Jul 142014

corerpg4Among his many other talents, my pal Lester Smith is a crackerjack game designer. If you’re a longtime tabletop gamer, you probably played some of his creations, including Dark Conspiracy and Dragon Dice. He’s been working on a new tabletop roleplaying game for a while now, and I had the honor of playing it at the Nexus Game Fair a few weeks back with my son Marty and nephew Henry.

We had a ball. It’s called the CORE RPG, and it uses a stripped-down system that puts the emphasis on entertainment rather than number crunching. If you like crunch, though, you’ll enjoy the innovative d6xd6 system, in which you roll two six-sided dice and multiply them to get your result.

Lester’s running a Kickstarter to get the CORE RPG into print. He set a number of stretch goals for it, and he’s already thundered through the first one for a fantasy four-pack of settings, which includes my Shotguns & Sorcery setting, plus ones from Doug Niles, Tim Brown, and Bruce Heard.

Because the mechanics are simple, the settings are short too, and Lester has lined up a slew of other authors and settings. Many more than he’s listed on his site so far. He’s already knocked down the first couple stretch goals, and he has lots more to come. The PDF of the rules including all the stretch goals will only set you back $9, and the print version’s only $21.

It’s a great deal from a fantastic designer, so be sure to check it out. It only runs until August 3, so go over and back it before the clock stops ticking.

Jul 122014

American_Cancer_Society_Relay_For_Life-2My pal Mike Stackpole helps run Fiction for a Cure, a Relay for Life event that takes place in Second Life. (To give that a linkbait headline: BESTSELLING AUTHORS FIGHT CANCER IN ONLINE VIRTUAL WORLD.) This year, he asked a number of other authors to donate books and other items for the cause. This includes other all-star authors Diana Gabaldon, Tracy & Laura Hickman, R. A. Salvatore, Claudia Christian, Kevin J. Anderson, Stephen R. Donaldson, Alan Dean Foster, John Kovalic, and Patrick Rothfuss. And I’m pitching in too!

Fiction for a Cure started on July 11 and runs through the 18th, and it takes place on the American Cancer Society island in Second Life. Events include classes and readings, and the whole thing culminates in a live auction of books and other cool fictiony bits on the final day. Items for the auction include signed books, games, graphic novels, and rare collectibles. Plus, you can even be Tuckerized (which means you can have yourself or a friend written into a future story by one of the authors).

Fiction for a Cure also includes five raffle packages featuring gift cards donated by the best content creators in Second Life. Every ticket, which costs L250, includes L250 credit to Clutter for Builders.

I’ve donated a couple of things to the cause. For the silent auction, you can pick up an autographed hardcover copy of my Dangerous Games omnibus. This collects all three of my Dangerous Games books under a single cover, and it’s so far only been available to the fine folks who backed the Kickstarter drive that funded that series. [Actually, this is up in the live auction!]

For the live auction on July 18, I’ve put up a Tuckerization that can get your name into my upcoming novel Loot Drop, which should be published by Tor sometimes in 2015. [This isn't up yet, but it may be in either the silent or the live auction, depending on where Mike needs it.]

Mike explains it pretty well on his site too. It’s a great event for a worthy cause, so be sure to visit and check out all the goodies up for bids.

Jun 192014

A few years back, my pals at Reactor 88 Studios asked me to lend them a hand with their latest project, a horror-comedy film based upon InSpectres, a brilliant indie roleplaying game by my friend Jared Sorensen. I came in and wrote a new draft of Jeff Dohm’s original screenplay and served as one of the film’s producers, and I even played a lone zombie covered in melting makeup on a blistering Chicago summer’s day. Director Darren Orange did most of the heavy lifting with making the film actually happen, and I got to have a ball working with the actors and the rest of the crew.

The film debuted last fall and had a short run in a big theater in Chicago. Now Reactor 88 wants to release the film for people to enjoy at home, and they’ve launched a Kickstarter to make that happen. Head on over and check it out, and chip in if you like screwy fun. Like this:


Jun 122014

nexus-game-fairI just made a number of changes to my Appearances page, and I wanted to highlight them for you. First, I’ll be at the Nexus Game Fair in Milwaukee next weekend, June 19–22. This is a new show but with a lot of familiar faces, including Harold Johnson, Jolly Blackburn, Mike Carr, Chris Clark, Zeb Cook, Jeff Easley, Ernie Gygax, Dave Kenzer, James Lowder, Frank Mentzer, Merle Rasmussen, Jim Ward, Skip Williams, Rob Wieland, Matt McElroy, Monica Valentinelli, Lester Smith, Stefan Pokorny, and Ken Hite. For that show, you can find me here:

Friday, June 20

Saturday, June 21

I’ve also posted my full schedule (so far) for Gen Con, which is coming up in Indianapolis, August 14–17. This is my favorite time of year. I’m once again part of the committee selecting the Industry Insider Guests of Honor, and this will mark my 33rd consecutive Gen Con and 12th in a row as a guest of honor. I’ll also take part in the Gen Con Writers Symposium.

If you love games, books, or both, do not miss this show.

Cap35FlierI also need to announce that I won’t be able to make it to the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop or to Geek.Kon this year. Fortunately, the fine people at Launch Pad were happy to defer my admission until next year, and I hope to return to Geek.Kon next year as well. It’s a fantastic show run by wonderful people with real passion for putting on a great time for everyone who attends.

On a much better note, I’ve been named a guest of honor at Capricon 35, a wonderful convention down in Wheeling, IL, next February 12–15. Steve Jackson of Steve Jackson Games is slated to join me there, and it promises to be amazing fun.

I hope to see you on the road. Until then, keep having fun on your own!

Jun 122014

dianajones3Last night, the Diana Jones Award committee, of which I’m a part, announced its shortlist for its 2014 award, which honors the most excellent things in tabletop gaming from 2013. This year’s list includes:

Congrats to everyone involved in each of these wonderful games and companies!

For fuller descriptions of each of these fantastic things and why they each belong on the list, check out the Diana Jones Award site. We’ll give out the award at our annual party on August 13, the evening before Gen Con. If you’re an industry professional, ping me at [email protected] to get on the entry list.

May 132014

Friends-Like-These-Cover-1“Friends Like These,” the first short story in my Shotguns & Sorcery fantasy noir setting is free for the Kindle todayIt first appeared in Robin D. Laws’s anthology The New Hero 2, and it serves as a prequel to Hard Time in Dragon City, Bad Times in Dragon City, and End Times in Dragon City.

Go grab it, read, and enjoy, and please don’t be shy about telling your friends.

Seriously. What are you waiting for? IT’S FREEEEEEE!

[Insider Bit: I'm doing this so I can play around with the tools that Amazon gives authors that publish a book or story exclusively with them. I prefer making my work as easy as possible for readers to find, and that usually means releasing it through lots of different retailers, like iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and so on. Still Amazon's the king of the ebook mountain, and I'm experimenting with why and how that might work for me.

So don't be shy. Help spread the word and give yourself and your friends something fun to read. For free.


Apr 282014

Monster-Academy-3D-coverThe folks over at Protagonist Labs have been blazing through their inaugural Kickstarter for their debut game, Storium. It’s an intriguing new kind of game that blends online forum gaming with more traditional roleplaying game elements, and it lends itself to being played in all sorts of different settings.

They explain a bit of it in the pitch video below, and if you’re interested in giving it a try, backers get immediate access to the beta. They cracked their initial funding goal in the first 24 hours of the drive, and they’ve been knocking down stretch goals like a demonized Goat Simulator ever since.

To help out with those stretch goals, Protagonist Labs has lined up an all-star cast of developers and writers to help out with the game. They started out with Will Hindmarch (who also designed the game), Mur Lafferty, JC Hutchins, and Chuck Wendig as core advisors and then added worlds from game and story luminaries like Delilah S. Dawson, Stephen Blackmoore, Mark Diaz Truman, Amanda & Clark Valentine, Nancy Holder, Jason Morningstar, Maruice Broaddus, Filamena Young, Saladin Ahmed, Andrea Phillips, Lenny Balsera, Ken Hite, Rich Dansky, Lauren Roy, Elizabeth Bear, Ryan Macklin, Tobias Buckell, Lillian Cohen-Moore, Keith Baker, Scott Sigler, Mike Lee, Karen Lord, Shoshana Kessock, Seanan McGuire, Matt Wallace, Logan Bonner, and many more. (Whew!)

Just last night they added me to the list. The Kickstarter drive stands at over $95,000 as I write this, and if (really: when) they crack $100,000, they’ll add my Monster Academy setting to the game. I’m going to handle the writing and design of the Monster Academy story tools myself, so it’ll be as authentic and true to the stories as possible.

If you want to get in on the fun, just $10 gets you that beta access. The sweet spot is $40, though, at which you get all the stretch goals too. The Kickstarter drive has 10 days left, so grab hold fast and hold on tight. It’s already been a wild ride.

Apr 252014


The bit I wrote earlier this month about why Monopoly sucks taught me a few things.

  1. Most people agree with me on this subject.
  2. A few people are still passionate fans of the game despite that. And as long as they’re having fun, more power to them!
  3. Altogether, these people are capable of crashing my site.

I was just about to head out of town when I posted that little rant here, and so many people started reading it and pointing others toward it that it buried my site hard. The poor little server it’s on just couldn’t keep up. As an emergency measure, I reposted it over at GeekDad.com, and many thanks to my friends over there for helping me out so fast.

So, now I’m going to get a bit technical. I set up and run my own website using WordPress because I’m just geeky enough to enjoy it, so this crash became my problem. I knew how to fix it, but I couldn’t do it instantly. Here’s what I did.

Continue reading »

Apr 242014


I’m heading down to Chicago for C2E2 this weekend, the best geek-centric pop culture convention in the area. I’ll be on two panels with my traditional partner at the show, Ken Hite. Sadly, despite notes in the convention program to the contrary, Will Hindmarch won’t be joining us this year, as he’s off to North Carolina for the excellent ECGC. Since I made that trek last year and know the wonderful crowd he’ll be with, I can hardly blame him, but if you’re in greater Chicagoland area, you can find Ken and I holding forth as listed below

You might also bump into us wandering the floor or the local watering holes too. I hope to see you there!

  • Saturday, April 2611:00 AM–12:00 PM: Crowdsourcing: Kickstarting Your Way to Success
    • The emergence of Kickstarter and other crowdsourcing services has revolutionized and reinvigorated the marketplace for creator-owned projects. Learn the Dos and Don’ts of a successful project from an all-star panel of creators who have successfully funded projects that have far exceeded their goals. (Room S403)
  • Sunday, April 27, 3:45 PM–4:45 PM: The State of Play in Tabletop Roleplaying Gaming
    • A panel of professional RPG Designers discuss the state of RPG play, design, and the industry, and they look as far into the future as they can. They’ll spotlight great games you might have missed and highlight designers to watch. (Room S403)