Saturday, February 21, 2015

5th Edition D&D: Jedi Knight

Daemana is here!  But first, read this little update...

This blog entry has been revamped to fall into line with the newest version of itself.  This change follows in the wake of my new Fifth Edition Creative Companion available from the Dungeon Masters' Guild, which you can get to by clicking here.  

From the DMG, you can download the 45 page PDF file for a measly $1.99.  Here's the description:

Fantasy author J. D. Brink first discovered Dungeons & Dragons more thirty years ago.  Finally, with the advent of the Dungeon Masters’ Guild, he can now share some of his own game innovations with fellow players of the world’s greatest roleplaying game.  

Contained herein are more than 40 pages featuring custom game rules, a new experience point system, and 16 new feats for players.  But that’s not all. 

A Cthulhu warlock, steampunk mage, Shinto samurai, and rogue spymaster: these are just 4 of 10 characters created from new takes on existing classes, complete with detailed backstories and decision descriptions.  Ten characters meant to provide players and DMs with new inspiration for developing their own worlds and the heroes to save them.     

What's in the book started here on the blog as a creative exercise in character creation for the 5th edition of D&D.   

I also used to have some cooler, more specific images for the blog, but they weren't acquired by strictly legal means.  (Turns out Google is not a magical copyright-granting fairy.  Don't exactly own the rights to use "Jedi" either...)  So sorry, the images are gone.  But you have a good imagination, right?

So using the creation guidelines outlined in the book (which includes a bonus feat for everyone), I made up some PCs both for my own inspiration and for yours.  Hopefully they'll give you some new ideas for your own game.



“My preference is peace.  My purpose is justice.  And, unfortunately for you, my art is death.”
Fighter (5)
Alignment: LG


HP:  55
AC:  15 
PROF:  +3
SAVES:  STR (+4) CON (+4)
INIT:  +6

RACE:  Tiefling
* Char +2, Int +1
* Darkvision
* Hellish Resistance
* Infernal Legacy
* Languages: Common, Infernal

* Reputation of the Order
* Carpenter’s tools
* Language: Draconic

* Fighting style: Dueling
* Action Surge
* Second Wind
* Extra Attack
* Martial Archetype: Eldritch Knight
-- Bonded weapons: Rapier, Sickle
-- Spells

* Insight (+5)
* Arcana (+6)
* Athletics (+4)
* Acrobatics (+6)
* Bonus Languages: Dwarvish, Giant, Goblin

* Weapon Focus: Rapier
* Martial Adept
 -- 1D6 superiority die
 -- Save DC (14)
 -- Maneuvers: Parry, Reposte

* Spell Save DC (14)  Spell Attack Mod (+6)
* Spell slots: 1st (3)
* Known Cantrips: Thaumaturgy, Bladeward, Magehand
* Known Spells
-- 1st Level: Witchbolt, Charm Person, False Life, Protection vs Evil & Good
* Infernal Legacy Spells: Hellish Rebuke, Darkness

* Chain shirt, heavy cloak, traveling clothes
* Rapier, sickle, 5 darts
* Explorer’s pack, only as much money as she needs to get by


Thirteen years ago, a tiefling girl was running for her life.  She and her parents had been traveling and happened into the wrong human city.  Her parents were there killed by a lynch mob prejudiced against her people, widely feared for their demonic traits.  The young girl—ten-year-old Daemana—scarcely had time to process her family’s death before her survival instincts drove her to flee for her own life.  She stumbled down an alley, around a corner, and smack into a cloaked man.  The girl bounced off the man and landed on her rear end.

The man Daemana had run into drew a polished rapier from his belt.      

Overwhelmed with fear and confusion, the tiefling girl closed her eyes and prepared for death.

The mob of savage pursuers rounded the corner in search of their prey and came face to face with the man and his rapier.  He offered them a chance to turn around and go home.  None of them took it.  Though he was outnumbered eight to one, the cloaked man dispatched six of them before the last two decided that their hatred wasn’t worth dying for. 

The cloaked man took Daemana under his wing and, after two months of traveling, delivered the girl to the monastery that had raised him.  The Order of the Obsidian Rose was an organization shrouded in mystery, though rumor of their quest for perfection and justice was widely known in that quarter of the world.  The young orphan was taken in and made an acolyte of the Order.  By virtue of her passionate and sometimes wild nature, the girl became known as Daemana Fireheart. 

For nine years, Daemana lived and studied within the monastery.  She became a monk and knight of the Obsidian Rose; indeed, she became one of the most noble and powerful of their small number.  The Order emphasizes perfect control and purity through physical and psychological means.  The tenements include justice and respect for all, no matter race, status, or creed.  A knight’s first priority is non-violence, but when this is not possible, it is their duty to be the most powerful violent force involved in any conflict.  They are as the wind or the flame: in peace, to barely exist at all; but when required, to become an irresistible force that consumes all who refuse their grace and mercy.  Inwardly, this is achieved by perfecting one’s own mind and body.  Outwardly, this is evident by their mastery of the rapier and control over the winds of magic.  The knights’ focus on mastering their own skill is so great, in fact, that they refrain from carrying or using any magic items.

Nine years of training is the First Phase of the Rose.  Daemana Fireheart then began the Second Phase of the Rose: to spread mercy and justice everywhere fate takes her.  And when she feels the time is right, she will enter the Third Phase of the Rose and return to the monastery to train the next generation of knights, until death takes her.


My general goal with these character creation exercises was to make non-typical D&D heroes.  I also like to blend genres and in looking at the Eldritch Knight path of the fighter, I started assembling in my mind what that might look like.  The image I had quickly resembled a certain order of knights from a galaxy far, far away.  I also found that this order favored mastery of a single weapon, and so the Japanese Kensai came to mind.  I melded these ideas together into something I think works as a cool character concept.

I also got incredibly lucky with rolling out the stats.  I’m usually cool with having some 8s or 10s to balance things out into a realistic character, but the Dice Gods were smiling on me this day.  And ironically, the scores I cared about least for her were the iconic Fighter abilities of Strength and Constitution.  Saves in INT and DEX would really be a better fit for this gal, but…  Whatcha gunna do?

The monk-like focus for this monastery was not unarmed martial arts, but mastery of a single weapon.   And which is more graceful for a lady or gentleman than the rapier?  To supplement the perfection of that art, I selected Dueling as his fighting style and took my feat Weapon Focus, as well as Martial Adept for his 4th level feat.  (Thus getting a sliver of the Fighter’s Battle Master archetype too.)  And these special maneuvers are tailored to the rapier: parry and reposte. 

You might also notice that I altered the Acolyte background to fit my needs, swapping the Arcana skill for Religion.  In this monastic order, magic is taught over gods.  I also renamed “Shelter the Faithful” and “Reputation of the Order.”  The plater and DM could figure how and when to make this work.  I also figured that with her high INT (and my bonus languages rule) she didn’t need two more languages, so I gave her one and a tool proficiency—monks would learn a skill and have to maintain their own monastery after all.

Racially, I wanted to not go human again (as I usually do go human), and figured having a race with innate magical abilities would mesh well with this.  I also figured having the hated outsider would work well.  (Worked for Drizzt, right?)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Viva La Revolucion! Again!

When 2014 was new, we had a “Fugitive Fiction Revolution” during which we made changes of attitude and updated some policies.  I’m feeling the need for another yearly reassessment of where this publishing venture is going and how to adjust course as an author to make my journey toward freedom a shorter one.  So those thoughts are swirling around right now, and while I may not enumerate them for all to read here, I’ll be working on that behind the scenes.  One change is quite obvious right now, though, if you’ve been reading this blog at all lately: I changed the look of this blog.  Again.

I did really, really like that “magazine” layout.  I liked the look, I loved that there were images everywhere that made it easy to browse recent posts and pick out something that interested you.  That was great. 

The big drawback—and the main reason for the change back to the old style—was that I couldn’t insert a column of images or links along the side.  As an author, I feel like having all my attractive book covers displayed for your perusal is important.  The “magazine” style had a hidden column that only appeared if you activated it, and then it only showed a small black box that would link to somewhere if you clicked it.  

Not as useful.  I really wish I could combine the two styles, but I didn’t see that as an option.  I might be able to do that with another site provider, but that would mean uprooting and moving all my stuff, as well as having all my links and printed materials out there not going where they’re supposed to anymore, which would suck.  I’m already facing that with a box full of bookmarks that bear the old website that Google allowed to vanish out from under me because they wouldn’t respond to my calls for help, so…  


Another factor of my 2015 Revolution is a reduction in cyber-time spent doing…  well, pretty much everything.  I only recently got onto Twitter and I've been trying to “build my platform” and network and meet other fine writers that way, but again…  That’s time NOT WRITING.  So those of you on Twitter, please don’t feel offended if I don’t follow-back or seem to pay a lot of attention there, because, well, I’m doing more productive things with my limited free time.  (Note that if you send me a direct message, though, I will respond in relatively short order.)  

I also spent some time, and will spend more, updating the Fugitive Fiction website.  Click here to check it out, especially if you’re interested in ordering paperback books, and especially if you’re a bookstore or interested in ordering multiple Fugitive Fiction paperbacks.  You’ll find good rates there.  

(Please note, though, that it isn’t worth the resources required to make that “bookstore” there fully functional at this time, so if you want to order any, do use the Contact Form and we’ll get back to you and make it happen.)

Okay, I guess that’s all I have to say on this topic for now. 

OH WAIT!  It’s worth noting (or tooting, as in my own horn) that ever since Hungry Gods released there has only been one day thus far that I haven’t sold books, which is very exciting!

And speaking of that kind of encouragement, I need to get back to work on “Invasion”.  It’ll be the longest story in Dreams of Flying, which will be a collection of four or five in the Identity Crisis series, shedding a little light on some of the backgrounds hinted at in Hungry Gods.  Planning to publish around June of this year, if all goes according to plan.

Okay, that’s it.  Thanks for reading!   

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Two-For-One, Dark Fantasy Double Feature

A quick word on a two-for-one, double feature deal.  The Prince and the Darkness offers both of my darker fiction pieces from 2013 at one fantastically low price!  You can buy this combined ebook volume for only $3.99, vice paying $2.99 each for A Long Walk Down a Dark Alley and The Prince of Luster and Decay individually.  That’s a total of five stories of dark fantasy, crime-noir, black magic, and vampiric beauties for only four bucks! 

Here’s some links to some of your favorite retailers where you can buy it right now.  It may also be available at some of your other favorite places.  Look for it and let me know if it is, I’d love to hear about it!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox

I just watched this 81 minute animated movie and was so surprised by it that I felt compelled to give it a quick review.

Okay, I actually fell asleep the first time with my son lying on top of me, then I woke up and watched it again when he was in bed, but that's not commentary on it being boring.  Quite the contrary!

I had considered renting this before, but seeing it was Flash-based, I thought, "Nah, Flash stinks."  He's quick but boring, his rogues gallery is lame, he is lame.  (Just never got into that character, as you can tell.)  But what I do really like to see is alternate universes and DC Elseworlds, new takes on familiar characters and timelines.  And that's what Flashpoint is all about.  Between the Flash and his enemy the Reverse Flash (see, told ya: lame!), the timeline itself gets distorted and the resulting reality is a very dark one.  This movie is actually ultra-violent with a lot of death in it (almost more than I'd expect on a PG-13 rating).  The characters are fundamentally different from the norm.  For example, there's a war raging between the Atlanteans and the Amazons that's already destroyed most of Europe!  This movie/story not only makes Flash not seem so lame, but even makes Aquaman into a bad ass.  (I often refer to him as Aqua-Pud, another character I' like to see made cool, but he just never gets there.)  The whole thing is apocalyptic in scale and is almost an hour and half of gritty, guilty fun.

In summary, this one made me reconsider my biases against some long-standing DC heroes.  It takes place in the New 52 Universe, so Cyborg and Captain Marvel (is he even called that anymore?) are in there too (another old man gripe I'll save for another time) and are used in new and exciting ways.  The animation has a definite Anime style to it, to the point where some characters are so muscled that you expect their tiny heads to pop off, but it still looks and moves great.  If I were to offer a tagline, I guess it'd be this: Ultra-Violent Bad-Assery in the DC Universe.  I plan to read the source material now as well.

Okay, "gotta run."

Monday, February 2, 2015

Writing in 2015: January Recap

It is my intention to set my writing career on an upward course this year, as mentioned in my 2015 News Years Resolutions post.  So as part of my accountability and tracking toward this goal, I have been keeping better stats on my progress.  This helps motivate me to strive for better scores and to show my progress in the long term.  Of course, this is 99% for myself; most of you who may happen to be reading this won't especially care.  But some of my fellow indie writers may take an interest or find some inspiration for building their own efforts and careers.  These monthly posts will be cumulative and largely repeating of the same intro/premise with new numbers toward the end.  The December post will, therefore, be a nice picture of the entire year.

My basic metric for measurement and progress is word count.  By setting goals and expectations, this makes me strive to write more words and thus produce more stories and books.  I also keep track of all other writing-related activities, such as workshops, marketing, submissions, and working to fulfill the Kickstarter rewards for my generous supporters.  Although I record those things in my charting, I won't be reporting all that stuff here on my blog.  My monthly reports here will recap my word count and publishing, as well as misc goals accomplished.

I set my word count goal based on a formula suggested by Dean Wesley Smith: Determine what would be your ideal production (writing) rate, and then cut it in half.  Sounds kind of harsh to cut that clean in half, but I have found it to be a very realistic adjustment.

For me, ideal would be 1000 words a day.  Seven days a week is super-ideal, but more realistic and acceptable is assuming there'd be one day I would take off and just not get to writing, so I'm going with this:

   -- (1000 words) x (6 days a week) x 1/2 = 3,000 words per week.
   -- (3000 words per week) x (4 weeks) = 12,000 words per month. 

Admittedly, this is not an incredibly ambitious goal.  But given my "real" life, this is doable.  I hope to exceed it, but if I can just make this cut I'll be pretty happy.

How I'll count words: This is somewhat arbitrary stuff, but for my own obsessive-compulsive reasons, I want to lay out some ground rules.  New words, of course, are the most important ones, but I also don't want to discount some of the other necessary work that I spend my limited time on; to do so would be kind of unfair to myself.  So new words count at full weight, especially in writing new stories/novels.  But it's also necessary to spend time on my second and third drafts.  The second is a lot of work in fixing from beginning to end before sending it off for proofreading/editing.  The third is not a lot of work, basically combing the proofer/editor's notes and making line edits.  So second draft work will count as half; so if I revise a 5000 word story, I'll count that as 2500 words worth of real work.  Third drafts will count at one quarter; so the 8800 words story I fixed tonight only counts as 2200 words, because I was mostly just addressing specific issues.

In summary:
   -- New Words/1st Draft is 1:1  (full weight)
   -- 2nd Draft Revision Work is 1:2  (half weight)
   -- 3rd Draft Line Editing is 1:4  (quarter weight)

...Okay, anyone still give a damn about any of this boring shit other than me? 

So now the monthly benchmarks:

January:  12,650 words (8550 words on the novella Invasion) 
                  published The Prince and the Darkness
                  published Hungry Gods
                  Hungry Gods release sold well beyond my goal, had a nice halo effect that reached pretty much all my other books, and all the accumulated sales were spread across SIX different countries!

A hell of a nice month for me, and the start of a good year to come!