Madness, Tentacles, & Vampire Dating Apps


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Through a glitch in the flow of time, 2019 is already half over. What have I been up to? A mix of cosmic horror, Martian exploration, preternaturally evil dating apps, and late-stage capitalist elves.

Moons of Madness


I spent many months writing for Moons of Madness, a moody horror video game set on Mars. Think of it as an unholy marriage of Cthulhu Mythos and The Martian. The game is developed by Rock Pocket Games and published by Funcom. It takes place in its own special corner of The Secret World universe.

Tender Beta Project


One of the more unique writing projects I’ve worked on was this ARG (alternate reality game). I teamed up with Paradox Interactive and Alice & Smith, writing everything from text for a sinister dating app, to fake conspiracy theory articles, to internet influencer Twitter posts. All of this took players through online mysteries (as well as clandestine encounters in the real world), leading up to a live event in San Francisco. The entire caper served as a transmedia guerrilla marketing campaign for the announcement of Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines 2. What is an ARG? What does it all mean? Nick Nocturne breaks it all down with a deep dive over at Night Mind (including an interview with me).

Chicago Folios


My work with Vampire: The Masquerade continued with Chicago Folios, a stretch goal for Chicago by Night (5th edition). I got to work with a setting and characters I first discovered as a teenager (bringing my inner goth geek full circle).

The 500 Days of Ms. Between


I’m a longtime listener of The Drabblecast, so getting one of my stories recorded there was on my bucket list. My story “The 500 Days of Ms. Between” can be found on their premium B-Sides show. It’s a Cthulhu Mythos tale and my first time travel story.

Pirates of Pugmire Actual Play


I’ve been itching to do some live-play online tabletop gaming and finally got my chance. This game was set in the delightful world of Pugmire, to promote their upcoming Pirates of Pugmire book. Follow the links to watch Part 1 and Part 2 of the play session.

Midwinter LARP


I wrote up some twisted characters for an upcoming game by Avalon LARP StudioMidwinter is a LARP (live action roleplaying game) with a dark holiday theme, featuring elves as late-stage capitalist slaves to a mysterious workshop. Here there be candy canes, lost souls, and stolen memories. Ho. Ho. Ho.

East Coast Games Conference


I attended this year’s ECGC as a speaker, giving a talk about the branching trunk of a story arc in interactive media like video games.

Unannounced Mystery Thingy ???


I wrote a little something for iLLOGIKA Studios for an upcoming game project of theirs… and I can’t say much more than that.

Anyway, it’s been an interesting year. The best is yet to come, sweetlings.

Tabletop Tuesday: The Power of Trinkets –or– Dude, that’s your Dobby sock!


It’s been a dragon’s age! But I’d like to revivify Tabletop Tuesday. Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition is what I’m playing lately, so that’s the lens I’ll be looking through, but these ideas can be applied to any roleplaying game. Today, I’d like to talk to you about trinkets as tiny story engines. Step on in and sample the wares and oddities…

Trinkets You Say?

Trinkets are odd objects–some mundane, some slightly mystical–none of them powerful or necessarily useful, but quirky story bits. A trinket might be anything from a mummified goblin hand, to an indecipherable treasure map. There is a nifty, rollable table of trinkets on p.160 of the Player’s Handbook. They are a great way to flesh out the contents of treasure chest, desk drawer, or monster’s pockets.

Until recently, I missed the bit in the book that suggests letting a player role for a trinket during character creation. I’ve since applied this technique to games I run and games I play in. In all cases, I’ve found that adding a random, strange object to a character instantly generates fun backstory.

Let me give you some examples.

A Sampling of Trinkets


Leaf is a wood elf ranger, something of a tragic badass — last survivor of an elven tribe specialized in hunting giants. Leaf hides out in a carnival as a sharpshooter, but the performer’s life grates on him and he medicates his crippling survivor’s guilt with drugs and drink.

For a trinket, Leaf rolled: A nightcap that, when worn, gives you pleasant dreams. The player decided Leaf bought this cap from a mysterious tinker. It is the only way Leaf can sleep without waking up screaming. What’s more, the player decided it is a very pretty nightcap, with brightly-colored floral designs and lace. Many are confused when seeing this grim elf wearing it, or to what ends he’d go to protect his most prized possession.


Flash is a half-elf ranger, a bro-jock who happens to be an expert at hunting slimes and oozes. Flash is something of an exterminator of slimy monsters in the catacombs and crawlspaces of Waterdeep.

For a trinket, Flash rolled: A pyramid of sticky black incense that smells very bad. Instantly, the player imagined that Flash has an entrepreneurial soul. He thinks he can use the byproduct of the oozes he slays to make expensive incense.  He boils down the goo into concentrated, reeking sludge, demonstrating his product to his poor party members.


Bleahch is a goblin sorcerer–former henchmen to a villainous wizard wannabe.

For a trinket, Bleahch rolled: A glass jar containing lard with a label that reads, “Griffon Grease”. It doesn’t get much more random than that. Without missing a beat, the player told us the story of how, nn the night his former master botched a dangerous experiment, the jar was the random thing Bleahch stole from the wizard’s shelf. To most, it’s a gross object, but to Bleahch it represents the act of defiance that allowed him to escape an abusive mentor and dare to be something more than a henchman. As another player helpfully pointed out, “Dude, that’s your Dobby sock!”

Pocket-Sized Stories

If you aren’t using trinkets in your character creation, I urge you to. If you are temped just to select one, I further urge you to try it randomly. We have many opportunities to purposefully craft the details of our characters. Let this one fly in the face of chaos! Trinkets are a lovely opportunity to add a little living backstory before your character even enters game.

Character + random object automatically prompts the mind to fill in the question marks with story (especially when said object doesn’t seem to match the character). Think of trinkets as different colored lights and your character as a prism. Shining the light through the prism creates a unique pattern. Apply the same trinket to two different characters, and two different stories are created.

Use the trinket table in the PHB. Find other tables online. Or make your own! Wizards of the Coast even has a free pdf for character options for their Curse of Strahd campaign, that includes a table for gothic horror trinkets.

A Trinket By Any Other Game…

I’ve focused on D&D, but using trinkets as a character creation tecnique easily translates to any roleplaying game. Reference the above mentioned trinket tables, adjust and/or make up your own odd objects to fit the setting and genre of your game.

There be micro-stories lurking in your pockets.

Table Top Tuesday: Party Assembled!


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Starting a new weekly feature on this blog: Tabletop Tuesday! Wherein, I will geek out heavily on all things related to tabletop roleplaying games. It was such a strong part of my storytelling development, and continues to be the best way to creatively defragment my brain between professional writing gigs. Maybe we’ll sneak in storytelling lessons in there too.

If this isn’t in your wheel house of interests, feel free to skip to our other irregularly scheduled posts. If it isn’t, but your curious, dive right in and ask any of the thousand questions that might occur.

Here we go!

The Forge of Heroes

We live in a miraculous world where you can imagine your RP character…and then manifest them! The Hero Forge website allows you to design characters (much as you would in some video games) and then have them 3D printed.

Even if you don’t shell out the money to bring every character to plastic life, you can still take screenshots or even share links to the 3D model with friends and fellow players (for free).

I recently started playing in a wacky Dungeons & Dragons game. Fun group of players and a very zany crew of characters. I decided to design them and splurge and surprise the whole table. Oh the surprise! Suddenly everyone was holding their imaginary character in their hands!

Here is our motley cast…

The World

We are playing D&D 5 Edition. The setting is home-brewed by our Dungeon Master. Basic D&D setting, a little more Renaissance era flavor. Merchant families hold a lot of power. The lands have become very civilized in parts. Certain bestial races (like gnolls and minotaurs) have become domesticated and civil. Elves and Half-Orcs have drifted to the wilds. Dragons are long extinct. The Dragonborn have grown fat and lazy, thinking themselves better than everyone else (being the most dragon-ish thing out there), and ruling many of the monarchies and merchant dynasties.

Right. The party!

Baltazar Scalelord III


Race: Dragonborn (Subrace: Gold)
Class: Sorcerer (Subclass: Draconic Bloodline)
Background: Noble
3D Model

The leader of the party. At least, Baltazar thinks so. He is the son of the wealthy and powerful Lady Scalelord, so he’s better than you. He’s a Dragonborn, so he’s better than most. He’s of gold dragon blood, so he’s even better than his kin. Baltazar detests strenuous work. Luckily he’s a sorcerer, and magic is in his blood, so he doesn’t have to do all that tedious study (proving that he’s even more better than you). He knows the spell Tenser’s Floating Disk just so he doesn’t have to carry things.

His latest scheme involves becoming the manager of an up and coming wrestler and pit fighter. They will tour the countryside…make profit (Baltazar doesn’t understand how that works, but he knows he’s smart, so obviously it’ll work). This way, he won’t have to borrow money from mother dearest anymore.

Think Zapp Brannigan mixed with every clueless son of a noble.



Race: Warforged
Class: Bard (Subclass: College of Valor)
Background: Criminal
3D Model

Tripod was built and animated as a very expensively commissioned pleasure bot for Lady Scalelord. Tripod resents this. He drinks to forget the things he’s seen! After her son nearly walked in on the proceedings, Lady Scalelord gave Tripod to Baltazar as his butler and entertainer. Baltazar still doesn’t understand what purpose Tripod had for his mother (whether out of sheer cluelessness or willful memory blocking is anyone’s guess). One might look at this chronicle as the story of a boy and his mother’s self-aware sex toy.

Tripod undercuts his master with withering comments at every turn, though Baltazar does not understand sarcasm (“Oh, my dear Tripod, you’re doing your funny talk again.”). Luckily, Tripod is pretty good at most things, as he has to do his master’s thinking often. Tripod has recently taken up a career in petty crime on the side, and builds his underworld contacts, as a way to subvert his servitude and serve his eternal quest of passive aggression towards the entire Scalelord family.

Tripod was built short, halfling sized, and he resents this most of all. More than anything, he wants to find a wizard or engineer who can make him tall. He wants people to call him Dirk Longstrider…but no one does.

Think Futurama’s Kif + Bender, with a dash of Adventure Time’s Peppermint Butler.

Mog “the Hog” Ma’Grogg


Race: Minotaur
Class: Fighter (Subclass: Champion)
Background: Performer
3D Model

The heart and soul of the party. At least, Mog thinks so. Where Baltazar’s ego is lazy, Mog’s is active. His personality is bigger than his already huge frame. This godlike presence is what separates him from the common pit fighter. It’s why he’s going to have songs sung about him. It’s why people are going to buy his new line of hot sauce.

Mog has recently taken on Baltazar Scalelord as his manager. They are to tour the countryside, perform spectacles and wrestling matches, sell hot sauce, and perhaps do an epic deed or two.

For all his showboating, Mog can dish out. He’s already wrestled a werewolf (impervious to the party’s mundane weapons) into submission.

Think a kinder (if even more self-involved) Gaston + Beowulf, as a self-proclaimed folk hero and merchandizer.

Fenris the Reborn


Race: Gnoll
Class: Cleric (Subclass: Life Domain)
Background: Soldier
3D Model

Fenris was once a soldier, once fought side by side with her friend, Mog. Back then, she worshipped a war god. But she’s had a spiritual rebirth. Now she worships as a priest of Rao (god of peace, reason, and serenity). She is a healer and a pacifist these days. She is the party’s moral center. She is driven by faith…and her always growling stomach.

She’s been reunited with her old warrior friend. She travels with him so that her pacifism might rub off on him a bit. At least his entertainment fighting doesn’t involve death (usually).

Fenris was recently tested by facing the anathema to her life magic, the undead. She discovered that she could put the carrion stomach of her race to Rao’s purpose. Zombies cannot rise again and again, as unholy blights, if they are eaten.

Think Leslie Knope, as a carrion-eating holy person who’s pretty good with a quarterstaff.



Race: Halfling (Subrace: Stout)
Class: Barbarian (Subclass: Totem Warrior)
Background: Street Urchin
3D Model

My character!

Shrike was born wrong — albino of skin and red of eye, ears too long and a mouth with too many teeth. His very proper halfling parents quietly cast him into the sewer. How did the babe survive? No one knows. He became just fast, strong, and vicious enough to thrive in the undercity. He went a bit mad in the process.

As a boy, Shrike crept into the basement of a theatre. Watching play after play is how he learned language. The little ghost of the theatre — the performers never saw him, but they were his family. He also has a now disgusting stuffed animal named Penethorn (the only thing he has from his parents, he does not realize the name stitched into the toy is his own) — his pet mouse lives in its buttonless eye socket.

Shrike is an urban barbarian. The city is his jungle. He’s the party’s most able killer. He was recently taken in by the cleric Fenris. She’s trying to teach him pacifism. He may scoff at her for that…but if anyone else talks bad about Fenris, he’ll rip their goddamn spleen out.

Think Conan + Tim Burton’s Penguin, with a dash of Disney’s Stitch, run through the filter of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere.

Lady Scalelord


Not a player character, but I needed to get our Dungeon Master a figure too. So here she is, the mother of Baltazar, the terror of Tripod (ugh!). Gaze upon her magnificent immenseness! Even her pet pseudodragon knows he’s better than you.

The Figures

I got the figures 3D printed (in Hero Forge’s gray plastic). They turned out quite well. Certain tiny facial details get a little lost (that’s to be expected in such small figures), but otherwise there’s some fine detail on these figures. Below is a picture of three of them (one without flash and one with…forgive the focus). I definitely recommend Hero Forge, to make your character or give a fun gift to fellow gamers.

That’s all for now. Till next Tuesday, fellow gamers.



Bugs n’ Stuff


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Good policing. And smart. Sometimes a hurt is too aggravated, and you can’t approach it directly. You have to find some indirect vector, just some random subject. Something a person geeks out over.

In college, I was part of an after school theatre program at a grade/middle school. There was this one kid, bit of a misfit, quiet, didn’t emote very much, head in a book a lot (usually about insects), or playing with plastic bugs.

One day, this kid got into a minor fight with another. It broke up quickly, but it was enough contact that it had him in tears, so he hid under a table. It was the time that this group had to change rooms. The kid stayed under the table. One of the high school students who volunteered, told the kid it was time to go. The high schooler got angrier and angrier, and sterner and sterner.

He wasn’t seeing what was happening. The kid didn’t like emoting big at the best of times. He absolutely did NOT want anyone seeing him crying. The problem was, he was not emoting this fear in any obvious way, so the high schooler took it as nonchalant challenging of his authority.

Luckily, misfits can smell their own. I told the high schooler to take five. I got on the floor and slid under the table. “Hi,” I said. I was just barely wise enough then to know not to talk about it directly. So…we talked bugs (because bugs are cool). I threw down on insect facts. He opened up like a factoid volcano. He knew his stuff. He went on and on (the way I had done, a shy/awkward kid, when someone knew to get me to open up with dinosaurs/vampires/animal facts).

For five or ten minutes, we sat under the table talking bugs. We never talked about the fight or the tears. Eventually, he looked up at me and asked, “Do I look OK?” (translation: “Does it look like I’ve been crying.”) I carefully looked him over and said he was good to go. And off he went to the next room.

Being able to directly confront a problem is an awesome skill. But sometimes a roundabout method is needed. Pay attention to what folk geek out over.

Also, bugs are cool.

A Storyteller in Your Court


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I’m looking for lords, ladies, and lieges. I’m looking to be your court storyteller. And so, I made my own Patreon page.

Click that link for a fuller explanation of what that is and how it works. The short of it is that I’ll be writing little weird stories every month (both in text and in audio). There are extra perks for those who desire them.

Even more, I want a space to commune with readers. I’ve gathered in some lovely communities in my work (particularly in video game writing), and I want to stay in immediate touch (and dole out bits of story) in between the bigger projects. So I’ve made the point of entry low. While there are higher tiers, $1 is enough for the main event — the monthly story and access to the patron-only posts.

What goes on in the patron-only posts? I’ll show behind the scenes peeks at things, involving upcoming projects and my process. Already, I’ve posted a bonus mythos story as well as my very first published short story (the embarrassment!).

One buck gets you into the circus of the strange. Pass it on! Join before the 1st of the month (tomorrow) and receive the very first of the monthly stories.


My GenCon Schedule


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GenCon 2016 is upon us! August 3rd through the 7th will see me (as it does most every year) in Indianapolis for a glorious gathering of geekery. This year, however, I’ll be there in an official capacity, speaking on the Writers Symposium.

Who all is going? Hit me up. I’m looking for games to play in my off time.

My updated schedule is listed below. Most Writers Symposium events (except signings) take place in the Westin (rooms listed with each event). The entire Writer’s Symposium schedule can be found HERE.


2:00 PM — Signing (Room: Exhibit Hall)
 6:00 PM — Reading: Joshua Alan Doetsch and Suzanne Church (Room: Causus)


9:00 AM — Marketing: Social Media 101 (Room: Chamber)
11:00 AM — Writer’s Craft: Creating Truly New Ideas (Room: Chamber)
2:00 PM — Video Game Writing: What NOT To Do As a Game Writer (Room: Cabinet)


12:00 PM — Signing (Room: Exhibit Hall)
3:00 PM — Video Game Writing: Worldbuilding for Game Worlds (Room: Cabinet)

 7:00 PM — Writer’s Round Table: The Force Awakens (Room: Capital 1)


12:00 PM — Writer’s Round Table: Game of Thrones (Room: Capital 1)

Karl and the House of Crom


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By Crom! What am I up to in China? I’m hanging out and chatting with the folks at Nordic Trolls/Re-Roll Entertainment about the plethora of new projects coming up. There are some old Funcom faces here. One of them is Karl Andre Bertheussen. Karl and I were narrative partners-in-crime back in my Age of Conan days.

Karl is a narrative designer, a game/gameplay designer of a more storyteller bent, so we always worked well together. We both play to each others’ strengths. Karl is good at coming up with the skeleton structure of a thing, and I’m good at growing all the visceral flesh on that skeleton.

I want to give you all a taste of what our renewed storytelling tag-team will bring in the future, but taking a look at the past. Travel back with me, as the Funcom team arrives in Montreal in 2010…

Karl was now Narative Designer. I was now Lead Writer. Our first big project, where we had narrative control, was The House of Crom. It was a dungeon planned long ago, but never fully implemented. It had some basic story, level design, and some assets. We were told to fix the story, using those assets.

What we inherited:

A spooky, ancient temple, in the mountains of Cimmeria, populated with the immortal remnants of the last Atlantean colony. There was a deathless, insane Atlantean queen. There was a partially finished, giant, tentacled worm monster as the mid-boss. And there was room for a not-yet-designed final boss.

Our initial thoughts:

  1. We wanted to tell a story featuring elements of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. Lots of games emulate Lovecraft’s lore, but Robert E. Howard’s Hyborian Age actually occupies a particular Sword and Sorcery corner of the official Mythos.
  2. The Cimmerians don’t go to the House of Crom. They do not even pray to their god (he just gives them the strength to deal with a harsh world at birth). It makes sense, in Howard’s world, to have some Cimmerians point to a mysterious temple in the mountains and say, “Crom lives there.” But they would not visit.
  3. NO IMMORTAL ATLANTEANS. We had already done something similar with an extinct culture in Khitai. It just takes away from the tragedy of Atlantis’s fall. So, instead, they would be the ghostly and undead remains of the last colony, bound to the temple for some unholy reason.
  4. The sleeping, deathless queen was ok though…we just needed a compelling reason for that.
  5. The final boss would be an Outer God from the Mythos. Perhaps Yog-Sothoth. Players would summon and then battle an avatar of this entity through an intricate ritual (with clues scattered throughout the temple).
  6. …then perhaps the mid-boss (the tentacle worm monster) would be a Great Old One?

With those thoughts, we mulled over possible scenarios. Something was missing. And then…I recalled “The Dunwich Horror” and I thought, What if the giant worm monster is the mad queen’s offspring? And then the rest of the pieces quickly fell into place. A grand tragedy. Call it Sword and Sanity. Non-linear storytelling, the player would just get fragments of the ancient events as they explored the horror-haunted ruins.

That project ended up being one of the bits of work that I am most proud of from my time at Funcom. The gameplay and story text never felt so joined — from the clues to the grand ritual at the climax. After Karl and I got all those thoughts into place (after drinking much coffee), I wrote the following backstory that became the official pitch that we based the dungeon around — pulled, now, from my secret vaults. Enjoy!

The House of Crom: A Backstory

A devil from the Outer Dark,’ he grunted. ‘Oh, they’re nothing uncommon. They lurk as thick as fleas outside the belt of light which surrounds this world. I’ve heard the wise men of Zamora talk of them. Some find their way to Earth, but when the do they have to take on some earthly form and flesh of some sort.
—Robert E. Howard, “The Vale of Lost Women”

The thing cannot be described – there is no language for such abysms of shrieking and immemorial lunacy, such eldritch contradictions of all matter, force, and cosmic order.
—H.P. Lovecraft, “The Call of Cthulhu”

It was a time of hardship for the Atlanteans—suffering greater than anything they knew before or would know after. The seas rose and swallowed Atlantis, and the seagulls feasted for months on the rot and stink of bloated souls. The few survivors huddled in the colony on the mainland, upon a mountain that still rose above the deluge. But this sanctuary harbored its own perils. The Picts attacked in ceaseless onslaught. Slipping into barbarism, the remaining Atlanteans realized they risked loosing not only their lives, but their identities, culture, and memory.

The Queen formed a desperate plan. Though their gods seemed to have abandoned them, the Queen contrived to construct a great temple to Valka, chief among the gods and creator of humankind. They would build it on the mountain, touching the sky, and the most learned priests would conduct ancient rituals while the people pray and plead. How could Valka not answer his children? The people believed in the Queen’s plan, for she was the most beloved, most pure—to look upon her or hear her voice was to banish all doubt. So the Queen, the priests, and a contingent of artisans left the colony behind.

They toiled for years. Architects and stone-cutters built the temple, refined it, filled it with statues and wonders. Goldsmiths made endless idols to please Valka. The scholars studied and the priests performed rituals. And still, their god would not answer their cries. Why could they not please him? The Queen calmed her people, soothed their lamentations with her words, saying that at the next ritual, she would clime the ziggurat and call upon the divine directly. The people were pleased, for how could anyone, even the gods, ignore someone so pure, so good, so beautiful as the Queen? Her continence eased all pain. Her words banished all doubt.

But the Queen carried a secret. Though she could protect the people from their doubts, there was no one to save her from her own. The sinking of Atlantis, the loss of her civilization, the suffering of her people had eroded her hope. She could not recall how many failed rituals it took, but at some point she realized Valka would not answer. It was all for nothing—leaving the rest of her people to die at the hands of the Picts, the years of hard toil to build the temple—all for nothing. They would all die and there would be no one to remember them. But how could she tell her people, who so loved and trusted her? So she told them pretty lies and kept them working, and the secret sat in her guts, gathered bile, turned to acid and spite, and ate away her sanity. That is when the Queen began praying to the whisper in the dark, the voice of something…Other—something aroused by the endless chanting of the priests who, in their desperation, used older and older rituals from before the time of any of the Thurian civilizations (perhaps before mankind).

The night she climbed the ziggurat alone, the Queen contacted this being, one of the Outer Gods from beyond the Gulfs of Space and Wells of Night. She made a deal with the creature and felt the icy caress of tentacles reaching from across time and space as the primordial being impregnated her. She came down the steps; hair turned white, and told her people that she had been blessed by Valka with divine conception. She said that there was more work to be done, changes to make to the rituals, and that Valka would come to them to claim his child, and the Atlanteans would be saved. The people believed. They did not doubt their queen. It is easier to believe the lie that one so desperately wants to be true. And for nine months, they toiled on.

She gave birth, in secret, in the Deep Cave. During the grotesque nativity, the midwife died of fright from the cries of the thing wrapped in swaddling. The Queen commanded a trusted adviser to seal her child in the Deep Cave, with five handmaidens to “nurse” the babe. When this was accomplished, she sealed the adviser, the only one to know the truth, in the treasury, with the key to the Deep Cave, to be guarded by magical stone sentinels who would let none pass but her. And that night, she climbed the ziggurat, holding a false bundle of swaddling, and the people cheered for they would finally see the face of their god. The hardships would at last be worthwhile. They conducted the new ritual, and the Outer God came into the House of Valka. The people had just enough time to go mad before each and every one of them died. There was hardly even time to scream.

Millennia pass. The remnants of the Atlanteans devolve into ape-men and evolve into Cimmerians. They do not remember their Atlantean ancestry, but they know the temple is a place of divine beings, and call it the House of Crom, named after their chief god — though none go there. And somehow their culture remembers the notion that it is dire folly to pray directly to one’s chief god. Perhaps, in the distant past, a survivor of the Atlantean colonies stumbled upon the House of Crom and witnessed what lay within. Perhaps the lesson was so horrific it survived in their communal memory, scarred in bas-relief on the subconscious, locked away in the backwater of their animal brains surviving the eroding millennia of evolution.

The House of Crom still stands. The ghosts of its builders still work—they are outside of time, do not even realize they are dead, just continue to toil. The Queen (the mother) is a sleeping beauty; as part of her ancient pact, she is preserved in endless slumber, escaping the knowledge of her horrible deeds in dreams. Her child (the son) still jabbers and wails in the Deep Cave with the dust and bones of the long dead handmaidens, and the key still sits in the treasury. The Outer God (the father) waits in the spaces between, for it is the Lurker at the Threshold. It does not devour the souls of the Atlanteans, but milks them of the energy they create with their perpetual toil and angst, feeds this nourishment to its son. Slumber preserves the Queen, the Queen anchors the souls of her people, and the people feed the child. The life cycle of such beings can take aeons, and the Little Prince is only in its pupa phase. When it is time, the Outer God will release its progeny upon the world. The House of Crom is an elaborate nursery for a tentacled messiah.

Enter the players…

You’re Dead and Out of this World


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When you smile and it tears your face
It’s time for the inhuman race

Before I made my intrepid journey to China, I had a weird night with the pink penguins… But that’s a story for another time. Tonight, I saw my first set of bats in Beijing, flapping overhead, on my walk to dinner. I took it as an omen — so tonight, I want to talk about another intrepid figure sporting a fedora and satchel.

Is it…?



Is it…?



I’m talking about the vampire Beckett.


Those familiar with the table top RPG Vampire: the Masquerade, will recognize Beckett. He is the globe-trotting, Gangrel vampire scholar. He’s a fan favorite, certainly one of mine. Recently, I got to write him.


The ooky-spooky folks over at Onyx Path Publishing are currently running a kickstarter for Beckett’s Jyhad Diary. Visit the link for a more complete description of that book — but it is a chronicle of Beckett’s adventures and misadventures around the world, digging into the mysteries of the metaplot. Becket is a sardonic voice and a skeptical pair of eyes. He’s an ideal point-of-view character.

Click HERE and you can even read the entire chapter I wrote, taking place in Chicago (in the un-pretty manuscript format). Chicago By Night was one of the earliest books I picked up for the Vampire game as an impressionable teenager. All of those plots and undead have been crawling in my brain for nearly two decades. And I got to revisit some of them!

And my proudest easter egg — the one that makes my inner fan squeal? Malcolm. If you dig back into the 2nd edition of Vampire: the Masquerade, the sample character they use for the character creation example is a Gangrel named Malcolm, a vampire narcotics cop (so deliciously 90s). I dug up old Malcolm. If we are celebrating this game and its 2+ decades of growth and development, why not take the very first statted character I (and I’m sure others) encountered and see how he’s grown and changed? Malcolm was made a vampire just when this game started. The histories are parallel. So take a peak at what Malcolm and the other Chicago vampires have been up to.

Also…tons more lovely chapters, by talented writers, taking Beckett through his paces.

What are some of your favorite past Vampire characters? Let me know. Till next time…

Goodnight out there, whatever you are.


From China With Love


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The last month happened in blur. Endings. Beginnings. An interview or two. And I’m only just taking a breather now, at an outside cafe, as far away from home as one can be. Walking alone in a place where no one speaks your language is like being a toddler again. I can say a few, stilted words, and I know how to point.

Right. Recap. Last month, after nearly seven years, I left my job at Funcom to pursue a few new things and see some new places. I’m now in China, till the end of July, looking in on some new writing projects for Nordic Trolls (Re-Roll Entertainment). New place. A few old faces. More details on that to come.

I’ve taken some travel advice, and my stomach has mostly held up. In Imodium I trust. How about some random images from Beijing?

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It was a little smoggy out.

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Our favorite street BBQ spot.

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You can’t escape the McDonalds!

More goodies to come this week. More announcements. So check back in, space cowboy. We’ll explore such thrilling mysteries as: my new day job projects, and old design document on a past game writing project, a new horror serial in the works, GenCon, and a vampire named Beckett.

Until then, your moment of zen.


Farewell But Not Goodbye


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And here I am, moments before shutting off that particular computer at Funcom for the final time. The Severed Hand — my trusty companion of four offices, three countries, two continents, and nearly seven years of video game writing — and I are readying for new adventures.

Quite a day. I wrote a last bit of lore. We did a farewell Twitch stream. We had a little office shindig. Wow. So much to unpack. And I will in the coming days. But right now I’m going to soak it in.

And there will be more news on just what I’m doing after all this. Much to tell. It’ll be posted here. Or keep an eye on my Twitter. Or…if you’d like some other conveyance of such news, leave a comment below and I’ll see what I might get going.

To the future, sweetlings.

PS … HOLY SHIT! Thank you, players and Secret Worlders. All the lovely words and good wishes are enough to give the sort of feels that will ruin a dark horror guy’s brand. Brand be damned! *sniffle*