Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Farewell, Clint Thomas. We barely knew ye.

What I have to say today is special and dedicated but also fitting for my standing in this blog overall. Those who follow me know that I have a special place in heart for people who stand up for what they believe in, no matter what other people may think. That was Clint Thomas all the way.

Clint ran the only comic book shop in Monroe, Louisiana. On top of that, it's the smallest shop I ever saw in my life. But don't let that fool you for one second. Clint was a kind and generous man. He'd cut you a deal on your purchase without you even asking. You'd be surprised too. But that's just what he loved to do for people.

"Are you sure that's all you want to charge me?"

"Heck yeah. It's no big deal."

That's par for the course around there. For a small shop, Clint still managed to pack folks in for gaming tournaments. Free comic book day is a standing room only event and everyone who is anyone shows up. I never heard him complain and I never  heard anyone say a harsh word in his store. That was just the environment and I knew I wanted to come back.

Now, people who don't frequent comic books stores and who didn't know him very well, laughed at him and I'll tell you why. Every election time, Clint would run for Mayor. This year he ran for Sheriff. And this is why I'm writing about him today. Clint didn't care what anyone else thought of what he was doing. He could do it and so he did. He had no fear of failure. Not being voted into office was zero deterrent to him. He pursued his dreams maybe better than half the people around here.

I admit, when I was new to this town and heard he ran for Mayor, I thought he was crazy. Then I got to know him. Crazy like a fox. Because he had no fear to pursue his dreams. We could all learn a lot from that alone. Clint was a true example of how other people's opinions don't have to rule your life. They sure didn't rule his and he was a better man for it.

Clint left this world in the way a lot of people say they'd prefer. In his sleep. Maybe that's part of his reward toward the next life. Painless transition. I sure hope so.

Clint always put my Galaxy Zento stuff up in his store and never asked a thing in return. But when I could, I bought things from him. It was the least I could do. Everyone is going to miss him. I don't know what will become of that little store now, but it will never be the same. If they keep it open, I'll sure go there. If not; it shall be fondly remembered.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

In spite of Multiple Sclerosis

Really, it's more like 'in spite of anything barring my path', but I think you'll get the idea. It's helpful to remind myself what spurs me on to overcome disability and be even borderline productive. With the seasonal change bringing barometric changes, the cognitive fogs have been slapping me around. Imagine allergy season getting you moderately stoned every day instead of plugged up. Or consider that your cognitive abilities (to think clearly) are plugged up instead of your sinuses.

All the more reason to fight like a cornered animal.

The less you do, the more MS takes away. The less you use any particular life skill (especially physical) the faster MS takes that away. You have to pace yourself, but definitely don't want to just give up. Even so, MS, or as people are calling it now 'the MonSter; does a lot of damage to a lot of people. It's not so easy to just overcome.

I really hate the fact that I can't work a regular shift job. I have to be able to rest at any given time my body requires. I also have to be able to move around because my nerves go haywire from time to time. So I work from home and put my power into things I always wanted to do.

Wanted to write books about my fantasy universe: published 3 of them so far.

Wanted to make my own board/card games: published one board game so far.

Want my son, who has autism to understand that Dad is still productive: working so far.

My hands don't want to do my artwork. I force myself forward anyway. I will fight for what I love to do until I can't sign my name anymore. That's why I dedicate my artwork to everyone who fights MS or other disabilities  to keep doing what they love to do. That includes just being able to get out of bed on any give day.

You have to have some spite against the disease. You really do. It's amazing what you can accomplish if you just turn Hulk against MS. Decide that MS can go to hell and you're going to make it across the room today (or to the park, or whatever). Yeah, I'm stubborn in some of the wrong ways too, but you kind of have to be. What are the wrong ways? Well, you pay for what you do in a day when you have MS. The harder you exert yourself, the harder MS tends to hit back. So if I got outside and dig that rotten portion of tree root sticking up in my yard, I'll probably be physically and mentally useless for about three days.

I'll probably still try to do it.

Just to spite my MS as if it were an entity that could understand said spite.

So, between showing my son the importance of never giving up and giving MS the finger; you pretty much have my reason for doing anything. What do you do in spite of your MS? Let me know in the comments. I'll end this with an uplifting song:

Monday, September 21, 2015

Get your free character card! Here's how!

If you could be any fantasy character, what would you be? Who would you be? Would you be that umpteenth level wizard you used to play in DnD? Would you be a dragon? Maybe the adventuring warrior is enough for you?

Well hold on tight because you can become anything you want!

From now until Thanksgiving 2015, when you buy a copy of my board game, Galaxy Zento, I will make you a free custom character card that only you can play! You'll be fully illustrated and bad to the bone! Abuse your players with your specialty character while they are stuck having to take a character at random. You'll enter the battlefield with confidence and ready to kick some butt!

It may seem like there's plenty of time, but I advise you not to delay. First come, first serve for character development and art. I aim to have all this work done before Christmas but time delays are possible.

So what are you waiting for? Hit the link below and order your copy today!


Be advised, once this offer has expired, this blog entry will be deleted.

Question: Can I get anything I want?
Answer: Pretty much. I'll do about anything except for nudity. You can name it, tell me about its powers, and we'll go from there. You don't even have to have any specific powers in mind.

Note: You will get to choose an assortment of numbers that go on your stats and we'll work out a special attribute to make your opponents wince.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Amazing People: The Blind Roboticist

They call him, Robo Doc. Dr. Marco Bitetto is an award winning roboticist. That means he develops robots and artificial intelligence programs for robots. But hold on. Those of you who follow me regularly, know that I'm all about people who don't give up based on various disabilities to do what they love. So how does Robo Doc fit the bill. Well...

He's blind.

Not only has he had to overcome blindness, but when he was a kid; the so called experts labelled him as retarded. He had to overcome blindness and dysgraphia to teach himself how to write. He also learned two languages on his own. Wait a second; what the heck is dysgraphia? For him, it was insult to injury.

Dysgraphia is a disorder in the ability to write. We aren't just talking about bad handwriting here. It's more like a short circuit in the neuro-process that allows you to write words. It also messes with other fine motor skills as you might imagine. But the Doc didn't let this stop him.

He developed programs that helped him move forward. He achieved a Bacheoler of Science Degree in Computer Systems Engineering from the State University of New York in 1991. He even worked as an engineer for a radio station.

During his education at the University, he was so distinguished in his skill set that he earned scholarships and grants the whole way through. Basically, he was paid to go to school. Try that on for size. He built two laboratories in his house to do his undergraduate work.

Really, you can see a great deal about him to the technical and historical at his Amazon page HERE. Read down the column on the left!

Now he's developed artificial intelligence programs that could seriously change the world for the disabled. And he's not looking to start a business, rather help the people of the disabled community overcome as he has. Some of the AI programs he's developed have worked for him as a voice interviewer, translations of color and patterns to sound, and the applications for these could be limitless.

You can see a video that demonstrates an artificial intelligence called Kate on his Amazon page. If you have a love or fascination with robotics programming, you should check out his books too.

You can also find Robo Doc at Goodreads HERE.

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?