Elementals, by Michael McDowell

At first, it seemed as if written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Then it slid inexorably into Dan Simmons territory.

It’s not often I feel truly chilled by a novel and frightened for its characters. This one took me there. Definitely recommended.

(And thank you, to the anonymous Amazon ebook reader who chose to share this with a stranger. I’m much obliged.)

Elementals on goodreads

New: Game Host’s Guidebookmark!

New for the Bookmark HP RPG, the Game Host’s Guidebookmark! print-and-play PDF on DriveThruRPG!

Let’s talk titles for a moment, because you may have noticed a pattern.

If I had a Marketing Department, they’d be yelling at me about the name, Bookmark HP RPG. (I’m sure of that, because when I worked places that did have a Marketing Department, they yelled at me about other things.)

“How are you supposed to pronounce it? Why’s it have an HP in the title at all if you’re going to cross it out? Shouldn’t we name it something more exciting, like maybe Infinite Adventures, or Porta-Play, or Dragon’s Egg, or anything but Bookmark ‘No HP’ RPG?”

Why? Because it makes me laugh!

Which is why Dracula’s Get and Supers! are called “Sourcebookmarks.” And when people started asking for more player guidelines, I published a Player’s “Handbookmark,” and now a Game Host’s “Guidebookmark.” The words are so ridiculous that they make me laugh! And they’re an affectionate poke at the game that originated this hobby.

I only wish there were a word for “manual” that ends in “book,” so I could poke fun at Monster Manual. Looks like I’ll have to settle for Bookmark Bestiary. Fortunately concept itself is ridiculous enough to laugh at! Expect a slew of those, for different settings.

Oh, and about this Game Host’s Guidebookmark. It provides a rules twist for “mooks,” so your protagonists can handle attacks by mobs of your villain’s minions, plus guidelines for running scenes and awarding Boons, and the most concise “how to” I’ve ever seen for crafting adventures. This bookmark went through the same play-test and critique as the previous ones, so I think it’s safe to call it meaty.

By the way, my hypothetical Marketing Department would also have yelled at me about launching the line with Dracula’s Get, instead of fantasy, or sci-fi, or the Supers! Sourcebookmark. But I wanted to solo play Petit Louis, bastard son of Louis XIV, hanger-on at courts, part of Donald Trump’s retinue during the Presidency. And with the “mook” rule, he managed to survive an attack by ten human hunters, though just barely. He stumbled away, almost destroyed, and had to spend two weeks recovering in the tender care of the rock band he manages.

Somebody Wins, Nobody Loses

The thrift store has been a good source for some unusual kids games. Today the granddaughters and I played a cooperative storytelling game, one of their favorites, and an all-out snowball fight card game.

One thing I’m teaching the girls is that at Grandpa’s house somebody wins, but nobody loses.

I mean, think about it. In real-life sports, the focus is on celebrating a win. There’s gold, silver, and bronze, but no humiliating last-place ceremony.

Even head-to-head events like football are about high score, and if the other team is interviewed, it’s all about analyzing events, not about rubbing their noses in failure.

At Grandpa’s house somebody wins, but nobody loses. Well, actually everybody wins, because we had a good time together!

Structure Without Walls

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash
Hobby gaming started as an old white guys club. Thankfully it is evolving, though far too slowly.

You know from these posts the effort I make to evolve personally from my native Midwestern white cis heterosexual male and middle-aged perspective.

Game publishing is part of that personal effort. Equality and inclusiveness aren’t just buzzwords; they’re standards.

I can’t speak for people of other backgrounds. What I can do is strive for game design that gives a structure for play without imposing boundaries. And strive to write in a way that’s inviting.

I’m a paradoxically proud and humble guy. Proud of my games. Humbled at the honor of their having some place at gamers’ tables. Energized by stories of players’ adventures. Hoping to hear more of them from a wider range of people. If that’s you, please let me know. Thanks. ❤