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.


Hey, Book Bloggers & Reviewers!

If you’ve reviewed an issue of or stories in Cirsova, let us know and we’ll share your site and review!  If you give us something really pull-quote-worthy, you may end up on our dust-jacket flaps or Amazon Reviews section.

If you’d like a copy of Cirsova for review, let us know in the comments and we will hook you up


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.



Short Review & Wargame Roundup

You may have noticed that I haven’t been making my Short Reviews or Wargame posts here lately.  If you didn’t already know that you could find them at the Castalia House blog, you know now.  If you’re only following me here, this is what you may have missed:







Today, my first of two pieces on Avalon Hill’s War and Peace is up:  http://www.castaliahouse.com/avalon-hill-war-and-peace/

Later this week, I’ll be digging into some Retro Fandom, sharing a few highlights from the letters section of the Fall 1945 issue of Planet Stories.  What do I have in common with Algis Budrys?  We both want more Albert de Pina!

Cheap Advertising in Cirsova Issue One

Well, Cirsova just funded in about two days, which is awesome!

Thanks to everyone who spread the word, but there’s still work to be done.

I don’t want the first issue to be full of place-holders, “Your Ad Here!” images or, god forbid, dead space.  So if you’d like to get your name out there in something that is looking to be the premier science fiction magazine of 2016, consider a pledge for one of the following:

$25 gets you a 250 character Text Ad and a copy of the magazine.  This would be a great way to advertise your blog, a webstore, or heck, even put out a call for play-by-mail friends!

$65 will get you a 1/4 page image advertisement.  Great for advertising your games, books or website!  You’ll also get 5 copies of the magazine to show off your print ad.

$85 gets you a 1/2 page image ad and 5 copies of the magazine.  We’ve only got a few of these, so grab them quick!

$150 gets you the back cover advertisement.  Needless to say, there’s only one of these up for grabs, but it will also come with 5 copies of the magazine.


Life has gotten so busy! (Updates & more Updates)

I feel like I hardly have time to blog anymore, because I’m working on so many cool things, but I’m sure that it’s just all in my head; I’ve got plenty of time and plenty of things to blog about!

This week, I need to take a look at Magic in DCC. There are two prevalent opinions on the subject: either it is awesome or it is a headache.  I’m beginning to think it’s a little of both.

On Friday, I got a pre-proof copy in of Cirsova Issue 1.  It looks phenomenal.  If I weren’t such a Luddite that I didn’t have a smart phone or a digital camera, I’d post all sorts of selfies with it.  Well, that’s a lie.  Even if I had a camera, I would not be posting selfies.  And a photo isn’t going to really capture how awesome thing looks any better than the decent res image I already posted.  In short, it is dangerously close to go time.

I’m going to be trying to create a surplus queue of Short Reviews.  That way, if I’m feeling lazy or just want to read novels for a bit instead of short fiction, I won’t be all “Oh, no, no time to read Dying Earth, I’m on a deadline!”  My first since the series has moved to Castalia House can be found here.

Jeffro has a review of Torchship up.  The interview I’m doing with Torchship author Karl Gallagher should be up in about a week and a half.

Next Saturday, new Medicide album Supernova Black is officially released.

Welcome to the New Year!

Things may be slow again this week as I try to catch up and get on top of all of these new developments, so please bear with me.

I have received the final art file for Cirsova Issue #1. It looks freaking gorgeous (a bit like a Jeff Jones, according to Schuyler Hernstrom), and I’ve got the proof layout file done and uploaded. I will be getting back a first proof (sans advertisements) soon; if it looks good, the Kickstarter will go live and this will be a thing.

Cirsova Cover Small

This is just my first stab and subject to change based on how the print copy looks. 

In the coming days, I will be interviewing Karl Gallagher, the author of the truly amazing Sci-Fi adventure novel “Torchship”.

More and more gaming coming up. Plus, I’ve been invited to expand my role as a blogger at Castalia House to help Jeffro Johnson, new Blogging Editor over there, achieve his goal of making CH ‘the best and most popular SF/F and gaming blog’, so expect some of my content to pop up over there as well.

Also, I’m less than 100 pages into the Dying Earth Omnibus and can say with a fair bit of certainty that the aesthetic and tropes of modern fantasy owe as much, if not far more, to Jack Vance as to Tolkien. Now I’m going to be spending days wracking my brain over what recent fantasy story/movie I’ve read/seen within the last year that also involved a character being hit with a control magic spell and being ‘cured’ by being told ‘I command you to act as you would normally act’. I’m thinking Stardust, but I’m not 100% certain.

End of the Year Roundup

Man, what a freaking year!

Cirsova saw its traffic almost double for the year.  I’ve built a respectable collection of pulp magazines and sci-fi paperbacks and had plenty to blog about.  This year saw the launch of two new series, board gaming and Short Reviews, both of which have been incredibly popular, and I’ve been invited to do guest blogging on war games.  Cirsova had an interview with Agness Kaku and a guest post from Matthew Ryan.  Cirsova was featured multiple times on Dyvers’ Best Reads.  Cirsova is well on its way to having its own semi-pro sci-fi zine with some truly amazing contributors.  AND Cirsova got named the number 1 gaming blog of 2015!

I’ll pour out a virtual 40 for the homies who have gone away, stopped blogging or moved to other websites.  Also, I never realized how much I’d miss the RPGBA until it was gone.

Tonight, my dad & I take on Malta.  Over the weekend, I finish Karl Gallagher’s Torchship.  It’s amazing.  Buy it.  BUY IT!!!!!!!

An awesome dude from BGG sent me rules for Flat Top (the copy I bought was missing the rules!), so I may get to try that one out after all.

So, I guess this is a good time to do a “Best of 2015” round-up.  If I wanted to show people what Cirsova was all about in 2015 in just five posts (a difficult feat!), I’d have to go with these:






Here’s a bonus.  I only did about three of these really image-heavy posts (the others featuring the ‘Batman in Peril’ covers and the ‘Female characters re-imagined’) but this was probably my favorite,.


Even the spambots are pissed at me!

Normally, spambots are all “Great website!  I enjoy the insightful thoughts which you have shared on this topic.  I too have many thoughts in regards to the subject about which you are blogging.  I look forward to reading more of your thoughts on this topic” on posts, even when (and especially when) it’s just a standalone art or music post.

My post on Lauren Panepinto’s io9 article, however, got the following response, the likes of which I have NEVER seen a spambot leave:

Next time I read a blog, I hope that it won’t disappoint me just
as much as this particular one. After all, I know it was my
choice to read, nonetheless I genuinely thought you would have something useful to say.
All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something you could fix if
you were not too busy seeking attention.

Comedy… Gold…

Anyway, later today I should have up my review of PROJECT.

Brief thoughts on the Critical Grumble Blog Fiasco

Critical Grumble is not much of a blog, but from what I always gathered, was just one guy sharing articles he liked and wanted to save for himself and share with his players. I’d found out that some of my content had been copied over there (other older stuff has been deleted within the last few hours) and never said anything about it, because I figured it was something like what Alex Schroeder did with (I think it was called) RPGWorld, where he aggregated and reshared content from OSR blogs. Well, Alex got called on it too, and it was a headache for him, so he pulled it down. I never got the traffic from Critical Grumble that I did from RPGWorld, but so far as I remember, the posts of mine that Critical Grumble shared included links to the original page. After looking at his blog, I kind of understood what he was doing and never thought anything about it. Apparently starting back in July of this year, whatever he was doing to share content recently was either not properly attributing stuff or he was just text dumping, which got him in trouble. He seems to have been in touch with a lot of the bloggers whose content he shared, so things may be getting straightened out.

Personally, I’m more hurt that I don’t have a rabid enough fan base to have let me known about it.

Between this recent issue with Critical Grumble and what Alex Schroeder went through with RPGWorld (or was it RPGPlanet?), one of the main lessons to be learned is that if you’re going to try to be a content aggregator, you’re going to need to do it carefully and responsibly, or you’re going to be in for a world of hurt when people find that you’ve been sharing their content.