Introvert Tightrope Tango

I am an introvert who easily gets lonely and depressed.
(And by “Gets Depressed” I mean has fairly dark bouts of normal depression. My clinical depression is a separate issue, which only therapy and potentially chemicals can help. That’s not what I am talking about here).
Those two traits often work against each other. Being with a group cheers me up but being around people, even a group of friends, takes a lot of energy from me. Being alone gives me energy… which I then sometimes spend on being lonely and depressed.
This is a complex tightrope for me to walk.
Now there are people who take much, much less energy for me to be around. A rare few even maybe that take no energy, if they are the only folks around. My wife Lj is one, as is RGG partner and dear friend Stan!. Some of my best friends in Norman are the same way — one reason leaving was so hard.
The AFK E&E managed to not take energy from me most nights, which is why losing it was such a blow for me.
SO, to manage my balance of introversion and depression, I need to socialize, but I need to do it carefully.
Last night I managed to spend some after-work time having drinks with some smart and awesome people. That certainly took energy, but it was also some high-end socializing. The energy was very well-spent, and I hope to find ways to do Drinks with Smart People more often, as a high-end option for trading energy for social experiences, and to get to know people better.
Today I’m going to go spend time with some people I theoretically don’t know as well as my Norman friends or Stan!… but who have been very caring and good to me. And who, somehow, seem to give me energy rather than take it. That’s an amazing quality in a friend, and I can only chalk it up to how spectacularly good people they all are.
That’s a good weekend for me. I may need to become a hermit Sunday, but I’ll be a happy hermit.

I Love Games

I love games.
I love to play a lot of SPECIFIC games and types of games, but that isn’t even what I mean here.
I mean I love the idea of games. The existence of them. Their ability to bring people together, to bend minds to fun rather than fear, to be a venue for learning and exploration and fellowship.
As a result, I love games other people love, even if I do not enjoy playing them.
Pokemon GO doesn’t sound like my thing, but I am thrilled as heck so many people are enjoying it.
The same is true of rugby. And GURPS. And Monopoly.
I’m glad there are games I don’t want to play, because that means there are a broad range of games that can appeal to a broad and diverse group of people.

A Friend I Shall Miss

I am devastated by the loss of Steve Russell. He was too kind, too smart, and too important for me to accept he is gone, but he is. I still don’t know how I’ll process that, and I can’t imagine what his close friends and family are going through. My heart goes out to them all.

It’s easy to say “Steve Russell was my friend, and I’ll miss him.” Well, maybe not *easy* — my voice catches if I try to say it because of the weight of WHY I am saying it – but it’s simple. It’s telling, not showing.

It’s too little for what he meant to me.

Steve and I got to know each other online, as we struggled with freelance careers and later launching publishing companies. Early on we realized that we had few peers we knew, and that we both missed having a “water cooler” to stand around and debate the issues of our industry.

Also, we were often both awake at 3am, and online.

At one point we’d talked a few times a week so often, he suggested we just record our conversations and invite guests. That is how the Demiplane of Gaming was born, and I am proud of the work we did with that. He thought it would increase both our visibility within the industry, and I am sure he’s right. When I moved to Seattle a combination of factors prevented us from being able to maintain it. I always though we’d pick it up again someday, but now I know someday won’t come.

Those talks became the basis for an amazing relationship, unlike any other I have had. Steve was a colleague and confidant, and because we mostly communicated online he was always “around.” I have only been in the same room with Steve a handful of times in my life. I am eternally thankful that those times included having him play a game with us at our house, as he travelled through a few years ago, and staying with us for a night. Somehow knowing I was able to share true hospitality with him makes me glad, even if it’s a terribly bittersweet feeling right now.

Steve celebrated my every success, commiserated by every trial and loss, and yet was still honest with me about my every mistake. He helped me through difficult times as my wife and I cared for my mother-in-law, nursed me through terrible disappointments of missed career opportunities and failed goals, and encouraged me when I was ready to give up.

If you have enjoyed any game product I have done since 2007, Steve is in part to thank.

He also trusted me with many of his troubles and anguishes, and I was honored that he did so. He joked that I talked him off a ledge  a few times when he wanted to vent publically, but decided having me listen to how dumb other people were was good enough. And when I needed to rant, he always had a ready ear.

Steve became a dependable constant in my life. Someone who advised without judging, helped without belittling, and made me a better person. I can’t imagine what my life would be if he hadn’t been in it.

Steve Russell was my friend, and I’ll miss him.

Details Matter

No one fears the Nostril of Sauron
(“Can you Smell what the Dark Lord is Cooking?”)

The Runeblade WeatherChanger doesn’t inspire fear
(“Cloudy with a 50% Chance of Losing Your Soul”)

It’s hard to get worked up about the prophecy of The Boy Whose Parents Died Saving Him And That Worked Because His Main Foe Never Spent Much Time Actually Studying in Wizard School.
(“The Death-Hazing-Club is on double secret probation.”)

No one listens to Tales of High Adventure about Conan the Unaware of Table Etiquette
(“When eating a bowl of gruel, use the small spoon, not your entire head.”)

With Mr. Wayne’s Regards

“Yes sir, I understand. And I am very sorry you feel your previous claim for water damage wasn’t settled fairly, and I do understand your skepticism. But Wayne Insurance’s rules on this matter are very clear. Any Gotham City insurance property policy automatically covers any damage from masked malcontents and super-powered individuals or vehicles, with no deductible and no rider cost.
We’re very sorry Killer Croc shattered your windows and ripped out a wall from your apartment. It’s 100% covered. If you need a place to stay until it’s fixed? That’s covered. If you have any medical expenses related to the attack?
Completely covered.”

My Father’s Clock

I don’t have enough time left to me to want to risk ever feeling it is wasted.
I didn’t post about my father on Father’s Day. About all I did do related to that day is call my step father, who is a fine man and a part of my family. I wanted to wish him well, and I meant it. But I was an adult when I met him. He’s fatherly, and I adore him for that. But he’s not who I think of when someone asks me about my father.
My father was broken by the time I was able to process such things. He may always have been broken to one degree or another, obviously I’ll never know. There are things about him that wonder if he, like I, suffered sexual abuse as a child. Mine wasn’t at the hands of any family member, and I don’t believe his would have been either — this isn’t the sad perpetuation of generational evil.
But as I grapple with the ways that messed me up, and think about some of the ways my father was messed up… maybe. Or maybe it was something else. Or maybe it was nothing. We didn’t discuss it. He was too private. And now he’s long gone.
What I do know is that he and I are made of very similar stuff, be that nature, nurture, or survival. And some of that stuff prevented him from being able to change, or to even see that change was possible. He wasn’t willing to live in a world that asked of him all the difficult things we all must manage.
Instead, he distracted himself, eventually cheating to continue that distraction, then drank himself to death.
That last is neither hyperbole, nor was it an accident. He knew he was killing himself. He couldn’t see an alternative. It was a slow, anesthetized suicide. He admitted as much to me, in the last few months. That’s one reason I called my sister before his end, who lived out of state at the time, and told her if she wanted to be sure to see our father alive again she should do so soon. She did.
It turned out I was right.
My father left behind his mother who by that point had already buried her husband, and now had to bury her only child. He and my mother were divorced, so while the emotional impact was still major, perhaps he gets to be judged more leniently there. And, of course, he left behind my sister and myself.
To this day, if I see a sad, older, gray-haired man, I begin to weep. But if I see one weeping, I get angry… often while I am crying.
He was broken, and he gave up trying to fix himself, or even learn to survive while broken.
I am around the age my father was when he just gave up. And I am broken in many, many ways. As the recent years, and even months, have passed, I wonder if I can avoid following his clock. Can I change, before it’s to late? Are the same hours passing? Will the schedule of my life follow his?
I have taken huge risks with my career, and pushed myself quite hard, in part because my father’s own career faltered. From a brilliant, award-winning, promising young professor, he became a pale echo, upset he even had to go through the motions. Some of that was from his drinking. Some was because his early hard work didn’t consistently provide rewards and a promise of significant betterment in his life. He became disillusioned with the idea that being smart and working hard would elevate him. That lead to more drink. That lead to doubt in his own ability and worth, which reinforced the disappoints that lead him to drink.
As recently as three years ago, I was seriously considering giving up on any professional work as a writer or game designer. But I feared if I gave up in one area of my life, it would advance my own private Doomsday Clock, which has seconds and minutes written in the shadows of my father’s moments of failure and despair.
But even with what I have done, I can see the 11th hour is not far away.
I loved my father very much. But he let us all down, in one of the most terrible ways he could have. I know he was caught in the tides of depression and addiction, but he actively chose not to fight the currents.
Some days I don’t have the strength to fight, either. Other days, I do.
I just don’t know how much time is left in the only real clock my father left me.

Pulse Shootings: Horrifying and Tragic

The Pulse shootings are horrific, and I’m actually having trouble processing them in any reasonable way.
Here’s what I do know.
It was wrong and evil.
Nothing the victims did justify it — especially not living, loving, or being who they are.
I am sad, and angry, and suddenly even more afraid for many people I know and love than I was yesterday… and even yesterday I know they lived in a more dangerous world than I do.
I love you all. I’m sorry. Be safe.

Slaying Weapons

Sometimes, ideas leap fully-formed into my head.


Aura strong conjuration; CL 12th; Weight —; Price +2 Bonus
A slaying weapon functions as a bane weapon that also deals additional bonus damage upon striking a successful critical hit against the weapon’s designated foe (see bane). In addition to the extra damage from the bane ability (see above), a slaying weapon deals an extra 1d10 points of damage on a successful critical hit. If the weapon’s critical multiplier is x3, add an extra 2d10 points of damage instead, and if the multiplier is x4, add an extra 3d10 points of damage.
Craft Magic Arms and Armor, summon monster V; Cost +2 bonus

My 2016 PaizoCon Schedule!

PaizoCon is coming!

So every year after the con several people IM me and say “we never saw u!! Where were u??”

So if you want to find me this year (perhaps to have me sign things, or buy me a drink, or just chat!), here is the schedule of when to find me, where, and what role I’ll be taking.

Friday, May 27

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM: Delve! (sadistic GM ready to kill you!)

01:00 PM – 02:00 PM: Writing for RPGs: Getting Your Start (panelist) (Olympic 3)

03:00 PM – 04:00 PM: Game Mastering on the Fly (panelist, with PaizoCon guest Nicolas Logue!) (Olympic 3)

04:00 PM – 05:00 PM: Delve! (sadistic GM ready to kill you!)

05:00 PM – undetermined: Mysteriously Unavailable (host)

Saturday, May 28

01:00 PM – 05:00 PM: Third Annual “Into the Emerald Spire” (Part 5!) (reasonable and creative GM) (Cascade 8)

05:00 PM – 06:00 PM: Delve! (sadistic GM ready to kill you!)

07:00 PM – 11:00 PM: PaizoCon 2016 Preview Banquet (eater) (Grand Ballroom)

Sunday, May 29

09:00 AM – 10:00 AM: Delve! (sadistic GM ready to kill you!)

11:00 AM – 01:00 PM: Pathfinder Compatible Publishers Workshop (panelist) (Olympic 3)

02:00 PM – 03:00 PM: Mysteriously Unavailable (redacted)

05:00 PM – 06:00 PM: Distant Worlds: Pathfinder in Space (panelist) (Olympic 3)

Monday, May 30

09:00 AM – 01:00 PM: Third Annual “Into the Emerald Spire” (Part 6!) (kindly but tired GM) (Olympic 3)


WarQuest World: Gear and Crafting

WarQuest Campaign Setting Rules

I still owe people who hit “like” on the Rogue Genius Games Facebook page a microsetting of at least 1,100 words. That Microsetting is going to be the WarQuest World, a setting where players of a MMORPG get sucked into the online game-world, and must learn to survive and thrive there. Rather than wait until it’s all done, I’m putting some of it out in pieces.

The WarQuest World the players are stuck in has MMORPG-style rules that control equipment and crafting materials.


Level Requirements: You can’t use an item that costs more than 1/3 your Wealth By Level total, and you can’t equip more gear at once than the value of your total Wealth By Level. The rules of WarQuest World simply prevent such items from functioning.

Equipment Slots: You can have two held item, one item in each body item magic slot, and carry up to sixteen other pieces of equipment (regardless of weight or size, including vehicles and animals but not buildings) without being encumbered. Multiples of nonmagic things bought in sets of more than one (such as arrows) as well as food, count as a single object.

If you carry 17-20 items, you are in medium encumbrance. If you carry 21-24, you are in heavy encumbrance. Magic items designed to allow you to carry more items or weight add 4 slots to these totals (or, if they are ranked, 4 slots per rank – so a type 4 bag of holding adds 16 slots).

You can keep up to 64 more things in your bank, which you can access from any settlement.

You can carry an unlimited amount of money, though money you keep in your bank cannot be stolen.


Each PC gains one crafting ability. These can be defined however the player wishes (smithing, carving, leatherworking, tailoring, scribing, basket weaving – whatever). This allows you to make one kind of magic item (magic weapon, magic armor, rod, staff, wand, scroll, ring, or miscellaneous item). The item can be hand held or take one magic item body slot, and you define the item in a way that makes sense for your craft and the body slot. For example, if you are a scribe and you can make staves, they are most likely actually books of spells or pages of permanently empowered runes.

You can only make magic items with a cost no greater than 1/3 your wealth by level. To make a magic item, you inform your GM you are working on it. When you have earned treasure while adventuring  equal to the item’s cost, you have crafted the item (you don’t actually spend any cost, you are assumed to gather the needed materials adventuring). A GM may inform you in advance that an adventure will be worth double value toward this, or half.

A GM can also allow you to create more powerful items than normal by completing specific quests, to gain are materials.

If you actually put skill ranks into your related craft, you can create one more type of magic item for every 2 ranks you invest. These are still themed to be appropriate to your craft skill.

You can craft mundane items this way, as well. No other method for crafting functions. If you would receive a bonus Craft feat as a class feature, you may pick one additional form of item to craft, as if you has 2 more ranks in your selected Craft skill.


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