Halo: Legacy of Onyx Debuts Today!

Today is the launch day for Legacy of Onyx, my latest novel in the universe of Halo, the bestselling science-fiction first-person shooter video games from 343 Industries (and Bungie before them) and Microsoft. This is my second novel in the setting (the first was New Blood), and my third story.

I wrote a prequel to Legacy of Onyx called “Lessons Learned.” It’s the lead-off short story in the anthology Fractures. It features a few of the characters that play large roles in Legacy of Onyx. You don’t need to read that, though, to enjoy Legacy of Onyx. Nor do you have to read any of the other Halo novels or play the Halo games — although it certainly doesn’t hurt!

As it says on the back of the book:

Molly Patel was only seven years old when the alien alliance known as the Covenant destroyed her homeworld and killed her family. As one of the few to escape the glassing of Paris IV, and despite the United Nations Space Command winning the war on behalf of humanity, Molly never forgot how much she had lost.

Nine years later, when her adoptive parents—research scientists specializing in ancient Forerunner technology—are called to the mysterious and wondrous place known as Onyx, Molly vehemently objects. It’s not so much that Molly’s concerned about relocating to inside a spherical construct the diameter of an entire solar system, but the fact that she also has to live alongside members of the same alien species that murdered her family. And when the Servants of the Abiding Truth—a violent ex-Covenant sect under the guidance of the notorious Pale Blade—somehow makes its way inside this supposedly impregnable sphere, Molly is now forced to consider if she and her new parents have made a terrible and fatal mistake in coming here….

That’s Molly there on the cover, along with Spartans Tom and Lucy. The alien is a Sangheili (one of the Elite) named Bakar, and you’ll learn all about him inside the book. Benjamin Carré provided the stunning cover, and Scott Brick once again reads the audiobook to you.

I dedicated this one to my friend Stewart Wieck, who passed away unexpectedly earlier this year, far too young. He lived like a warrior-poet, always dedicated to his family, friends, and fans—in that order. And he died with a sword in his hand.

This book may have my name on the cover, but it’s the collective effort of an amazing team of people. Once again, I owe huge thanks to my editor, Ed Schlesinger, whose love for both writing and Halo shines through in the polish he lends these pages. He and his team at Gallery Books work hard to bring amazing stories into the world, and I’m thrilled to have the chance to join them on such sorties.

Believe it or not, the collective aid of the people at 343 Industries—especially Jeremy Patenaude, Tiffany O’Brien, and Jeff Easterling, as well as the rest of the writing team—was even more vital for this story than for New Blood. Exploring a place as large and wild as Onyx occasional requires a few course corrections, and they were always as patient and helpful as possible with their efforts to guide me along at every step of the way. Their passion for bringing fantastic Halo stories to fans around the world is as infectious as the Flood.

You can find it on sale at all the usual places. I put a lot of work into this one, and I hope you enjoy it.


Heading to Gamehole Con!

This weekend — November 3–5 — I’ll be at Gamehole Con, one of the best tabletop gaming conventions in the country. They manage this by inviting a slew of (nearly 50) amazing guests and treating them right. They also are one of the only conventions (outside of Gen Con) to host True Dungeon, an amazing kind of live-action fantasy roleplaying game. Better yet, True Dungeon now is set within the world of my friend Pat Rothfuss‘s amazing Kingkiller Chronicles books.

Honestly, the whole show is loads of fun. My public schedule for the convention includes:

  • Brave New World RPG demos on Friday at 12 PM and 2 PM and Saturday at 12 PM. There are still tickets left for these. Fair warning: I haven’t gotten too far on the second edition of the game yet, so we’re going to be shaking the dust off the first edition instead.
  • A signing on Saturday at 3 PM.
  • A panel on “Games & Stories” on Saturday at 4 PM, with James Lowder and Doug Niles.

I’ll be running around the hall with a few of my kids for the rest of the time, as well as hanging out and playing games. If you’re anywhere near Madison, Wisconsin, this weekend, you should join me there!

M+DEV and Menomonee Falls

I have a busy weekend coming up. On Friday, I’m going to be at M+DEV, the inaugural Madison Game Development Conference. If you’re anywhere nearby and are interested in working on video games for a living, this looks like it’s going to be a phenomenal conference. The keynote speaker is Warren Spector (Ultima, Thief, Wing Commander, System Shock, Deus Ex, Epic Mickey), and the endnote speaker is Tommy Palm (Resolution Games, Candy Crush Saga). Other guests include Sheri Graner-Ray, Allison Salmon, and my old boss at Human Head Studios, Tim Gerritsen.

If you’re interested in video game development and you live in the Midwest, do yourself a favor and join us. It’s going to rock.

On Saturday, I’ll be at the Menomonee Falls Public Library Comic Fest, talking about comics and games. My fellow guests include Steve Sullivan, John Jackson Miller, and Rich Koslowski. Everyone who shows up gets a free comic!

The weekend after that, I’m at Gamehole Con in Madison once again. It has a slew of fantastic guests, and it promises to be loads of fun, just like every year.

After that, I’m done with appearances for the year. Keep your head up for my next novel, though, Halo: Legacy of Onyx, which launches November 14!



I’m in a Wall Street Journal Video About Gerrymandering

Earlier this month, Madeline Marshall of the Wall Street Journal came out to interview me for a piece she’s doing on gerrymandering and the corrosive effects it can have on democracy. You can see the results here.

I may be on the splash image, but I’m only in it for a handful of seconds. If you’re the impatient sort, my part starts around the 3:46 mark.

Maddie lives in the DC area and flew out to Wisconsin to grab some interviews. Mark Spreitzer — who would be my assemblyman if not for the ridiculous way my house was carved out of my neighborhood by partisan gerrymandering — recommended she chat with me. Maddie landed in Chicago and picked up her mother, who lives there, to come along for the ride. She also pressed her into service as her camera assistant, which was honestly adorable.

We talked for about an hour about all sorts of things, occasionally waving at passing cars on my street. That seems long considering how little of that actually made it into the video, but as someone who works in all sorts of media, I totally understand. You have to grab as much as you can and trim it all down into whatever works best. In any case, I had a wonderful time chatting with Maddie and geeking out over things like games and craft beer.

Be sure to watch the video in full. Gerrymandering is one of the greatest assaults on our democracy, and Wisconsin’s playing a big role in it. A case about our troubles is going before the US Supreme Court next week, and the results are going to be vital. See this article at FiveThirtyEight.com for a summary, and the Wall Street Journal has a companion piece too.

Honestly, it’s things like this that make me think we could use more game designers with a strong sense of fairness in the legislature. People who know how to create something balanced, who can anticipate problem players and fashion a set of rules that works for everyone. That’s just a pipe dream, of course, but putting an end to partisan gerrymandering would be a good step in that direction.

Here’s hoping the court does the right thing.

Going to Grand Con (and Other Places)!

Thanks to everyone who came out and joined me at Gen Con. We formed the largest tabletop gaming convention in history, with over 60,000 unique (counted once all weekend) attendees and more than 200,000 turnstile (counted each day). It was an absolute, exhausting blast.

I’m almost recovered from that and a trip I took to Sweden last week, so now I’m ready to head out this weekend to Grand Con! This is a wonderful, smaller convention held in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was a guest there a few years ago, and they finally managed to pull me back in. I’m showing up on Friday and staying through Sunday, so show up and drag me into a game! I’ll be there with other luminaries including Paul Peterson, Chris Leder, Kevin Wilson, Shane Harsch, Tom Vasel, Adam and Brady Sadler, Keith Matejka, Richard Launius, and Albin Johnson, among many others.

In October, I’m going to be a guest at a couple of nifty events. The first, on October 27, is M+DEV, the first video game developers conference in Madison, Wisconsin. The keynote speaker is none other than the legendary Warren Spector, so expect lots of great stuff from that.

The day after that, I’m a guest at the Menomonee Falls Library Comic Fest. Admission is free, and every attendee gets a free comic and a swag bag, while supplies last. Come out and join us for a bunch of four-color fun!

Then, to close out my con season, I’ll be a guest once again at Gamehole Con in Madison, Wisconsin. This is one of the best shows in the Midwest, and I love attending it every year. They have a stunning array of guests, plus they have True Dungeon!

After that, I’m hunkering down in my den until sometime in the spring. After all, those books and games don’t make themselves!

Anyhow, if you’re nearby any of these events, I hope to see you at one/all of them. Every one of them is guaranteed fun.

Gen Con 50!

Gen Con starts tomorrow! This is my absolute favorite time of the year. I get to see old friends, make new ones, talk books, play games, and stay out all night — and these days, I even get to enjoy it with my wife and kids.

This is the 50th year for the show — as well as my 36th time attending in a row (I started young!) — and the folks at Gen Con are going all out to celebrate. As part of the coolness, Jon Peterson (author of Playing at the World) is curating an amazing Gen Con museum that’s going to be built in the center of the Indianapolis Colts’ football field at Lucas Oil Stadium. It’ll be inside a replica of the location of the first Gen Con, which was held in Lake Geneva back in 1968: Horticultural Hall.

I’m thrilled to say they’re going to have three of my things on display in the museum, which you can see in the photo below. They include:

  1. A copy of my Brave New World RPG, which debuted at Gen Con 1999,
  2. The mask that was worn by David Ross when he played Patriot (the main narrator of the game books) at that Gen Con Debut.
  3. A copy of an award certificate I won for being part of the winning team in the first Gangbusters tournament, run by designer Mark Acres, held at Gen Con XV back in 1982.

So, go see that!

Ooh! Also, check out a new game I worked on that’s debuting at the show: Apocrypha. The creator of the setting, Rian Sands, hired me to help him write the background for it many years ago, and it’s finally real! (If you squint, you can see my name on the front of the box, right next to that of kick-ass author and Worldbuilders founder Pat Rothfuss). Mike Selinker and the fantastic team he assembled at Lone Shark Games designed, produced, and published the game, and I can’t wait to actually play it.

Amazingly, Gen Con has sold out this year, for the first time in its history. If you’re lucky enough to have a badge and can make it into the show, you have a lot of fun ahead of you. While I’m there, I’m taking part in the Writer’s Symposium, the Industry Insiders program (I’m on the advisory panel that selects the panelists), and the Gen Con 50 Retrospective program — as well as doing business meetings, catching up with friends, and playing games with my kids.

Here’s what’s on my public slate.

Wednesday, August 16

  • The Diana Jones Award party. (This is a private affair I host every year for industry professionals. If you’re one, ping me for details.)

Thursday, August 17

Friday, August 18

Saturday, August 19

By the way, some of my friends have been posting things about how to deal with them at Gen Con. It’s a high-stress, chaotic, germ-strewn environment, especially for us folks who usually spend all day alone in front of a computer, and hey, you deserve to know what you’re getting into when you approach them. For me, I have two suggestions, which you can take advantage of as you like:

  1. Buy my books (available at the bookseller in the back of the convention hall) and games (like Apocrypha).
  2. Buy me a beer.

Hey, I try to keep it simple. Hope to see you there!

Join Me at Gen Con for Worldbuilders

Gen Con is just around the corner, coming up on August 17–21, and I can’t wait! This is the 50th Gen Con, and they’re pulling out the stops for the big celebration. Four-day badges have already sold out, along with Saturday and Sunday badges. They’re predicting a complete sell-out, which will be the first time in the convention’s history.

I’m taking part in lots of different events at the show, as part of the Industry Insiders, the Writer’s Symposium, and the Gen Con 50 Retrospective slates. You can see my public schedule on my Appearances page.

As part of that, I’ll be at the Worldbuilders Party to help loads of famous novelists and game designers raise money for Worldbuilders, a wonderful charity set up by Pat Rothfuss. Tickets for this event are $130 each, and there are still lots of open slots.

I was originally slated to play Exploding Kittens with people at the party, but <ahem> no one seemed all that interested in that. So, as of today, we’re changing tactics. I’m going to run a session of my upcoming Shotguns & Sorcery RPG, coming out next year from Ragnarok Publications. I’ve only run this a few times, so this should be a rare treat for everyone who joins up.

To sweeten the pot, I’m going to toss in hardcover copies of the Kickstarter-exclusive Shotguns & Sorcery Omnibus, which includes the two short stories and three novels that provide the setting for the game. When I ran the Kickstarter in 2012, these cost $100 each, and they haven’t been available since. If you join me at the game, I’ll bring a copy of the Omnibus for you, and I’ll autograph it to whoever you like.

So, join me at Gen Con for a fantastic party, play Shotguns & Sorcery with me, and get yourself a rare, autographed, hardcover book to go with it.

If you can’t make it, I totally understand. It’s pricey, and it’s Friday afternoon at Gen Con. Please help spread the word, though, and tell your friends. Let’s play some games for good!

Summer Games Sale

My son Marty is heading off to college at the University of Wisconsin—Madison this fall, but this summer, to raise some cash, he’s cleaning out my attic and selling off a slew of my old games on eBay. You can see a bunch of them listed below.

At the moment, there’s a bunch of books for Deadlands, Dungeons & Dragons, and Middle-earth Roleplaying up. This includes a rare copy of The Lonely Mountain board game published by ICE back in 1984. Marty should have much more up there soon, so keep checking back for new deals.

If you win an auction for an item I helped create and would like it autographed or personalized, just let me know. I’d be happy to scribble something on it for you before Marty ships it out. Either way, if you can spread the word to our fellow gamers, I’d appreciate it. Thanks!

Crafting Intangibles Starts Tonight

Today, my friend Christy Dena — who I met at last year’s Forward/Story conference, which she co-founded with Lance Weiler — is launching a new, online/Australian conference for narrative designers called Crafting Intangibles. I’m the lead-off speaker, starting at 7 PM Central Time tonight/10 AM tomorrow in Sydney.

Christy’s lined up a slew of other incredible speakers, including luminaries like Chris Avellone and Toiya K. Finley. Best of all, you don’t even need to leave home to attend. You can watch the videos as they debut live, according to the schedule, or you can catch them at your convenience later.

As a sample, here’s Chris Avellone speaking about when to stop creating:

Tickets are only $15, and the proceeds go toward supporting the conference so they can have more of them in the future. It all goes online free on August 10, so if you’re strapped you can wait for it instead, but you’ll miss out on the immediate fun. Hope to see you online tonight!

Gen Con 2017 Schedule Update

My schedule for Gen Con is filling up fast. Since I posted about it last, I’ve added a slew of new events.

This is the show I never miss. It’s Gen Con 50—and my 36th time going in a row—so it’s sure to be even bigger than ever.

If you’re a gamer, there’s no better place to be, but Gen Con’s also a haven for readers and writers. The Writer’s Symposium features dozens of amazing writers chatting about their books and their craft, and I always appear on three or four panels with them. On top of that, there’s the Industry Insiders program, which stars dozens of the top game industry professionals talking about their craft. I’m on the advisory panel that selects these pros from a slew of applicants every year, and this year’s packed full of amazing talent.

Anyhow, here’s what’s on my public slate. (The rest of the time, I’m hanging out with friends, having business meetings, and playing games with my kids. Not necessarily in that order.)

Wednesday, August 16

  • The Diana Jones Award party. (This is a private affair I host every year for industry professionals. If you’re one and don’t know about it, ping me for details.)

Thursday, August 17

Friday, August 18

Saturday, August 19