And now for something completely Millenniumistic...
Many thanks to Mark Hayden for putting all this together and to Sarah-Jane for all her hard work, for Lucy Butler, and for the coolest Christmas since the original Optimus Prime.
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Saturday, October 30, 2010, 11:15 PM
A quick post tonight as I have many preparations still to make, not to mention washing up all the pumpkin blood after stuffing flaming candles in their hollowed out skulls. I have bowls of worms freezing to keep the swamp juice nice and cold for later. My windows are full of zombies as shall my television be most of the day, all leading up to the much anticipated premiere of THE WALKING DEAD.
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Friday, October 29, 2010, 8:35 PM
Many moons ago, in the early days of the Forgotten Realms ongoing author interviews on the WotC Novel Group, there was once a call for monsters...new monsters, beasts no one had ever seen before, existing only in the minds of your favorite writers. Well if this weekend, this Halloween weekend, isn't the right time for a monster then I don't know what is. I had fun with this little project, first visiting one of my favorite places in D&D, then tackling the monster type that I first wrote about in the Realms.
So, without further ado, I give you the Dragon of the Far Realm...
And here's the full sketch that I did.
And here is the far superior drawing that my good friend Jeff Welborn put together based on the idea.
Also, upon examining the idea further, I have to conclude that this would be a species born in the Far Realm, but that eventually escaped, maintaining the general shape of a dragon if having nothing biologically in common with other dragons. I would imagine that any creature brought into the Far Realm for breeding that did not escape would become, in time, an unrecognizable nightmare so far removed from its origins as to be an entirely different creature. In other words, being an unrecognizable nightmare, far more fun to write about in my horrific opinion.
So, enjoy! Give it stats, sic it on your favorite characters, or take the basic idea and run with it, this holiday can always use another monster. Tomorrow I'll post some more Halloween fun.
P.S.: For more of Jeff Welborn's awesome art, please visit: jeffwelborn.blogspot.com/
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Thursday, August 19, 2010, 1:18 AM
“The appeal of the spectrally macabre is generally narrow because it demands from the reader a certain degree of imagination and a capacity for detachment from every-day life.”
--H.P. Lovecraft "Supernatural Horror in Literature"
Have had little to blog about recently, busy dealing with house-work, battling swarms of evil insects, digging deep into my horrific little heart to write and write and write some more. Still working on the first draft, staying ahead of schedule so far, and pouring everything into it. Most importantly, working at my own pace. I haven’t done a painting in a long time, but I can’t help writing in a style similar to how I paint. Seemingly finished details would disappear as the composition of other parts of the work started to take over, so I had to go back, illuminate or change to make things match, to keep the overall picture in balance.
I tend to do the same when writing, going back to make new details consistent with previous chapters, altering relationships when necessary, and building on the creepy every chance I get. It takes a bit longer, but it’s just how my mind works, a long, slow and evolving OCD project. 8)
Speaking of creepy, plenty of research, inspiration, and fun recently and forthcoming for we horror fans. I’m currently reading Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s THE FALL, the second book in their Strain Trilogy (I got an advanced copy at work). So far it is great, perfect. I know a lot of people enjoyed THE PASSAGE, but Del Toro’s trilogy has all the ‘fun’ stuff that THE PASSAGE used a hundred years to skip over. Plus the vampires are just cooler IMHO. Also looking forward to the AMC series based on the comic-book THE WALKING DEAD, debuting in October.
Until then I’m already starting my steady stream of horror movies, books, and music to carry me through to Halloween. I hope to knock out a huge chunk of writing during my favorite season and if all goes as planned I’ll start second draft edits in late winter, maybe have something ready to start shopping around near the end of spring.
Also working on some Lovecraft inspired scripts, a few short-stories, and starting a brand new D&D campaign on the 21st, w00t! Much as I loved the epic ending to our last campaign—a final battle that will live on in tales and song for as long as the Late Knights (our unofficial group name) gather—I look forward to meeting the new first level characters, the return of some old friends to the table, breaking out a new DM screen, and grinning maliciously every time I roll a nat 20, mwahaha...actually, according to my players I tend to wince before smiling, they hate that, heh.
What about the other DMs out there, have any particular ‘tell’ when you roll a twenty (or any nasty result) on a player?
As news breaks I’ll stop by and fix it (and I’ll certainly be around more for Halloween posts), until then…
…Happy Birthday H.P. Lovecraft (August 20, 1890- March 15, 1937), a little early I know, but that’s how I roll.
“Searchers after horror haunt strange, far places.”
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Sunday, June 27, 2010, 11:54 PM
Categories: Dungeons & Dragons
Fair warning, this is a campaign related post. I know some DM’s can wax nostalgic for hours on end, but I’ll try to keep it short. It’s all about the end of our three year long campaign, running the “Savage Tide” Adventure Path printed in the final issues of Dungeon Magazine, one of the best campaigns I’ve ever read and ran. If you’re a D&D player, you’ll understand. It’s moments like these that make the game worth playing. If you’ve never played an RPG, I can’t recommend it enough…
The Savage Tide has rolled back, leaving our heroes and the world safe for the moment, but safety doesn’t last long and villains do not take kindly to being defeated…
Until then, have an ale, pull up a chair, and be glad that all is well that’s ended well…surprisingly well actually, with our heroes alive, which is the least likely of states I expected them to end up in with a game that was destined to end in a confrontation with the Prince of Demons himself, Demogorgon.
The campaign ran for almost three years, but victory, unbeknownst to our heroes, fell into their laps over a year ago, a dozen or so games back when they found, in a seemingly random pile of treasure, a Ring of Three Wishes.
The heroes had just gotten their butts handed to them in a hard-fought battle against, what else, demons. And, unlike many parties I’ve known, they held on to the ring, fearful of wasting it. “Someday, this will come in handy,” they said, and they set it aside.
Fast forward to the Abyss, a battle on several fronts, an unlikely alliance between infamous demon lords to take down Demogorgon, infiltrate his temple at Wat Dagon, and end his scheme to unleash a savage tide of insanity upon an unsuspecting world. The heroes are caught up in some bloody politics and end up on Abyssal battlefields, making their slow way through demonic beachheads, corpse-strewn battlefields, enemy camps, and cities infested with hundreds of thousands of demons.
In short, a nice little hike with the occasional near-death experience.
So, they reach Wat Dagon, they go more than a dozen rounds with Demogorgon’s champions and reach the chamber of the master pearl (the object destined to begin the savage tide). The fiendish oyster it is in shuts tight until its master arrives, the Prince himself, not happy that his precious pearl is being disturbed. Within one round, the party learns two things:
1—If they try to kill Demogorgon, they will die, no two ways about it. Their resources were depleted by the journey and the war, the Prince of Demons would follow through on every threat he’d leveled at them since he became aware of their existence.
2—They remind themselves that their goal was to stop the tide, not kill Demogorgon. This (and fear of bloody, disemboweling death) turned their strategy around…and then somebody recalled that Ring of Three Wishes they’d been carrying around for a very long time…
To better understand the rest of this pretty cool campaign ender I must explain one of my house rules. I hate multiple resurrections, it takes the fear of death away from a character so long as someone lives and has enough gold to pay a priest for the spell. So, I allow each character to be raised twice only (by any of the appropriate spells), third time is the charm and that PC will take the long dirt nap…that is, until a character hits 21st level, becoming an Epic Hero. After that, I consider a character to be somewhat favored by fate. At that level of a hero's path resurrections (and deaths) are fairly common, the stories becoming more mythical than the scope of most adventures.
So, back to the battle. First round, first wish: Get that pearl in a nice Bag of Holding immediately before Demogorgon can touch it. He is decidedly angry and deals out some serious hurt after summoning a balor buddy to share the slaughtering fun.
Second round, second wish: Gee, I wish I knew how to destroy that pearl. Granted, find a pool of immaculate purity and submerge it in the water. This one was tough, they had one wish left and no idea where exactly to take the pearl, Demogorgon was just getting warmed up and the primary fighters were just starting to plan how they wanted to die. The wish was their only chance of escaping Wat Dagon, anything less and they'd be wasting a spell. Luckily, an eladrin ally that slipped into the battle just happened to know where to find one of those rare pools of purity…
Third round, third wish: Escape to the Court of Stars. Unfortunately, the way initiative stacked up (and due to the nature of Wat Dagon itself), the pearl carrier and the eladrin would have to go through the gate quick, leaving their three companions behind to fight Demogorgon. A last minute save and a heroic sacrifice.
Fourth round, no wishes, only luck…and what luck it was: I had told the characters that XP would not be an issue for this last game of the campaign. If they survived and completed their mission they would automatically become 21st level, this game would be their stepping stone into the realm of Epic Heroism. So, on one plane, the master pearl is being destroyed, while in the Abyss three people are being ripped to shreds as Demogorgon throws one hell of a fit over the loss of his pearl. All three die, all three are on their third (gruesome) death, no coming back…
…however, the pearl was destroyed. Their mission was completed. And they all realize about the same time what just happened. A few powerful eladrin favors later and the heroes are standing in the Court of Stars, alive and now 21st level, totally unable to believe how things worked out. The timing, my god…it was like they had planned it from the beginning. What started out as a group of players gathering for a final send off for these characters, preparing themselves for a good fight and a glorious death, ended with big smiles and heads shaking in disbelief.
I haven’t been this happy about the end of a campaign in a long time, hence the long post.
Now I will file the story away, consider some epic-level game threads, and prepare for the creation of new characters, a new campaign, and a couple of new players. I love this game.
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Saturday, May 29, 2010, 1:03 AM
Okay, another long, busy, occasionally torturous month…another blog-post.
A few cool new things, first up: E-books!
There are now versions of Circle of Skulls and Restless Shore available in both kindle and e-pub formats for those e-reader things, various cell-phone devices, and the good old-fashioned computer. Restless Shore is available now and Circle of Skulls is on the way in June. Infect your electronics with a little dark fantasy. J
Circle of Skulls tinyurl.com/2djdrpl
Restless Shore tinyurl.com/2fvv7hh
For nook (e-pub)
Circle of Skulls tinyurl.com/2chz46t
Restless Shore tinyurl.com/266t87u
Or if you’re looking for an entire set of Waterdeep e-book goodness… tinyurl.com/2byxsht
Next up, free samples! Well, aside from the obvious free sample of Ed Greenwood’s Elminster Must Die! lying in wait at the end of Circle of Skulls, there is a sample of Circle of Skulls lying in wait on the Wizards of the Coast website. If you haven’t picked up the book yet and want to get a taste, here ya’ go: tinyurl.com/2akct4b
I had also planned on making a new book trailer (with real special effects this time!), but with the death of my old computer also came the loss of the Windows XP Movie Maker program I was using and though I love Windows 7, this new Movie program just doesn’t measure up, not even close. All the same, many thanks to the Powers-That-Be at WotC for the legal assistance and Nox Arcana for the permission to use their awesome music.
In response to a question on my previous post, I am not currently working on a Forgotten Realms novel, which, after the last three years, is an odd feeling since the last three books have been written right on the heels of one another. On one I was actually finishing up second draft edits as the contract for the next book was arriving in the mail, lol. Though I am completely open and totally ready for another dive into the Realms, a nice little breather this time is not unappreciated. The horror novel I’m currently writing is moving along at a steady and self-appointed speed, giving me plenty of time for consideration of each chapter before steamrolling into the next. My monsters, based on some obscure bits of Greek mythology, are constantly evolving in my imagination, so it’s good to have a loose personal deadline.
Speaking of, ‘tis quite late now and I am well into my normal writing hours. Time to fire up some music and make some more headway down a dark southern highway…
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Monday, May 10, 2010, 2:38 AM
So, jumping into a story, dissecting notes, rearranging outlines, developing characters with more personal problems and quirks than a...uh...than a metaphor delivered in a deep southern accent could possibly convey (and I couldn't think of one at the moment). Delving into the horror, the batteries wanted a boost (and I wanted a vacation), so I went to the nearest source: Texas Frightmare Weekend. Much fun was had...
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Friday, April 30, 2010, 1:31 AM
…and of wizards, mysterious pasts, justice, the dead, dragons, and skulls and angels and devils and, well, you get the picture. There’s a lot, it’s a city and there’s a lot of stories. I’ve always loved Waterdeep, either as a jumping off point for a game or as a setting for a complete campaign. And much as I loved all that was familiar in the city, what I loved even more was carving out little spaces for myself, a tavern here, a secret dungeon entrance there, tracking down the dark, shadowed spots where I could open up new stories…Never did I think, nearly twenty years since I started playing D&D, that I would have a chance to make some of my little ideas a real part of Waterdeep and have them published alongside several other wonderful stories about Waterdeep.
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Wednesday, April 7, 2010, 2:52 AM
Been almost a month since my last post, an eventful month and not always good events. Car trouble, major computer trouble, minor sickness, household appliances refusing to obey my commands...you know, the usual junk.
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