The Role-players Three and Lots of Food

Feeling inspired by the classic Wizards Three articles in Dragon magazine by the extraordinary Ed Greenwood, who would always sprinkle the conversations between the wizards and himself with sumptuous food treats; such as in the fanfiction below, I’ve decided to post an update.

Elminster handed out mugs of his favourite drink, which I had first given him only a few days prior; chilled root beer poured over blocks of ice.Dalamar and Laurel had barely taken their sloshing drinks when he passed around a platter of steaming, toasted cheese sandwiches, with slices of salted, fresh tomato on the side.Then grinning, the sage held up his hand to his friends, opening it slowly to reveal an insect.The tiny creature tested its wings, then lifted off, igniting with a flame that engulfed it but yet did not consume it.

‘This curious insect, bane of the farmers of Felloth Vale and the nearby elves of Misdruin Wood, is a fyrefly; native to that elemental plane but sometimes entering ours through an old gateway into the lands I’ve mentioned’, Elminster began.The fiery insect flew around their heads, off into my kitchen and landed upon my dishcloth, which was singed and blackened after a moment.Leaving the cloth now that it had caught fire, and despite my protests, the fyrefly happily escaped into the lounge.

‘Dear me!’ I squealed and dashed off, trying to keep my cottage from going up in flames.

So today, after a lovely midday meal of mussels in escabeche sauce, Ritz crackers, dairy-free cream cheese, ladyfinger grapes, and of course, salted tomato slices; and then a long summer nap under a fan, I shall tell you of my work-in-progress. IMG_4771

Now on my third re-write, I’m optimistic about what’s in the story, and it’s a bit over 12000 words.  As you can see, there’s still a long way to go, but I think I’ve worked out the few next scenes.  When I read what I’ve written, the story has to feel right, otherwise it’s not right, and I’ve taken out some scenes that I had written, including a sort of deus ex machina often found in amateurish stories.  Good stuff featuring none other than Artemis, but it wasn’t in the right story.  I love a lot of dialogue in my stories, otherwise they feel boring to me, and I’m pretty happy with the dialogue so far.  I realise I haven’t mentioned a title.  That’s because I don’t have one yet, so let’s just call it The Fantasy Story.  

I may have or haven’t mentioned it before, but The Fantasy Story is loosely based on the fantastic D&D adventures that I had with a couple of dear friends; Andrew and Keith.  Sadly, Keith passed away in his sleep a couple of years ago, and this story is for the big guy.

Thanks to all of you who have purchased or taken advantage of my giveaways, and don’t worry all you Haldan Thane readers, Haldan will eventually have some more adventures, but for now, it’s on the back burner.  It was exciting to see all the free copies that went out all over the world during the week leading up to Christmas 2018.  I hope all of you enjoy them!


FREE Haldan Thane adventures over Christmas!

image from torange_biz free photobankMy Christmas gift to my readers and any who might enjoy short, fun sci-fi adventures is all five of the Adventures of Haldan Thane books (Ferandan, Rylomos, Crilum, Perseid and Koleos).

From Saturday, 22 December to Boxing Day, all the books are completely free from Amazon in ebook form.  MERRY CHRISTMAS!


The books behind the stories


I was excited to receive my first Martin Magnus book in the post today, after reading author Simon Haynes’ experiences discovering and treasuring the series.  Displayed with it are a couple of obscure books which have inspired some of my ideas for Haldan Thane and Ruzscom (my unpublished adventure story).  Battlestations! by Diane Carey features Lt Commander Piper, Kirk and Spock and how they take an old ‘truck’ of a spaceship and upgrade it, a bit like the Millennium Falcon.  Alien Intrusion is a much more serious and objective exploration of many sightings, abductions and so on of extraterrestrials than one might judge from its title and cover.  Surprisingly, it studies the phenomenon from a Christian perspective.  So, if you want to read the stories behind the stories, check them out.


In these waning hours of the weekend, I found a few minutes to continue my MSPE adventure, The Adventure of the Jade Jaguar {spoilers warning!}.  Recovering from my snakebite, I followed the trail and happened upon a gated compound, a fortified village, and spotted none other than Juan Hernandez himself!  I was sure that the professor and the others were being kept there, and through a fortunate distraction, I managed to rescue the hostages!

Just turning past a lot of the possible turns of this solo adventure, I glimpsed (trying NOT to look) several exciting possibilities, some of which I’m sure would lead to my body lying dead in the jungle.  In the end, the adventure was really fun and I was thinking it was a bit like those pick-your-path books but with dice, although I think some do use dice.  I’m a bit fuzzy on why it’s called jade jaguar, although I did come across the tracks of a big cat at one point.

In the photo below, you can see how Hank’s journal has been filled out a bit more and my latest addition to the game; a printed copy of the rules PDF.  Luckily I have access to a power stapler and book covering.  I’d certainly prefer the official printed book, and hope to buy it when I get Mugshots #2 and other books.  For now, I can hardly wait to try Mugshots #1, Dave Arneson’s The Case of the Pacific Clipper!


Danger in the jungle!

Finally, I’ve had time to have a little adventure, or at least the start of one, in The Adventure of the Jade Jaguar.  It’s a long weekend, and in between birthday celebrations, playing soccer with my son, constructing a special shelf for the microwave, and building a storage shelf in my workshop, I sat down at my favourite spot outside and became Hank Weatherford, mercenary.  I was fortunate to do so today, because there’s a storm expected tomorrow.  In the pic below, you can see I just managed to make my Luck roll (lucky it’s my highest score).

Hank’s been hired to find a missing archaeologist, a Professor Jackson, and her crew, but the fat army captain wasn’t much help and so I went in alone… into the jungle.  Things could be worse, but I’m currently struggling with a hungry giant snake wrapped around my legs!


Why am I posting this?  Well, I think it looks to be a really fun adventure module, and might help inform me when I’m writing Ruzscom.  My intention is to read King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard for the same reason.  There’s a lot to love about the old adventure/exploration/safari books and films (like Indy Jones).

SEE King Solomon’s Mines YouTube – Topic Channel

DriveThruRPG and Blog of Holding’s Knights of the Dinner Table bundle

As you already know from my previous post about Mercenaries, Spies & Private Eyes, I’m a big fan of the Blog of Holding specials that are sold through DriveThruRPG, the best online gaming store.

Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 7.58.48 pm      LEFT:  Cover of KotD Ep1 by Jolly Blackburn

I’ve long been a fan of the hilarious strip, Knights of the Dinner Table, that used to feature in Dragon magazine.  I’d have to say (reluctantly) I’m probably closest to Bob Herzog (the guy on right in the above drawing) in temperament and as a result had bad things happen to me during my gaming misadventures, much like Bob being changed into a monkey.

Check out this funny animation of it here:  Animated Knights of Dinner Table

And here’s a creative live-action version of them here:  06 Knights of the Dinner Table

I’m really looking forward to reading many that I’ve never seen, as it started well before I first saw them and went on long after I read the last one.  On a side note, I haven’t yet had a go at MPSE, as I’ve been saving it for just the right time to enjoy it.

Excerpt from fantasy novella draft

IMG_3832I’ve been enjoying the holidays; drinking teas like this one- Australia’s Madura English Breakfast, which curiously is blended into Eng. Breakfast style by them from Sri Lankan and Indian teas.  I like having it in my well-used West Coast Eagles cup.  They’re sitting at the top of the footy ladder at the moment and I hope that’s where they end up at the end of the season then take home the premiership.

Here’s an excerpt from the fantasy novella I’ve been writing:

‘A hulking, fur-clad warrior looked down at Toe, his eyes hard to see through thick hair and beard.  He wore leather bands over his wrists, and gestured with an enruned longhammer for Toe to turn his eyes to the dolmen.  Toe nodded, knowing that this was one of the king’s great champions, courageous in battle and one who commanded the warriors like himself.  

The pop of drums could be heard from somewhere in the vale, a simple but pleasant sound.  Toe felt them in his chest, his heart racing to beat in time with them.  He was sure a great honour was about to be given to him, but felt weak at the knees.  

Toe marvelled at the centre of the vale, where it looked like a throne was appearing on the sacred centre stone.  He looked back at the huge warrior, and saw that he was not the only person who stood near him.  Scores of others stood throughout the vale; warriors, peasant men and women, children, all watching the glowing throne and the figure appearing upon it, but some turned to see when the barrows opened, loud stony cracks resonating into the night.’

‘Did you hear something?’ Hengist asked, trying to move Toe along. The big warrior stood still, listening intently and staring at the standing stones at the centre of the empty vale.

Toe stood there among the people, mesmerised by the spectacle and happy to be counted among the king’s warriors.

A chorus of voices called a name he thought was somehow familiar, over and over, more voices joining in. ‘Edyram! Edyram! Edyram!’ Of course, it was the name of the king! Toe began to call out with them, calling for their glorious king to appear before them.

‘Who’s Edyram?’ Hengist asked. Toe was mumbling the word over and over. ‘ed-DIRE-um. ed-DIRE-um. ed-DIRE-um’.

Toe was yanked back from beside the huge warrior. Something jerked and tugged at his scabbard. He turned to see what the annoyance was; the dog he’d seen before was bitting his scabbard, digging his paws in and backing away, and pulling him with it. The giant warrior grunted angrily, deftly stepped beside Toe and lifted his great hammer, swiftly smashing the animal. The death-blow never came. The giant’s hammer broke into a spray of twinkling dust-motes and the warrior stood up, holding the broken haft before his face, looking at it in confusion. Toe was astounded to see right through the great warrior, and the others. Then the warrior and the other dust phantoms, the drums and the chanting, the glowing king, all of it was gone.

The dog let go and Toe turned to step back where he could see, but Hengist grabbed his elbow.

‘Toe, wait. Some kind of fell magic that’. The wizard had a coughing fit and pulled his cloak tighter. ‘Better that we stay away from it’.

Toe nodded at him. ‘Where did that dog go? Fodag wanted to kill the beast. It was unclean’. Toe looked back down the path where they’d come, then at Hengist, as if he hadn’t noticed him before.

‘Are you one of the king’s rune sayers?’ Toe looked in Hengist’s direction, but seemed to be look through him.

‘Toe, it’s me. Hengist. Ye’ve gone a bit blimmy’.

Toe is one of the main characters from the story, a warrior inspired by Game of Thrones’ Sandor Clegane and of course, my old friend Andrew’s D&D character.

Something for my inspiration wall

dead in space quote

I have a  lot of stuff pinned to my cork board above my writing desk; Yeats’ poem The Black Tower, Neruda’s poem Ode to Enchanted Light, some Calvin & Hobbes and Bloom County comics, and a few other things.  Joining them will be this extract of text from my book Perseid, which I feel is the sort of writing that comes out sometimes when a writer is in the groove.  I was really happy with this bit, and I hope you guys enjoy it.  For more, check out Chapters 5, 7 and 8 in Perseid.

For an update on what’s happening with my writing; I found a bit of time today to write another scene or two in the fantasy book, and have had lots of interesting ideas to consider using in HT6 as well as Ruzscom.  I want to finish all three so that I can read them!

Missing a friend

So I must confess to you that I have not been writing HT#6. You see, last September one of my best friends died suddenly and I’m writing a story dedicated to him. The dedication might be something like, ‘To Keithbo, the biggest damned hobbit you ever saw’. That described him nicely, he was a huge, tall man, but very much a hobbit at heart. His door was only open for party business, and he certainly enjoyed elevenses. I will miss his joyous, hearty laughter the most I think.

No idea if I’ll publish or even what I’ll call it. But I must write it.

Found early ideas similar to Crilum!

For many years, a big part of my writing process has been writing down ideas in old journals and notebooks.  I’ve been reading through these looking for inspiration to make my HT#6 draft and my fantasy story better, and have just come across what seems to be an early idea that is eerily similar to the plot of my first-written book, Crilum and one small part like the fifth book, Koleos.  I’m not sure exactly how old these are, but I’d say mid-noughties.  I’ll share it with you as it’s written:

Star Alliance Command has sent you an urgent communication.  A prominent scientist, Dr Molnark, and his team have not returned from an asteroid (or planetary fragment) mining facility.  As the system is not far from your current location, you are to go to this asteroid and investigate.  Recovery of the scientific team is your top priority, recovery of their vessel and maintaining good diplomatic relations with the miners is secondary.  

Command believes stellar signal interference has coincided with or caused a breakdown of Dr Molnark’s ship, nothing more.  In actuality, the Udlornans and their mercenaries have chosen the stellar phenomenon to stage an attack, which worked fairly well.  

The party’s ship will be shot down and will be beyond repair.  The miners are a humanoid species with green skin and a large, single eye (they have trouble with light, good in darkness).


*small enclosed tracked mine vehicle, pulls carts through tunnels

*excavators- spidery, some giant ones (spider robot excavators?)