Origins 2019 is almost here!

Well, this’ll be the 15th year that the Wookie and I have gone to Origins in Columbus – if you’re in the area and love gaming, be sure to check it out!

I’ve signed up for a LOT of Call of Cthulhu RPG games – since I want to run them for our local group, I figure I need to play more and more to become a better Keeper, or DM.

And, oh yeah… Book Cover Reveal!

image

Isn’t this a fantastic cover? Here’s the official blurb:

Warrior in Love – Odin’s Bastards, Book Three

Special Agent Trace Dyson races around the world, retrieving priceless artifacts from criminals. But his one dream is to recover a spear, stolen from The Valkyrie’s Tomb. It’s his family’s White Whale, his father and grandfather’s unfulfilled mission––and when he sees a beautiful and mysterious woman steal a bracelet from the tomb’s exhibit, he’s intrigued. Before he takes her to jail, he has a few questions.

Laila Nyland is a Valkyrie on the edge––worn out from her duties, her final mission is to come to Midgard and find a mystical spear lost centuries ago. Forced into a partnership with Trace, she can’t help but be attracted to the hardcore treasure hunter even if he drives her up a wall. The more she learns about him––the harder it is to lie to him about her mission.

Before their secrets rip them apart, these two will be responsible for saving the world––that is if they can trust each other longer than two minutes. 

I really, REALLY liked writing this one because it gave me a chance to get my inner Indiana Jones/Lara Croft out on the page. Along with the Fenris Wolf and Ragnarok. 

It’s the last in the series, and unfortunately the last book at present with Entangled Publishing. With my agents dropping me, it seems I’m back to the start with the writing – however, after 21 books I definitely don’t feel like a n00b anymore.

*chuckles*

But I’ve gotten the rights back to an older book, originally put out by Carina Press – my shifter novel, Blood of the Pride. That’ll be reissued in the fall with a new cover, after I spiff it up a bit – it’s almost ten years old, and technology has come a long way, so I need to update it and clean it up – nice to see my writing skills have gotten better with time!

And I’m working on a new book! About 50K into it – basically, imagine if Meghan had said No to Harry… and ten years later, they meet again, under tragic circumstances. It’s still in rough draft, but we’ll see where it leads to. 

But right now I’m looking at being at Origins in a month! It’ll be my second year there outside of the Library and going as a pure gamer, so I’m going to have some great new game reviews in the future as the Wookie and I drive over with an empty car and come back stuffed to the rooftop with all sorts of games!

🙂

Chat at you later!

Game Review – Bigfoot vs Yeti by Shoot Again Games

Every year we go to Origins, and every year we try to look for the smaller game manufacturers to see if we can find some hidden gems – this past year I tripped across Shoot Again Games and not only picked up one of their games, but two!

But first… check out the fabulous artwork here for Bigfoot vs Yeti!

The basic strategy is much like rummy, where you pick up and discard cards to get as many as you can of one type – worth different points based on the cryptid involved. The different fonts and colors help keep the cards organized in your hand and the opportunity to twist the game to your advantage by “mounting an expedition” give gameplay a nice twist… but wait, isn’t the game called Bigfoot vs. Yeti?

YES!

The journalist (you) are caught between the two mighty cryptids as they fight for domination! The cards are two-faced, so you can steal either from another player to add to your hand and your point total.

Shoot Again Games has come up with an excellent video to show gameplay – it’s short and easy to learn!

Now, is the game perfect? Depends on how you view it – if you’re looking for a deep backstory and complex gameplay that’ll take multiple tries to get it right, probably not… but with the rummy game mechanics in play, this is a great way to spend a few hours having fun, enjoying the great artwork, and having a good time hunting the Jersey Devil… or having it hunt you!

If you’re looking to support a small game manufacturer that’s putting out good, reasonably-priced games, check out Shoot Again Games and Bigfoot vs Yeti! We’re already planning to stop by their table again this year at Origins and see what’s new – and encourage everyone to do the same!

Game Review – Pandemic: Fall of Rome from Z-Man Games

If you haven’t played Pandemic, you’ve missed out on a number of great games – starting with the original game, setting you and your friends on a quest to save the world from a rush of different diseases threatening to wipe out civilization. Also available in an electronic version, it’s an addictive game that’ll have your team rushing around the world to save everyone!

The basic game has shifted over the years – from Legacy Season 1 and 2 where every move permanently changed the game board, to introducing Cthulhu and the mission of sealing dark portals. But this newest incarnation, Fall of Rome, might just be the Best One Ever, in my humble opinion.

So what do you get? Check out this faboo board!

As you can see, there’s a lot of the familiar here – the different enemy colors, the city cards and the infection deck, where all the trouble comes from. But this new version introduces something that makes this game unlike any of the others – DICE!

Yes, dice! Never seen before in a Pandemic game, this introduces a whole new aspect of gameplay and makes Fall of Rome more of a wargame than ever. When you enter into battle with your legions against the barbarian tribes (represented by the various colored cubes) you throw as many dice as you have legions with you and the results decide how it went. From losing all of your legions to wiping out the invaders, it brings in a new randomness that can swing the balance of power.

And speaking of legions and characters… take a look at the different events and character cards!

You’ll find many of these familiar, with a twist moving them into the era. Event cards are much the same as previous incarnations of Pandemic, but with one major shift – you can, if you wish, take an even stronger version of the event by using the Corrupt version and move the decline marker down the track on the side of the board, usually called the outbreak track on other version.

The Infection cards are different as well – the barbarians must invade via certain routes, allowing you to possibly break the chain and chase them back away from Rome – because the first time an enemy cube makes it into Rome… the game is lost.

Instead of diseases, your task is to collect enough city cards of a single color to turn the barbarian tribes into allies, allowing you to convert cubes of that color to loyal legions. But they can still sack Rome, so don’t get too complacent that you’ve managed to make a treaty! There are five tribes, with one only needing three city cards to make a treaty with, and others needing five. As you can see, it’s got a lot of the classic Pandemic ruleset, making this an easy game to learn if you’ve got a grasp of the basics.

There’s also solo play, allowing you to be the Emperor and dictating how to rule your empire!

The beautiful artwork, the cool mechanics and the war game feel makes this a Must-Have for anyone who’s a Pandemic fan – or if you enjoy war games, or just a hell of a great game! In my opinion, this is the best incarnation of the Pandemic franchise, and I can’t think of how they’re going to top this one! If you haven’t considered picking this up, check it out for a fabulous way to spend a few hours saving the Empire!

*****

If you enjoy my reviews, how about checking out some of my books? I love to do game reviews, but I also love to write – and always open to comments and questions!

Game Review – Call of Cthulhu starter box from Chaosium

So… you’ve heard plenty about fantasy RPGs, such as Pathfinder and Dungeons and Dragons. But you’re looking for something a bit more… down to earth and maybe a little bit bloody.

Start here, with the CoC starter box! For only $25 (depending on where you are) you can dip your toes into one of the most popular horror RPGs around!

I have to admit, I’m a newbie to this game – although I’ve been playing D&D since First Edition (points at Player’s Handbook on shelf) I’ve never really been curious about CoC… until the last Origins Game Fair where the hubby and I signed up for an one hour demo, arranged by Rogue Cthulhu to introduce the new 7th edition to the public. One hour and I was HOOKED! Since then, I’ve picked up the source book and many of the scenario packs and run a few games for my gaming group – making mistakes along the way, but we’re all having a good time.

And yet… I grabbed at this like a drowning woman when it came out. Got my FLGS to order one in for me because I wanted to see it. And damn it, it’s a hell of a deal!

First, let’s look at what’s inside – and I dare you to find any other starter set with THIS much inside!

When they say “everything you need”, they’re not kidding. Dice, character sheets (blank AND filled in!) a solo adventure to give you a taste of the game on your own, intro rules and then the last book has THREE adventures, from a one vs. one for you to get comfortable with the rules to a second one for more people to a third scenario that takes place in Harlem, opening up in a jazz club! And all this for less than the cost of many major RPG system’s sourcebook!

I’m finding this a fabulous addition to my CoC collection, and highly recommend it anyone who’s interested in learning this system or who want to dabble a bit in finding out what Call of Cthulhu is all about. Chaosium has put together the perfect starter kit, including everything a new gamer would want and need to not only learn the system, but introduce a whole new group of people to CoC without any further investment! If you’ve ever thought about going off fantasy RPGing and get a taste of horror gaming, get this box set!

The MVP was… me!

Yesterday my Pathfinder RPG group got together and went forth into a small tower… former resident of a wizard who had bested a black dragon, from the murals on the walls we passed on the way down. As usual, my skills as a rogue came into play as I led the party into areas that weren’t just trapped… but had some very deadly protectors of the wizard’s treasure! Ruby golem, stone golems… there was a definite trend as we made our way through. Thankfully, we found some goodies along the way – unfortunately our party was made up of a samurai, gunslinger, archer, myself, and a two-handed weapon fighter warrior woman who lived to kill… no spell slingers, so some wands of healing sure came in handy during these battles!

But the best one was in the final room… a huge black dragon skeleton on a pedestal faced us as we opened the door. I crept around, as one does, looking for traps. The mural on the pedestal repeated the one from the entrance, but with one big difference – while the original story stopped at the end with the wizard besting the dragon in battle… this one noted the dragon being forced to guard the treasure!

So… of course the skeletal dragon came to life! The encounter could have been pretty fatal for everyone involved, but for the keen actions of Holtz, my rogue! A tanglefoot bag thrown at the base of the skeleton kept the dragon at bay for a brief time as it tried to pull free, allowing the warriors to get in some hits on the dangerous creature – but major damage almost took down our samurai as he closed in to hack at the bony dragon with his keen blade!

Another tanglefoot hit and I had to consider my strategy – the warrior woman was scoring well with her maul, but the archer and samurai were unable to make much headway, their damage being cut in a third due to their edged weapons. The gunslinger was pistolwhipping the monster with great success, but all I had was a sling – and would the meager amount of damage be enough?

I whipped the grappling hook from my bag, rope already attached, and threw it at the dragon’s head. It embedded itself in one eye, and I used all my strength to yank the creature’s neck down and around, giving it a disadvantage to attacking the fighters. The dragon bucked and tugged, but I refused to give way. A quick dash around a nearby brazier gave me better traction, but it wasn’t long before the dragon broke free…

… dying a few seconds later as the maul plowed into the bony skull and cracked it open!

Much treasure was found nearby, enough to make the dangerous trip worthwhile.

And I don’t mind saying that if it hadn’t been for Holtz’s trick with the grappling hook, we might have lost one of our party, or maybe had to retreat… that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

*grins*

Rogues – We Do It All.

Later, gamers!

 

Saying goodbye to an old friend…

I received word the other day that the Library at the Origins Game Fair was being shut down – for a number of reasons, which I’m not going to go into here (and disagree with, to a degree) and I’m going to miss it. Even though last year I wasn’t invited to participate (along with many of the regulars) Origins is going to be missing a good source of entertainment.

But maybe it’s all for the best – last year I got to attend as a gamer, and it was a hell of a great time. I discovered the Call of Cthulhu RPG and fell in love with it, so much that I got all the sourcebooks and began running sessions for our small group, giving my hubby time off from his Pathfinder campaign. It’s a great game and if you’re looking for a new RPG, I heartily endorse it!

We also got to have fun finding new games and that’ll never get old – after over a decade of attending the convention without missing a single year, we always find something new and exciting. Every year we plan around our Columbus trip, making hotel reservations a year in advance.

And it was good to be at the Library – I made some good sales, met some wonderful people and chatted with new authors, encouraging them to keep on writing. It’ll be sad for them to lose the Library, but maybe it can be resurrected in the future. There were a lot of flaws with the current system and I’d like to see those addressed if someone brings it back to life.

But we’re already planning for a week of great gaming – and while I’ll miss selling books, I’ll get in more gaming – and who can complain about that?

🙂

Sound Mind, Sound… what?

If you’ve read my blog more than once you might have noticed my love of board games. I’ll admit it, it wasn’t until I got married and discovered the Origins Game Fair that I really fell in love with them; my hubby a willing accomplice in the deal.

100_0182But why board games, you might ask? Why not video games?

Well… I do play those as well. I’ve run in the shadows in the recent release of Shadowrun: Hong Kong and I was a wild member of Team Banzai back in the days of MechWarrior 4 and 5 online, charging around in my wee light mech and blowing up my enemies with a scream and a curse.

But now I tend to enjoy board games with the hubby and thrill to go to Columbus every year where I not only get to get my gamer side on but also participate as a member of the Library – the Origins group of authors that produce a yearly anthology and have a table in the Dealers’ Room as well as participate on various panels about writing.

As a writer I think it’s vitally important for me to rest my mind – my body gets enough rest sitting on the sofa, believe me. And while I still enjoy some online gaming and am, as far as I know, the only clockwork dragon in Second Life toddling around, the appeal of board games call me away most evenings.

It’s also a fabulous way to turn my creativity upside down and backwards. A night trying to capture Jack the Ripper (Letters from WhiteChapel) or to beat one of the Old Ones before he (it?) takes over the world (Elder Sign) or maybe trying to build an empire (7 Wonders, Five Tribes, Kingdom Builder) can really recharge the old mental batteries.

SL05

So if you’re looking for a way to swing your mind around like a roller coaster ride, why not check out board games? There’s a lot more out there than just Monopoly and Risk, although those are great places to start!

(And… you won’t get frustrated by your computer freaking out over the graphics or spend time searching for cheat codes/hating those who do!)

Coming October 20th, 2016

Strictly Business

StrictlyBusiness72lgYou can lead a Domme to love…but you can’t make her fall.

Hooded Pleasures, Book 1

Kate Dubois is a Domme-for-hire for the highly exclusive Hooded Pleasures, a service offering private BDSM sessions to those who can’t—or won’t—risk appearing in an actual club.

Lately, though, she wonders if professional burnout is causing her to have painful flashbacks to a past heartbreak. When her boss insists her next client will be a breath of fresh air, Kate reluctantly agrees to an interview.

Alex Hanson dominates the world of computer game programming, but secretly he suspects he might be a sub in the bedroom. There’s only one good way to find out—hire a professional to show him the ropes.

Their first meeting puts both of them to the test—Alex’s self-control, and Kate’s realization she might just like him a little too much. But there’s no denying their emotions are inextricably entangled…a dangerous step Kate’s not sure her heart is prepared to take.
Warning: Contains a hard-core computer geek with a tender side, and a Domme who can’t afford to expose her greatest weakness—him. Geekery combined with flogging. Enjoy!

Buy Links:
Amazon
B&N
Samhain
iBooks
Google Play
All Romance eBooks

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Strictly Business by Sheryl Nantus

Strictly Business

by Sheryl Nantus

Giveaway ends October 14, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Game Review – Castle Panic by Fireside Games

Game Review – Castle Panic by Fireside Games

In this age of video games it’s hard at times to get people to put the controller or mouse down and get interested in a board game. If you or someone you know is like this, may I suggest Castle Panic by Fireside Games as a great way to break them away from the computer screen? The concept is easy enough – you and your fellow players are in the castle in the center of the board, trying to fight…

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Game Review – Castle Panic by Fireside Games

In this age of video games it’s hard at times to get people to put the controller or mouse down and get interested in a board game. If you or someone you know is like this, may I suggest Castle Panic by Fireside Games as a great way to break them away from the computer screen?

castle-panic-game-contents-fireside-gamesThe concept is easy enough – you and your fellow players are in the castle in the center of the board, trying to fight off a hoard of monsters determined to make their way to your stronghold and tear down your walls. But you’re not going to go down easily and your friends are right beside you as you work together to beat Goblins, Orcs and Trolls – along with some special characters and darned nasty events like Giant Boulders being tossed at your walls!castle-panic-game-monster-tokens-fireside-games

The board is simple enough to set up – your tower and walls are set up in the center of the board covering each sector. When a monster hits one of the walls it takes one point of damage, usually enough to kill it – but you lose that wall segment. And once a monster is inside the wall it will spin around to take out all of the outer walls and then the inner walls unless you take it out. And once all of the walls are gone, well… Game Over.

castle-panic-game-cards-fireside-gamesGame play is wonderfully simple and yet full of possibilities for strategy – each player gets a certain number of cards, based on the number of players. Each card shows a fighter – Archer, Knight, Swordsman and the color shows which sector they’re active in. Other special cards allow you to rebuild walls, fortify walls and characters, such as Heroes and Barbarians, will help you defeat tough monsters such as the Orc Mage.

On each turn a player draws up to their hand limit then can trade ONE card with any other player – a way to rotate resources to where they might be best used. You can also discard one card and pull an extra card. After this you can play as many cards as you want – because at the end of your turn all of the monsters on the board move one ring closer to the tower. Each card does one point of damage to the monster unless noted otherwise – and not all monsters take only one point to kill! And then two monsters are added to the board, pulled out of a lovely black pouch and placed on the board with a random dice roll.

castle-panic-game-board-fireside-gamesIf you like games with an equal amount of strategy and randomness, this is the game for you. You can plan all you want but when you pull a Healer from the bag or a Giant Boulder, all of your plans can go up in smoke. The 3-D aspect adds a lovely touch as you scramble to rebuild walls using Brick and Mortar cards while working together to defeat the monsters.

Castle Panic has two expansions out at present and the concept has been used in other games like Munchkin Panic. We’ve played three games and lost two because we just got unlucky and pulled the strongest monsters at the end of the game – when most of our walls were down and we were weakest.

It’s also been reviewed by Tabletop and if you’re looking for a great video on how much fun it can be – check it out!

This is a great game if you have kids – it plays quickly and the rules are easy enough to explain along with the co-operative aspect. If you’re looking for a fun addition to your game shelf with the possibility of pulling your friends away from the computer screen, consider Castle Panic!