Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Yesterday I spent a few hours rearranging my office. A few hours won't be nearly enough, but it started the inertia on a Honey Do I've been wanting to finish for the last year. There's a lot to do, but the physical work isn't what takes up all the time, it's revisiting bits and pieces of your past while deciding which to keep, which to pack, and which to throw away. I have a lot of memorabilia; I'm a geek, it's what we do.

One of the more difficult decisions I made was to pack away things I inherited from my friend Matt--a small box of knick-knacks from his house, souvenirs from games long past, and file folders of characters and stories. While digging through his old writing, I came across a collection of typed poems I'd never seen before. I grabbed a random one from the stack and read it.

Monday, November 4, 2013

My Life, Part 2

Up to age 40, my life has been pretty amazing; not that I've always recognized that.

I've had my battles with depression, particularly in high school and university. I've had more relationship ups and downs than I care to talk about. Most of us have. Still, there's no doubt that when I look back on my life, the friends I've made, the family I've kept, the places I've seen and the geeky things I've experienced would make 10-year-old Rich very proud. What I didn't expect was that my life would get a reboot halfway through.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

An Annual Sadness (I Had a Dream)

April 15th, 2007, my blood-brother and best friend of 20 years, Matt Welty, died of an unexpected and massive heart attack. He was 45 years old. October 18th is his birthday.

It's not uncommon for me to feel down around these days and I often don't realize why until I look at a calendar. Matt was one of the first people I met when I moved from small-town Kentucky to big-city Orange County. Matt was my backup. My safety net. He was one of the few people who witnessed my transformation from naive country boy to...well, naive and educated world traveler. I have a few friends I've known longer, one in particular is very dear to me, but none of them watched me struggle to figure out the world outside of the romantic fairy tales I'd built around myself.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Finally! The Arrival of Daddy's Little Dryad!

It's official, my wife and I are the parents of one stunning baby Rowan! It was a 48+ hour event that we'll share sometime in the future. In short, everything went mostly as planned (natural birth), but I have to say that this week confirms that I have in my life two of the strongest women I've ever known.

We can't thank everyone enough for the overwhelming love and support we've received. She can't wait to meet everyone!

At least after we get a lot of rest.

Born: 1510, August 26th, 2013
7 lbs, 10.4 oz
21.5" long

A few pictures can be found here.

Click here for more information on rowan tree mythology.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What If, indeed. Episode II

A couple of years ago, Belated Media posted a re-imagining of Star Wars: Episode I. Re-imagining actually gives Episode I too much credit--the guy tore it apart and molded it into what it should have been. Finally, his vision of Episode II is out and now I know why it took a while.

With Phantom Menace, he could cut together scenes from the film to give us a general idea of what he was thinking; he could also put big red slashes over Jar Jar's face. So much of the first film had been changed (and the second one was so terrible) there was almost nothing for him to use. That means storyboards. The result is not only breathtaking, it is a lesson in story editing.

What If Episode I Had Been Good?

What If Episode II Had Been Good?

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Geek Playlist Grows!

Three awesome new songs for the Geek Playlist. Huge thanks to Christina Stiles, Josie Herschel, Steve Magan and Mark Smith for tossing these my way.

All songs available on iTunes.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Wereoctopus: Final Image

The final sketch for the wereoctopus (aka: the Teuthix), one of my contributions to Bite Me! The Gaming Guide to Lycanthropes, from Misfit Studios. Still no official word on whether or not this will be one of the minis produced in association with the guide. Either way I'm very excited to have one of my creations become a part of such a great product.

Click here for other recent news.

Wereoctopus Art by
Scott Harshbarger

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Exciting News!

In addition to working on the Gamers' Guide to Lycanthropes, two other third-party projects of mine have been green-lit for production! I can't say much more than that for now, but one will be a Kickstarter project later this year (or possibly early 2014).

Keep an eye out here, TwitterFacebookGoogle+, or just ask me next time you see me and I'll keep you in the loop.

For those who don't know, I'm writing the Magic and Mundane chapter of the lycanthrope guide, but I've also contributed material to other chapters as well, including the new races. Check out this concept sketch for my wereoctopus from artist Scott Harshbarger. There's even a rumor it could be made into a mini!

Wereoctopus concept sketch
Scott Harshbarger

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Monte Cook Interview

So, this happened:

For those readers who are drawn here for non-gaming reasons, let me explain.

Way back at the end of the 20th Century, Monte Cook, Jonathan Tweet, and Skip Williams were tasked with renovating the world's first roleplaying game for the 21st Century. I'm not sure what they were expecting, but what happened was a revolution in gaming. Monte Cook has gone on to become one of the most respected men in the industry, producing countless supplements, standalone products, campaign settings, games, and even a web series. The quality of his work and his undeniable geek cred has garnered him a following that pushed his Numenera RPG Kickstarter to somewhere north of half-a-million dollars!

Monte Cook is a man I admire. Interviewing him would be a thrill. Being interviewed by him? I don't even have words.

Actually, yes, I do.

Thanks, Monte.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Geek Pride Day

May 25th, 1977. The day geek life changed forever.

Whether you're a Star Wars fanatic or think George Lucas was a hack*, that day changed our modern world. Science fiction became a part of everyday culture. Action figures and playsets sold by the millions. One movie inspired a generation of thinkers, not for its scientific accuracy (Star Wars is more science fantasy than science fiction), but because it triggered the imagination of a generation.

Star Wars wasn't alone. The 70's turned out to be a breeding ground for the future. Three years earlier, Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax rocked the gaming industry with the small press, white box Dungeons & Dragons. In 1978, Richard and Wendy Pini brought their fantasy epic, Elfquest, to the public--one of the first commercially successful independent comics since the Comics Code Authority destroyed small press in the 50's. 1973 brought us the first viable desk-top computers, the Xerox Alto, IBM's SCAMP, the Wang 2200 and prototype Hewlett Packard. In 1975, the microchip allowed the offspring of these industry computers into people's homes.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Meanwhile, back at Wayne Manor

My life is full of amazing right now.

First, I'm going to be a father! I'm so excited about it that I think my head's going to explode. We only recently found out she's going to be a girl.

A little girl.

A little being that is a mix of myself and my favorite person in the world. I don't know how much better that could get. One of the things I'm most excited about is that she'll be growing up surrounded by a crazy number of "aunts" and "uncles"--dozens of the most loving, creative and giving people I've ever known, and that's just our friends! Her aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins on both sides are brilliant people and they are so excited about her coming into the world that more than one cried when they heard the news.

Rowan Margaret Howard is going to be loved.

"Those feet look ready for exploring!"--Aunt Susie
Given her parents, that sounds about right.

Second, I'm working at my dream job. No, the other one. No, the other, other one. The one from childhood. The one you don't even recognize as possible because the idea it could really happen never occurs to you. I'm freelance writing with Christina Stiles, Sean K. Reynolds, Wolfgang Baur, Mike Welham, Dave Gross and other gaming superstars on my first professional supplement for the RPG, Pathfinder (the current, best selling version of the first RPG, Dungeons and Dragons). If you don't understand the implications of that, pop over to my About page, or take a look here. My life and gaming have been intertwined since I was eight-years-old and, finally, after 35 years, I'm peeking in the door where professionals live. To make it even cooler, it's a supplement on shapeshifters, the bread-and-butter of my imagination (except I'm allergic to both, so maybe I should find a better metaphor). The only reason this is number two on my list of exciting news is because my wife and I are creating life.

Along with those huge announcements, I'll (hopefully) soon be promoted from CNII (clinical nurse II) to CNIII at my dayjob, we're finally getting projects for our backyard started (our new fence should be up in a few weeks), we're redesigning our guest room into a baby room, and many more wonderful things.

So, I'm sorry for any delay in writing news, and if you've asked for reviews or edits on projects, please bare with me. I'll be back to other projects very soon.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dream Job

I've had a few ideas on what 'dream job' I might enjoy. The problem is, I have too many: novelist, travel writer, game designer, time traveller. The topic came up recently in a discussion about howler monkeys.

Yes. That's what I said.

A few years ago I applied for what was humbly called "The Best Job in the World". The Australian tourism bureau created a contest where the winner got to travel the Great Barrier Reef and blog about it for six or nine months (I can't remember which). Aside from fame and a killer vacation, the winner would also be paid a significant amount of money. It was such a successful campaign that they've expanded it into "The Best Jobs in the World", with different themes for every state.

Unfortunately, I didn't win, but the application did require a video. So, for your viewing pleasure (and for the request of a howler monkey by my friend, Marion Frazier), Ladies and Gentlemen, my app for the Best Job in the World!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Old Friends

My mom loves the Super Bowl. Well, she loves the commercials. This year one of them reminded her of me.

When I was a kid I had a beagle named Sarge. Like me, Sarge loved his friends. He would come home with a pack of his buddies from around the neighborhood (I use the word neighborhood loosely, since we lived on several acres). They were a rag-tag bunch of strays and locals, all playing and causing mischief. I loved those guys. One day Sarge had collected a new addition, a young doberman puppy, still bandaged on her ears, tail and feet from where she'd been trimmed at the vet. Her tag said her name was Bailey.

For the next few months Bailey became a part of Sarge's family, but after Sarge died, the pack broke up and I stopped seeing them.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tools for GMs (Gamemasters, not General Managers)

S ome people have asked me about how I run games, how I adapt modules to my player characters and what tools I use to make games smoother and more enjoyable . A few years ago I ran a 4th edition campaign adapting the DnD v3.5 module Red Hand of Doom. I took a lot of pictures and put together a primer/game log showing how I adapted the module's maps to tabletop and use a few of the numerous tools available to GMs these days.

[My review of Red Hand is coming soon, but in short, it is one of the best modules of the v3.5 era and is one of my all time favorites.]

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't played through Red Hand of Doom, these pics may spoil some of the fun. You've been warned.

How I use a few of the tools available for GMs.

How I adapted the maps for tabletop.

Example of how I used the Skill Challenge mechanic in Red Hand.

Many of the tools I use are available through Paizo, my favorite portal to all things tabletop.

Huge thanks must go to my players, including Will Gustwiller, owner of Eclipse Chocolate in San Diego. Will's creative builds powered much of this game. Huge thanks also to Bernard de la Cruz, Doug Easterly, Asa Keef, Adam Mulford and Jason Cliche for two years of fun.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Playlist for Geeks

Over the years, I've made a small collection of covers and originals featuring songs about classic geek loves. Time to share. Many of these can be found on iTunes, or for free on their respective websites. The first two have hilarious YouTube videos (included below), with links to their sites from there.

If you have any other geek songs I should know about, leave them in the comments below.

Geek Playlist

The Ballad of Barry Allen
Ring Capacity
Star Wars that I Used to Know
Batman, Maybe
Through the Fire and Flames
In the Garage
Still Alive
Superman (It's not Easy)
It's the End of the 'Verse as We Know It
Do you Wanna Date my Avatar
The Soundtrack to Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

Sunday, February 10, 2013

An Act of Love

Me and Grandma
AKA: G.G. (Great Grandma)
I've been in Kentucky this past week, helping my family settle into taking care of my grandmother who has recently been put on hospice care. She is doing as well as can be expected; she's in good spirits, has an appetite, is comfortable and is still able to tell us she loves us and understand when we say the same. Several times during this week she's commented about the wonderful family my mom and dad raised. Every time she says that, we remind her that it started with her.

My grandmother divorced my grandfather shortly after WWII--a stoic act of independence in those days. She remarried some years later, but never seemed to need someone simply to fulfill her life. She married because she loved. She has always been my example of how strong, devoted, independent and caring women can be. Even sick and in my parent's house, she insists on paying her own way. It's how she's always been. She takes personal responsibility for everything she does and expects others to do the same. She instilled that in my mother, and my mother (and father) instilled that in us. We were shown nothing but love and respect, with the expectation that we take responsibility for our lives and not force others to do our work or pay for our mistakes.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Eclipse Phase

Back in 2007 my wife and I were on a walk around our neighborhood in North Park, San Diego, when we saw that a new coffee shop had opened a block from our house. It was the Free WiFi sign that first caught my attention. I remember peeking through the window and seeing the hand-made wood tables and flowing wall designs. Megan and I were both going back to school for new careers and I'd just made a decision to write my first novel. A cafe next to the house would be a perfect place to escape the distractions of our apartment (I own a lot of toys). What sealed the deal was that Eclipse wasn't just a cafe, it was a chocolate shop.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Long Winter's Nap

I started working on my first novel around 2007, about the same time I went back to school for my nursing degree. The accelerated bachelors program I chose was packed into a meer 14 months (not counting the prereqs I had to go through since my first degree was from 1993). Back then I had one writing day a week, and after 4-6 days of studying and clinicals, I couldn't wait for Friday. There were great writing days and terrible writing days, but one way or the other I needed to get my butt in that chair; of course, I was writing at Eclipse Chocolat, so being surrounded by the best caffeine and chocolate in town didn't hurt.