Monday, July 29, 2013

The Face is the Place

This post was inspired by this post on The Bookshelf Muse

I don't know why it didn't occur to me to do this when I did my character building post back in January.

One of the things that drives me nuts when reading is to not be able to picture the characters.What I do to resolve this is Google the character's name and see which actors/actresses other people have suggested. Once I have that person's face in mind it makes reading much easier and more enjoyable. 

When reading fantasy series (which are known for being long and crowded) like Song of Ice and Fire, Wheel of Time, or Lord of the Rings, you really need to be able to distinguish the characters from each other. I think this is why the LOTR movies are such favorites of mine - top quality actors who totally look the part. Can you imagine how much different it would have been if Stuart Townsend was Aragorn instead of Viggo Mortensen? I could see him (Stuart) more as an elf.

To give a visual example of what I mean; one day I was dorking around with heromachine and created an old ranger.

He looked so familiar and I couldn't place why.....

Apparently I had Jeff Bridges in the back of my mind.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

NPC Personality and Physical Traits

Here's some awesomes I came across over on Hack & Slash.

NPC physical and personality traits.

I already ordered my copy and received notice that it shipped Monday. I expect it any day now. 

Just to give an idea of some combinations you can come up with (and I swear I plan for the alliteration of these)

Stuttering Sell Out - the party meets a stammering stranger who has just betrayed a neighboring country. Perhaps he's an awkward homeless child who witnessed something he shouldn't have and now the party must protect him until he can spit out the secret to the right people.

Frustrated Fence - a vendor of stolen goods has recently been stolen from. He hires the party to track down the thieves, but refuses to give them many details about the missing item. Maybe another circle of thieves is behind, or it could be that the rightful owner simply reclaimed what is theirs.

Handsome Hypochondriac - the group meets a wo/man who is very easy on the eyes, but they are sure they are just as diseasey. The twist could be that they are actually afflicted because a jealous, ugly witch has cursed them with failing health. You must find the spellcaster and reverse it.

Vexed Veteran - a one-eyed ex-military man who lusts for a life of adventure. But because he's lost an eye and he's old, no one wants to hire him out of the hum-drum of his daily life. He figures he can't reverse his aging - or can he?- but he can at least get his eyeball back. He offers to pay the adventurers to take him with them to either find a fountain of youth he heard about while soldiering, or to track down the villain that took out his eye and now keeps it preserved in a glass jar. The object could be hidden away, or in plain sight, but always on the bad guy's person.

Repetitive Rain Man Rembrandt Riddles - an artistic autistic knows a valuable secret and the party has to some how coax it out of him. He will repeat a certain phrase or seemingly nonsensical clues over and over. He also paints the hints into amazingly beautiful artwork. A fun way to play this would be that the artist is very lucid while painting, but is so focused on the piece that it's hard to get him to talk at all. He paints the answers to questions as symbols in the artwork. Pick a Rembrandt painting, or paintings, and write the story around clues/focal points of the piece or series. Or the first letters of the phrase he keeps repeating are an acronym that is the answer, or the keyword that unlocks him to tell the complete secret.

Bad Blooded Brit - a man has had his human blood drained and replaced with some kind of alien fluid. There are multiple side effects including impaired thoughts, hallucinations of being chased by monsters, and violent outbursts. The most noticeable features are sallow skin, haunted eyes, and rotting teeth. By the end of the adventure he is near death and vomiting a black, tarry substance. The party can drive the man away fearing he's possessed. They can help him find a magical cure. Or they can simply do the humane thing and kill him, but can they live with that? Should they keep him alive under quarantine for study in case whatever it is might be catching?

Ferret and Fidget - a junkie with a monkey on his back and a pet ferret. This potion/weed addict is going through serious withdrawals and becoming more and more desperate to slake his habit. He swears to the party that he knows of treasure and will greatly reward them if they will help him find a fix. But perhaps your group has already been tasked with eliminating the foul smugglers that have strung out and poisoned whole villages. They must use this illin' villain to get close to his dealer and eliminate him. When the junkie realizes they are not interested in helping him, in fact they want to stop his supply permanently, he flees and attempts to sabotage their efforts. The true victim in all this is the poor ferret. He's having a hard time too.

Bulbous Boar or Nosy Newt - rumors have spread of a man with an unusually large nose who mysterious emerged from the wilds/woods/swamp and has been warning townsfolk to avoid the maniacal sorcerer that has taken up residence in a tower nearby. As if his rantings weren't unnerving enough, livestock has been disappearing, strangers have been seen wandering about, and the tortured cries of animals and screams of men have been drifting on the night winds. This evil wizard, known as Dauktor Morose, has somehow been morphing animals into humans. Some victims think they are suffering from amnesia since they can recall nothing previous to their awaking as humans. Others only look human, but have no powers of speech and dreadful, primitive behavior. The particular man named either Borus or Noot, knows full well what has happened to him, but wants to remain a human for as long as possible. Once the party deduces his true form they can either adopt this would-be follower, or return him to the tower for retransmogrification. Obviously he objects to this later option. He can both hinder and help the group with his bumbling and natural talents. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Illusion of Reality

I recently found a broken link in my favorites and wanted to make sure I update the past post....but then I couldn't find it. Maybe I haven't shared this yet.

Terragen Gallery

There used to be a gallery 1 and 2, but they've since deleted the first and expanded the second. 
They make for spectacular wallpapers! It would be even better if I could figure out how to run it as a slide show.

This is another bit of software I would love to learn, but seeing as how Campaign Cartographer gave me no end of fits, and I'm still struggling with Adobe CS4, I don't think I'll be churning out anything breathtaking anytime soon.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

If Ever I Make It This Far

I haven't really been watching my numbers since I hit 10,000 hits - the glow of that alone still hasn't worn off - but I owe another big 'THANK YOU' to any and all readers because I just noticed that between May 29th and July 2nd I racked up another 2,000 views! Among those was likely my author buddy Jason King, who has been very supportive of me [seriously] picking up the pen again. That means a lot, very much a lot :) And it got me to thinking...

I love the thought of one day publishing - although that would take a lot more focus, craft, and patience than I'm currently putting forth. I love Viggo Mortensen as an actor especially because his works are so varied and he seems like a genuine, amazing man.

So if ever I get to the point of having something ready/worthy to submit to a publisher, this would be my end all, beat all


I have ideas for stories all the time. Most are fantasy, some are historical fiction/alternate history, and a rare few are science fiction. Since I never know which in particular to chase, I typically end up scribbling pages and pages of notes - maybe a smattering of worldbuilding - and then it's onto the next.

There are a few I could see actually turning into something full length (most of the others might get relegated to short stories). In order they would be:
1) one of three, or perhaps, all three fantasy worlds I've spent years filling in
2) my pseudo-mythology/science fiction hodge-podge
3) my Civil War period fictional western epic (this would be several individual, shorter books)

Oddly fitting is that one of the fantasy settings is "founded" by a boy named Perceval (named for his perseverance). The tale/world takes a lot of queues from known archetypes, myths/tales, and tropes. It's some parts Middle Earth, some parts Atlantis, and lots of parts Arthurian England. I still need to do a lot of research on many topics - and I'm sure actually visiting the United Kingdom and surrounding areas wouldn't hurt.

I know all of the fault is my own. I know I need to focus, bite down, and pound the keys. I know it will never go anywhere, or "make it", if I don't make it. I knows I always speak in maybes, somedays, and perhapses. I know, I know, I know. I'm just saying.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Afar Into the Land of...

I have posted about The Land of Nod blog before....and I'm doing it again.  I like the way he's got it set up to suggest other posts at the end of each one. I get lost in his blog all the time. These are a few more that provide great information/inspiration.

Guides Through the Wilderness - What a great roster of guides - even the not so nice ones. A pretend barbarian, a succubus, a pretentious escaped slave and many more.  

Overcomplicating Coins - even if you don't use it for exactly what's suggested, it's still useful and inspiring info to have.

Ten Uncommon Coins  - another brilliant bunch of suggestions. I especially like the soultaker coin.

Dungeon Mapping with Excel and Paint - A ingeniously simple way to make your own dungeon maps using nothing more than Excel and Paint.

Random Crappy Jobs - I don't know about the rest of you, but when I play Skyrim I find simple joy in chopping firewood, hunting, and playing mailman/messenger for folks. Why shouldn't tabletoppers have equally mundane opportunities?

Random Randomness - random: class, armor, weapons, and skills. What more could you want when letting the dice decide?

He always has some great ideas up his sleeve. Definitely go check him out!