Monday, December 14, 2015

Ask Me What To Answer, Ask Me What I Want To Run

Title says it all, doesn't it?

Before I get on with writing this week's post, if anyone would like me to cover a topic just leave me a comment here or on Facebook. I'm always interested in covering gaming topics. If it's something I feel I can't answer, I'll tell you, but I will most certainly try!

So this week is Star Wars. STAH WAHS. I am CRAZY excited for it, even though there is the chance...

...the very small/not small chance...

...that it will suck.

Hey! Put that blaster down! I'm just being honest, here. I've been hurt before, and I'm always risky whenever a new movie comes out. The Green Lantern movie was pretty bad, and Star Trek: Into the Dankness wasns't that great. But I'm always willing to take a chance on movies. As the Marvel movies have shown me over the years, even concepts like Ant-Man can turn out to be amazing. And I've been excited for over a year with pictures of Broadsabers, X-Wing fights, and the return of the Falcon. So it could be good!

Sometime in the next year, there are a couple of games that I really want to run. I don't know if I'd have time for them, as some require a shit ton of planning and research, and others may prove to just be one-shots. But I want to run these games because these are stories I want to tell, as well as the fact that these are games I own that I really want to play. 

1. Colonial Masquerade, a Vampire: the Masquerade game set during the Revolutionary War. Players take on the roles of vampires caught in the intense conflict behind the scenes as Elders jockey for power amid the conflict that defined the New World. 

I've wanted to do this for over a year, and Fallout 4 has reawakened the urge in me, so I really want to give this a try. There would be additional NPCs in the setting so that players are not just chumming it with the Founding Fathers, but I want the Founding Fathers to be there as well. Players will even be able to influence history, and could possibly draw a different outcome than what actually happened. 

2. The House, a game using the FATE system where players find themselves drawn into a house but are unable to leave. A horror mystery game, where players uncover secrets about their characters during play. Inspired by a game of Betrayal at the House, I want to run a game where players have to find out why they are trapped in a mansion by the side of the road. 

3. The Lost Zone, a Pulsars game testing out new modifications of the new rules. I want to put some mods I've been tinkering with for the game and see how the system can handle the new way of doing the combined merits/flaws system.

4. World of Mt. Dewage. A world of skate samurai in the streets of Neo Tokyo as they fight to uphold the honor of their corporate lords.

Just kidding Ben. ;) Well, only partially. I really want to run a World of Dew game, because I think it would be a blast! I've considered setting it in Rokugan, as I feel it would make for a more investigative and diplomatic game. 

5. Promethean

I don't have a clear idea of what I want to run with Promethean yet, but between Promethean and Beast I really want to try another game of Promethean. I know that 2nd ed. is coming eventually, but I'd like to come up with a chronicle set in the game. Obviously, MORE RESEARCH NEEDED.

6. Star Wars Spec Ops

I have some ideas on what to do with this, but I want to create a spec ops game set in the Star Wars universe. The players will be responsible for planning their missions, and it will be a reacting and adaptable game so that all players, no matter what their roles, can feel like their characters can fit in. Possibly offering bonus XP to those who pick certain roles, but I don't know.

7. Iron Kingdoms Unleashed: "For Chief and Tribe"

I want to create a narrative where players are all major leaders of their tribes, brought together to deal with encroaching humans into their region. I have also tinkered with a system of letting the players pick Strengths that their tribes can offer, as well as having secret Weaknesses that other players or NPCs could exploit when need be. 

I'd add more, but trying to get more free time would be a must for me.

In Other News...

I found my copy of Live's Mental Jewelry album. I love this album, and it really defined my teenage years. Same with Americana and Dookie. I've been listening to a lot of jazz and swing music lately, and it's been good to go back to 90s Alt rock. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

On Gaming: Making Anxiety Work For You

Let me start this post off with a disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional. Any advice that I give should be taken with a grain of salt, and what works for me may not work for you. If you feel you need a mental health professional, then I recommend contacting your local hospital for recommendations.

Anxiety is a bitch.

I don't mean that anxiety is that pesky thing that lurks at the back of my head. Or rather, I do! But sometimes it's really quiet and manifests as "Hey, if you take that last donut you'll make someone else mad about not getting a donut. And do you need that donut?" 


Ha ha ha, yeah, I never think that way...

...OK, I do. There have been times where I've walked into a room and realized I didn't know anybody there, and felt like turning around and hiding in the restroom until the party was over would be more preferable than risking making an ass of myself in public.

There are numerous reasons for why people get anxiety. For some, it's genetic. Their genes contain faulty or strange genes that make them feel intense feelings of panic and disarray in certain situations. For others, it's psychological; they have been through enough traumatic events in their life that they react badly when put in uncomfortable situations. For some, it's both, and that's just Hell on earth.

And when it comes to gaming, my friends, anxiety is a bitch because it's supposed to be a leisurely activity meant to RELAX you, and not amp up your heart beat and make you feel horrible. That can be a shitty situation to find yourself in, because anxious people generally don't look for shitty situations to be in (unless you are a cop or rescue services personnel, and then I salute you.)

Case in point: It's a Saturday night, and I get invited by a friend of mine to go play in a Sabbat Larp. I thought I would check it out, but upon arriving there I realize that with the exception of a few people I know it's mainly people I don't know. I don't know what their larp styles are, I don't know who they are, and I was generally feeling very anxious because of the horrible week I had just been through. For the first hour, I stayed next to my friends and people watched because the idea of actually getting involved in the story seemed like a huge hurdle.

So I fell back on an old stand-by for situations like that: I made my anxiety work for me.

In larping (or LARPing, LARPING, or however you fucking spell it) you assume the role of someone else. You take on the part of an improvisational play, and you become that character. So I decided that when I entered that mind set, that my character wouldn't be as anxious as I was. And so Darridan was born.

Darridan is not a nice man, and is a hitman who works with his pack. His personality is blustery and a bit of a jerk, which provided me with a cushion to work with. The character felt the same fears that I did, but he wasn't there to make friends (which was the opposite of me.) So being able to use the nervous energy built up that night and channel it into crafting a character that didn't feel the effects of that energy helped.

It works on the principle of stepping out of your safe zone. John didn't know people there, and felt worried by that. Darridan didn't care who the fuck they were, and therefore could talk to them at his leisure.

It's not a perfect exercise. If I had done something dumb like said "Ha, you're an ugly fat tramp" to someone and made them burst into real tears, then that's not helpful at all! That's me being an ass, and that's not helping me work through it at all. That approach may work for genuine sadists out there, but I'm not out to hurt people's feelings in real life. That's just jackassery of the highest level and if that's how you cope with your anxiety, that's just fucked up. 

I should also add it's OK to sit back and relax if your anxiety makes you unable to play. Forcing someone to play when their anxiety is at its peak can just make it worse, and so if you want to chill at a game, feel free to chill. 

Other ways I've used this technique to help with anxiety comes with meeting new gamers for the first time. Sometimes, it's worrying to me how I might be perceived. Even the most resolute tough guy will still care how people look at them, and so sometimes it can make people act weird at parties or group functions. That's why for me, I try to use a little checklist to see how much I want to interact with the group.

1. Do I think these people will judge me? A valid concern, cause at least in America we're a reaaaaally judgy society. But I ask myself "Am I talking to a bunch of potential friends, or a jury in a court room?" More often than not, it's potential friends, and if I feel like I"m just going to get judged by people I leave.

2. Do I honestly care if I get these people to be my friends? Don't kid yourself, we all do this. I, more often than not, do care. But even if you don't care, that can help with anxiety as well. If you truly care to meet new people and potentially new friends and acquaintances, just relax and ease into talking with them. If you don't, then I say fuck it! If you don't care about adding more people to your friends group, then behave as you would. 

3. What common interests do we have? I once calmed myself down from a panic attack by finding the guy at a party who was wearing a Star Trek shirt and talked to him about Star Trek for an hour. Clearly, the guy loved Star Trek, and so it was easy to just chill out and talk about something we both loved. I was then able to branch out to other people at the party, calmed by the fact that there were clearly other nerds there.

Now for those of you who read this and go "Ha! I am the toughest SOB on the planet! I do what I want, and those with anxiety are horrible people!" then consider yourself pretty fortunate, my friend. It's not easy for those to go through life with anxiety, and if you don't feel it, then conga rats! *blows a kazoo*

But try to remember that when you were at your lowest point in your life, you hated how you felt then, and perhaps show some compassion towards others. And I've known more than a few Internet Tough Guys who turn out to sulk over whether someone called their favorite superhero dumb, or who went on week long bouts of depression because something unfortunate happened to them and they didn't know how to deal with it.

Life is tough, and we all got to get through it. So lets show some compassion to our friends, families, and yes, even those strangers out there. Cause even if you do what you want and say what you want, remember that if you are a horrible asshole to someone at a party, remember that the first thing people will talk about when you leave is how you acted and why people didn't like you for it.

Now I must finish up some work, and then finish ordering Christmas presents. I hope you are all having a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Holidays, and Wing-Wang-Wozzle December.

Monday, November 30, 2015

On Gaming: The Mystery

The fact I can get it right away with a lot more fun and addicting and I don't think that it was not immediately available to all of them in my head.

That last sentence was brought to you by clicking the autofill button on my iPad a bunch of times. Strangely, it kinda makes sense? But not really.

So, Smug Puggerinos, how are you guys doing? I hope the holidays went well for you. I've been busy freelancing and writing, and will have some awesome news to share with you soon. Until then, I've been busy finishing up my work on the Infinity Tabletop RPG, which will be available soon. There was an awesome team in place for this one, and I know you'll like it.

Meanwhile my chief minions Cokie and Flot have been doing their best to interfere with writing. Flot has been having more stomach issues as of late, and has been spending a lot of time in my lap keeping my hands from typing on the keyboard. Cokie is having tooth problems, but is still the lovable puggle that steals pumpkin pie from my sister Tina.

The purpose of my post today is to talk about building mysteries in role playing games. We've all seen mystery programs on television or read about them in books; there is something strange going on, and the investigators must solve the mystery in order to resolve the conflict that is taking place. It sounds simple enough; put in a murdered waiter at a dinner party and watch the players play Who Did It?

But is it really that simple? Truth be told, it can be a monumentally difficult task to build a mystery in your game. Unless you are running a game where Lord Treachorio Stabbington is gleefully steeping his fingers to the side as you discover the murdered waiter, you may run into many hiccups along the way.

1. The Lack of Evidence

One of the main driving forces behind a mystery is the pursuit of evidence. Players will want to find clues that can lead them on the right path, otherwise they walk around like Chief Wiggum going "DID YOU DO IT?" The evidence is more than just a smoking gun, or a confession left by the killer. It is the transitory piece that moves the investigation along.

A lack of evidence can leave the players in a quandary, especially if that evidence does not provide enough information on the case at hand. For example:

The players find a scrap of blue velvet in the murder victim's hand. No one at the party is wearing velvet, and there is no evidence of this piece of cloth being in the restaurant. The players analyze the cloth, but cannot find anything special about it.

This can stymie the players attempts at continuing the investigation, because the cloth has told them nothing. It was in the waiter's hand, but they are unable to uncover anything special about it. They know it's a piece of the puzzle, but in this case it's not just difficulty in finding where to place the piece in the puzzle, but if it's even to the right puzzle.

Evidence needs to have significance other than "Lord Treachorio likes the color blue." It must have something to it where it can come into play during the scene. Perhaps the piece of blue velvet has some strange chemical splashed on it, or perhaps the players learn from one of the witnesses that they saw blue velvet curtains at a nearby house.

The same goes for finding character witnesses as well. If the players know that the Man In The Green Hat was seen leaving shortly before the waiter dies, they need to be able to find the Man. The NPC needs to be able to react to the players questions with enough detail to fill them in on the mystery, and it cannot be just "Ah ha, you have found me. The killer is Steve over in the corner."

Remember that evidence will be the thing that helps move the story along and helps the players build their case.

2. Too Much Evidence

We've seen how a lack of evidence can hinder the investigation, but there is another threat that can stop an investigation cold in its tracks: An abundance of uselss evidence.

While players will often try to drift towards finding the Smoking Gun, they will also look for information in every place that comes to their mind. There comes the risk of filling a scene with too much information that can derail the investigation. For example:

The Waiter is a card carrying member of the Elk Lodge, and five dinner guests in attendance are members of the Lodge. The players, assuming that the Elk Lodge and the guests are somehow involved, will then begin a detailed investigation on each guest as well as going to the nearby Elk Lodge. They will invest so much time looking into the Elk Lodge, in fact, that they miss the clue that the waiter was killed for gambling debts unrelated to the Lodge. This has not only cost the players time, but frustrated them as they have not been able to solve the crime.

If evidence is included in the scene, it must be involved somehow in the mystery. It is OK for evidence to lead the players along the wrong path in the short term, as this can be used by the players to eliminate NPCs as suspects. "It turns out that despite his business card being in the waiters wallet, Niles is innocent. He and the waiter were lovers."

It is important to keep in mind that evidence can also tell the players multiple things as the story progresses. If the scrap of blue velvet not only came from a nearby house but is revealed to have small traces of cocaine on it, it can tell the players that they are looking for a house where narcotics are kept at.

3. The Story Must Be Malleable

As any seasoned GM, DM, Storyteller, or whatever title your game runner chooses can attest, no adventure ever fully survives contact with the players. I have had players who have defeated a long skyscraper dungeon crawl with the phrase "Wait, we can fly. Lets just go to the top."

Dang players.

But more importantly, when it comes to a mystery, the story must adapt as the players work to solve it. A player who has his character built around solving cyber crimes may decide to investigate the waiter's cell phone, which may contain sensitive information that could completely cripple the mystery and lead the players from Start to Finish right away.

That means that you need to be prepared with how to handle this. It can be disappointing to have players see through the cunning charade and solve the mystery in five minutes, but remember that the players build their characters to do useful things. Even a Bard will want to use their Bardic Knowledge to their best advantage, and its important to figure out how to deal with the mystery as circumstances change.

Maybe the phone is not the waiters, and now the waiter is lying there with a burner phone whose owner is a mystery. Or perhaps the messages on the phone are with an unknown number, and the players learn that the waiter tried to skip out on paying his gambling debts to an unknown person and had been receiving threats for weeks.

The same goes for if players follow false leads. If the players assume that they must find the souce of all blue velvet curtains in Manhattan, the GM must figure out a way to bring them back into the plot without having an NPC show up and say "No, go that other way." Nudging the players rather than pushing them can help put them on the right path, but having a strictly aligned story that the players must follow in order to solve the mystery can be boring, and can cause many players to feel that they do not need to try as hard to uncover the mystery.

4. Remember That The Mystery Should Be Fun

Mysteries should be enticing to the players, and be something that they genuinely want to solve. It may be disheartening to hear the players say "Let's let the police handle it" but if the players are not wanting to find out why the waiter was killed, railroading them back into the mystery will only put strain on the group. The same goes with having a long, drawn out investigation. If the pay off to the mystery is "The waiter died because he poked a rabid badger with a spoon" then the players will feel like they spent their time poorly.

Make the mystery somehow impact the players. Perhaps they liked the waiter, or the waiter was a friend of theirs. Maybe one of the players is implicated in the waiter's death, or the waiter's death is part of a much larger mystery. The mystery should seem like a priority that they want to engage in, but not a crippling priority where a police officer with a glowing neon sign that says "SOLVE MYSTERY NOW" follows them at each turn.

And keep in mind the sensitivity of your players. Some mysteries can turn dark, and some players love it when they do. But do not have the murdered waiter lead to a dark and heavy mystery involving rape and mutilation if the players feel uncomfortable with it. Nothing is worse than telling someone that they need to uncover the truth behind a mystery and that they need to feel icky and gross for doing it.

I hope all of this has helped in some way! And remember, even if the mystery is solved in five minutes, it does not mean that you did a bad job. It just means your players are pretty skilled at solving mysteries, and may be greatly anticipating the next one you throw at them.

Con News:

As of right now, I am looking at Midwinter, Indiana Comic Con, Inconjunction, and Gen Con for next year. If anyone has any conventions to recommend to me, I'd love to hear about it! My email is JKMyth at gmail dot c0m.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Yes, I'm That Kind Of Gamer

Hello, puggerinos. As all of you know, I play a lot of tabletop RPGs. If you don't know what one is, it's where we sit around the table, rolling strange polyhedrons in an attempt to summon Stan.

But I figured you already knew that.

I am hear to admit that I am that shameful form of gamer. My gaming group knows that if certain things come up in a game, they can count on me dropping everything to sate my hunger for it. We could be pursuing a turtle dragon that has kidnapped the local princess and is now flying off to his castle in the distance, but I will literally focus my energies elsewhere if certain things happen. These triggers may include...

  • An ancient mural on the wall depicts the rise and fall of a forgotten civilization, including a calamity which ended it abruptly centuries ago.
  • A long sword of strange design and made of unknown materials hidden away in a horde of common artifacts.
  • A tribe of lizardfolk that fight to the death to defend their totem, a giant carved skull that appears to be blocking a hole into the Earth. The lizardfolk plead for us not to release the evils within.
  • A derelict starship from an alien race that has phased into a nearby mountain, and whose audio logs are scattered about.
That's right. I'm the kind of gamer that must know more about the world he is playing in, from the minutae of what gnolls eat for breakfast to the famous plays storm giants perform in their keeps on top of mountains.

I don't know why. Maybe I read too much growing up, or maybe I've been spoiled by deeply detailed settings like Glorantha or Forgotten Realms. I just know that if there is a chance to learn more about a setting, I usually leap for it. Just as throwing a handful of sand in the air can cause a vampire to stop and count them, I will want to learn more about the religion of the warlocks who serve Lord Muckity Muck.

(That's right. You didn't know the old myth about vampires, did you? Aren't you curious what else there could be about vampires that you do not know? Do yourself a favor and Google the Eastern European legend about vampires and see where the legend differs!)

Maybe it's a little bit of snobbery to say that I just can't stand bland settings when I play. Maybe I have played too many RPGs over the years but if we sit down to play a fantasy setting and there are Orcs raiding a Human caravan with names like Blork, Blabba, and Blideboo I'm finding my interest waning. I want my world to have more detail than playing a Warcraft 2 game. All tabletop games are played partially on the board but mostly in the mind, and nothing disrupts my mental images more abruptly and harshly than "It's an orc. He's got a sword. He swings at you."

The same applies to games I run. At my last con game of Wu Xing the players learned little details that they later told me helped them adjust to the setting. Whether they were sipping Akaba, a sweet rum produced by the islanders on Ankh, or when they watched from a distance as the Uga Clan diciples performed their Haka as they tried to drown the Will of Iron ninja they had been sent to find, they liked how they could feel more of the setting.

Obviously, this can get out of hand quickly. Players sit down to play, not to have me extol the virtues of the Uga to them. A player might be interested in why the G'wai in System Crash choose their names, but they do not want to know the recipe for Hedgehog Goulash, especially if it just distracts from the setting. 

Peppering your setting with even the littlest details can make it more vibrant and alive in the same way that adding small amounts of certain spices to a meal make it more flavorful. Give a recurring villain a strange accent, have a pickpocketed wallet contain a grocery list for strange items, or introduce random dialogue that people on the street may say if the players are trying to gather intel. For more extreme examples, consider a dwarven funeral procession in the street, a crazed old man saying he is from the lost Tanuki clan, or even a notebook from America's lost sister colony of Columbiana declaring they are rebelling alongside them in the Americas Revolution can make players more interested in the setting and want to seek out these mysteries. 

I know some people would say that you need to play a game system that supports this kind of roleplaying, and I absolutely agree that there are many games that help in this regard. Numenera is the first that comes to mind. In Numenera, you are exploring Earth in the Ninth age, an age where previous civilizations have come and gone and there are relics from the past scattered across the planet. The purpose of the game is to explore, and the system lends itself well to that kind of mentality.

Remember that just like spices, moderation is the key. But challenge yourself to make your world larger and unique. Players can get in on this as well when they make their characters. Perhaps your character always wears a special braided knot on his scabbard for luck, or maybe you come from a dwarf colony that lives out on the sea in a massive iron sailing ship. Perhaps you are a visitor from a strange land, or perhaps you worship a different deity from others. Just as with the GMs, don't go overboard because you want to make the world bigger, not introduce Gundams into a fantasy setting.

The first step to fixing a problem is to admit you have a problem, and that's where I"m going to lie and say I don't have a problem. If you run a game from me, I will want to know more about your world. Do not take that as an insult; if I have a vested interest in something, I tend to obsess over it, and if you make a world that draws me in I will be the happiest gamer around.

Now, in other news...

Pulsars is chugging along. We are going to start our Kickstarter in over a month, and I am waiting on some last confirmations before we go live. Ryan Schoon and Ben Woerner have been extremely helpful in this, along with my fellows in the IGDN. I have some anxiety over running a KS, but I've been fortunate to have some of the best tutelage when it comes to running Kickstarters and I hope the gamign community will like what they see.

I've been pondering doing a podcast of The Smug Pug Games that would talk about game development and minis, while probably incorporating pop culture as well. Is that something you guys would be interested in hearing? Let me know at JKMyth at Gmail dot com! 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Obligatory Gen Con Post 2015!

Hello everyone! Has it really been since April? Apparently I ran out of cool things to say over the summer. But I do have cool things to talk about now!

Gen Con is tomorrow! Well, early Gen Con is tomorrow. It's time for that big gaming convention in Indy. I will be there like always, either at the Third Eye Games booth (2017) or wandering around the con. Here's a list of my schedule, though I do have many meetings planned throughout the con that are not listed on it.


  • 3PM Third Eye Games Booth Set UP
  • 6PM IGDN Social at Loughmiller's Pub
  • 10AM Being a Booth Howler with Eloy
  • 4-8 Pulsars Mk. 1!
  • 8-Midnight Pulsars Mk. 2!
  • Safeguarding the Realm Eternal of Third Eyegia, the Booth located at 2017!
  • 2-6 Wu Xing
  • I will be attending the Pre-Ennies meet and greet, but after that I will be free to chat with people about Pulsars and other work.
  • 10AM Wu Xing
  • 2PM Catching the Costume Parade (if possible)
  • 6PM Dinner with fellow Freelancers
  • 8PM Second Dinner with other Freelancers
  • 10PM DUELING ELOY FOR CONTROL OF THE COMPAN-I mean, hanging out with people!
  • Networking day, where I may even get to see this thing called the "Exhibition Hall" but in reality will be handling meetings.
If you want to get in touch with me, shoot me an email at JKMyth at Gmail (dot) com! Or hit me up over on Twitter at JKMyth.

I will be around on Sunday and Monday as well, for interested parties.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Of Mice and Weredragons. Or Mostly Weredragons.

Hi, my name is John, and I like dragons.

But if you knew me for any length of time you knew that already.

Well, that and the fact I love pugs, Green Lantern, Transformers, and eating chips in batches of 4, but that's neither here nor there.

I'm writing about the fact I like dragons because I'm incredibly excited for a friend Marissa's Kickstarter that she's running. It's called Epyllion. You and your friends play as clutch mates descending from several noble houses of dragons. It's powered by the Apocalypse World engine and it has some amazing people working on it, including John Wick.

When Marissa started talking about Epyllion it reminded me of some of the daydreams I used to have when I was a kid. Thanks to shows like Mighty Max and Gargoyles I was obsessed with dragons. I used to draw them in a folder I kept in my desk, and I used to pretend that in the creek bed next to our school there was an entrance that led to hidden caves where a colony of weredragons lived.

Sure, they were a child's indulgence. They mirrored everything in my environment that I thought was cool. They were mysterious. They were powerful. They were superheroes. And, during a lonely time in my life, they were friends.

So in the spirit of Marissa's really awesome game (seriously, IT LOOKS SO AWESOME YOU GUYS CHECK IT OUT) let me introduce you to Dragonfire and his friends, as well as his old rogue's gallery.

(Please pardon the names. They were created when I was 8, and were really bad.)

The hero, AKA who I imagined myself as, is Dragonfire. One day while exploring the creeks near the school I saw something shining in a nearby tunnel. When I went to investigate it I was bitten by a mysterious creature which caused me to transform into a weredragon. I was taken in by a nearby colony who taught me how to control my powers and told me how I was descended from an ancient bloodline of noble dragons whose task was to keep the Dragon Titans imprisoned beneath the caves that made up the colony.

That was hard to write, not because it was so difficult, but because how corny it seems now. Still, it was so cool to me.

Physically Dragonfire was very much like one of Disney's gargoyles. He had wings, ditigigrade feet, and a head like a T-Rex. I sometimes went to battle wielding the Sword of The Ancients, a golden long sword with a winged hilt guard. I could breathe fire and regenerate.

There were tons of other dragons and weredragons who lived in the caves, but I'll focus on the important ones:

-Dragonknight, another character with a silly name, who was a weredragon but had a more humanoid face. He could project unbreakable rings of psionic force around his opponents. Noble and kind, he gave his life to service.

-Razorwing, a drake who had was born without wings and had collapsible metallic ones that could fire razor blades at his opponents. Could only glide, but was the daredevil of the group.

-Cookie the cook, an Asian style dragon with long whiskers and who could cook anything. Strangely whenever I think of him he looked like a muppet.

-Cassie, an Amazonian dragon who wielded a short sword and shield. A member of a nearby Drake clan, she earned the emnity of her people to help my clan out.

-Battle Dragon, who was me but only after a convuluted storyline that mirrored the Thor/Thunderstrike storyline from Marvel comics. Essentially it was me but with brown scales and blue armor and wielding a battle axe alongside Dragonfire.

-Talon, a burrowing reptile who could create weapons in his hands and who spun across the ground like a buzzsaw.

But no heroes are complete without their rogue's gallery.

-The Dark Dragon, the villain who was later revealed to have been the one who bit Dragonfire and made him into a hero. He looked like Dragonfire save for black scales, a triceratops head, and black plate mail. Not completely evil, he would sometimes aid Dragonfire if it worked in his favor.

-Zexyss The Doom Dragon, an ancient cthonic deity who tried to free the Dragon Titans who lived beneath the caves.

-Pythanos, a snake monster inspired from nightmares I had. A creature of living snakes who tried to kill me in my human form. Wanted to wipe out all humans and dragons from the planet through use of his serpent men, who could assume the form of family and loved ones before turning into giant snakes.

-Orgg, who wasn't a villain so much a race of triceratops-like creatures that lived deep underground and occasionally escaped to the surface. Dragonfire once saved the Children's Museum from a rampaging Orgg.

-Maxim the (insert cheesy last name), a Xanatos analog who tried to hunt down Dragonfire to steal the secrets to his shapeshifting.

There were all kinds of adventures. Meeting the Space Dragons, preventing Zexyss from escaping from beneath Clearwater Farm and destroying the Earth, being welcomed into the ranks of the Avengers AND the Justice League, It was pure escapism but those adventures were amazing. I could bore you guys pretty quickly.

As an adult I'm able to understand where all of these things came from. Sure, wishing to be a superhero with all the powers of a dragon were probably a young mind yearning for the power and respect he didn't get, but I'd like to think there was more going on there. It was where I dreamed. It was where I saw things in my environment and wanted to interact with them on my terms.

Looking back, I can see multiple things to change about it to make it a much more interesting story. Perhaps some day I will return to that world and see how the story has evolved. It would make one yell of a YA comic.

First thing I'd change? THE NAMES! I was a kid in the 80s and 90s, and back then TV shows named things like that. I remember in Double Dragon when they kept naming new bad guys they found by where they were. "My god, it's the Shadow Lord! The Shadow Boss' leader! He leads the Shadow Clan, with his buddies Big Shadow, Shooty Shadow, Double Shadow, Shadow Gumbo, Shadow Kebob, Shadow Sautee, and more!"

....OK that last part may have blended in Forrest Gump, but you get the point.

I'm excited to get my hands on Epyllion and making my own adventures with some friends. You guys should check it out.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Religious Freedom Bill Is The Most Anti-Conservative Bill To Date

Bad news for my conservative friends; the Religious Freedom Bill is set to be signed into law in Indiana. You have my sincerest condolences, as not only will this bill legalize discrimination against GLBT and Atheists, but it will be particularly devastating towards conservatism.

What? You heard me.

The Republican Party in the United States has held two key cornerstones for the past century and that has been fiscal conservatism and family values, and the bill acts against both interests.

It's not a financially sound investment to pass legislature that is guaranteed to be repealed. The Religious Freedom Bill actively approves discrimination against citizens of the United States, a trend which has proven to be vastly unpopular among the people who are discriminated against. They will fight tooth and nail to have the bill repealed, and the Supreme Court will lean towards repealing it. It's not a maybe at this point. It's not an uncertainty. This is not the era of McCarthyism, of Victorian era values, of the firebrand preaching of the Great Revival; this is the modern era, and one where those held under can make their voices heard just as loudly as others.

People will fight against the bill. Lawyers on both sides will argue in courts. Millions of dollars will be spent and in the end it will be repealed. That's money wasted. Money that could be spent towards other issues the Republican party is dedicated to.

As for the other issue, the Religious Freedom Bill is going to work pretty heavily against having Religious Freedom.

At this point in history you have unparalleled religious freedom and in America you have incredibly sway in politics and pop culture. If I walk into a bar and said "Can someone tell me who Jesus Christ is?" I will have many people able to tell me who he was and why he is important to them. There will be no worshippers of Ra the Sun God demanding I be cast into a pit for not worshipping their God and I will not run the risk of having to defend myself against the worshippers of Tzecatlipoca who would add me to the lists of sacrifices to keep the Sun rising and this age continuing.

Having unparalleled religious freedom doesn't mean you do not have to face consequences for your actions. Right now you are asking for the right to refuse service to people whose beliefs you do not agree with or support. You are taking a stand together and saying "Gays, we're not a fan" and telling them their money is not good in your stores.

How do you think this makes you look?

You look exclusionary. You look like you don't want to be around other people. You look divisive. Above all else, you look petty. (If you flinch from reading this and feel anger rising up inside of you, imagine if you were gay and someone said you can't shop in their store.)

You may be reading this and thinking "No, this bill will support my faith and protect my rights to be religious." The bill certainly seems like it would. It protects your right to deny service to someone whose sexual orientation, faith, or politics would go against your religion.

This also applies to YOU. No, really. This means the following things:

  • If I do not agree with Christians in my store, I can deny you service. It is my religious belief not to allow you in my store.
  • I can deny you life saving medications at my pharmacy if I do not support those who choose to be Republican.
  • I can offer great discounts to those who share my faith and beliefs and live in my small town but if you disagree with me then I can force you to have to drive to a different town for the same services.
  • I can be known for repairing cars for cheap and offering great deals on services, but if you are not Atheist, I can force you to have to go to another mechanic who offers you costlier repairs and services that you cannot afford.
  • You may be desperate to feed your family and need to go to a local Aldi or Kroger to buy food in bulk to feed them but if you're Christian, I can ask you to set your items down and get out of my store because of your "puritanical ways."
Sound stupid? Sound like it wouldn't happen?

It's happening now. We have a councilman who is refusing service to State Legislators. We have several businesses being posted on Facebook when it is revealed they will not support GLBT clients. There are legislators coming out and saying that if the bill passes then they want restaurants to post signs in their windows stating that if they will ban people because of their orientations or beliefs then they need to post a sign stating they will do so, which some consider unfair because "it'll hurt my business."

Being petty and discriminatory to people only makes the other side feel the need to do the same back. AND WHO WOULD BLAME THEM? There's only so long you can say "I don't like you, I don't want you here" before eventually you reach the point of "Well, I don't like you either." 

This isn't a case of people becoming less religious or the world becoming more and more sinful. We've just reached an age as a society where doing dickish things isn't being celebrated but being called out for what it is; being dickish.

If you truly love your faith and feel that its warm embrace, then that's amazing. No, it really is. I've seen faith do some remarkable things, and I've known people turn their lives around because of it. I've also experienced the darker side of that, and have felt like I should have removed myself from existence because of that. 

Do good things in the name of your faith but for everyone, not just people you like. Be like Jesus. The world needs more people like that.

On a closing note, I want to point out that while I do not maintain a physical store front I would be happy to sell my wares to anyone. I would sell them to straights, gays, lesbians, cisgendered, transgendered, Christians, atheists, abled, disabled, Klingon, Borg, Brony, Furry, Republican, Democrat, Canadian, Evil Parallel Universe Canadians With Goatees And Razor Sharp Maple Leaves, Chilled out couch potatoes, and irate and antsy rabble rousers. You're all cool.

But no Zombies. Fuck those guys.