Considering this era of isolation we currently find ourselves in, it seems like the Piscean Age isn’t quite fully ready to give way to the “universality” of the Age of Aquarius we’re entering now full tilt (whether we like it or not)…
For my disclosure on this or any of my posts or pages… please visit my Disclosure page.
Pandemics and quarantines seem to be affecting different people around me in different ways, and while the trend seems to be a slow attempt to a return to normalcy… each day I feel the real chances of that occurring are swiftly evaporating (nor am I fully convinced that’s even the best mindset to adopt in the first place).
Anyway, since my last post I’ve wrapped up the edits, show notes, and promo art for Adventure Hook Ep 42: Planar Intrusions which also went live on Patreon this week. It was another good show, with its own share of weird, esoteric elements and more than a few nods to the Lovecraftian and the wider Dungeons & Dragons Planescape setting (as well as our own concepts on the Secret Math to tie it all together).
Also this episode we teased our new promotion for Patreon supporters:
Hail and well met, most honorable friend!
As the Time of the Plague is now well and truly upon us all, no doubt you have felt the cold sting of distance from other courageous, like-minded adventurers such as yourself. Gaming tabletops lie barren throughout the land… polyhedral math rocks sit unrolled… and countless theoretical dungeons lie e’er unplumbed… But fear not, for your humble co-hosts have also felt this dearth of fellowship deeply, and even now concoct a scheme to assist one and all in the possible assuaging it… even if only temporarily…
For with the power of the various digital communication services at our command in this Age, the opportunity for you to forge an adventuring group with other loyal fans of the show and join up with the Adventure Hook guys for some online actual-play RPG fun is now very real… and one that is being offered to every Patreon supporter out there who wants to participate!
The first step will be choosing which of the past 40+ episodes you all would like Aaron and Rob to revisit and develop out even further into a fully playable scenario. We’ve narrowed it don’t to our favorite 10 to make it easier on you. You are free to vote for more than one show in this Poll, but (to be considered) for each episode you pick, also be sure to explain the reason(s) for each one that you chose in the comments below as well.
Then… when the hour is right, whichever show has received the most total votes will be the first one selected! And once the Adventure Hook guys decide which of the two of them will serve as Game Master for the actual adventure, Aaron and Rob will (initially) dedicate a future special episode of Adventure Hook towards its development, and then (first come first serve) invite each Patreon supporter who voted in this Poll to participate in the online actual-play RPG session(s) that will be run, recorded, and eventually released for all Adventure Hook listeners to enjoy!
Preference for participation will first be given to those who actually voted for the winning adventure, but so long as you voted for something below, your name will still be included on the invitations list to come game with the guys! And… who can say? In time your humble hosts may end up trying this whole thing more than once (if necessary) to make sure that everyone who participates in the Poll below gets a chance to participate if they want to.
Your best chance is now… seize it and claim your RPG destiny! Cast your lot for your favorite Adventure Hook episode below and one day very soon you may get the chance to play in it!
Vote early and vote often (as you dare)!
It’s our small way of attempting to: “bridge the gap of social distance” for some of our loyal listeners, and it’s also a good proof-of-concept example (much like the Baator and Back episodes) of us taking an idea all the way from initial concept to final execution on the gaming table (and beyond to episode).
Initial reaction so far has been limited, but we’re not on any specific timetable here, and so there’s no rush to get started on this yet. Though I have been feeling some GM withdrawal lately, though the prospect of Aaron running and me getting to be a PC for once (in a long time anyway) sounds enticing to me. Though a recent game of Murder Mystery through Zoom with friends managed to scratch that itch a bit… and it sent me on a whole different tangent recently (but more on that later)…
I’ve also done some more prep work, and even picked out the music tracks to go along with the first promotional segment I’m mocking up to start promoting Adventure Hook episodes that are now archived and only available on Patreon. I plan to make mp3s of these that can go on both the Adventure Hook and Blackspire feeds, but with some simple editing work they can also become promo videos I can additionally host on my YouTube channel.
Perhaps something in the vein of the below (just utilizing the promo art of each episode instead of animated text):
I also finished up edits on the last three promos for Blackspire (Teasers 38-40) which is good because I’d completely exhausted my backlog and actually needed something new for this week:
#40 brings me up to the end of the month, and that may actually be the last one of these I do for the foreseeable future. While I do have some side session material I recorded with Jim over Zoom that has become: Season 2 – Side Sessions: A Long Soak – Pt 1 & Season 2 – Side Sessions: A Long Soak – Pt 2 … and with (unfortunately) a lot of work perhaps Parts 3 & 4 of that same series, a number of other things have prompted me to seriously consider putting any future recordings of the Blackspire game on indefinite hiatus.
And in a moment of what appears to be pure synchronicity, the very same day I made the decision to put Blackspire on hold, after what had felt like an endless symphony of crickets… though in truth had only been three months (probably the time it took me to actually set it & forget it) I suddenly received an email from my new editor that my most recent comic script “A Faerie Tale Wedding” (previously titled “Getting to the Church on Time”) was not only being taken to the next stage, but actually had final color pages for the entire story (and only needed my quick input for edits to the lettering to wrap it all up)!
And so, since publication for it now appears to be well and truly imminent (scheduled for June 17th release, the same week as the Summer Solstice) I finally feel safe to announce that my first writing contribution to Heavy Metal Magazine will appear next month in issue #299 which is also their Fantasy Special!
The 13 year old fanboy in me is totally tickled pink! I’ve loved Heavy Metal ever since I was an impressionable young teen, and I’ve been inspired by so much that has come out of it since then that to think I’m now a small part of it is actually really humbling.
Now, admittedly the artist (Enrique “Quique” Alcatana) they used for my story wasn’t the person I’d originally been paired with, and so the script wasn’t really written with his style in mind, but regardless of any “might have been” feelings that might arise, I am mostly just grateful to the artist and colorist (Arthur Hesli) for being able to capture and convey the overall mood of the story, which hopefully the readers will enjoy (which is all I care about).
Obviously, I want everyone to seek out a copy for themselves, but I thought I’d at least share one of my favorite panels from this little 8-page epic of mine…
Hopefully the editors will want more stories from me sooner or later, though my fingers are crossed they’ll also want to pull the trigger on my Yule Lads story as well and have it ready in time for the holidays this year (yes, that script was also originally written at Heavy Metal’s request back in 2019). I’ll want to take another pass it the script (just in case) as well as actually finally write that little bit of skaldic poetry for the big battle scene I have long been meaning to get to, but kept pushing to the back burner…
In spite of all of this, I don’t actually feel like my Blackspire campaigns are being shelved forever, but the truth is for most games I GM for, I just much much prefer being in the same room (and vibe-ing off the same energy) as the friends around the table I’m running for (and most of my friends agree). And so perhaps as long as social distancing continues to seem reasonable, we’ll be putting all of the Blackspire games on hold. I’ll still leave the Patreon page live, and so new listeners have plenty still to go back and catch up on, and additionally I’ll still incorporate supporter suggestions into any future sessions we do down the line.
But in truth taking a break from Blackspire will give me the chance to focus on other important things (and not just work, work)… such as helping an old friend world-build some of the important themes and concepts of the new novel he’s working on, catching up on my own magickal research, or even lending aid to those subscribers to my YouTube channel who have made it all the way through all nineteen lectures in my Magick & the Occult video playlist and still have questions…
The correlational to a world forced indoors is obvious, still my YouTube subscriber numbers continue to grow at a seemingly swifter pace every day, as I recently passed 1500 and am already well on my way to 1600. However, as both of my upcoming lectures for the Institute of Noetic Sciences: Baltimore friends of IONS group (Magick 203: Mindset and Magick 301: The Monomyth) have also been indefinitely delayed, I won’t have any new material to make a video out of for a while. The actual work on the Monomyth game aside, while I do still plan to eventually adapt a number of excerpts from old Adventure Hook episodes where I discuss (and even apply) magickal concepts… overall that will be good video fodder, but maybe not great…
And so recently (in seeming response) a number of people have gone beyond simply asking me questions in the video comments section and actually approached me through social media hoping to receive some sort of magickal mentoring from me. Initially it didn’t strike me as wise, until one day during meditation I realized how recording any sort of mentoring phone call could potentially be turned into some really beneficial content for my other viewers as well!
Essentially it’s just a slightly more intimate Q&A like I do at all my talks…
So far I have three different folks who are all working to compose their three most pressing questions, which (once I have time to properly meditate on them) can serve as the backbone of our discussions to come, and one of them (who we’ll call Frater Shiva) has already recorded a phone call with me! I feel like we had a very productive discussion on a number of important topics, and quite a few unexpected insights were expressed, and so once I have a few of these under my belt I may start assembling them into a new set of videos for my Magick 101 series that for lack of a better title I’m calling “Magick: Guidance Counseling”…
I also have a few ideas now just beginning to percolate of ways to finally create (halfway decent) videos to cover some of the bases I (technically) skipped in my video series, namely Magick 103: Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagramm (LBRP) and Magick 104: The Middle Pillar. With the help of a green screen, and doing each ritual in two parts (one traditional, one my way) I might actually be able to create something more-or-less visually interesting to represent the Astral aspects of each operation!
But that seems like something that needs to remain on the drawing board for the time being… still, my newfound research also means a newfound need to redouble my efforts into my kundalini yoga practice, as well as a brand new spell I picked up from Frater Xavier’s newest resource Revival: Magick for Health and Well Being that I plan to start the operation of once the full moon starts to wane, meaning a month from now I will be wrapping up the operation (and reviewing its inevitable success).
And finally, one thing all this social distancing has imparted in Jenny and myself is a fond anticipation for the weekly game nights we’ve been having every Saturday with a small group of close friends. We’ve played a lot of Jackbox.tv as well as a few rounds of Jenny’s Mixtape (c) to name a few, but our recent foray into the realm of Murder Mysteries pushed me into something that very closely resembled a LARP… which is just not really my thing usually, but I figured the only way to enjoy it was to really lean into it (not a huge stretch once we let ourselves).
While Jenny definitely enjoyed her crime novelist/secretly a serial killer character, and I definitely had fun in my role as a rock n’ roll Scottish priest, as a game creator I was much more fascinated to learn the structure/mechanics of the game itself… which as we attempted to play it I quickly learned was not very well put together at all… in fact knowing one of our friends had actually paid money to download the PDF I was a little upset at what she got for her money.
So much so I resolved that I could write something better…
But once I started digging into other murder mystery products out there I didn’t initially find anything like what I was imagining I wanted to write myself. Even the most elaborate games seem to require a small cast of players who are “in on it” and like a play know the entire plot, and it’s up to the non-principle characters to solve the case. That only works for large groups of people (not small groups of friends) and additionally there’s no mystery to the main players, or any replay value once the story is told.
I was envisioning something that would function more like the mechanics of the game Clue, where each game there is a new configuration of murderer, weapon, and location. But unlike Clue (where you yourself may be surprised to learn that your character was the murderer all along) I wanted there to be a role-playing element, and each time the game is played it’s up to all the players to figure out who the killer is this time (or evade discovery respectively) by eliminating locations/establishing alibis and determining the Means, Motive, and Opportunity of the killer before the end of “Act III”.
This could be played with a minimum of six player characters plus one moderator, but could add as many additional detective characters as desired. Each player is distributed a number of random elements (including times/locations, motives, and more) to establish each character’s whereabouts and activities the day of the murder…
It’s a lot to keep straight, so now I’m using this “cryptex” to keep things orgainized:
And while the full mechanical apparatus of the game is still beyond my grasp… I’m very close and once I crack it, I’ll be able to write up the rules (and more importantly then have our friends play test) this still-totally-in-development Murder Mystery Matrix game!
We’re getting there.
It’s all getting there.
Slowly, but surely.
Moon: Gemini (New)
If you’d like to start from the “beginning” of all this… you can read from my first blog post.
For my disclosure on this or any of my posts or pages… please visit my Disclosure page.
Art & Magick, Comics & Gaming & how they all tie together. Creator/GM of the #BlackspireRPG Actual-Play & co-host of #AdventureHook podcasts.