[Geo] A simple geomorph

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Playing around a little bit and drew this up in one shot.

I hate it. 🙂

But here you go, a geomorph.

I have to admit that I far more enjoy making the micro-dungeons than these geomorphs now. I think I like the ‘design’ aspect of the micro-dungeons. As I am making those I have an idea or character in mind to be placed there whereas when I am drawing a geomorph it tends to be more of a blank design that anyone could drop whatever in. Just seems to lack focus for me. Oh well, a geo for a lazy Sunday.

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[eBooks] A note to eBook publishers

I got it, you are proud of your books. You have every right to be so. For God’s sake do not clutter up your sample book with the comments of reviewers about your previous books.

Listen.

I downloaded your sample book. I took the first step. Then I flip through ONE HALF of the sample…YOUR chance to impress me, YOUR chance to get me to drop my hard earned dough, on people talking about your other books. I can, and more likely WILL, get those reviews off the internet or from the reviews other place: on blogs, Amazon.com, and on GoodReads. I do not need people wasting one half of your chance to snag my attention. When the sample is roughly 20 to 30 pages, two to five (!) are taken up by copyright, ISBN and “book designed by” (what does that mean anyway?) jargon and then you go and waste another three to seven pages of review snippets.

Well, you see where I am going. Some samples I get one chapter after all the mess to snag my attention. Sometimes I get five chapters. You do the math and figure out which book I will probably buy. This last one I just downloaded (I will not mention the book or author) I literally had one chapter amounting to a whole six pages after all the nonsense the silly publisher put in the front of the eBook. Buying this book? Doubtful.

Anyway, just my thoughts.

[Risus] Lapsus Calumni #10: The King’s Tomb

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I finally have been inspired to pick up the quill again and completed another issue of Lapsus Calumni. This one even has the added benefit of an editor! Well ok, sort of, I let a couple of friends take a gander at it before I published it.

This one was completely inspired by Brent Wolke’s recent work on Risus settings and is an unabashed homage to those games we played as children back in the 80’s. So yeah, this is all his fault. In honor of him, I even stole some of his creature ‘stats’ for this module. Also, this just happens to be eight pages long. Go figure.

The moniker of “micro-dungeon” has recently begun to be floated about the net and it is perfect for this little dungeon. I much prefer these micro-dungeons to the earlier fad of mega-dungeons. They just present a nice little adventure with enough detail to spur a GM on, but leave enough open for him to customize a bit.

The intro blurb:

Generations ago, King Belgrun fell in love with a beautiful woman named Nadia. Time wore on and the couple proved fruitful, the kingdom prospered and grew wealthy. Thirty years into their union the Queen fell very ill and was expected to wither away in pain and die. In a show of his undying love for his Queen, the King ordered an impressive tomb built for them to share eternity.

When his Queen died, his lust for life faded and within two months the King had passed away. The tomb was sealed and guarded for the next sixty years. Eventually memory faded and the tomb went unprotected, soon bandits and grave robbers swarmed in and looted the place.

Your job? To clear the dungeon of the nasties that have taken the place up as a nice little vacation spot. So yeah, no complaining Christian, enter the dungeon, kill the things there, and steal their stuff. Original, I know.

This module is done up for Risus(!) but could easily be converted to any old school system within minutes for any GM to use in their favorite game system. If you happen to use this adventure, please let me know, I would love to hear about it. Below is a larger version of the map for those who love maps (click the map for a larger view).

Click here to download Lapsus Calumni #10: The King’s Tomb

Book Review: The Fiddler’s Gun by A.S. Peterson

I picked this book up because of two things, neither really a good reason to pick up a book, but both seem to work for me. First, the cover. Evocative and very cool looking, almost spooky in a Louisiana scares me sort of way. Second, the era of the book was the Revolutionary War, a time period I feel that is just lacking any exploration in any media…just seems like we have forgotten this period and all the coolness that happened then.

The book is the extraordinary tale of one girl’s journey from a no-name orphan into a world of adventure. The author’s writing is easy to read and not a challenge to understand the action going on in many of the scenes. He has an good style that lends itself to the subject matter and simply make you forget about the historical inaccuracies and even some of the implausible situations the heroine finds herself in.

The books’s blurb:

America is on the brink of war with England, and Fin Button is about to come undone. She’s had it with the dull life of the orphanage, and she’s ready to marry Peter and get away from rules, chores, and a life looked after by the ever-watchful Sister Hilde. But an unexpected friendship forms between Fin and the fiddle-playing cook, Bartimaeus, which sets her on a course for revolution.

With Bart’s beloved fiddle and haunting blunderbuss as her only possessions, Fin discovers her first taste of freedom as a sailor aboard the Rattlesnake. She’s hiding some dark secrets, but there are bigger problems for the crew—they are on the run from the Royal Navy, and whispers of mutiny are turning the captain into a tyrant.

When Fin finally returns home, will she find Peter still waiting, or will she find that she’s lost everything she once held dear?

The book is roughly 300 pages and opens with the young girl and her daily routine in the orphanage.  It gets into a bit of coming of age as she realizes love, wanting more from her life, and rebelling against the nuns that try to force her to be an upstanding woman who will someday run a house and bear children. At first, this is appalling to her, much preferring to wrestle and punch with the boys. After a series of mistakes she ends up working in the kitchen with the interesting cook who has a mysterious past, and the titular fiddle. And thus begins the adventure.

I will say the first one hundred odd pages are a battle to get through, at least for me. They really delve into the girl, Fin, growing up, realizing she is falling in love, and yearning to spend her life with one of the other orphans that has made a name for himself in the town. This part I honestly had to battle through. It was slow and tough going.

Once that part is through, the book literally takes off and becomes a huge page turner. I took extra long lunches to get through them and not wanting the book to end.  The wandering tale and the extraordinary situations and people she meets is excellent. I do not want to give away too much of the story, but as can be surmised from the cover and the blurb, there be pirates here! And if you like pirates, you will love the last 2/3rds of this book. It is full of swashbuckling action that leaves you wanting to watch another pirate movie.

I would give this book four stars. Yes the first third is a challenge to struggle through (especially if you are a grown male) but once you get through this, the book is well worth it. I will certainly be picking up the second book in the series and reading it as well.

The author maintains a website with more information on the books: http://www.thefiddlersgun.com/

[Risus] Lapsus Calumni #10!

After too long of a hiatus, I am very happy to report that I have found my mojo again!

Fellow Risus fan Brent Wolke has been kicking out some amazing “8 Page Settings” for Risus and he recently released his take on a fantasy setting. He then quickly followed that up with an excellent module in that setting. Talk about over achieving!

Inspired by his work and recently finishing the novel “Fuzzy Nation” I was inspired to try my hand at Risus again. Much to my surprise, it went well and more importantly, I thoroughly enjoyed the system. Spurred on by these events, I took a long lunch today and drew up a map for the blog, then decided I wanted to flesh it out much in the same way Brent had used.

I am still editing it up and should have this out later this week, but I have to say I really enjoyed making this one and hope to make many more!

[Map] Dwarven Way Station (Christian)

My buddy Christian posted another cool map and being that I am swamped at work and just not had the time to work on any of my projects of late, I am opting out with a lazy post. I sniklized one of his maps before and when he posted this one, the few drops of inspiration I had left on me today went to re-imagining his map. Nothing too fancy, but it took me all of 15 minutes to work up, so I figure it balances out.

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Book Review: Johannes Cabal the Detective

I have long held a desire to read the Johannes Cabal series of books after the cover of the second one caught my eye in a Barnes and Noble a few years ago (yes, I am a cover-whore). I remember picking up the first book and stumbling through the text and thinking “Ouch! Who would read this?!” due to its unique grammar structure and use of old and rarely used words. Needless to say I put the book down and never looked back.

That was until about seven months ago when I discovered Kindle samples and downloaded the first book’s sample. I valiantly attempted a second climb through the digital pages…and subsequently failed. I think anyone would agree I made a brave attempt by passing the 100 page mark but I ultimately gave up. The book was just difficult to read and I could not wrap my head around this Cabal character.

A few weeks ago the second book’s cover caught my eye. My penchant love for anything steampunk proved the better of me and I downloaded the sample. The stars aligned. Pigs sprouted wings and took to air. Somewhere, an angel got their wings. I made it through the sample and actually enjoyed myself while reading the opening of the book. I risked everything and purchased the book.

The blurb:

In this genre-twisting novel, infamous necromancer Johannes Cabal, after beating the Devil and being reunited with his soul, leads us on another raucous journey in a little-known corner of the world. This time he’s on the run from the local government. 

Stealing the identity of a minor bureaucrat, Cabal takes passage on the Princess Hortense, a passenger aeroship that is leaving the country. The deception seems perfect, and Cabal looks forward to a quiet trip and a clean escape, until he comes face-to-face with Leonie Barrow, an enemy from the old days who could blow his cover. But when a fellow passenger throws himself to his death, or at least that is how it appears, Cabal begins to investigate out of curiosity. His minor efforts result in a vicious attempt on his own  life—and then the gloves come off. 

Cabal and Leonie—the only woman to ever match wits with him—reluctantly team up to discover the murderer. Before they are done, there will be more narrow escapes, involving sword fighting and newfangled flying machines. There will be massive destruction, not to mention resurrected dead . . . 

This structure of this book is a little odd, perhaps that is part of its charm. In my eyes the book is really three short stories. The first sets up how Cabal escapes a madman as he helps start a civil war. The second is a trip aboard a flying ship (I must note that the one in the book is most notably nothing like the one on the cover). The last 40ish pages are written in an entirely different vein and cover the occurrences immediately following the results of the second story.

All three tales are decently told, hold your attention, and play an interesting insight into what makes Cabal tick. Some of this information you will not want to know. Cabal is the best of the worst of anti-heroes ever put to page. He is cruel, evil, plotting, conniving, mean, but also intelligent, resourceful and to top it off, a necromancer. While it is mentioned far too many times to count, his skill is brought to bear but twice. More often than not his strongest power is simply his wit and intelligence.

My one main complaint with the book is that it appears to be striving to be a Sherlockian adventure complete with strange speaking sentence structure and the almost extreme overuse of archaic words that few alive will know the meaning of. Thank the Lord I use my Kindle App and can find definitions of words with a single tap, otherwise I would have been left wondering what a word meant probably about once ever three or four pages. I found this tedious and annoying at times. Frequently I felt like that little kid talking to their older brother who purposefully uses big scientific words simply to make me feel inferior to him.

I understand the female protagonist, Leonie, was present in the first book and she was a welcome addition to this tale. The perfect foil for Cabal, their dialogue was probably the one thing I enjoyed the most about the book. She loves him it is clear, but she hates what he is at the same time. The built up, and often hinted at, love story never fully develops. I think this was a wise choice for the author. If Leonie fell for Cabal I think it would jump the shark and make this just not as good a book. As is, this is a perfect sub-plot roller coaster to add just the right amount of flair to the tale.

This tale is truly an internal struggle for the reader as Cabal is the guy you love to hate, the one you shouldn’t but do find yourself rooting for. He really is a terrible person, more often doing the right thing, the nice thing, only because it affords him a better position later. When the sh|t hits the fan, this would be the guy throwing the poo directly at you. Cabal, love him or hate him, he is an entertaining fellow.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, it was a good read, just one that took a bit longer and felt a bit more like a struggle to get through than others I have read. I would recommend it for those that like a little challenge and enjoy something a little different. I would add that reading the first does not seem to be a requirement to enjoy this book. There seemed to be some back story I missed from the first book about the relationship between Leonie (and her father) and Cabal, but this was nothing that seemed so important that it was necessary to have read before this book.


Next book up for review is The Fiddler’s Gun by A.S. Peterson. This is the story of a young girl thrust into a wild tale involving the American Revolutionary War, pirates, nuns and secrets. The blurb:

America is on the brink of war with England, and Fin Button is about to come undone. She’s had it with the dull life of the orphanage, and she’s ready to marry Peter and get away from rules, chores, and a life looked after by the ever-watchful Sister Hilde. But an unexpected friendship forms between Fin and the fiddle-playing cook, Bartimaeus, which sets her on a course for revolution.

With Bart’s beloved fiddle and haunting blunderbuss as her only possessions, Fin discovers her first taste of freedom as a sailor aboard the Rattlesnake. She’s hiding some dark secrets, but there are bigger problems for the crew—they are on the run from the Royal Navy, and whispers of mutiny are turning the captain into a tyrant.

When Fin finally returns home, will she find Peter still waiting, or will she find that she’s lost everything she once held dear?