Ok, so the first two Cha'alt books turned out great. The Kickstarters were both successful, and the quality is off the charts!
Next year... yes, I'm talking about 2022, I'd like to Kickstart the third Cha'alt book. To the right, you can see a quick concept sketch for the Cha'alt: Chartreuse Shadows cover art.
It's a mish-mash of awesome stuff I've grown up with over the years... Beastmaster, Indiana Jones, Conan (sword), Lovecraftian tentacles, and hot fantasy ladies. What do you think?
However, I've been reliably informed by my wife that until I get the 1,000 print run of Cha'alt:Fuchsia Malaise sold (200 of those already out the door), I can't move forward - except for commissioning the cover art, of course.
So, in the meantime, I'm launching an in-between Kickstarter to help sell Fuchsia Malaise books, as well as, one or more short PDF adventures set in the eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, post-apocalyptic campaign setting of Cha'alt. The further we break stretch goal barriers, the more adventures will be released into backers' hands.
That KS has already been submitted for approval with a launch date of February 5th. It'll run a full 30 days. Should be pretty cool. The more $ it makes, the better value backers will get. I have many adventure ideas just waiting to be uncaged!
So, check back here for details. If you have questions or suggestions, definitely let me know.
I'm workshopping something new for my Cha'alt campaign, maybe it'll appear in the 3rd book next year... who knows?
At character creation, magic-using PCs must either choose or roll on the following random table to determine their fetishistic spell focus - a component which is part and parcel of their sorcery.
Fire - any kind of flame or intense heat.
Water - any of the three states of water (liquid, steam, or ice).
Gold - self explanatory.
Flesh - think: sex magic.
Blood - ritual bloodletting and death.
Crystal - any crystalline structure.
Energy - high-tech power supplies.
Emotional Turmoil - eliciting a powerful emotional response from one or more humanoids around you.
So, what are the pros and cons?
Casting without your spell component yields a 2 in 6 chance of spell failure.
Casting with a small or medium amount of your spell component just means that magic is cast normally. Casting with a large amount of your spell component effectively doubles the potency of that spell.
The higher the spell level, the more component you need. A 1st level spell might only require a single gold piece or "shot" from a blaster's energy-cell. 4th level spells may take a fist-sized crystal or consume a torch.
Keep in mind that when a particular component is used, it's entirely spent... water evaporates, crystal becomes dull rock, gold pieces turn to lead, and lifeforce is consumed. This prevents sorcerers from using the same energy-cell to summon a demon over and over again.
Why bother doing this? Well, it's just another thing to both keep players on their toes while creating interesting situations. Could be fun... go ahead and give it a try! And let me know the results.
If this seems to work, I could add more components. Light, darkness, slime, who knows? Feel free to suggest your own!
Today, I'm blogging about the "sweaty-toothed madman" technique of adventure writing.
Don't bother googling it, I just made that shit up... but not out of thin air.
I fondly remember watching the movie Dead Poet Society in 1989. Very relatable since I was, and still am, an anti-authoritarian creative writer.
So, what's this sweaty-toothed madman technique about? Sometimes, saying (or writing) the first thing that comes into your mind is a winning strategy. Game Masters who love coming up with details on the spot do this all the time. Maybe they filter out the more ridiculous notions, maybe not.
Let's take an example - a black box. The PCs have it in their hot little hands. They want to open it, and you (as GM), don't have a clue what's in there. Now what?
The safe option is to stall for time until you can think of something suitably interesting. Perhaps, the black box doesn't open right away... or skeevers attack just as the thief pries the lid to have a peek.
However, if you want to come up with something off-the-wall and possibly inspired, say the first thing that comes to your mind.
In the following scene, Keating (Robin Williams at his best) coaxes something from one of his students, Todd.
Keating: A picture of Uncle Walt [Whitman] up there, what does he remind you of, don't think, answer.
Todd: A madman.
Keating: What kind of madman?
Todd: A crazy madman.
Keating: No, you can do better than that, free up your mind, use your imagination, say the first thing that pops into your head, even if it's total gibberish, go on, go on.
Todd: A sweaty-toothed madman.
Keating: Good God boy, there's a poet in you, after all. There, close your eyes, close your eyes, close 'em, now describe what you see.
Todd: I close my eyes...
Todd: And this image floats beside me.
Keating: A sweaty-toothed madman with a stare that pounds my brain.
Keating: Oh, that's excellent, now give him an action, make him do something.
Todd: His hands reach out and choke me.
Keating: That's excellent, wonderful, wonderful.
Todd: And all the time he's mumbling.
Keating: What's he mumbling?
Todd: Mumbling truth, truth like a blanket that always leaves your feet cold. [laughter]
Keating: Forget them, forget them, stay with the blanket, tell me about the blanket.
Todd: you push it, stretch it, it will never be enough, you kick at it, beat it, it will never cover any of us. From the moment we enter crying to the moment we leave dying, it will just cover your face, as you wail and cry and scream.
Keating: [Whispering to Todd] Don't you forget this.
Indeed, we all have something inside of us worth a great deal.
So, that's it, essentially. Closing your eyes isn't necessary, but letting your imagination flow is. The results don't always produce great things; however, the sweaty-toothed madman technique occasionally beats the pants off everything else.
I don't remember mentioning Dead Poet Society in my book How To Game Master Like A Fucking Boss, but it's possible. If I have time, I'll take a gander later today.
Comment below with your favorite pop-culture reference from either Cha'alt or Cha'alt: Fuchsia Malaise and you'll be in the running to win a free hardcover of the latter (within the USA, otherwise it's $35 if you live outside the USA).
I'll randomly roll for the winner at midnight tomorrow, January 11th. I'll post the winner's name on the 12th and you'll have 48 hours to email me your info (like mailing address).
TL;DR: If you thought this bullshit was over with 2020, think again.
Sorry for the lateness of this blog post... I thought it important to wait a bit and let the dust settle before I recklessly shoot my mouth off as many of my colleagues have done.
If you've been on social media the last couple days, you can hear the left cry out with indignant glee! They're thinking "We've got them now, those bad, lousy, no good, very bad Trump supporters. We can label them terrorists, just like we've done for years [albeit with softer voices] and be done with Orange Man Bad forever!"
Bad news, leftists. What happened at the Capitol was your fault. You did this.
You tried to impeach Trump BEFORE he was even inaugurated in 2016, denying he won in a fair and free election with your Russian hoax - when it was the Clintons who colluded with Russia via the Steele Dossier!
You've been insulting and demonizing Republicans, conservatives, and Trump supporters ever since Trump declared he was running for president.
You normalized violent protests, demonstrations, rioting, and occupying territory throughout 2020. The media, politicians, celebrities, Big Tech, corporations, and even some law enforcement agencies gave their approval.
You convinced a plurality of Americans that America itself was systemically racist and then tried to fix the imaginary problem with critical race theory, defunding the police, and Green New Deal.
You locked everything down so people couldn't do much of anything - extremely limited socialization, entertainment, religious celebration, political organizing, and going back to work. 15 days to slow the spread has turned into 9 months of house arrest.
You threw away all the voting norms and safeguards we've had in place until just before the biggest and most contentious election in U.S. history. And when Americans cried foul, you censored them, discredited them, and continued to insult them while wondering why the other half doesn't want to unify around Biden and his supporters.
I don't have any proof (aside from the anecdotal evidence one can easily find online) that the election was stolen away from Trump. And I'm not sure why holding a political rally at that time and place was considered a good idea. But it's also not surprising. What did you expect would happen?
Will there be more political violence in 2021. I hope not, but it seems likely.
A woman lost her life. So many more people lost their lives throughout the "mostly peaceful protests" in 2020. It all seems tragic and needless.
I don't know where the line between protesting and rioting is, anymore... what's tolerated and what isn't. And I don't know where we go from here. But it doesn't take a genius to see that whatever we've got going on right now isn't working.
Eventually, both sides need to come together on something (hopefully, multiple things) in order to successfully move forward into the future as a nation. Until then, there will be chaos - the new normal.
p.s. If you haven't heard, I now have luxury, signed, limited edition Cha'alt: Fuchsia Malaise hardcovers for sale. Eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, post-apocalypse campaign settings have never looked this good!
Someone on twitter was asking what I've accomplished in my life. Some accomplishments are personal, subjective, and either unverifiable or ephemeral. I won't include those... but those times I knew my opponent was bluffing on the river, well, if you add it all up, I saved myself thousands of dollars. Plus, a lot of final tables.
In no particular order, here we go...
50+ roleplaying game products written and self-published, several of them best-sellers.
My Game Mastering is known far and wide as legen... wait for it... dary. Legendary!
Before wife and kids, I was a successful PUA with a score around 100 in a 5-year timeframe.
College degree (probably the least of my accomplishments on this list - the most useful thing I learned in school was how to type - and that was in High School).
Business / financial success in my chosen industry.
I was the High Priest of a religion and magical order based on H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Cult (still the founder and spiritual leader for the organization - Ipsissimus Venger As'Nas Satanis. Within that paradigm, my achievements are vast and esoteric. Feel free to ask me about it privately, though).
I limit myself to a dozen or so specialties, but within those parameters, I'm a damn good cook. And each year, I add to my repertoire.
I've amassed a collection of movies the likes of which would make Blockbuster blush (mostly sci-fi, fantasy, horror, exploitation, comedy, and westerns).
That's it for now. If I think of something red-hot tonight or tomorrow, I'll add it to the list. If you know of any accomplishment I didn't mention, comment below.
What's for the future? That's probably a blog post for another time...