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Some quick updates.

We got a cat. Her name is Hermione, and she’s incredibly smart and sweet. However, it’s very true when they say that having a cat is one of the worst things a writer can ever do, re: distractions. I’m learning this all over again.

I got through season two of Daredevil and loved it. Was it perfect? No. Case in point: Asian and Asian American representation. Jon Bernthal kills it as the Punisher/Frank Castle (and I don’t watch The Walking Dead, so I really had no prior experience with his work as an actor). Foggy remains my absolute favorite character on the show. I also finally got to see the first season of Agent Carter, which is a delight. Peggy kicks ass across the 1940s, breaking limbs and stereotypes all the way.

I’ve been working on a D&D campaign for next month’s local game convention. It’s eating a lot of my creative energies, making it tricky for me to focus too much on anything else. I’ve also been reading a LOOOOOT. I knocked out V.E. Schwab’s A Gathering of Shadows a few weeks ago, and I’m in the middle of Sam Sykes’ The City Stained Red, which may be one of the best fantasy books I’ve ever read. I swear it’s like he sat in on some of my college D&D sessions and captured characterization from them. I love it. On a more realistic side, I also just finished reading Tess Sharpe’s Far From You. Holy god damn, this one was intense. Illicit love, murder, drugs, and a quest for the truth keep you turning pages non-stop. It’s not something I expected to pick up, but there was a great discussion of it during a Twitter chat about queer YA titles, and it hooked me.

It’s tempting to use some of what I’ve been reading for the D&D campaign. The magic system from Schwab’s work, for example, is one of the most clever presentations of elemental manipulation I’ve seen since Avatar: The Last Airbender. It would be fun to introduce some plot elements from books and then encourage the kids to go check those books out from my library, and would definitely boost the outreach factor. “Hey kids, if you liked my campaign, try these books!” We’ve already seen a boost in checkouts of our 5th edition manuals. Imagine what that could do for our fantasy literature circulation…

The 3D printer at work is awesome. I’m looking into utilizing it for some cosplay props, and I’m really exicted about the prospect of hosting a cosplay-themed program in our Makerspace soon.

Fireside opens for submissions this Friday. I’m going to be writing. More soon!

 

My friends and I are nearing the end of our latest Dungeons and Dragons campaign, and so we’re turning our thoughts to the future of our gaming sessions. Since it’s been a while since the last time I ran a game, I decided that I would take it upon myself to serve as the Dungeon Master for our follow-up game (we take turns so that nobody gets completely burned out by running a campaign every week).

Now I’ve been a fan of pirates for a long time.

In case you hadn't guessed...

In case you hadn’t guessed…

And the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and the One Piece manga and anime have served to inspire further ideas. So when it came time to come up with something new for our D&D group, there was really only one logical decision. Pirate campaign it is!

We tried to do one of these before, and it was fun, but the group got too big and unstable. This is going to be an invitation-only thing, because with what I have planned, there’s going to be enough going on with all of the NPCs I’ll be running. Right now, it’s in the development and research phase. I’ve attempted to learn from the mistakes of our last attempt, and so I’m putting as much forethought into it as I can.

Influences: As I’ve mentioned, the two big influences are going to be the Pirates of the Caribbean series and One Piece, with maybe a scattering of Terry and the Pirates and Treasure Island (and as much real history as can possibly be crammed down my players’ throats).

Setting: The primary setting is going to be Faerûn, though I’m open to expanding out from there (namely because I love Warforged, so there will be at least some connection to Eberron), probably via Planescape (because I’ve already toyed with the idea of setting at least one session in the city of Sigil). Most of the shipboard action will take place on the Trackless Sea, and it gives me a lot of room to add some details of my own.

Rules: We’ll be running a hybrid rules system, utilizing our favorite aspects from Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 and 3.5 rules and Paizo’s Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. We’re accustomed to a certain level of character power, so I’m having everyone roll a gestalt character as per Unearthed Arcana.

Additional House Rules: All characters get max HP at each level. Spellcasters DC’s for spells are determined by their remaining highest spell slot/prepared spell (this way a 20th level wizard’s fireball spell is far harder to dodge than an 8th level wizard’s). We tend to waive racial requirements for prestige classes as well.

So yeah. I’m going to be spending a lot of free time building NPC pirates and related characters for a while. Goal is to go some time in January. In the meantime, I’m open to any suggestions.

I’ve accomplished a goal that I’ve had for six years. I finally acquired print copies of the Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 core rule books.

Yes, it’s kind of a big deal. There’s something awesome about having the actual books and not having to rely on PDF versions, especially when outlets for laptops are limited in our gaming spaces. Granted, I don’t have as much use for them right now as I would have a few years ago (mostly due to playing a lot of Pathfinder of late). However, I plan (and oddly enough, even hope) to be a parent someday. So when the girlfriend and I finally do have a kid, they’ll eventually be old enough to pick dad’s Player’s Handbook off the shelf. On that day, family game night gets a lot more interesting.

“Honey, get the dice and the video camera. We’ve been waiting for this moment.”

“Remember, offspring, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So is antimagic, disintegrate, scorching ray…”

“Two rules. Keep the cleric alive, and never split the party.”

It’s D&D character backstory time again, folks, which means that I’m too busy/lazy to actually type up something completely new/original for your reading pleasure today (read: Skyward Sword is eating my life now that NaNo is over).

This one is for my soulknife, Alexi.

Forty years ago, there was a small group of adventurers who roamed the world of Taesos, combing dungeons and caverns and castles in far countries to gain the knowledge of ancient civilizations. A man named Dorn was one of their number, and upon his return to his home city of Arnes he married and founded a small private university in the large manor that he built with funds dicovered in his travels. It was here that he began to pore over the information that he and his friends had found. Dorn began to study alongside his students and found that with the right training, anyone could accomplish astounding deeds. His school quickly became known as a prestigious adventuring academy.

Not long after, Dorn and his wife welcomed the birth of twin sons, Jack and Alexi. In an unpleasant turn of events of which not even Dorn knows the truth, Dorn’s wife fled Arnes with Dorn’s best friend, Georg, and with Alexi, the elder twin. Dorn was left to raise Jack alone.

Alexi’s childhood was far from dull, however. Living with a wizard honed his mind. He had not the sheer varied talent of his twin, but his mind was unique in that it allowed him to shape weapons out of pure mental energy. This was the latent power that Georg, in reality a powerful illusionist, had sensed within Alexi, leading to the kidnapping.

When he reached the age of eighteen, he set forth with Georg to do battle with his long-lost brother, Jack. After searching for many months, Jack had finally stumbled upon his brother’s trail, deep in the mountains on Nyord’Wrend. Georg and Alexi slaughtered all of Jack’s companions and, in what may have been a brief moment of compassion for his brother, Alexi utilized one of Georg’s own inventions to teleport Jack out of Georg’s hands and back to Nirruna, wiping his memories of Alexi’s hiding place in the process.

Alexi remains a loyal servant to the illusions of Georg, fighting alongside others who have submitted to the will of the wizard. He now journeys across the world looking for potential new allies, making a bold statement of power with each manifestation of his mind blade. Perhaps someday he will encounter his brother, Jack, again, and be able to regain his lost years with his true family.

This just in, folks. My NaNoWriMo word count is up over 5,000.  This means that I’m on track with the goal for the first three days of November, and one tenth of the way through my requisite length. Wow. I just realized that means I only have to write nine more full chapters at this rate. I need to introduce some other characters, or make this book a lot longer than the NaNoWriMo goal… Hmmm…

Oh well. Either way, I’m making good progress, and I’ve already developed a bonus character! I’m actually quite pleased with the way things are going. I’ll keep you all up to date, fear not. In the meantime, work and the job hunt are keeping me just as busy as ever. I’m really looking forward to my next few days off. I’d like to be able to get a little ahead of the word count thing, so that I can slow down on a couple of days, if necessary. Like, you know, that holiday that’s coming up, what’s it called? Thanksgiving! Right, that’s the one.

I’ve got a decent strategy going right now. I’m carrying one of my little Moleskine notebooks, like I’ve been doing for the last year or so, and I’m doing my writing in that during the day. It’s a really convenient way to take notes and build on some things that I’ve had running around in my head since I first came up with the idea for the book back in January. I get stuff on paper, and if I feel pretty good about it, at the end of the day I type it up. I’ve still been using Word for this, despite getting in on the Scrivener beta. I think I’ll probably stick to Word for now, at least until I can get a full version of Scrivener, with a few less bugs. It’s a great program, and I’ll most likely actually even buy the software when it comes out. If you haven’t played around with it yet, I highly recommend it. The built-in tutorial is great. It’s thorough and includes as much dry humor as you’d expect from a British development team.

I’m still cranking my way through A Storm of Swords. Martin’s world maintains its grasp on me, and for good reason. Each chapter, for those of you who haven’t read any of A Song of Ice and Fire, is told from the perspective of a single character. This means that you only see little pieces of the overall action at any given time, but it compels you to keep reading so that you can get to that character’s next part. Of course, in between you have five or six other characters, all of whom are just as powerfully written. It’s genius, and I can’t wait to finish this book so that I can dive into A Feast for Crows.

Anyway, it’s early, but I’ve got an eight hour shift at work that starts in 45 minutes, and roughly 30 of that time is commute. Work work work, right? Well, I’ll be playing D&D for a few hours after that, and I have Saturday off. Best of luck to all you fellow NaNoWriMo participants out there. As the great Canadian sage, Red Green, always says, “Remember, I’m pulling for ya.”

That shouldn’t be a question, when the submission being pondered is a short story for a sci-fi magazine. I’ve been debating what to do with my writing of late, and it seems to me that the most productive thing to do would be to get my name out there. How can this be done? Other than my latest social media addiction, and the upcoming event of the year, I decided that I need to get published.

I’ve already been published, sort of. My senior year at school, I wrote a piece (due to deviantart policies, this one’s tagged with a mature language filter, so non-da members may not be able to see it) in a winterim class that ended up being used in a local publication, Active for Justice. It was just a little mini-newspaper kind of thing, and it included several pieces by my classmates as well. All the same, I’d gotten my name out to more people who hadn’t seen/heard it before. It was a start. I crave more than this.

The question before me now is this: Do I write something completely from scratch, or do I see how they feel about one of my existing (and as cliché-free as possible) microfiction pieces? It’s still open for debate, but I’d definitely love to get something done in advance of the dawn of NaNoWriMo. I am, by the way, registered for this. Be prepared to keep me on my toes when I’ve got my #writing thing going. 😀

Meanwhile, I’m still on the hunt for an actual writing job. Hahahaha. It’s a good thing I’ve still got my sense of humor. I’m trying to get in touch with some local publishers, but I’m not so good at the cold-calling thing. Hell, it took me all day today to gear up to call the Toyota dealer and order parts for my car. I’ll have her back to normal within a week. Stupid parts that there are only one or two of remaining in the country.

Not Pictured: The then-nonexistent drunken handiwork of the idiot who crashed into my parked car.

I’m reading The Shallows, by Nicholas Carr. Normally, I’m not one for non-fiction, but occasionally, something will catch my eye. In this case, the book is part of the All Pikes Peak Reads list for this year. Seeing as I’d already read The Hunger Games, I thought I should attempt to tackle another one of the books on the list. I saw a copy available yesterday, so here I am. It’s intriguing, honestly. The internet has become such a critical part of most of our lives that we can’t go more than a day or two without it. It’s integrated itself into the infrastructure of our country. Information is constantly available to us, and it’s kind of overwhelming. I grew up in a town where we had to use physical card catalogs for a good portion of my early education. I fell deeply in love with physical media, something that remains unchanged. I want to be a librarian, after all. Still, we also had a computer in our preschool. We had at least one in every classroom, K-12. What started as an option for playing games at recess when it would rain quickly became an all-purpose utility. Now I find it hard to go anywhere without taking my laptop, just in case. Carr is attempting to get his readers to realize that, for all its benefits, the internet may be making us stupid. We skim everything, and as Randall Munroe was quick to point out, we fall into the habit of believing anything we read. I’d highly recommend the book to anyone who feels that maybe, just maybe, they’ve come a little disconnected, despite always being jacked in.

And one for the nerds: D&D is going well. My necromancer is off to a great start. She’s already planning which big undead things she wants for minions in the near future. Most notably right now, is this guy.

"Hey guys! I found a puppy!"

That’s a charnel hound. It’s quite possibly my favorite D&D monster ever. It’s a dog. Made from corpses. That occasionally still move/yell for help. Yeah. And then there’s the fact that any time it kills something, it takes that body into itself, and heals damage by doing so. I love this game. I also found this today. I may have to share this list with anyone who has ever considered DMing/GMing a session of any tabletop role playing game. It could save some friendships.

Do you think I vary too much from topic to topic in each post? I dunno. Maybe, but if one 1,000 word post gets out there with everything I need to say, then it means that you’re saved from five separate 200 word posts. You should rejoice. You probably won’t, but you could at least consider it. My point being, that I had some other stuff I thought about saying here right now, but you’re getting off the hook at 800+ words.

Jetsam:

Commissioned for duty on a ship in a Gnomish navy, Jetsam was designed for ship to ship battle and boarding parties. He quickly rose through the ranks of the other Warforged sailors and soldiers in a desire to prove his existence as worthwhile to his creators. His great dexterity, Mithral plating, and skill with a spiked chain made him feared by any foe who saw his vessel approaching. Within the first year of his “birth” in the foundries, Jetsam found himself promoted to the rank of first mate on board the flagship of his fleet.

Among the Warforged that comprised his fleet, Jetsam was fairly unique in his fondness for humanoid flair and style. He would frequently go to sea in a tricorne hat, long crimson coat, and oilskin boots. Jetsam enjoyed the expression on his opponent’s face when they realized for the first time that they were not in the presence of a human sailor. When the war ended, Jetsam learned that the world had little room for a living construct built for sea battles. Without a navy to serve in, Jetsam found himself metaphorically adrift.

After several months of wandering, providing odd services as a bodyguard or bouncer or enforcer or explorer, Jetsam encountered a band of pirates who were thrilled at the prospect of having a new hand that never needed food or sleep. Jetsam found new purpose in life, hunting around the world for treasure. Tragically, Jetsam’s captain and crew were lost following a great sea-battle. The lone survivor, Jetsam found himself adrift on an island far from his homeland, in a strange realm where none seemed to have heard his name or seen his fearsome sigil flying above the waves. Eventually, without an artificer for support and repair, Jetsam wandered into a cavern filled with towers of chests filled with gold and jewels. Stunned by this vast trove, Jetsam set himself as a watchman, in the hopes that someday another member of his loyal crew might stumble across his location. Perhaps he is there still…Rumors fly of a mysterious humanoid shape carrying an everburning torch staggering out of the ocean on moonless nights and slowly making its way back to the caves in the cliffs, though none have yet been bold enough to venture out to investigate it.