Interview at Escapist Magazine

January 16th, 2015interviews, operation: awesome, rpg

So this was unexpected.

theescapist

Late in December, Adam Gauntlett—one of the folks behind the tabletop section of wildly popular gaming/geek site The Escapist—contacted me to see if I was interested in doing an interview about Little Fears. Of course, I jumped on it. I’m very happy to say that the interview is now up and I don’t sound nearly as dumb as I usually do.

Check it out here!

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New Stuff I’ve Done: SoB

August 25th, 2014news, rpg

I realize it’s been a while since I updated the sidebar on stuff I’ve done recently so I thought I’d do that and spotlight a couple things in a post as well. If you’ve paid any attention to the 2014 Plan on the left (and I know you all check it daily), you’ll see some of this reflected there. I’m breaking this into two posts with this second one focused on Streets of Bedlam releases.

Streets of Bedlam

I’ve released a pair of new supplements for my Savage Worlds setting Streets of Bedlam recently but figured I’d spotlight all four that have never made it over to this page. First things first.

SoB Stories #1

SoB Stories are standalone episodes that were funded by the very successful Kickstarter I ran back in 2012. Five total planned with the first one below and the second one due out this week.

StreetsOfBedlam_SoBStories1_FSZ220_dtr_COVER

“Y’know, I didn’t really understand what folks meant when they said no good deed goes unpunished, until I heard the story of Dory Brooker. You familiar? Aw shit then, pull up a chair. C’mon, buy me a round and I’ll fill your ears with one helluva tale.”

One year ago, a well-meaning citizen talked a mild-mannered accountant out of throwing herself off the roof of her apartment building. When that same citizen goes missing, the accountant looks for help in finding the man—not knowing just how many people want her savior to disappear for good.

A Bunch of SOBs

When I have a cool acronym, I like to milk it. The Streets of Bedlam setting makes use of character templates called Archetypes. The book contains a lot but I wanted to give as many options as I could so I decided to release more. The first two were part of that Kickstarter campaign and the third came along later. I have a fourth in the planning stages that I’d like to see out soon.

BunchofSOBs_TroubleRedacted_Cover-198x300 ABunchofSOBs_IngenueSawbones_Cover-198x300 StreetsOfBedlam_BunchofSOBs3_FSZ212_dtr_COVER-198x300

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New Stuff I’ve Done: LFNE

August 25th, 2014news, rpg

I realize it’s been a while since I updated the sidebar on stuff I’ve done recently so I thought I’d do that and spotlight a couple things in a post as well. If you’ve paid any attention to the 2014 Plan on the left (and I know you all check it daily), you’ll see some of this reflected there. I’m breaking this into two posts with this first one focused on Little Fears Nightmare Edition releases.

Little Fears Nightmare Edition

I’ve released a trio of new supplements for Little Fears Nightmare Edition with one full-sized supplement and two mini ones.

Book 3: Blessed are the Children

LFNEBook3Cover

Not every child is the same.

They are different than other kids.
Some would say strange.
Some might say cursed.

But they are called the blessed.

Blessed are the Children focuses on the realm of spirits and ghosts within the world of Little Fears Nightmare Edition. From the kids whose souls are different than others to the monsters who pursue them, Blessed are the Children introduces six new character options including Gifted, Soulless, and Changeling, numerous creatures from Closetland, rules for possession, a new take on the Spirit Drain ability, a full standalone episode called “My Soul to Keep”, and more.

Goodie Bags

First off, I wrote up a couple “Goodie Bags” supplements for my Little Fears Nightmare Edition line. Where “Campfire Tales” are standalone episodes for game moderators to use with their group, “Goodie Bags” are small expansions that introduce new characters, enemies, or (later) areas of the real world as well as Closetland. The first two in the line are below.

goodiebags1

They are the Butterfly Knights.

Goodie Bags #1: “The Butterfly Knights” is a bite-sized supplement for Little Fears Nightmare Edition that adds details to the sworn protectors of the mysterious winged creatures that appear in Closetland and have the power to heal–or to empower the very monsters the Knights must battle. Goodie Bags #1 talks about the Knights as an organization, details the three top members of the Knights, including full GMC and PC write-ups, and contains a half-dozen adventure hooks you can use to tell your very own tales about the Butterfly Knights.

goodiebags2

Baba Yaga’s Children are hungry. For you.

Goodie Bags #2: “Baba Yaga’s Children” is a bite-sized supplement for Little Fears Nightmare Edition all about the cannibalistic creations of the witch-crone Baba Yaga. Cast from their mother’s hut, these creepers roam Closetland and the real world looking for food. The more human, the better. Goodie Bags #2 talks about how these monsters come to be, how they hunt, who hunts them, and includes three new GMC characters, full write-ups for these creatures at all three monster levels, and a half-dozen adventure hooks you can use to tell your very own tales about Baba Yaga’s Children.

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Out Now: MIGHTY MIRROR MASTERS

May 2nd, 2014news, rpg

Some time ago, the wonderful Cynthia Miller asked if I’d be interested in writing a series book for the third edition of Cartoon Action Hour. Her company, Spectrum Games, focuses on genre emulation games, such as the wicked Slasher Flick and the pulp-horror game Macabre Tales, and this latest edition continued and refined CAH’s focus on the classic cartoons of the 80s.

I pitched a series inspired by one of my favorites and the result was the Mighty Mirror Masters. Here’s the ad copy:

In this Cartoon Action Hour: Season 3 series book by Jason L Blair, a mystical gemstone is discovered that can peer into the souls of those who view it and divine their true nature, bringing it to life in physical form. Those with kind souls were blessed with Divine Light, becoming paragons of good, able to call forth noble creatures made of pure light. Those whose souls harbored evil intent experienced Dark Reflection and were transformed into twisted monsters driven by greed and vengeance. Now, the two factions find themselves at odds, as the Dark Reflection seeks to get its hands on the mystical gemstone at all costs.

It’s out now in PDF. You can grab it for $4.99 over at DriveThruRPG. I’d love it if you could leave a review over there as well, if you get a chance to check it out. And feel free to leave some comments right here too!

Thanks to Cynthia and the Spectrum team for this chance to contribute to their amazing game. If you like Mighty Mirror Masters, be sure to check out the other series books, such as John Wick‘s Infinivaders, and check back for the rest of the series books they have in the pipe.

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Interview at Geek’s Dream Girl

September 26th, 2013interviews, rpg

I recently sat down with the wonderful Lillian Cohen-Moore over at Geek’s Dream Girl to discuss the origin of Little Fears and how the publishing scene has changed since I released the original game back in 2001.

For those interested in getting their hands on a copy of the original Little Fears, I sell the anniversary edition (titled Happy Birthday, Little Fears) directly or you can look for it in the secondary market (though it sometimes runs a pretty penny) or game specialty stores like Noble Knight. To learn a bit more about the editions, check out About Little Fears.

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Pre-Order Hillfolk Now!

July 30th, 2013rpg

To say I was floored that Robin Laws would want me to contribute anything to a book of his is a vast understatement but I’ve had a couple chances now to work with him and it’s been a treat every time. The most recent release is Hillfolk, the introductory book to his brilliant DramaSystem roleplaying gaem. Much like how his Gumshoe system was designed to emulate procedural dramas, DramaSystem gives players the tools to craft stories with personal conflict at their heart.

The base setting, Hillfolk, centers on the drama of the Iron Age people. From the official website:

In an arid badlands, the hill people hunger. Your neighbors have grain, cattle, gold. You have horses and spears, courage and ambition. Together with those you love and hate, you will remake history—or die.

As you build your story, you mold and shape the Hillfolk setting to fit its needs. Do you entangle yourself with the seductions of your wealthy cousins to the north? Do you do battle with the fearsome sea people to the west? Or do you conquer the scattered badlands tribes to forge a new empire of your own?

It’s really good stuff. For those who wish to expand beyond the base setting, Robin recruited a who’s who of gaming folks to contribute series pitches that apply the DramaSystem rules to new settings and genres. Check out this list:

Jason Morningstar, Michelle Nephew, Kenneth Hite, Matt Forbeck, T.S. Luikart, Jason L. Blair, Chris Pramas, Emily Care Boss, Rob Wieland, Steven S. Long, Eddy Webb, Jesse Bullington, Gene Ha & Art Lyon, James Wallis, Chris Lackey, John Scott Tynes, Ryan Macklin, Graeme Davis, Dave Gross, Allen Varney, Meguey Baker, Sarah Newton, Kevin Kulp, Mac Sample, Jason Pitre, Wolfgang Baur, Keith Baker, Will Hindmarch, Rob Heinsoo, Ed Greenwood

I can’t believe I’m in such company. My own series pitch, Inhuman Desires, brings paranormal romance to the DramaSystem. You’ll play as vampires, werewolves, fair folk, ghosts, and the enigmatic elders as they vie for control and influence of their shared resource: humans.

Hillfolk is out next month, and you can pre-order it (and the new edition of the excellent Esoterrorists) over at the Pelgrane Press website.

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Chat with Me Tonight!

March 11th, 2013interviews

Hey everyone, sorry for the last minute notice but I’ll be sitting down with the folks at #rpgnet for a chat tonight, starting at 8p Eastern/7p Central. I’ll be talking about all things Streets of Bedlam and Little Fears, as well as whatever other topics pop up.

You can pop into the chat via this link. I hope to see you there!

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Out Now: CONSPIRACY RULES!

December 10th, 2012fiction

I’d been a fan of Lester Smith‘s original Dark Conspiracy for many years. My gaming interests tend to have a dark streak and Lester’s vision of a near-future world overrun by all manner of horror was a perfect fit to my tastes. The setting saw two editions and numerous sourcebooks throughout both editions before disappearing in the late 90s. Fans kept it alive through unofficial support material though, including one of the best fanzines ever made, Demonground (whose website remains you can find here).

For the past five years or so, rumors of a new edition circulated under a couple different operations but nothing ever came to light. But when I heard that the folks at 3Hombres Games had picked up the license and were working on a new edition, I took notice. Now I knew Lee and Norm from their work on the excellent horror fanzine Protodimension and they knew me from Little Fears and the like so it wasn’t long before I wormed my way into contributing some fiction pieces to their project.

That was a while back, and I’ve been waiting (im)patiently since to see their baby in the light of day, which is why I am very excited to announce that the first book in Dark Conspiracy III, Conspiracy Rules!, is now out in PDF! Not only can you grab this basic rulebook, you can pick up three standalone adventures useful with any edition along with it. The next book, Conspiracy Lives!, is due out soon which will flesh out the third edition setting.

This new edition is written by Lester Smith, Marc Miller, Norm Fenlason, and Lee Williams, artwork by Bradley K. McDevitt, David Lee Ingersoll, and original Dark Conspiracy artist Earl Geier. Rounding it out is fiction by the incomparable Matt Forbeck and the guy who runs this website. Whoever he is.

All the stuff 3Hombres has put out so far has been well-received by the audience, and I’m glad to see a beloved license in the hands of some very cool folks. I hope you’ll check out the new edition of Dark Conspiracy whether you’re an old fan or a potential new one.

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Behold the Human Stretch Goal

October 5th, 2012fiction, news, rpg

Over the past couple weeks, three different game designers offered me a chance to contribute to their Kickstarter projects as a participant in possible stretch goals. As the first’s been active for a bit, and the second was just announced (the third isn’t slated to go live until next month), now seems like a good time to direct some traffic their way.

Hillfolk: DramaSystem

If you’re reading this, I suspect a high probability that you’re familiar with the work of tabletop game designer Robin D. Laws. I’ve been a fan of his stuff for twenty years, and I always look forward to seeing what he does next. He’s been teasing out his latest, DramaSystem, for a while and now folks will be able to get their hands on it.

As Robin’s excellent GUMSHOE (Esoterrorists, Mutant City Blues, Trail of Cthulhu) emulates procedural shows such as The X-Files, Law & Order, and CSI, his latest centers on the personal dynamics and relationships of more character-driven fare. The first product to use this, Hillfolk, is a game set in the Iron Age. Here’s the blurb from the pitch:

In an arid badlands, squeezed between mighty empires, your people hunger. Your neighbors have grain, cattle, gold. You have horses and spears, courage and ambition. Together with those you love and hate, you will remake history—or die.

The Kickstarter is already over 400% of its original goal and is well on its way through the slew of announced stretch goals. Chief among them are a variety of alternate premises using the DramaSystem. Not interest in Iron Age politics? Step into the shoes of time travelers stuck in the 1940s with Matt Forbeck’s WW2.1. Or play supervillians doing their best to stay reformed in Michelle Nephew’s Mad Scientists Anonymous. Or dip your toe in Cold War espionage with Kenneth Hite’s Moscow Station.

If the project hits $14k (and it looks like it will do that handily), I’ll contribute my own setting, the True Blood meets Being Human meets Vampire Diaries meets Twilight melodrama Inhuman Desires.

One Shot

Subtitled “a roleplaying game of murder and vengeance”, Tracy Barnett’s two-player One Shot focus on personal relationships of a specific sort: the kind that usually have a gun involved. Check out the premise:

One Shot is a tabletop roleplaying game about murder and vengeance. Two people work together to tell the story of the Shooter, a normal person wronged, and set for revenge. One player plays the Shooter, on their path to their one shot. The other plays the Forces, the world and people around and in the way of the Shooter.

Sounds great, and fits perfectly with the work I’m doing on the Kickstarter-funded project I ran last year, Streets of Bedlam.

With a month left to go, One Shot sits near the halfway mark to its goal. If the project meets its stretch goal, I’ll contribute short fiction to an anthology that explores the ideas presented by the game itself. Other authors include Jess Hartley, Will Hindmarch, Filamena Young, David Hill, and others.

So please check out the above and, if they interest you, pledge your support! Kickstarter is a fantastic way for creatives and customers to connect. I love seeing folks like Tracy and Robin putting new ideas out there in a way that doesn’t threaten their pocketbooks.

As for the third, I’ll let you all know when that goes live. I think you’ll really dig it.

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A Metaphorical Haircut

August 28th, 2012fiction, operation: awesome

It’s not that I get bored easily. But when I do tire of something, I have to change it.

Mostly this means shaving my head or growing a ridiculous mustache but sometimes this means bigger things. I launched Operation: Awesome because I was tired of not being the writer I knew I could be.

Thing is, these years later, I’m still not.

I’m better, certainly. I’m more disciplined, have a much firmer grasp of the craft and of story, and have even achieved a position where I write for a living. But I’m not where I want to be yet.

When I was freelancing, I was also a stay-at-home dad which meant, if I wasn’t taking care of my kids, then I had to focus on writing that was paid for. If not upfront, then it had to be writing I could sell.

Even after landing some big gigs, I continued along that path. Only writing the stuff I could sell immediately. This is how Little Fears happened, how Streets of Bedlam happened.

“Writing what I can sell” meant, mostly, tabletop game material. Or short fiction for the occasional collection. It left no time for spec work such as screenplays or novels.

But now I have a (blessed blessed) day job that fills that gap. I write at work. What I write outside the office doesn’t have to be stuff I can sell right away. Course, now I have a backlog that needs written. Stuff I’ve promised, and even some stuff folks have already paid for.

I decided a few weeks ago, I was going to make a big change. I was going to finish all the stuff I needed to finish, take a break, and then do some spec writing. The type of writing I’ve wanted to do for a long time now.

I’m going to write a novel. One I’ve been mulling over for years. One that goes into a lot of new areas and challenges me like no work has in ages. I’m excited for it.

Before I can focus on it though, I have to clear my plate. Namely, I’m capping off my Little Fears work, finishing up what’s due for Streets of Bedlam, and then taking a break. After that break, I’m focusing my out-of-office efforts on my novel.

I hope to have a draft wrapped up four months after I start. So, say, maybe six months or so out from now. That’s my goal.

I need to focus on something new, try for something new. Whenever I stay put, nothing moves around me. Nothing moves for me. I can’t let the fact I have a dream job let me get soft. Time to reach a new level.

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