Journal Excerpt #1

Sunday, July 2nd, 2017

It seems sometimes, especially when one is young, that an Alaskan summer is never really over; that it goes on and on, a neverending continuum from the first Dena’ina fishermen on the wide Kenai river down to the modern young man or woman, hiking home through the woods with the promise of ice cream and a cold drink held before them. As I lie writing this, I am nineteen; old enough to do grown-up things, such as bargain with the Internal Revenue Service or pay for my own gasoline, but young enough that I do not really want to, and would much rather climb a tree, or read a book, or do both at the same time.
It is true, of course, that even when fully an adult, without the ability to call oneself a teen-ager, most people I have met still have little desire to do adult things; they seem more to have ungracefully accepted them as a part of life, something I have never aspired to do.
As another long Alaska summer day draws toward a close, I stare out the window of our old motor home, meditating on life and living. This evening has been the first of three days, in total, spent at the summer camp that my family attends each year. We have been coming for over a decade now, a longer time than any other family, and in fact longer than many members of the staff, a fact which grants me some measure of familiarity and even prestige. I have, on occasion, gone places that no other except some staff members are allowed, and my long history has given me a greater knowledge of the twists and turns of the moose-paths and side trails than most others with whom I speak.
The evening meal was a quiet affair, for the number of camp attendees this year is surprisingly small, but it marked a reunion with an old friend, who like myself spent much of his formative years at this camp. After our repast and pleasant reminiscence, we parted ways, him to organize the staff members in his charge, and I toward the grassy field overlooking the waterfront. There I met two young women, whom I joined in hitting a volleyball back and forth.
The evening’s enjoyment came to an end perhaps a little over an hour later, as the four of us- for another had joined eventually, a young man with even less skill than I- went our separate ways.

Life Issues

I know, I’ve been absent for a while. Expect a continued absence, I’m afraid. A very dear friend of mine has recently passed away unexpectedly,  and I will be spending a good deal of time attempting to process this. He was also a member of our D&D group, so if you were reading our adventures, don’t expect more sessions transcripts any time soon.

I’m.. I ‘m not quite sure how to end this post…

And for your viewing pleasure…

I still don’t feel like I’ve made an adequate apology for my long absence (despite the fact that it probably didn’t have any effect on the daily lives of my readership), so here’s the first page of my journal/comic that I create from time to time. I prefer to draw my experiences rather than write them. The voices in my head tend to interject their own opinions.

comic 2.png

Brief update and a 5e PrC

Wow, I haven’t posted anything in a while. I’ve been REALLY busy with school. Anyway, after the D&D 5th edition Prestige Class UA came out, I worked up a conversion of the Bladesinger PrC. Probably not that awesome, but maybe, I dunno. It’s not playtested yet, but it’s at the end of the post.

So, we had another D&D session earlier. I’ll have the Session Five transcript up soon. Also, I’m gonna make another Linguistics post sometime this month, I’ve got some ideas rolling around in my head.

Anyway. The Bladesinger

Image link:  …Note that I have no clue who the artist is.

Bladesingers are those of Fey origin (usually elves or half-elves) who have woven together arcane magic and swordplay to create a fluid and majestic fighting style. While the majority are Eldritch Knights or multiclass fighter/spellcasters, any elf, half-elf, or other fey who meets the prerequisites can become one. Bard/rogues and even witch/barbarians are just as possible.


Level Features

1            Bladesinger’s Defense, +4 mana

2            Lesser Spellsong, Ability Bonus

3            Song of Celerity, +4 mana

4           +4 mana, Ability Bonus

5            Song of Celerity, Song of Fury


Race: Any Fey

Base Attack Bonus: +3

Dexterity 13

Charisma 13

(OR 15 in one, 10 in the other)

Ability to cast arcane spells of 1st level.


Proficiency with longsword or rapier.


Proficiency with Acrobatics

Character Level 5th: It requires training and commitment to become a Bladesinger.

Class Features:

As a bladesinger, you gain the following class features.

Hit Points

Hit Dice: 1d6 per bladesinger level

Hit Points per Level: 2d3 (or 4) + your Constitutional modifier per Bladesinger level.


Saving Throws: Dexterity

Skills: Gain expertise in Acrobatics

Armor: Light armor



Archetype advancement

Your levels of bladesinger stack with your main character class in determining when you acquire your archetype abilities


If you have a spellcasting class, your levels of bladesinger and your main spellcasting level stack in terms of how many spells per day you can cast, and what level of spell you can cast. If you have more than one spellcasting class, choose one of them to stack with your bladesinger levels.

Bladesinger’s Defense

While wielding a longsword or rapier in one hand (and nothing else) and wearing light or no armor, a bladesinger gets a Reflex bonus to AC equal to their class level, not exceeding their Intelligence bonus.

Lesser Spellsong

When wielding a longsword or rapier in one hand (and nothing in the other), a Bladesinger of level 2 or above can take 10 when making a concentration check to maintain a spell.

Song of Celerity

Once per day, while wielding only a longsword or rapier in one hand (and nothing in the other), a bladesinger of 3rd level or higher may quicken a single spell of up to 2nd level with a casting time of 1 action as if he had used the Quicken Spell Metamagic ability. At 5th level, he can quicken a single spell of up to 4th level.

Ability Bonus

As one becomes a bladesinger, one cannot help but become smarter and more agile. At 2nd and 4th levels add +1 to both your Dexterity and Intelligence scores.

Song of Fury

When a fifth-level bladesinger chooses the attack action with a longsword or rapier in one hand, (and nothing in the other), he can use his bonus action to make one extra attack in a round, but this attack and each other attack made in the round have disadvantage. This also affects attacks of opportunity he might make before his next turn.

Dungeons And Dragons- quinta edición

And no, I’m not talking about the freaking awesome TV show. Not in this post, at any rate.

I picked up the 5th edition rulebooks about six months ago, and they’re awesome. I’ve been working on a campaign setting, which I finally finished. Long lore, long story, not important at the moment.

I came up with a few things for it. This process is also known as “Stealing awesome stuff from books, movies, and other people’s homebrew and then painting over it to make a sketchy totally-not-stolen new item.”

…Anyway, if anyone cares, here are a couple things I came up with. Completely not playtested yet, but getting there.

Monstrous Subrace, for any race.
Your character, due to a magical accident, strange birth circumstances, or unusual ancestry, has greater abilities than a normal human; however, this is compensated for by their strange appearance and (often) being alienated.
Ability Score Adjustment. Your Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution can each have an increase of between 1 and 6; however, your Charisma, Intelligence, or Wisdom (respectively) loses the same amount.
Marked. Your character has a rather unusual look about them, such as antlers (grants gore 1d6 damage+ proficiency), elongated limbs (grants reach), gills (grants water breathing), glowing eyes (darkvision), a tail (advantage to acrobatics), wings (functions as below), fangs (bite 1d4+proficiency), or prehensile feet (can hold an extra weapon in feet).

Wings. As your character develops, so will their ability to use the spell Fly, as shown on the chart below.
Wing Proficiency
Level   You may cast Fly…        Fly Speed
1st       once per Long Rest       25 feet
4th       once per Long Rest       35 feet
8th       once per Short Rest      40 feet
12th     as a Cantrip                   60 feet

Elf Subrace: Wild Elves
Wild elves are a much older race than Wood Elves, for the Wild Elves are descended from the first of the ancient Fae to emerge into the mortal world. The Wild Elves live deep in untamed jungles, and have a simple lifestyle, in tune with nature. However, some younger Wild Elves, wishing to know more about the world, emerge into the outer world and are often mistaken for Halflings. They have spiky, wild hair in shades of green, blond, silver, or red; large almond-shaped eyes in turquoise, hazel, or emerald-green; and skin with a faint greenish cast. They are adventurous and mischievous, and cannot abide the sight of caged animals. They’re also ritual cannibals, and believe the soul is housed in the throat (if you can’t talk, you must be dead), but nobody’s perfect.
Size: Small. Wild elves max out at 3’ 6” in height.
Ability Score Adjustment: Your Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma scores increase by 1, but your Intelligence and Wisdom scores decrease by 1.
Forest Bond: You gain a +2 bonus to AC in forest and jungle environments (due to ability to dodge behind trees, etc.)
Bite: You have an unarmed bite attack that deals 1d4 piercing damage.
Favored Class: Barbarian.
Languages: Elven and Sylvan.

Okay, I give up. I’m gonna stop doing all the ability headers in bold.

New Race: Zanyen
Their appearance holds some hint of Fey ancestry, but if so it is mixed with heritage unlike any known in the Multiverse today. They are muscular, but slim, and about 5-6 feet tall, with pointed ears and green-tinted skin. Their hair colors range though white, black, dark green, and dark orange. They have no facial hair and little body hair.
The history of the Zanyen has little information from before the Aberrant Swarm; however, they do have tales of a god they once worshipped, by the name of Izajan. Among the goals of the race are to find the body of their god, and then petition the New Gods (as they call the Eight) to restore him to life. Whether Izajan could shed more information on the history of the Zanyen is not known.
Zanyen live on the rolling plains of Shom, often within villages built around the ancient pieces of Old Sigil. They are consummate explorers, and as a result, they have acquired a reputation as planar merchants. They are often found sailing through the Mortal World, bringing interesting goods from their travels through the Multiverse.
Zanyen Traits
Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 1. Your Dexterity score increases by 1. Your Charisma score increases by 1.
Age. Zanyen mature quickly, usually at the age of 15. They have been known to live up to the age of 420.
Alignment. Zanyen are almost always Chaotic, however some may try to keep themselves under control through rigid codes of conduct, becoming Lawful.
They are usually neutral or good.
Size. Zanyen are about 5 to over 6 feet tall and weigh around 160 to 230 pounds. Your size is medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Darkvision. You have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
Fey Ancestry. You have advantage on saving throws against being charmed and magic can’t put you to sleep.
Trance. You can meditate deeply for 4 hours, which counts as sleeping for 8 hours.
Relentless Endurance. When you are reduced to 0 hit points but not killed outright, you can drop to 1 hit point instead. You can’t use this feature again until you finish a long rest.
Calm Fury. You can inspire fear through reason and provoke thought through anger. You may use an Intimidate check to replace a Diplomacy check or a Diplomacy check to replace a Intimidate check. The result counts as whatever check was replaced.
Favored Classes. Fighter, Druid, and Barbarian are the most common classes a Zan might belong to.
Languages. Zann, Common, and one other.

When using a longsword or greatsword and no shield or other weapons, you deal piercing damage instead of slashing. You also gain a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls with that weapon.

Druid Circle: Circle of the Avenger
Fast Movement: At 2nd level, a druidic avenger’s base land speed is faster than the norm for their race by 10 feet.
Wild Empathy: A druidic avenger has disadvantage on Animal Handling checks.
Rage: An avenger can enter a furious rage, identical to that of a barbarian. An avenger can use this ability once per day at 2nd level, and one additional time per day for every four levels above 1st. An avenger does not gain the Relentless Rage or Persistent Rage abilities.
Extra Attack: Beginning at 6th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.
The number of attacks increases to three when you reach 14th level in this class.
Doublespell: At level 10, you may choose one spell you know of level 4 or below. Once, you may cast it without expending a spell slot. You regain this with your other spell slots after you finish a long rest.

I also made two classes, the Wanderer and the Witch, but the tables are gonna be annoying to put up, and it’s like five a.m. here, so I’m gonna stop this post now.

A smidgen of Nostalgia. And a spattering of Whimsy.

Two words: Rankin/Bass.

I grew up on the old Rankin-Bass stuff- I watched their holiday specials (still do, every Christmas), watched The Last Unicorn at least five times before the age of twelve, own the Return of the King on VHS (hey, it’s Alaska. We’re at least a decade behind the rest of the world. Well, except for Mongolia. And Idaho.), and watched The Hobbit whenever the library would let me have it. Their animation was one of my early inspirations. Heck, I probably watched The Hobbit more than I did Aladdin, which I actually own and really love.

Speaking of The Last Unicorn, I just rewatched that earlier today. Ahh, Shmendrick. Probably one of my favorite characters in any of the movies I watched as a kid. If you haven’t read the book, he was basically so abominably bad at magic that he was cursed with eternal youth until he could cast an actual spell.

Then there’s The Dark Crystal. Not Rankin-Bass; we’ve moved on from that topic. I think I watched it before I ever saw Star Wars, and it made an impression. When the library wouldn’t let me borrow the Hobbit, I made a beeline for the Dark Crystal instead. Those puppets, man.

And then there’s the art of Tony DIterlizzi. The Spiderwick Chronicles barreled into my life around the age of twelve, and that pretty much blew me away. I found his old Planescape art, and that made a big impression as well.

…I really don’t know where I was going with this post. I may have been intending to talk about the whimsy and magic that the intersection of those three things caused for me.

On the other hand, I might have been intending to talk about the impression the art made on my early style.

I dunno. I’m gonna go watch The Labyrinth now.

And popcorn. I need popcorn.

A brief life update and some Alternate History.

So, first a brief note.

Due to my experience driving with a permit for three years, I know everything there is to know about driving… right? I certainly didn’t think so… which was good. Because I killed a street sign today.

My mom was directing me as to where exactly to turn, but since neither of us was sure which road that happened to be, I got the message a little late and murdered the stop sign with my car. It put up a good fight, though- it ripped off my driver’s side mirror and shattered the driver’s side window. Also, you can now see the inside door handle from the outside. My knowledge of automotives may be limited, but I’m pretty sure that’s a bad thing.

Anyway, I’m fine, my mom’s fine, my car is… doing okay. I’ll need to vacuum out all the glass tomorrow…

And now, for a bit of random Alternate History that’s been trying to pound its’ way out of my head for a few weeks.

Point in time: the 1980s.

1806: Thomas Wedgewood creates the world’s first photograph.
1843: Scottish mechanic Alexander Bain creates the Fax Machine (predating the bicycle, telegraph, internal combustion engine, and the potato famine, among other things).
1983. Viewtron is created by Norman Morrison in Florida. Later renamed the ‘World Wide Web’.

Dueling sticks around until about the 19th century, but the Victorian Era’s ‘Gentelman’s Code’ of sorts keeps It going. However, it takes on a small connotation: In most duels, your honor is diminished if you actually kill the guy to win. So duels to first blood are more common than death duels. Dueling is identified with fencing throughout the 20th century.
In fact, having a duel aboard an airship placed into an Urban Fantasy novel being written by an inhabitant of this Alternate Timeline (ATL) would be pretty much the same as putting in a paintball battle, tennis match, or political debate- not very jarring.

Also, the Hindenburg Disaster never happened, and gas production stabilized after WWI

Notes of Cliff
So: Due to the earlier photography, we’ve pictures of the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812 (among other things). We’ve fax machines and never had a telegraph. We’ve printers, we’ve scanners, and we’ve the internet.
We also have zeppelins. And dueling. And motorcycles.

Culture and Fashion
When invited out to a social event, one often brings several changes of clothes, and they often change part or all of an outfit during the evening.
Eclectic outfits are even more popular- Cyndi Lauper? Pssssh. Too mundane. Add some bright dye and some hair gel; a pair of mechanics’ goggles; a leather jacket or crop top for guys and some rolled up jeans, or really loose high-waisted pants and pretty much any shirt for girls; you’re golden.
So, in other words, while this may or may not happen in this ATL… picture a charity fundraiser. Cindi Lauper and Michael Jackson are dueling for fun and charity on a zeppelin. MJ is wearing goggles on his forehead, and CL has bright blue hair with green highlights. Paul McCartney is singing in the background, and at least twelve crowd-members are videotaping it so they can upload the cassette to the Web.

A D&D Post

Mostly discussing our lack of seriousness.

As in, we have rules for Dance Fights!

No, I’m not kidding.

We use our social skills to attack in dance-fights, instead of our combat skills. And our ranks in the performance skill are rather important.

[For those who care: We don’t use our base attack rolls, we use a Performance roll. Charisma or Dexterity (whichever is higher) is used for attack and damage, instead of Strength/Dexterity.]

We should not be surprised when zombies begin doing the Thriller dance. For that matter, Succubi Just Wanna Have Fun. Incubi are Bad boys (excepting, for various reasons, that one singing about Chameleons), and Satyrs want to go to the Paradise City.

I think that’s enough 80s song references now. But you get the idea.

Another random forum discovery; small life update.

I found this on the comments on a YouTube video.

why I read youtube comments 1

There are some reasons to read comments. Those rare moments of comedy and/or awesomeness are worth it.

Life Update:

So, at the moment there are three large forest fires burning in the Southcentral section of my state. One of them, which was frighteningly close to our largest population center last I heard, has been declared a Disaster. Of the two on the Peninsula, one is close enough that I can see the smoke- which, admittedly, is akin to saying one is close enough to see the smoke of a volcano. It’s close, but not that close. However, we currently have a number of friends who are closer to it, and waiting to see if they have to evacuate their homes.

We were lucky here last summer with only one big fire, but with these two, well…

Please, those of you who are religious? Pray for the people that might be affected. Those who aren’t? Hope.

To end on a slightly brighter note, the temperature tomorrow is supposed to be between 80 and 90.

I’ve lived my entire life in Alaska.

I’m going to feel like a polar bear in the Sahara.

Lucky I have writing to keep my mind off the heat.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for prayers and hope.

Writing and Worldbuilding- thoughts on heroes, magic, and fantasy races.

So. I feel like I should give my readers (if there are any of you; I wouldn’t know, nobody ever comments) more than just glimpses of my everyday life.

So here are some writing tips and such-like.


Keeping Characters Active

1. Does the hero ever do anything the other characters couldn’t, simply because s/he is the hero?

Or, in other words, do you ever write a scene purely for the hero to do something that they didn’t even need to be there for? Something that gave the hero themselves no character development at all?

If the answer is yes, you might want to try writing the scene without the hero. Both the scene and your hero will likely be better off for it.

2. Can you write [pick a character] out of the book?

In other words, how hard would it be for you to write out that person- do they ever actually do anything, or do they stand on the sidelines and watch others act?

If it’s fairly simple to erase the character from the story, then- while this may sound harsh- you might want to do just that.

If you prefer to keep the character, you might consider rewriting other scenes you’ve already written, in order to keep the character doing things.


Magic Systems

Magic can be a bit of a tricky subject, and there are people who’ve written far better essays on this topic than I could. Brandon Sanderson comes to mind.

However, one thing I can say is that Magic needs to be believable. That may sound like an oxymoron, but it’s true. That doesn’t mean it has to be believable in our world; just that it needs to follow its’ own laws and have predictable effects.

A given magic system might function off the principles of chaos, but it should comply to its’ internal laws just as well as a system that is based on order. Even if a character can’t predict the effect of a spell by the words or gestures or plants or glyphs or whatever used to cast it, it should at least be possible for them to do so.

Now, you don’t need to write out the rules in your story- in fact, it often works better if you let the reader (and, sometimes, the characters) figure the rules out for themselves. However, if you do write out the rules… keep a few back. That will let you do unexpected things with your magic system when necessary, but things that nonetheless follow the laws. It willmake your magic systems more believable, and a lot more fun to read.


Whatever you call them, your world might include a multitude of sentients beyond humans. Whether the setting is sci-fi or fantasy- either way, you want some believability, right?

In fantasy, there are a few ‘stock’ peoples- Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Half-elves, Orks. Some people add subraces (night elves, bright elves, light elves, wood elves, blood elves, etcetera etcetera ad nauseum). And, while there are still a lot of avenues that can be explored with these ‘traditional’ races… I’m going to leave them alone for a bit and dig farther back.

Landvaettir. Ever hear of them? They’re Old Norse nature spirits, protectors of the land. Their territory could range from as small as a certain boulder, to a chunk of the country. Try looking them up- you might get some ideas.

The Faeries? Think of Victorian-era tales, with a dash of older legends. Are your Fae the Elvish type? Perhaps amoral, aloof beings, who have little understanding of mortals? Or perhaps you go the Eastern route, and your Fai are Kitsune, Tengu, and Kappas.

And then, of course, you can make up your own.

Catfolk? Maybe a bit overdone, but there’s potential- it’s all in the depiction. Perhaos their ears are at the sides of the head, instead of the top?

How about a race that seems like humans, but has small antlers, like branches jutting from their foreheads? What might you do with them?

A dark-skinned race with golden eyes and feathers for hair?

A small, gnomelike people… with four arms?

Whatever your races are, be certain to think about their place in the world. They don’t just exist; they have a history, and their interactions, among themselves and other peoples, have shaped the path of their world.

Phew. A little longer than I’d planned… anyway, I hope I gave you some good ideas.