Looking for Old Grognards

Do you consider yourself a grognard — an old curmudgeon of games, most specifically of RPGs and strategic board games?  Then I need you.  I am looking for people to help me with my game designs.  Most especially I am looking for play testers.

If you want to test my games, I’ll send you a copy of Phantasm Adventures.  The first book is how to make characters and I need gamers  to generate characters. I need to make sure I didn’t miss anything or that a set of rules makes sense.

Please respond to: tchristensen616 @ gmail.com and we can discuss how you can help!

Get out the graph paper!

Ye Glorious Dungeon Crawl


February Reads

One of my goals this year is to read more. I tend to read spots here and there of books, or lose myself in articles.   They say that if you write, you must read.  To learn how to write a better story, look at other authors and how they structure their stories.  It is true that you can learn a bit about writing, reading books.

As I proceed with my second book, Amish Johnson and the Leprechaun’s Legacy, I am always learning how to craft a better story — even structure my sentences so they flow easier.

I hope to provide a list of books that I have read, each month on my blog.  I am also going to share with my readers those books I find so fascinating.  Both well established authors, as well as new authors, I hope to read in the coming months.

Almost all books will be in the form of ebooks.   At Christmas I got myself a Kindle HDX and I appreciate how well I can read books on the screen. How wonderful it is to lose yourself in a story for 99 cents. Now that is what I call a cheap hobby.

Where possible, I have put a link to Amazon or other sites where the books can be found.


Book 1


A marvelous story by Martin Lake describing the events of 1066, after the death of King Harold and the rise to power of William the Conqueror.  A first person perspective through the eyes of Edger, the thirteen year old successor to king Alfred.  Burdened with impossible hopes and expectations, mired in fear and treachery, Edgar begins a life-time of resistance to the Norman conquerors.


Book 2


Zoe Saadia is a fabulous writer of Native American fiction. She has close to a dozen other books, covering several cultures of the Americas and Meso America.  I have always been a great admirer of the history and cultures of Meso America such as the Aztec, Mayan, and the Indians of the Great Plains.

In this book the story follows a young boy who through family ties is close to the Emperor.  When the man dies, a domino effect of internal power struggles leads him to perhaps betray his father and family.

Zoe meticulously crafts a believable world, one that very few people seem to know about.  School children all know about the Romans or Egyptians, but many do not realize advanced cultures lasting thousands of years existed in the Americas — civilizations just as magnificent as the power of Rome.


I am fortunate enough to have found a great publishing partner with Eskape Press that is holding my hand and guiding me along the path of my first publish novel:  Amish Johnson and The Pegasus Chamber.

I implore you to visit their site: http://eskapepress.com/ for other marvelous books to read.

The Game That Started It All

I have always played games as far as I can remember.  My brother is eight years older than I and tried a number of games on me such as Squad Leader and Starship Trooper, two Avalon Hill box games.  Back in 1979 I was introduced to D&D and all of my friends were playing the game.  I vaguely remember going to the hobby store and looking at both the box game of Dungeons & Dragons, but also the Player’s Handbook of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.  I settled for something a bit cheaper, because I never really had much money back then.  Metagaming in those days published a series of tiny games sold in plastic bags called Melee and Wizard.

This is my original copy of the rules, stored and kept for 32 years:

The rules are rather simple and straight forward, which amounted to twenty-one pages that covered character generation, combat, and long term development.  Utilizing only six-sided dice, the game could be played almost anywhere and at any time.

Soon after buying Melee (The Fantasy Trip), I realized that gaming and RPGs were something I simply loved to do and would occupy the next thirty-five years of my life, starting with Melee then jumping to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and on to all the variant games such as Villains & Vigilantes, RoleMaster, SpaceMaster, Champions, Star Wars, and a hundred other titles.

This is the original book I bought back in the Fall of 1979 and still hold as a treasured part of my youth — more than a thousand characters and stories were spawned from this single book and I have carried it from Comstock Park Michigan, to Japan, to Washington DC and hopefully soon to other parts of the world.  It is the one book that simply captures my imagination.  Sadly, I do not get much time to play table-top RPGs any longer, but perhaps that too may change here very soon.

I also have my first copy of Dragon Magazine still, from December of 1979.  It is extremely brittle these days and should be kept in a plastic bag — but I always find comfort paging through the aged magazine:

I wonder how many other peoples’ lives were changed by these three great books.  I know that for me, they changed my life forever.

Baby Steps

I used to think that life events happened it giant titanic leaps — the sort of life changing moments like moving to Japan or Washington DC (which I did) or getting married (which I did as well). But as I get older I see that life is not these giant leaps into the unknown that forever change the course of your life, but tiny baby steps that inch you down a path in life. Its not these moments in life, when you wake up and boldly walk into your office and proclaim, “I quit, you bastards!” and storm off. Rather its these tiny steps of each day getting up and adding to your portfolio of writing: talking on twitter, adding weblobs, commenting on other’s opinions, doing podcasts, that make life’s major changes.

Case in point with my writing. I didn’t sit down one day and hack out my 500 page novel, but rather pushed the story along over a course of months. I am still prodding and pushing the story, page by page (eh! often word by word) down the path.

The journey of my writing must be just as important as the novel itself. I often get muddled down with thoughts of just getting it done and moving on — wondering how much is too much. I often stare at the monitor thinking that my writing is going no where.

What I must do however, is look at the long road that I have traveled and understand that it still winds out in front of me into oblivion. I will never give up my story, and someday I will look back on the long traveled road and realize that it wasn’t a dash at breakneck speeds that got me there, but the slow baby steps of the day to day push.


Five Days Off

I start today a five day vacation that I have dubbed as the Late Winter Nap — its a time when I am just so completely tired of winter that all I want to do is eat, sleep, and vegetate on the couch watching TV.

I am of course not doing that — what a waste of time! I am thus going to start doing my taxes, organizing my study, start my umpteenth re-edit of my novel, start a couple of RPG designs, work on getting my finances organized (waste, waste, waste), and try and get a few things read (magazines are like stone columns in my study as well as a half dozen books).

I also want to have some fun too, so I am going to be playing a bit of EQ — Yup, it still holds sway over me.

I must admit though I am eagerly awaiting Champions online super hero MMO as well as the DC Universe of the same genre. Nothing much else is interesting me — I would love to return to WoW and LoTRo, but I just don’t have the friends there or the time to invest at the moment.

I don’t want to waste these five days, and you know how quickly they will pass. I hope to punch a few more quick weblogs as well in that time, keeping everyone up on my pace of writing, learning, and organizing.


New Year’s Goals

Ya know its not that far off and soon we’ll be scratching off 2008 on our checks and shaking our heads as we scribble 2009.  Just the other day I wrote 2005 on a check, then stopped and looked at it funny and thought to myself, ‘is it 2005?’


Since we are nearing the end of 2008, I reflect back on all that I have done.  It started out as a shakey year with many troubles: including a bad bout with pneumonia and moving to a new job.  I really thought that 2008 was not going to be very good.

Towards the end, however, I now look back and beam a fond smile at the cool things that I did.

One event that was really cool was hanging out with Brent and the guys from Virginworld at the San Francisco Game Developers Conference back in February. God! That was so much fun, and I really learned so much about gaming. I also got to see San Fransico — what a nice place.

I also look back on all the tribulations of my new job, but in the end I am really beginning to enjoy IT and find it so refreshing.  I am not out of the woods yet.  This next year I have to learn a program called Vantage from Epicor systems and that is going to be tough.

I also finally finished my novel.  It was a new story, not one of the pile of bits and pieces that have layed on my desk for the last twenty years.  A brand new story called “Amish Johnson and the Pegasus Chamber”. Its a science fiction tale of a young boy growing up and discovering who he is.  I am now looking for a publisher or agent.

I also finished three short stories and have been working on finding a place to publish them.  In the end, if I cannot find a home for my spooky tales I will offer them to my cohort of friends, family, and surfers who come to my humble little writing nook, the Emerald Tablet.

We also had the Summer Olympics, although I didn’t do anything with it. I still enjoyed watching the games.

I had a great time with friends playing games this year. My cousin and I spend each monday night playing Diablo, Civilization IV, or other similar multiplayer game.  I also have good friends online and have spend many nights in far flung worlds of Hyboria, Norrath, and other such places.

This year I also did allot of podcasting, though I sadly drifted off in the last six months.  I hope to remedy that in 2009.

I hope everyone else had a good year.  I would love to hear your stories of struggle and success with comments.



Holiday Blues

Yup, it’s already started — the holiday blues.  But it is not what you think.  Oh, I am sure I will be feeling my lathergic self after Thanksgiving and completely depressed around Christmas — don’t we all?  I am talking about my roller coaster ride of emotions that takes me to my heights, when I am pumping out three podcasts a week or writing a full length novel in a couple of months, to the draining pits of desperation and complete boredom in the deep valleys.

You see, I have an acute case of Bipolar Disorder. No, I am not going to blame my mother or the school system or the government. It’s just the way God put me together.  My wife has told me several times that I could take medicine for my condition and even out the emotional swings. But you know what, I love the heights.  I am not too particular about the slumps in the valleys, but god I love it when I am running high. The days are not long enough and the nights are too short.  I love racing home from work, or getting up so early in the morning, to bang out another  6 pages of the story, or record another three hours of podcasts.  Hell, in the good ol’ days I used to write whole role-playing games in a weekend.

So, the holiday is coinciding with my ride down the long stretch into the bowels of my negative Bipolar.  So, right now I am a old curmudgeon, whining about getting screwed in Everquest II and hating the long days at work.

You know, soon though, I will be riding the cart up the exciting hill where from the top, everything is possible. Where I am only a phone call away from success, glory, and adulation of every kind.  Oh I look forward to coming up on that peak, seeing the world from a new perspective and looking around at all the possibilities.

As I look outside its snowing — gah! That means shoveling the driveway and slipping on the ice, but soon it will mean snow angels and the thought of Spring!!