A place wherein this Dwarven Cleric can share his love of maps, dice, miniatures, and all things involving gaming and general geekery--not to mention the occasional witty non-gaming observations--whilst escaping from the humdrum existence of his routine Terran existence.

Hail and Well Met, fellow traveler! May my Stronghold provide a place for enlightenment and amusement, and somewhere to keep your dice dry. Enter and rest awhile.

26 February 2015

[The Stronghold 'Zine] The International Stronghold

We're closing in on the end of the first week of sales of The Stronghold, Issue #1. Sales have been great! In fact, I've had a difficult time keeping up with the orders at times. Y'know, I've said it before, but I'm humbled that so many of you want to see what I've produced. Work has already started on Issue #2; I'm really excited about some of the content I've already put together.

There are still some copies left from the first print run. Get 'em while they're hot...and while they're still around. You can click on the link below and go straight to PayPal for your own copy.

**Thanks to some astute and concerned readers, I've added a link to a preview of the contents here.**


Plus, I was a little curious looking at my customer list; I wanted to see for myself just how widespread Issue #1's readership is so far. Then I thought I'd share it with all of you, just in case any of you are the curious type.

20 February 2015

[The Stronghold 'Zine] Day One is In The Books--Sales Report

Well, my friends, "Day One" is done and, I must say, I'm both amazed and humbled. Amazed at the feeling of watching my product go out into the world and humbled that so many of you thought enough to grab a copy of The Stronghold 'Zine, Issue #1, on Day One. I have to give a shout-out to those who forwarded the news of the release out into the world; specifically +Tim Shorts and +Jim Magnusson for their efforts to get the word out.

All told, fourteen of you pulled the trigger on Issue #1 yesterday, from all across the US, to Canada, and the UK and Australia as well. Those of you in the US, your copies are in the mail. International customers? Well, yours will be in the mail this afternoon, once I clear up a couple things around the office.

A reminder: this IS a "print only" run. The good news is that I still have some copies left after yesterday's madness.

(I say "madness" only because every time I looked at the computer it seems there was yet another sale notification. And there's another one now.)

Grab 'em while they're hot, my friends. Purchase info is below.

**You can see a preview of the contents here or click on the link below to go ahead and buy.**


19 February 2015

[The Stronghold 'Zine] Get the Cigars, Boys! The Stork's Arrived!

What you see is the cover image for Issue #1 of The Stronghold. That's right, boys and girls, we have a new baby. And I'm a proud, proud papa. Like I've said before, I think there's some good, fun, and useful stuff between these pages.

Plus, I'm humbled to have been graced with a magnificent cover image by none other than the great Jay Penn and two wonderful illustrations within by the extremely talented (and quick-penned) Jim Magnusson.

The first copies have already hit the US Mail system, hot off the press. I can't wait to see what y'all think. The link to buy your own copy is below; sorry, for the time being, it's a "Print Only" 'zine, in the old-school-style tradition. Also, unfortunately rates to places outside the US are a bit higher, due to postage costs. Hopefully that won't dissuade you from picking up a copy. Or two.

**You can see a preview of the contents here or click on the link below to go ahead and buy.**

When you do pick up a copy, please drop me a line, especially if you use anything from Issue #1 in your game.


17 February 2015

[The Stronghold 'Zine] Issue One: To The Proofreaders!

Well, that's it. Issue #1 has been sent to my proofreaders. I just have to finalize the cover a bit and once I get any typos and problems red-penciled and fixed, we should be ready to let this baby out into the world.

Hope you're excited. I know I am. I think it's some good work.

Sorry for the short entry; as I write this, it's late and I've got an early morning tomorrow. However, I've got to finish up my report from this year's LTUE symposium and a couple other things are percolating...so there should be some more entries coming this week.

13 February 2015

Life, the Universe...You Know the Rest....

I'm here attending the 2015 edition of the Utah-based writing conference "Life, The Universe, and Everything." It's been a good experience, as it is every year. This year, there've been some special highlights, though. They've even had a couple of panel discussions that are RPG-related, although there were some more technically-oriented discussions at the same time that took precedence. Everything I've heard, though, has been applicable to all forms of writing, whether it be sci-fi, fantasy, romance, general fiction, or RPG writing. If you're ever in the area around Valentine's Day, I'd recommend it, and do so highly.

Plus, if you let me know, I'd love to sit down and have a bite to eat with you too.

Honestly? As fun as my experiences have been at the Salt Lake Comic-Cons and the local FantasyCon, I'd take LTUE any day. Honestly. Granted, it's a different type of event, with a different focus, but the inspiration and education I get here every year is amazing.

Some of the highlights:
  • Michaelbrent Collings espousing "Because the dog!" as a motive for villainy. (Let me 'splain: the hero is standing with his friend with the villain of the piece walks up, punches the hero's friend in the face, and yells, "Because the dog!" before fleeing. (In response to the hero's friend harming/killing the villain's pet.)
  • perhaps the greatest summary of the War in Heaven and the casting out of Heaven of Lucifer and his angels. Not everyone in the room appreciated it due to a severe case of "stick-up-the-rear-itis"...but then, those who have ears to hear....
  • Listening to a PhD in economics discuss the economics of Super-Villainy, including various types of "rewards" and the motivations behind collecting said awards.
  • Hearing Howard Tayler, Michaelbrent Collings, and L.E. Modessit debate Sanderson's First Law.
    Some additional highlights of this discussion: the idea that magic systems should be AWESOME/interesting/wonderful. (They don't need to be AWESOME, says Modessit, because subtle is sometimes more effective. It was then clarified that AWESOME in this context meant interesting, or even more exact: interesting. Also: that it should always exact something from the user/caster.
  • A frank presentation by Sandra Tayler, Howard's wife, on how to "Break through Blockages," whether that be your Inner Critic, your Voice of Perfection, your kids/work/church/social obligations, or your fear of failure. She also discussed how to experiment with your writing process, to learn what worked best for you. Most importantly, perhaps, was her observation that you need to learn who, in your life, feeds the "voices" and who in your life is your ally against the "voices." Oh yeah, also that most "time complaints" are simply masks for a deeper blockate: in 10 years, what memory is going to satisfy you more--playing "Plants vs. Zombies"? or writing something/being creative?

    But the greatest highlights so far? In ascending order:
  • The official debut of the horror anthology Old Scratch and Owl Hoots containing my real-life alter-ego's first official published work. If you haven't had a chance to pick up a copy, Umm.... Why not? I'm serious.... My contributions aside, there are some chilling works here, including some of the best in Utah horror. I'm honored to have been included in the volume.
  • My first request to sign a book. To young Melissa, wherever you are, thank you for that experience. I hope you enjoy the stories.
  • Having an established author-friend, one whom I respect greatly, ask me for my autograph in his copy, followed by the assertion that mine "was the only signature he wanted to deface his copy." He then told me that the book would be going into his library, in the corner reserved for authors he knew...and that I'd be right there beside Brandon Sanderson, Larry Correia, and a host of other men whose written work I admire.
  • Being able to spend this time with my family, all of whom are aspiring writers and artists in their own right.
The only real downside so far? My friend, Dr. Michael Collings, who is a FIXTURE at LTUE (he's only missed a couple of sessions in the 30+ year history of the conference) apparently failed to even get a formal invitation from this year's organizers. Not only is he a fixture here, he is a true scholar of speculative fiction and a great writer in his own right. (If you don't believe me, or haven't heard of him, click the link there on his name and take a gander.) Plus, it's one of the only times each year I get to sit with him and chat. It's been a real loss. SHAME ON YOU, LTUE. Granted, the loss was mitigated by being able to talk with his wife, the lovely and gracious Judi Collings, and of course his son, Michaelbrent.

Anyway, the conference runs through Saturday, February 14th. Once that's over, I can get back to layout work on Issue #1 of The Stronghold.

I promise.

09 February 2015

[The Stronghold 'Zine] Issue One: Layout Complete!

I was hit with some food allergies today. Something I ate last night was...contaminated with something I shouldn't eat. By noon today, I was filling up with gas like a hot air balloon. Then the queasiness, the dizziness, and the diarrhea started. And kept going. And kept going.

If someone holds a copyright to this image, please let me know.

So I was up late tonight, or rather, early this morning. In between trips to the Porcelain Throne Room, I decided to start setting up the layout for Issue #1 of The Stronghold. I've got more than enough material; I needed to see what, if anything, I needed to weed out and keep for next issues. I'm not shooting for the War and Peace of OSR 'Zines, after all.

Then I had to try and figure out how to make the actual copies come out. I recently purchased a new home printer; it's a small one, just meant for odd jobs and what-not. Certainly not as fancy as the family printer. But, it's the one that was sitting on my desk and plugged into my computer. That meant I'd see what I could make it do and if it worked the way I wanted.

So far, I think, so good. I've got one more test to run with the printer, because I really don't want to have to use a photocopier to double-side the pages. I'd rather do the rotate and reverse print with the printer and save a generation of deterioration on the copier. As far as I'm concerned, the old adage holds true, even with fancy digital copiers and printers: the more times something is copied, the more degradation occurs.

So...my late night/early morning bore good fruit, I think. I just need to get my artists to e-mail me the art files and I should be set. Google+ hasn't been cooperating with my download attempts with the artwork, so I have to resort to the "old fashioned" e-mail method.

I'm really excited about this first issue. I think it has some good material in it; while some of the stats are 3.x related, I think they're easily converted to other editions. Happily for my OSR friends, there's a substantial amount of setting-free materials. And the contributed artwork is killer. Absolutely magnificent--both the cover and the interior art; I almost feel embarrassed to think I used some clip-art and a hand-drawn map. My stuff certainly doesn't hold up to the contributed artwork. But I'm still excited for you all to see it.

More to come.

03 February 2015

[From the Mailbag] Mythoard January 2015

So.... Bad day yesterday, all day. As you may know if you read yesterday's post, it was a bad day made much better by the arrival of the Storyteller's Thesaurus.

Then I get home, and by 11 p.m. Google+ feed has blown up with people raving about the receipt of their January Mythoard package.

Wait a second, I think. I'm a subscriber...where's MY package?!? So I turn to my son (who was the first one home yesterday) and I ask, calmly: "BOY!" (for often I call him "Boy") "Boy!" I say, "Was there any kind of a package in today's mail for me?"

"Oh, yeah. There was one."

(silence for a moment or two)

"Um...son.... Where is it?"

"Oh, I left it on the table by the front door."


(second facepalm as my boy has not yet moved to retrieve said package)

"Um.... Could I have it please?!?"

For those of you who may still not know about Mythoard, Mythoard is the first Tabletop RPG Subscription box! From the website: "From modules, minis and maps to rules supplements, accessories and dice, you'll be sure to find some great RPG treasure in every single box! Sign up today for your own hoard!"
Quest for the Mythoard, No.1  Randy Musseau 2015
And oh, baby...did it make my day even brighter. I didn't have my camera with me, so I don't have pics, but let's look at a quick roster of what was inside:

  • First was a pair of polyhedral dice in orange and black vortex: a d4 and a d8--these match the orange and black d6 from last month's Mythoard offering. Sweet, especially considering my motto. [Aside: for any new readers, I am firmly convinced that there is no such thing as "too many dice" because, well.... Hey! Dice! Ahem. Period. Your argument is invalid. End aside.] . Courtesy of Chessex Games.
  • A button featuring Thopas, the gnome. Courtesy of Lesser Gnome.
  • An unpainted metal miniature version of Thopas. Also courtesy of Lesser Gnome.
  • Two Mythoard two-pocket folders with front cover art by Randy Musseau (see above), back cover art/maps/text by Monkeyblood Design and Chubby Monster Games. I found it kind of humorous that the map was for "Tenkar's Tomb." I can only imagine this refers to the infamous Tenkar, and that he went out in a spectacular fashion.
  • Inside one of the folders were two cardstock sheets: one a preview of Old West firearm rules for the DCC game: Black Powder, Black Magic and the other a copy of "The Brimstone Epitaph," an Old West newspaper. Both courtesy of Stormlord Publishing.
  • Next out was an encounter card deck of 54 system-neutral "monster inspiration" cards rather than stat cards. Clever idea; they'll be useful for at-table random encounter generation. My deck was the Fey, Constructs, and Wildlife deck. I understand that there were two other decks and inclusion in each package was random. The artwork is fantastic; I'm definitely going to try and pick up more of these. Courtesy of Inkwell Ideas. A pair of solid-cover card sleeves were included as well, for use with these encounter cards.
  • Last out was a Pits & Peril supplement, "The Powers That Be." There's always room for another couple deities in a pantheon. I need to devote a bit more time to this one, but there's likely something good there for mining, at the least.
So. All in all, Groundhog Day came up good for me. I feel content today, and can't wait until the next Mythoard. The first two have been really great, full of good stuff. Well worth the price, in my opinion. As of this writing, there's 180 spots left of 250 for the February package...swing over and sign yourself up!

02 February 2015

[From the Mailbag] Kickstarter FULFILLED! Storyteller's Anthology

Today is one of those sadly all-too rare of days: the day when a Kickstarter promise is FULFILLED.

There have been many unfulfilled Kickstarters that have made me wary and choosy about the projects to which I pledge. Several of those actually have my money. Sigh.

But this one.... This one made it to the finish line, and then some.

The Storyteller's Thesaurus is one that I've been eagerly awaiting ever since the initial announcement and KS launch. Chalk that up to my being an (1) English Major, (2) Word Geek, (3) aspiring writer, (4) recreational Dungeon Master, (5) Bibliophile/bibliophage, (6) Dictionary collector.

The tome was supposed to be released in October 2014. To be fair, the PDF was released on-time and I've used it numerous times. However, I note the time-delay issue only for the record. Not only were the publishers more than candid and forthcoming with their frequent updates, I'm more than pleased with the final result; the additional time was certainly worth the wait, considering the product they put out. Here's what I saw when I opened the box:

Imagine my surprise...when I pledged, I pledged for the leather cover AND a softcover. After all, I need one for the home and one for the office, right? Well, somewhere in the intervening months I apparently missed a vote to make the softcover a hardcover. That made me smile in and of itself. Then to see that they added a dust cover for the leather version as well (seen at the upper left, removed)? Magnificent. Of course, the leather cover is itself magnificent; the cloth-bound hardcover is nothing to complain about either. The content? 550 pages of synonyms, from medieval/fantasy weapons to modern military vehicles and firearms. Transportation of all kinds. Animals, real and imagined. Plants, symbols, and descriptive terms usable in ANY genre of storytelling. And it comes with a truly MASSIVE index, helping you find your way through the pages and words.

Truthfully, I'm not sure that I could have (reasonably) asked for anything more. After all, the gilded pages, silken page finders, and the hand-illuminated pages were kinda pipe dreams anyhow. [Tongue currently planted firmly in-cheek.]

Also included were physical copies of a novel by the great James M. Ward, entitled The King's Commission and The Storyteller's Anthology. There's nothing wrong with a little extra reading material, right?

All in all, a nice surprise on an otherwise grey, depressing day. What made it better? It came to the office, rather than my home address...so I could enjoy it earlier!
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