“A man sets out to draw the world. As the years go by, he peoples a space with images of provinces, kingdoms, mountains, bays, ships, islands, fishes, rooms, instruments, stars, horses, and individuals. A short time before he dies, he discovers that the patient labyrinth of lines traces the lineaments of his own face.”

— Jorge Luis Borges, The Aleph and Other Stories

TERRAIN SYMBOLS

pdf version – click here

I draw maps for working out the details of my fiction, for games, and for the sheer pleasure of creating imaginary places. A while back I posted a legend for my dungeon maps, and since then I’ve been working on this simplified set of terrain symbols for area and wilderness maps.

Maps excite the imagination. That’s why so many fantasy novels contains maps of their fictional worlds. The map itself is a link, translating the reality of a world into the imagination of the reader.

Above you will find my own key to my simplified symbol set. Below are few of my own recent maps, using this symbol set and a few variations. I’ve been working on a grid based layout, but these symbols will work equally well on a hex based map. Many more of my maps are posted on Google+.

three kingdomspost apocalypticstrange desert

 

tMoD-Cover-Web

My short story “The Menace Dupere,” first published by The Fringe, will be released as a .99 cent Kindle ebook. Djibril al-Ayad, editor of The Future Fire, called it “a gripping, well-written, and intriguingly academic horror story in the best Lovecraftian tradition.”

This is a core story in the mythology surrounding the strange town of Auxerre, Wisconsin, where many of my horror stories are set. A mad professor will stop at nothing to understand an ancient occult secret. The cost is steep, and the creature he summons may destroy the world unless one student can stop him.

Two other stories with connections to Auxerre, “The Music of Timothy Shean” and “Old Growth” are available now.

dungeon mediumA few people have asked for a walkthrough of a game of Dungeon Solitaire, Tomb of Four Kings. Below you will find a linked pdf of a walkthrough of a winning game with some epic battles and dicey encounters. You can even stack a deck and play along if you want. Once I’ve got this better edited I will probably add it to the official rules, but until then it stands on its own as a supplement.

I’ve also started a FAQ text file and will add to it as I receive and answer any questions about the rules. I’ll add both links to the original release post and the games page.

 

Winning Game Walkthrough

Dungeon Solitaire FAQ File

Dungeon Solitaire Rules

 

King of Clubs

Dungeon Solitaire, Tomb of Four Kings is a fantasy card game designed for a standard deck of playing cards. I’d describe it as somewhere between a traditional solitaire card game and a dungeon crawling solo roleplaying game.

Risk death and doom in a vast dungeon to search for the tomb hordes of four legendary kings. You’ll slay monsters, bypass traps, and bash in stuck doors, all for fotune and glory.

If you have any questions about the rules, don’t hesitate to contact me. Feedback, reviews, and shares on social media are always appreciated. And while you’re here check out my fiction and other games.

 

Free PDF: Dungeon Solitaire, Tomb of Four Kings

 

enter the dungeon …

 

Winning Game Walkthrough

FAQ File

greek-persian_duel

My last post dealt with the importance of understanding the tone of a fight scene, but there is something even more important. Real fighting, be it on a small or large scale is not inherently entertaining. Nevertheless, we are drawn to the story of a good fight because of the dramatic engagement of the characters. Without drama, the action can be a tedious, boring, or otherwise off putting.

Whether you’re writing something like the battle for Helm’s Deep or the duel between Hamlet and Leartes, the buildup to the fight is arguably more important than the fight itself. It is during the buildup that we come to understand why the fight matters. Ask yourself what’s at stake for your characters and in the larger context of your story. “The readiness is all,” Hamlet says at last, and because the entire story has built up to this moment, we are prepared for a fight of truly dramatic proportions.

Think of your fight scene as a kind of story within the story. It should be a necessary part of the overall narrative. It should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. It should have a setting, a plot, and characters. It goes without saying it should have external conflict, but it should also have internal conflict. These elements should be established in the buildup, so when the action starts they all come crashing together. The fight should be a climactic focal point for dramatic elements in the narrative.

In terms of plotting the action, things should never go as planned. There should always be surprises, turns in the action driven by the elements in play. Perhaps reinforcements arrive, treachery unfolds, or fear strikes. A good fight will have at least one or two good turns, when the advantage shifts from one side to the other before the final victory or defeat.

 

*First published on ShadowSpinners.

Physical violence and fighting can be a wonderful source of conflict in fiction … when it’s done well. A fight should tell a story that’s integral to the overall narrative, and the tone of the action should not feel out of place.

Most violence and martial arts portrayed in fiction is filled with various levels of fantasy, even in otherwise realistic stories. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, but frequently I think writers are attempting one thing and doing another.

When writing a fight scene it’s important to understand the kind of fight you want to write. You can imagine your fight existing somewhere on a graph with realism vs. fantasy on the x-axis and serving the story vs. the inconvenient truth on the y-axis. Great scenes can be written anywhere on the graph, but it helps to know where you are and what you’re up against.

graphing-fictional-violence

 

In this context, realism is an adherence to the laws of physics and the demonstrated behavior and abilities of real people.Fantasy may break these rules, but should have a set of internal rules the characters and actions adhere to.

Serving the story is the necessity of certain actions or outcomes for the sake of the overall narrative. The inconvenient truth is everywhere the rules of realism or the internal rules of fantasy are in conflict with those actions and outcomes. Sometimes it’s okay to break the rules, but go too far and readers will be put off.

Martial arts and fighting are rich fields touching upon physics, culture, technology, anatomy, phychology, history, and human ability. It pays to do some research! As with most things, the more knowledge and experience you have, and the clearer your objectives, the more confident and convincing your fiction will be.

russian-martial-art

The author receiving some experience in Russian martial arts

 


*First published on ShadowSpinners.

 

giant in print

GIANT is in print and available now! Order your copy for $7.99 + s/h through LULU.

*Use the code APRIL30 and get 30% off print books until April 12th.

From the back:

Future wars are waged with huge humanoid machines known as giants. Human pilots are encased in neuro-conductive capsules behind layers of armor plating, their senses and nerve impulses merged with the artificial systems of the giants they control.

Giant is a wargame played with paper, pencils, and six-sided dice. Inside is a complete game, including rules, a visual reference, a record sheet, a master battle map, and eight ready to play maps with various terrain. It’s perfect for travel or when you want an action packed game with minimal preparation.

Each player controls up to three giants, chosen from fifteen different types. Arm them with missiles, guns, and lasers. Then send them into the battle!

  • Record sheets & maps available for free download on the games page.

Here are some records from past games:

giant game 1giant game 2giant game 3