TL;DR on the (Presumed) Relationships Between Content Creators

This is a really fascinating phenomenon that TL;DR looks at.  While this latest video may have in part been inspired by the strong differing opinions among popular youtubers regarding Brexit, this is something that happens rather often and on a wide variety of subjects.  Early in Gamergate, there were some rather cartoonish incidents when streamers that ‘everyone knew’ didn’t know each other that were particularly memorable (RogueStar showing up on one of Vee’s streams or that time Sargon said to a somewhat tittering and starstruck Iribrise that she sounded like a dick on the IAxit stream.)

Fans of content creators often feel that those creators they’re fans of should get along, because if their content appeals to that fan, then those creators must have lots of other stuff in common, too!  Where it gets dicey is when there is an underlying assumption by these creators’ fanbases that, because they have something in common and because they share fans, those content creators are buddy buddy for reals, or at least can easily get one another on the horn.

We also see this in the gaming blog community, and it is exacerbated in part by the fact that a lot of us are in contact with one another to some degree, whether through blog comments or G+, and our pages are often two or three link-thrus away from each other on our sidebars.  But the truth is, a lot of us don’t actually know one another, don’t actually talk to one another regularly and may not even get along even when we should according to this or that checkbox on your checklist of reasons you follow us.*

Anyway, check out TL;DR’s vid.

*::is not actually on the horn with any loud ‘conservative’ gaming consultants or important alt-right enfants terribles::


Is a lot like growing up white when your family made the conscious effort to assimilate after fleeing a Latin American hellhole.


Seriously, does anyone know why this is trending now?

(Grandma did always send those tins of Danish Butter Cookies, though…)

What’s in a Name?

Two of the questions I face most frequently are “How do you pronounce Cirsova?” and “Where did you get the name?”

The C is a hard (like in Latin) and is pronounced kɜrs oʊ və.

The name comes from back when Cirsova was a setting blog. Cirsova is the heartland imperial province.  Long before the ‘contemporary’ Cirsovan Empire came into being, a tribe called the Akhirs invaded and migrated to the riparian highlands, which became known as ‘the nest’ or ‘the egg’ of the Akhirs, “Akhirs’ Ova”, which eventually morphed into Cirsova.

I kept the name for the magazine because I already had the name for the website and because it’s the only thing that shows up if you Google it (for the first few years, searches would mostly turn up Alissa Firsova).


This Is Not the Fantasy Blog You’re Looking For…

My Choose Your Own Adventure Story, “City at the Top of the World”, takes place in the aforementioned setting during a time that pre-dates the arrival of the Akhirs, the founding of the Cirsovan Empire, and the fall of the Dreamers’ Polar kingdom (though the book presages this last event). It’s not exactly the sort of pulse-pounding pulp action you might expect considering the overall bent of the site lately, but if you’re curious about a CYOA ‘Weird’ fantasy, you might enjoy it. Seriously, one of these days, I’ll reformat the physical version of the book to make it easier to buy on Amazon.



One Week Left to Pre-Order Issue 2!

I’m thrilled that we’ve met our initial goal and have even done better than with our first issue.  Including a few bulk pre-orders and ad-spots bought outside of Kickstarter, we’re looking at over $1300 with a week left to go.  What I’d really like to see, rather than more money, is more backers.  We’re at $1108 with 61 backers, while at the end of our first kickstarter we were $1020 with 64.  I’d love for us to get up to 100 backers – even if the next 39 backers only pledge for $2 – because that means our exposure is growing and more people are reading.

Cover in progress 2 (Jabari Weathers Art) pdf cover

With any luck, I’ll be at Spa-Con in late September with three different issues to sell folks.  Maybe by next year, I’ll even manage to become a remora on the titanic bulk of one of Arkansas’ more prolific pulp publishers (or at least figure out how to become actively invovled in the PulpArk scene).

I’d like to take a moment to thank the folks who have made all of this possible – the contributing authors, the artists, and everyone who has gotten the word out, bought copies, and reviewed copies – we could not do this without you, and your support has been invaluable to this project.

The rest of the year is going to be just as exciting, if not more so, as we move towards a quasi-subscription method so I don’t have to run kickstarters every couple of months.  August will be our last kickstarter of the year, and through it, we will be selling discounted bundles of both issue 3 and 4.  Don’t forget, we’ve got over 300 pages heartpounding SFF coming your way in 2016 after issue 2 is out.

B4: The Lost City – Part 7

If we weren’t using a Death and Dismemberment variation*, we probably would’ve lost most of the high-ish level characters and most of the rest of the original party members.

On the way down to level 5, the party encountered some hobgoblins who were keeping an eye on the trap door down to try to keep folks out who might be coming to mess with Darius, a high priest of Zargon, while he was collecting funds from the gambling den.  This encounter ended up a bit messy and the party couldn’t talk their way out of the bad reaction roll.  Some folks got hurt pretty bad, but the party managed to take out most of the goblins, with one escaping and another being bound and gagged and forced to lead them to the gambling den.

Here is where the poor dungeon design came in to haunt me again – how did the hobgoblins get past the two living statues?  Again, unless we go with the whole ‘only NPCs can use the secret pyramid tunnels’, the hobgoblins, and anybody, really, would have to go past two living statues/iron golems and two giant rock pythons every time they come up from the city! Well, the goblin led the party toward the gambling den and got a living statue’s axe right through his head – I hand-waved this by pointing out that he may not have been able to make whatever sign or speak whatever passphrase was necessary or may not have even known about needing it, as he very likely wasn’t the leader of his patrol.  I hate having to explain stuff like this players, and feel like maybe I shouldn’t, but I’m frustrated enough by the anti-logic of the dungeon’s layout that I try to address stuff when it breaks suspension of disbelief (which this module has frequently).

Anyway, the players searched Demetrius’ room looking for a trap door because there HAS to be a way into the rest of tier 5 that doesn’t involve walking past living statues an rock pythons, there just has to be! They didn’t find a more sensible way out, but they did find the secret treasure room with a closet-boss.  What is a closet-boss?  It’s when you open the door to a rather inconspicuous and isolated room that just happens to have a boss in it for no good reason.  In a 20 x 20 room, there’s nothing but a chest with 6500 XP worth of loot and magic items and a 10HD monster pretending to be a tapestry.

The first thing that the polymar tried to turn into was some vaguely bear-like creature (earning it the name ‘rug-bear’), taking some pretty brutal swats at the cleric.  It proceeded to eat one of the level 1 characters while the rest of the party beat a hasty retreat.  They ran into the Vultures and hired them to make a coffin for the dead character, just go down and pick him up; naturally, they found the polymar down there and a couple of them got gobbled up.  The players joined the fight after the second round, at which point, the Vultures made a run for it, straight into the room with the two living statues.  While most of the party was trying to hold off the polymar (which was more or less one-shotting players), someone tried to hold the door as the Vultures came running back screaming, two living statues in slow pursuit.

So, after a couple hours, the party hadn’t made any geographic headway and lost a few level one characters and had a few higher level characters sustain some pretty crippling permanent injuries, so we have a lame, 1-eyed thief (movement halved, no dex bonus, -4 on all ranged attacks) and a cleric with a shattered arm (-2 on all rolls requiring use of the right hand), but at least they ended up with nearly 9K XP to split between them.

The Polymar was probably the toughest thing they’ve fought, and may well be one of the toughest monsters in the top half of the dungeon.  With 10 Hit Dice and 3 attacks, it’s nearly guaranteed to hit at least once per round, probably twice, and very likely three times per target, meaning it takes between 1-2 rounds to kill a level 3 character before moving on to the next one.  The one saving grace is that it has AC of 9, so luckily the Vultures got enough hits on it with their hammers, else it would’ve been a TPK for sure.  The party really needed YOLO to tank for them, but that player is going to be out for the next couple of sessions.

I’m hoping that we’ll be able to wrap on The Lost City within the next session or two – Killing Darius is a pretty good stopping goal, and I’m ready to be done with this module.

*:How I do it is that I allow characters to suffer 1 grievous, permanent and crippling injury per level beyond the 1st instead of death.

Cirsova Issue #1 Free All This Week!

To celebrate reaching our initial Kickstarter Goal of $1000, we are offering free Amazon eBook copies Cirsova Issue #1 all this week (Monday through Friday).Cirsova Cover Small

If you missed out on the first issue and are just curious, now is a great time to check us out. If you like what you see, consider backing us on Kickstarter, and pre-ordering issue #2!

Don’t forget that both hardcovers and the Ku Kuru Yo variant covers are only being offered through this kickstarter!

Cover in progress 3 (Kukuruyo Art) Front Only.png


Magic: the Gathering Artwork – a Look at Some Old Favorites

One of the few things Anna Kreider and I have in common is we both find the art in Magic the Gathering rather disappointing. However, whilst Wundergeek’s complaints largely revolve around boob plates and the elves being too sexy, my gripe is the artistic shift away from the iconic art styles that defined MTG during its 90s heyday.

Before his death, Quinton Hoover, one of the artists who, perhaps more than any other with the exception of Douglas Schuler, shaped the aesthetic and implied setting of MTG, remarked that one of the reasons why he was out was that by the 00s, the art directors just didn’t want the kind of fantasy art he was known for and he couldn’t conform his style to the sort of art they did want.

The art was still pretty solid by the time I had quit regularly playing and collecting(late 1999), and not all of the stuff I’ve seen since was bad, but I’d noticed that there was definitely a shift that had started going on in Rath and Urza that struck me as being stylistic forerunner of the typical Wizards of the Coast fantasy art that you see all over the place these days. But rather than complain about the new art, I’d like to show a few of my favorite examples of the classic art.


Quinton Hoover’s clean line-art was second to none.  Even so-so cards like this one became icon parts of MTG because of Hover’s art.


Another classic Hoover common.


A card whose endless popularity has nothing to do with how good it is.

pixie queen

I promise, Hoover illustrated cards that didn’t suck, but even the ones that did, his art made them worth holding onto.

uholy strength

All censoring this card did was send us kids to the dime boxes to buy up as many of the older versions as we could when we found out we’d been cheated out of burning pentagram.


But Schuler was someone who knew that evil existed and could be vanquished by good.  Only thing that would make this better would be a Teutonic Eagle.


I also dug this Joan of Arc-ish piece; these found their way into a lot of my white decks.


Never neglect your education.


Of course, his Serra Angel is perhaps one of the most iconic images in all of MTG.


Whoa, hey, a thing is happening here!  Betcha the squeamish Pathfinder feminists aren’t happy about this lady character or the lady who illustrated her, but man, don’t you want to know more about this character whose story this card gives you a tiny window into?!  Baroh’s a mixed bag, but I do like a lot of her stuff.


Though Rebecca Guay often goes for a hazy feel in her water-colors, all of her line-work is incredibly strong and solid.


This was one of my all time favorites.  It was a mediocre card in its day and even just a couple years of power creep later rendered it beyond bad, but man, who would not want to read half a dozen short stories about this lady!?  Really, the early MTG flash fiction was a bigger selling point for me than the game itself.


The Zanti Misfits

In the classic 1963 episode of The Outer Limits, “The Zanti Misfits”, an alien race has decided to send its criminals to Earth, more specifically the US. The Zanti’s instructions are not to interfere, allow the criminals into the US and to respect their privacy or face the consequences.


The really scary part of this episode is the US government’s acquiescence to this hostile external power, how cowed they are, how they do not dare risk offending the obviously intelligent and peaceful Zanti, and when things go wrong and people start dying, it’s obviously our fault for not respecting the Zanti and doing what they say. The US Government are, rather than willing to protect its citizens from an external threat, complicit in allowing dangerous and hostile aliens into the country.



Eventually, they are given no choice but to kill the Zanti Misfits, but they certainly could’ve avoided the loss of US life by blasting the Zanti out of the sky before they landed.

Anyway, I thought this episode was worth commenting on as I’ve noticed that a lot of the non-comedic, non-sword & planet pulp SF I’ve read lately more closely resembles Outer Limits than other filmed SF I’ve seen, and Outer Limits is one of the few bits of filmed sci-fi that does justice to written sci-fi. It treats its stories with the degree of seriousness and effort that was given to the non SF pulp genres in classic film. Of course, the Cold War bleakness I’m beginning to see in late 40s written SF is apparent in Outer Limits in spades, so you’ll see more like The Ordeal in Space or The Venus Evil than Beer-Trust Busters or Grifters’ Asteroid. I still don’t know that you’d ever be able to dig up anything film-wise from the black and white era like the detective noir sci-fi Red Witch of Mercury, but Outer Limits holds up, especially if you’re a fan of written pulp sci-fi.

One More Cirsova Review!

This time from Anders Leser:

Jeg er egentlig veldig positivt overrasket. Som oftest er det en miks av gode og dårlige fortellinger i enhver novellesamling, men her syntes jeg at samtlige var veldig bra. De har alle den herlige pulp-følelsen. Historier med spennende eventyr hvor realisme ikke er så nøye så lenge det er gøy lesning. Anbefaler dere å prøve ut dette litteraturbladet. Dere finner det på Amazon, og sikkert andre steder også.


I am really very pleasantly surprised. Normally there is a mix of good and bad stories in any collection of short stories, but here I thought that all was very good. They have all the glorious pulp-feeling. Stories of exciting adventure where realism is not as carefully as long as it’s fun reading. Recommend you to try out this literature magazine. You can find it on Amazon, and probably other places too.