AcadeCon, Scornful Stars

Thanks for stopping by! I’ve been busy writing and bus-driving and doing an odd bit of game design here and there. Oh, and I saw my daughter Hannah off to her first year at Central Washington University last month, and my daughter Alex off to a new apartment in north Seattle earlier this month, so I’ve been a busy guy lately. With the nest emptied and the chaos of the beginning of the school year now behind me, it’s finally full-speed ahead again for the creative projects.


Are you a gamer in the Ohio area? You should check out AcadeCon! The convention takes place in Dayton from November 8th to November 10th, and I’m one of the guests of the show. There are still a few seats available for one or two of my events, including “It Was a Dark and Stormy Brew” – walking tour of a few of Dayton’s breweries, coupled with conversation and story-telling on my 25 years+ in the game biz. If you want to discover some good beers and talk games with me, Dayton is the place and November 9th is the time!

Writing Updates

First off, Scornful Stars is only five weeks away! The third book in my Sikander North series, Scornful Stars presents our hero with a sector rife in corruption and piracy—and Great Power designs to buy the allegiance of its powerful governor. Sikander is now in command for the first time, but while he continues his career in the Aquilan Navy the Kashmiri independence movement is growing stronger. Hard choices are looming for Sikander and his family. In my previous two books in this series, I drew quite heavily on our own history to create the crises of the distant future. Scornful Stars departs from that theme a little bit in that the historical inspiration is not quite so clear-cut; mix up the Great Game of the Northwest Frontier, Malay pirates, and Ali Pasha of Egypt and put ‘em in space a thousand years from now, and you’ll have an inkling of where Scornful Stars is going.

Next, I’m pleased to say that the folks at Ulisses have accepted my first TORG novel (working title Maelstrom Bridge). I finished up my first draft over the summer, and I have to say that I had a lot of fun playing around in the TORG universe. Most of the action in my book takes place in Aysle; my protagonist is an American gamer who’s enjoying a week of “D&D in a real castle” when the reality invasion hits. I also spend a little time in the Cyberpapacy and Tharkhold. I made a special effort to keep the book readable and engaging even for people who aren’t familiar with the TORG universe, so if you’ve never played the game or read any of the other fiction, Maelstrom Bridge ought to be a pretty good introduction to the world. I’m not sure when exactly Ulisses plans to publish the book, but I’ll make sure to shout out when I learn more.

I’m also still shopping my mystery project of last winter, and I’ve just finished a four-chapter sample of a different story that could be something pretty cool. (That was what I focused on over the last 6-7 weeks when I wasn’t moving furniture or driving a bus.) So we’ll see if I get some bites on the big alt-history story or the new science-horror project!

Game of the Week: Gloomhaven

My fellow Sasquatch Steve Schubert hosts a Gloomhaven game at his house on nights when we can’t get the D&D group together. I played the cragheart for a *long* time since I couldn’t accomplish my main quest (where are the damned forest imps when you need to kill ’em?), but a couple of sessions ago I finally retired my cragheart and started a summoner. Boy, the summoner is weird. You don’t actually seem to kill a lot of stuff; your summoned critters don’t hit hard and they’re actually pretty frail. But what you do get with your summonings is a wall of meat. My conjured critters soak up a lot of attacks that otherwise would be chewing up party members. Once I resigned myself to the idea of playing the summoner as a *defender*, not an *attacker*, I liked it a little better.

Now the question is avoiding exhaustion. Summon cards are all lost when the the monster is done, so if you summon a lot of stuff fast, you can run out of cards very easily. The lava golem helps quite a lot, though: Use that card to get four lost cards back instead of summoning a spiffy lava monster, and you’ve got a chance to last out the scenario.

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