Excerpt from “Rest for the Wicked”

Posted a little later than I intended, but still posted!

This is somewhat old stuff, and more than a bit theological, but it’s the only complete scene I really have that I’m not working on for the book on hand.

Enjoy. ūüôā

Continue reading Excerpt from “Rest for the Wicked”

Barren Times

I’ve been a bit derelict, haven’t I?¬†A whole semester ran me by without so much as a nod of a post.

I should be ashamed of myself. And I am (but only a little.)

For nearly three months, I scarcely wrote. I wrote one short story that I still haven’t gotten around to typing up. I added a chapter onto my STALKER fanfiction, and¬†haven’t touched it since, even though the story really was going quite well.

And other than that, didn’t write a thing, except¬†sloppy essays and some knavishly contrived plots for my Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

Until the last week, I was worrying I might never put out another story.

Then suddenly an idea came to life, God touched my forehead, and 25,000+ words spilled out onto the page. I have a novel now. Well, part of it.

And God willing, I’ll have a full one by the end of this semester.

The concept, for those interested, is¬†a¬†low fantasy set in 14th century¬†Moravia / Bohemia,¬†Slovakia, and Romania, following the adventures of the Teutonic knight-baroness, Kyreleis von Gottschalk and her companions various, as she searches for her missing brother, who left her and her plague-stricken mother nearly twenty years ago, while fending off¬†the many enemies she’s made in her rather inglorious and unchivalric rule over the fief of Zmeyorod.

There is a series planned as well. The original outline, I discovered, was for a work of far too massive a scale for me to ever reasonably fit in one book. I mean this not arrogantly; I am simply really bad at planning.

I think I will post an excerpt in the next day or so.

Another Story: Kyrieleis

Sorry about sporadic posts. Exams, projects, papers, and my own lack of self-discipline (or perhaps simply normal discipline that fails to compare to the Roman standards I hold myself to) have all gotten in the way of keeping this regularly updated, as well as writing and generally enjoying life’s other pleasures besides stuffing my face with low quality confectionery.

I was bored, or more accurately, in a frenzied trance induced by Wardruna and my daily ADHD medications (and around 400 grams of sugar), and wrote this piece from start to finish, a short story from the perspective of one of the Syntar, depicted in that other post about them.

With less flapping gums and more content, here it is:

Oh, and if you’re so inclined, I appreciate feedback. It’s by no means required (not that I’d have any way to enforce it; I’m not the CCP), but giving me your thoughts 1) helps me write better stories, 2) inflates my ego that people actually care, and 3) lets me evaluate where this blog is going in terms of audience and content. And 4) makes me very, very happy. And don’t feel afraid to drop links or ask me to visit your blog, being directly impelled to read others’ content is excellent motivation to get out there and see what all everyone else has to offer.

Continue reading Another Story: Kyrieleis

D&D Story #1: No Context

Saturdays are great. Particularly when not taking your ADHD meds.

Contained within Landsknecht of 4/2/2016 are events various such as multiple electrocutions, a satanist cult, attempted assassination, a very unconvincing viking, a vampire, and an explosive tampon.

Read on only if you have an appreciation for the puerile, the crass, and the absurd.

Continue reading D&D Story #1: No Context

A Tale of Two Murderers

Signing on again because…
I had potatoes. And pork chops.

Reasons!

I’ll put up a story, this time in English so my audience can actually read it (don’t actually know how many of my visitors are fluent in Russian or Russians, but I suspect they are few, out of some utterly irrational gut feeling.)

Oh, and this is a LOOOOONG one. I hope that’s alright.

Sincerest apologies for the dearth of incessantly upbeat humor, I’m full of pig and sleepiness.

This is a more or less complete story, open-ended enough that I can change the ending at will,¬†set once upon a time in Sicily to the tune of Ennio Morricone’s¬†“Rabbia e Tarantella,” from the film Allonsanfan and reused as the credits theme for¬†Inglorious Basterds.

Read, enjoy, comment and critique below as you please, but most importantly, maintain regular bowel movements, its unhealthy to let sh*t ferment inside of you.

Continue reading A Tale of Two Murderers

Poetry! Well… Maybe?

This was something I wrote as a culture piece in a indeterminately nearish future grunge sci-fi universe for an obligate carnivore species of seven foot tall metal-scaled horned neo-fascist space viking colonists of a recently deceased empire driven to extermination by a) hubris, b) civil war, c) crapshoot unpredictable sentient robotic war machines, and d) EATING PEOPLE FOR PETTY AMUSEMENT. And their texture.

Continue reading Poetry! Well… Maybe?

It’s Been a While, so Here’s a Game!

Something I didn’t make clear in my previous D&D centered posts is my absurd and self-flagellating obsession with¬†modding. Tabletop games, that is, not computer games (which at this stage still overwhelms my capacity for code lingo.)

I find D&D a flawed system— but only in the same sense of a large hunk of¬†unsmelted¬†iron oxide. With a forge,¬†hours of labor, a few watts of electricity for computer power, and the anvil of my desk (using my forehead as the hammer), I can make nearly any imaginable creation from it.

Continue reading It’s Been a While, so Here’s a Game!

Day Six: How Cramping Doesn’t Cramp You

Shame upon me, I’m late!

In spending an evening listening to remixes of the glorious compositions of the underestimated Ennio Morricone, I entirely forgot to put up a post last night. Which, really, isn’t that big a deal.

But principles matter.

And that’s why I adhere to realism in my roleplay.

No, not for its own sake, to accurately model fencing manuals of the late fifteenth century and paint a stark lithograph of a fight in armored harness. At the end of the day, it’s still a game, not training for a post-apocalyptic scenario in which your local SCA group must band together to defend the town against mutants and zombified football hooligans.

Continue reading Day Six: How Cramping Doesn’t Cramp You

Day One (?): It’s the Players that Make the Play

Okay, first real post.

Now that we’ve made an acquaintance of each other (if we haven’t PM me for an intimate, sensual, and mentally disturbed personalized Acquaintance-Maker 9000), here goes:

The Case Against Heroes: Storytelling in Roleplay and Writing

Heroes just aren’t that fun to GM for.

This is not a belittlement of players, nor of the heroic narrative. It’s a commentary on what makes a truly fascinating hero, as far as writers, dungeon masters, and role-players are concerned, condensed into three neat points, and probably leaving out a lot of other details (I need more than one post, alright?)

In a good campaign, regardless of what plot the DM may have laid out, it is ultimately the players’ characters who tell the story. At least, I assume that’s what a good campaign is because my players are still with me, and I’ve come to accept that whatever story I write down is not the one that will be told.

With that said, the player characters do not necessarily tell a good¬†story. The DM may not have a better one either. In fact, separate, without communication, it is virtually impossible to create a quality story. It might create some occasional eye-roll worthy moments or the odd burst of laughter as a random passerby is mugged for his kidneys, but characters disjointed from setting can’t tell a story that can touch (a subject for another blogpost in itself.)

When it comes time for a new setting and to ask my players to roll up new characters, I’ve noticed they tend towards the epic scale of character origins. The example I’ll use here is with a Pathfinder campaign I homebrewed in a vaguely Asian setting called Saichu, a low fantasy feudal JapanChina with some Scottish elves and giant lizard men (called Syntar in setting) tacked on for flavor. I began preparations for it about a month in advance, my players having the same time to stew on their characters.

What we got was a former bodyguard to the empress of the Syntar turned bounty hunter, a possessed sorceress whose father was a retinue man of the shogun, an initiate demon-hunting monk of a long forgotten order dedicated to fighting the god of chaos (and talkative crows), a crackshot yakuza assassin cancer patient (an example of everything that can go wrong with dice-rolled stats), and a drunken samurai with serious daddy / brother / mommy / relative issues.

Though taken as a sum this should have been an amazing combination, it quickly became a train wreck of a campaign. Players tried to murder each other on at least three occasions, someone tried to debate trickle-down economics with a samurai lord, and the Syntar kept kicking people through doors. Not only was the balance of combat destroyed, but the story itself failed to progress meaningfully, in large part because the characters were already too developed. Not by levels or power, but by their stories. With so many vastly different objectives and no particular reason to work together nor common background, the group lost cohesion, and stumbled sluggishly from one DM-suggested objective to another.

This mess was in large part my fault. Because I had failed to effectively communicate the idea of ‘progressing’ characters to my players and had failed to coordinate their character creation, the campaign limped on for six sessions before they caused an apocalyptic flood while attending a communist musical.

Was it a boring campaign? No, not by any stretch. That result depends on what you, whether player or DM, want out of a campaign. If you’re just here for a bloody good time, then there is no reason not to indulge in ridiculously overblown characters and frequent overreaction; i.e., trolling.

But if you are intending to tell a serious story in which your characters undergo meaningful change, and exit the plot with some profound internal insight, then the characters must also fit the setting.

At any rate, this is a complex topic, best discussed in multiple parts, and preferably without Charles Barkley yelling at me from the next room over.