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Photo by hue12 photography on Unsplash

Pledge of Allegiance: 1942

Under God added to Pledge: 1954

In God We Trust: 1956

Been seeing people attribute this stuff to the Founding Fathers as if the US of A was built around a pledge and a slogan.

Despite the fact that Out of Many, One was the original motto for this nation, some decided that we needed God on our money to keep from being heathens.

Don’t bother pondering that for too long — it would be un-American.

The mid-late-50s were the beginning of a coordinated labor of love toward forcing this country into corporotheocracy. …


Adding supernatural insult to grievous bodily injury…

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Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

In fantasy questing, there will be times when having to fight a terrible, fire-breathing dragon in its lair just isn’t enough. Braving merciless desert, ancient deathtraps, and undying mummies can sometimes be just the beginning. And, seriously, does ANYone ever really win during a contest with the Fae Folk?

What do these all have in common? Mainly the danger of enjoying the dubious spoils of victory.

Dragons and their hoards have long been the big payday for intrepid knights and bold adventurers. If those would-be dragonslayers had simply done a little reading first…


What your chosen weapon says about you.

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Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

Aren’t swords romantic? Depending on the size and shape, a sword can conjure images of knights in shining armor, honorable samurai above reproach, dashing swashbucklers swinging into battle, or brawny barbarians laying waste to sorcerers and monsters alike. The sword-maker’s craft is often deserving of respect, and even reverence.

Make the sword shorter and smaller. Getting images of ambushing bandits or stealthy ninja?

For my own fantasy encounters, I like to use an occasional genre shortcut or reliable trope to convey information for those who might be paying attention. The weapon(s) wielded by…


How dark is your Dark Lord?

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Photo by Good Free Photos on Unsplash

In the beginning, there was –

What? Darkness? Void? Depends on which myth cycle or fantasy trope you’re building upon. For the purpose of this essay, let’s presume the classic primordial Night. The vast emptiness of pre-Creation. Thus, the default state of Creation is Dark.

Somewhere along the way, Light was introduced into the Dark. That’s when the trouble started. Unto the Void was unleashed the intrusion of Light, or Energy. If we’re accepting the Void as the natural state of things, then we kind of have to accept that Light is something unnatural…


Using dialogue to define your fantasy world…

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Photo by Vanessa Bumbeers on Unsplash

Show — don’t tell. How many of us have had that hammered into our heads — our very souls? Just me? Certainly not.

This is not an argument against that edict. Personally, I embrace it. Engage the senses of the reader. Help them feel like they are actually there. Don’t leave the reader as a mere spectator.

But –

What about those who actually live in your fantasy world? The people that grew up in your painstakingly detailed magical milieu? Wouldn’t they have a unique perspective? Different priorities? In-depth knowledge? Have you ever…


Turning fun into fear…

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Miranda — fluffy office manager.

Yes, that was a dramatic title. It is not hyperbole — not for me.

About a year ago, I left my secure day job to work from home. I didn’t have grandiose dreams of six-figure income or widespread fame. All I wanted to do was write my stories, develop my gaming projects, and take care of my household. The plan was to self-publish material for a project I’d already established and begun selling. Also, to take some freelance writing gigs to supplement that meager income. …


Ten Good Reasons for Being Bad…

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Photo by Max Kleinen on Unsplash

So many stories benefit from having a memorable villain. One we all love to hate. One that pushes the hero(es) to their limits. One that looks good in black — or red. A villain that deals in absolutes that make it easy to oppose.

In my own writings, the bad guys (or gals) tend to be other than mustache-twirling dastards who let loose with an occasional evil cackle just before spontaneously killing an innocent bystander, or their own minion, just to show how b-a-d they are. So — why do they do it?

Here…


Building foundations upon the ashes of loss.

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Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

The premise of my fantasy RPG setting is the coming of Humanity to the shores of a new land inhabited by Fae. The Humans loosely represent the European Colonists that arrived upon the shores of North America. The Fae recall the native populations that eventually suffered massive injustice and loss. Being a fantasy setting, with magic and meddlesome deities, things turned out differently when Humans and Fae clashed.

My Humans came from far away and sought to settle upon an unknown shore. The land they chose for colonization was essentially a Faerie realm…


The importance of being second-string.

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Photo by Gui Avelar on Unsplash

There was a time, during my high school and college D&D games, when NPCs killed more player characters than monsters did.

During the past 40+ years of running an ongoing tabletop RPG campaign in my own setting, I’ve come to realize some of the value of non-player characters (NPCs). I’ve been known to run an NPC to accompany the players during an adventure — but that can get dicey. Some players can develop a habit of deferring to the NPC because that character is run by the same person in charge of the game. Those…


Magical beasts in High Fantasy settings.

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Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

One of the great things, for me, about myth and fantasy is all the whackbiscuit monsters put down to ‘divine dalliance’ or ‘magical experimentation.’ For one of the most widely recognized and ‘classical’ examples of this mish-mash monster type, let’s look at the griffon.

The griffon (or gryphon) is one of those charming heraldic monstrosities that comes to us from a proud tradition of mercenary exploration and false advertising. But, what is it — really? We have an insane amalgam of lion and eagle. Okay, granted, that’s pretty weird in Germany — but not…

David Hill

Writing and drawing his way through a lifetime of creating and gaming, David shares a cluttered home office with a restless hoard of books and four helpful cats

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