Bearing Witness to Awakening

Bridge at Greenwaters Park in Oakridge, Oregon

On April 11th in 2016, something extraordinary happened to me. A sudden, unexpected, and profound spiritual awakening completely transformed my life and perception of reality. After three years of this abiding realization, I’ve decided to talk openly about it. This is likely the work of a lifetime, and not of a single statement or book, but we have to start somewhere if we’re going to have a dialog.

In some traditions it is customary not to speak about enlightenment directly, and there is good reason for that. In the present circumstances, however, it seems helpful if those who have truly awakened bear witness to it. For the most basic teaching is that liberation is possible. Many have forgotten it, discounted it, disregarded it, downgraded it, reinterpreted it, or not heard about it — even in traditions that attest to the possibility of such an awakening. So the testimony and teachings of those who have realized could give people courage to look deeper into their spiritual path.

Until now, I have discussed these events only with my teachers and a few other people. But as a writer, I felt compelled to make an account of my awakening, to set down my insights, and to answer questions to the best of my ability. That work has resulted in two books so far on the topic of spirituality and awakening. The first book, That Which is Before You, will be coming out soon. Hence the need to make some kind of statement here.

Trust me, I really never expected to be writing or talking about this kind of thing. But after almost 30 years of searching, I find myself in the situation of trying to convey what has happened to me, as well as the insights and teachings inherent to awakening. I think an open, straight-forward dialog could be of great benefit to seekers and practitioners alike. So let us simply move ahead and do the work required of us, whatever it may be. And may these endeavors help to bring illumination, true happiness, and an end to suffering.

Meditation through Stillness and Motion

I will be teaching a Winter Workshop in Eugene, OR on Sunday, February 3rd from 1-5pm. The title for the workshop is Transparent Mind – Transparent Body. The topic will be developing meditation practice through stillness and motion. This is an all new workshop put on through Eugene Systema and Best Martial Arts Institute.

We will be focusing on meditation through both sitting and movement-based practice. Complementary skills will be taught in multiple modalities, facilitating a deeper understanding of meditation, movement, and action. The workshop is open to all. No prior experience is necessary. The contents are intended to help anybody understand themselves better, see more clearly, resolve inner conflicts, and experience the dropping away of mind and body. This work is for anyone who wants to develop a meditation practice or deepen an existing practice, whatever their art or focus may be.

See the flier here with detailed information, and please share it with anybody who might be interested in attending.

Dungeon Solitaire: Devil’s Playground Release

The general release is here for the new Dungeon Solitaire game, Devil’s Playground! The new game book includes a stand-alone game, a two-player version, expansion rules for the Dungeon Solitaire: Labyrinth of Souls tarot game, four variants of a new original cardgame called Dungeon War, and guidelines for fortune telling using the Devil’s Playground custom card deck.

Dungeon Solitaire: Devil’s Playground is a fantasy adventure card game. Fight monstrous diabolisms, overcome obstacles, and endure misfortunes as you delve into the darkest dungeon in a quest to defeat three powerful demons. Along the way you will collect treasure and unique magic items, encounter strange locales, and acquire three divine graces. But beware, the dungeon is deep and even if you survive all immediate dangers, a fate worse than death awaits those who linger too long. You may face starvation and insanity, terrible curses and demonic possession, forever haunted, in the darkness of the pit.

Most of the games require the Devil’s Playground cards, available separately. Expansion rules also require the Labyrinth of Souls rulebook and cards. Dungeon Solitaire print rulebooks, PDF rulebooks, and custom card decks are available through the following outlets:

Print Rulebook: Amazon

PDF Rulebook: DriveThru RPG

Deluxe Cards: DriveThru RPG

Standard Cards: Gamecrafter

Learn more about the complete line of Dungeon Solitaire games and stand-alone novels here on the Labyrinth of Souls page. Gameplay videos can be found on my YouTube channel.

Devil’s Playground Progress

The Dungeon Solitaire: Devil’s Playground Kickstarter was a big success. Thanks to 314 backers we topped out at $13,605 in funding, and added eight substantial stretch goals to the project and some Kickstarter exclusives. I’m very excited to share this game with all our backers, and still anticipate shipping on time in June.

I’ve been very busy this last week doing final play-testing for the stand-alone game, putting together a rough draft of the entire rulebook with all stretch goals included, getting a start on creating the interior diagrams and tables, and coordinating with artist Josphe Vandel on the remaining artwork and card formatting. All the elements are starting falling into place, and everything is looking pretty awesome so far.

There’s still a ton work to be done though, including further play-testing on stretch goal games and variants, editing, re-editing, and re-re-editing the rulebook. Finishing final tables and diagrams and doing the interior layout. Then book and box covers, Then card proofs, book proofs, backer surveys, shipping logistics and finally orders! It’s a lot to do, and I will be on a tight schedule the next two months.

dp-playtesting

Devil’s Playground play-testing in progress.

Stay tuned here and on the Kickstarter page for further updates as the project moves forward. They probably wont be as frequent as I would like because I’ll be focused on the game itself, but don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. In the meantime, check out all the amazing Dungeon Solitaire games and Labyrinth of Souls fiction that is already available.

Three Days Left for Devil’s Playground Kickstarter

It’s been an exciting month, and an amazing success so far thanks to all the enthusiastic backers and supporters of the Dungeon Solitaire games. The Devil’s Playground Kickstarter smashed its initial funding goal in under 24 hours, and has gone one to hit seven stretch goals. We are on the cusp of another stretch goal with three days left to get in on the Kickstarter.

Time to get into the dungeon, and get in on the great rewards! There are high quality red-back cards for both the Devil’s Playground and the Labyrinth of Souls games, both featuring incredible, original artwork by artist Josephe Vandel. Included in the rulebook are a stand-alone dungeon delving game, Labyrinth of Souls expansion games, an all new card-based territorial wargame with multiple variations. And by getting in now, you will get two Kickstarter exclusive cards with special rules for incorporating them into your games.

In these last three days, please help spread the news by sharing this post or the Kickstarter page with your friends and gaming groups, on your blogs and especially on social media. This kind of word of mouth really makes a difference.

There is nothing more I can say, except to thank you deeply for all your support, enthusiasm, and encouragement. These games can only reach their full potential with the support of backers like you. And so I leave you with a few words from the introductory material for the Devil’s Playground rulebook, words taken from Malhak the Great’s Tome of Demonology:

At last, thoughts fall like shooting stars in the gravity of awareness. Some burn with the light of blinding suns, others with the light of a dim candle. But all catch fire and burn out. Nothing ever remains. Yet until that time, the soul is a house divided. It is a devil’s playground, at war with itself and everything it encounters.

I have seen the pox-ridden skies Illeanth, and the vermilion seas of Yoon. I have conversed with voices in realms of unending darkness. I have nosed perfumes so exalted that a single whiff bore a thousand years of bliss. I have walked with the first ragged tribes of humanity, and I have tasted ashes in the fallen ruins of their great civilizations. I have seen the arcs of eons and heard the silence that reigns in the depths of space.

And yet, all of these experiences have been but dreams within dreams within dreams. For in the emptiness between thoughts, there is no good or evil, no up or down, no light or darkness, no backward or forward, no past or future. There is no sight, no sound, no taste, no smell, no feeling. There is only that which cannot be uttered.

Until the sun rises beyond the distant mountains, until the spring comes, until we wake again, we remain lost in a dungeon of our own making. Until the illusion of the mind itself is destroyed, we wander in its depths. And though we ourselves designed the patterns its winding halls, we do not know the way out.”

The Art of Josephe Vandel

Dungeon Solitaire: Labyrinth of Souls and Devil’s Playground have both been the fruit of a wonderful collaboration between myself and artist Josephe Vandel. The rich world of dark fantasy he has created in the cards has been the perfect representation of the adventures, ideas, and themes I have been endeavoring to evoke in the rulebooks. And yet he has surprised me again and again with the scope and the imaginative originality and detail of the artwork.

Josephe’s skill as an artist were evident from his prior work, but the Dungeon Solitaire art has exceeded my expectation at every turn. So many pieces arrived on my screen to wide eyes and an agape jaw. The unexpected, the beautiful, the horrific, the weird, and the wonderful are all on display. He has delved deep into dark realms of the psyche, and researched rich architectural details. Time and again he has delivered pieces that are highly original and highly evocative.

We were absolutely thrilled by the funding success and reception of the Labyrinth of Souls, and are super-excited that so many backers have already made the Devil’s Playground Kickstarter such a success. We’ve had a lot of fun working together to create something incredible and unique for the gaming community. We talked quite a bit about what the Labyrinth of Souls and the Devil’s Playground are about thematically, and while Josephe has always been incredibly receptive to feedback and any direction I wanted to give, it has rarely been needed. I have been more than happy to give him plenty of latitude to express his vision, and the incredible results speak for themselves.

I am so grateful to have the opportunity to collaborate with Josephe and for his contributions to Dungeon Solitaire. He has created something extraordinary in the Labyrinth of Souls and Devil’s Playground decks. At once, his illustrations are evocative, dark, and filled with symbolic depth. And ultimately, the cards have the same classic and timeless quality I hoped to achieve with the rules. Taken as a whole, the decks present a unified vision and a grand space for the imagination to play in.

This is just some of the incredible art featured in Dungeon Solitaire: Labyrinth of Souls and Dungeon Solitaire: Devil’s Playground.

Check out the Dungeon Solitaire: Devil’s Playground Kickstarter now!

Devil’s Playground Kickstarter is Already a Great Success!

The Dungeon Solitaire: Devil’s Playground Kickstarter was launched on February 1st, and reached base funding in under 24 hours! It has since smashed through five stretch goals, and we are well on our way to the sixth. New stretch goals have been announced and new card art by Josephe Vandel has been revealed in a number of updates. And there’s more to come as we move into the middle of the campaign.

Thanks to all the backers have pledged already, and all our supporters who have shared the Kickstarter with friends and gaming groups, and on their blogs and social media. This kind of word of mouth really makes a huge difference!

I am super excited about all the content we’ll be including in the game, and looking forward to hitting more of our stretch goals! Support the Kickstarter now, and help us get there.

If you haven’t check out the dungeon-delving fantasy card game that is Dungeon Solitaire, the original game, Tomb of Four Kings, is available for free, and is playable with a standard deck of playing cards. The greatly expanded tarot game, Dungeon Solitaire: Labyrinth of Souls, launched with a hugely successful Kickstarter in 2015. The rulebook is available in print on Amazon and other online book retailers, and in PDF through DriveThruRPG, and custom tarot cards are available through Gamecrafter.

The Labyrinth of Souls has also inspired a series of stand-alone novels published by ShadowSpinners Press, with books by Elizabeth Engstrom, Christina Lay, Eric Witchey, Stephen T. Vessels, and myself so far, with new books on the way by Mary E. Lowd, John Reed, Cheryl Owen Wilson, Lisa Alber, Cynthia Coate-Ray, and Pamela Jean Herber!

I am more excited than ever that Dungeon Solitaire: Devil’s Playground is now in the works, once again expanding the labyrinth into the uncharted realms of the imagination. We’re going to deliver another great game!

Dungeon Solitaire: Devil’s Playground — Kickstarter!

Dungeon Solitaire: Devil’s Playground has been in development for a while, and has now launched an official Kickstarter campaign to reach its full potential.

Artist Josephe Vandel and I have teamed up again to bring you this new evocative fantasy adventure that includes a 54 card custom deck, with both a stand-alone game and expansion rules for the Labyrinth of Souls tarot game. There’s going to be gorgeous full-color artwork, higher quality cards, and plenty of extras. Creating the Labyrinth of Souls was a dream come true, and I am super excited about this new game, the new artwork, and the expansion rules. I hope we can all make this incredible journey together again, from Kickstarter to production. We’re planning to make the Devil’s Playground a reality, and we’re looking forward to delivering another great game!

If you don’t know what Dungeon Solitaire is, it’s a dungeon delving fantasy card game. The original game, Dungeon Solitaire: Tomb of Four Kings, is available for free, and is playable with a standard deck of playing cards. The greatly expanded tarot game, Dungeon Solitaire: Labyrinth of Souls, is available in print on Amazon and other online book retailers, and in PDF through DriveThruRPG, with custom cards available through Gamecrafter. The Labyrinth of Souls has also inspired a series of stand-alone novels published by ShadowSpinners Press, with books by Elizabeth Engstrom, Christina Lay, Eric Witchey, Stephen T. Vessels, and myself so far, with new books on the way by Mary E. Lowd, John Reed, Cheryl Owen Wilson, Lisa Alber, Cynthia Coate-Ray, and Pamela Jean Herber! And now, I am super excited to be creating a third Dungeon Solitaire game and once again expanding the world of Dungeon Solitaire.

Check out the Dungeon Solitaire: Devil’s Playground Kickstarter now, and support the creation of another great game!

Never Too Late Gifts

With the holiday season in full swing, I probably should have posted this sooner, but hey it’s never too late for great gifts for yourself or loved ones. With that in mind, I’d like to highlight the ever increasing line of Dungeon Solitaire and Labyrinth of Souls books and games. So below are some links, including one for a free game. Book links are through Amazon where you can still get two-day shipping, but note that books can be found through other online retailers as well.

Dungeon Solitaire: Tomb of Four Kings is a free print-and-play game that uses a standard deck of playing card — perfect for whiling away the holiday hours and indulging your inner introvert at family gatherings. Download the PDF here, find a deck of cards, and you’re ready to play. A Spanish Edition is also available.

Dungeon Solitaire: Labyrinth of Souls is an expanded tarot version of Dungeon Solitaire. The 152 page rulebook contains Basic, Expert, and Advanced versions of the game, as well as a variety of exciting variants, including Two-Player, Dragon’s Lair, Undead Hordes, Megadungeon, Campaign Mode, and Cartomancy! This game can be played with any tarot deck, or with the custom Labyrinth of Souls tarot, with 10 extra arcana cards. Cards are sold separately and available through Gamecrafter with PDF Basic Rules included.

 

Labyrinth of Souls fiction from ShadowSpinners Press offers a series of stand-alone novels inspired by Dungeon Solitaire: Labyrinth of Souls. The Labyrinth of Souls is a manifestation of a mythic underworld, existing at a crossroads between people and cultures, between time and space, between the physical world and the deepest reaches of the psyche. It is a dark mirror held up to human experience, in which you may find your dreams… or your doom. Each Labyrinth of Souls novels features an adventure into a unique vision of a mythic underworld. Get ready to delve into the Labyrinth in a totally new way! Click on the book of your choice below, and look for more Labyrinth of Souls fiction coming out in 2018!

    

The Door of Tireless Pursuit

The fifth Labyrinth of Souls stand-alone novel is out! The Door of Tireless Pursuit by Stephen T. Vessels launched at the World Fantasy convention two weeks ago. It is available now on Amazon and other online retailers in print and ebook formats.

Stephen T. Vessels is a Thriller Award nominated author of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and cross-genre fiction. He wrote his first story when he was six years old, and forty years later wrote one that sold. Among his earliest inspirations were the horror films of Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff and Vincent Price, SF films like Ib Melchior’s “Journey to the Seventh Planet,” and the legendary Modern Library anthology, “Tales of Terror and the Supernatural,” which he read in the back seat while his parents drove through Texas. In 2012 he received the Best Fiction award from the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. His first story collection, The Mountain & The Vortex and Other Tales was released in 2016 by Muse Harbor Publishing.

The Door of Tireless Pursuit is another great book by Stephen T. Vessels! After reading The Mountain & The Vortex, I was super excited he decided to contribute to the Labyrinth of Souls project and really looking forward to this book. It exceeded all expectations! Love is one of the greatest themes in literature, and The Door of Tireless Pursuit shows just how far reaching, how profound, and how powerful it can be when placed at the center of a weird and dark fantasy. At once a character-driven romance and an adventure of mind-bending scope and consequence, this story delivers on every level imaginable. It contains one of the strangest, and most badassed other-worldly beings I have ever encountered in a book. There is wild action, with spectacular and cinematic grandeur. There are wide vistas of other realms, and a large cast of lovable and villainous characters. And at the heart of it all is a mystery and a conflict that seems at once contemporary, relevant, and universal.

Here is the copy from the back cover:

Sandy’s comfortable, workaday life is rocked when he meets Lark, a mysterious woman who can manipulate time and teleport across great distances at will. What begins as a romance turns deadly when she is abducted by a sorcerer who seeks to control the metaphysical portals she defends. Determined to rescue her, Sandy is drawn farther and farther from the life he knows, into the wondrous and perilous Labyrinth of Souls. There he meets fantastic allies and adversaries, and learns that the very fabric of reality is threatened by his quest.

In other news: ShadowSpinners Press and the Labyrinth of Souls team had a great showing at the World Fantasy convention, where we displayed our wares, sold and signed books, did a reading, and talked to a lot of people about what’s inside the labyrinth. I met a lot of awesome writers and many new friends who I look forward to seeing again at future events. Many thanks to Christina Lay of ShadowSpinners Press for taking the initiative in setting this up, shipping books, and putting together an awesome table for the convention. And many thanks to Stephen for making it clear I had to be there. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!

with Stephen T. Vessels and Elizabeth Engstrom at the World Fantasy convention

I have been hard at work on the next Dungeon Solitaire game, Devil’s Playground, which is now planned to launch with a Kickstarter campaign in February. It’ll be another great game with more mind-blowing artwork by Josephe Vandel. Work on turning The Labyrinth of Souls into a mobile app and computer game continues. Although there is no official timeline for this project yet, it is progressing. We now have a workable Basic game and the focus has started to shift toward fine tuning the aesthetics, the writing, and the game interface.Stay tuned for many exciting developments in 2018, including more Labyrinth of Souls novels!