Once upon a time in Wisconsin…

…there was Blackmoor, the 3rd release of a fledgling game system called Dungeons and Dragons. Blackmoor included an adventure (perhaps the first adventure?) entitled “Temple of the Frog.”

This summer I had the great privilege of working beneath Richard Pocklington, and got to write a fair portion of this:

Hopping your way in January, 2007. Temple of the Frog.

“I think I’m losing my mind this time, this time, I’m losing my mind.”
Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to send their wishes and hopes. It’s encouraging to a noob, especially when so many (E.C., Paul, Jeff, Marce, Eric, Kam, Jaliegh, Ed) are published novelists.

But, as per E.C.’s advice, it is time to occupy myself with something else. My writing plate is full with editing, writing and I’ve even undertaken – in a pique of foolishness – a “for the hell/love of it” project. Clearly something else is called for, ideally something that doesn't involve -gasp!- writing.

Time get together with some friends and shake my groove thang with some friends.

Spackle’s coming up the mountain. The family is headed out for sushi and then some Aspen hiphop.

Shudder. Assuming you can get over the hurdle of that last sentence, know that it will be a good show. Hypocrisy aside, if you’re in the Rockies this Saturday, swing on by the BellyUp. Spackle and I will buy you a drink.

Till then,


The Boy is Back
...AND the doctor just cleared me to skate again.

Working legs, the chance to contribute to the first D&D adventure --- I've got nothing to complain about.

Still want that book though. I'm a greedy chump.


I complain a bunch, then get reminded that I was lucky enough to be a part of something like this:

Proto-cover for the new Temple of the Frog.

(I'll clean up the links later today, but for right now just go to dablackmoor.com for more information.)

“Keep your eye on that one. Anticipate.”
The ICC begins tomorrow and runs through Sunday. According to WW’s gracious and patient marketing director, Kelley Barnes-Herrmann, the winning* novel will be announced during the con.

It is a strange sensation knowing that a life's ambition might be fulfilled within 24 hours. I can still remember the closing night of every Ren Faire I’ve worked, and the bitter sweet recognition that I had just finished an important benchmark in Harley's life. (That bitterness was always offset by a shower and 15 year-old Harley’s anticipation/dread of the closing night party. I’ve really led a blessed life.)

But of novels and announcements.

What this means for me personally is that I’ll be on nails and needles through the end of the weekend. An announcement at the Con doesn’t mean that they’ll let the rest of us know right away, so we might be waiting until Monday or Tuesday of next week.

I wish I could say that I was a better person, and living up to the standards set by EC, with "fire and forget submissions." The reasoning goes that if I can’t do anything to influence the decisions made by Stewart Wieck and his people, so what’s the point of mooning over it? Sadly, if you know anything about me then you know that I’m far from evolved. Perhaps devolved even, the lizard brain driving me on with the single-minded obsession that can only be attributed to the feeding habits of reptiles and lower mammals.

So where does that leave us? In some ways, it’d be easier to not post until I have an answer. Certainly that would be more professional. But it other ways to do so would be concealing the gaping holes in Harley’s psyche. For me, for this forum, it’s important to acknowledge my “weaknesses” as an author. Maybe weaknesses isn’t the right word. Perhaps it is simply giving recognition to the entire author, and not simply reveling in the triumphant portions. So here goes.

-I want the novel. Badly.

-I’ll be heartbroken if it is rejected. It’s a good book. Not brilliant, but good, and with a solid rewrite I’d be proud to hand it over to a publisher.

-I wrote it in 4 months and spare weeks, while working a fulltime job with overtime, with the mere semblance an outline. Two 90k+ projects stacked atop one another meant bad news. Never again.

-I did get paid $1,100.00 for this little number, which is a lot more than my last novel. Or the one before that.

-Yea or nay, I’ll still be writing.

When the dust settles, if Harley’s novel is standing triumphant atop the slush pile, it will be because of the points listed above. And if Harley’s novel ends up one of the corpses, it will also be due to the points listed above.

24 hours. I’ll be in agony until we know, folks.

Thanks for reading.


*That phrase grinds at me. “Winning novel.” A novel doesn’t do anything. It’s written and then – sometimes – read. Still, it is a contest and my 90k words are being weighed against similar collections of words stacked in slightly different orders. Anyhow.


Good Company
It gives me great joy to announce that Jeff LaSala, of recent DCC World fame, has been contracted to write a novel set in Eberron! Even better (if that were possible), his novel will be appearing in the Inquisitives series, alongside Marce Rockwell.

Marce's novel Legacy of Wolves is due out in June of 2007, and while Jeff's release date hasn't been announced yet, it is sure to be quick to follow, being a "series" and all.

Drop by and give them both a bit of Deathy love for me.



DubSide, remix.
Made the cut. Check it out. Info here:

Words, sounds and pictures. It's like a Shi-town circus in there!

Locals, Ed and Jeff made it in as well. Should be an interesting read/listen/view.

Plus, the stickers rock. Need to get me some for the local skate park.


Back in the day I was a part of the TIN group. With ample doses of youthful arrogance, free time, and friends that worked at Kinkos, we put out a bunch of ‘zines. At the height of our powers we were read in every coffee shop in town.

Doesn't get much better than that.

Topics ranged from issues relative to northern Colorado, ninjas, aggressive dead fish, Day of the Dead traditions, ninjas, sushi, Ice-T, and ninjas. I’ve missed that sort of writing, so it was a treat when Josh Wentz invited me to submit to his upcoming monograph.

The monograph promises to be a multi-media extravaganza. If one of my stories gets in, I’ll be counting my blessings. I’m not terribly pleased about what I wrote ---- ran into October and had to scale back my schemes --- but it never pays to argue with an editor. For now it’s time to shut up and wait.



DCC World: Don't Try This With Dialup
Goodman Games
Áereth is now available in PDF, and at nearly half the cost of the boxed set. The size of the download is huge --- 380 MB, and everything that's in the boxed set is included in the download:

-Gazetteer of the Known Realms, a 120-page book describing the archetypal fantasy world of Áereth.

-Three 24"x36" poster-sized full-color maps of Áereth ready to host your adventures. In PDF form, these are provided as 8.5"x11" pages, 15 per map, that can be easily printed on a home printer.

-GM’s Guide to the Known Realms, a 136-page sourcebook describing deities, equipment, creatures, and NPCs, plus rules for starting campaigns with 0-level characters and adventure paths that you can build from existing DCC modules.

-A 24"x36" poster-sized players’ map of Áereth. As with the other maps, in PDF form this is provided as 8.5"x11" pages.

-Halls of the Minotaur, a 32-page adventure module for 0-level characters perfectly suited to starting off your campaign in Áereth.

-The Thief Lord’s Vault, a 32-page adventure module for levels 4-6 that sends the heroes into the legendary treasure vault of Cazül the Chaotic.

Whew. Anyhow, if you're interested, here's the link:




13 Days, but Who's Counting?
Cam, not Kam
So part of the premise behind Choose Death* is that while tracking Harley's heady publishing triumphs** in the RPG industry, I also need to track my failures. In the first instance, this is in order to demonstrate to other youngbloods that this paid publishing thing can be done, but in the second instance, to serve as a reminder that even I don’t have a silver bullet. Persistence alone.

My latest attempt at selling a novel led me to the fine folks at White Wolf. As reported at GenCon by my fiercest advocate, the Saurus, White Wolf plans to announce the winner of their novel contest at the International Camarilla Conclave. Essentially a GenCon for the living dead, the convention is dedicated to the Live-Action World of Darkness. It runs from Oct 26th through the 29th, and at some point during the proceedings, they’ll announce the winning novelist.

Assuming that my book is rejected, this will be my most spectacular failure to date. There were some near misses with Wizards, but nothing quite this public. As a personal favor to me, I ask that you hold any condolences for when you see me in person. The book was finished over half a year ago, and I’d like to think that my writing has improved since then. A rejection of the novel isn’t a rejection of my writing, today, but of Harley’s writing 7 months ago.

And if you knew that guy like I did, you know that he was in need of some serious improvement.

It’s a mental shell game, something to preserve that fragile ego of mine, but there you go. And interestingly, win or lose, nothing really changes for me. I'm still contracted to finish 89k before January, I still don’t know what the next book is going to be about, and I still have to hustle if I hope to sell it.

Win or lose, I’m still nobody, but I’m still in the game. Both of those truths are comforting in their own way.

But, if by some editing mistake of the cosmos they select my book, I expect all of you to set fire to dumpsters and discharge firearms into the night sky.

Or maybe that’s just the Saurus.

As mentioned in the contest announcements, the “losing” novels have a chance at publication as well, so all is not lost if Harley gets the big bounce. Still, this late in the game, it’s not looking particularly likely that I’ll make the cut. Not out of the question, but let’s just say the situation looks…


Heh. I’m okay with that.

Love from the Rockies,

*I am such a dork.

**If you’re new here, I’m joking. Harley’s publishing credits are little better than dirt. Well, maybe not that fancy store bought kind. Can’t compete with all those nutrients and stuff.


Event Horizon
WoTC's d20 Future Tech

Let’s hear it for the weekend. Since skating is off limits for another 3 weeks or so, this mean 48 hours of opportunity to spend time with H and write, write, write. I’m knee deep into an 89k project and I’ve finally hit that spot where it feels good. Love it.

One of the cool things about this particular number is that it has me going beyond my usual design scope, and digging into the d20 Future products. If you know me then you know that I get excited about a lot of stuff, but that I don’t tend to do a lot of reading in the field. (A mistake, I know, I know, but there you have it.) I’m excited about reading these.

Prior to my work with Goodman Games, my most recent roleplaying experience was several years of R. Talsorian’s Cyberpunk, so writing about cybernetics and cyborgs is a real treat. If you’re interested in WoTC’s rendition of the genre, I encourage you to check it out.

In other news, Temple of the Frog…
…is headed towards the printer soon. No official release date yet, just “soon.” I was only called in to write the actual Temple and Frog Town, while the good Mr. Pocklington lead the rest of the project. This was a new experience for me --- good or bad, I can’t take full responsibility for this one.

I’m intrigued to see how it our take on the classic adventure is received. I’m sure some folks will dislike it, but I’m okay with that. Temple was played at GenCon, and the few folks that have reported in claim they enjoyed it. We’ll see. It’s always dangerous to take on a classic.

Anyhow. Be safe. Have a great weekend.

Love from the Rockies,

Edit: Founds rumors of a December release. Still no official release date, but it would be great to have Temple in hand before the end of the year.


Hey Ma, look what we did.
Scan of Dragon

Not quite an ad, not quite a review. Without seeing the original I'm not sure what this. An "industry news" column, maybe?

Anyhow, we're in Dragon Magazine #349. For a non-WotC product, that's pretty cool. The writer they quote sounds pretty stupid, but he'll know better next time. ;)

Thanks to A for the heads up on the article and the scan.



Thirty miles up from where I’m sitting is Independence Pass. Rising over 12,000 ft., it is the highest paved pass in Colorado. Due to snow and really nasty road conditions, the pass is usually closed from mid-October to late May. It was already closed once this year, and just briefly reopened.

Yesterday, a mom and 3 children from H’s third-grade class went hiking on the pass. When they didn’t return we called Mountain Search and Rescue, but by that time it had started to snow. They called off the search at two in the morning after walking the entire trail and finding no traces of our lost kids. H and I spent the night sitting up, calling families in the class, and preparing everyone for the worst.

Search and Rescue resumed the search this morning, but the snow was still coming down. Down valley, it was alternating rain and sleet, and the idea of somehow surviving a night, above alpine, in the snow, didn’t seem possible.

About an hour ago, they found mom. She and the children had spent the night huddled beneath a tarp. She left at dawn, found a search team and led them back to the children. We got the call from the sheriff just in time for H to announce it at the all-school assembly.

A lot of scary things happen every day. Terrible things, with no logic or reason to them, and it can make a person feel adrift in an uncaring universe. But I’m willing to bet that for every horrible tragedy that passes, there is a wonder, too.

And often the good things are are just as arbitrary as their wicked cousins. Reason and logic will tell you that a child of sixty pounds --- dressed for a day hike --- cannot stay out all night, above alpine, in the snow, but I know three perfect ones that did.

As a culture, we don’t tally wonders like we do the disasters, but that doesn’t make them any less real to the people that need them. Today, we needed this one.

So here’s October's running tally, as witnessed by H. Stroh:



”Titanium plates that escape metal detection…”
Harley’s Broken Ankle
After 13 years of falling down on concrete, it finally happened: my first broken bone*.

Drove an hour to a new skate park last Sunday, and fell down the wrong way. Drove back an hour. Got to the hospital and discovered I had finally done myself up right. Broken fibula, which, to the best of my knowledge, is the little bone behind the big bone. Seems a fairly kind bone to break. Not like, say a femur or your skull.

We could have left it alone, but the doctor suggested getting a plate and some screws. And if there is anything I’ve learned from years of playing R. Talsorian’s Cyberpunk, it’s is that if you can elect to take surgery that involves metal, take it.

We expect a fully recovery in a few weeks. Sad thing is, all my nurses assume that this will be the end of the skateboarding, as if to say that the old geezer has finally learned his lesson. Whereas my operating assumption was that this will make my ankle stronger.

Should have had the other ankle done at the same time, and taken out my appendix, too.

Anyhow, this is where I’ve been, and why the lack of updates. Hope to pick back up the pace again in the next couple weeks.

Love from the Rockies,

*There may have been others, but if they didn’t merit hospital time, they just don’t count.