A Special Message to the OSR & Gaming Community

Kickstarters have been a staple in the OSR and Game Blogging community since well before I became a member. Crowdfunding has been used as a platform for countless bloggers and game devs to get everything from their latest module & supplements to their complete fantasy heartbreakers off the ground and into people’s hands. Even big name publishers have been using it as a tool to get new projects and new printings funded with quick investment capital.

There is, however, a downside that has been seen all too often in our community. It seems like much of the content at Tenkar’s Tavern over the years I’ve been following him has been a litany of failed and delayed Kickstarters. Sometimes life got in the way, other times dishonest folks took the money and ran. Even great companies with established track-records for success sometimes bite off more than they can chew, resulting in some pretty significant delays. The Skinny DM had an excellent article on the situation with Goodman Game’s DCC 4th printing Kickstarter which, despite my fondness for Goodman Games, I absolutely agree with.

So, why do I think you should back our Kickstarter?

A Proven Track Records – In 2016, Cirsova ran 3 successful Kickstarters – one for our first issue, one for our second issue, and one for our third and fourth issues. In all three cases, backers received their rewards almost immediately* after the money cleared through Kickstarter and Amazon Payments. There may have been one or two individual hiccups or items lost or damaged in the post, but I am confident that anyone you’d ask would say that we resolved all issues as quickly and satisfactorily as possible.

We Are Gamers – Before we started the magazine, Cirsova  was a gaming blog. We came out of the RPG Blog Alliance and the OSR community. Many of our contributors are fellow gamers, and the stories we all love and that shape our content are the same stories that shaped our games. Many of the stories we publish are the kind that could be run as a one-off adventure with nothing more than a couple of stat blocs; in fact, that’s almost an unspoken acceptance criteria!

We Exist to Support Writers – More than anything else, Cirsova exists as a Semi-Pro Market to support writers of exciting fiction. There are people out there still writing stories in the vein of Burroughs, Brackett, and Vance, but they need places to sell and publish their stories. Many of the big-name magazines and publishing houses are simply not interested in the kind of adventure fiction that inspired the games so beloved in the OSR. By supporting Cirsova, you allow us to stay open as a market for these writers and to continue paying in the $75-$100 range for short fiction.

Please consider checking out our Kickstarter. It costs only $1 to get both of our 2017 issues**, if you’re just curious. You have to admit, that’s hard to beat. We also offer softcover and hardcover editions of our magazine.

If you have a gamebook, module or other product coming out, or even if you just want to get word out about your blog, consider supporting us with some advertising space. In 2016, we had over a hundred subscribers and ended up selling over 500 copies of our magazine.

*:Needless to say, they received the winter issue when it came out, rather than in September when the money cleared and we sent the fall issue.

**:PDF and eBook.

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Interview With Jon Del Arroz, Jeffro on Geek Gab, and Cirsova Line Art

Not long after our interview with Chris Lansdown, we also spoke with Jon Del Arroz about Cirsova’s background as an RPG setting and the types of stories Cirsova publishes and is looking for.  You can read it here.

Also over the weekend, Jeffro Johnson, one of our regular columnists and the author of the bestselling Appendix N: The Literary History of Dungeons & Dragons, was on Geek Gab.

Finally, I took a minute to snap the line-art that Ben Rodriguez sent for our Eldritch Earth cover.

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Should I have put this up on the chopping block? Probably, but I wanted to actually own an original piece of Cirsova artwork, at least for a little while.

Please consider backing us on Kickstarter! Only $1 gets you a digital subscription to our 2017 issues.

Jeffro Johnson’s Appendix N: The Literary History of Dungeons & Dragons is Out Now

I’m a bit late to the party on blogging this here, but hopefully devoting several posts over the past couple of years to the work he’s done on this can excuse my tardiness.

appendix-n-coverIf you’re like me and holding out for the paperback, I hear it’s coming soon (next month or so). If you’re cool with e-Reader stuff, go ahead and drop some coin on this now.

I could go on at extreme lengths as to why this book is important, how it brought the Appendix N gospel out of the hands of the OSR and discussions on ‘purity of D&D’ into the broader Science Fiction and Fantasy community, rediscovering and evangelizing treasures that were lost from public conscious due to changes in publishing practices and the retail market.

This project is one of two of the most important external factors on Cirsova being where it is and what it is. James Hutchings’s Age of Fable game brought me into the OSR and blogging, and Jeffro’s Appendix N series led me to start a magazine.

You really need to check this out.

Swords of Steel Vol 1.

Some of you may have seen advertisements in Cirsova for an anthology series called Swords of Steel. Well, if you enjoy Cirsova, I strongly recommend checking them out, and I’m not just saying that because they’ve advertised with us (but disclaimer, they have advertised with us; I was sent digital review copies of volumes 1 & 2, but also bought a physical copy of 1 and now intend to buy a physical copy of volume 2. Also, Howie K. Bentley is a Cirsova contributor with a short story, …Where There is No Sanctuary, in Cirsova #4.)

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The anthology specifically invokes Andrew J. Offutt’s Swords Against Darkness anthologies, as well as other Appendix N authors, in the introduction. Does it stack up? Well, to be honest, I haven’t gotten around to reading SAD yet, but I would say that this anthology is well worth your time, especially if you’re a fan of Cirsova’s Sword & Sorcery pieces.

I realized that I said SoS was “the real deal” in no less than 4 separate tweets. Sounds kinda canned, but no, this is really good. If you’re wary of promises of sword & sorcery goodness that have let you down in the past, fear not, because this anthology delivers.

Some of it is a bit darker and more grisly than what you’d typically find in Cirsova, but most of the stories are of the caliber and quality I’d be more than happy to have in my anthologies. Dave Ritzlin has done a fantastic job with this. It’s an annual anthology, so you should have no trouble keeping up.

The concept behind the anthology series is short fiction by extreme metal musicians, so I have tried to accompany each piece with a sample track from the associated band when I could find it.

Note that I’m excluding the poetry selections not because they aren’t good poems but because I don’t feel qualified to comment on them beyond saying “Yeah, that was pretty metal”, and poetry is such a subjective thing that folks who don’t like it will not be swayed and those who do like it may for certain particulars I would not be able to convey in brief.

Into the Dawn of Storms – Byron A. Roberts

The first piece is actually the first chapter of novel/novella. I have mixed feelings about chapters and excerpts either presented as a standalone story or as a serial, and this piece does not really stand on its own – it’s setting and atmosphere framing a prose poem which points in the direction that the story will eventually go. That said, I enjoyed it well enough that I would like to eventually read the book in its entirety, either serialized in Swords of Steel or as a standalone volume.

The Riddle Master – E.C. Hellwell

The Riddle Master was kind of the odd story out in this collection, as more of a gothic horror than a Sword and Sorcery story. It tells a time-worn tale of the devil’s promise to grant earthly desires to cocky and overconfident artist, but it does so in such a wonderfully atmospheric manner that it’s fun to see it hit each beat as you see them coming. This was probably one of my favorite stories in the anthology.

Also, prog rock doom metal? How freaking awesome is that! Of the bands, this guy’s is probably my favorite as well.

The Mirror Beguiling – James Ashbey

Sometimes if you can add enough flourish and weird, even a story about a simple fetch-quest going awry with some twists and turns can be a lot of fun. I’d happily read more adventures of Ruga Hawkshand if there are any more of them.

All Will Be Righted on Samhain – Howie K. Bentley and David C. Smith

One of the longer pieces in Swords of Steel, this tells the story of Boadicea’s daughter seeking revenge on the Romans and summoning the Rune incarnate Thorn to punish those who raped her and defeated her mother. Incorporating a lot of pagan mysticism and the Wild Hunt, this was a very colorful story but also marked heavily by Bentley’s penchant for carnage and gore. If you can stomach it, it’s fascinating, but a bit extreme for my taste. Pretty sure it gave me nightmares.

Headbanging Warriors – M Harold Page

Interesting little non-fiction/essay/prose poem piece about the rhythm of battle.

Journey in Somnamblia – Jean-Pierre Abboud

Rogue magicians near a city powered by magic try to do something magical. This one showed some promise, but I feel like it did not really have a payoff.

Eve’s Grave – Scott Waldrop

There’s some beautiful and haunting imagery in this, but I don’t think I was in the right frame of mind to really enjoy it. I ended up skimming and skipping a bit in this lengthy prose poem which was vaguely reminiscent of Nick Cave and The Dirty Three’s Time Jesum Transeuntum et Non Riverentum.

Blue Mistress – Jeffrey Black

A guy on a ship fishes out a mermaid; the ship is attacked by a giant squid monster. While by most accounts, this was just an “okay” story, Black really captured the “weird” aspect of the mermaid queen in a way that you don’t see often.

Vengeance of the Insane God – Jason Tarpey

A wandering warrior arrives at a city founded by his ancestors to learn the art of smithing only to find that the king has gone mad and sold out the inhabitants to deep ones. While imperfect, this is one of the stories that I hope is part of an ongoing series or uses a recurring character. Plus, if next time I run a D&D game, I’m totally using the idea of forging swords using the ashes of ones ancestors; not only was it your father’s and your grandfather’s blade, but the carbon in the steel is their ashes, so the blade IS your father and grandfather!

This story is an expansion of this track. This is probably my favorite of the bands after Hellwell.

Donate Sci-fi to Children in Need

Here is an idea:

The Greenville Highschool/Indian Valley Academy has put out a call for books to help them expand their horribly out of date and under/un-funded library.

“I’m not asking for money. I’m asking for you to send a new book or film or cd to us to help us build a library we can be proud of. Just one book.”

Jeffro Johnson has just posted a list of links to Appendix N works on Amazon.com.

Now is your chance to put top notch fiction into the hands of children in need!