You might have noticed a few changes around here in the last day or so. I’ve rolled out a new look and I think that I’m mostly finished tinkering with it, though I’m sure there’ll be some little changes here and there as time goes on. There’s a new About the Author page up, actually giving some details about who I am as well as – and this is the main attraction – a couple pictures of my dog.

I’ve scrubbed the old Blogroll, since most of the content I was linking to is either no longer being updated (thus I’m not really reading it), or is just gone entirely. In its place I’ve put up a more generic “Stuff I Follow” list of things I check out. Blogs, podcasts, webcomics – whatever I’m following, like the title says.

I also dropped the list of Dark Sun-specific links because this page has kind of outgrown that. A little. Well, maybe not – I’m still planning to gush about Dark Sun as time permits. But, honestly, if you’re here for Dark Sun stuff? You probably already know about – but if you don’t? Go to

Anyone else remember this thing?
Anyone else remember this thing?

I’ll be launching two new series of articles, with a third one planned (that I’m not quite ready to talk about just yet). Well, launching one new series, and re-launching one old series to be more accurate. On the new front, I’m getting ready to start my first 5th Edition campaign, so I think I’ll be writing about that. I’m not at all sure how its going to work, but there’s enough interesting stuff going on there that I’m sure I won’t have much trouble finding something to write about. As far as the old series? I’m going to be doing a new World Workshop, as I create a new setting for that campaign to take place in. A warning for mapping enthusiasts – I probably won’t be doing another in-depth Photoshop tutorial this time around. Just not enough time. You’ll have to hit up the Cartographer’s Guild for your fix.

Oh! And Shameless Plugs are probably also gonna get some love, on days I feel like blogging but don’t really feel like thinking.

So that’s it for changes, at least as far I can think of. I’m sure there’ll be more coming down the pipe one of these days.


From the Ashes!

Is anyone still following this thing? Anyone? The spambots aren’t even trying to breach the gates these days, so I imagine the answer to that is a solid no.

Which, to be honest? Is fair. It has been just shy of 1,240 days since my last update. Which is a bloody long time for anyone to pay attention to anything without any signs of life.

The RPG world has gone on without me piping up to make comments no one asked for, which ought to surprise absolutely no one. Last I posted 4th Edition was in full swing – well now 5th Edition has come out, and it’s phenomenal. I’m getting ready to run my first 5e game in the coming weeks. But there’s more than just that:

  • Monte Cook’s Numenera has blown my mind, both with its streamlined and simplistic core mechanic and its innovative way of incorporating DM fuckery (which they call a “GM intrusion”) into the system.
  • Related to that, the team behind the best CRPG of all time – Planescape: Torment – kickedstarted a “spiritual sequel” called Torment: Tides of Numenera. I am a backer, and am crazy excited about this game. Every screen shot and update makes me practical jump in place.
  • I discovered the Dark Souls series, which I absolutely love. I spent a long time trying to explain to some of my newer players why I wanted to run a darker, grittier, more challenging game – and failing to make them understand why I thought hard = fun. Now I wish I’d just gotten them to play this.
  • Darkest Dungeon came out, which is just phenomenal. Basically, a Dark Souls-esque philosophy brought to the adventuring party dungeon crawl. With lots of Lovecraft thrown in for awesomeness and madness! This also led me to Torchbearer the tabletop system the game is based on. Both are fantastic. (Edit: I apparently got this wrong; these games are similar in theme but otherwise not related to one another.)
  • And the 2nd Edition of the new World of Darkness has started launching. Vampire the Requiem 2e and Werewolf the Forsaken 2e are both out, with others (such as Mage, Promethean, and Changeling) coming out in the future. I haven’t finished Werewolf (it just came out), but my impression is the same as of Vampire: mostly impressed, a few minor gripes. I’ll do a post or two about these sometime in the future.

I have no idea how often I’ll be posting. That’s on the short-list of things I need to think about, and you can expect my next post – whenever it drops – to touch on that.


Still Alive

Just a quick note to say no, I haven’t disappeared again. However, I agreed to help my best friend re-do the roof on his garage. I probably should have waited until after that project was complete before relaunching this blog, but I didn’t think it would eat up so much time. Every day has been 8 hours work, then 7 hours roofing – the days that weren’t were pretty much spent sleeping and recovering. There will be new content posted tomorrow morning, which will also be the last day I spent working with ladders and tiles.

My apologies to anyone who may be following.


State of the City-State

352 days. That’s the length of the delay between my most recent post on this blog, and the one before it. While not the longest lapse in blog updates I’ve ever seen, it’s still pretty significant – especially since that last post was me explaining how I intended to put my nose back to the grindstone after a 74 day lapse.

So, what happened? I’m going to gloss over it quickly because I don’t want to get hung up on what’s already happened – I’d rather focus on what’s going to happening from here on out.

So firstly, I was previously buried under schoolwork and regular work – and any extra time was being squeezed into actually managing, writing, and preparing for my weekly campaign, Balic Rising. That left me with very little time for blogging about it.

The second was that my then-girlfriend (who I’ve mentioned previously) and I split up in January. It was the opposite of good times, and blogging was pretty low on my priority list for quite awhile.

Thirdly, was the end of the Balic Rising campaign – including my ex, we lost two other members (one to a new, conflicting work schedule and my brother who moved out of province). With the party’s roster dropping from five to two, it was decided that scrapping the entire venture made more sense than trying to keep going mid-campaign.

There were other reasons for that decision too, that I’ll probably get into in a future post.

Now, present day: I’m finished with school, my work situation is much better (no more weekends or midnight shifts for me), giving me a fair amount of free time. I’m running a new campaign, The Chain Made Whole, which I kick-started sometime in January (or maybe early February).

I’m looking forward to getting back to blogging – I plan on updating once or twice a week, from here on out.

Good to be back. Sorry for my long absence, to anyone out there still listening.

D&D4E, Dark Sun

Getting back in the swing of things

So a little more than a week ago I tossed up a two paragraph post letting you all know I hadn’t died on my journey, and that I’d resume posting shortly. Apparently “shortly,” in Brian-speak, translates to “nine days.”

Before I move on to anything else, I want to throw out a major thank you to Glen, who managed to update my blog while also updating his own, and who moved an even farther distance not that long before I did. That there are still people coming here to read what’s being posted is something I credit entirely to him, and I’ve had a blast reading his posts – especially the one about Lorakin (who, as I recall, I eventually started locking in a box because he was driving me nuts). It is my fondest hope that in the future, when Glen’s nerd-dial finds itself turned back up to 10, he’ll remember this place fondly and come by to pay us a visit – regaling us with the occasional tale or point of view. Critical-Hits this place is not, but if he wants to blog about D&D and Dark Sun, he’ll always be free to borrow my soapbox.

Secondly, a couple of administrative announcements. First of all, I do intend to start blogging regularly again now that I’ve driven cross-country, flown the last leg of the journey, arrived at the home of my friends, and all-around begun to settle in. That said, I am also on the job hunt as well as preparing to resume my studies in September, so my goal is to update two-three times weekly. I will also be doing some work on the blog itself – we’re long overdue for some “About the Blog/Author/etc.” pages, and I plan on looking into options for sprucing the place up with custom CSS and design so it doesn’t look like every other WordPress-hosted rpg blog out there. But that’s in the future.

Thirdly and lastly, as I mentioned in my all-too-brief last post, I picked up the Dark Sun Campaign Setting shortly after returning to civilization. Since then, I’ve actually had time to sit down and read the thing and I intend to kick things off with a fairly in-depth look at things. Where I was right, where I was wrong, and what I think of the thing as a whole. In short, though? I liked it. A lot. Enough that I’ve gone out and procured copies of the Dark Sun Creature Catalog, the Desert of Athas Dungeon Tiles, and the introductory adventure Marauders of the Dune Sea. So, you know, I’m clearly a fan. I’m also tossing out my earlier stated plans, and have decided that my party of rookies will be cutting their teeth on chitin armor and obsidian spears. What this means for the World Workshop I’ll address sometime next week, I expect.

All in all, I’m feeling good, happy to be home, and looking forward to getting my nose back to the old blog grindstone. See you next time.


Arrived Safely!

Just wanted to take a brief moment to toss this out and let everyone who’s following know that my plane did not crash, and I did not die. I am once again in London, Ontario getting settled in and reconnecting with old friends.

I see Glen’s been keeping everyone entertained with his own postings and I look forward to reading some more. I plan on resuming my own posting later in this week or at the beginning of the next. I’m still running around doing errands and seeing old familiar faces.

Oh, also? I bought the Dark Sun Campaign Setting yesterday. So, I’ve got some reading to do.


The Steward of Balic – Let’s just hope he doesn’t go batshit and light himself on fire

It used to be that when you were going on a trip, you asked your friends or neighbors to water your plants and maybe feed your cat. These days, things can be a little more complicated. See, I don’t have any plants and I don’t have any pets. But I do have something that needs maintenance and attention, and regular infusions of nerd-love.

This blog.

I’ve mentioned before that I started writing this thing not because I had anything to say to the world, or an idea I wanted to share, or even the arrogant desire to pontificate aloud as though I were an authority on some niche of the geek hierarchy, but rather to reconnect with an old friend. That other people might be interested was something that occurred to me as a possibility, but I dismissed it as unlikely. Turns out that I was wrong.

Just to put things in perspective, since my last post (DS4e – An Open Letter) this blog’s total per day views are just shy of fifty people. That’s not something I’m bragging about, because I honestly don’t know if those numbers are impressive or pathetic in the grand scheme of things. Certainly I don’t believe I’m now giving competition to Penny-Arcade or Critical Hits. But I’ve only actually told three people about this blog – and, as far as I know, only two of them have actually visited it – so, if nothing else, this blog has been a personal success.

And now, naturally, I’m going to abandon it. Not really, but on Thursday (July 29) I plan on loading all my shit into the car and leaving town. Four days later I’ll be rolling into Saskatchewan with my father and getting him set up in his new place. A couple days after that I’ll be boarding a plane and heading back to Ontario, my year-long adventure in the Arctic Circle complete. For at least a couple of days after I land, I expect to be busy getting settled and reconnecting with old friend. All of which adds up to mean that I don’t expect to be doing much blogging from here on out – for the next 2+ weeks its all about packing, moving and settling.

Which is why I’ve asked my oft-discussed friend, Glen, to sort of fill in while I’m away. Like I said, once upon a time you asked your friends to water your plants. Now you ask them to update your blog. I’ve given him free reign to write and publish his own stuff. Just to be clear – there’s no schedule, he’ll update when he feels like it about what he feels like. I’m looking forward to reading what he’s got to say as much as you all do.

It’s also worth noting I’ve written a few extra posts in advance, which are set to auto-publish while I’m away. I’m hoping that between Glen’s keeping an eye on things and my “post buffer” there will still be lots here for you guys to read and enjoy. I expect to be back and posting in less than three weeks – as I know more specifics, I’ll post updates for everyone.



The subject line sort of says it all. I’m heaped underneath a massive pile of schoolwork. I’ve got four assignments due in the next eight days, one of them a 3,000 word economics paper. It’s been over a week since I took a day off. I’ll be doing my best to keep things active here, but updates may slow to a trickle for awhile.

On the plus side, the term’s over in less than two weeks, at which point my cup will runeth over with free time – which means blog posts galore.


Spam, Egg, Spam, Spam, Bacon, and Spam

Success motherfuckers! Looks like I’ve broken into the big time. Well, the not-so-small time, really.

What am I talking about? The spambots have discovered this humble blog, and have decided my comment forums are fertile ground in which to plant a bunch of shit nobody’s interested in. Gonna have us a bumper crop of penile enlargement pills and miracle weight-loss diets this harvest season. You’ll see.

Or we would, if not for askimet.

So that’s why, at the bottom of the last World Workshop posting, you don’t see any ads for London Subways maps of all the bloody things to advertise. Stupid spammers. Nevertheless, another milestone achieved.

Alright, back to my schoolwork. I’ll be cranking out another post after the weekend though. See you all then.