What’s in a name? An N, an A, an M and an E. National Novel Writing Month 2018 – WON!

Hey hey Mad Minions.

The first year I joined Nanowrimo was in 2013.  It was really tough trying to reach that 50,000 words and looking back, everything I wrote then was complete garbage.

Fast forward to 2018. I hit 50,000 words on November 21st and going over what I wrote I am, for the most part, very happy with what I wrote. So happy in fact, I am going to combine this into a book of horror tales.

I will eventually need to find a cover artist… I threw this together in five minutes in flash.  I really like minimalist art in black and white so I  would like to do something similar here.

Anyway, just wanted to send everyone an update. The Castle of Blackwood Moors Adventures, is done with one editor and gone to the second editor. The Sequel is still being tinkered with… but I really wanted to get some horror short stories out there that have been bouncing around in my brain lately.

That and I still have big plans for the Youtube channel.

Stay Mad

Be Good

They say people don’t believe in heroes anymore. Well damn them! You and me, Mad Overlord, we’re gonna give them back their heroes!

Just a bit from a short story I am writing… as always, remember this is a rough, rough draft.

Please drop me a line to let me know what you think.

The engine roared as the car roared down the remains of the broken highway. Two motorcycles speed along either side of the rusty black machine. The cycle with a passenger swung a baseball bat at the tainted window, making a spiderweb of cracks with the first strike and splintering it completely on the follow up swing.

The driver of the black car gazed at his attackers hidden behind a full faced gas mask. An odd growling, howling noise that could not be hear over the roaring of the engines, came from the motorcycle driver as his passenger continued his assault upon the car with the bat.

The motorcycle on the driver’s side of the car as the driver pulled out a pistol and began to take aim, only to have two tons of steel slam into them. The front suspension bent sideways from the force and snapped. Sending the driver into the air,landing chin first. Their feet landing second a short distance ahead, the drivers back now bent like a torn apart paper clip.

The car and the remaining motorcycle raced onward, neither unconcerned with the fate of the other driver. They both swerved around a derelict car in the middle of the highway,left there years ago. As they emerged on the other side, the motorcycle swerved back with the passenger poised to jump to the other vehicle, baseball bat at the ready.

The car slammed on its brakes. The passenger tried to grab onto what ever they could to prevent themselves from launching themselves onto the target no longer there, the only thing there, was the driver. This caused the driver to swerve to try and re-balance the bike, but failing. All three of them hit the pavement. The passenger hit first, their arm bending almost all the way around their back from the friction. As the driver and bike struck, the driver of the car swerved out onto the shoulder of the road to avoid striking them. An odd fluke in the broken pavement of the road caused the driver and bike to bounce directly in front of the cars path. As they disappeared under the car and the sound of metal striking metal immediately followed by a crunching sound.

“Shit.” The driver said even before the car struck them.

Stay Mad.

Be Good.

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks. You better run, better run, faster than Ultima Dragons.

Hey hey everyone!

I am still in San Francisco, but GDC 2017 is finally over. In the coming days I will be making a few posts about things I have learned, saw and did. But at first I will talk about a few days about the Ultima Dragons.

Who are the Ultima Dragons you may ask? Well, taken (stolen) directly from their homepage is the following definition.

“The Ultima Dragons are a large virtual club founded in 1992 on Prodigy who have since moved to the Internet due to Prodigy’s outrageous rate structure. The club is dedicated to helping others with their Ultima questions, discussing Ultima, and, most obviously, sharing information and creative exploits.”

Do not know what Ultima is? Shame on you! (Not Shame the Dungeon… that is a little inside joke there) Ultima in this context means the Ultima series of games by Origin Systems, Inc.

I joined in 1995 around the time they jumped to IRC, but due to my shyness and general social awkwardness, I just lurked and even if someone hit me with a virtual pie or anything.. I just remained quiet. But I still followed them over the years and this summer they had a kickstarter for their 25th anniversary. Yeah. You read that correctly. This internet club that sprouted up around a computer game has been around for 25 years. Pretty impressive I’d say.

As fate would have it… it started the weekend before GDC, so I could go there, pretend I am cool and still have time to head to GDC and look for a new career. All I will say, is I am so super happy I went. I met a lot of fantastic people, had some great laughs. Even met Lord British (aka Richard Garriott) again. I used to see him quite a few years at Gen Con when it used to be in Milwaukee.

Oh, I forgot to mention… it was at Disneyland! I never been to Disneyland before so that was an experience.  But true to my nature… instead of going on rides and seeing things… I sat and worked on the Grim Future/ Blac Arth computer game in my spare time. As you will see in the pictures below.

In the coming days I will show some of the cool things I got from the Ultima Dragons meetup.  As well as pictures from GDC.

Until then, take care yourselves and drink some orange juice. Vitamin C makes you happy!

I’ll tell me ma, when I go home, the boys wont leave the girls alone. They pull my hair and they stole my GRIM FUTURE!!!

Well, Well,Well,Well,Well,Well,Well,Well,Well,Well,Well,Well,Well,Well,Well,Well,Well,Well! What have we here!?

The last post before Ultima Dragons 25th and GDC pictures comes your way! After a 48 hour game jam, Matt and I cranked a lot of new content on the game. Again, it is still in pre-alpha and uses free assets found on the Unity store (in-fact if there were about 20 letters before alpha in the greek alphabet, that is what letter that would be. I think that is the greek letter of epilady or omegKarl). But it is what it is. Let’s take a look… SHALL WE!?!?


Picture #1 &2. We have scrolling text that gives back story now! Society fell. people panicked and squelched on their cable bills and switched the hot and cold knobs in their showers. Things were bad.

Picture #3 The game starts where you are in a car accident and as you crawl from the burning wreckage… something horrible and weird attacks you. For once its not the smelly guy who you sit next to every day on public transportation.

Picture #4 As you wander the ruined town, you see a spider the size of a dog wandering around. How did the spider get that big without radiation? Well, that is a story secret.. so I cannot mention it. What I *CAN* mention is Matt did an awesome job with the spider’s AI. It roams around looks for interesting things, like food (i.e. you) and when it spots you, it will chase after you. Do not even think about sneaking up on it, most spiders can see in all directions (didn’t they teach you anything in school?) and will then chase after you.

Picture #5 Spiders are still susceptible to mega beat downs, even after society collapses.

Picture #6 Wandering around Blac Arth. Again, story related *buttons lip*.

Picture #7 Talking with John Hodgson, a lone mechanic who still lives in the ruins.

Picture #8 A picture of the AI range Matt built. As you can see, creatures have a fairly long range to find things of interest. Which makes me happy. I dislike games where monsters, people, whatever stand on the same spawn point forever and ever (*cough cough* Dragon’s Dogma  *cough wheeze cough*)

Welpy welptones.

That is this update! There is OBVIOUSLY a long way to go before this game even hits Alpha.. but I think it is coming along nicely. It definitely has soul.

Stay tuned for the next update… which will come from the most magical place on earth!

No, not Hogwarts. Man, Harry Potter fans are a rabid lot.

Hope great things are happening to you, and if not, hang in there. I know some days are bad, but you just have to keep trying.

From Black Earth to Black Earth, in many easy steps. Now with vanilla frosting!

With less than a week left to go for my trip to California to attend the Ultima Dragons 25th anniversary and then GDC, I have been a busy bee.  I stung two people in the parking lot at the local store, but they sprayed me with mace.

But enough about my love life…

*pause for laugh*

Let’s look at how Post Apocalyptic Black Earth is coming a long shall we?

The actual map of Black Earth is coming along nicely. It is starting to look a lot like the real life town it is based on as you can see from the above pictures. It has a long way go however. Better shading. Some nicer models etc… but we will get there, this is only about a month worth of work if you have been following a long at home.


Next thing is adding dialouge. Using a tool called ‘Fungus” (No really. That is what it is called), I added some text during the beginning of the game as a little bit of backstory.  As well as an NPC that can be found in game that will give more backstory, as well as your first few missions in the game.

That is where the game is at… it still looks REALLY crude since it just uses free assets from the Unity store, but they are good place holders for the time being until all the mechanics are in operational order.

There we go… There is also basic combat and picking up weapons and inventory… but I will save that for tomorrow.

Black Earth is coming along nicely I think.  Black Earth… aaaaah Black Earth.

Ahem. Hope your Sundays are sunny and bright.

From Black Earth to Black Earth in four easy steps… Maybe.

Happy Mondays,

A few folks have asked me how do I do my world building, both for writing and the game I have been showing… That is a tough question. It is like asking someone, “How do you breathe?”  You just do.  I tend to be a highly detailed thinker as well, I love putting in endless amounts of details and backstory.. even if no one will ever know it but me.

But I do not want to blow you guys off, so I guess I will show you  a bit about my thinking process.  First off, I thought it would be interesting to explore the frigid north in a apocalyptic game. It seems after the fall of modern society, every where will be a desert; and if you live in the northern USA or Canada, you find this idea kind of unlikely (its 10 F outside as I write this). Second, I wanted to base a game in the central USA. Most post apocalyptical stuff happens on the coasts of the USA or in Austrailia (Max Rockatansky, you are the man), but never in the mid-west.

With this in mind, I chose Black Earth, Wisconsin. One: For reasons I mentioned above, and Two: There is only one town named Black Earth on the whole planet -Three: The name fits the Post Apoc genre very well I think – and Four, the entire town is only about one thousand people. Small enough to have lots of wilderness, but large enough there will be enough stuff to tinker around with inside the borders of civilization (what those things are, you will have to stay tuned).

So without further adieu, here are the first four steps of the creation of Black Earth.
1. The actual google maps picture (I actually drove to Black Earth and took about 100 pictures of the town as well, but I am not sure you want to see all of those… ah heck I will throw some in – Those will be Pictures 2 and 3 (yeah I am passionate, dedicated or maybe a bit crazy to actually go there and wander the streets for a day… or maybe all three). Picture 4 is of an adventure I wrote for Old School Quarterly (http://oldschoolquarterly.com/) but considering that we have been waiting for issue zero for two years… Lets just say I SUPER HOPE this mag finally gets off the ground. Picture 5 is the first map we did for the game, it is blocky since it was going to be an old school dungeon crawl like ‘Eye of the Beholder.”  The last picture is the most recent iteration, but I am not happy with the size… it should be bigger. But it is still functional. There might be a fifth version eventually.

Hopefully you found this look into my creative process interesting. Thanks for stopping by the blog! I’d treat you to a cup of coffee if I could.

P.S. Haven’t forgotten about poor Hendl’s Landing, but GDC is two weeks away.. so that is kind of priority one for a bit. Try to understand… Try to understand… TRY, TRY, TRY TO UNDERSTAAAAAAND… I’m  a magic maaaaan! (guitar solo ).

Why do you build me up (build me up) buttercup, baby Just to let me down (let me down) and mess me around. And then worst of all (worst of all) we build a suburb of GRIM FUTURE!!!! (guitar solo).

Haaaaaaappy Frigga’s day fun friends of friendly funniness (is that a word?). Anywho, just over two weeks to go until GDC (gdconf.com) and I am working my little tailbone off to have cool stuff to show. Whether I am showing off my mad writing, design or level building skills… your friend and mine, me, is talented at many different things and hopes to impress a lot of folks at the conference this year. So lets do this!

Today we are going to keep looking at the game Matt Ciarlante and I are working on (back off ladies, Matt is engaged and I am just Gonzo levels of weird). There is a suburb of Blac Arth (the name of the town), that was walled off and used for growing crops for the settlement, but something happened (it always happens that way doesn’t it… you are just hanging out, trying to survive and BIPPITY BAM! Something horrible happens. Luckily there is always a protagonist right around the corner to help you out. Those protagonists have great timing like that).

Oh, so what happened in the suburb where they grew crops, you ask? Well that would be telling now wouldn’t it? It would ruin the surprise. Like saying Rosebud is the sled. Vader is Luke’s father. Jersey Shore was cancelled in 2012 and no one really noticed.  Spoiler stuff like that.


MMMMMAYBE, if you guys are really good. I mean, like call your mom levels of good (or visit her grave, its the right thing to do), I will reveal some fun details about the game in the near future. Until then, a few more pre-pre-pre alpha screen shots will tie you over for a while I hope.

Till next time, hope everything in your life is going your way.

Hippity Hop to the barber shop to buy a stick of GRIM FUTURE!!!

Hey folks,

Quick post today.

Remember that game I showed screen shots of WAY back. Welpy welptones. With GDC fast approaching, there will be some more news about the game soon.

That is all I wanted to say today. Just wanted to drop everyone a line to let you know I am still thinking of you cool people. Because you folks are awesome. Well, except that one guy in the back. No, no, not him… yeah that guy. Just look at him. Sigh.

The rest of you, I think you are the greatest.

Hope everyone’s week is going well.

What else, what else?

As I mentioned yesterday, another thing I am doing is working on a computer game. I wont give out many details since it is only about a month or two in development. But I included some screenshots on getting farming up and running. I cannot take credit for the coding that is the ever awesome Matt, but I do the design work and world building.  Also, ignore the art… we are using free stuff from Unity until we can find a decent 3d artist.

Here we see the overgrown field, with a ruined house to your left. WOW! That field is overgrown! Look at how high that grass is. Next, while attempting to cut the grass down, I have to stop to put down and attacking mutant.  The mutant is dead and I can finally plant some corn. After waiting a day or two, I come back to see my corn has already begun to grow. Finally, after a few more days, my corn is fully grown and ready for the harvest.


Another, ANOTHER thing I want to talk about is the world I use for my gamebooks and my first novel, is based on my old D&D world. So I hope to flesh it out more and more here.world-map

Even though it is the same world I have used since 1978, this map was drawn in about 1984. The premise of the world hasn’t changed (as my players can attest to), but as I grew older and obtained more knowledge, details of the world have changed. I wont go into detail now, since I can save that for a future topic.

Here is even an EARLIER map. This is the earliest map I could find.


This is damn painful to look at now, but see how the ‘Sea of Glass’ has moved from the top of this map to further west in the world map? I also heavily stole things as a lad. See Firetop Mountain (from Warlock of Firetop Mountain) and Lion Castle (From Ghost of Lion Castle)…  Yeah. I know I added those to the map a lot later since I bought those two things and wanted to add them somewhere so I just plopped them down at the top since my players haven’t reached those areas yet. I WAS 13!!! Cut me some slack! Jimeny Jeepers. Uh… let us continue… shall we? *hangs head in shame*

Oh, I should also mention, the second map’s location in the world map is toward the top just right of center. You can see the Sunken Lands just north of The Great Midland Kingdom.

This was pretty impressive for a 13 old kid I think. The idea behind the second map is that it is mostly a land of barbarians (hence all the open space). Off the eastern edge of the map was a great dwarven kingdom, Kobur Illud if i recall – I don’t have the notes in front of me, and they were losing a war with the elves. Who lived even further east in ‘The City at the Edge of the World’. Yeah, some of my elves were city dwellers, there is a reason for that. For now you will just have to wonder. DUN DUN DAAAAAAAAH! *Ahem* let us continue shall we?

The elves were winning the war, and were planning on making the dwarves extinct for all their mining and destroying of the environment. The dwarves would have been toast, if it was not for a group called ‘The Benefactors’. They used great magics to raise part of the floor of the Great Inner Sea so the dwarves could escape across it, fleeing the island of Hespae. Kind of like a reverse Moses. Except there was a group of them. The sea floor did not sink back right away, it began to sink a week after the escape, but slowly. The map takes place about ten years after the dwarves escaped, and you can see the land is a huge mire, but one can still transverse it.  Why did’t the elves follow? I actually do not remember anymore. Maybe they were microwaving a burrito and they forgot about it or something. They DID send halflings (who were elven allies) into the barbarian lands to spy on them. Forming the village of Brandy wine, but more on that later.

After they raised the lands for the dwarven escape, The Benefactors disappeared as quickly as they showed up. Whether they went back to their cities in the Broken Lands far to the west, or to somewhere else, no one knows. Actually I know, I am just not going to tell you since I am a jerk. HAW!
Anywhos, the remaining dwarves founded Kobur Nogan, I think the map here says Khazul Dum, which my players pointed out was stolen from Tolkien’s Khazad Dum (which is was. I WAS 13!!!!!), so I changed it. Kobur is the dwarven name for Dwarven made, and Nogan was the dwarven name for North, sad that I can still remember this stuff after so long.
ANYWAY, as I was saying, shortly after founding their city and they began mining, the river turned darker, since they used the river in their mining operations (one of the reasons the elves attend them, darn polluting dwarves), the river which was once named ‘The River of the Divine’ adopted a new name of ‘Rust River’ or ‘River of Rust’. The town on the southern edge was changed from ‘Sweet Water’ to ‘Black Water’ because of the color of the river as well.

There was only one real settlement in the area that some of the more ‘civilized’ barbarians used. Since they needed somewhere all the clans could go to trade goods with other civilizations, and some times set up raiding parties, but again, that is another post for another day. This was the city of Norcross, I actually have a map for that place as well. But again, another day folks, I don’t want to make this post a zillion lines long for those of you who have ADD or a two year old who just ate five bowls of Cap’N Crunch cereal (you and the Cap’n, make it happen!), so I will try to keep this short.


Eventually the halflings of Brandywine disappeared and to this day no one knows where they went (actually they do, but no one will admit they know. Again, another story for another time). The Shard Plains moved further west and off of this map altogether. They are named so, because of the strange, jagged, shards of rock jutting up into the sky. Some of them almost 60 ft high. Where they came from, no one knows. But no one really sticks around to find out since huge tribes of Beastials (wolf-men, cat-men, etc.) patrol the area, capturing and devouring all they come across.

Finally, the barbarians worship the all-Father, but they still pray to the spirits of the trees and animals as well. Once a year all the tribes head to the Forest of Whispering Wind, where they have a Wyrd, talk with other tribes about news, the latest movies they have seen, or whatever else is on their minds.

Did I miss anything? Is there anything I did not cover and you would like to find out more? Is there some of my grammar that is so terrible you would like to point it out? Please do!
As always, thank you for visiting my little hole in the wall and I hope your day goes well.