Category Archives: Writing

Changes to Love’s Thoughts Blog

I have been sporadic, at best, in my posting on this blog for the year of 2016. This was a long, hectic, stressful, and challenging year for me personally, but also a year full of blessings.

This year I changed jobs (twice), spent almost four months unemployed, battled through several bouts of depression, took my first actual vacation since 2009, and watched as the political party I had previously affiliated with self-combusted and abandoned principles to elect a crude reality television star whose policies more closely resemble the opposing party’s disastrous policies than the principles which I value.

This made my writing here especially difficult- whenever I found myself wanting to write a blog post, I found myself wanting to write about politics. Yet when I started this blog, I specifically aimed to write about “Subjects diverse not divisive” and I know that even when writing about policies, politics can be a very divisive subject.

Today, I am happy to announce that going forward into 2017, I will be rededicating myself to blogging more, however I must also announce that rather than maintaining this one blog, I will be splitting my time between three separate outlets.

For all my political posts, I will be writing on my newly registered domain-

Home

Join me there, in exile, as we wander the political wilderness of a movement dispossessed of a party and examine American conservative principles, values, foundational literature of the movement, and work to redefine and rededicate ourselves to what it means to be a Conservative in 2017.

And yes, this means I promise there will be no politics in either of my other platforms

I’m also pleased to announce a domain I registered earlier this year–

Home

Sun Love Games is the launching point for my upcoming Pathfinder Compatible RPG Products, Alternative Avenues, and the fiction that occurs in the same world of Kesperex which the campaign materials detail.

You’ll find product announcements, descriptions, and previews as well as occasional OGL content blog posts, and will be able to keep up on all my current self-publishing RPG efforts!

That leaves this space here for the other writing that I do- the Sun Cycle will still be here (more to come on this story in 2017!), as well as any sports, culture, writing process, and other non-games related, non-politics writing.

So, in summation- happy New Years, and please follow me on the blog (or blogs) which provides the parts of my writing you are interested in reading!

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Exodus: Overseer’s Guide

Guys, I am please to announce that some of my freelance work is now available from Glutton Creeper Games (with 4 Hour Games) in the Exodus Overseer’s Guide!

For those of you not familiar, Exodus is a d20/OGL based post-apocalypse game. Don’t worry if that isn’t your speed, this book is chocked full of goodies for any gaming group– traps and NPCs suitable for any modern era OGL game including IEDs, EFPs, and the other devices which have played such a major factor in our most recent conflicts, plus a section on building societies that is useful for any game in any system/setting.

I hope some of you will check it out, and support the small games tabletop industry!

Overseer’s Guide

Wheel of the Year

Here’s a Pathfinder compatible supplement I was a writer on from Flaming Grab Games– out now!

Wheel of the Year

The Merchant and the Afrit

Tomas looked at the Afrit, though his eyes burned to do so, like staring direct at the great Sun in the sky above. “You shall serve me, you say? You can make all that I desire, all that I wish manifest?”

“I can do as you command, to the extent of my powers.”

“You can make me a King then?”

“I could, though not with such a command. I cannot simply snap my fingers and make it so. I am powerful, old and ancient, but even my power has limits, and I do not trouble my mind to search for methods for mortals. You must command me to a task, not a desire. You say ‘make me a king?’ This is not a task. You tell me to kill a specific king perhaps? This I could do. Or you tell me to take you here or there, to bring you this or that, to do battle with him or her.”

“I could command you, then to bring me a thousand gold coins? Or a million?”

“If you did not care from where they came, yes. Though I will surely get them from someplace that suits my liking. Perhaps a sultan with three million coins to his name finds one million missing. Perhaps they bear his mark.”

“Then I could tell you to kill him.”

“You could. I would. Then you would have a million gold coins and a dead sultan. Perhaps his heir would forgive you that.”

“I could have you kill the heir.”

“You could. I’ve destroyed whole lineages of kings for masters in the past. Chopped down families and clans from wizened grand uncles to squalling babes, to babes yet unborn mere quickenings within a mother’s womb.”

“No. No, I think I should not like to order such a massacre.”

“Perhaps you do not truly desire a million gold coins then. Or to be a king.”

“You have told me you can carry and can kill, but what else can you do? What magics are at your command?”

“The magic of the Afrit, mortal. You know of us. Our magic is smoke and fire and flame and ash. We are the king of Jinn.”

“I know the stories, yes, I know the stories. In them the Afrit carried magic swords that spit fire as they slashed. You could make one for me?”

“I can lay in the enchantments, call out the flame in the blade, and set it ablaze, but I am no swordsmith.”

“My blade then? My falchion? You could transform it to one of these?”

“If you so command.”

“Yes, I do. Afrit, make my falchion into a great fire weapon as your kind carried in the tales of old.”

The Afrit held out his hand, and the falchion flew to it. He examined the blade for a minute, then his hand ignited into a white hot flame. He ran his hands down the length of the blade, the rust and wear scouring away at the merest touch. A solemn chant in an ancient tongue Tomas had never heard before flowed out of his mouth.

The blade began to glow, white hot. As the Afrit continued chanting, continued rubbing the sword it ignited in flame, burning bright and hot. The Afrit gripped it by the hilt and tested three quick swings, lofting it in circles in a single fist as easily as Tomas himself might swing a much smaller, lighter blade. Then he passed his hand across the blade and quenched the flame.

The Afrit offered the blade up to Tomas who took it tentatively. He examined it now, restored to its new forged brilliance and beyond, a series of scrolling runes running its length, its steel nearly looking silver. He tested it in a swing—still too heavy to hold one handed as the Afrit had done, but lighter to swing, swifter yet Tomas could tell no less powerful for it. He imitated the Afrit’s motion of passing his hand across the blade and nearly dropped it when the flame lit anew.

Tomas was awed by it. So long as he held the hilt of the blade the flame did not hurt him, he could not feel the heat at all. He passed his hand across again and the flame winked off then back on again. “A marvelous wonder indeed,” the fat Pitr muttered, his seaweed-like whiskers shaking as he nodded his head.

“A merest trifling trinket of my power,” the Afrit replied.

Tomas stood tall now, setting aside the newly enchanted blade. He looked the Afrit in its burning orange eyes, locking his own to its. They looked like fire and ocean set against each other there, the Afrit magenta and burgundy with flames of orange and red and Tomas with his blue skin, green hair and pearl teeth. “If you are so powerful that this is but a trinket to you how is it you came to be trapped in this iron ring?” Tomas asked.

The Afrit eyed him warily, “I could tell you the tale. . . If you so command.”

“I do,” Tomas replied.

The Judge and the Hermit in the Corridor

Papa Sizwe muttered under his breath, twisting his staff in his hand, waking the snake spirit within it, the staff hissing and writhing in his hand. “The Great Truth Sayer.”

“In mine own most eminent flesh,” the pair stood completely still. While others might circle in the grass or the dirt, they stood their ground watching one another. Asala bin Qalam raised an eye brow, cocking his head to the side, “The serpent strike staff? A hermit then?”

“In the south I am known as Papa Sizwe, though the spirits know me by other names,” Sizwe snatched a guard from the end of his snarling staff, cracking it open, running the red liquid inside across his face, tasting the fermented blood on his tongue, feeling the strength of the spirits flow into his veins, “Me estes la bestoj de la nokto.” I am the beast of the night, Papa Sizwe beseeched the spirits for guidance, asking them to fill his body, to ride his soul into battle with the legendary warrior.

Asala bin Qalam raised his scimitar above his head, humming an ancient Dokkaebi hymn under his breath as he backed a step further down the hall way, “You appear to be under the impression that these ululations and incantations would impress some shred of terror and horror upon my person. A peculiar impression which you hold in a state of absolute falsehood.”

“We shall see.” Before the words had left his mouth, Papa Sizwe’s snake strike staff struck, slipping suddenly sunward, sinking fangs shallowly into Asala’s side. The Judge struck back, bringing his great scimitar down onto Sizwe’s muscled arm, biting deep into the sinews, spraying his own blood across the corridor, splatters of it joining the purpled blood that decorated his face.

The two quickly paced backwards, retreating from one another in tandem. No words now, only near animal snarls at their lips. Sizwe held his wounded arm tight to his side to try to staunch the blood flowing from his opened veins.

Asala shifted his scimitar to his left hand, drawing out his wand, the club like weapon that all Dokkaebi made from their own tail’s which they cut off ritually upon adulthood. Then he strode forward, slashing with the scimitar, a blow basely blocked by Sizwe’s staff. Then the club clocked the Hermit on the head, a ringing beginning in his ears.

Sizwe struck back, three lightning quick staff strikes that met with scimitar, club, and finally skin. Once more the serpent staff sunk fangs in, venom piping forward into the Dokkaebi Judge’s blood. bin Qalam called out in pain, in shock, in swift setting agony. Then thrust his scimitar forward at the Hermit once more.

The dance of blade and wand and staff went on. Sizwe swung feebly several times, long arcing strikes and limp jabs, his blood trailing down to the floor from his mangled arm. bin Qalam swung his scimitar like a scythe in long level swaths, jabbing with his club, backing him down, buying time for Mettel to escape the tunnel’s end with the Truth Stone.

“You are slowing, Truth Sayer.” Sizwe smiled, showing his brilliant teeth.

“This may be as you say,” Asala responded, brushing his grayed fur aside from his face.

“Can you not recognize a truth when it is spoken without your stone? Can you not feel the venom from my staff? Can you not feel your blood slowing? Soon I will strike a final blow and finish you, old man.”

Asala laughed a hearty laugh, “How many years since you’d the occasion to use that particular epithet?”

“More than I can count,” Sizwe smiled as he dove forward, driving his staff into the Truth Sayer’s shoulder.

Campaign World Design Philosophy: Kesperex

As you may or may not remember, I am currently working on finishing up the first of a line of supplement books that will eventually fit together and flesh out an entire campaign setting. Each of the supplements will bring forth the beginnings of the details of a region, which are designed to be portable– you can drop any one region into any other world and use all the goodies it has to offer, or piece them together into the grand vision of the planet Kesperex.

I’ve been listening to a lot of the seminars from Paizocon, thanks to the team at Know Direction on their podcast feed. This has started me thinking on the design philosophy that guides the writing of this setting– the things that make Kesperex what it is (or will be).

I thought I’d share a few of these guiding principles here, to set them up and put them in stone. Each of these is a guiding principle for Kesperex, a mission statement of a sorts for the realm.

1. Kesperex is fun. This one is so easy to lose track of. I want the setting to be a place where any kind of story can be told, but that is at its core light-hearted and where everyone can have fun with the story. That’s not to say there aren’t darker/serious/gritty themes, but I don’t mean to dwell on those too much.

2. Kesperex is a little wacky. This goes hand and hand with point one, but it stands on its own. When I am designing Kesperex anytime I hit a spot where I am questioning whether something makes sense, I need to remember that this is a world where a city can be ruled by a council of 12 chosen by a cross between street warfare and musical chairs, where the Crofter’s Guild (and the Merchant’s Guild, and the Banker’s Guild) can all also be thieves guild’s and rule their own city, and a world where the ancient defeated dragon god’s name literally contains the entire alphabet because, why not?

3. Kesperex is a world defined by its Gods and its history. In the beginning there was one god, The Father. Then he got tired of it all and left. In the second age, that Father’s brides ruled– The Warrior Woman, the Dark Mother, The Mystic Mother, Mother Earth– they bred the races of mortal-kind, cast out the outsiders and the Fey and then birthed the young Gods till they too grew tired and gave up ruling. Fifteen young gods ruled the Third Age, striking out the Dragons, suppressing the Bloodline of Ogres, fighting and forming alliances and building churches and sects and cults and religions that shape the nations of the world down to the end of the Third Age.

4. On Kesperex law versus chaos is as important or more than good versus evil. Alignment isn’t linear on Kesperex. In the King lands, a lawful good and chaotic good nation are locked in a Holy war against each other. In the Old Empire, chaotic good and chaotic evil War deities are worshiped together. In the North and in the East, the Children of Mother Earth are worshiped as nature deities of truest balance– good, evil, law, chaos all given their due so long as none get too powerful.

5. Kesperex is a world of mystery. Why do Tengu travel the world asking so many questions? And where did they come from, and how do they all seem to know so much? What is it that lurks in the depths of the deep wells that makes the Elders so afraid? Where did the dragons go when they left a thousand years ago, and why have they returned now?

6. On Kesperex, either its a PC race or its not. No races with crippling triple mental stat losses, or bonuses that stack up to steep net negatives– all humanoids were created by the Mothers on relatively equal grounds, from humans, to Tower and Pixie Elves, Fire and Cloud Dwarves, to Mobgoblins, Bobgoblins, and Lobgoblins, to Draconic Scaled Kobolds, Caste-Lizardfolk, Cuthian Ogres, and War Orcs– you can play what you want without being hindered (or overpowered).

7. Kesperex is a world on the brink of great discoveries. This is an early Renaissance campaign world at the end of the Third Age. Firearms are just starting to be invented, but you won’t find lasers or machine guns. The world is being explored, its edges pushed, and the previously unknown wilds outside the great cities and the empires of the south filled in, new continents have been spotted by the most daring of sailors, and the race is on for a new trade route to the Plateau Lands that by-passes Riverport’s monopoly on the river passes through the mountains that have controlled trade throughout the world the last 900 years.

I am sure that I will revise some of these, add to and take away, clarify as I go on, but I wanted to put this in writing so I can hold myself to it as I go. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this design philosophy, or what you’ve done as guiding principles when building your own campaign worlds!  Comments always welcome, or contact me directly!

Pathfinder Classes: Caster Design Space Left Untouched

Pathfinder has seen an explosion of new classes in the last few years— 6 in the APG, 10 in the ACG, 6 more coming in Occult Adventures, plus Magus and Gunslinger from Ultimate series books. Added to the original core 11 classes, plus alternate classes—well needless to say it’s a lot.

But anyone who knows me knows I am a huge fan of logical extensions. It’s why I design things like extra damnation feats and get caught up on making sure there is one for EVERY type of evil outsider, and why I focus on adding ways for Kingdoms to generate technological items.

So, let’s just say I don’t think that this game has had all the logical class design possibilities tapped yet. One area that I think there are a lot of possibilities left to fit into nice design spaces that haven’t been used yet are partial casters.

The Bloodrager is a good example of this—the first ever 4 level casting that is arcane instead of divine. There have been several 9th level casters (Wizard, Sorcerer, Witch), 6th level arcane caster (magus, bard), but now only a single 4th level Arcane caster—seems like there could be plenty of room for more there, right?

Let’s go on one of my patented categorization and classification rants!  I’m going to break down all the spellcasting classes by spell levels (4th, 6th, 9th) and power source (alchemical, arcane, divine, and divine—nature focused). I’m going to leave out Occult for now because I don’t have the book yet. Let’s see where there’s room for more classes guys!

Power Source: Alchemical

4th level casters: none

6th level casters: Alchemist, Investigator

9th level casters: none

Power Source: Arcane

4th level casters: Bloodrager

6th level casters: Bard (Music-themed), Magus (combat-themed, Summoner (Conjuration focused), Skald (music-themed+rage!)

9th level casters: Sorcerer, Wizard, Arcanist, Witch

Power Source: Divine

4th level casters: Paladin, Anti-Paladin

6th level casters: Inquisitor, Warpriest

9th level casters: Cleric, Oracle

Power Source: Divine (Nature Focused)

4th level casters: Ranger

6th level casters: Hunter

9th level casters: Druid, Shaman

 

So what’s missing?

There are some very obvious holes—4th and 9th level Alchemical casters stand out. 4th level will be easy to flesh out—there are any number of additional focuses that can be grafted onto a class that gets 1st-4th level Alchemist spell list and higher BaB. The 9th level version is a lot harder, since we’d have to be inventing the entire range of spells that are added to the list from 7th-9th levels, but it’s not unthinkable. Though of course, since the ALCHEMIST is only a 6th level caster this does feel a bit wrong to add a “Better! Alchemist!”

I already mentioned how I feel there could be more 4th level Arcane Casters—Arcane Archer is a popular Prestige class, what if it was a base 4th level Arcane caster class?  4th level casters get full BaB, so this would be a good fit. Perhaps a Monk with fewer supernatural powers but 4th level casting? A 4th level Arcane caster focused on Invisibility and stealth with some version of Sneak Attack?

Despite already being clustered up, even 6th level Arcane casters still have room for growth—we currently have two music buff focused classes (Bard/Skald), one focused on Conjurations, and one focused on Combat+ buffs. . . so what’s the glaring hole here?

How about a 6th level blaster focused mage?  Evocations are fun, and a master blaster would be well balanced since they would lack the battlefield control and earth shattering powers of 9th level casters—perhaps Master Elementalist or to use a term that’s had at least two different iterations in other editions “War Mage”. I think a Pathfinder compatible style 6th level treatment of this concept would be interesting.

The same could be said for illusions. Illusion spells are powerful, but difficult to GM, and are very flexible, but there are still somewhat underserved—the illusion abilities in the totality of the game don’t really amount to much more than the core rules book.

Then of course, there’s the 6th level Necromancy themed caster that could be slotted in very easily—similar to the Summoner in its “minion” focus, but with a very different minion base and much different spell list to back it up.

I’ve actually been tooling around on this very concept myself—though since it’s not for anything that plans to be published anytime soon, my Necrosvant remains unfinished.

Of course, there are also further afield iterations that could be gotten to if you stretch your mind far enough. Currently, all 4th level Casters get full BaB but limited spell casting. We have fighter/mages (Magus), fighter/cleric (Warpriest) and tons of other hybrid classes from the ACG.

But what’s the classic multi-class that we have absolutely no base class to go for with currently?

Cleric/Mage! Yes, there’s mythic theurge, but no non-prestige class option. And having to be Just cleric for 3 levels, then go for level 1-3 Wizard, then finally at 7th level start gaining both and giving up basically everything else except spells is kind of brutal.

Why couldn’t there be a 6th level Arcane caster with 1/2 BaB but also 4th level Divine spells, and abilities focused on blending the arcane and divine?  Or the other way around for that matter (6th level Divine/ 4th level Arcane)?

Just a few ruminations I’ve been thinking of when looking at Pathfinder and wondering, “What’s left?” Would love to hear what others think on the topic.