Monday, April 27, 2015

Chose the ending! "The Mastodon's Heart" Pt 1

Hello, reader! You are about to choose your own adventure. You read and then comment on what YOU, the character, are going to do next. The best answers will be chosen for the next part of the story in a few days.

YOU are an archaeologist/paleontologist with a few special powers. You have moderate super strength, telekinesis and you sometimes get visions. No one knows about your powers yet. Following in the steps of your late Father, you seek relics of the past in many ways. You are about to embark on a dangerous journey. In your satchel bag, you have an array of tools common to your trade along with your father's knife and .38 revolver. You keep a few snack items and a bottle of fresh water as well.

The helicopter pilot smiles at you, and you wish he wouldn't. His teeth are yellow. He shouts over the engine; something about how hard it is to get to this location. You could care less. You've been to more remote locations than he's ever thought about. This spot in Siberia will be no different.

"Shouldn't you have a coat or something?" The pilot asks.

"I'm a tough girl. I can handle it." You respond, wishing you could just jump out now.

He says something about liking his girls that way as he brings the chopper to the ground. You can hardly wait to get out. You ignore the pilot as you throw the door open and hop out. There are two men waiting for you. One is a short and wearing wire rim glasses. He's old enough to be your grandfather. The other is a tall regal looking Arabic man. His long black hair is tied back in a pony and his suit is far too clean for a fossil site.

"You must be Professor Sigmund." You hold out your hand to the smaller man who gently shakes it.

"Yes and this is Amikam. He works for the investors. I'm so glad you could make it on such short notice."

You shake Amikam's hand. He doesn't say a word.

"Not a problem. Where is the find?"

"You want to go right to it? I could understand if you need a rest after all that travel."

"I prefer to get right to work. From what you said, this sounds exciting."

"Oh it is and quite puzzling." The Professor leads you to a wide dug pit where you can see a arrangement of fossilized ribs jutting from the side wall of the dig. All three of you walk down a dirt ramp. There are four other people moving dirt and digging. You quickly stride over to the ribs. After a cursory observation you turn to Sigmund. "What is this? It's not a mammoth."

"No. It's not. It appears to be an American Mastodon."

"In Siberia? How is that possible?"

"I was hoping you could tell us. I'm going to get us some tea. Would you like some?"

There's a young woman standing by the remains. She's eager and perky, two things you don't care for.

"Professor, I can get that for you." She offers.

"No, no, Jessica, you assist our friend here."

You pass on the tea and take a closer look at the ribs. The center ribs are embedded in a black stone unlike any of the rest of the remains. You take a closer look at it. There are tool marks that don't match anything being used today. From what you can tell, the stone is just as old as the remains. That means they were embedded in the rock intentionally. You reach out and touch the stone. Your mind is flooded with a vision. You see a glowing red stone as large as a football. Then the scene shifts to the body of Professor Sigmund with Amikam leaning over. There is blood on Amikam's hands. You jolt back to reality as Jessica's perky voice sounds in your ears.

"So, what do you think?"

Well? What DO you think? What do you do next? Put your answer in the comments!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

You're going to fail!

When I was a kid, I wanted to write books and I wanted to be a detective. Yeah, I'm always a mixture of things.

"You'll never be worth anything." Those were the words of my abusive stepmother. I won't go into the things she did because I'm not looking to shock or trigger you. Suffice to say I left home at age 14 to escape the abuse. I showed my determination by trying to travel from Utah to Florida. I started by hiking over the Wasatch mountain front. I was caught and sent home but left again and made it from Kaysville to the Colorado state line.

In my fleeing home I was made a ward of the State of Utah and the social worker assigned to me didn't seem to like kids much. "You'll never be a detective. You'll never be anything." She said it in such a matter of fact tone that I didn't say anything back. But my determination only grew.

I was told to give up on writing because I would never publish. But I proved them wrong on all counts. I joined the army and the 186th Military Police. I became professional security, a bodyguard, and eventually, I became a sort of detective. I became an animal cop and investigated things like animal cruelty and animal fighting. I send dozens of cases to court every year. I wrote official tickets with official fines. So I didn't become Sherlock Holmes, but I still achieved a great deal.

Then MS came along. It wasn't first, but it's here now. So I did the next thing that they said I wouldn't do. I published two books. I'm about release the third. Are they perfect? No, but who is? The fact I carried through to the end in my condition should tell you volumes. But to some people it still doesn't. I must just have a look about me that says "don't take this guy seriously". Yet, my track record continues to prove them wrong. And I'm not done.

Here is the thing. Critics will always look down their nose at everything you do. You can show them that your Facebook page has over 750 likes, but they'll go through and count the likes on independent posts and tell you your page isn't worth it. They'll look at your artwork and say that you should give up and go to paying someone else to do it (never mind that there's way simpler art out there that's making millions, just see Cartoon Network ;) ).

I could have listened to them a long time ago and maybe went to some mundane, who knows what, dead end life (I don't know). But I didn't. I didn't listen to them. Look where that got me. I'm here and I've done more than a few things they said I couldn't do. So if there's anything that my project could teach you, it's that you never give up because they say you're going to fail. You may restart, you may reposition, but you don't give up.

So, it's time to show people what you're made of. Show them that you can do it. I'm certainly not done. Why should you be?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

GZ character stat cards!

Some may have noticed that I'm doing my characters from A-Z with some special info. I've hinted at future use for these cards and I wasn't bluffing. These are the first GZ character stat cards. They are based on the formula I use for the role playing game. Yes, I said "role playing game". It's a ways of in the distance yet, but in the meanwhile, you can enjoy the amazing stats and info of these characters.

So what do the numbers mean? In the five stats STRength, ENDurance, SPEed, AGiLity, and MeNTality, you will note a number from 1-10. 1 is the level of a very average human being. 10 is godlike. So, the higher then number you see, the more powerful they are in that stat.

Above that, you see the minimum character level they would start at, their sex/race if applicable, and their alignment from good- evil with personality scale if applicable.

You can clearly read what powers they have and then see any equipment they carry. Don't worry to much about the numbers you see with the equipment. Suffice to say that a number with a + sign is for dealing damage and a number with a minus (-) sign is for reducing damage.

The info section gives you a little bit of insight to the character. There will be a lot of info from stories, so be sure to catch up on the stories of GZ if you haven't already.

Right now, I'm working on this in between other projects What's my current schedule, you ask?

This is my tentative schedule:

Kickstarter for board game (coming very very soon)
Chaos Rising (novel)
GZ Tales 2 (short stories)
GZ Tales game expansion cards
Chessmen 2 (novel)
GZ New York (game expansion with new board)
Wicked Ways (novel to follow Chaos Rising)
GZ Tales 3

That doesn't include the fact that I plan on being at Geekonomicon in December and then Southern Geek Fest next year.

I know you see a lot of reused artwork, but I assure you, I am working on new artwork too! There are definitely exciting days to come. I can hardly wait!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Boardgame Kickstarter Rewards by Level!

Here it is, folks! 8 levels of Kickstarter rewards so you can plan ahead! I just sent out the written agreement to TheGameCrafter and once they respond, it will be GO TIME! Till then, check out what you can get for each level. Everyone gets their name on a thank you list that will either be on the bottom of the box or back of the rulebook.

1: 10 Dollars:  I know not everyone can unload on this so there is just this little level. You get an 11x6 signed artwork. What pic will it be? Not totally sure yet. I'm thinking about conducting a vote.

2: 20 Dollars: This will net you the signed artwork mentioned above and a signed copy of the novel: Chessmen: Opening Moves. I know what people are really after though, and that's a copy of the game. Well, that's next.

3: 50 Dollars: You get the art and novel and of course a signed copy of the game itself! This is the sweet spot! But it does get better than this.

4: 75 Dollars: Now we add a magnet, book of short stories, and a PC expansion booster. The PC Expansion has 18 additional Player Characters that you can be at random for the game. Be an Assassin, Faerie, Superhuman, Minotaur and many others. Of course, the art, game and novel will be signed. I can sign the wrapper on the expansion cards if you want and I'm open to signing requests if you want certain items signed. The magnets are too small to sign but very colorful and cool!

5: 100 Dollars: All of the above and another expansion bonus. It's the Kickstarter Bonus Deck. It's packed with 36 cards to enhance the main deck for game play. Characters, beasts, artifacts, powers and more that you can't get any other way. This deck will not be available for sale past the kickstarter, while some cards may show up in future expansions.

6: 150 Dollars: All of the above and a signed mousepad with GZ artwork on it. Again, what art has yet to be decided. I assure you, everything will look sharp!

7: 200 Dollars: Again, you get the whole pile from above but there's a new addition. A custom Player Character card all your own! Limit of 50 custom cards! You can even send me your own artwork to put on it! Want to use your old DND character? No problem! Want your own homemade superhero? No problem! I don't want to get into copyright trouble though, so no copyrighted material unless it belongs to you personally.

8: 500 Dollars:  The final tier lands you with the books, cards, mousepad, game, and the rest with a very special final reward. With a limit of ten, I will make you an 18x25 acrylic painting of Galaxy Zento art. If you are wondering what kind of painter I am, just look at what I did to my son's dresser.

Naturally, 7 and 8 may have some time constraints to keep in mind. I won't be slow about it whatsoever, but still. So here you have it. I'm hoping to start things off within the next two weeks so be watching! Lots of coolness still to come! Thanks to everyone who has been sharing and following along!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Kickstarter Reward: 36 extra deck cards!

I've been working in fervor to get these ready for you happy gamers out there! I'm sure you'll love adding these to your game of Galaxy Zento! But what fun is keeping them a total secret? Check out some of the awesomeness you can get your hands on!

Artifacts are fun, fun, fun, but now there's an extra bit of zip. What if you find an artifact that belongs to a character specifically? Uh oh. Well, maybe he won't find out. Scratch that, he definitely will! When you successfully obtain the Axe of Arconia, King Falcon will come from where ever he is (discard, deck, or even from being another player's ally) to make you face him for it.

If you are of good alignment, you can recruit him (and have to in order to keep the ax). Yes, that means you might just steal KF away from another player! But if you can't do that, you have to fight him (no evading). And just check out his card!

So you beat KF in a fight (that won't be easy), there is a chance that he'll come back in a burst of flames to face you a second time. Good thing it only happens once!

Want a way to mess with your opponents? How about making them draw a new card if you don't want them to have that cool object they just revealed? You have to be close enough on the board to use it, but Luck Control will make messing with your opponents a fun reality. Once they reveal a card from the deck on their turn, you can decide that they have to draw a different card. Of course, it's very chancy. You don't know if you helped them or messed them up until that next card hits the table.

How about some mean beasties to fight or run from? This one is sure to please on both counts. Watch out for that acid spit! You lose an item when you are hit! All four beasts in this bonus set will set your game on its ear!

Whoops! Don't get caught! This is one unforgiving trap! If you don't escape the first time, you have to try again on your next turn! Just hope you are having good luck with your dice rolls!

What's this? An item you have to roll to obtain? Yes it is! But look at what it does for you. If you have the "obtain skill" or some achievement tokens, you'll have no trouble adding this to your game arsenal. It gives you the psychic ability. Nice!

Can't leave cool events out and this one is a major game changer. Hope you weren't feeling too comfortable with your player character, because it just changed on you. If the guy playing the Wizard was getting annoying, you may be glad to see this card hit the table.

Those are just a few examples of the cool reward that you will only be able to get through the Kickstarter. I'm still working on all the details, but I assure you, the rewards and bonuses will be more than worth the price of admission! So stay tuned faithful heroes! There's more to come!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Showcase story: Origin of Hate

It happened some time before he became the King of Arconia. Falconus and Kestrelius were lords of their houses and they had loved her since they were children. Lady Nightengale had a choice to make.

"Have I not been a worthy suitor?" Kestrel asked of her one starry evening. Two of the planets moons shown brightly on the flower filled courtyard.

"Of course you have." She said gently. "You both have and I love you both."

"But the time has come that you choose one of use. With me, you will be queen."

"And that is the difference between the two of you. Kestrelius, you are for power and glory. I am  not. It is not the throne and a position of rule that matters to me, but love alone."

Many heard the cry echo across the royal grounds and came running. Falconus was the first to arrive. Kestrel knelt with Nightengale in his arms. He laid her down gently and held up a glass vial.

"Poison!" He shouted as he dashed the vial on the ground. "She took her own life because she could not choose between us!" He pointed to Falconus. "I blame you!"

"Fool! Take her to the healer!" Falconus cried as he tried to go to her fallen form.

"It's no good! It's the venom of a dragonasp. There's no coming back from it!" Kestrel threw a surprise punch that tossed Falcon backwards and to the ground.  "I swear, you will pay for this with your life!"

Guards moved in quickly and separated them. They took the body of Lady Nightengale away to be examined. In the days to follow, they brought Lord Kestrel before the scales of justice.

"As you know, none may lie before the scales of justice. One side will rise or fall upon truth or tale." Lord Harp said to Kestrel. "Tell us now the way of her death."

"She died at her own hand." Kestrel said.

All the five lords were present that day with a court of witnesses. Audible gasps were heard as the scales didn't move at all.

"This is impossible." Lord Harp said. "It suggests that you neither speak truth or lie! Wait outside, Kestrelius. We have much to decide on you."

Kestrel stormed out and Harp turned to Falcon.

"We have already voted on this matter. I wanted you informed first." After the discussion they called for Kestrel's return and Harp continued. "Lord Kestrelius, we find this situation highly suspect. While no definite evidence can be brought against you, we have found this serious to take one significant action. As you know, our king has stepped down and the throne sits empty. Your house is up for its turn as the monarchy. Because of this highly suspect death and the results of the scales, we have voted. Your house will be skipped in the cycle of monarchy. Lord Falconus is now King Falconus and will be crowned so at the harvest."

"You can't do this!" Kestrel roared. "The throne is mine by right and cycle! This is an outrage!"

"It doesn't make any sense." Falcon said. "Why would she kill herself? She knew she was free to choose or not choose. No one would have forced her."

"I swear this, Falconus. We are friends no more, but bitterest enemies. I will make you pay." Kestrel dashed out of the court before anyone could respond, spread his fiery wings and flew away.

That is how Kestrel began the path would eventually see him trying to murder Falcon and go on to commit many an evil atrocity.

(I have a plan to write the Arconian Chronicles with the full story of these three people. Hope you enjoyed this touch of history)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Showcase story: The Fist of Allah

He didn't even wince as the ropes cut into his wrists. The occupants in the back of the truck were rocked back and forth by the merciless driving of their captors. He had already taken in the details of his fellow prisoners. Most of them were innocent villagers. One was an American soldier and the last an English journalist. He knew they were all innocent. The insurgents drove for an unknown location where he was sure they intended to behead them all. The butt of a rifle struck him across the cheek.

"Your eyes to the floor! Do not look around!" The insurgent guard shouted.

Amikam spit some blood on the floor between his boots. Rage surged in his chest but he clenched his teeth through it. It was not yet time.

"Why don't you just let us go?" The English journalist pleaded.

"Don't talk to him. It's not worth it." The soldier said.

"Both of you be silent or I shoot you here!" The guard moved to hit the woman but Amikam let his body fall forward with the rocking of the truck, falling in the guards path. "You clumsy idiot!"

The guard kicked him and them shoved him back onto the bench. His eyes met with those of the journalist. In that moment she realized he did that to protect her.

"Shhhh." Amikam hissed to her quietly and she nodded.

The truck finally jarred to halt and men shouted in Arabic outside. Rough hands grabbed the people on the back of the truck and threw them out of the truck like sacks of rice. They lined up their prisoners with Amikam, the journalist and the soldier in the middle. The desert sun shone hot and unyielding. A camera stood on a tripod ready to record their beheadings.

"I am Kaleeq Mohammad Alsad!" A man shouted from in front of them. "You are infidels and will be executed in accordance of Sharia law!"

Amikam almost smiled. This was the man he had been looking for.  "You are a fool!" He shouted and immediately a gunman struck him from behind.

"Bring that one forward!" Kaleeq shouted. "He will be my first example. After that, I will do the American."

Amikam was rousted and dragged before Kaleeq who held a long sharp machete. Amikam looked up from where he sat on his knees and smiled.

"I have a message for you before you kill me." Amikam said.

"Oh? What is that?"

Amikam considered the distance he was from the other prisoners. It looked like he was far enough away. He turned his face up toward the sky.

"ALLAH BE PRAISED!" Those near him had no chance of reaction as the explosion threw them in all directions. Those at a distance swore they saw a great lightning bolt strike from the heavens followed by and explosion of fire. Amikam was a regal looking man with a black beard and long black hair, but no one saw him that way now.

The man that stood as the flames dispersed had his face hidden in his red keffiyeh (Arabic headdress). He wore a white shirt that exposed some of a muscular and hairy chest. A red sash encircled his waist over his leather pants that lead to heavy leather boots. His hands commanded the most attention for each was armored in crimson metal gauntlets.

Panicking gunmen opened fire with AK-47s, but bullets merely bounced away. Amikam, who had become the legendary Fist of Allah, moved quickly. He snatched a gun away from one man and crushed it in his metal fist.

"You have no more need of this, my friend." He said as he backhanded the gunman to the ground.

He lifted a heavy crate of supplies like it weighed nothing, and threw it at another pair of men. Seeing that they couldn't harm him, the remainder ran or dropped their weapons.

"You cannot surrender to him!" Kaleeq half coughed half yelled as he stood up. "I will  show you, he is but a man!"

In three great strides, Amikam stood in front of Kaleeq. "Yes. Show them what I am."

Kaleeq swung his machete but Fist of Allah caught it and shattered the blade. He reached out and grabbed Kaleeq by the throat, lifting him into the air.

"I am here on behalf of the World Legion and Israeli Secret Service. They want you alive, though I can't imagine why."

As he stood there, the sound of helicopter blades could be heard and three Apache helicopters flew into view. American soldiers jumped out and ran to the prisoners. They also took Kaleeq and put him in handcuffs. A Captain walked up to Amikam.

"You said there would be a signal, but no one expected you to set off a George Lucas light show." The Captain said.

"It is the way of my calling." Amikam said. "Now you have your prisoner. What of the victims?"

"We've arranged to get that journalist out of here. Why not give the insurgents' truck to the other prisoners?"

"I will ride back with them to make sure they are safe."

"Thanks, er, Fist of Allah. You were more than a big help."

"It was my pleasure." Amikam turned and walked away to the other prisoners who were abducted from their homes in a nearby village. He would ride in the truck with them to return them all safely to their families. The mission seemed easy, but he knew that for each insurgent struck down, another would soon take his place. For that, the Fist of Allah would be ever vigilant.