Showing posts with label real life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label real life. Show all posts

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Deities & Demigods II Updates, 2024 Update

 It Sunday night. I have tomorrow off which is good because it is like -9° F with a  wind chill of -31° outside right now. I said I was not going to complain about the cold this year, but this is testing my resolve.

Instead of freezing my ass off, I am poking at my Deities & Demigods II.  I have all the text in the layout, but I am in a quandary.  I love the work I have done on it, but I can't in good conscience sell it anymore or even give it away for free using AI-generated art. 

I am going still play around AI art for personal fun, but not for publishing this particular project. 

This is an issue since the Black Forest Mythos has two dozen gods and a dozen or so monsters. I need to find some art.  I really don't want to spend a ton on art and not see a return on it. I am fine not making a profit for this sine I was doing it for fun (and potentially for free) but I would like to recoup any money spent on art now.

So. Trying to figure out my next steps.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

The Empty Chair: R. Michael Grenda

R. Michael "Evil" Grenda
 Well. I didn't expect to be doing this today. I just got word that my old High School and College DM, R. Michael Grenda, died yesterday.  The cause of death is unknown, but it is suspected it was a heart attack.

I have mentioned him here many times, usually not by name, I don't name people unless they have explicitly said it was fine. But we began playing in my early high school days. We met via our school's theatre group. Yeah, we were both theatre kids. We bonded over our shared love of D&D and the fact that we both owned TRS-80 Color Computers

He had his world, based mainly on the World of Greyhawk and I had mine, based on the Known World, or what would later be known as Mystara. And we would go back and forth between these worlds. Eventually, we would merge them and he made a map for it that I would eventually lose and then much, much later find the Mystoerth map I still use today. We played chess together often, had similar tastes in fiction, and discovered computer games together.

When I left town to go to University, he eventually followed me there. He was a computer science major and would eventually end up working with databases for the State of Illinois (which is as much archaeology as it is computer science) and met his future wife while we were all at school together. His wife (then his girlfriend) introduced me to Gopher sites and even this new thing called the World Wide Web.

Much of what happened in our games lives on in my work here.  The "Big Bad" of my Buffy campaign "The Dragon and the Phoenix" was Yoln Shadowreaper, one of his NPCs. The entire background of TDaTP was my big War of the Dragons, which was our world-ending battle before college.

Our "D&D on the Computer" game BARDD was largely written by him. When I6 Ravenloft came out I bought it and then made him run it. Back in college, we even did the "Dreams of Barovia" campaign where the characters shifted from one reality to the next, with him running House on Gryphon Hill and me running the original I6. I ran my first test of my witch class with him and we tried out his Riddle Master, Beastmaster, and Shadowmaster classes.

We had met up recently, back in July, and that was great. We had not seen each other in a long time. Family, jobs, kids. You know the story.  I hate to say it, but when his wife called me last night, I was not 100% surprised. I thought he looked a little unwell. But hell, we are all in our 50s now. None of us look "great."  

I have not quite processed it all yet, to be honest.  I owe a lot of my my current writing to him and the games we played. Thought we might roll some dice one more time, but I guess not.


I'll end with him flipping me off at a party a bunch of us were at in college. He would have found it funny.

Monday, August 28, 2023


 I interrupt my regularly scheduled Monstrous Monday post for our monster harvest we worked on over the weekend.


More tomatoes

More tomatoes







Long-time readers will know that my wife has a huge garden. She has over 115 tomato plants and somewhere north of 120 peppers from sweet to super hot. 

We brought in tomatoes, peppers, carrots, garlic, some onions, okra, beans, basil, and even some potatoes. 

We spent Sunday processing them all.

Tomato sauce

Tomato sauce and soup

I processed about 3 gallons of Tomato sauce and we also made tomato soup to freeze.

This was our third harvest this year so far and we have least two more.  With all the picking (and you have to do the weeding then too), processing, and freezing, we hit the couch last night, and both of us crashed.  This was all a lot easier 25 years ago when she started her garden.

Honestly, I should have made a "Tomato Monster" but was too beat.

Now to convince my chef son to make me something will all this garden fresh produce!

Saturday, October 15, 2022


Got a special delivery the other day!




Our NIGHT SHIFT Twilight's Queen mead from Apis mead and wine is in.

I have three bottles and I am saving them for Halloween night. Certainly a great night for it!

You can order yours from Vino Shipper.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

The Official Night Shift: VSW MEAD!

Now for something a little different.

Reposted from The Official Night Shift: VSW MEAD!

From Jason Vey creator and co-author of NIGHT SHIFT:

NIGHT SHIFT Twilight Queen Mead
Twilight Queen, the official mead of Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars

Apis Mead & Winery in Carnegie, PA
I am pleased to announce the release party for the official Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars mead: Twilight Queen on October 8! This release makes us the first ever tabletop role  playing game company to have our own official mead!

Even better, the mead connects with the game, as the favorite drink of Maeve Antinea, the woman who calls the shots, and the Twilight Queen herself, served in Club Khalsa, the most popular nightclub/watering hole in the City.

This mead, a collaboration with Apis Mead & Winery in Carnegie, PA, is a buckwheat mead with black cherries, vanilla, allspice, and cinnamon. The release party will be at Apis on Saturday, October 8, from 2:00 PM until whenever. We will have gaming events and giveaways, and both the mead and the game will be on sale! Our friends from Drawbridge Games will be on site as well!

Apis Mead & Winery in Carnegie, PA
I should also mention here that this is not just me slapping my company name on something. I'm a mead maker and have been for about 15 years. I collaborated closely with Dave from Apis on every aspect of this, from the initial flavor profile to the level of spice and flavoring in it, adjusting, tweaking, and the entire process of brewing the beverage. This is very much an Elf Lair creation as much as it is an Apis Mead, and after several rounds of tasting and tweaking, I am absolutely confident in saying IT IS A WINNER.

Please save the date and stop down! And if you can't make it, Apis can ship to any state that is allowed, through Vinoshipper!

You can find more information about Apis at their website here:

Tim here now.

I don't do a lot of drinking anymore, save for coffee (I did enough in college for myself, my kids, you, your kids...) but this is fun.

Will it help the sales of NIGHT SHIFT? No, and I would be surprised if it did, but that is not the point is it. This is a fun thing to have and I'll happily pick up a few bottles.

Can you say your RPG has its own mead? No.

NOW, what would be totally on-brand for me? A "From the Editor's Cup" Weirdly World News coffee roast. Dark, imposing, and each cup is the LD50 of caffeine for a grown adult!

Sunday, March 20, 2022

The Fall of the Empire of the Petal Throne

the Empire of the Petal Throne
The news came out this past week about M.A.R. Barker, the creator of Empire of the Petal Throne and Tékumel. Apparently, there is confirming evidence that Prof. Barker (formerly Philip Barker) wrote the book Serpent's Walk under the pseudonym Randolph Calverhall and published by the same neo-Nazi publisher that published The Turner Diaries.

This is fairly damning, to be honest.  The book is pretty much Nazi "fan fiction" by those familiar with it. While this might not be enough for others there is more.  It does seem that the Tekumel Foundation has known about this, and kept it quiet, for years.  Now you might ask how is a "Nazi fan fiction" any different than say Philip K. Dick's "Man in the High Castle?"  I guess the back cover of the book tells the whole story.  It was written as fulfillment fantasy of a group of S.S. officers' descendants "correcting the the wrongs" of the end of W.W. II.

Ok that is pretty bad.  Then to make matters worse, Prof. Barker sat on the board of editors for anti-Sementic, Holocaust-denial journal, "The Journal of Historical Review," as psuedo-scientific and psuedo-academic journal. It has been described as anti-Sementic by the Southern Poverty Law Center.   

The Journal is much like others of it's ilk; not peer-reviewed, pushing an agenda.  There was some uncertainty online about who this particular "Philip Barker, Ph.D." was, but honestly combined with the publication of the other book I don't feel that he gets any benefit of the doubt. 

Anti-Semantic tripe

What does that mean for me? 

Well.  Everyone has to draw their own lines somewhere. Like Lovecraft, Orson Scott Card, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and J.K. Rolwing, Barker has left a pretty dark mark on his legacy.  

For me, Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism are steps way too far. 

There is no evidence of this, as far as I can tell, within the pages of Tékumel.  But the shine on the books is gone for me. I know he is dead and won't benefit from anything I do or don't do.  I am not looking to boycott or raise a campaign about it, plenty of others will do that.  It is just sad of course that such an obviously brilliant man also has such vile and repugnant beliefs.  

Anyway, here are the relevant links. No I am not linking to the books. You can find them on your own.

Monday, October 5, 2020

The Official Music of the OSR is Run-DMC

Seriously. It is. 

Like Old-School D&D was a pioneer of gaming,  Run-DMC was a pioneer of old-school rap and hip hop.  Many hip-hop groups cite Run-DMC as their primary influence and for many of us Run-DMC was out first exposure to the wider world of rap and hip-hop.  Could there have been a Public Enemy without Run-DMC? Wu-Tang Clan? NWA? Snoop-Dogg? Outkast? Salt-n-Peppa, De La Soul? Cypress Hill? US3? Digable Planets? TLC? (damn, I still love TLC).

We owe it all to Run-DMC.

Silly?  Yeah, a little. But my love of Run-DMC is pure and true. And yeah I know all the words to these songs. 

But making a claim, any claim, about the OSR is pointless.  While there are trends, there are no main drivers here. No one setting policy or dictating terms save for collective memory of a time when you could turn on your radio and hear "It's Tricky."

Consequently, the claim that OSR is conservative only track because the OSR is as has been often pointed out, full of old fucks.

I am pretty far left and get more liberal and more left and more blue with each passing year. 

I shouldn't need to say this, but here it is.

Like THAC0 BLOG and The Elf Game, I don't just reject Nazis and White Supremacists, I utterly reject them and condemn them, and they are not welcome in any part of the games I play, write or enjoy.  They can take their orange shitgibbon Trump with them. 


And Black Lives Matter. 

And fuck Trump.

Don't like it? Get the fuck out of the OSR.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Happy Anniversary!

No regular post today, it's my 24th Wedding Anniversary!
24 years ago I stood on a beach in Ocho Rios, Jamaica and I said "I Do" to my best friend.
It's been a wonderful ride so far.  Two houses, two kids, 8 different jobs, and 21 season of gardens (missing one due to a move and no gardens when we lived in an apartment).  I wouldn't change a thing.

To keep this RPG related I got a commission from one of my Featured Artist, Ben Honeycutt, to do a portrait of my wife's and mine D&D 5 characters.  Or, more closely, us cosplaying as our characters. ;)

These are our characters Johan IV (Paladin) and Lana (Fighter)

These were based on our minis and our engagement photo from 1995.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Busy Week

Sorry for the lack of posting everyone.  Been a really busy week at work.

Here are some brief updates.

Back to Middle-Earth
I turned 50 last week!
So I decided to re-read the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings for something like the 7th or 8th time.
Finished up the Hobbit and I am at the part in Fellowship where the Hobbits have left Tom Bombadil's home.  I am likely to also re-read The Silmarillion, a book I loved much more than expected.

I am also considering picking up Tales from the Perilous Realm and The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, two books I ignored as being "too childish" for me...back when I was, in fact, a child.

Then To the Wizarding World!
Speaking of childish things, I have no shame in admitting that I enjoy playing Pokémon GO with my wife and kids.  We walk all over my son's campus (because apparently, I am not on campus enough now) and catch Pokémon.  We get out, we get exercise and we all do it together as a family.
So now we are all playing Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.  HP is a little more near and dear to my heart than Pokémon is. Though I have very, very fond memories of playing the Pokémon card game with my son when he was little and watching the cartoon with him.
Wizards Unite uses the same game engine as PG but with some differences.  More immersive.  I see more walks in my future with my family and both games.

BTW if you want to add me, here are my codes.
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite: 1990 1847 9214
Pokémon GO: 5190 6074 7972

Then Back to the Final Frontier
My BlackStar game is going rather well.
A couple of new developments.
First, I am going to be adding Kzinti as a race.  I am going to say at this point they are in an uneasy cold war with the Federation.  They are largely going to fill the role of the Klingons from the FASA Trek game.  Including the Klingon philosophy of "what is not growing is dying".   Again, this is merely background and I might set them up as the main antagonist for the "series" before springing the horror on them.
Second, I have gotten some GREAT ideas from a very unlikely source, the HBO series Chernobyl. 
I think this is going to be great.

I just need to survive the term start here in a week and I'll be great.

BTW I am now working on a new Graduate level Social Justice course.  This will be a lot of fun and I am really looking forward to it.

See you all next week!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Busy Weekend!

Sorry for the lack of a Monstrous Monday post yesterday, it was Memorial Day in the US and I was busy doing gardening with my wife.  But that's not all I did.

My kids got in a bunch of D&D 5 over the weekend their groups.  Looks like this summer we will be hosting 3-4 WEEKLY D&D games here. Pretty nice.

Went to my FLGS over the weekend.  Picked up the new Saltmarsh book, but have not looked it over yet. Saw the new "Wardlings" series of kid minis and they now have a little witch out.

She is perfect as a younger version of my iconic witch Larina!

All the Wardlings come with a pet, but I am swapping out the cat that came with this one for the winged cat that came with the little mage character.

Went to another game store just down the road.  This one is more Warhammer centric but they were holding a "garage sale".  You can bring in items to sell and pay the store for them.
We picked up this set of Dwarven Forge dungeon walls for cheap.

While the kids enjoyed the new dungeons I was helping my wife plant over 112 pepper plants and 70 tomato plants.

I also spent my Monday building her two 8'x4' and two double deep 4'x2' raised bed boxes.

So really, quite the satisfying weekend.  Got a lot of stuff done for both my and my wife's hobbies!

Plus I built those boxes even though my wife had made off with my sawhorses for her plants! 

Kids have another D&D game tonight. Yeah, school is out for both of them. My oldest finished his first year of college and my youngest finished high school finals.  I'd like for them to get some jobs, BUT truth be told I am also happy they are home all the time.  They have the rest of their lives to work.

Back to regular posting soon!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Great Things Come in FOURS

So about 24 hours ago this happened,

Yes, I hit 4,000,000 page views!
Thanks to everyone that keeps coming here to read my posts and ramblings.

I am also hitting my 40th year of playing D&D.  I have played several scores of other games since then and have written professionally for a dozen or so professionally, I keep coming back to D&D.

Also sometime next month I'll hit 4,000 posts.  That's a lot of text.

It's been a great time here at the Other Side.  I started the first Other Side as a website as a means to teach myself HTML while working on my first Ph.D. 
My degrees might have gotten me my job(s) but it was learning HTML that got me here.

I have lots more planned here, so stick with me for the next 4,000 posts and next 4,000,000 hits!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Busy Day: Edits, Module Prep and oh yeah, the Day Job

I am trying to wrap up some edits now on Daughters of Darkness.  Some monsters and some spells did not make the cut.

Also, I am deep in helping launch a new graduate program in Social Work, so that has me REALLY busy.

But I also thought I'd share these.  Printed them out last night.

I like to print out my classic modules when running 5e so I can write notes on the adventure. Both in-game ones and conversion notes. 

I do have some notes from the Classic Modules Today team.

REALLY looking forward to running all of these as my huge "Deserts of Desolation and Death" campaign.  It should be epic.

Monday, April 22, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 22

Day 22: How are you working to improve the ttrpg community?

I hope I lead by example.

I would like to be the example that not all "old guys" are stuck in the 80s (although my wife would question my tastes in music) and we are not all a bunch of grumpy assholes.

I also try to call out bad behavior when I see it and correct my own when it happens.

My reach is not very far, but I am hoping that things like this will help.

I like to be an RPG evangelist.  Show everyone what is good about RPGs and the joy of sitting around the table with family and friends and rolling dice.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 21

Day 21: What external factors do you struggle with to create?

Another easy one.


There is not enough time in my day to work full time, be a husband and father and then still find time to write.

I spend my day job writing. I spend blog time writing.  Then to sit in front of a computer and do more?

Sometimes it is hard.  Often times it is hard.

Friday, April 19, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 19

Day 19: Favorite Themes to Explore

When I write games it is magic and the nature of belief.

My favorite characters tend to be clerics, paladins, and witches.  All characters that are defined by their relationship to divine forces.

Maybe it has something to do with me being an atheist in real life. I don't know.  I suspect it is.

I just find them rather interesting.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 17

Day 17: How Does Your Identity Influence Your Work?

This is related to yesterday's post.  But let's break it down into how I see myself.

I am an aging Gen Xer
Not a Baby Boomer (thank you!) and not a Millenial.  I grew up on a diet of MTV, horror movies on basic cable and later on VHS.  I learned to program a computer to get the software I needed (no aps or stores yet).  So I have learned to make do with what I had available and then create the rest.
My books are often the games or supplements I wanted to play in the 80s but no one had written.
So I also have a preference for some older games. I am not saying they are better (and if you spend anytime here you will know I play and love a lot of new games) I just find them fun. I like them.

I am a Midwesterner
I grew up in the mid-West.  My high school was in the middle of two corn fields. We lived through the Satanic Panic of the 80s so "of course" everyone knew of someone that knew someone that saw a Satanic altar.   I got the see the power behind a social movement early on and in your face full color.
This also affects my next bit of identity.

I am an Atheist and Skeptic
I grew up as an Atheist in a town whose claim to fame is the number of churches they have.  Look I love writing about ghosts, witches, magic, and gods. I just don't believe in any of it in real life.  None. In a very significant way, my early explorations into RPGs (D&D in particular) and mythology was a way of dealing with being the only kid in school* who didn't believe in fairy tales.  * I have since learned through the wonder of social media that I was not the only one they were just as afraid as I was to say anything.

I am a Father
Becoming a husband and father is one of my greatest achievements in life.   Yes, I have had plenty of other really great achievements; my education, my degrees, my books.  But being a dad.  Nothing ever comes close to that.  I write games I want my kids to also enjoy.  I want worlds that they would want to play in.

I am sure there is more.  I used to have a professor that said culture is like a tackle box that someone shook up.  It is very difficult to pull out one thing or separate one from the other.  I think that is true here.