My online stalker, J**** now admits that the persona that he used to wage his campaign against me, Faith McClosky, was a complete fake. I was on vacation when this went down, I was inundated with emails and messages of support. Thank you to all of you that reached out to me about this. I’m not going to provide a link his blog post because I refuse to validate this individual’s mental problems further.  I was going to say nothing, but why let this person have any sway over the narrative? 

It is tempting to say, “I told you so,” but I already did. For me, this “confession” was old news. Law enforcement long ago revealed that what he claimed to be online was a fabrication.  I exposed it back in July of 2021, The Truth about Faith McClosky.  Moreover, I informed Catalyst of the details of this at the time, even providing documentation.

I doubt seriously anything that J**** writes regarding turning another leaf.  Bear in mind, he admitted that he created a fake ID and persona; while using a new fake name (Ace Kaller), and is using it to continue to spread lies and misinformation. Fake accounts, lies, and a smear campaign – it’s the same old story we have all seen before from this person. At least this time he’s not practicing identity theft by posting photos of someone he is pretending to be…but we are still early in this game.   

Why anyone believes anything this person posts, on any subject, is a mystery worthy of PhD research and study.  Amazingly, a handful of vocal BattleTech fans opted to support this utter fraud and perpetuate his lies. They embraced censorship as a justifiable solution. Mao would be proud of them. Now they simply look foolish, led by a confessed liar. A few have stood up and apologized for their roles in this – but most opt to remain cowardly silent.

To clarify a few points…prior to this, J****, under the guise of “Faith,” submitted a short story that CGL published because they believed the individual to be a female.  John Helfers told me that was one of his primary reasons for publishing the story. “BattleTech is a sausagefest.  It will be great to have a female voice.” I warned CGL that this was not a wise move but they believed that this would “appease her.”  Bottom line, J**** used his false identity to gain an advantage over other would be authors.

J**** claims he had nothing to do with my release by Catalyst.  I was shown, and possess, from Loren Coleman and other sources, the messages that J**** (and his known sock accounts,) used to engage Fanatics and Topps in this campaign. Furthermore, CGL admitted my release was because of his campaign in my conversation with their President.  I refer you to the transcripts of my call with Loren Coleman on this matter – Moving Forward.  J**** can claim whatever he desires about his involvement in this matter, but I think most people now fully understand his role. 

Consider this:  If “Faith” had never posted about me, would I still be writing BattleTech? Absolutely! The blame for my removal lies with J**** as the chief instigator of this debacle.  All he succeeded in doing is denying long-time fans the stories I had completed and in-process. 

Every time I posted about this incident, J**** under the fake persona of “Faith” claimed I was waging “transphobic attacks” as a means of deflecting his own guilt and culpability in these matters.  Those of course now are proven as lies by his own admission.  He dragged the LGBTQ community into his personal little fight with his lies, and now has smeared them in the process. I can only hope that this will not deter real members of the LGBTQ community from enjoying the universe that I contributed to for decades. 

He makes ridiculous claims that I hired a PI to harass his friends. I don’t know if he even has friends. The owner of a personal protective service who is a friend, did reach out to his probation officer at my behest to tell him that a protective order had been put in place.  That was it, period. Of course in J****’s strange world, he saw people hiding in his shrubbery spying on him at my bidding.

Keep in mind, this is a person that fantasizes about me dying. I have a thick folder of these kinds of posts.

I know a lot of you are hoping that Catalyst sees the errors of their ways and apologizes. For now, this changes nothing. This is just J**** doing what he always does, using a fake identity to continue his attacks on me. Yawn…  

I have moved on past BattleTech, both out of necessity and out of a desire to do what I love doing – writing. What was almost lost in this twisted nightmare is that I’m just a guy that wants to tell great stories. I’m pleased to say on the writing front, things are booming. The Blue Dawn series is doing great – with book three, Confederacy of Fear, releasing on January 24.  The book has been on two Amazon Hot New Releases bestseller lists. Book four, No Greater Tyranny, is at the publisher as well and I am almost done with book five, Patrons of Terror

The second American civil war continues…
Less pew pew and more boom!

For my Mecha fix, the new universe I have worked on with my company, Creative Juggernaut, Land&Sea, launches in a big way on January 12 with the release of book one – Splashdown. This near-future military sci fi novel series (and eventually a game) has already hit three Amazon bestseller lists. I just finished the fifth book in the Land&Sea series and will be starting book six this month. WarGate Publishing is great to work with, they give me a wide latitude to practice my craft, and has introduced me to a broad universe of IP’s and authors. My editor there is someone I respect, something I haven’t been able to say often in my career. I’ve also made a lot of new friends as a result of the cancel culture crowd. I get my big stompy war-robot fix every day with this new series, and staring this month, you can too.  

I don’t need BattleMechs in my life – I have ASHURs

I have a project with Baen coming out soon as well as a big surprise in the works in another awesome universe involving Mecha combat. My daughter and I are working on a true crime project. Every day BattleTech becomes something further in my past.  I miss interacting with the fans, but not as much as you might think. The fan base has a cancer in it; one introduced by J**** and allowed to spread by CGL. That’s his only lasting legacy to BattleTech.  

I have greater reach as a result to being targeted by the cancel culture mob. I have a weekly show where I interview interesting authors each week on  and I get to appear as a floating member of the Council of Future Conflicts weekly, which is awesome.

My weeks are filled with doing what I love.  I am writing more than ever and having a great time doing it. I’m working with good people who are worthy of my trust, especially the folks at Defiance Press, WarGate Publishing, and Baen Books.  The audience I am writing for is larger and his little tolerance for woke behavior. My publishers want me to write great books and I am happy to do so. I am crafting some wonderful characters and putting out stories that tens of thousands are going to read and enjoy.   

The attempts by the online woke mob to drive me into submission have failed. Their attempts to delist my books and prevent me from being published have hilariously backfired. I refuse to be censored by the cancel culture crowd. I won’t be silenced, especially by a criminal on probation who hides behind fake ID’s. I have support from many publishers and even more fans. I was never a victim, only a target – a target of misdirected hate that still festers in the dark corners of the BattleTech community.  I am comforted to know that these social justice warriors will be looked back at by future historians for what they are; little more than digital terrorists and butthurt harassers. 

The best thing I can do to heal the personal damage caused by this person, is to be stunningly successful. That’s what I am all about now…success.  If you want to support me, buy my books and enjoy them. Thank you for doing so.  If you want to hate me, go ahead. That’s your problem to deal with. Me…I’ll just keep on writing.



Review of Black Powder Red Earth 28mm Miniatures Game

My local game store, Your Hobby Place in Fredericksburg, VA, had a demo of this game during the weekend and I was fortunate enough to get to see the game in action. I had picked up the rules a few weeks earlier but, as always, there’s a difference between reading rules and throwing the dice. 

Black Powder Red Earth is based on the popular comic series about a failed African state and a proxy war being fought there in the near future between China and the US. I found the background material in the book a little too complicated for my personal taste. The rules do include a short comic book which was amazing and was what I turned to for my fluff. 

The game is amazingly simple. There’s really nine pages of rules for play. It’s a 2D10 system to make an attack and, if you unit allows, save (survive the attack).  The game plays in 20 minutes.  What does that mean?  Death is quick and brutal in this game.  In one turn of play, we had half of the minis on the board wiped out. 

Black Powder and Red Earth is a tactical skirmish game at its core.  The maps are, for the most part, built up urban environments.  Range becomes less of an issue in the game, because almost everything is in range. What matters the most is line of sight.

The fighting consisted of first contact and slaughter – in that order.
Phase Line Set Up

The game is one where you activate units and force units to respond to your actions. Our demo person said that this was a lot like squad leader in that regard, and he was right. 

There are cards that come into play.  Some are situational – they influence one action.  Some are one-shot devastating actions – like a drone strike; where other cards influence the entire action or the battlespace.   

There are some nuances to the game that are deceptively deadly. How they handle grenades is great.  You mark where you want the grenade to land – then in a later phase, determine where the grenade actually lands and applies the damage.  In doing it this way, you can actually end up in situations where your grenade can do more damage to your team than the enemy. 

One player told me the suicide vests can sympathetically detonate – so if you set one off, it can trigger a nearby one, and so on. 

There’s zero paperwork with the game.  There are no wounds.  You either end up dead or not.  There’s no reloading either, so you don’t have to track that. This is all about body-stacking.

The game was designed by people with real-world expertise in similar military operations.  I was even told that some of the maps mirror those used in actual military training facilities – which is pretty awesome. 

The miniatures are made in the US and, while pricy are worth it. The level of detail is amazing. I saw mins where the trigger guards were actually cast and visible – they are that minute.  While you could play with any modern minis, I have a lot of respect for what these folks have done with their minis. 

I love the speed of play and the vicious nature of the game.  We played on the map of the new Phase Line set which is a larger playing area. 

If you are looking for a good and easy modern warfare game, Black Powder Red Earth 28mm is a great entry vehicle.  I’m surprised that it isn’t getting a bigger uptake.  Another big selling point, all of their product is sourced here in the USA.  They sell starter sets and I wish I had gone with that option rather than just buying the rules.  You really need the grenade template and the cards too.  Regardless, the game is solid, fast, and incredibly deadly. 

Review of the G.I. Joe Role Playing Game from Renegade Games

Back when the cartoon came out, the thought of a big terrorist group attacking the US was fantasy…my how times have changed.

“Fighting for freedom wherever there’s trouble, land and sea and air…G.I. Joe is there!”

I have to admit, when I heard about a G.I. Joe RPG coming out, my initial thought was, “Why hasn’t someone done this earlier?”  While I was raised in the old school original scar-on-the-face, 12 inch tall, G. I. Joe, I caught enough of the episodes of the cartoon series to realize there was a lot of potential material there…more than enough for a good role playing game.

I wasn’t a huge G. I. Joe collector – I didn’t have any of the short figures though I do have a few (Patton, Washington, the WWI pilot) on my bookshelves still.  I watched the show when it came on because I was a geek and the storylines were decent. The potential for a good game was always there, and Renegade Games hit it out of the park with this offering.

The game is hefty – clocking in at 350 pages.  I will add that the layout and interior art are spectacular.  It has a ribbon bookmark on the hardcover binding for keeping track of where you are at.  While a small feature, I have to admit, I used it often. 

This is a great starter book for someone wanting to play.  Much of the game focuses on character generation.  This is not a RPG where you will be playing the role of one of the over 500 G. I. Joe established characters. The focus here is carving out your own space in the context of being in G. I. Joe and going up against Cobra. 

It is clear that Renegade Games did their research.  They have not expanded on the canon for G. I. Joe, which is probably good.  One of their little “Knowing is Half the Battle” sidebars explains that the canon for the universe isn’t locked down like in some franchise.  Character have, over time, dramatically changed.  Rather than trying to sort that out, the game simply accepts everything as is which is far easier to digest. 

Renegade Games bent over backwards to give the fans what they wanted. This means that the toys, comics, etc, have a place here.  One perk for characters was listed as “Kung Fu Grip.”  For an old school grognard like me, I actually cracked a smile when I read it. When I see things like this in a rule book, I have to congratulate the designers and developers for paying a little homage to the fan base. 

The book provides players with a ton of weapons, gear, and the more popular vehicles as well. The vehicle rules are a little light, but they do capture the cinematic quality of the cartoons – so it works well in this context.  The USS Flagg is covered as well as other bases.

The NPC section is huge, covering the major Cobra characters. While the rules do not stat out the iconic G. I. Joes, I have to believe at some point we will be getting that as a sourcebook from Renegade Games.  

The combat system took me a few minutes to digest.  It uses a Dice Shift Ladder.  Where most combat systems use a series of pluses and minuses to die rolls based on terrain and combat conditions; G. I. Joe adds different dice to the mix.  You can get an automatic success or failure too.  At first, this seemed a little wonky to me, but after a few test rounds I liked it.  Why?  Dice! Part of the RPG experience over the generations is the use of our different dice and this system is based on that. 

So what isn’t in the book aside from the Joes?  I struggled to find a gap or hole in the rules.  The only thing I would have suggested is a set of rules for the collectors out there that want to use their actual G. I. Joe action figures on the map rather than a grid and normal miniatures.  I have no doubt there are a few of you planning to crack open your stored collections and actually use the figures in battle. 

So what is the ultimate appeal of this game?  One word – nostalgia.  Most people that play RPG’s have active imaginations.  We played with toys as children.  We created worlds in our minds and played out battles and scenes.  The G. I. Joe Roleplaying Game taps that wellspring of our youth.  I can easily see people that played with the action figures in their youth gravitating to this game…and they should.  It is a solid system with lots of meat on the bones.   

Honestly, I can’t believe they are selling this rules book for only $55 US.  I’m already putting together a mission, just for grins.  Overall, this is a five out of five stars.  Renegade Games has a massive hit on their hands. 

Review of Death Ray Designs Solar Shift Miniatures

A random sampling of Death Ray’s 6mm line. Note: I did mount the ‘Mech on a Creative Juggernaut terrain base – they come with a flat hex base however.

I had an opportunity to grab a few of these models a while back and was sincerely pleased with what I received.  They are on the same scale as BattleTech miniatures, which is helpful for the games I tend to play.  While not ‘official’ BattleTech minis, they are compatible.  Given how many people design their own ‘Mechs, they can be easily integrated into your campaign. 

For me, the vehicles are my favorites. As you can see with the image provided, they have big artillery pieces, hovercraft, tanks – a lot of variety.  I am one of those people that prefer plastics/resin over metal – and in this space Death Ray Designs has a lot to offer that are close enough to be used for BattleTech counterparts.   

Let’s talk quality.  The larger models have incredibly minor mold markings.  I cannot tell if these have been 3D printed with resin, or cast.  Either way, the larger minis are quite clean and come out of the package ready to prime and paint. They hold the paint fairly well, though I knocked one over and had some chipping – but by the same token if it had been a metal mini, I would have had that and some bending to do…so I wouldn’t count this as a real issue.

I did pick up some infantry – they have a broad line of generic infantry that are in 6mm scale which fit a lot of sci fi games.  These clearly had been 3D printed because they still had the supports. I broke two infantry trying to cut them out – acceptable losses which were easily repaired.  I can see these are useful for Alpha Strike, but be prepared for a lot of tedious work with tiny parts.

Jump infantry (unpainted)

Are these worth the investment? That depends on your needs.  The big Kogasu ‘Mech I painted in the picture runs $18.00 US.  That is pretty much what you would pay for any metal assault mini.  Overall, I’m pleased with the artillery pieces and am using them in lieu of Long Tom artillery and I’m using their hovercraft in my games. It really comes down to a matter of taste and preference.  I encourage you to go to their website Death Ray Designs Solar Shift and browse their offerings. 

My recommendation…if you are looking for alternate sources for minis, some of which are close mirrors of BattleTech minis, you need to spend some time checking out Death Ray Designs. 

Review of The Expanse Role Playing Game

A great series, a great RPG that is worthy of it.

Green Ronin does a great job at producing RPG’s and their adaptation of the highly successful Expanse series is no exception.  I personally feel a little late to the game – I’ve only finished four of the novels and have watched two of the seasons of the series on Amazon at this point.  Still, it is more than enough to jump in for a fast review of the RPG. 

This game is set between the first two books of the series. Do you need to read the books or watch the series to play it?  No, but it REALLY helps.  In fact a lot of the writing makes that assumption. Taking on this game without reading the books or watching the series might be difficult. 

The game has some neat mechanics.  The boldest is to end the concept of hit points, replacing it with something called Fortune. It’s a little complicated, but fortune allows you some modification of the die rolls and you need to retain a bank of it for when things go sideways – which they can in this game. This is augmented by your character’s Condition (example: fatigue or injured) which makes this more of a narrative role playing game than a murder-hobo-athon.

Churn is a neat tool for gamemasters too. There is a pool for characters that can be increased and decreased based on die roles in the game.  At certain trigger points, the churn can introduce setbacks and complications for the characters.  I will admit, it took me a few minutes to wrap my head around this but it is a neat concept, if you have a good gamemaster running your session.   

This is a RPG with a level of sophistication with it. The Expanse universe is more of a hard-core sci fi experience and the game captures this.  Space travel is explained, which reminded me of an attempt to simplify some of the complexities of the physics of space travel so that it is playable.  The writers did an admirable job of giving me a physics lecture that didn’t feel like a physics lecture…though I must admit, this was some of the more complicated parts of the game to fully understand. 

One thing I love about this game is the level of organization and layout.  Game companies rarely get credit for good layout, but it is critical.  This is an area where Green Ronin sings. 

The artwork is both stunningly brilliant and consistent.  I always struggle with game products that have a wide variety of art styles in a book. My personal preference is to have on style throughout a product – but that is a personal preference.

This book opens with a short story by James S.A. Corey which helps set the tone. So even if you don’t want to play, if you enjoy the books – this is a treat.

If you like the series (books or shows) then this is product worth picking up.  While there is a learning curve with the innovative mechanics, it is well worth the effort. 

Update as of 31 January 2022 – Fans in My BattleTech Fiction

The Battle of the Fargo Washes I love the pew-pew from the Enfield.

With the release of No Substitute for Victory over the weekend, I have added to the BattleTech pantheon a list of names used for places and people in the universe. 

No Substitute for Victory is a story of great characters testing their wills, both on and off of the battlefield. Both sides are right, yet both are wrong. They push each other to the brink of endurance and beyond. There are plenty of twists and turns to the story. Wills are tested throughout. Hopefully even the most vocal Jade Falcon hater will likely find themselves rooting for Hasara and Guice.   

This list demonstrates exactly how much I openly embrace the fantastic fan community that drives BattleTech. I’m a fan myself.  Even before we had paid-canon characters, I was including fans in my fiction, letting them slug it out on distant planets.  

I want to do a special callout in this list to Paul “Cono” Galatis.  I was reached out to by a member of his family who told me that he was a BattleTech fan who had passed away and they wondered if I could somehow commemorate him.  A special ‘Seyla!’ to him and his loved ones as he plays a pretty neat role in this book.   

So here are the fans I had the honor to include in this latest saga.  Heroes all! 

No Substitute for Victory

(KS)  Thomas Lee Anderson – Fuguzawaz

(KS)  Michael Cohen – Vandervecken

(KS)  Jones Devlin

(KS)  Ashley D. Nichols – Jarrad Hill

Patrick Hendrix Arellano

James Coil

Andrew Firebaugh

Paul “Cono” Galatis

Wolf Gerhäusser

Greg Hartford

Andrew Hasara

Michael Holland

Mike Lombardi

Andrew Marlow

Marco Mollison

Tristan “Scott” Montieth

Kevin Navia

J.Paul Okerlund

George Precious

Chris Richardson

Samantha Rife

James Rucker

Nolan Tomlinson

Karen Winstanley

Robb Wyer


(KS) Dennis Busse for Kerek Helmer

(KS) Chris Fernandez for Slynkers Mercer

(KS) Jason Gollogly for Tyrilla Heller

(KS) Matt Kudrick for Matthew Nash

(KS) Leif Lann for Anjij Nuyriev

Christopher Barghausen

Daniel Corrigan

Ian Morgan Coutt

Mario Garzolini

Brent Kynell

Jeff Rietman

Stanislav Shimuk

Hour of the Wolf

(KS) Robin Apel

(KS) William (Will) Arnold

(KS) Ian Butler—Brigadier Graham Badinov

(KS) Andreas Büttner—Druss Ward

(KS) Colby Cram

(KS) Dr. Randolph P. Checkers, Esq.

(KS) Craig Evans—Pharaoh

(KS) Kevin Markley

(KS) Eris Griffon

(KS) Raymond Guethler

(KS) Justin Hall

(KS) John Healy—Physician Hobgood

(KS) Spencer Huff—Khalus Pryde

(KS) Aleksey Kopysov—Kaor

(KS) Chris Kornfeld

(KS) Aaron Krull

(KS) Andrew Krull

(KS) Jason Mayberry – Kai Nihari

(KS) Brendan (Bren) Mayhugh

(KS) Jason Mischke—Stroud

(KS) Daniel Nichols—Janus

(KS) Matthias Pfaff—Amanda McKenna

(KS) Shawn Rains—Colton Mcleod

(KS) Marvin Sims—Marv Roshak

(KS) Aaron Tarr—Star Colonel Kalidessa Kerensky

(KS) Jakapan Thunpithayakul

(KS) Christopher Toh—Merlin Buhallin

(KS) John Traver—Jack Traver

(KS) Jathniel Velazquez—Jathniel Kerensky

(KS) John Watson

(KS) Michael Mahoney—Sorsha

(KS) Lyle Wojciechowski—Star Colonel Havi Bekker

David Abzug

David Baker

Agustin Sierio Barj

Matthew Behrens

Ted Burger

Billy J. Caldwell

Kim Chapman

John “Fratricide” Craig

Paco Cubillo

Amy Delaney

Benno deJong

Stephen Dukes

David DuJordan

Adolfo Fernandez

William Fife

Noran Ghall

Oliver Haake

Thomas Heath

James “Tanker” Herring

Dirk “Derek” Kobler

Jean-Jacques Labbé

Jeff Lamm

Chew Hwee Leong

Joshua Adam Lonbom

Brianne Elizabeth Lyons

Dean Manning

John McNary

Jared Micks

Ed Miller

Joe Mooney

Rolf Peter

Max Prohaska

Andrew Quay

Krzysztof Strato Raczyński

Keith Richmond

Jamie Rife

Andrew Roy

Sebastian Schröder

Rowland Seckinger III

Volkmar Seifert

David Skinner

Jeremy Spurlock

Travis Sumpter

Lonnie Tapscott

Paul Tomaszewski

Cory Vigdal

Josh Waltz

Powers Wartman

Ben Weingart

Shawn “Gorilla” Willett

Ludvig Yabar

Sharizal Zarie

The Burdens of Honor

Cymril Tseng, Star Commander of Clan Ghost Bear

Tai-i Adam Cunningham (Kaningamu) of the Draconis Combine

Tai-sa David Vivas of the Draconis Combine.

Tabor Heine, contributing for his daughter Charlotte, Warrior of Clan Ghost Bear

Jason Cabral, Cabral, Ghost Bear Warrior

Mason Kortz, Roman Tseng, Ghost Bear Warrior

Eric Stockard, Christine Rosenfeld, ComStar ROM

Seth James, Malik Feff, ISF Agent

Lawrence Greenwood

Children of Kerensky

David Abzug

Agustin Sierio Barj

Elmer Lee Bechdoldt

Dennis Busse, for Kerek

Dr. Randolph P. Checkers, Esq. (Yo Tex!)

Michael “Brent-Killer” Ciaravella

Xander Cosgrave

Olaf Dittmar

David “Dunny” Dunlap

James Doughty, for TacShadow

Adolfo Fernandez

Jason Gambrel

Adam Grimm

Oliver Haake

Claire Harpham

Hannes Hinterberger

Michael Hofacker

Jerry Hornick

Spencer Huff, for Khalus Pryde

Rylan Thane Ingram

Franz Jelinek

Ka’u Johnston-Kitazawa

Artem Kostyukov

Josh Koziura

Jean-Jacques Labbé

James Lee, for Jamie Hazen

Larry Leslie II

Kevin Markley

Marco Mazzoni

Tackett McClenny

Thomas “Dreacon” Miller

Todd More, for (Mike) Wallace

Shane Overstreet

Stephen Parac

Stephan “Warbear” Peter

Juergen Schneidemesser

Rowland Seckinger III

Jeremy Spurlock

Rob Watkins

Sharizal Zarie

The Bonds of Battle

Star Commander Cymril Tseng, Clan Ghost Bear

Adam Bear, (Kaningamu), contributed by Gregory Adam Cunningham, formerly of the Draconis Combine, now bondsman to Clan Ghost Bear

Tai-sa David Vivas, of the Draconis Combine

Tabor Heine, contributing for his daughter Charlotte Warrior of Clan Ghost Bear

William James Hamblin, Chu-i Biru Hamblin of the Draconis Combine

Chu-i Ayden Ryken, of the Draconis Combine

Chu-i Carrie Shumar, of the Draconis Combine

Sho-ko Mateo Vaux, of the Draconis Combine

Jason Cabral, Cabral, Ghost Bear Warrior

Kashira Jack ‘Reverend’ Benner, Sonkei-suru Benner of the Draconis Combine

Rock of the Republic

Eric Kraaier

Jean-Jacques Labbé

Ed Miller

Stanislav Shimuk

Travis Sumpter

Jakapan Thunpithayakul

Jonathan Warrington

The Flames of Idlewind (Shrapnel #1)

Marc de Villasante Lahoz

Euan James

Ronald Ledwon

Daniel Leskov

Matthias Pfaff

Benjamin Tang

Divided We Fall

Michael Barber

Timothy Byrne

Felipe Cintron

John “Doc” Crouch

Tony Deegan

Jared Donner

Wes Frenz

Jürgen Frey

John Gaisano III

Ed Hatchel

Matthew Hinks

Hannes Hinterberger

Robert BJ Horncastle

Cal Hornstien

Garry Jackson

Alex Kaempen

Kristopher Tyson Koniczek

Andrew Krull

Wayne Ledbetter

Brianne Elizabeth Lyons

Joseph McEachern

Joshua McHugh

Roderick van Noorloos

William C. Pelcham

Lon Porter

Corey Riordan

Nicholas Roche

Andrew Roy

Patrick J. Saul

Sebastian Schröder

Kevin Seibert

Richard Skelton

Andrew Sternglass

Jason Tuttle

Matt Valgardson

Derek Weese

Jason Weiser

Scott Whyte

The Anvil

Moses Obadiah

Nicholas Tockert

David DiFranco

Eric Belcher

Clifford McKinney

Jeff Sockwell

Daryl Noonan

Jonathon Scott Schofield

Cord Awtry

Ryan James Broadhead

Ben Myers

Troy Lee Cowell

Krzysztof Krecislaw

Chad Parish

Jack Lafreniere

Joshua Bressel

Marcus Odekirk

Robert Ostrowski

Mark Havener

George Tholburn

Erik Helgeson

Winter Guite

Jukka-Emil Vanaja

Christopher Turco

Juan Ochoa Jr.

Steven Molen

Broccán Mac Rónáin

Kenyon Burguess

Dave Alsager

Forever Faithful

Benjamin Starkey

Av Paredes

Adam Mckern

Brian Blaney

Trixter Phillips

Alexander JW De Santis

Jamie Rife

Brandon Fisher

Andrew Gardenhire

Todd Farnholtz

Clint Woodall

Clifford McKinney

Adam Thompson

Ray Arrista

James McHenry

Patrick Finnegan

Oliver Kraft

Camille Klein

Shane Jaskowiak

Shawn Bruno

Colin Duffy

James Eyers Mclean Miller

Nathan Pelchat

Josh Ellis

Craig Gulledge

Peter Farland

Eric Eny

James Bixby

Thomas Lagemann

Craig Reed

Mike Lubowitzki

Devin Ramsey

Dustin Ballard

‎Jose Alvarez‎

Aaron Gregory

Bradley Proffitt

Dean Manning

Brian Chiasson

David Shell

Keegan Reid

Sam Snell

Alex Clarke

Redemption and Malice

Derek King

Gerry S. Xydis

Jack Halloran

Rules of Engagement – Released for the Kickstarter

Cymril Tseng, Star Commander of Clan Ghost Bear

Tai-i Adam Cunningham (Kaningamu) of the Draconis Combine

Tai-sa David Vivas, of the Draconis Combine

Tabor Heine, contributing for his daughter Charlotte Warrior of Clan Ghost Bear

No Substitute for Victory Releases

Yes, that is a Jade Falcon JagerMech on the cover. It will be explained in the book.    

I understand that the novel is out in Kindle format, as such, this is intended as a non-spoiler post. Link to Amazon. Onto the usual questions:  No, I don’t know when the audio book will be coming out.  Yes, a print copy will be available. Frankly, I found out Thursday evening that the book was about to pop.  Remember, I’m just a writer. 

The first draft of the book was done in June of 2021 which seems like a lifetime ago. A lot things happened from the time I asked to write the book until it was on the slate to come out.  Originally the novel was set on Alkaid but a decision was made to move it to the A Place system. I knew instantly that I had to come up with a better name for A Place because it sounded like an Abbot and Costello joke. “You fought on a battle, where was it?”  “A Place” “I know it was fought in a place, but where was it fought?” “I told you, A Place.”  You get it. So I settled on Jangso, Korean for a place as a name for the planet in the A Place system. Side note:  Now you can see why no one ever covered this planet in fiction before.

Changing the location sounds easy, but it introduced a number of significant character impacts not to mention geography challenges and some twists to the story. I would complain, but this is pretty common for the BattleTech universe, so you learn to adapt. It allowed Ray to tie it in with Tamar Rising, which I wanted to make sure I fully supported. So the book got rewritten.     

No Substitute for Victory is not a universe altering novel. It is a story about interesting characters and the challenging times and circumstances that shape them. We have, for the last three years, lived in challenging times that have transformed a lot of us – so I think people will be able to relate with the characters in this story.   

The idea for this novel began around the time of the first draft of Hour of the Wolf.  It grew more after the writer’s summit in Seattle.  It evolved out of the thought that both Clans, Jade Falcon and Wolf, were fighting all-in on Terra to determine which would be the ilClan. That stripped their Empire and occupation zone, leaving much of it wide open. In a universe of war, conflict is inevitable.  It forced a single question… 

“What happens to those left behind…the ones that didn’t go to Terra?” 

At the writer’s summit we bounced around a lot of thoughts, but there was no one-solution-fits-all. John, my editor, suggested I tackle this in a story format. In the case, I focused on the Jade Falcons.  Who might be left behind in the occupation zone? Solahma—old warriors, and sibko fledglings that were not ready for battle…and an array of the lower castes. From a military perspective; old and young warriors. That alone provides a lot of fertile ground for a writer to work with in terms of character development.   

To me, the characters were all-important. I wanted characters that were going to pop with the readers. The best BattleTech stories are about great characters.  Otherwise they are simply tales of “Mechs slugging it out in battle. Hasara is such a character. He goes on a journey that is remarkable, and it is one that changes him.  Tough times make for strong leaders, and that is something you will see evolve, I hope, with his character. Freebie Easter Egg – you can check out the new Tamar Rising sourcebook and see Hasara’s bio and image.

Guice is another wonderful Jade Falcon character whose allegiance shifts during her arc in the book. As many of you know, I have long supported strong female characters in the BattleTech universe. Guice suffers a disability and how she deals with that is an interesting aspect as to who she is.  As someone who is ‘more seasoned’ i.e. older, I bonded with her and with Hasara fairly fast. I understood what it meant to be in your later years and seeking a refined purpose in life.   

This story covers a lot of ground time-wise.  I wanted the characters to not traditional fight a fast and furious Clan trial, but rather a prolonged campaign.  We rarely see that with Clan warriors and how they react to that I think does a lot to their characters. 

I have always believed that people see what they want to see in the factions of BattleTech. A lot of fans have formed opinions of the Jade Falcons (thanks to Malvina and the Mongol Doctrine) and I wanted to challenge some of those. This book is more a tribute to what the Jade Falcons can be rather than how many perceive them. NSfV (because we always use acronyms for novels) is set in the ilClan era, so we are treading on new ground for the all of the Clans, especially the Falcons. Those who didn’t go are operating in the dark as to what happened on Terra. They are alone, isolated, with enemies everywhere.  It makes them interesting and the challenges they face daunting. It makes for good stories.

I also like telling a story where the lines between the good and bad guys are blurred. The Lyrans in this novel help with that blurring. There are times you, as the reader, will hopefully challenge who you are rooting for.

This is not a novel about a battle for a planet. It is a test of wills of the main characters. Resolve and determination set the tone for these characters and the story.  

I also wanted something that would make a fun campaign for players too. As such, Catalyst agreed to include a map of Jangso’s Gren Continent where the action takes place. Those inclined to slug it out, there is everything you need in this novel to set up minis and begin the fighting.  

There are some juicy Easter Eggs in here as well, including one I would classify as, “a whopper.”  I promise you that some readers are going to flip back to the early chapters and reread some of them when they hit it.  For longtime fans of BattleTech lore, they likely will catch it quickly. More on this after fans have read it and realize the implications. Events on Jangso will set other events in motion…which is all I’m going to say about that.

In some future blog posts, I’ll fill in the details of some of the changes that were made along the way and address some of the surprises you’ll find buried in the pages.

My decision to not attend Gen Con this year

Gen Con 2021 – the main gaming hall. Two years earlier you wouldn’t have been able to find an empty chair and here would have been a lot more tables and seats.

I have been a faithful attendee at Gen Con for years, going back to the Milwaukee years. When I went, I did so for a few reasons.  As a writer in the industry, it was a chance to get face time with editors, fellow writers, line managers, etc. to talk about the coming year’s products and what I should be focusing on.  I also attended to shop for the new releases.  Then there was the gaming itself. For me, it was a chance to sit down and try new games, play some BattleTech or other games I like.  Finally it was an opportunity to mix and mingle with some fans. I loved playing Master’s and Minions with the fans.

In recent years, I brought my grandson with me to Gen Con because he likes gaming as well.  Usually we look forward to the trip to Indy every summer.  Gen Con has been something I have always enjoyed attending together. 

I went last year during COVID and the experience was less-than-satisfactory. Many big game companies passed on attending.  Many usual events we had come to rely on simply weren’t offered at all. The events list was reduced dramatically, and the few games I wanted to play filled up instantly.  The restrictions on the gaming halls were overbearing in some instances.  Because maps had to be wiped down, plastic was over a lot of them which led to some issues. Demos in booths were limited if not eliminated, and those that were done were struggles to balance playing versus social distancing mandates. Many companies simply didn’t try at all.

Then of course there was the ‘thrill’ of wearing a mask on premises.  Gaming, by its very nature, is a social affair.  Part of it is seeing the face of your allies during victories and you foes when you beat them.  This was taken away with the masks. It was replaced with muffled voices that you couldn’t hear.  On top of that, were the mask police, the self-appointed gamers who pointed out when you were not social distancing to their standards, or pointing out that your mask had slipped down. I pulled my mask away one time for a literal second, just to get a gasp of air, and you would have thought I had committed a war crime.

This year Gen Con announced that it would be masked event.  I cringed when I read it. I can go to my local game stores and play without a mask and nobody even flinches.  The people that want to wear masks can.  I’m triple vaccinated and I am comfortable not wearing a mask.  Why can I play in a game store without a mask but if I travel across the country to Indianapolis to play, I need to wear one?

I fully understand Gen Con having to make this announcement now, with a spike in COVID. They have to create the illusion of safety for everyone, but that doesn’t mean I have to play along with this and attend.  Yes, they may change the rules by August – but by then the hotels and events will likely be filled.  Registration is at the end of this month, so a decision had to be made.  On top of this, we have no idea which game companies will be there, or if the same overbearing rules will apply to gaming sessions.  I sat down with my grandson and we talked about it.  He agreed, he didn’t want to attend if he had to wear a mask either. We decided to pass

Then I saw that Gen Con was going to put your personal pronouns on the name badges.  I rolled my eyes at this one.  After the Gaming Goat incident last year when they physically removed one game company owner over an alleged piece of artwork frog holding up a racist sign (No, I’m not making this up) and the attack two years earlier on Jeremy Hambly; it was clear that Gen Con was pandering to a specific audience of gamers.  The last thing I needed was to have someone turn their badge around so I could call them by what they wanted or risk them having a hissy fit over not using the right language.  In short, Gen Con shouldn’t get involved with politics or ideologies, period.  While this personal pronoun stuff didn’t factor into my decision this year, it makes me cringe. 

My take on Gen Con’s mask policies is that they are not necessary.  If you are afraid of COVID, you always have the option of wearing a mask…just don’t tell me I have to wear one.  If you are scared of catching COVID, don’t attend. Why should everyone’s gaming fun be ruined because you are frightened or at risk?  If you can’t get vaccinated due to medical conditions, going to an event with tens of thousands of people might not be the thing for you.   

I will still spend the same amount on gaming this year, but I will do it in my local game store or on company web sites, rather than spend it at Gen Con.  I will play games either at home or at the game store of my choice, where I can have the fun the way it was meant to be enjoyed – face to face.  

I hope Gen Con returns to normal.  I hope that the big companies come back.  I hope they eventually foster an open and fun gaming experience for ALL attendees. Until then, I have plenty to keep me busy at home writing.    

Introduction to Creative Juggernaut’s Terrain Hexes

An Urbie on a moon

I have to admit, this one is on me.  Here’s the background. We were considering doing a new mini for CGL and were struggling with the poses.  I had been watching the fan forums on Facebook and someone had been commenting about how he just never could get the hang of the bases and was complimenting others on their base creations. I threw out the idea of having one or two custom terrain bases that fans could attach the mini to rather than the dull flat base in lieu of extra arms or legs.  It seemed like something that would be kind of cool.

That got me wondering – how many fans had similar frustrations?  So I asked around and found that for many folks, the issue was time. They wanted good bases, but they took a lot of time.  They had to buy bases, then some green stuff, do the molding…wait for it to set. Paint, flock, detail…it was taking some fans almost as much time as they spent getting their mini’s ready for battle.    

The short version – we didn’t end up doing the ‘Mech in question, but didn’t let the terrain base idea slip by.  Our goal was simple – make some cool looking terrain bases that required very little effort for the casual gamer to prep and use.  Brent, Kevin, Eric and I started batting around the idea of a line of hex bases, compatible with BattleTech, that would take little time to prepare and looked good.  Brent and his son took on the job of the initial batch, based loosely on the map sets for BattleTech, Badlands and Lunar.  I think one of mine actually made it to production – I’m not sure.  We wanted a good random mix of these bases in each bag. 

A random sample of painted Lunar bases
A random set of Badlands bases

For me, this was all about how much time it took to prepare the hexes.  So in these examples, what I am going to show you is a bare minimum effort and provide you with rough timing. 

Prep for the bases is pretty simple. There is a spur and some very minor flash.  I was able to use trimmers to cut the spur and a simple file to prepare the base.  Total time, assuming you are careful when you trim the mold spur, less than a minute per hex.  Now, if your mini needs a flat spot for a footpad, you will need to take a file and make one, but in my examples – I didn’t.

This spur was the biggest and it was easy to clip through. Brent has informed me that the new process means even less spurs to none!

I spray painted them flat black – just a few seconds per base.  I like black borders on the hexagonal sides and this fit well into my evil plan.  

Next up, dry-brushing. I was tempted to fire up the air brush, but with the black as a base, I thought that dry-brushing would give me the desired contrast.  Also, my goal was to do this in the fastest way possible, rather than the most detailed.  I spent about 45 seconds, on average, per hex.  I went with a dull light brown for the Badlands and an off-white for the Lunar bases.  I honestly felt that I was spending more time cleaning my brush than I was painting. 

For these images I grabbed my trusty crimson UrbanMech and just set him on some bases so you can see how it looks.  The result…I spent, at tops, two and a half minutes per base to prep and paint them.  Yes, I could have glued down some scrub brush on the Badlands hexes – but I felt it wasn’t necessary for this demonstration. This was intended to show even the most unskilled painter how easy and fast these can be deployed to your gaming battlefield.

“Look at me mom, I’m in the Badlands!”

I personally love the Lunar bases because I can see these being changed with little effort into battlefield craters rather than meteor strikes. 

We sell these exclusively through Aries Games & Miniatures.

Review of Mutants and Masterminds Basic Hero’s Handbook

Pick this up faster than a speeding bullet

I have always wanted to run a super hero RPG campaign but have cringed a little bit at the prospect.  Characters with super powers are hard to limit in terms of where they operate and what they might do.  Where a fantasy campaign can be confining to a city or a dungeon, characters with super powers may not feel so burdened.

I have a grandson though, and he loves comic books and the super hero genre. So I was a motivated purchaser.

Years ago I purchased the first edition of Mutants and Masterminds.  When I was at Gen Con this year I decided to take the plunge and get updated.  Rather than dive in with the full set of rules, I opted for this starter book. 

I found this book to be very good at setting the framework for RPG’s in the genre.  Character creation is greatly simplified and the core mechanics of the game are covered fairly well.  The focus of this book is around the basic rules and character creation/interaction.  There’s some material in this for a GM, but not a great deal.  That’s fine with me, there was more than enough to get started. 

The writing is crisp and clear, what you desire in a good rules set.  Some companies have starter sets that are far lighter than this, such as Modiphius’s Star Trek Adventures RPG Quickstart Guide.  There are pros and cons with how light you should go, but I think Green Ronin games has done a great job with the Basic Hero’s Handbook.  This is enough to ‘prime the pump’ for kicking off some adventures. 

The art and layout of the book is outstanding. The art teams rarely get the accolades that they deserve, but this is good stuff.  It has a distinct feel to it, despite having a lot of artists that contributed.  Hats off to the art director at Green Ronin for this. 

The book retails for $29.95 – which may seem pricy for an entry hard cover, but is fairly consistent with recent RPG pricing.  Green Ronin has sales from time to time, so you can save some cash if you are patient. 

Overall, I found this better than the first edition of the full rules set.  It is not quite down-and-dirty in terms of rules, but provides players and the GM’s with a good sandbox of tools to get started in the Mutants and Masterminds universe – or your own, should you desire.  I give this a solid five out of five stars.