Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Building Bridges Of The Mind

Being open to seeing how someone else thinks about things is a thing I'm still learning how to do. It's essential if I want to change someone's mind. Well, not change minds per se, but maybe make someone else realize that just maybe their views and mine really aren't that far apart, once all the divisive chaff is cleared away. To do that, my mind needs to be open enough to see alternative views, too, in order to see where we can go from there.

Artist:  Richard Tuschman

Saying that is one thing, doing it is harder. Which is why I'm still trying to figure out how to speak with people who I don't agree with in a way that doesn't immediately anger them or put them on the defensive. Or—at even more imporantly—allow trigger words or phrases to do that to me. If I engage in that state of mind, nothing good is likely to come of it. Because being angry and outraged (whether unconsciously or consciously) only pushes away the person you're supposedly trying to compromise with. If I'm going to address a problem, I want to find common ground. Being angry and outraged lights up the circuits in the brain in a way that seems "right" in that moment... but I don't think it really leads to compromise and good outcomes.

Here's an example to put some of this in context: if my hypothetical eight-year-old daughter tells me she's scared to go to sleep because there's a monster under her bed, I don't tell her "Sally, you idiot! Don't you know there's no such thing as monsters?"

Why? Because telling Sally she's stupid for believing as she does just adds another problem to the first one, because now Sally is mad, sad, and defensive IN ADDITION to believing that there is a monster under her bed. Plus, demeaning her intelligence is just mean. No parent willingly wants to be mean to their child. Nor should we willingly want to be mean to other people, because hey, they're someone's child, too.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

President Mitchell

Mitchell died when I was ten. Somewhere around that age, although maybe I was nine, or eleven. But I remember when Mitchell died. It was winter and he was sledding. Down one of the unbelievably massive ridges of snow that street-plows used to pile up along the sides of South Dakota streets before climate change. He slipped under a car that drove by at just the wrong time.

Mitchell's death got to me. It was the first death I was old enough to appreciate and understand. All these decades later, I can still recapture the sick-at-my-core cloudy blot of darkness and loss that his senseless death conjured in my ten-year-old gut.

I like to think that if he had lived, maybe the world would be in a better place. In fact, maybe that's when things went off the road in this reality. Except that it was such a small thing compared to world events that no one (outside the small town where I grew up) noticed. A butterfly flaps its wings, a child dies too soon, that sort of thing.

I wonder if in another reality, where Mitchell lived... things would be different. Who knows, maybe he'd have risen to become the 45th president.

Mitchell, somewhere out there, I hope you're doing right by the life you never got to lead here.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Wanna Listen To Something Strange?

As of today (Feb 22, 2018), Myth of the Maker is available as an audiobook on

(UPDATE: Are you outside the USA? Go to this Amazon link and click on Audible link there, which I hear is more likely to get you to the audiobook:

Let me just say, this is just what I needed to make me feel better after that LAST blog article.

Carter Morrison, gazing out over Ardeyn
So if you're curious about the reason Carter Morrison killed his friends and himself—it was them or the end of all life on the planet—head over here give the sample a listen. If you like what you hear, well, having the whole thing is of course only a click away ;).

Myth of the Maker audiobook (inside US):
Myth of the Maker audiobook (outside US, click on Audible):

Want to know more about Myth of the Maker? Here's a good place to start:

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

That Time I Didn't Die

2018 continues to be the year I didn't die! Too early to call it? Screw that. I spent last weekend in Tacoma General Hospital's intensive care unit (ICU). I was treated for dual pulmonary embolisms (blood clots in both my lungs that were restricting blood to and from my heart) over the weekend and through until Monday—February 17th to the 19th 2018.

(Torah tells me blood clots in the lungs leading to a heart attack is what killed Carrie Fisher. Wisely, she kept that to herself until the clots were dissolved.)

By the mere fact that you're reading this, you've probably guessed that the treatment was successful. You're right! I got tPA (clot-busting juice) Saturday evening into early Sunday morning dripped into me via IV. But for several hours before and after that, I got heparin, a blood thinner. Sometime around 2 am Sunday morning, the clots were gone.

Styling in my hospital gown. They gave me pants! And groovy socks.
I had to stay in the ER for 36+ hours after the tPA treatment, where someone woke me once an hour to check that I wasn't having a brain bleed, with questions like "Where are you? Do you know why you're here? What's your name?" Luckily, I consistently answered correctly. Though at one point the idea came into my head to start answering everything with "Blurple" because how funny would that be? (Blurple is a term coined by Bear Weiter, MCG's Art Director, to signify a busy status beyond Red.)

During that same period, my average heart rate came down from 80-90 bpm to the 50-60 bpm (or 45 when I'm really relaxed) it normally is. My really scary blood pressure dropped back down to its normal level, which is in the 120s / 80s. Apparently, no lasting damage had been sustained.

Finally, I got to come home Monday afternoon.

After all that clot-dissolving and clot-preventing medication, including the blood-thinner I'm going to remain on for at least 3 months, my blood is unlikely to throw up another clot. The downside is that if I cut myself during this period, it won't stop bleeding. Thus I've been warned. I'm imagining the results like something out of a Monty Python skit.

So, what life-altering wisdom have I taken from this near-death experience? I wish it was as easy as that. It's pretty muddled. Here's where my thoughts mostly are right now.

1) Your loved ones, friends, and family are really the most important thing. I didn't once think "Man, I wish I'd lost that extra 10 pounds," or something similar. Instead, I thought "Wow, I'm sure glad Batgirl's here." Batgirl (Torah) stayed with me the entire time, sleeping in a chair for two days while I had the bed. Imagining how she, my friends, and my family would feel if something happened to me was really the only time I felt sad or scared. (But maybe that wouldn't have been the case if she hadn't been there to keep me company.)

Sometimes Torah got TWO chairs to sleep on
2) It's hard to appreciate how wonderful it is to stand up and not have to catch your breath, to talk longer than 4 or 5 sentences and not have to catch your breath, not to be afraid of going up the stairs and therefore choosing not to, to be able to walk the dog for a block then not pass out on the floor and sleep for 2 hours to regain equanimity... It's all still fresh for me, so whenever I do one of these "minor" things over the last day and a half, I still marvel. It's wonderful.

3) We often hear about the failures of western medicine. And even experience them sometimes when a friend or family member passes, or when a chronic condition manifests. But holy moly, It almost seems like science fiction that in one short weekend's treatment, I'm feeling better than I have in months. I'm amazed, and I hope all of you get to be just as amazed as me, if something should ever go so wrong for you.

4) Yes, it's a cliche, but after my brush with death, I feel like I need to do more to improve the world than what I'm currently doing. Except what that is hasn't come to me with crystal clarity. I give money to several charities. I support several Patreons on an ongoing basis. But I don't really give up my time to volunteer or work on charitable initiatives. Maybe that should change. Not sure what's a fit for me right now, but it's something I'm going to think about.

5) At the very least, I'd like to figure out how to build bridges between people. I was examined, transported, treated, cared for, cleaned up after, and in some other way helped by a bare minimum of fifty different people during my weekend Embolism Tour. Every one of them was smart, dedicated, and caring. And I bet at least half of them disagreed with me on some particular issue or other. Should I let those single points of disagreement define those people to me?

In case you're wondering, the answer is not "Blurple."

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Raven Wants What You Have, an Invisible Sun RPG

GM (Monte), Savion (me), The Cicatrix (Darcy), Seru (Sean), In'Kalia (Shanna)

This RPG streamed game promises to be fantastic, and I hope you'll tune in to watch. The Raven Wants What You Have airs weekly on Fridays at 7pm PT on our Twitch channel starting February 16th

We recorded a short narrative of multiple Invisible Sun game sessions that shows our character advancing through our character arcs. Between each session, we recorded some of the game’s side scenes, which we call Development Mode, so you can watch every step of the game.
We call this narrative The Raven Wants What You Have, and as the story progresses, you’ll discover the secrets of the Girl From the Other Shore and follow a group of friends (including me, Savion Clay) all across the city of Satyrine and even realms beyond. Our four characters include:
I play Savion (have I mentioned that?), a Goetic who summons devils and angels
  • Savion, a Goetic who wants revenge on his wicked father who’s holed up in a demon-filled fortress beneath the Red Sun (played by you know who)
  • Seru, a Weaver who wants to craft a sword of magical glass
  • In’Kalia, a Maker who seeks the help of an organization called the Hendassa to help a friend trapped in Shadow
  • The Cicatrix, who is interested in advancing her own Order of Honed Thought

We get caught up in the theft of a magical violin, break into a floating skyscraper, encounter an eternally dying god, and make our way to the realm of the Red Sun by way of a bloody and brutal competition in the Undersling. On the way, we conjure spirits and ghosts, craft our own magic items, learn arcane secrets, battle demons, and master spells and incantations that produce all manner of strange and wondrous effects. It’s a surreal and weird story full of twists and surprises—surprises for both players and GM—and you’ll get to watch it unfold right there at the table as it develops.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Words of Power: Fantasy-themed organized play at your local game store

As many of you know, I have an 18-year history of writing Dungeons & Dragons. Things like The Sunless Citadel, Return to the Tomb of Horrors, and Gates of Firestorm Peak. So you know that I love me some fantasy settings and epic quests.

Which is why I am so excited that even as I write this, my 6-week adventure series Words of Power is potentially available right now as something you can play at your friendly local game store.

What is Words of Power? A 6 session adventure — a "season" — designed to be played over six weeks. Words of Power features the simple-to-learn Cypher System (the underlying rule system for Numenera and The Strange). The epic fantasy setting is one you'd recognize from much of my previous game material: here, wizards and dragons are real. Player characters must find and liberate five Words of Power: one from a dragon, one from a tomb, one from a fey lord, and two from a wizard’s library. Once assembled, the Words of Power can be used to return the Lich King’s undead army to dust before he conquers all the kingdoms of humanity.

In Session 1, the players create player characters (PCs) and learn about the game, including the general setting of the fantasy world where this season takes place. They also play a short encounter, answering a call from the Warden of Shadowbridge Keep to help stem a rising darkness.

If you want to know more about MCG's organized play program, called Cypher Play, check out the information provided here:

If you want to play, check to see if your nearest friendly local game store is offering it. If not, direct them here to sign up:

(Note: It's possible that I'm a little late in reporting the availability of Words of Power. But if you're store is not already doing it, they can start anytime while the season is still available at MCG!)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Numenera 2

Numenera finished its crowdfunding on Kickstarter on October 27th.

Set a billion years in our future, Numenera is a tabletop roleplaying game about exploration and discovery. Eight times the people of this Earth, over vast millennia, built their civilizations, reaching heights we cannot even fully imagine now. They spoke to the stars, reshaped the creatures of the world, and mastered form and essence. They built cities and machines that have since crumbled to dust, leaving only their barest remnants.

This is the Ninth World. The people of the prior worlds are gone—scattered, disappeared, or transcended. But their works remain, in the places and devices that still contain some germ of their original function. Some call these magic, but the wise know that these are our legacy. They are our future. They are the..
But discovery awaits for those brave enough to seek out the works of the prior worlds. Those who uncover and master the numenera can unlock the powers and abilities of the ancients, and bring new light to a struggling world.