Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Roundup of the Week's Picks (09/28/2012)

This week, DriveThruRPG focused on their Superhero Games. At the same time, I've started exploring which system I wish to use for my own supers gaming (and setting development).

So, yeah, there's a theme this time around. Well, except for the first one, which I did before I got into the supers focus...

Myth & Magic is an update and expansion to the 2nd Edition of the World’s Most Popular Roleplaying Game. It maintains the tone and atmosphere for classic storytelling, yet cleans up and modernizes some of the rules with new and improved mechanics.  We here at NHG started our gaming careers in the 1989 rules. We have tremendous love for that edition and that love is evident in the quality of the Myth & Magic experience. For anyone who has played 2E and enjoyed the countless avenues a good story and some good friends can take in a campaign, you will love Myth & Magic. For anyone who missed the 2E experience, Myth & Magic is a must-play. The 2E experience is unique and Myth & Magic does a great job of preserving that experience while providing a fresh set of rules.

The Player's Guide contains all the rules necessary to play the game through twentyy levels and beyond. Not only do we have all the standard races and classes, the monk class and half-orc race have been updated from prior editions (or retrograded from newer editions) to fit the rules system. Check out the preview of the Player's Guide to see the scope of the game.

After you download the Player's Guide, grab a copy of the free Game Master's Starter Guide, which will provide a lot of material to challenge your players in the early levels. The full GMG will arrive soon.

Ever wanted to tell your own comicbook stories, but possibly you lacked artistic ability? Capes, Cowls & Villains Foul is a comicbook toolkit, allowing you and one or more friends to tell your own tales of heroism and sacrifice, superpowers and masked crusaders! Designed from the ground up to emulate the narrative style of comicbooks, CC&VF is a game for comicbook-loving gaming fans.

• Create your own heroes using “building blocks” called Traits, ensuring that the characters act, perform and feel like actual comicbook characters.

• Link your powers together in awesome and creative ways.

• Be empowered the same way that comic book artists and writers are when creating comics.

• Create villains of all types that will prove to be more than worthy adversaries for even the most powerful heroes. No longer will non-combat-oriented masterminds be inferior foes to those who are more physically imposing!

• Whip up awesome C-List villains who continually plague and get the better of A-list heroes (until the end of the Issue).

• Your brash archer no longer needs to stand on the sidelines nickel-and-diming the cosmic despot while your allies wallop him with their super-strength.

• Fast-paced and descriptive action wherein damage is an abstract concept that can represent not just physical pain, but also frustration, exhaustion or simply being trapped.

• Villains designed to effective both solo and as a team. The rules ensure that villains are scalable threats for heroes of all power levels.

• Might your character develop rainbow powers for just one issue? Or perhaps your powered-armored hero just happens to have a specialized suit of “arctic” armor that’ll be helpful for an excursion in Antarctica. Or how about a hero whose comic has a new writer that alters his capabilities? All this is a big part of the game!  

A man in crazy pajamas atop a skyscraper rains laser death down on the streets. He's laughing as he does it.

Below, fires bloom for the news cameras. Reporters duck debris as they yammer on about demands and manifestoes and terror.

Meanwhile, in the background, the screams of scorched innocents melt into the wail of sirens.

It makes me angry. My cheeks burn with it -- or that just might be from the wind.

The madman grows closer and closer, impossibly fast. His eyes widen as he lifts his weapon in my direction. He won't make it in time.

My hands tighten into fists as I brace for impact.

I have a set of crazy pajamas of my own.

Superhero stories celebrate heroism and "mad, beautiful ideas" in adventurous, stylish, and fun ways; Truth & Justice (T&J) is the new superhero RPG from Atomic Sock Monkey Press dedicated to just that. Fast, fun, and streamlined, T&J:

  • Encourages the sense of freewheeling imagination and improvisation that suffuses superhero media.
  • Offers concepts to bridge the gap between comic book stories and superhero gaming sessions.
  • Stresses the importance of a hero's motivations, personal ties, and behavior alongside their more-than-human abilities in transcending limitations and overcoming obstacles.
  • Focuses on how capable the character is from the context of a superhero story-game rather than strictly simulating reality.
  • Emphasizes quick and flexible character generation.
  • An exploration of superhero tropes. How to approach them to help get what you want out of superhero roleplaying, whether you're a player or a GM, and advice for using them inside a game.
  • A complete game system. The Prose Descriptive Qualities (PDQ) System from Dead Inside and Monkey, Ninja, Pirate, Robot: the RPG has been refined for T&J, streamlined and chromed-up for superheroic flexibility, simplicity, and speed. Different levels of task resolution, suitable for any type of situation, let you detail the encounters that really matter.
  • Three sample settings. Become the champions of Drakesville when its signature hero gets promoted to the majors in Second-String Supers. Navigate the twisty path between altruism and greed in the futuristic world of SuperCorps. Discover who you truly are and change the world in Fanfare for the Amplified Man. Each setting comes with adventure seeds and introductory scenarios.
What kid raised in recent generations hasn’t pretended to be a superhero at some point: worn a cape, “flown” around, bounced imaginary bullets or shot “blasts of power” from hands or eyes? Why not? After all, the superhero is the perfect modern fantasy: powerful, respected, and loved by the public, but with a message of responsibility, duty, truth, and justice that appeals to parents as well as kids. In countless comic books, graphic novels, cartoons, and live-action television shows and films, superheroes continue to thrill and capture our imagination while also celebrating some of our better qualities. Who wouldn’t want to be a hero?

With ICONS, you can be!

Steve Kenson, the designer of the best-selling Mutants & Masterminds delivers a superpowered new role-playing game, inspired by the fast-playing old-school games and the new generation of narrative role-play! Within its pages are complete rules for character creation, abilities and powers, random adventure generation, a rogue's gallery of villains, a complete adventure and all the superheroic action you can handle!

Watch for more ICONS adventures and supplements coming soon from Adamant Entertainment, and click here to see all of the ICONS products currently available from Adamant and other great publishers!

This book has everything you need to create characters and run super-heroic adventures within minutes. The rules are light and easy all you need are two ordinary dice, a piece of paper, and this book. Character generation is so simple, you could fit all the info you need on a 3x5 card, but we included a sheet anyway.

Do not assume that by simple, we mean incomplete, either. BASH! UE has over 50 versatile super powers, numerous skills, and even rules for collateral damage. The action is fast and furious, paced over a series of panels, pages, and issues, just like a comic book.

BASH! has undergone some changes over the years, with updates in Megapolis and BAM! and we have incorporated many of these into a single rules set. In addition to an expanded, revised version of the game, you will also find:

Updated to coincide with the new Second Printing.  New Powers, Advantages, and more

Less record-keeping, more Awesome. Energy is no longer the "default" rule for handling powers-- so you have less to keep track of during play. Hero dice, Hero points, and team-work maneuvers are now a part of the core system, so you can really bring it to the bad-guys!

Easier to read layout, better explained rules, including many examples.

Character Archetypes: Writeups of various iconic superhero & villain archetypes such as the Brick, Martial Artist, and Blaster. These templates can be easily tweaked to quickly have a custom character!

Hordes of Minions! Fleets of Vehicles! Random Encounters!

Eras & Subgenres: One of the things BASH! Fantasy & Sci-Fi editions did was extensive work on the subgenres of Fantasy and Sci-Fi, such as Steam-Punk or Space Pulp. BASH! Ultimate Edition will do the same thing for Superheroes, enabling you to run a game with the theme & tone of the Gold, Silver, Bronze, or Iron Ages. There are also sections on Super Teens, Science Fiction, Fantasy, as well as Cosmic Superheroes.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Un-Post

So I told myself that I wanted to post every weekday.

Then I told myself that I wanted to, at the very least, get one posted every other day.

We bought a car yesterday, which took much longer than expected. It killed the whole day, in fact. The fact that we hadn't planned on buying a new car added to the unexpectedness of it all.

Today, car-buying related stuff happened, along with some other necessary things. And tonight, I am running one of my Shaintar campaigns (part two of a game we had to end in the middle of a battle last week).

So here are words I made myself put here so that I at least keep on track for my "every other day" plan. Not the most entertaining, I admit, but at least it's something new for those of you who are paying attention and honoring me by regularly checking by.

And, just for the grins of it, here's our new car - a 2013 KIA Sorento:

Monday, September 24, 2012

Monday VLOG, 092412

Another video blog, wherein I reveal the gaining of wisdom, a really cool Kickstarter project, my search for the right superhero RPG system, and my abiding love for Babylon 5.

Hope you enjoy, and please let me know!


Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Roundup of the Week's Picks (09/21/2012)

Let's try this again - another roundup of my Picks for the week. Note that we're one short, since one of my Picks was a focus on the "Talk Like a Pirate Day" Sales page.

They came from all corners of the universe, servitors of vile alien gods to protect the Lich Queen and keep an angel imprisoned in the Dungeonlands.

High Fantasy; Epic Conflict

Heroes & Servitors is a book of pre-generated characters, ready to play with backstories written. Get straight into the action. And for GMs, there’s an evil, twisted version of each character, together with a premade fiendish dungeon encounter especially for them. However you mix them up, they’re bound to enliven your killer dungeon experience.

This is a product for the Savage Worlds rules system and Savage Suzerain. It was created during the Savage Mojo 24-Hour Design Party.

A copy of Dungeonlands: Tomb of the Lich Queen is recommended to make the most of this book.

Head ’em up and move ’em out! Your cowpokes are joining one of the longest, most dangerfraught cattle drives in the Weird West—spanning two countries, a war-torn no man’s land, and the Sioux Nations! Along the way, they’ll cross paths with virtually every major railroad, bloodthirsty border raiders, Indian war parties, and of course, nightmares of the sort found only in a land ravaged by the horrors of the Reckoning. They may make an ally or two, as well as at least one dogged enemy. Bad Times on the Goodnight is the first of three in the Blood Drive series.

The Blood Drive series is a complete campaign. Each adventure starts and ends in such a fashion that if you want to use it by itself without the others in the series, you can easily do so. In fact, they’re perfect for getting a posse from one part of the Weird West to another if that’s what you’re looking for, Marshal. Used together, the three combine to take the heroes from greenhorn cowpunchers to hardened trail hands fighting for their cattle, their land, and even their lives!

Bad Times on the Goodnight is not a complete game. It’s a supplement for the Deadlands Reloaded setting for the Savage Worlds game system.

Alternate Objectives is the latest of the Advanced Encounters series. Like all books in the series, it provides advice and tools for the GM to create more memorable encounters. Alternate Objectives focuses on creating battles where they PCs have goals beyond slaying the bad guys: things like rescuing prisoners or obtaining a powerful artifact before the opponents.

Alternate Objectives details several types of objectives and things to consider when building them. It then describes other elements that could be relevant in a range of encounters containing alternate objectives but are not tied to specific objectives. Finally Alternate Objectives provides six sample encounters along with adventure hooks and variations. They include:

  • Stealing a necklace off an enemy's neck and getting away.
  • Escaping from a collapsing ice cave.
  • Extinguishing a fire while battling elemental bugs.
  • Protecting a prince from assassins.
  • Holding back efreet long enough to open a portal and escape the City of Brass.
  • Convincing a fallen angel to return to the light before he kills the PCs.

One team comes together to live up to the heroic ideals of the classic Avengers, while another struggles against the legacy of a syndicate of super villains. Both teams are teens with the weight of the world on their shoulders. See how the Civil War affects this next generation of heroes, explore their perspective of the ongoing conflict, and get insight into the teen heroes who started it all in Stamford—the New Warriors.

This Event Supplement includes: Young Avengers & Runaways: Spinning out of the Civil War storyline, this supplement shines a light on the next generation of super heroes who rise up against the Superhuman Registration Act, as well as the team whose tragic end ignited the fires of war. Be part of the teenage rebellion or explore the worlds of What If? with this guide to the youthful heroes of the Civil War.

Hero Datafiles: Game play sheets for many of the Marvel Universe’s young heroes, from the Young Avengers and Runaways to the New Warriors and Power Pack!

For two to eight players, ages 13 and up. Requires game dice.

You will need a copy of the Operations Manual to use this product. The Operations Manual can be found in the MARVEL HEROIC ROLEPLAYING Basic Game or in Premium Edition Event Books.

That's it for this week! Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wikipedia is My Master, Now

Sorry, "Pappy". Sorry, Joss.

Wikipedia has become the true master of my universe. It has become incredibly useful (to the point of indispensable) as a quick-research tool while I am working on adventures, campaigns, settings, and anything else to do with gaming.

To wit, the current adventure I am crafting for a client (via the Your SAVAGE Expert thing I've got going).

My instructions included starting the adventure in Fargo, North Dakota.

The year is 1893.

The ultimate destination is the Chicago World's Fair.

There's some stuff to do with Tesla.

For added veracity, since there was a train ride clearly necessary to the event, I ended up looking into Chicago's Grand Central Station and the train rails the group would likely end up on, the Chicago Great Western Railway.

In reading over information about the Fair, I realized Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show was there (though not an official part of the Fair); this led me to realize I could work in such luminaries as Annie Oakley and her husband, Frank Butler, into the story.

All this history and verisimilitude would have taken literal hours to accomplish, either by poring through a set of home encyclopedias or via a trip to the local library, when I first got into this business. Granted, anyone doing serious research should still do that kind of thing, but for gaming, Wikipedia is just... amazing!

Naturally, I donate to it semi-regularly. It's worth far more than I give, that's for sure.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What's Wrong With My Brain-Juice?

I have this wonderful plan, you see.

I get up at 6:30 AM (!!!), get to the gym, and hit the pool for 30 minutes.

I get home, have some breakfast, watch a little something on the `Net while I eat, and then dive into work.

I have this dry-erase board with colored sticky notes all over it, scheduling out when I am going to tackle what area on any given day.

It's a great plan!

It's not working.

Why? Because my brain hates me, that's why. I can't make the brain-juice go where and when I want it to. It flows in whatever direction it damn well feels like, and very often (especially in the early part of the day), it flows to utterly non-productive places.

It's usually not until mid-to-late afternoon that I can finally find some focus and get real work started. This usually has me up until pretty damn late.

Sometimes too late, so that I don't make it for my early swim time. This means I end up having to go later in the day, which royally screws up my plan and...

You can see where this is going.

Now I have to figure out if (a) I should just shift my schedule to start and end later or (b) "hunker down" and try to find that "discipline" I keep promising I have somewhere inside me.

Hell, even writing this blog is just delaying me actually starting on my next project (one of my Your SAVAGE Expert customers wants me to put together a post-Serenity `Verse campaign).

Well, time to see if I can keep `em flyin'...


Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday VLOG, 091712

Going with a video blog (VLOG) for Mondays. Check it out, and let me know what you think!

And if you didn't see my interview with the two key guys behind Savage Mojo and their amazing 24-Hour Design Party project, here's that -

Happy Monday!


Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Roundup of the Week's Picks (09/14/2012)

I'm going to try something here on Fridays, a roundup of my "Sean's Pick of the Day," which I am still doing every weekday on Facebook and Google+. So what follows below are my picks for each day this week.

Portray gods and demigods -- children of Olympian Gods, Titans, or Primordials in this diceless roleplaying game of multi-dimensional mythology Fantasy. Explore new realms or the classic worlds of Earth and Mythological Greece. Visit Zeus' Olympus, Poseidon's Seas, or Hades' Underworld. Mix politics with intrigue, alliances with wars as power-struggles and vengeance drive stories. Or, go the route of lesser power with mortals and heroes.

Lords of Olympus is a retroclone, providing a new and original version inspired by the rules of the most successful diceless roleplaying game of all time. The goal of this book is to not only be successful and enjoyable as a game in its own right, but also maintain the interest of players seeking out and experiencing the original and greatest diceless roleplaying game.

There you are at the Sign of the Prancing Pony in Bree, when you hear the sounds of rollicking song inside.  You push open the heavy oak door to see small hobbits dancing on the bar, spilling beer and singing at the top of their lungs.

Little did you know that there are scores of great hobbit drinking songs.  Marc Gunn, The Celtfather, met up with Daisy Brambleburr of Bindbale Wood (aka Rie Sheridan Rose) in Hobbiton to discuss and share the drinking songs of the hobbits.  He came back with a plethora of great hobbit songs and tunes to share in his newest album, Don’t Go Drinking With Hobbits.

Three years ago, the Brobdingnagian Bards were invited to perform at the first A Long Expected Party where they celebrated a reenactment of Bilbo Baggins’ birthday party. It was an amazing event, a weekend of high adventure, stories, songs, legends, languages, art, and more.

Now, the same folks who brought us that bring us There & Back Again for another weekend of Tolkien bliss. Once again, Marc Gunn will be there to perform.

It was the first party that inspired the idea this album of hobbit drinking songs. Gunn loves Lord of the Rings. It is one of the reasons the Brobdingnagian Bards recorded Memories of Middle Earth. While Memories of Middle Earth featured music inspired by Lord of the Rings, this album also shares Marc Gunn’s love of drinking songs and fun songs with which you can sing-along.

For GMs in need! When you need a PC right now, “The Emergency Character Collection” comes to your rescue—whether you had a PC perish mid-adventure, a friend drop in for your game, or just want a stable of fully-statted NPCs.

“The Emergency Character Collection” includes thirteen detailed characters, each ready to play with printable character sheets for levels 1, 3, 6, and 9. Each complete PC comes with an illustration, roleplaying hooks, design notes, quick customization tips for different campaign types, interesting variants, and an in-game justification for appearing right on scene, right when you need it.

“The Emergency Character Collection” contains a daring half-elf bard, a jolly dwarf cleric, a roc-riding halfling druid, a bow-wielding elf fighter, a boisterous dwarf gunslinger, a surly tiefling magus, an honorable half-orc monk under a vow of poverty, a zealous human oracle of battle, an inquisitive catfolk paladin, a shrewd human urban ranger, an impetuous halfling rogue, a gregarious gnome sorcerer, and a fey-haunted elf witch. With character sheets for each of four different levels, you have 52 ready-to-go PCs. Just print and play!

Champions: The Live Action Roleplaying Game brings the excitement of superheroic adventure to the world of LARPs! Using the popular Champions Universe setting from the award-winning tabletop RPG and the Champions Online MMO, Champions: Live Action gives you all the pulse-pounding adventure while allowing you to play away from the table or computer. The groundbreaking PCD system uses a simple stopwatch as a randomizer so the action never has to slow down!

This book includes:

x) The complete rules for playing the game - nothing else needed!

x) Dozens of sample characters, including the Champions themselves and several of their most fiendish adversaries!

x) An introduction to the Champions Universe, including Millennium City, the City of Tomorrow built on the ashes of Detroit!

x) Extensive advice for how to LARP in a world of superheroes and supervillains, even if you’ve never LARPed before! Costumes, props, locations, and how to recruit and manage players!

So bust out your uniform, strap on your utility belt, and get ready to smash some evil, because it’s time to play Champions: Live Action!

God doesn't love me. But He's given me these teeth to spill your blood and these words to speak over your remains. 
And when I do that, He's going to make my dreams come true. 
God is good.
-- Sister Snow, upstart Bishop of New Orleans

Being a vampire is inherently trading humanity for power, but most Kindred don't do it on purpose. Blood Sorcery is about wrapping your arms around blood sacrifice or inhuman philosophy and holding it close against your silent heart. As presented in Vampire: The Requiem, sorcery is a series of rituals passed down from hierophant to acolyte, pastor to parishioner. The blood caked on these rituals is dark and dried, and they are ancient and horrible indeed.

That's what this book is: a gory and grand new exploration of blood sorcery from the powers of the great covenants to the dirty secrets of the street to the figures that lurk in the shadowed history of the Kindred.

This book includes:
• A flexible new system for blood sorcery, allowing you to build and enact your own rituals
• Threnodies, sacrificial charms that build on Disciplines and add a little mojo to any character
• A legion of occult antagonists, from the heartless Sons of Phobos to the enigmatic Empty Liars

So there's this week's Picks. Let me know what you think of the idea - should I keep doing this?


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Odd Mix of Reality and Fantasy on This Day

It's been a long while since I really immersed myself in the events of September 11, 2001. I daresay that was my generation's "Kennedy Assassination," in that long-term, never-go-away sense of tragedy that defines a moment in time forever.

For reasons I can't quite explain, I felt compelled to look up old footage from that day, right down to watching and listening to CNN's original broadcast from right before the news broke that the first tower had been hit all the way through the report of the crash of Flight 93. I let myself relive the horror, shock, and (yes, I will admit it, though I wonder how many others will) excitement over something so spectacularly huge happening.

Don't get me wrong - there's guilt associated with that excitement. It's not like I enjoyed what happened; far from it, my tears ran freely that day, my anger swelled to great wrath as I came to grips that we had been attacked that way, and each and every report and image of someone plummeting from the Towers made me deeply sick and horrified inside.

At the same time, those of us who were not affected, but thought we could be (I worked in a high-rise office building in downtown Atlanta at the time this all happened) got that adrenaline shot that set our imaginations off in all kinds of directions. "It could happen here!" Evacuations of the downtown area ramped up all those emotions and imaginings as well.

So, there it was... excitement. The thrill that Evil had struck and Good would have to Do Something About It.

Watching it all in retrospect, I made myself analyze my feelings. I wasn't there. I wasn't experiencing the absolute terror and fear and trauma that the folks directly affected were. As such, my emotions had the free reign to wander to other territories - to look at the whole thing from a few paces removed, and project the outcomes and the necessary following acts.

It's important to note at this point that, all the while I watched that vintage footage today, I've been working on an adventure for someone, set in an alternate modern day earth where highly skilled secret agents are going to be sent in to deal with terrorists of a different sort. Yet the ultimate goal remains the same - go be the Good Guys and get the Bad Guys.

Where am I going with this? I wasn't sure when I started writing it, but I think two conclusions can be drawn:

  1. The events of 9/11 changed everything, and just as promised, our world will never be the same because of them. It behooves us to remember the true horrors of that day, even as we question all of the actions that have been taken since then in the name of "Never Again."
  2. Gaming is one hell of a coping mechanism! We can express our desires for justice and vengeance in a relatively pure and satisfying way, even when our real world denies us such things utterly.
So, that's all I have. Mostly, just sharing my day with you, but if there's something of value to consider, that's cool, too.

If you chose to remember, I hope you found something in the act of doing so. 

If you chose to just get on with your life, that's cool, too.

Here's looking forward to tomorrow.


Friday, September 7, 2012

When a Player Gets it Right

Not surprisingly, I run a few Shaintar campaigns. One of those campaigns - possibly the most popular one I run - is entitled "Days of Crimson and Fire," and it's based on the mercenary company, Harrigan's Heroes, that is based out of the scrappy little Wildlands barony of Drenmar.

(By the way, my apologies for the site being somewhat out of date. I have been a bit busy lately...)

I love my players. Each and every one of them brings something very special to the table, and their commitment to enhancing the shared story means a great deal to me.

I don't think any one of them would fault me, however, for pointing out the rather exceptional contributions of one Susan Knowles. She's an incredibly talented artist and gifted creator (you should really check out the webcomics she's doing, including the one she does with her husband, Lee).

"Sooz" is one of those players who fully immerses herself into a world. She commits fully to the greater story being told, yet she does all she can to empower me as a GM to more completely integrate her character's personal story into the greater whole. She doesn't just toss some ideas out and hope I pick them up and do something with them; she goes to great lengths to develop her ideas and present them in a fleshed-out manner, giving me plenty to go on as I plan to involve those ideas into the campaign.

I'm not saying everyone has to go to such efforts to get me to make an effort on their behalf; most folks don't have the time to do that much "homework" between game sessions. I understand that, and I greatly appreciate whenever a player makes any effort at all, and I greatly appreciate whatever they can do.

However, that doesn't stop me from showing off Sooz's efforts as exemplary and the kind of thing to aspire to as a player. The following is material she recently sent me about the main villain of her character's back story. It bears pointing out that Obdulia is blind, and it's Finian's doing. Changbet once worked with Finian, and now serves as Obdulia's guardian and guide in penance for his past.

Here's a great picture of Obdulia and Changbet -

And here's the latest from Susan about Finian - 

It's been over a decade since Finian Freeman escaped the justice of Contessa la Caracola.  The interruption of his ritual and the disruption of his island kingdom upset him greatly, but not as much as the betrayal by Changbet and the loss of his subjects.  Swearing revenge, he recovered what followers he could and vanished again into the vast sea to quietly gather power and knowledge.  No longer trusting of the settled life, he made his group nomadic, eventually capturing a ship as their base.  In addition to more followers, he sought out other places with temples like the one from his former home, looking for ways to increase his own power.

Since then, he's amassed a decent-sized cult, made up chiefly of former galley slaves from ships he and his followers raided.  Known as the Freed Men, they make their living from piracy, robbery, and similar activities, mainly targeted at the more unsavory groups like the Red Store.  While he takes pains to keep his subjects together and maintain his delusion of heroism, Finian has been working to find and punish the man who led to his original downfall, and is moving inland, having gotten word that he's been spotted near Erimar.

Human, former Freelander, 30-ish

- Finian was enslaved as a youth.  He was a victim of many, many jokes about being a Freelander slave, leading to a sort of bloody-minded pride about his heritage.  His memories of his homeland are scanty, but he tries his hardest to be a True Freelander in appearance.

- He's very attractive and extremely charismatic, as well as being a charming and witty person, and he knows it.  He can spin bullshit into gold and keep the illusion up for years.

- He believes himself destined to be a great saviour and leader, and conducts himself with regal poise.  He identifies with the fable of the commoner king, raised in poverty but elevated by his deeds and followers to nobility.

- His views are very polarized: since he's the hero in his mind, anyone against him is a villain. In addition, his self image can't take the blame for any problems or bad decisions; everything is always someone else's fault.

- In contrast to his delusions, his feelings toward people are possessive and controlling, not loving.  He cannot recognize this, and believes that he's just so much wiser than they are that he knows what's best for them.  He thinks nothing of guilt trips or assigning unhealthy tests of loyalty, and will mete out severe punishments toward those who disobey.  The worst betrayers are hunted down and zombied; that way, they can never leave him again.

- Along with his hoarding of people, he hoards treasures, and is obsessed with amassing wealth and status symbols.

I'd like very much to have him a recurring villain and/or big boss; while his chief objective is Changbet, he is likely to disrupt trade and cause other troubles.  Plus, y'know, Darkness.  Possibly he could cause some trouble surrounding the Big Wedding? :D

Please LMK if I need to offer any further detail or anything.  I'm also working on a picture, which I'll send once I'm done.

She finished the picture, by the way -

So, yeah.

Way to go, Sooz!


Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Long Goodbye

I actually announced my change of life plans about a week ago, so it's not like it's "new" for many of you anymore, or for me.

Nonetheless, tomorrow is my last day as an official part of the DriveThruRPG team, and I sent out my last Newsletter today, complete with my goodbye message.

It was strange. There's some melancholy. I've already started getting "We'll miss you" and "Good luck" messages, which are amazing to read. It's empowering to know folks cared about my efforts in that role.


I don't know if this is true for all writers, but I know many writers are like me - it just doesn't matter anywhere near as much if our words don't actually reach someone. You can pay me a dollar a word (no really, you can - you won't, but you can), and I will cry all the way to the bank if no one bothers to read them.

Truthfully, I could be working in a much higher-paying role right now. There's little doubt I could translate my skills and understanding of marketing, promotions, and related areas into a more "corporate" space where I had a legitimately comfortable income and benefits. The responsible adult in me lambastes my control center constantly over this.

I usually drown him with whiskey and beer.

All right, I usually shut him up with a good game. He has so much fun, he forgets to lambaste me for a while.

And that's the point. I truly enjoy what I do. It can be stressful, and it's not the sunshine-and-pony-rides that most might hope getting into this.

Yet, as many of my colleagues will tell you, it beats working for a living.

So even though I won't be writing as many words for DriveThruRPG as I've been doing (some, mind you, just because it's fun - see below), I will still be doing a lot of writing. And creating. And promoting.

Stay tuned - the new ride should be just as much fun as the old one...


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Today, a Kickstarter Pitch

Got me a serious headache going today, friends, so I am going to keep it short and sweet and use this space for a pitch.

I was interviewed for the film "Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary," which has eleven days left to earn just under $110,000.

It doesn't look good, I will admit... which really sucks, because I think this is going to be an awesome presentation of what we all love and where it came from.

Here's a portion of my part in it -

So, yeah, if you can help me get the word spread, I'd really like to help them get a miracle going.



Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sean's Ten Suggestions for a Better Game

This is the final "A Better Game" article I just wrote for the last DriveThruRPG Newsletter I will be writing. Figured a preview to those of you following my young blog was an OK idea (and it means I don't have to write something else new like this today). ;-)

It's been a long while since I wrote one of these myself here. It seems fitting, however, to close out my run with some final observations that I hope will help all of you enjoy gaming more.

Cheesy as they are, lists are fun. So here's the sharp cheddar, friends -

Sean's Ten Suggestions for a Better Game

  1. Remember it's a Game. At the end of the day, you are playing. The very essence of play is to engage in an activity that is supposed to be fun for everyone involved. Seek that fun, grab hold of it, and enhance it in any way you can.
  2. Remember it's More Than a Game. Let's face it, most gamers put a lot more of themselves into an RPG than they would ever invest in a game of Monopoly, Mario Cart, or even Blood Bowl. There is a legitimate and compelling emotional commitment in the act of roleplaying, and that means what happens to a character in a story will affect the player. It should; that's the magic of the hobby.
  3. Play Well With Others. This is a shared experience almost by definition. Despite the reasonable tendency to get lost in your character's head, you owe to everyone else who's set aside a few hours of their day to acknowledge and support the need for everyone to enjoy themselves. Before stabbing that back, stealing that potion, or going off on the king because you've had a bad day at work (and, thereby, have made the entire band of heroes into outlaws), take a moment to think it through. If it's going to screw everyone else over, is it really worth it, even if you're doing it “in character?” Seriously. You know what I mean here.
  4. Be There for the Game. Don't be the one who shows up at the table, opens your laptop to your favorite MMO, Facebook game, or fanfic site and “phone it in.” If all you're really there to do is hang out, plugged into the `Net, and toss a few dice, find an online craps game and leave the seat open for someone who wants to actually play a character in a shared story. This kind of behavior is horribly disrespectful to everyone else, and especially your Game Master.
  5. Be a Character. No one expects you to be a master thespian, but you can pretend to be someone who actually reasonably belongs in the setting. If you're playing heroic fantasy, nix the modern slang. If you're playing space opera, maybe not so much with the F-bombs? You don't have to do accents (though they really do help if you can), but try to talk differently than you might to a coworker at lunch about the latest sports event of your shared interest. More importantly, make decisions that come from the mind and insight of your character, not your more omniscient perspective of the bigger picture.
  6. Metagaming sucks! Three of your teammates are down in the basement of an office building, attempting to repair the elevators. Your character is in a submarine, 2000 miles away, with no radio contact. Quit telling them how to open the main breakers! You're not there, you're interfering with the scene, and you're screwing over the roleplay. How is this not obvious?
  7. Help the Game Master. It's not easy, which is why only a fraction of gamers ever bother trying to do it. Between the need to be a master of the rules, a crafter of interactive stories, a world-builder, a referee, a scene director, and any number of other tasks, GMs can get a bit overwhelmed. Getting them a soda, helping move the miniatures on the map board, and cleaning up after the game are far more sanity-saving than you might ever know.
  8. Go For It! Quit analyzing ever single move like a chess master, and quit worrying about the minutiae of all the possible modifiers. Will it look awesome on a movie screen? Can you see your character looking like a total badass, no matter what happens? Then do it! Not just because your GM will appreciate you adding zing to the moment while your fellow players start thinking of what they can do to look just as cool, but moments like that are what the best gaming stories are made of.
  9. Quit Complaining! You didn't like that ruling. OK. Make a brief, respectful case. Maybe the GM did forget something, and if so, he'll probably appreciate the politeness and the memory boost and make a change to fix things. If he doesn't, write a note to talk about it later, then let it go. If you gotta, go outside and yell at a tree; no one at the table wants to hear about it, as they are there to, you know, play a game.
  10. Game With Friends, Befriend Those You Game With. You share hours together, weaving tales, experiencing life and death together. How in the hell are you not friends with these people? Do things together. Have dinner parties. Go play mini-golf. Vacation together. Seriously, you all know each other better than just about anyone else can; cherish that and make the most of it. Few people in life get to have as many close friends as you can just by embracing the fellowship of people you game with.

This is some of the best advice I feel I can leave you all with, so I will leave you with that, and one final thought.

Roll the dice, have some fun.

Safe journeys, friends.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Laboring on Labor Day

While others of my friends and family are getting the grill warmed up and prepping food, here I am at the keyboard.

Can't help it, really. Having just launched this Evil Beagle thing, I am utterly compelled to try and build more momentum while maintaining that which I've already garnered since announcing my huge life-changing plans.

Granted, such a thing isn't anywhere near as scary as it was even just a few years ago. Truth is, for me it simply wouldn't have been possible. However, as I've been preaching at geek revivals - er, I mean gaming conventions all over the country, it's a path now open to anyone and everyone. Access is literally free.

Well, free of monetary commitments, at any rate. What you value your time and creative energy is entirely up to you to decide, but rest assured you need to expend great amounts of both to pull this off.

As well, it doesn't hurt one little bit to already have a considerable social network to rely upon, and I am blessed with a rather huge one built across Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. Having so many friends, fans, and colleagues to tell my tales to who, in turn, can and will share those tales to their own contacts is etheric gold to anyone in my shoes.

So if you're at all interested in how this works, follow along friends. You can see the story unfold right along with me.

I am, naturally, hoping for a very happy ending.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Surfing the Big One

Your regrets aren't what you did, but what you didn't do."
- Cameron Diaz

OK, so I never figured Cameron Diaz for a philosopher I'd find inspiration from, but this quote honestly speaks to me at this particular crossroads of my life.

I came away from Gen Con 2012 with enormous, amazing opportunities, greater than anything I've had in front of me up to now. With my career, that is saying quite a lot; I've been gifted with some rather extraordinary opportunities over the last two-and-a-half decades. Like a surfer, I've had many waves come into my life, and I've ridden some successfully, and I've fallen off many others.

Sadly, I've also let far too many waves simply pass me by. Fear of change, of being uncomfortable and without security, kept me on the beach. My board was in hand, and the wave was inviting, but I stayed dry and warm and didn't risk falling off. Thus, I completely missed the wave and all that might have come from it.

Not this time.

This is, as the old trope goes, the Big One. If I get a solid hold and ride it all the way, the joy will be glorious and the end results will be exultant.

All right, enough about surfing (I don't even have a clue how). The meat of the message is this – I am relinquishing my position and my duties at DriveThruRPG in order to pursue a full-time career as a creator, writer, publisher, and consultant. I have a significant handful of projects I am signed to (or about to be) that will require my concentration and dedication to the fullest. I've consulted with my friends and colleagues at DriveThruRPG (and believe me, both of those terms apply) and we've mutually concluded that I cannot give them all that they need and deserve from me while also pursuing the many other opportunities that I have.

In that they believe completely in my ability to produce many successful products, they are sending me off with great moral support and encouragement. DriveThruRPG will continue to be a major part of my path and my plans, only now the folks still running the show will be my partners in getting my stuff out to the world. At long last, what I've been promising and preaching to would-be publishers and pros at conventions everywhere will now be mine as well – the chance to share my creativity and make a living doing it.

As John F. Kennedy once said, “When written in Chinese, the word 'crisis' is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” This is a terrifying prospect. I'm giving up a decent amount of security for the insane roller-coaster ride of an entertainment industry freelancer (and in the RPG niche market, no less). At the same time, were I to play it safe, I would either fail miserably at trying to manage everything at once or simply watch my wonderful, giant wave roll on by.

Fortunately, thanks to the enormous support of my family, friends, and fans, I'm going to paddle out there, grab it, and ride for the horizon.

I guess that means I'd better learn to surf...


Test Post

We call this a "test post," for we are testing.

With a post.

Carry on...