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Posts Tagged ‘adventure’

We’re at it Again!

A few nights ago we managed to squeak in a little over an hour to play again. The players picked up after resting over night with no disturbances and pushed off in the morning. Not that they could tell much difference between the night and the morning – it was still pretty dark in the jungle!

After a couple of hours of walking Cody began to smell the smoke from a campfire. He told Jo, then took off at a run towards it. Jo stood still, shocked by his actions, and finally managed a face-palm. She hurried forward (at a walk) to assist.

He rounded a large tree and came to a stop when he saw the campfire and three men. Two were on their feet and facing him, while a third was sitting on the other side and looking up with a startled expression. Cody launched right in with, “Hi there, what are you doing out here?”

Queue another face-palm from Josephina.

An awkward conversation ensued, given that they were in middle of a dangerous jungle far from civilization. The three men admitted to having seen Dahlia recently, and even offered to show them where they went. The man on the far side of the fire said, “Erik, go ahead and show them.”

Queue the intelligence checks. Josephina failed but Cody did not. He remembered Erik was the same name as the guy that Dahlia ran off with. This prompted some more discussion then ended up with both characters being escorted (and surrounded) by the other three to where Dahlia went. And, as they neared the entrance to a cave, the bad guys attacked.

It was a heck of a battle. Cody drew two of them to himself and switched between them, alternating his attacks and getting pounded on in return as he was flanked. Josephina made fairly quick work of her opponent, and then moved to try and help Cody. That freed Cody up to focus on the leader of the kidnappers and he finally struck him down with a sword in the belly.

Erik surrendered and begged for mercy. He spilled his guts, more or less, and shared that they’d been paid to kidnap the baroness and deliver her here, where she’d be taken by someone else. He didn’t know who, only his boss knew that and he was in no condition to carry on a conversation anymore. All this happened after Josephina made an intimidation check that resulted in a 1. So instead of getting answers right away when she demanded he tell her everything, he proceeded to recite the alphabet and counted up to 20 before they stopped laughing and managed to stop him.

Erik led them into the cave, not warning them at just how truly vile it felt in there. Even with a burning log retrieved from the campfire the cave was dark and oppressive. Cody, a paladin, was beside himself with how wrong the place felt. They persevered and in the first alcove to the right, found Dahlia bound and gagged.

After they cut her free she proceeded to punch Erik square in the nose for his betrayal. They got a little more information out of him with her helping to slap him around a bit, such as learning that the people coming to claim her were to come from the back of the cave, not the front. A quick search led them to the rest of the shallow cave, where they saw an alter set up on a dais, complete with a statue of a dragon and carvings in the wall in the draconic language. They’d discovered a shrine dedicated to dragons.

They turned to leave just as they heard the sound of stone grinding against stone. Erik started cackling and said they were doomed now, they’d waited too long. If they let him live, he’d argue on their behalf to spare their lives. Josephina tried to get more information out of him but Cody, angered at being blackmailed by the thief, ran him through.

They searched his corpse for anything that would tell them more but found nothing, nor did they have time to waste. They searched the others and the campsite, finding Erik’s long sword he’d dropped when he’d surrendered as well as a modest sum of coins. The long sword was unlike any they’d seen, and when Cody picked it up to admire the midnight blue steel of the blade he noticed the sparkle of what almost looked like stars in the metal. The sparkle grew, captivating Josephina as the sword began to glow.

Cody turned, grinning at his find, and noticed figures emerging from the mouth of the cave. Figures wearing harnesses over their brown and green scaled hide and holding clubs and spears. Splisskin, and more kept pouring out.

It was time to run.

And so ended the first part of their adventure – finally! Both kids made it to second level, although they don’t know what that means yet since it was bedtime for them and we couldn’t go over it. Sometime soon, perhaps this weekend, we’ll dive back in and try to explain more to them. The biggest problem we’re having is getting my son separated from his electronics long enough to play, let along keeping him interested for more than an hour or so. He enjoys it and wants to do it, he’s just hard to keep focused on something for more than an hour. Or at least this.

In writing news, the end is in sight for The Goblin Queen. Not a matter of a few days time, but I’ve got a roadmap to the finish line, it’s going to take some work though. More of a marathon than a sprint, for sure!

 

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

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Wayward Women

The first dungeons and dragons session with my kids went well. Surprisingly well, in fact. We didn’t get nearly as far as I hoped we would, but it only lasted a couple of hours. My daughter wanted more, but my son needed a break. It was a good stopping point and I was glad to use it to my advantage – I needed to modify the adventure I’d built now that I had some experience with the new system. They needed more of a challenge!

The characters are a paladin and a monk and they’re off on a mission to rescue a merchant’s missing daughter. She’s run off with a young man of questionable character and intent, heading not only outside of the city but to the west, where there’s only a few farms and a lot of danger. After three days, her father fears the worst and, since it’s outside the city walls, the city guards are unwilling or unable to help.

So off they went and, with the city walls only a few minutes out of sight on the dirt road, they come across two travelers walking toward them. Cody, the paladin, hailed them while Josephine, the monk, noticed how the two seemed to be looking everywhere but at the players. The travelers continued to approach while bantering with Cody and even mentioned being concerned about bandits. The players assured them that they were not bandits – in fact, they were upstanding citizens in search of a lost woman. The two men they’d met grinned and said, “Oh good, that must mean we’re the bandits!”

Battle was launched! Cody stood there, stunned by the sudden turn of events, while Josephine (Jo) seemed to know what was coming. She even managed to attack first, slicing high with her short sword and forcing her opponent to duck – and then delivering a kick to his chin that staggered him. He recovered and tried to counter attack, but she twirled away from the thrust.

Cody managed to knock the sword thrust at him aside with his shield, but was unable to counter. On the second round of combat Jo finished her dodging spin and thrust her sword into the bandit’s belly and up into his heart. He dropped, predictably, and that left Cody  squared off against his for. He gashed the bandit on the arm before the bandit could realize they’d picked on tougher opponents than they though. He turned to flee, giving Jo a chance to stab him in hip with a glancing blow. Off balance, he had no defense against Cody’s sword swept his head clean off.

Hearts pounding and breath coming in gasps, the characters and their players took a moment to recoup and then continued on. Next up was a farmstead they investigated. Speaking with the farmer was an awkward and nearly fatal experience given their direct questions and forgetfulness that they’d just taken part in a battle and looked the part. They managed to avoid getting shot by a crossbow or upsetting the man overly much though, and continued along their way with no new guidance to help them.

Needless to say, they skipped the next farm they encountered!

An hour or so later they found a third farm and decided to investigate. This time they were spied by the farmer’s son on their way up the lane. He warned his father of the dangerous looking visitors and they were greeted with caution. Cody and Jo handled themselves a little better this time and soon were able to move on feeling like they hadn’t just courted death, though they learned little they could use to help them find the missing girl.

Soon thereafter they were set upon by a pack of hyenas that lunged out of the grasses. Cody was daydreaming of righting heinous wrongs and missed the skulking forms in the waist high grasses. Jo tried to warn him, but she was busy defending herself from the toothsome beasts. Even five hyenas were no match for the would-be heroes, although Cody did suffered a bit of damage when one of the hyenas bit his arm and tried to pull him into the grasses.

They passed the 4th farm and hurried on to Silk City, which was little more than an encampment made by the silk farmers that gather the resilient webbing left behind by the spiders in the forest and turn it into particularly strong silks. Indeed, the silk crafted from these webs is unlike any made anywhere else in the world of Kroth, and is used for many purposes from clothing to durable and light weight rope and more.

They met a few of the people at Silk City, including Gwendolyn a semi-permanent resident that ran a small general store and hostel, and Reginald, a portly silk farmer that recommended they talk to Farmer Sherman, just up the road towards Griffinmount (the fourth farm that they skipped, of course). Turns out Reginald had spoken with the man while trading and he remembered him saying something about seeing some new faces wandering about.

And that was the day and their first adventure ended. Cody charmed Gwendolyn into letting him stay in her hostel while Jo slept on the floor. During the next session they will follow the clues and, hopefully, explore more of what I have planned for them. Perhaps even finish the original adventure – but not to worry, I’ve already expanded it and planned for what comes next. It will be some nonstop fun! If they thought the first session was tense, wait until they get to the new stuff I have planned!

Oh, and incidentally they haven’t quite made 2nd level yet, but I did learn that my encounters weren’t tough enough. I had to buff up the encounters on the fly to keep them from being over in the first and second round, for crying out loud! That’s something about D&D 5e I’m noticing – characters are a LOT more powerful than they used to be. Then again, I’m coming from a 1st and 2nd edition memories and, especially in 1st, everything was designed to kill you in the fastest way possible.

 

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

The Dark Side of Creativity

August 13, 2014 2 comments

Nothing shiny and fun here. No name dropping of new books or anything of the sort. The point about this post is it’s my way of trying to process a lot of recent events. You know the events, you were probably as shocked as I was when you heard about Robin Williams.

After the initial, “It’s got to be a hoax!” I got to thinking that maybe it wasn’t. Sure, for some celebs I might have that animalistic glee that I want to see them fall from grace. This wasn’t a reality star though, this was somebody who has touched generations of people in a positive way. The kind of guy that makes you feel you’re a better person just because you knew who he was, even if you never had the chance to meet him.

I could see the possibility. The act of using humor to mask pain. We all do it in some fashion. It gets us through and is more than just a coping mechanism, it helps us find something positive to redirect our attention on. I had no idea that Robin suffered from depression or was battling addictions – I’m blissfully ignorant of most celebrity gossip and news stories. That made sense too when I heard about it, and for the same reasons.

Now, in the aftermath, I’m seeing more and more postings on social media about depression and studies citing links to creativity. I’m a creative guy, should I be worried? Is the shadow of doubt and depression going to come knocking some day? My wife tells me I can be moody at times, is it a precursor?

Knowing I have family and friends that read this – don’t worry. I’m not. Sure, I have my moments but don’t we all? I’m not bipolar or even given to fits of dark despair. Lagging book sales can ruin my day, as do surprise bills while I’m trying to save up to buy a house. I’m as susceptible to bad news as anyone is. I tend to think long term a lot and that may have me act like I’m brooding, but that’s about the worst of it.

The point is I can understand all of that. I’m creative, but there are people a lot more creative than me out there. As a creative person I understand the thirst for adventure and thrill. We like excitement and maybe even danger. Risk and reward. For me every book is a gamble. Every crazy stunt I’ve tried to pull over the years as business ventures is a risk (so far none have paid off either). Without that thrill of trying something new I’d have to find something else to keep me from getting bored.

Is that what happened to Robin Williams? Did he become successful enough that he ran out of thrills? I can imagine him being disgusted with himself for falling back on addictions, and if that happens it can lead to depression. Of course what I can imagine and what he went through probably have nothing in common. We’ve all got our personal demons. Calling him cowardly for his chosen exit strategy would only show a gross lack of understanding. It’s easy to argue that he fell on an emotional grenade just as destructive as one filled with ball bearings thrown by terrorists into a crowd.

I’m thankful that we have so many movies and shows to remember him by. Media that I can show my children as they grow up and enrich their lives with, much as he enriched mine. I’m about as far from a religious person as can be found but I had an odd thought earlier today— Some very impressive rain storms covered most of the United States the other day. For example, Detroit (where I live) suffered record flooding. That was the same day that Robin Williams died. Was it, perhaps, tears from the heavens at his passing?

 

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Transcend – To Go Beyond Range or Limits

Imagine fields filled with wheat and corn. Orchards full of trees laden with bananas, almonds, oranges, apples, and more. Ranches with tens of thousands of cattle. All of it raised and harvested in the oldest of human professions— farming for the sake of providing for the human race.

For a small group of kids on the terraformed planet of Venus, that’s exactly what life is like. They were born there and they grew up there, knowing what it was to put in a hard day’s work and feeling the satisfaction that comes from reaping the fruit of their labors at the end of the day. And for most of them, unfortunately, will die there.

A wind of change is blowing and it brought with it an army of soldiers and war machines. A revolution, long brewed in secrecy, is laying waste to humanity to set things right. Or as right as their leader, the newly elected President Ondalla, believes things should be.

For the kids investigating the strange noises in the forests of Venus, only death or capture awaits. Two of those kids, anxious to explore a life of their own in a budding relationship, are stripped apart and forced to live different lives. For them the only option is the futile act of resistance or accepting fate and turning their backs on what happened to their family and friends.

Following in the wake of some amazing dystopian science fiction like The Hunger Games and Divergent comes my latest series: Transcendent. Transcendent is set to fill in the holes and take the reader to a new future with new possibilities. Tragic romance, intrigue, action and adventure, and even some giant robots make for a coming of age story that cannot be denied.

Transcendent, dystopian coming of age story by Jason Halstead

 Amazon

Amazon UK

Smashwords

 

It’s available on Amazon and Smashwords right now, with more to come in the very near future. Get your copy before your friends start talking about it and leave you wondering what you’re missing.

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

So What’s The Right Price For Your Book?

November 29, 2011 6 comments

It’s a raging war in some circles. Pricing, in general, has a lot of arguments, whether it’s for airfare, tickets to a sporting event, or selling a book. I’ve tried more than a few different prices myself, but I don’t claim to be an expert. John Locke believes it depends on the size of the market – he priced his Donovan Creed novels at $.99 each because he feels the volume will offset the lower price point. His instructional book about selling a million ebooks in five months he priced higher, since it had a smaller target market. Michael Hicks, a great science fiction / fantasy writer and a friend of mine, has his books priced higher since he found an optimal number to shoot for that balances sales with volume. Mike writes full time and has a family to support – I don’t blame him!

Other people feel the $.99 price point is low enough that anybody will risk a buck and, hopefully, they’ll like it enough to keep coming back for more. I admit I fell into this latter category with some of my books. In fact it was my hope to price the first book in each of my series at this point so I could get people in the door, then the quality of my work would keep them coming back for more. To a lesser degree it’s worked, but the remaining problem is exposure.

Even with a great cover, title, and blurb if nobody sees a book, they won’t buy it. So the trick, obviously, is to get it seen. There are a few ways to do this, but none of them are easy and guaranteed. Twitter has helped me out a lot and so has blogging, but those are just a couple of tools, not a key to success. The real trick is to get on an Amazon or Barnes and Noble best selling list, or at least sell enough to be listed beneath other similar books so people can have your book as an option. That takes time and sales though, something you’re starting out with little of.

If I had all the opportunities in the world I’d love to start off a new book with a horde of people ready to snatch it up, even if it’s only 20 or 30 (50 or 100 would be far better). That instant flux of sales would drive the book into the lists and make it available for others to see. Some reviews to post on it would help as well, of course. Between those two a book could possibly be launched into a successful happy place, and so long as the quality of the book is up there, it becomes successful. Maybe not retirement income successful, but it’s a start.

For me the right price turned out to be free. Yes, $0.00 on Amazon. I managed to give Wanted away and because of it, in 6 days I’ve “sold” over 14,00o copies of it. I haven’t made a dime off of them, but it’s spent the last 5 days occupying the #1 spot for free science fiction / adventure books on Amazon. I’m extraordinarily proud of that, even though it hasn’t fully sunk in yet. My other books are ramping up slowly, by and large, and selling more copies. The sequel to Wanted, Ice Princess, has taken off. It’s averaging 15 – 20 sales a day right now (at a $2.99 price), and has climbed steadily up onto 3 best selling lists. Five or six more of those and I’ll be able to start buying myself the really good coffee in the morning!

Mike Hicks, the guy I mentioned above, is doing something similar. The first book in his trilogy, “In Her Name: Empire” is free right now as well! This book is on the Amazon best selling science fiction / adventure list as well. We’re giving these away because we want the world to have a taste of what we have to offer. Why not give ’em a shot, you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.

So yes, in addition to this being an informative post meant to help writers, it’s also self-serving in that I’m hoping you’ll go and check out Wanted and download it to your Kindle, tablet, or Kindle app for PC (which happens to be free). And why not help a brother out, it’s not going to cost you anything, after all! It’s got some great reviews and people think the characters are outstanding.

 

Wanted, book 1, by Jason Halstead

Wanted, on Amazon

Wanted on Amazon UK (not free)

Wanted on Barnes and Noble (not free)

Wanted on Smashwords (free)

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.