Announcing: Hunter: The Vigil 2nd Edition Open Call

Today, I am pleased to announce the open call for Hunter: The Vigil Second Edition. I will be using the existing Submission Guidelines and program that’s in place for all Onyx Path Publishing‘s game lines, and will be reviewing submissions within the next 60-90 days.

HunterVigilLogo-300x71

In my post on the Onyx Path website, I talk about thoughts on hiring for this monster-hunting game line and share the link to the open submissions and what my inspiration is for this core rule book.

I look forward to building my team for the Second Edition of Hunter: The Vigil, and encourage you to apply if you’re interested.

Announcing: Court of Shadows for Shadowrun

You have seen it. You have felt it. The dream where you are falling, falling, and you cannot see the ground but you know it is there waiting. You may try to brace yourself, you may try to force yourself awake—you do anything to avoid the impact that keeps rushing toward you.

The Seelie Court is the realm of the hidden, the rumored, and the unknown. Fairies, spirits, and enchanted creatures mingle there, building alliances, plotting, scheming, toying with the realm of humans—and with each other. The court has long held a distant attachment to the material plane, influencing it like a dream influences our waking hours. But now a new connection has emerged, allowing humans to infiltrate the courts and influence its proceedings. At a time when magical power is ever in the rise, the mix of human and fae could set both worlds into a calamitous plunge, and no one will want to be awake when they hit bottom.

Today, I am pleased to announce that I co-developed an alternate setting for the Shadowrun RPG with Jason Hardy. And, the first of my design posts for this book just went live! Over the course of the next several weeks, you’ll learn more about what’s in the book, who’s writing it, and how fun this’ll be for runners.

For a sneak peek, check out Court of Shadows Design Files #1: Unearthing Tír na nÓg.

New Release: Dark Eras and Hunter’s “Doubting Souls” set in Salem

Dark Eras

I am pleased to announce that Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras, a book that spans multiple eras for the Chronicles of Darkness game lines, is now available. As the Kickstarter text explained, the Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras starts out presenting a chapter for each of nine historical eras. The sections were written for the currently available edition of the game line, but they are designed to be usable with any edition. Each terrifying time period and location is examined through the supernatural creatures that dwell there, and my section is:

Hunter: The Vigil — Doubting Souls (1690-1695): Immigrants and tribes struggle to co-exist on the eastern seaboard. Violent clashes, supernatural beliefs, and demonic influences spell disaster for Salem Village and its surrounding towns, while other hunters fight werewolves and vampires on the frontier. With so much at risk, only god-fearing men and women are deemed innocent — and those are few indeed. Monica Valentinelli writer & Matt McElroy developer.

“Doubting Souls” is, in many ways, my commentary on the Salem Witch Trials; the chapter primarily focuses on the gut-wrenching decisions hunters have to make and how they are caught up in the hysteria. It also, however, offers possibilities for other styles of play and expands the setting a bit so we’d hit as many notes as possible within the confines of this tightly-woven section. There are opportunities to explore multiple locations, including Boston and Ipswich, and new compacts are offered as well. Since offering the first draft to fans, there have been some additions and expansions to the chapter, and we added additional reference materials to highlight our research, too.

Though this Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras chapter, in no way shape or form, could ever replace a set of modern history books on the time period, I feel very strongly about the necessity of research; I hope that you will notice this effort reflected in how we put together this alternate history perspective. “Doubting Souls” is a depiction of a world in the 1690s that’s slightly different from this reality–but much, much darker…especially for hunters of all types.

I hope that fans will enjoy “Doubting Souls” for Hunter: The Vigil, and I encourage you to check out the other chapters, too! Huzzah!

Update on Summer Scheduling and an Invitation

Yuna Final Fantasy X-2

As a full-time writer, one of the interesting things that happens is due to the nature of how I get work and when it’s due. Longer projects free up my brain space to tightly focus on that one thing, while shorter projects mean I need to be very intense about what I’m working on from day to day. Right now, I have a variety of both that I’m managing closely, because essentially spec work tends to get put off further and further in favor of what I know will pay. This may sound pretty technical, and it is, but this allows me to build a career similar to what my friend Matt Forbeck has done. I cannot physically afford to not be writing or designing, to just put out “a” game or “a” novel a year. That would kill me and kill my ability to work.

If you want to be a freelance game designer/writer, the big secret is that in order to get the work, focus on competency and completion. Online drama is a distraction, and there has been quite a bit of that the past couple of weeks in my spheres which I’m now walking away from.(2) I’ve talked to many writers over the years, and it always amazes me how many people would be satisfied being an internet celebrity–I am not one of them. However, even I have to focus on building awareness of myself and my work to let people know it exists and, most importantly, that it’ll be worth your time. Dreaming about the art of game design or fantasizing about a novel may sound wonderful and idyllic, but dreams have very little to do with actual production. A dream inspires you–and that’s fantastic–but what happens after that is what gets the game/novel/book on the shelf. This, in point of fact, is what I often talk about on panels: the pragmatic nature of producing games consistently. Or, as I often say: “In order to chase the rainbow, put your running shoes on first.” Developers know this all too well, and if you’re wondering what we do, I encourage you to check out my older post about gaming development for the multi-award winning Firefly RPG line(1). That turned out to be a shorter list of what I wound up doing, since I did do quite a bit in addition to that, but it’s a good primer.

Behind the scenes, this means that by the time a release comes out, that release has been in the works for anywhere between three months to two years or longer. When it’s a release completed for other people, it’s easy to see where to pick up and leave off. When it’s “on spec”, meaning I don’t see the immediate returns or they’re not guaranteed, then I set a lower priority to those. Certainly, for my own fiction I took a step back to refocus and see where (I felt) it was falling down before I started pursuing publication again this year.(3)(4) But, that old adage is true: writers are sharks. If we don’t keep swimming, we die. It does suck, though, that NDAs and professional courtesy often prevent me from talking about the specifics on projects(5), but I do have a little more flexibility to do that in person just because I can better respond to questions–similar to the Reddit AMAs I’ve done, like the Reddit AMA for the Firefly RPG, and the Reddit AMA for the Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling anthology.(6)

To that end, my next couple of weeks are packed! There will be two or three announcements coming up shortly (PLUS! Hopefully, something cool for the charity I’m involved with (www.rcrfcharity.org) and quite a few conventions I’m going to this summer, too. I also had a fantastic meeting with my agent, too, and I am super pumped about that! All this means, is that I’m hyper-focused on work right now, so the blinders are going back on for a bit. There are a lot of really amazing things in the pipe, and while I continue to seek out new and even bigger profile opportunities for myself, I want to nail delivery on what I’ve got going on. Thus, if you’re ever curious about me or my work beyond the career bits, I invite you to come to my panels and interact with me at shows. I’ll be at GenCon: Indianapolis this year, but I’ll also be at CONvergence and WorldCon as well. Planning on lots of party games for WorldCon, so there will be some shenanigans, for sure.

(1) In case you didn’t know, the corebook was nominated for the Product of the Year and the Game of the Year in the 2015 ENnie Awards, nominated for Game of the Year in the 2015 Origins Awards, 2nd Runner Up for Game of the Year 2014 in the Golden Geek Awards, and The Escapist nominated it for Game of the Year 2014 as well. Plus, Echoes of War: Thrillin’ Heroics won a Judge’s Spotlight Award in the 2015 ENnie Awards, too!
(2) If it’s the drama llama, I don’t want to hear about it any longer. I got sucked in, and I’m pulling myself out of that nonsense.
(3) I’m of the mind that stagnation equals a terrible, horrible death for creative types, but not everything needs to be published as soon as it’s finished, nor can everything be for various reasons.
(4) Sometimes projects fall apart for completely different reasons. There are, on my hard drive for example, at least a dozen or so other small press games I’ve worked on that have never seen the light of day.
(5) My friends know that I don’t talk about work. That’s not why I’m friends with them, nor do I want them to be friends with me just to talk about work.
(6) I do need to give a warm and friendly shout out to Fox TV, because if it wasn’t for their belief in my work I wouldn’t have been able to work on Firefly: The Gorramn Shiniest Language Guide and Dictionary in the ‘Verse.


On Cultivating Resilience

Cthulhu Scribe by Drew Pocza

The drama llama, as I like to call it, has been very active these past few weeks. Main thing, for me, is that I’m speaking up ’cause really? There are a ton of people in the industry who are new and feel very threatened by the current state of trollish affairs. It’s not about hating on anybody, really, it’s about saying a vocal minority of assholes does not speak for the majority. Do I hate white men? Ah, no. I have very simple rules about people. Are you an asshole? If the answer to that question is “Yes!” then buh-bye. If folks don’t get that? Not my problem. Opening a door and saying “You are welcome! Join us!” does not mean that people who already feel welcome can’t join in. I’ve worked with conservatives and liberals and everybody in between. Assholes, though? Those tend to be the people I don’t work with (if I can help it) or I find ways to avoid dealing with long term. No time for them.

I really don’t give a crap about the fact that I’m a woman making art (stories, games, comics, etc.). That [the female experience] isn’t my area of focus and it doesn’t really show up in my game design. It does for other designers, though, and I am behind them 100% because the gaming industry is big enough to include these types of games. Good for them! Inclusivity is a thing for me, however, and it’s usually because most, if not all, companies share an industry-wise goal that I also happen to believe in: everybody has the right to see themselves as the hero and, when they do, they will have more fun. That is why we are all here: make games so all different kinds of people can have fun. This is especially true for highly visible games I’ve worked on, like when I was developing the Firefly RPG and contributed to Unknown Armies 3rd Edition RPG, and it will be true for the Hunter: the Vigil 2nd Edition RPG and the Cortex Plus Action corebook, too. Among others, which will be announced shortly!

Other people, however, do seem to care quite a bit about the fact I’m a woman. People in positions of power, people who could buy my stuff, people who could review my stuff and don’t ’cause I’m not a dude. Even I get tired every once in a while, because there are a lot of misogynists who, in point of fact, care so much about their own image they don’t believe they’re actually being misogynistic. Point. Missed. Especially when they attack women for um… what again? Oh right, hating them. Look, I don’t talk about what it’s like, I don’t talk about how frustrated I get seeing folks in one breath say “Yes, women!” and then only recommend books/games by men, or how desperately I wish I didn’t have to be reminded of the fact that I have teh boobies every day, or how infuriating it is when I do speak up and folks are like “Well, it didn’t happen to me.” “Prove it.” “You’re so sensitive.” Right now I’m saying it because there’s this belief that if you don’t hear about a thing it doesn’t exist. Um, not true. Sexism exists. I just choose to deal with it in my way.

I wish I didn’t have to worry about this shit–ever, really–and just make art. I do. However, I make art when I am feeling positive and happy, and sometimes it’s a fight to do that because there are idiots in the world who actively work against my space. This means, I gotta push back so there’s room for me and for other folks to come in after me. So yes, I will rant on occasion, and then I will get on with my day, and I will keep fighting. But, and I say this with the greatest amount of gravitas, it is 1,000 times worse for other minorities, because they don’t get the chance to “forget about it.” I talk to a lot of people (you’ll see this in my list of coping mechanisms to follow shortly), and it is incredibly obscene and unforgivable what’s being tossed my peers’ way. Those people? Made of iron. If your immediate reaction is: “Well, white male designers get it, too!” Yeah, they do, but this latest eye roll-inducing behavior isn’t about that. This is about sharing some thoughts to broaden perspectives, to include the fact that there’s an additional layer (or layers) of fuckery that everybody else has to deal with, too, to varying degrees.

I’m sure other folks have more (and better) tips to share than I would, but if it helps? Here’s a list of things I do to help increase my resilience. I do believe that resilience is both a skill that can be cultivated and a natural inclination. Thus, your mileage will vary and, as always, I know you’ll take what you want and leave the rest. I’m a big proponent of doing what’s healthy, as opposed to focusing on getting in the last word or trying to get closure or attempting to speak with someone who doesn’t understand the definition of rational thought, but you might feel very differently. (And, that’s totally okay by me!) The thing about learning how to be resilient, is that some folks are more naturally resilient to begin with and others learn it over time. There’s never “one true way” for anything, in my mind, and I feel this is especially true when it comes to your mental health. You do you.

1.) A to Z Gratitude – Take a sheet of paper and, starting with “A”, write down what you’re grateful for.

2.) Fan Letter – If there is somebody you admire, send them a letter telling them how awesome they are. Never too late to do that!

3.) Go for a Walk – The obvious answer, step away from the internet, doesn’t always work because you’re so emotionally charged up. Disconnect, even if it’s for five or ten minutes, and go for a walk.

4.) Free Write – Notebook. Pen. Fresh screen. 30 minute timer. Get it all out as fast as you can, then rip it up, burn it, delete it? Whatever. Discharge that angst!

5.) Assess – Have a little handy guide you can refer to when you’re dealing with the bullshit. Write down five questions that help you rationally solve your problem. For me, they’d be: Who am I dealing with? Is this person’s opinions valuable to me? What is the effect that this person’s opinions have on my life? My career?

6.) Rant – Look, characters aren’t static. Right? Neither are you. I totally believe that ranting every once in a while is healthy, and it’s a very human thing to do. It’s my choice not to spend time ranting, ’cause I have outlets for that angst.

7.) Make Art – Oh, gods… I have so many options here. Origami,

8.) Clean – Sometimes, I definitely clean house as a way to physically have an impact on my head space.

9.) Spoil Yourself – Favorite recipe? Make that! Favorite shirt? Wear that!

10.) Calming Rituals – As a musician, I associate a lot of memories with music. Star Wars, by far, is my favorite comfort food along with Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

11.) Support Network – Whether you talk to friends online or off, I do feel sometimes people need the ability to understand what’s normal for them. What’s normal to experience? How do they cope? Are the problems you’re having unique to you or much bigger than that?

12.) Positivity – I could post about the trolls who attack me, but I don’t. Meh. I’d much rather talk about what I’m doing, what makes me happy, how I can positively contribute to the future. So I force myself to be positive, to draw those smiley faces, and to keep on, keepin’ on.

Of course, these are short-term solutions to dealing with the bullshit. I find dealing with the immediate issues helps prepare me for the long-term, really, because regardless of where I go or what I do? There will always be varying degrees of bullshit, and I know enough about myself to know how/when/where to deal with it if it gets “that” bad. I feel that’s really the key to all this: a sense of scale to know how common the problem is, how serious it is, and if it can be resolved.

Anyway, hopefully that helps. You do you, and I gotta get back to writing. Huge announcement in a couple of weeks!


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