The Kingdom of Welandar… Almost Dead Before It Was Born.

Would you like to know where the world I’m using for Game Night came from?  Heh… Yeah, me, too.  All I can say is as a gamer and/or writer, DON’T throw anything away that “speaks” to you in any way.  It might just be worth something to you later…

About 25 years ago, I had an idea to create my own Dungeons & Dragons game world…

By that point I had been gaming for about a decade.  My favorite world to run, regardless of D&D edition, was Mystara.  It was the game world that the OD&D (the original boxed sets) game used.  There was so much great information about the world that had come in the form of a series of books called, “Gazeteers”.  They were published by TSR (the company that put D&D on the map) to support the OD&D game.

I had a great time using and re-using that game world for quite a few different campaigns and gaming groups.  While I was a fan of Forgotten Realms and I had played in a couple of Dragon Lance campaigns, I always circled back to Mystara.  I would work very hard to adapt the game world to whatever edition of D&D I was playing at the time.  From what I could tell, a good time was had by all.

Then I got a bug in my brain.  I wanted to have my own game world.  I wanted to write stories and create adventures in a world created the way I wanted it.  Though I lacked any real skill at doing so, I was motivated and began scribbling out ideas about a whole new fantasy world.

My world was a shotgun blast of different thoughts and notions about a world where magic existed.  Since I’m a “traditionalist”, the basic theme was classic fantasy “swords and sorcery” type stuff.  There were supposed to be dwarves, elves, orcs… the whole gambit of fantasy races.  And that’s how it began and started to evolve.

My progress was very slow.  I would make notes in a notebook whenever an idea popped up.  But I never pushed on it.  I let it remain a back burner thing.

Then I lost my notes.  I have no idea how I lost them.  I had moved a couple of times, so maybe they got lost or thrown away during all the activities involved in moving.  Nonetheless, I had lost my notes.  I don’t know if it was a big loss considering that I never got real sad or angry about it.  In fact, I just didn’t really care.  My ideas for it were just not something to which I had gotten attached. I have no idea why.

I had not lost everything, though.

At some point during my pursuit of a custom world I bought a sketch pad.  At some point after buying that sketch pad, I decided to try my hand at making a map of my world.  I got a hold of some colored pencils and a coffee can lid to use as a stencil for my world map.  I traced around the lid twice to create the two hemispheres.  I then lightly and carefully started drawing land masses.  Then came the colored pencils to add basic biomes to the land masses and color the oceans.

As I did this, the names of the continents came to me… Welandaria, Arcandara, Lucianius and Cantalus.  The world now had some color and terrain and a couple of names.

Then that map sat. I did not get rid of it despite several “opportunities” while cleaning things out.  Without the notes, I wasn’t sure if the map was worth anything to me, but for some reason, I held on to it.

A couple of years ago, I “found” the sketch pad in the back of a shelf underneath a stack of binders and notebooks containing years of accumulated gaming notes.  As soon as I opened the pad and saw that map, my brain sparked.

Again, I have not pushed to build a lot of detail… until recently.  I just would look at that map and then start writing down ideas for stories and characters.  It really didn’t get anywhere… until recently.

Now it’s the world in which my current D&D group plays.  I finally got that home brew game world I wanted.

The color and the depth of the world is certainly growing now.  I’ve created a couple of good maps using a piece of software called Campaign Cartographer.  I have a “few” notes again.  And the best thing I have is a few friends enjoying some adventures there.  I guess it’s my world, but it’s also theirs.  That’s what tabletop RPGs are all about.

Thanks for giving this a read.  Remember.  Inspiration is not something that always comes easily. So, hang on to it when you find it.

As always, if you like what you’ve read here, click the like button.  If you have a question or something you want to say to me or about what you’ve read, please, do so.  I welcome conversation and feedback.

Type to you later 😉

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Sorry for Being Idle

Business… laziness… not writing a blog when I’m near my computer…

Those are the reasons/excuses for no posts recently.  I’m sorry about that… mostly.  I think y’all get it, though.  I got busy with some things.  I got a little lazy over the past couple of days.  When I was at my computer before that, I was doing other things for better or worse. Who can tell?

I do have game night, session 4 in the pipe. We actually played a week ago this past Sunday.

I have another post about my game world in the works, too.  It’s about the world’s pantheon… and maybe more.  I wanted to put some more depth/color out there for my gamers and my readers.

I also got a “shiny new toy”.  I bought Campaign Cartographer.  For the first time in over 20 years, my hand sketched maps and mind’s eye for this world are finally becoming “real”. I’m making the maps of this world as something that looks like a map out of an actual published campaign… so awesome to me.  Needless to say, there have been some hours sunk into that as I learn the software and make my vision into something others can see (and use, in the case of my gaming group).  I’ll come up with a way for y’all to see it, too, if you want.

Anyway, just wanted to do a “drive-by” blogging to let y’all know that I ain’t quit <grin>. So the suffering will continue 😛

Catch y’all hopefully sooner than later 😉

42… What Does It Mean?

I just noticed that I now have 42 followers on this here blog thingy…

Y’all are gluttons for punishment or something 😉

Seriously… THANK YOU.  I very much appreciate it.  It feels good (ego boost or whatever) to know that there are some folks out there that have decided that the words I’ve banged out on my various keyboards are entertaining/interesting enough to want to hang around for more.  It is very rewarding to realize that some of what I’ve had rattling around in my head, and subsequently decided to release to the internet either, was deemed worth reading by some others.

It’s funny how there is a duality in my feelings toward this blog when it comes to having an audience.  I’ve said before that I do this for myself.  I stand behind that.  I also know that I’ve wished/hoped for having more readers.  Again, the reward to a writer is significant when he discovers there are folks out there interested in reading his stuff.  It’s very rewarding for me, anyway.

The feedback and conversation my blog has created is also very cool.  That reinforces further that I have an audience interested in what I’m writing.

I won’t deny having some pride, but I believe there is way more drive to do well for you when I write.  I’ve never been one that feels that I have to keep doing better all the time, but, rest assured, I do believe in improvement.  I’m saying that you folks make me want to maintain AND do better if I can.  That is a very positive thing to me.  Thanks.

I’ll stop gushing now.  Y’all followed because of some of the content I’ve put here, not just me going on about how good it feels to have an audience, right?  I’ll see what I can do 🙂

And, yes, I have a towel with me <geek grin>

Brain Clog?

Sometimes my mind does not want to focus on what it is I should be working.  Now is one of those times.  I should be working through my task as I sit here at my desk, but I’m a little tired and my mind just doesn’t want to wrap itself around the task at hand.  Why is that?  I’m obviously coherent and focused enough to be sitting here banging out these words on the keyboard.  I don’t dislike what it is I’m supposed to be doing at this moment.  I dunno…

Anyway,  I am tired.  I was awakened multiple times last night by a puppy that apparently had had enough sleep during the day yesterday.  He was less than pleased about being kept in his bed/crate for the night.  I’m tired…

I just nixed the page on this blog site that contained the first part of Mind the Shadows.  It’s a story I’ve been working on now and then for a few years now.  I found a couple of mistakes as I was looking at it, so I decided removal was the best course of action until such time I decide it’s worth fixing and putting back out here.

Besides, I never got a lot of feedback on it.  There are likely a couple of reasons for that…

The first reason was my naive presumption that I could create a page, mention that page in a couple of blog posts (a WHILE back) and simply get some “interactive traffic” there. Live and learn 🙂

The second reason was my lack of motivation/promotion for it.  It kind of ties into my lack of blog site experience.  The truth, though, is that I didn’t realize that I actually have to work to promote my work… go figure O_o  😉  Now that I’ve seen how folks like Dirty Sci-Fi Buddha (Kent Wayne) promote their literary works, I now know that I have to be more like that to get my stuff noticed and hopefully get some feedback.  I also welcome any advice on how to go about that and not lose followers.

Well enough of being off task for now… thanks for taking the time to stop by and give this a read 🙂

Mind the Shadows Scene

So, I did a little rework on a scene I wrote a while back that is meant to be part of Mind the Shadows.  I don’t think it’s completely reworked, and I know it’s NOT finished.  But I wanted to throw it up here for y’all to see.  I’d appreciate some feed back 🙂

I gestured at Vurp to get started.  He began working at the security sensor on the door.  I activated my stopwatch and took a steadying breath.  The adrenaline had started to flow.

Breathing and watching the clock was what kept me focused and level-headed in situations like that.  For Vurp, it was the work that kept him squared away.  He was all about solving the problem in front of him.  He was going to have plenty of problems to solve that night.

I glanced behind me – toward the other corner of the building, down the alley. Chance was there.  She was crouched near a line of dumpsters.  The only sign of her were the dim points of green light coming from her enhanced eyes. She had switched them to low-light mode. Tucked in the darkest recesses of the night, only by looking directly at her could anybody see that someone – or something – was hiding there.  She could have easily been mistaken for a rat, I suppose… heh… but Chance was a rat with teeth.

I started at Vurp’s grunt and turned to see the progress he had made.  He had jammed something in the crevice between the door and its frame where the security sensor was located.  It was attached to a tiny jumble of wires and a circuit board that he had stuck to the door frame with one of his crazy sticky concoctions.  I had quit asking what was in them.  Remember, it was Vurp after all.  I took that as our sign to head in, so I motioned for Chance to follow.  Vurp strained a bit more against the disabled sliding door to get the opening wide enough to slip inside.  I was the first through the door.  I moved to the left of the door, drew my gun and switched off the safety.  Chance came in next and moved right. I caught a glint of metal from one of her trusty throwing knives. She held two at the ready.  Vurp squeezed his bulk through the opening then grabbed the door’s lip and pulled it shut.  He reached into his pocket and pulled out a tiny gadget.  He licked a portion of it and stuck it to the wall near the disabled security sensor.  As he pushed on it to make sure it adhered to the wall, it began to blink like the original L.E.D. that was on the door sensor.  Only close observation would have revealed it was a fake indicator.

Mr. Smith’s building plans appeared to be accurate. We had come into the main lobby through a kind of side entrance near the front corner of the building.  It was about 10 meters from the main entrance.  According to Mr. Smith, the door was no longer used.  He had explained that the door’s only sensor picked up when it was open, and it was not covered by any other kind of surveillance.  That obviously made it a good choice for entry.

We took a moment to look around the lobby.  We were in a small alcove with four easy chairs and several potted plants. Business folks took their ease there while waiting for meetings or something.  The main portion of the lobby was an open expanse that had a circular kiosk-like desk in the middle. Receptionists and a security guard or two would spend their weekdays dealing with the comings and goings of those that had business there.  About 3 meters behind the desk – against the wall – was a large decorative piece of worked brass and carved wood. It was a giant “L” in a fancy font. It was the logo for Lyric Financial.  I could only imagine what that had cost…

I heard one of their commercials once.  Lyric Financial worked with independent business owners and investors helping them invest and manage their money for a “nominal” fee.  The building housed hundreds of accountants and financial gurus that manipulated numbers all day for their customers.  I also knew from the research Jammer had done that Lyric Financial worked with owners and investors that were… less than upstanding citizens of the community.  Rumors abound that Lyric was involved in money laundering. They apparently helped set up and maintain shell companies to make illegal activities look legitimate.  But since nothing official about illegal activities had ever surfaced, Lyric Financial was left to operate as it saw fit.  It was the “unofficial” stuff, though, that had something to do with why we were there.

“Now for the fun part…”  Vurp’s sub-vocal whisper was followed by the quiet rustle of his pack.  He rummaged through the inside pockets in his “bag of tricks” looking for the next gadget that would help us get further inside.  A few breaths later Vurp was holding a small box with some controls on one side and what looked like a shooting scope mounted on the other.  He held it up and started looking around the lobby through the scope.

“Print said there was only one camera in the lobby.  Must be one of those 360-type cameras…”

“Yepper…”  Vurp searched back and forth, panning across the lobby, changing his elevation every pass.  On his third sweep he stopped and started working the controls as he kept a steady aim on his target.  The camera was in a very inconspicuous spot on the wall.  He must have had more than night vision in that box of his to spot it.

“What’s the word, ace?” Chance was antsy.  She was shifting her weight from side to side.  Her night vision enhanced eyes danced eerily in the shadow of the alcove.  “This ain’t a real good hiding spot.  We’re a bit exposed here in the lobby.  All it’ll take is one observant bloke driving by and we’re in deep shit.”

Vurp was still fiddling with his device as he replied, “Keep your big girl panties on.  This one’s a toughie.”  He paused a second and looked over at Chance. “You are wearing panties, right?”  He chuckled quietly, and I didn’t have to see him leering at Chance to know that was exactly what he was doing.  I had to work to keep from laughing.  Leave it to Vurp to start hitting on the deadliest person in the room right in the middle of a tense situation.

“Get on it, pig!”  I could hear the growl in her sub-vocal response.  Chance was not in the mood for banter at the time.  I didn’t want to see the look on her face.

“Yeah, yeah… I got it.  Just… another… second or… two…”  Vurp manipulated the controls a little bit more and then grunted with satisfaction.  “That oughta do it.  That bugger is a ‘360-by-360’ cam.  I’m glad I installed that 3D processor last week or we’d be going right back out the door.”  He was obviously pleased with himself for being so sharp. I’d give him shit later.

“Okay, let’s move in, folks.”  I stepped into the lobby and headed straight for the central column that contained the elevators.  Vurp followed, and Chance slipped across the front of the lobby to cover us if someone saw us moving.  I could see the glint of the knives again as she skulked to the opposite side of the lobby.  Anything in her throwing range was dead.  I never saw her miss… except once…

Vurp and I got to the central column and worked our way around to the side where the elevator doors would be.  The area was cast in deep shadow.  Only the soft light from the elevator controls was easy to see.  That’s when I noticed that the middle elevator was moving down from just two floors above us.  We had seconds to find and get through the stairwell door before there would be a very surprised – and ultimately, unhappy – security guard or two stepping into the lobby.

I sub-vocalized, “Chance, we got company coming.  Hide someplace, and remember, NO killing.”  Smith had been very specific about that.  The problem I saw now was the fact that Chance was not the type to follow orders from somebody she didn’t know.  She didn’t know Mr. Smith.  She also had no scruples whatsoever about killing.  If a security guard got too close for her comfort…

Vurp hurried around the corner ahead of me and started working on the locked door that led to the stairwell.  It had a badge reader on it.  That meant it would only open for someone with the right badge.  Mr. Smith couldn’t get those for us…

I stayed at the corner waiting for the elevator to open.  I hoped to be headed upstairs before that happened, but I kind of wanted to know how many guards were in that elevator.  If it was just one or two, they might just survive the night.  If it was a squad of four, and they were serious about their jobs, then I was probably going to have to dispose of four bodies before I got to bed.  There was no way Chance would hesitate to eliminate a threat like that.

“Vurp?”

“Almost there… couple more seconds.”  I looked over my shoulder to see him working furiously at the door.

“Vuuurrrp?”

“Damn…”

“What?”

“Gimme a second…”

“We don’t have those anymore.  Elevator’s here.”  The elevator door slid open, and I could see the glow from the light inside.  Two guards stepped out of the elevator.  They were wearing Fortress Security uniforms.  I could tell by the light green shirts with the gold arm patches.  I knew then that they were well trained AND armed.  Fortress Security produced excellent night watchmen.

Fortunately, it was just two of them.  I got my head out of sight right before one of them turned to look in my direction.  I hoped their vision enhancement glasses weren’t too sensitive.  I sub-vocalized the word “Fortress” as quietly as I could to let Chance know who we were dealing with.  Then I jumped as I heard a click.  As the goose bumps washed over my skin I saw Vurp open the door and slip into the stairwell.  All I could do was hope I moved quickly and quietly enough to make it through the door unnoticed.

I slipped through the stairwell door as it began to close behind Vurp.  Vurp had the presence of mind to push me aside –jamming me against the wall, no less – and grab the door right before it clicked closed.  I felt like a complete idiot.  I had nearly gotten us caught… or worse.  Vurp’s iron grip was a bit uncomfortable, but I relaxed, so he relaxed.  He held onto the door so it was just shy of being latched closed.  We held our breath as the sound of footsteps approached the door.  All we had to do was wait until the guard walked by so Vurp could ease the door back into its latched position nice and quiet-like.

Vurp’s grip tightened again, but now to the point of being painful.  I was about to struggle a bit until I realized what was happening.  One of the security guards was testing the door.  I guess all that time Vurp spent pumping iron paid off.  He was like a rock, or rather like a solidly latched and locked stairwell door.  I could almost feel the door handle wiggle through Vurp’s body, he was so tense.  The guard must have decided the door was secure.  Vurp and I heard footsteps moving away.

I patted Vurp’s arm to remind him that he was less than a centimeter away from crushing my sternum into my heart.  He relaxed and deftly let the door settle into its latched position with almost no sound.  I patted him lightly on the shoulder and nodded to him to let him know I was very thankful for his quick wits.  Remember, I’m just a guy who knows a few tricks and can talk to folks.  The “brains” and the “brawn” came from the rest of the team.

“Headed to the fourth floor; sit tight.”

Vurp let me go up the steps first.  He paused a second or two by the door to deploy one of his mini alarms.  It was a little ball with motion sensing and transceiver electronics in it.  If the ball was disturbed after it was armed, it would transmit a signal to our com units to let us know somebody had opened the door.

“Number One is set at the stairwell door.  Let’s go.”  Vurp started up the stairs behind me.

Let me know what you think.  As always, thanks for reading 😉

An Old Attempt at Poetry

The ice cracks. No place to run

Melted just enough

Oh, curse the sun

 

A downward plunge into stabbing cold

Panic stricken

Not brave… not bold

 

A sharp inhale for a desperate breath

Icy shards

Taste liquid death

 

Eyes wide shut against a flash of life

Which way is up

Why not a knife

 

As tearing freeze begins to fade

Shame replaces fear

One less sign obeyed

 

Warmth replaces a need for breath

Fade to black

Walk again with the angel of Death

 

© 2018

An Inspired Response

So, I just read this post by @millyschmidt where she talks about dealing with being rejected by publishers.  She writes about a pretty good process for getting through rejections – something that writers live with a lot.

So, anyway, I was triggered for some reason to write this…

The ultimate sword is forged when the hammer strikes the perfect spot on the cooling blade at the perfect moment in time. Then, and only then, can this blade transcend from an ordinary tool of utility and general purpose to the artifact that can slay the beast; the beast that is working to crush you and deny you the chance to live as you see fit. A desire to create such a weapon and the will to enter the forge suggests that you may have the recipe. The real question at this point, however, is not whether you can forge the sword. Instead, the question is do you have the drive to live for the opportunity to do so?  Only those that are willing to embrace the passion for just being in the forge will be given even the slightest chance for creating that ultimate sword.