Friday, February 11, 2011

Blog #1: Who am I?

And so I enter the world of blogging! If I've learned one thing from reading countless blogs, its that short and sweet can count for a lot (but rambling incoherence makes for a sort of passing-by-the-train-wreck kind of entertaining experience, too). Pictures count. And links. These are fun. Vast blocks of text suck...sometimes. I will try not to transgress too badly, but will also try to make up for it with interesting stuff and cool links. Promise!

Really quickly: I'm a gamer, whose primary muse is paper and pencil gaming, though I indulge excessively in computer games as well. In the Real World I am an accountant by trade (if not choice) although my educational background is in archaeology and my general interests lie in all things science.

I have an unhealthy addiction to Fallout and all things ruinous and post-apocalyptic. Which is why I found this link at The Guardian depicting the wrack and ruin of old and abandoned buildings in Detroit, Michigan to be fascinating. Thanks to Trollsmyth for finding it!

When I'm not playing Fallout 3 or New vegas I do partake in MMOs. I am on break from WoW right now (I am a casual player, although my wife is a diehard) but I am a committed player to DDO (Dungeons & Dragons Online) and most recently have jumped in to the Champions Free for All. A year ago I was firmly entrenched on the opposition's side to Free-to-Play MMO models with microtransactions; after DDO and now Champions I am a huge advocate of the model; I really enjoy the buy-in play anytime component; if you anticipate playing such a game for a lengthy period, the odds are it will be just as affordable to take the money that would have gone in to subscribing and buy the features instead; you pretty much get to play the game until the servers shut down, and I like that approach much more than renting it, basically.

Anyway, I engage in a little bit of self publishing here and there. You can find my POD page at lulu on  Xibalba, and I offer a range of PDF books over at (hopefully I can get set up soon for their new POD program, as well). Prior to self-publishing I have done other work in the gaming industry, including some modules for the sadly OOP Conan RPG at Mongoose Publishing as well as prior ventures including Fast Forward Entertainment when it published magazines in the early days of the D20 explosion. I published The Sorcerer's Scrolls for approximately 7 years and 41 issues back in the 80's and briefly revived it; I have since handed it off  to Jeremiah Griffin who is now managing it here. One thing I learned about the traditional magazine format and PDF publishing today is that it's not a good mix; I hope Jeremiah can take it to new heights in print, however!

On paper and pencil gaming these days I am obsessed with Swords & Wizardry, the youngest champion of the Old School Revolution. I also greatly enjoy Pathfinder, the alternate reality sequel to Dungeons & Dragons 3.5, as well as various and sundry other role playing games including Atomic Highway, Mutants and Masterminds, Traveller, Runequest II, GURPS and more. In my 30 years of gaming I've played hundreds of games; I am not a man content with just one system!

I do, however, love settings. Specifically, I love the settings I create. The title of this blog is for my labor of love, The Realms of Chirak, which currently has a print edition for use with 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons (and a Pathfinder edition in the works). It is a pulp-fantasy realm involving themes of fantasy post-apocalypse, the death of the gods, the rise of young cultures from the ashes of the old, and all that stuff. There are a number of campaigns being run for it out there, and I love hearing about them. I've been working on a sequel that will focus heavily on some of my favorite cultures and clashes within the setting.

Cover art by the talented Simon Tranter!

My other setting that's in print is The Keepers of Lingusia, which was the original setting in which I started my gaming hobby. The original KOL started as a continuation of my first D&D adventures, strung together to make a sort of coherent whole over time. By the late 80's I made efforts to unify everything in to something that made sense. When I was in college studying anthropology I did a massive rewrite of the entire setting to add in somewhat more authentic history and cultural identity to it all. Years later I assembled all this stuff I had written and managed to extract a decent book out of it, aimed at the Castles & Crusades system. In the last year I have been doing a new revision, a modernized reimagining of the original setting that winds the timeline all the way back to "day one," so to speak. That project got complicated as I also worked out the distant future for the setting, and found a rather strange way to tie the ancient world of Lingusia in with the future world of Lingusia. Right now I'm running two campaigns in the setting using Pathfinder, each set 1,500 years apart in game time. The plan is to release a series of system-neutral sourcebooks, each supported by a system-specific document, one aimed at Swords & Wizardry and the other at Pathfinder. We'll see how it goes. The original will still stand on its own as a sort of "alternate timeline" edition.

I have other campaign worlds that never see print, or which languish in various stages of completion. Some have been devised for stories and novellas I am working on, but some are just exercises in world-building, a past time I do way too much of. Maybe I'll reveal more about these settings in the blog: Agraphar, Astrathon, Isomular, Aichwod, Dark Stars.....lots of stuff floating around on my hard drive that needs some sort of web presence, I guess....!

Okay, I have officially rambled extensively enough for Blog #1. More later!

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