Exiles – Script #2

I can’t believe I didn’t post this last week!  I had it ready and everything.  Just got busy going to PAX South.  It was awesome, btw.

Anyway, here’s this week’s blog.

It’s another set of layouts for part of an issue of Exiles and the plotting around it. Ragnarock has already happened in the 616 and didn’t actually change anything. I think it would be interesting to see what would happen if it actually took place the way the Norsemen envisioned it and truly was the end of the world (as we know it.)

I’m not sure who the Exiles in this team would be. Azara is key to the story (and would probably be in the team the whole time, anyway) but I’m not sure who else should be in the group. Thunderstrike is an obvious choice and perhaps Ballista and Unicorn. But it would also need a down to earth scrapper or two. Perhaps Knight Errant. A flyer would be useful, too. Hmm…How about just Hemogoblin. There you go. That’s a good group. For whatever reason, I feel like the Exiles should always have 6 members in the group. Maybe I’ll define why that is sometime…but not now.

If I was actually doing this, I might change Magni and Modi to the 3 daughters they’ve created for the Marvel version of Thor. Although, I like the traditional Norse Myths for this version of Ragnarok, too, so maybe not.

Page 1 Panel 1 A long, establishing shot on a bridge with the NYC skyline in the background. There is activity on the bridge but it is hard to see what it is. Lightning parts the skies.

Text Box: The Place: New York City of Reality 216

The Time: Ragnarok

Page 1 Panel 2 The focus draws in closer showing that there is a massive battle taking place on the bridge. One side is trolls, dark elves and other villainous Asgardians. On the other side are police and army, even civilians fighting them. Lightning continues to light the skyline.

Page 1 Panel 3 Focus draws even closer and the Exiles come into view fighting against the invading Asgardians.

Page 1 Panels 4 – 6 Close ups of various members of the Exiles whipping up on the baddies.

Page 2 Panel 1 Zoom back out, long panel showing the Asgardian horde gaining the upper hand.

Page 2 Panel 2 Long panel panning around to show the battle.

Unicorn: There’s too many of them. They’re overrunning us!

Thunderstrike: Keep fighting! We have to hold them here.

Page 2 Panel 3 Ballista looking over his shoulder. In the background are the figures of Norse warriors approaching.

Ballisa: It’s the einherherjer…einjererer…dead Viking guys!

Page 3 Panel 1: A small panel inset in the next Panel showing then einherjar breaking into a charge.

Page 3 Panel 2: A full page showing the einherjar crashing into the trolls, etc.

Page 4 Panel 1: Cut to the Manhattan skyline. A figure stands atop one of the buildings, silhouetted and wreathed in lightning.

Page 4 Panel 2: Zooming in on the figure, close enough that the silhouette can be clearly discerned as Thor.

Page 4 Panel 3: Still zooming in. Thor is clearly displayed now and seems to be in battle with someone but they’re not apparent.

Page 4 Panel 4: Azara looking up in the midst of battle.

Azara: I’m going to help him!

Page 4 Panel 5: Thunderstrike and Azara in panel in battle.

Thunderstrike: No! You’re not meant to help him!

Azara: Then why are we here?

Page 4 Panel 6: Thunderstrike and Azara still debating and fighting.

Thunderstrike: To do this. To help the Midgardians fight off the invasion.

Azara: No. I can help. And if I save Thor then he can help us fight.

Page 5 Panel 1: Azara tossing off his opponents to break free, Thunderstrike still fighting in the background.

Azara: I’m going!

Thunderstrike: No!

Page 5 Panel 2: Azara flying with lightning in the background

Page 5 Panel 3: A close up on Thor, standing ready to take on his opponent’s next attack.

Page 5 Panel 4: Half page panel. Reverse shot showing Thor’s back. He’s small, even in the foreground. His opponent is in the background and is huge – the Midgard Serpent.

Page 6 Panel 1: Zoom in on the Midgard Serpent looming closer with jaws gaping open.

Page 6 Panel 2: Azara slamming into the Midgard Serpent’s head and knocking him away.

Page 6 Panel 3: Azara hovering, looking pleased and proud of himself, looking down at the Midgard Serpent off panel.

Page 6 Panel 4: Azara from the back having been struck, head knocked to the side. A close examination of the side of the panel shows the handle of Mjolnir flying off panel.

Page 7 Panel 1: Azara looking in the direction of his attacker, his helmet shattered on the side where he was struck.

Page 7 Panel 2: View of his attacker. It’s Thor, he’s catching his hammer as it returns to him.

Thor: Enow, mortal! Your place is not here!

Page 7 Panel 3: Pan out, long panel that shows them facing each other.

Azara: Mortal? I’m less mortal than you are, Thor. I’m an Eternal! My people are just as long lived and don’t depend on Golden Apples to keep them alive. And I don’t have this predestined death hanging over my head.

Page 7 Panel 4: Another long panel, the two figures have barely moved but Azara is tossing his ruined helmet away.

Thor: Aye, Eternal but not Asgardian. You may be long lived and you may be a powerful warrior but you are not born of the Golden Realm so your place is not in the annals of Ragnarok.

Page 8 Panel 1: A close up of a furious Azara’s face.

Azara: So that’s it then? I’m not part of your special club so you’d rather die than take my help?

Page 8 Panel 2: Close up of Thor’s face. He has a stoic expression with just a hint of condescension.

Thor: Correct. This is the fate of Asgard and her sons. You cannot help me in this except for as mortals can.

Page 8 Panel 3: Back to Azara, no longer angry but desperate.

Azara: I’m here to help you, Thor!

Thor: I need not thy help, mortal.

Page 8 Panel 4: A split panel of Azara’s face and Thor’s face.

Azara: Thor, listen…

Thor: Nay, mortal. Listen thou. No man or god can deny his Fate. It is folly and cowardice to try. My Fate is here. Your Fate is there. Go to thy place.

Page 9 Panel 1: Azara hovering, beseeching

Azara: But I can…

Page 9 Panel 2: Thor hefting his hammer.

Thor: Must I strike thee again? I swear that I shall not be gentle this time as I was the last.

Page 9 Panel 3: A close up of Azara’s face. He looks dejected but understanding.

Page 9 Panel 4: Long shot showing Thor still on the building and Azara flying away. Lightning continues to wrack the sky in the background.

Page 9 Panel 5: Long shot showing Thor battling the Midgard Serpent once more.

Page 10 Panel 1: Inset in top left of next panel. Azara is rejoining the fight and Thunderstrike is in the frame, again.

Thunderstrike: I told you. Your place is here.

Page 10 Panel 2: A full page panel showing a long shot of the Exiles and einherjar and regular people fighting against the villainous creatures of Asgard on the bridge. Manhattan is in the distance but the Midgard Serpent, massive and clearly visible is still fighting Thor, who can barely be seen as a small silhouette illuminated by masses of lightning.

Page 10 Panel 3: Inset in bottom right of previous panel. Azara looking up toward the fight between Thor and the Midgard Serpent.

Azara: It didn’t have to be.

Page 11 and 12: Several panels showing the deaths of various Asgardians, both from classic descriptions of Ragnarok and dealing with the deaths of Asgardians who were created for and during the comic series – Thor, poisoned, collapsing next to the Midgard Serpent. Tyr being devoured by Fenris and avenged by the Warriors 3 who also die in the process. Odin falling to Surtur. Loki and Hel dying as well.

Text boxes scattered across the pages: Over the following days and weeks, the Asgardians are proven right. Ragnarok is their Fate and they all perish in exactly the ways that were foretold thousands of years earlier.

Page 13 Panel 1: Amora and Magni in action poses! Magni has the Executioner’s axe.

Text box: Not all Asgardians were doomed to die, though. Fate left hope in the form of two young gods

Page 13 Panel 2: Pan out to show they are facing Malekith and Kurse. Malekith and Amora are already exchanging mystic blasts while Magni and Kurse are charging at each other.

Malekith: I am surprised Amora. I would have expected the cunning Enchantress to have found some way out of Ragnarok. Should I offer you the chance to join the winning side?

Page 13 Panel 3: Close up of Amora’s torso, her hands in arcane gestures, magical energy flowing from them, a magical explosion from Malekith striking her shield, her body lit in strange colors.

Amora: I am surprised that the mighty Malekith, with all his mystical knowledge does not know that there is no way out of Ragnarok and that there is no winning side. This is the end of everything.

Page 13 Panel 4: A similar view of Malekith.

Malekith: Not everything. Not everyone. And Fate is fickle. It can be changed. It can be fooled. It can be stolen.

Page 13: Panel 5: Pan back out to see Magni and Kurse trading blows and both Amora and Malekith looking at Magni.

Amora: No!

Page 14 Panel 1: Kurse has managed to grapple Magni and Malekith is approaching him. Amora is in the background, bound by Malekith’s magic.

Page 14 Panel 2: A closer view of Kurse and Magni with Malekith right next to them.

Malekith: Your Fate will be mine, son of Thor and my Fate will be yours.

Page 14 Panel 3: Amora bursting through the mystical bonds.

Page 14 Panel 4: Malekith reaching out a diabolically glowing hand toward a struggling Magni still in Kurse’s grip. Amora’s arm only is visible coming from off panel to grip Malekith’s shoulder.

Page 14 Panel 5: Amora forcing a kiss on Malekith. He looks surprised.

Page 14 Panel 6: Close up on Malekith, now released. He’s surprised and slightly horrified.

Page 15 Panel 1: Same view but Malekith is smirking and wiping his lips.

Malekith: Release me from your enchantment and I will reverse my curse before it destroys you, Amora.

Page 15 Panel 2: A similar view of Amora but close. Fiendish looking runes glow on her lips.

Amora: What have you done?

Page 15 Panel 3: Malekith and Amora facing each other, he with a victorious smirk, her with a troubled expression.

Malekith: Your ways are well known, my love. Only a fool would not prepare for them. Much as it pains me to end your beauty and radiance, the kiss that has bewitched me has cursed you and you will die in minutes if you do not allow me to remove the curse.

Page 15 Panel 4: Now Amora is smirking. Kurse and Magni can be seen still wrestling in the background.

Amora: Fool you are, Malekith, if this was your preparation. You have said it yourself, I am your love. You cannot let your love die. End this curse and I will be eternally grateful.

Page 15 Panel 5: Close up of Malekith. He has tears in his eyes.

Malekith: I cannot, my love. I can only end the curse if I am under no compulsion. I knew this might happen and I entwined that requirement with the spell. Please, release me so that I may save you.

Page 16 Panel 1: Back to Amora. She has a sad, chagrined look. The magic of Malekith’s curse has begun to spread from her lips to the rest of her face.

Amora: And if I free you, you will never save me.

Page 16 Panel 2: Long shot of the two of them facing each other, both of them knowing Amora is going to die. She is taking it stoically, he appears hysterical.

Malekith: What can I do? What can I do for you, my love?

Amora: Die.

Page 16 Panel 3 (small): Malekith has a surprised, stricken expression.

Page 16 Panel 4 (small): Malekith with a determined look.

Malekith: As you wish.

Page 16 Panel 5: Full body shot of Malekith, his body and face full of pain and determination and lit with strange, sinister magic light. There is smoke coming off him.

Page 16 Panel 6: The same shot but more smoke and his skeleton can be seen.

Page 16 Panel 7: Only the magical light remains and it is fading.

Page 17 Panel 1: Amora standing with a satisfied look over a pile of ashes that were once Malekith. Magni and Kurse can be seen battling in the background.

Page 17 Panel 2: Same view, Amora is collapsing.

Magni: “Amora!”

Page 17 Panel 3: Zoom in on Magni and Kurse.

Magni: Enow, fiend! Your vexations have lasted long enough and kept me away from my love too long!

Page 17 Panel 4: Magni breaks free.

Page 17 Panel 5: Magni decapitates Kurse with his axe.

Page 18 Panel 1: Magni kneeling next to Amora, her head in his lap, Kurse’s decapitated body in the background.

Magni: What has he done to you, my love?

Page 18 Panel 2: Same view but closer, Amora has a hand up, touching Magni’s face.

Amora: I fear he has slain me.

Page 18 Panel 3: Magni has lifted Amora’s body up to his chest.

Magni: No! No, there must be something I can do.

Amora: There is nothing, my heart. I can feel the power of his curse. Odin himself could not break it, if he yet lived.

Page 18 Panel 4: Zoom in on their faces close together.

Amora: Do not weep for me, my heart. Though I have not always behaved like one, I face my Fate like a true Asgardian.

Page 18 Panel 5: Zoom back out. Magni is holding Amora’s clearly lifeless corpse. Despite her request, she is weeping.

Page 19 Panel 1: The Exiles in the suburbs, gathering up survivors.

Ballista: I still can’t believe that, after all that, we abandoned New York.

Unicorn: What were we supposed to do, Babe? There were just too many of them. If we would have stayed, they would have just overrun us.

Page 19 Panel 2: Enemy troops coming over the horizon and the Exiles going to face them to protect the survivors.

Hemogoblin: Heads up. Looks like we’ve got company.

Page 19 Panel 3: Magni, carrying the Executioners axe still, cuts his way through the dimensions near the Exiles. Modi is behind him in the rift carrying Mjolnir.

Modi: Leave these malcontents, friends. Bring your charges with us to safety.

Page 19 Panel 4: Azara and Hemogoblin are watching the newcomers dubiously, Ballista and Unicorn uncertainly and Thunderstrike and Knight Errant are already ushering the civilians toward the Asgardians.

Azara: We’re just going to trust these guys?

Thunderstrike: It’s Magni and Modi. Thor’s sons. And Modi has Mjolnir. He must be worthy. We can trust them.

Page 19 Panel 5: Closer view of Unicorn and Thunderstrike, with civilians passing them on their way toward the rift.

Unicorn: So what, he can carry a hammer and we just assume he’s a good guy?

Thunderstrike: It’s Mjolnir! You can’t pick it up unless you’re worthy!

Unicorn: I hate magic.

Page 20 Panel 1: The other side of the rift. Magni and Modi are there and the civilians are passing through as are some of the Exiles. They’re arriving in a ruined cityscape.

Page 20 Panel 2: Pan out to show some iconic New York Landmark, that is also ruined. The Exiles, civilians and Asgardians are small against it.

Unicorn: Happy?

Ballista: Thrilled.

Page 20 Panel 3: Close up view of Ballista and Magni.

Ballista: What happened here? Where are all the giants and trolls?

Magni: Once the foul varlets massacred all the innocents they could find and looted all the valuables they could carry, they destroyed what was left until they grew bored and went to find other entertainments.

Page 20 Panel 4: Azara and Modi in view.

Azara: So, we’re just moving back in and waiting for them to attack us again?

Modi: Nay. Ragnarok draws to a close. The enemies of Asgard are all but gone and only my brother and I remain of the Golden Realm. It is time to rebuild.

Page 21 Panel 5: Long shot of Grand Central Station. It has been recrafted by the Asgardians as an enormous, glorious Long House, though you can still see the remains of what it was.

Magni: And here is where the foundations of the new world will be built.

Knight Errant: Whoa.

Page 22 Panel 1: Half page panel a sort of cosmic view of the 9 realms. Yea, verily, they be wrecked. The charred, scarred husk of Yggdrasil runs through them.

Text box: 1 Just as the prophecies foretold, it was not just Asgard and Midgard that suffered from the conflict.

Text box: 2 Every realm from Alfheim to Jotunheim, was devastated in the war with the Asgardians and their allies meting out bloody and fiery retribution for the wounds that they suffered.

Text box 3: Those who instigated Ragnarok were just as aware of the prophecies as those who they attacked. They knew their own realms would suffer as much as any.

Text box 4: But the hatred and desire for vengeance and violence in the hearts of some beings cannot be measured and they are willing to sacrifice all if it will harm their enemies.

Page 22: Panel 2: A distant view of the mangled roots of Yggdrasil. They have clearly been chewed on. The Exiles and Magni and Modi are standing around them.

Text box: But all hope is not lost. There is still life and where there is life there is a future.

Page 22: Panel 3: Magni kneeling next to a tiny sapling that is nonetheless extremely healthy looking that is springing up out of the remains of Yggdrasil. The lower legs of those he’s with are evident in the background, surrounding him.

Magni: Good, it’s healthy. As it always is, the new grows out of the old.

Page 22: Panel 4: Pan back slightly and up so that everyone’s face is visible. They’re all looking down at the sapling off panel.

Hemogoblin: Too bad the old had to be completely destroyed before the new could grow out of it.

Page 22: Panel 5: Modi cutting a rift in space and everyone starting to go through.

Modi: Is that not the way of all things? Is it not the way of things in your world? There are no true beginning or endings. Just changes. Life grows out of death, then that life dies and new life grows out of it.

Page 23: Panel 1: The Exiles and Asgardians stepping out the other side of the rift on a balcony of the long house.

Azara: Of course. Nothing is ever really created or destroyed, it’s all just transformation. But if that’s the case, I don’t know why we’re here. We didn’t change anything.

Page 23: Panel 2: A large panel with a panoramic view of the space below the balcony. It is a thriving village in the heart of the ruins of New York city.

Magni: No? The Fate of each Asgardian was written, my friend. There was no changing that. The Fate of Humanity was written as well, but that you have changed. There were only supposed to be 2 mortals to survive Ragnarok. Thanks to you and your companions, there are thousands.

Page 23: Panel 3: Back in on the Exiles and Asgardians.

Azara: Saving lives is always good, but if Fate determined that two would be enough to repopulate, why did we need to save thousands?

Page 23: Panel 4: Cut to a shot of the Earth with a large ship approaching.

Magni (Unseen): Perhaps something unforeseen threatens this world.

And that will lead us into the next story, where the Kree attack while the Earth is vulnerable. The Exiles will fend off the attack with a daring raid on the ship. During this raid, Thunderstrike remains behind to hold off oncoming troops. (“It’s suicide!” “I have fought alongside my heroes to stop the end of the world, there is nothing more I want to do.”) This causes trouble in the next arc because it is helping the Kree in another reality when the Celestials come to their world to seed it with Eternals and Deviants as they did in Earth’s ancient past. One of the Exiles is not interested in helping the Kree because they killed Thunderstrike.

And as usual, if you’ve read this far (or just skipped to the end)…you can buy my novels and games at blackguardpress.com

Ravnivori Archetypes

Most of the Savage Worlds campaign books have Archetypes as a good stepping off point for people not only to get a feel for the setting but also ideas for characters.  Since there are no classes in Savage World it can be a lot harder to create a character from whole cloth and these archetypes are good inspiration.  Because I steal good ideas whenever I find them, I went ahead and wrote up some for my campaign setting.


Something of a catchall category, “adventurer” is often the polite term used to describe someone who gets into and out of trouble without having a specific function within the empire or a discernible skill set other than a knack for getting into and out of trouble. They are just as often called “vagabonds” and “heroes” depending on their level of skill and success.


Though stories and songs focus on the exploits of warriors and wizards, war and conflict is not the Empire’s preferred way of expansion. An enemy is something you hurt yourself destroying while an ally is something that you gives you strength when you in strengthen it.


The Ravnivori Empire depends on machines as much as it does magic. Whether ballista, catapults, cannons or other siege machinery, the complex mechanics that go into Void Runners or more mundane machines like elevators and printing presses, the Empire is in a time of great innovation. Engineers are the men and women who take wood and metal, steam and electricity and turn them into these wonders of machinery.


The Void is unimaginably vast, containing countless planets, each one so large and diverse that an entire lifetime could be spent exploring it. Some people are fascinated by this fact and are drawn to new horizons. Some of these individuals pick a world or nation and spend a lifetime exploring and documenting it, adding to the knowledge of the Empire while others are more restless and travel from one world and nation to another, always seeking new experiences.


While many of the wonders of the Ravnivori Empire are purely mechanical as many or more depend on some form of magic. This combination of mechanical parts with arcane components is known as Mechanomancy and it can often lead to results greater than can be achieved by either of its parts. The men and women who practice this art and science are known as Mechanomancers and they are responsible for everything from the ships that ply the Void to indoor plumbing that provides hot water on demand. Many consider the pinnacle of this practice to be the creation of a Mechanid. Of course, this is usually a bittersweet accomplishment as it means watching one’s creation literally develop a mind of its own and many Mechanomancers are not eager to give up a useful (and expensive to create) servant, even if it does give them bragging rights with their peers.


Taking goods that are cheap in one place and transporting them to another place where they are expensive and taking advantage of the profit is perhaps the second oldest profession. That has not changed now that the Ravnivori are able to fly through the Void. In fact, there is a whole new class of merchants and traders who make their living by either taking goods made in the Empire or on Retra and selling them outside the Empire or in the colonies or vice versa. While the dangers are greater, so are the profits.


All three nations that make up the Ravnivori Empire had some sort of feudal system in place. Though Ravnivorous cares more for talent than blood, those systems have not completely expired. There is still a certain amount of respect provided to people from noble families and they often own a great deal of land or other resources. But times are changing and many nobles have to struggle to retain their place of privilege in the world in the face of plebeians who now have equal rights. Additionally, there is a new breed of noble have carved land and power out of the possibilities of the Void, often through sheer willpower and skill.


There are many gods in the Empire and even more in the vastness of the Void around it. While these gods are sometimes distant and silent, others are active participants in the lives of their followers. Priests can range from simple officiants who perform the rituals necessary for their church and congregation to mighty magic wielders able to perform miracles and demonstrate the divine power of their deity in a very real way.


While the Ravnivori are quite proud of their Void Navy, it is miniscule compared to their ocean going navy and even smaller compared to some of the collections of Void going ships owned by other nations. To help counteract this discrepancy in power, they have taken to providing letters of Marque to several amenable independent Void Runners. These individuals have specific instructions not to attack any of the larger Void powers in the Ravnivori name and largely serve as system patrols and blockade runners, but it is likely only a matter of time before a ship with one of these letters attacks an Elven Navy ship.

Ravnivori ships are welcome to take on letters of Marque from other nations as well, especially if these nations are allies or likely candidates for expansion. These individuals are expected to keep the best interests of the Empire in mind, however and know better than to pick a fight with any nation that would be a true danger to the Ravnivori.


Some people don’t need arcane study or faith in some deity to change the fabric of reality. All they need is their own strength of will and inherent abilities. Psychic abilities often manifest early and with no obvious explanation. This leads to them being the subjects of superstition and suspicion. Sometimes feared as demons, sometimes worshipped as gods, often called freaks, psychics are often outsiders who live lonely lives and either become exactly what society expects of them or work desperately to prove they are not.


Whether they’re an old salty dog expanding his horizons from the oceans of a terrestrial world to the boundless vistas of the Void or a fresh kid with stars in his eyes, sailors are, as they ever were, the backbone of the Ravnivori Navy. This hasn’t changed since ships have begun to fly. A trusty crew is the most valuable asset to any captain and wise leaders will go out of their way to put together a group of sailors that are dependable and trustworthy. Becoming a sailor is a good way to feed a hunger for travel and is a respected profession in the Empire if one is willing to accept the dangers that come with the job.


Knowledge is power and knowledge of an opponent is power over them. It is a scout’s job to procure this power. While the traditional ideal of a man or woman who is able to live alone in the wilderness for long stretches of time, remaining hidden from the enemy and travelling fast when the time comes still stands, a new type of scout has come to prominence as well.

Able to blend in with local cultures, these jacks-of-all-trades infiltrate societies on new worlds, portraying themselves as local citizens while learning of their way of life and traditions. They then take this knowledge back to the empire so that it can be used to advance Imperial interests.


Not everyone is born rich or powerful or even works their way up to a position of prominence. In fact, the majority of Ravnivori citizens simply toil away in regular day to day lives as farmers, carpenters, carters or other mundane jobs.

But Fate has plans for even the meekest individual. Often everyday citizens are thrown into spectacular situations, and how they react to those situations determines whether they will be forgotten by history or will achieve fame or infamy. Sometimes the simplest clay has a core of the strongest steel.


Flying ships, fantastic beasts and powerful spellcasters are all well and good and can give any force an important edge in battle, but in the end what wins wars and holds territory are boots on the ground. Despite what many stories say, the life of a soldier is rarely glamorous. Generally, it is a great deal of waiting or marching interspersed with short bursts of fearsome fights for survival. Still, the Empire pays its soldiers well, and for many, the military is the best, if not the only, way to get out of a life of peasant drudgery and to see other realms and even other worlds. And for those with the talent, skill, or simple luck, the Ravnivori military can be a place where a man or woman can find fortune, glory and prestige. Also, maidens be bewitched by scars.


Sorcerer, wizard, witch, there are any number of names for those who practice the arcane arts and almost as many techniques. Whether it be someone who depends on esoteric gestures, words of power, strange rituals or implements that aid them in bending the universe to their will, the end results are the same. Sometimes meant to aid allies, sometimes meant to harm foes and sometimes meant to view the future or distant places or move to those places faster than would be normally possible, magic can turn the tide of battle and the fate of a world and Spellcasters are the individuals with this power at their proverbial fingertips. In all cases, those who practice these arts do so only with a great deal of natural talent augmented by years of study and practice.


Although the Ravnivori Empire is not a voracious conqueror, one of the Emperor’s mottos is “an Empire that is not growing is dying.” Not all expansion is done through mass battles and force of arms, though. Ravnivorous knows that the subtle hand is often the strongest and that, in any case, the application of force is only effective if directed to the correct place. For that matter, he knows that the same is true for his enemies and that the Empire must be aware of threats that are not as obvious as marching armies. As such, he has a number of agents, most overt but quite a few more covert who spend most of their time in the courts and other places of power of other nations. The overt representatives are called emissaries and spend their days and nights enjoying the upper echelons of society. The covert agents are called spies and often appear to be doing the same but spend a great deal of their time in subterfuge and stealth, garnering information they are not intended to have. It is a thrilling life but also one that is full of danger as every nation has some sort of capital punishment in place, sometimes quick and efficient, sometimes slow and excruciating for those found engaged in espionage.

Remember, you can always find my games and fiction at Black Guard Press


Space Race(s)

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the old Spelljammer setting or that I’m a fan of Savage Worlds.  It was only a matter of time before I converted some of the more iconic races from the former into the rules for the latter.

Void Races

This one was the first I worked up, specifically because one of the players in my campaign (who had played in my short lived Spelljammer campaign way back in college) asked about them.  The Hadozee known as Cumberbatch has proven himself an impressive pilot for the Capital Gains.

Hadozee: No one knows exactly where Hadozee, also known as glider apes, came from. Their own legends speak of a home world full of giant trees and lush jungles. None of them know the name of this planet, have visited it or even know where it is. It is assumed that a group of their ancestors, or several groups, were captured and enslaved by some race or another and eventually escaped. Void nomads, the glider apes can be found in most of the major space going metropolises and almost all of them spend at least some portion of their life as part of the crew of a Void Runner. They are a curious, adventuresome and gregarious race. Any who are familiar with the void are familiar with the glider apes but many land bound people are fooled by their bestial appearance and are often surprised when they prove intelligent. They resemble large baboons with leathery flaps stretching from their wrists to ankles. Their fur is generally brown or grey but occasionally strange colors like blue or purple occur.


Glide: Glider apes can glide at their pace every round. They drop 1” for every 2” moved horizontally. If they make an agility check each success negates an 1” of drop and they can even rise 1” if they gain enough raises. Glider apes cannot hover and must move at least 2” per turn.

Size: -1. Glider apes are the size of children.

Curious: Glider apes are interested in everything. They find it difficult to avoid investigating anything novel.

Rigging Monkeys: Glider apes are highly agile. They start with a d8 in agility and can get a d12+2 in this stat through normal advancement. They are natural climbers and start with a free d6 in climbing.

Flingers: One of a glider ape’s natural defenses is throwing things. It is instinctual for them to throw things when threatened or angry. They start with a free d6 in climbing.


These guys have always been considered kind of a joke.  So, I wanted to see if I could rehabilitate them.  It’s kind of sad because the Giff look like hippopotamuses and hippos are actually some of the most dangerous animals in Africa.  That, combined with their military nature should make the Giff pretty dangerous.  I threw in a couple other Giff species who are also based on dangerous herbivores to make them a bit more threatening.  Only the common Giff are designed to be a playable race.

Giff: The Giff are actually 3 related races who occupy a single caste based society. The lowest, most common group are known simply as Giff and are massive humanoids with heads that resemble those of dour, fierce hippopotami. Renowned for their stupidity and aggressiveness throughout the known worlds, they are also fiercely loyal and brave. They love to fight and love the noise and chaos of black powder weapons, especially.

The next highest caste of the Giff are the Nocerans. These creatures are even larger than the common Giff and have the heads of rhinoceri. They are slightly smarter than the common Giff but just as loyal and courageous and even more aggressive. They are also more disciplined than the common Giff and have keen tactical minds. Most units of common gift have a Noceran leader.

The final class of Giff are the Nibals. The largest of the races, they have the heads of elephants. Unlike either of their smaller cousins, the Nibals are not particularly aggressive and are noticeably smarter and wiser than their kin. Calm contemplators, many of them spend much of their lives in meditation. Others are administrators, researchers and engineers and it is they who keep the Giff culture going.

All Giff are obsessed with black powder and much of their research and strategy revolves around using this material.

Giff society is highly hierarchical and largely militaristic. Almost all common gift and Nocerans are members of the military and there are over 100 ranks in this military, meaning that there is a definitive chain of command. Discipline is high and the punishments for disobeying orders or superiors are severe. Only the Nibals are commonly outside this hierarchy and even they generally serve the military in some form or another. Most of their contemplations go into creating strategies and new weapons.

Another lost race, the Giff homeworld is unknown. They possess a small world where most of the Nibal live and where a slight majority of the other two races also have their homes. Most of the rest of them live in small colonies or, more commonly on ships that wander the Void looking for contracts.

Though the Giff have a vast military, in fact most of their society revolves around it, they do not fight each other nor do they carry on campaigns of conquest. Instead, they are divided up into myriad mercenary units of assorted sizes who sell their services to other races. There are very few void ports without at least one unit of Giff offering their mercenary services.


Common Giff

All Thumbs: Common Giff are straightforward creatures without the capacity to truly understand complex technology.

Thick Skinned: Common Giff have 2 points of natural armor due to their thick, sturdy hides.

Slow Witted: Common Giff will never be mistaken for being incredibly bright. It costs 2 points to raise their smarts during character creation and two levellings to raise it afterwards.

Size +1: Common Giff are just over 6’ tall but are quite sturdy, weighing over 400 pounds.

Powerful Muscles: Though Common Giff look fat, they are actually very muscular. They begin play with a d8 strength instead of a d4. They may purchase their strength up to a d12+2. The Professional and Expert edges can increase this to d12+4.

Black Powder Obsession: Despite their almost complete lack of understanding of Black Powder and the weapons that use it, Common Giff are fascinated by them. They will always choose a black powder weapon over any other ranged option. Their All Thumbs hindrance applies to their use of these weapons.



Agility: d6, Smarts: d6, Spirit: d8, Strength: d10, Vigor: d8

Skills: Fighting d8, Intimidation d8, Knowledge (Battle) d6, Notice d4, Piloting: d6 Shooting: d6

Pace: 6             Parry: 6            Toughness: 11(3)

All Thumbs: Nocerans are straightforward creatures without the capacity to truly understand complex technology.

Thick Skinned: Nocerans have 3 points of natural armor due to their thick, sturdy hides.

Size +2: Nocerans stand just over 7’ tall and are quite sturdy, weighing over 600 pounds.

Black Powder Obsession: Despite their almost complete lack of understanding of Black Powder and the weapons that use it, Nocerans are fascinated by them. They will always choose a black powder weapon over any other ranged option. Their All Thumbs hindrance applies to their use of these weapons.

Near-sighted: Nocerans have weak eyes and receive a -2 to all ranged attacks.

Charge: Nocerans can use their horns in combat if they charge at least 2 squares. The damage for this attack is Str+d6.



Agility: d6, Smarts: d8, Spirit: d10, Strength: d10, Vigor: d10

Skills: Fighting d6, Knowledge (Any 2) d8, Persuasion d6, Piloting: d4, Shooting: d6

Pace: 6             Parry: 6            Toughness: 11(3)

Thick Skinned: Nibals have 3 points of natural armor due to their thick, sturdy hides.

Size +3: Nibals are truly huge creatures who stand just over 9’ tall and are quite sturdy, weighing over 1000 pounds.

Black Powder Obsession: Nibals are fascinated by black powder weapons of all sorts. They will always choose a black powder weapon over any other ranged option.

Tusks: If a Nibal must engage in combat it will use its tusks for Str +d6 damage.

Trunk: Nibal trunks are prehensile and quite adept. They gain a bonus non-move action each round using their trunk.



Maneuverability: -2

Toughness: 21(4)

Tonnage: 70tons Crew: 30/70 Standard Armament: 6 cannons, 1 Piercing/Grappling Ram Cargo: 35 tons Keel Length: 250’ Beam Length: 30’


Tuskers are known as ships that are tough, with a kick, but that handle like a brick. It is perhaps the hubris of the Nibals that it is designed to look like them. It looks like an elephant with a howdah mounted on the back. This howdah is actually the top deck of the vessel and features a cannon at each corner. The remaining two cannons are mounted in a forward room in the “head” of the elephant. The prow of the vessel is a piercing/grappling ram that looks like the elephant’s tusks/trunk. Tuskers are hard to put down but due to their poor maneuverability, most people simply evade rather than engage them.


Ok, Plasmoids may be my favorite race from Spelljammer.   They’re a truly alien species.  Also, they were the most powerful Herculoids.  Quite frankly, Gloop and Gleep didn’t need the rest.  It also caused me to create a new type of arcane background.

Plasmoids: No one is quite sure whether plasmoids naturally evolved on some strange world, were created by some unknowable god in its own shapeless image or were created as an experiment by a mad wizard in ages past. In any case, they are some of the most unusual sentient creatures in the Void. At first glance, a plasmoid appears to be nothing more than a puddle of viscous goo with unidentifiable organs floating in it. Plasmoids have impressive control over their shapeless bodies, however and can “stand” upright, form “limbs” or slither through tight spaces. Their amorphous form makes them unusually difficult to injure but also gives them an alien mentality that often leaves more mundane species nonplussed. Plasmoids communicate with each other through a series of vibrations of their skins that are often inaudible to other species but most are able to control these vibrations enough to speak more common languages.


Alien Nature – Plasmoids have unusual bodies by almost any definition. This means that other species are often put off by their appearance and method of communication. For that matter, their own mentalities mean that they have a difficult time understanding and interacting socially with members of other species. This leads to a -2 to all charisma checks with those who are not members of their species.


Amorphous Shape – The very nature of a plasmoid’s body provides it some advantages and disadvantages. They receive a +2 to avoid being shaken. They have no discernible anatomy so called shots are not an option against them. They also do not suffer any wound penalties. Additionally, their body chemistry is so unusual that they are immune to diseases and toxins. However, because of this strange anatomy, those trying to render aid to them are at a disadvantage. Anyone other than a plasmoid trying to heal a plasmoid through either mundane or magical means suffers a -2 to all checks. Likewise, it is almost impossible to create armor that fits these creatures. Only a master armorer is capable of crafting something suitable and will require a great deal of time.


Shapeshifting – All plasmoids are capable of consciously altering their amorphous forms, though sometimes in dramatically different ways. To reflect this, every plasmoid gains the Arcane Background (Shapeshifting) edge with an extra 5 power points and a starting Shapeshifting Skill of d6.


Arcane Background (Shapeshifting)

Skill: Shapeshifting (Vigor)

Number of Powers: 3

Power Points: 10

Shapeshifting is the ability to alter one’s own form. This might be due to a creature’s long years of study in controlling their own shape, an inherent ability gained by certain species or some sort of magical alterations made to the caster’s body.

Shapeshifters suffer no disadvantage when they roll a 1 on their skill die, however there are some inherent limitations. Only powers that have a range of touch can be used by someone with the Shapeshifting arcane background. Further, these powers can only be used on the caster, not granted to any other character.


Extra Limbs

Rank: Novice

Power Points: 3/1

Duration: 3 rounds

Trappings: Extra arm, tentacle, claw, tendril of hair, pseudopod, etc.

Effect: The caster springs an extra arm, tentacle or other limb capable of manipulation. This provides the character with an additional non-movement action. On a raise, an additional limb is created providing an additional non-movement action. Note that no weapons are generated by this power and extras must be carried if the caster wishes to wield them.


Show Some Spine!

And here is the second half of my first unpublished game.  Enjoy!

Equipment and Minions


No matter what genre a game takes place in, characters are likely to carry some sort of equipment. Whether this is the trusty longsword of a knight in a fantasy campaign, the 50’ robot in a mecha game or the belt full of gadgets in a superhero game, characters often live or die depending on their equipment.


Some characters also have a trusty sidekick, whether a loyal wolf, a dedicated droid, or a trusted henchman.


Types: There are two types of equipment, inherent and purchased. Inherent equipment is considered a part of the character. They are essentially just additional qualities that a character possesses. These are the iconic pieces of equipment that help define a character. Inherent pieces of equipment are things like magical items, specially modified weapons or even faithful steeds or personal mecha.


Inherent pieces of equipment should be bought as variable qualities and can be advanced in the same way. In fact, one or more of a character’s starting qualities might actually be a piece of equipment or some sort of minion.


Inherent pieces of equipment can be bought just like other Qualities after character creation through spending experience. Additionally, a character can add additional qualities to a piece of equipment by spending a flat 10 experience points.


Inherent pieces of equipment cannot be lost. At least not for any length of time. While a plot might separate a character from a piece of equipment for a time, this should be because it is important to the story and the inherent piece of equipment should be returned to the character relatively quickly.


Note that a player can convert a purchased piece of equipment into an inherent piece of equipment by buying a variable Quality that is associated with that piece of equipment. Depending upon this setting, this could mean having a piece of equipment enchanted or discovering an enchantment, tinkering with the specs on a high-tech piece of equipment or adding another bit of modifying equipment, like a scope to a piece of equipment.


Purchased pieces of equipment are different. Bought with gold pieces, credits, dollars, neo-yen or souls, according to the economy in the game, these are pieces of equipment that do not define a character but are simply tools he uses in his profession. A knight’s ancestral sword might be an inherent piece of equipment while his suit of plate mail would be a purchased piece of equipment.


It is up to the GM to determine the economy in his game and how much money he will be giving out. However, how much pieces of equipment cost should be fairly standard. Each percentage bonus they provide should cost a unit of currency. A pistol that gives a +5% bonus to shooting should cost 5 dollars, gold pieces, whatever. Of course, there are a wide variety of abilities beyond simple damage or defense that a piece of equipment can give. These abilities are classified as equipment qualities and are listed below.


The GM should set the price and effects for any piece of equipment in his game, though he is highly encouraged to get the input of players for pieces of equipment they want. In fact, players are encouraged to work up the stats for the equipment and offer it to the GM for approval. Unlike inherent equipment, bought equipment cannot later be improved. Its stats remain the same once set and the GM is under no constraints to return it to characters if it is lost or destroyed.


Budget: Depending upon the setting, the GM may want to set a starting equipment budget and allow the players to buy any equipment that they want with those points. This is especially appropriate in settings where gear is important, such as fantasy or sci-fi. What is a knight without his sword, after all or a space trooper without his blaster? Alternatively, especially in a military campaign, the GM may just assign equipment to various characters.


Qualities: Like characters, equipment has Qualities. And like characters, these Qualities can be sacrificed when the character is hit in combat. Equipment Qualities are a little more complex than character qualities, however. Unlike characters, not all Equipment Qualities can be called upon to provide a bonus and there are several categories of Equipment Qualities. Also unlike character qualities, equipment qualities do not add a flat +10% bonus to a roll. In fact, for mundane, bought equipment, it is quite common for a lower bonus to be provided. It should be noted that, like any other qualities, when equipment qualities are sacrificed they are no longer usable. For things like damage or armor, this means that they have been damaged to the point that they no longer provide an advantage though a player may still use them.


For example, an axe might have a quality like “Chopping Blade +5%.” As long as this quality is not sacrificed, the player can call on it for a 5% increase to his roll and as soon as he sacrifices it, the benefit is lost. This does not mean that the axe loses its head and, indeed, the player can continue using the weapon in his descriptions. It simply means that the blade has been damaged somehow to such a degree that it provides no more benefit than any other fighting attack.


Only when a piece of equipment has lost its last quality is it truly destroyed and in the case of inherent equipment even this should be temporary. It should be possible to repair the piece of equipment under the right circumstances.


Active: Active Qualities are Equipment Qualities that can be called upon like character qualities to add a bonus to a roll. For example, a magic sword may be able to burst into flames. If the character uses this weapon, he can call upon this quality and add an additional +10% to his attacks with it. Or a Mecha may have an Enhanced Verniers quality which the character can call upon to add a +10% to any maneuverability checks.


Passive: Passive Qualities are qualities that cannot be called upon to add bonuses to rolls. These represent defensive abilities of equipment as well as aspects of their durability. These qualities exist only to be sacrificed when the equipment is damaged. An example of a passive quantity might be “Made of High Strength Steel.”


Grouped: Grouped Qualities represent two or more features of a piece of equipment that are combined into a single Quality. They are generally passive, but can also be active. These qualities are combined so that a piece of equipment does not possess too many inherent Qualities. Examples of Grouped Qualities might be legs, arms or even weapon systems. When a grouped quality is sacrificed, the character can determine which part of the grouped quality is sacrificed. The player may decide that the damage is to a Mecha’s right or left leg, for example if he sacrifices the legs quality or that his beam gun is damaged if he sacrifices the weapons group. All other qualities in the group and any potential bonuses they might give remain. However, the Group of Qualities cannot be sacrificed again in the case of more damage.


Duplicate: Some Qualities of a piece of equipment are so durable that they can be sacrificed once and still function. Upon being sacrificed a second time, they are then no longer useable. These are usually passive Qualities. An example of a Duplicate quantity might be very tough armor. It should be noted that Active Qualities that are duplicated do not provide an additional bonus. A flat 10% bonus is applied even if an Active Quality is duplicated, though the bonus still applies after the first time it is sacrificed. Thus a blazing sword might have an Active Duplicate Quality like “Unquenchable Flame.” The first time this quality is sacrificed, the player is still able to call upon it. The second time, the flame proves quenchable and the quality is no longer available to add a bonus.


Weapon Qualities: Not all weapons are created equal. Some of them have special abilities that give them certain advantages. These are represented as Weapon Qualities. . The bonuses from Weapon Qualities are added to any other qualities a character calls on, including the Quality of the weapon itself. For example a character using Rapid Fire with his Beam Rifle would receive a +10% bonus for the Beam Rifle Quality and a +5% or +10% bonus for firing either two or three shots.


Burst: Some weapons inherently fire multiple rounds at a time. These are usually machine guns. Burst weapons provide +10% bonus when fired normally and if a character uses both his attacks in a round to fire an extended burst, this bonus doubles. The burst ability costs 15 points.


High Powered: Some weapons are not more accurate than others but are more devastating when they hit. While these weapons do not provide an additional bonus to hit they do provide an additional bonus when determining damage. These weapons add a +10% when determining how many qualities must be sacrificed but not when determining if a target is hit. For example, if an attacker rolled a 45 against a defense of 50, a high powered weapon with a +10% bonus would miss. However, if the attacker exceeded the defender’s roll by +45% a high powered weapon with a +10% bonus would cause the defender to sacrifice two qualities rather than one. The high powered ability costs 5 points.


Blast: Some weapons, usually bazookas and missiles or fire balls fire explosive rounds. A blast weapon gives a +10% bonus to hit. However, this bonus is not applied when determining if multiple qualities must be sacrificed. For example, if this bonus bumps the difference between the attack value and the defense value from +45% to +55%, the defender sacrifices only one quality rather than two. Additionally, a Blast weapon affects all the characters in a section whether friend or foe. The Blast ability costs 10 points.


Sniper: Sniper weapons are designed to be accurate at long ranges. Sniper weapons do not suffer from range penalties and are able to fire at targets an additional section away. The sniper ability costs 10 points.




A trusty sword or good old pistol are often not a character’s only allies. There are also often trusty sidekicks and reliable mounts that aid them in their quests. Many of these can be defined simply as straight qualities. A knight might have a quality like “Wendell my Trusty Squire” or a wizard might have a quality like “My Familiar Felix.” These qualities can be called upon and sacrificed just like any other quality. When they are sacrificed, much like qualities with inherent equipment, it does not mean they are destroyed but that they are instead incapacitated for some reason.


Of course, like any other qualities, a minion can be a variable quality. These variable qualities may reflect a particularly adept minion or it might describe a set of minions. For example, a sergeant might have “Crazy Commandos” as a variable quality or even “7th Legion” if the quality is of a high enough value.




There are numerous genres which can be played using this system. Fantasy, sci-fi, modern, supernatural and even super heroes can all be supported by this system. Following are some special rules which modify those previously given for each type of genre.




Giant robots take many shapes and forms but in the end, they make their pilots much more dangerous. They also generally have advanced computer systems that make them more than just weapons. They often make their pilots better than they would normally be. Following are a few rules that apply to mecha campaigns.


Scale: Mecha are far larger than humans, obviously and use weapons with much greater ranges and capacity for damage. Therefore, Mecha combat operates on a much larger scale. While this scale is largely abstract and the GM can set any range he likes, it should be rather expansive and allow for a multitude of mecha and ships to fit into the same segment.


Skills: A Mecha is very much like a character that enhances the player character. A Mecha has all the skills that a character does, except for Persuasion. When it comes to Mecha, these skills are bonuses that are applied to the skills of a Mecha’s pilot and represent the technological and performance levels of the Mecha. They act a great deal like variable qualities, though they cannot be sacrificed. For example, a pilot with a shooting skill of +10% piloting a Mecha with a shooting skill of +5% would have a total shooting skill of +15% when piloting that Mecha.


Transformable Mecha: Many Mecha have more than one form. These Mecha have two profiles, one for each form. The skill bonuses between the two forms will be different but both modes may share some qualities. These qualities are called (obviously enough) Shared qualities. Every transformable Mecha has the Shared quality of Transformable. When the Transformable quality is sacrificed, the Mecha is locked into whichever form it is currently in. A transformable Mecha may only sacrifice Qualities from the form it is currently in. Shared qualities between the two forms may only be sacrificed once. For example, a Mecha may have the Armored quality in both of its forms but the Rifle quality only in one form. If the Armored quality is sacrificed, it is lost from both forms and may not be sacrificed again. The Rifle quality could only be sacrificed while in the form that possesses it and the Armored quality could not be sacrificed in this form if it had already been sacrificed in the other form.


Budget: Many Mecha games are going to also be military games and the GM should feel free to simply assign the characters the same Mecha or Mecha with very similar abilities. This reflects everyone in the game being assigned the same model Mecha. Diversity can be provided by altering the weapons each Mecha carries and/or slightly tweaking the skills.


Alternatively, if the GM wants the players to be able to design their own unique mecha, he should assign a budget from which the characters can build their mecha. This should be treated just as though the players were creating another character, though the GM should feel free to increase or reduce the budget in comparison to regular character creation depending upon how effective he wants the mecha to be. The skills and qualities of the mecha character should be bought just like any other character but the weapons and their qualities the mecha carries will also need to be bought from this budget.


Mecha vs. Man: This should happen rarely, as any mortal would be a fool to face a giant robot without his own giant robot or other war machine to fight with. However, occasionally, characters are going to find themselves in the unenviable situation of having to escape of fight a mecha without the assistance of tons and tons of super strong metal around them.


In this case, the chances of hitting do not change. Humans are relatively small targets in comparison to mecha, but their weapons generally affect a much larger area than equivalent man portable devices. The old saying about using a bazooka to kill a fly applies, but the fly still ends up dead, if you can hit it.


Damage, on the other hand is a different matter. The damage dished out by the weapons of a giant robot are on an entirely different scale than that of a man. If an attack by a Mecha does hit an unprotected person, a +50% should be added to the result to determine how many qualities must be sacrificed. This means that, at a minimum, if a mech hits an unprotected person with an attack, the person will lose two Qualities. This applies to robots up to 30’ tall. Mecha even larger than that should add 100% to the damage inflicted, meaning that an unprotected person will lose at least 3 qualities because of a successful attack.


On the other hand, individuals with man portable weapons who are attacking Mecha are going to have a hard time. Again, the likelihood that a person is going to hit a Mecha is unaffected. While it is easy to hit such a large target, it is difficult to hit it in any meaningful place. The relative damage that such a weapon can do to such a machine is significantly reduced. In fact, the same factors given above should be applied in reverse to this damage upon a hit. For example, if a person hits a 30’ tall or smaller mecha with a hand held weapon, he will subtract 50% from his result and then determine how many qualities need to be sacrificed. It is entirely possible this will take this damage to nothing. For mecha taller than 30’ the person would have to subtract 100% from their result making it even more likely that even a successful hit will do no damage.


If your game includes different size classes of Mecha, these factors can also be taken into account and with similar proportions. A 50’ Mecha attacking a Mecha under 30’ would add 50% to the damage that it does against that smaller Mecha. On the other hand, a Mecha under 30’ going up against one from the larger class would subtract 50% from its damage results. This means that a Mecha of the smaller class hit by one of the larger class loses an extra quality than normal while one of the larger class hit by one of the smaller class loses one less quality than normal.




Most mecha campaigns largely take place in, or involve space and usually, the mecha involved in these campaigns operate off of ships. Ships do not provide skill bonuses to their pilots. Their primary weapons are too large to effectively aim at Mecha and they are too large to effectively avoid an attack by a Mecha. There is no need to mention why a Fighting skill is pointless.


Qualities: Ships do have qualities, however and must sacrifice them like characters or Mecha when they are damaged. Like Mecha, these Qualities can be can be active or passive and are often duplicated. In fact, to represent their large size, Ships can have more than two of the same quality. In fact, to truly represent their large size, Ships generally have a great deal of qualities. A dozen or more is not an unreasonable number of qualities for a moderate sized ship to have and a massive ship could have twice that many.


Different locations on the ship, such as the hangar, bridge and engines are represented by Qualities and when these are sacrificed, it does not necessarily mean that they are destroyed, but that they are rendered useless.


Ships can also add additional area qualities to the segment that they are in. These can be active qualities that represent active defenses like anti-aircraft guns or passive qualities that represent things like debris clouds to hinder incoming attackers.


Fantasy Settings


Fantasy Settings need little adjustment of the rules. Equipment is often an important part of a fantasy game as is magic. In both cases, the budget rules should be used to determine what effects these items have.


When it comes to magic spells, the spellcaster should design the spell as though it were a piece of inherent equipment. All of the qualities given previously for weapons can be applied to these spells.


As the campaign continues, the character’s equipment and spells should grow more powerful. Periodically, whether at the end of each adventure or arc, the game master should add to the equipment budget. How much this budget goes up is up to the game master. A good rule of thumb is to provide the characters with a point for each opponent that is defeated. This amount can be multiplied if a more powerful campaign is desired. Alternatively, the game master could simply provide a set award at either the end of an adventure or the end of an arc. Again, the level of this amount is up to the GM, though providing an amount equivalent to the original budget at the end of each adventure is a good rule of thumb.


All equipment/spells in this type of setting should be considered to be variable qualities. As time goes on, this equipment/spells can become more powerful or characters can add new pieces of equipment or spells to their lists.


Of course, in story, this should either represent the characters discovering new and better gear and spellbooks or discovering new aspects of their existing equipment.


Bigger opponents


Some creatures in a Fantasy Setting are far larger than the heroes. There are two categories of these beasts, Large and Massive.


Large creatures gain a variable quality called Size. They may call upon this quality just as they do any other. However, the heroes can call upon this quality as well in any situation where it would be appropriate (trying to hit the creature or overcome its stealth checks, for example.) When tagging this quality against the creature, they only get half the quality’s bonus (rounded down.)


Truly massive creatures such as Titans, ancient dragons and even dark gods, should be treated much like ships in mecha campaigns, though they will have a full skill list and, indeed, very high skills. Depending upon just how dangerous the creature is, a dozen or more qualities might be appropriate to a massive creature. It will also have sections, though in this case, they will be parts of its body rather than structures. A dragon for example, might have head, wings, forelegs, hindlegs, torso and tail as sections. Eliminating any one of these would not kill the dragon (though torso or head should be saved as their last section) but eliminating each one would represent wounding that section beyond use.


Much like ships, massive creatures can also add qualities to the areas they are in. These qualities could be active, such as fiery breath, which would attack every individual in the area each turn or passive, such as fog of war, which would simply hinder the attacks of their opponents.


No matter what these massive creatures might be in the game, they should be rare. In fact, having only one as the opponent in the climatic final battle of a campaign would not be out of the question.


Super Heroes

Super Hero campaigns are not much different from other genres except for scale. A great deal of focus must go into the powers of the heroes and villains, however.


Most powers can be created as though they were permanent equipment (in fact, for many heroes it literally will be equipment.) Depending on how powerful the setting will be, the GM can set a budget for this “equipment.” For street level campaigns, this budget will be no more than the starting value for creating a character, effectively doubling their power. At this level the heroes may not have any superhuman powers and may simply be very skilled combatants or have high grade equipment. A more cosmic level campaign might have a budget of several hundred or even a thousand points, making almost anything possible for the characters.


Most of the qualities for these powers will be variable. These will be powers like energy blast, fire control, or telekinesis which will vary from hero to hero. Others like body armor will be more passive and will be standard qualities. Any power quality can be duplicated, indicating that it provides more protection or that it is sturdy and that it can take a licking and continue to function.


All of the qualities listed for equipment can be applied to any power so long as it fits logically and GM’s should be lenient in what they consider logical in this case. After all, some of the best powers are those that seemingly break the rules of physics and science in general.


There are a few powers that do not fit into the rules given for creating equipment qualities.

Grow a Spine!

This is the second game I created.  Still not published, of course.  I created it to help out my brother’s Mecha forum.  I’d played a lot of forum based RP by then and discovered that one of the most frustrating parts was that it was almost entirely story based.  There’s no rules.  That’s fine if everyone is on the same page, but sometimes, your character has got to punch another character and maybe that character don’t want to be punched.

This is my attempt to create a simple game that is still story based and can be used, I hope, without too much trouble by a forum GM.  Here’s the first half.  It’s actually probably enough to play with.  You know…if you feel like starting an RPG forum and want some rules.

Oh…and I called it Spine because its supposed to give a mechanical backbone to a forum.

Character Creation

Skills: Skills are measured as a percentile bonus. This bonus (along with several others) is added to the percentile roll to determine the total skill check. There are three skills in Spine.

Shooting: This skill involves the use of any ranged weapon whether beam or projectile.

Fighting: This skill is used for any melee attack and can be used to parry opposing melee attacks.

Evasion: This skill can be used to dodge ranged or melee attacks.

Notice: This skill is used to spot hidden objects and enemies.

Stealth: This skill is used to avoid being detected.

Persuasion: This skill is used to convince an NPC of the value of your argument.


Starting characters have 70% points to divide between these six skills in any way they see fit.


Qualities: While skills are purely mechanical, numerical descriptions of certain abilities, qualities represent more esoteric, descriptive aspects of a character. Qualities are special talents, knacks or personality traits of characters that can be used to increase checks. There is no standard list of Qualities. Players describe the Qualities of their characters based on their concept of their characters. Qualities should be a single descriptive word or phrase.


Examples include: Sharpshooter

Pearl of the Shoal

Metal Head.


Qualities can be used to increase checks (described below) but serve an additional purpose as well. Qualities serve as a sort of character durability. Each time a character takes damage, they must sacrifice one of their Qualities for a time.


Characters begin with 3 Qualities. Character Qualities add +10 to a roll when called



Variable Qualities: Basic Qualities reference only the special skills and abilities that an ordinary person can achieve. While Qualities are what set one character apart from another and while the combination makes them unique, there are other Qualities that can only be called supernatural. These Qualities do not have a set value like other Qualities. Rather, they have variable ranks much like skills. All Variable Qualities should have a supernatural aspect. These are not mundane Qualities that just anyone can have, these are truly special, even superhuman aspects of the character.


Examples include: Telekinetic Assassin

Fire Sorcerer

Visions of the Future


Each character can begin with only one Variable Quality, though they do not have to take one if they don’t want to. It costs one of the character’s starting three Qualities to buy a Variable Quality. This is not in addition to a character’s starting three Qualities. To begin with, a Variable Quality only provides the normal +10% bonus, though this can be enhanced later.


Other Qualities: There are a number of other types of Qualities but these are all based on equipment and will be determined by the GM.



Actions: Each character begins play with two actions per round. The actions taken can be any combination of skills. For instance, it could be a ranged (Shooting) attack and a melee (Fighting) attack or a ranged attack and a dodge, two ranged attacks or even two dodges.


Attacking: When attacking the player first declares his target then gathers all applicable bonuses. This includes the characters skill bonus (either Shooting or Fighting) as well as a +10 for each applicable character quality and any bonuses provided by the character’s mecha and other qualities. To use a quality, a player must describe how it is being used in his post. Once the total value is determined it is then added to a percentile roll.


This total or attack value is then compared to the target’s defense value.


If the defense value equals or exceeds the attack value then the attack misses or is not effective. If the attack value exceeds the defense value then the target loses one Quality. For each 50% the attack value exceeds the defense value, the target loses an additional Quality.


The target gets to choose which Quality(ies) he sacrifices.


When a character has run out Qualities, he is dead.


Defending: If a character does not want to use any of his actions to defend himself, he may depend upon his static defense. Static defense is simply a character’s evasion score with no modifiers for qualities and no roll. Any attacks made against the character must only overcome the character’s evasion score.


A character who wants to actively defend himself follows much the same procedure as an attack. He adds his evasion skill to a die roll and a +10 for each applicable character Quality as well as any other bonuses from other qualities. This result is his active defense value.


Each round a character needs to make only one active defense roll. This value is applied to all attacks made against the character that round, with one notable exception. Because it is far more difficult to evade several attackers at once, a character’s defense value is reduced by a cumulative 5% for each attack made against the character in a round. For example, a character with a +25% Evasion skill and the Slippery Devil Quality (worth +10% in this case) and a roll of 60% would have a total defense value of 95%. The first attack against this character in a round would have to beat 95% to hit the character. However, the second attack would only need to beat 90%, while the third would only have to beat 85% to hit. The weight of numbers can take down even the best ace.


Movement: Movement is quite simple. Each battlefield is broken up into a number of sections. A character can move from one section of the battlefield to an adjacent section freely. Special equipment might allow a character to move two sections or more. Additionally, a character can sacrifice one of his actions to move one additional area in a round.  A character can even sacrifice both his actions to move two additional areas. As usual for characters who take no defensive action, they must depend on their passive defense to protect them in a round when they do this.


Range: Fighting attacks can only be made against targets in the same section as the attacker. Most ranged attacks can only be made without penalty against targets in the same section as the attacker or any adjacent section. Ranged attacks may be made against targets two sections away but at a -10% penalty. Some ranged weapons allow attacks into areas further away or mitigate the range penalty or both.


Qualities: Qualities can be used to add a bonus to attack and defensive rolls with a few limitations. First, each quality can be used only once per round. The quality “Born in the Cockpit” can be used either as a bonus to an attack or a defense in a round but not to both. Second, only one quality from each category can be used for each action. A pilot can call upon a character, a mecha, a weapon and an area quality to add bonuses to an attack but cannot call upon two character qualities for an attack, for example. The pilot could call upon a character, a mecha, a weapon and an area quality to add bonuses to an attack and a different quality from each category to add bonuses to a defense in the same round, however.




Gaining Experience: Characters gain 2 experience point for each post they make. Additionally, they gain 15 experience points for each enemy they defeat that is the same or lower experience level. They gain an extra 10 experience points for each experience level higher that an enemy they defeat is. The gamemaster(s) may also give out additional experience points for exceptional role-playing or for completing an episode.


Spending Experience: Characters may raise one of their skill levels by one point by spending a number of experience points equal to their current skill level. For example, it would take a character ten points to raise their shooting skill from +10% to +11% but it would take 90 points to raise their shooting skill from +90% to +91%. There is no upper limit to Skill levels and Aces can easily have skills that exceed 100%.


Characters may also buy a new Quality for a flat 10 points. If the Character instead wants a new variable quality, this costs 15 points though it begins as a 10 point quality. This is to reflect that this quality can eventually become much more powerful.


Characters may upgrade a Variable Quality by one point by spending one half the value of the Quality in experience (rounded down) to raise the Quality by one point. For example, it would take five points to raise a character’s Fire Sorcerer Quality from +10% to +11% but 45 points to raise a the same Quality from +91% to +92%.

Each point must be bought in sequence. A character must increase a skill or Variable Quality from one point to the next before upgrading to the next point. A character cannot spend 20 experience points to upgrade a skill from +10% to +12% but must instead spend 10 experience to raise the skill from +10% to +11% then another 11 points to raise it from +11% to +12%.


Experience Level: This is a rough measure of how dangerous and/or skilled the character is and is based on his character points. Character points are determined by adding the character’s skills together and adding 10 points per Quality. Thus, beginning characters have an Experience Level Value of 100.


Newb: up to 100

Novice: 100 – 150

Soldier: 151 – 200

Veteran: 251 – 300

Ace: 301 +


Round Summary


Each post should end with the following round summary and what occurs in this summary should be reflected in the player’s post.


  • If damage was taken in the previous round, name the qualities sacrificed to offset the damage. Note that any quality sacrificed in this stage can not be called upon in later stages.
  • First action. The character should declare what his first action should be. If this is a defense, he should name which skill he will be using as well as any qualities he will call upon. If this is an attack, he should declare his target, then name the skill he will be using as well as any qualities he will call upon. In either case, the player should do his math, giving the bonuses for his skill and qualities and providing the total.
  • Second action. This action follows the same rules as the First action.
  • This can actually take place before, after or between the character’s two actions. The character simply declares where he will be moving on the battlefield this turn.
  • If your character uses both actions to attack and is depending only on his static defense to protect himself, then the player needs to post that score.


Each of these steps should be described in the post, though they can be written in any order in the post.


Round Duration


The GM should determine how long a round lasts based on the posting habits of his players and the speed he desires for his game. A total of one week is generally a good starting point. GM’s should allow themselves two days to calculate the results of the posts, more if there are a large number of characters involved.


The characters of any players who do not post or who are not able to post will take no actions that round. Additionally, they will have to depend upon their static defense against any attacks that are made against their characters.


If a player misses two or more weeks, and their characters are damaged, then the administrators will select the qualities that are sacrificed to overcome this damage. The administrators will follow a specific formula for this. Equipment qualities will be sacrificed first, starting with Duplicate qualities, followed by Grouped Passive qualities, followed by Passive qualities, followed by Grouped Active qualities and finishing with Active qualities then moving to the character’s qualities.



Between each combat, characters are allowed to regain a single quality that was sacrificed. GM’s can allow characters to regain additional qualities depending on how much time passes between battles and, for that matter, can declare that the characters do not have time to heal even one quality between one combat and the next.




Some areas are nothing more than relatively open patches of ground. Plains, hills, streets, even areas of low scrub are simply spaces that must be crossed before one combatant can get to another or that a projectile weapon must traverse to get to its target.


Other areas are a bit more complex. They are full of trees or debris or other objects that mecha and characters can hide behind or fires, radiation or other hazards that threaten the combatants that enter them.




Like characters and equipment, areas also have qualities. These qualities reflect the advantages and disadvantages available to characters who occupy them, including the hazards that can damage a combatant that occupies the area. Unlike anything else, areas cannot be attacked and thus, area qualities cannot be sacrificed. Under special circumstances and with particular actions, they can be removed but this is entirely dependent on the GM’s discretion. The GM defines any bonuses, damage and activation or deactivation requirements for each area. Normally, this is defined at the beginning of combat but occasionally, one will be activated as a surprise during a scene.


Passive Qualities: Passive Area Qualities are those that players can call upon to add bonuses to attacks and defenses for their characters. These include things like cover bonuses and elevation bonuses. These bonuses can apply to ranged attacks, close attacks or both or to ranged defenses, close defenses or both. “Heavily Forested” or “Cliff’s Edge” are common Passive Qualities for Areas.


Rough terrain is also a passive quality. An area that qualifies as rough terrain requires an extra action to move through just as though the character were trying to move an extra square in a round.


Active Qualities: Active Area Qualities are those that can damage a character. This could be something like excessive heat or a fire or a pool of acid or even some sort of defensive system in the area. Each area with an active quality has a corresponding attack value. The higher the attack value, the more dangerous the area is. This attack is the first attack performed in a round and is usually compared against the defense roll of everyone in the area. If a character has not declared a defense roll then this value is compared against his passive defense. Occasionally, an Active Area Quality represents a defense put in place by the owners of the area. In this case, they are not subject to the quality but attackers are. Defensive Qualities such as these might be a set of sharpened wooden stakes in the ground or an automated gun emplacement.


This attack is treated like any other and damage is dealt as normal if the attack roll exceeds the defense roll.

The Military Imperial Complex

In keeping with my usual habit of just writing whatever inspires me rather than really having any rhyme or reason, I started thinking about military units that might exist in my homebrew campaign and how they would operate.  Eventually, I thought my players might use them, especially since one of the options I gave them for the campaign was for it to be a story of conquest.  Of course, being players, they’ve shown no interest in what I thought the campaign would be so only a couple of these units have appeared.  Though, I am using them in my fiction, too.

Anyway, the Ravnivori Empire is much like Spain, France and Britain during the colonial era.  The people who can afford to mount an expedition get to and most of the military units are pseudo mercenaries.  While there is a standing army, there is not a void navy large enough to transport it, so invading Retra would be a mistake but mustering up a planetary invasion force is currently impossible for the Ravnivori.

Military Units

One common method for determining and describing the effectiveness and abilities of one of the Imperial Military units is by identifying the wolf it carries. A unit that has proven its worth to the Empire is granted the right to bear an Imperial wolf on all the standards that the unit carries. The Emperor himself grants this honor and he generally only grants one or two per year. However, simply gaining a wolf is not the end. The Emperor not only grants the unit the right to bear a wolf but names the type of material the wolf can be made of. An Imperial wolf is always a high honor so they are never made of mundane materials but always a precious metal. When a wolf is granted, it is usually established as a copper wolf. If the unit later proves itself more valuable to the empire and distinguishes itself further in the Emperor’s eyes, he will grant the unit the right to bear a better wolf. Only the most honored units gain the right to bear a platinum wolf. And both of these processes can be reversed if a unit displeases the Emperor. A unit can suffer a demotion in the level of wolf they can bear or even have the right to bear a wolf stripped entirely. The ranks of Imperial Wolves in ascending order are: None, Copper, Brass, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

Hammers of Doom: A strictly Ravnivori Dwarven unit, the Hammers of Doom are lead by Ulfgar Ironhead. A rather unique unit, they are one of the few Dwarven cavalry units in the Empire. What makes them unique, however are their steeds. Rather than riding living mounts, the Hammers of Doom go into battle riding mechanical rams. These wonders of artifice are not as fast as flesh and blood horses, but are much sturdier and bypass many of the limitations such flesh and blood mounts suffer. For example, they need no food or air and can stand completely still indefinitely and even be partially collapsed and stacked atop each other. This makes them perhaps the most efficient cavalry unit in the Empire for traveling on Void Runners. The Hammers of Doom need only stock provisions and account for air usage of the Dwarves themselves and the entire unit and their gear take up only 5 tons worth of cargo space whereas most cavalry units require an entire hold for their animals. The Hammers travel on their own Hammership, a vessel also named the Hammer of Doom and the unit essentially lives on the ship. In addition to the unit itself, there are also dedicated sailors and weapons crews as well as a handful of Arcanomancers who construct and maintain the mechanical rams. As an elite unit, recruitment into the Hammers of Doom is quite an honor. Only dwarves are chosen with preference given to Ravnivori dwarves. The dwarf must be a master rider, which is quite rare and an expert with the warhammer, eliminating even more potential candidates. Not a few dwarves practice for years, focusing all their energy on the unique skills needed to become a Hammer before even being considered. The Hammers of Doom are a relatively small unit with only 20 members, though there are an additional 30 dwarves who serve as support to the warriors.
Wolf: Brass

Hurzah’s Ravens: Lead by Kreok Hurzah, a skilled Troglyn archer and master ranged tactician, the Ravens recruit only skilled archers. While not every archer in the Ravens is a master marksman, Hurzah recruits each member personally. He looks for natural talent, developed skill, a sharp mind and the ability to follow orders rapidly and precisely with no care for gender or species. This combination of traits in each of his archers means that none of them are particularly remarkable but as a unit, they are extremely lethal as a unit, capable of laying down withering clouds of arrows in enemy units. Until approximately 5 years ago, this unit was lead by the Amazon Ionia and was known as Ionia’s Ravens. Hurzah was her lieutenant and she bequeathed the unit to him when she became and independent contractor for the Emperor. The Ravens are a fairly large unit, currently numbering 46 members. This value varies from as low as 40 to as high as 50 depending upon how many losses they have taken and how much time Hurzah has had to recruit replacements.
Wolf: Silver

Rolling Thunder: A relatively new unit, it was formed in the latter years of the conquest of Shan by a Ravnivori soldier named Matias. He was completely fascinated by the elephants and assorted kaiju that existed in the Shan lands and even more enamored of their usage as living war machines. With the help of a few backers, he managed to capture and buy a few elephants and a single kaiju and get them trained. In the few battles they were able to fight in, they proved quite decisive but, unfortunately, for Matias, the war ended soon after he formed his unit. There was little use for the massive beasts in the peace keeping capacity that the Ravnivori military took on after the conquest of Shan and he retired, earning a meager living by charging curiosity seekers for the privilege of seeing his animals. His hopes were raised when he discovered that there were Void Runners and that the Imperial conquest would continue. He was certain that the Imperial military would need his animals. He was largely wrong. While Rolling Thunder is quite effective when it is fielded, it suffers from a logistical problem. Each of Matias’ animals is so big that it is difficult to transport more than one or two on a ship and they utilize a great deal of the air that is held on a Void Runner. He has actually found little work for his unit though again his hopes have been raised. A magical researcher has developed a method for putting living creatures in a sort of hibernation that greatly reduces the amount of air and food they need. It takes some time to put the animals into hibernation and to take them out, so Rolling Thunder still has not become very popular though Matias remains hopeful.
Wolf: None

Star Sharks: This unit only came into being after the use of Void Runners and are quite specialized to that purpose. Their focus is on combat on Void Runners and everyone in the unit brings some skill that accentuates Void Runner combat. Many of the members of this unit are Mechanids, both sentient and pre-sentient and not a few members are undead. A few of these undead are intelligent but most of them are mindless creatures controlled by other members of the unit. Low oxygen usage is a priority and the Star Sharks attempt to get as many combat worthy bodies upon a ship for as little oxygen use as they can. Those who are among the living in the classical sense are all highly trained and highly skilled at the usage of the assorted siege weapons used in ship to ship Void Runner combat. The most highly prized members of the Star Sharks are their impressive collection of living siege weapons. These creatures not only take up no air but need no crew to fire them. The Star Sharks were founded and are lead by a Mechanid named Art Fisher. Despite this public leader, rumors abound that the Star Sharks are actually a puppet organization for the Children of the Night and serve one of their unknown purposes, perhaps to gain information on the military structure and strength of the Empire.
Wolf: Copper

The Right Hand of Amaz: Founded by the Temple of the Virtuous Maiden in the Sea of Grass plains in Almatia, this unit is composed entirely of females. These women all begin as orphans at the Temple and are trained from a young age to join the unit. They are trained in military tactics, archery and horsemanship. After a decade of training, and just as they become adults, those who excel at their training are inducted into the Right Hand of Amaz. A group of mounted archers, the Right Hand of Amaz specializes in hit and run and harassing tactics, supporting infantry, archers and siege units. They are highly skilled and greatly feared. Unlike some other units, they do not have established rates for their services but charge on a case by case basis. It is impossible to prove but most people assume that they charge males more than they charge females. Because of this and because of the high air need of their mounts, they have not found a great deal of success when Void Runners are involved.
Wolf: Bronze

The Adamant Corps: One of the oldest units in the Empire, the Adamant Corps was formed in the middle of the unification wars of the Ravnivori continent. In fact, they were friendly rivals to the Legion of the Abyss. Under the brilliant leadership of its founder, Tilion Kray, they expanded and proved themselves invaluable in the continuing expansion of the Empire. They have been an integral part of every war that the Empire engaged in during the conquering of Almatia and Shan. On countless occasions, they have held the battlefield against overwhelming odds long enough for the remainder of Ravnivori forces to reorganize. Even once the conquest of Shan was completed, the Adamant Corps did not disband like many other of the Empire’s units did. Thus they were still organized and ready when the Void Runners were discovered and have extended their service to the Empire into the stars. The Adamant Corps is a mixed unit. It includes infantry, cavalry, archers, siege engines and even still uses chariots. The unifying theme of the unit is that they are heavily armored. The Adamant Corps is known for its battle cry “Feed the Wolf” all most as much as for any of their history or acts.
Wolf: Platinum

You’re Only a Day Away

Only one more day until the release of the book I co-wrote, Lost Temple of the Soulless World.

Yesterday, after an early morning hour and a half of wrestling with Skype, I managed to be on a podcast about it.  I hate Skype, by the way.  I have to wrestle with it every time I try to make it work.

That podcast won’t be out for a couple of weeks.  In the meantime, here’s a link to the 3rd chapter of the book to tide you over.  If you like it and/or the first two chapters, please buy the whole thing tomorrow.  Follow my Twitter @blackguardpress for that link and the link to the podcast when it comes out.

Chapter 3: http://striker.greaterumbrage.net/the-mystical-island-trilogy/island-of-lost-forevers/iolfchapter-3/

Writing Renaissance

I don’t know why, though I suspect that part of it has to do with the fact that my day job has gotten much slower and I am able to misappropriate more of my time there, but I have recently written a lot more.  And, being the scatterbrain that I am and the way that I follow whatever inspiration hits me then rein it in and hit the grindstone, not only have I written more, I’ve written more.

A list of the current projects I try to write on every day may clear up what I mean.  First, there is a novel set in the same universe as Lost Temple of the Soulless World that features one of the characters from that book that I have finished the first draft and am currently editing.  Second, there is a set of short stories in the same universe and featuring the same character (he’s sort of my cross between James Bond, Wolverine and a Texas Ranger) that also has a finished first draft that is now being edited. Third, I just finished the first draft of the next adventure supplement to Non-Essential Personnel that I am calling NEPocalypse though I’ll probably add a scene or two in editing.  Fourth, I’ve been researching and writing episodes for my pals’ podcast about my favorite subject Come and Take It!.  None of my episodes have been published, but one has been recorded so be on the lookout for the episodes on Cabeza de Vaca (the walkingest man in history) and the Native American Tribes of the Eastern half of the state (spoiler alert: white people suck.)

Finally, I just finished editing the sequel to the book I blogged about last week, The Island of Lost Forevers.  It has to go back to my co-author for her final edit but I suspect it won’t be too long before she has it polished and ready to publish.  I’ll be starting my part of the last book in the trilogy soon.

Now, I don’t know if any of this will ever earn me any kind of money or recognition, but I’m getting an immense amount of satisfaction just from doing it.  There is something nice about watching the pages fill up.

Anyway, to whet your appetites for The Island of Lost Forevers below is a link for a free preview of the first chapter.  Enjoy!
Chapter 1: http://striker.greaterumbrage.net/the-mystical-island-trilogy/island-of-lost-forevers/iolfchapter-1/

Island of Lost Forevers

Ten years ago, I began an incredible journey. No longer satisfied with scribbles and abandoned projects, I sat down with a very good friend to write a full-fledged novel. A decade later, the project has seen many ups and downs, halts and restarts, but at last I get to share it with you.


When a mysterious island appears off the coast of San Francisco, two intrepid academics risk everything to discover its secrets. Literature professor Catilen Taylor has struggled all her life with the ability to sense others’ emotions. The only person comfortable with her eccentricities is Damian Cooke. Not just a professor of philosophy, Damian studies an ancient art he calls ‘magic.’

Beyond the military barricade they discover paradise unspoiled by modern advances. A sanctuary the travelers believe uninhabited, until they meet the island’s enigmatic ruler, who invites them to share the wonders of his bathhouse. Just as Catilen believes she’s put her difficulties behind her, trouble stirs on the island forcing her to reveal and test her empathic abilities.

Is the island the paradise it promises? Or does a nightmare lurk beneath the surface?

I’m beyond thrilled to share this, my first novel, with you. It was co-written by Megan Cutler.

And the cover was created by the lovely http://bethalvarez.blogspot.com Beth Alvarez It will be available for Kindle and Nook on <strong>Tuesday May 13th</strong>!If you’re interested in being notified when the book goes live, please sign up for Megan’s Newsletter http://striker.greaterumbrage.net/newsletter/ photo iolf-2_zpsc8ad163e.jpg

Adios Amigo!

Assume that the appropriate Queen song is playing in the background of this post:

If you’re reading this, it means that my best friend has moved away.  This is not the first time that this has happened to me.  My best friend from elementary school moved away at the beginning of junior high, my best friend from junior high moved away half way through high school and my best friend in college moved away right after graduation.


You’d think I’d be used to it, but Josh going to Austin is the first time it’s happened since college.  In fact, I’ve been friends with the same basic group of people for more than 15 years, now.


And Josh is the coolest of them.  (Almost) everything I like, he likes a little more or a little better.  I like RPG’s, he likes RPG’s and is always looking to try new ones.  I like Legos, he’s part of TEXLUG, the Texas Lego Users Group which is basically the Lego fan club in this state.  I like comics, he likes the comics that are making comics new and fresh.


He’s been my travelling companion to all but one of Fear the Cons since it began.  For that matter, he introduced me to Fear the Boot and Fear the Con.  From that beginning I started listening to the Podgecast, the Bear Swarm and the Walking Eye and he turned me on to the Nerdist.


As Phur Stade (say it out loud) he was one of the core members of my almost decade long 3E game and even played one of the prestige classes I created.  As M’Zashi, he’s taken the role of a commander and helped make the NPC’s in the game as important as I would like them to be.


And he introduced me to lots of games, Fiasco, Shab Al Hirri Roach, and many more.


He’s also cast a critical eye on the games I’ve created.  Josh’s name should be listed as an editor on Adventuring! Company, the upcoming Restaurant at the Other End of the Universe and the potentially never to be published One True Thing. This has been a painful process from time to time because I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my stuff.  But while he has been faintly brutal in his efficiency, his advice has made my work better and it has not been done maliciously.


With Josh moving, my game group goes down to 4 players (with a possible 5th) which seems moderately unstable.  I’m hoping we can continue, though I don’t know if the current campaign can continue.  I also cannot imagine not playing, so I may have t seek another source for my weekly gaming fix.


I know Austin is only about 3 hours away but then so is my Mom’s house, though not in the same direction.  I definitely do not see her as often as I should so I don’t have any illusions about how often I’ll see Josh.  Still, he’s more savvy about the interwebs so I may just have to continue our friendship digitally.


Good luck in Austin, Josh!  Don’t be a stranger.


It’s not good-bye, it’s See You Soon.