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Sucked Dry: Hindered Souls Press Closes Its Doors…

Well… If you haven’t heard already, Hindered Souls Press, home to M. R. Tapia’s Sugar Skulls, Renee Miller’s Eat the Rich, Leo X. Robertson’s upcoming (well, it was upcoming) Jesus of Scumburg, and of course, my debut novella Siphon, has shut down.

It came as a surprise. I received an email from H.S.P. owner and editor, M. R. Tapia himself. To say the least, I was not quite sure how to take it.

So, what is going to happen to Siphon along with the other titles? I’ll get to that in a bit, first I’d like to say a few things about H.S.P. in general.

HSPress_Vector

When I finished writing Siphon, I was both relieved and nervous. It was a story that had been stuck in my head for many years and I finally got it down on paper. Sure, I’ve written plenty of short stories and had them published, but a story so near and dear to me, a story that took a long time to write, I wasn’t sure if it was good enough for someone to pick up or if I was just going to hide it in the proverbial dusty drawer to look at sometime in the future. The last thing I wanted to do was self-publish it — I wanted affirmation from an outside source that it was good enough.

I grew some balls and sent it out to some indie publishers. Long story short, M. R. Tapia responded with excitement, insightful editing advice, and ultimately a contract. It made my whole year. My first book. Everyone remembers their first.

It was picked up in December of 2017 and published February 2, 2018, six days before my 30th birthday. Hell, my wife got me a Siphon cake to celebrate both occasions.

I can say a lot, but to sum it up: M. R. Tapia poured all his love and energy into Hindered Souls Press, and into the authors he signed. However, family and health is the ultimate priority. Unfortunate personal burdens led to financial strain and mental fatigue, and Tapia made the decision to allocate all his energy and finances to tackle those hurdles while focusing all his love on his family.

This, I understand and respect.

He didn’t drag us through the mud with shitty communication. He didn’t play games or pussyfoot. Tapia reached a point where he knew it would be impossible to juggle both and he, as Renee Miller put it, “pulled the trigger.”

[You can read Renee Miller’s thoughts on the matter HERE]

I respect it. I understand it. And, in no way, am I bitter about his decision. I, too, run a small indie publishing company. However, I have two awesome partners in the endeavor in Dustin and Chris. When I feel overwhelmed or burnt out — they pick up the slack. Visa-versa. Tapia went above and beyond for a one man show. He set up booths at cons, drove to distant markets and bookstores to promote the catalog, and spent countless hours pushing and praising Siphon. I am forever in his debt.

Godspeed, hombre!

So, what about Siphon?

Well, in a frantic haste of what-the-fuckness after receiving the shitty news, I sent inquiries to handful of publishers. It’s hard enough to get an unpublished novella picked up, let alone one that is a reprint (If anyone reading this knows of any publishers currently open for novella reprints, get at me).

Whatever happens, Siphon, along with the other H.S.P. titles will be unavailable December 1st (Saturday). Go grab a few copies. It’ll help both Tapia and the rest of us.

That said, I don’t want Siphon to be out of commission for too long. If I can’t find a new home or potential new home for Siphon by February of 2019, I’ll self-publish it myself or make a case and publish it via Aphotic Realm.

I’m not too sure what the future holds. All I can do is reach out and wait.

Make sure to support indie authors and publishers. It really is a labor of love. It doesn’t pay the bills — I know this first hand. It takes a lot of time and a shit ton of energy, but it’s not the money (that we don’t make) that makes it worth it, it’s the support from the community that keeps us going when the going gets fuckin’ unbearably exhausting at times.

Be good to each other.

 

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It Was A Long Summer…

June 18th…. June 18th was the last time I wrote a blog post. It was a long summer — bear with me while I attempt to organize the cluttered clusterfuck I call my brain. I’ll do my best to compartmentalize it all.

APHOTIC REALM

Since the last time I posted, Dustin, Chris, and I (along with the other members of Aphotic Realm) have been extremely busy.

In July, we released Issue #4 of the magazine, DYSTOPIA. Again, many great authors and artists are in this one. I even have a story — an ode to my favorite childhood book, The Giver — in this one, “8-Bit Rebellion”.

Dystopia

In September, we released Grimdark Grimoires: Volume One. This one is packed with nine wonderfully dark fantasy tales.

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And lastly, just a few days ago, we released our most jam-packed issue to date. Issue #5: ELDRITCH. This one took a lot out of me. Stories, comics, interviews, art, et cetera.

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Our next issue’s theme is FANGS. Creature horror. Think Jaws and Cujo. Submissions are open and you can find out more at http://www.AphoticRealm.com

SIPHON AND THE STRUGGLES OF A SOPHOMORE RELEASE

Siphon_Cover
SIPHON — A Novella

Siphon was my debut into the writing world. Although I have released a short story collection — ITCH — prior to the release of Siphon, I don’t consider that my debut. I finished Siphon about one year ago today, shopped it, and Hindered Souls Press picked it up and released it February 2nd, 2018.

Initially, I believe they wanted to release it after February, but I was adamant about having it out before my 30th birthday (February 8th).

That brings me to my next bittersweet topic: Reviews.

I have been more than thrilled to see the reactions — both good and bad — to Siphon. I’m not gonna lie, I was nervous, but not delusional. Given the content, there was no way in hell it wasn’t going to get some stinkers — blood and sex and violence and creepy-stalker dudes isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time.

But I like the range of star ratings I’ve received. If I received all 5 Star reviews/ratings, I feel like my message — the mood — I was trying to convey didn’t really land. If I got all 1 or 2 Star Reviews (haven’t got a 1 Star one yet, that I know of), then it would be apparent that my writing ability is lackluster.

I was trying to ride that fine line…

||gore/sex || psychology/emotion||

These are primal urges we all have, but for reasons — mostly to retain some type civility — we stifle the urges. We all, at one point or another, have been overwhelmed with thoughts of sex or violence. Siphon was just an exploration of what happens when a delusional man struggles to contain them, while trying to remain civil.

But I digress…

One aspect about my writing that I saw in most reviews (both good and not-so-good) was some type of praise about my pacing. Honestly, that made me feel good. I slaved over the beats of that story for a long time.

Double-edged sword.

Now, however, as I’m knee-deep into the next chapter of Claybrook City (where Siphon takes place, go buy the book) I’m second-guessing every damn thing.

“Am I ranting?”

“Is this scene going on too long?”

“I’m bored. Will the audience be bored? Of course I’m bored, I’ve read and rewrote this part six times! That doesn’t mean a reader will be bored… Does it?”

My elevator pitch for this book is The Goonies meets Eyes Wide Shut meets The Columbine Massacre.

“Is this too much?”

Ah, but in the end, the first draft must be completed. Hope to have that done by Christmas this year. Then, I’ll slaughter my proverbial baby and keep the tasty parts.

As for the recent winners of my Siphon giveaway, I didn’t make it to the post office on time Saturday, I’ll be shipping those out tomorrow (Monday).

OTHER STORIES, OTHER THINGS

I have a handful of short stories out and submitted. A few have made the shortlist, others I have not heard anything back yet. I’ll be sure to post any acceptances and where to find them if I’m lucky.

That said, I do have one acceptance. My story “A Night In Black Canyon” is a post-apocalyptic western that takes place in the world of Bo Chappell’s Year 47 novel. The anthology is called By Year’s End and should be out shortly.

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MUSIC WAS MY FIRST LOVE, IT’S ALMOST TIME TO PAY HER A VISIT

Let’s break this down in bullet points:

  • Got my first bass when I was 11.
  • Joined my first band when I was 13 (Shitty cover band called “GIZNAD” which was DANZIG backwards)
  • Been in punk/metal bands ever since. Toured. Released many albums.
  • In 2012 my father passed abruptly.
  • In an attempt to change my life and climb out of depression, I gave up music and went back to school.
  • Graduated with a BA in Creative Writing.
  • Started Aphotic Realm with Dustin and wrote short stories and eventually Siphon.
  • Now, I have the strongest fucking urge to get back to my first love.
  • I started taking some steps to make that happen while continuing to write.

It can seem egotistical to listen to your own band and like it. But, when it was six years ago and you’re so removed from it that it feels like your witnessing a whole other life, that nostalgia bug bites hard and deep. Here’s the song (I’m on bass and all vocals), I’ll post the lyrics underneath it — after all, it still counts as writing, right? It’s about time I pick up the battleaxe again.

Cheers!

In attempts to destroy my life, you’ve destroyed your own
Excuses & justifications, you’ve relinquished your own throne
Deep inside your mind, you’ve built a factory of lies
The epitome of scum, worthless defined
You believe you’re the victim, but you’re the one to blame
Truth is you’re the loser, of your own sick fucking game
Life is what you make it and you’ve made it your enemy
Demand sympathy for your wounds that you, yourself made bleed
Lines, thick and fucking thin
You, have, fucking crossed them all
You’re such a piece of shit
and your voice is equivalent to the god damn stench
I’ll gladly place the noose around your fucking neck
and present you with every reason to step off of life’s edge
Lies
I can still feel the knife pierced into my back
Look into my eyes, eyes consumed by hate
Your pathetic apologies come far too fucking late
I
Eye for a fucking eye..
Realize where you stand…alone, unforgiven, soul rotten
Descend into my darkness… You are, YOU’RE THE ONE I HATE
YOU’RE THE ONE I HATE
Let us discuss your existence, so we see eye to eye
Abandoned emotional resistance, I look forward to the day you die.
You know this is the end of the time when we used to call you friend.
JUST DIE.

 

Returning To What I’ve Abandoned

Eight years ago… Eight god damn years ago… Look at that baby face.

Footage from 2010 Mortal Angst Tour — Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington

It’s almost halfway through 2018 and it has been over a year since I last picked up my bass. However, I’m going to try and change that later this year because quite honestly, I don’t feel like a whole person… and I haven’t since I put the thing down.

What prompted me to step away? Plenty of things.

Just like pursuing a writing career, it takes a lot of determination, perseverance, energy, patience, and grinding. But unlike the solitary nature of writing, you have to rely on band-mates to have the same drive, the same vision, and a cohesive schedule, because if not, the end result always ends up being lackluster.

When you and your three other band-mates are not on the same page, rehearsals, writing sessions, and live shows become more of a choir than a passion.

Other reasons?

When my father died in October of 2012 from cancer, it sent a shock wave through my world. He was young, he was a gym monkey unlike my scrawny ass; strong and tough… The immigrant kind.

dad

Deep depression, lack of focus, and absolutely no patience were the elements I brought to the storm of other problems slowly eating away at my musical career. In 2014, Kama-Mara split ways.

I received my first bass at the age of twelve or thirteen (whatever age you’re in fifth grade) and every since then, music was LIFE. I’m thirty years old now… More than half my life has been dedicated to it. But, after mi padre bit the dust, I decided to reevaluate my life and take it into a new direction — part of me thinks I walked away because my father is the one who got me into music and it hurt to know he couldn’t listen or watch me play anymore.

That said, I liked writing. I liked comic books, movies, books, stories in general.

I was scared shitless to say the least, turning my back on the only thing I ever really knew, but I figured I’d give it a go.

Here I am now. I think I’m doing “okay” so far.

But, as I mentioned earlier, I think it may be time for me to dip my toes back into the groove pool.

My question for you other writers: what other creative passion did you neglect/give up, if any at all, to focus on writing? Why?

Feel free to comment here or on the Twitter thread.

BONUS VIDEO

This was the last album we released. We recorded it just a couple months after my father’s death. To this day, when I listen to it, I can hear the catharsis in my voice — I really let the fuckin’ world have it. Screaming like a banshee can be therapeutic.

Disgust in humanity, humanity in disgust

Yesterday was a strange day.

My father-in-law is a handy-man, odd-job guy – its how he makes a living. That said, if the wife and I ever need a little extra cash, he always knows someone willing to pay to get something done. We’re going to Laughlin later this month to celebrate my wife’s thirtieth birthday and her graduation from college. So, an extra couple hundred bucks to blow on slot machines and booze for a day’s labor isn’t such a bad gig.

Well, we thought it wasn’t at the time.

What we knew: This woman’s dad died, and they were going to sell his house. They piled up the shit they didn’t want into one room and needed it taken out to the curb and then the house swept and whatever. No biggie.

When we get there, the house is fuckin’ huge. We walk in and the first thing we see is piles and piles of dead horse flies all over the living room floor. The neighborhood had horses. No biggie still. Upon walking around the house, I started noticing piles of clothes and garbage EVERYWHERE, along with makeshift beds from random pillows and couch cushions (there was only one couch and at least 4 couches worth of cushions) that, upon further inspection, were pockmarked in blood, piss, and shit.

Fun.

Did I mention the smell? That was the first impression. Yes, we turned on the A/C when we got there, but before that, this place was baking under the 110-degree sun for who knows how fucking long. Gag.

We opened the door to the room that had all the furniture and stuff they wanted moved and it was horrible. Imagine loading all the furniture, knick-knacks, clothing, etc. etc. of a three-bedroom apartment into one of the bedrooms.

Whatever. It was time to get to work.

But before we started, we looked through the cabinets of the kitchen and promptly found an aluminum pan with two used needles, a burnt spoon with some residue still on it, and your customary tinfoil.

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Uh-oh. It was going to be that kind of house.

I proceeded to poke and prod each pile of clothes/junk/whatever with a broomstick before picking it up. Fifty percent of the time, there was either an uncapped needle or a god-damn scorpion residing in the filth.

Super.

Time goes by and we’ve acclimated to the job at hand. Needles, half-straws, tinfoil, spoons, and scorpions became commonplace and we had a method of disposing/killing them when we found them. Just like at my day job at the deli, the slabs of ham, turkey, and chicken are no longer animals, they are product to be sliced, diced, and served. No strings attached. At this point, I found myself cursing the junkie bastards under my breath every other minute. Faceless scum.

We cleaned up the mess in all the rooms but the main room – the room with all the furniture – we saved that for last.

We started in the corner closest to the door. Moved boxes of random crap and a bow flex machine. It’s when we got to the center of the room – where we realized was the living quarters for a couple, due to the two mattresses, tiny table, and dirty bowls and plates – that things became different. I was tired and instead of just picking up and throwing out, I started to peruse through the junk.

Kid’s toys.

Kid’s clothes.

A notebook of poetry, most illegible, but the few pieces I read centered around the love for the writer’s daughter, Abby, and the guilt and regret of the life she was providing her. Then I found photos, rough and wrinkled, of what I could only assume was the daughter, the mother, and others.

The situation became more sad than gross at that point. I found myself applying the relics of their stay to their backstory I was constructing in my head. There was one stuffed animal on the bed, the rest were in a crate. Was that stuffed animal the girl’s favorite stuffed animal? How horrible, I thought to myself as I chucked it on the apex of the garbage pile.

Turns out, the squatters had to leave in a rush. Parts of the house were frozen in time. Microwave burritos, one bite taken out of one, left on the counter. A bowl of half-finished, now-rotted cereal left on the tiny table. A pair of kid’s shoes.

I didn’t want to put faces to the shitstorm. It was depressing. This wasn’t my first bout with seedy areas and situations.

I’ve lost both friends and enemies to the drug. It’s not easy watching someone spiral out of control with addiction, actively witnessing the deterioration of who they once were, who you knew them to be, who you loved.

I entered the house disgusted with humanity, I left having unearthed some humanity in the disgust.

There was a lot of other strange things about that house that made me feel like I was a character in a Chuck Palahniuk novel; Over thirty copies of The Watchtower, strange collections of tarot cards, pagan things, and a voodoo-like clump of human hair in a ziplocked bag accompanied by a napkin with lipstick kisses on it.

hairkiss

I’ll save those for another time, maybe it’ll prompt a short story or two. However, I must get back to work on Aphotic Realm’s Grimdark Grimoires and Issue #4: Dystopia.

MUSIC

B-horror movies and metal go together like peanut butter and jelly, and GRUESOME makes a damn fine sandwich. Cheers!

 

Overly Ambitious Asshole, Podcasts, #SIPHON Update, and Sleep.

Hello.

It has been some time since I wrote a blog post. However, I may add, for very good reasons — I’m busier than shit. The good kind of busy.

Which brings me to my first subject of being an overly ambitious asshole. Something I always tend to do is pile more and more shit on my plate, convincing myself I’ll be able to follow through until one day the realization that there are only 24 hours in a day sets in and I’ve crippled myself.

I can’t be the only one that does this?

Here are a few of those things:

APHOTIC REALM MAGAZINE #3: CLASSIFIED

So, I decided it was a good idea to do this crazy ass interior design. In theory, it worked. It was such a bad ass idea. I got way too excited. Yesterday, I clocked in at about 14 hours of work on said idea for the magazine when I realized it just isn’t gonna work. It wasn’t coming together how I hoped. That said, I could have made it work, but the issue would take three times longer to produce and would be released way after the intended date.

I swallowed my pride, decided to not waste anymore time, and went back to my original plan. No worries though, the thing is still going to be a beautiful bitch.

#SIPHON

Yeah, remember when I started a Twitter profile for Dr. Gary Phillips? How I explained how I was going to do an “interactive” game/contest to win a signed copy of both SIPHON and ITCH?

Yeah, I don’t have the time or energy for that. Sorry.

Again… I’ll swallow my pride.

BUT!

I’m still going to do a giveaway contest. However, it’ll be the run-of-the-mill “share this, retweet this, follow me” type of thing. So stay tuned for that.

Speaking of SIPHON, I’m surprised that I have yet to receive a shit review or crap reaction to it. I’m still waiting for the first one. So far, everyone has seemed to enjoy it. Even my mom liked it, but she informed me that the fact that her son wrote the book is more disturbing than the actual book itself.

That’s fair.

Speaking of speaking…

PODCASTS

I am a massive podcast consumer. I spend the first four hours of work everyday listening to podcasts. I’ve killed so many hours of my day listening to them. I listen to them when I do design work as well.

Recently, I’ve caught up/depleted my playlist of my usual podcasts I listen to and decided it was time to check out some of the podcasts produced by my peers.

LOSING THE PLOT

Leo X. Robertson invited me to be a guest on his podcast Losing the Plot and I accepted said invitation. I’ve heard of his podcast, but never got around to it until a few days ago. So far, I’ve killed about ten episodes — great stuff!

Tomorrow morning I’ll be chatting it up with him about writing, books, and hopefully punk rock.

He’ll be popping my podcast guest cherry.

MARCHESE & BULLER

I decided to give their two part “pilot” a listen. I enjoyed it. It was casual and personal and I really did feel like a fly on the wall, which is something I look for in a podcast.

I especially liked the parts where they said nice things about me and Aphotic Realm.

**wink**

By the way, guys, the only “academic” thing about me is my degree. Other than that, I’m a dirty degenerate.

**wink**

SLEEP

I haven’t got much lately.

I partied hard last weekend for my 30th birthday and it screwed by sleep schedule. I’ve been going to bed at 3ish AM and waking up at 6ish AM every day this week. No time for napping because I decided to waste so much time on an overly ambitious idea for Aphotic Realm…

Ugh.

However, today is my day off from the day job and I slept like a log until noon. So, that was good and refreshing.

Speaking of Sleep… (Look at these amazing segues)

Here is my video of the day. Excited to see them later this year! I was unable to make the trip to Portland, Oregon a few years ago and have hated myself for it ever since.

‘Dat bass-line tho…

Double Awesome, Writer Brain, #SIPHON, and Death

ANNOUNCEMENT

First of all, I’d like to thank everyone who submitted to Aphotic Realm Magazine #3: CLASSIFIED. The submissions came pouring in over the last few days! You’re all awesome!

Second, I’d like to thank everyone who purchased a preorder copy of SIPHONand those of you purchased a physical copy either last night or today. You’re awesome as well!

If you submitted a story AND bought a copy, you’re double awesome!

If you missed out on being awesome, you can purchase your copy of SIPHON now!

#SIPHON

Speaking of #SIPHON, Dr. Gary Phillips has been fuckin’ busy. Like, crazy busy. He was going to stop by and tell you about his day, but he just can’t find the time. However, he will always answer any questions you may have if you send him a tweet.

Nothing is off-limits.

WRITER BRAIN: OFF

Now that the submission window is closed for CLASSIFIED, it’s time to turn off my writer brain and warm up my editor brain. This is something I’m actually looking forward to, my writer brain needs a break.

During the month of February, I’ll be reading and editing stories, and compiling and designing the interior of the magazine. Much needed work flow change. It’ll be nice staring at something other than a blank white document and its blinking cursor mocking the lack of progress I’ve made over the last hour.

That said, I “celebrated” a little too hard last night. I might be dying. I’m gonna go chug some coffee until I feel like a person again.

Here’s my video of the day:

Errands, Old People, Character Development, and Roleplaying

I have Friday and Saturday off from the day job. So, naturally, I make plans to make a dent in all my other endeavors those days. Last night, I planned to sleep in until 9ish and then get started on reading more Aphotic Realm submissions (Submissions still open), working on a story outline, and maybe even do some preliminary work on some book covers I was commissioned to do.

BUT…

Here I am, sitting at my computer, alive for no more than 30 minutes at 1 PM, just taking a sip of my first cup of coffee. Apparently my alarm wasn’t loud enough this morning.

Just got a text from the wife, I need to go run some errands… So, I’ll be back.

Hold Please.


I can’t tell you how much I loathe grocery shopping in my neighborhood. I live by a retirement community — Sun City, look it up — which means literally everyone and their grandma is out and about today. What could have taken twenty minutes to do, took over an hour. It is a game of dodging and maneuvering through a sea of shopping carts piloted by blue-hairs moving at a snail’s pace. It’s 2:23 PM now and g’damn that took forever.

Anyway…

Writer friend and blogger, William Marchese posted a blog today about making characters feel real. It was a good read, check it out HERE.

So, it got me thinking. I really want to write up my thoughts on the matter in a big, long post, but I don’t have the time. I’m hosting a Dungeons and Dragons session tonight and my house is a fuckin’ mess. I have to tweeker clean for the next few hours.

But, with that said, I had to write an article a few years ago when I was in school. I decided to write it on character development when it comes to tabletop RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons or Pathfinder or what have you.

We were supposed to try and get it published. I never tried. So, I thought I can post it now. If you’re a writer, I suggest playing games like these. You have to live as the character, stay in character, make decisions that make sense for the character, and watch how those decisions affect the world and other characters in real time.

Enjoy!


Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, and Other Tabletop Roleplaying Games: Five Tips to Optimize Your Gaming Experience

A. A. Medina
July 21, 2016

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Whether you’ve been chuckin’ your twenty-sided di for decades or you’re just about to embark on your first journey into the world of pen and paper gaming, there is one element that can make or break the experience: Roleplaying.

Now, I’m not saying to show up to the kitchen table adorned in full armor or with a cloak and dagger; but if you do, more power to you. The following five tips are extremely simple and have the ability to turn a dull campaign into one fraught with laughter, excitement, and maybe even some bonus experience points.

Prepare to be immersed.

Backstory, backstory, backstory…

So you’ve created a battle-axe wielding Half-Orc Barbarian named Krunk. He’s mean, he’s kind of green, and he is out for blood. It’s always exciting to have that one party member who starts swinging before thinking. Now, what if Krunk used to be the chief of his clan, but after losing a one-on-one battle with To’gor, a rival clansmen, Krunk had to forfeit his throne and was exiled from the village? More exciting? Yeah it is!

Ideally, you’ll have the chance to inform your Game Master of your backstory before the campaign begins and before you are introduced to the other characters in the party. This can create an air of mystery around your character, especially if Krunk isn’t so quick to talk about his past. Also, this gives the GM the opportunity to give Krunk the chance to redeem himself in the future, giving more depth to the quests.

Stay in character!

Willis Lighthammer, the holy cleric striving for justice and the eradication of evil. Should he be arguing with the necromancer in the party over a Scroll of Raise The Dead that just dropped? No! Unless Willis plans on destroying it, he has no need for it. Should Willis be pickpocketing innocent civilians in town? No! However, that is unless an element of his backstory justifies it – which is just another reason to write one!

I’m not saying speak in an Old English accent; but again, if you do, more power to you. I’m suggesting staying within the parameters of your character’s personality. Unless spontaneity is one of your character’s traits, keep it to a minimum. That’s not to say Willis Lighthammer can’t develop these traits over time, especially if he takes a liking to the rogue in the party.

Don’t Derail the Plot.

The Game Master has spent the last week or so preparing an epic quest, the layout of an abandoned castle, new enemies to encounter, and the next plot point for you and your party to discover. He has dropped hints all session long that you should check out that mysterious castle on top of the hill, but guess what, the stubborn Halfling Bard doesn’t want to go, he’d rather stay at the town’s inn and play his lute for gold. Poor Game Master.

Don’t be that Halfling Bard. However, if you are, and you decide to stay back, at least contribute to the story. Gather information from the townsfolk; maybe you’ll find a secret passage into the castle. Pay off some guards or befriend some mercenaries; maybe you can show up in the nick of time with an entourage to help your party with a difficult boss battle.

Just try not to be “that guy.”

Be Resourceful…

This tip is more of a personal preference. My Human Ranger, Koldo, is somewhat of a MacGyver in our current Dungeons and Dragons campaign. I didn’t like wasting an action pulling out my dagger anytime I wanted to melee attack after using my bow. So I started extracting the fangs out of the Dire Rats we were clearing out of the sewers for a town sheriff. I took those fangs to the town’s blacksmith and had him dip the fangs in molten steel to reinforce them before visiting a leather worker to fashion them onto a heavy leather gauntlet. The result: A Wolverine-like claw I can use to slash and stab my enemies with after firing my bow – without wasting an action to draw my dagger. I also altered a belt pouch to drop caltrops; and using a cord, grappling hook, a steel rod, and some gears, I plan to make a retractable harpoon attached to my belt. Think Batman, but cooler.

My point? Utilize your surroundings. Pick plants, skin animals, and disassemble objects. Use your imagination and create potions, armor, weapons, and gadgets. Just run your ideas by the Game Master first.

Embrace the challenge: Being overpowered is overrated.

There is usually one in every party. The guy that rolled his stats without any witnesses and miraculously ended up with the highest possible ability modifiers. Also, he is a sorcerer, but his backstory justifies his use of heavy armor and a bastard sword without receiving a penalty. More often than not, the Game Master will put the kibosh to that nonsense before it gets too ridiculous, but that kind of mentality takes a lot of fun out of the game.

It also reduces the opportunities to work as a team. Need someone to sneak around the corner behind the enemies? Let the rogue do it. Need someone to barrel through the doorway to face the monster head on? Let the Fighter, who is armored to the teeth, do it. Without the challenge, the game gets boring.  If your character is the best at everything, what’s the point of being in a party?

Let’s recap…

Five simple things to keep in mind when starting a campaign, or even begin utilizing in your current one: Create an interesting backstory, stay in character, don’t derail the plot, be resourceful, and work together to embrace the challenge. As you can tell, these tips are more for the players than the Game Masters, but that doesn’t mean they can’t utilize these tips for building their NPC’s or even suggest them to their players at the beginning of a campaign. However, if you are interested in a plethora of invaluable tips, tricks, and lessons for Game Masters and players alike, check out the YouTube channel, Dawnforged Cast. There you will find hours of entertaining and informative videos about all things tabletop.

May your crits be successful! Go forth and adventure!


I dedicate my song of the day to all you Bards out there.