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.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Gen Con 2017

What the what? Something's going on this week (called Gen Con), and I'm leaving on a jet plane tomorrow so I'll be there in good time to just miss helping assemble the MCG booth, unless I'm really unlucky ;).

MCG Seminar: What’s New With Monte Cook Games with the whole crew, 11 a.m.—1 p.m., Westin: Capitol II Room
Writing 101: Dialogue (Writer’s Symposium) with Bruce, 1–2 p.m., Westin: Chamber Room
Character Craft: Sympathetic Villains (Writer’s Symposium) with Bruce, 2–3 p.m., Westin: Caucus Room
Signing: Bruce & Monte, 3–4 p.m., MCG booth

MCG Seminar: Designing for the Cypher System with Shanna & Bruce, 11 a.m.—12:30 p.m., Crowne Plaza: Conrail
Rothfuss Worldbuilders charity game of The Strange GM’d by Bruce, 1–5 p.m. (sold out)
ENnie Awards 8–10 p.m.

Writer’s Craft: What is the “Writer’s Voice?” (Writer’s Symposium) with Bruce, 11 a.m.–noon, Westin: Chamber Room
Writer’s Craft: Can a Hero be Too Powerful? (Writer’s Symposium) with Bruce, 3–4 p.m., Westin: Capitol I Room
Signing: Bruce & Shanna, 4–5 p.m., MCG booth

Monday, July 17, 2017

Artificial Sweets May* Be Killing You

Some of you remember my vocal arguments against the widespread use of hydrogenated oil in the 90s and beyond ("Artificial Fats Are Killing You") Over the last couple years, I've come to have similar doubts about artificial sweeteners (though I haven't been nearly so vocal for whatever reason--less evidence, probably). But it is one of the reasons I stopped drinking diet soda and energy drinks, just to be on the safe side. More evidence is accumulating that such things may be bad for you.
Consumption of artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, sucralose and stevia, is widespread and increasing. Emerging data indicate that artificial, or nonnutritive, sweeteners may have negative effects on metabolism, gut bacteria and appetite, although the evidence is conflicting. To better understand whether consuming artificial sweeteners is associated with negative long-term effects on weight and heart disease, researchers from the University of Manitoba's George & Fay Yee Centre for Healthcare Innovation conducted a systematic review of 37 studies that followed over 400 000 people for an average of 10 years. Only 7 of these studies were randomized controlled trials (the gold standard in clinical research), involving 1003 people followed for 6 months on average. The trials did not show a consistent effect of artificial sweeteners on weight loss, and the longer observational studies showed a link between consumption of artificial sweeteners and relatively higher risks of weight gain and obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and other health issues.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Myth of the Maker is now available!

I wanted to write a science fiction novel that treated Fermi's Paradox. Why in this vast universe filled with billions of other galaxies is there is no evidence for any other intelligent alien life?

Myth of the Maker has an answer. It's related to what scientists call dark energy, a medium that my protagonists learn to call the Strange.

In Myth of the Maker, computer programmer Carter Morrison sacrifices himself and his friends, killing them and locking them in a virtual world—all to save the rest of the planet from certain destruction. Morrison’s friends have no idea what he’s done—but as the “planetvores” approach, they must come to terms with the fictional worlds they now inhabit, which serve to insulate the real world from the horrors without. Not all of them are satisfied with their forced martyrdom, either, and a man named Jason Cole—known as The Betrayer—seeks a way out of the fiction and back to reality, no matter the cost.

(If you're curious about how I came to write this novel, check out this article Long Road To the Myth of the Maker.)


Audible (audiobook)

Barnes & Noble

Powell's Books

Deluxe hardcover at MCG

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Long, Strange Trip to Myth of the Maker

I started writing the novel Myth of the Maker a long time ago. It's been at least 4 years of actual writing, slow though that writing was, beginning in 2013. But the initial, flailing stages of conception probably go even further back. Maybe even to right around the time I decided to walk away from the third book in the Sword of the Gods series after the publisher decided to print the second in the series (Spinner of Lies) in e-book only, which wasn't part of my contract. ("Walk away" means I asked the publisher for a stay on writing the third book in my contract, and they agreed.)

Don't get me wrong; what happened wasn't personal. The same thing happened to most of the Forgotten Realms novels coming out at the time (unless your name rhymed with "are aye suave-a-boar*"). It was a business decision. I remain grateful and honored to have been part of the author bullpen writing books set in FR during that period. I wouldn't do anything different if I had it to do over.

But we can't get around the fact that publishing almost every novel previously slated for print as e-book-only effectively put paid to the Forgotten Realms novel line as it existed at that time, and signaled and end to my nine-book career as an FR author.

So I started working on something different, thanks in part to encouragement from editor and writer Torah Cottrill. I decided to write a science fiction novel. But well before finishing, the ideas underlying it spawned a game line called The Strange that Monte Cook and I co-wrote. Maybe you've heard of it? (If not, check out the video here.)

And now, at long last, Myth of the Maker is finished!

In a universe as vast as ours, with tens of billions of planets potentially supporting life, Enrico Fermi’s famous question—"Where is everyone?”—has never been more relevant. That’s what Katherine Manners learned when she discovered, in a secure server room, the melted form of an unknown man clutching a message of doom from another world. 
A world, it turns out, in orbit of our own. Hidden in the dark recesses of a nether dimension called The Strange. A dimension that hosts countless other micro-worlds, many copies—or recursions—of Earth itself. 
Worlds home to beings sometimes jealous of our own. Worlds filled with dangers and riches, mysteries—and answers. 
But the opening of these worlds also draws the attention of creatures capable of devouring the Earth. Creatures that may have been the doom of every civilization that advanced enough to discover The Strange. Creatures that hunger—and now know we exist.

I read an excerpt of the first chapter of the novel here. Get prepared to be AMAZED at my reading-in-front-of-the-camera abilities ;).

You can read an excerpt of the novel here. I believe it's the entire first chapter!


Angry Robot (the publisher)

Barnes & Noble

Powell's Books

Deluxe hardcover pre-order at MCG

*No disrespect intended to Bob Salvatore, of course! He's a mensch. It was his first FR books first few FR books that helped crystalize the realization that maybe I could try to do the same one day.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Get Your Strange Box on Kickstarter through March 17th!

One of the first questions we get asked at every convention is whether we're going to do a boxed set for The Strange like we did for Numenera. Because of that, we asked fans of The Strange to let us know how much they'd like to see this. They responded enthusiastically. Since we love The Strange and its fans, we decided to give them the most spectacular experience with The Strange that we can create with a deluxe boxed edition.

As you can probably imagine, we want to make it absolutely beautiful and crammed full of all the coolest extra content we can come up with: character sheets, XP cards with a brand new design, and maybe even a gorgeous cloth version of the Ardeyn poster map, if we hit some stretch goals. We did it once before, and with your help, we’re going to make that dream a reality again, this time to create a deluxe boxed edition of The Strange!

(Already own The Strange? Don't worry—we've got some things that will interest you as well as those new to the game.)

Check it out here:

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Power Out, But My Prius Is A Mini-Generator!

When the power went out in my house yesterday, this inverter turned my Prius into a sort of mini generator. It was able to power lamps, and more importantly, charge up my computer and phone. The phone I used as a wifi hotspot to get my computer online, which allowed me to stay up to date about weather conditions and outage forecasts, plus the ability to keep working from my home office.

(I normally use this device to keep my phone charged when I drive to locations using the phone google Maps to navigate).

If you ever want to turn your Prius into a mini generator, have an inverter like this one handy. Turn the Prius on, but only after you put it outside or at least hang its butt out the open garage door, because the car needs to run about 10 minutes out of every hour to keep itself charged up.

Run an extension cord out the cracked window and under your front door and into your office (or wherever). Voila! You've got a bit of power. Though word to the wise: if you try to power something that requires too much, it won't work. Stick with lamps and charging personal electronics.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Drain The Swamp

News of regulation rollbacks meant to save the average Americans about 17 billion in unnecessary fees to Wallstreet might make you think that the POTUS has a weird way of following through on his campaign promises to "drain the swamp" when it comes to Wall Street.

But if you think about what a swamp actually is, you'll see his promise makes sense.

A swamp is the very definition of a wetland. And you know what wetlands, do, right?

Wetlands "mitigate the impacts from storm damage and flooding, maintain good water quality in rivers, recharge groundwater, store carbon, help stabilize climatic conditions and control pests."

So yeah, the POTUS is draining the swamp alright, as he promised. Yay?