Now Available! Read about 5 Magical Creatures on Charmed at Tor.com

Hello, everyone! I’m so pleased to mention you can read Five Fascinating Magical Creatures that Debuted in the Original Charmed on Tor.com. I wanted to write this post as a follow-up to talk about my love as a fan of classic Charmed and the new show that debuted in Fall 2018.

Classic Charmed gives me a lot of fond memories. It was a show that broke a lot of ground for both female empowerment and the positive depiction of magical women. After watching the new Charmed show, I have a lot of feelings about what could still be done to bridge the gap between the two. I do feel both are strong shows—certainly, the new Charmed explores powerful interpersonal relationships, contemporary themes, and authentic practitioners—that approach story and setting very differently. Classic Charmed‘s narrative arc had more space and the stakes swelled with each season, but they were small and more personal in the beginning. The new Charmed, on the other hand, has a LOT of story in every season that significantly changes the world, the characters, and the stakes are very high.

That (ultra-high stakes) is an approach I fear will smother the show by the end of a third season.

Though I regard each show to stand on its own merits and can be critiqued separately, I want to point out that all of the actresses did a great job exploring witchiness from their characters’ perspectives. I do think there is one improvement that can be made to satisfy both older fans and new ones while giving a little oomph to the possibility of more seasons. One word: CROSSOVER! Why not lean into the parallel/alternate universes aspect they’ve already introduced? Wouldn’t that be awesome! Hell, I’d write a crossover miniseries (2-6 episodes) that bridges the best of both shows while introducing a new wrinkle going forward. Do I have ideas? Hah. YUP!

Regardless, I hope the crossover idea would be/has been considered for many, many reasons. There’s a really powerful statement that can be made by showing the true power of witchy sisterhood is not only intergenerational, it’s also intersectional.

More on Paracelsus

In my Tor.com article, I mentioned Paracelsus when talking about gnomes. Paracelsus is/was a key and controversial historical figure, both as an alchemist and physician, but he was also extremely misogynistic and racist even among his contemporaries because he drew from medieval perspectives. For example, there was a pervasive medieval view shared by physicians, such as Ambrose Pare, that women were responsible for the birth of monsters. I covered him more in depth for my newsletter subscribers at: https://booksofm.substack.com. You can join the conversation there. Yay!

Again: Thanks so much for reading and supporting my debut Tor.com article! EVEN MORE YAY!

Critiquing The Witcher Season 1

Heya,

I’m over at FlamesRising.com talking about magic and motherhood in The Witcher Season One. Here’s a quote from the first part of my article:

“In fantasy worldbuilding, there are a few components to designing magic: where magic comes from, if magic is renewable or limited, how magic is accessed, if magic usage is regulated, and lastly, what magic is used for.” — Magic and Motherhood in The Witcher Season One

I hope you enjoy my deep dive into magic! ‘Til next time!

[Pre-Order] Proving Grounds Solo Card Game and Novella from Renegade Games

Proving Grounds | Renegade Games

Maia Strongheart stands alone against the world. A cabal of conspirators has framed her for the death of her own mother, the Sun Queen, and they intend to usurp the throne from her family. To prove her own innocence and reclaim her birthright, Maia must step into the Proving Grounds to complete a trial that will stretch her combat skills to the limit. Will the Wizened’s chosen daughter vanquish her foes in the arena? Or will she be overwhelmed by the conspirators and their evil aspirations?

If you’ve never played a solo game before, this is a great place to start. There is a training game and six different gameplay modules. Once you’ve learned the basics, add a single module or mix and match to your tastes. If you’re feeling truly adventurous, put them all together for a true test of your gladiatorial combat skills!

Proving Grounds is a unique title that’ll be released this Spring from Renegade Game Studios. The release is a solo card game plus novella! I designed the fantasy world and wrote the novella titled: “Only the Strongest Has the Heart of a Wizened Queen”.

You can pre-order Proving Grounds now from the Renegade Games store. Exciting!

[New Releases] Gaming Cookbook and Mistborn RPG Supplement

Dinner and Dice

Now available! Dinner and Dice: a Gaming Cookbook is a collection of recipes and first person game anecdotes from game industry professionals. Originally produced as a stretch goal for the Carolina Game Tables Kickstarter, you will find appetizers, entrees, and desserts from the people who make the games you love!

Each author includes a look at how they think about games and food with a first hand game anecdote. Learn what Jason Buhlman served for one memorable Halloween, and what Emily Care Boss prepared for “Matrimonicon.” Hear about the famous ratatouille Marsha White ate and why Steve Kenson’s character sheets are always spotted with cheese.

I wrote a poem in iambic pentameter, “The Seven Levels of a Roleplaying Group”, and Ivan Van Norman talks about traffic in L.A. Get a peek inside the minds of the people who make games and a tasty, time-tested recipe to boot!

Just in time for the holidays, too. Enjoy Dinner and Dice: a Gaming Cookbook!

Cover Mistborn Tin and Ash

From the ashes, hope rises

The Final Empire was built on the backs of the skaa — the downtrodden descendants of those who opposed the Lord Ruler’s ascension a thousand years ago. They are the faceless masses of Scadrial, tasked with plowing the barren fields, sweeping the ash-covered streets, tending the opulent nobility, and serving at the whims of their “betters.” But a few skaa cast off the chains of their destiny to be something more. They are thieves, Allomancers, firebrands, and rebels. They fight the system of oppression and brutality to give their people something they lost long ago — hope.

Skaa: Tin & Ash is an essential supplement for the Mistborn Adventure Game, designed for players, Narrators, and fans of the Mistborn novels. Developed in cooperation with Brandon Sanderson, this guide expands the canon of the novels, providing new insights into skaa throughout the Final Empire. Inside you’ll find detailed information on the history and beliefs of the skaa; the lives of city, canal, and plantation skaa; the skaa criminal and political underground; and famous skaa such as the Citizen, Mare, and the Survivor of the Flames. I was one of the contributors to this supplement.

For players of the Mistborn Adventure Game, there’s a bounty of new rules for creating and playing your own skaa Hero, including new Stunts, equipment, Networks, and locations to explore and liberate.

The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Review

The Hobbit Gandalf Avatar

I promised you a review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, so here it is! If you followed my blog last week, you know I spent a few days training for the midnight showing at our local Sundance theater. I bought the tickets COMPLETELY by accident; my brain misplaced the p.m. with a.m. So, there was a fair bit of juggling (and caffeination) involved to ensure that I’d be awake to drive at 3:30 a.m.

The theatre was packed. The lines jammed. There were three or four showings and all were mostly full. I, along with my fellow moviegoers, were caffeinated and totally psyched for this film. Other than a few cues of inappropriate laughter during the previews, all of which were shushed by the more somber folks around them, we were set. And then? It starts. A familiar song. A comfortable character — the version of Bilbo we’ve seen in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. A familiar face. It’s Frodo as we remember him in the beginning.

Pay attention. This scene is important, for this reveals Jackson’s intent. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a true movie prequel. The film (with all its 48 fps glory) comes first, before the book. The Hobbit is reference material, but this is NOT a tried and true mirror of what happened there. The reason why this is a trilogy, is because the story will deepen and darken as time goes on.

But it doesn’t begin that way. And for some, this is why it feels anti-climactic. The events take place 60 years before Fellowship. Sauron has not regained his power — he’s not even close yet. The Nazgul? Don’t exist in the same form. This movie is where it all begins — but it can’t start with the epic journey we know is coming. It has to start somewhere. The One Ring wasn’t found intentionally. It was a freak accident.

I feel that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey emphasizes what Middle Earth was like before the shadows crept in and took over a corner of the world. This is more high fantasy, more adventure, more day-to-day/hack-and-slash, goblins and orcs and convoluted threats shaped around loss. The real story here isn’t about the One Ring, though that will likely emerge as the films continue, this is about the dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield.

I loved the story as it was presented here and feel that we’ll see more “reveals” in true prequel fashion as the trilogy progresses. This is still Middle Earth, and still the same setting responsible for the birth of other fantasy stories, games, etc. Tried and true? No, this is not a direct translation. But I’m okay with that. After all, what movie is? This is still Tolkien; and while it may be accurate (e.g. pulling material from other sources) it’s simply not precise.

I’m not sure I’ll do the midnight showing for the second film, but I’d prefer to see it on the larger screen. It’s a satisfying adventure on its own; I’m curious to see how Jackson will progress the One Ring story arc through the next two films on top of that.

    Mood: Orc Smash!
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: At the moment? None.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: SNOWPOCALYPSE SHOVELING
    In My Ears: Buffy. Yep, she’s singing.
    Game Last Played: Dragon Age: Awakenings
    Movie Last Viewed: The Hobbit
    Latest Artistic Project: Holiday gifts
    Latest Release: “The Button” We Are Dust anthology
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