Nov 172014


Earlier this year, the folks at Outland Entertainment licensed my Shotguns & Sorcery™ setting from me for use as a tabletop roleplaying game. They’ve been hard at work since then, getting everything ready for a Kickstarter drive to fund the game’s publication. That Kickstarter launches tomorrow, November 18, at noon Central Time.

You can see a mockup of the cover here, of course, but better yet, you can go preview the Kickstarter right now. When you do, there’s a “Remind Me” button in the upper left. Click on that, and you’ll get a reminder email from Kickstarter the moment the drive launches.

Over there, you might notice that this standalone game will use the Cypher System™ engine from Monte Cook Games. Monte and his team developed this system for use with the best-selling, award-winning games Numenera and The Strange. It’s a great system, perfect for use with the Shotguns & Sorcery setting.

On top of that wonderful news, Outland lined up superstar designer Robert Schwalb to handle the crunchy bits of the game conversion while I concentrate on the background material. Add in the phenomenal artwork of Jeremy Mohler—Outland’s founder and CEO—and that’s one bang-up team.

So go check it out and let the Outlanders know what you think. And please help spread the word far and wide. I’m hoping for big things from this game, and I’m thrilled to have you along for the ride.

Nov 062014

wkheaderWhen I don’t update the blog here for a while, it’s because everything’s gone sideways, and I’m too busy to manage it. I just realized I haven’t written anything here since September, and that’s possibly a record since I launched this site back in 2003.

Much of that’s due to notable health issues in my family that I can’t discuss here. (Well, I could and maybe will at some time, but not quite yet.) But it’s also because of an overwhelming number of secret projects that I’ll be trumpeting from a mountaintop near you as soon as the time is right. Or at least from this blog. And Twitter and Facebook and all the usual suspects. Stay tuned.

One thing I’ve not announced here yet, though—and should have—is that I’ll be a guest of honor this weekend at What-Khan, down in Rockford, Illinois. It’s a brand-new gaming convention rising from the ashes of the classic show Rock-Con, which was held there for decades. Barring any disasters, I should be around on Saturday afternoon at least, playing D&D with my kids and enjoying the show. Stop by and join me if you can!

If you’re in Madison, Wisconsin, rather than Rockford, Illinois, you should also check out Gamehole Con, a great new show sponsored by many of the local gaming stores, including my pals at I’m Board! Games and Family Fun. They have a lot of great guests, including my pals Ed Greenwood, Doug Niles, Lester Smith, Frank Mentzer, Chris Perkins, Jolly Blackburn, Chris Clark, and Tom Lommel (the Dungeon Bastard).

I was hoping to get there myself on Friday, but I was called out of town until then. (I’m writing this from a hotel room in beautiful downtown Rochester, Minnesota.) Either way, it’s already on my schedule for next year.

tl;dr: More news soon. Play games this weekend!



Sep 152014

GrandConDudeThis weekend, September 19–21, I’ll be a guest of honor at GrandCon, a gaming and comics convention held in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They have a slew of other great guests joining me, including Jeff Dee, Dave Dorman, Ed Greenwood, Jeff Grubb, Richard Launius, Brad McDevitt, Mark McKenna, Pop Mhan, Mark Nelson, Paul Peterson, Keith Pollard, Boyan Radakovich, Stan!, Ryan Stegman, and hometown heroes Erik Bauer and Steven Schend.

My schedule, I’m told, includes:

Friday, September 19

  • 1 PM: World Building Seminar, Basic Concepts Pt. 1: You want to build a world for a campaign or a story. Where do you start? Hear how the masters of the Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, and myriad other settings create their worlds and swap stories from the dawn of gaming. With Ed Greenwood, Steven Schend, Jeff Grubb, and Stan!

Saturday, September 20

  • 10 AM: World Building Seminar, Basic Concepts Pt. 1: Okay, you have your basic fantasy (or not-so-fantasy) universe. What now? The Elder Gods of the Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, and other great fantasy universes talk about what happens next and how worlds and campaign settings evolve. With Ed Greenwood, Steven Schend, Jeff Grubb, and Stan!
  • 1 PM: Shared Worlds: Let’s take a look at the strengths & strains of working on a shared intellectual property from a fiction writing perspective. Are shared worlds stronger for stories or just bigger tapestries? Find out from several best selling authors and writers what they really think about writing in shared worlds. Come ask anything you need to know about shared worlds and writing. With Ed Greenwood, Steven Schend, Jeff Grubb, and Stan!

Sunday, September 21

  • 10:30 AM: Writers’ Feedback: Writing’s a solitary thing, but we all need other opinions for feedback & clarity. Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to critique well. Learn how to make sure you get what you need (and learn what to ignore). This panel can help answer questions on the best (and worst) feedback and critique. Many of our panelists are in a long-time writer’s group spread coast to coast called the Alliterates. All of them have also been both authors and editors at various stages across their careers. With Ed Greenwood, Steven Schend, Jeff Grubb, and Stan!

The rest of the time, I’ll either be wandering around and playing games, catching up with friends, or hiding in my hotel room and racing impending deadlines. This looks to be my last convention of the year, so if you can get out to the western side of Michigan this weekend, I hope to see you there!

Sep 122014

1882742-1403026693249My pal John Kovalic does many great things. He illustrates games like Apples to Apples and Munchkin. He draws the Dork Tower comic strip. He even plays a mean game of Fiasco. He dotes on his terribly dotable wife and daughter. And he does his best to help those in need.

Case in point, John’s riding his bike for 60 miles on Sunday to help get farm-fresh food to needy families around Madison. He did the same thing last year and raised $4,000. This time around, he set his goal at $5,000, and he blew straight past it. He’s now well over $11,000, and the drive doesn’t end until Sunday.

As an act of gratitude, John assembled a package of ebooks to give to those who back the drive. It features a stack of wonderful comics by him and his regular co-conspirators, and he’s giving away Munchkin artwork to some of the backers as well. On top of that, he asked some of his friends to help him show his appreciation to all those chipping in—and John has amazing friends.

I’m tossing in a free ebook of Dangerous Games: How to Play for everyone who donates, plus John asked me to write him a limerick. (Nothing like leaning on my Irish heritage for a good cause!) But he also lined up several other heavyweight authors to write limericks too, including:

Better yet, John (and possibly some of his artist friends) are going to illustrate each of the limericks. And to top it all off, the Doubleclicks have vowed to set Pat’s limerick to music!

So, head on over to John’s blog and check out the full roundup of glorious, fun things you can get. (He’s adding new things often, so the list may grow.) Then check out his Bike the Barns pledge page and give what you can. And make John bike like the wind!

Sep 102014

IMG_5132Yesterday, Magic: The Gathering: The Complete Collection came out from IDW. This collects all of the Magic: The Gathering comics published by IDW over the past few years, including twelve I wrote and another five by Jason Ciaramella. Artist Martin Cóccolo did a fantastic job with the the bulk of the pencils and inks for the entire run, and J. Edwin Stevens breathed life into my issues with his amazing colors.

The book also features the original, stunning covers by some of the top artists in the industry, including Alex Horley, Dan Scott, Aleksi Briclot, Carl Kopinski, Christopher Moeler, Chris Rahn, and Ryan Pancoast. It also shows many of the variant covers by artists like Tyler Walpole and Menton3.

It’s a heavy book, weighing in at 3.5 pounds. It’s taller and wider than the original comics, and it’s printed on top-quality paper that shows off every bit of the excellent art. The cover features a gold-foil logo and embossed icons from the game. It’s a thing of true beauty that would grace any shelf.

I hear the writing’s not too bad either.

Go grab it from your local comic shop or your favorite bookseller, and enjoy the Magic.

Sep 072014

At the moment, I’m tangentially involved in two different monster-themed Kickstarters: Cthulhu Claus Holiday Cards Wave 2 and Goblin Quest.

In the first, the talented Jody Lindke (who provided illustrations for Monster Academy: I Will Not Eat People) returns for a second round of holiday cards featuring the creepy yet merry Cthulhu Claus. These feature inscriptions from the master of all things Lovecraft, Ken Hite.

I backed the first set (of course), and the cards were just as excellent as you would expect. They’re almost too good to send out, but at the same time too much fun to keep to yourself.

I’ve been friends with Jody’s husband Christian for many years, which is how I wound up having Jody’s excellent artwork in my first Monster Academy book. For this drive, she’s offered to come up with illustrations for the second Monster Academy book as well—if the project funds.

That’s not “if we make it to a higher stretch goal.” It’s “if the project succeeds at all.”

That’s terribly generous of Jody, but the project does need some love. It’s just over 40% of the way funded at the moment, and there’s only three days left, so please check that one out fast.

Up second, game designer Grant Howitt has a hilarious tabletop roleplaying game called Goblin Quest up on Kickstarter right now too. This project has already raised more than five times as much as its initial funding goal of £2,000, and it still has nine days left.

Grant lined up a number of famous game designers to write sets of short adventure seeds for Goblin Quest. The pack I’m in already funded at the £10,000 level, so if you back the game, you’ll get some fun bits from me for sure. And there’s an excellent chance you’ll see more pieces from folks like Robin Laws, Rob Heinsoo, James Wallis, and even Ken Hite, who’s writing the Cthulhu Claus cards too.

While I have your attention, allow me to call out a few other drives I’ve backed with my own hard-earned cash.

  • Girls on Games: A Look at the Fairer Side of the Industry: A book about women in tabletop games, edited by Elisa Teague and featuring friends like Nicole Lindroos, Peggy Brown, Tanis O’Connor, Gaby Weilding, Teeuwynn Woodruff, Jennifer Brozek, Carol Monahan, Jessica Blair, and Mike Selinker.
  • Hero Happy Hour: On the Rocks: A graphic novel by Dan Taylor and Chris Fason. Funny stuff about superheroes and their favorite bar.
  • Designers & DragonsA history of the roleplaying game industry by Shannon Appelcline. I helped Shannon with a few facts for the excellent first edition, and this one promises to be even better.
  • Mutiny of Dreamers: A book project about achieving your dreams, by Melissa Hawks, who used to live here in Beloit.
  • Kaptain Brawe 2: A Space Travesty: An adventure video game written by Steven Ince.
Sep 022014

oe_upright_logo_webI’m happy to announced that I’ve licensed the setting for my Shotguns & Sorcery novels to Outland Entertainment for both tabletop roleplaying games and enhanced ebooks. You can read the full press release below, but the tl;dr version is this: Kickstarter for the RPG coming in October. RPG to debut at Gen Con 2015.

It’s still early days as far as the game goes, and we’re nailing down lots of details, but this feels like coming home. I originally created Shotguns & Sorcery as a fantasy noir setting for the d20 RPG, way back in 2001, and licensed it to Mongoose for publication in 2002. Life interrupted that when my wife became pregnant with quadruplets between those two points, and she and I and our three-year-old son wound up welcoming three more boys and a girl into our house that summer instead.

Flash forward to 2010, when I revived the setting for a short story for The New Hero anthologies Robin Laws was putting together. That became “Friends Like These.” I had such a great time with it, I wrote another story, “Goblintown Justice,” which appeared in an anthology edited by Steve Sullivan. (If you’d like a taste of the setting, you can grab that one for free.)

Then in 2012, as part of my 12 for ’12 challenge, I ran a Kickstarter for a trilogy of Shotguns & Sorcery novels. That funded all three books, and I wrote and published Hard Times in Dragon City, Bad Times in Dragon Cityand End Times in Dragon City, each featuring the continuing story of ex-adventurer Max Gibson and his hardboiled friends.

In 2013, Noble Beast—which produced the excellent Steampunk Holmes enhanced ebook—licensed the rights to create enhanced ebook editions of all three novels. I had the pleasure of working with producer Ellie Ann, and she matched me up with artist Jeremy Mohler, who really grokked the books.

Sadly, Noble Beast went belly up, and the project died, but Jeremy wouldn’t give up. He approached me about publishing the enhanced ebooks through his company, Outland Entertainment, and while we were at it, he wanted to produce a roleplaying game as well.

I have to admit, I hesitated. Back when I was the president of Pinnacle Entertainment Group, my cofounder Shane Hensley and I published a lot of great, award-winning games, including Deadlands, Brave New World, and The Great Rail Wars. I had all the skills and knowledge to publish the game myself—hopefully even with Jeremy’s excellent artwork—and I harbored dreams of tackling that myself someday.

“Someday” is the key word there. I realized that with as many projects as I’m working on at the moment, someday would be years away, if it ever came. And life’s too short to wait for someday.

So Jeremy and I hammered out a deal, and IT IS ON! 

Someday is now. Well, the work starts now. The game will be out next summer, and Outland is going to run a Kickstarter for it this October, to get things rolling.

I’ll be writing a good chunk of the game—concentrating on developing the setting to the point we can hand it off to you to play in—with help from Jeremy and his cadre of outstanding Outland talent. Stay tuned for more updates and details as we’re ready to share them.

Shotguns & Sorcery: The Roleplaying Game. It’s rolling your way. Soon.

S&S Logo

See the full press release below:

Continue reading »

Aug 122014


To celebrate Gen Con this week, I’m putting all three of my Dangerous Games novels on sale for only $2.99! That’s $2 off each. If you grab all three installments in the trilogy, that comes to $8.97, for a total savings of $6.

They’re on sale right now through the Buy Direct and DriveThruFiction buttons on my site. It’ll take a while longer for the sale to filter down to the other sites, like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks, but it should reach them soonish.

The Dangerous Games books are each set at Gen Con (the largest tabletop gaming convention in the world) and tell the story of Liam Parker, an aspiring game designer who stumbles into a murder investigation on his first night at the show. How to Play is a murder mystery centered around that killing. The sequel, How to Cheat, is a crime novel that centers around the fallout from the previous year’s murder. The finale, How to Win, blasts all the doors off for a full-on action story. I call it Die Hard meets Gen Con.

The books are littered with scores of tabletop industry personalities, both as characters and victims. I’ve been involved in the industry for thirty years now—this will be my 33rd Gen Con in a row—and I wanted to peel back the curtain to show you just what it’s like to be involved in such a vibrant and fun community based on entertaining your friends around a table. Well, with a bit more drama than the show has ever had in real life, of course!

Allen Varney, who is also the first murder victim in How to Play called it “a blood-soaked love letter to Gen Con.” That’s as good as anyone’s ever put it.

Take advantage of this deal and join me at Gen Con, at least in the pages of my books. If you can make it there in real life too, be sure to say hi. At Gen Con, we’re all gamers—and not murder victims!

Dangerous Games: How to Play

Dangerous Games: How to Play

Series: Dangerous Games, Book 1
Genre: Thriller
Publication Year: 2013
ISBN: 9781301239702
Murder comes to Gen Con, the largest tabletop gaming convention in the world, and this time it's no game. After stumbling over the body of a famous game designer, it's up to Liam Parker to figure out who killed the man and—more importantly—why.
Download Sample Chapter


Welcome to the Big Show!

Once a year, the greatest tabletop gamers in the world descend upon Indianapolis for Gen Con — the Best Four Days in Gaming — to play games, see friends, and have fun. They play things like Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, Warhammer 40,000, Settlers of Catan, Munchkin, and everything else they can get their hands on. Mostly the competition is friendly.

Sometimes it is not.

When a world-famous game designer turns up murdered at the convention, Liam Parker — the young game designer who stumbles across the body — makes it his quest to figure out who killed the man, and why. In the end, Liam must figure out the rules of this most dangerous game fast — or risk losing his life.

Aug 112014
Scott Elliott of Gen Con gave me a hoody with this year's sweet design on it.

Scott Elliott of Gen Con gave me a hoody with this year’s sweet design on it.

Gen Con is coming up this week! This is my favorite time of year, and I hope you can come share it with me.

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. My schedule:

Wednesday, August 13

Thursday, August 14

Friday, August 15

Saturday, August 16

In my free time, I’ll be wandering about, playing games with my family, and catching up with friends. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to see you at the show. If you spot me, go ahead and say hi. We’re all gamers at Gen Con!

Aug 112014

DG-HTP-3DThanks to everyone who downloaded Dangerous Games: How to Play for free early last week and entered the drawing to win three free passes to Gen Con. It took me three tries to find a winner who could make it to the show and put the passes to use. Fortunately, the earlier winners (Wayne Humfleet and Scott Fields) were happy to pass them on to someone who would get to enjoy them. They went to Dino Liapis of Skokie, Illinois! 

Stay tuned for more Gen Con news!