Planetary Awards Voting Open Now

Cirsova contributor Schuyler Hernstrom has several pieces that were nominated in the Short Fiction category for this year’s Planetary Awards. At least two of them (The Gift of the Ob-Men and Images of the Goddess) can be read for free on our website.

Originally posted on Planetary Awards: We’re expanding the voting pool for the awards this year, so read this entire post to find out if YOU are eligible to vote. But first, here are the 2016 stories nominated by book bloggers across the internet: Short Stories / Novellas “Athan and the Priestess” by Schuyler Hernstrom, found in…

via Vote for the best stories of 2016 — Planetary Defense Command

Cirsova #2 Free eBook until end of Kickstarter + Stretch Goals

We’re offering Kindle editions of Cirsova #2 free from now until the end of our Kickstarter. While Cirsova #2 has been free on our website for some time, we understand that it may be more convenient to have it as an eBook.

You can download it here: http://a.co/9wHX39I (note, this link will change in 5 days)

Now, for the Kickstarter…

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1161542777/cirsova-2017-s-5-and-6-lovecraft-swords-and-space

We’ve met our goal for 2017, but we really need to raise more money to stay on track for next year.

Stretch Goal $4000 – 2 issues (Closed Submissions)

Four thousand dollars is about what we need to safely say we can put out two issues next year. We likely will not be able to have open submissions for 2018; the reason I say that is I want to make our existing contributors our priority when we can. However, I want to be able to read new stories and encourage new authors to write them. Only way I can do that, though, is we can expand our readership more than we have. There’s nothing I hate more than having to turn away great stories because of a lack of resources on our end.

Stretch Goal $5000 – 2 issues (Open Submissions)

This will give us enough cushion room that we can do open submissions. We can make accommodations for good stories that come across our desk that we otherwise might have had to turn away. We’ll be able to expand to new authors and new audiences.

Stretch Goal $8000 – 2 to 3 issues (Open Submissions)

At this point, we may be looking at a healthier long-term outlook. This will also put us in a position where we could reasonably do bulk orders and mail them out from our HQ instead of putting in dropshipments by hand, which would save us some time and money.

So, how can you help? It’s hard to say, because I know that a lot of you have spent nearly as much effort trying to get the word out about Cirsova as we have.

One of the simplest things that could help a lot in the long run are Amazon reviews; even one or two sentences can help raise our profile and get our back issues seen.

Ad Space is the biggest thing that can help us have money to buy stories, since virtually all of that goes straight into the acquisitions budget. But for ad space to be valuable, we need to grow our readership and readers need to support advertisers.

At .50 cents per issue, we’re practically giving 2017 away because we want to get it into people’s hands so they can see just how good this is.

Big Monster Fight

Well, we may have found the solution to the balance issue we’ve begun to encounter in Gutters, Guilds, & Grimoires: bigger monsters.

Most of what we’ve fought has been fairly close to man-sized. Even the bigger things have been between bear and small elephant sized.

Last session, we fought something three stories tall.

Well, okay, some of us fought it, while many of us ran like hell.

We were completing a quest in someplace that was a pocket dimension, a moon, or some other part of the world (we never really figured it out), which meant freeing a celestial or demonic creature we called Jeff. We found Jeff in the middle of an abandoned village located between a fork in a stream surrounded by megalithic wards.

Since Jeff couldn’t talk (he could only sign yes or no), we had a hard time getting a complete picture of what was going on with him and the weird abandoned village. We found that he was trapped, the person who trapped him was nearby, we could free him, the villagers had not trapped him, he had not killed the villagers, he would help us if we freed him, and he would not hurt us if we helped him. We got a nice one point stat boost to luck for freeing him.

We set off to see if we could find the person who’d trapped him and we eventually found a wizard’s cottage. It was locked from the inside, empty, and had a hole in the roof. We dicked around way too long debating whether we should loot the cottage, wait for the person to come back, or decide that Jeff (or someone) had pulled the wizard straight through the roof of his own house.

Then we heard some crashing sounds.

Poking around the village was a thing described as being over 30 feet tall, having a three-eyed Cthulhu head and long spindly Salvador Dali Elephant legs.

Oh, right, I forgot to mention the other complication – the area was filled with obscuring mist and unless you had one of the sage torches with you, you could neither see in the mist nor were you safe from the mist folk who would tear you apart in four rounds tops. We’d left several torches lit along the path back to the mirror, but had only taken three with us. And the bridge across the stream consisted only of a series of rotting logs propped up by piles of rock, and several of the logs had already broken loose on the way over.

When the thing noticed us, we started running like hell. A few of us barely made it across. Others got swept down the stream a bit as the fell in, landing further down the shore out of the light and safety of the torches. Others eventually had to try to jump and swim for it, with most of the bridge gone, losing at least one torch in the process.

The thing used its tendrils to snatch up and try to eat people. Those who couldn’t get away ended up badly mangled and one was eaten. While they figured out that they could hurt it (a couple characters managed to cut off a few of its mouth tendrils and one guy even managed to tie its legs like an AT-AT) the thing was NOT going down easily and there was little indication that it was being more than really annoyed. After it had staggered a bit and fallen into the stream, the characters who’d stayed to fight saw more of them coming –they had just barely managed to convince ONE of the things that they were not worth trying to eat, but there was absolutely nothing they could’ve done once more of them showed up.

Eventually, everyone except for the character who was eaten had either run back or was carried through the mirror portal which we immediately sealed before they could come through. Hoping we don’t have to fight those things again any time soon.

The one really funny thing is that in the big battle against Lord Brinston’s armed guard awhile back, just about everyone in the party ended up with an open-faced helm, so everyone had really good head armor (4); were it not for those helmets doing damage reduction, everyone in the party who did not just run like hell would have had their heads popped off in no more than two hits and been eaten.

Fighting big monsters should be very different than fighting small and medium sized monsters, and it shouldn’t just be reflected in hit points. PCs typically won’t even be able to hit most locations on such creatures (I’ve always thought that if a DM has something like a dragon go toe-to-toe, blow-for-blow, with the PCs he’s running the encounter wrong). A big monster should keep its vital locations out of reach as is reasonable. Really big monsters absolutely should have subparts which could be crippled or destroyed; definitely makes things more interesting than the old Critical Existence Failure at 0HP.

Physical Proof of Issue 5, Interview with Adrian Cole, + Jeffro & JimFear138

The physical proof of Issue 5 arrived Friday.

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Scott Cole interviews Cirsova contributor Adrian Cole at Castalia House today.

JimFear138 has an epic 4 hour conversation with Cirsova contributor and Castalia House Blog Editor Jeffro Johnsonhas an epic 4 hour conversation with Cirsova contributor and Castalia House Blog Editor Jeffro Johnson; there goes any chance of catching up on my podcast listening this week. Some damned insightful stuff!

 

The Force Awakens to Put Me to Sleep

In all of the ongoing discussions as to whether or not Rey from the Force Awakens was a Mary Sue, I seem to have missed anyone warning me just how boring Episode 7 was.*

Keep in mind, I’m someone who loved Rogue One and has gone to bat for it a few times – it restored in me a love of Star Wars I haven’t really felt since playing TIE Fighter. That said, if I HAD seen The Force Awakens, I probably would’ve skipped out on Rogue One.

Absolutely nothing in The Force Awakens seemed to have any real weight, and everyone was just sleepwalking through their roles. Han and Chewie looked as if they couldn’t wait for it to be over and done with. With Carrie Fisher’s passing, seeing Leia show up as tired and old and barely relevant to the story is even more of a gut punch and should’ve undercut anyone’s excitement that ‘hurr hurr, she’s a general now, because women are important in sci-fi for a change!’

Despite how much he’d been hyped everywhere I’d seen in fandom, Poe felt about as relevant as Biggs did before all of his scenes were cut.

Finn’s affections for Rey can only be excused as thirst, cuz she treats him like crap through the whole movie. He’d’ve been much better as an “I seen some shit” vet who’d finally had enough. He needed a better “God is not here today, Priest” moment.

Rey was more annoying than I’d expected because I’d never heard Daisy Ridley speak before. Her character comes off as a whiny scold. I disliked her from the moment she bullied that random desert nomad guy into giving her BB-8 for no reason. We’re told over and over that she’s special, but we’re never told why. We’re told Chewie likes her, and since Chewie is Han’s morality pet and supposedly a good judge of character, we ought to like her, too.

Starkiller was just there to have another Death Star in the background. It barely felt relevant. I don’t even remember if the not-Rebels were concerned about figuring out how to destroy it; it kinda felt like “it’s all good, we’ve got this, done this twice already”, so there was no tension.

No, the big secret everyone was after was Luke Skywalker’s whereabouts, because the Star Wars universe is obviously just as full as people obsessing over the canon as real life.

And what’s up with Snoke? Emperor just happened to have an ugly darkside giant tucked away somewhere to pick up the reins? No! I’d’ve much rather seen a Hellenistic Empire split between ex-governors and former moffs playing and being played by the Rebel Alliance against one another. Yet Hux and Kylo Ren are the best the Imperial remnants have to offer.

I’ve seen complaints that the characters in Rogue One were flat because they didn’t get much onscreen development. I think it worked there, though, because Rogue One relied on Tropes – you knew enough about the characters because you understood their functioning role in the story: Pilot, Heavy Weaponry Guy, Kung-Fu Dude, so on and so forth. It’s black and white cowboy hats and Henry Fonda’s blue eyes. The Force Awakens had nothing. It had neither character exposition/development nor fictional tropes to rely upon in the absence of development. As terrible as they were, the prequels were a hundred times better at character development and storytelling than The Force Awakens, and that’s saying something!

On a final note, Captain Phasma was a hell of a wasted character. How great would it be to see a Star Wars movie where the dashing rebel pilot ends up stuck with ice queen stormtrooper captain lady?

“Take the helmet off.”
“No…”
“I said take it off!”
::pretty dame under the stormtrooper helmet::
“I can see why the Empire would want to hide a pretty face like that.”
“Sh-shut up!”::angry blushes:: “I’ll have you executed when we get back to the Star Destroyer!”
“IF we get back to the Star Destroyer…”
::giant space monsters show up that they have to fight together before they fall in love::

Anyway…

@corduroyalist summed it up quite well: I found force awakens a disjointed pointless movie with the trauma of watching Han Solo be a loser & then die.