Saturday, September 29, 2012

Neon Knights - RPG Metal Music

     When Dio wrote this song for Black Sabbath he did it to pay homage to the rise of fantasy role-playing that was now common in the late 70's/early 80's (before the Fundamentalist backlash). Tolkien's books had found a resurgence of popularity again with the slightly terrible and grating animated movies of the Hobbit & Lord of the Rings, art and obviously the games themselves. 
      He realized then that gaming was a safe retreat from the dangers of the street with drugs, gangs, etc and it was a healthy hobby. Ideally, it was something that would inspire its participants to seek a more heroic lifestyle and achieve better in life. Gaming brought back the old notions of quests, adventure, monsters, and more and presented people with those lost heroic ideas again.
      From his time in Rainbow, his music was going towards this end with medieval-fantasy themes and imaginative concepts that only a few others groups of the time shared in (Rush, Uriah Heep, etc). This song I can bet was something he was working on while in Rainbow before his abrupt departure in 1979. When I think of the glory days of gaming and when this hobby was rising, I think of this song. It symbolizes the fusion of gaming, art and music in one. Those days are returning I believe, a little at a time. Maybe it just from my perspective being inside of it now and seeing the reaction of gamers to my ideas and how it is changing the flow to a new direction, but in any case it is a grand thing to see occur.

Oh no, here it comes again
Can't remember when we came so close to love before
Hold on, good things never last
Nothing's in the past, it always seems to come again
Again and again and again ooh again oh

Cry out to legions of the brave
Time again to save us from the jackals of the street
Ride out, protectors of the realm
Captains at the helm, sail across the sea of lights

Circles and rings, dragons and kings
Weaving a charm and a spell
Blessed by the night, holy and bright
Called by the toll of the bell

Bloodied angels fast descending
Moving on a never-bending light
Phantom figures free forever
Out of shadows, shining ever-bright

Neon Knights!
Neon Knights! all right!

Cry out to legions of the brave
Time again to save us from the jackals of the street
Ride out, protectors of the realm
Captains at the helm, sail across the sea of lights
Again and again, again and again and again

Neon Knights!
Neon Knights!
Neon knights!
All rise

The Codex Druidum Has Gone to Editing!

My OLD gaming project is officially entering into the next phase towards true publication after 22+ years! The 'Otherworld' or 'Tir nAille' game designing work of mine is now at the editor and the cover art is beginning to turn into something real. The interior art is being made as well on this and the maps are already prepped and ready to go.

It is becoming real!

Gamers are excited and the word is spread, online and at GenCon, and the interest is building. And I think rightfully so since it introduces an entire new plethora of Faery powers, races and concepts to gaming never ever had before, and this is guaranteed. They have all been carefully thought out, play-tested and have their loyal advocates. My gamers who have all been involved in the play-testing since 1991 on have all endless memories and stories to tell about it all. They are as dear and personal as those with mundane life events and experiences.

It will take a few weeks or so before the editing is at a point and I do the final edits and changes, but by then it should be close to Halloween, and that is appropriate since it is a Celtic holiday. The timing is right!

With plenty of supporting modules and the upcoming novels, there will be a new revolution in gaming and all things Celtic, it might be a meek one or a grand one. Either way, it will be a revolution of my doing.

On a related note, the third module of mine, 'The Giant's Wrath' is now fully edited, the maps are done and the only thing that is left is the cover art! So it should be done very soon! Be ready for the updates.

It is a good time to be a gamer!

A gamer album, that at the time it came out I didn't like because it wasn't like my favorite band Rainbow. The guitar style was simple compared to Blackmore's and the theme was darker and less fantasy themed or medieval except for a few songs. Now I love this album, nearly as much as the Dio era Rainbow albums. Play this to capture the feel of late 70's/early 80's gaming stuff at the time...I do. Neon Nights is THE song about gaming, I will post about it at some point for you.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

My Old Novel Project is about to Surface...

In the many years of play-testing what is to become the 'Codex Druidum' I had come to develop many ideas for stories, many, and after a chance encounter with who became my film script agent for Hollywood in 1998 the process began. He asked me to write a script, so I did in three weeks. It was a sudden inspiration but one that I have found to be ingenious in the following years. I called it 'The Girl with the Rainbow Eyes' and it involves a girl named Ana who will find herself caught up in an ancient war in Faery between the Faeries of Light and Darkness.

I won't give the story away here of course, but I will say that it is a work of art in places. One I am proud of and wanted to see in movie or book form someday. The script sits gathering dust (Hollywood takes FOREVER) but I decided to write it as novel, my first novel ever written. In the past I tried to write but could never get passed the first few pages before burning out. The art of writing seemed impossible to me at the time. I had hundreds of original stories in my head but wanted to capture that magic, the same we find in our games.

So I swore a vow to myself while in undergrad school that I would write something in the novel once everyday, no matter if it was just a paragraph at a time. I was going to write them taken from the script no matter what! Slowly after six months I wrote it all and by 1999 I finished it. Then I held onto it until 2008, almost ten years later before I felt like sending it to publishers and literary agencies. But after continual rejections (about 10+) and overcoming my own ego about it, I was humbled to realize that it wasn't my story, but it was HOW I wrote it. It needed to be formatted properly like a true novel or it wasn't going to work at all - ever.

The first draft was amateurish and sloppy, a shame to admit that I composed it.

After writing several novellas in the same fall of 2008 ('The Witch of Round Mountain') I knew that I needed to sit down and correctly write a novel, not just assume that I could do so. So by December of 2008 I jumped into the re-write of the novel, almost ten years later from the original first draft. As I was writing it I was feeling the writer in me transform and take shape for the first time. My new re-write was full of energy, life and color, and it was engaging to read. In the next three months I was eagerly writing on it every day after coming home from teaching my courses at the college. Progress was being made but I was feeling the pangs of burn-out and had to stop for a break.

A big mistake.

In the interim I decided to go with the writing flow now that I found it, and put my Steampunk Horror novel 'De Civitate Sanguino' into book form (but that is another story of its own). Meanwhile my Celtic adventure novel sat again to gather dust as it had since I first composed it in the late 90's. I should have finished it then while writing it but I didn't.

Now, years later from the spring of 2009 I am finishing it again. Finally. My pet story is going to see the light of day very soon. I have a chapter and a half to go and it is a BIG conclusion more improved from the first draft and the script version. In the re-write I have changed radically many elements from the old version and have it greatly improved.

My adventure modules echo this story intentionally, and the Codex Druidum will provide gamers with everything from the setting in game form. Now with the novel about to be officially completed after twelve long years I plan to give it to a literary agency and see it become a major published novel with one of the Big Six companies. Yep, the Big Six as authors call them. A scary step in my evolution as a writer.

'The Girl with the Rainbow Eyes', and its two sequels (and possibly a third) is about to be official and hopefully a serious deal. My other novels and series are with a slightly small press and without advance pay or an agent to help, it helped me start as a writer now, but this is about to go large if I can make it.

Once the novel is finished, I will thoroughly read it through, make its corrections and prepare it for an agency. It is the next logical step as a writer to me.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Codex Germania is Completed!

Just on the verge on the production of the first, the Codex Druidum, the Germanic counterpart is now done! It was Steve's old dream in 2002 to see this book and a series in print that were historical and mythical in origin as supportive materials for Game Masters but the project fell to pieces as the Codex Germania's original author (a well known RPG author with TSR - Robert J. Kuntz) stopped writing on it and the whole project stopped in its tracks. This book was initially the beginning to the series and it sat forgotten and gathering mold for a decade...until now.

Separately, in my own two decades of play-testing my Celtic Otherworld setting and rules I had thought about and longed for adding a Germanic element to it, but only was able to get a few scattered rules written but never officially tested. ALL of those early ideas of mine went into this Codex and they fit smoothly. Gamers are going to be able to play Saxon warriors, Viking raiders or anything else from that tradition now. My academic specialty is in the Celts, specifically the Celtic Britons and the 'Arthurian' age following Rome's departure and fall, and you could say a minor to my studies is on the Anglo-Saxons with some side dabbling on the Goths and Norse peoples. This Codex isn't written by someone who doesn't know the culture or topic but someone who taught history, has a degree in the field, and has always loved it.

Once these first two Codices are out, Game Masters can incorporate Celtic and Germanic magic, ideas, etc into their campaigns, merge the two, and have hours of fun. My next Codex in mind is the Codex Classicus covering the Greeks, Ertruscans and Romans. The only odd one out from this series is my Celtic one. It doesn't focus on the Continental Celts only the Insular groups, and is centered around my Otherworld aspect more than the historical. The emphasis on the other Codices is a balance with mythical and historical unlike the Celtic. I could almost make a separate one called Codex Celtica that is JUST the Celtic peoples as a whole AND their many strands of myths, etc. It wouldn't be that difficult.

So I have the honor to not just bring back to life an old moribund project of Troll Lord Games, but to do so in the footsteps of Gary Gygax and Robert Kuntz. Between my modules (which are highly rated as they are put out one by one) and Codices, the gaming world will be given some new and original works that will change the way people play for a long time to come, and that makes me extremely proud to know.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Hard Copies are Available With Me Now!

Copies of 'The Witch of Round Mountain' and 'De Civitate Sanguino' are here for anyone that wants a copy. Contact me and come by while they are still available! Yay!

This is a limited time thing because these copies are going to Octopodicon in two weeks' time!

Caledfwlch...or 'Excalibur'

Sunday, September 23, 2012

My Workshop Today at the Enid Public Library

Today from 1PM to 2 I gave an introductory workshop on the basics of being an author and it went well and had a decent turn out! With a plan, I jumped into the topics of:
1.) 'Why do you want to write?' (Motives, goals, etc)
2.) 'How to get started.' (Prepping, outlines and more)
3.) 'Preparing to Write.' (Making time and setting priorities to do so)
4.) 'Finding a Publisher.' (The Do's and Don'ts)
5.) 'Doing it all again.' (Starting the whole process over again)
6.) General questions and answers.

Several authors were present and the reception was positive with renewed interest, inspiration and friends. This also brought a means to network with people who have similar interests and genres in writing which could lead to better things.

It went so well that I do plan on doing more of these talks, especially as more of my publications are released in time it will be more important to reach out to more people who want to write but just do not have the right kind of fire lit to encourage them. It takes many unexpected sources of inspiration to drive someone to sit down and produce a work, literary, film or whatever form of art. I think this workshop was helpful to some and I could see the interest and note taking.

I will add the photos from it once I have them on here on this very post sometime on Sunday!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Review for the Crimson Pact is here! It is Good!

Four out of five stars again! Two modules in, and this is only the beginning. Far better modules are on the way I can assure you! It takes a little bit of evolution and a little refining to make the ultimate 'classic' adventure module - and they are coming next!

"All in all this new quasi-Celtic setting has been a great move for Castles & Crusades and really seems to have revitalized the system. Troll Lord has now put out two excellent adventures and I hope the streak of high quality continues for some time to come. Will there be more? Only time will tell, but I truly hope so."
Just wait until they see my Codices...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Official Announcement of the 'Codex Druidum' is out!

TLG 8130 Codex Druidum
Product Type/Format & Price: 8.5 x 11 Perfect Bound, 144 pages; $24.99 (est)
Ordering Info: TLG 8130, ISBN 978-1-936822-55-3

Beyond the comforts of home lie worlds of epic adventure.
Druids have surmised that before the present Universe there was a Disharmonious Void that once existed. Torn by destructive chaos and strife, it was devoid of any creative powers and life completely. Nothing could exist in this Disharmonious Void. It was death for the dead in essence and completely uninspired. A spark of Inspiration or Awen, called the Great Spark, blazing red and shaped like a thunder-bolt, tore its way through the blackness with fury. The Fire of Creation split the shapeless Void into the (as yet empty) Three Circles (Trí Fáine) that were anchored around one magnificent, growing oak tree. This tree was the first in the Universe, and under its immense leafy crown hung golden acorns, swollen with potency.

A Celtic Cromlech
The druids dwelt in a world wholly apart from our own, a world that comes down to us in the stones of the cromlech, the wild burnings of the wicker man, the priests who called on ancient trees and fey to bless or defend them and a language of such haunting beauty that its echoes stir memories within us of a people we once were.

The Codex Druidum delves into the myths of the Celtic peoples, the powers of the world around them, the monsters that hunted them, and the gods that watched over them. Its author, Brian Young, a scholar by trade, introduces the Celtic mythos like never before, exploring the depths of that world to recast it for the fantasy RPG Castles & Crusades. Within the Codex Druidum lies a wealth of information; gaming material that blows new life into the world of the fey, the druid, the ranger and all characters whose travels carry them through the wooded hills, broken crags and dark forests of our primeval imagings.

More than Myths and Gods
The Codex Druidum contains a veritable host of gaming material. New spells for your druid, new powers for your characters, combat, and more, within the Codex Druidum you’ll find:

190 new druidic spells
90 gods and monsters from the Celtic mythos
150 powers for the fey monsters

Expand your character! With fey blood in your veins you too can possess the powers of the fey. Or even adopt new races for your game. The elder gods possessed powers of surpassing wonder and left a world with all manner of strange incarnations, those are yours to bring to life.

Codex Druidum comes complete in seven glorious, fun filled, fact packed chapters. Chapter 1 covers a complete history of the Celtic world view. Chapter 2 delves into the world of fey. Chapter 3 presents races and monsters. Chapter 4 covers mountains of new spells and magical abilities. Chapter 5 tackles the lords of war. Chapter 6 looks at the gods themselves. Chapter 7 yields new material for the Castle Keeper.

'The Crimson Pact' Module is at Press Today!

My second adventure module, 'The Crimson Pact' is now being officially printed after spending a week in PDF format! That means you will be able to have a hard-copy this week. That is very good news! The third module, 'The Giant's Wrath' is being edited right now and being readied to be published next.

Here is the ad copy for this newest module...

TLG-8322 The Crimson Pact
Product Type/Format & Price: 8.5 x 11 Saddle Stitched, 24 pages; $6.99
Ordering Info: TLG 8322, ISBN 978-1-936822-53-9

Beyond the comforts of home lie worlds of epic adventure.

The slopes of Bryn Maenhiri play host to a portal, a door that opens to the Otherworld, the lands of Faery, and possession of it brings men powers untold. So the tribes of men waged war with one the other to hold it; until their battles brought forth an otherworldly host from the lands Faery, elves, fey, terrible and wonderful, wild men of the woods, giants and other such horrors. in countless battles the four realms struggled to take and hold of Bryn Maenhiri, where too often the deep green grasses know the warm stain of blood and the iron of shod boots.

In time the other worlders sent forth their champion, the elf-lord Eifion, and he carried with him the sword Haearndarian. With this blade few could stand against him so that he fell upon the luckless with wild abandon, slaughtering the men in droves. But in the end his vanity undid him and he fell and his blade shattered by the heroes of men. The host of Faery fell back into the hill and upon the red soaked field the three kings of men made peace with one the other and swore a pact to keep the hill closed. They each took a shard of the sword for safety. So peace came to the whole of those people.

But now the shards have gone missing; stolen by some unknown hand and war spreads across the lands. Fear grips men for rumors of a host of fey returned spreads through whispers in every household. Bloody war and murder grip the hearts of men.

The Crimson Pact is a hard hitting adventure module following that pits any would be adventurer against a veritable host of problems that hard sword strokes alone won't solve. Crimson Pact is designed for use with mid-level characters and for play over several gaming sessions.

Monday, September 17, 2012

My Blog Can Now Be Seen On GoodReads!

If you are on GoodReads, find and add me, and I will do the same! I have the RSS now a part of the site on my profile's blog updates which synchronizes ALL of my internet author presences (website, Facebook page, Twitter, here and on GoodReads). If you can read this on GoodReads let me know!

Play This Loud When The Codex Germania Is Done!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

My Weekly Radio Show...You Might Like It!

Ever want to hear songs about vampires, ghosts and other monsters? Do you ever wish that Halloween music played all of the time? Or that there was another demented place to find humorous songs or stories? Well you have found it! 'The Mysterious Hours of Dr. Fear' is on tonight from 8PM to 10 (Central) on 104.7 The Rocket locally in the Enid area, but don't despair! You can also stream it online at too! This is a nerdy place to hear a wide range of dark and demented music with a nine year history of doing so! Tune in and turn into a monster tonight!

Why I am Who I am...(Part 1)

Every writer, artist and musician has a story about what led them to be on the creative path that they are on, some are simple and accidental and others are intricate. Mine are both by definition. This is a summary of that background into everything that brought me to be where I am at today in my many areas of creativity. Suffer with me through this and hopefully this will make some sense...

The earliest music I remember liking was the Scottish group, 'The Bay City Rollers' when I was around four years old. My world, like all children then, was a little small and dark. Elvis was in his final years and my dad loved his music, I heard it all of the time, but none of it clicked with me or mattered. It was fluff and without depth and did not trigger something in me. My world was normal as a young child for the most part, uninspired and average, but this will change rapidly in a few years' time.

When I was a little kid in the 70's I had three powerful influences on me, each of these directed my imagination and therefore my thinking away from the norm helping me find myself at an early age. The first was Godzilla. Strange but true, but the movies were only second to the short run cartoon. The very first thing I chose to draw as an artist was him and I remember doing it and what it looked like too. I saw my first episode at a friends, Shawn Black's, one Saturday afternoon and it blew my mind. I don't know why but the image of the massive dragon-like monster stepping into the sea caused a shockwave in me. I HAD to replicate it in the best way I could, by drawing it.

At first, this was a sporadic thing, art, but it was my beginning because I realized at the age of around of five that I could re-create the things I saw and have them on me at all times. With Godzilla came monster movies and there were lots of them in the 70's. But it was Count Gregore, our state's legendary Horror Host, that I watched loyally as a little kid as often as I knew when it was on. His movies and mystery entranced me. I was at that age that everything seemed real on TV and his vampire-like persona was what I needed.

Slowly my life was coming together and I wasn't even a teenager yet. Next in my influences was KISS. At the height of their fame in the mid-70's I found them, but it was accidental. I had caught Mono or the flu severely and had to go to the hospital for a few weeks. It was a boring time spent there by myself for much of the time in my room and bed. I doodled as an artist, not knowing many things to attempt drawing and quickly ran out of stuff to try. One afternoon, I think a Saturday, while at St. Mary's, I crept out of my room, avoided the nurses and made my way down to the game room. Old men, pool tables, and a jukebox were there. I was a small thin kid and did not know anyone there and kept to myself.

I sat in front of the jukebox on a stool while the men played pool behind me and looked over the album covers for the art. As I rolled over them one caught my eye, the KISS 'Destroyer' album. It spoke to me of wondrous and unimaginable fantasy. The make-up and costumes (which seemed real to me then) were like superheroes and beyond Human and awed me. So I took what change I had and played some songs hoping they would sound good. Detroit Rock City and God of Thunder played and it changed me on the spot. I knew that THIS was the type of thing I wanted to be involved in, and I must have ALL of their albums! Soon! Disco was just becoming the fad then and unavoidable, and everywhere I went it was the Bee Gees and those whiny, high pitch, 'funky' sounding songs, they sounded wrong to me. It was then that I was 'seeing' sounds as shapes in my mind but did not understand what it meant except that it brought me a strong creativity when it was just right. This Disco and Funk nonsense was not right. I needed something with a certain tone and theme to it, it was the only way that I could create.

At that moment I took to my art and frantically began drawing them and Godzilla attempting to replicate the same sensations I first felt seeing them. My interest in Dinosaurs also started in this time, and I quickly began drawing them. My mind went wild with ideas, it was great. At home I desperately wanted any monster magazine (Famous Monsters) or book (The Traveler's Guide to Transylvania), dinosaur book and KISS album I could find. I read comics such as Devil Dinosaur, Sgt. Rock and the Savage Sword of Conan/Red Sonya by the late 70's. Not only was I searching out neat and fantastic things, I was studying them too, at my own level on my own terms. This is the best way to help a child want to read and learn, let them find their interests and set them free. It is what helped me.

By the end of the 70's I was truly beginning my venture into art with a horror/fantasy angle. Music was the start of a long relationship that I will feed upon more and more in my creative future, but this is barely the beginning. My young mind was wild now with heated interest and it wasn't a passing thing as most kids experience with occasional interests, this was the first step into a large world that I alone will go. No one else will alter or prevent me now that I have found it - no one.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Modules, Codices and More to Come...

With the release of my first module in the series, 'The Goblins of Mount Shadow' and now the follow-up 'The Crimson Pact', there is more to come! Part three, 'The Giant's Wrath' is now with the editor and the interior/exterior art is being composed, I will get the maps to them before it enters production too. But this is by no means a lull in things! Module four, 'To Kill a King' is already in the Troll Lords' hands AND the Codex Druidum.

Codex Germania is about 70% completed now and after the next few weeks it will be done and the first draft out of the way. The Codices will provide a myriad of powers, character classes and races taken from Celtic and Germanic culture and myth into a gaming environment, these are done in a way that no gamer is used to seeing. I can guarantee that these books will inspire the feelings of the old days with excitement and new ideas and the beginning to many years of brilliant gaming to follow. I am used to running my campaigns with a real-world link, never pure fantasy, but absolute connections to our own world in some way. These Codices show some of that, especially the Codex Druidum since it took me 20 years to play-test, design and conceive it all.

I am about to write the fifth module in my first series called 'Goblin Night', an adventure involving the original Celtic Halloween, but in the north of Britain by Hadrian's Wall. It will be a chance to involve the original traditions of the holiday and place rules on them (costumes, lighted lanterns, etc) and have a complex and scary game too. I won't give away any secrets about its story or gist though...

Aside from these modules and Codices more is proposed that will expand the gaming frontiers in new directions, always epic and original. I have at least 15-20 more things in mind that might be happening once this first flood of goodies is done.There are about 10-11 adventures planned in the Celtic series, so we are not even at the halfway point yet! And don't worry, I have just as strong, if not better adventures along the way that will make the first few seem like teasers. They will get tougher as they go, meant for higher level characters and larger parties.

One of my hopeful plans is to write and publish a two part, 40 adventure, Arthurian/Otherworld mega-campaign that I designed and ran a few years ago. This is the culmination of what is in the two Codices and the modules and puts them to the test and allows gamers to really explore them. I wove the fragmented post-Roman Brythonic tales and adventures of the Arthur and his warriors into the adventures that the player characters take part in (i.e, Twrch Trwyth, Plunder of Annwn, Battle of Badon, etc). There would be nothing quite like it out there in gaming, I can assure you that 1000%! Being an Arthurian Scholar & Gamer has its advantages!

Once the 'barbarian' phase of my game design is over (for a time) I do have other projects that are just as fun and unexpected. But for now, strap on your sword, don your shield, pin on your cloak and quest against gods, monsters and impossible odds in Faery or one of the Nine Worlds of Germanic paganism. After all, the fundamental sources to what we gamers hold dear and as a part of the hobby derives from the ancient Celtic and Germanic sagas and stories, it is only right that we return there again.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Crimson Pact is Now Available on PDF!

This module is now on PDF format! If you are gamer, an actual gamer that plays the role-playing games with dice since the early 70's on, then this is for you! It follows right after the first module 'The Goblins of Mount Shadow' and will provide many games' worth fun, if not a campaign. Keep in mind these modules link up with my forthcoming 'Codex Druidum'.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Preacher Man Cometh Soon...

The first author I ever read on my own was Robert E. Howard. I was ten years old and the book was 'Red Nails', a collection of Conan stories. I read this by the light of my fish-tank and slowly began to understand the amazing words that Howard wrote. Based on the cover art, and fold-out, I KNEW that whatever writings lay inside would be wondrous and full of everything that I sought after, if I could just read it and understand it well. The public school system did not encourage me to read often, it was only to satisfy their need pass us in exams and shuffle us through to the next grade. They never instilled the drive to want to read, not really. I had to discover it myself, the hard way.

Slowly throughout the night (a school night) I read the main story within the book. Taking my time on each paragraph and letting it sink in. Howard's skill with pace and action slowly were the first details I noticed, not the plot so much, not yet. This was a learning exercise more than just for entertainment. I was acquiring Howard's style and knew it was something that I wanted to do someday. I read that book until about three in the morning and passed out, my mind full of large scornful barbarians, slithery priests and shadowy mountainous lairs. This was the start of a long, life-time of studying his style and wanting to do something in the same vein if I could someday.

Decades later and I am a writer, but nothing that I have written was intentionally Howard inspired yet. My Steampunk novels and other projects were not in his Hardboiled, action-packed style. I had a story I wrote as a film script called 'Bring Me the Head of the Preacher Man' that seemed to fit the bill, if I could just translate it into a novel. For a decade I pondered on writing it and if I did, how it would be done. I tested several perspectives and styles but dropped it each time before it went passed the first paragraph. I was frustrated beyond belief because I wanted deep down to be an author in the Howard style if I could. Between he and H. P. Lovecraft and a little Tolkien, my influences were always in my mind.

In my bones I knew that if I could get my writing career going, it would be ultimately as a sort of protege of Howard and Lovecraft, because I have dozens on dozens of stories in their styles in my head that are original and need to see the light of the day. But I had to crack the system. There are endless lists of Howard and Lovecraft knock-offs out there, each trying to be them but failing and remaining unknown in the end. The Mythos and Hardboiled stories from the Pulp Era were a quirk, a rarity and seemed impossible to encounter again.

Finally, last year I took the dive into writing my Weird West script into novel form. After re-working areas of the story that I never liked, I embarked on it. I chose to write it in a Present Person tense and focused on just the main outlaw, Cage O'Brien, and his adventures from New Mexico, Texas to Oklahoma in the early 1890's against the evil ways of his sworn enemy Artamas Goodfellow, the 'Preacher Man'. After writing each chapter I was out of breath. It was a draining process and I loved it and am hooked. The novelization process took me three months, writing non-stop. My publisher, Damnation Books, wanted to publish it within two weeks of me submitting it, something I am still pleased about. Howard could never finish many novels of his main character Conan because of the endurance it takes to keep writing in that style. It is hard to do. Only one full novel of Conan was completed by him, the rest are classified as novellas.

I cracked the code, Howard's code, in this first novel. I felt it when writing it that if he were able to read it, he might approve. This isn't because I wanted to be like Howard in anyway, but because his larger-than-life, action packed method of story-telling appealed to me more than any other. Every adventure I designed and ran for role-playing games in 26 years was inspired by Howard and Lovecraft. I have spent most of my life approaching fiction from their angle, and it was all I knew but had little to show for it - until now. 'Bring Me the Head of the Preacher Man' is the beginning of what will turn into an avalanche of similar literature from me.

Book two, 'Dire Crossroads' is in the early stages now of being thoroughly outlined for composition. If I can achieve this second novel in his style (but yet my own), then I have many serials planned in the adventures of Cage O'Brien and the Hawks of La Sangre. He is to me, the 'Conan of the Old West', and doesn't take crap from anyone. The majority of the first story he is unarmed and yet manages to outlive scores of Apaches, Outlaws, monsters and more because he swore off guns. Guns were the reason why he turned into an outlaw in the first place and he didn't want to take that further.

A Hardboiled story is one in which the protagonist is tough, doesn't show weakness or frailty and always comes out ahead of his foes, usually saving a scantily clad damsel in distress too. Think of Conan or Solomon Kane for example, they are fierce and unable to be stopped. In the usual Hardboiled story, crime is the center of the plot and how it will be solved by a detective or lawman, but Robert E. Howard did not approach it with such mundane flair. The trick in this novel of mine was also placing a Lovecraftian side to it all too. Both authors' styles are not the same and their overall agendas are contrary too. My novel was meant to be a homage to them both and yet remain my own solid work too, a difficult feat. How to write about a main character like Cage O'Brien in a manner like Howard and yet in a harsh universe where those who survive the horrors end up insane or alcoholics was perplexing.

The true test is what people will think of course is when the book is released in the spring of 2013. I am hoping that readers will see what my point was in this novel beyond the story and realize that a little of that era can be with us again. It is a tough thing to top oneself if you have created something so larger than life and set precedents that you must do it again, with the expectations (by others) being higher. This is the problem that most movie sequels fall into, they either stick the same formula or go radically off track, but either way usually ruin it. I took almost a year before I was happy with the next story idea. This isn't a novella but again another novel. A large difference. The next story I ended up with is one that will end up later in the series from the first, in fact almost ten years after the events in that first story, it will be called 'Cold Blooded'.

So...I finally worked through the next story instead. This took me about ten months, on and off, until I was pleased with this next story. I wrote the ideas out completely out of order, with the second half first and then finally the first in proper order. This isn't formulaic (based on the first forthcoming novel) and it isn't a radical departure from it either, but another story that will seamlessly fit. I told myself that I wouldn't write on the next until I was as happy with it as I was with the first. Now I am. With plenty of the music of Ghoultown and Lovecraftian tunes to fire me up, I am about to start on 'Dire Crossroads' soon, continuing the adventures of Irish outlaw Cage O'Brien and his wild entanglements with the Elder Gods, the Law and the nightmare world he lives in.

I hope you are horrified and love what I have concocted with this series, it is something purely original and born from noble roots...


Cage spent his watch in the early morning hours studying the distant hazy contours and rocky spires of Vulture Valley. The limestone and red earthen rocks and forms appear to be more of a labyrinth and canyon rather than just a large bowl shaped valley. He hopes that this truly is the case; it would provide for him many places to sneak and hunt his prey – the Preacher Man. If the holy-man decides to flee or attempt any tricky dealings.

By the light of dawn both the Kid and Felipe were awake and the three set off towards the looming and imposing valley. Cage’s every waking moment since he arose for morning watch was playing over in his head how the meeting will go down with Artamas and his monstrously deformed henchmen to free Penelope. Again, and again, Cage repeated in his mind the many ways that he will exact revenge and stop this evil holy-man from creating demonic chaos in the world.

Cage let Five Peso Felipe use the horse much to Kid Coyote’s chagrin but he had a reason.

The walk to the half-mile distant edge of the valley took no time at all. Before they knew it they were standing at the rocky entrance of the pass that leads into the large and slightly confusing valley. The three stood before the rock debris strewn entrance in silence for a time, soaking in the necessary strength that will be needed for the day ahead.

Kid Coyote breaks the silence, “The meeting ain’t going to hold itself I suppose.”

“Nope it ain’t. It is time.” answers Cage who then takes the first step into the sandy entrance.

The rough wind and water eroded passage into the outer edges of Vulture Valley lead to two different paths. Without placing too much thought to the correct direction Cage goes to the left. The walls of rock and earth sit in varied heights, but stay at their lowest around twenty feet on average forming walls.

As the morning hours wore on, the sun’s blazing heat grew more intense. The copper colored skies overhead are littered with more dark clouds, low and fast flying, with a return to the miserable day that was had yesterday.

“This place does live up to its name. Look.” points the Kid to the circling shapes of several large vultures overhead.

Tightening his knotted muscles from head to toe, Cage tenses with his rage concerning today’s meeting and what he will do to the Preacher Man once he is within his iron fingers’ steely grip. “By dusk I will give them plenty of carrion to feast on.”

“Señor, why do you give me the horse? You should use it since this is about your private matter with him. It would get you to him faster.” Felipe whines while wiping the sweat and grime from his brow.

Cage shakes his head, his eyes sullen and glaring ahead, “No. I do not want the animal to cower under me and cause me to miss my mark when the moment comes. I want this to go as well as possible, especially so because we do not have his bag of goods from the Santa Fe.”

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Little History on the Codex Druidum

Twenty years and scores of play-testers (numbering from 15-25+) later, and countless revisions, my Celtic Otherworld setting and labour is now seeing print! It is almost impossible to imagine that it is going to be a reality soon and every gamer can get a copy and use my envisioned project in their own games and stories. What it is, is simply putting into a definable and playable context the ancient Celtic land of Faery. This is the pagan afterlife where gods, monsters and the spirits (reincarnated) of ancestors dwell. Time does not pass here and it is scenic and ideal. Wealth is plentiful here and valueless. In most ways, it is contrary to everything that traditional D & D gamers hold dear: treasures, endless monsters to slay, and labyrinthine dungeons to crawl. In contrast, Faery is a series of wondrous islands covered in lush wildernesses and landscapes, inhabited by a quirky and spirited population of immortal beings and beasts that seem obscene and 'wrong'.

Through the process of making this entire lost and ill-defined setting a reality, I have mastered the Celtic languages, myths, histories and numberless faery-tales and terms to make this possible. Initially it was a forested, faery-like fantasy setting by the late 80's and then my studies merged with my hobbies and it was destined that I alone take on this near impossible task. The hardest part was to put definition to a place that, even among the Celtic sources, does not agree and are terribly vague. How to map Faery? Where do you start in such a vague notion as the 'Otherworld?' Sometimes it is described as being misty and dark with eerie woodlands or mountains, other times sunlit isles and glistening seas, and universally it is the opposite to our own world. Logically, since these sources are from the British Isles and the Insular Celtic peoples, it makes sense that the Isles of Faery are essentially the British Isles in reverse and then embellished with a more fanciful touch with thousands of more little mystical isles surrounding it. What became the Faery isles as you will see in the Codex Druidum took many generations of changes and corrections, merging regions of the islands with actual named places of the Otherworld. Oddly, each fit that specified region perfectly.

Celtic sources speak of Faery being ruled by kings, populated by warriors and a heroic place, living on a level greater than our own, but with no sickness, starvation or the usual problems that our world has. It is a dramatic place where nothing is minor or unimportant, but crucial to the way everything must be for balance in the universe. The next step of logic in this was to place Mortal world organizations and institutions in Faery and making it fit. Due to a space limitation however I could not delve even deeper in everything in the Codex, because there is so much. But in this edition I will support many extra things (Ogham, tribal arrangments and society, etc) with a supplement or two. I could write an academic study, with thousands of supporting sources deriving from the ancient texts and academic secondary sources to explain every decision in the book, and I might someday. It is just that monumental of a project. To some this will just be a gaming book, but academically it has achieved many suppositions and hypothesis in a unified manner. It was no easy undertaking, to think so insults two decades of my own personal research AND three thousand years of Celtic imagination and beliefs.

As the time draws near to when the Codex Druidum will be published by Troll Lord Games I will post more observations and deeper insights into the nature of this work. On the rule mechanics level I will answer those questions on the Troll Lord Games sites, but here I will give some glimpses into the many deep and detailed elements that have made this (one of several) life's works a reality. The book will be about 125 pages in size with over 110,000 words. Gamers are already impatient for it, slavering and drooling with the tantalizing glimpses they see and that makes me proud. There are a thousand thousand ideas in this book that will inspire people to make fun characters, run amazing adventures and even produce art and fiction, for Faery has never been presented as it should. Not in literature or any other means, but I will be redeeming that over the next few years. The first novel to link this project to the literary world at large, 'The Girl with the Rainbow Eyes' is just a few chapters from completion. It is a part of trilogy +1 I have in mind. I have always had a feeling that this whole project was going to become something major, not in the way that most people are biased towards their own work and think it is surely destined for greatness just because they made it. Nope. This has been a consistent thing for twenty-years straight, and now more so since it is done.

Originally its rules were written and designed around the Adventure Maximum system, but it never got off of the ground as I hoped. The launching point I was wanting through that system never occurred, for many reasons. By chance and luck Castles & Crusades came my way and the opportunity presented itself. It will take me some time to fully comprehend the fact that this project is done, written and officially able to be used and played by millions of gamers everywhere...soon. The cover art is being worked on by Peter Bradley, while Steve goes over it and gets it into editor's hands. Next will be the maps and interior art and then the layout, and then a few careful look overs by me and then it goes to press, and to make some gaming history I believe.

Be prepared for so much new, fantastic and Celtic imagined stuff in this book that it will take a long time to go over before you roll up a faery, or faery-blooded, adventurer with unique abilities, name and combat feats. Your character can dash in the ageless forests, travel over the strange mountains and hills and delve deep into the underworld of Annwn. It is wild, feral and savage, a setting with contrasts, paradoxes and an in-human logic and guaranteed something that no gamer has done but wanted to someday, that is now here and that time has arrived.


Long Live Rock and Roll! Gamers Unite!

Yn Ysgrif am Y Geltiaid...(Writing about the Celts)

I am a Celtic scholar by nature, and so I will post many Celtic related things on here with my author related posts. They may concern new found studies and finds in the field, or simply wondrous artifacts or archaeological sites, whichever it is, it will be something fascinating for sure. My academic specialty (and Masters) is in Arthurian Studies (Astudiaethau Arthuriadd) and I have been studying the entire field since the mid-to-late 80's. Obviously my adventure modules (and Codex book) with Troll Lord Games is from a Brythonic (British Celtic) perspective, introducing some traces of the lore and myths from Wales, Cornwall, Brittany and Cumbria, and this is only the beginning. I also have a trilogy of novels planned to be released, once they are properly finished that take place in the early 6th century Britain and the Otherworld of Tir Hud.

In the works, but likely down the line from now, are several of my studies in the field. I will get them published in Celtic academic journals once they are completed and post that info here when the time comes. Do not let my Celticity be a language/cultural barrier though, I will make sure that it is user friendly (or in English with translations where needed). My specialty within the field of Celtic Studies is in: the Gauls, Britons, myths (faery-lore, gods and druidism), warfare, Arthuriana and their pre-Christian religion.

Muer rasough why oll! (Thank you all)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Vampire's Code

Book two in my Silent War series is entering the early stages of editing now. With the cover already done, all that is left is the interior work before its December 1st release. The third story in the series, 'The Axis of Shadows' is already in the publisher's hands and will be waiting for a spring release, and by the end of this year the fourth installment, 'Atlantica' will be done and in their hands. Damnation Books is the official publishers of my Steampunk Horror series. There are projected in my series about 8 to 12 books total AND possible role-playing gaming related books (since these stories were originally my campaigns since 2008 on).

Now the wait for when this series will catch on with readers and people will begin to see the vision I had in mind when I first imagined it all four years ago...