Saturday, August 3, 2013

Episode VII: Revenge of the Jedi

It is a desperate time for the Rebel Alliance. After the Empire's victory at Hoth, the Alliance has been forced to the furthest reaches of the Outer Rim of the Galaxy, endlessly pursued by the Imperial Starfleet.

With the Rebellion focused on survival, Princess Leia organizes a rescue mission to save Han Solo fron the grip of the crime lord, Jabba the Hutt, who plans to make Solo an example to others who might cross him.

All the while, Luke Skywalker is distracted by the implications of a recent revelation that has shaken him, and his beliefs, to the very core...

Chapter One
From a distance, it could be a space station hanging in the void - a technological monstrosity, the likes of which has never been seen before. As the Super Star Destroyer makes its approach however, it becomes clear that this is no space station.

This is the Heart of the Empire, a massive city that has now grown to overtake the entire planet. Brown clouds blot out the endless city lights below. A swarm of ships move in concert around the upper atmosphere. Comm traffic is rife with the unending chatter of too much civilization.  This is the Imperial City.

Had Abbadon.

For decades, the Seat of the Empire has been protected by an array of "Sentry Moons." A few dozen kilometers in diameter, the Sentry Moons are part of an automated defense system that has never failed in keeping Had Abbadon safe from the enemies of the Empire.

Here now - a vessel, fast approaching the atmospheric shell of the Imperial City, its starboard Ion Drive sparking, and dead. The  three closest Sentry Moons come to life and begin broadcasting their challenges: "Identify ship serial number, pilot name and security authentication, and Imperial access codes."

The vessel does not respond. The three moons - manned by on-board heuristic processors - confer with one another and the central security computers on the planet's surface. A unanimous decision is made by the droid brains behind the safety of the Planet. There are no second chances.

The firing mechanisms in the closest Sentry Moon are already spooling up. Eight individual Blaster emitters, located around the station's central dish are fired simultaneously. Their blast rays come together, shaped and amplified by the controlling dish to launch a sinister green beam of terrible energy at the incoming vessel.

In the vacuum of space, the explosion of the Reactor Plasma Coils in the limited air of the life support system, is mercifully, horribly silent.

Nothing is left of the interloper but dust and debris to be sifted through by sanctioned salvage crews.

The Emperor's Defense System has proved impenetrable to every attack against Had Abbadon, both real and imaginary.

In the city below, Imperial Citizens continue about their lives, safe in the knowledge that their Emperor shields them from harm - oblivious to the destruction and loss of life that has taken place just moments ago.

In the halls of the Imperial Palace, a massive black figure stalks the corridor. His every step, one of purpose, the hiss of his breathing apparatus punctuating the air and hanging about him like an unspoken threat. He is Darth Vader. His companion - though clearly a man of military bearing and importance - struggles to keep pace with the dark robed figure who is more machine now, than man.

The Admiral continues his conversation as they walk. "With the fleet spread across the Rim, the central planets are vulnerable to attack. How can we-"

Vader's hand waves the thought away dismissively, cutting it short. If the Lord of the Sith sees his companion flinch - if he feels the ripple of fear, snaking through the Force - he gives no indication. "If the fleet accomplishes its mission and locates the Rebellion," he says in a voice heavy with the weight of command and tinged in irritation, "there won't be anyone left to attack that vulnerability, Admiral Piett." He turns on the military leader, his finger raised in accusation; the Admiral's face has taken on a suddenly ashen palor. "I expect to see more progress from the Fleet Commanders."

Piett nods quickly, "I assure you, Lord Vader, our men are doing their best to locate the Rebel Forces. The-"

Before the lavishly decorated entrance to the Imperial Throne Chamber, Vader stops short and whirls on the Admiral, who has to fight the urge to flee. A pair of aromored, red-robed Imperial Guards, framing the doorway, give no sign of acknowledgement to either man.

Vader's hand hangs in front of his face, open, demanding silently that Piett stop talking before he angers the man further. "I am not interested in excuses, Admiral. Perhaps we can find new ways to motivate the Fleet Comnaders. You are dismissed."

The Dark Lord of the Sith turns his back on the Admiral and strides through the suddenly open entrance to the Throne Chamber.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Squick (1st draft)

Superheroes of the Mythos.

This Risus supplement builds upon the Serious Risus rules presented by Lars Erik Larson, to create a world of Lovecraftian Superheroes fighting to defend a humanity that hates and fears them.  Think X-Men with a severe ick factor.

In the World of Squick (name pending satisfaction test... this is all first draft), the player character take on the roles of advanced meta-humans - the Afflicted - characters touched or twisted by contact with the horrors of the Mythos.  Squick does not use pumping or funky dice; though Hooks are mandatory and Tales are preferred.


Squick Characters begin play with 10 dice to spread among their cliches, no more than 4 of which may be spent on Power Cliches (see below).

Additionally, each character has 6 dice in the Health Cliche.  They also possess 6 dice in the Sanity Cliche (minus 1 per Power Cliche possessed).

A Character may not roll more dice for any physical action than his current Health Cliche Pool.  This includes seduction and other social roles based on appearance, that don't involve intimidation.  When a character fails to defend against a physical attack, he loses dice from his Health Cliche, rather than from the defending Cliche.

Your Current Health Cliche (Permanent Health minus Wounds) can be used in place of other cliches to fend off disease or poison, for tasks relating specifically to endurance, or tests based on Strength or Agility that are not better covered by other cliches.

When reduced to 0 Health, a character must roll his Permanent Health (difficulty 15) to fight off death.  If the roll is successful, the character survives.  He loses one permanent die of Health and must choose an infirmity that reflects this loss.  This infirmity could be anything from a missing eye to a lost or crippled limb.

A Character with 0 Permanent Health (or who fails his survival check) is dead and no longer playable.

A Character may roll his Current Health in an extended Target Number 15 roll to regain one die of Health at the end of 8 hours of rest (on a day in which the character has not been injured again.  Injury resets the extended roll to 0).  He may make this roll only once in a given 24-hour period, but so long as he is not physically injured, his total carries over to the next day.

A Character making a Healing Roll under the care of a properly cliched medic or physician, may "Team-Up" with their care-giver(s) for this roll - see the Risus Rules for more on Team-Ups.

A Character may not roll more dice for any Mental, Social, or Psychic action than his current Sanity Cliche Pool, except in the case of specific intimidation attempts.

Your Current Sanity Cliche (Permanent Sanity minus Psychic Wounds) can be used in place of other cliches to defend against mental, emotional or psychic attacks, when the character possesses no more appropriate cliche.

When reduced to 0 Sanity, a character immediately suffers a Psychotic Break and loses one Permanent die of Sanity.  He must choose (with the aid of the GM) one appropriate Derangement Hook (see below).

A character with 0 Permanent Sanity has devolved into a gibbering idiot and is no longer playable.

A Character may roll his Current Sanity in an extended Target Number 20 roll to regain one die of Sanity at the end of 8 hours of rest (on a day in which the character has not lost additional Sanity.  Mental duress [in the form of lost Sanity] resets the extended roll to 0).  He may make this roll only once in a given 24-hour period, but so long as he is not lost Sanity, his total carries over to the next day.

A Character making a Recovery Roll under the care of a properly cliched psychologist, psychiatrist or spiritual advisor, may "Team-Up" with their care-giver(s) for this roll - see the Risus Rules for more on Team-Ups.

Additionally, a properly cliched character (GMs discretion) may use meditation or religious self-reflection to regain lost Sanity.  A meditating character may make a recovery check after every 1d6 hours (rolled after each interval) of uninterrupted meditation.

Many of the so-called Afflicted - the meta-humans of Squick, as well as every abomination and even some horrifying and unfamiliar situations, possess a Fright Cliche.

When first encountering any Fright Cliche, a character must roll a contested roll against that Fright Cliche or suffer a loss of Sanity (and possibly a Fright Check Table?).  Additionally, a character must roll against any Fright Cliche that increases its dice pool in his presence, or that he has previously failed against and is encountering again in a separate scene.

A Starting Character possesses a Fright Cliche of 0, modified by any appropriate Hooks, or Power Cliches (see below).

Biokinesis.  Think Tetsuo from Akira.  Psychic control of Flesh and touched matter, allowing for melee attacks and grappling up to 5-feet per die away.
May change size by one step on the size scale per die, sloughing off flesh or assimilating outside matter as needed.
(each step up the scale adds 1d to all Strength based cliche rolls and damage soak rolls at the cost of 1d penalty to agility-based cliche rolls and dodge attempts.  The reverse is also true).
Can use growth to attack against touched creatures (Resisted Biokinesis roll.  Damage = partial absorption, death = total absorption).  Targets become trapped in the mass of flesh and non-organic matter.  Resisted Biokinesis to maintain grip.
May attach tendrils of flesh to targets to communicate telepathically, which may be resisted.  He may even roll biokinesis vs the Health cliche of a touched character to heal that character - which must be resisted, as the body attempts to reject the intrusion, beneficial or not.
Fright = +Biokinesis when used.

Combat Tentacles.  You have 1 Tentacle per die of this cliche, sprouting from somewhere on your body.  Instead of additional tentacles, you may choose to allocate two cliche dice to 1 tentacle, to increase its reach from 5 to 10 feet, 3 dice for 15 feet.  These are grasping appendages with no fine motor dexterity (an additional cliche die may be spent on one tentacle to grant it fine motor manipulation), but can be used to grab, grapple, slam, climb or balance as though they were one of your natural arms or legs.  Use your Combat Tentacles in a Team-Up for any of these cliche checks, or take 1 additional action per round for every 2 tentacles you possess.
Multiple 10-foot tentacles can be used for increased locomotion, adding 1 die per Tentacle to your speed (speed is determined by choosing your highest physical cliche and multiplying by 5 feet per round).
Add your Combat Tentacles to your Fright Cliche.

Contagion.  Carrier of the Dread Contagion - a sentient plague.  Immune to all disease (including the normal effects of the Contagion), but each die of Contagion inflicts a -1 penalty to all social rolls against the uninfected (unless relying on intimidation).  Add Contagion Dice pool to your Fright.  This represents the boils, pockmarks, rheumy eyes, blackened skin and hair loss that marks you as Infected.
Tumor within/on your body is intelligent, possessing a personality and intellect of its own (though starting with no experience, the Contagion may earn experience of its own and learn new cliches).  You may communicate telepathically with the Tumor.
Typically, it is assumed that the Carrier's goals and those of the Tumor align, allowing the Player to treat the Tumor as part of the character.  When severely wounded, however - or when acting in direct opposition to the Tumor's aims (continued growth and spread of the Contagion), the character may have to make a contested cliche roll against his own Power Cliche to use his power, or even - in dire situations - to retain control of his own body.
The Tumor (and by proxy, the character) can roll Contagion to dominate any infected creature or character. Causing it to act as a minion (willing to obey any order that doesn't put it into direct harm).  The Tumor can control a number of Infected equal to this cliche.
Can cause any character to become infected through physical contact with bodily fluids.  On initial infection, any character may roll TN30 to instead become a Carrier.
The Tumor (and character) may make an opposed Contagion roll when touching any Infected creature or character in order to heal himself by "attacking" the target and absorbing their health dice, healing a number of wounds equal to the damage inflicted in the attack.

Gestalt. The Worm that Walks.  The character's body is composed of a swarm of tiny maggot-wasp hybrids called Wyrmwasps.  The character gains a secondary "Swarm" form.  In this form, the character adds his Gestalt cliche to his Fright, but can fly 10-feet per round per die of Gestalt (1 mph per die in sustained, overland flight).  The Swarmed Gestalt takes up any space equal to 5-feet per die, and may automatically attack any creature that starts its turn within the area of the swarm.  The Swarmed Gestalt may crawl across any surface at normal speed, or "squeeze" through any cracks that a large maggot might be able to fit through).
Uninjured, a Gestalt may roll this cliche and add the total to its Fright Rating. Unless swarmed, the uninjured Gestalt appears human. Injured Gestalt suffer a penalty (equal to Health Dice lost) to all social rolls not relying on intimidation. She also gains a bonus to Fright equal to that penalty.
A wounded Gestalt may roll TN10+damage taken to "cover up" injury and appear normal.  This disguise lasts for the scene.  A Gestalt character recovers 1 Health die per hour of non-strenuous activity or rest, so long as that health was not lost to Fire or Acid.
A swarmed Gestalt character may separate herself into a number of smaller swarms (one swarm per cliche die).  Each swarm is under control of the character - as an extension of herself, but suffers a penalty to all cliche pools equal to the number of swarms (also, each swarm must possess at least 1 die of Gestalt).
Additionally, a fleeing Gestalt character can choose to split apart into individual wyrmwasps. In these forms, the character cannot make any cliche rolls - in effect releasing the Wyrmwasps to flee on their own, however - a Gestalt Character cannot be killed so long as a single Wyrmwasp lives.
A slain Gestalt character who did not flee in this manner, may roll this cliche against TN20 to cheat death.  A single surviving Wyrmwasp take (6-Gestalt cliche)d6 days find "wild" Wyrmwasps and reform.  The character regains consciousness at the end of that time frame, 3d6 miles from the location of his death, in a random direction.

Gut Leeches. The character's digestive and endocrine systems have been replaced by a number of large 1-2 foot long slug-like lampreys (one per die of this cliche).  No longer able to take nourishment from normal food and water, the character feeds by allowing the Gut Leeches to escape his body (usually tearing themselves from his body, leaving him horribly emaciated and hollow.  The Gut Leech shares an empathic link with the host, and is treated as an extension of the character (unless the character is low on Health, in which case the leeches instinctively seek out sustenance).
Each Gut Leech and the "evicerated" host has a Fright Cliche equal to Gut Leech.
The Gut Leech consumes matter or flesh by spitting its corrosive digestive juices on the target and then eating the disolved remains.  It can consume 1 foot of matter per round in this manner, and can "keep" a number of Heath Dice worth of material equal to this cliche, before it must return to its host.  Each Gut Leech attacks as a separate creature, using the host's Gut Leech cliche total as its dice pool.
When the Gut Leech returns (requiring one round to do so), the host is immediately healed of a number of Health dice equal to the Leech's "kept" dice. Additional dice are pooled together and can be added (in any combination to any cliche roll.  This temporary pool disappears at a rate of one die per hour if not used.
If one of the host's Gut Leeches is killed, he loses one die of this cliche to reflect the loss, and must make a contested Sanity Roll against his own, adjusted Gut Leech Cliche to avoid losing Sanity.
A Gut Leech Host must feed at least once every 24 hours, or begin losing Cliche dice at a rate of 1 per hour (lowest cliches first, then character's choice).  These dice are replaced by a returning Gut Leech's "kept" pool, after any Health Dice are returned.

Re-Generation.  You possess a remarkable capacity for healing and regeneration, granting you several benefits.
First, you recover from wounds at a rate of 1 per round.  You recover permanent Health dice at a rate of 1 per hour (this also represents the fact that you can regrow amputated or lost body parts), and you automatically succeed on Health Checks to remain alive when reduced to 0 Health.  In order to be killed, you must be reduced to -6 Permanent Health (You are still unconscious at 0 Health, regardless).  Typically this is done by burning your remains.  Regenerating wounds possess a Fright Cliche equal to the damage healed.
Second, you no longer age - or you age at such an astonishingly slow rate as to make no difference.  Your sanity will corrode or you will be exterminated long before you ever need worry about death by "natural" causes.  Your Fright Rating - relevant to those who become aware of your longevity, is equal to the number of decades they have known you.
Lastly, and sometimes problematically, you can reproduce asexually.  Any portion of your body lost or amputated, can potentially grow into a cloned duplicate of yourself.  A piece of flesh as small as a finger can duplicate an entire Re-Generating Character.
Using the d6 Hit Location Chart, each location requires 1d6 hours to regenerate if there is a brain attached to the amputated flesh or 1d6 days if not.  For this reason, a generated duplicate will typically grow "upwards" toward the head first, before finishing its gestation.  Upon generation of the last location, the duplicate awakes, with all the original character's memories, up to the point of amputation (the duplicate possesses all of the character's cliches at 1d lower than the original); and begins with a helpful attitude toward the character, in effect serving as a Minion.

d6 Hit Location Chart
4=Arms (1-3Left, 4-6Right)
1=Legs (1-3Left, 4-6Right)

A generating duplicate has a Fright Cliche equal to your ranks in Re-Generation, plus one per missing body location.  Double this if the character or any duplicates are present.
The Duplicate is an entirely separate entity from the character, and may - through abuse or neglect - grow ambivalent or even hostile toward the original.  If treated right, the duplicate(s) may prove a valuable ally or asset, otherwise, you may end up with a uniquely skilled nemesis.
The Re-Generating Character may generate a number of duplicates equal to his Re-Generation cliche.  This includes any duplicates of duplicates (created through the amputation of duplicate flesh rather than your own - and possessing 1 less die in each of the duplicate's cliches).  Once this limit is achieved, any amputated flesh is simply inert, and does not generate further.
Add one to your Fright Cliche for each duplicate in the scene with you at the same time.

Toxic.  Your bodily fluids are universally poisonous.  While you are immune to poison and disease, your every drop of blood, sweat and bile - even the oils on your skin is toxic.  Your touch on bare flesh automatically attacks using half your Toxic Cliche.
Weapons treated with your blood gain a bonus equal to this cliche.  Your tears and sweat may be collected and weaponized.
When injured, you exude an aura of poison with an area equal to 5-feet per wound level.  Any living thing entering that area is automatically attacked by your Toxic Cliche.  Additionally, when stressed or fatigued (sweating, crying or breathing particularly heavily), you must roll TN15 to avoid exuding this aura in a 5-foot radius, even if uninjured.
Add your Toxic cliche to your Fright for any character knowingly afflicted with or witness to your poisoning.

In addition to any effects listed, a character suffering from any Derangement is immune to the Fright Cliche of characters or Things whose Fright Cliche is equal to or less than the number of Permanent Sanity lost.

Anxiety. Particularly nervous about a thing or situation. -1 penalty to all cliche rolls when confronted with the object of your anxiety, or the promise imminent encounter.
Bulimia. Advanced Food Fixation Derangement.  Roll against Target Number 15 to avoid gorging until over-full.  Half dice pool penalty until you purge, inflicting 1 Health damage to yourself.
Cataplexy. Choose a triggering emotion: exhileration, anger, fear, surprise, orgasm, awe embarrassement, or laughter.  When faced with your trigger, roll against a Target Number 15.  If you fail, you suffer a half-dice pool penalty to all cliche rolls due to muscular weakness, trembling as all of your muscles go slack.  Effect lasts 1d6(boxcars) rounds.
Compulsive-Aggressive Disorder. Everything is a threat.  You may only use Intimidation for Social rolls.
Delusional Mania. 1. Mild. When suffering a physical attack, roll Current Sanity against TN 5 for severe damage, TN 10 for potentially injurious damage, TN 15 for potentially lethal damage.  If you fail, you cannot dodge or avoid attack for the remainder of the scene without "spending" an additional temporary Sanity to represent the expenditure of Will to resist your delusions. +1 Fright.
2. Severe.  As above, except a failure results in your inability to dodge, and you won't avoid damage unless you "spend" a die of Sanity to represent the expenditure of Will necessary to resist your delusions. +1 Fright.
Dependent Personality Disorder. You auto-fail all social or psionic attempts to coerce or control you when made by the subject of your Disorder.
Depersonalization.  No sense of Connection to self.  You may not roll Sanity instead of other Cliches.
Diogenes Syndrome.  A Severe inferiority complex prevents you from maintaining personal hygiene, cleanliness and even healing.  Must expend one temporary Sanity in order to heal yourself (via powers, magic or medical know-how) or to clean yourself.  You still heal reflexively as normal.
Depression. Failure to achieve any goal results in a Target Number 15 roll.  Failure results in an inability to Roll Sanity instead of other cliches, and suffer a -1 penalty on all cliche rolls.
Fixation. Roll Target Number 15 to avoid obsessing over a loss or victory.  On failure, roll 1d to determine how many scenes you are fixated on that loss or failure.
Fugue. When faced with your Trigger, roll against TN15 to avoid entering the Fugue.  Half-Dice penalties to all cliche rolls, representing disassociative amnesia.  Roll a number of dice equal to lost permanent Sanity to determine how many hours your remain in this state.  Once the Fugue ends, memory returns, though events in the Fugue state require a TN20 cliche roll to recall.
Inferiority Complex.  Cliche Roll TN15 any time you could be boasting or othewise one-upping another, to avoid doing so.
Insomnia.  TN15+number of nights sleep missed in order to sleep 8 hours.
Irrational Defiance.  When given orders by superiors, TN15 or suffer a half-dice pool penalty to all cliche rolls made in attempt to accomplish those orders, due to your need to defy your superiors.
Manic Depression. On any failure, TN15 to avoid lapse.  If you fail, roll 1d6.  Odd = depression (inability to roll Sanity instead of other cliches, -1 penalty to all cliches).  Even = Mania (-1 penalty to any cliche rolls made to avoid action, +1 bonus to any endurance or "active" cliche rolls - excluding combat rolls).  +1 Fright in Mania.
Masochism. TN15 roll to avoid causing pain or humiliation to yourself when opportunity arises.  May gain a 1d bonus to this roll by systematic cutting - on days in which you have cut.
Multiple Personality Disorder. Trigger causes TN15 cliche check.  Failure causes secondary personality to emerge. May rearrange 1d6 Cliche Dice according to limitations set by your choice of additional personality and GM Fiat. +1 Fright if Personality shift witnessed.
Mythos Compulsion.  Insistence on investigating Mythos Lore & Creatures. -1 penalty (cumulative) to all cliche rolls when prevented from following a lead regarding the Mythos; until you can investigate some Mythos related thing.
Narcissism. TN15 to avoid a bout of vanity whenever you succeed on a goal.  On a failure, disregard all help in favor or yourself, -1 die penalty to all Teamwork rolls and any social cliche check.
Obsessive Compulsion.  With GM help, establish a strict code of behaviors.  If forcibly kept from performing these, TN10 to avoid resorting to violence.  TN20 or spend one Sanity to override these compulsions for the scene.
Paranoia. -1d penalty to all social rolls.  The Slightest hint of suspicion or aggression triggers a TN15 cliche check to avoid fleeing or attacking.
Phobia. TN5-20 (dependent on severity) to even approach the target of your phobia.
Pyromania. TN15 to avoid setting fire when opportunity presents itself.
Schizophrenia. -1d penalty to all social rolls.  TN15 to avoid attacking/ escaping the Trigger. +1 Fright.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Meatloaf beetloaf I hate meatloaf

Watch "Meat Loaf - Wasted Youth Live" on YouTube

I think my love of the music of Meatloaf may be indicative of the major failings in my life - specifically, my willingness to settle for (and sometimes venerate) the mediocre.

I'm learning to appreciate the analogy of "the rut." I imagine that I'm trying to get up on my feet - be happy - get my shit together, but every time I turn around, there I am. Wallowing in a ditch somewhere, wishing things were different.

I'm not gonna stop trying (I would like to stop lying to myself when I'm not); but goddamn its overwhelming sometimes.  If I wasn't at work right now, I might just go back to bed.

Monday, April 8, 2013

I Hate Mondays...

But even more than that, I hate myself, sometimes.

I had so many plans, today. So much I was going to do.  I woke up early looked at Facebook and YouTube and then -

Well, apparently I went back to bed, because I just woke up again. This happens to me a lot. I have no memory of going back to sleep, or even of deciding to do so.

I spend an inordinant amount of time in bed.  And usually, I don't even know I've lain down, until after I wake

It's incredibly frustrating, and I don't know what to do about it.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Meteor Shit

I'm a writer. I also like to draw pictures and play games, but the thing that makes me get up in the morning is the need to tell stories. Goddammit if I don't love telling stories.

Here's one now:

I had no notion of Stephen King as an honest-to-god real life human being until I saw the movie Creepshow on HBO. Jeez, I'm guessing this was around 1984 or '85.

I'd read a few King books.  The Stand, Carrie - I'd seen a few movies.  Even at around 12 years old, I was a huge fan of the man's work.

Then this bumbling, backwater idiot comes on-screen and finds a meteor rock in his back yard. I nearly shit myself when I found out it was the man who'd written all those stories I'd loved - who'd scared the shit out of me with vampires and psychic weird girls and all sorts of things that go bump in the night, even when you know they're not there.

It was amazing to me (I still hadn't quite gotten a handle on the whole notion of "acting") that this moron - this country bumpkin could do so many amazing things with his typewriter.

That was probably the first time it occurred to me that I might want to be a writer.  It was only a passing fantasy - at that point I was still hell bent on being Luke Skywalker when I grew up, or maybe a Motorcycle Stuntrider; but it would come around again and again, usually carried to my doorstep by Mr. King.

When I accidently bought On Writing because it was a new Stephen King Book. After I finally finished It. The first time I read the Gunslinger. Firestarter made me want to tell stories almost as much as it made me long for psychic powers - and a Shop against whom I could wield them with impunity.

There were others, of course, Tolkien, Piers Anthony, Michael Crichton, Douglas Adams, Kurt Vonnegut...

All great writers -great tellers of tales- and all had a hand in forming within me the desire to write; but it was Stephen King who really inspired me and handed me the tools with which to chase that dream.  Because it was King who filled my head with monsters and aliens - King who wound up an imagination already set on fire by the likes of Star Wars, Indianna Jones, Dungeons & Dragons and Elf Quest - and convinced me that paper burns better than anything else when it comes to campfire stories.

That last bit is a little muddled.  I got lost along the way.  Stephen King made me believe in books.  Made me believe it enough that I wanted to write my own.

Only time will tell if I'm any good at that; but I'm enjoying the doing of it almost as much as the finished work, so fuck it.  I'm not gonna stop.  And I have Stephen King to thank for that.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

No time to talk, busy

Making my own webcomic... no time to talk about someone else's.  Um... Sinfest.  That's fucking brilliant.   Google it.  Read it.  Buy the Merch.

My focus has to shift a little bit here.  If I'm going to write a novel and create a weekly comic strip and write a cyberpunk noir serial for the internet, I need to draw in the attention to that here, instead of splintering myself into so many different areas each week.

I'm still working it out.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

TQOTU - The Kritillic Attack

This is the WIP 3rd or 5th page of the Teenage Queens of the Universe webcomic. There's a lot of negative space to be filled in and I need to finish my lines, but here's where I am now. I will finish and post the fully inked page tomorrow.

I'm going to post about a page a week here until I'm confident I will keep the schedule and then move everything over to its own comic-based hosting.

I have no confidence in my ability to tell a story in pictures well. At least, not well enough to carry a comic. My original intent today was to post a page and invite critique, but (while I would still welcome criticism) it occurs to me that I have spent the last forty years waiting until I could draw a perfect page, rather than just fucking getting on with the drawing.

If you're doing this, fucking quit it. I wonder how my art might have grown and matured if I'd just got on with the business of drawing, instead of bellyaching about the shit I didn't like.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Patchwork Quilts and Procrastination

I'm beginning to think that choosing to write a weekly serial here on my blog was a huge mistake. I'm already kind of disappointed about the number of unfinished drawings that appear here. I don't want to add more unfinished work to that collection, and while I have a (very) basic outline for where the Mirror Soul story is going - there's a lot about Decker and his world that I haven't sorted out yet.

One of the reasons I've laid out my blog like this, with all sorts of different products on all sorts of different days, is because of the way I work (when I work, but I'll get to that later).

My mind is always racing. When I'm not drunk, I see novel and short story ideas (or things to draw or stories to run in D&D or Star Wars or whatever game we're playing next) in the world around me. I guess I'm lucky that my brain seems to have come equipped with an automatic plot generator attachment; It's never been hard for me to come up with ideas. Only to follow through with them.

Of course, there's a down side. I get wildly passionate about every idea that springs into my mind; I really believe in every story that passes through me - finished or not. The "David Wright" section of the Great Library in the Dreaming is full of some of the best novels never written.

I end up abandoning one project for another. Drawing this, writing one story instead of the other (which I was half-way through), ooh! What if I ran a D&D game based around the Tarrasque? Shit like that.

Happens all the time.

For instance. When I sat down to write this, I got an amazing idea for a GURPS campaign, wherein the Players run a band of Samurai making their way through the old west in search of the [MacGuffin], encountering cowboys and indians and getting caught up in all manner of Wild West Shenanigans. I actually started working on a Samurai Template before I remembered what I was supposed to be doing.

Truth be known, even ths blog is a distraction from the novel I'm supposed to be working on (although, today I have the excuse of being at my Mother's house and not having internet access, so I can't reach Google Drive, where I keep my manuscript and notes).

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that I've been letting my imagination stop me from doing any real producing. I ought to keep a file on my computer (or phone, or Drive) that lets me record all these good ideas and then forget about them; instead of working a little bit on this and a little bit on that and doodling a little bit here and there.

My hope is that this blog will allow me an outlet for my desire to work in patches of this and that, so that I can focus on one big project at a time.  What worries me about the serial, Mirror Soul is that it really is a big project - even though I'm attacking it in pieces (posting 2-4,000 words a week). I find myself thinking and working on this "small project," rather than the novel (which is supposed to be finished in less than 20 days).

I don't think working in patchwork is necessarily a bad thing, so long as you keep your focus.  So I guess that's what I'm going to try and do.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

No Blog Today

On my way to the hospital.

Monday, April 1, 2013

I Hate Mondays...

But I spent Easter Sunday with the family, and that was nice.  I'm puzzled, thinking about the whole thing - because I don't quite understand why we (by which I mean my family) come together for that holiday.

Don't get me wrong, it was great.  Good food, having a bunch of us together, the whole nine yards - but we're not what you'd call a religious bunch.  I think we might've mentioned The Arch-Lich jesus once, you know - in jest; and no one I know or am related to ever talks about equinoxes or spring festivals.  It's weird.

I guess we get together because its an excuse to do so - and it's tradition, so you'd feel like an asshole if you backed out.  All the times throughout the year when we ought to spend time together and don't, and here are these few holidays when we "have to" so that we can.  I hope I'm conveying this right, because there's something beautiful in that.

I ate too much.  I ate too much and I went off keto - drinking beer and soda and eating candy and all the good shit that comes with Easter dinner.  I weigh 266 lbs.  Which means I gained a bit.

Also, my toothache and headache (both absent since I started keto) were back with a vengeance this morning.  Still not enough evidence that the diet was the key to that, but it sure sucked to qake up this morning with railroad spikes jammed into my skull.

I'm back on the diet and looking forward to the future, but if the headache goes away, you can be damn sure I won't be having another damn cheat day.

Damn my teeth hurt.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Excelsior!

On his very special Easter Sunday Idolatry, I thought I'd start with my favorite savior, Mr. Stan Lee.  For some reason, I can't get the image out of my head of eleven-or-twelve-year-old me sitting on the school bus looking at my Marvel Comics Activity Book.  There was a maze with a tagline that said something to the effect of "is it a bowl of spaghetti or Stan Lee's brain?"  It kind of looked like both.

I don't remember if it was a difficult maze.  I tried to find it; but all I came up with was Zombie Stan.  This isn't that picture; but I liked it.

I'm a Marvel Comics fan through and through.  Sure Batman is great, and Superman can be awesome when his story's told right, and Aquaman beats the pants off Namor in terms of potential; but Stan Lee created Spider-Man.  My all-time favorite super hero.  If that was all he'd ever done, it would have been enough.  But it wasn't enough for Stan "the Man."  He had a hand in creating the X-Men (arguably the greatest super-hero team in the history of comics - even though their movies are, so often, so lackluster), The Hulk (strongest hero in the Marvel Universe and - like Superman over at DC - Incredible when he's handled right), The Fantastic Four (sorry Stan, everyone's got to miss one), Thor (Vikings are just awesome), Iron Man and a plethora of others.

But Stan Lee writes comics, he makes movies, he's the Face of an Empire.  With things like Stan's Rants on YouTube, he ought to come off as this curmudgeonly old man, but he's just so lovable and fun.  I sometimes wonder how much of that is just because I've felt like I've known him for so long.  Stan Lee is like one of the family - an estranged Uncle you only get to see in old home movies and letters.   The one you want to be when you grow up.

When I'm not fantasizing that I'm going to be this great writer one day, I'm fantasizing that I'm going to create great comic books, and while Stephen King has probably influenced me more than any other creator, it's Stan Lee who I want to be in 30 or 40 years.

I'm starting late.  Best cut this shit out and get to work.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

B-Movie Comic

First, I promise, I'm not only linking to comics with a Star Wars Theme.  It just happened that way this time.

I discovered B-Movie Comic during one of the many days lost to TVTropes (don't go there unless you have time to kill... I did you enough of a favor by not linking to any specific trope - you have been warned and I wash my hands of the whole thing).

I was talking about B-Movie Comic.  It's not one that you can fully understand without starting at the beginning, but it's written well enough that the jokes come across if you haven't, and like almost all good webcomics, the art really has improved (despite not being all that bad in the beginning).

The artists comments below the strip really make for a fun dissection of b-movie art and sometimes comics, the internet, or life in general; and the comic itself is fun for anyone with an appreciation for bad movie-making. I've even gone to watch old movies lampooned in the strip, just because its mention piqued my interesr. Check it out.

If you want to start at the beginning of
Earth vs Uranus Act 3: Assault on Uranus,  that'd be where I started.  Or you can read The Revenge of Rutentuten, which I'm only about half-way through.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Mirror Soul 1 - The Woman is a Virus


I don't really understand people.  They're too messy, too unpredictable.  With people, you put in all the data - time, effort, direction - and you have no clue how they're going to react.


Take this jerk, ringing my door buzzer.  I tell everyone I know not to bother me when I'm in my workshop.  Don't bug me in my workshop, I tell them.  There's even a sign on the door.  It says "go away, we don't fucking want any."

Bzzt! Bzzt!

It seems like a simple command.  But with people, you lock yourself away with your work and some asshole won't -


"Stop ringing the fucking doorbell, and go away!"


My shop is dimly lit at the best of times, with the blinds shut and a handful of desk lights and magnifying lamps sticking out of the wall wherever I've set up a workbench.  A dozen unfinished projects line the shelves along with stacks of ideas in the making.  Right now I'm working on trying to recalibrate the IO connection on my highly illegal-


Son of a bitch.

Women are even worse than people.  At least with some guy, you can be reasonably sure he won't start crying at you or yelling about you all the ways you never listen.  One day everything's great - you're having a nice talk and then - BAM!

Out of nowhere, here come the wetworks, and a fourteen-thousand dollar peripheral flying at your head.

Standing up from my workbench, I realize I'm not ready for this.  I can't handle it.  I take a few paces around the room.  It's too cluttered; but there's no time to clean up.

Alright, Decker...  Stretch.  Breathe.

I open the door and there she is.  Marlene Bara.  Curly blonde hair and a tan wrapped in five feet of curves that just won't quit.  Even tired and disheveled in last night's work clothes, she looks amazing.

The tracks on her face and the cellphone clutched in her hand (it's only an iPhone - why wouldn't she at least... nevermind).  Things are probably bad.

"He's gone," she says.

"Who's gone?"  The concern in my voice is real, and that shakes me out of it.  I'm not getting sucked up in her bullshit again.  No.  "Wait.  Marli? What the shit are you doing here?  Go away, I'm working."

She pushes past me into the grey light of the shop, and for some reason, I don't stop her.  Things must be worse than I imagined.  She hates it in here.

"Christian," she says, hugging her cellphone in her arms wrapped tight around her waist.  He was supposed to pick me up from work last night, and he never showed up.  I took a taxi home and he wasn't there.  He isn't returning my texts or answering his phone."

"He's probably just sleeping off another bender."

"No, he's missing, I know it.  We have to go to the police."

Why am I getting dragged into this?  "That's a good idea," I tell her.  "Why don't you go to the police and let them deal with it.  Why are you even here?"

She's put that damn lost puppy face.  "I can't go alone," she whines. "You had that thing that one time.  You know how to talk to the police."

That thing.  She means that time her boyfriend and his minions broke in here and stole twelve thousand dollars worth of computer equipment.  The police couldn't make a case because half of what was stolen was my surveilance gear.

"He doesn't have minions," she says.

"Sure he does," I'm getting pissed.  "Four of 'em.  Rich, privileged frat-boy douchebags.  You know them.  You gave them their alibi.  I lost everything."

"I wasn't the only one," she says.  Those damn pouty lips pulling at something in me I've always tried to suppress.  "And they didn't take your stuff.  We were all at the Crash House playing beer pong - celebrating Brett's promotion.  Come on, that was forever ago," it's been three years,

"I really need your help!"

I try to make a stand, but she collapses into my arms, crying again.  She came here because she knows I can't say no to her.  It doesn't matter if she fucks me over a hundred times, I have to go with her.  She needs my help.

She needs me.

How can you possibly expect me to turn that down?

I hold her away from me a minute, then grab my jacket from its place in the "jacket area" on the floor.  At the bench, I close up the outer casing on my deck and slip it into my breast pocket.

"Is that the new Galaxy?"

I laugh despite myself.  "You know, there's more computing power in your average smartphone than what was taken into space on the early shuttle missions."  I hold up the deck - it's hard plastic, about the size of large phone, with no screen.  Black, and I laid in a bunch of copper circuitry designs on the cover to make it look as cool as it really is.

"This," I tell her.  "This little baby could tell you how to build a ship that would take you to Mars.  Then you could use it to fly the thing.  You'd be dead from radiation exposure before you got half-way, but it would get you there."

As I'm bragging, I see the look of disgust spring up on her face when I "jack in" - plugging two small wires into the port hidden behind my right ear.  I forgot that she was already gone when I installed that upgrade.

"what the fuck are you doing?"

I installed a few highly sensitive electrodes in my head that let me interface remotely with the deck.  The small wireless transmitter in the collar I wear around my neck, then transmits the signals from those electrodes and connects them with the glasses and the phone.

"You're not wearing those," she says, as I slip on the mirrored shades and smile at her.

"The hell I'm not.  These are my lifeline."  They've figured out a way to use contact lenses, but they only do basic LED displays so far.  Also, I don't have the equipment to make them receive the carrier signal.

She's still looking at me.  "What?  Okay,"  I hand her the glasses.  "Put them on."

Uncertain, she puts on the glasses.  It's alot like Google's design, built into a cool pair of mirrored aviators.  "Don't worry, I reassure her.  Just hang on.  It's not easy to do this without looking."

It's like trying to type an text message without knowing where the keyboard is.

I have to close my eyes and imagine the app screen she sees in the glasses. Imagine myself opening Facebook, typing in the letters "". I know her password and I picture it typing itself in the right spot, ********* appearing where Christian's pet name would be.

I know her Facebook feed pops up because she says, "hey!  Wait, what are you doing?"

"I've been a real shit to Decker, and I really should start treating him better," I think-type into her status update.

"How are you doing that?"

Her password sucks, and I tell her to get a better one; I post the update and, with a handswipe, I close down facebook to show her what my deck is really good at.

Since she's looking at me, I command the Deckersphere (shut up), to search my name.

"Anytime I meet someone," I tell her, "if they have any kind of internet presence, I'll know about it."  She's seeing a list of the sites I belong to, recent public posts to Tumblr and my Twitter feed.  If I'd been in the news lately it would bring that up.  Also my birthday, favorite foods, shit like that.  I could probably tell you exactly what it says, because I can't stop searching my own name when I'm bored - just to see if anyone's talking about me; but Marli's anxious to go.

"Okay," she says, removing the bulky frames, "that's kind of cool, but do they have to look so stupid?"

We leave the workshop together and climb into her car.  It's a dinky little hybrid, with onboard computers running all through it.

"Did you say you put wires in your brain?"

"That's putting it pretty simply, but yeah.  Basically."

"But why?"

"It was an experiment, really."  The tech is based on work done at Brown University, with quadriplegics.  I improved on the basic theory and designed my own rig to allow me to run my deck without taking it out of my pocket.

"You're fucking weird," she says.  We ride the rest of the way to the Police Station in silence.  I do a few quick searches for Christian online, but

there's nothing for the last 18 hours.  I spend the remainder of the drive hacking her car.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Happi Easter Bunni

I learned something about myself.  I am not a furry.  I've drawn sexy women, sexy dwarves (the fantasy variety - with a beard... so you have something to grab hold of, I'm not discounting the personhood of little people), sexy halflings and elves (lots of those), and even sexy furry super heroines like Tigra and Wolfsbane, but I have little to no interest or ability in drawing sexy animals.

This simple black and white drawing took me almost two days to finish. Trying to find a suggestive pose while keeping it "clean" then trying to figure out how to make her look like a rabbit.  This was a pain in my ass. And I had to finish, because so much that I've uploaded here hasn't been (hoping to finish the Aiori pic from last week in time to post Thursday - then I think I might deducate this to Teenage Queens for awhile).

The specific challenge given me here was, "a dirty bunny in a sexy pose... using carrots in a suggestive way."  This is what I came up with.  Happy Eostre.

I also learned that Cam Scanner, the document scanner I use on my Android, no longer supports jpg output.  It's a wonderful app for pdf files, but W.T.F.?  Had to snap this with my camera and use photoshop express to clean it up (sorta).

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Farging ice hole

I am really bad at this blogging thing. Case in point: I've been freaking out all day today trying to draw something, to post up here that doesn't suck and isn't half-finished.

Nevermind that Thursdays are when I'm trying to upload new art and today is Wednesday.  Yeah, I'm an ass.

Today I want to talk about drawing from what you know.  Whether your writing or drawing or making up some lame excuse on the fly, you're going to do your best work, working from experience.

That's what they tell me, anyway.

Mostly I'm talking about writing here, because I'm trying to sift through my process to clear the chaff and find some way to spur myself on to more productive things.  Part of what keeps me from doing the work is my lack of faith in my ability to do so.  So I'm trying to become a better writer by analyzing how I write.  I'm doing it here just in case it can help someone else.

For instance, I find it hard to "write what I know," unless I make the focus of my fiction the characters and not the story.  None of this stuff I write about ever happened to me.  It's not even stuff I'd want to happen to me.  Even so, when I try to focus on the characters, I often find myself in over my head.

Take this vampire story I'm writing.  The original idea was to write a vampire novel that would kill the vampire fiction genre.  Yes, I am often just that full of myself.  It won't be hard to see that original thread in the overarching plot of the finished book.

As the story progressed, however, it became less and less about killing vampires and more about addiction.  But what the fuck do I know about addiction?  I smoked cigarettes for a few years and quit.  I drank copious amounts of alcohol in the Navy (it's a requirement for advancement), and quit.  I'm not addicted to drugs or sex or anything, really.  I often wonder if I can't be a great writer because I'm content with a glass of Scotch in the evening, and I don't need to get shit-housed to put pen to paper.

Coca-cola. I'm addicted to sodas; but that's a helluva lame thing to base a novel on.

I keep writing anyway, however, because I believe in the story.  I know it can be good; and the farther into it I get, the more I realize that its all metaphor.  Its not about addiction at all. No more than it's about vampires or teenaged angst. I'm getting pretentious again, but now I understand my characters better.  I have some idea where they're all going and why.

I've been writing what I know without really knowing it.  Or - more likely - my experience has shaped the story and my perception of it.  Someone else might read a story about killing vampires, it might still be about addiction or depression or any of a number of different things.  I'm actually happy with that.

I guess what I'm saying is, don't worry about trying to only write what you know.  I write mostly fantasy and sci-fi; but I've never encountered a vampire, or a talking frog, or the ruins left behind by an extinct race of interstellar humans from before the dawn of history.

Write the story you'll want to read and let your natural inclinations guide you through to great storytelling.  Drawing from what you know doesn't mean writing only what's happened to you or around you - but it informs your work with the experiences you've shared in.

Adding in the "what you know" helps bring your characters to life and adds believability to your plot. At least I hope so. I guess we'll find out when the book's done.

Now if I could only work out how to do characterization and plot, I'd be on my way.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Oh, Regina

I fall in and out of love with Regina Spektor.  No.  That's not right.  I never fall out of love with her, I just get distracted and lose track of her for awhile.  Then I come back (I always come back), and remember how much I missed her while she was out of my life.  You'd think I'd be smart enough to put a few of her albums (or her entire discography) on my phone so I could take her with me wherever I go.

Right now, I'm playing Skyrim (right now, I'm actually blogging, but prior to this, I was playing Skyrim), with Regina singing "What we Saw from the Cheap Seats."  I ought to be writing, but I'm not.  I ought to be drawing, but there's this kid in Windhelm who needs help.  I guess he wants someone to kill the matron at Honorhall, but I'm hoping there's a peaceful solution to all this, that doesn't end up with the kid behind bars.

Also, I wish it was as easy to run around the block as it is to run to Windhelm (minus the murderous cold and the random dragon attacks).  I'm stuck at -14 pounds still, and I know I need to exercise - I often set time out in the day to do so - but I just as often find myself back in Tamriel or I just wake up a few hours later and realize I went to bed.

I'm not writing.  I knocked out the rewrite of my first book, but I cut so much out of it, I turned it from a 50,000+ word short novel into a 20,000 word novella.  I think I'll be going ahead with writing the rest of the stories I'd planned as sequels and see if trimming them down doesn't turn it all into one big novel.

Anyway...  I was talking about Regina Spektor.  I used to listen to Regina Spektor's live stuff (found online - mostly bootleg recordings of performances in New York) while I was riding my bike to or from work.  Sometimes I'd listen to Soviet Kitsch when I was exercising.  I normally listen to Jimi Hendrix or 80's Metallica or Tool when I'm writing, but for some reason, every refrain on What we Saw from the Cheap Seats keeps egging me on to get back to work.

It's like the lovely Ms. Spektor is sitting behind me in the easy chair that once belonged to my stepfather, quietly judging me and guilting me into getting off my ass and doing something.  Maybe I ought to get on it.

Monday, March 25, 2013

I Hate Mondays...

But I'm at Hurricane Patty's eating a nice dinner and listening to the Hackers tune up and get ready.

This pirate chick.  I've been here twice, but we always sat on her other side and I had no idea she wasn't a he.  I feel really dumb about that.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Aging into Infinity

Neil deGrasse Tyson
I fancy myself something of an armchair astrophysicist.   Like my footballer counterparts, I know nothing about what it takes to play the game, but I know a little about the rules, I dabbled a bit in high school, and I really like to watch the pros and imagine myself doing great things.  Plus, I like the pretty colors.

I've wanted to go into space ever since I found out I couldn't be Luke Skywalker.  Our closest equivalent to the Force is an easily debunked con game with a bunch of spiritual mumbo-jumbo tacked on, and I lack the dedication to achieve Jedi-levels in meditation and relaxation.

I've liked reading about space (and watching it on TV) ever since I gave up on the whole astronaut thing because I can't see shit without my glasses.

My space hero then, is Neil deGrasse Tyson.  Even though I couldn't spell his name. He's a modern day Carl Sagan or Bill Nye...

I guess Bill Nye is the modern day Bill Nye; but you get the point.  Mr. Tyson knows his shit.  He breaks it down simply enough that a layman like me can at least pretend to understand it, and he's passionate about what he does (at least, he comes off that way in interviews and debates).

Neil deGrasse Tyson is a hero of mine.  I don't wish I could be him, or have his job; but I'm immensely grateful he's out there.  I didn't even mind the while Pluto thing.

Aubrey de Grey
The guy whose job I would kinda like to have is a gerontologist.  I've given serious thought to going back to school to chase the dream of prolonging life and ending the threat of old age.

Like Tyson, de Grey is passionate about his field (even - or especially - in the face of his detractors).  I first heard of gerontology through Mr. de Grey's TED talk, and after a week's link-tripping around the net, I was fascinated - as much by the science of aging as by the possibilities.

Aubrey de Grey isn't even the man behind the biggest strides in anti-aging science; but his Rip Van Winkled beard has kinda become the spokeperson for the field (in my mind).  The voice of a generation that doesn't want to grow old and - for the first time in history - might attain that goal (or something very like it).

Given that becoming a gerontologist this late in the game would be a major life-altering change (and a little silly), Mr de Grey has become almost as big an influence on my life as Mrs. Brown, my softmore English teacher.  Even if I choose not to follow him into the field, I will always remain as fascinated about the study of the aging process and how to fight it, as I am about the stars in the sky and everything between them.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Darths and Droids

What the hell did happen to Threepio in this scene?

Episode 860: Fly by Wire

Anyway, Darths and Droids is my favorite webcomic right now.  Mostly because it combines my two favorite geek pastimes: star wars and roleplaying.  Also, it manages to be pretty clever most of the time.

If you haven't read it, here's the link to Episode One.  Start there.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Elves of Panton

Third Tel gripped the reigns of his mount. The loose scarves that marked him as an emissary of White Bone blew around him in the strong easterly wind.

“What's wrong with the horses,” the boy asked. He yanked hard on the reigns of his Moenian steed, larger than his companion's mount; though not as large as the brown behemoths of the Orucan. The beast whuffed and stomped its hooves on the dirt road beneath them.

His Pajens companion crossed himself with the local ward of evil and spit. “This is the Silva,” the round, little man said, reigning in his round, little horse. “There are elves in these woods.”

Everything that was jovial and pleasant in Third Tel went out of him. He wondered if he would ever feel safe again. Elves! Alchemer Darrow had said nothing about elves. “Futui,” he cursed. “You lie.” Even as he said the words, though, his eyes darted around and through the surrounding trees. The Pajens at least believed what he said was true.

“No,” the elder man, Kentir said, sneering. “They don't come to the road. Not when there's decent folk about; but they leave sign.” He pointed across Tel's still unruly mount at one of the low and twisted trees. Marks were carved into the bark – a chaotic, looping kind of scripted pictograph that Tel had no hope of reading.

“What does it say,” he asked.

Kentir shrugged and spurred his horse onward. “Who knows,” he said. “Probably just 'stay the fuut out.”

Tel laughed, despite himself. He didn't have to spur the Moenian on. It followed the smaller horse on its own.

“Have you ever seen one?”

“What, an elf?” Kentir snorted. “Likely the last thing you'll see, ser. 'Les your soul gets stuck and you get to watch him eat you.”

Tel went white. He'd heard rumors that elves ate the flesh of men; but...

Kentir watched him, then burst out laughing. “I am sorry. Sore sorry, indeed. Them elves eat flesh, sure; but mostly rodents and birds and the like.” He reached across and pat the messenger on his shoulder. “I've never heard tell of anyone eaten by elves.”

It was little comfort to Tel, who had heard of whole tribes slaughtered for trespassing into elvish lands. One life, the saying went, for every twig trampled under foot. It was all rumor and conjecture, of course. No human, whether from White Bone or the Pajens or any of the lesser kingdoms had ever seen an elf and lived.

And ahead, the path curved and exited the woods, into the Ractus plains. Tel let himself breath a sigh of relief. Then a terrible thought occurred to him.

“There's another route back, yes?” He looked behind them in time to see the luminescent eyes of the Rashaim bearing silently down upon them. “I wouldn't-”

His sentence was cut off by a terrified sort of howling whimper that escaped unbidden from his throat. He was not a practised rider; he fell from his horse.

Kentir hadn't even noticed. He heard the vibratto cry of the foul beast and shouted, “ride,” whipping his horse to a gallop. Even if he had noticed Tel's horse unburdened beside him, he wouldn't be coming back without a contingent of rangers from Ager. This was the end. Tel's life was over.

The Rashaim towered over him as it approached. Rows of violet eyes traced from its tentacled head, up it's neck and over it's muscular shoulders, bordered on either side in thick, brown fur. Within those bizarre tentacles, Tel could hear the clicking of razor-sharp teeth. Something in that noise cast a spell over the young messenger.

“Alright, you hairy cania,” he growled, drawing his suddenly very small and light dagger. “Come get me!” He dropped low into the fire stance – the last resort of a cornered rat, his master had said. Aanai masters do not teach the fire stance, because the Aanai believe that you accept death with grace and a peaceful heart.

This was not the Moenian way. The White Bone did not rise from the sands of Solitu by rolling over and accepting defeat.

The rashaim paced around Tel, black claws raking the ground. It moved with feline grace, despite it's mammoth size – easily dwarfing the boy's runaway steed. Tel steeled himself for death, locking eyes with the wild monster. Dying with a weapon in your hand was the best way to die in Moenia, even if all he managed was a scratch in the thick hide of -

Casiu's Heart! Slime dripped from its open maw, coating the writhing tentacles. In response, tears stained Tel's cheeks.

“Come at me,” he shouted. Dropping lower into the water stance. Fuut this stupid beast. He gritted his teeth. It's going to try to bite, get those slimy things around his head or neck. Flow like the river. Drop prone, everything breathes. Be like the beasts. Go for the throat. He actually growled.

There was no other sound in the Silva, but the Easterly in the leaves. Tel felt cold, calm. He was young, but he'd led a good life. Now he would die a warrior. No one got to die that way anymore. Not really. Not in the city. This was a good death. He breathed a soft chuckle which triggered the Rashaim's charge.

He knew before he even began to move that it wasn't going to work. Somehow, the monster anticipated his plan; was catching him low as he fell to the ground. His dagger was going right into the rashaim's tooth-filled hole.

And then it rocked hard to the right, stumbled past him and fell to the ground.

Three tiny people-things in green and brown stood on the road, clutching the vines they'd used to throw themselves against the beast. Their strange, curved blades stuck out of a trio of eyes high on the rashaim's back. Violet puss and blood mixed together and ran into it's thick fur.
Wide eyed, Tel snapped back to the -

Oh gods.

They were inhuman. Or perhaps too human. Miniature, no taller than a man's leg (if even that), thin but strong, with chorded muscle and wild energy; but the horrible part was the mouth, that feral smile. Jagged canine teeth under keen hunter's eyes. Their oversized ears twitched and turned on their own, aimed at him and at the beast – which was stirring again behind him.

Isilwanendasonke,” one of the elves said in a growling tone. Oh gods. They talk. What did it say?

The trio of mythical beasts were circling around him, each clutching a second of those sinister, curved blades – no more than a knife, really; but menacing swords in their tiny predator's hands. For one terrifying moment, Tel was sure the Pajens hadn't been telling the truth about the elven diet; but then he heard the snarling of the rashaim and realized he was standing in between two of the most feared predators in Panton.

He didn't know what to do; but the elf had spoken to him. It wasn't much, but he clutched his knife and turned to join their advance.

The elves of Panton (the name given to the World by men), called T'sharg in their own tongue, fell to earth with the Necron and in their falling cities.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Athlandis (Pencils)

Teenage Queens of the Universe.
The planetary capitol of Aio - abandoned now for uncounted millennia.  Not even the Grelaus archeologists who brought the Human Remnant to Aio know how the architecture has remained so well preserved through eons of neglect.
Pencils only.  This was going to be a little picture, just for posting here, and I kinda' went nuts with it.  I'm not even sure what it looks like on your end (I used my phone's scanner app; and I've never done that with pencils).

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

On Writing

Not so much a workshop post, as a "why I keep trying."

I had a teacher once, who told me I would make a great storyteller. She was talking about stage presence and my reading voice, hearkening back to days of yore when people would get dressed up and go and see someone read a story (like we used to do when we were little kids at the library).

My ego was too big to imagine making a career out of reading to kids in the library (I personally think younger me was an idiot, and that, that would be a fine occupation); but it was a seed planted in the soft peat of my brain.

I went to my old High School in Georgia once, to wax nostalgic about my youth and visit a few Teachers i wanted to thank for a job well done. One of those teachers, I can't for the life of me remember her name - Mrs. Brown (thanks, Brian), had kept a short story I'd written and read it to her classes as an example of what she was looking for.

I would have swelled to bursting with the pride of it, if I hadn't immediately realized how many people were being subjected to something I'd written. It was about bunnies and a skull, inspired by a piece of carved ivory my step-father had owned. I don't recall anything else about it.

It was scary as shit to me that people knew - or at least had heard a story I'd made up - for whatever reason. Plus, somebody thought it was good. Mrs. Brown, had liked it well enough that she not only gave it a good grade, but she kept it and shared it. Holy shit if that wasn't a little water on the seed.

My senior year in High School, I was writing this sci-fi story inspired by the letters and notes of Bram Stoker. It detailed the correspondence between a Marine discovering the existence of extraterrestrials, and our government's complicity in their subjugation of our world.

My dad told me one day, "I have a confession to make: I saw the letters and thought they were love letters back to Georgia, but I was curious so I read them. I was a little weirded out at first, but you have the makings of a really good story there."

Now, obviously, praise from a parent can be a little suspect but the way he went about it made me take him at his word. A little more water, a little more fertilizer.

Then I discovered (or rediscovered) the wonderment that is game night.
Dungeons and Dragons, Vampire the Masquerade, Star Wars, GURPs - a half-dozen different venues with which to express my desire to tell stories (and the germination of quite a few novels floating around in piles and piles of notes and ideas).

When I left the military I had this vague notion about tending bar and writing the great American novel. Over the years I've toyed and played with the idea - written the first few chapters to a couple dozen different stories, dabbled in fan-fiction (I'm sorry, I'm so sorry), short stories and comic book and film scripts. I've been tending this garden now for a long while with no real fruit.

(You can download a copy of my short story, Chaucer at Amazon; if you can't find it anywhere else free).

It wasn't until a gamer friend of mine challenged me about what I was going to do with my life that I started thinking about writing seriously. He asked me if there wasn't some way I could turn my passion for gaming toward more lucrative ends.

I admit I am still paralyzed by that ever present enemy of the writer of fiction, doubt - but my friend was right. Of all the things I've wanted to do with my life, writing is the one thing that has consistent brought me pleasure and fulfillment. It's the primary lynchpin in gaming that holds me so tightly in its grip.

There's almost nothing I like better, creatively, than telling a story well (drawing often comes in at a close second).

It's kind of the reason I'm here. Let's hope I'm good at it.

Anyway... the thing is... what I really mean is that my reason for writing is because I feel like I have to. I have this need in me, built up over twenty years or so, to tell stories as best I can, anyway I can. It's fun, it's fulfilling, and it helps keep me in the illusion that something I do might last - or at least bring good to people around me.


"Bread - Guitar Man (1972)"
I can't eat any bread (I'm down 17 pounds), but I've been listening to the top 500 albums of all time to see what I've missed or forgotten about.  I don't think Bread is on that list, but a YouTube click-a-thon led me to them.  They're one of those bands I always liked but never heard of.  Guitar man, All outta love, make it with you, if...
Added to my music folder.

I was listening to this song when I realized I'd crossed the 20,000 word mark on my novel's rewrite (just before I realized I'd only written one part of the story in rough and I have a lot of work ahead of me).

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Shame of Publication - Part One: The Monkey.

I actually downloaded a copy of the "final version" of Chaucer, and read through it - paranoid that all my editing and reworking of certain passages had still left a half-complete mess of a fan-fic-style slobber on the face of digital publishing.

Ugh.  If this is the kind of shit I'm gonna put out, maybe it'd be better if I didn't make it as an author.  I knew the second that I'd hit the "Publish" button that I hated the ending.  I wished like hell that Chaucer... that the apes at EPRF were..  well, I didn't like the ending is all.

I'm not gonna change it.  I'm gonna go back and edit it (again - sigh... lesson learned; third party editing) but I'm done changing the story.

Now I just need to get outta work while I'm jazzed to write something, and maybe that book can be done before I turn 900.


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