, conflicted heroes—and we wanted to do something different.  Maybe even classic.  My grandfather fought in the US Cavalry in WWI to gain his citizenship.  He was a regular, simple man of principle.  He knew right from wrong.  He wasn’t perfect, but he wasn’t constantly dark and conflicted.  We wanted a return to classic heroism.  We wanted people who were willing to work together in spite of their differences.  Our country is torn down the middle today and we are all saddened and sick of it.  At least we have a built a world where people can come together for the greater good.

Also, we wanted to have a world where it wasn’t evil to have resources.  Andrew Carnegie gave away like $300 million dollars.  He built a system of libraries all across the country.  Not all people with wealth are robber barons, you know?  Jack and I worked for one for decades.  There is good and evil is ALL people–not just one group, one type, or one party.  We hoped that the book would force people to actually look for the good in all of our heroes.  Finally, we wanted a story where the veterans were the biggest heroes.  We owe SO MUCH to them.  It’s no surprise that our original heroes are the broken WWI vets that get “rebuilt” to fight the atrocities of the early 20th century anarchists.

Your first graphic novel was released by Top Shelf & IDW Publishing. How did that relationship come about?

We actually sponsored a class at SCAD in Savannah to help us create a pitch packet for publishers/production companies that might be interested in our idea.  Once we got the packet done, we approached Chris Staros with Top Shelf.  He was Georgia-based, actually Marietta-based, which was right around the corner from all of us.  We called him, took him to lunch one day, introduced ourselves, and handed him the pitch packet.  He said he would take a look at it and give us comments.  The next day he called me and said he thought it was good—really good—and if we finished it, he would like to keep the whole thing in Georgia and publish for us.  WOW.  I know that this is NOT how it is supposed to work.  But, it happened for us and we were, and still are, very grateful to Chris and his confidence.  When Top Shelf got acquired by IDW, that confidence transferred over to them.  They have been huge supporters of ours and they now have us in their catalog that they send to production companies for tv/film.

You currently have 1 graphic novel out there with a second one due out next year. What’s the overall plan with Jekyll Island Chronicles?

The plan is to keep making books until we get too tired and stop (or someone tells us to stop).  At least we want 3.  But the larger goal is 6. The story arc of the original Jekyll Island Club ends in WWII.  We would love to take it that far.

I see on your website that there are teaching materials based on the comic. Can you talk a little about how you came to that idea as well as your goals with the program?

Well, the story has a TON of facts in it.  The alt history component actually has a lot of HISTORY.  We always loved the idea of using the book to teach history and have students weave through the narrative of what is true and what is not.  So we approached Glen Downey (an author who is an expert in this area) and he agreed to put together teaching materials for us.  They are all available for free on our website.  We have a public high school in the Jekyll area that is using it in both the US and world history class, and a private school here in Cobb County that is doing the same thing.  Ideally, this is a great way for creative teachers to introduce their students not just to history but also to the medium of the graphic novel.  We think this is a big idea.

Comics is an amazing collaborative medium. Tell me a little about the artists on the books.

We met both of our artists in our SCAD class.  They were students who, at the time, were finishing up their studies.  Moses Nester is our illustrator/inker and SJ Miller is our colorist.  One is in ATL and one is in Vegas.  Everything is done digitally.  I take the script, gather reference photos, drop them into an app for my ipad called Strip Designer and create tight comps/thumbnails, send them electronically to Moses who inks, sends to SJ for coloring and sound effects and then back to me for final approval.  It seems to work pretty well.  Our artists are very gifted individuals with a bright career in front of them!  We are just so happy that we have access to them at this time of their lives—and we hope this is given them so good experience to bounce off of for the future.

If you could go back in time ten years, what advice might you have for your younger self? Something you wish you knew?

I wish I knew that I was really responsible for my creative outlets in life.  I mean, I have always been creative, but sometimes at work, I was waiting for that itch to be scratched there.  And at times, that didn’t happen.  I wish I had been more aware of the idea to create instead of consume, and now I hope that our creative endeavor helps others to do the same.  Bottom line, if opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door (with credit to Milton Berle for that fine axiom).

Where’s the best place to find out more about Jekyll Island Chronicles and the rest of your works?

Like us on facebook

https://www.facebook.com/jekyllislandchronicles/

or go to our website

https://jekyllislandchronicles.com/

Steampunkers are welcome to check out our website, where we have a link for selling the book, pre-ordering book two and buying other merch. And the book is available in bookstores and on line everywhere.

STEVE NEDVIDEK has worked in film, radio, and television and received his Masters Degree in Theater from Wake Forest University, where he completed his thesis in make-up design. He is an avid cartoonist, model maker, writer, and movie watcher, and resides in the Atlanta suburbs with his wife, kids, and dog.

ED CROWELL holds advanced degrees in political science and international affairs. He is an executive at a non-profit and a writer with dozens of published articles. A lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy, he and his wife have two children who went off to college, but left Ed and Cynthia with two cats, a fish, and a dog.

JACK LOWE is a student of film making and themed entertainment. A passionate storyteller with a bent toward immersive, multi-sensory experiences, Jack and his wife, three children, two dogs, and two cats live in the shadow of Kennesaw Mountain in Atlanta.

Ed is on the left, Steve in center, Jack on right

***

I want to thank Steve for taking the time to answer my questions!

***

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?

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.

 

4 RPG Kickstarters You Should Back – Flash Gordon, Monster Hunter International, Aventuria Compendium, and Dragon Kings

Two licensed properties are coming to Savage Worlds, an Ennie-winning game is getting an expansion, and a not-quite-Dark-Sun setting by the co-creator of Dark Sun is getting a spiritual successor for the world’s most popular role-playing game. These are all worth checking out.

 

Flash Gordon™ RPG for Savage Worlds by Pinnacle Entertainment Group
Ends on Mon, December 4 2017 10:00 PM EST.

“Pulp action at its finest! Use the Fast! Furious! Fun! Savage Worlds game system in the popular cinematic world of Flash Gordon™!

 

With a deafening roar, Dr. Zarkov’s rocket ship, with Flash and Dale aboard, shrieks into the heavens and heads straight toward the onrushing planet with a madman at the controls!

We announced the Savage World of Flash Gordon™ at Gen Con in 2015, and now it’s here! Drawing inspiration from Alex Raymond’s original strips, the serials, AND the 1980 movie starring Sam J. Jones and Max von Sydow, this is far more than just a game, this is a definitive resource for all Flash Gordon’s adventures!

AND NOW…it includes a foreword by none other than Sam J “Flash Gordon” Jones himself! See the link here for more details!

Foreword by actor, US Marine, and all around great guy Sam J Jones!
Foreword by actor, US Marine, and all around great guy Sam J Jones!

Author Scott Woodard dug deep into the history of this genre-defining series, bringing every corner of the setting to vibrant life. Heroes can foment rebellion in Mingo City, marvel at the tree-cities of Prince Barin’s Arboria, bake in Volcano World’s Land of the Dead, and shiver in Frigia or the cruel Ice Kingdom of Naquk.

Along the way they’ll encounter far more than just Ming’s merciless minions! Bore worms, cave dragons, sharkons, wolvrons, and over FIFTY strange and exotic creatures roam the strange world of Mongo!

Best of all, for fans of Savage Worlds, The Savage World of Flash Gordon™ features all the new powers, Edges, Hindrances, and amazing gear you’ve come to expect…but also an incredible new Setting Rule called…

At the beginning of each session, the players are given the Cliffhanger token. When the group decides to use it, they flip it over to the CLIFFHANGER side! Everyone gets a reward of some kind–such as drawing or refilling their Bennies, or gaining Conviction (more below!). But then the situation goes from the proverbial frying pan into the fire in some way!

We’ll provide a print and play Cliffhanger token online, but those of you backing the Collector’s Edition Box get this amazing, polished brass version, designed by the always amazing, spaceship lovin’, three-time Hugo Award™ winning artist, Cheyenne Wright!

This is the design for the 4" long, polished brass Cliffhanger token that comes *only* in the Collector's Box! We'll have photos as soon as we get our production samples!
This is the design for the 4″ long, polished brass Cliffhanger token that comes *only* in the Collector’s Box! We’ll have photos as soon as we get our production samples!

Once the Cliffhanger is in play, the GM either decides what happens based on the circumstances, or better yet, lets the players choose from a number of options…and we even have cards for them! They’re print and play now, but keep watching the skies and we’ll see what happens, heroes!

Three sample Cliffhanger cards...the symbols on the upper right tell the group what they get for taking on the Cliffhanger!
Three sample Cliffhanger cards…the symbols on the upper right tell the group what they get for taking on the Cliffhanger!

Example: Flash, Dale, Hans, and Thun battle Ming’s soldiers on the streets of Mingo City. Hans is out of Bennies, so another shot from the enemy’s atom pistol will spell his doom! Hans’ player calls for a Cliffhanger. The other players agree and they choose “Out of the Frying Pan!”

The GM tells everyone to take five while she sets up the new scene. She decides one of Ming’s soldiers has thrown a grenade that cracks open the city streets. The heroes plunge into the sewers below, straight into the lair of an angry gocko and the cave men who worship it!

The GM narrates: “Flash and his companions had Ming’s minions on the run! Little did they know a new terror lurked beneath their very feet!”

The group faces a new challenge, but have refilled their Bennies and are ready for action!

 

Egg’s Thoughts:

 

What does this campaign have going for it?

  • It’s from Pinnacle, the publisher of Savage Worlds, so the setting will fit the game as well as it can because it’s an official Flash Gordon product using a system that feels ready-made for it.
  • They have added pulp mechanics for the game that will offer “cliffhangers”.
  • Sam Jones (movie Flash Gordon) is doing the foreword.
  • The art is pulled from every era of this franchise.
  • They’re offering a scale airscout miniature ship that brings the pulp to life at your table!

There is only good here! The kind of good that’ll save every one of us!

 

To see examples of Pinnacle Entertainment Group on DriveThruRPG, click here.

To support this Kickstarter, click here.

 

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Monster Hunter International RPG: Savage Worlds Edition by Gallant Knight Games
Ends on Thu, December 7 2017 11:08 AM EST.

“The NYT Bestselling action fantasy series Monster Hunter International comes to Savage Worlds in an all new Kickstarter!

Mockup Cover! (Illustration and layout by Jeremy Mohler)Mockup Cover! (Illustration and layout by Jeremy Mohler)

 

Monster Hunter International,  the New York Times Bestselling action series is coming to the Savage Worlds roleplaying system!

Written by Larry Correia, Monster Hunter International is an urban fantasy series about professional monster hunters who battle against the things that go bump in the night!

As the slogan goes…”Cowboy up, and get paid.”

Larry is a big fan of Savage Worlds and when we approached him about doing an updated MHI roleplaying game, he immediately wanted to use one of his favorite rulesets, so that’s what we did!

Gallant Knight Games has experience working in Savage Worlds, and we’ve enlisted the help of the lead writer on the previous MHI roleplaying game Steve S. Long!

Using the rules in the book, you’ll be able to play a variety of teams in the MHI Universe, including the titular team: Monster Hunter International.

The book will also include:

  • Full details on MHI and it’s history, it’s organization, missions and tactics.
  • World information on PUFF, how the various governments handle monsters and more.
  • NPC stats for a variety of characters from the books, including Owen Z. Pitt, Julie Shackleford, Agent Franks, Susan Shackleford and more, written up by the creator himself!
  • Rules for playing over two dozen teams in the MHI Universe!
  • New monsters for your hunters to face down!
  • New MHI details and fictions right from Larry!
  • AND A LOT MORE!

We’re keeping this simple. What you see on the pledge levels is what you get!

Our goal is to fund a 200ish page softcover roleplaying game book for Savage Worlds. Like all Savage Worlds licensees, you’ll need Savage Worlds core rulebook to play the game.”

 

Egg’s Thoughts:

 

Flash Gordon and Monster Hunter International are both licensed settings for the Savage Worlds RPG and, while not exactly one-for-one the same (sci-fi pulp versus urban fantasy), they’re still going head-to-head and I’m curious to see the market reacts to them. As with Flash above, the setup for this novel series is ideal for translation to Savage Worlds – You’re a monster hunter… GO! HUNT! MONSTERS!

Add to that, one of the stretch goals is to get the novelist behind Monster Hunter International to create a special adventure for the book and this is a winner.

Sixth Stretch Goal at $80,000 – A special adventure, written by Larry Correia himself will be added to the corebook!”

 

To see examples of Gallant Knight Games on DriveThruRPG, click here.

To support this Kickstarter, click here.

 

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Aventuria Compendium – The Dark Eye RPG by Ulisses Spiele
Ends on Fri, December 8 2017 8:00 PM EST.

“The first rules supplement for the ENnie-Award winning RPG The Dark Eye vastly expands character options for the world of Aventuria.

Experience The Dark Eye and its ENnie-Award winning setting Aventuria in even greater depth with the Aventuria Compendium.

Whether your characters prefer weapons or words, the Compendium gives your heroes exciting new options for interacting with the world of The Dark Eye! As a player, choose the rules that you like best. Options can apply to all characters or even just to one—you decide how you want to play!

Master new fighting styles and wield new weapons on the battlefield, or put more subtle skills to use and outmaneuver your opponents in social interactions. Expand your game with new rules for Fate points, weapon breakage, hit locations, information gathering, item creation, and more!

The Aventuria Compendium and the Aventuria Armory broaden the setting of Aventuria by introducing new character professions and dozens of essential pieces of equipment. Explore new paths to heroism in Aventuria with the first major rules supplements for The Dark Eye!”

 

Egg’s Thoughts:

 

The Dark Eye won a 2017 Silver Ennie Award for best setting (Dark Eye – Aventuria Almanac) and this Kickstarter expands on the game. Want to give this game a sh0t? Click here to get the free preview of the game.

 

To see examples of Ulisses Spiele on DriveThruRPG, click here.

To support this Kickstarter, click here.

 

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Dragon Kings Player’s Rulebook for 5E by Mindscape Publishing and Battlefield Press International
Ends on Sun, December 10 2017 12:26 PM EST.

“A totally new Player Rulebook from one of the co-creators of 5E for the most brutal fantasy RPG out there.

Welcome to the Dragon Kings Player’s Rulebook project.

In 2014, Tim Brown, co-creator of the Dark Sun campaing setting, released Dragon Kings through a very successful Kickstarter campaign and to much acclaim, with rulesets for Pathfinder, Savage Worlds, and 13th Age.

Dragon Kings showed us a ruthless and extremely dangerous world, with exotic races of humanoids and non-humanoids that depart from more traditional roleplaying games paradigms.

Khitus, the setting where Dragon Kings is located, is a world that is slowly dying. Its forest becoming deserts due to dreadful influences on the planet that are draining its natural resources.

With magic that takes a dreadful toll on those who use it, psionics are awakening. Races of long ago mindless insects are evolving and expanding, with a thirst for conquest that threatens the entire planet.  Lizardmen become cleverer by the day.

The world is changing as it dies, and only strong heroes have a chance to slow down or halt its demise.

That would be you.

The Pachyaur
The Pachyaur

Dragon Kings is a departure from more traditional fantasy settings, and has a darker and more exotic edge to it.

Add to this the intensity of the world and the new classes that it presented, and it’s impossible not to appreciate the vast potential and richness of this game.

The gorgeous art, the amazing cartography – Dragon Kings really stood high among the best and most innovative RPGs.

You can download the free gazetteer from here to get a great overview of the world.

And now, Dragon Kings is coming to 5E

With this project, we want to create a Player’s Rulebook to bring the 5E rules to Khitus.

To achieve that, we worked with the talented Chris Sims, one of fifth edition’s developers, and someone with more years of experience in the industry than politeness allows us to mention.

The Player’s Rulebook will contain races, class information, and more. It’s a book for Dragon Kings fans and fifth-edition gamers.

We expect the Player’s Rulebook to contain more than 20,000 words of text when it funds, with more content added as we hit stretch goals.

This Player’s Rulebook will be available both in black-and-white and color, and both soft and hard cover. That way everyone will be able to choose the edition that suits you best.”

 

Egg’s Thoughts:

Disclosure: I did some *minor* editing on this Kickstarter before it launched.

 

It’s not Dark Sun for 5e… But, it’s like Dim Star for 5e in the best possible sense.

Dark Sun is Dark Sun, and I’m proud of it. If someone would give me the keys and let me drive Dark Sun again I would be happy to do so. I’m creating Dragon Kings to satisfy that creative ‘jones.’ Dragon Kings will share many of the same themes, but will also be its own, unique universe. Honestly, this gives me an opportunity to move in creative directions that just weren’t open to me before, and that’s pretty exciting.

The setting already exists for Pathfinder, Savage Worlds, and 13th Age and, with Tim Brown involved, this offering will go a long way towards filling in for a much loved 5e setting.

 

Also, co-publisher Battlefield Press International has a campaign going for a fantasy prose anthology, The Awakened III Anthology, featuring the likes of Ed Greenwood, Darrin Drader, Darren W. Pearce, and more. Check it out here.

 

To see examples of Mindscape Publishing on DriveThruRPG, click here, and from Battlefield Press International, click here.

To support this Kickstarter, click here.

 

* * * * * *

 

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).

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).

4 RPG Kickstarters You Should Back – Xenomorphs, Epic Legacy, Operators, and Warsong

It’s Thanksgiving/Black Friday week in the US and that means we’re headed into the season where RPG Kickstarters will *not* get the attention that they deserve. With this article, I’m hoping to buck that trend and showcase some of the deserving RPGs that are waiting for you to back them.

 

Warsong 2nd Edition for Fate Core by Higher Grounds Publishing
Ends on Fri, November 24 2017 10:53 PM EST.

“A game of warring nations spiraling toward oblivion. Will you pull the world free from self-destruction, or guide it to its doom?

Draw your sword.

Make your choice.

Choose your destiny.

Warsong is a game about cataclysmic war. A game that looks into the face of destiny, and decides for itself. It is a game about mythic deeds, and choosing free will over fate.
Destiny is a choice. The Viziers guide the flow of our world toward its inexorable doom. The armies of the world amass and gather, intent on destruction and death. Only you can choose the path of your own fate. By your actions, you choose the course of history. The burden of free will is yours alone. The chains of destiny cannot hold you.

You are free.”

 

Egg’s Thoughts:

 

This KS ends on Black Friday because, if nothing else, Ray Machuga knows no fear! Need a FATE game? Does the premise sound interesting and you’d like to try the first edition of the game for free? Click here. Want to get the full 1e rules for $.97? Click here.

 

You can find their work on DriveThruRPG here.

To support their Kickstarter campaign, click here.

 

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Operators RPG by Samjoko Publishing 
Ends on Thu, November 30 2017 2:00 AM EST.

“Mission Impossible heists and Tom Clancy technothriller meets Bourne-style kinetic fight sequences in this all-new action RPG.

Operators is an RPG designed to tell cinematic action movies at the table. Whether you like challenge-based play in a Tom Clancian technothriller or the futuristic hijinks of Mission Impossible, Operators has you covered.

The core mechanic revolves around rolling four Fate Dice. Players look for pluses in order to succeed and the Game Master looks for minuses that mean the task becomes unexpectedly complicated.

Operators also uses a deck of cards to help narrate fight scenes and chase scenes. The Fight Cards all have unique illustrations and moves taken from various martial arts, but mostly those seen in the Bourne movies. These cards, along with rolling the dice to see which moves land, are turned away, or are countered, make it easy to narrate a kinetic fight scene. Chase cards work similarly, except instead of having fighting moves on them, they have the ways the person in the lead tries to get away.

You can find a free quickstart of the game and all the mechanics in depth right here. along with some additional player aides for the Game Master (called Director in Operators) and some mock-up character sheets with a loose scenario to play through if you and you group want to get it to the table to see how she runs.

Click to download the free Quickstart - still a work in progress
Click to download the free Quickstart – still a work in progress

Click here to download the free Quickstart – still a work in progress. 

The book is going to be graphic novel size, softcover, full colour, and around 200 pages.

The Cards will be a deck of 52 cards in total and will be regular playing card size (2.5 x 3.5″). 19 of them are used for Chase Scenes, 33 are used for Fight Scenes. One of the main goals of the kickstarter is going to be increasing the size of that deck. I’m hoping to add quite a bit more. In the quickstart above you can check out what the cards I already have look like.

Cards Mock-Up (Not Final)
Cards Mock-Up (Not Final)

In addition, these cards can be used with all kinds of other games, like Night’s Black Agents, Delta Green, or any other game where you want to narrate out a brutal martial arts sequence between opponents.

I also want to be able to hire a professional to do photo manipulation and photo realistic art throughout the book. It’s a big challenge since it’s not a style that is commonly seen in RPGs and I’d really like to do it right.”

 

Egg’s Thoughts:

 

From the same company that brought the cyberpunk RPG, The Veil, to the world, Operators isn’t quite a FATE RPG as best I can tell, but it uses some elements of it. I am interested in seeing how the photo manipulation artwork works out.

 

You can find their work on DriveThruRPG here.

To support their Kickstarter campaign, click here.

 

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Xenomorphs: The Fall of Somerset Landing Tabletop RPG by EN Publishing
Ends on Fri, December 1 2017 3:00 PM EST.

Disclosure: I freelance for EN World.

“A gritty universe of sci-fi survival horror, including the full core rules and a setting/adventure.

Dare to enter a gritty universe of sci-fi survival horror! A full standalone set containing the core rules for WOIN-powered science-fiction roleplaying games and the Xenomorphs: The Fall of Somerset Landing setting/adventure sourcebook. The books are completed and ready to ship, so you’ll get them right away!

Terror and monsters await in the depths of space…

You get two books shipped as soon as the Kickstarter ends:

  • The 300-page full-colour hardcover N.E.W. The Science Fiction Roleplaying Game core rulebook, fully updated and errataed, with a special, exclusive Xeno Edition cover.
  • The 60-page full-colour softcover Xenomorphs: The Fall of Somerset Landing setting/adventure sourcebook which describes the setting – including known space, the United Marine Corps, equipment, careers, a pair of iconic starships, information about the different varieties of xenomorph, plus a detailed terraforming colony called Somerset Landing, along with a survival horror adventure set in that colony. Both books are detailed below.

Xenomorphs: The Fall of Somerset Landing was written by Darren Pearce (Doctor Who; Lone Wolf), Angus Abranson (Hillfolk; Cubicle 7), and Russ Morrissey (What’s OLD is NEW; To Slay A Dragon).

If you already own the N.E.W. The Science Fiction Roleplaying Game core rulebook, you have the option to simply purchase the Xenomorphs: The Fall of Somerset Landing setting/adventure sourcebook on its own.

Want to see a whole load of previews? Before the Kickstarter launched, we were posting them regularly here on this thread on EN World! Feel free to check them out!

This is the Full Xeno Print Set
This is the Full Xeno Print Set

 

A full-colour 60-page softback setting book which introduces the universe of Xenomorphs, including a 15-page adventure called The Fall of Somerset Landing.”

 

Egg’s Thoughts:

Disclosure: I freelance for EN World.

 

Want to try out the N.E.W. RPG system? This is your chance to get in on the game via a Kickstarter where the product is in the can, no stretch goals are planned, and delivery starts within a week or two of the close. I participated in their Touch of Class Kickstarter and I think the first PDFs went out the same day that the campaign closed. In this case, it could be a Christmas gift Kickstarter!

 

You can find their work on DriveThruRPG here.

To support their Kickstarter campaign, click here.

 

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Epic Legacy Core Rulebook – 5th Edition Beyond 20th Level by 2CGaming
Ends on Sun, December 3 2017 12:00 AM EST.

“The ultimate guide to Epic Level 5th Edition. Bring your characters and DM arsenal to new heights of power beyond 20th level!

The Epic Legacy Core Rulebook is a 5th Edition supplement which adds a powerful and tested Epic tier to the established levels of play, advancing the Character progression from levels 21 to 30. The Epic Legacy system provides all the tools Players and Dungeon Masters will need to bring your most epic games to life.

At the core of the project’s design is the smooth playability that is the hallmark of 5th Edition. Building upon our work in the Epic Legacy Player’s Guide, this book is a masterwork quality product from veteran designers at 2CGaming. More than that, it is a labor of love consisting of over two years of development, extensive testing and balancing, and a fantastic community that has helped us every step of the way. From cover to cover, this book is packed with epic features that help you take every element of your game to the next level.”

 

Egg’s Thoughts:

 

Are you taking your 5e characters beyond level 20? Want to play a god? This is the solution. My sweet spot in D&D tends to be levels 5 to 8 so this may be beyond what I’d look at, but that does not mean it’s not going to look amazing and offer some innovative ideas. On the KS page, they have samples of what the epic levels will be like and those are worth checking out to see if this is for you.

 

You can find their work on DriveThruRPG here.

To support their Kickstarter campaign, click here.

 

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Signal Boost:

 

Era: The Consortium – A Universe of Expansions 2 by Shades of Vengeance 
The critically acclaimed Sci-Fi RPG returns to Kickstarter: get expansions to the universe, as well as the Definitive Edition Rulebook!
Ends on .

Read my interview with Ed Jowett of Shades of Vengeance here.

Want to know more about the game? You can get the (free) Quickstart pack right here and try it out!

Why signal boost this? Because I’ll be writing one of the stretch goals – Sirona Specials Part 1 (Sessions 1-10)!

 

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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).

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).

4 RPG Kickstarters You Should Back – Kids on Bikes, Tragedies of Middle School, Silence of Hollowind, and A Far Off Land

Recapturing my youth drives my love of RPGs and this week two games have you play the youth of today or yesteryear. One is set in junior high (though, I’m from Georgia and we never called it “junior high”… kindergarten, elementary, middle, high… “junior high” was one of those TV concepts and for years I thought kids in other states went to five levels of school before college… scary…) and the other embraces the kids on bikes subgenre like no other. Combine those with some FATE and Savage Worlds options with good twists and these are worth checking out.

 


Check out John McGuire’s The Gilded Age steampunk graphic novel on Kickstarter!

 

TRAGEDIES OF MIDDLE SCHOOL by 9th Level Games
Ends on .

An anthology of tabletop role-playing games, story games, live action games, and other strangeness inspired by the greatest HORROR of all… junior high.

 

 

THE TRAGED13S OF MIDDLE SCHOOL is an anthology of tabletop role-playing, story games, LARPs, and other strangeness combining classic HORROR TROPES with game mechanics inspired by the greatest horror of all… JUNIOR HIGH!!! Return to middle school without the horror of actually being 13 years old!

Each game in The Tragedies of Middle School centers around a nostalgic junior high activity – spin the bottle, Truth or Dare, passing notes, Bloody Mary, school dances, friendship bracelets, etc. The PG-13 horror vibe running throughout represent the fear, awkwardness, and angst of being a thirteen year old. It’s the worst!

Other strangeness? In addition to the RPGs, story games, and LARPs, The Tragedies of Middle School features a card game, a Choose Your Own Adventure, a solo dungeon crawler, a sport, a dance party, some craftivities*, and more!

*Craftivities are like craft activities – duh!

The Tragedies of Middle School currently* features 20 games and activities with more to come as we hit stretch goals throughout the campaign (fingers crossed!). 20 designers and 3 artists, from a diverse mix of backgrounds, are already involved, ready to share their middle school experiences and game styles. THERE ARE EVEN A FEW CURRENT MIDDLE SCHOOLERS!

*Our expectation is that we will have 20 games, unless we run out of pages, or the Kickstarter totally goes nuts and we get to unlock some stretch goals.

final printing.

We realize that this is a pretty eclectic sounding collection of things – so we thought the best way to show you what kind (and quality) of games we’re pushing here – was with a free sample.So, if you’re not sold yet – try this playable demo of our lead off game – 7 MINUTES IN HELL – designed by Doug Levandowski, featuring amazingly cool art by James Stowe.”  

DOWNLOAD HERE – RIGHT NOW!

 

Egg’s Thoughts:

That movie poster cover looks great! I feel like I saw that movie… Anyways, as with Kids on Bikes below, this RPG anthology touches on my most powerful reason to play RPGs – escaping into our never-was-youth. If you want a variety of games – 20 games – and options, this may be the collection for you. Like every RPG on today’s list, this one includes a free sample to test it out on the Kickstarter page.

 

You can find their games on DriveThruRPG here.

Support their Kickstarter here.

 

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The Silence of Hollowind – Urban Fantasy RPG by The Evil Company and GG Studios
Ends on .

“Hollowind is a metropolis rich with mysteries and contradictions, where magic is outlawed and whoever makes use of it is hunted down.

Hollowind is a vast megalopolis that fifty years ago, thanks to Merlin’s Edict, managed to overthrow the tyranny of arcane families; since that very moment it has been fighting the remaining survivors of the Purge. The Bureaus represent the first line of defense in their daily battle against enemies within and without, observing the motto: order, reveal, and persecute. Anyone attempting to break this new balance, conquered with the blood of thousands, will have to face the Bureaus. The arcanists are always plotting, and people must remain vigilant.

The Silence of Hollowind is a Urban Fantasy role playing game, adaptable to many rules systems with the addition of setting-specific mechanics to enhance gameplay (Savage Worlds conversion is the first system we will design for). It is a complex and detailed setting, aesthetically reminiscent of 1930s United States but populated by Orcs, Elves, Dwarves and countless fantasy creatures living within the oppressive Hollowind, a metropolis rich with mysteries and contradictions where magic is outlawed and whoever makes use of it is hunted down as a criminal.

 

The core book for “The Silence of Hollowind” will amount to about 130 pages, which might increase based on the stretch goals.

Within the book you will find:

  • A deeply structured setting, filled with mysteries.
  • Several play styles, from purely investigative games to action-pulp adventures.
  • Playing the role of lowly Order agents, skilled Revealers or brave Persecutors. If stretch goals allow for it, you will be able to play as Arcanists and see things from a different perspective.
  • Dozens of NPCs and ideas for investigative sessions.
  • A variety of conversions for different rule systems. The initial project includes compatibility with Savage Worlds only, but stretch goals may unlock more. Each system conversion will be released through its own free PDF.
  • Layout and art direction aiming to evoke the setting and resemble dossiers from the very Bureaus.
  • A map of the City of Hollowind!

 

You might be wondering why we didn’t simply choose a single existing system, or why we didn’t custom-make one for Hollowind. I can tell you we spent a lot of time on this decision, but in the end we realized we wanted this game to be approachable by as many people as possible, with as little effort as possible. This means relying on widespread systems, allowing every group to choose the one they are most comfortable with. Each rules conversion will provide everything you need to adapt your system to our setting in a few easy steps, keeping your focus on the game, not the conversion.

At the same time, we will develop special rules for the Savage Worlds conversion (this is the first system we will design for) such as “Interrogation Scenes”, “Arcane Plague”, “Arcane Fogs” and several Edges dedicated to playing Hollowind. All these rules will be released within a free PDF.

*UPDATE: D&D 5th Edition, and FATE, which means conversion documents for both these systems will be unlocked upon reaching the goal of 10,000€!”

 

Egg’s Thoughts:

This RPG is set in a dieselpunk anti-magic 1930s America and you’re either a hunted mage or the government hunters. It’s for Savage Worlds, 5e, or FATE and should be interesting. Check out the Kickstarter for a quickstart version of the game.

 

You can find their games on DriveThruRPG here.

Support their Kickstarter here.

 

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A Far Off Land, A Fate RPG in Two Worlds by Bennett-Burks Design
Ends on .

“An RPG where modern meets mythic fantasy in two imperiled worlds, where the intrigues of the Courts & Factions play out.

You, Fated one, are a beautiful lie, and so too is the world around you

A Far Off Land is a multi-world spanning fantasy RPG (roleplaying game) setting by Megan Bennett-Burks and Jacob Possin for the Fate RPG. We will include rules for Apocalypse World / PbtA in a PDF IF we hit the $7000 funding mark.

Take the role of one of the Fated; shapeshifting beings which are creatures of both worlds. The Fated are akin to the demigods of legend.

Note on add-ons: Want to get extra copies of the book, PDF, or other goodies, see the add-ons section further down.

Note on Shipping: Is your Country Not Listed on a Pledge? Contact us, we may still be able to ship to you, but will need to determine an appropriate shipping cost.

Curious About Press on the Game? Want to Learn even More?  See interviews and more as they are listed in our updates!

Switching worlds by Gennifer Bone
Switching worlds by Gennifer Bone

The world around you is not the only one, and even it is not what it seems. Embrace your twinned nature, creature both eldritch and human. You are a child born of one world and adopted by the other, and fated to save them both. Ah, but, alas, you are much like the world you were born to, also, not what you seem!

There are two worlds; one is the world you were born into, the one you’ve taken for granted as mundane and explicable. The other is the Far Off Land; where creatures of myth and magic dwell. This wondrous place was crafted by the gods long ago and has a vast array of Mythic realms which lie within it. You and your companions are Fated, shapeshifting beings who are of both worlds, and the fate of both worlds rests in your hands.

Two Worlds, Rabbit Holes and Many Realms  

One world is that which your character was born into; it is nearly identical to our own present-day earth though it has powerful magic hidden within it. The Fated call this world The Cage because it serves as a prison for slumbering dragons and primordial giants, who would imperil both worlds were they to awaken.

The other world is the realm of myth, magic, and monsters; the Far Off Land and its many realms from ancient Duat, the Mirrored Cities, and Wonderland. Your adventures will span both these worlds, and to the many rabbit holes which act as passageways from one to the next, including The Alley and its great Goblin Market. The rabbit holes were created thanks to the sacrifice of the goddess Tekmor long ago.”

Wonderland Fated by Gennifer Bone
Wonderland Fated by Gennifer Bone

 

Read my interview about A Far Off Land with Megan Bennett-Burks here.

 

Egg’s Thoughts:

I’m interested enough in this project to have done an interview. The idea that you’ll play in two worlds offers a lot of role-playing options and I want to see this make it. I think it has potential as a FATE Core game or as a PbtA option. Need more? You can try the free preview on RPGNow/DriveThruRPG here, A Far Off Land – Preview.

 

You can find their games on DriveThruRPG here.

Support their Kickstarter here.

 

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Kids on Bikes RPG – Strange Adventures in Small Towns by Infectious Play/Hunter Books
Ends on .

“Choose your OWN destiny in this storytelling rules-light tabletop role-playing game where adventure is a bike ride away!

Young Adults, Small Towns…

BIG ADVENTURE!

Kids on Bikes is a Collaborative World Building RPG set in small towns with big mysteries. Written and created by celebrated game designers Jon Gilmour (Dead of Winter, Atari: Centipede/Missile Command/Asteroids) & Doug Levandowski (Gothic Doctor, Seven Minutes in Hell). Kids on Bikes is a rules-light storytelling system that gets players into the action fast.

The Adventures of Kids on Bikes take place in small towns at any point in history before:

  • Everyone had camera phone that could catch video of a Ghost
  • Use GPS to track a Homicidal Maniac roaming around town
  • Research an old creaky house in seconds using Google

Kids on Bikes takes place in a more mysterious time, where anything and everything *could* happen.

Kids on Bikes is a 60 page, rules-light, fast-paced storytelling game in the spirit of games like DREAD, Perseverant, MONSTERHEARTS, and other great indy titles. Kids on Bikes is perfect for game nights in which you want to get a game in RIGHT NOW.

Using stats like GRIT, CHARM, FIGHT, FLIGHT, BRAINS and BRAWN, you’ll jump into the action. Each skill is represented by a polyhedral die based on your character’s competence. More sides = better chance of success.

That being said, even low stats always have a chance of success, as any max result EXPLODES leading to an additional re-roll contributing to the results. Lower sided dice mean bigger chances of explosions!”

 

Egg’s Thoughts:

Much like The Monster Hunter’s Club and Tales From the Loop, this game is tapping into the Stephen King’s IT, Stranger Things subgenre for which it took its name and the results are amazing. I read an advance copy of the game and I can fully recommend it. It’ll have an adventure from comic writer Jim Zub (who writes Wayward and a number of Marvel books) which crosses over into my love of comics. Want to try if for yourself? “There is even an early access PDF or ‘ashcan’ version of the rules available now…”

 

You can find their games on DriveThruRPG here.

Support their Kickstarter here.

 

 

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Signal Boost:

 

Era: The Consortium – A Universe of Expansions 2 by Shades of Vengeance 
The critically acclaimed Sci-Fi RPG returns to Kickstarter: get expansions to the universe, as well as the Definitive Edition Rulebook!
Ends on Sun, November 26 2017 4:00 PM EST.

Read my interview with Ed Jowett of Shades of Vengeance here.

Want to know more about the game? You can get the (free) Quickstart pack right here and try it out!

Why signal boost this? Because I’ll be writing one of the stretch goals – Sirona Specials Part 1 (Sessions 1-10)!

 

 

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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).

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

 

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Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

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

 

* * * * * *

 

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

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).

HALLOWEEN TREAT – 11 QUESTIONS ABOUT AMP Year Four WITH Eloy Lasanta (Third Eye Games)

Winner of multiple RPG awards, including a 2017 ENnie, Eloy Lasanta is one of the busiest individuals in gaming. Running Third Eye Games, he has projects in the works and Kickstarter and has just joined John Wick Presents as their financial manager. I reviewed his Pip System RPG on EN World (here) and his current Kickstarter for AMP: Year Four (here) and, for the Halloween holiday, he agreed to answer a few of my questions about his Kickstarter, his company, and his free AMP: Year One Quickstart!

 


Check out John McGuire’s The Gilded Age steampunk graphic novel on Kickstarter!

 

EGG EMBRY – Eloy, I know you have a lot going on so thanks for doing this interview. You’re working on your Kickstarter for AMP: Year Four – The Year of the Invasion – Tabletop RPG. Tell us about this story?

ELOY LASANTA – It all began with AMP: Year One, where I decided to start my own supers mythos and create a new world that is reminiscent of tropes and ideas we’re used to out of our darker hero/villain stories, but adding in my own flair of the dramatic. There are a few key players in the world, but it’s set up for the players and their characters to steal the show in the end.

The story of AMP breaks down what happens when people start developing powers, basically, today! The timeline starts in 2015, which each new book we’ve released advancing the story. You find out what caused AMPs to occur in the world, and why they are a phenomenon right now.

Several groups, we call them Affiliations, pop up as well, all tackling the issue in their own way. Characters like Doctor Luminous and Critter form the Seekers of Enlightenment, trying to figure out what’s going on from a scientific perspective. Typhoon learns out to leverage superpowers to cause chaos and usurp power. The Changelings run and hide from the problem, but help their fellow AMPs escape persecution. Other groups, like the United Human Front, are built up as villains in the setting, but are presented as playable options too, just in case you want to tell stories of hunting down AMPs instead of being AMPs yourself.

There are a lot of layers to the game. I could go on forever.

 

Continuing the AMP Game Line into Year Four: The Year of the Invasion!

EGG – This Kickstarter is for the fourth year of this series, what made you decide on a multi-part game like this?

ELOY LASANTA – Insanity! But no seriously, I wanted to do a game in a way I hadn’t seen before. Breaking the books into years, and presenting the next installment each time with expanded stories, escalating dilemmas, and dynamic characters, has been a lot of fun. It’s been an exercise in keeping track of characters and storylines, not unlike what the comic industry has to deal with, I assume.

 

EGG – In your wildest dreams, where does AMP go in terms of longevity? AMP Year Ten? Year Fifty? And if it goes that far, will a player need to start with Year One and play up to the current timeline?

ELOY LASANTA – I have a 5 year plan for the AMP gameline too, which means we’re almost done with the official story. Then we’ll be working on expanding the world and player options out even more. I have a ton of ideas, from “what if” books to alternate timelines, to adding more groups and characters into the mix. There are a lot of possibilities to explore within the AMP setting.

 

EGG – This game uses an original system, can you give us a quick rundown of it?

ELOY LASANTA – Sure! It uses the DGS-Combo system, utilizing a single d20 for all checks. There are no Attributes; instead, you have a list of 22 Skills and you combine them to get your bonuses. For instance, if you wanted to fix a computer, your take your values for Crafts (for knowing how to fix) and your Technology (for what you’re fixing) and add them to your d20 roll against a target number (10, 20, 30, 40, respectively). Your chosen powers actually become a part of this sequence many times, adding Earth + Fighting or Awareness + Perception at times.

Unlike a lot of other supers games out there, AMP isn’t a toolkit, build-your-own power sets, kind of game. Instead, we supply you with over 50 different powers in the corebook, and even more from the other books that have come out. You can pick up to 3 and explore their combos and abilities within them. If you have Air Control, for instance, you can create electric fists, gusts of wind, and fly. You don’t need to take the flight power, unless you want to be a really amazing flier.

 

EGG – I’ve started asking this – When Russ Morrissey of EN World, the ENnie Awards, WOIN, and more asked what’s the best way to gauge how the pre-marketing for a crowdfunding was progressing, Owen KC Stephens (Design Lead for Starfinder) offered “I find downloads of free preview PDFs on DriveThru to be a pretty good predictor.” You have a free preview on RPGNow/DriveThruRPG, AMP: Year One Quickstart. That’s been up since the first Kickstarter, correct? How has it done for you over the years in promotional terms?

ELOY LASANTA – It’s been up actually just since the beginning of 2017. I only just now got on the QuickStart train that everyone else has been riding for years. So far, though, around 500 downloads. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad number, but there it is. 🙂

 

EGG – In your opinion, what’s the best backer reward that you’re offering through this campaign?

ELOY LASANTA – Well, that’s an easy one… the $325 tier that not only lets you make a character, but we’ll also write up a part of the book where they make a contribution to the world. There is a tier to just make a character and just be a part of the story, but this one combines them both. They are always really fast to go, and we only have a limited number.

If you’re not into those types of backer rewards, we do offer the Story So Far tiers (in either PDF or Print) for you to get all the books up to Year 4. This gives you the complete story and all the player options in those books (there are a lot more). But it’s a great place to start!

 

EGG – You’re offering to let some backers create content for your RPG. That speaks to my love of vanity press/wanna-lancer* rewards. Tell us about what the backers can create?

*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.

ELOY LASANTA – We have major characters in the story that backers made up. For instance, Shell was a backer character from Year One that has evolved into a major player all the way through Year 3 and the catalyst for Year 4. Backers get to make a character using the corebook and the new rules from whatever book we’re working on; in this case, that’s AMP: Year Four, which means they’ll be able to take advantage of the new magic rules and powers available.

 

EGG – Tell us a little about you and what was the game that changed you into a gamer?

ELOY LASANTA – More about me? I’m pretty boring. I’m married with 3 kids in Florida. I’m a huge fan of superhero movies and supernatural TV shows (though, oddly enough, not Supernatural). Most of my time is spent either playing or designing RPGs, though. It’s kind of my passion, and I usually have like 5 projects ongoing at any given time, because I’m a masochist.

I got into the hobby with RIFTS and eventually moved on to White Wolf games and then became quite the polygamerous player, bouncing from system to system and setting to setting. I’ve never settled on one perfect game, not even my own. I’m a fan of trying everything the hobby has to offer.

 

EGG – Why did you create your gaming company, Third Eye Games?

ELOY LASANTA – 2008… Wow! it’s been such a long time!

 

EGG – What projects are you currently developing?

ELOY LASANTA – I’m currently working on three secret projects called Project Moon, Project Needle, and Project Door (and I just added another, but it doesn’t have a designation at the moment), but the ones in the open are AMP: Year Four and A Kid’s Guide to Monster Hunting, both of which I’m very much excited for.

 

EGG – Any parting thoughts? Where can we find out more about Third Eye Games?

ELOY LASANTA – You can always visit http://thirdeyegames.net for more info, and from there you an get to our G+ communities, FB pages, and the like. We’re always creating new things, so come and see if any of it strikes your fancy.

Thanks for having me!

 

You can see examples of their work at DriveThruRPG here.

You can support this Kickstarter campaign here. the campaign ends on Friday, November 3 2017 2:00 PM EDT.

 

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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).

 

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).

11 QUESTIONS ABOUT THE TINY DUNGEON 2e RPG WITH ALAN BAHR (GALLANT KNIGHT GAMES)

A minimalist fantasy RPG for both adults and children? If you follow my reviews on EN World, or read about my excitement when there’s an all-ages RPG Kickstarter, you know I’m looking for the perfect RPG that truly is for all-ages. Alan Bahr of Gallant Knight Games is running a Kickstarter for the second edition of Tiny Dungeon and it looks promising. To learn more, Alan agreed to answer some of my questions about his campaign and what got him into gaming.

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

 

EGG EMBRY – Thanks for speaking to me about your Kickstarter, Tiny Dungeon 2e. What’s the game about? [UPDATE – This product is available now here.]

ALAN BAHR – It’s my pleasure! Thank you for inviting me. Tiny Dungeon 2e is a fantasy roleplaying game in the same vein of D&D, but with a very stripped down, minimalist ruleset. It’s fantasy roleplaying at the core essence, without extra rules and bits added in.

 

EGG – What inspired you to create Tiny Dungeon 2e? Or maybe a better question is, why will TD2e be better than 1e? [UPDATE – This product is available now here.]

ALAN BAHR – TD1e was a revelation in minimalist gaming to me. I can’t overstate how important it was to me. TD2e just improves upon the original. Streamlined text and rules, more options (while being minimalist), and a focus on addressing some of the core issues found in 1e. We’ve clarified lots of rules, and made an effort to upgrade the visual and thematic elements of the game.

[Editor’s Note – You can read a detailed discussion about the differences here.]

 

EGG – As of this writing you’ve blown past your goal and keep knocking down stretch goals, is the Kickstarter meeting your expectations or exceeding them?

ALAN BAHR – Absolutely exceeding. I’d expected to be more successful than our past TinyD6 Kickstarters, but this was a whole new level for me.

 

EGG – This may be more for me than the readers but what’s the starting age for this RPG? With a name like *Tiny* Dungeon, I have to know if children are a part of your target audience?

ALAN BAHR – They are! The game is very simple, and it’s a great learner RPG for teaching children how to play!

 

 
Art by Anthony Cournoyer and Design by Robert Denton!

EGG – With the Tiny Frontiers and Tiny Frontiers: Mecha & Monsters Kickstarters, you delivered ahead of scheduled and the delivery estimate for the Kickstarter is less than 5 months, what’s your game plan for reaching that goal?

ALAN BAHR – Simply put, do things on time, correctly, and deliver appropriately. We’ve got a lot of experience with this, and frankly, we’ve split our stretch goals into two Waves to make it manageable. Wave I is the corebook, GM screen, dice, and bags for the Deluxe Pledges. Wave II is a bunch of the later, more involved stretch goals.

 

EGG – As the publisher, can you highlight one pledge level/backer reward that you think is the standout for Tiny Dungeon 2e? [UPDATE – This product is available now here.]

ALAN BAHR – Oh man, The Deluxe Adventurer. You get two copies of the book (the LE faux leather hardcover, and a softcover for table copy), a set of dice, the GM screen and a handmade bag to store it all in. It’s a fantastic pledge level.

Deluxe Adventurer

The best of the best! All the fancy pieces, and a collectors edition hardcover for your shelf!

INCLUDES:

 

Custom Dice Bag

EGG – Tell us a little about you and what was the game that changed you into a gamer?

ALAN BAHRPendragon. I’ve written and talked at length about how great Pendragon is. All I can do is tell everyone to go play Pendragon!

About me, well I’m Alan. I like jazz & country music, subtitled martial arts movies, heroic stories, reading fiction, and I spend a long time as a data scientist and project manager in corporate America.

 

EGG – Why did you create your gaming company, Gallant Knight Games?

ALAN BAHR – I love gaming, and I see gaming as a social experience that helps us to transcend the issues that confront us as humanity. Tabletop gaming is an enlightening experience if done right and I want to bring that to everyone I can as affordably as I can.

 

 
Art by Anthony Cournoyer and Design by Robert Denton!

EGG – As a Kickstarter veteran, what advice would you give others thinking about launching a gaming Kickstarter?

ALAN BAHR – Ask someone who has been there successfully. Do your research. And listen when they tell you. Too many people ask me for advice, then disregard the advice I give.

 

EGG – What projects are you currently developing?

ALAN BAHR – There are a lot of TinyD6 games in the works (11ish). There’s also Candlelight (my 5e Gothic Horror setting), Shadow of the Dying Sun, Gallant, Bramblewoyld, Nevermore, and Revelator. Lots going on.

 

EGG – Any parting thoughts? Where can we find out more about Gallant Knight Games?

ALAN BAHR – Well, there’s Into the Black (GKG fan facebook group) and I’m pretty active there with previews and spoilers. Following me on twitter (@alanbahr) or GKG (@GallantKGames) is a pretty good bet. We could do better at updating www.alanbahr.net and www.gallantknightgames.com, but we’re working on getting those websites upgraded.

 

You can see examples of their work at DriveThruRPG here.

You can support this Kickstarter campaign here.

UPDATE – This product is available now here.

 

 

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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).

 

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

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

 

* * * * * *

 

Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

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

 

* * * * * *

 

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

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).

The Many Reasons You DON’T Want to be a Writer

On December 30th, 2001, I made pretty much the worst decision of my life.

I decided I wanted to be a writer.

And not just any writer, but a balls-to-the-wall, grind my fingers to stumps, spend every night alone with a bottle of scotch and a laptop whose battery is ready to die…writer.

And no I don’t regret it.

And yes I do.

These days, everyone has written  a book. Or at least they have a book idea. I’m reluctant to mention my profession anymore, given everyone’s opinion on the matter:

“I want to write a book, too!” people will tell me.

“I have this great idea. I just need to get it on paper,” they’ll say.

“I started something a few months ago. I’ll finish it one day,” my bartender muses.

To these well-meaning folk, I want to say awful things:

“You don’t want to write a book.”

“You’re not gonna finish anything.”

“You have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Usually I just nod and smile. After all, my bartender (who helped inspire this little tome) is a sweet lady. She makes a mean cocktail, and she doesn’t need to hear my negativity. And my friends who like to talk about their works-in-progress, they’re good people, too. It’s best to let them believe writing is something one does part-time, that it’s something everyone can do.

It isn’t.

Actually, it’s something almost no one should do.

If there’s a culprit, it’s the rise of the self-publishing market. I’m looking at you, Amazon, Smashwords, and all the other upstart platforms. No, I’m not upset about it. These outlets are how I pay the bills. But yeah…ok…I’m a little upset about it. Suddenly everyone in the world has the power to publish anything they want. This means the die-hard, out-of-their-goddamn-mind authors like me have to compete with pretty much everyone else on the planet.

It’s fine. I don’t mind a good fight. I just worry about the sanity of my contemporaries. This kind of competition doesn’t happen in other lines of work. Not everyone in the world can be a plumber, a lawyer, a chef, or a porn star. I can’t wake up tomorrow and decide to be a congressman. I can’t paint a big white hand on my face and join the ranks of the Uruk-Hai.

But everyone can be a published author.

You.

Your grandma.

Your dog.

The hacker who lives in your basement and knows how to scam the system.

Everyone.

Immediately.

Fuck this shit. (Just kidding.)

It’s not that I want this to change; I don’t. Writers chasing their dreams is a good thing. It’s far better for people to challenge themselves with the task of writing a book than it is for them to relax and enjoy their lives, maintain good relationships with their loved ones, or kick back and play the latest video game system no one can actually buy.

Am I being sarcastic?

I honestly don’t know anymore.

What do I know? Most people shouldn’t write books. I’m not talking about the quality of writers’ grammar or the sharpness of their prose; those are subjects for a different article entirely. I’m referring to the commitment of life resources required to be an author. It’s not just about the time investment, but a willingness to sacrifice a large portion of one’s ordinary life. Wordsmiths have to write, re-write, edit, and re-edit. Writers must embrace being alone, lost on islands of imagination no one else can perceive, wandering at the edge of the abyss armed only with words.

Few enjoy such things.

And fewer still savor the horror of realizing one’s work is sub-par, that monkeys in cages could write with more emotion, or the sinking feeling that…honestly…no one gives a shit about what one has written.

Writing for money? It’s similar to prostitution, given the punishment one must endure to turn even the mildest profit. I’ve never seen a group so comfortable with self-loathing as the average indie author. The blank page, worst of all enemies, hits harder than a Conor McGregor left hand. A book half-finished has the power of infinite patience, and a novel doesn’t care whether it’s complete. Words, weak or strong, offer no consolation to their creators. We’re selling our minds for pennies, and we get ploughed in the process.

Fact: a writer’s work is never finished. Most other tasks in the universe, save perhaps art and music, are finite in duration. Fix a broken pipe? Done. Go grocery shopping? Ok. Handle Brexit? Gimme a few years. All of these will one day be complete.

But writing? It’s forever. You might finish one book, but you’ll never push every idea out of your head. Go ahead and die trying. I dare you.

Memes are stupid. Unless they’re sarcastic. Then I love ’em.

To the novice writer, the weekend warrior poet, or the new-to-the-industry author, I have just one suggestion:

Quit.

You’ll never find happiness doing this. Even if you do manage to make it big (you won’t) the money won’t make it worthwhile. You’ll get lost in the same swamp with every novel you write. You’ll finish one story only to find it begets three more. Your short story will turn into a trilogy, and your trilogy into a thousand tales you’ll never live long enough to tell.

You want to be happy? Take up MMA fighting. Build your own house. Plant a garden. Sit down and watch a good movie.

Whatever you do, don’t commit to being an author. You’ll find every moment of your life more challenging than the moment before. You’ll fall into a hole out of which you’ll never be able to climb.

And you’ll probably get fat from sitting on your ass every day.

Am I being satirical?

Hell if I know.

Read this.

J Edward Neill

 

11 QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ERA: BALAM RPG WITH ED JOWETT (SHADES OF VENGEANCE)

I first discovered Shades of Vengeance when I covered their Era: Hitman Kickstarter for my blog. The idea behind the game – “Be a super-powered assassin” – spoke to me because it’s charmingly action movie and engaging. Who doesn’t want to be the bad guy and mind blast someone? Discussing the article with Ed Jowett, owner of SoV, led to working on an adventure for him and we’ve stayed in touch since. When he launched Era: Balam, I knew I wanted him to lead my new RPG Kickstarter interview column. So, let’s talk Ed, SoV, Era: Balam and more!

EGG EMBRY – Thanks for joining us, Ed. If you don’t mind, let’s dive in – Tell us about your current Kickstarter campaign, Era: Balam? What is it about? Why should fans back it?

ED JOWETT – Era: Balam is the latest in our series of Era games, the seventh entry in the group. It’s a game which focuses on the theme of a pilot and their ship being an entity together. It provides exploration, and alien threat to fight against and the chance to save Humanity from invasion!

This game is also offering something new for us – a version in Era d10, but also one in FATE and one in Savage Worlds! You can choose which you prefer from the Kickstarter.

 

 

EGG – Why did you make Era: Balam a part of Kickstarter’s Project of Earth initiative?

ED JOWETT – When Kickstarter launched their Project of Earth initiative for the anniversaries of the Voyager probes, I was inspired not by what Earth is today, or what kind of message I might send into space, but by what might happen to a probe when it arrived on an alien world. What reaction would aliens have to it? How would they respond to this thing appearing? I took that one step further – what would happen if it accidentally did damage to their society?

On the surface, that seems bleak, but while I wanted to make an interesting story, bear in mind everything that this implies – our probes reached other solar systems, travelling across the vastness of space and no matter what happened afterwards, it contacted an alien race for Humanity. Is that not what we all dream of when we send probes like Voyager into interstellar space?

 

Landing on Balam, the main Human colony…

EGG – How does Era: Balam relate to your other sci-fi setting, Era: The Consortium?

ED JOWETT – It relates in the sense that both originate with colony ships from Earth – the colonies in the system where Era: Balam is based are an offshoot of a main colony ship that was nearby.

The rules are extremely compatible, though, and Era: Balam offers one of the few things that can expand the Sci-Fi experience of Era: The Consortium – while the latter game offers space combat, it’s primarily focused around larger ships with crews. You can fly a fighter, but it’s not usually an even match and most of the larger ships have great point defence. In Era: Balam, you get the chance to conduct dog fights on a relatively equal footing with the aliens – huge fleets of fighters exist on both sides and it gives the chance to face a different sort of threat to what you’re likely to face in the Consortium’s region of space.

 

 

EGG – As the publisher, can you highlight one pledge level/backer reward that you think is the standout for Era: Balam?

ED JOWETT – I’d have to highlight the £55 or more pledge, “SPECIAL REQUEST – All the Sci-Fi Eras!”

I’ve had a lot of questions about Era: Balam and how it relates to Era: The Consortium. There’s a lot of possibility there for cross-play. It gets better – you get not only the physical of Era d10 Balam and Era: The Consortium, but you get the Definitive Edition Rulebook of Era: The Consortium, with loads of extra content, along with your choice of rule set for Digital Era: Balam!

It’s giving you loads of amazing stuff for just £55, along with the discount on retail prices on that entire bundle.

 

 

EGG – What inspired you to create the Era d10 gaming system? What makes it stand out from other RPG systems?

ED JOWETTEra d10 was the answer to what my group and I wanted out of rules: I roll terribly, so I hate single dice systems. With Era d10 providing multiple dice, along with flexibility of matching any Attribute with any Skill built into the system itself, you both combat the “I roll badly” factor and min-maxing at the same time – a min-maxed character with no Intelligence could well struggle in certain situations!

It also provided a combat system, particularly around Brawling, that was playable to a greater degree than other things out there: any Brawl action can be described in a single-page flow chart.

I think it stands out because it’s easy to learn, extremely flexible and intuitive – everything works in the same way and once you know the core of the rules, it’s not hard to guess. I’ve had a lot of people comment that they could not find a rule so they guessed and when they found it later on a read-through, they were completely correct.

 

From Era: The Consortium

EGG – What was the game that changed you into a gamer?

ED JOWETT – A combination of things, but I’d probably have to say somewhere between Paranoia and World of Darkness.

Paranoia was the first game I played and then GM’d 2 weeks later. We used a non-standard rule set – not that any of the players knew that, of course (because, for anyone who doesn’t know, it’s against the rules for the players to know the rules in Paranoia…).

That got me into gaming, but what secured my attention – because the Paranoia rules we used was a one dice system! – was a World of Darkness homebrew we made which will be very familiar to anyone who knows Era: The Consortium. It was very much the predecessor of the game you’re playing today, created by those of us who were running a local 24-hour game!

 

 

EGG – Tell us why you jumped from gamer to publisher and created your company, Shades of Vengeance?

ED JOWETT – It was a friend of mine, actually, who convinced me to publish! I’d finished my first campaign and my brother wanted to try running one, so I was writing down the rules. Dru, my friend, was chatting and I showed him what I was working on. He said I should publish it, and things just spiraled from there!

 

Their reaction was fairly… extreme!

EGG EMBRYShades of Vengeance has completed Kickstarters for both RPGs and card games; are there any difference in how you run a RPG Kickstarter versus a card game Kickstarter?

ED JOWETT – Good question! The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that I don’t know entirely what that difference is and don’t yet consider myself as much of an expert on card game Kickstarters as I do on RPG ones…

I have a lot more card games in the works, so I expect to continue learning!

 

 

EGG – As a Kickstarter veteran, what advice would you give others thinking about launching a gaming Kickstarter?

ED JOWETT – Know your domain on Kickstarter. Know what the bottom end of projects get before you start, because that is where you will sit with your first Kickstarter. Don’t look at Seventh Sea for RPGs and expect to get that, look at the new people. That means scrolling all the way to the bottom of the Tabletop Games list and looking at those. Set a realistic goal for where you are at.

And, if you don’t know what you’re doing, get some help! One of the things Shades of Vengeance does is assist people with getting their games on Kickstarter.

 

Kurmaja Park remains the centre of the Consortium

EGG – What projects are you currently developing?

ED JOWETT – When I counted just recently, I realised I had 9 projects on the go, so I have quite a bit going on.

The next one people will see is the Era: The Consortium – A Universe of Expansions 2 Kickstarter. The last one we did funded 8 expansions to Era: The Consortium, but I had 26 ideas at the time. I’d like to get more of those out there, and I’m looking forward to the chance to do it!

After that, you’ll start seeing Era: The Empowered, our superheroes game, Era: The Chosen, our brand new horror game and Era: Legends, a Fantasy game, popping up. We’ve also got more card games, including a “sequel” to Champion of Earth, called “Evil Overlord”, Era: Survival Colony and one based in the Era: The Consortium universe!

We’ve got loads more on the way, including a matrix-inspired cyberpunk game, a JRPG-style game and a High Fantasy game. We’re definitely hard at work here, with an ambitious 2-year plan and a desire to see it fulfilled!

 

 

 

EGG – Any parting thoughts? Where can we find out more about Shades of Vengeance?

ED JOWETT – I’d like to thank Egg for his time and the chance to talk about the thing I enjoy most – gaming! There’s a lot more to come from Shades of Vengeance and I hope you’ll consider keeping an eye on us, because we’re doing great things.

If you want to know more about Shades of Vengeance, you should glance at our Kickstarters, or at our website blog (http://www.shadesofvengeance.com/blog/) or Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/shadesofvengeance)!

 

To see more games by Shades of Vengeance, check them out on DriveThruRPG here.

To back their Kickstarter campaign for Era: Balam, click here.

 

* * * * * *

 

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

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

 

* * * * * *

 

Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

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

 

* * * * * *

 

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

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).

Dragon Con 2017 Recap

Dragon Con always feels a bit like coming home. Even when the numbers of attendees keep going up and up, even when more hotels are added, and even when we take over more and more of downtown, there is just something about Dragon Con that makes it feel different. Long before Georgia became Hollywood South, this was the place for those actors on the shows and movies we all loved would come by for a visit. They would gather us all around and tell their stories to all who would listen.

And for a little while, the gulf between our lives and their lives disappeared.

I hadn’t thought about it much before Friday night, but I’ve been coming to Dragon Con since 1993 when Chad Shonk’s father dropped us off at the entrance to the hotel and we made our way to see Todd McFarlane.

I still have my signed Amazing Spider-Man 300.

It was my first convention. Heck, it was pretty much my first idea that such things even existed. You mean creators of the Funny Books I love to read are coming to my town? I’m sold.

About 10 years ago I convinced my wife to come to Dragon Con for a day. Serenity either had just come out or was coming out, so virtually the entire cast was going to be there. She went, had a great time, and while it took a couple of years before she would be a regular, it has become our little vacation in the city for Labor Day Weekend.

2017

My big take aways for this year were:

  • Standing in lines is not a lot of fun.
  • Standing in lines and not getting into the panel you wanted is really no fun.
  • Being in the overflow room for a panel and then having the feed cut out is just right out.
  • Avoid the dealer’s room on Saturday if at all possible.
  • There are a lot of people in Downtown Atlanta on Labor Day weekend!
  • It never gets old to see the people coming in for the Chic-fil-a Kickoff Classic (college football game for those who don’t know) have confused looks on their faces at the various costumes running around.
  • The costumes continue to impress me year after year. I stand in awe to those people’s dedication to their craft.
  • I love listening to the actors when they are passionate about their work.
  • Catching up with friends might be the single best part.

This year took a different turn when the day before we were to go downtown, Courtney found a hotel room available within 2 blocks of the Hyatt. And we could get it for only Friday and Saturday night. Since we normally don’t go down until Friday and almost never go on Monday, this worked out perfectly.

Throughout the course of the weekend, we’re always amazed at the level of costumes and the creativity everyone has. Whether it is the Zoltar machine from the movie BIG to a robot controlled Stewie from Family Guy, people continue to push the boundaries for the next cool thing. Which is awesome to see, even if I don’t envy the amount of time it might take them to create.

Friday

Somehow on Friday morning, even after getting there at 9:30 for a 10:00 panel, we were forced to the overflow for Nathan Fillion. No biggie. He’s honestly entertaining enough that after a few minutes I mostly forgot he wasn’t in the room… until the Feed cut out for about 10 minutes, and then when they got the audio back, it was probably another 5 before we got the visual. Not anything crushing, but not the way we want to start things off. After seeing him, I realized we’re not doing our due diligence having not seen Con Men (though it was on this weekend, so I have them recorded).

After an aborted attempt to see Wallace Shawn (Inconceivable!) and a decision not to try to fight my way into the Stan Lee panel (they started lining up 2+ hours early), we decided to venture over to the dealer’s room in an attempt to see the wares before the craziness of the weekend really kicked into gear. Last year there was a line to get in by about 2:30, so we made sure we showed up closer to when it opened at 1.

Here’s the thing about the Dealer’s room that I’ll never understand: why is it people stand in the middle of the aisles and talk to each other? I don’t mean the “hey, let’s go this way” but full conversations. Given how packed the room gets, I’d think you’d want to do such things in an area where you wouldn’t be obstructing traffic.

While Friday’s trip was more about identifying potential buys on Sunday, Egg had put me on the look out for Kevin Hearne‘s Iron Druid Chronicles which my wife pointed out after about 2 minutes in the room. I ended up speaking with Kevin for a few minutes and grabbed a couple of copies of the comic.

The final panel attempt on Friday was one for the Gilmore Girls featuring Sean Gunn. Apparently, a room which holds 350 people is not enough by about 50 people and superfan that my wife is – was shut out.

I feel like this is the second time we’ve missed out on a Gilmore Girls/Sean Gunn panel… but maybe it’s just a false feeling of Deja vu?

We dropped in on TesseraGuild’s own Amanda Makepeace (and daughter) who was busy holding down her table in the art area. Prints were flying off her table and, spoiler alert, she ended up winning the “Best Space Scene” at the Dragon Con Art Show!

War for Jupiter

Saturday

Waking up on Saturday with an extra hour of sleep (due to not having to drive into downtown) was nice. I also realized that the 10 AM panels don’t necessarily fill up (unless you’re Nathan Fillion, I guess). There was no line, the Con could let you right into the room.

John Cusack was interesting as he’d never been to Dragon Con before, but he also wasn’t there to actively promote a project. So it really became a series of questions from the audience about all of his movies. I wasn’t sure if he just wasn’t as comfortable in such a setting or what. You could tell when he was really engaged with a question based solely on the length of his responses. Possibly because he’d answered the question a million time previously, some of his answers ended up being slightly longer Yes/No responses.

Though, I don’t want it to seem like it was a bad panel, far from it. Just that many times on these type question/answer sessions the worry is always “how many questions can we get them to answer?” and this was a bit more like “I’m going to get through all the questions.”

The highlight question was:

“Do you ever get stopped in real life by someone who wants 2 dollars?”

A laugh. “Every day… every day.”

The Flash panel reminded me that it is beyond cool that John Wesley Shipp is a part of the cast. To have that link to the old show and to see how much he respects these actors and the work they put in… it’s amazing. Danielle Panabaker was definitely the star of the panel as the majority of the questions went to her (many with the questions centered around her Killer Frost alter-ego).

The highlight of the evening was supposed to be The Barrowman Show. As soon as we saw such a thing existed we were set ongoing. Apparently, everyone else at Dragon Con had the same idea and it filled up completely. I can only imagine the craziness that went on behind closed doors.

Sunday

On Sunday, we began with another DC Universe panel: Arrow.

One thing about the highly entertaining Arrow panel or as it came to be called: Game of Arrow. Thea (Willa Holland) was/is clearly obsessed with the show. She had theories, she had thoughts about the end of the season. It was hilarious how she’d get going on a rant before the moderator tried to steer things back to Arrow. And then one of the others would push her to keep talking about it.

She says she wants to guest on a podcast to talk about it. I think you could do far worse than her. Plus she clearly knows her stuff. At the very least she’d bring a passion about the show!

Then it was onto a fan run panel about LEGION. If you haven’t seen the show, you can check out my review here. Lots of theories and thoughts were thrown out. I even supplied my own thoughts about the show – how maybe the reason we’re not sure of when exactly takes place is that just like any memories you have – we’re always wrong about when they take place. I mean, how many times have you thought a movie was only 5 years old when it came out over a decade ago?

In what has become a staple at Dragon Con over the last few years, I end up closing out things in the Venture Bros panel. Regardless of whether the show has a season ongoing or about to come out or nowhere near debuting… things are going to be funny and weird. This year the panel was made up of many of the voices from the show (including Dr. Venture and Wide Whale). Sadly, Doc Hammer and Jackson Public weren’t able to be there – apparently hard at work on the next season!

So I suppose I forgive them.

They showed off a book of artwork, sketches, character designs, etc. coming out in late Fall from Dark Horse which looked very cool (and something I need to add to the old wishlist). The trailer is here.

We capped off the evening with dinner with a couple of friends where we occupied that poor server’s table for far too long, but it had been far too long since we’d seen John and Jeane, so we didn’t have much of a choice!

I also attended a writing workshop session (as well as another writing related panel – at this point I couldn’t tell you what days they were actually held!) run by Michael Stackpole: 21 Days to a Novel. I still need to transcribe my notes, but I’m interested in giving the technique a proper try on my next project.

As we made our drive back, a little of the con depression began to creep in, but considering my month of Gen Con and then this convention that might have been exhaustion more than anything else.

***

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?

Click here to join John’s mailing list to learn about the upcoming The Gilded Age Kickstarter.

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.

 

A day in the life of an artist, author, and dad

Part 1 of 2 – The ideal schedule

6:30 AM – Wake up, enjoy a light breakfast, read a few writers’ blogs, look up new art posted by my favorite artists

7:30 AM – Drive to the nearby forest trail, walk briskly for 90 minutes, return home feeling amazing

9:15 AM – Shower. Open all the windows in the house. Fire up a brooding soundtrack to get in the right mood for painting a masterpiece or writing the next great American novel

9:30 AM – Create for the next two hours. Spare not a single glance at fake news, real news, or anything resembling social media

11:30 AM – Drive to my favorite café. Sip a glass of wine while overlooking the vineyards of North GA.

1:00 PM – Return home. Glide through an hour of marketing, blogging, and prepping spirited press releases for my latest book

2:00 PM – Power through an invigorating workout on the back deck. It’ll hurt less because of the wine. The weather will be ideal…not the muggy, no breeze, mosquito-laden climate typical of Atlanta’s suburbs

3:00 PM – A second shower, a snack, and then two hours of writing, editing, and painting a masterful cover piece for my newest short story. The lights will be low, the incense powerful, and the atmosphere serene

5:00 PM – It’s date night. Dress in something light, but not too casual. Splash on a tiny drop of cologne.

5:15 PM – Hop in the car, launch a thrilling playlist of Hans Zimmer, Depeche Mode, and Slayer

5:45 PM – Arrive at one of my favorite spots downtown. It only took 30 minutes to get there. No traffic today!

6:00 PM – Sit down across from my beautiful, confident date. Sip red wine. Discuss anything but politics, religion, or the socio-economic ramifications of another major land war with North Korea

8:00 PM – Dessert at a nearby spot. A sip of scotch. A slice of cheesecake. Candles, music, the thrum of a busy restaurant…

8:30 PM – Arrive home, slip out into the evening with a fully-charged laptop and a glass of Balvenie scotch – minimum 17-year aged.

8:45 PM – While relaxing to the sounds of crickets, owls, and bats fluttering through the night, write for two hours. No mosquitoes tonight, only fireflies

10:00 PM – Relax in the basement with a movie, an enthralling video game, or a while spent strumming the guitar

11:00 PM – Finish a last sketch on which to base tomorrow’s new painting. Enjoy a gentle nightcap. Tumble into a bed with the ceiling fan on and the night’s breeze drifting through the wide-open windows

***

And now…

The real-life schedule

7:30 AM – Stagger out of bed, dress my son while he’s still half-asleep, shuttle him to Montessori school, return home in a daze.

10:00 AM – Stagger out of bed a second time, drink a quart of water to rehydrate after too much scotch last night. What happened between 8-10 this morning? No fucking idea

10:05 AM – No coffee for me. Can’t stand the stuff. Heat up some frozen Eggo waffles and whip up three mimosas. Consume it all within 10 minutes

10:20 AM – Look at Facebook

10:21 AM – Review yesterday’s book sales. Grumble about Amazon’s KU (Kindle Unlimited) pages read algorithms

10:22 AM – Review yesterday’s art sales. Realize I haven’t sold a goddamn thing…and that there’s a reason artists are poor

10:23 AM – Avoid my Twitter account like the fucking plague

10:25 – Write for 90 minutes. It’s shit and I’m still tired. I’m pretty much editing the stuff I wrote last night.

Noon – My laptop powers down unexpectedly. Rather than crush it into powder Office Space style, I throw on some shorts and head to the forest for a run

12:45 PM – The second part of my run hurts like a motherfucker. I drank too many mimosas. I power through it anyway, but I look like haggard hell to other runners on the trail

1:30 PM – Head to the café bar for lunch. Consider the smoked salmon and risotto, but ultimately decide on steak and scotch. Glance around the bar looking for interesting people/beautiful women to chat up, then realize I’m alone

1:45 PM – Check my phone compulsively while eating. Nope…still haven’t sold any art, though someone just reported my latest graphite sketch to Facebook for containing nudity

2:30 PM – Return home. Sit in a stupor for 15 minutes while deciding whether to paint, draw, write, or play nine consecutive hours of Witcher 3

2:45 PM – Paint for an hour. Spill watercolors on the floor. My blind cat wanders between my ankles, causing me to smudge the eyeball which I’ve slaved 30 minutes to perfect. Shout at the cat. She’s pretty much deaf. She wanders off with a self-satisfied meow

4:00 PM – Check Facebook for the 20th time today. Consider posting a grand plea for book reviews, realizing I’d be wealthy as fuck if just a fraction of my readers slapped down a few stars. Decide against the plea. Realize that everyone in the industry is already bitching about the subject without any success

4:01 PM – Sit down to edit. Get distracted by articles in which other authors talk about being distracted

4:30 PM- Realize I have to pick up my son in 30 minutes. Plow through a 15-minute workout, then drive to get junior

5:00 PM – Pick up my son. Ask him if he’d like to paint, draw, play baseball, or take a long walk. He decides on an hour-long discussion about Play-Doh, a commentary regarding Bowser from the Super Mario Bros. series, and a firm but polite request to drink two gallons of chocolate milk

5:30 – Give in. Pour him the chocolate milk. Respond to his inquiries about latest painting. “What is that?” he asks. “A demonic woman ready to wage eternal war on humanity,” I answer. “Cool,” he says. “Why are her boobs so big?”

6:00 PM – Squeeze a 15-minute workout, a shower for me, a bath for junior, 30 minutes of homework, two additional after-school snacks, a play-by-play of every scene from every Zelda game ever made, seven hugs, 3 minutes of backyard baseball, and 4 minutes of painting…all into one hour

7:00 PM – Dinner should take an hour, right? Wrong. It takes two. At least there’s wine.

9:00 PM – Put junior to bed. Ask him if he wants me to read something other than Ul De Rico’s Rainbow Goblins. He doesn’t. We read it again

10:00 PM – Stagger downstairs in the gloom. Turn on the music. Try to sit on the patio, but get eaten alive by mosquitoes. Girl calls. Sorry, no date tonight. Check book sales. Learn that British people read…Americans don’t. Check Facebook. Enjoy the deep discussions of my art…but despair in zero painting sales for the day

10:15 PM – Finish a bottle of cheap scotch. Write for three hours while tipsy. Avoid the internet only because I know I’ll say something stupid if I post during the late, late hour

1:15 AM – Consider wandering up to bed. Decide to write for another hour. Would consider writing while in bed, but junior snores like a motherfucker

2:15 AM – Fall asleep while playing video games

3:00 AM – Who needs sleep, anyway?

* * *

I want to tell you this is all hyperbole.

But it isn’t. Go here if you don’t believe me.

J Edward Neill

Behind the Artist – Interview with Antonio Brandao

Check out John McGuire’s The Gilded Age steampunk graphic novel on Kickstarter!

What’s exciting about doing comics is that you are going to get to work with multiple artists as time goes on. With each, they bring their own experiences and talents to a project in ways you couldn’t begin to predict beforehand. If your lucky they not only design and bring your words to life, but sometimes offer you a view on a character you didn’t even know was there.

I’m thankful to have worked with Antonio Brandao on Gilded Age issue #3.

***

How long have you been creating art/working in comics?

I’ve been working full time in comics since 2008.

At what point did you sit down and decide to become an artist?

At some point I was working in graphic design and started doing some work in comics. The comic work started to increase to the point where it was impossible to keep both doing both, so I decided to chose my life time dream to become a comic book artist.

Have you had any formal training?

I had a few classes related to art in my graphic design course. Other than that no formal training.

Gilded Age Issue 3, Page 1 – Pencils/Inks by Antonio Brandao, Colors By Nimesh Morarji

What’s the first thing you drew?

My first professional work was a penciled 2 issue mini to an independent publisher.

What things inspire you to create art?

I always loved to draw so it comes naturally. I guess everything inspires me.

Favorite artists/creators? Influences?

My favorite artists… let’s see… there’s a lot! From the “classics” John Buscema and Byrne to Mignola, Oliver Coipel, Stuart Immonen,… too many to reference here.

How do you manage your daily life with the art? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2? If you have the old day job, what do you do? Do you do anything to market/promote yourself?

It depends. Sometimes I have some small side projects, and I have to limit my time working in comics but usually it’s a 9 to 5 thing. Unfortunately I don’t promote myself that much. Only the occasional sketch in my FB page.

What’s your process? Digital vs. by hand? What do you prefer?

Traditional all the way. Blue pencil, pencil, ink.

How do you work? Music while you draw? TV shows? Movies? No distractions?

I put some Youtube documentaries running. I guess I learn some stuff while drawing.

What have you worked on previously?

A lot of independent projects for some small publishers. Some private submissions for some publishers. A bit of everything honestly.

Are there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again in your art? Regarding comics, are there things that draw you in, something you see or read where you must put your own spin on the story/character?

I like to believe that I’m a versatile artist, and I tend to avoid repeating elements in my work. It might happen though…possibly unconsciously.

I always like to give my own spin to a character. Make it mine, without ignoring previous versions if they exist, of course. I especially like visually interesting characters. Something to make me push my limits.

Gilded Age Issue 3, Page 5 – Pencils/Inks by Antonio Brandao, Colors By Nimesh Morarji

Do you have a favorite thing to draw (genre, scenery, etc)? Least favorite?

I love to draw fantasy stuff, maybe because I’ve read a lot of Conan’s stories from John Buscema when I was young. My least favorite is the “slice of life” kind of stories.

What’s the most challenging thing about being an artist in today’s world?

I’d say that the most challenging thing is to make your work appealing enough, sometimes in very limited time, to attract new projects and keep your head above water financially. It’s a worldwide market, and your art must stand out. Managing several different projects at the same time is also very challenging.

Developing a work ethic is hard.

If you could go back ten years, what advice might you have for your younger self? Something you wish you knew?

Draw.

Now draw more!

Practice makes perfect.

Don’t waste so much time.

What is your worst habit?

I drink and sometimes smoke.

Comic book wise, I sometimes tend to procrastinate things.

Gilded Age Issue 3, Page 10 – Pencils/Inks by Antonio Brandao, Colors By Nimesh Morarji

Goals? One year from now? Five years from now?

I’d like to make the jump to some big publisher in the next couple of years. Have some financial stability.

For the Gilded Age, you did the third issue of the comic. Had you ever done any Steampunk styled things before?

Nope. And I haven’t since. I must say that I loved the experience.

I think it’s because of your art that I now have to come up with a story for Vanessa (the Wolf-Girl). She comes across as so playful, I’m not sure if I knew that about her 100% before I saw her appear on the page. Did you have anything that surprised you once you finished a page?

Thanks!

I think that some characters get a life of their own in my head sometimes. It happens unconsciously… probably some hint I pick up when I read the script. Sometimes this gets reflected in the pages I draw. I only notice it when I review my work, and I see the character’s growth from the first pages to the last.

What are you currently working on?

I’m doing a 10 pages’ sci-fi story. A story for kids with super heroes and another sci-fi story for a Kickstarter.

Anything else that you’d like people to know about you (Hobbies? Passions? Favorite TV Show?)?

I love cinema! I think it relates a lot to comics. I also like going out with my friends and I’m an avid keeper of reptiles. Geckos to be specific.

Do you have a Bio that I can post at the bottom of the article? Best place to see your stuff on the web ( website)?

Well, I’m an artist/father, 39 years old. I was born and live in Lisbon, Portugal and I’ve been working in comics for almost a decade now. I grew up reading Marvel comics trying to imitate my favorite artist so I guess that my dream was to work in comics since I was a child.
I’ve been fortunate enough to do that for these last few years.
You can check my work at http://toze-barnabe.deviantart.com/

***

I want to thank Antonio for taking the time to answer all my questions. I’m always humbled by the skills artists provide my words to create something more than any of us could do alone.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

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

Chad’s Favorite Fifteen of 2016

I’m ashamed that my list isn’t very esoteric. Every film on here was a fairly mainstream release and all of them have received some level of praise and success. But I didn’t find any hidden gems this year. I’m sure there were some. If you found them, let me know. But here’s my list of my favorite films of 2016, as usual broken into 3 tiers: I. Masterpieces, II. Great Films, and III. Very Good Films.

I.

ARRIVAL (Denis Villeneuve)

Sicario was my favorite film of 2015 and now here’s Villeneuve’s latest, at the top of my list once again. Needless to say he’s becoming one of the world’s premier filmmakers. I normally wouldn’t be too excited about new Bladerunner and Dune films, but with Denis at the helm, I’m now actively looking forward to them. I’m not talking about the actual film too much. I don’t want to give any of it away. Yes, it is a film about a couple scientists trying to communicate with alien visitors. But that is just one layer of this beautiful gut-punch of an onion, and I’d rather you peel it for yourself and cry your eyes out. Lois Lane, Hawkeye, and Saw Gerrera are all great but it’s Eric Heisserer’s screenplay and Villeneuve’s confidence and grace behind the camera that make this one of the best science fiction experiences ever put to film.

THE HANDMAIDEN (Park Chan-Wook)

Park’s best film since Old Boy, The Handmaiden is not at all what it seems. The poster and title and production design and costuming would leave you to believe that you’re about to watch a “serious” period drama, a Korean “Downton Abbey” or something. But The Handmaiden, while having those trappings, is a crazy-as-fuck double-and-triple-cross forbidden-lesiban-love-story con movie. It is fun and hysterical and sexy and entertaining and, shot through Park’s unique eye, a visual treat that I can’t wait to revisit. It’s not a film for everyone, I guess, but it’s definitely a film for me. Villeneuve and Park. Two of cinemas boldest voices. Right here at the top of my list. Who’d have thought?

OJ: MADE IN AMERICA (Ezra Edelman)

The flat-out most compelling thing that I watched all year. There was some debate over whether or not Made in America was a feature film or not, but, despite its 7 hour plus run time, and the fact that most people saw it on TV, it has been nominated for Best Documentary at the Oscars and that makes it a movie. And what a movie. I was a young man as the O.J. saga unfolded, and, like most of America, I was fascinated by it, but Edelman’s documentary is so much more than just a recounting of the “Trial of the Century”. The first part alone, which covers the historical relationship between the police and Los Angeles’ South Central black communities, is an Oscar-worthy piece that seems even more relevant today. Don’t know anything about O.J. Simpson or his trial? Watch this. Don’t know anything about the history of police brutality by the LAPD? Watch this. Still angry that O.J. went free, don’t understand how an obviously guilty man was found not guilty in front of the entire world? Watch this. You will understand. Filled with a dozen stunning “what-the-fuck-did-he-just-say?” moments, each episode will propel you into the next and you won’t be sated until it’s all over. This is not some exploitative true-crime documentary. This is a work of art, a film about so many things, and one of the best films of 2016.

II.

MOONLIGHT(Barry Jenkins)

Nothing I can say about Moonlight that hasn’t been said by its reviews and its run through awards season. Achingly delicate film, anchored by 3 strong actors all playing the same character, with a big assist from this year’s breakout star, Mahershala Ali, in a film that may win him an Oscar, Jenkins delivers a film that will stick with you for a long time.

LION (Garth Davis)

I knew nothing about Lion when I saw it, and I’m glad. A true story about a young Indian boy who is separated from his family and adopted by an Australian couple, this is the year’s best “uplifting” film, and if you can get through the end without crying, I welcome you as my new robot overlord.

SILENCE (Martin Scorsese)

I am admittedly a Scorsese fanboy, him being our greatest living director and all, and I think Silence is a masterpiece, the third and most likely final of his overtly religious works (Marty tends to revisit certain topics three or four times, then give them a rest), Silence is a deeply meditative, slow, quiet, and even-handed film that should appeal to believers and nonbelievers alike. I think over the years, this film my creep farther up my list. Like most of Scorsese’s films, I will watch it many more times over the course of my life.

NOCTURNAL ANIMALS (Tom Ford)

Fashion designer Tom Ford released A Single Man in 2009 and I loved the shit out of that movie. Nocturnal Animals isn’t as strong, or as emotionally resonant, but it is a work of somber fiction that matches my sensibilities well. IMDB summarizes the plot as “A wealthy art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a symbolic revenge tale.” I guess that’s true. Come for the story, stay for the Adams, the Gyllenhaal, the Shannon, and the Ford.

MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (Kenneth Lonergan)

Speaking of somber fiction, Manchester is driven by a challenging screenplay by Lonergan but will remembered because of the power of Casey Affleck’s soon-to-be Oscar winning performance. It’s an incredible bit of screen acting. And don’t overlook the often-overlooked Michelle Williams. She’s only in a few scenes but she fucking kills it. Not a date movie. Not a movie to watch if you want to get anything else done that day. But a movie you should see nonetheless. Although I’m not sure you’ll want to see it twice.

III.

HELL OR HIGH WATER (David Mackenzie)
Great modern western featuring great modern actors. Nice to see Chris Pine playing a character and not just relying on his Kirk charm to get him through (coughchrisprattcough).

EVERYBODY WANTS SOME (Richard Linklater)
Not a sequel to Dazed & Confused like people wanted, but this film is classic Linklater: there is very little story, it feels like nothing happens, it meanders, and I love it all the more for it.

MOANA (Ron Clements & John Musker)
Moana Will forever have a special place in my heart (it was my oldest daughter’s first movie theater experience) but it is also the best Disney animated film in years (including Pixar). And with songs by Hamilton’s Lin Miranda, I can’t even complain when my daughter wants to listen to the soundtrack over and over.

ROAD TO BUSAN (Sang-ho Yeon)
Snowpiercer with zombies. What else do you need? Go rent it now.

FENCES (Denzel Washington)
Two of the world’s best actors yelling and crying at each other for two and a half hours? Count me in. Washington does very little to “open up” this August Wilson play, but he and Viola are such pure fire you won’t care.

ROUGE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (Gareth Edwards)
It feels good to have a Star Wars film on here. And it deserves it. It was so much more Star Wars literate than The Force Awakens and I felt so much at home.

HIDDEN FIGURES (Theodore Melfi)
A film about three truly inspiring women told in a fairly uninspired way, it’s impossible to deny the importance and power of Melfi’s film, even if I wish he had found a more compelling way to tell it. But these women, though, and these actresses. Man. Worth it just for them.

Just for fun, here’s my list of the BEST TV OF 2016. No particular order, no details. Just a quick list. We all know TV is better than movies these days. Pretty soon these lists will merge as the walls between media crumble.

 

 

 

 

 

LUKE CAGE, ATLANTA, BETTER CALL SAUL, STAR WARS: REBELS, GAME OF THRONES, SILICON VALLEY, BATES MOTEL, WESTWORLD, LAST WEEK WITH JOHN OLIVER, and, yes, STRANGER THINGS, although I didn’t love it as much as everybody else did.

Did I just fall off the face of the earth, or what?

I’ve never heard a Beyoncé song (that I know of.)

I haven’t seen The Walking Dead.

It’s been at least a decade since I bought an album anyone reading this article has heard of.

I can’t remember the last time I read the news, tried craft beer, or understood a hashtag cause.

Anyone else feel me?

Every day that goes by, I’m lost deeper and deeper in an ocean of information. My friends ask if I’ve seen or heard the latest ______, and I’m a deer in the headlights. I’m like, “Huh?” And my friends are like, “Duuude.” I haven’t seen the latest show, heard the new kickass song, or kept up with whatever the Kardashians are up to. (Are they still famous?) I feel like I should ask for help, reach out to friend, or crawl out from under the rock I’ve apparently been living under.

Nah.

“Huh? Whaaaa…?”

Look, you probably think I’m about to start a big rant against modern culture and all its evils. Nope. I don’t have enough data to make a case for or against whatever the world has become. The only rant I could dream up would be an essay arguing the infinite darkness of social media. But whatever. That’d be pretty hypocritical, wouldn’t it? Especially since I’m about to post this commentary on Facebook and Twitter.

What I do wanna know is: how the heck did I get here?

I’m not that old.

I don’t have an ‘our generation is better than yours’ complex.

I don’t tell stories about wading through the snow to get to school and eating rocks for dinner.

You’d think having a son would compel me to brush up against modern culture now and then. After all, he’s at that age when Justin Bieber must start to seem cool. Or when the latest ‘thing’ must be purchased. Or when we just have to watch some crazy new show. But no. All junior wants to do is hang with his weird dad (me) and roast marshmallows in the fire pit, play board games all night, and watch movies that haven’t been famous since the 80’s (Gremlins, Willow, Sword in the Stone, et cetera.)

Anymore, I’m not sure whether I’m rubbing off on him or his indifference to modern stuff has reinforced my own.

And I’m not really sure it matters.

What started this thought process? Well… I’m glad you asked. Just the other day, I overheard some friends chatting it up about the Grammy awards. (And yes, I know what those are.) At the big Grammy celebration, some pregnant lady killed it with her performance and everyone thought she was a queen. Not just any queen, but THE Queen. Turns out the Queen was Beyoncé. (And it turns out the program I’m using to write this knew to put a ‘ over ‘e’ in her name – which is really weird to me.) Also, the guy from Metallica’s microphone failed, prompting Lady Gaga (whom I know of via her Super Bowl gig) to save him. And lastly, some blonde lady (Adele?) gushed so loudly about the aforementioned Queen some people questioned her sincerity.

Ok, cool, I thought. Sounds pretty entertaining.

Wait. No it doesn’t.

To all of this, I listened wide-eyed and confused. And then I realized that although I’m not terribly old, my tastes are pretty much ancient. It’s almost as if my love of music, culture, art, and books stopped somewhere in the late 80’s – early 90’s. And I can’t explain it. It’s not as if I don’t want to find new music to love. It’s not like I find modern music disastrously boring on some random whim. And life sure would be more fun if I had any inkling to enjoy The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and ________ <—- (insert superhero tv show here.)

Does anyone else experience this?

Anyone?

What the F does this meme even mean??

If I think about it, I don’t particularly miss the cultural era in which I grew up. The 80’s were straight up strange, with all the long hair, horrid pop music, and low production television. The 90’s might’ve been even worse, dragged into despair by depressing grunge music and not-quite-awesome-yet video games.

But I guess I didn’t realize my situation until the new century rolled in and forcibly stopped me from caring.

I don’t remember when it happened, but at some point all the music on the radio turned me off.

Until I stopped listening entirely.

Next came TV.

And here’s the whole story behind that.

More recently, the wave of superhero movies and bombastic action films flew right over my head.

Leaving me almost alone in the theater watching this.

I guess I can’t really complain; living under a giant rock has its benefits. I have tons of extra time. Peace and quiet are my domain. And then of course there’s all the money I save by not having cable and never going to a concert starring anyone famous. But the drawbacks are…well…I’m not sure. I’m left out of discussions regarding politics, news, movies, television, et cetera. And while I don’t particularly mind sitting in my quiet corner, it tends to halt conversations when I admit I don’t know a damn thing about whatever’s being talked about.

Me. As in my face. Always.

It’s almost intentionally ignorant, right?

It’s cultural abandonment.

It’s a willful disregard for humanity.

And now, after all these years, I still have no idea what happened.

Do you?

J Edward Neill

Builder of better coffee tables.

Under-the-rock artist.

The Future (and history) of beautiful Video Games

Ever daydream of being somewhere other than wherever you are?

Well?

Maybe you fantasize about slumming at a beachside tiki bar?

Maybe you daydream of sitting in the backyard on a warm night, soaking up a pitcher of sweet tea?

Or mayyybe sometimes you dream of nestling on a couch with all the lights off, controller in hand, television ablaze with an amazing video game?

Yeah. You know you’ve thought about it. It’s ok to admit. I’m right there with you.

Daydream of this real-life scene….oh wait…that’s Skyrim!

Let’s take a moment to appreciate where we are these days. We’re in the golden age of video games, and that’s no exaggeration. As far as new forms of art (yeah, video games are art) games are advancing leaps and bounds ahead of other industries. Hollywood movies are kinda stagnant. Television is all reality shows, zombies, and superhero/crime drama.

But games…well.

Every time a new year rolls around, we get to swim in a shiny ocean of faster, prettier, more artistic gaming entertainment. For $60, you can either take your family to see a single 2-hour movie at the theater OR you can buy a game like Skyrim, Witcher, or Zelda -Breath of the Wild and create stories of your own via your console of choice.

My kid pretty much wet himself when he saw the preview of Zelda – Breath of the Wild

And so here we are. Another new year. After a powerful 2016, which saw a waterfall of hot, stunning titles roll over the precipice, we’re primed for what could be the most beautiful year of games ever. And I don’t just mean good games like I’ve listed here, but gorgeous, artistic, crazy-good looking titles. Like sharp and futuristic Mass Effect 4 and noir-looking Vampyr.

Which begs the question: what are some of the most beautiful game titles of all time?

Well…for starters:

Limbo (Playdead)

Windwaker (Nintendo)

Witcher 3 (CD Projekt Red)

Metroid Prime 3 (Retro Studios)

Mass Effect 3 (Bioware)

 

Ori and the Blind Forest (Moon Studios)

Beyond Good and Evil (Ubisoft)

The Last of Us (Naughty Dog)

Halo 3 (Bungie)

Inside (Playdead)

Half-Life 2 (Valve)

***

A while back (and I mean WAY back) game-devoted site IGN did an article focusing on the best graphics ever. Now I don’t mean to be picky, but great graphics don’t always translate into superior beauty. Yes, realism is nice. And yeah, a poppin’ frame-rate is great. But sometimes it’s not the sharpest, most advanced games that strike an artistic chord.

Take Playdead’s Limbo and Inside, for example. Neither game was a technological achievement, but both were atmospheric, subtle, and beautiful. And let’s not forget Wind Waker, now more than a decade old, using cel-shading to give gamers a whole new perspective of Link. Both were risky moves by their developers, and both paid off.

Speaking of developers, they haven’t always had the tools they do today. Take one look at my progression of best games ever, and you’ll see the jumps we’ve made in graphical power.

Which begs the question: which old-school games are the most beautiful?

What about….

Majora’s Mask – Nintendo

Quake 3 (id Software)

Neverwinter Nights (Bioware)

Myst (Cyan)

Knights of the Old Republic (Bioware)

***

Admittedly, it’s slim pickings if you go much older than the mid-90’s. Games back in the day had to be fun first, pretty last. That’s not to say old-school games don’t have moments of beauty, but the highly pixelated graphics usually meant the beauty was due to the story or the atmosphere.

And that’s the true test, isn’t it?

A fun-to-play game can be good, but it’s the rare game that makes us think and feel, and thus it’s the rare game that’s truly beautiful throughout.

Games can be art. Art can be games. The better developers gets at making them, the more the line will blur.

And that’s a good thing.

 




You say you’re a video game god? Find out the truth by taking this quiz.

J Edward Neill

Creator of Coffee Table Philosophy 

Painter of Darkness

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.

* * *

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

SHORT FILM: THE BIRCH

The Birch movie poster

The Birch movie poster

Happy 2017!

In the tradition of Amanda Makepeace’s short film reviews, I am sharing and reviewing:

The Birch (2016) – Horror Short Film

Sword and sorcery speaks to me. Those never-existed fantasy worlds and characters speak to me. In my regular blog series, I write about my quest to buy a resume that will elevate me from a tabletop role-playing game wanna-lancer to freelancer. I want to enter that field because I have sword and sorcery stories that I want to tell.

Where does The Birch fit into that? [SPOILER WARNING – The film is linked below so skip ahead, watch the short and then come back for my thoughts.] The movie takes place in the modern-day UK so you have to squint just a bit to see it as fantasy sword and sorcery. If you squint you’ll see a spellbook and magic and an elemental and the enemy uses a knife and the final battle takes place in the woods. Sword and sorcery veiled by modern clothing and backpacks and streets and a bedroom.

In D&D* terms, The Birch is about a young wizard who is given a spellbook by his dying mother in order to protect him. He is being bullied and she cannot save him but she knows a secret that can. After studying the spellbook, he uses magic to summon an earth elemental to be his protector and surrogate mother.

The Birch

The Birch

If this were D&D, it would be an excellent backstory of what drove a character to become a wizard. It delves into the origin of their spellbook, their mystical lineage, what motivated them to cast their first spell and why they can never turn back from that path.

This origin story leaves open future campaign plot points. Did the boy get away with the murder? What happened to the birch? Does it still obey the wizard or is there a darker, more tragic end to their relationship. The deepest reach might be, what killed mother? There are worlds of possibilities generated by 4 minutes and 31 seconds of story. Need a bit of horror magic for the New Year? I recommend:

The Birch (2016) – Horror Short Film
Directed by Ben Franklin and Anthony Melton
Written by Ben Franklin and Anthony Melton and Cliff Wallace
Full credits and production details at BloodyCuts and at IMDb.

4 minutes and 31 seconds of horror:

*For sword and sorcery, Tolkien and Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) provide so much of the glossary.

The death of 2016 – It wasn’t ALL bad

From the staff at Tessera Guild, we’d like to wish you a…

hny

2016 was one helluva ride, right?

Almost everyone famous ever passed away.

A reality TV guy became the U.S. president-elect.

And the best Star Wars film ever came out.

Meanwhile, the team at Tessera Guild punched out hundreds of articles on art, books, creativity, philosophy, and life, some of which you liked…and others you loved. 🙂

Here’s our top seven picks for 2016’s best, most engaging Guild articles:

My Mother – The Horse Diver

circa 1955: A diving horse and her rider disappearing in to a swimming pool with a splash. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)

circa 1955: A diving horse and her rider disappearing in to a swimming pool with a splash. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)

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Killing Your Darlings or Editing My Overused Words

writing

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Vanity Press: What Kickstarter RPG Rewards Are Available? – Slaughter at Splinterfang Gorge & Luminous Echo

screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-9_49_58-am-384x500

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Inside One Artist’s Mind

table2-500x375

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Three Little Sunsets in Florida

untitled-3

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Interview with Brandon Easton, screenwriter for Marvel’s Agent Carter, Part 1

agent-carter_612x816-375x500

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And finally, included because it’s totally ridiculous (and totally true)…

Porn searches leading to our (totally) non-porn website!

pigs

* * *

Here’s to everyone having an amazing 2017!

The Tessera Guild Team

J Edward Neill

John McGuire

Egg Embry

Robert Jeffrey II

 Amanda Makepeace

Chad J Shonk

The Sister Series Superstar – Leanne Davis

On an otherwise quiet afternoon, while fishing in a blue lake beneath the summer sun, we caught a fish.

Only this was no ordinary fish.

This was Leanne Davis, author of The Sister Series and The Seaclusion Series, both of which are huge.

And this is no fish story. If you like to read, and you want to catch some top-notch fiction, just go right here.

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But first…read our exclusive interview with Leanne!

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So…Leanne…you’re kind of a big deal. (No blushing allowed.) Let’s talk about your uber-successful The Sister Series. Give us the goods on what it’s about and why you decided to write it:

… So kind of you to say so… but I’m very small fish in the big pond of authors on Amazon. But it has allowed me the privilege to write full time for a living, and I am SO grateful for the opportunity.
Anyway, The Sister Series is (so far) a seven book series that will be ten books when I’m done with it.
This series came about when I had just finished writing my Zenith Trilogy which chronicled a rock band living in downtown Seattle. I had already written my Seaclusion Series which is about a handful of families in the small town of Seaclusion. I wanted something different. And I found it. I had this idea of a soldier and girl… but it didn’t go exactly as I first planned. It became a much involved story than I first intended. The beginning of this book has Jessie Bains kidnapped and being held prisoner in Mexico. Though the time spent there is short; the shock of what happens to her follows her through the rest of her life. She suffers from PTSD, something that I show her dealing with through several books and it spills around to those she loves. The premise of this book and series came about when I happened onto the subject of drug trafficking at the United States border which led me to Mexico, and eventually to how prevalent sex trafficking is, and how it has become tied into the drug cartels. From this research I started to design the overlying theme of this series. The concept for Jessie’s kidnapping was inspired by some of the stories I found and as horrifying as my fiction is, the real stuff is literally sickening. The rest of the series has grown into different relationships and storylines, but the starting book set the tone for the series as my most serious, dark and emotional.
The Sister Series is about the emotional scars and battles that are often hidden in people.
Rape. Drugs. Abuse. Violence. Pain. Betrayal.
And how they can be overcome.
Love. Joy. Family. Forgiveness. Faith. Hope. Redemption.

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The overlying arc of this series is exploring the lives, loves and familial connection of two sets of sisters and their daughters. Each book is a separate story but related to the other books. The series focuses on these women’s trials, tribulations, dreams and their individual quest for acceptance, love and happiness.

You’ve cracked the top of the charts with several of your books. First of all, congrats! Second, wanna share your marketing strategy with the aspiring masses?

Thank you! I’ve had the privilege of some really amazing days in the trenches of Amazon. It’s not often or for long, so when it happens, you will find me taking lots of screenshots of my books as if it’s my child at their first day of school!
My strategy… luck? Seriously, I think a lot of it was due to luck and being in the right place at the right time. When I released The Other Sister it was often picked up as a ‘dark romance’ through Goodreads and when free in the Amazon store. Dark romances, a few years ago, was a relatively new concept of these really intense, almost sadistic romances. My book is not actually dark like that, but the premise sounded like it, so it helped propel interest to it that led to a lot of downloads. From these downloads the book garnered quite a few reviews. It was because of these reviews I was able to use marketing services such as BookBub to run book ads. The large number of downloads from the exposures from these outlets introduced my writing to most of the core readers who follow my books.
When I was picked up by my publisher (The Wild Rose Press) they sent me this list of fifty ways to market as an author. The number one marketing tool was to: write another book. I took that one to heart. I’m much more apt to be found writing another novel than marketing on twitter, Facebook or even blog interviews (look at me doing it now!). I decided that I could do: I can write a lot of books. At any given time I have up to ten novels I want to write. My ideas and characters and desire to write them down is only limited by my physical time to write and edit them! So that is probably my number one marketing strategy, write, write and write some more.

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What kind of stories inspired you to write The Sister Series and The Seaclusion Series?

Often news stories. Which isn’t the typical ‘romance’ inspiration. It’s not the facts that inspire me but it’s pondering what the emotions behind a certain event or experience would make someone feel and the affect it might have on the rest of their lives and relationships. That’s usually where my stories pick up… with my characters dealing with some underlying issue. I like to write about difficult subject matters, I especially like to explore unlikely personality matches or situations and see if I can’t twist the story around to end happily. I take on a lot of untraditional characters for romance heroes and heroines. I’ve written about a drug dealer, several PTSD survivors who aren’t coping well, alcoholics, and even cheaters, just to name a few. I really hate stereotypes so I enjoy seeing if I can’t go against them.

What do you find most challenging about being a modern-day writer?

Time. Exposure. Piracy. Reviews. Sales. The list goes on!
I also think social media, binge watching TV shows and movies… you know everything electronic, distracts potential readers and are our biggest competitors.  I think we authors compete more with other forms of entertainment than we do each other. Many blame the “glut” of new authors and novels as the challenge—as if a flood of books is a bad thing—when I believe it’s merely less readers reading.
The other challenge, as with most authors, is getting “found” on the behemoth Achilles Heel of all authors: Amazon.
The catch-22 of Amazon. I sincerely love Amazon in so many ways. I would not have a career without it, let alone the sales I’ve had or even begin to sustain it. Amazon allows me to publish what I want, when I want to, how I want to and also have the potential of readers.
The catch being, I don’t control it. Why are some books successful? Others release to crickets. I’ve had both. I didn’t do anything different marketing-wise. So if I could find the seemingly mythical formula, I would be a rich author. But in this access to readers, I also hand over all my exposure to Amazon and only Amazon. All my eggs are literally in their basket. They have a lot of control over my career and that is never a smart long term business plan… but at this point there is no better one to have. So… huge catch-22.

Looks like you’ve got a book coming out pretty much now. 🙂 It’s called The Broken Sister. What’s it about and when can readers grab their copy?

The release date was June 20th to Kindle! It is the seventh book in the Sister Series and takes on the daughter of the main character from The Wrong Sister (4th book in the Sister Series).  This book deals with a twenty-year-old college junior being drugged and date raped. She doesn’t remember it, so she doesn’t know what to do in the aftermath of it. As an added twist to this story, her love interest is the brother of her rapist, and she just doesn’t know it… yet.

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To be more official, here is the blurb:

Something happened to Kylie McKinley during her freshman year in college. Something no one knows about. The thing is: she can’t remember it fully, so what could she possibly have to say about it? Why, then, does it keep screwing with her head so much? When another, far braver girl than she comes forward with a story that is eerily similar to Kylie’s own, she begins to see she can’t keep silent forever. Bolstered by this girl, Kylie finally finds the necessary strength after two years of indecision to do something about it. But will it be enough to finally end the silence that has almost broken her?

Then she realizes exactly whom her accusations will pit her against.

Tristan Tamasy has long term plans to be the next head of the Tamasy legacy. Tristan is smart, focused, cultured, and ready to expand their family’s corporation. Tristan is nothing like his younger brother, whose antics have lately started disrupting everything. Now, Tristan has been commissioned for damage control after two girls start making noise against his brother. That’s when he meets Kylie McKinley. From the start, she challenges the road he has chosen for his life. After he starts to realize she might be telling the truth about his brother, his integrity to do what is right conflicts with his loyalty to the family he’s been groomed to protect. It tests everything he believes about himself and threatens to squelch the feelings he has for the one woman he should never want.

Again, thank you for hosting me here today!   (We were happy to have you!)

*

The Broken Sister is now available right here!

 Connect with Leanne:
Website: http://leannedavis.net/Blog/
Amazon Author Page
Facebook Author Page
Twitter: @leannewrites

 

* * *

Enjoy this interview? Be sure to check out ALL of Tessera Guild’s best creative sit-downs right here.

Interview compiled by J Edward Neill

Extreme Sci-Fi – A Door Never Dreamed Of

JupiterEventTeaser1

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

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

It goes a little something like:

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

DoorNeverDreamedPaperback1

Get your copy today, and open the Door.

Your reviews are appreciated.

J Edward Neill

Author of the darkest dark fantasy series ever

And creator of the Coffee Table Philosophy series

In Defense of The Kents

A few years ago DC Comics/ Warner Bros. decided to reboot/ restart/ re-whatever the Superman franchise on the big screen with 2013’s Man of Steel. The movie was sort of a grittier take on the tale of a man who could leap tall buildings in a single bound, being styled with the tone of the previous Christopher Nolan Bat-flicks.

Was it a good movie? It’s still a point that’s debated, even on the cusp of the release of the movie’sman-of-steel-43 sequel / jump off to the DC Cinematic Expanded Universe, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Overall the film was a’ight the first time I saw it, but it’s kind of grown on me since.

One of the re-branded plot points that came out of this new tone/ focus that I found which was extremely effective was the relationship between Clark and his adopted parents, the Kents.

Played by Diane Lane (Martha Kent) and Kevin Costner (Jonathan Kent), the story of the Kents fateful meeting with a downed Kryptonian life pod pretty much stayed true to the comics. Where this relationship had some detractors, or might have deviated from the source material, though was the tone struck by the Kent’s, towards Clark accepting his possible role as his adopted world’s savior.

I remember a lot of criticism being directed at the fact that the Kent’s were of the mindset that Clark stay under the radar with his abilities, in some cases, with some pretty harsh lines of dialogue.

Case in point: there’s a part in the movie where a young Clark and his classmates are involved in an automobile accident, when their bus careens off the side of a bridge and falls into a river. The kids are trapped, Clark taps into his Kryptonian roots, and saves everyone in a pretty awesome feat of superheroics.

The possibility arises that someone has possibly seen him do this, and it leads to a heart to heart with Pa Kent, as shown in the below line of dialogue.

Clark Kent at 13: I just wanted to help.

Jonathan Kent: I know you did, but we talked about this. Right? Right? We talked about this! You have…!

[calms himself]

Jonathan Kent: Clark, you have to keep this side of yourself a secret.

Clark Kent at 13: What was I supposed to do? Just let them die?

Jonathan Kent: Maybe; but there’s more at stake here than our lives or the lives of those around us. When the world… When the world finds out what you can do, it’s gonna change everything; our… our beliefs, our notions of what it means to be human… everything. You saw how Pete’s mom reacted, right? She was scared, Clark.

Clark Kent at 13: Why?

Jonathan Kent: People are afraid of what they don’t understand.

Even in the previews for the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Diane Lane has a brief line of dialogue which still sort of speaks to the above sentiment, in present day now that Clark has accepted the Superman mantle, world saving duties and all.

 

First, let me say this: this depiction of the Kent’s is one of my all time favorites.

Secondly: I wasn’t a huge fan of Man of Steel on the first viewing. I thought it was an okay movie, and there were a few things that just prevented it from being pushed into a higher ranking for me.  I still have issues with it, but its gotten a little better for me. How the Kents were handled was partly instrumental in this.

There’s been this suggestion that the Kents were at times just a bit too apathetic. Selfish for keeping their son and his abilities away from the world. Fearful. Distrusting. Etc.

There’s another side of this that I really want people to understand. In the comics, and in subsequent film/ television adaptations of Superman’s origin story the Kents have often been written as a couple who wanted children. For whatever reason they weren’t able to do that. In some instances the Kent’s have been depicted as a couple in their early 40’s, in other instances a bit older, maybe even pushing towards their 60’s, still with this yearning (maybe waning a bit) to have a child to call their own.

Without bringing the added component of whether the couple was religious or not (don’t know if the faith of the couple was ever discussed in the comics, or in other adaptations), the symbolism of the child being rocketed to Earth had to be seen as some sort of miracle to the couple.

So imagine all of this coalescing into a gift from the skies above being dropped in a Kansas field one sunny day. Your prayers/ desires have been seemingly answered. You then find out this kid is an alien from another world, and can possibly change the very course of the world as we know it.

But at the end of the day, all that you see in front of you is that gift from the heavens. Someone that you’ve asked for day in and day out, and he’s there. Your little Clark.

man-of-steel-image04-e1422553488658So yeah, I have no doubt that the Kents would probably be extremely protective of their adopted son. Especially in a world where the common line of thinking is shoot the hell out of it first, then ask questions later. Also, it seems a bit more plausible to me that even if the couple didn’t have the backstory of being childless or having that yearning to fiercely protect their “gift”, they wouldn’t be so likely to push their son out into the world to save the day.

I know a lot of parents who, even when they want to get their knuckleheads out of the house, still worry for the welfare of their child. Of course they eventually get to the point of acknowledging that their child has to become an adult, and has to experience the world. But the depiction of the Kents as not totally being on board with their son “saving the day” immediately has more of a realistic slant for me.

Man of Steel has its faults, and maybe Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice will also. But for me at least, the one thing that I can say the screenwriters/ director got right between both would be the Kent’s love for their son, and their desire to keep him protected from an often distrustful and malicious world.

Makes perfect sense to me.

 

The 7 best things from 2015

2015 was a pretty straightforward year.

It had a lot of suck: gearing up for an election, Rhonda Rousey, crappy movies, dabbing, death, war, and the continued proliferation of Facebook quizzes

But whatever.

For once in my life, I’m gonna dwell on the positive.

So eat some of this:

 * * *

The best movie(s) of 2015:

No. Not Star Wars. Ha. Not even close. The best movies of 2015 were Ex Machina, with its subtle nods toward one possible fate for humanity, aaaaaand Inside Out, among the most thought-provoking kids’ movies ever made. Please, let’s not talk about Jurassic Park (yawn) or Avengers 900. The year was short on excellence, but had high moments that might never be forgotten. Also considered for this list: The Revenant (technically didn’t hit theaters in time) and Mad Max – Fury Road (aka: the best action movie ever made.)

Machina

Ex Machina. Wasn’t really a hard decision.

 

The best book of 2015:

Whoa. Intimidating choices here. Admittedly I read less than any previous year since grade school (was too busy writing.) Nonetheless, with attention spans decreasing and the glut of vampire/romance/vomit thundering down upon the world, I’ve an answer for you. It’s Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warning. It’s a bunch of slick short stories. It’s perfect for those who like quick reads, but who also like sharp, dark, excellent literature.

Trigger Warning

The best album of 2015:

Look. I get it. I know what you’re gonna say. You’re gonna talk about Drake, Adele, The Weeknd, or a bunch of other stuff with words. My full confession is that I can’t stand music with words. It really has all been said before. The sounds are what’s new, not the words. So with that in mind, I’m giving you an album you can actually use. It’s Junkie XL’s Mad Max soundtrack. Just blast this shit while driving and tell me it isn’t extreme fun. What’s better: no words. None. Just booming, thundering, 1,000 horsepower beats. Even my kid loves it, especially the unbelievably intense track – Brothers in Arms.

Max

The rhythms ARE the words.

The best meme of 2015:

Yep. Memes. They suck. They’re supposed to be miniature joke bombs to lighten everyone the F up. But nowadays they’re abused for politics, bullying, and stupid, never-ending inside jokes. So instead of sifting through the trash and finding something transcendent, I give you:

GIFSec.com

The best TV shows of 2015:

Look. I’ve a confession. I didn’t watch a single minute of anything not named football, baseball, basketball or hockey. Not a single, f’ing minute. So I’m leaving this one to you, the readers. What were your favorite TV shows? Because hell if I know. Just insert your show here __________________. I’ll trust your judgment.

untitled

Jake Arrieta. What real reality TV looks like.

Most beautiful woman of 2015:

I know said I didn’t watch any TV in 2015. It’s still true. But I did catch a preview or two, and it got me thinking. Who’s this year’s new hotness? Who the F really cares? But since I made this a category, we’re going with that girl from that new show. I’m talking about Krysten Ritter. Followed closely by Rosie Huntington Whiteley. Yeah. I know. Rosie’s another nod to Mad Max. Shut up. 🙂 Anyway, Krysten really is stunning. Just look at her sulking here. If you can sulk and still be attractive, you’ve done something. Also a close runner up: Jan from the Toyota commercials. No kidding.

Krysten

Really? Right here on the train? Ok, girl from that show. If you insist.

Most handsome guy of 2015:

Who the F cares?

🙂

 

* * *

This got really sarcastic, really quickly.

Cut the sarcasm out of your life with some deadly serious fun. Right here.

J Edward Neill

Superman vs Jesus – Death Matches for the ages

Call your bookie.

Flash your cash.

Place your bets.

For each of the following death-matches, pick the winner. Fights are to the death, no holds barred. No weapons are allowed beyond those each fighter would normally have. (i.e; Thor’s hammer, Superman’s laser eye beams, etc.)

Ready?

You’d better be.

Fight!!!

1.

Ben Affleck’s Batman versus Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne

Ben Affleck Jason Bourne

Fight notes:

  • Normally Batman would get the nod over almost every opponent. But this is Ben Affleck, and he looks pretty uncomfortable in his suit, right?
  • Both men have equally impressive MMA skills
  • There’s a 40% chance they’ll hug it out rather than fight

2.

Chuck Norris versus Godzilla

ChuckGodzilla

Fight notes:

  • Chuck Norris has never lost. Ever
  • Godzilla once leveled Tokyo just for fun.
  • Neither fighter has made a decent movie in decades

3.

Donald Trump’s hair versus Edward Scissorhands

TrumpEdward

Fight notes:

  • If fight night is windy, Trump’s hair has the clear advantage
  • Edward won’t have any access to Helena Bonham Carter during the fight
  • Most people’s money will be on Trump. Literally

4.

Kim Kardashian versus Paris Hilton

Kim Paris

Fight notes:

  • Both fighters have equally impressive sex tapes
  • Paris has veteran experience. Kim has youth (and a definitive size advantage)
  • Neither fighter has any other skills worth mentioning

5.

Darth Vader versus Gandalf the Grey

Vader Gandalf

Fight notes:

  • Gandalf the Grey possesses far fewer MMA skills than Gandalf the White
  • Can lightsabers cut through wizards’ staves?
  • Gandalf may have issues passing the pre-fight drug test

6.

Frodo Baggins versus Hermoine Granger

Frodo Hermoine

Fight notes:

  • Frodo will have access to the One Ring during the fight
  • Also, Frodo avoided certain death way more times than he should have
  • Turns out Emma Watson is stunning. Which Frodo probably won’t even notice, since no one ever has sex in Middle Earth

7.

Willow Ulfgood versus Tyrion Lannister

Willow Tyrion

Fight notes:

  • Willow’s aim with magic acorns is notoriously shitty
  • Lannisters always pay their debts
  • Willow may or may not have actual magic powers

8.

Thundercats’ Mumm-Ra versus He-Man’s Skeletor

Mumm Ra Skeletor

Fight notes:

  • Skeletor has a superior upper-body workout routine
  • No minions allowed to tag-in during the fight
  • Why are both of these dudes blue?

9.

Homer Simpson versus Pizza the Hutt

Homer Pizza_the_Hutt

Fight notes:

  • Eating your opponent is allowed
  • That is all

10.

Superman versus Jesus

Superman Jesus

Fight notes:

  • Jesus can self-resurrect a maximum of three times
  • Kryptonite doesn’t exist on Earth. But maybe Jesus can create it?
  • Superman has advantages in almost every physical category. But it’s possible his cape could hinder him if the fight goes to the ground

* * *

For an infinitely more serious fight to the death, prepare yourself for this. It’s coming out soon.

Otherwise, see you around.

J Edward Neill

The Trouble with Being Human

We were never meant to be happy.

 

Think hard on it. Find a quiet corner and dwell on it. It’s never been a matter of opinion. The point of being human hasn’t ever been to be free, to live long and prosper, or to carpe diem. The purpose of being alive isn’t to love, suffer, be entertained, or have wild adventures.

The only purpose of our existence is to survive.

It’s written into our genetic code. On a cellular, maybe even atomic level, our blueprints aren’t made for happiness. The only thing our DNA cares about is living. Not living in luxury. Or in poverty. Or in any particular place, time, or situation. On a molecular level, we’re driven to adapt and to exist. We need to eat, breathe, eliminate, and reproduce. Nothing besides survival matters.

Trouble is; many of us don’t have to fight to survive any longer.

And therein lies the struggle.

Now let’s be clear. We’re not talking about people who do have to struggle to survive. We’re not talking about hidden tribes in the Amazon, refugees in lands ravaged by permanent war, or farmers who work 23 1/2 hour days. We’re talking about you, yes you, reading this right now. The human with time to spare. The man or woman who eats meals created by someone else, who lives in a house built by others, the lucky person with better things to do than live in constant fear of death.

What are we doing with ourselves?

We’re searching.

But we haven’t found anything yet.

Many Galaxies

Check out all these cool galaxies you’ll never get to visit.

Leisure. Fun. Liberty. Entertainment. What do they have in common? You already know the answer. They’re products of modern humanity. A few thousand years ago, these pursuits occupied a tiny fraction of our lives. And now…well…now the scales have tipped. Our bodies remember that we must survive, but our minds haven’t the slightest clue. It’s not that we’ve gone soft. It’s not as if we should yearn for the days of scavenging, hunting saber-tooth tigers, and dying at the ripe old age of twenty-two. We’ve adapted to this new life, this comparably easy life. We don’t know shit about survival because we’ve never really had to do it. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe not.

And so, in the big empty void that remains, we search. We look for answers. We seek out fun. We make stuff up. We savor wonderful things such as art, science, stability, and hope. We invent religions, spar over politics, search for love, and bicker over the question of why we’re even here. We have all this time, more than we’ve ever had in the history of human society.

And because of it, we rebel against everything our bodies are made for.

In conversations with friends, I’m struck by a common theme amongst all of them. They don’t know what they really want. Some are more honest about it than others. That’s ok. No judgments here. But it all comes back to the very human admission that; although everyone seems to seek happiness, most of us only find it in fleeting moments, in the small, unexpected encounters of life. Human culture (American culture in particular) is shadowed by the notion that entertainment = happiness. As if going to a football game, watching Walking Dead, making a crap-ton of money, or playing 17 straight hours of Xbox equals actual, palpable contentment with our lives. But from simple observation, it appears none of these things make anyone happy. At least not for long.

Most of the time, they just distract us from having to be human.

Like I said, I’m not judging anyone. I seek out as much distraction from reality as anyone else. Even while knowing movies, games, parties, and sex won’t fulfill me, I stagger through it all, tipsy with the desire for fun, but rarely drunk with it. It’s probably true I’d find more contentment wandering alone beneath the stars, having long, slow conversations in the dark, and quitting my day-job to paint, write, and create until the end of time. But too often, I purposely distract myself. And don’t we all? These things we do are called ‘diversions’ for good reason. They divert us from the reality that we’ve nothing to really do anymore, that we’re filling the void of needing to survive with things. With stuff. With beautiful, mind-numbing fluff.

So what’s the answer?

There is none. At least not one I can fathom. I’ve theorized that one day we’ll all plug ourselves into a permanent create-our-reality engine, but it’s not as if it’ll matter to anyone alive in the here and now. Every road I travel and every social media banner I see screams out how to find happiness. The world tells us to be grateful for what we have, to cherish the small moments, to ignore all negativity, and to hug our children (and our dogs.) But I’m not convinced. I hear people say they’re happy, but I see something else behind their eyes. I glimpse malaise in place of passion. I see embers cooling, not fires roaring. We’re all weary. We’re all in need of epic-level distraction. The pursuit of happiness looks legitimate, but it feels false.

If humans were united in a true cause to make it all have meaning, we’d do it. But instead it feels like we live on islands.

Caveman

This isn’t a condemnation of humanity. Hardly. It’s not even particularly scientific. It’s just an observation that all the things we’re doing don’t seem to have any connection to what we say we desire. Is it because of some error in human engineering? Or…is it just that we’re not really designed to seek out and maintain happiness? I’m sticking with the latter. Life can be what you make of it, but only to a point. Because even though we all try to be different, inside we’re mostly the same.

Consider these:

Does technology make us happier? As in; do fancy iPhones, huge tv’s, and badass cars increase our quality of life?

Is extreme convenience always a good thing?

Is it always valuable for the media to stream reports of events we’re powerless to affect?

What will happen if, five-hundred years from today, all the primary problems facing us (food, disease, poverty, war) are eliminated?

For these, I have no answers. Because sometimes contentment comes from not knowing. Entertainment might not bring happiness, but perhaps acceptance has a shot.

The glass isn’t half-empty or half-full.

The glass doesn’t even exist.

We made it up.

* * *

For slightly softer philosophy, check this.

To dig in places deeper and darker, go here.

J Edward Neill

Take a Look, It’s in a Book, Part 2

A few more smallish book reviews for a few of the things I’ve been reading over the last few months:

Designers-and-Dragons

Designers and Dragons – Shannon Appelcline

For a long time Dungeons and Dragons proved to be one of the ways that I gained the friends I had in high school. That close-knit group which formed due to our mutual love of a game without a board, where you were encouraged to act, where you’d go from Tavern to Dungeon and everything in between. Some of my best memories from High School center around late Friday nights spent laughing and rolling dice until we couldn’t focus anymore.

Designers and Dragons let me tap into that just a little bit by showing me the history of the game(s) I loved so much. Split up by decade (70s, 80s, 90s, & 00s), I have read the 70s and 90s ones so far and the amount of information I’ve gained about not only Dungeons and Dragons, but the whole history of roleplaying left me a bit amazed at how things actually went down back then. Rival groups, people creating new gaming systems over the course of a weekend, and the boom and bust cycle which seems to grip the industry every 10 years or so. The ideas people came up with, started their own companies, made mistakes, broke their word… I mean you could do a movie that would have all the drama you could ever need.

Just fascinating stuff. If you have any interest in the actual history of roleplaying I highly recommend these books.

I’ve taken a break from it for now, but I have the last 2 volumes ready to go when I am ready to delve back in.

The Red King

The Red King – Nick Cole

What do you get when you get a bunch of authors together and decide to end the world?

You get Apocalypse Weird.

Each book written by a different author, the overall series gives us a view of a world gone to hell. Whether it is zombies, or rage monsters, or terminator style creatures, or anything else you could think of… the authors have carved out their own little places across America.

But it all starts with The Red King. And zombies. And trying to find a way in the new world when everything is going to shit. Luckily the best thing about zombie fiction is that while the zombies are nice to see, the real story is always about the people in the middle of it all.

But there is a bigger story going on here. Something possibly otherworldly, possibly alien, possibly older than the world itself… beings who play with humanity like masters play chess.

And the best part is that The Red King is free on Amazon.

And you can see all the books here.

Abraham_Dragons-Path-TP-220x330

The Dragon’s Path – Daniel Abraham

I have a friend who is always on a constant lookout for more good fantasy books. Whether it is in tv show form or in comic book form or novels. He’d been telling me about this series (The Dagger and the Coin series) for a few months, so I gave it a shot.

I’m so happy I did. I’m now onto book 2…

You want a book with epic stakes? You want a book where civilizations crumble before your very eyes? You want a book that main characters die?

Well then read something else.

You want to read about people wearing false masks. Trying to cover up who they really are. People on the run from their pasts, trying to avoid their futures. People who are just trying to get by in the world, and yet the world keeps laughing in their faces. That’s what this book is about. It is about a girl without a home. It is about a man who is without a company. It is about a young man who is lost in a sea of politics. And it is about an older man who is lost because his King doesn’t act the way he wished he would.

I wish I could explain more about the book. What I can say is multiple times I laughed with the characters. I had those moments where I wanted to pump my fist because something had happened. And multiple times I sat dumbfounded that one of the characters had acted so… evil isn’t the exact word I want to use… human. They aren’t heroes, they are just people who are flawed and make mistakes.

And I am utterly taken with the entire story.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!

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

Cryptids – The Strange and Weird

Check out John McGuire’s The Gilded Age steampunk graphic novel on Kickstarter!

 

Top 5 Cryptids

What’s that? You don’t know what a Cryptid is? They are the creatures that we all know exist, deep down in our heart, but there is actually no real evidence that the beast exists. All we have is possible sightings, hearsay, and rumor from the past. And yes, as the world gets smaller and smaller by the advances in technology, the very idea that any of these things could actually be out there seems to be more and more a dream. Still…

When I was younger I remember a book I had. I’m not sure where I got it, though I suspect it was at one of our school’s book fairs. It talked about monsters, both in movies and those that might exist in real life. So you had everything from Godzilla to Bigfoot and anything in between. I love this kind of stuff. The idea that we both know the world around us and yet, at the back of our minds, there is that question. Maybe they do exist?

And before you dismiss them outright, consider this… when the first people reached Australia they described a creature that stood on 2 legs, jumped like a frog and sometimes had 2 heads.

Obviously a horror like that couldn’t exist… right?

kangaroo-663272_1280

Obviously doesn’t exist in the real world.

 

So, before October and Halloween greets us properly, I thought I’d reflect on a few of my favorites.

Loch Ness – I know that there are other ones out there, but Loch Ness is the first one I read about. And the one I wonder how it could still be a possibility. I get that the lake is huge, but come on, with our modern technology we can’t find a dinosaur in there, somewhere? Nobody has decided to chum the water hoping the thing will take a bite and show himself.

No, this one I have written off a long time ago. I mean, it would just be too cool to have a real life dinosaur still exist somewhere out there. Just too cool… can’t let that happen.

Mongolian Death Worm – Electrical discharge. Acid Spewing. Big old red worm that lives in the desert.

Check, check, check.

I don’t know if this is one I love like many of the others below, but I certainly am terrified by the possibility of such a creature. Where most cryptids have maybe one ability, this one comes like a nightmare. Or maybe it is the most “little kid creature”. Almost like someone asked a 6-year old what would scare them the most, and then didn’t stop him when he kept going.

“And then he would be able to turn things yellow… and then…”

Kraken – It would have to appear on this list for one reason alone:

“Unleash the Kraken!”

THE KRAKEN CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981)

Still, the old stories from pirates and seamen about this great squid creature that might live in the depths below. They stirred something in my brain, conjuring up images of great tentacles grabbing a hold of ships and ripping them in two. And then I read Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

There is already so much underneath the surface of the ocean, why not be fearful of one more thing.

“We’re going to need a bigger boat.” Indeed.

cemetery-395953_1280

Beast of Gevaudan – I’m sorry, but this is just one step away from werewolves, honestly. A bunch of larger, stranger wolves terrorize the French countryside in the 1760s to the point that the royalty have to issue a decree in order to deal with them. In fact, something has to be going on with the wolves over in France as that wasn’t even the first time they had terrorized the nation. In the 1450s a pack of wolves (again, obviously werewolves, right?) attacked the Parisians to the point that they named the pack leader (Courtaud) and ended up luring them into the city and stoned them in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral.

Heck, I even read a book about the later incident which turned me on to the Beast’s story. Which I did a brief review of here.

I mean, you can never go wrong with werewolves.

Bigfoot – I think this is the one that started my love of these mysterious creatures on this list. Up there along with dinosaurs, this was one of those creatures my 10-year old self was convinced had to exist, and my 39-year old self isn’t 100% on it either.

In my mind I still see that footage from the 70s? (is that right? – turns out it was 1967) with the “Bigfoot” walking, taking a moment to regard whomever is recording the video, and then disappearing into the forest. And while that video is probably a fake, I have to believe that somewhere, in the undiscovered wilderness is a small population of these creatures who have occasionally been encountered and mistaken for a bear or large gorilla or even a hairy man. All these other cultures have their versions from North America to Asia… it can’t just be a hoax. It can’t just be fantasy.

Can it?

Maybe I just want things to be real. Maybe I like the idea of a world where a tiny bit of magic still exists in the unexplained.

Maybe…

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!

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

Second Star to the Right and Straight on ’til Compton

StraightOuttaSomewhere (3)I think every young filmmaker has a handful of dream projects in their back pocket. Not only dozens of original ideas but also ones based on preexisting content: an adaptation of a novel or comic book, someone’s life story, a sequel to a beloved franchise, a tale from history, a (gasp) remake of a classic film. Projects filed away under the “When I make it big, I’ll use that clout to get one of these things made” category. Some of these projects you are sure will rock the box office; others, that you don’t really think will make any money but, if all goes well, will net you some critical acclaim.

The two big dream projects for me could not have been more different in tone and subject matter:

I wanted to do a live-action, semi-serious, sticking-to-the-book version of JM Barrie’s Peter and Wendy

…and a biopic about Eazy-E and the creation and dissolution of legendary hip-hop group N.W.A.

And they both got made.

But not by me.

It’s weird seeing these films come to fruition; it’s even weirder watching them. You can’t help but think about what you would have done differently, what they did better than you, what they fucked up entirely. It’s not a crushing feeling; I never got close to making either one a reality. But it’s… strange.

peter-pan-wendy-03What attracted me to JM Barrie’s 1911 novel Peter and Wendy was that it was a version of Peter Pan I had never seen, knowing only the Disney interpretation. The book was darker than the animated film. More violent. More powerful. With a bittersweet message about childhood, both celebrating it and recognizing our need to shed it. Peter himself was full of contradictions: he was charming, fun-loving, sometimes feminist (“Wendy, one girl is more use than twenty boys.”) optimistic and brave, but also selfish, mean, forgetful, and super-duper violent.

Which all made sense to me. Little boys are terrors. When I was a child, I may have used a stick or wooden sword to fight pirates (or Darth Vader. Let’s be honest here.) but I was imagining a real blade. I wasn’t knocking people over. I was running them through. Cutting off their heads. Killing bad guys. In Barrie’s novel, that’s what Peter does. He kills bad guys. It’s not the bloodless, G-rated action of the Disney film.

The novel has several other dark tropes that few Peter Pan adaptations have yet to explore. Peter’s role as an Angel of Death, tasked with holding children’s hands on their way to heaven. His hatred of adults, parents especially, and how he genuinely wanted them dead. The slaughter of the Indians, an aspect of the story that I admit feels racist here in the 21st Century. And the famous Peter Pan quote, when stranded on an island left to die, a line that has forever stuck with me as probably the most positive outlook on death I’ve ever heard:

to-die-would-be-an-awfully-big-adventureAnd then there’s the end. I’m not going to get into it, but the last chapter of Peter and Wendy is sad and beautiful and a real reminder that Pan is a boy who will NEVER grow up. Which is the main reason why I hate Spielberg’s Hook. I know it’s beloved by the generation after me, and that’s fine, but it’s a bad film, hands down, my Peter Pan purist proclivities aside. But more than anything: Pan doesn’t grow up. He isn’t a child. He’s a demigod, an angel, an imp, maybe even a devil. He will live forever, as the final lines of the novel tell us:

“When Margaret grows up she will have a daughter, who is to be Peter’s mother in turn; and thus it will go on, so long as children are gay and innocent and heartless.”

Gay and innocent and heartless. That is Peter Pan to me. I have yet to see him on screen.

30521196_1300x1733I’m not going to offer a full review of PJ Hogan’s 2003 adaptation, Peter Pan. I have only seen it once and did not care for it. It got a lot right, especially in the first half hour or so. But then it fell apart for me. And, while it did incorporate a little bit of the adult edge I was looking for, it didn’t go far enough. But when that film came out, I knew my chances of making a film out of Peter and Wendy had just been cut drastically. And then when it failed at the box office, it showed that maybe a big-budget Peter Pan movie wasn’t commercially viable.

We’ll see if Joe Wright’s film, simply called Pan, will be different when it comes out this year. It’s apparently a prequel or something which we know ALWAYS bodes well, right? (see: Prometheus, The Thing, Star Wars, Hannibal Rising). But I doubt it’s the film I would have made.

And, man, the film I would have made is so good. It’s still there, in my head, scene by scene. I could still write it, legally. In 2007 the rights to the novel basically became public domain, leading to a series of disparate book series’ that I have not read. And maybe one day I will. Or maybe one day I’ll come up with a different take on one of my favorite stories, a new way to bring it to life.

Straight_Outta_Compton

“You are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge.”

In the late 80’s, when I was 13 years old, I got hold of a cassette tape I shouldn’t have. It was called Straight Outta Compton, by a band called N.W.A., which I soon learned stood for “Niggaz wit’ Attitude”. It scandalized me, excited me, educated me, and, quite frankly, scared the shit out of me. Especially the song “Fuck tha Police” and the shit storm that came with it.

The group’s frank and often gratuitous depictions of life on the street in a city I had never heard of called Compton, a place so far removed from suburban Atlanta that I couldn’t imagine ever going there, was eye-opening, sure, but it was also dirty. The non-stop assault of profanity, violence, and sex was exceptionally titillating to my white, sheltered, adolescent mind.

Just the use of the word “nigger” (or “nigga” or “niggaz”, technically), which my parents had raised me to strike from my vocabulary forever (“Forever. Forever? Forever ever. Forever ever?”), was scandalous. And, I admit, intriguing. This was a bad word used to describe black people. Why would these guys talk about themselves that way? I sort of understood it, but not really. Not for a long time. But I knew it was controversial and adult and, in the back of my brain, powerful. I just couldn’t tell you why.

18280-n-w-a-1680x1050-music-wallpaperO’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson. Lorenzo “MC Ren” Patterson. Eric “Eazy-E” Wright. Antoine “Yella” Carraby. Andre “Dr. Dre” Young. These are guys whose faces and voices I’ve known since puberty. I can recite all of Straight Outta Compton (the album, not the movie. I guess we have to differentiate now) as well is its companion piece, Eazy-E’s Eazy-Duz-It, word for word. Still, to this day.

"See you at the crossroads."

“See you at the crossroads.”

When (SPOILER) Eric Wright died of AIDS in 1995, it shook me. I was mostly listening to heavy metal and grunge, but I had never forgotten N.W.A. and their 5’ 5” superstar (“Niggaz [his] height don’t fight.”) . I knew the group had broken up and there had been bad blood. If you were alive in the early 90s and remember Dr. Dre’s The Chronic coming out, it was impossible not to know. But Eazy was a part of my adolescence and he was gone.

I wanted to make a movie about Eazy-E and the formation of N.W.A. I did some reading and found that there was a lot of drama to be mined. The music would be center stage, of course, but there were also political, financial, racial, sexual, and societal themes to be explored. Were these men artists pretending to be gangstas or gangstas who stumbled into being artists? I wanted to explore that question.

And, morbidly, films about actual people are more satisfying if they have a definite ending. And by that I mean death. It’s fucked up, I know, but it’s true. And the more tragic that ending, the more drama you can conjure. And (SPOILER) Eazy’s death was tragic, to be sure. He was destroyed by his own reckless behavior, sure, but dying of AIDS made Wright an icon of the 1980s. He not only helped birth a style of music that rules the airwaves over 25 years later, but he was struck down by the 20th Century’s Black Death, just at the point where we were starting to understand it. As Eazy said, from his hospital bed, after being told he had AIDS: “But I ain’t no fag.” That was the attitude then. For a lot of people.

I tried to pitch this movie to anyone who would listen. Every one of my L.A. friends knew about it. But I was never able to get through any doors of consequence. People I did get to talk to weren’t interested. Plus, there was the matter of clearing the music, an incredibly expensive process that meant the film could never be made independently. I still held out hope for 15 years. Just like with Peter and Wendy, I had the whole movie in my head and “damn, that shit was dope!”

maxresdefaultRight now, for the second straight week, F. Gary Gray’s film, Straight Outta Compton, is on top of the box office charts. I was both excited and nervous to go see it. I mean, the subject matter is obviously attractive to me, but, motherfucker, I wanted to make this movie. And I was weary that the film was produced by Dr. Dre and Ice Cube. That meant that rough corners were going to be sanded down. Certain less-than-flattering things would be omitted. I was especially worried about how the film would depict Eazy, who would have been my protagonist.

I really liked the movie.

It’s odd. It’s not at all the movie I would have made but it’s also exactly the movie I would have made. It doesn’t look like the movie in my head. Doesn’t feel or sound or flow like it. But it covers the exact story beats I would have. Its Point A is my Point A and its point Z is my Point Z. It told the story I wanted to tell, just not in the style I wanted to tell it in.

And that’s fine. Because I liked it. And a lot of people seem to feel the same way.

(Especially after the mind-blowing clusterfuck that was the Biggie Smalls “movie”.)

I do wish it had explored a little more of the dark side of things, especially the famous incident involving Dr. Dre and Dee Barnes, an omission that is getting a lot of press over the last week. It should be in the movie. It really should. The first step to atonement is to acknowledge what you’ve done. Dre has done that in the press this week, releasing statements that seem genuine. But it would have been much more powerful to explore these themes in the film. Let it all hang out. Show your ugly side. The movie has to stand on its own and Dre’s history of domestic violence isn’t something that should be discussed in a press release.

osheajacksonjr_withicecubeBut the performances are great, especially by O’Shea Jackson Jr, who not only looks like his father but does a spot-on impression. The music is of course awesome. The cinematography interesting. The script could be better and sometimes the “bio-pic-ness” of the thing hurts it, with its need to make sure you understand who all these people coming in and out of the story are. Hey guys? I’m at a movie about N.W.A. I know that guy is playing Tupac. I am aware of his music. No need to point him out to me.

Surprisingly Eazy, the drug-dealer turned hip-hop mogul and star, comes across as the one of the biggest heart. He’s actually the soul of the movie. This makes me happy. Because that was going to be my way in, too. Through him. And when (SPOILER) Eazy dies, I was shaken, teary, even though I knew it was coming.

The only thing that pisses me off about the success of Straight Outta Compton (the movie) is… its success. It’s making BANK. All those years I was told no one wanted this movie. That it would be too expensive to get the music rights. That who cares about some gangster who died of AIDS? And now it’s ruling the Summer box office. Beating the crap out of more traditional Summer movies. I TOLD YOU, YOU MOTHERFUCKERS.

the-devil-in-the-white-city-by-erik-larson-book-cover-960x1459Do I have more dream projects in my head? Of course. Novels I want to adapt (not telling you which ones). Life stories I want to tell. Historical incidents I’m dying to recreate. And I will hold onto them, along with the countless original ideas I have in my head, until the next one gets knocked down by someone who got to it before me.

One of my favorite books, well, ever, is Erik Larsen’s Devil in the White City. I would love to make it into a movie. Recently, it has been announced that Leonardo DiCaprio will be starring in the adaptation, with our greatest living filmmaker, Martin Scorsese, behind the lens. I will defer and gladly give up that dream. Because while I think one day I could match the talents of PJ Hogan or F. Gary Gray (both accomplished, not taking anything away from them), I will never-ever come close to Mr. Scorsese. So make that movie Marty. I can’t wait to see it.

 

I don’t know how interesting this has been. I just had this gut reaction to seeing Straight Outta Compton (the movie) that made me sit down and write my first blog post in forever. Sitting there, watching a movie I have dreamed about a thousand times, not looking at all like the film I would have made but enjoying it all the same.

Now that I think about it, that’s probably how I’m going to feel about The Force Awakens, too, because I know I have at least 3,263,827 Star Wars movies in me.

And I’m not giving up entirely on Peter and Wendy. Some dreams die harder than others.

Checking In: Writers Edition

Taking a cue from my fellow Tessera Guild member, John McGuire, I’m going to list out my writing related to do list for current/ upcoming projects. These run the gamut from super heroic tales of daring, to action adventures spread across alternate dimensions and space.

Superheroes and sci-fi?

I know, I’m a big nerd.

Comics:

Promo R3#3 2

A scene from Route 3 # 3.

 

Route 3 #3/Vol. 1: After getting the final draft edited by the esteemed Mr. McGuire and my Editor in Chief @ Terminus Media, Tony Cade, the book is now 9 pages in at the pencils/ inks stage.

I’m kind of biased on this front, but Sean Hill is killing it on the art duties, and I’m looking forward to seeing Omi Remalante’s masterful colors applied once this is all done.

Promo R3#3 1

A scene from Route 3 # 3

Setting aside any further delays, I’m hoping for a late September, early October release for the book. The final plan will be to compile issues 1-3 into a trade paperback (Vol.1), and get them into comic book stores and book stores all across the country, and *gasp* maybe even the world.

This issue will round out the first story arc of Route 3, and hopefully I’ll get a chance to tell more stories of Sean Anderson’s journey in the future. Once the book and collected edition drop I’ll be in overdrive mode promoting, while also continuing to generate ideas for future tales.

The Best: A zombie outbreak set against the backdrop of an intergalactic war. That’s the most basic pitch for a 10 page short that I’ve written in collaboration with the esteemed Takeia Marie.

zombie-horde-the-walking-dead

Zombies. And even more zombies.

 

You know those artists that once you see their work you really want to have an opportunity to collab with them? Takeia’s one of those creators, and I think she’s the best person to bring this space based action-horror hybrid to life.

The story will focus on two soldiers and a seemingly impossible mission they’re tasked to take on. Here’s hoping that this will turn out to be a small drop in a wider pool of awesome storytelling opportunities, because I’d love to widen this world out a bit more.

I had a lot of fun with this one, and hopefully it shows.

Radio Free Amerika: Season 1:  So yeah, I got my first graphic novel/ trade paperback released. 😀

Cover for Radio Free Amerika: Season 1.

Cover for Radio Free Amerika: Season 1.

Still kind of on cloud 9 on that front. Not coming down anytime soon.

It’s too cool for school up here.

My co-writing duties on B. Robert Bell’s Radio Free Amerika have been collected in a really nicely bound book, collecting issues 1-3. I’m really proud of how the story, and just the book overall, came out. By year’s end/beginning of 2016 you should see the collected edition at your local comic book store, books stores, libraries, bodegas, outer space, other dimensions. Just everywhere.

Barron and I will continue to generate ideas/ start scripting for Season 2, while spreading the word about Season 1. The plan is to try and get the trade in as many hands as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Stealth: The Life and Times of Allen White: A while back, I was hired by the

A page from Stealth: The Life and Times of Allen White.

A page from Stealth: The Life and Times of Allen White.

talented William Satterwhite to bring the origin of his character, Allen White, a.k.a Stealth, to life in the pages of an original graphic novel.

William’s web comic, Stealth, is a fun action packed tale of super heroics that deserves

to be checked out. So, to say I was beyond ecstatic to help tell a new story featuring this character was an honor. Add to that, the book is being drawn by the talented Jamar Logan. I think we’ve got a bonafide hit on our hands.

A sort of “issue 0” is scheduled to be released later this summer, which will serve as a preview of sorts, giving fans a look into what the future holds for our creative effort. Continuing to put the final touches on this script.

 

 

 

 

 

-The Crossing: John McGuire. Robert Jeffrey II. Sean Damien Hill. Alternate dimensions. High paced action. A story of loss and betrayal. What’s not to love?

parallel_world_by_ayronstorkarynx-d48sl11

Inter-dimensional travel: the only way to travel.

 

Still working on applying final edits to the pitch for this sci-fi adventure that my fellow Tessera Guild/ Terminus Media writer in arms and I have come up with.

John: I’ll get the edits to ya by this weekend. I swear.

Next will be finding a publisher for the book. But once we find a home for it, you all are going to need to hang on to your seats. Like, “get some seat belts installed in home” type of action.

Also working on a prose novella set within this universe, so stay tuned.

Blogging/ Journalism

-Tesera Guild: My commitment is to up my postings to 2-3 Friday’s a month, so get prepped to see more of my random rants on this page.

Comics, sci-fi, life musings, you’re gonna get ‘it all.

BLACKSciFi_4WEB-BlackSci-Fi.com: I’m honored to write for this awesome website, and things are going to be picking up A LOT on this front over the next few months.

Within my capacity as contributing writer for the website I get a chance to speak about a well established and constantly growing arm of this awesome genre we call sci-fi. Whether it’s prose, comics, movies, video games, etc, I’ll have articles coming down the pipeline about the work that African Americans are contributing and have contributed to the science fiction arena.

And as always, you can visit me here for a rundown of past projects, maybe buy some books,  and get updates about anything else I have coming up.

If you just want to chat, that’s cool too.