What I’ve Been Up To

It’s been a while since I updated, so let me dump some Eddy News(tm) on you!

Free Stuff

  • Heel Heat,” a short story I wrote for Fate Codex, has been incorporated into the Fate SRD, which means you can now read it for free! It’s a story about the intersection of professional wrestling and drug abuse, so if you’re into gritty crime drama, you may enjoy this!
  • I’ve started a new podcast! Along with Matthew Dawkins and Dixie Cochran, I’m a host for the Onyx Pathcast. We talk about all sorts of things related to both Onyx Path games and general topics of working as a freelancer in the game industry, and we also have on a wide variety of guests. Check it out every Friday at noon EST!

Promotional Stuff

  • In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve moved all the Pugmire-specific content to a separate website. Now you can find all your Pugmire goodies at realmsofpugmire.com!
  • We recently released Pan’s Guide for New Pioneers, a Pugmire adventure and tutorial to the game system. And we’re getting great reviews! Here’s one from Reviews from R’lyeah.
  • I’ve been increasing my disability advocacy over the past year or so. Recently I was interviewed by Bitch Media, and they included a link to my presentation at ECGC in 2017.

Travel Stuff

  • I’ll be at Gen Con again this year, representing Onyx Path and Pugsteady. I’ll be there to talk about PugmireMonarchies of Mau, the new Pugmire card game Fetch Quest, and the upcoming Dystopia Rising tabletop game. I’ll be running demos at our booth (#501), so stop on by!
  • In September I’ll be at the Broadleaf Writer’s Conference, spreading my tips and tricks for working in interactive media. It’s a great conference, and everyone learns a ton from it!
  • And in October I’ll be at Save Against Fear, the Bodhana Group’s gaming convention celebrating therapeutic use of games! I’ll be running two Pugmire games and sitting on a panel about game design, so it should be a lot of fun!

Personal Stuff

As I’ve mentioned before, I moved back from Ireland in December of last year. There were a lot of reasons, but they ultimately boil down to us not being able to make it work financially. Ireland is a lovely country, and I hope I can go back and visit someday, but living there just wasn’t in the cards as I had hoped.

So now I’m back in the Atlanta area (Alpharetta specifically) and settling back in. My long-term contract with Onyx Path Publishing is still going well, and I’ve picked up some additional work from companies such as Next Games, MetaArcade, and CRC Press (as well as some I can’t announce yet!) Pugsteady still trundles on as a going concern.

To be honest, it’s a bit of a scary time to be a creative professional, particularly in the United States. Healthcare cuts make it harder to get medical attention, and putting anything remotely controversial online can get you targeted by a hate mob, let go from a contract, or even fired. As I increase my visibility as a disabled person, I risk being ostracized by people who don’t think I’m “good enough” as abled-bodied folks.

But I have a lot of supportive friends and peers, and I’ve had a lot of luck finding great and supportive clients to work for. I have fans who sincerely appreciate the projects I work on, and they’re happy to spread the word to other people who might appreciate them. For every rough day where I wonder why I do this, I get a nice “thank you” in my Facebook or a kind email gushing over something I worked on. And that helps. It helps to know that there are people who appreciate what I do. If you’re reading this, odds are you’re one of those people. So I’ll keep doing it, for you. Thank you for being there!

Shuffled Art

I’ve thought a lot about reader-ordered interpretation. I just finished “Building Stories” by Chris Ware, primarily because it’s clear that Aja intentionally emulated Ware in his run of Hawkeye. But something else came from it.
 
See, “Building Stories” isn’t really a book. It’s a box with 14 different elements inside it, like a poster, a broadsheet, a newspaper, a couple of hardbound volumes, and so on. Even a board as if from a board game. The title is a play on words, as the reader is building the stories from the disparate parts, but also each story revolves around various buildings, in many ways.
 
Which brings be back to Hawkeye, and comics. Because comic issues can (and, increasingly often, are) be shuffled around to present a different story. The official Hawkeye Omnibus, which I’m reading now, shuffles the order quite substantially from the monthly run. What once was a reference in issue #17 becomes foreshadowing when it’s read after issue #6. Even inside the issues Fraction plays with time that evokes Ware.
 
Comic books/graphic novels aren’t the only form of this, however. It’s almost a rite of passage as a fan of “The Prisoner” to develop a preferred viewing order. Many Star Wars fans found some redemption of the prequels by watching them in “Machete Order.” There’s even a card game called “Joking Hazard” which is based around literally shuffling comic panels and making a sensible strip out of the results. And video games like “Guardians of the Galaxy – The Telltale Series” get some value out of playing scenes over again to give new context to them.
I find it fascinating — the ultimate result of democratizing art. Over time art has moved out of the hands of an elite few (or the elite patrons of those artists), to the point where an artist can find an audience just about anywhere. And now, more art is coming out where the audience has control over the experience. It’s easy to talk about interactivity when it comes to games, but even “static” art like graphic novels and television shows can be interactive, in the right circumstances.

Get On With Things

Last month I posted about Murray passing away. Naturally, this month isn’t going to be easy. This is the first time I haven’t had a pet in the house in more than fifteen years, which is my entire freelance career. You really don’t realize how much of your daily schedule is based around pets (particularly sick pets) until they’re gone. I still have moments where I feel like I need to head back home to feed Murray, or that I can’t stay out too late because I didn’t get a sitter for him.

Yes, it’s hard losing Murray. But I also learned a lot. It’s forced me to reassess my current situation, and find new ways of dealing with things. My work process is slowly changing, for example — as much as I hate to say it, I’m a little more productive now that I don’t have to stop every couple of hours to attend to Murray. I wish with all my heart I had the distractions, though.

Family and friends help. So does work. And certainly things are solid on the work front. Unrelated to Murray’s passing, but I did step away from my Executive Producer position at Earplay to take on a role as In-House Developer for Onyx Path Publishing. (It actually happened back in September, but Murray’s death distracted me from the announcement.) Monarchies of Mau is continuing forward at a good pace, and with excellent writers stepping up to do wonderful work. New Pugmire projects are continuing to move forward, and I’ve picked up freelance work on projects like They Came From Beneath the Sea and Deviant: The Renegades. My work on Tunnels & Trolls Adventures went public a couple of months ago. I also just signed a contract for an unannounced project, and behind the scenes I’m helping out Phil Brucato in getting more Mage: The Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition books out the door.

So, a lot of changes. Some of it is the nature of being a self-employed freelancer, and some of it is living in a new country where a part of your family is gone. But by necessity of describing my situation, I perhaps sound more maudlin than I am. Things hurt less. I’m not as numb as often.  I get out more. Life is improving, slowly but surely.

I still miss him, but I need to get on with things.

Murray Lives On

On 23 September, at 9:30pm, my dog Murray passed away very suddenly in my arms. He saw his vet that morning to start a course of heart medication, when a heart attack took him. I gave him several rounds of CPR, but he didn’t recover. He was 15, and led a good and full life.

The past week has been a blur of pain and numbness, as our family comes to terms with our lives after Murray. We all knew he was an old dog, and a sick dog, but within minutes he changed from getting better to gone. The suddenness was a mercy for him, although painful for us.

After I made arrangements for his funeral, I couldn’t sleep, so I wrote a Pugmire story about Murray, and about dealing with death. And through the world of Pugmire, Murray lives on.

Goodbye, buddy. I miss you.


Yosha knocked hesitantly on the thick oak door to her uncle’s office. She heard a deep “Come in, come in,” and pushed the door open.

Behind his desk, Seneschal Murra, Prince of Pugmire, shuffled papers from one part of his desk to the other. Yosha noticed his fur was getting grayer every day. At this point, it was more gray than black. She wondered if he would end up being completely gray at some point.

“You sent for me, Uncle Murra?” Yosha sat in the chair across from him, paws folded in her lap.

“I just need you to sign some papers, niece. A mere formality.” He flipped through the stack, and carefully extracted one. He adjusted the glasses on what passed for a nose, nodded to himself, and then handed it to her.

Yosha carefully took it from him. Her eyes grew wide as she read the first few lines. “But uncle… this is your will.”

“Yes, my child. I am not a young dog, you know, and I have to make certain… allowances… for when my time comes.”

Yosha set the paper down. “But you’re a strong dog, uncle. I’m sure you’ll live for many years yet.”

The elderly dog took his glasses off and set them aside. “Sweet Yosha, I sometimes forget how young you are. To you, everyone will live forever. But I know that I won’t. Every day my legs hurt a little more, and my cough gets a little worse.”

“But…” She shoved the paper away, suddenly. “I don’t want to think about you dying!” Her eyes brimmed with tears.

Murra stood up, walked over to the young puppy, and knelt beside her. She could hear the soft pop from his joints as he did. “There is a way you can make sure I live forever, you know.”

She wipes the tears away with a paw. “What’s that?”

He smiled, and patted her head. “Remember me. Tell everyone about my life, good and bad. If I leave just one happy story behind, then I’ll always live.” He poked her in the chest. “Right here.”

Crying, she leapt out of the chair to wrap her arms around Murra’s neck. “You’ll always be a happy story to me, uncle. Always.”

Murra hugged her back, so she couldn’t see the tears in his own eyes.

It’s Pugmire Time!

At long last, Pugmire is available to everyone to buy! Here’s a handy list of where to get it right now, and in the very near future.

DriveThruRPG. If you want the PDF, this is where you get it from. In a few weeks the print-on-demand version will be available as well. Also, the support decks will become available through DriveThruCards.

Studio2. This is where you can direct order the physical book, if you don’t want to wait for the print-on-demand version. You can also get the Guide screen and the official dice set!

Indie Press Revolution. Very soon IPR will also offer physical Pugmire products!

Your Local Hobby Store. If your local store uses Studio2 as a distributor, you can order from your store!

If you like Pugmire, please spread the word, and leave a review at any of these outlets that allow for ratings. Reviews really help sales!

Care and Feeding of Eddy at Gen Con (and other conventions)

In 10 days, I’ll be on a plane from Dublin to Indianapolis to attend the 50th Gen Con! If you’re going to the show as well, or if we meet at another convention at some point, here are some tips to help you understand me a bit better.

0. I’ll be mildly insane (Gen Con-specific)

Between jet lag, selling Pugmire for the first time outside of the Kickstarter, celebrating 50 years of Gen Con magic with friends and peers, meeting fans for Pugmire and my other work, and getting a chance to catch up with various current and former clients, it’s going to be an exciting and busy time. As such, I may come across as frazzled or distracted. Give me a minute, and I’ll come around.

1. I have hearing loss

I do have hearing loss in both ears, and hearing aids only help so much (particularly in loud environments like… well, just about everyone in and around Gen Con). I will miss what you said, and I will sometimes misunderstand you. Odds are you’ll call our my name in a bar and it’ll seem like I’m ignoring you. If you want to talk, standing in front of me and saying my name to get my attention is a huge help. There are more helpful tips for communicating with people who have hearing loss, if you’re interested.

2. I suck at names

It’s entirely possible we’ve met before, but if it seems like I’m struggling to recall your name, don’t take it personally. I meet hundreds of people at Gen Con every year, and it’s difficult to remember them all. If you could remind me of your name and how we’ve previously met, I’d really appreciate it.

3. I want to meet fans, but I’m here on business

I absolutely want to meet and chat with fans! But please understand that my main goal at the convention is business. It’ll be hard for me to carve out time to let you buy me a drink or to talk about your amazing Pugmire chronicle at length, because I’ve got to spend my time carefully at the show between business partners, contractors I hire, and other fans who also want to chat. Further, some folks I used to see more often I may only see at Gen Con now that I live in Ireland. Please don’t be offended if I cut our conversation short.

4. I don’t mind physical affection, but please ask first

I like giving hugs and other forms of physical affection to my friends, but please don’t assume that it’s okay unless we’ve talked about it first. A simple “I’d like to give you a hug, is that okay?” is perfect.

5. I’m not going to be drinking alcohol a lot at the show

Over the years I’ve discovered that I function better at conventions if I’m not drunk. On some occasions a beer or a mixed drink helps me unwind after a busy day on the floor, but far more often I’ll be having iced tea or water. So if I turn down your shot, please don’t take it personally!

6. It’s not a big deal

In the end, don’t worry that you’ve upset or offended me, or that you did something “wrong.” We’re all here to have a good time (even if it’s professional), so if you stumble, just take a second and try again. I promise I won’t be upset.

An American in Ireland: Doggy Healthcare

Murray recently had a nasty cough. We had to see a vet anyhow to refill or find replacements for his current medication, so we navigated the Maynooth veterinary system.

The first challenge was our lack of a car. Carrying Murray several kilometers to a vet wasn’t feasible, and I couldn’t find a clear answer on whether cabs would allow animals or not. (It didn’t help that this was while I was sick myself for a week.) In the end, Michelle just called a cab for her and Murray, and I’ve used cabs since. It’s technically not allowed, but none of the cabbies give us much grief over it.

Next was the issue of his existing medication. Murray’s cough suppressant pill doesn’t exist in Ireland, so we had to find equivalents. Getting our Irish vet in touch with our Atlanta vets didn’t help — ultimately, there’s just not enough overlap in medicine for them to be able to sort out an exact replacement. In the end, we decided to go with a liquid form of his cough suppressant. We’ve started him on it a couple of days ago, and he’s not a huge fan, but we’ll see if he adapts.

When his cough got bad and his lungs were rattling in the middle of the night, Michelle and I seriously considered going to an overnight vet. It turns out that there isn’t an urgent care vet like in the US. Rather, there are overnight services, but once your normal vet opens, your pet is transferred there. Which means you need a car there and back. Further, the nearest overnight vet was 45 minutes’ drive. We ultimately decided to wait to see our regular vet here in Maynooth.

When his regular vet saw him, he agreed that Murray probably had a respiratory infection, and ordered a course of antibiotics. Again, we ran into a challenge: The antibiotics are different as well. Murray’s usual antibiotic does exist, but only as a shot, not as a pill. He got the shot to start him off, and then a six-day follow-up course of a different pill.

Murray did not like the new pill. Normally he takes his medications just fine, but this one he hated, to the point where he would strip everything off the pill just to spit it out. In the end, we had to use a pill shooter to get it down his throat — it wasn’t pretty, but he settled down enough to accept the pill. Now Murray’s doing better, so the antibiotics did their job. We’re watching him to see if his cough returns, and that’ll inform whether we adjust his normal cough medication or give him another course of antibiotics.

One of the upsides of the experience is that vets do seem to be cheaper here: An office visit is €32, and medication has generally been around €15. Of course, Murray has been charming everyone he meets here in Ireland as well, including some of the cabbies. The vet here is great as well. I miss some of the options we had in the US, but I think for day-to-day treatment Murray will get good care here.

Writer. Gamer. Sherlockian. Usually Not Dead.

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