A Few Updates

Hey all. Got a few things to share real fast.

First up, I added a D&D page to my Works section for any homebrew stuff I make as well as Amazon Affiliate links to the 5e books as well as some dice and accessories. Affiliate links also don’t mean you have to buy that stuff. If you click one of my affiliate links and make ANY purchase without closing the tab, it works. I also updated my Amazon book links with affiliate links. I may occasionally post stuff I’ve bought and found useful as well.

Next, Patreon. Actually, this is connected with another issue. On Wednesday, I received a letter about my SNAP renewal letting me know my benefits were being lowered due to a household size change. I have no idea how that happened, if I messed something up or what, but my benefits are being cut until I can get them appealed. In the mean time, I’m asking folks to become patrons on Patreon as it’s the most direct way I can get cash each month (book sales are staggered).

Now with that, I’m also expanding what I offer on Patreon. You can find more in-depth detail about this on Patreon┬ábut the TL;DR is there’s a new Gwen story coming in May, I’ll be letting patrons get way more of a look behind the curtain of my books, which may involve spoilers sometimes but I’ll tag them when it happens. I’ll be adding game design and development stuff as well, and, provided I can afford it, cooking videos, especially for diabetic recipe experiments now that I’ll have an actual kitchen of my own again when we move next week.

I’m also planning on sprucing up the way my Patreon looks, make it a little more interesting, update the information, etc..With The Demons Within set for release in October, I really want to make 2018 a big year for me and grow my little empire as best I can. I hope you’ll join me.

Plans for 2018

I have high hopes for 2018. At least, I do for my personal life. Some hope is creeping in for life in the US but it’s a cautious hope. There are still some major issues. Nici is transitioning to a new antidepressant and dealing with their thyroid issues. My car is still dead and I’ll be junking it soon (if you’d like to help with the car situation, click here or become a Patreon patron). There’s still a few other lingering healthcare needs we can’t afford to take care of. But things are looking up. As such, I decided I wanted 2018 to be a year of reclaiming things I’ve lost. On top of continuing to move forward with Grimluk, I’m planning on getting back into drawing and guitar.

Drawing and writing are my oldest creative endeavors and drawing was the oldest. As a little Ashe, you could give me paper and pencils and I would keep myself busy with doodles. I got pretty good, too, though at the age of 14, what I needed to get better was an actual, for real art teacher who could lead me in figure drawing and help me refine my skill. Unfortunately, 14 is also when Life started punching hard and by 17, I had given up drawing. By 18, I had thrown away my art supplies. Depression, and a lack of proper instruction, had utterly robbed me of the will to continue on. I tried again at 19, taking an art class in college but it was no better than my art class in high school and I once again gave up.

Guitar helped me weather depression some but there were still some issues and then I got my shoulder fucked up working a temp job. I got a repetitive stress injury that even pushed my collarbone out of alignment. The pain is way less these days unless I use my shoulder too much or in the wrong way. This meant that my endurance at playing disappeared and my desire to play started to evaporate too. I also had an amp that I hated and that contributed to my waning desire. The amp changed in 2012 when I found a used Carvin V3 2×12 combo for $500 at the Tulsa Guitar Center, an amp I had lusted after since it’s inception. I’ve never really gotten to give it a proper play. (A note for gearheads: I still lust after an original Peavey Triple XXX)

So a big part of reclaiming those things will also be reclaiming some of my lost physical health. As Nici’s health improves, I’m hoping that we can attempt to start doing DDP Yoga together. That will be contingent on the fatigue issues going away, but I’m hopeful.

So that’s what I’m after in my personal life. What about professionally?

Well, Grimluk is gonna keep moving forward. The Demons Within will drop in October and I’ll probably get back to work on Grimluk 4 later in the year. I’m hoping to find avenues of promotion, to get the word out in greater numbers. I’m sure I’ll come up with some other things as well. I’m also gonna take some time at some point and do up some plot skeletons for Grimluk 5 and some other ideas I’ve had churning away. I won’t start anything new until after Grimluk 5 though. Once that comes out, I’ll take a bit of a break, introduce a new project or two, and then start on Grimluk 6.

And in case it hasn’t been made clear yet, Grimluk is gonna go a long time. We’re going Dresden levels at the very least, if not Vampire Hunter D.

Orctober for 2018 will also probably be focused on the release of The Demons Within, with some extra guest stuff again as well. Always gotta have my fellow orc-writers show up. I’ll be planning that out in more detail in the spring, after I’ve sent Demons off to Laura Hughes for editing. If there’s anything anyone would like to see this year, leave a comment or tweet me or somethin.

Overall, it’s a pretty straightforward year, but if something big pops up, I’ll welcome it.

So those are my plans for 2018. I hope your own year will shape up well and I hope you find yourself in good fortune, friends and readers. You survived 2017 and that makes you mighty.

2017 Year In Review

This year. This fucking year. What a dumpster fire. Mostly. It feels like this one year has lasted for five. And while the socio-political aspects of the year bear most of that weight, there was some good that happened as well. I want to take the time to talk about my own year as it’s be quite a roller coaster as well.

The beginning of the year saw my partner, Nici, and I waiting to move away from my parents and back here to Tulsa with their mother. In February, we started our first D&D campaign with some friends, which definitely helped ease the stress of Darth Cheetoh pretending to be president and my stepfather’s continued…eccentricities. On top of that, I was still hard at work on the first draft of The Demons Within. We finally got to leave in April and, on top of coming back home to Tulsa, I’m still pretty proud of the fact that I managed to not only drive a moving truck for the first time but also did it while towing my van. That was a long 14 hours and I never want to do it again.

April also saw me join forces with some other r/Fantasy regular authors, starting the Fools of Fantasy. We had a big sale for the month, which really gave me a big boost in visibility and sales. It was pretty rad all around.

Once back in Tulsa, we started working towards a few things. First up, healthcare. We found out about Morton Health and their sliding scale, which we qualified for. Our visits are only $30 for each of us AND they’re a comprehensive clinic, which means that I also got to go for an eye exam a couple of months ago. We got Nici on the path towards health over the summer by finally discovering that they have hypothyroidism. Which explained A LOT. Unfortunately, before May ended, my van died. The transmission started going out and my battery was corroding itself to death slowly. Thankfully, Morton offers free transportation, so we’ve easily been able to get to and from our visits as needed.

May saw me finish the first draft of The Demons Within, along with doing Patreon stuff. I also managed to get us on foodstamps, which has been immensely helpful. Cause food. I’ve continued doing a good job at managing my diabetes without medication and keeping my A1C under 7 and part of that is thanks to not worrying about affording food. After all of that, the summer was relatively quiet. I’d also promised Nici I would sing at karaoke if they got their blood drawn, so I sang at “Last Caress” by The Misfits at live-band metal karaoke. My buddy (and our DM) discovered it before we came back so that’s our big group activity. It was a lot of fun. The next time, in August, I sang “Electric Eye” by Judas Priest and fucked up the second verse.

August saw me begin work on Grimluk 4 and the second draft of The Demons Within and preparing the kickstarter for the latter as well. Things with our living situation grew a bit more tense. It seems impossible to escape family drama but we’re getting by. D&D has helped a lot (as well as when we switched over to play Changeling the Dreaming with another member of our group running the game). D&D makes for a weird sort of therapy.

I also spent the summer working on a Fighter subclass and a Fighter-based character sheet for D&D, as I wanted a sheet that I felt more comfortable with. The subclass/archetype was the Monster Hunter, based on the Unearthed Arcana archetype Wizards did. Both have been pretty popular (along with the Orcs overhaul I released for Orctober). You can find links and previews to all of that in the works section in the nav bar above.

October arrived, with the second draft of Demons Within finished and the launch of the kickstarter and Orctober. It was a lot of fun. I’m still disappointed that I wasn’t able to actually get the recording of our one shot done and up for everyone but technical difficulties are fun that way. I was sure the kickstarter wouldn’t fund but, goddamn, a whole bunch of big damn heroes came in during the last 12 hours and made it happen. I’m still floored by that.

I’d also decided to take a break from writing for a bit. I was a bit worn out between starting a new book, getting a second draft done, doing all the Orctober stuff, and life in general. November was kind of a blur, with Thanksgiving coming and going, and now Christmas is gone and we stand at the end of 2018. I spent these last two months doing some proofreading for a friend to help her prep for celebrating her 20th book release.

Now here I am, at the end of the year, feeling accomplished and hopeful. Nici’s doctor put them on a new medication for mental health that seems like it will be the Right One finally. And along with everything listed above, I’ve had some other things that cemented/revealed themselves to me. So I’m gonna finish out the year with a public announcement.

As I said above, D&D is a strange form of therapy. And what do you know, it worked something out for me. See, my character, Gorthos, a half-orc fighter, is both bisexual and polyamorous. The latter of which I’ve been thinking heavily about through the middle of last year. The former of which has been a creeping question about myself. It came up with someone I’d developed heavy feelings for quickly. Ultimately, she and I ended up losing contact but it was a big sign. Add to that another friend of mine that I’ve known for a good long while and can honestly, 100% I love them with those kind of feelings too, and yeah.

Then, continuing on, there was a story for the other side. Early in my relationship with Nici, I realized that if they ever wanted to transition into a man, I would stay with them. I can’t imagine not having Nici in my life. That was NEON SIGN number one. Then a couple of months ago, I had a dream about a dude friend and I kissed him in the dream. When I woke up, I thought, “oh, that was nice, I’d totally date them.” Neon sign number 2.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that I’m ending the year by saying this:

Hi, my name is Ashe, author of the only high fantasy weird western series starring an orc, and I’m bisexual and polyamorous. I lean more towards women still, but I have a non-binary gendered partner who I would still with no matter their gender identity and I can love more than one person at a time, and do.

Fuck you, 2017. We’re still here, asshole. The year’s been up and down, see a lot of change, a lot of destruction, a lot of outcry. It’s just the beginning. I think 2018 is gonna be pretty damn big.

 

Good News!

For those who missed all the social media shouting, the Kickstarter campaign for The Demons Within successfully funded in the last few hours of the campaign, hitting $2225 of the $2200 goal! I am ecstatic, as are many of my backers, and rightfully so! I couldn’t have done it without them, especially considering I had a bunch of folks adjust their pledges in hopes of hitting 100%. So, what does that mean going forward?

Well, it means that whenever I finally get the funds, and Bob Kehl gets back to me, I can get the cover art started. Editing is set to start in April, provided by the wonderful Laura M. Hughes. The second draft is currently with a couple of beta readers, and once I have their notes back, I’ll begin working through them in prep for Laura. Like Demon Haunted, The Demons Within will be set for an October release. Cause duh, Halloween and Orctober, the time of year when I am at my most powerful!

So, thank you so much, yet again, to all my backers and readers. You are amazing.

Now I just have to get back to work on Grimluk 4!

Thus Ends Orctober

It’s the 31st, Halloween, and Orctober is coming to a close. I had a lot of fun this year and I hope you did too. I had a few things fall through but I still had plenty of content to share with you lovely folks. I was actually going to make today’s final post one from a friend of mine on the relationship between Orcs and LGBT identities. He did write the piece and it was beautiful but a friend of his also said he wanted to get it published in an LGBT magazine and that seemed more important. So, that post might still show up once he hears more about it, as belated Orctober content, or saved for next year. We’ll see.

In the meantime, thanks to everyone who participated and everyone who’s read and commented. And thanks to everyone on DM’s Guild who’s downloaded my Orcs overhaul! It’s been out a week now and already has 100 downloads and a 4-star review! That’s amazing!

I guess the only thing left to say is don’t forget to back The Demons Within kickstarter and spread the word about it! We’re down to the last four days. Until next Orctober!

Orctober: D&D One Shot

Before we get going, there’s a few items to address. Firstly, if you’re active on reddit, come over and join me in my AMA today on r/Fantasy! I will definitely be screaming about Stranger Things and you could come join me with that. Secondly, The Demons Within Kickstarter campaign is still chugging along. This is the last week. It’ll be running through November 5th.

So, now that we’re here, I have some bad news: after recording for five hours (talking for around two while we waited for Leigh and playing for around three), I went to save the capture…and the program ate it. Those five hours are gone. We were going to see about recording the second half but schedules just weren’t really going to let that happen. I’ve since figured out how to properly record for a potential next time, thankfully, so that shouldn’t happen again. But now what?

Well, I’m going to at least try to give you a summary of the game. I realize this isn’t quite as good as listening but it is, unfortunately, the best I can do. I’ll try to make it worth your while though!

The basic premise of the campaign centered on a horde under a warlord attacking a castle with a hoard. Basically, our horde was being excluded from being able to live a little more comfortably, just toiling outside the castle while the humans live in excess. The party consisted of Radha (pronounced “Rahla” because Celtic), a half-orc druid played by Leigh, Jack Bloodfist, a half-orc bardbarian as played by his author, James Jakins, Grimnir, a full-blood orc rogue/barbarian as played by his author, Scott Oden, and me as Gruflek, a full-blood orc fighter. We used my orc variants as a basis for our characters. Our DM is my friend Garrett, who runs my personal D&D game (which I mentioned previously as well). We also started at level 5 and used point buy for our stats.

So the game starts off in the middle of the siege. We’re a side unit under Radha’s command, with pikemen up front, and a goddamn ogre/goblin-manned cannon behind us. The goal is to break the walls and storm in. While we’re getting the cannon ready, a group of humans and some of our number are fighting down the hill. We take a hail of arrows, which Gruflek is unable to dodge from. Radha casts call lightning and proceeds to wreck the humans. Our forces pull away from the lightning, prompting the humans to head after us, unsuccessfully. The cannon fires, taking out a group and Grimnir suggests we move forward enough to aim the cannon at the walls to aid the frontline.

The shot misses but it’s close. Then a regiment of griffin riders flies out and straight for us. Some of them get taken out by the lightning but the rest make it our way. Jack casts faerie fire on some of them. Their leader manages to escape it. Some of the pikemen manage to keep some of the riders at bay but two of them land near us and the fight begins in earnest. Grimnir goes for a sneak attack on the rider nearest him, but ends up just doing normal damage. Gruflek steps up to the rider nearest him and takes a swing with his greatsword. I rolled a critical, so Gruflek just wrecks the griffin, slicing off one of its wings.

Jack and Radha are mostly running support. When Grimnir’s turn rolls back around, he manages to rip the rider off his mount and turn it into a duel. Gruflek finishes off the griffin and takes on the rider, eventually dispatching him as well and moving to aid Grimnir. Radha rolls up on Gruflek and says, “You see what ya did to that one? Do it again!” and casts haste, meaning he now has an extra attack per turn (for 3 total) and double movement speed, and still has advantage from the faerie fire. So the next rider falls. The leader of the riders finally gets to our cannon and begins taking out the goblin operators.

Grimnir also decides to take the head of the rider he killed. Gruflek challenges the leader, who accepts after using some sort of magical strike to shatter the cannon. Turns out, this guy is a prince. Grimnir crits on a stealth roll and somehow manages to ninja vanish and get behind the guy for a sneak attack, trash talking as he does. Gruflek runs up and drops the prince to the ground with a sideways shoulder thrust to keep him from landing on Grimnir. So now the prince is prone but he manages to avoid Gruflek’s next attacks.

He rises and casts some sort of wind blast spell, which Grimnir and Gruflek both shrug off, Gruflek remarking, “What a lovely breeze.” Jack and Radha have their hands full with the last rider, whose griffin manages to catch Jack’s bracer and shake him around like a rag doll, mostly inconveniencing him. Radha turns into a bear and deals some damage to the griffin. Meanwhile, Grimnir gets in a hard shot against the prince allowing Gruflek to come in and finish him off, cleaving down at his neck and shoulder with enough force that it manages to bite through the platemail and finish him off.

Then a horn sounds. A retreat horn from our forces. For the moment, we finish off the other griffin rider while one last rider hurls spells at us from above while we cover escape. Once we’re clear, we find out the warlord died screaming from some unknown force in his tent, scattering our forces. We manage to gather up about 300 or so remaining soldiers and make camp, trying to figure out what happened and where to go from there.

Grimnir, incensed at how close we were getting to breaking the wall, goes on a spiel that, while a bit on the, uh, racial superiority side, also has a core of wanting more for our people. Jack helps inspire the forces with a massive song, and Grimnir takes over as the new warlord. The next morning, we make it official. Gruflek, being the only one of them that has any concept of regimentation as a mercenary, gets the other orcs, goblins, bugbears, hobgoblins, ogres, and an ettin (Grum and Chuck) who wandered into our circle the night before, to pack up under the new warlord’s orders, puts them in a tactical marching formation (ogres up front, in the middle, and in back with everyone else in between, with GrumChuck serving as flank coverage), and they head into the swamp.

Once they’re deep in the swamp, camp is made. The ogres proceed to make rafts to sleep on, with Gruflek making sure to show the ogres how to anchor the rafts so they don’t float away. The smaller races climb into the trees as well. Gruflek opts to sleep on a raft with the ogres as greatswords aren’t really good for trees. Later on, Grimnir awakes and spots a strange light. The party ends up following him, meeting a wizard. The wizard in question actually helped form the horde, basically instigating the whole thing. We update him on the situation we make a new plan to infiltrate the castle and break down the doors to let our forces inside. The wizard agrees and directs us on how we might accomplish the goal.

The next day, Grimnir, Radha, and a bugbear make a recon trip to recover the black powder for the cannon. There, they find a woman interrogating a hobgoblin (or maybe it was a bugbear, I can’t remember). They’re trying to find who killed the prince. Radha casts invisibility on the group and then get enough of the powder barrels for our job to work, and then blow the rest, taking out the humans and the nearly dead bugbear. Jack and Gruflek, meanwhile, end up in a camp song, though Gruflek had been attempting to make sure weapons and armor weren’t in need of repair.

When the others return with the powder, several goblins came running up, having scouted the area, and inform us of lizard people attacking them. The party goes to investigate, finding a tribe of elves whose territory we’ve essentially invaded. They agree to a parlay, demanding weapons be left. Gruflek does NOT leave his weapons out of arm’s reach and so manages to pass with a bit of magic and an oath of conduct. The party meets the tribe’s leader and through the parlay, Grimnir works out an alliance of sorts with the elves. If they’ll allow us refuge and help us build fortifications, we’ll help them keep the swamp free of humans and share the spoils of the invasion once it’s done. Given that the rumor of the resources contained behind the walls is more than we’d ever need, a 70/30 split feels more than fair. The deal made, the party returns to begin fortifications and then planning their infiltration.

And that is where the session ended. Hopefully I did a decent job recounting things but some of the details are fuzzy nearly a month later and session summaries are never as good as actually playing them. We would’ve had to have gotten a second day to finish it up but, as I said, our schedules just weren’t having it. Eventually, we hope to play again and finish this little campaign but I have no idea when that will happen. You’ll find our character sheets below. I’m really sorry there isn’t anything to listen to. I was going to include a second file of bits of our pregame conversation as well but technical difficulties happen.

Do you have any orc-heavy D&D games you’d like to share? Leave it in a comment!

Character Sheets

Gruflek Radha Jack Grimnir