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  1. Gaydos_Princes-Gambit-200x300.jpg

    Michael Gaydos art for the Prince’s Gambit card game

    TLDR:

    Myself and a whole bunch of Onyx Path folks just got back from the 2017 MidWinter convention. Why you should care: We had a great time there, which helps us get recharged to tackle the many projects were working on) and had some business meetings that may pay off this year, as well as demoing upcoming games, and meeting and answering questions with a lot of attendees (both current fans and those who we hope will be).

    Also among those we chatted with were possible freelance creators who will help us continue to create these great projects and might even help us drive a few projects forward faster.

    And Now, On With the Show:

    Thursday most of us flew in, got settled at the hotel, and before we could blink it was time for the annual Onyx Path dinner at Mader’s. This medieval decorated German restaurant was White Wolf‘s special place to eat back in the day, so I love introducing our Onyx Path crew to its bounty of boots of beer, salty bread, and genuine German cuisine.

     

     

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    Neall Raemonn Price, noted Scion developer, seated next to his wife Aimee, loves his boot of beer.

     

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    Meredith Gerber has a much smaller stein…

     

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    …while Mike Hollywood Tomasek challenges Neall as to who can finish their boot first, and Monica Valentinelli, HtV2nd developer, looks on in amusement.

     

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    Mighty Matt McElroy, Michelle Webb, her husband, and Rose Bailey look on in sheer awe as Mike and Neall compete.

    We were also joined by freelance writer and developer Danielle Harper and friends, and writer (and the man who keeps our booth running) Bill Bodden was just to my left at our table, so was unfortunately cut from these pics. Neall left early and heroically to run a Scion 2e demo game. I should also note that The Legend Dave Martin and the Wrecking Crew were already running a variety of Onyx Path games (although I forgot to take any pics when I visited them.)

    Thursday night was mostly carousing in the hotel at the Monarch Lounge as attendees showed up and were loudly greeted. There’s a very welcoming feeling as old friends are met again, and you wind up meeting new folks that somehow you missed the last few years.

     

     

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    Here’s an illustration interlude by Brian LeBlanc for Changeling: the Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition

     

     

    Friday, we got the booth together, had great sales, and then it was time for Mighty Matt McElroy’s Pentex Retreat LARP.

     

     

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    The Onyx Path booth before opening.

     

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    And a booth action shot by Meredith Gerber

     

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    A bird got into the vendor room and stayed there through the con. An omen of what, though?

     

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    The Pentex Retreat LARP as Werewolf’s Pentex employees mix and mingle and do corporate team-building exercises before things heated up.

     

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    Near the end as the many underlying plots came together. Eddy Webb was whacked by an ambitious corporate ladder climber, and the Orpheus group had record enrollments.

     

    This was a one-shot using very simple rules that relied on playing your role. I was there as Black Dog Game Factory CEO, Ron Thompson, and I survived the entire thing by doing an exaggerated version of myself and one-time WW CEO Mike Tinney. There have been a lot of calls from players for Matt to run it again next year, which we’re taking as a good sign that great fun was had.

    Friday night, after a lovely dinner at the steak house in the hotel, Eddy Webb ran a “friends&family” playtest for Monarchies of Mau, the cat focused follow-up and connected game to Pugmire. This went very well, although we were all rolling abysmally, and ultimately my Wanderer(Monk) cat, Halo von Siberian, did succeed in a Disadvantaged leap to kick one of the White Rats off of a roof in the adventure’s climax.

    At the same time Rose Bailey was running a Cavaliers of Mars demo that I hear was filled with swashbuckling fun.

    We all met up again in the Monarch to share our stories and fire Neall.

     

     

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    Illustration interlude by Shen Fei of the Pointer splat for Pugmire

     

     

    Saturday was our busiest day for activities, starting with an interview alongside Eddy that I hope to have a link to sometime soon, and a very productive if fast lunch with Rose and Matt as we discussed potential new projects and further ways to improve how we work with developers and writers. We would have done this by Skype anyway, but there were a few things that needed saying in person.

    Then we began our day in the Oak Boardroom, a cool meeting room we were able to use for the rest of Saturday. First was the first-ever playtest of a secret card game project for Pugmire that Eddy has been working on. Even I had never seen the components and how it actually played. Here are a few uncredited, because it is secret, pics of the play with the prototypes:

     

     

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    Next was our Onyx Path Q&A, which was packed. We provided some “refreshments” and the more intimate room setting was really much more enjoyable, for me at least, than the classic front table and audience format at lot of panels use. Would do again.

     

     

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    We, the dark council, have brought you all here today…

     

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    Thanks to everybody who sat in and threw your great questions at us.

    Finally, I sat in on the first half of the official Monarchies of Mau playtest, and these folks really got into their Cat characters. A really great sign. I also heard that the Halo in this session also kicked a Rat off the roof. Hmm, must be something about that character.

     

     

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    Finally on Saturday, a rare selfie by me of Neall, Danielle, Maria Cambone, one of our friends from By Night Studios who helped edit their very beautiful and big new Werewolf: the Apocalypse for Live Action play, and yours truly, after Maria managed to get the attention of the bartenders and got us drinks. She’s a lifesaver.

     

     

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    Thought I had gotten back to my room at a reasonable hour, but then folks started dropping by, so we talked about life, the universe, and everything for a couple more hours.

    Sunday, briefly, was standing in line for twenty minutes at Starbucks because also in the hotel were several HS girl’s volleyball teams and every single one of them needed whatever drink had the most tooth rotting combination of syrups, and then getting my Chai Latte in time to meet with Matt and several other folks from other companies as strategic alliances were proposed. We shall see if anything happens this year with those things, and then it was check-out and airport and buh-bye.

    I also finally got to chat a bit with another long-timer, John Wick, after more than a decade of not seeing the guy. We had promised to say hi at last year’s GenCon and that never worked out because at the bigger cons we’re all just so freaking busy. Which is another great thing about MidWinter.

    Overall, this was a very successful MidWinter con for us, with tons of input from playtesters to go over, game and other proposals to review, and many friendships renewed.

     

    BLURBS!

    KICKSTARTER!

    We’re exploring card game Kickstarters, packaging, and components, for Prince’s Gambit. Justin, Eddy, a crack team of players, and our talented videographers have finished shooting the KS videos in Atlanta and are assembling edits even as you read this. Things look good, and we are all for starting the KS in late January so long as the process of pulling the KS together cooperates. If so, then Monarchies of Mau KS would be next, after Gambit.

     

    ON SALE!

     

     

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    Looking for our Deluxe or Prestige Edition books? Here’s the link to the press release we put out about how Onyx Path is now selling through Indie Press Revolution: http://theonyxpath.com/press-release-onyx-path-limited-editions-now-available-through-indie-press-revolution/

     

     

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    The cards are alive! Conditionally. This Weds. the Advance PDF version of the Promethean 2nd Edition Condition Cards goes on sale at DTRPG!

     

     

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    It is now the preordained time for Dawn of Heresies, the Mummy: the Curse novel written by internationally renowned author Brian Hodge to arise! Both PDF/electronic and physical book PoD versions are now available on DTRPG! http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/198720/Dawn-of-Heresies

     

     

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    Open the V20 Dark Ages: Tome of Secrets now on DTRPG! Both PDF and physical book PoD versions are now available! http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/197358/V20-Dark-Ages-Tome-of-Secrets

    The Tome of Secrets is a treatment of numerous topics about Cainites and stranger things in the Dark Medieval World. It’s about peeling back the curtain, and digging a little deeper. Inside, you’ll find:

    • Expanded treatment of Assamite Sorcery, Koldunic Sorcery, Necromancy, and Setite Sorcery

    • A look at Cainite knightly orders, faith movements, and even human witchcraft

    • Letters and diaries from all over the Dark Medieval World

     

     

     

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    Travel with us all the way to the Red Planet for the Cavaliers of Mars Jumpstart: A Festival of Blades, available in PDF and PoD on DTRPG! http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/191678/A-Festival-of-Blades-A-Cavaliers-of-Mars-Jumpstart

    Live, fight, and love on Mars, a world of red death and strange mystery, a world of savagery and romance.

    Includes: 

    • A complete adventure set in one of dying Mars’ greatest remaining cities.
    • The innovative DEIMOS rules, for high-flying, swashbuckling adventure.
    • Four pre-generated player characters, ready to get into the heart of the action.

     

     

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    The Advance PDF for Reap the Whirlwind, the Vampire: the Requiem 2nd Edition Jumpstart swirls into being on DTRPG! http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/201127/Reap-the-Whirlwind-Revised-VtR-2e

    You are a vampire, a junkie. Every night, you beg and you borrow and you steal just a little more life, just a few more sweet moments. But there’s a guy at the top. The Prince. He’s got everything. The money, the secrets, the blood.

    Tonight, you’re going to take it from him. Tomorrow, there’ll be hell to pay.

    This updated edition of Reap the Whirlwind features revisions to match the core rulebook for Vampire: the Requiem 2nd Edition. Text edits and rules clarifications have also been updated.

    Reap the Whirlwind Revised includes:

    • Rules for creating and playing vampires in the Chronicles of Darkness
    • The first two levels of every clan Discipline, the dark powers of the dead
    • A complete adventure by noted horror author Chuck Wendig

    This new revised Reap the Whirlwind Revised includes an updated booklet, 7 condition cards, and the interactive Vampire: the Requiem 2nd Edition character sheet.

     

     

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    The Locker is open; the Chronicles of Darkness: Hurt Locker, that is! The Advance PDF is now available on DTRPG! http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/199275/Chronicles-of-Darkness-Hurt-Locker

    Hurt Locker features:

    • Treatment of violence in the Chronicles of Darkness. Lasting trauma, scene framing, and other tools for making your stories hurt.
    • Many new player options, including Merits, supernatural knacks, and even new character types like psychic vampires and sleeper cell soldiers.
    • Expanded equipment and equipment rules.

    Hurt Locker requires the Chronicles of Darkness Rulebook or any other standalone Chronicles of Darkness rulebook such as Vampire: The Requiem, Werewolf: The Forsaken, or Beast: The Primordial to use.

     

     

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    Discover the long-awaited  Secrets of the Covenants for Vampire: the Requiem 2nd Edition as we unearth the Advance PDF now on DTRPG! http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/199280/Secrets-of-the-Covenants

    This book includes:
    • A variety of stories from each of the covenants, all told in their own words.
    • Never-before revealed secrets, like the fate of the Prince of New Orleans.
    • New blood sorcery, oaths, and other hidden powers of the covenants.

     

     

     

    v20-endless-ages-anthology

    We have now added a B&W PoD version of the Endless Ages Vampire Anthology to the existing full color PDF and PoD choices! Celebrating 25 years of personal horror, the eighteen stories in Endless Ages range in style and aesthetics from the very first edition of Vampire released in 1991, all the way to the latest books put out for the 20th Anniversary Edition. http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/193199/V20-The-Endless-Ages-Anthology

     

     

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    Seek the Cainite Conspiracies, the fiction anthology for V20 Dark Ages, in PDF and PoD physical book formats! http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/195704/V20-The-Cainite-Conspiracies-Anthology

    This collection of short stories features tales by Vampire developers such as Justin Achilli, Eddy Webb, David A. Hill, Jr., and Neall Raemonn Price along with award-winning horror authors including Maurice Broaddus, Catherine Lundoff, and Richard Dansky.

     

     

     

    Promethean Premium

    Promethean: the Created 2nd Edition comes to life in both PDF and PoD physical book versions NOW on DTRPG! http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/189395/Promethean-the-Created-2nd-Edition

    You are a pilgrim now, one of the Created. You rose to life from dead flesh or inert matter, under the ministrations of one of your own, or a mad scientist, or perhaps just the power of the Divine Fire. You wander the world, sometimes alone, sometimes in the blessed company of your own kind, driven by memories of events and facts you never knew, all in the service of one Great Work…

    …to be human.

    Humans don’t make it easy, though. The Divine Fire that animates you burns too bright, blinds people, and scorches the land if you linger too long. It masks your disfigurements and makes you appear human, but that mask slips and people see your hideous, true form. The Pilgrimage is a long, difficult road, but it is yours, and you know, somehow, that the salvation of the New Dawn waits at the end.

    This book contains:

    • The complete guide to playing a Promethean in the Chronicles of Darkness
    • Reimagined Lineages and Refinements, and a redesigned system for Transmutations
    • A more detailed approached to the Pilgrimage that presents players with more control over their characters’ path
    • New challenges on the road to humanity, including deranged, greedy alchemists

     

     

     

    CONVENTIONS!

    Discussing GenCon plans. Every chance the booth will actually be 20′ x 30′ this year.

     

     

     

     


    And now, the new project status updates!

     

     

    DEVELOPMENT STATUS FROM ROLLICKING ROSE (projects in bold have changed status since last week):

    First Draft (The first phase of a project that is about the work being done by writers, not dev prep)

    • Exalted 3rd Novel by Matt Forbeck (Exalted 3rd Edition)
    • Trinity Continuum Core Rulebook (The Trinity Continuum)
    • Trinity Continuum: Aeon Rulebook (The Trinity Continuum)
    • M20 Gods and Monsters (Mage: the Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition)
    • V20 Dark Ages Jumpstart (Vampire: the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition)
    • M20 Cookbook (Mage: the Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition)
    • M20 Book of the Fallen (Mage: the Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition)
    • WoD Ghost Hunters (World of Darkness)
    • CtD C20 Jumpstart (Changeling: the Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition)
    • Ex Novel 2 (Aaron Rosenberg) (Exalted 3rd Edition)
    • C20 Novel (Jackie Cassada) (Changeling: the Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition)
    • Pugmire Fiction Anthology (Pugmire)
    • Pugmire Pan’s Guide for New Pioneers (Pugmire)
    • Monarchies of Mau Early Access (Pugmire)

     

    Redlines

    • Scion: Origins (Scion 2nd Edition)
    • Scion: Hero (Scion 2nd Edition)
    • Kithbook Boggans (Changeling: the Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition)
    • GtS Geist 2e core (Geist: the Sin-Eaters Second Edition)
    • VtR Half-Damned (Vampire: the Requiem 2nd Edition)

     

    Second Draft

    • The Realm (Exalted 3rd Edition)
    • Dragon-Blooded (Exalted 3rd Edition)
    • Wraith: the Oblivion 20th Anniversary Edition
    • BtP Beast Player’s Guide (Beast: the Primordial)
    • Book of Freeholds (Changeling: the Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition)

     

    Development

    • W20 Changing Ways (Werewolf: the Apocalypse 20th Anniversary Edition)
    • Signs of Sorcery (Mage: the Awakening Second Edition)
    • SL Ring of Spiragos (Pathfinder – Scarred Lands 2nd Edition)
    • Ring of Spiragos (5e – Scarred Lands 2nd Edition)
    • SL Dagger of Spiragos (Pathfinder – Scarred Lands 2nd Edition)
    • Dagger of Spiragos (5e– Scarred Lands 2nd Edition)
    • Arms of the Chosen (Exalted 3rd Edition)
    • Changeling: the Lost 2nd Edition, featuring the Huntsmen Chronicle (Changeling: the Lost 2nd Edition)
    • W20 Song of Unmaking novel (Bridges) (Werewolf: the Apocalypse 20th Anniversary Edition)
    • BtP Building a Legend (Beast: the Primordial)
    • CtD C20 Anthology (Changeling: the Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition)

     

    Editing:

    • Cavaliers of Mars
    • VtR A Thousand Years of Night (Vampire: the Requiem 2nd Edition)
    • V20 Beckett’s Jyhad Diary (Stretch Goal Content)

     

    Post-Editing Development:

    • CtL fiction anthology (Changeling: the Lost 2nd Edition)

    Indexing:

     

     

     

    ART DIRECTION FROM MIRTHFUL MIKE:

    In Art Direction

    • Dark Eras Companion
    • Beckett’s Jyhad Diary
    • C20 
    • M20 Book of Secrets – AD’d
    • W20 Pentex Employee Indoctrination Handbook
    • V20 Dark Ages Companion
    • Mortal Remains – Beast – AD’d
    • EX3 Tomb of Dreams Jumpstart – Continuing to get sketches and seeing first color comps.
    • Dagger of Spiragos – Putting together the art buy.

    Marketing Stuff
    • Banner and Slider Updates – Working on new stuff for Hurt Locker, Secrets of the Covenants, and Scarred Lands.

     

    In Layout

    • Necropolis Rio
    • Promethean 2 Condition Cards
    • V20 Lore of the Bloodlines
    • Prince’s Gambit – Kickstarter Prep.
    • Pugmire
    • Wise and the Wicked 5e – Starting on it sometime this week.

     

    Proofing
    At Press

    • Ex 3 Scree Finished at the Printer.
    • Ex 3 core book – From RichT: manufacturing continues. Gilding finished at last, now on to binding.
    • Beast Condition Cards – Getting physical cards uploaded.
    • CofD Hurt Locker – Waiting for errata to make PoD.
    • Secrets of the Covenants – Waiting for errata to make PoD.
    • Revised Reap The Whirlwind Jumpstart – PoD proof ordered.
    • Beckett Screen – At Printer.
    • W20 Shattered Dreams – Deluxe Edition at press.
    • Shattered Dreams Screen – At Printer.
    • Dark Eras: Ends of Empire – PoD proof ordered.
    • Dark Eras: The Sundered World – PoD proof ordered.
    • Promethean 2nd Condition Cards – Advance PDF going on sale this this Wednesday.
    • Beast Conquering Heroes – Advance PDF now on sale at DTRPG, gathering errata.

     

     

     


    TODAY’S REASON TO DRINK: Pelt of the werewolf that bit ya.


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  2. paradise_by_funkylounge-dapwbo8.jpg
    Image Source: http://funkylounge.deviantart.com/art/Paradise-648160280

    This is inspired by a recent decision to do a one-shot of After the Bomb RPG on my birthday coming up. It was favorite of mine years ago, and I hope it stands up to a trip down nostalgia lane.

    Nobody rightly recalls how it all happened. How it started. Some say it was a war for resources that escalated. Some that it was all an accident with an advanced defense system. Others say it was a disease that made mankind mad, and in its madness it lashed out, flailing at itself with weapons of mass destruction. However it began the world was bombarded in nuclear fire and the old world was destroyed. The world died, humanity was reduced from billions to tens of thousands.

    Maybe it was the radiation. Or a chemical. Or some kind of disease that changed. Regardless, as humankind fell the animals rose. Mutations rapidly changed the wild and domesticated animals of the world. Intelligence. Sentience. Sapience. Hands. Even psychic abilities. As humanity gasped against their death, the animals took their first breaths as the world's new dominant "species." The remaining humans have either embraced the new citizens of the world or banded together against them. In the ruins of the old world both parties eek out survival. 

    The wind swayed the trees and brought a new scent to my nose. I sniffed and then wrinkled my nose at the odor, some kind of synthetic volatile. Motor oil perhaps, or something else. I crept forward and peered out from the hedgerow. A mechanized soldier, one of the Empire's robot suited thugs. I sat back and un-slung my rifle from my back.

    Not for the first time I cursed my underdeveloped legs. Walking on two legs was beyond me for more than a few steps, unlike some of my friends who were more human in that regard. Still, I shouldn't complain too much, my hands were well developed and I'd retained the superior sense of smell of my forebears. I lifted the rifle, then thought better of it. Instead I grabbed the battered walkie talkie. It's case was held together with old silver tape and the batteries were being held in by a rubber band, but it worked. I clicked it on and quietly called for help from my comrades.

    I took up my weapon and waited, peering through the simple tube scope on the rifle and waiting for my allies. I didn't have to wait long. A bellowing roar preceded the arrival of Moose. Antlers down he charged the armored soldier, slamming into it with the force of a car. Hot on Moose's heels were Shifty and Fred. Shifty held a submachinegun that was comically large in the mouse's hands but the cleverly assembled recoil brace did its job and he laid down and impressive amount of suppressing fire. Fred was another dog, but his mastiff roots made him huge and he rushed out swinging a crude maul built from an old metal pole with a chuck of concrete still fused to the end.

    Two other soldiers joined the first but I managed a lucky shot and got one just below the face shield of his helmet, sending the man down in a gurgling tumble. The stream of bullets from Shifty kept the other pinned down long enough for Moose and Fred to beat the first into submission. The third ran, his robotically augmented legs carrying him away quicker than any of us could, or cared to, follow.

    "They're getting brazen," Shifty said as he reloaded an extra long magazine for his weapon. "This is way closer to home than they usually patrol. Things are getting bad."

    Fred nodded, "War is coming."

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  3. I aim to go to market with a board game idea based on a traditional quiz but with a twist. All of the plan is made, just need backing!

    Kickstarter - Tabletop Games
    Creator of project: theomk@hotmail.com
    Project goal: £10,000

    like | dislikeof?l=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.kickstarter.com%2


    View the kickstarter

  4. Spoiler city here folks, I'm going to brain dump my feelings on A Memory of Light so if you haven't read it walk away...

    ...Seriously.

    Twenty some odd years ... to say that there was some anticipation, and even some dread, going into this book is a grand understatement. After twenty some years could a story that I've been reading since middle school end in a satisfying way? In the end the answer is largely yes. Was it perfect? No, but it was close enough that I can forgive the bits I felt were missing.

    Sanderson did the impossible, he managed to stick the landing on a series not of his own creation after the death of the original author. These last three books might be colored by his own writing style, his own wit, his own method of pacing, but for me they felt like a return to form for the series and A Memory of Light proves a powerful ending as much because of those things as despite it. Sanderson deftly weaves the dozens of characters Jordan left behind into the final threads of a tapestry of humankind's eternal struggle against the darkness.

    Every character of note gets a moment to shine, even if only just that moment. The book is thick with the major players though, with Perrin and Mat anchoring the first half and the second half respectively as Rand faces his destiny. For a book topping 900 pages it reads quickly, incredibly so, as a chapter that is nearly 200 pages long breezes by with shifting focal points and highs and lows that run the reader through and emotional wringer.

    What works? Basically everything, enough so that trying to pin down speaking topics is largely impossible, suffice to say that the major plot points get resolved, for good or ill. Particularly strong are the various fates of the Forsaken and the first and second tier heroes. Not everyone survives, on the side of the light, but even in death ... well, as Lan says, "Death is lighter than a feather."

    What didn't work for me was the final actions and fate of Padan Fain/Mordeth. Considering the implied importance of the dual wounds in Rand's side, the way that Shadar Logoth aided in the cleansing of saidin, and the implied power that Mordeth was amassing, apparently beyond that of the Forsaken, it seems odd that Mordeth doesn't show until the last hundred pages and that he never even comes within spitting distance of Rand's battle with the Dark One. Either he was a red herring all along, or he could have been removed from consideration a few books ago.

    Still. One thing out of so many.

    After twenty years the Third Age is over and the next age has begun, by the time the Third age comes again it will have long faded from memory, and the events after Tarmon Gai'don will have come around again to be the distant past. There is no beginning or end to the Wheel of Time after all, but at long last we have come to an ending, and for me I think that for all its many ups and downs over the years I am satisfied with the ending of this tale, and the implications and glimpses at those tales yet to be told, and long since forgotten.

    Rest in peace Robert Jordan, Brian Sanderson did you proud, and this book can act as a fitting finale for your magnum opus.

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    So every year I go to Thanksgiving out in Wilkes County with my momma's side of the family in the past, me, Momma and my sister would all pile into Momma's Pontiac and drive over to her sister Adie's house in Washington, the county seat, but now that Lou has a family of their own, it was just me and Momma in the car. Adie’s house is just plain huge and very Southern, just a massive Victorian beast with a ceiling fan in every room; she did very well for herself, marrying Montgomery St. Clair, youngest son of a well-to-do Georgia family that owns a large dairy. Uncle Monty wanted to be an artist, but his parents pulled him out of art school and he ended up a vet, a large animal specialist to be exact, which got him in tight with the horsey set. Monty is a quiet little fellow, now retired and meek as a church-mouse, whereas Aunt Adie is a force of nature, let me tell you. Everything is a competition to Adie; who has the biggest house, who has the most grandkids, the whole nine yards. Well let me tell you, if life is a completion, then I suppose she's winning, because she's loaded, has five kids and twelve grandkids. You've won, Adie! So can you stop with all the photo albums already? Jesus H. Christ on a pogo stick, as Daddy used to say!

    Okay, where was I? Oh yes, Thanksgiving at Adie's this year. Of course Adie and Monty were there, it's there place, but also Aunt Ren and Uncle Frank. Now Frank has almost as much money as Monty, but as he will no doubt tell you if you give him a half a minute, he earned it all 'by the sweat of his brow'. Frank owns a chain of Ford dealerships throughout southeastern Georgia, though he has little to do with their day-to-day operations; mostly he just sits back and counts his money. Aunt Ren is as quiet as Aunt Adie is loud, but don't let her fool you; she's as sharp as a tack and had a fierce temper if you push her.

    And of course, all my cousins, nieces and nephews were there, so many that even that big old house was nearly fit to bust; kids running all over the place and underfoot, including my sister Lou's two kids, though mostly she just holds on to little Ricky for dear life. Big Rick was there, too, of course, all full of Hispanic charm and New York style; Lou really hit the jackpot when she snagged him, let me tell you. Little Tony seemed to be everywhere at once, chasing after the girls just like his no-good daddy who left Lou in the lurch; of course, Ray was a sumbitch while little 'Tone' is an angel, and yes I am horribly biased; why do you ask?

    So we've got this house just plain packed with folks, and here I come with my head all full of new and improved attachments, and it is like WHAM!, walking into a wall of noise; my eyes crossed and started to water the minute I stepped inside.

    "You got a headache, hon?" Momma had her hand on my arm.

    I waved her off and told her I was fine, but she knew I was lying; of everyone I've talked to since waking up, she's the only one who gets it, or at least comes close. She watches Medium, Ghost Whisperer, that one show on TLC with the lady with the big hair and ugly clothes, all of them. She might not know exactly how I feel all the time, but she can pretty much figure it out

    "How 'bout I get you drink; how's that sound?"

    It sounded pretty great, to be honest, so I let her wander off into the crowd while I leaned up against the wall and took a few deep breaths and just sort of pushed everybody's thoughts off into their own corners. The good news is that since I came back, I have a tendency to put people off, so no one really bothered me as I pulled off my leather jacket and closed my eyes; the bad news is...well, this is my own damn family, and I don't really like them being scared of me all the time! But you can't have one without the other, so I counted my blessings and did my best to become one with the wallpaper.

    I used to like these kinds of get-togethers, I thought to myself.

    "There's our little angel! How are you, Darla?"

    "Hey there, Uncle Frank! Happy Thanksgiving!" I gave him a big hug; at least someone in the family wasn't too spooked to be social.

    "Happy Thanksgiving, Dar! Where's your momma gone off to?"

    "Oh, she's off gettin' me a drink; what else is new, right?"

    Uncle Frank laughed, his face all red from his own little celebrations.

    <My God, look at that sweet little ass! I could take a bite right out of it!>

    For a second, it felt like the floor had dropped out from under me, like on one of those rides at Six Flags, and I shook my head; please tell me I did not hear what I just thought I heard! Well, not 'heard', but you know what I mean. But sadly, I was correct, as a new side of Uncle Frank was suddenly revealed to me; not only was he a letch, but a cheater and a pig pretty much all around. The images that spilled out of his head, all the women he’d been with, naked girls in every possible position, doing all kinds of things-

    "Will you excuse me for a sec? I just need to get a little air?" I gave him my friendliest smile.

    Frank looked slightly disappointed. "Oh, well sure, Dar, but you come right back, you hear? We're gonna be eatin' soon."

    Not if I throw up first, I thought. Momma found me a few minutes later, sitting out on the porch, and she handed me a whiskey on the rocks, which I nearly downed in one gulp.

    "You okay, Dar?" She gently rubbed my back between the shoulder blades.

    "Uncle Frank is a filthy pig, Momma! How did I never see that?"

    She laughed. "You just sussed that out now? Hell, I've known that for years, and I didn't need a bump on the head to figure it out." She jerked her head back towards the house. "That there is a nest of vipers, hon; not one of them is worth a dime." Momma shook her head and chuckled. "Well, except maybe Monty; he's a sweet old thing. And your cousin Danny is just the nicest young man."

    That reminded me of another set of thoughts that had pushed its way into my head a few weeks ago, when Danny and his girlfriend Pauline came to visit. I leaned over to whisper in Momma's ear. "Is Cousin Danny...is he gay?"

    She shrugged and whispered back. "I don't know for sure, but I think he might be; can you imagine coming out to Uncle Frank?" She shuddered. "There may be a reason he moved to Atlanta."

    I took another sip of my whiskey and sighed. "Life sure is a lot more complicated than I ever knew."

    Momma smiled and rested a hand on my arm. "'Bout time you figured that out, I guess. You ready to go back inside? I promise to keep Frank at bay."

    I nodded and followed her back in; the rest of the evening proved to be just as interesting, although the whiskey helped a lot.

  5. Last week, we settled on some important points. I’ll keep an ongoing Q&A page about what we decide for reference in my blog. The link is here.

    This week, we should settle on how big the area we’re dealing with is going to be. There was a lot of discussion on it this week, and it will factor directly into travel time. So I’m going to combine the two here this week to work out what we want, and we can talk specifics, like engines and means of travel, but don’t have to.

    So the questions to focus us this week are:

    1. How much area do we want to cover? In terms of AU (Astronomical Units), what do we want our hard numbers to be?
    2. What is the maximum amount of time for our group to cross from the central world (seat of power) to the furthest rim? I think this might help us set our travel speeds so that we don’t get too fast or too slow – keeping us right where we want.
    3. We have established two types of travel, established travel and “off the path”. How prevalent do we want the easy travel? How often do people have to go off the path?
    4. Are the sizes of groups limited by space or by expansion? In other words, ICly do we cover a sector only because that’s the limit of exploration at this time, or is it because something is stopping further expansion?

    Feel free to talk about these below, as always. I’ll give some of my own answers to get things started.

    I’m not sure what hard numbers I want to see here, but I’d like to say that it doesn’t take more than six months to travel the “empire” or whatever the central group of beings (presumably human) are. I think that if you get much further out than 3 months from the central authority, the ability to hold planets to the governing body diminishes. And since we’re not all Star Trek and we don’t have (as yet, we might) a Federation in which people join for various reasons based not entirely on reality, we have some practical limits.

    I think I’d like around 25% of the planets to be reachable by the easy travel, with up to 75% being a month or less from one of the easy travel points. The remaining 25% are long stretches of hard travel – like going to the northern stretches of Alaska in the early 1900’s.

    I like the idea that there’s some kind of barrier or block to expansion in one direction or another. Star Trek never did anything with it, but the concept of Space Empires is an intriguing one to me. Even a cold war has its interest to me.

  6. We have modified the way that we handle user account registrations for new/alternate characters. Instead of using the standing sign up method, you will now need to use the "Register Alt Character" link in the extras menu. This simplifies the sign up process greatly. In fact, all you need to enter is a unique login and display name to get your new character created. There is no painful captcha to try to decipher and there is no email validation. It is just the 2 simple fields.

    To register a new character you will need to be using an account that has over 50 posts. The new account will use the same email address and password as the account that you are using to create it.

    Alternate logins are limited to 3 every 3 months.