Monthly Archives: July 2013


In which Ed talks about his projects, and considers, abstractly, whether he should update the “Projects” page of this website.

…he should not.

What’s up then? WELL.

This week, This is How You Die came out. Today, I was finally able to pick up a copy for myself, and check out Tony Cliff’s AMAZING illustration to my story. It is… it is a perfect thing. The sort of image that makes me want to either get a big signed print or upper arm tattoo of Grun, lookin’ as introspective as an orc physcially can look. So man, that’s a thing.

Also, other comics and illustrations and stories, so all that’s well and good. Have you picked it up yet? No? Not even an e-book edition? Okay, well, I ain’t gonna tell you to do so, but I am going to think it pretty hard.


The Guild of Steamfitters was, for a long time, lying totally fallow as I was uncertain how to deal with a specific bit of mechanics. Eventually I opted to just wait until inspiration struck, and when it did, I jumped back in. Only, it’s not the Guild of Steamfitters anymore… it’s something new.

The working title is the Style System, and the goal is to be… sigh… a universal system. I know, I’ve asked myself the obvious question a thousand times… in a world where GURPS and d20 and FATE and Risus all exist, what makes me think that there’s room for another unversal at all? Huh?

Well. Short answer: I think that mechanically it hits a lot of what FATE does well (high narrative, pulp-heroics, etc.) while being a little more crunchy and not dependent on Aspects. Your mileage may vary on that one, but some folks aren’t super into Aspects. I like them okay, but… well, I’m often happier without them.

Longer answer: I have an idea about what I want to do with settings. You see… A lot of what makes an individual setting interesting, to me, is its mechanical interaction with the narrative… that is to say, with that the rules allow and encourage you to do (and by that token, what they forbid and discourage you from doing). To put it another way, the difference between a good cowboy game and a great cowboy game is whether the horses are treated as extensions of the character which can be ignored or entire mechanical subsystems which must be navigated. Being complex makes horses important, you see… but when they aren’t important, they shouldn’t be complex. That’s why the core of the Style system is modular rules additions. Guild of Steamfitters needs “Crafting (Inventions and Wonders of Science)” and “Factions and Reputation”. Anywhere else, those can be fudged. The Kaerlud City Guard needs “Magic” or a form specific to that city, and “Investigation and Clues” which, again, can be fudged anywhere else. Oh, you can slip in extra modules as needed, but on the whole, two should cover the important bits.

Anyway, it’s the very beginning of a huge undertaking. And if it gets to be too huge… I pull back into what I know, run it as Steamfitters, and push the base system and modularity to another time.

Book Binding. It’s my novel. It’s… I need to go over it again. I do, I always do. But it’s done, and I have a query letter, and I’m working on a synopsis and my wife made a list of agents to consider and we’re dreadfully, scarily close to the “WE DOIN’ THIS” point. Oh yah. We doin’ this.

Synanthropes. I’ve made a few changes, some big (Geckos have become the final species available for play) some small (all Rats can play music now) and some widespread (Hoard dice have become Hoard POINTS, as discussed some time ago). I’ve learned a lot from a couple playtests, and am super eager to do some more, because I’m very close to the point where the game is, like, done enough that I’ll want to spread it around. To the point where I won’t change a lot anymore. Where the oracle will be altered considerably and the legends and mysteries will be perfected and the layout will see a lot of action but the GAME will be ready to go. I might be at that point, but I haven’t been able to test the last iteration due to illness. So hey… we’ll find out soon.

And that’s where we stand on ED’S PROJECTS.


A spot of advertising: This is How You Die

So, not a games thing, but definitely a me thing: I’ve got a story in an anthology which is coming out in a week: This is How You Die: Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible, Inescapable Machine of Death.

Check out the appropriate page right over here, at, if you’re interested in more information. The short story, for those unfamiliar with the concept: there is a machine, and when it takes a blood sample from a person, it spits out a little card which tells them how they will die, but not when or where and including only the vaguest of information (in a classic “can’t fight fate” scenario which is almost certain to cause ironic twists and whatnot). Though the stories are all in different worlds, they all concern this very same machine in some form or another.

My story’s set in a Tolkienesque fantasy land, starring an orc, because I love orcs; it’s called “In Battle, Alone and Soon Forgotten.”

Available for pre-orders now, and at bookstores on the 16th.