Category: Fantasy


Life is Good in Vegas

I am now a resident of Las Vegas, the Entertainment Capital of the World, Lost Wages, Glitter Gulch and Sin City. When I left Vegas in 2006 I never thought I would come back but that is how life works I guess. I have a roof over my head, a new car and a good job. It works for me.

Along with all the usual concerns I have been exploring the local gaming scene to see what I can find. A lot has changed since I left but I am happy to report I have at least found a regular Pathfinder Society game to play in, I will be attending my first Vegas Game Day (a monthly event) this weekend and I am keeping my eyes open for other gaming opportunities. The Little Shop of Magic has been around for a long time but back in 2006 I lived on the wrong side of town to make regular trips. Living in the Summerlin area it has become the crux of my gaming experiences this time around and I have been nothing less than impressed with the store and its staff.

Today is the start of Teach Your Kids to Game Week. DriveThruRPG is offering all sorts of goodies for very low prices which I encourage you to check out. Even if you don’t want to spend any cash before the holidays the important part is you spend some quality time with your little ones playing games. Do your part to foster the next generation of great gamers.

Cool Links

  • Towers of Midnight Audiobook Sweepstakes – Sign up for a chance to win a free copy of Towers of Midnight (audiobook).
  • The Lazy Dungeon Master – Michael E. Shea, also known as Sly Flourish, has released his latest book for dungeon masters who like to run their games on the fly. This book is available in several formats for the very low price of $5.99
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Hell's Door Opens

The first novel in Jon Creffield’s ‘Hell’s Door’ series.

I recently had the pleasure of reading Jon Creffield’s Hell’s Door Opens for review. Check it out on Flames Rising DOT com.

The Eye of the World

Robert Jordan's The Eye of the World

“The Prophecies will be fulfilled,” the Aes Sedai whispered. “The Dragon is Reborn.”

Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World is an absolutely incredible book. It comes as no surprise that The Wheel of Time is regarded as one of the greatest fantasy series of all time and technically the series is not even complete yet. From the opening of the novel in which we witness the Breaking of the World to the battle at Tarwin’s Gap where Rand destroys the trolloc army by channeling the saidin found within the Eye of the World this story is epic in every way. Yet most of the characters we follow are anything but epic. Rand is a farmer. Perrin is a blacksmith’s apprentice. Egwene trains to become a Wisdom. Matrim is… a trouble maker. They are very simple people who live a very simple life. What makes them epic is how they rise to the occasion when confronted with dangers they could not have imagined before the trollocs attacked their village. They barely understand the evil coming for them and yet they find it within themselves to be heroic.

Gamers looking to recreate the Wheel of Time experience at the game table will be happy to know that much of the work has been done for them. Wizards of the Coast published The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game over a decade ago and it is still pretty easy to find copies of it floating around. This game is based on the D20 system used by the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons which was also published by Wizards of the Coast. Amazon.com has listings for used copies of the book starting around $20. For those who are not fans of the D20 system it is not hard to adapt other game systems to work for you. The Dragon Age RPG, Exalted, the Palladium Fantasy RPG and Savage Worlds all offer game systems which can open the doors to Jordan’s world with very little extra effort.

Tips for Gamers

Villains Are Not Omniscient
Ba’alzamon is a great villain because he knows that the Dragon has been reborn but he does not immediately know Rand is Lew Therin Telamon reincarnated. He sends forth his minions to search for his nemesis and it is many years before he knows enough to commit the strength of his forces. Even then he has only narrowed the search down to three young lads; Rand, Matrim and Perrin. He haunts each of them until Rand’s power manifests and the Dragon is revealed. Ba’alzamon is very powerful and is well informed but he does not know everything. He is not perfect. Neither should your villains be perfect. Villains who make mistakes or who must work hard to achieve their goals make for much more interesting characters.

Don’t Split the Party!
We all know that mantra, don’t we? A good deal of the time this is very good advice but as Robert Jordan displays sometimes “splitting the party” is a good chance to not only challenge each individual character but to allow them to grow in ways they could not have otherwise. What would this story have been like if these young ones from Emond’s Field had never been separated from Moiraine Sedai? It would have been a shadow of the tale penned by Mr. Jordan. The lesson we can take from this as game masters is we need to provide opportunities for individual characters to shine. Sometimes that means we need to allow them to split the party and be prepared for when it happens. In a narrative heavy game that is not too difficult but with a game like Dungeons & Dragons 4E these kinds of developments demand a little more work on the part of the dungeon master. Try cutting the number of monsters in the next encounter in half if only half of the party is present. That is an adjustment you can make on the fly.

Up Next: Storm Front by Jim Butcher, Book One of the Dresden Files

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New Spring: The Novel

New Spring: The Novel

On December 21, 2011 at 8:55 a.m. EST Brandon Sanderson announced to the world, “Ladies and gentlemen, A Memory of Light–the final book in The Wheel of Time–has been finished.” While there are still several revisions to be handled as well as printing, marketing and general hoopla before the book officially sees publication but this was still an important moment for fans of The Wheel of Time series. For many readers the announcement represents the culmination of a journey which began twenty two years ago in 1990 when The Eye of the World first hit the shelves. In fact, it is a moment many readers were worried would never be seen as James Oliver Rigney, Jr. (also known by his pen name, Robert Jordan among others) announced in 2006 he had been afflicted by cardiac amyloidosis, a condition which took his life in September of 2007. He continued writing until he passed away and prepared notes as well as insights with his family so the book could be completed. Later Brandon Sanderson was chosen as the writer to complete Jordan’s work.

Personally I have been a fan since I was first introduced to the series in 1995. However, as the series stretched beyond the six books which were originally planned (A Memory of Light will be the fourteenth book in the series) it became harder and harder to continue reading the books. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say it became harder to finish each book knowing there was still so far to go before we would see the end of the story. A decision was made. Although I purchased each book as it was released I did not read them. I placed them on the shelf and forgot about them. I decided I was not going to read the series until it was complete. With Sanderson’s announcement concerning the final book and a tentative release date some time in 2012 I decided it was time to start reading The Wheel of Time once again.

However, after much consideration I decided that I could not begin reading the series by cracking open The Eye of the World. In 1999, Jordan published a novella titled New Spring in a collected anthology of modern fantasy called Legends. The novella was later expanded into New Spring: The Novel, which was the story of al’Lan Mandragoran, the last royal heir of Malkier, Moiraine Damodred, niece of King Laman Damodred of Cairhien, and Siuan Sanche, the daughter of a fisherman from Tear. The story is a prequel to the events which take place in The Eye of the World so instead of reading the books in chronologically order of publication I decided I needed to read them in the chronological order in which the story unfolds.

New Spring: The Novel is an interesting book because it gives us a new perspective on three of the most important characters in The Wheel of Time. Each of these characters are individuals who have been chosen by destiny to play an important role as the wheel turns even if doing so is perhaps the one thing they want less than anything else. Lan is heir to the lost kingdom of Malkier, a symbol of all that has been lost to the Dark Ones, and supporters rally to him in hopes that one day he will lead them to reforge his lost homeland. Moiraine is a viable candidate to claim the throne of Cairhien and the Aes Sedai have a strong desire to place one of their own upon the that very throne. Siuan comes from lowly beginnings but her strength with the One Power and her unique abilities to sort out complicated puzzles and take command of those around her doom her to rise high within the ranks of the Aes Sedai. New Spring chronicles the beginning of their journey towards the Dragon Reborn and details how influential the forces are which stand against them. For anyone who has decided to finally indulge in this epic of fantasy literature this book is the perfect place to start.