New Year, New Everything.

I have not abandoned spirituality, ufology or the beings completely, but I’m stepping a very long way back from talking about it. I’ve been into tabletop roleplaying games for years before awakening.

After a LOT of consideration and thought, I’ve rebranded my site and almost everything else I had going. I’ll briefly get into a couple of reasons for this, primarily because I was just due for a major overhaul.

The first reason that comes to mind is I wanted the look of the site to evolve and reflect the change in content. I was running Sellswordgames.blog. As that site will no longer being used and I am pretty much done with that brand, we’re moving back in here with all my gaming content.

I have not abandoned spirituality, ufology or the beings completely, but I’m stepping a very long way back from talking about it. I’ve been into tabletop roleplaying games for years before awakening. I will still embrace the Universe in all things, thanking Source for all things, and loving life on Gaia each and every day. My focus on love, prosperity, and joy have not gone away, but rather are being rekindled here in a different way.

The second reason is I wanted to take advantage of my primary blog site’s WordPress features. There are a few more options for monetization, etc here than on the free WordPress sites. There are also more/better looking thematic options and plugins I can use.

Lastly, it was just time for some changes. Law of Attraction means getting into that flow state; acting on inspiration, and I really felt like I was getting into a groove at the end of last year. I will still be posting the occasional personal note along with all the cool gaming stuff I have lined up. I’m excited to be up and running again. I have a renewed sense of vigor when it comes to writing and I have a lot of fun projects lined up.

Thank you. Namaste

I am grateful for everyone who follows me and sees this. Thank you! Have a great week and I’ll be back very soon.

FATE?

It attached itself to the hull. At first it was just a nuisance. Then the crew began to change…

Horror? One Shot? In Space?!?

I’m thinking about putting together a one-shot game or possibly a mini campaign. I like FATE because it’s a simple system and easy to work with. I’m not sure what kind of an audience I would have for the kind of adventure I want to write, though.

Some background. I like anime a lot. Much of the material I tend to come up with for funsies in my own head usually revolves around some type of anime game such as OVA, BESM, Gratuitous Anime Gimmick, Mecha Hack, and so on. I’ve played around with a lot of systems over the years. I also love Mecha v Kaiju for FATE, which is roundabout how I got here.

My favorite anime series, of which there are many, is still Neon Genesis Evangelion. I also love Chrome Shelled Regios, Appleseed, Satellizer El Bridget (Freezing,) Macross, and Arpeggio of Blue Steel. I never get tired of anime, especially anything with giant robots. I also loved long Cowboy Bebop before it got popular again (Just ask my wife, who got tired of listening to Real Folk Blues…)

I’m shooting for a change of pace on this one.

Chrome Shelled Regios is getting incorporated into a D&D campaign I’m building, especially the dite. However I still love the idea behind the contaminoids. They had to spread through space, theoretically. And that brings around my love of two other series; Starship Troopers and Aliens.

Here’s kind of the premise for the adventure: The group runs into a distress beacon from a ship that has this big, gnarly thing attached to its hull. The ship has had an outbreak of a zombie-like virus that is killing the crew. Turns out the big gnarly thing is using humanoid hosts to turn the ship into its egg.

What to do with the ship? What to do with the crew? Do we cure them? Rev up the space chainsaws and start beheading zombies? Nuke the whole thing from orbit? Where did the big nasty bug come from? Are there more?

This could literally turn into a campaign or series of campaigns and the more I think about it the more cool ideas bubble up. There’s only two questions remaining. The first is what system? The second is, do I drop this into an established universe or just run with my own?

These questions and more answered in another article. Game on. Have fun!

A New Year Was Born.

Last night I set my intentions for the year. I kept the list as simple and as manageable as reasonably possible. We don’t do resolutions here, only intentions.

A New Year Came Into the World quietly at our house.

This is going to be kind of a quiet little personal entry into the blog to start the year. Honestly, I don’t have a ton to say right now. Mostly I’m just trying to get back into the swing of blogging on a regular basis again.

Last night I set my intentions for the year. I kept the list as simple and as manageable as reasonably possible. We don’t do resolutions here, only intentions. Life is always a work in progress. Resolutions only seem to last anyone a short time and everyone feels down when they get broken. Why set oneself up for failure?

Intentions are a year round and sometimes longer fulfilment process.

I intend to:

  • Publish something on DrivethruRPG this year
  • Publish something to DMsGuild this year.
  • Write my first novel.
  • Have a physical, standing game group.
  • Obtain regular, meaningful income for myself and my family
  • Meditate daily.

Please note these are not numbered and not in any specific order for a reason. I also left off some of the specifics because I want to flow into my intentions. These are a game plan, not specific strategies or tactics. That can all come later. There might be some rebranding of websites and social media accounts.

I might even go back to working… a day “job.” Note that I would rather be tarred and feathered than go back to an office, retail, or custodial job. I’m done working for “the Man.” No offense intended toward anyone, but my last job left such a rotten taste in my mouth, I don’t think I’m ever going back.

Am I willing to work hard?

Damn Skippy! I’m going to work hard on my personal goals. I’m going to work hard to connect with spirit every day and find my flow. I’m going to set new goals as I achieve them and be looking ahead at new opportunities on every horizon. I’m not going to quit until I’m satisfied/happy where I am every day.

I’m going to take care of my family as if it is my full time job when I’m not doing other things. They’re important. Before enlightenment: chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment: chop wood and carry water. Some things will always need doing no matter what.

I’m stepping back a bit from Ufology following the fracas that was the Añjali thing. I still believe in ETs and extradimensional beings. I still believe in contact. I’m just no longer convinced the majority of ufology and even some of the spiritual community aren’t corrupted by greed, corporate influence, or the government. In short, I’m cutting the crap out of my life that no longer belongs.

I’ve always love Role-Playing Games and that’s never going to change.

Hence why half my intentions revolve around gaming activities. No lie, #ttrpg Twitter took me in and welcomed me; a total stranger, into their fold with no questions asked. Compared to #ufotwitter, they are saints. And let’s face it, if you’re going to have LARP and fictional games, why not just play LARP and fictional games, right?

I’ve been a gamer for 40 years come June. That’s a long time to be involved in any hobby or interest. I’m kind of a renaissance man of sorts. I have had interests in electrical wiring, bicycling, woodworking, painting, sculpting, acting, stagecraft, drawing, painting miniatures, wargaming, guns, web design, making jewelry, and a bunch of other things over the years, but I always come back to tabletop role-playing games.

This is why my blog site may be changing over soon. I’ll still drop the occasional personal/spiritual/LoA/Personal Growth article, but I’ll try to section it off from the gamer stuff.

I’m also looking at Patreon and more on Ko-Fi. If things really start rockin and rollin, I might be tempted to start a monthly newsletter, too. I might also start designing websites for other people again, too. There’s always potential for growth and helping others.

Stay tuned. More to come. Have a safe, prosperous, and joyful new year.

Funeral

…we might suffer and toil here on the Earth plane. There are hard days for all of us, no matter where we are or what our circumstances are. But in the very end, it has all played out for a reason. No, we don’t understand why. But we know it happens for a reason…

My mother-in-law passed suddenly on December 22nd due to complications of Diabetes. Her funeral was December 30th. We will miss her as she was dear to all of our children and the holiday season will not be the same with her passing.

There’s a spiritual lesson here.

I think we sometimes take our existence on the 3D Earth plane for granted. We do some pretty silly stuff just to pass the time. Which is not to say that it’s bad to have some fun or that life has to be a 24/7 grind right up until the grave. Quite the opposite. We’re here to enjoy what life has to offer. But sometimes it’s easy to forget that it only lasts so long.

Then the veil of forgetfulness kicks in when we start all over again, assuming we choose to do so. Then it’s right back to taking things for granted. Maybe we work too many long hours at a dead end job. Maybe we get married to someone in a flight of passion only to get divorced a few weeks later. Maybe we drown our problems in drugs, alcohol, porn and/or gambling for years on end. Then time passes us by. Then, all the things we wish we had done are past.

Why?

According to some, we are God experiencing the Universe through mortal eyes. Or more succinctly, God experiencing God in of of His many forms. So, then the question always comes back around to “Why do bad things happen?” And the answer is inevitably, “We don’t truly know.”

I like to think everything, and I mean literally everything, happens for a reason. Getting hired at a job. Getting fired from a job. Having children or choosing not to do so. Writing an article or eating Cheetos and playing video games. Dying. It all happens for a reason. It’s not necessarily our place to know why or when we’re going to die. Some things are choices, indicating free will. But who’s to say there isn’t divine guidance behind those very choices that have a deeper reason behind them? God works in mysterious ways. Ours is not to always know what the motivations behind the scenes really are.

Yes, we choose in every now moment. That’s the free will component of the 3D Earth plane. And people die every day from choices that could maybe have been different, or were different in another timeline of the multiverse. But the kicker is, when God calls you home, that’s it. Your current body is done and away you go on another adventure.

I believe in a loving Universe, or caring God, if you will.

I’m not a religious person by any stretch of the imagination. My friend Tom, who was our minister for the service, has his own congregation of the Evangelical Free Church. I absolutely loved the service today. As funerals go, he did a fantastic job. The one message, and I sincerely hope my kids were paying attention, is that we have a loving God. (Sorry, non-Christian friends. I know it’s not your cup of tea necessarily. It’s what we’re working with today.) We do truly live in a loving, benevolent Universe, though.

Sure, we might suffer and toil here on the Earth plane. There are hard days for all of us, no matter where we are or what our circumstances are. But in the very end, it has all played out for a reason. No, we don’t understand why. But we know it happens for a reason, and I suspect that we are filled in on what happened on the other side of the veil, assuming we didn’t already know and just forgot.

Personally, I don’t think there is a Hell, at least not as organized religion would have us believe. I mean, why would a loving and caring Creator have to force us into behaving ourselves with threats of eternal damnation and everlasting torment? Why put us through all this stuff on the Earth plane, just to screw up and forever suffer for it?

Are there “bad” people?

Of course there are who do bad, unspeakable acts in life. There are also large numbers of good, kind, loving people. I could name hundreds of offenses against humanity and trespasses upon others’ sovereignty. Again, this goes back to the belief that we all have a part to play. One lifetime you inflict trauma, but in the next you might be on the receiving end of all kinds of horrible treatment. There’s always a reason, though. There’s always a lesson in everything. There is always the presence of the divine in everything.

Finally, peace.

Whatever lies on the other side of the mortal coil is waiting for us to find. No matter what you choose to believe, the day is going to finally come when we transition from our current body into whatever comes next. Far too many people have come back from Near Death Experiences with stories of the other side for there to be nothing there. (Sorry, atheist friends. I’m very convinced there is another side.) Whatever the reason things happen in the mortal coil, we’re all going to meet up to discuss it on that other side.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need my daily dose of cute, fuzzy bunnies and duckies. I’m going to go snuggle the cats and maybe get some sleep. It’s been kinda rough. I trust in the Universe. I believe in something greater than all of us, but I don’t always claim to understand why things happen the way they do. Hence, little, simple, fuzzy, loving little animals. No serious thought required, just love and snuggles.

Have a safe and happy holiday season. Much love. Please set your intentions for 2022 to be a year of prosperity, joy, love and forgiveness. See you again soon.

Surprise!

Just checking in. Giving more thoughts to rebranding everything completely. Someone gave me food for thought on more Indie RPGs we should all be looking into.

Just when I thought I’d seen it all…

Someone approached me on Twitter today with a handful of RPG’s I wasn’t overly familiar with. Admittedly, a couple of them were variations on d20 system and one was kind of a loose Shadowrun/D20 Modern setting. Still, I was pretty impressed. One of my goals going forward is going to be to brush up on more Indie RPGs.

Also, heading into the new year, I’m looking into a couple of FATE related games. Part of me is really starting to miss running Call of Cthulhu and other modern horror type games, too. I see where there is a FATE Horror toolkit and I happen to have a couple of generic zombie apocalypse games that I like. I’m also interested in possibly creating a sandbox style mecha campaign using FATE or The Mecha Hack.

So Many Groovy Ideas,

And I actually have time to work on some of them. Unlike some of my very wonderfully talented friends on Twitter and Instagram, I have yet to land any sort of meaningful employment. My family isn’t in danger of starving in the street and we’re happy, but I’d love to be getting paid for something I enjoy.

I’ll keep everyone posted on my re-branding thoughts. I’ve been considering moving all of my blogging activities over to my main site, Jeff’s Thoughts I’d be separating my gaming ventures out from my spiritual/Law of Attraction/Ufology/conspiracy/self improvement blog over there. The main advantages are I have a better WordPress plan for that site and more tools at my disposal. Plus, I’ve had some branding ideas that have been running around in my head for 20+ years that I’ve been sitting on.

No, it’s nothing crossing over my two very diverse foci in life. There should always be a healthy balance between one’s gaming activities and one’s other beliefs, I think. I mean, the Ufology/spirituality/conspiracy community refuses to take one seriously if they don’t think I can tell fantasy from reality. The gaming community probably doesn’t want me sounding all positive to the point of preachy, either. And we all know the underlying D&D rule about never mixing real world religions with rpgs. I try not to overtly mash spirituality into my games, either.

Anyway, more to come. Happy gaming into the new year! See you again real soon.

Freedom Day, DECember Edition

https://ko-fi.com/jeffcraigmile

Hard to believe it’s December already.

Christmas is right around the corner. I’m still without any kind of meaningful employment if anyone was wondering. Not that I’m bitter, but more on that in a moment. I have started an account on Ko-Fi if you want to buy me a cup of coffee or contribute to my kids’ college funds.

My Ko-Fi Can be Found Here:
https://ko-fi.com/jeffcraigmile

I really do.

I want to share some love with the people who have been here for me through the year. It’s been…

Good at times. We’ve experienced some real abundance. I’ve felt the “Flow” at times as we say in Law of Attraction circles. I’m going to drop a ton of Instagram links below in a movie-credit style roll for those interested in making new friends. It’s been a good year, in many respects.

Then there was the not-as-amazing stuff. Being unemployed is a blessing and a curse. (Again, more on that later.) Our health held up. Our roof stayed attached through all of the wind storms. Christmas is looking very bright this year. We’re still kicking butt as a single income house so far. Ya know, I keep coming up with all these things to be grateful for, almost like my Higher Self is showing me what to say?

Like, maybe you can’t be super high vibe all the time, but the lows aren’t so low, either. I will honestly say, I’ve had some struggles with depression, anxiety, anger, and pain this year. Depression and pain being the absolute worst of it, but I’ve managed to pull through. The valleys aren’t as deep any more and the hills aren’t as tough to climb.

Okay, taking a minute to spit a little anger at a few groups, because duality exists.

First, I’d like to put a big middle finger in the air up to corporate America. I especially have a mean-on for one specific industry that I can’t mention here for the potential of getting sued. But let’s just say it doesn’t bode well for any of the suit-n-tie-wearing, bottom-line-toting, conference-room-team-meeting, SMART-goal-fucking, overinflated, top-heavy, corporate McAssholes of the world when you treat people like absolute shit and then get around to firing them. In an ironic twist, I hear people are leaving some of those corporate jobs in droves because of shitastic working conditions and poor treatment by management, anyway. Good for them!

Second, another KissMyAss award goes out to #ufotwitter. Yes. You’ve earned it. Stop being pompous, overinflated egoic, know-it-all naysayers who allow no one a differing opinion or outlook. For people fighting for Disclosure and want to “believe” in ETs, UFOs, UAPs or whatever you’re calling them this week? Y’all got a funny way of showing it. Probably because you know the minute meaningful ET contact is made or Disclosure ends publicly, you’re going to have to shut up and your book deal will be gone. Meanwhile, all the government funded disinformation agents and shills out there are finally going to be out of their jobs, too. But, take heart. I hear Iowa Workforce Development will retrain you as an arc welder or dental hygienist for free.

Third, the State of Iowa could sink into the center of the Earth any day now for what it’s worth. Hopefully they can build bridges to connect other states over the crater. We’ll probably find some way to blame the Governor Kim Reaper for it. Our Cov-Icky-Cough-Coughs numbers are higher than most Third World Nations and our employment outlook is horrible. Iowa Workfarce Enforcement only cares about one set of uneducated-but-skilled laborers. If you have a college degree, get ready to step down and take it in the butt or go without a job. But if you’re fresh out of high school or suddenly disillusioned with UFOlogy and can follow instructions like a good little drone, they want you.

A Couple of Other Thoughts While We’re Here.

COVID… I’ve seen so much freakin rhetoric about vax vs anti-vax and mask vs anti-mask. And again, see that bright red state in the middle of the map with the outrageous uptick in reported outbreaks? Yeah… Get your shots or don’t. Wear a mask or don’t. Make the decision for yourself. Just stop talking about it, please. Save our sanity.

Mainstream Media- I have a journalism degree for cryin out loud. (Not that it’s ever made a huge difference.) You know what one of the first things I cut out of my life right after I graduated was? Watching any kind of news broadcast or reading any news outside of the occasional YouTube video or article from an independent website. Even then, I take a lot of it with a grain of salt. Please, do yourselves a favor this holiday season and in life and turn the TV off, stop listening to the bobble headed idiots on morning radio, put the newspaper down, and go outside for some fresh air. Screw politics. To Hell with what the Kardashians are doing now. Fuck COVID. Let the Chinese do whatever they’re going to do today. Ignore Trump entirely. Just go get some fresh air and appreciate the world around you. You’re gonna be so much better off for it.

Let’s talk about that whole “being unemployed” thing for a few.

This is not a dis on people with jobs. We all gotta do what we gotta do. Love ya for it.

Personally, if I never set foot in an office again to work, it’s not gonna hurt my feelings. I’m productive from right here at home. Yes, I’m struggling right now because no one sees my value. I can write. I know I can. I have yet to land a writing gig. Yes, I know what’s on my résumé It says I’ve been beaten more times than your college baseball team. But it doesn’t say a thing about me or what I’m capable of. Iowa Workless Defamation doesn’t see it. The locals aren’t hiring for anything I want to do and finding a remote job is like… Geez, I can’t even come up with a good comparison any more because it pretty much sucks!

Yes, I would love to have a “career” again. Quite honestly, being a stay-at-home dad is starting to feel a little like freeloading. This is not exactly fulfilling my life purpose or seeing my mission as a lightworker out, but it’s not horrible, either. I would love to be bringing in some money for roof repairs, a new vacuum cleaner, or whatever else comes up next. I mean, four kids. It’s always something.

LOL! Did I mention that Ko-Fi link? https://ko-fi.com/jeffcraigmile

People whom I wish to give much credit this year. Thank you friends, family, and Earthly teachers:

First Off, Thank you Heather Craigmile, loving wife and mother of our four kids. (No links.) She’s shy. Sorry folks.

Here’s a list of some of my friends on Instagram in no particular order:

  • Laura DiBenedetto: @lauraldibenedetto
  • Shane: @thespiritofthecosmos
  • Sharon: @candidly_sharonh
  • Andrea Garris: @a.l.garris
  • Dr Julia Colangelo @drjuliacolangelo
  • Alana Weinberg: @healwithalana

I had to leave a few people off for privacy reasons. And if I left you off, please know I still love you! Thank you!

Do I Have to Do it “Their” Way?

If the world was open? If it had its own OGL? If it were free to distribute AND had a good system? Heaven!

Pathfinder Second Edition vs Dungeons & Dragons 5E

Please forgive me. This post is not intended to start an online donnybrook over whose system is best. **Disclaimer:** Play whichever system you like. Decide for yourself what you prefer. Thank you!

Yesterday I was discussing whether or not one should play/run/create content for D&D 5E strictly for rules-as-written or homebrew. Homebrew is awesome! But with 5E being the top dog in the industry right now, it’s also the one most people are playing with/creating material for. I love 5E for this reason.

I used to dog on Pathfinder pretty hard when it started. BUT…

Yeah. I’m guilty of that. I’m sorry family. It’s true. I used to think it was strictly intended for all the Third Edition D&D players that couldn’t handle Fourth Edition. BUT! I came around. Just in time for Pathfinder Second Edition.

Lessons learned, I LOVE Pathfinder 2E! The mechanics are great. The classes are pretty cool. It’s flexible. Paizo learned from their previous edition. The main rulebook is heavy enough to defend my home from burglars… It’s all good. Some day I might do a full review.

There’s another catch with PF2E, though.

If you are playing D&D 5E as written, you’re playing in the default setting of Forgotten Realms. There’s also Eberron, Ravnica, and soon I guess they’re releasing Spelljammer and possibly Planescape. If you go online there are literally hundreds of other campaign worlds and settings along with conversions of older settings. Please don’t panic. There is plenty of room for more. The Open Gaming License literally opened the floodgates for more world building than anyone ever imagined.

Pathfinder 2E, not so much… While Pathfinder Infinite has opened their world to creators, it’s pretty much their world. I don’t mind this, but it doesn’t leave a lot of room for world building. That’s unfortunate. So, yay, I can homebrew PF2E, but then I have to figure out how literally everything translates into PF2-ese. So, yay Golarian.

I will say Starfinder, which is more or less Pathfinder in space, just opened up considerably with the Galaxy Exploration guide. That’s cool. Space is infinite. The Universe is literally infinite and that’s without alternate dimensions. It would be foolhardy to lock players into one star system or one planet for a space game.

I see this happen with other games.

I collect RPGs like mad. I love games. I love mecha and anime games especially. Alas, many of them seem to fall into one of about three categories. 1. They have their own very specific campaign setting/world. Again, yay, but it’s not what I’m looking for. 2. They’re too generic. A lot of games have great mechanics, but just don’t go far enough into what I was looking for in their game. 3. Last, they don’t have any kind of OGL attached. Which means they’re literally the only source of material for that game.

I understand companies having exclusive rights to certain properties. Ask anyone who used to work for T$R or West End Games about Lucasfilm. They’ll probably cringe. Star Wars was especially tough to work with, from what I hear. Ugnaughts anyone? Margret Weis Productions had a deal with Battlestar Galactica RPG. A lot of established properties don’t want people willy-nilly adding to their setting and then publishing it, which thoroughly wrecks the official canon and creates all kinds of plot holes. Seems fair to limit creative access, right?

But why lock an indie game possibly with its own unique system, into a specific setting? Seriously, I would love to work for just about any game company on almost any system. (I have a few disclaimers, but we’ll leave that for another day.) But if the world was open? If it had its own OGL? If it were free to distribute AND had a good system??? Heaven!

I might not exactly love D&D 5E for certain mechanics.

But at least the OGL lets us create our own worlds, classes, characters, and so on with an established system that actually does work pretty darn well. Ironically, PF2E is based on roughly the same mechanics. There are a LOT of d20 based games. At this point, if I’m publishing on DrivethruRPG, my intention is to do something d20 based or a superhero game like ICONS. The only other generic systems I’ve really enjoyed so far have been FATE and Open Legends. Again, I’d have to spend some serious time developing within those systems because there are certain things kinda missing that I’m looking for mechanically. (Again, that’s another discussion.)

I love Paizo’s take on d20. I think the Starfinder/Pathfinder mechanics are well thought out. I think PF2E is loads of fun. I almost taught my kids to play it before D&D 5E. PF2E has not become the runaway train of supplements that its predecessor did. I look forward to their upcoming releases and writing some adventures set in Golarian probably just for fun. Maybe not for publication. Starfinder Infinite material might be a possibility, depending…

I love D&D 5E because I’m building my own very odd, wacky, very fun (hopefully) campaign world. With some help from the Universe, I might even publish it. And I have some “generic” fantasy stuff that I’m again planning for DMsGuild hopefully in the near future. Pathfinder Infinite might be another story. I don’t know yet.

I’m also working on a more solidly constructed portfolio to show off some of my writing talents. In the meantime, if you are interested in hiring me as a writer I am quite available. Heh heh. No seriously! LOL! Please hire me? Heck, if you’re local I’ll even walk your dog or something.

Until next time, take care.

Does It Have To Be “Official?”

No one, and I mean NO ONE should ever tell you what you can and can’t do with your campaign, your world, your ideas, or your content. If it’s your table and your world and they don’t like it, they can go kick rocks.

My friend Elzie recently posted an interesting thread on Twitter that I wanted to comment on in depth. Sometimes replies and Tweets don’t cover it all.

So, my short answer to all of this is- Absolutely NOT!

My long answer is: there are a LOT of variables here. If you’re trying to publish official content on www.dmsguild.com, then yes, you need to stick to the rules as written for the most part. Otherwise, if it’s your campaign, at home, or published anywhere else under the SRD, then- freakin party on!

Seriously, if you want to re-skin your orcs to look like pink bunny-eared primates, then go for it! No one, and I mean NO ONE should ever tell you what you can and can’t do with your campaign, your world, your ideas, or your content. If it’s your table and your world and they don’t like it, they can go kick rocks. The Tolkien people are not going to sue you for altering orcs and neither is Wizards. Run the game you want to enjoy.

Descriptions go a long way!

I have mostly new players. I’m pretty determined to ban access to the Monster Manual and other such books during play these days. I’m going to describe the creature the party is facing in detail and let the group decide how they want to handle it.

The trees around the road go dead silent. The group’s horses stall and become skittish looking toward the large tree with a long, thick branch over the road ahead. They see a large beast, perched in the tree, with the body of a panther only having leathery, bat-like wings, and a long spiky tail. It stares out through the dusky twilight at them with its red, glowing eyes and long, protruding fangs gleaming in the last little bit of remaining sunlight, watching them approach. Its talons are spread wide and its tail is wrapped around the tree for balance. This predator looks like it means business. What do you do?

That description will probably have the intended effect much better than “You see a Wyvern perched atop the tree over the road ahead. What do you do?” Because if I ran it as an official Wyvern, it’s not going to be nearly as memorable or potentially terrifying. Not to mention it’s a re-skinned Wyvern, with a few added features that aren’t listed with the original.

Now, my wife, who loves all things feline both in character and out, is probably going to try to tame, befriend or otherwise not kill this creature seeing it isn’t overtly evil or aggressive. Which, I’ll possibly allow the attempt because it’s good roleplaying opportunities and more fun than a straight combat encounter.

In the past, I’ve had groups that would have dug into the Monster Manuals trying to find out how much XP the thing would be worth. I mean, it’s literally XP with wings! Heck yeah we go all murder hobo on it.

Then again, as a DM, I get to have fun with a large, winged, apex predator with stealth and a breath weapon in mostly open ground in poor lighting conditions. That’s going to suck for the murder hobos. Especially if it flies off and comes back to torment them in the dark. Gook luck trying to take a long rest with that thing lurking nearby. heh heh heh…

Who’s to say what’s considered “official?”

Even the designers of Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons could sit at your gaming table and play a character fully aware that it’s not Rules As Written, and be just fine with it. Are we there to have fun or bicker over official content? Again, if you’re not attempting to publish anything, does it really matter? Personally, I think not.

Now there are a few exceptions and exemptions. Obviously if you’re running a game for Adventurer’s League set in a specific world you probably want to stick to “their” descriptions as written because those players are likely expecting “official” content and will go onto other games in the series. The players could get lost if you change/alter the settings and descriptions too much in an official module. Convention games are also kind of a sticky wicket depending on the expectations of the players.

That having been said, if you tell your players at your table for your home game, “Hey, my world is different than anything in the published settings. Here’s some of what you can expect…” Then, yes. Absolutely homebrew whatever you like. I know I do it all the time.

I regularly adapt all kinds of things I will never attempt to publish.

I watch a lot of anime. I’ve been a huge fan of Rouroni Kenshin, Inu Yasha, Chrome Shelled Regios, and Ninja Scroll for years. I’ve had players come to me and ask for homebrew versions of Sango’s boomerang, the Tetsusaiga, and the giant wolf demon from Inu Yasha and I gladly obliged. I’ve statted the Wing Blade Sword among other things in the past from various samurai anime. I’m absolutely in love with the dite concept in Chrome Shelled Regios and will be resolute when it comes to implementing that style of weapon in the campaign I’m working on.

Heck, I have plenty of ICONS characters that are knockoffs of DC, Marvel, Image, and various anime characters. I’ve translated my own personal DC Heroes (First Ed) character into a half a dozen different systems. His concept was based on Marvel’s Iron Man. Admittedly, I’ve had my own spin on the character for 30 years, and he looks very little like Tony Stark.

I’ve used and borrowed from Avatar: the Last Airbender and Satelizer Bridget in the past, too. Had an absolute blast with it, but could never “officially” publish any of it for fear of getting sued. I’ve even created derivatives from Super Why (Kids TV show,) Teen Titans, Young Justice, and the Outsiders. Nothing is off limits at my table when it comes to creating adventures and settings. However, there are plenty of restrictions when it comes to publishing.

Publishers, designers and media lawyers expect you to respect their copyrights and trademarks. It’s much the same going the other way. Obviously I want my ORIGINAL material to be mine, to my own credit and never stolen. It’s only fair to everyone to do your own thing and get credit for it. But this all applies to published material, not what goes on at your table at home, or even during an actual play podcast.

So many good points!

This is one of my favorite topics, if it’s not obvious. I’m not even a lawyer, but I have found this topic to be fascinating ever since I took Media Law in college. It’s amazing what you can and can’t do.

Again, if you’re working on something for dmsguild.com or planning to publish your material anywhere, you have to be somewhat compliant to the “official rules.” If you publish to the DMsGuild, then yes, you are literally doing R&D for Wizards of the Coast and they can/will take whatever they want, rewrite it, publish it, edit it, whatever and they >might< even give you credit. If you publish elsewhere as a third party publisher under the Open Gaming License, WotC can latch onto your work and/or tell you to cease and desist if you’re violating the OGL and/or going beyond the bounds of the SRD and trying to pass it off as “official.”

Personally, I love the notion of publishing to the DMsGuild because it gives us a chance to show off. You can put work out there in an official way as a portfolio piece. Everyone, WotC included, gets to see what you’re capable of. You might not get hired to be one of the big guns in their office, but wouldn’t it be terrific to be acknowledged and asked to work on more, possibly commissioned projects? There are benefits to proving you can do things in an official capacity.

My personal goals are to get to that Electrum and Mithral rating on both DMsGuild and DriveThruRPG some day. I would love to get an email from any company that effectively says, “Hey. We really like your stuff. Come work with us.” I can do all these things. Name a system. It doesn’t have to even be D&D. We can play within whatever official rules you want to name. I’ll make it work.

Anyway, until next time. Take care.

Why Forced Togetherness Doesn’t Work in THe Workplace

If I have my way, I will NEVER set foot in an office to work ever again.

I mentioned in another article that I wanted to circle back on this topic. I especially hope some of my LinkedIn friends take note of this piece. I don’t typically write workplace centered articles, but this is one of the rare ideas I really have been wanting to share for a while now.

*Trigger Warning* This might leave a few hardcore corporate employees including a couple of my former employers a bit butt-sore. Sorry, not sorry. If it’s not you cup of tea, please move on. You were warned.

Here’s where I’m coming from:

I’ve been unemployed (Yes, I call it that.) since July 19th. I call that “Freedom Day.” Since then, I’ve been recovering spiritually, mentally, and emotionally from what was probably the most absolutely horrible work experience of my entire life, no contest. Truthfully, I’ve had a lot of jobs, and then there was the corporate fiasco I last found myself in. I’m still tiptoeing around certain specifics because I’m avoiding legal issues, but I think I can speak to my own personal status without any blowback. I’ve had some rough days and even rough weeks since I was liberated.

There are two things I want to discuss regarding corporate interactions today. The first is why you can’t force people to interact, especially off the clock. The second is a bit more personal, namely why I intend to never set foot in that mess ever again.

“Let’s all sit around a table and discuss how we’re going to save the company big bucks.” It might look good on paper, but…

Maybe that’s what they teach in Business school these days? I dunno. I haven’t been back to college in 20 years and good luck ever getting me in there again. I almost guarantee you can NOT get five people to sit there, and be all chummy with one another and discuss these big corporate concepts if they don’t want to be there. Quite honestly, it’s boring to some, annoying to most, and unproductive on a good day.

My experienced guess is, that out of five people, management will get legitimate engagement from one, maybe two people and the rest are just going to nod their heads at best. Family, I’ve been studying/observing this behavior since grade school. I studied it in Sociology for years. Small groups or corporate teams do not come together in the real world as intended on paper. A cohesive “team” of five to ten people is an anomaly no matter how much team building crap you want to throw at them.

My experience has been that the harder they try to push all their “team building” crapola, the more they’re looking for something else to hang someone with it. Let’s hold hands, have personal shares and pretend we actually like each other/the company. It might look good on paper, but trust me, most people just aren’t into it. It’s a despicable, nasty little management tactic that someone cooked up once-upon-a-when to have more excuses to degrade people on reviews and fire them. I’ve seen it a lot.

Yeah, call me “negative.” Heck, call me “toxic” when it comes to dealing with any kind of a large corporation. My therapist is practically tearing her hair out when the subject comes up. Which brings me to my second point-

If I have my way, I will NEVER set foot in an office to work ever again.

Mark my words, I’m going out of my way to never set foot in an office environment again. I can’t stand the idea of sitting in another “team” meeting. I absolutely detest the idea of another evaluation. I would rather shove raw bamboo in my eyes than ever work on another “S.M.A.R.T.” goal ever again. (And whomever came up with that whole SMART goal thing- I really hope love and light comes your way some day if it hasn’t already…) In summation, you can take that corporate job and shove it.

I am struggling with the cognitive dissonance caused by this. My dilemma is spiritual. How can I resolve being bitterly anti-social when it comes to the corporate world and still fulfill my mission as a lightworker? My poor therapist just loves me right now because I’m a steady client.

I used to really be critical of spiritual advisors who would say, “quit your job and fulfill your purpose.” Yet here I am today. I was fortunate enough to be fired and we will never know why, exactly. (Honestly don’t care.) I’m not rich. In fact I’m struggling to pay for my website and other things. But at least I’ve shrugged off working in the corporate matrix and I’m not going back in.

I advise anyone and everyone- If you are not aligned with your job, please go find another. If you’re getting treated like garbage, unappreciated, undervalued, and underpaid- vote your conscience and leave. Above all, you gotta be you. Tell them why you’re leaving specifically. A lot of people are doing exactly that right now.

Of course I always tack the caveat on of: Do it responsibly. Don’t put yourself and family at risk unnecessarily. Although right now there is probably slightly more of a safety net than ever because of the amount of jobs available in the world. Still, that said, do what you need to do until you CAN break free of the cycle.

There is more to life than, Eat-Sleep-Work-Repeat. You can do it!

Next time, we’ll discuss the concept of “success.” I promise my take is probably not what you think it’s going to be. Til then, take care.

D12 Tables

I have more d12s in my bag than d20s. Yes, I rolled a Nat 12!

I could make a 1d12 table of 1d12 tables I want to make. That’s how much fun they are. I won’t bore you with that one here, but it could be done.

I make 1d12 tables for a lot of odd random things as a DM, though. They add all kinds of spicy goodness to bland encounters. They work for weather, travel, global events, some NPC attitudes, and of course, random monster encounters. I know I’m old school, but I still believe in the old wandering monster table. Because maybe the troll down the hall decides to go for a stroll about the time the party thinks they’re going to rest. Bwah ha ha! Rolled an 11. Meet the troll.

I think the d12 is the most underrated dice in any game, except ICRPG. Yay! I suppose they’re good in SWADE and EGS, too if I remember right. But D&D and Pathfinder are very reserved in their use of the d12. My solution is to use them for any and every thing I can think of. I carry the things for fun every day. Really.

My players have called me out on it in the past. I have a pattern for most of my tables. You can probably guess the pattern. 1’s are, of course going to be catastrophically bad or unwanted news. 12’s are, naturally, something favorable or at least more favorable. 2-3 are usually something unwanted but not scary bad. 10-11 are usually the pretty good end of whatever the table is. Everything else is likely meaningful but random. I’ve done more random variants, but that’s the gist.

I have more d12s in my bag than d20s. Yes, I rolled a Nat 12!

Let me throw down a sample:

Roll 1d12. Average Night at the Stable:

  1. The stable catches fire! If the group has mounts there, the animals are in danger! One of the stable hands running into the inn a major panic to get help and save the animals.
  2. Horse thieves! Choose a random party member who had a mount in the stables. Their mount is now missing.
  3. Oops. The stable boy accidentally left the stall door open when he was cleaning. Choose a random party member. Their mount is now out wandering around somewhere.
  4. Asleep on the job. Stable keeper accidentally loaned one of the characters’ mounts out to a local merchant. The animal is treated well, but won’t be in the stable until the next night.
  5. Where did they find this kid? The stable boy decided to ignore his chores. The animals are not fed or watered, and stalls are not cleaned out. This will lead to somewhat moody, fatigued, smelly mounts the next day.
  6. All is well. The stable keeper feeds the all of the animals a treat! Unfortunately, it doesn’t agree with one of the mount’s tummies the next day. (Choose a random mount.)
  7. All of the mounts are well fed, well treated, and are ready for action the next day.
  8. The stable keeper notices an issue with a horse shoe and takes care of it, free of charge. He lets the group know the next morning.
  9. The stable keeper chases off a predator outside the stable. He lets the group know about it in the morning. One of the characters’ mounts is still skittish. The stable keeper will offer to loan out his personal thoroughbred for free if desired.
  10. The mounts are well-loved. They receive a +1 discretionary bonus to any one given roll during the day.
  11. What’s in that feed? Whatever the stable keeper fed the mounts, is working very well. The group receives an Advantage on any ONE given roll related to travel or the mounts.
  12. Holy buckets! The mounts are well fed, loved and ready to go! ALL mounts gain a +1 discretionary bonus and Advantage on one travel/mount related roll. They will also automatically pass the first morale roll within 24 hours automatically! The mounts are happy.

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