26 February 2006

GM's Day

I heard about GM's Day last year, and completely forgot about it until just last week. I'm not sure how official it is, as far as holidays go, nor do I know how many folks in the gaming community either recognize and/or care about the nature of this so-called holiday that happens on March 4th.

Me? Well, I joke about it with my players. I was telling my wife that we might have a TPK at the next Midnight session (coincidentally occuring on March 4th) if the GM's Day tribute wasn't satisfactory. She laughed. Little does she know. (::evil laughter::)

Not to worry. I'm not one of "those" gamemasters. I don't take my personal frustrations out on my players, unless it's a convention scenario and there are one or two PCs ruining it for the rest of the group. That's rare -- in fact, I've yet to take justice into my own hands at a convention game that I'm running -- but I do prepare for such occasions. Consider yourself warned.

I've got some work to do tonight. I need to revise my portions of a synopsis, and I want to work on the Midnight campaign a little bit more. I'm supposed to participate in a Civil War presentation next weekend, so I probably won't have much time to work on it then.

In other news, it looks like I'll be writing a small portion of an upcoming D&D product for Wizards of the Coast. No details, of course, but I'm happy about it. I'll post more about it when I've been given the green light to do so (which will likely be a while from now).

I need to rouse my little boy from his nap so that we can run a few errands around town. If anything comes up in the meantime, I'll make sure to post about it.

24 February 2006

My Metamorphosis

The title of this entry is not to imply that I have become some kind of cockroach like Gregor Samsa. It is merely to indicate the changes that have taken place in the past two or three years, much to my surprise. To put it plainly, I woke up one day and people were referring to me as an "industry professional."

I have no clue when this happened. When did I cross the threshold between amateur and professional? Is it tied to money, somehow? Does being paid for one's work make one a professional? Or is it something more? A benchmark of one's skill, perhaps? Or the length of one's list of writing credits? Was there a single release or product that distinguished me?

Hell if I know. Maybe someone else can clue me in, because I'm not sure if I'll ever understand.

One thing I do know, though, is that I have a hard time believing it. I've definitely become much less excitable in regards to new projects -- this came with experience, knowing my own limits as a writer, and working to expand them with time and practice -- but I've never grown used to the fact that I'm actually doing it. Every project I take on feels like the first one. I am always awed that someone is willing to pay me to write for them.

I see the whole "professional" thing it in the same light as I do "growing up." Mentally, I don't feel any older than I did when I was eighteen. Yet, seeing as I'm in my early thirties, the rest of society classifies me as an adult. All grown up; a family man. Old enough to smoke, drink, and drive a car. Likewise, I don't feel any different than I did when I was an industry amateur. I do feel somewhat less worried about my ability to complete projects on time, given my own constraints (family, work, and life in general). Does that mean I'm jaded? Or am I merely combat-hardened?

The more I think about it, the more I feel like it's an individual observation made by other folks. Let's face it: my daily life hasn't changed dramatically due to my newfound status as a professional game designer. I'm not wealthy. Complete strangers don't stop me at the grocery store and gush over my dubious fame. Come to think of it, complete strangers don't stop me at the local game store, either.

And for that, I am eternally grateful. If there is a God, I am in his merciful debt.

Another observation that I've made, at least with the folks I've gamed with, is that the average gamer doesn't give a darn who is writing the supplements he buys. With the exception of writers that I consider to be Industry Powerhouses, like Monte Cook, or folks who I consider to be Old Guard gamers, like Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax, there is little name recognition to be had amongst gamers, especially the casual ones. And if you expect any kind of name recognition outside of the industry? Hah! Forget about it!

To my mind, the only people that pay attention to who is writing which books are the people that are also writing them. Either that, or they are people who want to break into the industry. I suppose that's a simplistic view of things, and I'm sure there are plenty of gamers out there who would love nothing more than to prove me wrong on that count. I get more name recognition because of my relationship to my grandfather's construction company than I do for the number of words I've had published.

Another thing to consider is that most people don't know what the majority of writers and game designers look like. Photographs of the guilty parties aren't usually included between the covers of a supplement or book (though, in the case of certain mediocre titles, perhaps they should be). Our words are our distinguishing marks, and even they can rarely be told from the words of other authors once a book is finished.

Soooo...that's tonight's rant du jour. I'm not sure if I accomplished anything, or if I came to any sort of conclusion. I guess the point, in no uncertain terms, is that I don't feel much different than I did when I sat down and typed my first paying words. I'm older and (hopefully) wiser, but I still feel wet behind the ears.

Children of the Horned Rat Announced

Black Industries has erected a product page for my first WFRP product, Children of the Horned Rat. You can find it here. In addition, they have a product page up for my second WFRP product, Terror in Talabheim, which can be seen by following this link.

I'm really quite excited about both of these books. I'm very proud of them, especially CotHR, and I can't wait for them to be released. Unfortunately, they won't be released in time for submission to the ENnies, but there's always next year.

I guess you can tell I'm excited! I don't usually post from work! Then again, I'm on lunch, so it's all legal.

22 February 2006

Legends of Shadow Cover

I guess the guys at Against the Shadow bugged Rob Vaughn at FFG for a scoop on LoS, and he sent them the (possible) cover art for the up-coming Legends of Shadow. It's a pretty sweet-looking picture, I think.

I'm off to Alan's Shackled City game tomorrow night. It'll be nice to roll some bones and kick some hobgoblin butt.

No other news worth printing, so I'll cut it short while I'm ahead. ::grin::

21 February 2006

So Many Games, So Little Time...Again

You know, I totally forgot about Thieves' World. Prior to (re-)starting the current Midnight game, I was torn asunder when trying to choose between it and a new, fresh Thieves' World campaign. I've said previously that of all the settings I've helped to develop, that of Sanctuary is the one that I'd most like to play right out of the box.

I am adding several rules from the TW books to my Midnight game, just for grins. To name a couple, I'm allowing players to take levels in the Savant and Assassin core classes from TW, and I'm using the massive damage rules from TW as well. I also intend to implement the rules for Reputation that are presented in TW (so that I can judge how far my players' reputations have gotten, both for good or ill).

Star Wars is another d20 game that I really enjoyed running, back when I was running it. I'm saddened by the fact that it sees little support these days. Some folks might say that the Star Wars collectable miniatures game counts as RPG support, but I'm not really buying it. I don't have the money to invest into SW minis, and even if I did, I'd prefer to fill out the first series of minis (as it contains figs representing characters from the "classic" films). Clone troopers? Meh. Give me a fistful of good old-fashioned stormtroopers any day.

There's also d20 Modern, a game that I've written for (the up-coming Future Player's Companion), but which I have (embarassingly) never actually played. The systems are more or less the same across the entirety of the d20 platform, so I don't feel too bad about it. Yet I would enjoy giving Modern a shot, regardless. I nearly began a Modern mercenary game not too long ago. I don't remember what stopped me; likely my aforementioned attention deficit disorder.

20 February 2006

So Many Games, So Little Time

I've always had a problem with making up my mind when it came time to choose which game I wanted to run. As a DM/GM, I've often had a serious case of attention deficit disorder (that is, ADD...not to be confused with AD&D). Lately, with my bourgeoning Midnight campaign, I seem to have hit a good stride. I don't feel the overwhelming urge to lose interest in the game in favor of another one. Sometimes the players and plot click just so.

That said, there are other games I'd love to run long-term. Warhammer Fantasy is one of the ones I'd really like to run (and play, come to think on it), but even I have certain limitations. I'd considered running a WFRP campaign in conjunction with the current Midnight game, but I'm starting to think it's not going to fly just yet.

I'd also love to try my hand at Eberron. While I wouldn't mind running the game, I'd probably prefer to play it. There's always less sacrifice involved with playing a game, as opposed to moderating one. I'd have to make time to really immerse myself into the setting (something I've done in relation to both WFRP and Midnight, due in part to the fact that I've been writing professionally for both settings), and I can't say that now would be a good time to do so.

Of course, there are classics, like Forgotten Realms. The current incarnation of FR is one of my favorite settings. I don't mind keeping current on FR releases, and I fully intend to start up a FR campaign when I have both the time and the inclination.

And then there's the setting of settings, at least in my book: Dark Sun. The setting hasn't seen a complete conversion to v3.5, though there have been attempts (both Dungeon and Dragon magazines had Dark Sun-related articles some time back, and there's a web site -- Athas.org -- that prides itself on the wealth of 3.5 Dark Sun information it contains).

This would be fine, but I'm a very "hands-on" type of DM, and that includes my preferences for Dark Sun. In other words, I don't want to use someone else's interpretation of my favorite AD&D campaign setting, so I'll convert it myself. I've already got a good deal of that task taken care of, which means that I can probably start up a 3rd edition Dark Sun game anytime I please.

19 February 2006

The Sound of the Starting Gun

Bang, it says. Bang, bang.

As of tomorrow, I start work on the next Warhammer Fantasy book that will bear my name. Along with three other very competent authors, I will spend the next few months writing about . I have few doubts that this book will be awesome when we're done, but like as not, it won't see release until '07. Such is Black Industries' production schedule, but time is the price of quality work.

Honestly, it will be nice to go back to work after a break. The last product I worked on was Legends of Shadow for FFG. I also did some freelance work for Upper Deck, though mum is definitely the word on what it was. Let's say it was a juicy opportunity, and leave it at that.

Hand of Shadow has been announced over at Against the Shadow. It looks to be the equivalent of the Book of Vile Darkness for Midnight, aimed at running campaigns where the PCs are minions of Izrador. I guess everyone has an opinion on this. When asked who was writing Hand of Shadow, Rob Vaughn replied that he'd like to see Rob Schwalb and myself write it.

That would be my fourth Midnight credit, once it comes down, and another chance to work with Dr. Evil. Both are excellent reasons to accept the offer, once it is officially pitched my way.

I spent about a week taking the Thieves' World adventure that I ran at Gen Con SoCal last year, and turning it into something that Green Ronin might find useful for Gen Con Indy. All indications are that I'll be running it there this year, though I haven't heard specifics from anyone yet.

On the gaming front, my Midnight campaign is going well. We've had two sessions so far, and the PCs are chugging along. I fully expect them to hit fifth level within another two sessions, and then all bets are off.

08 February 2006

More Than You Ever Wanted to Know

About me, that is. I saw this list on Nicole Lindroos' web log, so I decided to fill it out and post it on my own. Thanks, Nicole!

Four jobs I've had
1. Game store clerk.
2. Receiving clerk.
3. Purchasing clerk.
4. Freelance writer.

Four movies I can watch over and over
1. Bad Taste.
2. Alien.
3. Conan the Barbarian.
4. The Wild Geese.

Four places I've lived
1. Ft. Clayton, Panama.
2. San Marcos, California.
3. Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.
4. Ft. Gordon, Georgia.

Four TV shows I love
1. Earth 2.
2. Firefly.
3. Robotech.
4. Star Trek (the original series).

Four places I've vacationed
1. Ligonier, Pennsylvania.
2. Indianapolis, Indiana.
3. New Orleans, Louisiana.
4. Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Four of my favorite dishes (to cook)
1. Sloppy joes.
2. Roast chicken.
3. Roast beef.
4. London broil.

Four sites I visit daily
1. CNN.com.
2. EN World.
3. RPG.net.
4. Google (in one form or another).

Four places I would rather be right now
1. At the movies.
2. Asleep.
3. Gaming with friends.
4. The San Diego Wild Animal Park.

Four jobs I'd like to have
1. Game designer (full time).
2. Elementary school teacher.
3. Chef/cook.
4. Actor.

Four places I'd like to live
1. Northwest Oregon.
2. Pennsylvania.
3. The Bay Area.
4. Any blue state.

Four books I love
1. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.
2. The Lord of the Rings (does that count as three?)
3. No Bugles, No Drums by Charles Durden.
4. Neuromancer, by William Gibson.

Four places I'd like to vacation
1. Ireland.
2. Australia.
3. Normandy.
4. Britain.

Four of my favorite dishes (to eat)
1. Carne asada.
2. White pizza.
3. Baby back pork ribs.
4. General Tso's chicken.

I guess that's it.

01 February 2006

The Future Player's Companion Is At Print

I have it on good authority that the FPC, as we call it, is currently at print. I guess that means we'll be seeing it on bookshelves sometime this month.

In other news...there is no other news. I reckon I'll have more to post later. I always do.