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I should have posted this yesterday, but appropriately enough, I was too busy prepping for the game I ran last night. 🙂

Dice Tales: Essays on Roleplaying Games and Storytelling is out now! If you play RPGs and have an interest in them from the narrative side of things — the ways we use them to tell stories, and what GMs and players can do to make them work better in that regard — you may find it of interest. Follow the link to buy it from Book View Cafe, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, iTunes, Kobo, or (in a first for me) DriveThruRPG. And if any parts of it wind up working their way into the games you play or run, let me know!

Also, the New Worlds Patreon has headed off into the wilds of rudeness, with two posts on “Gestures of Contempt” and “Insults.” The theme will continue through the end of this month before turning in a new direction for August. Remember that patrons at the $5 level and above can request topics, so if there’s something you’d like to see me discuss, you can make that happen!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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The most recent New Worlds post is on sumptuary laws, i.e. the ways in which societies try to regulate the outward signifiers of class and rank.

Looking back at my previous blog series of BVC — Dice Tales is now set to be an ebook! You can currently pre-order it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, iTunes, and Kobo; or you can wait for the on-sale date of July 18th and get it from DriveThruRPG or direct from the publisher, Book View Cafe. This is edited and expanded from the original blog series, with more than half a dozen new essays.

And — as a teaser — while it is my first foray into game-related publishing, it may not be my last . . .

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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I’ve been very remiss in linking to my New Worlds posts over on the Book View Cafe blog (brought to you by my lovely Patreon backers). Here’s the full lineup to date:

If that stuff looks good to you, please consider becoming a backer!

And, for a bonus: I’ve been neglecting the Dice Tales community on Imzy, but I put up a new post today ranting about how combat-oriented rules can screw over plot.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (*writing)

Month two of the New Worlds Patreon kicks off with a look behind the scenes at my super-easy approach to making languages look real. Comment over there!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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It’s the fifth Friday of the month and I only promised four New Worlds essays per, but since the first post was mostly just an introduction, you get five this month. For future months, I’ve added a funding goal to cover those months where there ought to be five. In the meanwhile — and on the topic of weeks and months — let’s talk about measuring time!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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My second Patreon post — first if you don’t count the introductory riff — is now live at Book View Cafe! Comment there, or head over to my Patreon page to become a patron yourself.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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After a hiatus following the completion of Dice Tales, I’m back to blogging at Book View Cafe, this time with a series I’m calling New Worlds. I’m putting ten years of anthropology education to good use by writing about worldbuilding: different aspects of setting and society that can make for an interesting story, with copious examples drawn from the wide array of places and time periods I’ve studied. The introductory post is up now, and the series will continue every Friday until I run out of things to say.

But wait — there’s more!

Those of you who have already clicked through to that post will have seen that this is a Patreon-funded project. That’s right — I’m taking the plunge into the subscription model of crowdfunding. The Patreon page has details, but the short form is that by backing the project, you can get photos, ebooks, extra essays, or more personalized rewards: the opportunity to request that I cover topics of your choice, feedback on your own worldbuilding questions, or even story critiques. More complete details on the reward levels are posted here. The Patreon is set up so that the subscription is per month, not per creation, and you can change your backing level at any time.

If you have any questions, drop me a line!

Patreon banner saying "This post is brought to you by my imaginative backers at Patreon. To join their ranks, click here!"

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (gaming)

After nearly fifty installments, the Dice Tales series is finally done. To find out what the future holds, check out the concluding post.

And if you want to go on talking about games and storytelling, consider joining the Dice Tales community on Imzy!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (gaming)

This week’s Dice Tales post sees me dusting off some of my academic work, to discuss the ways in which RPGs are like rituals.

Also, I’m trying to make use of the Dice Tales community on Imzy, with a post there about how to make combat feel more integrated with the rest of the action, instead of it coming across as a mini-game that stops the flow of everything else. If you’re on Imzy and you find that an interesting topic, stop by and add your thoughts — or put up a post of your own! The Imzy community is for anybody who wants to discuss RPGs and narrative, not just for me.

Comment over there!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (gaming)

The Dice Tales series is nearly done, but still has a little way to go. The most recent two installments are “A Story in Song” and “Other Relics,” both discussing the kinds of narrative artifacts left behind by this ephemeral mode of storytelling.

Comment over there!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (gaming)

Last week’s Dice Tales post and this week’s: “The Magic of Wikis,” on the ability of a private wiki to serve as a record and organizing tool for a game, and “A Story in Song,” on game soundtracks.

Comment over there!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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It’s out!

cover for IN LONDON'S SHADOW: AN ONYX COURT OMNIBUS

For centuries a faerie court has lain hidden beneath London: a place of shadows and intrigue, where the city’s immortal inhabitants can watch and manipulate the mortals above. Through two royal dynasties, through rebellions and plots, through war and plague and fire, the Onyx Court endures.

Now the court’s first two centuries are collected in a single book. This omnibus contains the novels Midnight Never Come and In Ashes Lie, as well as the novella Deeds of Men, the novelette “And Blow Them at the Moon,” and the short story “Two Pretenders.”

You can buy this from fine e-tailers all over the internet, chief among them Book View Cafe, but also Amazon US or UK, Barnes and Noble/Nook, Google Play, iTunes, Kobo, or (for the Canadians among you) Indigo.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (*writing)

cover for IN LONDON'S SHADOW: AN ONYX COURT OMNIBUS

For centuries a faerie court has lain hidden beneath London: a place of shadows and intrigue, where the city’s immortal inhabitants can watch and manipulate the mortals above. Through two royal dynasties, through rebellions and plots, through war and plague and fire, the Onyx Court endures.

Now the court’s first two centuries are collected in a single book. This omnibus contains the novels Midnight Never Come and In Ashes Lie, as well as the novella Deeds of Men, the novelette “And Blow Them at the Moon,” and the short story “Two Pretenders.”

This is my latest (or rather, next) project with Book View Cafe: an omnibus of the first half of the Onyx Court series, short fiction as well as long. It will be out next Tuesday, at which point you’ll be able to obtain it from BVC or Barnes and Noble; right now you can pre-order it from Amazon (or Amazon UK), Google Play, iTunes, or Kobo.

And I have to be smug for just a moment . . . because that cover image? That’s a photo I took, when I was in Switzerland earlier this year. So hey, this particular hobby has a practical side!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (gaming)

If it weren’t for the fact that I had several already lined up and scheduled to go live, you probably wouldn’t have a Dice Tales post this week. But I did, so you do: “Ephemerality,” on the difficulty of recording the narrative text of the game, and what hoops you’d have to jump through if you tried.

Comment over there.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (gaming)

Last week’s Dice Tales post was “The Secret Life of Game Junkies,” discussing the ways that players keep the game going between sessions, but this week is something else: a call for reader requests. Dice Tales isn’t over, but it’s coming toward its end, so if there’s something you want to see me post about before it’s over, now’s your chance to say so!

As usual, comment over there.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (gaming)

Well, one corner of it, at least.

In addition to this week’s regularly scheduled post — “Game Hangover,” on the ways that playing in or running a game can leave you drained afterward — I also have a related post up on Tor.com. Though it isn’t explicitly labeled as a Dice Tales entry, “How Your Role-Playing Game Campaign Can Inspire Your Novel” is an outgrowth of that series; I got recruited to write this piece specifically because of Dice Tales. So if you’re interested, go take a look, and comment over there!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (gaming)

This week’s Dice Tales post is Backseat GMing, aka the equivalent of trying to lead from the follow position in ballroom dance. Comment over there!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (gaming)

There was no post last week, but this week you get “Open Doors and Brick Walls”, about those moments when the GM and the players see a challenge completely differently, and how to identify and resolve those mismatches when they happen.

Comment over there!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (gaming)

The two most recent Dice Tales posts are “Breathing Room,” on the necessity of downtime and “filler” in games, and “Best-Laid Plans,” on what you do when the story goes in a different direction than you expected.

Comment over there!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (*writing)

I have survived our housewarming party, and with that in my tail-lights, let me catch up on a few things. And by a few, I mean a lot.

Like my newest Onyx Court story! “To Rise No More” is the tale of Ada Lovelace’s childhood friendship with faeries, and also her ambition to build herself a pair of wings to fly with. No seriously, I didn’t even make that part up. (The wings, not the faeries. But she did also refer to herself as “Babbage’s fairy helper,” so, y’know. Maybe not that part, either.) It went up at Beneath Ceaseless Skies on my birthday, which I found to be excellent timing.

Shifting gears to a different series, the Barnes and Noble blog has just revealed the cover to Lightning in the Blood, which is the upcoming sequel to the still-upcoming-but-will-be-out-next-Tuesday Cold-Forged Flame. As I said on Twitter, I didn’t know until I saw it that one of my life goals was to get a Giant Hunting Cat onto a book cover, but I can check that off my list now!

And while I’m at it, I’ve finally gotten an excerpt from Cold-Forged Flame posted to my site. One week — one week and it will finally be out . . . .

Also, I’ve been busy with the Roundtable Podcast, hosted by Dave Robison and Marie Bilodeau. And I do mean busy, as I’m in not one but two episodes. The first is part of their “Twenty Minutes With” series . . . which, with the introduction and everything else, wound up being more like Fifty Minutes With. But dear god, the introduction alone is worth it: Dave Robison has a habit of describing his guests in epic terms. I have never heard my own life sound so much like a superhero origin story.

So that’s the first episode; the second is part of their “Workshop” series, wherein a writer (or in this case, a writing pair) describe a project they’re working on and then get feedback from the assembled hosts. We dug into an urban fantasy premise for this one, a setting where a new drug is causing people to develop magical powers, and had lots of thinky thoughts on both the way the drug fits into the world and how to write the “psycho ex-girlfriend” trope in a sympathetic and complex manner.

And finally, I’ve got myself a brand-new setup on Imzy. Where by “brand-new,” I mean “there’s basically nothing there yet” — but I figured I should mention, for those who are busy exploring this new site. Then, having done that, I decided to spend my other community-creation slot on putting together one called Dice Tales, which is a spin-off of the blog posts I’ve been doing at Book View Cafe. Speaking of which: the most recent installments there are “Keeping Up with the Joneses,” on power escalation over the course of a campaign; “With Great Power,” on the GM’s ability to screw players over and responsibility to use that wisely; “GNS,” on Ron Edwards’ old Gamism-Narrativism-Simulationism framework; and then a two-parter that consists of “Game Planning I – Arcs, Acts, and Chapters” and “Game Planning II – Sessions and Scenes,” which are pretty much what it says on the tin. But the Imzy community is not just a place to reblog those posts; I’m hoping it will become a great discussion of storytelling in RPGs more broadly. So if you’re on Imzy and you find that kind of thing interesting, come on over!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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