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.

Monday, March 16, 2015

It's time for a Spring drive!

It's time for a web traffic drive! Now I don't know all of the best ways to do that so I'm going to contact some friends and their friends and you! Amazing things are happening and not only could I use some input, but it's a great time to share. Here's the biz as it is for Spring! How many people can we inform about Galaxy Zento? How many people can we bring to the Facebook page (see links upper right). And don't forget that the books are still 99 cents for Kindle and Kindle App!

See that image? That's the official design of the board for Galaxy Zento the board game! But I only did the lay out and colors. It got a hot makeover from Kevin Woolfork, whom you might remember as a guest artist! Kevin did this out of the cool goodness of his  heart and there is a package going to go to him as soon as I have the materials (like a free copy of the board game all his own!). He helped me get the grid on the board too. Big thanks to Kevin!

WHO SHOULD I USE?  Help me out here folks. It's going to be time for a kickstarter or something, but I want to go with what people will actually support. If I get no answers, I'll still make my choice somehow. The plan is to break out the board game at Geekonomicon in December! We don't have our table yet, so it's on the list of needs. In order to make things really pop, I need to get some stuff together. Manufacturing on the board game gives us a discount at 250 copies, so keep that in mind. Here are the needs for the convention:

Table: 180.00 (covers two badges for the con)
Chessmen novel (20 copies):  85.00
Short stories book (20 copies): 60.00
Chaos Rising novel (20 copies): 100.00
100 magnets: 30.00
Rack card bookmarks to give away (200): 45.00
250 copies of the board game:  9,750.00

Total aim: 10,250.00

You'll note that hotel isn't listed. People who help will get some equivalent coolness of course! Game copies and more will be up for grabs. Some money will obviously have to go for that but I will be ordering some extras for special thanks on the small amounts.  So here are my options.

Patreon: Allows people to put in a monthly amount over any period of time. May be too slow for this,  and people haven't seemed to want to mess with it before.

Kickstarter: The one most people recommend. Money cannot be tapped into during the course of the drive. So if I need to send money for my table, I can't until the drive is over. But it's fair to work with and I may have two outside sources who will help me spread the word.

GoFundMe: Funds can be tapped into and essentially works as well as Kickstarter with less requirements.

Indiegogo: No major requirements. Not sure about ability to tap into funds before drive is finished. Not sure who has used it so input greatly appreciated.

It looks like there is a lot of competition between Kickstarter and Indiegogo. I doubt Patreon  will be of use except for long term. So, what do you fine folks think? Who should I go with?

FREEBIES? Here's a fun question! What would you like to see for freebies to give out for participation? Do you like keychains or is there something else you think would be cooler? Shoot me your ideas! So far I have had art printed on rack cards and postcards to give away and people have been pretty appreciative of those. I want to make sure I'm delivering a form of cool that my readers and players will love! You now have the opportunity to steer that!

I have to say, my readers are the best! Looking forward to your awesome input!

STORYTIME! While we are on ideas, what character would you like to see a blog story on? And I mean an action packed super short, right here on this blogspot! Post your votes!

MAD MEN OF MARCH! For this month only, you get the chance to pick any two characters to go toe to toe with each other and I'll draw it! The winner gets a print of the art! So post your votes for the Mad men of march and let's see who can pick the best fight!

That's all I have for now! Stay tune and stay posted and keep being the awesome heroes you are!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Homage to the ladies!

Yes, I do have female characters in GZ. Since it's International Women's Day, why not revisit them? The sad issue for me is that I don't draw them very well. Worse since my problems with MS, but that doesn't stop me as most of you know. So let's take a look at some of the best ladies from GZ.

During GZ Legends (coming out as Chaos Rising soon) I introduced a few cool lady characters.

Nightfall: She has the power to cause mental blackouts on physical contact. This also lets her read minds while her target is knocked out. As a member of the team, Calibur 5 she serves Galactic Interpol. She's also Anubis's girlfriend. If that's not a reason not to mess with her, I don't know what is. She's a dead shot with her blaster and a skilled martial artist too.

Gypsy: Spell weaving is her power. She can command magic to do almost anything she wants. She has mild precog abilities and can see the past of objects she touches. She's a teammate to Nightfall in Calibur 5. Her martial skill is equal to Nightfall and the two spar often for practice. She doesn't usually resort to firearms, but if her magic isn't cutting it, she's a crack shot.

Dreamseer: This Elven lady is a powerful psi. She can read minds, heal mental illness, and even cause some damage. She knows a small amount of Elven magic, but seldom uses it. She's a vegetarian and picks on her romantic interest, Atomizer for not being one. She's not bad in physical combat, but usually leaves heavy lifting to her stronger teammates. She's a member of the Strykeforce Guard for the Intergalactic Museum.

Traveller: This lady is Dreamseer's teammate and the main transporter for her team. Her ability to open portals can send teammates to any point in the universe. She's a powerful combatant with the fire staff of the High Druid (yes, he wants it back). She's a master martial artist with her staff and has cleaned up large numbers of opponents before.

All four of these characters are coming up in Chaos Rising. It's going to be an awesome tale of adventure!

In Chessmen 2 there are notable ladies coming up as well.

Lorelei: A Faerie of legendary status, she travels with the legendary Minotaur, Durgan of the Iron Fist. Never underestimate a Fae. She may be small but she wields powerful magics. Not only that, she can fly at high speeds and slice enemies down with her razorwing attack. She has an attitude a hundred times her size, but the next is even smaller and just as tough.

Lypsi: This little lady is an Althamite. They are a race of beings only a centimeter tall. Her power allows her to treat targets as if she were the same size. Did you ever see the cartoon with the little flea that could benchpress dogs? That's kind of what her power allows her to do. She's practically a living bullet.

So that's just a few for the sake of blog length. You can bet there will be more to come on these characters and so many more!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

More teasing on the board game!

As most of you know, I've been busting butt to put together this board game. Plans are still in high gear and it all looks very promising. Today is a special treat. You get to see the cards and what they do, but only a few of them. Nothing is finalized yet in how they look except for one thing. Recently I took votes on doing the artwork with or without borders on the cards. It wasn't overwhelming for one side over an another but a decision has been made. The cards will not have black borders. They will be 'open' in their artwork. I think that will allow me to make the artwork bolder and have it overflow in unique fashion. One thing you can be sure of and that's lots of color.

As a little recap on how the game is played. You start out by picking good or evil as your side of the balance. You get a character type and goal given to you at random. The first person to complete their goal is the winner! But how does this happen? Well, you make moves on the board and every time you make a move you reveal a card from the top of the main deck. Whatever jumps out at you is what you have to deal with. Today, I show you just a few things that will jump out of that deck at you. Ready?

EVENTS: An event is something that can affect everyone or just you. Either way, they shake up game play often. One of the craziest events is the Reality Warp. Reality Warp makes you roll a dice for every card you have to risk it vanishing into the aether. The only things you don't lose are your personal character type and your goal. Everything else is fair game. It's just one of the many things that can change the whole game in the blink of an eye.

TRAPS: Walking into a trap is never fun. You'll have to roll your d20 often to escape them. But some traps can work in your favor. Some traps will hurt other players if they are close enough to you on the board. Take the Explosive device for example. Sure, you get hurt, but so does everyone else. If you goal is to cause damage to other players (<spoiler!) this could be a win, unless it kills you of course.

POWERS: Hoping to get stronger as you travel the board? You may get a power while you are out wandering that helps out your game. Beware, everything is easy come easy go, so make sure you make good use while you can.

ITEMS: Don't you wish people would quit littering the universe? You never know what you'll find out there. Maybe some body armor or a sword? Who knows. But items are geared to make you stronger against the threats you'll face.

ARTIFACTS: While hard to get your hands on, artifacts can make you powerful and even complete a goal (<spoiler!). They can allow you to cast powerful spells or just bump up your numbers.

Then there's the Characters and Beasts that come out at you. Depending on your alignment of good or evil, you will either fight or recruit them as allies. There will be more on them later. I hope this whets your appetite for game play. Stay tuned because there will be more to come! Remember to click on the pictures for a closer view!