If a Martyr I should Be – my new short story now available on Amazon.com as a Kindle book

Martyr4

I’ve been working on this little project for a while now. Last night I finished and I submitted it to Amazon to be available via Kindle. Now it’s available for you to purchase! It’s only $1, or if you know someone who’s purchased it, you can borrow it for free if they’re a Prime member. 

Here’s the introduction from the text:

It’s not often that one expects to make such an interesting, humanizing find in an old manuscript, written in Old French, while sitting amongst the white mountains of New Hampshire. Truth be told, I didn’t really come to appreciate what I had found in the Grim manuscript until nearly fifteen years after I had left the mountains for a suburb near Boston. 


I had found myself in my early twenties at Plymouth State College (now a University) in New Hampshire, as a Medieval Studies major, mostly because at the time I had applied to colleges I loved Dungeons & Dragons, and PSC happened to accept me into their ranks. Medieval Studies seemed like a natural fit. 

Towards the end of my undergraduate career I realized that I’d have to complete a capstone project, and took it upon myself to translate something of note from Old French (used in the 9th through 14th centuries in France and England). 

It may surprise you as much as it did me, but there is not an abundance of original, untranslated Old French manuscripts in Plymouth, New Hampshire. Fortunately this new fangled thing called the Internet had sprung up overnight and I Gophered and Mosaiced my way into a fledgling online archive called the MOnastic Manuscript Project, or MOMP. Catchy, right? 

At the time, someone in France had digitized by way of taking film pictures and then scanning them, a large number of unsorted manuscripts. Downloading these manuscripts as JPG files over what was only a slightly faster connection than dial-up was a painful and lengthy process, but I managed to grab six or seven random manuscripts. 

One of them, a fairly exhaustive list of transactions for the village of Eze became my focus. Eze, a village situated on the top of a large hill or possibly small mountain, just northwest of the Mediterranean Sea is probably a charming place, full of charming people. For me though it was and always will be a place where numerous chickens were exchanged for horseshoes and drawn nails were argued over for nearly a full page. It will be defined in my brain forever as a spidery, hand written shopping list of massive proportions. 

Another manuscript, the writings of an English knight called Sir Edward Grim, I looked at briefly but otherwise didn’t bother to read, much to my later chagrin. Edward wrote in a flowery style that reads fairly well but is a real bastard to translate. I opted for the chickens and horseshoes as it made my senior year at college that much easier. 

It wasn’t until just recently, as I was trawling through a large foot locker that held all of my college memories that I came on the printed manuscript of Sir Edward Grim. On taking another crack at it (I am now very rusty in my Old French, working mostly with computers and the professors that abuse them) I became fascinated with the man, his life and his closeness early on with several key historical figures. 

King Henry II (1133 – 1189) and Thomas Becket (1120 – 1170) were perhaps the first recorded incidence of a famous bromance gone horribly wrong. When they first became acquainted they became fast friends, partying together, hunting together and generally enjoying all that life had to offer the rich and famous of 12th century England. 

Seeing as they were great friends, and that Henry was having some difficulties with bringing the church around to his way of thinking, they both thought it would be a grand idea if Thomas got a job with the church, thus making it a lot easier for Henry to get his way. Never ones to think small, Thomas ended up as Archbishop of Canterbury – the leading bishopric of England. 

That’s when the trouble started. Somewhere between “Ha ha, let’s make you Archbishop” and actually become Archbishop, Thomas became a convert to the church and began to take his job as seriously as he previously had taken his partying. Rather than ease Henry’s pain with the church, Thomas became the biggest thorn in his side. 
All of this has been one of my favorite areas of study when looking at Medieval England, and it eventually ended with Henry making an offhand remark out of spite, pleading with the universe at large to ‘rid him of this troubling priest’. 

Henry just happened to make this comment in front of a group of his knights, who were ever eager to please the King. Taking this probably a lot more literally than Henry had intended, the rode off into the sunset and a short while later murdered Thomas in his cathedral. 
For good and ill, this is how history plays out. 

I had no idea that I had in my foot locker a print out of a nearly 800 year old manuscript written by a young man who was standing within shouting distance of Thomas when he was so abruptly removed from the list of Henry’s problems. Apparently MOMP didn’t know either. 
As I finished translating the first few pages, I knew I had something interesting. I popped open the MOMP site to see if the manuscript was still there and to see who had translated it – for surely after 15 years someone would have found it.

In reality though, that manuscript was simply… gone. I contacted the folks at MOMP through email, and received a fairly terse reply a few days later. The manuscript had been removed from their digitized collection at the request of none other than the Vatican. They had no idea where I may be able to find other copies nor why this had been removed. 

Since I’m no one in particular, and the Vatican is a big and busy place, I’ve not received any comment from them on the matter. 

I’m a big proponent of openness when it comes to this sort of thing though, and I had at my hands the tools and knowledge to put together a half-decent translation. It is this, after many nights of coffee, magnifying glasses and typing, that I offer now to you.

I won’t comment more on the King and Becket – there are plenty of scholars who have written about them with far more knowledge and resources than I have. I will say this on Sir Edward Grim. To have started his adult life witnessing the murder of a saint, spent his middling years on the crusade we so often think of when we hear the word ‘Crusades’ and to have ended them in the peace of a quiet monastic life – he has surely seen more of this world than many of us ever will. 

Kick The Box Andrew Harman, Creator of Frankenstein's Bodies Interview

Kick The Box

Kick The Box: Interview with Andrew Harman, Creator of Frankenstein’s Bodies

Do I ever have a treat for all my readers! I was blessed with the pleasure of picking apart the brain of a musician, author, game designer, and cook, Andrew Harman. See what he has to say about Monty Python, The Beatles, drinks, and, of course, his newest game on Kickstarter called Frankenstein’s Bodies.  

d312325d295c6a79cbab3f13725c9341_large

KTB: Hey Andrew. Thanks for taking time from your busy schedule for the interview. Let’s start off with a little bit about you. When your not busy designing games, what other hobbies do you enjoy?

Andrew Harman: Right now, part way through my Kickstarter I feel like there’s barely time to sit down – let alone have hobbies. But in calmer times I play the drums for bands and gig live in pubs. It’s great fun. I took it up when I started writing my sci-fi comedies thinking it would be a good way to mentally relax but it’s surprisingly heavy on mental discipline too. But in a different way. I also relax over a hot stove by cooking. I’m particularly fond of spicy Thai and Chinese as well as all kinds of fish. Although the way I’m feeling now I could have a go at a bit of Ciabatta. Wrestling with a lump of dough for a while could be quite stress relieving!

KTB: You’ve been gaming for hours during a midsummer evening get together of friends. What kind of drink is sitting on your coaster?

AH: Good question. Foolish answer – one that’s not long left on this world. I got a thirst and I’m going to use it!!!
If it’s the start of the evening then a classic gin and tonic probably, or a chilled Manzanilla sherry. Sharp and almost nutty it’s very refreshing. We first had that in Spain a few years back, high up in Andalucia. Nice.

KTB: I have to ask. What is in a Manzanilla Sherry? Name alone sounds amazing and I want to try it!

AH: Manzanilla sherry is amazing. There are two types of dry sherry Fino and Manzanilla. Apparently they are both made using the same process but in slightly different pats of spain. Fino comes from Jerez and Manzanilla comes from Sanlucar de Barrameda – which are only about fifty miles apart. Both of them are light dry drinks but there’s something more tasty about the manzanilla. It’s great. But then so much of the food and drink in Spain is great. That makes me want to go on holiday!!! 

KTB: What Tabletop games have you played recently?

AH: Actually quite a few. I have recently started up a gaming club at the University where I work and we are getting through a whole bunch of classics. We’re introducing games to a lot of people just starting out so lots of accessible stuff. Carcassonne, Transamerica, Ticket to Ride all go down really well as do some of my favourite new games. The excellent Camelot-The Build from Wotan Games and Snowdonia from Tony Boydell. (I’m particularly looking forward to getting my hands on Ivor the Engine!) My most recently purchased game is Splendor. Neat and ‘choicy’ and very fast. Great fun even though I seem to lose more than I win!.

KTB: I’ve been eyeing Splendor. Was actually thinking about picking it up. Too many games, too little time. Do you have a favorite tabletop game mechanic?

AH: Not really. I like to look at the game as a whole and how it plays. I’m happy set collecting, worker placing, tile laying, staking chairs. A good game is a good game.

Frankensteins Bodies Tables

KTB: ‘Frankenstein’s Bodies’ is available on Kickstarter as we speak. Which came first? The idea of cutting up bodies and putting them together? Or, the idea of creating a game influenced by the classic novel Frankenstein?

AH: Er, both. And neither! Let me explain, I’m not being deliberately awkward. Before ‘Frankenstein’s Bodies’ was ‘born’ an RPG appeared. ‘Dark Harvest: The Legacy of Frankenstein’ is an amazing gaming world written by Iain Lowson. It has won awards, spawned supplements and story anthologies (and will soon be rereleased by Chronicle City). I am doubly lucky to A) know Iain very well and B) be invited to use my writing skills to add flavour fiction throughout. So, that’s the game influenced by the classic novel ‘Frankenstein’.
Out of this came Iain’s suggestion that the product line is expanded to include games. He strong-armed me into taking this on and we fairly quickly hit on the idea of the body-building scenario as this seemed to have enough conflict points to get a good bit of player interaction happening. The rest, as they say, c’est histoire.

KTB: Twisted your arm did he? sally monster_edited-1:)How long have you been play testing and tweaking Frankenstein’s Bodies?

AH: Scarily – two and a half years! And boy, has it changed in that time. I can’t stress how important the play test process has been – as well as how much fun. Even now we’re still seeing people pull out unexpected strategies when they’re playing. The thing I’m really pleased about is that the game mechanics allow creative play. A lot of which can be unexpectedly mean! And fun. Always fun!

KTB: Minus the playtesters, how many people have helped you develop Frankenstein’s Bodies?

AH: It’s been pretty much my wife Jenny and me. But I’m not happy about not counting the playtesters. Their feedback, unexpected comments and continued enthusiasm have got this game to where it is now. We have had some stunning ‘testers’ as I have been lucky enough to find a really good group of British designers who have played and fed back – and listened to my comments on their games. The part I didn’t expect to have fall on my shoulders is doing the artwork. But that’s another story!!!

KTB: When I first saw the ‘paper cut away’ art style that you chose for Frankenstein’s Bodies, it immediately screamed Monty Python to me. You know the little animated bridge episodes with the odd paper cut art? Was Monty Python any kind of influence here? Or am I just some silly American who thinks everything has to tie either to Monty Python or Red Dwarf?

AH: Great question, Jason! I’m flattered that you saw my art and thought of Terry Gilliam’s genius. It wasn’t a deliberate reference, but then when you look at a large severed foot in a strange context then yes, I guess the Python-esque imagery is always going to be there a bit. And the ‘torso’ hmmm – stick a black knight helmet on it and you kind of hear it begging you to ‘Come back and I’ll bite your knees off.’
‘Was Monty Python any kind of influence?” Hah – can John Cleese walk a bit silly? I firmly believe that British comedy is world beating when it hits the spot and think that Python has actually influenced more people than perhaps- pause for a controversial moment – perhaps even the Beatles! Face it how often can you hear the word ‘Parrot’ and not grin, just a little bit? And let’s not stick to tv/film here – we Brits can write world class comedy. Two words- Douglas Adams! Now, he was a big influence on me. Anyone that can argue that all life in the Universe is a statistical mistake should have statues erected in every major city! And it’s Towel day on Sunday!

KTB: Oh no! You didn’t go there with The Beatles did you?  Douglas Adams is amazing. I  am also a big fan of Terry Pratchett and Piers Anthony, among other English authors. I see the only board game that you have backed on Kickstarter is ‘Bullfrogs’ which is a recent campaign. What is it that caught your attention of this game, among the slew of games on Kickstarter?

AH: Well now, who’s been doing his research? Well done. It is the only game I have backed under my own name. /smiles enigmatically.
‘Bullfrogs’ looks like a really neat game featuring FROGS! I have had a thing about frogs ever since I was writing my second comic fantasy ‘The Frogs of War’. I’ve got quite a little collection of them. Yes, see how I segued into my past life there? Before moving into games writing I penned 11 sci-fi comedy novels (now available on Kindle and other electronic things). It all started with ‘The Sorcerer’s Appendix’ back in the brightly coloured ears of the early 90’s. Check them out, bad puns, strange plots and quite a lot of fun.

KTB:  I’m always looking for new stuff to read. I will be sure to check them out! Thanks! I didn’t see any stretch goals listed on newset KS box_edited-4the Kickstarter campaign page. Do you have anything planned? Or waiting for the game to be funded before you reveal them?

AH: There are a whole lot of heavy duty expansions waiting in the wings which add a whole raft of extra gaming goodness. They add extra side games and even bring in Ygor! But right now there is a first goal ‘The Shredded Peasant’. This is a set of extra body cards (and a few other bits and bobs) that work as extra parts. But you have to be very careful where you play them and when otherwise they can mess you up big time!
The reason for this is that, for us, we wanted to give everyone the best quality game from the start. We’re sourcing the card deck from Cartamundi UK. They print 40 million decks a year with Magic the Gathering and Top Trumps being just a part of that. When we fund we’ll get the quality there. The game itself is complex and deep enough, in a simple to learn way, that extra cards probably won’t be needed by people for a good while. Personally, I think there’s a lot of ‘not essential’ stretch goals included because there’s a pressure to have to include a stretch goal. Here’s a question – if the game of chess was being launched today, what stretch goals (other than component quality) should it have?
We know that ‘Frankenstein’s Bodies’ is a strong game as it stands and there will be expansions/ stretch goals if it needs it. Coo, that sounds professional. Er, next question please?

KTB: Fair EnoughI’ve read that the board game sales at local game stores have grown by as much as 20% per year for the last couple of years. I know in my experience in the US this feels accurate. Would you say that is the same in the UK with your experience?

AH: From what I hear, yes. Last year Larry Roznai spoke at UK Games Expo and said that growth in ‘analogue’ (my word) games in US and UK had been 20-25% year on year for the past five years. I’ve seen reports in the year since then to agree with that. I put that down to the fact that people want good value products that can be a central, social part of an evening or day’s entertainment and be replayable and transferrable to make new friends. The social value of gaming is huge and I believe that more people are realising this. Long may it continue is all I can say! Of course it is all fuelled by the fact that there are so many amazing games out there to be discovered, played and enjoyed. I hope that ‘Frankenstein’s Bodies’ is one of them.
Ha ha…see what I did there, got another shameless plug in there just before the recording stopped and… what? Say again? Off air ten minutes ago? What’s that supposed to——–

KTB: Don’t mind that tape hissing noise in your ear .  . .

Thanks again Andrew for this amazing interview!! Hope to see you stateside sometime!

AH: Thank you, Jason! Cheers!

Make sure you check out Andrew Harman’s game, Frankenstein’s Bodies on Kickstarter or go to www.frankensteinsbodies.com for more information about his game.

We will return Monday to our regularly scheduled program.

BGG Game Image

 

Kick The Box Andrew Harman, Creator of Frankenstein’s Bodies Interview

Kick The Box

Kick The Box: Interview with Andrew Harman, Creator of Frankenstein’s Bodies

Do I ever have a treat for all my readers! I was blessed with the pleasure of picking apart the brain of a musician, author, game designer, and cook, Andrew Harman. See what he has to say about Monty Python, The Beatles, drinks, and, of course, his newest game on Kickstarter called Frankenstein’s Bodies.  

d312325d295c6a79cbab3f13725c9341_large

KTB: Hey Andrew. Thanks for taking time from your busy schedule for the interview. Let’s start off with a little bit about you. When your not busy designing games, what other hobbies do you enjoy?

Andrew Harman: Right now, part way through my Kickstarter I feel like there’s barely time to sit down – let alone have hobbies. But in calmer times I play the drums for bands and gig live in pubs. It’s great fun. I took it up when I started writing my sci-fi comedies thinking it would be a good way to mentally relax but it’s surprisingly heavy on mental discipline too. But in a different way. I also relax over a hot stove by cooking. I’m particularly fond of spicy Thai and Chinese as well as all kinds of fish. Although the way I’m feeling now I could have a go at a bit of Ciabatta. Wrestling with a lump of dough for a while could be quite stress relieving!

KTB: You’ve been gaming for hours during a midsummer evening get together of friends. What kind of drink is sitting on your coaster?

AH: Good question. Foolish answer – one that’s not long left on this world. I got a thirst and I’m going to use it!!!
If it’s the start of the evening then a classic gin and tonic probably, or a chilled Manzanilla sherry. Sharp and almost nutty it’s very refreshing. We first had that in Spain a few years back, high up in Andalucia. Nice.

KTB: I have to ask. What is in a Manzanilla Sherry? Name alone sounds amazing and I want to try it!

AH: Manzanilla sherry is amazing. There are two types of dry sherry Fino and Manzanilla. Apparently they are both made using the same process but in slightly different pats of spain. Fino comes from Jerez and Manzanilla comes from Sanlucar de Barrameda – which are only about fifty miles apart. Both of them are light dry drinks but there’s something more tasty about the manzanilla. It’s great. But then so much of the food and drink in Spain is great. That makes me want to go on holiday!!! 

KTB: What Tabletop games have you played recently?

AH: Actually quite a few. I have recently started up a gaming club at the University where I work and we are getting through a whole bunch of classics. We’re introducing games to a lot of people just starting out so lots of accessible stuff. Carcassonne, Transamerica, Ticket to Ride all go down really well as do some of my favourite new games. The excellent Camelot-The Build from Wotan Games and Snowdonia from Tony Boydell. (I’m particularly looking forward to getting my hands on Ivor the Engine!) My most recently purchased game is Splendor. Neat and ‘choicy’ and very fast. Great fun even though I seem to lose more than I win!.

KTB: I’ve been eyeing Splendor. Was actually thinking about picking it up. Too many games, too little time. Do you have a favorite tabletop game mechanic?

AH: Not really. I like to look at the game as a whole and how it plays. I’m happy set collecting, worker placing, tile laying, staking chairs. A good game is a good game.

Frankensteins Bodies Tables

KTB: ‘Frankenstein’s Bodies’ is available on Kickstarter as we speak. Which came first? The idea of cutting up bodies and putting them together? Or, the idea of creating a game influenced by the classic novel Frankenstein?

AH: Er, both. And neither! Let me explain, I’m not being deliberately awkward. Before ‘Frankenstein’s Bodies’ was ‘born’ an RPG appeared. ‘Dark Harvest: The Legacy of Frankenstein’ is an amazing gaming world written by Iain Lowson. It has won awards, spawned supplements and story anthologies (and will soon be rereleased by Chronicle City). I am doubly lucky to A) know Iain very well and B) be invited to use my writing skills to add flavour fiction throughout. So, that’s the game influenced by the classic novel ‘Frankenstein’.
Out of this came Iain’s suggestion that the product line is expanded to include games. He strong-armed me into taking this on and we fairly quickly hit on the idea of the body-building scenario as this seemed to have enough conflict points to get a good bit of player interaction happening. The rest, as they say, c’est histoire.

KTB: Twisted your arm did he? sally monster_edited-1:)How long have you been play testing and tweaking Frankenstein’s Bodies?

AH: Scarily – two and a half years! And boy, has it changed in that time. I can’t stress how important the play test process has been – as well as how much fun. Even now we’re still seeing people pull out unexpected strategies when they’re playing. The thing I’m really pleased about is that the game mechanics allow creative play. A lot of which can be unexpectedly mean! And fun. Always fun!

KTB: Minus the playtesters, how many people have helped you develop Frankenstein’s Bodies?

AH: It’s been pretty much my wife Jenny and me. But I’m not happy about not counting the playtesters. Their feedback, unexpected comments and continued enthusiasm have got this game to where it is now. We have had some stunning ‘testers’ as I have been lucky enough to find a really good group of British designers who have played and fed back – and listened to my comments on their games. The part I didn’t expect to have fall on my shoulders is doing the artwork. But that’s another story!!!

KTB: When I first saw the ‘paper cut away’ art style that you chose for Frankenstein’s Bodies, it immediately screamed Monty Python to me. You know the little animated bridge episodes with the odd paper cut art? Was Monty Python any kind of influence here? Or am I just some silly American who thinks everything has to tie either to Monty Python or Red Dwarf?

AH: Great question, Jason! I’m flattered that you saw my art and thought of Terry Gilliam’s genius. It wasn’t a deliberate reference, but then when you look at a large severed foot in a strange context then yes, I guess the Python-esque imagery is always going to be there a bit. And the ‘torso’ hmmm – stick a black knight helmet on it and you kind of hear it begging you to ‘Come back and I’ll bite your knees off.’
‘Was Monty Python any kind of influence?” Hah – can John Cleese walk a bit silly? I firmly believe that British comedy is world beating when it hits the spot and think that Python has actually influenced more people than perhaps- pause for a controversial moment – perhaps even the Beatles! Face it how often can you hear the word ‘Parrot’ and not grin, just a little bit? And let’s not stick to tv/film here – we Brits can write world class comedy. Two words- Douglas Adams! Now, he was a big influence on me. Anyone that can argue that all life in the Universe is a statistical mistake should have statues erected in every major city! And it’s Towel day on Sunday!

KTB: Oh no! You didn’t go there with The Beatles did you?  Douglas Adams is amazing. I  am also a big fan of Terry Pratchett and Piers Anthony, among other English authors. I see the only board game that you have backed on Kickstarter is ‘Bullfrogs’ which is a recent campaign. What is it that caught your attention of this game, among the slew of games on Kickstarter?

AH: Well now, who’s been doing his research? Well done. It is the only game I have backed under my own name. /smiles enigmatically.
‘Bullfrogs’ looks like a really neat game featuring FROGS! I have had a thing about frogs ever since I was writing my second comic fantasy ‘The Frogs of War’. I’ve got quite a little collection of them. Yes, see how I segued into my past life there? Before moving into games writing I penned 11 sci-fi comedy novels (now available on Kindle and other electronic things). It all started with ‘The Sorcerer’s Appendix’ back in the brightly coloured ears of the early 90’s. Check them out, bad puns, strange plots and quite a lot of fun.

KTB:  I’m always looking for new stuff to read. I will be sure to check them out! Thanks! I didn’t see any stretch goals listed on newset KS box_edited-4the Kickstarter campaign page. Do you have anything planned? Or waiting for the game to be funded before you reveal them?

AH: There are a whole lot of heavy duty expansions waiting in the wings which add a whole raft of extra gaming goodness. They add extra side games and even bring in Ygor! But right now there is a first goal ‘The Shredded Peasant’. This is a set of extra body cards (and a few other bits and bobs) that work as extra parts. But you have to be very careful where you play them and when otherwise they can mess you up big time!
The reason for this is that, for us, we wanted to give everyone the best quality game from the start. We’re sourcing the card deck from Cartamundi UK. They print 40 million decks a year with Magic the Gathering and Top Trumps being just a part of that. When we fund we’ll get the quality there. The game itself is complex and deep enough, in a simple to learn way, that extra cards probably won’t be needed by people for a good while. Personally, I think there’s a lot of ‘not essential’ stretch goals included because there’s a pressure to have to include a stretch goal. Here’s a question – if the game of chess was being launched today, what stretch goals (other than component quality) should it have?
We know that ‘Frankenstein’s Bodies’ is a strong game as it stands and there will be expansions/ stretch goals if it needs it. Coo, that sounds professional. Er, next question please?

KTB: Fair EnoughI’ve read that the board game sales at local game stores have grown by as much as 20% per year for the last couple of years. I know in my experience in the US this feels accurate. Would you say that is the same in the UK with your experience?

AH: From what I hear, yes. Last year Larry Roznai spoke at UK Games Expo and said that growth in ‘analogue’ (my word) games in US and UK had been 20-25% year on year for the past five years. I’ve seen reports in the year since then to agree with that. I put that down to the fact that people want good value products that can be a central, social part of an evening or day’s entertainment and be replayable and transferrable to make new friends. The social value of gaming is huge and I believe that more people are realising this. Long may it continue is all I can say! Of course it is all fuelled by the fact that there are so many amazing games out there to be discovered, played and enjoyed. I hope that ‘Frankenstein’s Bodies’ is one of them.
Ha ha…see what I did there, got another shameless plug in there just before the recording stopped and… what? Say again? Off air ten minutes ago? What’s that supposed to——–

KTB: Don’t mind that tape hissing noise in your ear .  . .

Thanks again Andrew for this amazing interview!! Hope to see you stateside sometime!

AH: Thank you, Jason! Cheers!

Make sure you check out Andrew Harman’s game, Frankenstein’s Bodies on Kickstarter or go to www.frankensteinsbodies.com for more information about his game.

We will return Monday to our regularly scheduled program.

BGG Game Image

 

Hail Caesar Reading List

Previously I discussed my desire to wargame Ancient Rome.  Every wargamer knows that part of the fun is research.  Just like RPGers enjoy reading sci-fi/fantasy to learn more of their setting, and to get ideas for storylines, wargamers read of their desired conflict.

My gaming buddy, and Troll in the Corner author, Adam created an 18th century reading list.  What’s that Shakespeare said about stealing great ideas?  My Hail Caesar reading list isn’t necessarily the best of the best.  That’s not to say the material sucks.

The list is comprised of the items I am reading to learn more about the game, the period, the conflicts, and my focus of Ancient Rome.  To be exact my focus is on Imperial Rome.  But, something tells me I’ll meander into Republican Rome as well.  I may as well read about both while I’m digging through the dusty tomes.

Continue reading “Hail Caesar Reading List”

Free Comic Book Day 2013

FCBD2013-FreeI just came back from Free Comic Book Day 2013.

You may have heard me discuss this on GE37: 5 Reasons Free Comic Book Day is Awesome.

Down the street from my house is a New England Comics.  As a child and teen my parents, and those of my friends, would bring my friends and I to NEC to gape and buy the latest issues that our meager allowances could afford.

We loved titles by Image with our emphasis being on Spawn.  Al Simmons made a deal with the Devil and was stuck as one of the Dark One’s Hellspawn…his breed of generals that would lead the armies of Hell in the final war with Heaven.  Beautifully illustrated and written it was more mature than my adolescent mind could handle at the time.

Many years passed and I’m delighted to return to NEC Norwood.  New managers and a new store layout opens up the store.  The location is in the center of town.  You cannot miss it today.  Superheroes stand at the intersection with signs saying “Free Comic Book Day” and arrows pointing towards the store.

Below are some pictures of my loot.  NEC allows people to take 2 free comics from the table, 2 free comics from a box of older, and presumably harder to move, titles along with a copy of the special 2013 issue of the Tick.  NEC created the Tick, which you may have seen in the 90s on TV on the Fox channel.

FCBD2013-GI-JoeOn top of that NEC is running a few special deals.  They offer 30% off any title from their racks.  These are current comics but ones that are not the newest arrival.  I snagged two G.I. Joes titles.

They are also donating 100% of proceeds of specific Marvel titles to One Fund Boston.  Marvel titles excite me and any chance to help out a good charity is something I cannot pass.

  • The Avengers #1
  • Fantastic Four #1
  • Fearless Defenders #1
  • Incredible Hulk #1
  • Thor #1
  • X-Men #1

FCBD2013-One-Fund-BostonThe new manager asked me if I wanted to pay full price or discounted (these titles were from the 30% off rack) for the Marvel books.  He said they offer both to customers and either way they’ll donate 100% of what is paid to the fund.  I eagerly said I’d pay full price.

I walked into the store with expectations of fun and hope that this would be a positive experience to bring me back to NEC as a regular customer.  I left with many amazing books and happiness in my heart.

Have you been to FCBD?  What titles did you pick up?  Tell us about your local comic book store and why it is awesome.

 

Wargaming Recon #89: More Secrets of Wargame Design

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Wally Simon’s More Secrets of Wargame Design Volume 2.

Imagine a booklet answering your questions on game design. It inspires you to modify your favorite game rules to suit your needs. That’s what this booklet does.

Editor Russ Lockwood is back to discuss the 2nd installment of the Wally Simon series of Secrets of Wargame Design. Pick up your copy of Wally Simon’s More Secrets of Wargame Design Volume 2 from On Military Matters in the US/Worldwide or Caliver Books in the United Kingdom.

We also discuss:

Continue reading “Wargaming Recon #89: More Secrets of Wargame Design”

Wargaming Recon #88: Save the Higgins Armory

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Save the Higgins Armory Museum.

Imagine a place where you get first hand experience with military history. A place more incredible than anything you could imagine. That place is the Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts and it is closing for good on December 31, 2013..

We share the news about the closing and why the museum needs to be saved. The Worcester Telegram & Gazette has an interesting article on the closing. The article covers the reasons behind the closure.

A Save the Higgins Facebook page is raising awareness of the closure in the hope of keeping the incredible museum open.

Adam of the Fencing Frog Blog wrote us a wonderful message, which we read in the episode, as to why the Higgins should stay open. Visit the Higgins Armory Museum website to plan your visit before the museum permanently closes.

We also discuss:

Continue reading “Wargaming Recon #88: Save the Higgins Armory”

Across the Pond : Interview with Sarah-Jane Lehoux

masquerade book coverAs a fan of the Sevy books I am eagerly awaiting the third of the series which comes out 26th February 2013. I persuaded the author, Sarah-Jane Lehoux, to answer a few of my questions about Sevy, the books and what the future might hold.

1. While Sevy is a definitely flawed lead character she is also a strong female who doesn’t need or want to rely on others to survive. I get the feeling strong female characters are something you feel passionate about yes?

Yes, I’m definitely pro-strength in female characters. There’s been too many years of too much media that portrays women as little more than arm candy, and I’m glad that so many authors are trying to change that stereotype. But it’s not that I want every single female character to be kick-ass fighters; rather, I want them to be realistic people. Women in real life are varied in the strengths and weaknesses they possess, so I think it’s only fair that this is reflected in the characters we create. Same thing goes for male characters. It’s about subverting traditional gender roles and allowing people to be who they are, instead of what society expects them to be.

2. After three books do you think Sevy’s story is told?

Nope. Sevy’s story is far from over. I have two more books in the series in the works that feature Sevy as a main character. And you never know—I love the universe, so maybe I’ll write more books in the future where Sevy will make cameos. She’s a complex chick who’s done a lot of personal growth, but who still needs more time to sort her shit out.

3. I love the way the three books have such different settings which, I feel, affect the language and tone of each. What drove you to write them this way?

Everything I write is inspired by my dreams. Cliché, I know, but it’s true. I have a sleep disorder that causes extremely vivid, bizarre dreams that stick with me long after I’ve woken up. I use the imagery and themes from these dreams as the basis for my stories. For example, I dreamed of a cold, wintery landscape with a hut with a lot of furs and fires, which became the basis of Sevy’s home village of Willing’s Cove, which is a mix of Nordic and Inuit cultures. Shades of War was inspired by a crazy dream I had about a screaming monkey, a woman’s bloody shoe, and a blue and red snake slithering through a jungle. As for Masquerade, all I can remember is water, sand and leering faces. Generally, I’ll take bits and pieces from multiple dreams to create one story.

When I first realized that Sevy’s story could not be contained to one single novel, I wanted to make the series as diverse and innovative as possible. Rather than relying on a traditional European medieval environment, I thought it would be so much more interesting if I mixed up the world and the cultures as much as I could.

4. So these books are crying out for a movie script. Who would you cast as Sevy in the movie?

Ooooh, this is something I often day-dream about. I have Sevy narrowed down to Rhona Mitra or Noomi Rapace. Both of these actors are amazing, so I think they could pull off Sevy’s tumultuous temper without turning it into a farce. I also want someone with a strong face that isn’t exactly pretty but is interesting, and small breasts are a must! If they ever make a movie and they cast some buxom beauty as Sevy, I think I might cry.

5. What would be your ideal day as a writer?

Waking up to a lovely homemade breakfast, which I can eat at leisure while I pursue fan mail Smile with tongue out Then, ideally, to be able to write, uninterrupted, for hours at a time. It’d be nice if I could put aside the worries and stress of life long enough each day to get a novel done in half the time it usually takes me.

6. Now that the book’s out and once the promotion work is done (and you’ve maybe found time to relax) what plans are you plotting for the future?

I’ll be taking a nice break from all things writerly for at least two weeks after the bulk of promotion for Masquerade is done. Then I have to decide which of three WIPs to work on first. I have a horror, a comedic fantasy, and a YA paranormal that I’ve already started. I think I’ll go with the YA paranormal, since I’m already around 30K, but we’ll just have to wait and see what catches my attention first.

Watch the video trailer then go and order from Mundania Press (available as dead-tree and e-formats)

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