Category Archives: Writing

Writing and the craft of writing, topics will be aplenty.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 66: Resurrecting Awesome IPs

The title will be a little misleading but I wanted a means of drawing your eye in to read a little more, so hopefully you’ll forgive me a little. I will actually be talking about a great many intellectual properties (IPs) but that talk will be done in a little bit different way than you might be expecting.

In order to ride a little bit of the “nostalgia factor” that everyone is experiencing with Stranger Things, I wanted to talk about turning those IPs I love into RPGs or prose fiction.

Yes, this may technically be another “RPG” centric column but I’m going to label this one in the more broad sense of being… 

If you can’t see the title, there, it’s “Storytelling.” I guess I shouldn’t just let that be without explanation.

There are a lot of IPs that I’d love to see brought back, or continued, that are sitting in development hell, are already completed (as far as the story goes), and didn’t have the “multiples of billions of dollars” made in their one attempt so they just put it on the shelf.

I’ve got a little bit of a history of making a fairly entertaining version of a property that I would never be able to gain the rights to, so I made my own… this was when I was younger, much younger, and I would like to resurrect that piece of my history to give something like this another run.

Let’s start with Tron (as well as Tron: Legacy).

Creating this particular IP back in the early 1980s, Disney took the “computing terminology and technology” of the era to come up with a digital world where games were real and programs were humanoids with real problems. This all fell under the control of the company’s “overseer” program, which in the digital world was the “big bad” of the story. In the sequel, many of the terms (which were long out of date) were still being used and the general concept was similar in nature to the original, just updated for the new technology to make everything look prettier.

That being said, I love Tron and I loved Tron: Legacy… so much so that I really wanted there to be more sequels to Legacy that are just never going to happen because Disney didn’t make a bazillion dollars and had to settle for a few hundred million. What will they do now? Reboot it, most likely, and try again.

What I’m considering doing with one of my solo RPGs is run in a world very similar to Tron. Yes, I said similar.

I’ve spent a bit of time coming up with how I wanted to run this thing. I’m going to concentrate on the story, rolling a set of dice with the Mythic Game Master Emulator as the GM, to determine the outcomes and general direction of the story. I am literally going to “wake up without a clue as to what is going on.”

Like Tron, there will be (generally) black clad programmed entities that will glow with a light or color and my goal is to figure out where I came from and whether or not something more to be discovered in this digital world. Unlike Tron, I’m not going to have an “outside world” component to the story. This will be more “program dealing with programs,” though I’m probably going to update the terminology to be more like what we actually use today.

No “User,” now it’s Developer. No “Program,” now it’s Application. No “Grid,” now it’s probably going to be something witty that I haven’t come up with, yet… but you get the picture.

And the beauty of this is that I don’t have to come up with a vast amount of history or anything because I don’t know any better as a character, I get to discover this along with you (because I’m publishing the results in a prose-like format).

Before I move on to the next IP, what if my “Tron” ends up being somewhat like The Matrix? I love the Matrix, all of them, and I wouldn’t mind if that ended up going in that direction… but I’ll let play determine that.

Moving right along, let’s talk about the Bourne series.

Derived from a series of books that are as blandly written as one can experience, the film series features a super spy who is seeking out his origins and a means of freeing himself from the ones who put him into the position he’s in of being a super spy. We even had a single “non-Jason Bourne” movie that delved a little into a spy who wasn’t the titular character, which much like the Disney “Tron: Legacy” example above, didn’t perform as well as they’d hoped so they scrapped all future editions that didn’t feature Jason Bourne.

I’ve loved the idea of being a super spy, amnesiac or not, and working my way through a world who is out to get me because of one reason or another. This also technically fits into the John Wick mold, being in a world that is awesome and having awesome skills as I try to get the hell out of my predicament! If I go with the amnesiac angle again, sure it’ll end up being somewhat of a trope, but I can discover the world along with you, the reader.

Or I can develop a little bit of the basics and move along from there… which is far more likely than the not remembering thing… but we will figure that out before play actually begins, I just know I’d rather be more Jason Bourne than James Bond.

How about going with a property that you might not expect from a grown ass adult? I’m talking about Centurions: Power Extreme.

The cartoon was a “far off future” where technology was running rampant over the globe and a special force of three guys wielded awesome weapons against a cyborg evil doer and his dolt of an apprentice.

In no way, shape, or form does the premise or the technology hold up, but the overall idea has lasted… and this fits into another wonderful solo RPG idea, where I would play as one of the weapons specialists fighting against something more sinister than a couple of inept cyborgs to save the planet… and the weapon systems would have to be far more generic and be far more diversified than they were in the cartoon.

Yep, this was a cartoon, dear readers… go watch the five part series opener and the five part series conclusion to experience some of the most awesome parts of the show.

My version wouldn’t be called Centurions, they’d be fighting something more realistic (or at least more along the lines of what G.I Joe: the Rise of Cobra did as opposed to the actual cartoon’s “far future” premise)

Sticking with the cartoon factor, I’d like to hit on Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light.

As with all hokey 80s cartoons, a planet of highly advanced technology did something to screw themselves in some way and magic returned to their world, controlled by a wizard who granted a bunch of Medieval-esque knights the ability to change into animals and whatnot.

My own concept would be more akin to Samurai, as I’m a bigger fan of Eastern settings than Western settings, and the magic would have already been there and not gone away… maybe the wizard is someone who is actively removing the magical abilities and the Samurai have to go and knock the crap out of him so they can retain their hard earned magical abilities.

Yeah, that sounds like an idea I wouldn’t mind running through. No amnesia, which means I’d have to have a basic understanding of the background of the setting, but that shouldn’t take too much of the fun out of the adventure of going up against a nearly omnipotent foe for the greater good.

What about a space themed adventure? I could go with a Star Trek-like experience, or a Star Wars-like experience… but I’m going to actually delve a little more closely into a Firefly experience.

But DJ, you hate Firefly! Yes, I do… but that’s because it’s a Western… that happens in space, and I don’t care where a Western happens, I don’t like Westerns (generally, there is always an exception to the rule).

The basic idea that I’d be interested in exploring is a crew on a ship, doing something innocuous like shipping freight from one location to the other, but belonging to some form of official government in a limited setting (like the Solar System) and getting drawn into some sort of conflict that is a little bit bigger than the crew of the ship.

I like the idea of a small crew, of a military nature, operating in a “small but powerful ship” that is doing things and gets called into service. Star Trek, in this case, is too vast as far as space as well as ability. Star Wars is a little to fantasy for the science fiction I’d like to be doing, though I’d take away the “ships just do stuff” aspect from the Wars. As much as I don’t like the series, the Firefly move Serenity was great, and I really do like the “comfy little crew” aspect of the dynamic.

Since I mentioned the franchise earlier, I’d like to draw from the G.I Joe: Retaliation installment of the seemingly dead movie franchise.

The idea I’m going with, here, is the idea of a military unit being hunted for a reason and that unit being forced into action to defend itself.

Well, this kind of relates to the Bourne idea above, as in there is probably a secret we (as the unit) know something about something that we go into hiding for, only to be flushed out by over zealous people who just can’t let sleeping dogs lie… and that forces said unit back into action, exposing that secret while killing all the bad guys in the process.

This is actually a story I developed for a prose novel I wanted to write and never did… if I turn this into an RPG setting, I can leave the secret up to the game emulator. I gave a link earlier, and it’s the one I’d use because it’s the one I own.

Since I love me some Vampire the Masquerade and Vampire the Requiem, why don’t I look a little bit at the Underworld franchise for the next idea?

I’m looking at the “war versus another supernatural creature” aspect of the vampires in my own solo RPG experience. I’ve toyed with the idea of the “brand new vampire discovering the world they actually live in” angle, and I’m not necessarily ruling that out, but I’ve also recently wanted to do the “ancient vampire rejoins the world and discovers they’re really an overpowered child learning the ropes of the society they’ve created” angle…

One of my favorite series of novels from the VtM line was the Masquerade of the Red Death Trilogy of books, which were almost immediately made “non-canon” because of whatever reasons… they are a damn good story, a little on the long side, but at no point are you sitting there thinking “when are we going to get to the damn action.” They also contain all of the major supernatural splats from the game lines (vampires, werewolves, and mages, though I don’t think the werewolves did a whole lot in the story now that I think about it).

I won’t spoil the story for you, but there is a ton of stuff in there to mine as far as story possibilities… but that doesn’t relate, necessarily to the Underworld aspect.

One thing I didn’t like about Underworld is the lack of super powers by the vampires. The lycans had all kinds of abilities (well, the ability to transform into a monstrous killing machine) and I would want to expand on that a bit… which means the “new vampire discovering the 411” is probably the best angle for this one, as well as one of the VtM or VtR splats being the best place to host the story in (at least the framework of how vampires and other supernaturals work).

There IS another variation of this, which I’ve created a vast and wonderful world around, that I could do and have some form of “random learning” going on… and that is a werewolf version of Vampire Diaries or True Blood but with more focus on the wolves than anything else. I have named this venture Moonrise, because the story was originally about the heir to the werewolf throne in a time when the politics of the society are starting to unravel… and that would be what I’d consider using as a basis for a story along these lines.

I’ve covered a lot of IPs… not all of the ones I was thinking, but with a column word count over 2,000, I think it’s time to wrap this edition up and consider a sequel (once I write down another series of possible IPs I would love to turn into my own little creations as possible solo RPG options).

The biggest reason for my concentration on solo RPGs is that I can’t get anyone else to play with, reliably. There are groups in my area but I’m not super interested in playing D&D, Pathfinder, or anything like that… I don’t want to necessarily physically go somewhere, either. Online, I don’t have anyone who can meet regularly enough in order to run a game more than just a week (see Greatest Show episode 109), where I reference Green Team that ran exactly once… and the entire cast has never been all on at the same time since. Hence, my point.

So, until I find a crew (hopefully containing a GM so I can be just a player once in a while), I will look into the solo RPG avenue.

Stay tuned for a second part if I have enough material!

Thanks for reading.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 61: The Chess Story

I’ve told a chess story from the fifth grade on my websites for years, one might even say more than a decade, and I continuously end up coming back to revisit that topic from time to time. I’m not going to recount that story here, again, so don’t worry about that… but I wanted to talk a little bit about what I mentioned on the most recent Specter Show (episode 39) about integrating this concept in with a solo RPG experience.

I’d like to flesh that concept out a little bit here. Won’t you come on this adventure with me?

The roughest concept of what I’m going to talk about is my fifth grade chess club running itself like the WWE. Replace WWE with “UFC” or “poker on TV” if you need to not have glazed eyes at a professional wrestling reference, but that is the basic idea. We were 11, so give us a little break.

In my solo RPG research, I came up with the idea that I could integrate this concept (for adults) in with playing actual chess games to include in the “episode posts.” Bear with me, here.

Let’s create a quick character concept in a man I’ll call David Charles Price, who is a (roughly) 1100-1200 rated chess player and is aged somewhere between 35 and 40-ish. David is my character who is approached by John Smith (yeah, all that work to name the very next person John Smith) about recreating their “fifth grade chess experience.” After some discussion, the concept that anyone rated above 1700 wouldn’t like this idea and wouldn’t participate, so the rating limit is made at 1400 (initially).

Player invitations happen “in character” and test games are run (by test games I mean games played to familiarize everyone who is playing together gets familiar with each other’s style). The players who need help to compete are taken aside and taught to get better, while David C. Price and company continue into creating “personalities” and getting ready to compete “on camera.”

All of this would be character interactions in this RPG that I, DJ Allen, would be using to play the “Chess Story” scenario. Dice would be rolled and different strengths of players would be determined in their character creation.

The stage would now be set.

As David C. Price, whom has adopted the moniker “DCP” as his persona, I would begin using my own Chess.com games against real people as the chess games in this Chess Story to advance the DCP character into the story. I’m taking actual chess games to integrate them into my chess RPG story that I’d be telling.

Centered around the fifth grade chess club concept. The “What Would That Look Like” column discusses the idea of no restrictions and introducing this to the world at large.

I’m taking that column bulk and restricting the situation to chess players under a certain rating level. Someone who isn’t really following “profession chess” can even understand that someone rated 1400 will more than likely beat someone rated 1100 with some ease. This would have to be eliminated as our “rating system” for this RPG to be more interesting and to be presented more like the UFC than the actual FIDE chess federation. As a replacement, because I’m creating this around the concept of “under 1500” rated players, I’m suggesting using a martial arts style belt system (as an example, here’s one of the pages that gave me the idea).

You, as a potential chess spectator, are more likely to watch a game between two green belts (not really knowing which one might win) rather than a game between a 1412 rated player versus a 1356 rated player.

In the game, advancing from one belt to the next would require performing on the board at a specific level or maybe beating someone from the higher belt color. That can be determined through the playing of the solo RPG elements of the game, but everything would be outlined on the site for reference.

Would there be a specific career path in this Chess Story RPG? No, that would come out as part of the play. Maybe DCP ends up advancing until he reaches a wall that he can’t beat a specific player, or maybe every time he gets an opportunity at a championship he fails miserably (on the bright stage of the “main event.”). Maybe DCP becomes the strongest player in the league and becomes legendary player for others to aspire towards (or to aspire in defeating).

Obviously, if my actual games are the ones being presented, I’d have to be getting better along the way to be that “best player in the league,” assuming any of the characters end up being closer to the 1400 rated player, because I have my issues playing them at my paltry 1100 level.

But you wouldn’t know that if it was DCP (Blue Belt) vs. Giant Pawn (Blue Belt) for the League Championship… see how that modifies the scenario a little?

I’m not 100% positive that I’ll be running this exact thing as a solo RPG, but since the basic elements are present and possible, why not throw a little actual chess into the mix to make things a little more fun in my RPG?

The content will be produced and published on the site and I think that I’d have a grand old time playing the game (and the games). Hopefully, you’d find the story interesting enough to follow along, too.

That’s all for this week, see you again next week!

The Specter Show 039: The Downward Spiral

What do you do when you haven’t done what you’d said you’d do? DJ talks about bullet journaling restart (3rd attempt), solo RPGs (because some research was done and there will be a great many things that can possibly get done), and making everything work in unison… technically, this is all about bullet journaling and content creation from that bullet journaling!

Host: DJ Allen
Intro Music: The Idea of You by Nine Inch Nails (from Not the Actual Events)
Outtro Music: The Perfect Drug by Nine Inch Nails
Intro Lead in: Dirk Manning

Contact:
Email: EmeraldSpecter.com@Gmail.com
Twitter: @EmeraldSpecter
Instagram: @EmeraldSpecter

Support Emerald Specter at Patreon!

Thanks for checking this out, you can find more at EmeraldSpecter.com!

Hashtags: #TheSpecterShow #bulletjournal #bujo #BuJoRPG #BuJoRPG2 #soloRPG

The Greatest Show 140: The Greatest Boot (Audio)

The trio of DJ, Tricia, and special guest Dan from Fear the Boot, the crew talks about RPGs (and a little bit more)… to include volunteering, being an objective reviewer, and the tale of the Drug Tree! There’s so much more!

Hosts: DJ Allen, Tricia Allen, and Dan from Fear the Boot!

Contact:
Website: www.EmeraldSpecter.com
Email: emeraldspecter.com@gmail.com
Twitter: @MadeByTricia @EmeraldSpecter
Instagram: @MadeByTricia @EmeraldSpecter

www.FearTheBoot.com, AP.FearTheBoot.com, www.MorningSkye.com, and www.BloodMoonGoblins.com

Journal of the Emerald Specter 59: Content is King

I’m not entirely sure what kind of banners I should use for this particular article. This is going to be another attempt at a full length article here, but I’ll be touching on different types of content (podcasts, articles, YouTube, storytelling, etc)… so, why don’t I do what I think I need to and just go ahead and make something custom?

I am all about making content. Content is the easiest thing I can produce without needing to be doing something for a living, somewhere specific, for someone else. Sometimes that content may seem erratic, sometimes that content may seem like a waste of time, but the content is always accomplishing the task of putting something on this site to keep people poking back to see what else I’m doing.

Last year, I started doing the ESPL (Emerald Specter Premier League) based on a project that I love from the Chris Creamer Sports Logos Concept forum, which is basically creating a league and developing the logos from their initial appearance until the modern day. In that thread, the AFA is in their 1987 year… the thread is HUGE. I bring this up because I had an epiphany the other day.

So, when I was running the ESPL, I had a big concentration on what was happening in the games (and the league) from week to week, with a passing “side enterprise” with the designing of logos (which was the whole reason I started the damn thing up in the first place). Veras (the creator of the AFA thread) runs some simulations in the background and gives some broader recap rather than an in-depth look “from game to game,” with a heavy concentration on what the whole point of the thread is: logo, uniform, and field designs.

Unless I wanted to go back in time and start doing the ESPL in some randomly selected year in the past and work my way forward, that approach won’t necessarily work for me. I do realize that the reason the interest waned somewhat was that I was being bogged down in the tedium of running a fictional league “in real time” rather than enjoying the process of creating concepts for the logos, uniforms, and whatever else… If I were to rebirth this concept, I’d be concentrating on the broader overviews of the ESPL and keeping the week to week format, but being far more general as I released the uniform and logo concepts throughout the year in a longer format (instead of a big logo reveal extravaganza followed by the tedium of details of the league).

Would you like to see a second attempt at the ESPL?

I have several podcasts at the moment that I’m enjoying producing with several others I’ve got in the “concept” stage. The Greatest Show, my long running YouTube (and our original channel) show that initially started out as a pre-produced show and turned into a live show (followed by a more produced version, so that I can release audio versions of the show again on a feed). The show was started with a forum for my best friend, Bob, and I to have conversations about “the good old days,” geeky topics, and whatever else crossed our minds.

The show developed into the conversations while watching my wife make wonderful food, which enjoyed a solid run of interest from all kinds of folks, and saw an uptick in our traffic. We developed into a later night show, moved away from the cooking segment, and added a whole slew of other hosts (as Bob was having a hard time making appearances). What we have going now is an attempt at running the show in seasons, rather than continuously, and we’ve only got experiments to run as we figure out what the next stage of the show is…

And speaking of that, we’ve added a regular rotation of guests into the mix. I got a good push of guests right up front and have since had an issue lining up more as the season progresses. I’m doing what I can but the effort is monumental in scope and I’m hoping to have a better process for the future.

I wanted to speak about this show specifically at length because there is an issue that has arisen where Saturday nights, while they work for the majority of the cast, don’t seem to be able to include everyone AND our viewership seems to have declined (in the live arena, anyway) because of the time slot. Metal Jesus has school, Rachel has a new job, Bob’s job is giant in scope, I have a fluctuating schedule, Kevin C. has activities from time to time, and Tricia doesn’t believe the time slot is convenient. All of these things make it hard to continue the show in the original vision and I’d be interested in getting some thoughts on the possible future of the show.

Options, before I move on, include returning to the “pre-produced” and uploaded version from way back, the cooking while talking version, and moving the recording time to a variable option to open up the possible guests that can be included in the future. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The Specter Show is my personal show, which has only been me talking to the audience (save one episode that included me talking to my wife). In a conversation with my wife, I was told that I spend a lot of time talking about what I’m going to do rather than doing what I say I’m going to do. A good example of that is the BuJoRPG 2 beta, which hasn’t been touched at all in a month… more on that in a few paragraphs.

I originally wanted to keep the Specter Show “off the rails” so that I could talk about anything I wanted without worrying about sticking to a genre or topic. While that has worked in large part, there are episodes I’m not super pleased with because I’ve just sort of muted through and released a show to release a show.

One of the original intents of podcasting, for me, was to present myself as a viable radio personality that could carry a show for 30, 60, or 120 minutes (or maybe even longer). I’ve dropped my desire to be on the radio, not because I’ve lost interest, but because the radio isn’t going to allow me to accomplish the expansion that podcasting will… and that leads me to a history lesson of sorts.

When I originally launched the Lime Flavored Podcasting Network, I had the vision to create a lineup of shows that would give me a place to talk about a multitude of topics and build up a network like TWiT, which has blossomed into a viable podcasting business. The reason that TWiT works as well as it does is because they have a broad umbrella under which they operate: tech related podcasting.

The LFPN had an expanded topic lineup: the Greatest Show, the Lime Flavored Podcast (which made it to 50 episodes), Limelight on Apple (our tech news show), Echoes Darkly (our RPG centric podcast), and Comic Cast (our comic book industry show). When we (my wife and I) were into FitBit deeply, we also sort of launched a half hearted attempt at a fitness show, known as the FitBit Challenge… all of these shows collapsed for one reason or another except one, the Greatest Show. (In order listed above after the Greatest Show): one show stopped because the domain was sold, keeping up on tech was tough to maintain with busy lives, my co-hosts all became unavailable, and we just weren’t collecting or reading as much as we’d like to have been… that all led to the LFPN death, mainly with the loss of the domain, and a reevaluation of my dream.

I’ve currently got three podcasts running, with one in a concept phase. The Greatest Show, the Specter Show, and the PRO Chess League Podcast (new, concentrating on the PRO Chess League). Since the last one hasn’t been running (due to the season starting in January), I’m confident that keeping up with three shows is a distinct possibility. I’ve offered shows to Kevin C., Metal Jesus, Bob, and Rachel… all of them are in some stage of development, but we’ll see what develops there. This is a good start, but as the title of this column says: content is king. Only three of these are producing any content.

Now I come to my “bread and butter,” the BuJoRPG. Since launching my initial bullet journal roleplaying game, I have developed that as far as I felt it could go before bringing out the next concept for what I thought was possibly, namely BuJoRPG 2. I had promised to release the first “version” (a post-beta) as it was developed but I’ll be honest, I’ve not had the time. I also haven’t MADE the time, either.

This is where my wife’s comments about talking about something and not doing it come in.

I have a concept for what I want the BuJoRPG to ideally become. That requires a lot of work and with the release of the open beta, I’ve asked for help and feedback. Since releasing that open beta, I’ve received neither help nor feedback on the BuJoRPG 2, making me think the effort is being wasted. Without a drive of an audience to see the result, I can’t be faulted for not wanting to work on the product. Would you like to know what I envision for this in the future?

Ideally, you’d order something I’ll just call the “BuJo Box.” The box will be prepacked and contain (at least, but not limited to): a lore book (for the BuJoRPG world of the Jade Realm), a preformatted bullet journal (for the BuJoRPG), some bullet journal pens (in various colors), some dice (since they are part of the BuJoRPG 2), a wall map of the Jade Realm (it would unfold to include the “basic” map, which is everything before “expansions”), and maybe some stencils to aid in the creation of the BuJoRPG style graphical elements.

Doesn’t that sound nifty?

Finally, I’d like to talk about some of the things I’d planned on for the future but will decide whether or not they’ll make the cut. These each will be a “mini-paragraph” of information, just to explain enough to let you know what I was hoping to do but might not actually develop it (to shut the door on the “talk about doing what you should be doing but aren’t” conversation).

A podcast for each degree of the Freemason Scottish (and York) Rite, as I wanted to learn the lessons they teach but do not like the religious overtones within the brotherhood. I’ve got all the materials ready, I’ve read what I need to, now I just need to put fingers to keyboard to write up the material and start recording. This is a “monthly” podcast, rather than a weekly one.

Serial fiction has been written, not edited by any of the editors that I’ve enlisted, and sits collecting digital dust in the cloud. With the Greatest Show crew talking about running an RPG before the show, this is being converted into the game that I’ll be running (inside the Green Ronin Fantasy AGE system, although probably more closely related to Will Wheaton’s TitansGrave version). There are modifications that I’ve made to the story but the general theory is in tact.

A re-release of SpecterFit, my fitness centric blog/column/podcast that would help you along your own personal journey to getting more healthy. Since I’ve been injured, I can’t really do much other than eat healthier and I haven’t written or podcasted about this at any length, so it’s sitting in development hell.

Specter of the Galaxy, which I’d intended to play No Man’s Sky at least weekly with the release of their Waking Titan release, I’ve taken multiple weeks off between the second to last and last podcast that have made the future of this in doubt… I just haven’t had the time with everything else going on.

In a few months, or within a few months, the Fire Pro Wrestling World game will be released on PS4 and I had intended to run a new eFed (electronic federation) on Emerald Specter.com, which I haven’t run anything like this since 2002! The original eFeds from “back in the day” were all angle or RP feds, the FPW World fed would be a CAW (create-a-wrestler) style fed… but that requires a little bit of time.

With the declining interest in the “Greatest Show Fight Series,” I thought that running a two division UFC fighting league might be a possibility without centering around the hosts of the Greatest Show… but I’d likely wait for the next release of the UFC (UFC 3) before doing anything like this, leaving this dormant.

Spawning from the aforementioned “serial fiction” paragraph (since I have the planet’s entire history mapped out), I was going to launch a SIM (similar to those run on Obsidian Fleet) within this story’s universe… my server died, was resurrected, and requires lengthy work to get this to where it would allow me to do this, and I’d need a lot of help getting the flagship SIM working so that expansion into other “ships” would be possible.

Quite a list, huh?

Well, I’m hoping to get things moving in a generally positive direction. With the end of 2017 comes the “behind the scenes” development of a new look for Emerald Specter.com, which has been planned for some time. I’m running through some concepts and will have something to launch whenever that is ready… but it is actively being worked on. With this new release, I would conceivably use that refresh as a way to relaunch things that went dormant, launch new things I’ve talked about here, or just freshen up the graphics on the site as a whole.

I’m done talking about doing things and not doing them… I’m going to do things, now.

Right now.

The Specter Show 037: Eraser

An unexpected server issue held this release up, it is corrected now.

Speaking of server issues, DJ discusses the server getting fried on October 1, talking about doing things that should be done rather than talked about, bullet journaling without the RPG, BuJoRPG 2, and a few other things. He even gets off on a tangent and literally gets lost.

Host: DJ Allen
Intro Music: The Idea of You by Nine Inch Nails (from Not the Actual Events)
Outtro Music: The Perfect Drug by Nine Inch Nails
Intro Lead in: Theo Rossi

Contact:
Email: EmeraldSpecter.com@Gmail.com
Twitter: @EmeraldSpecter
Instagram: @EmeraldSpecter

Support Emerald Specter at Patreon!

Thanks for checking this out, you can find more at EmeraldSpecter.com!

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The Specter Show 036: A Warm Place

Who’s life got all out of whack in the last six weeks? The Emerald Specter returns to the basics, discussing how bullet journaling without the BuJoRPG system is going to get him rolling back in the right direction. There is chess, conversation about getting healthy again, focusing on what matters, moving towards self improvement again, being a better person, getting out in the world more, some Greatest Show talk, an introduction to the introduction of the new PRO Chess League Podcast, and there are a couple of tangents that actually relate to the main topic!

Host: DJ Allen
Intro Music: The Idea of You by Nine Inch Nails (from Not the Actual Events)
Outtro Music: The Perfect Drug by Nine Inch Nails
Intro Lead in: Theo Rossi

Contact:
Email: EmeraldSpecter.com@Gmail.com
Twitter: @EmeraldSpecter
Instagram: @EmeraldSpecter

Support Emerald Specter at Patreon!

Thanks for checking this out, you can find more at EmeraldSpecter.com!

Hashtags: #TheGreatestShow #Podcasting #TheSpecterShow #chess @TheoRossi #BuJoRPG #BuJoRPG2 #bulletjournal #bujoideas #bujoinspiration #bujogaming #bujoimprovement #bujofun #bujodesign #selfimprovement #PROChessLeague #PROChessLeaguePodcast #SpecteroftheGalaxy

Journal of the Emerald Specter 55: The Actual Journey

I have returned to talk about a plethora of topics, or at least that is the intention laid out in front of me. I have to touch on certain things, I want to touch on other things, and I am fairly hungry as I write this… so that will be fun. Why does my appetite matter? Well, I can get distracted easily.

What about just getting going with the column? Ok… 

Coming out of the “summer” TV season, I wanted to talk about a few things that my wife and I have been watching as well as what we’re looking forward to getting into for the fall season.

If you aren’t watching GLOW on Netflix, then you’re just plain missing out. One of the best things I’ve enjoyed is, while I never watched GLOW when the company was actively on in the 80s, watching a few episodes and then watching a YouTube video of one of their actually produced events is an eye opening experience. Terrible, but eye opening. I recommend you give GLOW on Netflix a chance, I think that the building of this company is interesting and a great watch.

Game of Thrones season 7 has ended and there is only one season left. If you haven’t watched the latest season, then you’ll want to skip to the next section of this column (or at least the next paragraph). Where we left our characters in the finale, I don’t understand why a little bit of humility on the part of Jon Snow (Aegon Targaryen) will go a long way when he learns who he really is, considering he was “giving the sword” to Daenerys as someone who has “bent the knee,” but actually is the heir to the Iron Throne. I don’t know why lineage matters with all we’ve been through because the removal of the Mad King should have removed the line of succession completely.

Defenders (as well as Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist) series on Netflix continue to rock. I think Defenders ran a little weird as far as pacing but ended fairly decently. The character of Danny Rand just seems completely out of touch with what actually needs to happen and that is a little disappointing.

Things that are coming back on that I’m amped to get back into: Agents of SHIELD (as well as the Inhumans TV show coming out, too), Star Trek Discovery (which isn’t “coming back,” it’s bringing Star Trek back… and I’m hoping it IS a reboot, because the franchise really needs it), Westworld (well, it’s coming back next year, but I’m still waiting anxiously), and those are just some of the “big shows” making a comeback.

I can’t wait!

The Aki Basho starts on Sunday and since I’ve been following as closely as I have, this will be the first Basho that has the potential to really not be as exciting as the past shows.

Hakuho, the best in the world right now, may not be up to full health… Kisenosato and Kakuryu might be out due to health issues. Ura is in a need to sit out early, and for the love of Pete, that is a lot of the talent to be following sitting out if they either don’t show up or bow out early.

I’ve wondered if Hakuho would retire once he set the all time win record (which he did last Basho) but he appears to be continuing on. He is really going to bury that record, I guess. If he’s healthy enough to keep going, I hope he keeps going, but I am interested in seeing how his absence would be filled once he leaves (as with any top tier competitor in a sport).

Kisenosato and Kakuryu need to rest. I really want to see Kisenosato compete fully healthy because I think he’s the next best thing to Hakuho. Harumafuji has made a statement as of late but if Kisenosato is up and running, I think he’s really the next best thing in modern sumo.

Ura, the “biggest thing since sliced bread” rikishi, also needs to heal up. He popped into the top division and made a big splash and I think he’s honestly going to be an Ozeki a lot faster than we’ve seen in the past, but he needs to be healthy in order to perform. Ishiura is almost as good as Ura but we’ve already seen the holes in his technique, so he has a lot to work on.

All in all, Sunday starts the Basho and I’ll be watching. If I had a means of putting money towards watching this in a high quality, I’d PAY FOR IT, but sumo outside of Japan seems to be nearly impossible to accomplish. Really, though, take my money.

A couple of months ago, I made an offer to my wife that has resulted in my trips to the theater descending exponentially. I ordered to not go to every single Marvel Studios movie (like we had been) and we haven’t been to a movie since Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. When Spider-Man: Homecoming comes out on iTunes, I’ll buy it (like I did with every other Marvel Studios “Phase” movie). That will be the first time I see it.

I decided a long time ago that I don’t care about spoilers. Movies, when spoiled, become a “I want to see how they got there” rather than a “I want to see what happens” thing.

More to the point, though, not going to the theater has saved me a sum of money already and looks to be giving me a chance to go to a different type of movie from here on out. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan 30th Anniversary theater run is coming up (starting next Sunday) and I am going to see it. I love that movie, I can almost quote the whole thing from start to finish, and it’ll be something that is different than superheroes.

My wife has complained in the past that I choose all the movies, and going to more than just superhero movies is too many times at the theater. She’s now got the chance to name her choices and we’ll see what we end up going to, which so far isn’t anything. I’m sure something will pop up but nothing so far.

Jon Jones loses his championship due to drugs. He comes back, almost fights DC for the belt and gets suspended for drugs. He comes back, beats DC to regain his championship, and gets stripped for drugs.

When is Jones going to get the hint to stop doing drugs? When is the UFC going to stop allowing him back in because he’s always on drugs?

Over the course of the last few months, I’ve been longing for a few “lady fights.” UFC can have 7 events completely scheduled out and of the potential 77 fights, they’ve only got 3 lady fights. There are a lot of women on the UFC roster, so why aren’t they fighting more often?

I understand that I’m a rare breed, wanting to see the women fighting where most people just want to watch the men, but for the love of Pete, why have women’s divisions if you aren’t going to have at least 30 fights a year? You’ve got 3 divisions, start ramping UP your women fights instead of “treading water.”

The men’s fights are starting to get “watered down,” so if you’re going to tout them as the main attraction, start giving me bigger matchups. When was the last time the UFC Heavyweight Championship was defended? I can’t even tell you.

I’m going to be podcasting a little about BuJoRPG2 but writing about if more often than not. If you only get your information from one source, it’ll be in written form. I can reach a larger audience that way, though the upcoming Specter Show (episode 32) talks all about BuJoRPG2. Check it out.

I’m going to be out in the open about my developing B2, so hopefully the feedback starts coming to me as I start releasing and developing this further.

Listen to that episode, it’ll explain more and what the plan actually is from here on out.

Serial fiction report: I have started a mind map of what needs to happen.

Wait, what?

A mind map is basically a visual representation of what needs to happen, who is involved, where things are going, and helps cohesively put together the story I’m trying to tell. I have three main characters we’re following, I’ve shifted the focus to different parts of the world (as opposed to being stuck in my initial location, which I completely biffed) and help me plan out the future.

Initially, I had all three of my characters stuck on an island. This time, three of the characters start on the island but two of them immediately move to different areas of the world so I can expand the rest of this world for you. I’ve even done a few more things based on what Game of Thrones did, to properly set you up (as the reader) for what is going to happen down the line.

Yeah, I’m referencing one of the best TV series of our time for my serial fiction.

This mind map is almost complete for “season 1,” then I’ll rewrite episode one and start working my way into the next episodes… which I’ll also be developing “season 2” and expanding the character focus from three to five or six (which will have you going in more directions, learning more about the world, and really getting the gist of what is possible in this series).

I just need to write this damn thing, too. Not having a goal in mind really is what has been holding me up.

There is a podcast that will be created in reference to my Masonic research (no, I am not a Freemason) but it isn’t anywhere near ready, yet. It’ll be a longer form than the Specter Show or Greatest Show, but hopefully you’ll be as interested in it as you are in the other two shows. I also think the show will be monthly, no more often than that, because of the research and write up that needs to go into producing it.

I said I want to write the comic book of my dreams and I’m still not ready to do that. I want to try this mind map serial fiction and if that works I’ll see what I can do with a “second project.”

Thank you for reading and see you next week.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 54: Discoveries and Doubling Down

There are things happening, all the time, on this website, and with myself, that are in motion… almost everything I do is subject to my self-diagnosed ADD, which means occasionally I get distracted by things and then have to refocus my efforts to get back on track.

Oddly enough, the BuJoRPG was supposed to get me back on track and keep me focused, though I seem to have fallen off the wagon harder than I thought and I can’t seem to squeeze out the next version as easily as I’d hoped I would have been able to, so there is a talk I need to have with myself in this column and you can listen/read along.

I’ve started writing the “tutorial” of setting up the BuJoRPG 2 “Character Sheet.” I’m changing how I did things in B1, as I’ve stated before, and B2 is looking good… the problem I’ve run into is what to fill the Character Sheet with (that won’t require constant, or frequent, updating… meaning erasing and rewriting). This isn’t the only problem I’ve hit but it is the biggest one.

If you used B1 and you think that B2 is going to be a smooth transition over, just updating some terminology and moving forward with some modifications, you’d be wrong. I’ve changed some things and how they work, fundamentally, expanding the operations of what B2 can do. Just writing these words has emboldened me to finish up the tutorial and write up what needs to be done in order to release this in the Beta form (currently Version 0.1).

See what writing things down can do for me?

I’ve wanted to include a battle mechanic since the inception of this effort… B1 was going to eventually morph into a different version of what it was, but rather than slowly morph things over time, B2 is going to jump in with both feet. A set of “To Do Lists” will be the battles and there will be Skills you use in order to alter the “drops” of goods and loot. Yes, there will be goods and loot. I need to build the barest bones of the “Skills tree” in order to release the Beta, because I want my Beta testers to be able to suggest improvements or branches to that tree.

Just like the BuJoRPG: Wuxia template for B1, I’m building B2 as the Wuxia template (essentially). This is built around the idea of you being a wandering martial artist, acting as a hero, in a Chinese inspired “Wild West” (the term for this is Jianghu). Nothing will be so difficult with the terminology, though, that you can’t just modify the terms for your own “template,” because I’m not designing templates for B2.

I’m going to finalize the Beta before the end of next week and I hope to have something ready to go to develop. I hope you’re as excited to Beta test as I am to build the finalized version of B2.

I came across a genre of literature yesterday that really took me by surprise. The genre is known as LitRPG, literally meaning Literature Role Playing Game. The genre is about people who log into virtual reality games (which is the overwhelming basis for these novels) and are not able to log out. There are a few pieces of fiction that I can point to that will illustrate examples of what LitRPG actually is… those being Tron (both the original 1984 movie and the Tron: Legacy sequel), Total Recall (the Arnold Schwarzenegger version, as I haven’t seen the Colin Farrell version), Ready Player One (the whole book is about LitRPG), and Armada (the Ernest Cline second novel, similar to Ready Player One). The manga/anime Sword Art Online is also completely a LitRPG thing, so if you’re into anime you can watch that.

Now, I’m not a huge fan of the “fantasy” genre (elves, dwarves, orcs, goblins, D&D, Pathfinder, etc, etc…) because the genre has literally been done to death. I can’t throw a rock without hitting something or someone that deals with fantasy as a genre. Some will claim that all genres are like this, and they may be right, but I do not personally care for fantasy to the level most others do… unfortunately, the LitRPG genre seems to be dominated by fantasy as the backdrop.

I’ve found a couple of LitRPG audiobooks that I want to listen to, one of them is a fantasy based genre. The other sounds to be more like a “futuristic world” genre. I’m going to give them both a try. I’ll also give them both at least 50% of their content before finalizing a judgment on them.

The reason I bring this up is because when I put together that Tron and Tron: Legacy were essentially LitRPG, I was hit by the realization that a way to resurrect the Tron franchise could be through LitRPG.

Why do you care?

Well, I have a plot mapped out of a world similar to Tron that someone gets involved in, and that world has updated terminology, a similar “visual feel,” and is part of a larger world that would have been in development. The plan was to write this thing up, put it out in the world, and see if Disney wouldn’t be interested in letting people write their franchise as LitRPG (and then taking those stories and adapting a few of them into movies).

I’ve looked into the licensing information for Disney properties and rather than try that route right now, I am toying with the idea of moving forward with my LitRPG idea (adapting my digital world idea into more of a “game” rather than just a vague “world” like Tron).

This is the “distraction” part of my column title.

I’d love to hear some feedback, and yes, I know I’ve got serial fiction in the holding pattern right now, but the idea can be discussed without derailing anything else I’m currently doing. I’d LOVE some discussion on this idea.

Still no game to analyze… I thought I’d have been done with the target game by now but it is still raging on. I also got caught by something I wasn’t expecting in Chess.com’s app, and that is overwhelming me at the moment.

I joined too many tournaments.

In order to play more than a couple of games at a time, I joined a couple of tournaments. Read that to be “2” tournaments. I then went along and found a few tournaments not scheduled to start for months… MONTHS. Well, each and every tournament I joined has started (the ones scheduled way out were started early because all the participants signed up) and I’m currently playing somewhere between 40 and 50 games at the moment. That is way too many.

As a result of this, my rating has been trampolining all over the place as I win and lose in grand fashion to people I should and should not be losing to, as well as defeating a few that I have no business beating. As soon as this levels out, I’m going to make sure that no more tournaments start and the time controls for the ones I sign up for a long (because I have a tournament that I’m in where the time control is 48 hours, and I don’t like making moves that fast).

When things slow down, I’ll be a lot happier, but DAMN… there is way too much at once and that shouldn’t be the case, because I made a plan and that plan was trashed when tournaments started early.

My serial fiction, and a few of my other ideas, keep coming back to one important point about all of them: damn these would look good visually. Yeah, I can’t make full on “movies” with these things but I can damn sure make comics out of them.

I’ve wanted to write/produce comics for as long as I can remember. I originally thought I’d be doing the drawing of someone else’s writing, then I thought I’d be writing someone else’s drawing… and now I realize I’m going to be drawing my own writing.

The serial fiction I’ve created requires a few large pieces of visual information. I have already run into a couple of points in the early stages that inform me that I should have chosen the comics medium in order to tell this story. I think visually and I should have been writing this visually.

This makes me mad.

I’m a self proclaimed “starter,” failing to finish lots of things. The BuJoRPG has been seen through to a plateau and I’m developing that, but other than the odd “small job” here and there, I’ve really been a flake in finishing things. I’d like to turn my serial fiction into comics and I’m afraid for my own sanity that if I do that I’ll have that idea “die on the vine” as well, leaving me with yet another unfinished project. I’m also worried that if I don’t convert the information into comics, the idea will suffer the same fate from the other end.

Decisions.

At the moment, I’m trying very hard to leave things as they are so that I can finish something. I am also very anxious to start making comics, because at the age of 41, if I don’t start this soon, I’ll never make a comic book or graphic novel… ever.

How about this: what if I take a “section” of my serial fiction and create the comic page(s) that would tell the same part of that tale for comparison?

I’ve covered a few things above, some of them relate directly to other ones. I try to do everything I can in a timely and determined manner but life gets in the way.

Two weeks ago, work was my issue in getting things done. I’ve been hurt all this past week and now I’ve got too much damn time on my hands. Wouldn’t this be a benefit to everything else?

My mind works in a weird way. I do things best when I’m under pressure. If my wife leaves the house for a few hours and expects me to clean, I do the best job if I save that cleaning for the last 45 to 60 minutes of her absence. I think she’d agree with you on that, too. Now that I’ve got all kinds of time on my hands, I’ve fell into the other problem that I normally run into: distractions.

My mind wanders, a lot. My attention span can easily be taken from what I need to do by things I find slightly interesting. I don’t let people show me YouTube videos because one turns into two and two turns into seven… by myself, I do that to myself. That happens with webpages, videos, ideas, comics, food, etc.

I need to focus and hopefully I get the B2 thing out of the way to move on to the next project.

The Specter Show 030: March of the Pigs

Foot in a boot from injury? Check. Caught up on all the things that need to be talked about? Check. DJ runs you through some BuJoRPG 2 talk, being injured at work, writing progress, comic books, Specter of the Galaxy, and even more than I’ve already listed. Won’t you join us?

Host: DJ Allen
Intro Music: The Idea of You by Nine Inch Nails (from Not the Actual Events)
Outtro Music: The Perfect Drug by Nine Inch Nails
Intro Lead in: Theo Rossi

Contact:
Email: EmeraldSpecter.com@Gmail.com
Twitter: @EmeraldSpecter
Instagram: @EmeraldSpecter

Support Emerald Specter at Patreon!

Thanks for checking this out, you can find more at EmeraldSpecter.com!

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