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The Twelve Books of Christmas: Part Six

December 18, 2018 11 comments

My sixth book of Christmas is the third title I wrote for the Dark Osprey line. Knights Templar: A Secret History was actually my first contribution to that series.

Templars cover

I first read The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail back in the 80s, and I was amused when The Da Vinci Code turned the same basic story into a blockbuster success. I had a lot of fun chasing the Templars through a maze of history, rumour, conspiracy theory, and wild speculation, and I crafted the device of Dr. Emile Fouchet as an overarching structure to hold everything together, and create a fiction within which everything – absolutely everything – was true. I have since been approached a couple of times by people wanting to get their hands on Fouchet’s research, which I take as a sign that my fiction was a successful one!

Here is what some reviewers said about the book:

“It all makes for a fascinating read, and like the best fiction, leaves that nagging thought that it just might be true.”
– RPGNow.com

“…the most interesting retelling of the Knights Templar history I’ve seen …  this is the first time that I’ve seen the dots connected so flawlessly.”
– Weirdmage’s Reviews

…and here’s a link to the book’s page on Osprey’s web site. It is available in paperback, ePub, and PDF formats.

Tomorrow, and every day until Christmas, I will be covering another title. If you’re not done with your Christmas shopping, or if you are expecting to receive some gift tokens, take a look: you might find something you like.

Click here for Part One: Colonial Horrors.

Click here for Part Two: Nazi Moonbase.

Click here for Part Three: Werewolves – A Hunter’s Guide.

Click here for Part Four: Theseus and the Minotaur.

Click here for Part Five: The New Hero, vol. 1.

Click here for Part Seven: The Lion and the Aardvark.

Click here for Part Eight: Thor – Viking God of Thunder.

Click here for Part Nine: Tales of the Frozen City.

Click here for Part Ten: Blood and Honor.

Click here for Part Eleven: The Dirge of Reason.

Click here for Part Twelve: More Deadly than the Male.

The Twelve Books of Christmas: Part Five

December 17, 2018 11 comments

Continuing to showcase some books from the My Books page in the run-up to Christmas , here is an excellent but overlooked anthology to which I contributed a few years back: The New Hero, volume 1 from Stone Skin Press.

NewHeroCoverBLOGSIZE

If you haven’t heard of Stone Skin Press, allow me to recommend them. Their anthologies of fantasy, science fiction, and general adventure stories are intriguingly concepted, well-written, and lovingly curated. Creatively, they are yet another feather in the cap of gaming and fiction luminary Robin D. Laws; commercially, they deserve much, much better exposure than they have achieved so far.

In addition to the two volumes of The New Hero, Stone Skin Press has published Swords vs. Cthulhu; Shotguns vs. Cthulhu; The New Gothic; Gods, Memes, and Monsters; and most recently, #Feminism. Their web site can be found here.

The concept of The New Hero is the iconic hero, a trope that has received little love in recent years. Hollywood prefers the dramatic hero, whose journey can form the storyline of a movie – which is why so many superhero movies were origin stories, until Marvel got into the game – while the iconic hero takes the stage fully-formed, and instead of being changed by the world, remains true to him (or her) self and strives to change the world for the better. This is the hero of the pulps, of noir, and of comics: Batman rather than Luke Skywalker, and Conan rather than Frodo.

Since I am so well known for fantasy and horror, the offer of a spot in The New Hero offered me the chance to spread my wings a little – both figuratively and literarily (see what I did there?). As an airline brat and a lifelong vintage aviation geek, I have always loved the air adventures of the inter-war pulps, as well as earlier air adventures like Jules Verne’s Robur novels.

Eschewing magic and super-science – but allowing myself a dose of dieselpunk and a slightly loose hand with historical technology – I created a straight-ahead airpulp yarn called “Against the Air Pirates,” in which two-fisted aviator Mike Finnegan takes on a rogue German zeppelin in the Pacific of the mid-20s. I pitched it as “Disney’s Tale Spin written by Robert E. Howard.” It was a lot of fun channeling the spirit of old movies like Only Angels Have Wings and Flying Tigers, and I hope to write some more of Finnegan’s adventures someday.

Beside my modest contribution, the two volumes of The New Hero include the work of twenty-six other authors. Some names will be familiar to fans of modern fantasy and horror; more, like mine, will be familiar to tabletop gamers.

The covers, by Gene Ha, deserve a special mention. The cover for volume 1 is drawn in the style of Attic red-figure pottery from Classical Greece, which often included heroic scenes from mythology; the cover for volume 2 is reminiscent of a Japanese story scroll. Both feature vignettes showing the heroes from every single story in the book: if you look at the image above, you will find Mike Finnegan right above the word “Hero,” engaged in a desperate duel against the zeppelin’s captain.  Every time you read a story, you’ll find yourself searching for its hero on the cover.

Here’s what one reviewer had to say:

“This isn’t just a collection of short stories, it is a thoughtful analysis of what it means to be a hero, what a hero actually is. … Read these tales. They’ll give you more than the mere entertainment of well-crafted stories, they’ll give you something to think about.”

– RPGNow.com

…and the book’s page on the Stone Skin Press web site is here. Links to various online retailers can be found on the My Books page.

Tomorrow, and every day until Christmas, I will be covering another title. If you’re not done with your Christmas shopping, or if you are expecting to receive some gift tokens, take a look: you might find something you like.

Click here for Part One: Colonial Horrors.

Click here for Part Two: Nazi Moonbase.

Click here for Part Three: Werewolves – A Hunter’s Guide.

Click here for Part Four: Theseus and the Minotaur.

Click here for Part Six: Knights Templar – A Secret History.

Click here for Part Seven: The Lion and the Aardvark.

Click here for Part Eight: Thor – Viking God of Thunder.

Click here for Part Nine: Tales of the Frozen City.

Click here for Part Ten: Blood and Honor.

Click here for Part Eleven: The Dirge of Reason.

Click here for Part Twelve: More Deadly than the Male.

 

The Twelve Books of Christmas: Part Two

December 14, 2018 11 comments

In the run-up to Christmas, I will be talking about twelve of my books that might make good last-minute gifts for gamer and geek friends – or for yourself, if you are expecting some gift tokens. Details of all these books, including links to various online retailers, can be found on the My Books page.

I wrote Nazi Moonbase for Osprey’s excellent Dark Osprey line, which also includes Ken Hite’s The Nazi Occult and a couple of other titles of mine that touch upon Weird War II. The main Dark Osprey page can be found here.

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To write the book, I collected every Nazi superscience conspiracy theory I could find online, added a few details from movies like Iron Sky and games like Castle Wolfenstein, and created an overarching narrative that links everything together. My intention was to create an entertaining read for history and conspiracy buffs, and a coherent setting that could be used for strategy and roleplaying games set anywhere from 1945 to the near future. As well as Nazi UFOs, foo fighters, and zero-point power sources, you will find orbital mirror weapons, lunar drone strikes, and an explanation for mysterious light sources observed on the moon since the 1960s.

As one would expect from an Osprey publication, the book is packed full of historical (and not-so-historical) illustrations, including some gorgeous paintings by Singapore-based artist Darren Tan, who also illustrated The Nazi Occult. Here is what some critics have to say:

“I have to say that the author has done a superb job of melding events of the time with some rather fanciful, but fascinating fiction. It is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading and give it my highest recommendation.” – Modeling Madness

“I highly recommend this book as it gives some great ideas for what if models and with the detailed illustrations give you great information for potential dioramas.” – IPMS

…and here is a link to the book’s page on Osprey’s web site. It is available in paperback, ePub, and PDF formats.

I would never downplay the evil of Nazism or the horrors perpetrated by the Third Reich, but one has to admit, they do make the perfect bad guys for a story or game. Mel Brooks once said that his mission was to ensure that no one took Nazis seriously ever again, and I see their reduction to a pop-culture trope, fueled by over-the-top conspiracy theories, as part of the same process. Your mileage may vary.

Tomorrow, and every day until Christmas, I will be covering another title. If you’re not done with your Christmas shopping, or if you are expecting to receive some gift tokens, take a look: you might find something you like.

Click here for Part One: Colonial Horrors.

Click here for Part Three: Werewolves – A Hunter’s Guide.

Click here for Part Four: Theseus and the Minotaur.

Click here for Part Five: The New Hero, vol. 1.

Click here for Part Six: Knights Templar – A Secret History.

Click here for Part Seven: The Lion and the Aardvark.

Click here for Part Eight: Thor – Viking God of Thunder.

Click here for Part Nine: Tales of the Frozen City.

Click here for Part Ten: Blood and Honor.

Click here for Part Eleven: The Dirge of Reason.

Click here for Part Twelve: More Deadly than the Male.

 

 

 

Colonial Horrors: Denver Life Interview and Appearances

October 9, 2017 2 comments

Hanna Smith of Denver Life magazine recently interviewed me about Colonial Horrors. You can find the interview here.

I’ll be at The Bookies bookstore in Denver on October 29th for a reading and signing. It’s at , a block east of South Colorado Boulevard: I’ll be there from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm.

Halloween night I will be reading and signing at Denver’s famous Tattered Cover bookstore in LoDo. The address is 1628 16th Street (at Wynkoop), and I will be there from 7:00 pm.

I will be updating this post with more information, link, and reviews as they become available.

If you aren’t in Denver, you can find the book at your favorite bookstore or e-tailer. I have posted some links on the My Books page.

 

Free!

June 28, 2017 1 comment

free

Everybody likes something that’s free – so here are some links to free and try-before-you-buy deals on some of my books and articles.

Freebies

My Freebies page has a lot of free downloads and links to old articles of mine that are still available on other sites. People seem especially fond of my AD&D articles from the 1980s.

Blood and Honor cover

Amazon is offering a free audiobook of my D&D novel Blood and Honor from 2006 as part of the trial offer for their Audible service. I beat out 1,000 other entrants in an open call to win the contract for this book, set in the then-new Eberron fantasy-pulp-noir setting designed by my friend Keith Baker. Keith is also the designer of the hit card game Gloom and the new RPG Phoenix: Dawn Command. I am hoping to have him as a guest on the blog some time in the next few weeks, so watch this space.

Osprey covers

Also on Amazon, the pages for my Osprey Adventures and Dark Osprey books now have “Look Inside” links and free samples for the Kindle. The “Look Inside” links are above the cover shot:

Thor: Viking God of Thunder

Theseus and the Minotaur

Knights Templar: A Secret History

Werewolves: A Hunter’s Guide

Nazi Moonbase

For the Kindle samples, go to the book’s page on the Kindle store and select “Try a Sample.”

I hope you enjoy your free reading, and I hope you’re intrigued enough to buy the books! If Amazon is not your e-tailer of choice, I’ve included links to other vendors on my My Books page.

2016: The Year in (belated) Review

March 10, 2017 Leave a comment

Here it is, March already. How did that happen?

While a lot of the most popular posts on this blog are about the old days (and especially my Games Workshop days), I also like to keep readers up to date with what I’m doing now – so go to My Books and BUY! BUY! BUY!

Ahem.

Anyway, here’s a brief look at what came out in 2016.

GAMES AND BOOKS

Dawnbringer
Danish game developer Kiloo is best known for their hit mobile game Subway Surfers. They hired me to help develop the setting and characters for this high fantasy swipe-and-slash game for iOS and Android. You play a fallen angel battling demons in a ruined world, and searching for redemption along the way.
Kiloo’s Dawnbringer page
My earlier post about Dawnbringer

Of Gods and Mortals: Celts
The first army supplement for Andrea Sfiligoi’s mythological skirmish game, and yet another chapter in my ongoing love affair with Celtic history and myth.
Ganesha Games’ Of Gods and Mortals page
My earlier post about Of Gods and Mortals: Celts

The Investigators of Arkham Horror
I contributed five stories to this gorgeously-presented collection based on Fantasy Flight’s acclaimed Cthulhu Mythos boardgame.
Fantasy Flight Games’ page
My earlier post about The Investigators of Arkham Horror

Nazi Moonbase
All the Nazi super-science conspiracy theories I could find, collected and wrapped up in a unifying narrative that also explains the urgency behind the Cold War space race.
Osprey Publishing’s Nazi Moonbase page
My earlier post about Nazi Moonbase

Cthulhu Confidential
I edited the text of Robin Laws’ thought-provoking solo Cthulhupulp game, where the Mythos is arguably the least of the horrors.
Pelgrane Press’ Cthulhu Confidential page

 

ARTICLES

Pyramid 3/92: Zombies
I contributed “The Viking Dead” on Icelandic draugur and haugbui, as well as a systemless look at several varieties of “Indian Ghouls.”
Buy it here

Pyramid 3/87: Low-Tech III
“Tempered Punks” contains some systemless advice for dealing with gadget-happy players whose modern knowledge wrings unbalancing power from old-time technology.
Buy it here

Fenix, Kickstarter special edition
I contributed a systemless article titled “Mummies: A New Approach” to support this bilingual Swedish-English roleplaying magazine. It includes seven mummy sub-types based on the ancient Egyptian multiple-soul concept, along with descriptions of ancient Egyptian mummy amulets with powers to affect both the living and the undead.
Fenix Kickstarter page

Fenix #6/2016
My Call of Cthulhu adventure “Spirit of the Mountain” takes the investigators into the Wild West.
Fenix back issues page

Fenix #2/2016
“La Llorona” discusses the famous Southwestern ghost, with notes for Speltidningen’s Western RPG. I’m told that an English-language edition of Western is in the works: I’ll have more to say about that in the future.
Fenix back issues page

Aviation History, September 2016
I indulge my love of vintage aviation with “Aussie Battler,” tracing the rushed, post-Pearl-Harbor development and surprising career of Australia’s home-grown (and largely improvised) CAC Boomerang fighter.
Aviation History magazine

Freebies
I posted a couple of new pieces in 2016, including “Converting Between Call of Cthulhu and Colonial Gothic” (which does exactly what it says on the tin) and “A Green, Unpleasant Land,” which presents some previously-unpublished British Call of Cthulhu adventure seeds I wrote in early 1986 for Games Workshop’s supplement of a similar name.
Go to the Freebies page

 

 

Announcing Dawnbringer

June 16, 2016 1 comment

dawnbringer-splash

One of the more frustrating aspects of my profession is the fact that I can’t generally talk about what I’m working on until the final product is released, months or even years after my work has finished. My work on Dawnbringer ended back in August of last year, and since then the development team at Kiloo has been working very hard to bring the game over the finish line. Today, I received an email telling me that they have succeeded.

I started work on Dawnbringer almost three years ago. It all started with an email from Jeppe Bisberg, their vice-president of production, who had seen my profile on LinkedIn and remembered some of my past work. The basic story and gameplay concepts for Dawnbringer were already in place, and Jeppe was looking for an English-language writer to help develop the story, characters, and setting, and ultimately to write the quest and dialogue text.

Over the next two years, I worked very closely with the development team in Aarhus, Denmark via email and Skype. Coincidentally, I had visited the city many years ago, as a student on a Viking archaeology fieldtrip: I had fond memories of the place from that trip, many of which involved Carlsberg and aquavit consumed in dark and cosy bars.

Because of my work on Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, I am mainly known as a writer of dark and gritty fantasy. Dawnbringer is at the other end of the spectrum: a mythic fantasy where the player takes the role of an angelic being fighting to save a demon-infested world and his own fallen brother.

Centuries ago, a force known only as Corruption infected the world like a supernatural pollution. It was only held at bay by the sacrifice of the Guardians, who used their own life-force to power a magical shield. Pride and ambition led to their fall, and invading demons tore their bodies apart and scattered the pieces across the land.

One of the hero’s tasks is to recover the parts and re-assemble the Guardians’ bodies on their thrones so that their tower can protect the land once again. Another is to save his brother from the clutches of Corruption, which takes over more of his body and mind as the game progresses.

unnamed

Along the way, the hero explores various kinds of terrain and encounters an endless supply of demons of different tribes, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. There are treasures to recover, ingredients to gather, life-saving potions to brew, and gear to craft and upgrade before the blighted world of Mourngard can be saved – and as he works to do that, the hero must also learn a few things about compassion, duty, and the worth of lesser beings.

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Dawnbringer is available now in the Google Play and iTunes stores. Like many mobile games it operates on a freemium model, which means you can try it for free and decide how much money – if any – you want to put into it. I hope you’ll give it a try.

 

 

To learn more, click on the following links:

Cinematic Trailer (2:00)

Launch Trailer (1:24)

Gameplay Trailer (0:42)

Gameplay Demo, Part 1 (11:51)

Gameplay Demo, Part 2 (45:59)