If you'll be attending Dundracon in San Ramon, CA, look for the Goodman Games booth and the special adventure I wrote just for this con. It's got a whole host of goodies inside, not least of which are a partial deck of magical cards and a potion miscibility table. (If you remember where either of these ideas first saw light in the world of TSR, you should probably be writing modules for Wizards right now.)

For those of you keeping track, this module was a rush job. Written in December, tested extensively in January, and printed in February --- in time for a Feb. 18 convention. There were moments when I didn’t believe it would happen, so it is a delight and relief to know that it made the cut.

Anyhow, sorry I’ve been so absent. The book is coming along well, roughly 1/5 of the way finished, which is a relief. I’m planning to spend February polishing up the world project, and then it’s vampires, vampires, vampires. More on that soon.

I hope the first month of the New Year has been wonderful to everyone, and I hope all your writing projects are coming along great. It’s a great time to be alive (or undead) and I can’t think of any bunch of writers I’d rather share it with.


Casualty of the Bite
Doh! Had to turn down a freelance gig this morning. I'm still so green that every opportunity feels like it might be the last. It was hard to say "no."

Still, May is going to be here before I know it, and I need to have a novel to show for it. That and I have about 20k to write this month before I can start focusing on Vampire during the weekdays. :)

[joke]Who knows, maybe Game Company X will push back their deadlines to court the coveted Harley Stroh. [/joke] ;)

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Secret Project for Goodman Games
Get your Slime On
As if you needed any other reasons to write d20 material, I give you reason #492:

Art to text ratio.

Sure I'm a hack. But right now there is an artist somewhere trying to translate my nightmares into ink and oils.

Love it. :)

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They're Baaaaack

"We are a rock'n'roll band. And a pop band. And an industrial groove machine.
And intellectual love gods in our spare time.

We make records, sometimes.
We play concerts, sometimes.

You're here anyway."

BTW ...
Everything, and I mean everything, I am today - be it husband, writer, skater, whatever - I owe to the people around me.

I'm writing stories because of what Matt taught me about art. I'm writing on a computer that Saurus bought for me. I'm writing modules to music from Jonathan, out of rule books from Alex, inspired by novels from Willy, and edited by Chris and Jeff. And we won't even touch on the emotional gifts from past lovers.

I am dirt. If you see any flowers, they were planted by someone else.

Not that any of this is a bad thing. But if we are going to have any understanding, if we are going to get anywhere, we have got to get that much clear.

//End Rant

Kicking Down …
So it wasn’t so long ago that a very kind and thoughtful writer made a point of passing along writing opportunities to folks like Gentry* and myself. It’s nice to complete that circle (albeit in a minor way) by helping point other folks along.

I’m hesitant to say “the next generation,” because I’m just a blip on the horizon myself. It’s easy to remember what it was like to be small when you are small. :)

When I was in college I used to organize “No-Pro Road Shows.” We’d toss our decks in the back of Rob’s car (since he was the only one who had a car) and strike out for new places to skate. We were never any good, which explains the “No-Pro(fessional)” part, but we always had a great time. (Even when we blew out a tire in a blizzard on top of Donnor Pass.)

I wonder if it is worth having a No-Pro Show for GenCon. Get all us nobodies together for some carousing. Of course, all the Names are welcome too, if they’re looking to do some slumming. ;)

*BTW, how cool is it to have a name meaning “the social class ranking just below the aristocracy; consisting of families who are not of noble birth but are entitled to have a coat of arms.”

What’s your coat of arms, Ed?

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Placing Headstones
More and more I've been trying to write my d20 modules with a cinematic flair. Any computer game can slog PCs through encounters, but the human element of PCs interacting with a GM makes pulp drama possible. This is where table-top games win out over computer games, and to not make use of it is to miss a crucial strength of the medium.

Anyhow. Cinematic flair. There's a module coming out for Dundracon that is in the last stages of playtesting, and I'm pretty proud of its pulp sensibilities. Or rather, I was proud, until I got back the playtest report.

See, there's this bridge. Only it doesn't look like a bridge at first. It looks like your regular dungeon crawl hallway. But then it splits across the middle, breaking into two halves that dump into a steaming lake. PCs make their saving throws, and suceed in clinging to the walls of the hall-turned-chimney.

Perfect. Right out of a cliffhanger serial.

Then something awful and unnamed comes up out of the lake. I think the sorcerer went first, plucked off the bridge like a little black robed hors d’oeuvre.

One bite and the Thing moves on to the main course.

So much for pulp action.

Now, clearly, finding out where an encounter is over (or under) powered is what a play test is for. I just always feel awful when a group of players is forced to go through a lousy encounter because of my poor design skills.

A big Deathy thanks is owed to the Moore family and their players, and their big Deathy death. :( I hope the module isn't a total wash.

Edit: Hey, Silverfyre. I never feel bad about beating up on you guys. When are the Knights of the Dinner Table back in action? >:)

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A Deathy New Year to you, and you, and you!
I hope everyone made it through the holidays safely (although it sounds like Mike and Silverfyre might be suffering some liver damage).

2006. Let’s geek out quick, and get it over with.

When I was a little kid, cutting my teeth on the Dragonlance Chronicles, I used to daydream about Raistlin and his fellow students of magic. And like any nerdy 11-year old, I’d daydream what it would be like to study magic. But “magic” was really just shorthand for something of worth. Outside of Harley’s adolescent fantasy life, the question still had merit:

Given the chance to accomplish something important, how would I behave?

Would I pour myself into the work, forsaking all else in the pursuit of that one goal? Or would I elect not to try at all, rather than attempt a long shot and risk failure?

Fast forward to the present. I haven’t read any of the Dragonlance books in over a decade, but they’re still at my bedside. The covers are worn yet beautiful. I can roll over at night and see Elmore’s depiction of Raistlin, his robes shading from red to black.

And now I have something to fight for, that long shot. Five short months to impress the Masters of High Sorcery.

Time to buckle down, light the candles and blow the dust off a musty tome. Time to see if Harley, given the chance, can write something of worth. A book worthy of a reader’s finite hours.

Heh. Three decades and I’m still envisioning my life through the lens of fantasy. Fun.

Thanks for sticking around for the ride. As the song goes, “You could be anywhere in the world, tonight, but you’re here with me. I appreciate that.”

Harley Stroh for Caffeine Powered Super-Robot
Every year the fine folks at Game Wyrd host their fan awards. Of all their awards, the one I covet is the “Most likely to be a caffeine powered robot.”

I don’t have enough 2005 products to make the cut, but if - by some stretch of the imagination - I get the World of Darkness gig, I’m throwing my hat in the ring for 2006. Because if I get that book, it will have been because I was a caffeine powered super-robot.

That’s still a long way from being a reality, so consider this a preliminary stump speech. ;)

Whew. For the first post of the year, that reads like so much gibberish. If you'd care to read something of substance, might I suggest reading this?

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