Friday, July 31, 2015

Where Do We Go from Here?

"I'm leaving," he said as she walked in the door.

"Where are you going?"


"When will you be back?"

He gave her the briefest look over his shoulder and said, "I can't believe you would ask me that with his dick still on your breath."


"Don't yell my name in outrage, Suzan!" He practically spit her name when he said it. He'd rounded on her now and fire burned in his eyes. "You've been playing me for a fool for so god damned long that you think I am one."

"Oh," she said as she crossed her arms, "this again."

"This again? You killed my monk and played in Mike's campaign without me!"

"Jesus," she said as he smiled and leaned against the wall, "my Mother said I shouldn't marry you."

"She also told you that you should put a quarter between your knees and eat bananas from the side because that's how good girls do it."

Suzan smiled, "Yeah, Mom was dumb sometimes."

He walked over and pulled her tight to him, kissing her hard and taking her breath away in the process. "I'll be back in a couple of hours dear heart." His voice was soft and Suzan was tingly from the kiss that curled her toes and made her head swim.

"Not too long, okay?"

"I'll try not to be gone so long this time, but you know how hunting can be."

She bit her lip as she looked into his eyes. The hunts had been more frequent lately, more dangerous too. Last month John had gone into the south forest with Max Elmore, Jane's husband, only to come back alone and bleeding terribly from the hip. They still hadn't found Max's body. "Do you have to go?"

John smiled at her, his beard making the whites of his teeth stand out even more than usual, "You know that I do."

"But your leg isn't healed all the way yet."

"Suzan," he said as he looked towards the door, "you can't start this."

"But your leg," she whispered, "you still have a limp."

"I'll be fine, dear."

"Isn't there anyone else that can go this time?"

He smiled, kissed her cheek, and whispered, "Not this time, no." 

He was out the door before she could stop him. She ran to the door and watched him grab his rifle and head towards the forest. She wanted to scream they still haven't found Max's body. She wanted to cry out and race from their home to his side. She wanted to tackle him and drag him kicking and screaming back inside their home. She wanted to rip her clothes off and bare herself before him, pulling him into her bed and keeping him there but she stopped herself. He was already at the top of the hill before she could tear her gaze away from him. I can't watch him go or he'll never make it back. She ran into their room and fell on the bed, her eyes wet from tears that were already streaming, and cried out, "THEY STILL HAVEN'T FOUND THE BODY!"

They never found John's either. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Happy Day! Happy Day! Dyvers Enters Year 3!

On July 21, 2013 I started the Dyvers Campaign blog. At first I found myself emulating the writing style of bloggers that I liked and read all the time and looking back at the early entries I can see hallmarks of blogs liked cluttering and befuddling my own writing. I created stupid, self-imposed rules for my writing about role-playing games that make me cringe looking back on the earliest posts from back in 2013.

Yet in spite of the fact that I would attempt to write about Dungeons & Dragons like it was a research paper for college that I had no interest in reading myself, let alone writing, I was lucky enough to have +Jens D. start commenting on my blog. Without question his comments kept me going early in the run of this blog and reading his excellent Disoriented Ranger blog taught me that if I really wanted to do this thing for the long haul that I needed to stop emulating other people and start writing with my own voice, expressing my own ideas. Anything less wouldn't find an audience because anything less didn't deserve one.

Since that realization hit me I've kind of done my own thing. I write short stories, title my post things that make me laugh, and talk about anything that catches my interest whether it involves role-playing games or not. And somewhere along the way I was fortunate enough to develop an audience that reads my posts and has continued to help me become not only a better writer but a better player. So for that I want to thank you, all of you. Without your comments, encouragements, shares, and readership I know this blog wouldn't have become anything like it is today. 

Thank you.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

An Evolving World Theory of Dungeons & Dragons

The Uncertainty Principle cover by Richard M. Powers.

This morning I was reading the Gamma World introduction when an idea struck me: what if all the settings that TSR produced settings were simply points along the same timeline of a world that was repeatedly rising to the heights of space faring civilizations only to be consumed in a globe-spanning holocaust that sent it back to its prehistoric beginnings. In this way Gamma World, Greyhawk, Boot Hill, the Forgotten Realms, Eberron, and the rest would all be a glimpse into the long line of a single world.

Imagine for a moment how this affects something as ubiquitous as ruins in the desert. These long lost cities that appear like the skeletal remains of some poor cock-sucker who couldn't remember where the next watering hole was now have a history built into them. They're Greyhawk, Waterdeep, Chicago, and Dyvers. Then there are the artifacts and magic items that were once tied to a setting, like the Lucky Ring of the Wild Coast (Greyhawk Adventures pg. 73), which now can be dropped in without any changes to the name or lore surrounding the item. Instead they're items that have survived the destruction of the world like the treasures of pharaohs hidden deep in their tombs beneath the Egyptian deserts.  

As someone who has no trouble blowing up a world because that's what the players want to do I really like the idea that these sort of world shattering events can happen and that the world still manages to survive and that the scattered remnants of the world can come back from the brink of extinction time and time again. Also, since I've been on a massive post-apocalyptic literature binge of late this runs right along with my personal tastes. 

 What do you think?

Friday, July 24, 2015

A Wild Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide Has Appeared!

On Wednesday, July 22, 2015 Wizards of the Coast announced that they would be releasing the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide (SCAG). This guidebook is designed to provide players with things such as character options, expanded information on local deities, and mysterious locations to explore. In essence what we're looking at here is a new school Gazetteer similar to what they did with the Neverwinter supplement from Fourth Edition - which was a damned fine book and well worth picking up if you missed out on it because it "wasn't D&D."

The description for the SCAG reminds me of the old Volo's Guide to the Sword Coast book that came out in 1994. This will be the first fully fledged book we're going to be getting for the modern realms that will be addressing all of the changes that have been brought about by the Sundering, Rise of Tiamat, and Princes of the Apocalypse story lines so I'm interested in seeing how they will connect all of those events together and if they'll be bringing in any of the Adventurer's League events.

A lot to think about here and I'll be posting more in the coming days. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Some Covers I'm Working On

So I'm working on a cover for the Vengeance Week project that we did last week and that +Stelios V. Perdios is finishing up this week and thought I would throw up two of the ones that I've been fooling around with and actually like. If you like one of them let me know kids.

1d10 Reasons You Should Have Done Something Else . . . Like Drink. A Lot.

Last night I got an e-mail about a series that I have been slowly making my way through. The e-mailer was attempting to explain to me that I'm wasting my time by doing things in a different way. "Of course you could figure out what's in each of those kits," she wrote, "but really a dice roll is all that's needed. You should really just stop."

In honor of this e-mail I decided to create a list with all the things that I should be doing instead of what I'm actually doing. You're welcome to use it yourself whenever you feel the urge to do something and there might be something else worth doing instead.

1d10 Things You Should Have Done Instead

1 You should have finished that other series that you've been working on instead of the one you're working on now because I totally liked it better and this one blows donkey dicks on the side of the road for gas money. 

2 You should have just rolled dice for the answer instead because the game should only be played as it was written - and by game I mean Dungeons & Dragons; by which I mean Basic Dungeons & Dragons; which, as everyone knows, means Moldvay Basic Dungeons & Dragons.

3 Instead of talking about what's wrong with it you should have come up with a solution to the problem that isn't the one you wrote about because I don't like the way you write about rules in games that involve Dragons or transgendered princesses who are actually the villains because that's totally a bullshit move designed to play into the stereotypes of transgendered fantasy princesses that we've all seen a million times before and that effectively disenfranchises them from the wider fantasy community.

4 You should stop attempting to change the game from what the game designers wrote and instead should begin contemplating what they actually meant when they wrote, "You have mastered the art of defense in combat . . ." (Collins 1:100).

5 You should stop focusing on the inaccuracies in that article and instead should focus on the fact that when you kill imaginary creatures that you're actually acting out your racial hatred for the Other. Haven't you ever been to the South? Have you never seen racists?

6 Instead of writing that bit of flash fiction you should have been busy writing about the state of alignments in modern role-playing games as opposed to the traditional view of such things in an essay that includes quotes from the more popular role-playing enthusiasts without questioning or arguing with their logic no matter your own opinions. 

7 You should stop doing cross blog projects with other bloggers that you like and respect and instead should focus on doing this other cross blog project with bloggers that you don't know because of your vast / inconsequential popularity.

8 Instead of putting out three blog posts on the same day, each with word counts over 1,500, you should focus on a single blog post a week that is no longer than 400 words that doesn't use adjectives or nouns.

9 You should have read this book that I read but you haven't yet because it totally means that until you do that anything you have to say on the subject isn't valid or meaningful to the conversation. Never mind that you're the one who initiated it and that has been investigating it by using primary documents - this book written by someone who likes to drink gin and mercury cocktails and hasn't read any of the original documents or even knew anyone involved says that you're full of shit.

10 You should have replied to our e-mail as your lottery winnings in the Irish Lottery, of which there is a substantial sum, cannot be paid out until such time as you have replied to our letters with your e-mail, social security number, bank account number and passwords, the name of your first pet, and your mother's maiden name. This is an urgent matter that you must attend to immediately or else we will be forced to send you yet another e-mail regarding this lottery that you did not buy a ticket for and which does not actually exist. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

An Increased Difficulty in Comprehension Does Not Equate Value

Of late there seems to be this trend developing to equate a heightened complexity with a valuable experience - which is an incredibly awkward way of saying that some people seem to believe that just because something is difficult to enjoy that it is therefore a better experience for those who do. The core of this idea is that something challenging, that has been conquered, is a more satisfying experience than something easy. The complexity of the endevor is what matters above all else; and so, by this logic, chess is preferable to poker, which is preferable to war, which is preferable to fifty-two card pickup. That you have more fun playing poker with your buddies is immaterial. Chess is more complex so it's better.

This whole idea is, of course, complete and total horseshit.

In actuality this whole concept is nothing more than an attempt to find a way to make yourself feel better than the other guy. You're playing a more complex game, reading a harder novel, computing a more difficult form of mathematics: you must be better than those who don't. Never mind the fact that the guy playing Battleship with his ten-year-old has been having the time of his life and will remember that game for the rest of his days. You were playing a game of chess with an opponent you won't remember tomorrow for a win that doesn't matter to anyone. Obviously you were having more fun.

Sometimes I wonder about people. I wonder if their lives are so devoid of meaning that they have to latch on to these incredibly vapid goalposts to make themselves feel better. It's just so utterly and completely meaningless to act that way.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Murderer Sneezed.

The King awoke with a start. Off in the distance he could hear wolves howling. Dreadful things, he thought to himself in the comfort of his bed, I must remember to have a bounty placed on their heads.

A sneeze.

"Bless you," the King said to the darkness.

"Thank you."

The King's heart lept into his throat as he pulled the covers up over his head. "Who's out there," he called.

"We're often told that the way to deal with our problems is to meekly sit down and excuse our aggressors," a gravelly voice answered him "They didn't really mean it, we tell ourselves as they drink our beer, sleep with our women, and molest our dogs. They're just going through a hard time. Really."

"Wh-what," the King said as he began pressing the panic button that hung around his neck.

"My wife, God bless and preserve her, likes to make excuses for the you, you know. 'He isn't really a tyrant, dear,' she always says with a pained sigh, 'he's just overwhelmed by the effort to keep us safe. Look at all the things he has to deal with: raiders sneaking over the boarder; his daughter sleeping with everyone who can show her a hard rod; and the attempt on his life last month.'

"Of course it can't, I say, but does that excuse his taking our livestock, sleeping with our dog, and putting our son to the sword?"

"Pynchon? Is that you?"

"He said the boy was consorting with devils and I believe him she says to me, Sire. She believes in you absolutely."

"Emily's a good woman, Pynchon," the King whispers as he slides his hand under the pillow grasping for the nine millimeter that he hides there only to find the cold sheets to greet him.

"That she was, Sire, that she was. As good a woman as the sun ever saw in this world, but dumb. Too dumb to live."

"Pynchon, what are you saying?"

"I killed her Allan."

The silence stretched forever before the King finally found his nerve, "That's Your Majesty, Sire, or Sir, Pynchon. Remember your place."

"My place," the darkness laughed. "My place is right here holding your gun, the batteries to your panic button, and listening to you panic."

"Now see here, Pynchon, this foolishness has gone on long enough."

"I don't think so," he said flatly. "I think that what's happening here is just beginning. In fact I think that we've got seventy-two hours of talk before us. Well, I'll be talking. You though . . ."

"Pynchon, what are you thinking?"

"I'm thinking that death to tyrants is far better than a bumper sticker and that it's more of an action plan. I even have a power point made up for you."


"Don't worry, Your Majesty," he whispered in the King's ear, "what comes next will not be pleasant nor will it be fast."

The King lunged into Pynchon. Trembling hands found a throat and Pynchon struck hard at the King. They rolled about the floor as the gun went off, and off, and off. Pynchon was covered in hot blood but still the King wouldn't let go of his throat. He plunged his fingers into the King's eyes, and the King screamed in agony, yet still his fingers dug into Pynchon's throat. "Blind me, shoot me, murder me," the King raged, "but I'll have your last breath before I let you murder me!"

For a long time Pynchon struggled beneath the King but at last he was still. For thirty heartbeats the King still pressed down on Pynchon's throat and screamed like a wild animal in the dark. Then he fell beside Pynchon's corpse and ran his hand along his side counting bullet holes. Four shots had found their way into his stomach. His right eye had burst under Pynchon's assault but he still lived. For now.

"Help," he called out into the dark, "for the love of all that's merciful, HELP!" 

Week of Vengeance
This post was a part of the Week of Vengeance series alongside +Alasdair Cunningham, +Travis Milam, +Mike Bridges, +Mark Van Vlack+Jens D. +Stelios V. Perdios, +Sean Bircher and me. Everyone has taken this topic in their own directions and they've made some fantastic posts that you should absolutely check out.

+Alasdair Cunningham wrote The Dish is Best Served . . . a d30 table of things villains say on the subject of revenge and R.E.V.E.N.G.E. a short story about the people that your worst villain turns to when things are out of hand. Alasdair has really come up with some great stuff for this project so be sure to check him out!

+Jens D. wrote A Tale of Carnage and Revenge, a short story based on a setting that Jens' has been working for some time that will have you wrapped up in it from the get go, and Outrageous Ulterior Motives (NO ONE POSTS ALONE-Edition), a tale about revenge at the table that makes me entirely too happy reading it!

+Mark Van Vlack came up with The Ax Grinders Goal which helps look at an alternative way to reward revenge plots that goes beyond just a satisfying chop to the neck and an end to an imaginary life. Like so many of Mark's efforts on game design he has a way of taking you beyond the complicated mechanics and making the whole thing into something not only enjoyable to read but that feels easy to implement into your own games.

+Mike Bridges made a fantastic comic, Cultists, that had me laughing out loud. Mike is always putting out great comics with this Greyhawk series and this one is no different. If you haven't checked out his stuff before you're in for a real treat and I know that I can't wait to see more of what he has in store for all of us in the future.

+Sean Bircher, who is a creative powerhouse, created an outstanding little adventure in Honor and Death. I don't want to talk too much about it for fear of spoiling any of it but if you've never had a chance to check out Sean's stuff this is a great opportunity and one that you really can't miss!

+Stelios V. Perdios wrote Revenge Done Right, a short piece of advice about how to do revenge plots correctly in your RPGs that won't see your players pulling their hair out in frustration. He'll be publishing his two-part short story, Anne Greyhawk and Her Curses, later this week. I really enjoy the way that Stelios writes so I can't wait to check out what he has in store for all of us!

+Travis Milam gave us some poignant thoughts in, Revenge and Why Your NPCs Want It, that had me really enjoying his ideas. Travis has this critical way of thinking about subjects that always excites me and has me looking forward to where he's going next, and his work on this project has be further proof of that faith in his abilities.

Watch this space in the coming weeks as I'll be putting together a free PDF with all of our stuff that you can download to your heart's delight!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

For the Moment

There are times when i feel like my heels are spinning and everything is out of my control; that there are no outcomes possible where I am not failing at everything that I want to do with my life; that I have let down everyone who depends on me. The don't last long, usually a day or two, but when they come along it is absolutely soul crushing in how it causes me to feel.

Today is one of those days.

So instead of focusing on how terrible I feel I want to take a moment and tell you all that I really appreciate all of you for coming by and reading me, still. It's one of those things that just keeps me balanced when everything else is threatening to overwhelm me and send me spiraling down into the depths of depression.

Okay, enough whining from me. Instead it's time for me to take a step outside and get some light. Maybe recharge the batteries for a while in front of a pond with a six pack and a beautiful woman yelling at our son, "No you cannot put the frog on the electric fence!"

Monday, July 13, 2015

New Avatar

I thought it might be a good idea to let all of you know that I've changed my avatar from the bear reading a book to what I actually look like - well, what I looked like 10 pounds heavier than today as I've lost that much since then. Anyway, I don't want anyone to get all weirded out by the new avatar so here it is:

I use the same picture for Twitter because I think it's incredibly funny when I'm giving +Kevin Smith shit for him to be laughing in his avatar while I'm looking up at him. This is what happens when I have too much time on my hands kids. This is what happens.

Working on the Look of the Blog

In my disgust today I decided to go through and begin working on the look of the blog as it was entirely possible that part of my problem may have been either of the html edits that I did to add the Amazon Wishlist and the Twitter feed. Unfortunately I discovered that this meant that my direct subscribers - the people who do so through their blogs - are gone. I can't find a way to bring any of you back to the front page and I'm so dreadfully sorry that I fucked that up. I liked having you guys there and while I can add the people from Google Plus it won't let me add you guys anymore. 

So that sucks. 

Anyway, as you may have noticed the blog is going through a bit of a facelift. I'm tired of the old look and I thought that this one might actually be a bit more useful to everyone reading me. Let me know what you think as I'm still tinkering with it for the next few days. Oh, and if there's something missing that you really liked please, please, please let me know so I can see about bringing it back online. 

Okay, more later.

An Hour of Dissatisfaction

Last night my wife and I were talking about my difficulties with Dyvers lately. I was, let's be honest, whining about how the site wasn't loading correctly and how the updates from Google Plus were essentially a joke right now and how it just felt like such a waste to sit here plugging away on the blog when nothing would come from it. I would write and write for hours putting together posts for everything from the Best Reads of the Week to some of the upcoming series for the blog only to find them disappearing from my queue and everything be for naught. 

She sat there patiently listening to me wallow in my disgust for long enough to see me wear myself out on it and then she said, "Do you feel better now?"

"I don't," I said, "I don't like feeling helpless about things that I love. I don't like being locked away from it even if the problem is only a temporary one. It makes me feel so god damned useless."

We sat there for a minute while I listened to Lulu's Back in Town by Thelonious Monk when my son came into the room. He was covered in sweat and his hair was all askew. "Daddy," he said as he looked at me.

"Yes dear?"

"You're talking to loud," he said as he climbed up on the couch with his mother and pulled his blanket over his eyes.

"Sorry, dear."

"Shush," he said from under his blanket, "I'm sleeping."

As he fell back asleep on his mother I walked over to the computer and opened up Fallout 3: New Vegas for the hundredth time since I bought it and started a new run. The game has this way of completely drawing you in and consuming your attention so that you forget everything else going on in the world. It's a good little soul sucker of a game.

by Dave Trampier

Thursday, July 9, 2015

A Slow, Steady Creep Towards . . . Something?

So the month of June has been a suckfest over here in the Akins  household and a lot of that is directly tied to how Blogger and Google Plus have been acting when I attempt to log into them. Of late both services have completely bogged my system down. Blogger will take a solid two to three minutes to load and then when I write things they tend not to be published and to completely disappear from the system. In this way I've lost all of my May and June Best Reads of, my work for the Murder Mayhem and Revenge project, and my article for the Why I Love This Game project. All of which means that I've got to get back to rewriting them, again.

Yeah, I know, I know. Backup, backup, backup. But here's the thing about blogger, if you use Word (which is what I use because I bought the damned thing) to write you articles out it imports the word format into the blog and completely messes up your subsequent edits and picture additions. Which is the suck. 

Oh, and if you've been messaging me on Google Plus I promise you that I haven't been ignoring you because I'm a jackass - it's because I'm not getting any updates. Like right now I have the little notification ball telling me that I have 59 notifications but when I attempt to open it I get a "reload the page" notification instead. When I go directly to the notification page on my Google Plus I get the same message. In fact the only way that I know if someone has attempted to tell me something is when my e-mail sends me an update (which has happened once with a message that Mark Van Vlack sent me several months ago and just came to me last night). 

What's causing all these problems for me?

Best I can tell it's coming from one of two locations. Either (a) it's coming from some new incompatibility between Google products and Firefox, my preferred browser; or (2) my internet has decided that those sites are somehow connected to an international conspiracy that involves a large conglomerate of assholes all farting to the east and thus driving the new El Nino to ever greater heights. I don't what the answer is but I'm downloading Chrome to see if it will make a difference even though I fucking hate Chrome and it's bullshit. I just like my blog more than I hate Chrome. 
Of course if this doesn't go live and it deletes like the others than I'm going to say fuck it and start migrating over to Wordpress tonight. 

Also, I'm getting a lot of spam comments lately. Anyone else having that shit too?

Monday, July 6, 2015

Will This Even Publish?

I'm not sure if this will finally publish but blogger has completely fucked me these last few weeks. Sometimes is publishes the things I'm writing and others it completely forgets that the keys have been struck and that I was serious about publishing it.

Here's hoping this one actually shows up.

Closing Comments.

Due to the influx of spam comments on Dyvers I am closing the comments. I'm not currently doing anything with this blog, but I don'...