Re-Launch of Phantasm Adventures

I am very excited to announce that I have re-launched my role-playing game portal Phantasm Adventures.  In weeks and months to come I will be releasing additional material on the site for players and GameMasters alike.

You can find the website here:

Tabs at the top of the page offer PDFs of various types with information, and will help in the creation of characters, such as in a worksheet, or in buying equipment.  There are also pdfs for skills and spells, which could not be given in the upcoming game books.

A guide to player creation and GameMastering will soon be added.


Amish Johnson and the Pegasus Chamber

After seven long years I have finally finished my first novel.  You can take a peek at the book at several sights and by the end of the week iTunes and Barnes & Noble should also have the story available too.

What happens when reality fuses with dreams? A futuristic world turned upside down into a prehistoric land of savagery and adventure.

Amish Johnson and the Pegasus Chamber is the story of a student of the twenty-second century and his exciting journey into a virtual world fraught with danger. By accident, Aaron obtains a secret code to the Pegasus Chamber, a computer simulation so real that participants cannot tell fantasy from reality. What was meant to be a party on a virtual beach in paradise becomes a tooth-and-nail fight for survival. Aaron and his friends find themselves in more danger than any back alley of New Detroit. Forging together the gang of kids head off on the wildest adventure they could ever imagine.

As Aaron “Amish” Johnson tries to discover why the simulation has not ended, he is determined to convince them that the virtual world is just as real as their lives in New Detroit. Along the way, the teens meet a mysterious girl that for all practical purposes should not be there. As the gang comes to grip with their mortality, they experience wild storms, flesh eating dinosaurs, ancient ruins filled with danger, and ultimately the greatest question humanity has ever asked?

This is the first book in the Amish Johnson Trilogy. Coming this fall is the second book, Amish Johnson and the Leprechaun’s Legacy and finally in 2015 Amish Johnson and the Minotaur’s Maze.


Today I turn 50

Hey everyone, today, July 16 2014 I turn the big Five-Oh!  Yes, I cannot believe it.  Its pretty incredible to think I have been around for 50 years — that seems such a long time, yet now I realize it is nothing at all.

I have had a lot of adventures in my first fifty years and hope to have just as many the next fifty.

I have journeyed to Japan and England and been to many states.  Travel is beautiful and I hope everyone gets a chance to see this incredible planet and the wide and varied assortment of civilizations.

I now count so many friends from around the world. Because of the web I have friends in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Germany, England, Scotland, South Africa, Brazil, Sweden, France.  The list just goes on and on.

I am also a published author of numerous game books and here this month I will finally publish my debut novel, Amish Johnson and the Pegasus Chamber.  I still have so many stories to tell, even though they may be a bit disjointed and cobbled.  I hope to still be writing 20 years from now, telling everyone adventures.

I have enjoyed my computers over the years, and I can appreciate them coming from an era where there was none.  When I was a kid, there was no Xbox or even computers.  No MMOs, No first person shooters, no turn-based command & conquer games. I lived in a world without email, and cell phones, and if you wanted to watch a show you better be home when it was broadcast.  I remember the introduction of the microwave, or at least when my family got one it was real special.

I was a kid during the greatest time for movies:  Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Star Trek, ET, Jaws, etc…  What a wonderful time to grow up.

Here is looking at the next fifty years.

D&D5: First System Impressions

Emerald Tablet:

Gary gives his first impressions on D&D5!

Originally posted on Ardwulf's Lair:

As I’ve already mentioned, the new D&D rules have been released into the wilds of the internet, and so they are fair game for commentary above and beyond what I’ve already said based on my play experience at Origins. This isn’t a formal review, but a rundown of what’s in the game and my preliminary opinions about it.

index First, though, we’d better cover what the new product is and is not, so far. What we have right now are two items, the D&D Starter Set and the D&D Basic Rules. The former is a boxed set which includes a 32-page rulebook, a 64-page adventure, five pregenerated characters, a blank character sheet and a set of dice. The latter is a PDF currently available for free from the Wizards site. They are the same rules, but the Starter Set is aimed clearly at new players and contains a stripped-down and…

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On the D&D5 Credits Controversy

Emerald Tablet:

D&D controversy? The game has never shied away from making a name for itself, but sadly this is not the kind of fights they should be involved with. . .

Originally posted on Ardwulf's Lair:

The free PDF of the new D&D Basic Rules hit the WotC website over the holiday weekend. I’ll have words to say about the new rules in future posts, but right now, because it’s the raging topic of conversation in my circles, I feel obliged to comment on the controversy.

Yes, controversy. About the new D&D rules. Well, not about the rules, but about two people who appear to have contributed to them.

Now, I have resolutely managed to steer clear of political matters in the seven years I have been writing this blog. I’d rather talk about gaming on this outlet. In this case, however, matters of gaming and politics are intertwined, so you’re going to get some of my politics if you continue reading. So be warned, and stop now if you don’t want to know.

With that out of the way, though, and because folks who…

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An Evening In Edinburgh

Peering out the tiny window, the iconic Forth Road and Forth Rail bridges came into view as our plane made its descent toward Edinburgh. I smiled at the sight of them, my heart pounding with excitement while I gazed at the rolling hills beneath me. After a sleepless night cramped in my seat, I was eager to land and begin enjoying a wonderful vacation with my husband.

Upon arrival at the airport, we discovered it to be similar in size to our hometown’s airport. We easily made our way through Customs, and then onto the baggage claim area. Stepping outside a short time later, I slowly breathed in the fresh air; relishing the warm sunshine hitting my face. Aah… we’d finally made it to Scotland.

Anticipation trumping exhaustion, we quickly boarded a double-decker bus to take us into the city center. Settling into our seats on the upper level, my husband grinned at me. And I knew why. It was our first ride on a double-decker bus. I matched his grin and removed the camera from my backpack as the bus eased away from the curb and headed for Edinburgh— on the opposite side of the road.

Entering traffic, I cringed at the numerous cars I envisioned crashing into us because my brain was still running on American convention. The camera shaking slightly in my hand, I told myself to focus on the scenery instead of the road. Outside the window were historic churches with spired steeples, old stone buildings high on a hill, and colorful trees and flowers in bloom for the spring season.

When we turned onto Waverley Bridge, my husband tapped me on the shoulder to signal our bus ride was over. Soon we were climbing what felt like an endless flight of stairs up to Giles Street where we found our hotel and dropped off our bags to go grab a bite to eat at the café next door. We looked like crazy tourists as we took pictures of our plates and drinks to commemorate our first meal in Scotland!

Our hunger satisfied and our excitement mounting, we ventured outside in the direction of our first tourist attraction: The Edinburgh Castle. While my husband soaked in the history of the castle and admired the cannons, I began taking pictures, all the while fighting the tremendous urge to run around in circles shouting, “I’m at a castle! Woohoo!”

My husband was grateful that I didn’t succumb to my urge, but instead joined him in calmly touring the grounds and the Crown Jewels exhibition. The crown was pretty spectacular, and I couldn’t help but notice that my husband’s eyes lit up when he spotted the sword and sceptre. I’m almost certain he was imagining himself as a valiant knight on a horse, armed for battle with his trusty sword.

After a fun day exploring the castle, it was time to do some shopping and sightseeing on The Royal Mile. Having successfully found the perfect wool sweater for my dad’s souvenir, we then visited The Writers’ Museum and St. Giles Cathedral. Along the way, I paused to snap a quick picture of the bagpipe player standing on the sidewalk. Love the kilts!

Leaving the bagpipe player behind, we eventually found our way to a local restaurant to have dinner. My husband ordered fish and chips with “smashed” peas— at least that’s what he told his friends on Facebook while he sipped an Irn-Bru for the first time. His UK friends got quite the chuckle from his message since he’d meant to say “mushy” peas. I think it will be a while before he lives that one down!

The air was cool by the time we left the restaurant and headed back to our hotel to meet up with one of our friends from Fife. Maureen, who runs Cameron Tours with her husband, came by to say hello to us, even though we weren’t able to go on the Kingdom of Fife tour with her because of problems with our flight out of the States. We had a great visit! My friend, Alex, was right— Fifers are extremely friendly.

Finally, bidding farewell to Maureen, we returned to our room. Reliving the day, our tired bodies sunk wearily into the feather-soft mattress. Ooh, so relaxing compared to the plane seat I wasn’t able to sleep in the night before! Closing my eyes, I heard the sound of laughter drift in through the open window, followed by a peaceful silence. Good night, Edinburgh. Thanks for the memories.

BLUEHOLME™ Compleat Rules

Originally posted on Dreamscape Design:

A quick status report: work on the BLUEHOLME™ Compleat Rules manuscript is proceeding apace. The cover art is ready for layout (adding titles, logos and such), as can be seen from the teasers appearing here. Once the text is complete there will be a period of play testing – with a simulacrum this is not as long as it tends to be for a game written completely from scratch, as many of the components of game play have been in use for decades. The next step will be layout of the body text, which will give me the exact sizes, content and number of interior art pieces that I will need to commission. I have already approached several artists with regard to this, so I know that the look and quality of this new artwork will live up to the standard set by the public domain art used for the Prentice…

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My Trip to the United Kingdom

Over the last several months, fourteen to be exact I have been saving and dreaming about my trip to the United Kingdom.  I say the UK because a part of it included Scotland.  My entire stay was going to be 10 days, with three in Scotland and the rest in England.  As it turns out I spent one day in Scotland and nine days in England, in no part my doing but the uncoordinated and horrible efforts of United Airlines.


Like all trips it started with excitement mixed with apprehension. I am not a flyer and do not like any of the sensations of flying — from the waiting, take off, or long flights.  My trip ended up being a nightmare flying. It was really not the flying but  the “wanting” to fly that was horrible.  It all started in Grand Rapids when our original flight was canceled to Chicago which led to a domino effect of missing all the flights to Edinburgh.  Next I spent two days calling endlessly to get rescheduled with new flights — United is very good at taking your reservations but just horrible at actually providing the service of flight. After two days of endless holds and endless broken promises they got me a flight out of Grand Rapids, but of course that was a lie too and that plane ended up being cancelled.  Only by some savvy United employees in GR did I find another long delayed flight that got me to Newark.

At least from there our flights smoothed out and we did eventually get to Edinburgh — two days late.  This is where our trip really started.  And what an exciting 10 days it was!  The trip to the UK was the best and I only met the nicest people on my trip.  I cannot say more how often we had to ask directions, and everyone was just so pleasant and helpful.

The Royal Mile

We started our adventure on the Royal Mile and then went on to the great Edinburgh’s castle.  Originally planned for three days and a trip into the Kingdom of Fife, we had to do everything in one short day because we had booked a non-refundable train ticket to London the very next day.  Sadly we only had one day in Edinburgh but we absolutely loved it!

Train Ride South


The very next day we had to get on a train and travel from Edinburgh to London. My wife and I had never been on a train before, but luckily we booked First Class seats and had a marvelous six hour ride down along the coast. We saw much of the English countryside and so many beautiful little towns.

DSC05742Our next stop and for the remainder of our stay we were next to the London Eye.  Unbeknownst to my wife, our First Class tickets did not drop us off right at Waterloo Station but required a transfer from the train to the Tube and a series of changes.  Beyond never having rode a train, we had never used a subway (or in this case the Tube) and that was a riotous adventure — but again we were met only with pleasant people and we found our way to the hotel.

Settling in for the week we did so much on that Sunday and we had perfect weather (something you don’t always get in England according to the locals).  We started the day at the Eye, then walked to Big Ben, The Parliament Buildings, West Minster Abbey, and then on to Buckingham Palace.  Undaunted we continued our adventure to Trafalgar Square and on towards Piccadilly Circus.  We traveled across several foot bridges and just drank in the sites.




The following days we took a day trip to Oxford and then another to Windsor Castle.  We also took a day to go through the British Museum and ended up using our last day to go through the British Museum of Nature.  But all of these were adventures I will post about later.

I never really thought I had jet lag and was asleep at 11 PM their time and ready to roll around 8 AM the next day.  We also ate like horses over there and found a marvelous little restaurant bar called the Slug and Lettuce — yeah the name sounds weird but it was really good, comforting food.

Our trip back was smooth until once again we landed in the US.  Just when our last leg of the trip was to leave, an unmuzzled dog in the plane (why and hell would United allow that) bit the flight attendant and the entire plane had to be evacuated.  After seven hours of constantly being lied to, going from leaving at 3:30 to leaving at 10:30 we finally wound up home at 2 AM rather than 6:30.  But we were home and the greatest adventure was sadly over.




Return to EQ II

If you follow me for very long, and most assuredly if you read my older stuff, you know I am a big fan and player of the game Everquest II.  In recent years though it has been mostly a love/hate relationship.  I have so many fond memories of playing the MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) game.  I started playing the game back in 2004 and have been a subscriber of the game on and off for the last ten years.

Recently they made the game free to play, and with that the need to generate money by selling literally every aspect of the game from potions, mounts, levels, skills, spells, items, etc….  I do not have a problem with that, other than some of the items are garishly horrendous in appearance.  But I do take offense when they turn around and give away free stuff to entice players to stay — sort of like a drug pusher on the playground giving out free hits of speed.  They are not that coy when it comes to offering free stuff in the hopes that players will continue to buy stuff in the game.

EQ2 Guys

The free stuff just keeps coming and they just keep offering more free stuff.  At one point, I just threw up my hands and walked away.  It became nothing more than logging into the game to see what futher free stuff was going to be offered.

I left for about a year but then asked a friend if he would be willing to come back, but only if we moved to the RP server and take nothing for free.  We start completely over with nothing other than our memories — which for me is pretty faulty anyway.

Our first hours back feel so liberating.  We are fighting 10th level orcs and having a challenge.  We are accepting nothing for free and will continue to accept nothing on these characters.  I am not sure if my friend will continue to honor his pledge or not, but for me I am not going to accept spells or anniversary items in the least.  I want to earn every xp point, every platinum coin, every spell book, every item on my person.

Fighting with the Guardian


Edit:  I created a new account, so I came into this game with no anniversary gifts or any legacy items in the least. I further found out that at the free to play, Bronze Level, you cannot interact with the chat channels.  I just turned them off, enabling only group chat with my friends. How joyous is it not to read the banter of teenagers blathering about politics or religion — a blessing in disguise.

I wish Sony would create a throw-back retro server that essentially start the game over, with no expansions added — release 1 every 6 months.  How cool and fun would that be — I even wish they would make leveling ten times harder, but I doubt they would ever do that.

The Emerald Tablet is a text purporting to reveal the secrets of the universe


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