Friday, October 26, 2012

The Giant's Wrath (Module #3) is now in Digital Format!

Castles & Crusades
Giant’s Wrath
Product Type/Format & Price: 8.5 x 11 Saddle Stitched, 24 pages; $6.99
Ordering Info: TLG 8323, ISBN 978-1-936822-54-6

Beyond the comforts of home lie worlds of epic adventure. 

In the grey seas and dark skies of turbulent chaos, you see a long black dragon-shaped ship. A dozen massive oars on each side row to the beat of a thundering drum. Tall, harsh-faced, dark-hued, and fully-armored forms walk the deck, shouting orders in terrifying voices. . . the formorians come again. 

A power has risen in the Otherworld, it drives the storms upon the shores with such force that they batter the earth and grind the rocks. Those ill-fortuned enough to dwell near the sear hide in terror at the fury of the storm unleashed. But it is not the storm they fear, it is the giants that ride the foamy surf. Formorians! Giants of the old world they come, riding long ships across the mad-capped seas to surging up against the settlements of men; raiding wit wild abandon, plundering, burning, hauling off treasures and slaves with few to impede their crimes. 

But there is method here, something, or someone drives the formians, pushing them to reckless heights. Who and why are tangled in the intrigues of local lords, wizards and their sons. It is yours to unravel the Gordian knot that is The Giants Wrath

This adventure is about the terrible raiding the Sea Giants are doing to the coastal villages in the Mortal world and the sinister plans of their leader, a Human wizard called the Stormgazer. In the progress of these adventures, the characters must make their way across the seas to the Otherworld to confront the wizard and his Giants and put an end to the terror. 

This story deals with many strands of Celtic mythology, both Irish and Welsh, and places them in the context of a fantasy setting that is easily integrated into Castle & Crusades’ Aihrde. This series of adventures places the characters into a tough and brutal story where there is little subtlety once the blood begins to flow.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Twrch Trwyth - The Boar of the Hunt

Twrch Trwyth
(originally Trwyd), the supernatural boar, is best known as the climactic 'anoeth' (difficult task) set for Arthur and his heroes (including Mabon fab Modron) in ‘Culhwch and Olwen’, and the chase across south Wales (Cymru) and over the Severn estuary to Cernyw (Kernow) is used as a framework for inserting many accounts of remarkable localities and place-names. The hunt of Yskithyrwyn Penn Beidd (‘White-tusk Chief Boar’) can be understood as a narrative doublet, artfully building the mood for the mightier boar hunt to follow. Twrch Trwyth itself has a band of seven lethal offspring: Banw (young pig), Bennwic, Grugyn Gwrych Ereint (Grugyn silver bristles), Llwydawc Gouynnyat (Llwydawc the hewer), Twrch Llawin, Gwys, and one unnamed boar. As well as being remarkable for his size and destructiveness and carrying between his ears the comb, razor, and shears demanded by Ysbaddaden the giant, Twrch Trwyth is said to be the son of the king Taredd Wledic; according to Arthur, he was ‘a king transformed by God into a hog (hwch) for his sins’ (cf. reincarnation; Math fab Mathonwy). The fact that Trwyth is not killed in the story but driven back out to sea may mean that the storyteller and his audience knew of the boar’s presence in subsequent adventures, now lost.

Like Arthur’s wife Gwenhwyfar, corresponding to Irish Findabair, and his sword Caledfwlch, Irish Caladbolg, Twrch Trwyth is equivalent to orc tréith, explained as ‘a king’s son’ in Sanas Chormaic (‘Cormac’s Glossary’). Old Irish orc means ‘young pig’ and tríath (gen. tréith) can mean either ‘king’ or ‘boar’. In the Middle Irish tract ‘The Tuath Dé Miscellany’, edited by Carey (BBCS 39.24–45), we find Triath rí torcraide (Triath king of the boars). The Welsh spelling trwyt (Modern trwyd), which does occur, could be the exact cognate of triath, implying Common Celtic *tritos. Therefore, although a common inheritance of loan from Welsh to Irish is not easily disproved, the Irish Torc Triath is pivotal to the theory of a kernel of Irish material near the starting-point of the Arthurian tradition.

Arthur’s hunt of Porcum Troit and other places and episodes found in Culhwch are mentioned in south Walian contexts in the mirabilia (marvels) of the 9th century Historia Brittonum. Therefore, some version of this part of the story was already well known and localized that early. This evidence is consistent with Padel’s theory of an originally unhistorical character who began as a figure in local folklore (cf. Arthurian sites). The allusion to Trychdrwyt (attacked in a river for his valuables) in Gwarchan Cynfelyn in Llyfr Aneirin, as well as other occurrences in poetry, show that the correct original name was Trwyd, Trwyth originating as a scribal error.


 I plan to take this story, in its fragments and make an adventure module based around this hunt. The players will be not only involved in it along with Arthur and his warriors, but also have their own side adventures and story-lines on the side. In my recent Arthurian campaign I integrated this into the main story and it was a memorable series of adventures that gave many brilliant moments and memories. Look for this at module #7 in the next few months, after the next few come out! 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Coming of the King - The Greatest Novel I Believe

I am a fan of Lovecraft, Howard and Tolkien above all others, but the one novelist that played a major influence in recent times was Nikolai Tolstoy and his amazing book 'The Coming of the King'. Published in 1988 by Count Tolstoy, a descendant of the famous Russian literary family. Nikolai, or Nikolai Dmitrievich Tolstoy-Miloslavsky, is a Celtic scholar who has done lengthy studies on the possible real figure of Myrddin Wyllt from early Northern Welsh lore and literature. He is fond of when Britain was still Celtic speaking (as I am as well), and has written superior works in that field.

His academics were and are an inspiration to me on my own Celtic studies and direction to this day. His novel however, 'The Coming of the King' is part one of planed trilogy centered around the mythical and historical life of Myrddin Wyllt according to the early sources. The perspective in which he composed the novel is unique and is not as direct as it seems. Although essentially from Myrddin's perspective, it changes throughout as the story goes, and follows King Maelgwn of Gwynedd, Ceneu, and the Saxons as well. Ingeniously written and complex, it isn't something for a quick read on an afternoon, but is meant for a dedicated readership that will devote time to it, to better soak in the words and atmosphere.

Tolstoy wrote this in manner of sentence, grammar and logic that is inspired from the Welsh prose tales and poems, and it shows. Even in the section with the Saxons it captures the feel and style of the early Anglo-Saxon literature and helps to give the reader a sample of those worlds. It takes some getting used to when you are unfamiliar with those traditions, and in the beginning I was completely unfamiliar with it all. Now, twenty-four years later I am absolutely familiar with it all. So much that I have a Masters in the fields (Cum Laude) from Prifysgol Cymru Llanbedr-Pont-Steffan in 2007. 

This book was my gauge in my early years on how knowledgeable I was becoming in my studies, because in the early years of my research (1986-95) I was just acquiring the Celtic languages (Scottish Gaelic, Irish and Cornish at the time) and a complete understanding of the whole field. My focus was 'Arthurian' Britain in the 5th and 6th centuries after Rome's fall. As my knowledge base, so did my full grasp of Tolstoy's novel. He wrote it such a way that a scholar will gain marvelous insights if they do not have said data yet, and I did, eagerly. 

As he mentioned in his interview given to Rochester University not long ago about the first novel in the series:

RT: As an historian, how do you feel about your novel?
NT: I hope it's better than The Quest for Merlin as history, because I've done more work and I can do things in it which I could not in the other. After all, at the end of The Quest for Merlin what have I established? If I've established anything--if any historian establishes anything--there's always somebody who'll come along later, as no doubt I shall myself, and find things that are incorrect. Moreover you are establishing, especially in the Dark Age period, rather small points really. There's very little more you can establish.

The whole novel takes place around the year 556, when a battle is mentioned in The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: "In this year Cynric and Ceawlin fought against the Britons at Beranburh." It doesn't even say who won. That's a mere footnote, and there's nothing you can add to it in a historical way. Yet it doesn't matter whether the succession of events I have described happened exactly in the way they did. Clearly they didn't because some of them I have invented. The inventions, the bricks, are all from the sixth century as I see it, however. Whether the edifice is sixth century is for the reader to judge but, as with all history, that's not altogether relevant, I think. 

On a more prosaic level, I would say that the novel is better history, because I actually have to find out things which the historian doesn't need to find out. I didn't realize that until I was writing the novel. To carry conviction, I must first believe, and because I enjoy it, I do more research for the novel than I would for a straightforward historical work. If I come up against something which I simply cannot understand, the whole novel grinds to a halt, as does my income, whilst I wrestle with the problem.

Tolstoy has planned, for the last twenty years since this novel, to publish the other two in the trilogy, 'The Thirteen Treasures' and the final where Myrddin meets his fate of a Triple Death in Coed Celyddon. I had been hoping and looking for these books for two decades and there are not out. I recently find out that he has denied publishing them over some matter concerning War Crimes that concern England and the Russians during WW 2. I suppose that until that is resolved he will not release them. It is a shame.

This novel is one of the few that I completely adore because it is a good story, brilliant academically, and defines what I am and the field of studies that I am into, all wrapped up in one book. I haven't dug out my large hardback edition until recently, when I began to resume my Celtic British works and novel project, and now I am shocked that I have withheld from reading it for so long. My own trilogy planned around the same period of history and myth isn't out to establish historical elements but to tell a good story with a new view on the Otherworld, that in my opinion has been poor for so long. 

Read a copy of it if you can, and enter into Tolstoy's book with an open mind ready to be see 'Arthurian' Britian closer to how the Dark-Age Celts did that is closer to its reality, or what it would have been.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Writer's Doubt - What is it?

(In Brief)
On Wednesday at the EODLS Staff Development Day conference the question was brought up about 'writer's block'. How did each of us three authors deal with it when it comes? For me personally I never suffer from the problem but I do have days when there are too many distractions and mundane affairs that get in the way of my writing, denying me a chance to do anything like I want. But the one thing I DO have is what I call 'Writer's Doubt.'

What it is is my strong doubt and lack of belief in my own works and ideas. It is partway hyper-criticism and partly an inferiority matter, not believing in my own work, feeling it is not worthy. It is the problem that I could be at 95% near completion on my project and suddenly have this massive doubt about it, thinking that no one else will see what I do in the project and that maybe I am just fooling myself about it. 

Deriving from a background as an artist, I would often scrap an entire drawing before it was done because certain elements of it I do not agree with or like how I composed it. This happened many times in my art years and it stems from a perfectionists' standpoint. In writing it is essentially the same idea but in literary form and can kill an idea that might have lots of potential. For every book and project of mine there has been many more that were thrown away because I had doubt and never even saw the outline stage of my efforts.

Nowadays I am still suffering from the Writer's Doubt every step of the way, and it kills my enthusiasm or drive to further a project. I think that this is worse than Writer's Block in the end, mainly because it can prevent a project from ever being finished, whereas with Writer's Block it will eventually pass and the project can go on conceivably  The ultimate answer to the question of, 'Is the project good enough?' is in the reaction by others upon reading it. If they like it and find it good and interesting, that is why it must go on. Sometimes we who write and create art will become too selfish and forget that what we are making ends up in the hands in others who are the fans eventually. Initially we do these things for ourselves but it is for those who like it when it is said and done, the fans or such literature (whatever the genre). 

I have heard that if you do not believe in your work, it will never see the light of day or completion and it is not 'meant to be'. I have a novel project that has sat for 14 years and was never finalized because I was too afraid of it being poorly received by others. It is a dear project with a lot of history and sentimental importance to me, but I am changing my way of thinking on this now and finishing it. I will take a risk on it after it is done and see what happens in peoples' reactions and comments. THAT is the scary part of it. The negativity is what I am afraid of, more on this project than on any other of mine. 

So if you have a doubt on your work that is so bad that is denies you seeing its completion, go ahead and ignore the biting doubt and finish it all. No matter what at least you have the story done regardless if it ever gets handed in. 

The next step is to skip the Writer's Doubt when submitting it to a publisher or an agent... 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

An Update On Projects - Published/Forthcoming

This is just a reminder of what is to come in the next six months, plus what has been published. Dates on the forthcoming books are not certain yet, but will be given once I know them, only a few with Damnation Books have dates. 

My current published books are:

'Lyver-Lywans Bukkyas Keltek' (Spyrys a Gernow - 1999)
'De Civitate Sanguino' (Xlibris Fall 2009/March 1st Damnation Books 2012)
'The Witch of Round Mountain' (Damnation Books -September 1st 2012)
'The Goblins of Mount Shadow' (Troll Lord Games - August 1st)
'The Crimson Pact' (Troll Lord Games - September 24th 2012)


'The Giant's Wrath' (Troll Lord Games - October/November 2012)
'The Vampire's Code' (Damnation Books - Dec. 1st 2012)
'Codex Celtarum' (Troll Lord Games - Late November 2012)
'The Axis of Shadows' (Damnation Books - March 1st 2013)
'Bring Me the Head of the Preacher Man (Damnation Books - March 1st 2012)
'Codex Germania' (Troll Lord Games - Winter/Spring 2013)
'To Kill a King' (Troll Lord Games - November 2012)
'Codex Nordica' (Troll Lord Games - Winter 2012/13)
'Night of the Spirits' (Troll Lord Games - Winter 2012)
'The Girl with the Rainbow Eyes' (Publisher Pending - 2013)

Eastern Oklahoma District Library System's Staff Day (10/17/12)

Today I had the honor of being one among a few Oklahoma authors picked to speak to over 150+ librarians in the Eastern Oklahoma District Library System's Staff Development conference in Muskogee. I was given a chance to explain the writing process from my perspective, have a great lunch with this excellent company and to spread the word about my projects and publications to be.

The questions we were given were:
  • Where and when do you like to write?
  • What is the hardest part of writing for you?
  • Assuming you have experienced writers block, what is your solution?
  • What advice do you have for someone starting out?
  • How do you come up with story ideas?
  • What is the best thing about being a writer?
  • If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
  • What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
  • What are you working on now?
  • I have a few friends who are authors and I have had them put quirks and qualities of my personality or things I have said in their books, do you do this with people in your lives?

It was a rare opportunity that I hope becomes more regular as time goes on. There is nothing like being able to express one's angle in writing and how it is done and composed to people eager to know. Writers often do not get to express themselves besides their works, and it is so cathartic. Usually we are recluses, hidden away on our computers and typewriters trying to create something engaging and interesting, and once in a while a hit or a huge success if we are able.

I will post the photos once I have them uploaded and place them here and on my blog. This is definitely a milestone in my career, and I hope to have more along the way.The other two authors I shared the day with was Sonia Gensler and Gene Ruth Brumback, both completely opposite to me, my style and gender, leaving me the only guy there as an author. Sonia has written 'The Revenant', a Horror story that takes place in Tahlequah at the old Cherokee Girls' School, mixed with double identities, forbidden romance and plenty of secrets. Gene writes a weekly devotional column for the Muskogee area paper and has collected them together in one book called 'Sewing Seeds, Pulling Weeds'.

(Some photos are a little blurry:)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Why I am Who I Am (Part 2)

By the year of 1980 many things were taking form in my mind making me fall into who I am through my beginnings of artistic expression. After discovering the musical side to my interests (the early phase of it) and acquiring books on horror and fantasy I started to illustrate dragons, barbarians and castles in my own rough way as an eight year old kid.

One of my great interests was in dinosaurs as a kid, I was nuts about them and collected every toy, fossil and book I could find. I drew them constantly and found a way to incorporate their appearance into a dragon's. Because of this, I wanted to be a Paleontologist when I grew up. Every day I imagined encountering a rare living dinosaur. Growing up and being groomed into being a bow-hunter, I camped a lot as a kid and spent my hours envisioning them stomping through the woods and in the water. 

In the next year after a KISS album came out that really fired up my interest in fantasy. Although generally shunned by many, the Elder was a big influence on me. It was meant to be a soundtrack-like album to a film that was not yet made and it fired my imagination up. But even though this album was in the glam and flashier period of KISS's later history in the 70's when they were becoming trendy and disco-like (KISSco is what I call it), my interest in them was waning as I discovered the music that utterly defined me, and still does today. 

(An earlier post of mine refers to this in detail). I had found Richie Blackmore's Rainbow, the first era with Dio singing and it was a revelation to me, and epiphany, that this was my calling. I snatched the first albums up rapidly and soaked in every second of them. My mind was driven wild with ideas but only my art to express them, and I wasn't that skilled to do so. It was also in this time that I found the group Rush. This proliferation of fantasy and medieval themed music fueled me for hopeful great things to come.  

Combining this new fueled interest in the direction of fantasy and all things medieval, I also found metal gaming figurines in a local hobby show and with that the many game books (Monster Manual, Deities & Demi-Gods, etc) and was fascinated by the artwork even though I was not into gaming yet, or even knew or comprehended what it was at the time. I just knew that these books and figs were amazing and I could not imagine what else they were meant for except to inspire. And they did.

It would be many years before events fell together in just the right way that led me to gaming and to my Celtic studies. It wasn't until 1984 that I first understood what role-playing games were and the purpose of those figs and books. My best friend at the time named Tommy was given a copy of MERP (Middle-Earth Role-Playing) for Christmas. His parents assumed it was a board game but no one could figure it out. They bought him the adventure module "Bree and the Barrowdowns' as well for it. 

Frustrated, Tommy let me have it to figure out, and after a few months of reading the examples in the book on game play it clicked. I ran him through a sample game and it all made sense to me powerfully. I found one of the best avenues to channel my constant and rapid imagination in one place. Role-playing games! The rules were overly complicated and were frankly a mess, but it opened my eyes to the whole subculture that was swirling under the surface and I was too young to know it. 

After that I found a local gaming group in town that gamed every Saturday afternoon at our public library called the 'Worldmasters Club'. From there I arrived with the MERP game in hand and found a fellow classmate named JR and ran him in an adventure I devised, dealing with trolls in a cave holding Hobbits captive. The game only lasted a short while but it was the next major point in what became my gaming career. 

By the mid-80's I was officially a gamer having to GM my first games and realizing the potential for great stories. I also was growing as an artist and finally began reading fantasy literature on my own, the first book being Robert E. Howard's 'Red Nails' collection ( I read this around 1982-3). My world was coming together by the time I was going on 14 and it was handy. I did not need any period of 'searching' to find myself as many people did through drugs, alcohol, etc. I FOUND my calling in life. 

Next I will dive into the hobby at full speed and see what happens....

Codex Celtarum is the official name now!

Because the initial name 'Codex Druidum' seemed limited to many and appeared to appeal only to the druid character class in the game, the title has been changed to recognize the fact that the Celtic codex is covering all classes and a few additional in reality. There are about forty extra high level druidic spells AND the option to turn all of the Faery abilities in the book into a spell list of its own (I call the 'Faery' spell list, that is both and neither arcane nor divine). Faery magic is now a reality with these rules, and can be natural born and inherited abilities or able to be summoned by a sorcerer or druid.

Battle and the Celtic logic and system of it are detailed as well, with the many fighting orders from myth and history (Red Branch, Arthur's Dragons, and the Gaesati for example). Head-hunting and using woad painting rules are given, and a list of twenty combat Adjuncts or 'cleasi' (feats). There is so much in this codex that it will be nearly 200 pages in size!  

'Codex Celtarum' means 'Codex of the Celts' and covers more of the mythical Otherworld than the whole of Celtic Europe during the height of their domination of the continent and isles. What is emphasized in the 'real world' however is the Post-Roman era isles of Britain, Ireland, Brittany and those in between during the 5th to 6th centuries on. This is the culture from which the greater part of our understanding of Celtic tales derive since the Gauls, Galatians and other Continental European groups were lost to the past. 

Additional supplemental materials will be written to fill in the missing gaps of info (Ogham, Holidays, society, etc), and possibly the addition of many of the Gallic deities. The Dusii are included in the Codex and form a major part of the Otherworld mythology. Who they are derives from Gaulish paganism, and had survived in belief a thousand years after the Celtic Gauls were no longer extant in what turned into France, Belgium, Northern Italy and Switzerland. I conflated them with the mysterious Horned God Cernunnos and took some Celtic idiom and logic to a sensible place. 

Next in line will be the Codex Germania and Codex Nordica after this first of many codices. I am extremely excited to be chosen in writing these many books detailing the myths and legends with touches of history for gaming. Steve, the Head Troll, has assured me he wants it released by late November! So be ready to dive into the Celtic Otherworld and experience all new ideas and options never had before, I can guarantee you! 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

OWFS - Oklahoma Weird Fiction Society

After seeing that Enid, and the state of Oklahoma in general, does not have a writers' group for people who specialize in the many genres that most writers' clubs do not (Horror, Sci-Fi, Steampunk, and Fantasy), I had to make one happen. There is no other way that this kind of group could be found except to make one a reality. 

This is a group that will be a healthy place where authors in Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi, Steampunk and other related genres can mingle, share ideas, get peer reviews and feel like they can find inspiration if it is lacking. Often writers of unusual subjects are pressured into isolation because of how strange, or 'weird' their fiction actually is, and this group is a chance to remedy that. 

It is hoped that many great and notable authors can spring from this group someday and popularize the idea. There are thousands of writers' groups across the country, most are prestigious and with notoriety, but we hope this humble beginning will, in time, acquire some fame of its own among its members. If this occurs, the OWFS will extend on a national level and include many fun elements in time (but we don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves on this...yet). 

Our first goal is to spread the word on it, gain members and then hold meetings. After that, we can go from there into larger places and possibly hold events, etc locally for authors of weird fiction. The standard definition for Weird Fiction is found here.

The blog spot for it is on the banner below, and we will post its members' updates on publications, etc as they come. 

This isn't a group full of stuffy old writers that have a clique and will quickly alienate the odd member that writes things that are not 'Christian literature' or simple poems in origin, but a place where imagination can run wild in like company. We are hoping to have fun in this group and see what happens in time. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ynys Cedyrn (Island of the Mighty)

My modules (and soon-to-be published novels) all take place in the Britain following Rome's departure and collapse, and the oncoming invasions of the Saxons from Germany, the 5th and 6th centuries. This was a short-lived golden age in which the native Celts were reclaiming their lands after the four hundred years of Roman occupation, it is also the era of my academic specialty and studies. Britain was a completely different place then. 

There was no England, Wales, Cornwall and Scotland. It was a hodgepodge of kingdoms and tribes that all spoke roughly Welsh or Cornish, or the early stages of it. For a better word they spoke Neo-Brittonic or Old Brythonic, a language that will gradually evolve into Welsh, Cornish, Breton and Cumbrian in time as their populations become disjointed and forced to move west by the advance of Saxons, Frisians, Angles and Jutes.

This was the 'Age' of Arthur and other numerous warlords that fought and opposed the invasions from all sides, and it is one that I identify with strongly for reason unknown. The shift in language occurred going from a Synthetic one (Latin for example) to an Inflective form (modern European languages) and culturally much was carried with it from the old world when the Celts once populated nearly ALL of Europe. It was also a period in which the ancient people reinvented themselves too, they had to, or they would perish like the Celts of the Continent (Gauls, Galatians and the rest). 

Sadly the majority of the places, kingdoms and locations (from a native Celtic perspective) have been lost in time, swept aside by the Germanic invaders and their language (the one you are reading). My Welsh and Cornish isn't as good as it should be, but then again I am in a part of the country where 'Celtic' is assumed to be either Irish or Scottish only and no one speaks any of them. So I have little chance to communicate in these wonderful languages. 

If I am anything, I am a gwlatgar (patriot) for the Britons, the native Celts of Britain, and have a genetic link to them through my dad's side. I have been drawn to my ancestry, in this strain, for as long as I have been into gaming. When I return to university to earn my PhD in Celtic Studies it will be to further more in Brythonic studies in some way. But until then, my gaming books will suffice and give small glimpses of that world through a magical lens...

Forthcoming Modules in the Series

Some of the reviews on my first two modules say such positive things as this:

"The adventure does claim it can be dropped into any fantasy setting with ease, but considering just how Celt-oriented this is, I beg to differ. That said, the adventure is very well written and a lot of fun. I found it to be the best Castles & Crusades adventure in a very long time and anyone using the system will definitely be able to make a campaign out of this and have fun doing so."

"Now with that paragraph of negativity out of the way, let me reinforce that this is one of the better Castles & Crusades published adventures out there. You have a wide range of enemies, a nice high fantasy storyline, and bits where the players have to think things through instead of charge in with spells and weapons going every which way. As well, there is a positive to many of the enemies being far too powerful for the suggested character level, and that’s the PCs will have to learn that discretion is sometimes the better part of valor – almost like encountering something in a Call of Cthulhu adventure. Playing through The Goblins of Mount Shadow should take multiple sessions just because of all the combat, making this a great value for the amount you purchase it for. By the time the adventure comes to a close, you and your friends with have dispatched one of the more memorable enemies to come out of Castles & Crusades and yet somehow….this is just the beginning." The review is here.

"You’ve got to placate the warring tribes, deal with the Gwiddonod, try and make friends with some of the light fey so you don’t have even more enemies coming after the party and more. There are a lot of difference ways the adventure can turn out (admittedly, most are bad for the PCs), but if the PCs can get through it, it’ll be an adventure that they will be talking about for a long time to come. Even better, this adventure sets up so many potential other plot hooks, than an enterprising Keeper will be able to come up with his own adventures based on them. Unlike The Goblins of Mount Shadow , there wasn’t any hints of further adventures for this path to be forthcoming, which is a shame as this is one of the best series Troll Lord has put out for Castles & Crusades is some time."

"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." The review is here

Now that the first two modules are out and the reviews are brilliant, the third one 'The Giant's Wrath' is nearing completion and about to be out very soon. But this is nowhere near the end of my run with these adventures, in fact, I have reached a plateau in the level of design now that I believe will bring about some classic modules. These are next in line too, they are so named:
  • To Kill a King
  • Night of the Spirits
  • A Shattered Night
  • The Idle Wizard
Two of this set are done and the rest will be in a few weeks, but this is only at the halfway point of the whole set planned in my Celtic Fantasy series, there are roughly thirteen in the series. But I have forty more adventures, yes that many, that are bubbling in my mind and wanting to be written properly from my recent two Arthurian campaigns (2010-11) that will definitely provide GMs with a few years of gaming in the Mortal world and Faery, all of it original and all of it different from the usual gaming style adventures (dungeon crawls, etc). 

Everything in these modules fits in with the Codex Druidum and the two are interchangable, and in some cases with the Codex Germania too regarding the Anglo-Saxons and early Germanic monsters, myths and more. Obviously I come from a background of gaming historical and mythical based sources primarily and not pure fantasy, but that is because I believe that for gaming to be good, one has to have to grasp of reality first. Fantasy implies that the normal mundane world is avoided and it is an alternate version, and what I am presently writing is to what I called 'Celtic Fantasy', a setting that revolves around myths and tales and the ancient Celtic world-view where the fantastic and realistic blur. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sherlock Meets the Elder Gods in Airships...

I made a vow at Octopodicon to two panels, 'Holmes Steampunk' and 'Cthulhu Steam', that because there is a lack of a novel that melds both milieu of writing - Sherlock Holmes & Lovecraft Mythos, in Steampunk, that I would do it. By next year I will write and publish and see in print by Octopodicon 2, and it will be a 'mash-up' of Steampunk, Sherlock Holmes and Lovecraftian Mythos.

The basic story idea has already filled my mind and it is wondrous. Now I have to write detailed outlines and get it prepared to compose by the new year. It will be faithful to all three genres, I can guarantee it. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a relation of mine (no lie), on my dad's side and linked to his mother by blood, they were cousins. So I have that heritage already on my side in this project.

I wish I could say more about it, but I would give it away before its time, and that isn't good...

Friday, October 5, 2012

Octopodicon is this Weekend in OKC! Be There!

This weekend is the first Octopodicon, a Steampunk themed convention and I will be there! With my novels on hand and able to sign them and the Troll Lord Games adventure modules too. Peter Bradley will be there, his booth in the art room with prints and Castles & Crusades books on hand. So between us you can purchase either my novels (from me directly) or my recently published adventure modules ('Goblins of Mount Shadow' and 'The Crimson Pact') from Peter.

My schedule for this weekend is thus: (When I am not at a panel I am at my booth, however if I am not at my booth either Mr. Grimly (from my Horror show) or Candice will be in my place)

FRIDAY 10/5/12
  • 2 PM - Panel 'Steampunk & Its Relation to History' (Kipling Room)
  • 4 PM - Panel 'Activating Your Inner Steampunk' (Kipling Room)/Reading & Signing (Scriptorium Room)
  • 5 PM - Panel 'Steampunk What-Ifs' (Tesla Room)
  • 8 PM - Pods Meeting, I am in charge of the Cephalopod. (This is to organize the plans for the weekend for the members of my Pod. They will have assignments and panels they must attend to earn credits for their honorary Steampunk degrees by Sunday) Laborotorium
SATURDAY 10/6/12
  • 12 Noon - Panel 'Lost Continents, New Worlds' (Tesla Room)
  • 2 PM - Panel 'Unhistory' (Luminere Room)
  • 4 PM - Panel 'Steam Holmes' (Tesla Room)
  • 5 PM - Panel 'Steam Cthulhu (Kipling Room)
SUNDAY 10/7/12

     Schedule is free and I will be at my booth all day non-stop! Come by please and say hi! I will be available to talk about my upcoming books, modules and Codices if asked. The info for Octopodicon that you need is here at

This will be a fun weekend of cogs, top-hats, steam, mad science, music, art and so much more! The arts are alive again and you can be a part, just show up in garb or not, and join the Victorian-esque fun. My booth will be in the Visiting Professors' section, just look for my displays of my two present books and the forthcoming Steampunk Horror novel in December. I will have stacks of books on hand, bookmarks and more! Please join us!

Read this article from OKC news about the con!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

My Induction into the Troll Lords by Steve Himself!

Just before the Grand Exhibit we signed a new writer, Brian Young. Brian has proven to be a prolific writer and a good one at that, in the last month turning over 4 adventures and the Codex Druidum and I'm told by Brian, as of this writing the Codex Germania as well. This is welcome news to the normally slow moving trolls. Two of his adventures, Crimson Pact and Goblins of Mount Shadow are available already, in both print and pdf. The 3rd, The Giant's Wrath is back from editing. Codex Druidum is ready for editing. See more on that and Brian below.

Enter the Codexi (Codices)

Years and years ago, shortly after launching TLG in 1999, I put forward the concept of a series of mythology books, the Codexi. The inspiration for these books came from the old AD&D Deities and Demigods, a book that tackled the gods of over a dozen myths. Before each chapter stood a short section describing the world view of the various mythologies. This had always been my favorite part of the book, I enjoyed the crash course into history and world view the short few paragraphs offered.

Thus, the idea for Codexi came to me.

Laid out for the d20 system and set to release in conjunction with the Codex of Erde that I was writing and Gary Gygax's Canting Crew and World Builder, the Codexi would bring in a mountain of material for the game master as well as the player. The focus would be the mythology, but the text would draw out of each mythology spells, combat techniques and similar cultural features peculiar to that mythology; for the GM the focus would be on new monsters, gods, powers, etc. also drawn from the mythology. All that material, folded nicely into the mythology, offered to bring everyone at the table a mountain of usable material. The books would contain the Codex Germania, Codex Celtae, etc. The Codex of Erde, as its title suggests was part of the series, only being the mythology of Erde/Airhde. It was to launch the whole series; true to form it contained magic items, monsters, spells, equipment, etc.

The Codex of Erde launched TLG into the game, our first release in hardback and contained material by Gary Gygax. His own Canting Crew and World Building followed in short order. But for a variety of reasons the Codexi never made it out. The Codex of Erde sold very well and quickly became a stand alone product. Our own attention focused on the plethora of Gygax material and we tooled TLG in that direction. By 2004 we added Castles & Crusades to the mix and the Codexi had long been set aside, joining the litany of good ideas time discarded.

Enter Brian Young. When TLG put a call out for new writers in July, Peter Bradley, our art Lord, put me in touch with Brian Young. Brian was ready to hit the ground running with a series of adventures he had in mind. We looked over what he had, liked it, approved it and in short order (literally short order) he was sending us material, the first book Goblins of Mount Shadow landed on my desk within a few weeks. Shortly after that I mentioned greater needs beyond adventure, he pitched an idea he had been working on for some years, a book that explored the mythology of the Celts, with deities, monsters, powers, etc. I remarked that sounded like a series we had set aside over a decade ago.

One conversation led to another and the Codexi rose from the bin of time's discards like the proverbial Phoenix. and before August was over a completed manuscript landed on my desk. We wrestled with the title for a bit, discarded Codex Celtae and adopted Codex Druidum but it did not matter. The Codexi was back. Before that was fully digested Brian began work on the Codex Germania, the next in the series.

So these past few months have seen the birth of a new Troll, Mr. Brian Young. You can read more about him here and check his blog out here. He is a Troll for certain, working every bit as hard as the rest of us do . . . maybe even matching Peter's tireless labor! When asked to make a comment for this article he said only this "Until I joined the Troll Lords, I didn't know that gaming and drinking were symbiotic!"

So without any more babble, Welcome to the Dens Mr. Young. May you resist its incessant tyranny! But if you can't, first round's on me!

This article first appeared in the Troll's Tusk, the TLG Newsletter. To get your free subscription, click here: Troll's Tusk

Posted by Stephen Chenault at 11:28 PM

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Giant's Wrath is About to be Ready Soon.

My third module in the Celtic Britain fantasy series, 'The Giant's Wrath' is now about 98% ready to be put together for release very soon this month and that is exciting. The story is very good, better than even the first two in the series by far, and that is just warming things up.

The fourth module, 'To Kill a King' is next in line to go, and it is an epic situation revolving around assassinating a king and what happens if the deed is done, or if it is not. A complex ensemble of NPCs is in the cast of characters and an array of options if things go wrong (or right). The GM will need to be at their best in running this module, and the players will be out of breath and wits by its end - if they are still alive.

Currently I am mid-way through writing on the fifth module, 'Spirit Night' involving Halloween, the Wild Hunt, a Dark Druid, Pictish warriors and a complex plot centering around strange abductions in several villages near the sacred and haunted forest of Coed Celyddon in the North of Britain by Hadrian's Wall. The critics have spoken and say they want more role-playing and not roll-playing in these kind of modules, and so I am giving them that, and maybe will have a classic module or two when it is all said and done.

I have outlined the next two modules in line and they are all very unique and still consistent in their feel and atmosphere. Once I get the ad copy for 'The Giant's Wrath' I will post it on here as with the rest, good gaming!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Music that Compelled Me (and still does)!

My creativity has always been guided by music, certain themes, tones and colors, it is what inspires me. I see the music as shapes in my mind, and when they hit a certain spot I become inspired like a fireworks show with ideas. They run rampant in my head and I must be able to put them into form, either by illustrating, writing or gaming them all out, it has always been that way. The music about 99% of the time fits exactly what I am creating.

What started this truly was when I first saw the initial Richie Blackmore's Rainbow cassette tape in a local tape store. The castle fused into a guitar and with a rainbow caught my attention in passing.

I looked at the songs' names and noticed they were all medieval themed mostly and knew I had to have it. This might be my grail so to speak. I listened to it and it blew my mind. Finally, at the age of eight, I was hitting upon what and who I should be so early in life. It was in this time that I was buying gaming figures from a local hobby shop to paint unaware that they held another purpose entirely. I was enchanted by them all in the showcase. I could see the wizards, warriors, dragons and the rest and had to have them all!

This came with me buying the next Rainbow album, 'Rising' and it brought my young imagination to a place that was simply spiritual. I was now ready to jump into all things fantasy, I just didn't know how then or that there was a hobby called role-playing games. This was in 1980.

Then by chance I was able to get the original Monster Manuals and Deities & Demi-Gods books and loved the info and art inside. I just didn't put that together with the figures yet. I didn't know that Rainbow was changing in that time and that they were now doing 'popular' music and sold out their medieval/fantasy themed brilliance. But then I bought their third album, 'Long Live Rock & Roll' that to me was the sum of what good and perfect music should be! It blew my mind more than the other two.

The song that pivoted me towards my scholarly expertise was 'Lady of the Lake', it and the movie 'Excalibur' set my course towards what later became my academic specialty and my Masters from the University of Wales Lampeter in Arthurian Studies.

Please play these full albums, blast them, to get your gaming vibes going. They always do mine. I play them at least every day or so since 1980. (The first three albums are the Dio era ones)