Occult Detective RPG Update

Posted in Occult Detective: The Roleplaying Game on March 22, 2019 by Occult Detective

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I had planned to launch the Occult Detective RPG on May 1. That date now looks a tad bit too optimistic. I’m having surgery in April and that’s going to gravely affect my productivity, so, rather than rush the project (or worse, try to complete it in a medicated state) I am going to postpone the release till Lammas Night, the first of August.

I like the date. I like it a lot actually. To be honest, Katherine Kurtz has been such a huge influence on my work, and her novel Lammas Night in particular has its fingerprints all over my fiction, and thus, this RPG, that it is fitting.

From a metaphysical sense, I like the symmetry of releasing the game during Lughnasadh, especially with a New Moon overhead.

Practically speaking, with these added few months, I can add some additional art and functional graphics to the rulebook that will certainly enhance not only the experience, but the overall aesthetic.

As we move forward, I will strive to produce weekly updates on my progress, and maybe even offer up some sneak peeks of what’s to come.

I have certainly tempered my ambitions and expectations. Without partners, not taking it to kickstarter is the right decision. While I liked the idea of maps and miniatures, they were never a crucial element of the gameplay. It’s the roleplaying that matters, the storytelling.

This game will rise or fall on the strength of the magic system, I suspect. It is different from what many will have been used to. I think it makes for a more vibrant and exciting game. I look forward to seeing what the public thinks…

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Paranormal Retroactivity

Posted in Liber et Audax, Magick by Trial & Error on March 5, 2019 by Occult Detective

Magick, in all its forms and practices, is our attempt to kindle that spark of divinity that is our birthright. We are the children of the gods and we are meant to stride amongst the infinite…

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Each of us has a number, special to us. Mine is 8, though I generally write it ∞. It seems like this year should be my year. It’s my 53rd, after all. 5 and 3 make 8.

Astrologically speaking, Mercury retrogrades in Pisces today. It’s a time to look inward, to reflect, to consider my path forward, and the legacy I hope to leave behind. Jupiter factors into this accord as well. Everything’s lining up.

Tomorrow, Uranus moves into Taurus for the next seven years which should inspire an insane amount of creativity. And with the New Moon, well, this synchronicity of events couldn’t be more timely.

It is a time to become wild and free, to plunge myself into the wilderness, to stalk my muse and harvest it.

In seven years I’ll be sixty. Now’s the time to plot my course.

I have several projects I would like to see completed by year’s end:

  1. Occult Detective RPG for Bordermen Games
  2. No Quarter, a 5th Edition Campaign Setting for Bordermen Games
  3. An anthology of Occult Fiction by Practicing Occultists
  4. Widow-maker’s Apprentice,  a collaboration with Steven Shrewsbury
  5. The sequel to Hallowe’en House, a collaboration with Greg Mitchell
  6. Born Again, the final book in the Liber Monstrorum and Cairnwood Manor series

I also have a couple of other projects I’d like to get off the ground, including an occult detective/sword and sorcery series and what could very well be my final horror novel.

The biggest thing itching at me though is a non-fiction handbook — sort of an occult detective’s grimoire, a grim-noir, if you will.

Time will tell. I’ve a lot of things that need to find their proper alignment, but my goal is to see all these projects, and others unnamed, through by 2026.

I’m not really a planner. I like to spread the seed and let things grow organically, wildly even.

Fingers (and swords) crossed.

True Detective Disappoints…Again

Posted in Media Macabre on February 26, 2019 by Occult Detective

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Let’s cut to the chase — Season Three, the much heralded return of a series desperate to pretend Season Two never happened, was held together by some damn good acting by Ali and Dorff, but in the end it was an ultimately disappointing exercise where all the most interesting characters were women that got almost no screen time.

Pizzolatto is a writer who mines pop culture and true crime stories, pulls out the superficial bits, and then weaves an empty story around them.

There was a good story in there, hidden in the muck. That good story was recited as a weighty exposition while our characters were sitting at a kitchen table.

Ali’s portrayal of a man suffering from dementia was compelling and heartbreaking, but in the end it was just a mcguffin, a wearisome plot device so that the writer could deliver his ah-ha moment that was obvious as soon as we met Mike and his daughter, but we had to watch as “the ghost” of Amelia delivers the “truth” to Hays by the happenstance of a book falling to the floor on just the right page for the revelation to bear fruit.

That’s some weak writing unless you actually interject the paranormal element.

Pizzolatto just can’t make up his mind, largely, I think, because he’s lost in his own narrative. He doesn’t understand the story he’s telling. He has no grasp of the craft. He just plods along, stringing scenes together and hoping it all comes together in the end.

Well, it doesn’t. Not really.

Hell, he couldn’t even make up his mind how to end the damn thing. As we pull into Wayne’s eye, we find him and his girlfriend reconciling in the VFW then walking off into the white light like the finale of LOST.

Don’t tell me we’ve been in Purgatory all along.

Did Wayne die there on the porch just then, or did he descend even deeper into his dementia, never to return?

But wait, we’re not done. We end, instead, with Purple Hays in the jungles of Vietnam. Force Recon, Uh-Rah!

Did Wayne die and then take a detour into hell or did he descend even deeper into his dementia to become lost in that jungle of long ago?

Or is this Pizzolatto’s attempt at lifting the plot of Jacob’s Ladder? Did Purple Hays never come home from ‘Nam at all, dying in the jungle, and the entire season was ultimately a dying man’s fantasy?

Surely not, but one could see how such an interpretation could take hold. I suspect the author wrote both scenes and couldn’t decide which route to take, so delivered both, creating an ineffectual mess.

Want my bottom line? Nic Pizzolatto is a snake oil salesman with a flashy cart and fancy label on the bottle. Drinking it down won’t hurt you none, but don’t expect it to do you much good either.

Watch Season Three for the amazing performances, particularly from Stephen Dorff, who really surprised me in this.

Don’t expect much from the story and you’ll get along just fine.

What I’m Reading in 2019

Posted in The Library on February 25, 2019 by Occult Detective

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Another 56 books read last year. I used to read near double that, but time is not the luxurious bounty it once was, and, to be perfectly honest, my eyes tire out a lot quicker than they did even a few short years ago. My goal has always been to at least read 52 books. Will this be the year I fall short? It’s coming, I know, but the goal remains. Let’s see what 2019, my 53rd year on this planet, brings…

01. Conan Volume 20: A Witch Shall be Born (Dark Horse)
02. Conan Volume 17: Shadows Over Kush (Dark Horse)
03. Three Moments of an Explosion: Stories by China Miéville
04. The Morning of the Magicians by Louis Pauwels & Jacques Bergier
05. The Occult World by A. P. Sinnett
06. The Occult: A History by Colin Wilson
07. The Kybalion: Hermetic Philosophy by the Three Initiates
08. Empire of Imagination by Michael Witwer
09. Barbarian Life by Roy Thomas
10. Enemies of the Secret Hide-Out by John Peterson
11. Memnon by Scott Oden
12. Men of Bronze by Scott Oden
13. Lion & Dragon by RPGPundit
14. 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson
15. Northern Bushcraft by Mors Kochanski
16. In the Cards by Marjorie G. Jones
17. Bushcraft 101 by Dave Canterbury
18. Advanced Bushcraft by Dave Canterbury
19. Bushcraft First Aid by Dave Canterbury & Jason A. Hunt, PhD
20. One Truth and One Spirit by Keith Readdy
21. Beyond the North Wind by Christopher McIntosh
22. Red Sonja: The Ballad of the Red Goddess by Roy Thomas, Estaban Maroto, & Santi Casas
23. Tarot and the Archetypal Journey: The Jungian Path from Darkness to Light by Sallie Nichols
24. Living Runes: Theory and Practice of Norse Divination by Galina Krasskova
25. Dune by Frank Herbert
26. The Grimoire of Aleister Crowley by Rodney Orpheus
27. Water Witchcraft by Annwyn Avalon
28. Ghosts of Saltmarsh by Wizards of the Coast
29. The World of the Celts by Simon James
30. Wights and Ancestors: Heathenry in a Living Landscape by Jenny Blain
31.

My thoughts on Edred Thorsson’s The Big Book of Runes and Rune Magic

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error on February 12, 2019 by Occult Detective

rune-coverI’ve been reading Edred Thorsson for something akin to thirty-five years. My first introduction to his writing came by way of Weiser’s 1984 publication of Futhark: A Handbook of Rune Magic.

With The Big Book of Runes and Rune Magic, we find what is essentially an amalgamation of the author’s previous works under one roof, so to speak.

I have found Thorsson (Stephen Flowers) to be a competent writer, knowledgeable and persistent in his worldview.

I have not always agreed with him and his interpretations. The simple truth of the matter is, so very little is known about Norse culture, so little has survived. While Gods remain, the ways in which they were worshiped, how their magic was practiced, is lost to the mysteries of time.

As such, when investigating the runes and Norse culture it is always wise to do so with the foreknowledge that there is no true “authority”.

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Thorsson approaches the subject with an almost split personality. On one hand he’s an academic forthright in his pursuit of the truth, plumbing historical records with an anthropologist’s thirst. On the other, Thorsson is an erstwhile explorer, experimenting with the bits we’ve collected and trying to make practical sense of it, not as a reenactment but as a way to move it forward while honoring what has gone before.

It’s a tricky business, and I’m not always onboard, but his scholarship is such that I am compelled to take notice, to take from it that which rings true.

I find this edition from Red Wheel/Weiser to be comprehensive, which is its crowning feature. They were able to collect a broad selection of Thorsson’s scholarship and put it all in one place, which is both handy and makes for a more complete journey.

You can pick up Edred Thorsson’s The Big Book of Runes and Rune Magic wherever books are sold, or you might pick it up directly from Red Wheel/Weiser to help ensure books like these keep coming our way.

My thoughts on Water Witchcraft by Annwyn Avalon

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error on February 8, 2019 by Occult Detective

waterwitchcraftI was rather pleasantly surprised by Annwyn Avalon’s Water Witchcraft: Magic and Lore from the Celtic Tradition. Maybe the book caught me in a good mood, or maybe it just appealed to my Piscean nature, but for a someone new to the craft, it’s pretty thorough and has a voice that will appeal to most readers, especially those hungry for a fresh start into water-based magic.

It is literally packed with useful tools, meditations, and spellwork. Just the sort of thing a beginner is looking for.

If it has a shortcoming, it’s that it is rather plain. I would have fancied some artwork sprinkled about or some clever trappings, but that’s probably the graphic designer in me talking.

It’s ultimately the content that matters and Avalon has delivered in that regard. The work is very intuitive and feels natural, as it should, and some things I found to be variations of things I’ve been doing for more than thirty years, so good on her.

With Spring approaching, this is a stellar book to shake off the last gasp of Winter, to head out into the wilds and find yourself by a secluded stream or pond, and have a go at it.

I suspect it will speak to you as readily as it spoke to me.

Water Witchcraft: Magic and Lore from the Celtic Tradition by Annwyn Avalon will be available the first of March, my birthday no less. Preorder yours from Amazon today if you’re of a mind to. I think you’ll fancy it.

Project Blue Book is still solid TV entertainment

Posted in Media Macabre on January 25, 2019 by Occult Detective

Catching up on Project Blue Book, History Channel’s retelling (mostly reimagining) of the US Air Force’s investigations into UFO sightings from 1952 – 1969, the series continues to be a treat. Admittedly, the stories have been as far from reality as one can manage, but entertaining, none-the-less.

The show is big on atmosphere and Aidan Gillen continues to impress, as does Ksensia Solo as the spy keeping tabs on Dr. Hynek’s wife and milking her for information.

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The second episode followed the case of The Flatwoods Monster. The only similarities between the show and the actual case lies in the fact that a meteorite crashed in rural West Virginia, near Flatwoods, and some people reported it as a flying saucer crash and a “monster” was seen after.

Eyewitness sightings detailed a crude sort of robot, as opposed to History’s tree creature.

The Air Force reported the fireball was a meteorite, as confirmed by an Ohio Astronomy Club. The show followed that example, but through in more Men in Black activity, the mysterious tarped saucer at the end, not to mention the Russian Agent’s attempt at seducing Mrs. Hynek.

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The third episode, “The Lubbock Lights”, hews a little closer to the actual events, but three in and we’re seeing a theme — government cover-up and conspiracy is the order of the day, and it makes for exciting tv.

The official culprit in Lubbock was plovers, small birds flying in formation, the city lights reflecting off their white underbellies. Of course Lieutenant Ruppelt, of Projects Grudge and Blue Book fame, disagreed with the assessment.

Ruppelt, prior to his death from a heart attack at the age of 37, called the UFO phenomena a “space age myth”.

Project Blue Book is far closer to fiction than fact, and I am more than fine with that. While I have long had a fascination with so-called UFO phenomena, I am enjoying this X-Files-esque retread. It reminds me of Project U.F.O., Jack Webb’s short lived series from the late 70s that was must-see-tv for me.

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