Difficult Choices

A couple weeks ago, I made an amazing find at this pawn/consignment/junk shop in a one-horse town about an hour from where I live.

For $15 I purchased a never-before-opened, still in the shrinkwrap, vintage 1968 AMT model of the U.S.S. Enterprise.

stock photo from Amazon; my box doesn't look quite that nice

stock photo from Amazon; my box doesn’t look quite that nice

I finally got around to looking this thing up on Amazon.  They’re going for between $150 and $200.

My main trepidation is that I really suck at building models.  The box is a bit banged up, so it’s not display-quality New, but I could sure use $100 or so.  Do I build it or try to sell it?

Last Day to Download City at the Top of the World for Free!

Today is the last day to get the Kindle Edition of City at the Top of the World for free from Amazon.   Quite a few free copies have been downloaded so far.  Please share this and help City at the Top of the World to break 100 free downloads!  So far, it’s peaked at #45 in Sci-Fi/Fantasy Short Reads.



Free Copy Countdown

Tomorrow is the last day to download your Amazon Kindle copy of City at the Top of the World for free.  Over 50 copies have been given away so far.  It’s peaked at #48 in free Sci-if/Fantasy short reads.

If you’ve downloaded it and liked it, review it! Gimme a star(or five. Preferably 5)!

Or, if you really liked it, you could buy a nice dead-tree-pulp version from LuluAlexcirsova-72dpi-1500x2000. The promo code should still be good for 15% off your entire lulu order, so grab some other swag while you’re there: FWD15

Shadow Over Alfheim pt 9 – Return to Malek

The players who showed up were pretty happy with the list of goodies for sale. Of course, they didn’t have enough money to get both the sceptre of light & dark and the dancing bear. The goblin/halfling/ranger desperately wanted it to be able to ride it into battle. Eventually, they’d settled on a possible agreement with the orc that he and his bear be taken on as hirelings for 2 shares of treasure, but the goblin, upon learning that under no circumstances (other than outright purchase of the bear) would he be allowed to ride on the bear’s back. So the party decided that since the bear would probably get killed anyway, they’d go for the scepter of light and dark.

Their initial experimentation with it was less that successful. They had returned to the site of Malek, the elven city filled with giant insects, and were again attacked by goblin skirmishers. They tried to hide their position with the scepter, but when you’ve got a big glob of darkness in the middle of the forest where guys used to be, archers are just going to shoot in the general direction of the darkness. The party awkwardly lashed out without really knowing where the goblins were other than their general position. The party’s goblin managed to get a lucky arrow off, killing a goblin who didn’t make his hide/concealment check. Meantime, the other goblins managed to bugger off.

The party descended into the Nameless Dungeon (which has now been named Malek), following the right hand rule. The party stumbled into a pit trap in the octagonal room, drawing the skeletons from 20. It was a tough fight, but the party handled themselves nicely, deciding that turning the skeletons would just turn into a cascading encounter (since it had before). The room with the firebeetles proved an easier encounter, though they ended up covered in bio-luminescent goo that will keep them glow in the dark for the next 2 days or until they can wash their clothes. The trap room off the octagon speared the monk, but they didn’t find the secret treasure chest in the trap mechanism.

The party headed west through 20, opened the secret door, finding the corpse with all the coins. Random encounter of two giant flies ended up giving them a minor annoyance, but the party dispatched them without too many problems. The party stumbled onward, finding the giant ant colony and the bat room, carefully backing out of each.

One of the things that strikes me about the Nameless Dungeon is how many monsters are cramped into tiny rooms. Firebeetles are 2 1/2 feet long. 6 of them are cramped into a 20×10 room with no exits save a closed door. The room with the giant ant colony is bigger but considering that giant ants are the size of ponies, and there were 2 dozen of them, that’s gotta be pretty cramped. There’s at least an egress for them to come and go from. How all of these giant insects are together, relatively foodless in a such a cramped monster menagerie style dungeon has been hand-waved as being the result of evil elf magic.

My group’s elf dropped out due to being over-committed, though he extensively complimented me and my game. Another player has raised the question of when the game will conclude (I think he’s interested in running a game). Even though everyone seems to be having a good time and enjoying themselves, I’m also experiencing DM fatigue. If I had a more flexible schedule that allowed me to participate in multiple games on multiple nights, I wouldn’t be feeling this way, but when i can only game 1 night every two weeks, I’m wanting to play more than DM, and I’m ready for it to end. But I also don’t want to leave players hanging who might be invested in the story.

Children of Lubrochius

So, with my own vampire campaign really ratcheting up, it’s been the perfect time to start reading the second Drasmyr book. I know, it’s Ashes of Ruins book 1, but I can’t help but think of it as Drasmyr 2.

I think I’m encountering some strangeness with it early on, as I’m not sure if the exposition is meant to allow it to stand on its own without having read Drasmyr. From what I’ve gathered, Drasmyr was originally meant to be a prequel to the Ashes of Ruins series, but it got finished and published first, making it a prelude instead. I’m not certain about the order in which some of the writing was done, so it might make sense for the early chapters of Children of Lubrochius to recap previous events a bit more thoroughly than if it were a straight-up sequel to Drasmyr. I guess it lets you jump into the story without having read Drasmyr, but I don’t know why you’d want to, especially considering how good it was by itself.

Right now Korina seems a bit more petty and junior league than she did in Drasmyr, but at the same time it makes sense given the reveal at the end about just how petty and small minded her evil plan had been (extra creepy, given the brutal lengths she went to accomplish it).

Anyway, I’m looking forward to the trio of bounty-hunters imminent dungeon crawl back in Drasmyr’s castle to hunt down the Sceptre of Morgulan and the showdown between whatever rival forces are looking for it. Given that it’s the first book in a trilogy and the second book is called “The Sceptre of Morgulan”, my guess is that the good guys aren’t going to find it first, or, if they do, the mages guild is not going to be prepared for what will happen when they find it. Or they find it and end up accidentally bringing it to Korina just like they ended up bringing her an ancient vampire thrall which she can barely control.

Maybe after I finish it, I can get Matt D. Ryan back here for another interview.

50th Anniversary of the Book of Three


So, there is apparently a new 50th anniversary edition out of Lloyd Alexander’s The Book of Three, and it is handsome!


I hope this version comes with a map. The old scholastic book-order edition I have doesn’t have the map of Prydain that came with the original. (Never mind that most of the official maps I’ve seen are a bit muddled and don’t really jibe well with what’s in the books.)

To promote this release, there is a blog tour going on. I’m not on the blog tour (I wish I knew how I could’ve been, but I’m probably too salty a figure anyway), but I am going to advertise it here.

Anyway, I heard about the blog tour from the Book Wars, so you should start there.

More blogs participating in the tour:

Monday September 22

YA Bibliophile

Tuesday September 23

Maria’s Melange

Wednesday September 24

The Book Wars

Thursday September 25

Bunbury in the Stacks

Friday September 26

Manga Maniac Café

Monday September 29

Read Now Sleep Later

Tuesday September 30

The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia

Wednesday October 1

Word Spelunking

Thursday October 2

Proud Book Nerd

Friday October 3

Book Haven Extraordinaire


Sometimes I really enjoy Go Make Me a Sandwich, but this is the most hilariously off-base take on gamergate I’ve seen, and I can’t help but facepalm at how much it misses the point entirely.

Sure, gamergate could be this bizarre straw-man Spanish inquisition style non-sense.  Or maybe non-white, non-male and genderqueer people who play video games are tired of being constantly shit on by game journalists and being called mouthbreathing shitlords and called straight and white (which is pretty strange to be using as an insult, but whatever) just because there are some internet troll asshats.  No one really believes anyone is trying to take games away from anyone.  They’re just tired of being called shitty people and the guilt-by-association that anyone who plays video games are contemptible because of trolls or that because bad and contemptible things exist in some games all people who play any games are shit.  It would be like if every time I wanted to look up reviews of native Cuban recipes, the person describing the red beans & rice dish is taking every opportunity to call me a filthy wet-back spic.  It would be like saying that anyone who watches movies is a shit person because Lars Von Triers exists.

Really, the whole situation is more akin to why no one outside of like-minded ideologues and apparatchiks watches CNN or MSNBC anymore: people woke and realized that they’re full of hacks who have nothing but contempt for their audience and a disgusting inability to approach subject matters objectively.  Just as people sought out and made alternative media a hugely popular and successful place for politics, the same thing is happening to game journalism, and like non-game journalism, the response has been shrieking, name-calling and a general wailing and gnashing of teeth.

I’ll leave you with this musing from philosoraptor.3128685