Archive for the Dice Upon A Time Category

Godspeed, @Gamerstable

Posted in Dice Upon A Time, Last Writes with... on January 10, 2017 by Occult Detective

Dice Upon A Time

It is the end of an era. After 300 episodes, today is Lastday. Carousel begins. Gamerstable, in its weekly incarnation, breathes its last.


As a farewell salute I open the floor to Gamerstable’s own, Shannon, who will share with us her Last Writes.

shannonLast Meal: Tacos and pizza and polish sausage and sauerkraut, and like an absurd amount of all it. And I definitely need some ice cream to top it all off.

Last Book: This one is tough, if it’s just a single book I would say Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, I try to read this at least once every other year, if not every year as October rolls in. If I can swing a whole series, I don’t think anyone who knows me would be surprised to hear the answer is Harry Potter, but I can’t pick just one of the Harry Potter…

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Games & Portents: The Paranormal Worlds of Bob Freeman

Posted in Dice Upon A Time, Magick by Trial & Error, Occult Detective: The Roleplaying Game, Occult Detectives, Writing in Theory & Practice on November 12, 2016 by Occult Detective

Today we harness strange forces – occult studies, fiction, art and even role-playing – to bring you an exclusive and extended feature on paranormal adventurer Bob Freeman. From folklore and fiction to Tarot and character generation, we dance the Weird Fantastic. And we also get to ask ‘Who is the real Bob Freeman?’

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Source: Games & Portents: The Paranormal Worlds of Bob Freeman

Sacrificial Writes #OccultDetectiveRPG

Posted in Dice Upon A Time, Occult Detective: The Roleplaying Game, Occult Detectives, Writing in Theory & Practice on October 16, 2016 by Occult Detective

A side note, before I get into today’s Bobtober blog post: sometime in the near future, I will be archiving my sister site Dice Upon A Time. Do I view it as a failed experiment? Not at all. It did everything I wanted it to. The views fell short of what I’d hoped for, overall, but certain posts got respectable hits.

The reason for mothballing Dice Upon A Time comes down to two things: One is time management. It’s too hard to keep up with one blog, let alone two, and with folks finding blogs and message boards less appealing these days, it makes more sense to give them a one-stop-shop.

Which brings me to my second reason. With more and more of my gaming focus being on the development and promotion of OCCULT DETECTIVE: The Roleplaying Game, having that work showcased here at is really a no-brainer.


I guess that’s a decent lead-in to what is on my mind today.

I am not a ‘game designer’ by trade. I am a writer, particularly of occult detective fact and fiction. It’s what I do. But I’m also a ‘dungeon master’ and have been since 1978. I’ve played a lot of games, predominately Dungeons & Dragons, but I’ve wrestled with more than a few others.

I’d like to think I have a pretty good handle on what works and what doesn’t and I’ve been putting my years of experience as a gamer into OD:TRPG.

My dilemma is in the presentation. Not visually but the words themselves, and by that I mean, the game’s focus. It makes the most sense to me that this game should reflect my fiction.

An argument can be made to make the game as generic as possible so that it appeals to the widest possible audience, but that seems disingenuous to me.

I have worked hard to ensure my stories compliment one another, that they occur in a common universe. I cannot see how I can treat OCCULT DETECTIVE: The Roleplaying Game any differently.


That doesn’t mean you’ll have to read my novels and short stories to understand the game. Far from it. But you will be introduced to the characters and factions and beasties that populate my fiction within the game itself. My stories and my game will be in complete harmony with each other.

So, my dilemma isn’t really a dilemma at all, but it does present a challenge.

As I said at the start of this, I am not a ‘game designer’ by trade. I hope that by approaching the game mechanics and the rulebook itself from the perspective of a storyteller that it translates not only into a unique game experience, but that the reader will find an entertaining narrative within.


We will become Summer’s ghost

Posted in Dice Upon A Time, Horror, Occult Detectives, Writing in Theory & Practice on September 1, 2016 by Occult Detective

“We know that in September, we will wander through the warm winds of summer’s wreckage. We will welcome summer’s ghost.”  — Henry Rollins

My favorite time of year is looming. Traditionally it has been my most productive.

firstbornI have resolved to finish tweaking First Born by the end of Labor Day, September 5th, and send it off to my editor Scott Sandridge. Once his edits come back to me, I aim to wrap it up in three days time and get it back in Seventh Star Press’ hands. I’ve no idea when it will be released, but I’ll be sure to let you know.

As of now, I believe I’ll be handling the art chores. I have a wealth of images already created for it, so I’m hoping to see this thing come alive in the coming month.

Hopefully I will finish tweaking Descendant for re-release before my surgery on the 16th.

That will free me up to really throw myself into the project that Connor and I have had our heads wrapped around now for a couple of months. The plan right now is for me to begin writing the rules for Occult Detective: The Roleplaying Game come mid-September.


I’ve a lot to squeeze into Summer’s End: playtests and ultrasounds and ghost hunts and surgeries and board meetings and roleplaying sessions and writing and editing, cursing and screaming… and our 16th Wedding Anniversary on the 22nd.

If I get through all that I hope to get down to some serious yarnspinning. I want to write six short stories through the end of September and all of October, but if OD:RPG is really singing I’ll be happy with one…

I’ve been waiting for the Witching Season to return for months on end. We’re so close now, it hurts… but I can smell it, far off in the distance.

I’ve a feeling this will be one for the ages.


Occult Detective RPG Pawns

Posted in Dice Upon A Time, Horror, Occult Detectives on August 27, 2016 by Occult Detective

Just for fun I made up a few pawns for playtesting purposes. In addition to a few characters from my own mythos, I threw in a couple of my favorite occult detectives. These won’t make it into the official game (though a few certainly might), but for our playtest, it just seemed right.


Gumshoes & Grimoires (updated)

Posted in Dice Upon A Time, Occult Detectives on August 18, 2016 by Occult Detective

Just a quick salute before descending back into the trenches. Lots of things in the works, especially this:


downloadable pdf of the Occult Detective RPG
Playtest Character Sheet: ODRPGCharacterSheet

I promise, an update on this, and more, soon. In the meantime, if you have an interest in RPGs, you might follow along with me at Dice Upon A Time as I take part in RPGaDay throughout the month of August.

UPDATE (8/21/16): Connor and I tweaked the character record sheet over the weekend and have uploaded the new form for your viewing pleasure. Cheers.


Three Years Ago Today

Posted in Dice Upon A Time on January 5, 2016 by Occult Detective


Back in late 2012 I posted on facebook that the geek equivalent to getting the band back together was rounding up your old Dungeons and Dragons mates for a reunion game.

Soon after, my old friend Shaun Keenan and I started talking about making it a reality.

We sent out something like thirty invitations.

I started putting together an adventure with a dozen packets filled with pre-generated characters, backgrounds and story hooks, maps, and such.

Shaun lined up a venue — Ali-Caters in Marion — complete with a full bar and a prom-like dance floor with disco lighting, streamers, and sparkly things.

On January 5th, 2013, Steve Congdon, Michael Duncan, Doug Gentry, Shaun Keenan, Brent Smith, Joe Strunk, and myself rolled dice again, some of us for the first time in 30 years together.

It was an amazing experience… made even more so because what was supposed to be a one time reunion game turned into a monthly event.

We’ve added players since then. My son Connor and Brent’s son Kasey have become regulars. John Hall, and his son and daughter, sit in on occasion.

Earlier this year our club took a hit when Brent passed away suddenly on Tuesday, January 27th. We had played D&D the previous Saturday and it was an exciting game, with Brent’s wizard Delarius playing an important part in the adventure as our weary band of adventurers explored the depths under the Gentari Lighthouse.

He is dearly missed at our table and his absence is felt every time we get together.

Of late, we’ve been gathering online, using Roll20 for our gaming sessions. It allows for Mike, who lives in Louisiana, and Steve, who lives in Chicago, to take part more frequently and easily.

It is convenient in that sense, but I do feel like something is missing when we don’t come together in person.

There’s a happy medium there somewhere, but as I recently said to Steve, D&D online is better than no D&D any day.

I love these guys like brothers and gaming with them fills my heart with joy each and every time… and, in a very real sense, it keeps Brent alive for me, because he loved this game so much.

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