Sunday, August 30, 2015

Cards of the Boardgame: The PC's

I've tried doing a video series called Card Talk, to show how the cards work in Galaxy Zento the board game. Sadly, I just don't have good lighting or a location conducive to making the videos right. So it's time to go the blogspot way.

PC means Player Character. During game setup, each player is dealt a PC at random. Each PC has specific strengths and weaknesses. Fortunately, you can build on the weaknesses if you're even slightly lucky. The game has 6 PC's (but more are on the way) so let's go over them. First a quick explanation of the symbols/stats:

Star: This is the PC's attack modifier. When ever a d20 is rolled for an attack, this number is added to the result in order to reach the target's defense.

Shield: This is a PC's defense. The number that has to be reached on a d20 roll for a hit.

Speech Bubble: This is the recruitment ability. Possible allies have to be recruited with a d20 roll. This modifier is added to the result to reach the recruitment number on an ally's card (shown in the same symbol).

Arrow: This is the modifier for evading enemies. Basically sneaking away from conflicts instead of fighting. This is also done with a d20 roll compared to the requirement on a character or creature card in the same symbol.

Not all abilities have symbols. There are modifiers for Spells (if the PC can use them at any time), Traps (to escape them) and Obtain for grabbing mystical artifacts (which are not the same as items). As a note, I will tell you that there are powerful items coming that will require an obtain roll.

So on to the 6 PC's that you can play in GZ. (Click on images for better view)

WIZARD: Why not start with possibly the coolest of the bunch? As you can see, the Wizard is not a hand to hand combatant. He gets no modifier for combat. His defense is low, so you'll want to get him an ally as soon as you can or items if you can find them. Where he becomes a super power is that he is the only one of the six who starts out able to use spells. Spells come from their own deck and get drawn at the beginning of your turn. You don't have to reveal them until they are put into play. The Wizard's modifier for spell use is a 10, making any combat he uses spells in, much better. If he attacks a PC with a spell, there's a good chance he'll hit. And he can be at a comfortable range to do it. As an added bonus, unlike anyone else who gains magic use, he can draw 2 spell cards for his turn instead of 1. When he wins combats with spells, he gets an extra achievement token (used as wild card modifiers where ever you want).

PSYCHIC: The Psychic has decent numbers because, well, being psychic has it's advantages. She's excellent at recruiting allies or avoiding trouble with enemies. She's average at dealing with traps too because she can "see" her way around them. Where she's really great is her special ability. Once per turn you may look at the top card of any deck. You may put that card on the bottom of the deck. You can use this ability to give yourself a chance at a better draw for for your turn, or to prevent the person after you from getting a cool card that happens to be on the top of the deck. If you gain spell use, you can use this ability on the spell deck for yourself. But, you can also use it to mess up spell draw for someone who can draw them. You can only use this trick on your turn though, so use it wisely.

STRONGMAN: The brute of the game. He's good in combat, and that's really about it. He gets a great modifier against beasts and monsters along with gaining an extra achievement token for winning combats with beasts and monsters. Don't be too quick to dismiss him. With his head start in combat (which is extremely important) he only gets better from there as you find things to build him up with. Thanks to his bonus, he's also one of the best PC's to have against a beast called The Monstrosity. We'll get to those later though.

SOLDIER: Extra good at combat, average at recruit and evade, but makes up for it as soon as you give him a weapon item. Modifiers from weapon items give him an extra +2.  His defensive power of +2 attack and defense if attacked by another PC makes him a thorny target. The bigger he gets, the meaner that becomes.

SPEEDSTER: Arguably, the most awesome stats of the game. Super speed is super cool. She gets awesome attack and defense stats and her evade is monumental. A +3 to movement doesn't hurt either. She can either keep far away from PC's that would attack her OR stay close to those she wants to target.  Check out her "disarm" special ability. Once per turn, during movement, you may make an attack roll on an adjacent opponent. If successful, steal 1 item from that player. Continue your movement. So, basically, you're running along, pause next to someone, snag something from them, and run away. How annoying can you be with that?

INVENTOR: Another PC who really doesn't start out as a combatant. He's good at recruiting help and is a master with traps. Giving him items is also awesome. With him, the +4 from a laser rifle becomes +8. Then his attack shoots up to a +10. His tinker ability is also very handy. During your turn, you may discard an item to take any item (not artifact) from the discard and put it into play for yourself. You also don't roll to obtain items (which will be more useful with upcoming expansions).

I'm happy to report that the first expansion for GZ will have 18 new PC's to really spice up your gameplay possibilities. I'll do a report on them later on, when closer to release.

To see more of what this board game is about: go HERE.  To catch the books that the game follows, click on my Author's page link in the upper right.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Survival: Kidnapped by a Serial Killer

Today on a page called Brolo Nation on Facebook, I posted a survival challenge of the following:

"Survival Challenge: You wake up on a mountainside disoriented from chloroform. There is a note with you that reads: "You have 10 minutes to get your wits about you and start running. Let the hunt begin." Assuming you are of decent health and mobility, what do you do? (You are starting in a wooded area, but not all of the mountain is woods)
For you smartassess out there, you've been picked clean of electronics or knives or anything of the sort. You don't even have your wallet.
Edit for excellent question: What are you wearing? Shirt, jeans, shoes (you may assume you have laces) you may assume you are wearing a belt. And it is summer."

I was asked about a few more points and I will add that you wake up at about 10 am. You are surrounded by trees and the woods extend to about 100 yards down the mountain. To your left is open field type terrain and to the right is jagged rocky terrain (but also clear) Terrain merges at the 100 yard mark and mixes together. There is no guaranteed answer for this so the correct answers are those that keep you alive the longest. People didn't die on the discussion thread immediately, followed more of the points I'm about to post.

First of all, 10 minutes to shake off chemical effects is a bitch. Even so, you have to try and take in your surroundings and quickly. You need to know, if possible, how you got there and where your killer may be. Were you dragged or brought in by a vehicle? If you were dragged, that will tell you what direction you came from and will be the least likely false trail. It would take a great deal of effort to drag you in all sorts of circles on the tilted terrain and around trees. Next, footprints. If there are none, no difference, but if there are, they could tell you a couple things about your captor.
1: How tall he is. You already know he's big enough to move YOU (if you are a larger person this could be bad news or good news)
2: What direction he left in. While you can't trust it, it's a starting point and shouldn't be ignored. There are distinct possibilities here. This may be the way he want's you to think he went (the more evident the tracks, the more this is likely). Or it's the way he really went (less evident tracks "may" point to this but also indicate his skill) You can't trust either one, but they can play into the direction you choose to go.

Tire tracks means he has a vehicle of some sort. So you know more about his tools, anyway.

Next, you can't stay where you are. If you can see far enough away to see where terrain changes, he can see you from just as far away. He gave you 10 minutes and will likely be watching. You can't just sit there and try to eagle eye for him either, It's a waste of time. What this will also tell you, is a narrowed down point of where he may be. A psycho who wants to hunt you will be armed in  the best way to be in control. That means a rifle. Since psychos of this kind are meticulous and detail oriented, you know he knows the entire area better than you. All the same, you have to move. Seek out the densest area of terrain you possibly can. The closer trees are around you, the less open shots anyone has on you. This may buy you a few more minutes since he has to come closer or change position to get at you. Now you can take in more of your surroundings except that you best be flat on the ground so long as you are on the ground. Even so, you can figure out your next move from here and finish shaking off the chem effects. Remember those tracks you saw and pay attention. You wouldn't want to run right into him before you're read.

Check your inventory. Note that I said you can assume you have a belt? So you have a belt. That's a handier tool that your captor realizes. It's a weapon and first aid all in one. What, you've never been clocked by a belt buckle? That's a piece of metal on the end of basically a leather whip by the way. Or you can put a couple of fingers through the metal loop, hold the point outward and have a minor stabbing or punching weapon. Don't forget strangling. You're belt is also a life saving tourniquet, or an anchor for up in a tree. It's a tool for bundling items you find too, like sticks you sharpen with a jagged rock. If you have shoe laces, they can be useful too. 
If you are a woman, this scenario assumes you are wearing a bra (because I wasn't specifically thinking of women when I wrote the challenge). You have another weapon.

Gain a vantage point. Even if you climb a tree for a better look around, you are making  yourself less of an easy target. You need to find ways to make it so you can see better than he can. It's also unlikely that he'll expect you to disappear into thick cover only to climb a tree. He expects you to panic and run down the mountain side (which is something you must not do). 

Watch out for traps. Who says the guy is out to play fair? Expect his turf to have surprises. If you were to just run for it, you wouldn't notice the signs of those surprises. Leg traps under branches, trip wires, etc. If your captor was generous enough to set traps, trip them and scalp them for usable parts and weapons. 

Find a way to make him come to you. This may mean getting into a good hidden position and waiting for several hours. Chance's are he's not impatient to kill you. You will have to make it look like you outright vanished. There's two ways to do this: up a tree, or into the ground as much as possible.

If you do have to run for any reason, do so between trees as much as possible and for as short of a distance as possible. Long runs will work against you. You need to find ways to drop out of sight suddenly.

Set something on fire. If you know how, a sudden range fire would do a lot to attract attention and screw up your killer's plans. True, also a federal offense, but are the authorities in for a hell of a story from you! Using the side of the woods nearest the rock terrain gives you a chance at sharp shale or maybe some flint. 

To sum up, your chances of living increase if you:

1: pay attention to evidence of your surroundings
2: move to cover
3: watch for traps
4:utilize your inventory
5:do the unexpected in any way you can

None of that guarantees your survival, but then that's not the point of the challenge. Do you agree or disagree with anything or have your own ideas? Be detailed and tell me what you would do in comments. Hope you enjoyed this.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

End of summer update

Lots of promising things going on as Summer draws to a close. I didn't give away half as many things as I wanted to, but there was no helping it. This summer's accomplishments have been few but very good. Releasing Chaos Rising (novel) and the board game were no small potatoes. Both were long in the making. Now it's time to get the next book of short stories done along with some artwork for the first game expansion.

Recently there has been a lull in development as I get my son ready to go back to school. I get the feeling this is going to be a big year for him. Primarily he's in 8th grade, but the school works with him where his actual strengths are. His math is back a couple grades, but the plan is to catch him up so he can go on to high school. If that means another year at the school he's attending, it will be worth it.

Sports season is coming in full swing and my wife will be doing scoreboards at the radio station. Weekends are going to be fairly closed off for a lot of things. But I'll use the extra time to keep on creating and writing. I have plenty to do.

Come January, we hope to make a trip to New Orleans for a new place that's opened up there. I've med the owner on Facebook and I'm excited about checking it out. It's called the Bad Wolf Bar and Grill. They are going to have gaming and other nerd geek ventures going on there. My game may be making an appearance. Be sure to check them out.

In the coming months I will be getting my game out into people's hands and into cool places. Exposure is promising. Speaking of exposure, my books got into people's hands this summer with three freebie specials. I can only do a freebie giveaway like that once every 3 months for each book, but it was a success.

It is not easy to be seen in the endless ocean we call the internet. I strive to learn all I can about acceptable ways to market myself and my work. Sometimes I think it would be easier to defuse complicated explosive devices, but one can never give up. You give up and guarantee you'll be invisible before you know it.

With my son at school, I'll be taking advantage of some quiet time to really get some stuff done. At least that's always the plan up front. You never know what's going to happen to challenge your efforts. Best laid plans right?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Character Development: My Formula

How do you create all these characters? This is a question I've been asked many times. I have dozens to an easy couple hundred characters in my head. I joke that they haunt me and it's pretty much true. As I think about it, how to develop characters can be the difference to a seemingly living thing and a flat piece of paper. Here is how to create that believable character with depth and bring it to life.

Think of everything that makes up a person; right down to the smallest detail. That is what makes up a character.

Appearance: A character's appearance sets the stage for how other characters will react on sight of him or her. Is he a dusty dirty vagrant with torn clothes and matted hair? Or is he meticulous and refined in an expensive three piece suit? Maybe she's more casual in a comfy t-shirt and jeans with holes in the knees? Don't forget to accessorize with jewelry, handbag, or maybe an expensive pair of boots. For an exercise in how people look, just go to any public place and look around. I'm not suggesting you engage in staring contests, but think about what stands out to you as you see different people. For people that really stand out, go to People of Walmart and look through the photos. Imagine how you would describe their appearance in writing.

Behavior: How does your character act and react to their surroundings and other characters? What are his or her standard emotions. Happy go lucky? Constantly irritated? Paranoid? Different people have different ranges of behaviors. It's important that those behaviors interact with setting, events and other characters. Reactions are an important part of those behaviors. How does your character react to a lost puppy or getting a parking ticket? How do they treat people around them depending on how much they care? What if they just don't care? Behavior is the glue that holds your character together and connects all of what they are. For exercises in human behavior just go to Youtube and start watching videos of the things that people do. Ask yourself how you would write about those behaviors and attach them to your character.

Now we get more in depth:

Quirks: These are the aspects of your characters behavior that stand out and add spice to their "makeup". Take my character, Nyhtwulf, for example. His greatest quirk is a love for foil wrapped cream cheese. He eats cubes of the stuff complete in the wrapper. He doesn't understand why humans take the wrappers off. To him, that's part of what makes the treat so delicious. Special  habits that help define your character and give it depth, make them more believable as a living and breathing thing. I once knew a lady who was a heavy smoker. Whenever she exhaled the smoke, she did so through her nose with her tongue sticking out. She had no idea that she stuck out her tongue every time, she just did it. Everyone has nuances to them that make them who they are. Quirks, habits, or what ever you want to call them can be seen in everyday life easily. You don't need a lot of them in one character either. Treat them like salt in a recipe.

Beliefs: What does your character believe (or not) in? Are they ultra religious? Maybe he's an atheist? Does she believe in unicorns? Beliefs are not limited to the religious alone, rather a full scale way of life. Belief extends to political standing and ideals. At their very heart, belief defines a character's alignment of good or evil. Consider the beliefs of a narcissistic sociopath. Such a person believes that all other people are lesser beings, put on Earth for their personal use or amusement. The Bushido Code is a way of  life for ancient samurai.  Political parties, psychological studies, and religions are fine ways to look at belief.  To see belief in action, look to social media like Facebook. What's going on on your friends pages that play to belief?

History: A character without personal history is either flat or a background character. History speaks to the character's life experiences. You can go back in their life as much as you wish to give him or her history. Events of childhood shape a character for who they are today. Past mistakes lend to experience and shape how future choices are made. Depending on the story, characters don't need a great deal of history. Some stories have a greater history on their own that guide and build the characters. History that overshadows the personal. That's okay, so long as characters have believable reactions to those events. For an example of how personal history looks, think back on your own. What events of your life, shaped who you are today?

Fears: Not all characters have major fears, but some will and it really helps define and bring them to life. My character Blacktide has the power to disintegrate any solid matter by touch or even at range. When his powers manifested in his youth, they killed his parents. Blacktide has to be ever vigilant that he not touch people without precise control of his powers. Even with help of a psychic connection with Nyhtwulf, the fear of hurting innocent people is alive in his mind always. Don't forget that a phobia is great for character development too. Major fears should be sparing, but natural fears fit everywhere. Fears go hand in hand with a characters greatest concerns about the world they live in. Take today's concerns for great examples. Do you know anyone who is worried about war in the Middle East or the job market? How would you write about these things to flesh out your character?

Trials and Tribulations: Characters need problems and life events to react to and interact with. Not just the main antagonist of your story, but other things too. Trouble paying the rent on time? Looking for a job in a hard market? Health problems? Or maybe they just have spontaneous runs of bad luck? Problems create empathy with the reader. I know when I read about someone stubbing their little toe on a door jamb, I instantly empathize. Who doesn't know what that feels like? But don't forget that they need triumphs too. They need those upswings that we all hope for in life. We all need that lucky quarter on the sidewalk from time to time. They may be small and not in line with the major focus of your story, but they make your character come to life.

Relationships: Very important for how characters interact with each other. Are they best friends or casual acquaintances? Love, hate, friendship, disdain, all important factors and they change from character to character. Who they like and dislike and how the interact build on all the characters involved. There are many examples already written here and you do your own study in public or on social media. You can even see how that changes based on the circumstances of the conversation. We all know people on social media tend to be more bold than in person.

My list is certainly not the only way to look at character creation, but it's filled with the general basics. It's often the little things that make characters believable and alive in the mind of the reader.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Board Game Quandry: Reader's Advice?

Yes, I'm asking you, the gaming reader, for your advice. Consider that what you post here may become the advice sought out by other game creators like me.

Points to consider:

-I'm not just a game creator, but also an author and I'm trying to make GZ it's own standing universe. It has a long way to go with hopes for apps, graphic novels, and maybe even video games. I'm not just looking to take GZ one direction, but many.

-No matter what is available, everything will get future improvements. New editions with improved art and function are always in consideration. For that matter, I'm collaborating with an exceptional artist and the image is his drawing and my coloring. People are already digging it.

-If I do this, it will put games in players' hands. Players will also be able to rate my game on site.

My board game is fully playable. I'm working on a tweak here and there, but essentially it's ready and I'll have those improvements done first.

What I'm thinking of doing is going ahead and making my game available to order on The Game Crafter website for 45 dollars a copy. A few of you wonderful people were willing to back it on Kickstarter at 50.

Not only will this put my game out there for you and other players, but it will provide me with a modest business income that I can grow with.

So what do you gaming folk think of this idea? If you want to look over the information on my game you can do so at this LINK.

I value your input and appreciate it. Rock on gamers! Keep those dice a rolling!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Writing: How to choose an idea and go forward

It's the creative's curse. You have so many ideas in your head for a story that you just can't sort them by thinking. So what do you do? I had this awesome question recently and realized I needed to put it here to help others. Here's my suggestion.

When you have so many ideas crashing around in your head that you can't sort them just with thought along, you need some writer's tools to help you out.

Get a notebook and label it "For Writing Ideas Only". Feel free to decorate it, color on the cover, whatever. But inside, is only for your writing ideas. Keep it where you can always find it.

Make a list. Jot notes on each idea as you remember them. You don't have to make it long winded half story length stuff, just notes. That way, when you do pick a project and complete it, you can come back to your notes and pick another one.

But how do you choose? That's on you. There is really no best way to choose what your first project is going to be. All of them are likely begging you in your head to be completed. You will have to make your choice and then focus. Yes, focus. One of the hardest things a creative can try to do. But do it you must in order to make any headway on that first project or any after it.

One thing I suggest, after you've brainstormed all those ideas and written them down; is to put them away and leave them be for a few days. Come back and look them over later after writing them down. You may find new perspective on your ideas that needed time to gestate. You may find the act of writing something down as a resolve to the mind storm. You've given your ideas a kind of tangibility that allows them to be dealt with easier.

Will this make the ideas stop whirling through your head? Um, no. I'm afraid there is no cure for that. You can only hope to organize them a little and find a path to move ahead.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your notebook and get to jotting down those ideas!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Chaos Rising: An inside look

So, as many of you now know, my third book is officially available on Amazon. You can click on my author's page link in the upper right of this page. But what are you going to see beyond what I've already given? Well, today I'm giving you a bit of a who's who to help you out.

The Ultimate Threat: The villain of the story is Jonathan Stormy Knight and he's on a mission to release the god, Chaos from his imprisonment. While that sounds like something that's been done, the threat is no small one. Chaos in the GZ universe is the embodiment of all technology in the universe. He appears as a colossal sized robotic entity with swirling search lights, canons and lasers. His hand alone is bigger than a four story building. His concept is an idea that, while beneficial, technology is stealing our humanity. The result is a hole in the balance of good and evil, resulting in chaos. Stormy engages in a number of bizarre plans that confuse the heroes, but everything he sets in motion damages the balance.

The Rookie Hero: Hakim is a lost college student who is given the powers of Anubis, Guardian of the Dead. Throughout the book, he discovers how to use his many abilities and learns what it is to be a hero.

The Old Veteran: Sandstorm is arguably the most powerful human being on Earth. He has the power to shape change into weather and elements in any combination as well as control those around him. This story brings him out of retirement from the CIA to join a government task force. He can feel the damage being done to the planet because of the sun being blocked out.

The Protege: Electrode, is the nuclear electric man, capable of moving at twice the speed of light. He's Sandstorm's partner and student. He'll follow Sandstorm anywhere, even the depths of space.

The Damaged One: When Larry Peter's disintegration powers manifested, they killed his parents. His powers are dangerous and sometimes out of control. As Blacktide, he tries his hand at becoming a hero, perhaps as personal redemption. He will meet someone who will become the best friend he ever had.

The Demon: Nyhtwulf comes to our world from the castle of the Four Horsemen and meets an unlikely friend. If you ever wondered if a demon could be a hero, wonder no more. Nythwulf comes to Earth with an endearing innocence of the world and delights in discovering its wonders (like cream cheese).

The Heroic Damsel: Her name is Nightfall and she can cause mental blackouts by touch. She's the one who may just teach Anubis everything he needs to know to be a hero. She may even show him he can be in love again.

If you miss out on the free giveaway (that's going on through this coming Monday, July 13th), you can still get your digital copy of this epic for 99 cents.

As always there is more to come an next I plan to have a second book of short stories put together. After that, it's Chessmen 2 (long awaited I know).

Enjoy the story, heroes and remember; never give up.