The Chronicling of our D&D Campaign: Tempora – Part 20

druid3

Welcome to the novelization of my current D&D campaign, told through the perspective of the characters.  Parts 1-19 (below) charted the first part of the campaign, now we begin the next phase, Tempora. For me, it lets me do a little creative writing between more serious projects.  Links to the previous posts are at the bottom of this one.  Enjoy!

Theren…

The decision had been made, the die cast…we would go north in search of the missing paladins of the Order of the Fang. I have to admit, the thought that our small party might somehow tread where the paladins failed was daunting, but there was no turning back at this point.  The irony of our mission was not lost on me – I was doing something that would aid the church, a church that had hunted and slaughtered my druidkin.

We bedded down for a few days, using this opportunity to rest, mend our armor, and hone our skills.  We were no longer the young men that wandered from White Rock months ago. We had battled Amber Elves and had been honored by the Minotaurs, ending their long-standing feud with the realm. The nipple ring I wore was a little hard to get used to, but a small price to pay for the honor it gave me.

The next day Sir Karrick, the acting First Shield, turned to Althalus and told him that had had been approached by one of guards that had come with us.  “I was told that you used magic in your confrontation with the Minotaurs.”  It was no light charge. The church had been hunting the killing non-cleric magic users for years.  Althalus stood mute to the charge at first, then conceded. The lord-paladin was far more gracious than I anticipated.  “Very well.  You have provided us with a service in bringing these men here.  You will not enter our sacred church or desecrate our grounds with your ungodly magic. Violate that, and you will face my justice.”  The warlock knew his place and held his tongue.

A few days passed when we heard the alarm from the battlements.  A rider was approaching.  The guards were not taking any chances with their numbers so low.  Crossbows were made taut and bolts put in place.  A rider approached the gates and we heard the challenges to him.

“It is I, Brandon Windriver a local ranger.  I have a message for the First Shield,” a voice rang up to the guards over the gate. We moved out into the courtyard.  The Gash was not a place given the visitors.

The gate slowly creaked open and we saw this so-called messenger.  He stood almost two elbows tall human, with short dark black hair.  He had sapphire blue eyes, more given to a bard than a ranger. He looked safe enough…for the time being.

“What is all of this commotion?” Sir Karrick asked brusquely as the ranger entered the castle grounds.

“I bring a message to the First Shield from a village to the north west of here,” the ranger said, handing out a sealed scroll.

Sir Karrick broke the wax seal and read the message, growling through his graying beard as he did so.  He tossed the message down on the ground in frustration.  “Damn, damn, damn!” he cursed.

“More good news I see,” Althalus quipped.  The First Shield ignored him, which we all thought was lucky on his part. I side-stepped away from the warlock, just in case it came to blows.  His sniping words would be the death of us someday, I was sure of that.

The ranger, Brandon, picked up the note while Sir Karrick turned to the rest of us.  “We cannot afford to wait for conformation and additional troops from Lord Sklaver.  You and you party are to be ready to ride out tomorrow morn.”

“What does the message say stranger?” Arius asked.

Brandon cleared his throat, ignoring that the message was not for his eyes.  “To the Acting First Shield, Order of the Fang

“I am sure that you can verify my hand on this letter “old friend.”  I am aware of your plight.  While some of it amuses me, even I recognize a threat that must be dealt with.  The former first shield, Sir Theris Bentblade, refused to heed my warnings. As a result, your brothers and sisters have been captured in Tempora.  The doddering old fool refused my offer of advice.  As a result, your men are being sacrificed in an unholy manner.

“Viktor Barristen walks the land once more.  He seeks to slaughter your men in order to escape purgatory and regain his life once more.  It was he that forced the release of demonspawn at the Wail to lure your men into his trap.  If he succeeds, there will be nothing to prevent him from releasing what remains in the Gash. I know he has walked the Blood of the Gods and resides deep in Tempora, where your men may yet live.

“I intercepted your message to Karn because the idiots of the Royal Guards would be nothing but fodder in the hands of an evil such as Barristen. This is a matter that only the bravest of souls can dare undertake.

“There is time to save them.  For reasons that should be obvious, I did not come in person.  You must rescue them or Sir Barristen will return to plunder the souls of mortals for a thousand years.

“Lexa Lyoncroft, Mother Superior and Wielder of Ubanthsblade the Reaver.”  He stammered through the script on the page, but the mention of Lexa Lyoncroft made all of us look at each other.  “We are finally getting answers to what has been happening,” Althalus said.  I agreed.

I turned my attention to the ranger.  “How did you come into possession of this letter fair sir?”

“A lady paid me 75 gold pieces to deliver it here.”

“When – where?” Arius pressed.

“My home village, Walden, north and west from here…some ten days ago.  She was attractive – wore a green cape, big damned sword.” Brandon replied.  I still could picture Lyoncroft.  It had been her.

Sir Karrick interceded.  “We cannot allow Vicktor Barristen to return.  No matter how much Lexa is angered with me, and no matter how much I deserve it, I don’t think she would lie about him.”

“So you think she is telling the truth?” I asked. I wanted to press on who Barristen was, but now was not the time.

“Her version of the truth…yes.  I have no doubt that she believes what she wrote.  That is her handwriting, I know it well.”

“She came fairly close to here to send the message,” I added.  Why risk herself if she was not serious?

“You will need to ride forth in the ‘morrow, try and find their trail to the White Vale.  Somewhere beyond the Vale supposedly lay the entrance to Tempora.”

“It seems we are on the road to Tempora,” Arius added, almost musically.  He then turned to Brandon Windriver, “What are your plans?”

“I have none.  I was paid for my services…paid well I might add.”

“Well,” our paladin continued.  “We are heading north to find these errant knights and try and save them…off to Tempora.”

“Interesting…” the ranger replied. “I would be willing to undertake this journey.  Finding a lost city interests me.”

Althalus leaned in towards Sir Karrick.  “What can you tell us about Tempora Sir Karrick?”

The graying knight grew grim as he spoke.  “What is there to say about Tempora that has not been spoken about in taverns across the lands. It was a great dwarven city centuries ago, one of the first great cities.  Carved along the walls of a hollow mountain, the city was protected because there were only four ways in – the great underground roads.  One, the low road, led from the white vale.  The other, well that was the high road in the pass of Kamon.  That path has been lost for ages, buried in an avalanche.

“It has been said that its most striking features was the statue of King Effidies above the waterfall of the underground river Samath, just over the Tears of Tempora falls – or just the Tears of Tempora.

“Over two centuries ago something happened.  It is said the dwarves dug too deep and awakened a demon that destroyed their city.  Others say that evil found a way in, past the defenses on the roads, and corrupted those inside.  What is known is that the dwarves fled Tempora amidst tales of death, war and destruction.

“Near the end of the last war, before the purges of the magic users of the world, it is said that a party of them and the church entered there and destroyed the evil that controlled the city.  Their tale, the Journey of the Black Tears, is a recited poem, most of which is lost, but offers little more.  They claim that the city was in ruins, a massive mound of rubble and death.  They traveled deep under Tempora and captured what had led to its downfall – bringing it to the Great Gash and casting it down.  There are records of that with the Legion of the Fang, though no details of what it was.  Only that it was bound in iron bands and sackcloth covered with ruins of the church – powerful wards to keep the evil in check.  Tossed from the Wail, it is said that its howls and moans can still be heard there.

“The only fragment of The Journey of the Black Tears that is often quoted:

“It was in the darkness we gathered to face our fears

A dousing walk, where none tread, ‘neath Samath’s tears

To the royal tombs and temples that rested in the dark and dank.

Where the spiders crawl and the rat nests stank.

Through the stairs to the resting place

Of Arron, King of Kings of the dwarven race.

Where now only the blackest of bats sing their seduction tune

In the barrow depths and the grottos dark swoon.

Into the depths below Tempora’s Tears we went…”

“Unfortunately none know how to reach the entrance, it has been long hidden to mortals.  We only know the legend that it at the White Vale.  I will see that your horses are provisioned and we can provide you with five days of rations.”

I had heard the poem before, but had never thought of it as possibly providing clues that might save our lives.  That night I pondered the words.  Everything was hinging on us being able to find the road to the Dwarven city; which seemed to be a stretch.  I was happy we had a ranger with us – the trail we were searching for was destined to be old.

As we prepared the next morning, Althalus offered some words of guidance to our new traveling comrade.  “I have one book, my grimoire.  Don’t look at it, don’t touch it.  That’s it – I’m not kidding here.”  He had never mentioned the grimoire before, so I assumed he had made it in his spare time at the castle during our respite.  That was the thing about our warlock, he did things that made us all a bit uneasy. I had used our rest time to master other spells that might be of use to us, all out of eyeshot of the paladins.

We headed north, Brandon checking for any signs of a road or trail that the wayward band of paladins may have taken.  It took him a while, but he soon found a patchwork of old cobble stones marking what had been a road in ages past.  To most of us it looked like stony ground at first, but once we stared at it, we could see the individual stones with weeds and grass sprouting between them.

We followed the old trail north.  The ground was broken and slowly rose upwards to the hills and mountains in the north.  Pines dotted the ground, along with Thornholly brushes and the occasional boulder.  Clouds rolled in, deep purple, giving us a bit of a chill during our sleep that night.  In the distance, the mountains loomed high. I wondered if we would have to climb them to find this lost city.

We shook off the night cold and set off north, following the old trail that snaked upward in the foothills.  The day was uneventful but a few hours before sundown, Brandon noticed some stirring in the brush ahead off the side of the trail.  He came back and gave us a word of warning.  “There’s some activity up ahead.  I’m going to go up and see if I can see what it is.”  We agreed, after all, it was his hide at risk, not ours.  Arius flanked to the right and Dimitrious followed Althalus.

Brandon came back. “There are two creatures up ahead, hiding.  They are talking but I don’t understand what they are saying.”

“If they are up ahead, they are higher than us, the road slopes upwards,” Althalus said. “It gives them the high ground.”

“They are behind a Thornholly bush,” the ranger added.  “I couldn’t get a good look at them.”

“Let’s see if we can figure out who they are,” I said firmly.  And only kill them if necessary…

We got closer, moving in slowly, then we heard a whiny voice.  “Halt…halt!” came back the small voice. “Drop your weapons.” It was far from intimidating.

Our warlock raised his empty hands, which was far more dangerous than any weapon he might hold. “Come on out.  Perhaps we can talk.  We don’t mean any harm.”  That wasn’t quite true, I saw Arius hunker next to me and whisper, “Do you think I can set that holly bush on fire?”  I shook my head, but appreciated his thinking.

“No talk – give us your money,” another voice said from the bush. I swear I heard the other one chuckle.

Arius frowned.  “No, I don’t think so.”  He was speaking more to me than them, but I was sure they could hear him at this range.  The paladin rose and called to them.  “If you try and take our money, we will have to hurt you.”

“This is our trail – get off of it!” spat back the first voice.

The other voice snickered slightly, this time leaving little doubt in my mind that they were mocking us.  “Leave us your stuff and you can go free.  Otherwise we will kill you.”

The first voice spoke again, deeper, adding, “We are very powerful!”

“Seriously?” Arius said.  “I think they are laughing at us.”  He pulled his sword out as if to emphasize his point.

“They sound cute,” Althalus added.  “Can I keep one?”

Apparently they could hear us.  A spear flew from behind the holly bush, hitting Brandon in the thigh, making the ranger reel in pain.  A pair of goblins emerged, over-armored, as if they had recently looted some bodies. The armor was clearly several sizes larger than the goblins.  “Stop mocking us, we have many spears and will hurt you!”

I laughed, if only for a moment. Goblins.

One of them spoke to other.  “I told them we had many spears,” he whispered loud enough for us to hear.  Both chortled for a moment.  They then sidestepped back behind the bush.

“I really want one for a pet,” Althalus said.

I grew impatient and the thought of the warlock having a pet goblin was disturbing on many planes of thought.  It was bad enough that the mute monk seemed devoted to him.  I had mastered a new spell that seemed perfect for this occasion.  I closed my eyes and focused on a spot of green light only I could see in my eyelids – the power of the soil and forest.  There I saw the thornholly and I tapped it.  Vines!  I stretched them with my mind, outward from the green spot of light I focused on.  Twisting and growing, churning and ensnaring.  I opened my eyes and felt the wet palms of my hands reach out before me.  The ground where the goblins hid erupted in a burst of vines, hoisting them upward, wrapping around them like snakes.

The goblins tried to move, and that was their undoing.  The thorns cut them like a dozen little daggers.  The more the struggled and tried to get free, the more oozing green blood splattered on the new growth. They squealed in agony as the vines grew.  They died before throwing another spear.

I stopped concentrating on the mound of twisting thorns and it dissipated, dropping their armored bodies to the ground of clanking as their armor hit the stones.

“Well, that was easy,” Althalus said sarcastically.

We inspected the bodies, and saw that their armor was clearly not goblin-made.  This was the armor that the paladins wore at the Great Gash.  “They must have gotten it from the paladins that we were following.” I pinched my nose to protect it from their stink.

“We will never know,” I added.  “Maybe they raided the paladins back at the Gash.”

“That armor is relatively new – no rust. I think this is an indication that we are on the right trail.”  The older paladin always sounded so confident.  “I think we need to move forward – follow the road north.”

There was a murmur of agreement, though it came through a veil of foreboding.  I reminded myself that a legion of paladins had marched this way and disappeared.  How could we fare better than a host of armored knights?

We were about to find out…

The following are the previous installments.  I hope you enjoy the campaign so far.  Be sure to follow my blog if you do. 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

Part 12

Part 13

Part 14

Part 15

Part 16

Part 17

Part 18

Part 19

Character Background Material

My New Campaign

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#DandD

#DnD

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Funny Employee Awards

Office humor
I should have added an award for passive aggressive note writer…damn it! 

Offices really need their own version of the Emmy’s, Golden Globes, or the Academy Awards.  Sure, leadership could hand out spot bonuses, but it is much cheaper and fun to provide awards to your leaders, team-members, and minions.  In an effort to lighten everyone’s mood at work, (especially this week, which is in need of some laughs,) I present to you my generic list of funny office awards. Enjoy and share!

Most Likely to Steal Office Supplies Even if They Don’t Need Them Award – given to the man or woman that pilfers office supplies as some sort of mental escape.  I am the proud winner of this three years running. I also have 11 pairs of scissors and six staplers if anyone wants them.

The Tunneling Out Award – provided to the employee spending the most time updating their Linkedin status in hopes of being recruited award. Ironically this person spends most of their working day trying to work somewhere else.

The White Rabbit Award – for the individual that shows up chronically late for every single damn meeting, even the ones they organize and ask for.

Person Most Likely to be Found Watching YouTube and Claiming it was “Self-Paced Training” – Given to that individual who watches movie trailers all day long.

The Deflector – Awarded to the person that takes their work and assigns it to others most effectively and consistently.

Mr. or Ms. Non-Committal – given to the “leader” that refuses to make a decision, even on the most basic thing.  No matter how much evidence you provide, the winner of this award will not land on a decision.

The Center of the Universe Award – It’s always all about them. Just ask them.

The Paper, Scissors, Rock Award – Given to the individual that makes arbitrary decisions based on sketchy criteria, just to move things forward.

The Useless Skills Trophy – Presented to the individual whose skill set has nothing to do with anything remotely related to work.  Planning an office retirement party is not the same as project management – trust me.

The Mouthpiece Award – Given to the person most likely to spread a rumor just for the fun of it.  (I am a three time winner of this myself)

Most Likely to Secretly Love the Annual Budgeting Process Award – Not much can be said here; this person has deep psychological issues.  Their punishment isn’t getting the award; it is liking budgeting.

The Stolen Valor Award – for the individual that consistently steals credit for other people’s hard work, claiming he did it, contributed to it, or led it.

Most Paranoid Employee Award – Provided to the individual that is positive that he/she is about to be the target of managerial abuse or a reduction in force.  It should be noted that this individual is often correct.

Most Likely to Use PowerPoint as a Primary Communications Tool – Presented to that person that cannot make a trip to the restroom without a 26 slide deck explaining their bowel movements (complete with graphs). Here’s a tip – Putting it in PowerPoint is not the same as actually communicating it.  Duh!

The Rebrander – Given to the manager that renames broken projects or products rather than fixes them.

The Terminator – Awarded to the manager that has fired of outsourced the most staff in the given year.  This is not something to be proud of.

Most Likely to Create a Spreadsheet to Try and Solve a Problem – Spreadsheets rarely solve problems, they do however, create the illusion of solving problems. This person has a spreadsheet tab set up for every contingency in their life.  So sad…

Buzzwordaholic – This honored person embraces anything new that can be described in a buzzword or phrase or, better yet, a catchy acronym.  It is their way of appearing well-informed and knowledgeable.  For the rest of us, well, we all know bullshit when we see it.

Most Likely to Spend More Time Explaining Why They Are Not Working Rather Than Getting The Work Done – A tad long worded, but that’s how this douchbag rolls.

Class Clown – For the individual that somehow takes every situation, no matter how dire, and manages to make it humorous, if only for a moment.

Hall Monitor – awarded to the individual that keeps track on when people come, go, and how long they spend in the bathroom. I knew one winner who kept a spreadsheet of this.

Most Likely to Throw a Co-Worker Under a Bus at the First Hint of Trouble – This person’s default setting when under pressure is to expose their peers to the underside of a bus transmission.

Points Whore – Awarded to the manager that arranges business trips just to harvest the frequent flyer and hotel points.

Sasquatch Award – Given to the employee that is almost impossible to find, even when they are in the office.

Head up the Ass Award – Bestowed to the employee that is so freaking oblivious that he/she is immune to the effects of reality.

Social Networker Award – This person sits in meetings and tweets and updates Facebook rather than paying attention.  Everyone in the office knows they are updating Facebook on company time, because they are guilty of it too.  This person just doesn’t even try to cover it up or lie about it.

Tragically Happy or the Most Medicated Award – given to the person in the office that, no matter what, has a sickening Joker-like smile on their face.  Even when faced with utter disaster and doom, this person has that dopy smile on their face.

The Office Squealer – Given to the office snitch, the person that will sell out their beloved co-workers in hopes it will advance their own career.

Where Angels Fear to Tread Award – Bestowed to the individual that has taken the biggest risk, regardless of the damage it could have caused to their career.

The Office Cheerleader – Awarded to the person who has consumed the Kool-Aid and believes every little lie that leadership tells him or her.  They sing praises to the almighty company and all who sail her.

The Closet Hero Award – Given to the person who has saved the day but never got formal acknowledgement for their sacrifice.

The Lemming Award – This team award is given to group that goes along with the crowd and does something insipidly stupid because they refused to think on their own.  (Note:  There’s usually a lot of competition for this award).

Most Offensive Smelling Lunch Eaten at a Desk Award – There’s always someone trying to reheat something that reeks as if it was taken off a garbage scow.  The complete lack of awareness or concern for the nostrils of their co-workers puts them in heated contention for this award.

The Inappropriate Attire Award – This is a fairly broad category that can cover everything from hooker-wear to Roy who showed up for a live meeting in a Speedo. As long as there have been groups of people working together, there have been people who didn’t dress appropriately for it.

The Rules Nazi – Awarded to the employee that quotes and lives by the rules, regardless if that makes any sense whatsoever.

Artful Dodger(s) – Presented to the individual or team that meets regularly, creates impressive PowerPoint decks, but accomplishes nothing (other than misleading management that they are progressing with their work.)  You know who you are…

Able to Turn Any Day into a Monday Award – This Debbie Downer is the person who sucks the life out of room and always goes to the worse-case scenario in their thinking.  Even when bonuses are handed out, they point out how much taxes take away.

Tin Cans and String Award – Given to the employee whose internet connection for meetings is so horrible that they are usually unable to hear or speak, yet are still allowed to work from home.

Eternal Keeper of the Stupid Employee Motivational Poster Award – There are always a handful of employees that believe that a catchy saying on a colorful poster inspired others.  This award is designed to remind them that we all secretly mock them behind their backs.

The Al Haig Award – Given to the person that assumes authority and power they simply do not have.  (It’s a historical reference, look up Alexander Haig after President Regan was shot…oh, never mind…)

Most Likely to Lick the Boss’s Boots in Order to Advance His/Her Career Certificate – Given to that spineless, selfish, blatantly kiss-ass employee that openly adores the boss to the point of making his or her coworkers vomit.

Ignorance is Bliss Award – Given to that person that ignores the obvious and when confronted with facts, turns tail and runs.  This person believes the best way to survive in the workplace it to not know or acknowledge what is going on.

Vastly Overqualified – Just Ask Them – Award – It is difficult to talk to this person because their head will not fit in most standard sized conference rooms.  They are SO smart and love telling everyone about how ingenious they are.  Oh my God, I wish I was as intelligent and insightful as they think they are.

Terminally Downtrodden – Given to the employee whose hopes have been squashed so many times they are a mere rifle perch away from extracting revenge on their co-workers and management.  Despite their ill treatment, they refuse to leave.

Looking for a Reason to be Offended Award – Given to the employee that believes they are being oppressed because they are part of an affinity group.  They believe they are being singled out for abuse.  In reality they are being oppressed just like the rest of the staff.

It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere Award – Given to the person most likely to lead a party of his or her coworkers to the bar after work to attempt to purge/drown their memories of the day.

The Sports Analogy Award – There’s always a weenie that thinks the best way to make people understand or get behind something is with a sports analogy. While this never works, there’s always someone who thinks they are in the movie Rudy and that some sort of sports reference is something everyone can get behind.

Couldn’t Find Their Ass with a Flashlight and Both Hands Award – Bestowed upon that individual who is so hopelessly clueless that they don’t understand that this award is not an honor.

Idiotic Saying or Metaphor Award – Given to the person that says things like, “When one door closes, another one opens,” These little catch-phrases are aimed to inspire, but miss their mark because, well, they are idiotic.  When a door closes, it just closes.

Running Out the Clock Award – Presented to that employee that is around 18 months away from retirement, who is doing everything he/she can to keep their head down and stay off of leadership’s radar.

The Teflon Trophy – Given to that individual who commits the equivalent of a war crime at work, but comes through it with their reputation perfectly intact.  (I hate that guy…)

Planny-Plan-Plan Award – Given to that one leader that insists on detailed plans for everything while, at the same time, never actually executes those plans.  Note:  This can be awarded to a project team that becomes so mired in their planning that they cannot actually move to the implementation phases of anything.

In It for the Stale Bagel (aka The Buzzard Award) – Bestowed to that individual who comes to work solely to mooch the leftover/abandoned food outside of conference rooms.  “Hey, this saves me $12 a week in breakfast alone!”

The Triumphant Flag Waver Trophy – Presented to that manager that declares a project is over and runs up the flag to declare victory, despite the fact that only half of the work actually complete.

Clearly I have missed some…so what are yours?  Add them to the comments.

Things People Say to, or Ask of an Author

Writer3

Being a writer is cool, I am not going to kid you.  It pays crap, but it can be emotionally and mentally rewarding.  For me, it is a form of therapy. Perhaps some of it is atonement for something I did in a previous life; it’s hard to say. I love it because when I am writing, my life is more in balance.  It provides me a way to be more human.  I have met some of the most interesting and colorful people being a writer.

There are some downsides to being an author though.  People say things to authors that they would never say to people in other professions.  They make “requests” (demands) of us that are sometimes unreasonable; and other times, bat-shit crazy. When I think I have heard them all, someone hits me with something new and frustrating.

As a proviso, you have to bear in mind, I write true crime, science fiction, military history, business leadership, humor, and other genres.  So I get questions about a wide range of topics.

For my fellow writers out there, I am sure you can appreciate the wry humor here.  Feel free to share.

Can you give me a copy of your latest book?  (Or the more irritating, “Where can I download a free copy of your book as a PDF?”)  By and large this question comes up the most.  While it sounds mercenary on my part, I don’t write books to give them away.  Even my mom purchases a Kindle copy when a new book comes out.  This would be like me walking to your house and saying, “Hey, can I have one of your kitchen chairs?”  Asking me where you can steal/bootleg a copy of my book, well, there’s a special kind of douchbag hell for you.  I actually had one guy argue with me that he was a fan, but couldn’t afford to purchase a book…as if I was the bad person in that conversation.  Don’t ask for freebies.  This response also applies to someone asking for a copy of a book that I wrote two decades ago…yes, people send me these kinds of queries as well.  If all else fails, go to your local library and do an interlibrary loan if they don’t have my stuff on the shelves.

Eighteen years ago, in book X, you wrote something I disagreed with.  Why did you do that? I am tempted to respond to this query with, “I did it for this very moment, when I ruined your reading experience.”  In fairness, I write books I would like to read. At the same time, I don’t pander to play off of what readers want.  If you didn’t like it, I’m sorry.  It wasn’t personal.  Whatever I wrote I did so with purpose.

You true crime authors just make money off of other people’s misery.  I have heard this one several times, ironically from some people holding a copy of our book asking for an autograph. People that say this are often attempting to impose their uninformed self-determined moral authority on my work, and I don’t take that lightly.  Allow me to refute this with the following points.  First, the illusion that all authors get rich from books is a speculative fantasy.  Given the number of hours at nights, on weekends, on days off, etc., that are expended to write a book, sometimes over the course of years, what little compensation I make is often less than the minimum wage. This is a hobby I have where I get to tell stories – not a get rich quick scheme.  Some of those stories I tell are heroic, others are tragic.  All take massive amounts of time and effort.  Second, I believe I deserve to be paid for the work I put into a book, regardless of the topic.  I have to pay for research trips and materials, copying, supplies, postage, legal expenses and a myriad of other out of pocket costs to write any non-fiction book.  Just getting a set of court or police documents can run hundreds of dollars.  This is all paid out of pocket before I write one single word.  What money I make on a true crime book sometimes doesn’t even make a dent in those costs for years.  Third, the entire genre of true crime are about crimes and victims.  Under your logic, no such books could be written.  I do not appreciate your attempt at censorship.  Fourth, my books on cold cases generate new and often actionable tips and leads for law enforcement.  Before you pass judgment on me, let me ask, what have you done to try and solve a cold case in your community?  That’s what I thought.  Fifth, I almost always (where possible) offer family members of victims an opportunity to be a part of the writing process so that their stories can be told too.  My books are not just about the dead, but about the living.  So you would deny such people a voice?  Sixth, I write historical biographies as well.  So why is it okay to write about events and people in history but not about crimes, which are part of history?  Crimes often define us as a people.  Look at the Kennedy assassination, or the OJ Simpson trial – these are crimes that often reflect our culture and shatter our beliefs.  Finally, and foremost, if you don’t like true crime books and feel that the authors are opportunists feasting on the dead, why are you purchasing and reading them in the first place?  Whew!  Time for a deep breath.

I have a great idea for a book.  Why don’t we do it together?  I’ll give you the ideas and you do the writing.  Um, this is all about me doing all of the work and you getting half of the credit and royalties.  Seriously?  If you want to write a book, then write a book. This may shock you but most serious authors are not sitting around waiting for ideas.  I have far more ideas than I will ever have time in a lifetime to write.

Can you read my manuscript?  Many years ago I got sucked into reading manuscripts.  First, it takes a lot of time…time I don’t have.  Second, don’t ask if you don’t want honest feedback.  I learned that most would-be writers, don’t want that.  They desire compliments.  Third, I had someone once accuse me of stealing their idea, from a manuscript I never read.  Lesson learned – I will NOT read your draft material.

Can I have the name of your agent?  No. I don’t use my agent any more but I also don’t refer total strangers to him or anyone else for that matter.

When are you going to be in city X to do a book signing?  I think some folks have the illusion that writers travel the country, randomly wandering into bookstores and setting up book signings.  Usually I am very selective about where I do events and they are tired to subject matter I wrote about in the book.  Also, I tend to do events for the six months or so after the book comes out.  It is very hard to get a store to do a signing on a book you wrote a decade ago. If I am coming to your town, I will be posting on this blog – so follow it.

Why don’t you write more X type of books?  They are your only really good ones.  A compliment and insult at the same time. I write books based on what I feel like writing.  Sometimes that is fiction, sometimes that is non-fiction.  I don’t do a poll of readers and take their advice.  What is life without whimsy?  And for the record, I think all of my books are the “really good ones,” at the time they come out. Well, except that one I wrote in 1997…

I want to be a full-time writer – so how hard is it?  I have no idea.  I am a part-time author.  The reason is that it is very hard to make a living being an author.  I need a full time job to help pay for my habit/hobby. I admire people who make a living writing, but I’m not the person to ask about that.

How do you become a New York Times bestseller?  I appreciate you acknowledge that my daughter and I did write a NYT bestseller.  Having said that, we didn’t set out to get on the list – it just happened.  If it was easy enough to simply recite, everyone would do it.  Luck, fate, and a good subject seem to be the keys.

Can I just buy a book from you?  Then can you autograph it and send it to me? (I don’t have time to go to the bookstore or use Amazon.com).   This may shock you, but I don’t have boxes of my books here in my bunker/office.  Further, I don’t want to get into the book reseller business.  I have a process on my web site where you can send me a book and return postage, I will sign it, and send it back to you.  I have been stuck paying $7.00 postage on a book that I make $2.38 in royalties far too many times in the past.  Lesson learned.

Can you give me a copy of your research files?  I had a guy once ask, then demand, that I provide him a case file I paid $300 + to obtain.  I initially agreed, but realized that all of my notes were on the pages and it would take far too much time to redact those.  Then he got mad as hell that I wouldn’t make him a free copy of 500+ pages and take hours to blacken out my notes. I will try to help others with specific requests, but if you want access to my entire archives on a case – the answer is a resounding “no.”  Go file a FOIA on your own to get the material.

How much do you make on a book?  I’ll tell you if you tell me your salary annually.  First off, it is a rude question, and one I get quite often.  For some reason people feel it is okay to ask authors about this.  It’s personal and professional.  Don’t ask.  Simply assume that it is far too little and you’ll be pretty close to reality.

Why don’t you put this book on TV or in a movie? While I appreciate the compliment, I don’t have that kind of influence…not yet anyway. Production companies and the networks decide what goes on the air, not the authors.  If I did, TV and film would be far better.

Your characters/books suck. I get this from time to time. Look, it’s simple. If you don’t like my work, don’t read it. Telling me you hate a character is pointless, because I won’t change it in a future edition.  Funny side story – I had someone do this once with a non-fiction book’s subject/character.  Seriously.  It was one of those rare moments were I didn’t have a snarky comment to come back with.

Writing 4

Your book doesn’t fit the canon in the BattleTech universe. This one pops up from time to time.  Let me say this, my books DO fit the BattleTech canon.  They are checked specifically for that.  I wrote a lot of that canon. If they book didn’t past canon, it would have been sent back for a rewrite.  Deal with it…Clan Wolverine exists and it went down exactly as I described.  You people…grr…

Have you considered donating the profits from you book to cause X?  No.  It is amazing that some people emerge to ask you to give your money to their cause in such a manner. Per my previous response, there’s not a lot of profit to be found.

Why did you only write two books last year?  Some years I write more, some less.  I don’t do this full time, so it is a boatload of work to crank through a book.  Also, just because I have finished a book, that doesn’t mean it will come out that year.  I have a completed trilogy that is ready to rock, we’re just waiting for the right time.   

I want you to do me as a character in your next novel.  No. Don’t ask.  I have a BattleTech novel coming out this year where I pulled down the names of some fans, mostly at random from Facebook groups, and included them in the book as either people, places, or something else.  I thought it was a fun gesture, a nod to the fans, a chance for them to be part of the canon of the universe.  Then a few bad people ruined it.  “I want you to use my MechWarrior’s name, and he pilots an Awesome – make sure you include that.  His units is the Whitehall Banshees – make sure you include that.  Here’s his hair color and descriptions of his tattoo…”  Ugh.  Yes, a few fans took a nice gesture and decided to do make it all about them.  I did not include them, but I am VERY selective now about such efforts in the future.  Don’t ask and certainly don’t demand I do this for you.

Can I call you to talk about a novel you wrote years ago?  I will do this, but my schedule is pretty tight.  Also, just keep in mind I have written 60 books-ish, so keeping track of every minuscule detail or character is challenging.  I recommend you send me your questions via email.

Someone murdered my mother/father/brother/sister.  You need to write a book on that.  First, I am sorry for your loss.  Second, if you have specifics about the case, I’d be happy to glance at them.  Third, please keep in mind, that while ever murder is a tragedy, it does not mean that every murder is book-worthy.  There are very specific things that I look at when I consider a project for a book.  While your loss is staggering, there might not be something there that sparks enough intrigue for a true crime book.   

I have a book club.  Can you fly in and attend one of our meetings?  I appreciate the fact you think I am living a Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark lifestyle and have the money to fly to Pigsknuckle, Arkansas for a book club.  I have, however done book clubs on conference calls and via Skype.  It is all a matter of scheduling.   

I got to the end of the book and you didn’t tell me who did it.  What’s with that? When I write about cold cases…you’re right.  That’s because an arrest hasn’t been made.  My co-author and I are always pretty up-front in the book and say that the case remains unsolved.  If we had solved the case, you would have heard about it on the news.

(At a book lecture)  Why didn’t you bring a box of books to sell? When I do a lecture on a book, I am there to talk about the subject. I don’t want to cheapen the event by selling stuff.  If you want the book, pick it up on Amazon or at a local book store.  I don’t drive around with boxes of books in the back of my truck.  Also dealing with credit cards and personal checks has proven problematic over the years.  Lugging a box of books around just seems cheesy to me.

My father served in (insert war here).  You should interview him for a book.  I sincerely appreciate his service to our country.  Individual soldier memoirs are hard to write or sell because unless they witnessed something extraordinary, they can be dull. I do encourage you to get him to contribute to any number of a veteran memory projects out there, including the Library of Congress, which would be happy to capture his experiences.

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I encourage my fellow authors to add in their own experiences in the comments…

Why the release of Starfinder is important

starfinder

At GenCon this year I picked up Starfinder – hot off of the press.  I had no idea why at the time.  It was a pure impulse purchase, driven by something I hadn’t felt for a while in gaming – a sense of excitement. It took me a while to figure out why I was excited, hence this entry in my blog.

I have been soaking in its pages and have been impressed with most of what I have seen so far.  A true space opera RPG with a fairly robust set of rules.  Outstanding artwork and some ingenious thinking about how to handle the timeline between Pathfinder and Starfinder.  I could critique some of the rules, I won’t.  Starfinder is far too important in the industry right now.  I accept it for what it is.  A return to pure open-ended sci-fi gaming. A return to the era of the space opera.

Oh, sure we’ve had sci fi gaming all long (Shadowrun, Eclipse Phase, etc.) but we what the industry has lacked for years is a good generic sci fi RPG in the tradition of old school gaming.

I am a graduate of that old school, white box D&D and black box Traveller and all. Pathfinder harkens back to those days and that was why I was excited about it.

Looking back, Traveller broke new ground when it came out in a lot of respects.  One, your character could die during creation – and two, it was a rules set for a big damn universe of mystery and combat.  Gamemasters had a clean slate in the early years to craft our own universes.

There were other games that came along – Metamorphosis Alpha and Gamma World, for example – but they were targeted sub genres of the sci fi.  They had limits.  Of course, we had Space Opera and Iron Crown’s Spacemaster, which were great at the time, though Spacemaster was hard to run as I recall, but there was a lot of stuff packed into the rules.  FTL 2448 and even Fringeworthy opened up new uncharted gaming universes for us to craft into our own.  Empires were to be forged and fortunes were out there waiting for us to take them.

WEG’s Star Wars and FASA’s original Star Trek RPG’s were great, but those were established universes that had boundaries. We were limited by the IP (intellectual property.)  Space opera role playing let the gamemaster define the universe, and often times there were few limits beyond the rules themselves.

Then TSR released Star Frontiers – and that provided us all with another big open-ended RPG in space.  That was the peak of the space opera era.  We still had Traveller out there, but by then, the Traveller universe was beginning to take form on its own, slowly boxing us in. The rise of the IP-driven sci fi RPG’s pinched us even further.  It was easier to pick up Star Wars then to create a universe from scratch.

Then came the dark times.  Star Frontiers disappeared in 1986 or so, though game product continued on in the back rooms of local game stores.  Traveller became Traveller 2300 which failed to capture our attention.  Space Opera and Spacemaster went out of mainstream print as well. Those games like Eclipse Phase that emerged were defined.

Then this year, Starfinder came out.  Paizo really took a big and successful gamble.  Pathfinder has become, well, a library system on its own.  There isn’t a lot of room for growth. Jumpstarting a new space opera game seemed ridiculous on paper…except for us old school gamers.  We knew that the market would support it.  Hell, there had been a hole in that market that was waiting to be filled with a product of the quality and caliber of Starfinder.

I have read pudits whine about its compatibility with Pathfinder.  I have heard the moans about starship combat (some of which I agree with.)  Forget all of that.  Starfinder has joined the pantheon of open-ended space RPG’s and has earned already a place of distinction.  Paizo seems to be supporting it heavily which will ensure its long-term success.  Once more, we RPG gamemasters can take our players to the stars for big-ass adventures of our own creation.  Starfinder is important because it fills a gap that has been out there for some time in the industry. The universe is a big place…filled with magic, tech, and sudden death.  Saddle up!

Humorous Mission Statements for the Real World

missionstatement

I find the entire concept of mission statements to be one of those wonderful and pointless expenditures of time that organizations yearn to waste.  Anything written by more than two people is often so generic, so nebulous, so vague – that it means nothing.  Many have the same basic terms – “innovation,” “quality,” “customer,” “value,” which makes them essentially meaningless.  Some organizations strive to cram so much crap into their mission statement that it comes across like the ramblings of that guy who is panhandling at the Metro stop.  Mission statements are the definition of corporate white noise.

In my career I have never met anyone that was “inspired” by a mission statement.  If mission statements didn’t exist at all, nothing would change.  At best, they serve as a signposts for the employees to mock every time the organization violates them. At worst they are rambling paragraphs of gibberish created by a managerial committee.  Yet despite this, most departments and organizations as a whole spend considerable time crafting these garbled and confusing sentences that would cause your high school English teacher to suffer a mild stroke.

As a sidebar, those mission statements that capitalize certain words are written by a particular inbred, so-called leaders that lack two functioning brain cells.

So, I took it upon myself to craft a few of my own, aimed at being funny. These are not tied to any organization, fictional or real, and any similarities with real companies are coincidental (and funny).  Some are for companies – while others can be applied to departments.  Share and enjoy.

  • Our team’s function is to make ourselves look important by slowing down the work you do in a demonstration of the pseudo-authority we possess.
  • We are an assembly of random teams and staff with nothing in common who exist but whose value is not fully understood or appreciated – even by our own leadership.
  • Our mission is to make everyone else look bad by pointing out their mistakes and flaws so that we look better.
  • Our team exists to do all of the shit-work that no one else is willing to do.
  • The primary focus of our team is to get our leader promoted to another position of quasi-importance so that we hopefully will get someone sane to take his/her place.
  • The mission of our team is to be an example that you should NOT emulate.
  • Our team’s primary function is to produce PowerPoint slides that numb the senses and dull human thought, yet are strikingly beautiful.
  • Our shit doesn’t stink.  Chances are yours does.  We intend to make money off of that.
  • Our DNA is coded so that the customer comes first, well, right after all of our petty internal stuff.  Trust me, the customer is right up there in the top five…maybe ten, things we are focused on.
  • Our mission statement is to make sure leadership believes we are valuable, indispensable, unable to be outsourced, and critical to the survival of the organization.  We are none of these things, but we are relying on leadership incompetence to fill that void.
  • We put our customers first, unless of course they have their heads up their asses – in which case we will look for an appropriate scapegoat to blame.
  • Our organization believes that a fool and their money are soon parted.
  • Our mission is to be an industry leader so we can spend our time and effort fending off and overreacting to our competition who is squarely set on taking us down.
  • We innovate, collaborate, create, vacillate, procrastinate, pontificate, deliberate, guesstimate, and under-deliver daily to our clientele.
  • We put the “W” in Qwality.
  • We recognize that our people are the core of what we do and how we interact with customers – so we aim to make them as miserable as humanly possible.
  • Our mission is to provide you with technological solutions created in a foreign country by people who have no idea what you need, delivered on obsolete platforms with marginal support.  Note: This replaces our former mission statement, ‘Leader in rebooting the world’s hard drives.”
  • If you want it fast and high quality, you clearly aren’t dealing with us.
  • (From a HR department)  We are all about talent, and ensuring that the talent does not have a case that will stand up in court or arbitration.
  • Usability and the end-user experience is what we say it is.
  • We recruit the very best people in the world to service our clients…and crush their souls.
  • Our mission is to be paid on time or sooner if possible.
  • (From an information security department).  Our mission is to remove the human factor from technology, and the technology from the humans.  It’s the only way to be really secure.
  • We suck less than our competitors and much less than our market peers/colleagues.
  • Our mission is to not execute a major fu*k up that can be traced back to our team.
  • Our organization is dedicated to finding anyone in our target market who is a moron in a financial decision making capacity and exploiting their lack of intelligence.
    It is the mission of our team to survive the chaos, carnage, and catastrophic bad planning that is prevalent in our organization.
  • We believe that people are our most important asset…and that beating people makes them tougher and stronger.  Crushing their souls makes them invincible.
  • We start with bad data and go downhill from there.
  • To inspire our junior staff to seek opportunities elsewhere.
  • We make our money the old fashioned way, leveraging the horrific mistakes and outright paranoia of our customers.
  • We strive to under-promise and over-deliver – which means you cannot trust any estimates we give you.
  • Our mission is to innovate by taking other people’s ideas and repackaging them as our own.
  • When you think about us, you should only think of the propaganda we have pushed into the market.
  • We believe in whatever social causes will help us generate new revenue.
  • Our goal is to be the name most recognized with the least screw-ups in our industry segment.
  • We are experts in claiming to be experts.
  • Our mission is to complete the mind-numbing tasks that no one else is willing to undertake under the guise of “consulting.”
  • To connect our customers to innovative thoughts that we have artfully lifted from our competition.
  • We exist to be underappreciated, misunderstood, devalued, and often abused.  And we do it with a SMILE.
  • To empower people to connect to other more idiotic people and share their silly little ideas.
  • To share ideas without barriers…well, those ideas that legal has signed off on.
  • Our mission is to accelerate customers buying the stuff we sell.
  • To organize the world’s information and pimp it to you with a copious amount of advertisement.
  • Improving the lives of the people of the world by pushing products they don’t need or don’t work.
  • Creating perceived value from the insignificant for over 100 years.
  • If there is any fault in the services we provide, we will make it right or kill the scapegoat as an example to the others.
  • Our mission is to facilitate the transfer of money from your accounts to our back pockets with a minimal amount of resistance and the maximum amount of inspiration.
  • Attract and retain the best talent for our customers – until they make too much, then their jobs are off to India.
  • Provide the highest level of service for the least amount of effort.
  • We are a stiff and strict company with a casual dress code that assists in recruiting.
  • Our organization is dedicated to the proposition that our customers are less intelligent than we are.
  • Our operating principles are centered on the concept that employees should do what they are told and no one will get hurt.
  • Our mission is to open new markets that have not heard about our reputation for failure yet.
  • You will never pin it on us.
  • We are so greedy, we would sell meth if we thought we could get away with it.
  • Our mission is to create buzzwords and catch-phrases that sound important, then sell services aimed at correcting those same buzzwords in our client’s organizations.
  • If we could sell our employees’ souls we would do so for a solid revenue stream.
  • Our team’s mission is to have the most glamorous PowerPoint decks within the company.
  • We will pummel you about the head until you understand.
  • We tap the best minds in the business to attack your solutions…so if there’s a problem, we have someone else to blame.
  • Our goal is to change the world…into something that we can make more money on.
  • Our mission is to devise creative and complex solutions to make up for lack of leadership.
  • We take potentially dangerous chemicals and parts of animals, combine them in ungodly ways to sell them to consumers as food.  (From the fast food industry).
  • Ignorance on the part of our customers and insatiable greed on our part make for a potent combination of products and services.

And the winner:

We are rigidly focused on the following EIGHT ideals:

  1. We will DOMINATE the market with repackaged ideas and concepts.
  2. We CARE about the planet and recycling in all of the literature we print.
  3. We SPONSOR things to make us seem like good people.
  4. We believe in DIVERSITY so long as it does not upset our current management structure.
  5. We put our CUSTOMER’S FIRST; at least that what we tell them.
  6. We bring the highest QUALITY products and services to the market and support them with third world class service.
  7. We believe PEOPLE ARE OUR GREATEST ASSET and also our biggest liability, hence the way we treat them.

You can always check out my book – Business Rules for more snarky office humor.

Review of Sidetracked: The Betrayal And Murder Of Anna Kithcart, a true crime book by Richard Cahill

Sidetracked

Fair disclosure, I was provided this book by Wild Blue Press for review.  Richard and I both write for the same publisher.  This review is my own with no influence from the publisher.  I wanted to read his latest book.

I first read Richard Cahill’s work in Hauptmann’s Ladder: A Step-by-Step Analysis of the Lindbergh Kidnapping and gave it a strong review…Review . Tackling one of the most publicized kidnapping and murder cases in US history was a massive undertaking.  I wondered where Mr. Cahill could go from the top of the proverbial heap.  With Sidetracked, we learn that he went to his roots with a bizarre story that has something for everyone – racism, necrophilia, brutal murder and strange if not twisted characters.

I often tell people that every murder is a tragedy but not every tragedy is worthy of a book.  Cahill chose wisely in his subject matter.  This is a 1980’s murder, one of stark brutality and senselessness.  He masterfully weave in the backdrop of this crime – the Tawana Brawley case and Reverend Al Sharpton’s insertion into the murder of Anna Kithcart.  It was a tightrope act to address Mr. Sharpton’s claims and the reality of the case, and the author does so quite masterfully without miring the book in political climate of the time. I have never heard of the murder of Ana Kithcart before this book, but now I feel I know it well.

Mr. Cahill twists the knot of this crime tightly with secret wiretappings, half-confessions, and a questionable parade of characters tied to this crime.  Having consulted in Kingston in my career, I was familiar with the area and Cahill does a great job of putting the reader there, in that small city in the era.  Every city has its dark side and Mr. Cahill takes us there, despite our reservations.

The book leverages the court transcripts heavily and Cahill does an admirable job of getting us through a tale where we are not entirely sure, even by the end of the book, of what exactly happened to the victim.  As a writer, I know how hard it can be to mesh conflicting accounts and contradictory versions of events.  Mr. Cahill took the high road and we are all better for it.

Sidetracked is a welcome addition to any true crime reading list and I strongly encourage you to pick it up.  My only regret is that my daughter and I write about crimes in the 1980’s, and now it appears we will have some stiff competition.  Damn!

Link to Sidetracked on Amazon

#truecrime

Non-Spoiler Review: Star Wars – The Last Jedi

StarWarsTheLastJedi

Often times the second movie in a series is better than the first.  Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan or the Empire Strikes Back are good examples.  These films were so great they set expectations for The Last Jedi in the back of my mind.  There were questions I wanted answered, like why is Kylo Ren such a douchebag?  Who were Ren’s parents (not that it really matters)?  What went down between Kylo and Luke?

I got most of the answers but I’m not sure I liked them.  Having said that, don’t kid yourself, this film is no Empire Strikes Back.

It’s a good film.  I went with my mother, my daughter, and my grandson (four generations) and we all enjoyed the movie, we got our money’s worth.

On the positive side, we learn a lot more about Kylo Ren which made his character a little more interesting.  We learned why Luke went to some island off of Ireland for years.  This film had some moments that were priceless and will be noted as classics in the mythos of Star Wars.  I refuse to ruin those moments for you, but you will know them when you see them.  Most of the main characters grew in this film, they evolved, and most were for the better.  There are moments that tug at your heartstrings as well especially at the end.  On top of that, it was not easy seeing Carrie Fisher in her last role before her death.

Jedi
“No, I do not want a copy of the Watchtower…”

Also there were some twists that I didn’t see coming, especially with the Supreme Leader. I like it when a film seduces me then turns that emotion against me.

There were some moments that were downright funny as well.  We needed that.  Han Solo often provided us with those moments in previous films and The Last Jedi did a good job of filling that gap.

On the dark side, there were parts of this film that were over-plotted and unnecessary.  Even during the film I found myself saying, “This whole subplot makes no sense.” You’ll spot it too, I assure you.  It is 15 minutes of your life that has zero impact on the film.

I felt that some of Luke’s actions were very un-Jedi and out of character.  He’s not exactly the kind of uncle you leave your nephew with and that bothered me deeply.   Why the writer’s felt the need to twist this part of his character, a man that turned Darth Vadar, will be the subject of internet debate for years to come.

I disliked Laura Dern’s Admiral Holdo character; from her dialogue down to her bad dye job.    What’s with the dress, did we pull you from some sort of cocktail party?  You’re an admiral, wear something uniform-ish.  And the parallels between her name and Hodor from Game of Thrones is a bit too much for me.  Try this Ms. Dern – act like a military officer.  Her interactions with Poe were clearly written to make her a strong feminist character against a biased male pilot. I hate when Hollywood interjects politics into a film just because they feel entitled to.  There were other political overtones interjected as well, but I won’t dwell on those.

This is not the best of the new generation Star Wars films and ranks behind Rogue One and The Force Awakens.  Bear in mind, that is not a bad thing, since all of these movies are very strong.  It doesn’t suck like Phantom Menace – which is something in its favor. It is a good film that could have been great.

Ultimately Disney continues to print money producing these movies and I would have paid double to see this film and loved it no more or less.  Unlike Rogue One, I don’t find myself wanting to rush back to see it again.