So, it appears that this particular Mercury Retrograde hit people a little harder than “usual”. I know myself, my wife Jenny, and quite a few of our friends have all felt the sting… and I’m not sure if you noticed, but this blog was a victim as well…

For my disclosure on this or any of my posts or pages… please visit my Disclosure page.

For as is still happening on occasion, this blog was taken down (for reasons that don’t bear going into, but aren’t directly my fault) for almost a full month..! I noticed it was down the same day Mercury went retrograde, and it only just came back up this past Saturday night.

That meant there were a whole bunch of weekly scheduled Blackspire promos that didn’t go live until the 9th. And in fact it only just came back in time for me to post this week’s promo, as we’d caught up to everything I’d finished thus far…

I’m starting to put a little more work into these promos, cleaning the speaking parts more and adding more sound effects and musical variations, so hopefully these will start netting more supports for Patreon

But as of this evening’s super-full moon, not only has Mercury gone direct again, but in fact all the planets are currently direct..! It feels like we’ve come out of a long dark trial period (of internal work) but that we’re finally on track for a more productive timeline overall (issues with the Coronavirus notwithstanding…). At least that was what the 144K’s most recent mass meditation this past weekend was about…

But it being the full moon meant today I performed our monthly Abundance ritual with an attitude of gratitude. I have a lot to be thankful for, and even more to look forward to in the coming months…

But looking back, it was a busy month as well. I’m still waiting to get edits back from my editor (on that project I still can’t talk about) which I’ll admit is a bit frustrating, but I saw this week an old acquaintance of mine (and technically my former editor at Artesia) has just been hired on as the Co-Managing Editor for that same publication I’m writing for now, and so fingers crossed that things might start actually clicking for me a little better/easier/more efficiently soon. I’ve got lots more material I can write for them, and which they’d expressed interest in at least some of it, so I pinged him with a congratulation message on LinkedIn and we’ll see where things go from here.

Anyway, viewership and subscribers for my YouTube Channel continue to climb, as do the gamut of comments I receive on my videos. One in particular was so positive however, it’s inspired me to take another stab at editing a video for the Q&A portion of last year’s Magick 202: The Formula of Ritual lecture (which I only have [not great] audio for)…

I actually think I can pull it off in the fairly near future (just need a few days to devote to it) and so that (among other reasons) is why I’ve tried this month to get so caught up/ahead on various projects… both for my day job(s), for Blackspire teasers and Patreon-exclusive episodes, as well as for Adventure Hook.

While this has taken up the majority of my focus, and while admittedly the more about magick I understand, the less I actually want to perform it (aside from daily LBRP and [semi] regular yoga practices), I did manage to whip up some talismans to assist a friend in a rather ugly legal battle he’s currently engaged in.

The talisman’s are of course based on an Icelandic stave from Sorcerer’s Screed, but anointed with Fast Luck and Road Opener oils, and activated with a black (Saturnal) candle.

Unfortunately his most recent case was delayed, so they won’t actually be able to be utilized for another month or so yet, but I am an honest believer in his side of things, so I have no problem with the idea of him being granted certain victory (per the promise of the spell)…

I also also pleased and humbled to have the head of the Baltimore IONS group reach out to me (thanks to a recommendation from The Friend) and invite me to come give some lectures at the Ruscombe Mansion which Jenny and I have actually visited before (see: Adventure Hook Pilot Launch).

I’d given it some thought and have two ideas for talks that won’t actually require people to have viewed my previous YouTube lectures (though it couldn’t hurt) but hopefully will still be of interest to the Noetic Sciences group. The first talk on May 12th would be on the subject of “De-polarization” (a useful skill in our highly divisive world) which I’d approach from a planetary/qabbalistic/karmic perspective (aka: “On Bittersweet Living”), and the second one (still TBD) would be on the “Monomyth” as it pertains to the Zodiac and the personal Hero’s Journey of the individual.

Both talks need lots of prep-work still (obviously) but the second one may also even incorporate the Monomyth’s “board game” element to it I’ve also been wanting to work on lately (yet another reason to get ahead on stuff) and we may want to actually try out as well depending on where I get it to by then.  But first I want to dive back into my studies on Astrology, absorb an entire course on Screenwriting, and of course I’ll want to reread Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero with A Thousand Faces

But to buy this time I had to buckle down and plow through lots of material. After recording a third side session with just Jenny and Jen I was able to get enough material to create lower tier (weekly) releases on Patreon through the first week of May (just before IONS) which encompasses the episodes “Harvesting Gold #7-10” and “The Mystery of the Missing Moon Elf #1-5”.

This is in addition to a higher tiered two-parter “Deep in the Stacks #1-2” which gets me through March at least, but the side session I still have on deck with Jenny should cover the 13th Wing releases in April as well… though I’ve also been debating finally jumping into recording material (myself) for the pre-podcast Season Zero episodes I’ve yet to do. They could also fill that gap, and it would give me a lot of material I wouldn’t require others to create.

Additionally, in the interest of attracting supporters, I’ve gone ahead and dropped all the tiers of Patreon support to essentially half of what they were. Life Tax is now $1, Pay the Pinkie is $2, The 13th Wing is $5, Ritual of Evocanimus is $10, etc… Admittedly, the previous prices were likely prohibitive to the casual fan, so hopefully with a lower bar of entry, and loads more bang for your buck, we can expect more traction in the coming months.

I’ve also spent this month creating all the edited Blackspire teasers to go out on iTunes to promote the Patreon episodes, and while I’m starting to put more and more into these, they really do sound more appealing than previous ones I’ve done, and some even sound like excerpts from fully edited Season One-like stuff. While #36 was the hardest yet, this month I actually managed to finish up edits on teasers #28 – 37, which takes me up to the week of the first IONS talk in May, at which point I’ll need to make some more… which I can, #37 only covers through Harvesting Gold #6, there are still all the episodes I finished this month, as part of that process is pulling out excepts to be later used in these teasers, and so I currently have enough saved to make probably a dozen more. To say nothing of the new material we’ve yet to record.

But on that note, I’m excited that we have two more Blackspire games scheduled later this month, a White Hydra session we had to push to the end of the month, and one when Jen, Jenny, and Jim can all play together on the 20th, and we’ll actually get more main Season 2 stuff going again… just as things start getting really exciting in the Missing Moon Elf saga…

And on a side note, many of my miniature paints have gotten used up (or have dried out) in the past year, so I went ahead and got a new set of Citadel Shades, as well as a nice set of Vallejo base colors so I can be sure my basics are again covered.

The only real miniature work I did this month was to prepare the magic carpet Maelik Kileam recently acquired on their last adventure…

Magnet bases so Maelik Kileam can ride his new magic carpet

I actually had a magic carpet mini, and after removing its former occupant, I gave it a new base and paint job, as well as adding a little magnet to the base (as well as beneath MKKM’s figure) so he can ride it into battle…

Maelik Kileam on his new magic carpet

What’s fun is the magnets on my figures all work together, so L’il Kippa and the like could also “ride” it should the event ever arise.

And on the Adventure Hook side, Aaron and I recorded our landmark 40th episode, and I think it may have been one of our better shows in a while. I started things off with what I hope becomes another useful segment of our “Writing Advice for Game Masters”, this time focused on always writing to your players’ choices.

This show also dealt quite a bit with the medieval concept of Cockaigne (which decades ago we’d made a central theme of the Reliquum world) and so I incorporated that into the promo art as well. I’ve also been quite pleased with my show notes for these episodes of late, so thought I’d include them here as well.

This episode just went live on Patreon today, and it won’t be live now on iTunes until the 23rd, so (with only $2/month support) you can head on over there and listen to it right now.

Episode 40: The Sleeping Dragon God

Today’s Hook: The sleeping dragon god is going insane, and projecting his/her dreams into all of his/her clerics. (by Bert Schmid @cubfinder) 

Dreams? Madness? Religion? Dragons??? It’s like this idea was tailor made for the Adventure Hook guys… Now, while you could arguably say many of the #newadventurehook ideas are actually exactly that, this pitch was again totally just right up their alley. So, while it would seem to be just the sort of story idea that lends itself to the Lovecraftian, the guys (admittedly additionally) first veer their imaginations off into some other much more uncommon territory indeed…

By dreaming of Cockaigne..!

If you’re unfamiliar with this rather obscure bit of medieval conceptualization, fear not..! For this episode you’ll be treated to a not-so-brief briefing on some the principle ideas surrounding this rather anarchist peasant fantasy.  From an earthly paradise populated by roasted fauna keen on their own consumption, or literal rivers flowing with wine, to the pilgrim hobo’s sacred mountain of rock candy, this episode these childish musings (and much more) can all be made manifest by the chaotic wild magic of various somnambulant dragon-clergy..!

And madness is the key to your understanding here… for from Bahamut and Tiamat, Paladine and Takhisis, Chronepsis (the Dragon God of Fate) to Nidhög himself, and even worse… Rob and Aaron imagine up some dragon gods and then (naturally) lift a little from Lovecraft and so manage to tie all this craziness together with some of the wider concepts of the Cthulhu Mythos..! 

Careful what you wish for, though… for the dreams of Cockaigne will literally begin to spoil, bringing a whole new meaning to a “Feast of Fools” as (amidst the post-apocalyptic swarms of ravenous zombified roast animals) the dragon god’s new hive-minded prophets’ de-evolution in their deity’s image will also change your very ideas of what a dragon’s hoard truly can be

Dragons are the ultimate hoarders after all…

So open those newly reptilian eyes of yours and come along with the Adventure Hook guys (as well as the rest of those “walkin’ around” clerics) for a serious exploration of the otherwise absurdist realm of Cockaigne… and hopefully you won’t have to eat through a mile of custard to join them first…

Banter Topic:  this episode the Adventure Hook guys serve up some more  Writing Advice for Game Masters, this time paying particular attention to the importance of structuring everything that you create centered around your player characters’  choices… And from first time Game Masters to veterans of countless RPG scenarios, there is still certain to be some bit of advice dispensed this episode to help any one of them hone their craft for this still  relatively  new art form of “collaborative storytelling”… and become the type of GM your players will honestly thank you for…

Plus..! Enjoy hearing the guys unpack why the series finale of Game of Thrones likely felt so unsatisfying to viewers.  Hint: it’s got something to do with the banter topic…

We needed a new d20 list as well of course… as well as more #newdventurehook ideas for future lists, so let us know your ideas at Adventure Hook

We should also be recording Episode 41 this coming week, and this time we got a banter topic from an old friend, which that (plus the exciting Hook we actually rolled) got me thinking about how best to discuss and them implement all the ideas bouncing around in my head. Maybe it’s because I’ve also had Monomyth on the brain, but after a bit of work I created this gaming resource “The Plot Device”…

The Plot Device

I’ll be sure to explain it all in depth, as well as how to use it on the episode, but in short it combines the concepts of The Five Room Dungeon, with a screenwriter’s diagram of an action sequence, as well as (a slice of) the Monomyth (which Zodiacally speaking covers Cancer through Sagittarius), and I plan to use the mechanics of the Prisoner’s Dilemma to prompt the Results 1-4 on the chart above… as the cost of “Plot Points”…

Give the show a listen when it comes out, I promise I’ll make that all make sense (if it doesn’t yet)…

But it wasn’t all business this month, there was plenty of fun to be had too (not that my work isn’t fun or interesting). To start with, I attended Flagons & Dragons this month along with Jen (Akihosi) and Garret (“Jolly” Paul) to do some Blackspire outreach/networking, but for me I really just wanted to be a player, not a GM for a night, and so we all wound up playing a game of the new Alien RPG which is simple but definitely a fun take on isolationist space horror. I was actually the captain of our group’s space freighter where we (of course) encountered a derelict craft with Something aboard… We made progress, but didn’t finish the scenario so we’re going to make it a two-parter, so we’ll all be back at the end of March to finish the session and hopefully build more rapport with the community.

I’ve also got a new idea for another promo game we could maybe do with the Dice Dungeons guys down the line (I met the other half of that partnership this time too) to promote their newest line so we’ll see…

Jenny and I also went to see the new Jay & Silent Bob movie at The Senator Theatre with director Kevin Smith doing Q&A after the screening.

Image may contain: 2 people, text and outdoor

We didn’t love the movie, but made it through most of the Q&A before the friend we went with wanted to call it. Still a fun night, and burgers and beers at Swallow at the Hollow is always fun too… as was our musician friend’s birthday we recently celebrated with much the same at Das Bierhalle and then finished the night with karaoke at Fullerton Pub (not me or Jenny though, we just watched)… The other big suprise was we found a new awesome restaurant in (of all places) the local mall: The Brass Tap – Towson Town Center – seriously, their food and drink selection is surprisingly enticing.

But perhaps, the crowning foodie discovery we made this month was deciding to have Valentine’s Day dinner at the new (best kept secret) Le Comptoir du Vin restaurant in downtown Baltimore (on Bon Appetit’s 10 best new restaurants of 2019). I used to live only a few blocks from there until 2001, but the neighborhood has definitely changed since then. Still, you’d never suspect this quaint little gem of French cuisine was hidden away on Maryland Ave, but it is more than worth it, as we both agreed it was one of the best meals we can remember having.

Jenny at our Valentine’s Day dinner at the incomparable Le Comptoir du Vin

Now that’s what I call an abundant month…

And 2020 is just getting going… but soon the Spring Equinox will be here, and then things can really start fresh…

***

Monday 3/9/2020-

Sun: Pisces

Moon: Virgo (Full)

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.

Blackspire
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