brains are weird

It’s chilly in the home office today and while I was working away, the babble of language in my brain was puzzling out what to do about our general discomfort.

And I caught it being strange.

I had the thought “Might be time to—

♫ Plug in de space heater / MURDERA! ♫”

and that’s how I discovered that my brain is apparently still on the lookout for syllabic patterns that match “Here Comes the Hotstepper” by Ini Kamoze, a song that got lodged in my head almost 30 years ago.

Categorized as Webloggery


It turns out I can federate my personal weblog. Maybe this’ll get me to update my site more often. In recent years, I’ve used it to archive little fiction tidbits I posted on Mastodon, just so I don’t lose them, or to announce that I’ve posted a new music mix.

Might be the dawning of a new era.

Categorized as Webloggery


The trap is no longer set. But for one fine day, I was distributing invitations to friends to join a Discord server called A Cask of Amontillado. The only text chat room was called #a-small-space-behind-a-brick-wall and the only emoji was a pile of bricks.

A screenshot of a Discord server called A Cask of Amontillado. A single text channel called #a-small-place-behind-a-brick-wall contains a post from Montresor (he/him) that reads "Welcome. You can never leave." Underneath is a gif of a brick wall.

Other Side: A Microfiction Minizine

Did you ever want Michael’s tweets to have visual accompaniment that elevates them beyond social media scribblings? Well, you’re in luck, because seven of them have received that treatment.

You can grab a copy over at Gumroad if you like.

Sounds cool, gimme!
Categorized as Webloggery

How to Purchase Games on Itch and Give Them to Strangers

a guy holding a microphone... it's just decoration so this post isn't all text, don't worry about it

Did you know you can purchase games on Itch that you can give to ANYONE? All you need is access to a burner email address. Here’s how it works:

1. Find an RPG designer you love and pick one of their games on itch. It may even be on sale! Doesn’t matter if you already own the game.

2. Purchase the game—and maybe thrown in a tip!— and click the “Give this [game] as a gift” checkbox. <– Very important

3. Go through the steps of payment, however you’re paying. You’ll be prompted to give an email address for your recipient. Enter your secondary/burner email address. NOTE: Make sure you have access to this email account! Do NOT use the email associated with your Itch account!

4. Click the Send Gift button and an email will be sent to your secondary email account. Go open that email inbox to receive the confirmation email.

5. In the confirmation email, right-click and copy the email address behind the “download page” link.

6. Paste that link somewhere publicly. The first person to click on it will claim the gift and add it to their itch account. Easy!

NOTE: I suspect that you can’t use the same email address twice because all subsequent purchases to that email will go to the person who claimed the first gift… the email is likely now associated with their account. Best practice: use new emails for each public gift

TIP: If you have a Gmail account, you might be able to take advantage of this trick: and go to the same inbox, but are treated as distinct email addresses in other systems.

Add a + and some new words to your email and you can invent infinite email addresses!

Categorized as Webloggery

Stop Doomscrolling

Hey. This could be a good week to step away from the news, gather some supplies, take a month-long ride on a boat to Darkskull Island, and finally capture the creature known as the Ape of Blood and Mist that has eluded all others from time immemorial. Practice self-care.

Categorized as Webloggery

Writing Questions for TROPHY DARK

A few thoughts about question design for Trophy Dark incursions:

Done well, a question for your players does 3 things:

  1. It affects the narrative
  2. It illuminates the inner world of a character
  3. It contributes to world-building (i.e. it provides details for the setting)

The best questions can’t be answered with a single word or short phrase. “What did you drop?” “My sword.”

Compare this to: You realize that you’ve misplaced the one thing you swore you wouldn’t lose track of. What was it, and how do you convince yourself to swallow your grief, so you don’t panic at the loss or turn back?

Don’t be afraid to make a question define something about a player’s character. If it doesn’t work, the GM can skip it or the player can modify it.

Ask questions that let the players volunteer complications for their own characters. After all, we’re playing to lose. Let people choose which flavor of doom excites them. “As the torches fail, who in the group takes advantage of the darkness to slip away?” The obvious next question to write might be “What do they want to do in the dark?” but it’s more fun to make this a trap: Once someone says “My character will slip off. They want to do X.” So you design a follow-up question: “What do they encounter in the darkness that makes them wish they had remained with their friends in the light? Does their pride allow them to call for help?”

Ask questions that, like Moments, echo your theme.

A question can be an invitation to collaborate. Give a little with the question. Let’s say you want the players to volunteer a monster they would find scary. Don’t just ask “What’s the creature you encounter look like?” Give them some attributes to build with. “A creature descends from the ceiling with milky eyes. By what name did your people call this thing and why did you hope you’d live a full live without ever encountering one? Which of your relations barely survived a run-in with one?” etc. etc. How did they survive? What is its most terrifying weapon?

Your questions can give the player a framework (and more importantly, permission) to help build the story without putting the entire burden on them to create something from scratch.

The same trick works for traps, for areas… for anything. “When you enter room what about it fills your character with awe/fear/wonder/greed?”

“A set of symbols run down the thing and only one of you can read them. Where did you learn this language? Do you tell the other that it says something-something?”

I hope the above all helps demonstrate my first point: You don’t have to describe everything for the players. Your questions open a door and invite them to join the GM (and you) in creating a unique incursion experience that is customized to the characters they created.


If you play Trophy Dark, the award-winning scenario I wrote for the game is now available for sale over on Itch! And if you don’t play Trophy Dark, it’s never too late to start!

Categorized as Webloggery