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Posts from December 2008

So there's a book that just came out, an adventure module called Wyvern Mountain that might just be worth snagging. See, I haven't seen it yet, but it was written by Mike Ferguson, a guy I came to know first by co-writing the "DCC world" boxed set a few years back. But I've had the fortune of bumping into him many times since (once in person, but mostly virtually speaking), and even of getting him as a player in my play-by-post D&D game. Aside from being a nice guy, I've come to learn through his old weblog and his new site that he puts more thought into game design and gaming at large than most colleagues in the industry. So I already know Wyvern is worth looking into!

ALSO....for anyone out there still holding a candle for version 3.5 of the D&D game (and if you are, more power to you!), you should consider grabbing some last-minute items from Goodman Games before the 31st—by the new gaming license for 4th Edition, GG won't be able to sell them anymore. They're all half off now.

Better still: you can get most PDFs of any of these books from the online store at $2 each! Monster-sized boxed sets like Castle Whiterock or the DCC world gazetteer box are only $5. That's a crazy amount of good stuff for a few bucks.

Really, now's the time. Once Dec 31st hits, this vast collection is gone forever. Forever is...scary, and more than a little sad. I worked on a handful of those, and I'll always be fond of them.

posted on 12.28.2008

Things have been too crazy at home lately to organize my thoughts about this Christmas season, which I usually have much to say about. So this is a bit late from me. Sadly, I must point those of you who are new to this website to last year's Christmas posts and and their festive discussions. So here are some things to think about:

  • Alternative Christmas Carols - Including a big mix of 14 unusual holiday songs, which features Skeletor (the first skull-headed person who would have created Christmas presents that explode when you open them, long before Jack Skellington ever came around...). So what sort of music are we talking about? Why, musicians such as Mike Oldfield, Flyleaf, Jars of Clay, me w/ Harry Conick Jr., Joshua Wentz, Danny Elfman, Love Spirals Downward, the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, and more! Don't miss "Blitzen the Red-Nosed Reindeer"; he's a lot more interesting than Rudolph, I promise you.
  • More Excessive Holiday Cheer! - A second round of crazy holiday music you won't hear playing in the malls, including music from the Muppets, Faith and the Muse, Philip Glass, the Medieavel Baebes, Shadow Gallery, and more. You won't want to miss "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Fish-Men" or "The Closing of the Year."

Alternatively, you can just subscribe to Downcast, and snag episodes the from (12/12/07 and 12/19/07). Other great stuff on that podcast, too. Just copy this URL into your podcasting software: http://www.sidedown.org/downcast/downcast.xml

Have a happy and healthy Christmas.

posted on 12.19.2008

For me, 2008 had a great deal of promise. My first novel came out in March, and I had already signed a contract for a second novel. I handed in the first draft (98k) by June, and it was slated for publication one year later. Then in July, I was informed the book would not be published after all, nor the rest of the series it was to be part of—a corporate decision followed by a scripted, copy-and-pasted rejection for any future work with that publisher. One thing I learned from this experience: publishers, editors, and sometimes even authors...they aren't required to be fans of the material they're producing. They might even dislike it; if they do like it, then great, but that's just incidental. Even outside the publishing industry, I have observed that the people who produce something aren't required to care about it themselves—quality, consistancy, these are for suckers who actually believe in what they're doing. But if you're just doing it because it's your job, then why go the extra mile? And if you're someone who does care about quality, and you're vocal about it....watch out. I've felt the sting of such audacity.

Now, in December, after surviving a few rounds of lay-offs—a direct consequence of our lowsy economy and a string of poor decisions—the company I worked for finally added me to the list. Which wasn't unexpected, really. Myself, and a whole number of really good people—the dedicated, the ones who ensured true quality, the ones who cared more than anyone else—are gone. I was around long enough to see the CEO's copy-and-paste "encouragement" email to those who made the cut. Laughable drivel. And so the pattern I observed above is thus repeated. Out of the need to eliminate X number of dollars from the company's payroll, many good people have been displaced just in time for Christmas. I've never seen such an example of a company truly shooting itself in the foot. But there you are.

Of course, this is happening all around. We hear it on the news every day. The unemployment numbers are tremendous. I'm not very nervous just now. My wife and I will be all right. But what may take a hit are the savings we've have been trying to grow for buying a house—and just general future planning. But we'll weather it. And while I'm eager to see 2008 expire, December is still one of my favorite months, so I'm in no hurry.

I hope everyone who reads this is doing okay, or better. I still hold to what I said at Thanksgiving: there's a lot to be thankful for and I haven't forgotten it.

posted on 12.12.2008

Hey, you know what would be good Christmas gift for the gamers you love? Why, Hero's Handbook: Dragonborn, of course (published by Goodman Games), which I may have had something to do with...

Such as:

On RPGNow, you can buy it today as a pdf document for $13 or later this month it should be out in book form. Support the economy by supporting your favorite brick-and-mortar gaming store and order a copy from them!

And for a bit of news related to my day job but also this season in general. Early last week, there was a big fire above our office down near Wall Street (you know, that place all those economists have been yapping about for months) in Lower Manhattan. Smoke and water damage from that fire reached into our office and has rendered the place an inoperable mess—and, from the smell of the place, I'd say a biohazard, too.

This resulted in a lot of scrambling and rearrangement. For some employees, such as myself, it also means working from home for an estimated 8 weeks. This might seem fun, but working from home has pros and cons.

  • No commute time (average of 2.5 hours total each day).
  • Getting to sleep in a bit more.
  • Reading less (a direct consequence of no train time).
  • Slower Internet connection and therefore slower connection to my company's network. Which is a real pain. The workload increases because work pace is in slow motion.
  • Less getting out of the house. Cabin fever. Marisa is also out on short-term medical leave, so we'll be sharing our tiny apartment at all times. Even the best marriage has spouses grating on each other when in close proximity for long periods of time. But 2+ weeks isn't too bad.
  • A general feeling of disconnectedness. When you have no face to face time with your co-workers, it's just weird. Work, and people, just becomes a series of multitasking windows on the screen. My job already involves a vast amount of e-mails, documents, and sharing screens. Now it'll be even moreso. Then again, in another week I'll be taking a 2-day business trip to California which is the ultimate in face to face.

November flew by. And now we're into December. I love this time of year, but I admit I wasn't ready for it yet. There is still so much to do.

posted on 11.30.2008
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