The New Zealand Trip (this is a long one)

Stephanie and I finished our trip to New Zealand late yesterday after a thrilling ~20 hours in airplanes.

Before I get into things:

Videos of some of the trip’s highlights are on my YouTube channel.

This includes the Shire, a lot of our hotel rooms (including a beachfront motel and a spot with its own onsen baths), and other sundry. DEFINITELY check them out. ūüėÄ

What we did not like about New Zealand:

  1. Veggieburgers are not ubiquitous over there and Stephanie almost lost her mind after ordering a “salad burger” from Burger King (which is a burger bun with some onion rings, mayo, lettuce, and tomatoes —¬†not what she wanted).
  2. All the children have to wear school uniforms.¬†I understand how this came to be and why this is, I just dislike the idea of anything stifling my (eventual) child’s creative expression.
  3. New Zealand is far away. Getting there actually took longer (flying against headwinds) and I am not going to fly American Airlines when traveling to/from what I have come to believe is Neverland.


I started with this list because frankly, there’s very little about New Zealand that I¬†didn’t like! Everything¬†made f#$%ing sense!

Stephanie is on Instagram as @inpartiesss and has many photos of New Zealand I do not have.

Cars drive on the left side of the road in New Zealand but this is easy enough to adjust to quickly in an automatic–except for constantly hitting the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal. There’s also a bunch of roundabouts but people are much, much friendlier about merging than here in the states. On top of that when getting onto the highway, most city on-ramps have signal lights that gradually feed cars onto the highway in such a way that there is almost NEVER a dead stop. Add in kilometers (which make it feel like you are going faster and further than you do traveling than in the US despite traveling more slowly) and countryside that literally makes you say “jesus christ is it every going to stop taking my breath away?” about 50 times in a week, and you have what is a much more pleasant driving experience than what I’ve become accustomed to in the rustbelt. Cars are also thinner so I felt way more confident about staying inside the lane/not being hit by things.
Of note: I specifically did not want to get navigated around by a GPS so we printed out directions and had very little trouble getting around. Like I said above, this place makes sense.

We went to several different grocery stores (both in downtown Auckland and out in the boonies) and generally prices are the same with two exceptions: soda is more expensive (about 50%, and there’s no Wild Cherry Pepsi) and cigarettes are¬†way more expensive. I don’t count these as negatives though because they’ll pressure me into drinking less soda (I down about a 2-liter or more a day) and get Steph off of cigarettes (which are double or triple what they cost in the US, depending on if you are buying it outside or inside of a major city). On the whole, we’re confident we can get by with just about the same grocery budget as we have¬†now.
Of note:¬†Restaurants cost a bit more but you don’t tip and you walk away with leftovers every time (about a second meal’s worth). Also very doable for us. Service didn’t seem to suffer and ended up being more honest–one guy was like “look we’ll seat you, but two huge tables just sat down and we have one cook so it could be an hour before we can serve you” which I think most waiters wouldn’t be candid about.

This is not an exaggeration. You will find¬†multiple¬†examples of this below and as an American–the land of aggressive people–I was constantly bewildered and confused by it. I mean, these people are even nicer than¬†Canadians.
What more,¬†everyone that found out we were there on a fact-finding mission and considering moving to New Zealand was¬†enthusiastically kind¬†and¬†genuinely wanted us to do so. Disturbingly encouraging, like there is some deep dark secret that I just don’t know about–not that there is, at least as far as I’m aware, but whatever, it definitely threw me off constantly.


The flight to New Zealand was long and expensive, and because we flew American Airlines, crazy uncomfortable so I¬†slept perhaps 20 minutes and Stephanie grabbed maybe an hour. Shortly after landing and speedily getting through customs, we snagged a travel SIM card for my phone for $50–now able to call in-country for free and out of country for like 200 minutes–and were picked up by the rental car company.


After some paperwork we got on the road and went straight to Kelly Tarton’s Aquarium. I’m already behind where I should be for work, so if you want to check the videos for that out they are still on my Google Drive. There’s a glass tunnel aquarium you walk under that’s pretty dope!

We strolled around the harbor nearby for a bit, made friends with some old folks also visiting the country¬†(my extremely limited Chinese came in handy!), and then, quite hungry, began looking for Dominion Road–Auckland’s Chinatown. This would be the first and most troublesome obstacle for us and after roaming around it for 20 minutes, I pulled up beside an older woman walking down the sidewalk. The following exchange is in no way embellished.

Mike:¬†Hello! I’m sorry to bother you ma’am, but could you point us to Dominion Road?
Kiwi: Dominion Road? Oh it’s just down the way, take the second right, head down a bit to the next light–you know what? I’ll just show you.
<Kiwi woman gets into our car.>
<Stephanie and I are dumbfounded.>
Kiwi: Head straight and get into the right lane.

Our passenger was Greta, an¬†extremely¬†kind and trusting lady that was on her way back from the dentist and could get her walk in from a few blocks away after helping us out. Which she did! We exchanged pleasantries and explained why we were so awestruck–and in what I have found is the typical New Zealander fashion–she was quite amused but not terribly surprised.

Stephanie first succumbed to my unending desire for chinese food here (something I am very happy to say repeated many times) and we found a nice little place to fill up our stomachs. I particularly like it when I get into a restaurant and there’s a language barrier because while in my experience these may not at first seem to be the most elegant high-ranking spots, the food can’t be beat.

Next we headed to our first hotel to wash up and prepare for a night out, but we ended up taking a “power nap” that became a 14 hour sleep marathon. Kind of a bummer (Queens Street was less than a block away and is the center of Auckland’s night life) but ultimately not so bad as it reset our jet lag on the first day.

Here’s the view from the balcony of our (upgraded for free) $60 room at the Ibis Budget Hotel:



Waking up bright and early we took in the gorgeous sunrise from high up in the Auckland skyline then headed down to a charming little spot called Remedy Coffee, went about to various shops (notably a spot called Japan Dollar Mart that I loved to death) and played a bit in Time Zone Games, then grabbed bento boxes in Nikko Japanese.

I acquired THE BEST DRINKING GAME EVER (confirmed by our chef at the restaurant who pointed out to us that he used to have one for just that purpose).

The rest of the day was spent visiting the various LUSH stores around Auckland so Stephanie could introduce herself to the staff and get a feel for what it would be like to transfer here. This went quite wonderfully–we found our way around the city without much trouble and she got along with folks very well. ūüėÄ

For dinner we met up with Bevan and Sarika at a place called Burger Burger where we were introduced to Roman, Emma, and Bruna (the latter two our hosts for the evening). After a hearty dinner–although at no point did I get a burger in New Zealand where I was down with everything going on–I lost the keys to the rental car while transferring like 60 pounds of books into Bevan’s car! We scoured everywhere for a good 20 minutes until after a second pass looking in his trunk, my kiwi buddy found them in one of the recesses where the hydraulics holding it up are.

Lost Key
THIS is what a natural 20 Perception check looks like.

Roman and Emma were fantastic hosts and we were treated to a CRAZY expensive scotch tasting while arguing about art, mythology, literature, and had genuinely the best night we’ve had with another couple in years. He also gave me a memory boost for my phone and suggested (rightly) that we download an offline map from GoogleMaps just in case we need it while on the road. I have to admit we did use it once or twice when really at a loss so Roman–mad props sir!

The view from Roman and Emma’s awesome place.


Both Emma and Roman had to work early so were already gone by the time we woke up (again, incredibly trusting and generous). Humorously, I had the thought to make up the bed with sheets and such from their closet but we were undone from the start–apparently Roman’s mom was the next person to visit and was not super pleased that the backup sheets were on the mattress (and they, of course, were humorous about it and genuinely thankful that we made the effort.)

Grabbing breakfast at a nearby restaurant Emma suggested called Meadows (an elegant little place Stephanie was all about!) we got on the road to Matamata for the Shire. We made it to the town quite early so went about shopping (I found a blue man bodysuit for just $20! WHAAAAAAAAT!) then had a few beers in a tavern. One thing we very quickly realized is that New Zealand has a lot of immigrants and we wasted no time in pumping them all for information about their experiences with the move, all of which was overwhelmingly positive.

Regulation in New Zealand is not amazing.

I’m going to drop a few photos of Hobbiton here but I have to tell you all–you have to go to The Shire. It is an AMAZING place and you will instantly be enchanted.

Once again, there are a bunch of videos on my YouTube channel. Unfortunately my phone died during the Green Dragon Inn 8 minute walkthrough but it was just as fantastic as the rest of the movie set.

Shortly after arrival I noticed this young guy was going barefoot and I was like “Shit! That’s brilliant!” so I rolled up my jeans and tied my shoes off on the sides of my belt, walking across Hobbiton as a hobbit ought to.

Once again, these photos and the videos DO NOT DO IT JUSTICE and you should make going here before you die a priority.

And again, @inpartiesss on Instagram has more photos of the trip.

I ended up befriending the barefooted fro-kid and after we got back to Matamata, realizing he was a hitchhiker, offered him a ride to Rotorua.¬†Thilsje (? pronounced “Daishe”) is an 18 year old from the Netherlands that had spent the last 8 months backpacking across the country so the ride to the next town was filled with lots of excellent discussion. Unfortunately that night he realized he lost his iPhone and while we tried to help him find it, as of yet he hasn’t had any luck. :/ If you happen to be coming across this while on the way to the tour and find an iPhone in Dutch, please turn it into an Apple store!

After dropping him off near city center we navigated to our hotel for the next two days–the Terume Hot Springs Resort–and hopped into the onsen bath after snagging some excellent thai food.

I REALLY liked this hotel. Normally mixed genders in the public onsen are verboten, but Raymond (the proprietor) only had one other guest so made an exception for us. A+ buddy! (and don’t worry, we just took an excellent relaxing bath–she *did* get a footrub¬†but trust me, she’s the only one that enjoys that activity). We will definitely be going back here.


A cyclone hit New Zealand and dropped a crazy amount of rain all over the country so we were a bit bummed, but much to our surprise all the outdoor activities we had planned were still good to go!

Radio Stations and Advertisements
It occurs to me that I should mention these two things: New Zealand is not f#%(ing covered in advertisements like America and their radio stations kick ass. They played all the songs we (including esoteric Stephanie) would be playing had we brought CDs. It was crazy. Also their morning television news program? 300% better than anything on our cable networks.

First we went to some coastal bistro for breakfast then to Offroad New Zealand and hopped into 60 mph go-karts on a track covered with 2 inches of rain. Stephanie drove like a grandma and though I spun out 3 times, I also lapped her twice (and was 30 seconds from the leaderboard despite horrendous conditions). Next up was luging at Skyline Rotorua which ended up being way more fun than anticipated.


For dinner we snagged some EXCELLENT Sichuan Chinese¬†then got back to the hotel for some more relaxing. Here’s another shot of how stunning this place was:



I couldn’t resist another dip into the onsen baths before leaving this hotel. God do I want to go back there.



Even the indoor baths are excellent.

We went to the 3-D Trick Art Gallery and had a BLAST! See Steph’s Instragram for photos! It was a great time, cheap, and will be entertaining for everyone of all ages–go do it. Then we filled up the tank and headed southeast toward Napier. I have to say again that the countryside of New Zealand is just stupid gorgeous, even in a rainstorm, and when I realized we were driving through the F#(%ING HILLS OF ROHAN I LOST MY MIND.¬†I surprised Stephanie with a visit to The Craters of the Moon in Lake Taupo whilst on the way and got lucky with the rain reducing to a drizzle while we walked around the (cheap, awesome) state park–also recommended.

By the time we got to Napier we were tired so just grabbed some food then got into the Beachfront Motel, a very snazzy spot with a big hot tub in the room and a balcony facing the sunrise.



Despite weather predictions the rain didn’t fall in Napier so we dallied longer than we should have so I could snag about a dozen awesome art-deco pictures–which will totally be showing up in the¬†Book of Exalted Darkness! It was a long (gorgeous) drive to Waitomo and on the way we stopped at Lauren’s Lavender¬†where I tragically realized we were¬†not going to make it to our cave tour on time. The farm’s proprietor let me use her phone to call ahead and we organized a $50 upcharge to switch to the next morning (whew!) but do not worry–this was a blessing in disguise (see below).

In a few hours we made it to Waitomo proper, stopped by the caving place to apologize in person (and nail down exactly where it was so we could find it easily the next day), then made it to the Big Bird Bed and Breakfast to check in–another spot I loved. Not only did it involve a pretty sweet animal tour (including a miniature bull that will be declared the World’s Smallest Bull in 3 months time!), but the lady that owned it is named Anne and is the spitting image of my grandmother 20 years younger. The room itself was charming, rustic, crazy affordable, and the breakfast we got was awesome–we will be staying at this place in the future. With full bellies from sumptuous meals at HUHU Cafe¬†we turned in early.


That mishap with the Glowing Adventures cave tour? Turned out that the time we were scheduled for ended up going on the alternate path but with our new group, we got to take the main route at the maximum level of water! WHICH WAS AWESOME! I got a ton of excellent cave photographs (once again for use in the book I’m Kickstarting next week), Stephanie loved it (her favorite activity from the trip–even more than shopping), and it is a must-do activity if you are headed to New Zealand. Our tour was through untouched caverns so there were no railings or concrete paths, it was straight up spelunking and it was fantastic (even if the water was cold).

Afterward we decided to head straight back to Auckland, going to the Auckland VR Studio¬†before our appointed time. Unfortunately we couldn’t start early but they¬†did have a retro room that included the (unbeknownst to me) Sailor Moon arcade game which Steph bit into with zeal.


Getting to play in their VR rooms was amazing and convinced Stephanie that we need to get a setup in the house. I was particularly impressed with her doodling with Google Tilt Brush and had a hell of a good time playing both¬†Quiver and¬†Accounting¬†(among others). Another great activity if you’re in the city.

Stephanie needed a break so we checked into our final place to stay: The Ascott Parnell Boutique Bed and Breakfast. Bart, I know you are going to come across this blog post and I want you take this in the best way possible because you are a consummate host and gave us a wonderful stay far exceeding our expectations, but what we could not tell you in person is this: you are totally a Bond villain, my friend. It was crazy entertaining and dubiously charming and I look forward to enjoying your particular charisma again over more drinks in the future, but it was truly uncanny.
For anyone considering staying with Bart and Therese, Stephanie and I both strongly, strongly recommend you do so and I look forward to the overwhelmingly positive impact I know they will have when Stephanie’s mother stays with them after we make the move to Auckland ourselves.
Once again: thank you both for allowing us to be guests at your wonderful home!

As a bonus, before we even set down our bags Bart pegged my hankering for malaysian food and suggested a delicious restaurant (Kopio) where I finally got myself some (phenomenal) rendeng.


Obviously, this was Stephanie’s favorite place among the hotels and so on that we stayed¬†at throughout the trip. Not only was everything modern and tres-chic (including a heated floor in the bathroom!), Bart and Therese cook great breakfasts and have some excellent wine on hand.
Unfortunately Therese does not come off as an overwhelmingly kind Bond villain, just an overwhelmingly kind host (but I’m not going to hold it against her).


We spent the day checking out more of Auckland, Steph grabbed some Gucci shoes (and I got to give some tips to an aspiring childrens book author!), we ate INCREDIBLE ramen at Kiraku off the Queens Street Arcade, and then turned over the rental car. Afterward we wandered about, I bought a book from 1844 for my mom for Mother’s Day (it has flowers in the title because I keep it fre-fre-fre-fresssshhh), then I met someone very important about something¬†very¬†important, solidifying my move to New Zealand–so I got my drink on at Galbraiths Alehouse where the bartenders totally hooked us up with extra booze on the house to celebrate! More drinking was had back at the BnB (where Bart joined us for a great nightcap–again, I cannot stress how great of hosts he and Therese are, not to mention their honed talents for intriguing and lively conversation), and then we passed out for our last night in the city.


We took our time getting things together, having another great breakfast at the Ascott Parnell, and during the ride to the airport much to my chagrin Bart managed to guess¬†my age down to the year (he was just a year off for Stephanie but I suspect he shot low because, as a Bond villain, he is a ladies’ man). The ride back was just as uncomfortable and unpleasant as the ride there but mercifully shorter, and my parents–my great parents–picked us up from the airport with a sack of Chic-Fil-A, drove us to their house to snag Steph’s car, and we booked it back here so I could slide in late for an appearance on the Tome Show (which goes up this Monday).


Unfortunately I can’t¬†yet talk about what the job I’ll be doing is, but rest assured: it is awesome and many of you are going to be like “daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn!” when I can hit the ground with it and get running. Until then though I’m going to diligently get up to speed on¬†Veranthea, Hypercorps 2099, 2099 Wasteland, Mists of Akuma,¬†and¬†Book of Exalted Darkness but within 6-9 months¬†my output is going to shrink considerably because I will be working a salaried gig halfway across the world.

If you made it all the way down here: thank you. Please comment and ask me any questions you might have and so on and so forth.

And for heaven’s sake: visit New Zealand!



PROFESSIONAL GOBLINS #1: Soup Mountain and Duncan the Polka Paladin

I am still deep in the trenches of layout design (some 400 proof-ready pages behind me between 2099 Wasteland, Curse of the Scorpion Samurai,¬†and¬†Veranthea Codex: Adventurer’s Handbook) and about to start another edit for the Ponyfinder¬†folk (then the Mists of Akuma conversion gets its treatment)¬†BUT yesterday we started a thing!

professional goblins podcast graphic DRAFT UNO.pngIf you’d like to hear me and another 3PP veteran talk casual about the RPG industry, gaming, and other subjects of interest, tune on in Wednesdays at 6:30 PM EST over on
Next episode we’re going to start including guests so if there’s somebody you want to see or something you’d like to hear us pontificate about, let us know!

(MP3 File here.)

RAGMAN or Mike Plays The Demolished Ones (probably incorrectly)

A few months ago Savannah Broadway ran The Demolished Ones for me and two other lucky players.

I am fairly certain that I was not playing the game correctly.

Character creation in The Demolished Ones¬†is a little different than normal and partly supplied by your fellow players. Here’s what¬†we ended up with:

NAME: RAGMAN (formerly known as John)
DISTINCTIVE PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS:¬†Skinny but muscular–his muscled body is sinewy.
HOW YOU SEEM TO OTHERS: Calmer than he should be for an amnesiatic.
1) I have punched a tremendous number of people.
2) If I punch anything enough times, it breaks.
3) There isn’t an alcohol I have not tried.
4) I am well aware of how the police do their jobs.
I’m unaware of how to spoiler things so if anyone is interested to find out these (which involve the game’s natural plot) ask in the comments and I’ll share. ūüôā
None to start with but he got his hands on guns by the end of it (no small feat).
From what I can recall, he was maxed out on Might (or Physique), had decent Athletics, Burglary, and Fight, and I think picked up some Guns near the end.
The only one I can remember was Ragman using his Might to charm/deceive/intimidate people.

The game begins with the other players trapped in a room rather obviously about to be framed. Everything spirals into a very grandiose and meta plot by the end of things, but¬†by golly did I make damn sure we spent a long time getting there. Savannah said that¬†most sessions she’s run for this last a few hours, maybe even two sessions.
By my count we played seven sessions before reaching the end of the game.
As you may have surmised, this had a lot to do with RAGMAN.
When they gave me my character bits and we’d settled in, I looked at everything on here and I was like “well that just sounds like a drunk, reckless Batman with no money.” About five minutes later I’d scrambled him out of the basement the game begins in, swaddled him in disgusting rags, and began stalking after the Police Commissioner (before intimidating him in due course in what would quickly become a slippery slope to Geneva-Convention-defying interrogations).
For all his flaws–and he had many flaws, the best of which was sneakily talking another player into becoming his sidekick, “Pidgeon”, before anyone else quite realized what had happened–Ragman will not soon be forgotten, and I think I can definitively say that nobody has punched their way through that adventure as furiously (or as unsuccessfully) as he.
The Demolished Ones is fun though! If you’re looking for something outside of the regular d20 wheelhouse, I recommend it. ūüôā

Hypercorps 2099 Wasteland HAS LAUNCHED!


#2099Wasteland is a go! We’re headed for the future again but instead of soaring heights for hypercorporate skyscrapers, this alternate timeline offers only the ruins of a civilization destroyed by nuclear fire!

Please check out the project page and peruse the 3 *free* PDFs to see if Hypercorps 2099 Wasteland is right for you!

In the Primer you’ll find new character options, new monsters, and rules for radiation

The Doctor Class offers an alternative healer that uses the power of SCIENCE to save lives ( other things)

In the Settlement Rules PDF you can find out how to carve a society of your own from the shattered remains of the past

If you like what you see in the PDFs, consider pledging to the project. Thanks for taking a look!

What I’ve Been Doing – Hypercorps 2099: Wasteland

I have neglected my website too long! My deepest apologies dear readers, but I assure you it’s been time well spent.

Things that I am doing currently:

  • Print proofing¬†Mists of Akuma¬†(which should be on sale before the end of November)
  • Developing the copy for¬†Veranthea Codex: Forever Dark
  • Helping Ryan Costello of Know Direction with a project he’s been cooking up for a while now
  • Turning in projects to¬†EN5ider and Drop Dead Studios
  • Fulfilling¬†Hypercorps 2099¬†physical Kickstarter rewards
  • Celebrating the fantastic awesomeness of¬†FAMOTH! If you are using Hypercorps 2099 for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, this is THE Hypernet Handbook. Want to nerd rage as a barbarian hacker? Wear a nanite suit? Visit the curiously medieval processing server of Harsanath? Go get¬†FAMOTH!
  • Writing webpage updates that are really not as timely as they should be.
  • Putting¬†The Yai Sovereign of Storms and¬†Fangs of Revenge, two¬†Mists of Akuma¬†adventures going to PDF and print, through their paces in layout.
  • Translating¬†Mists of Akuma to a mysterious RPG system!
  • Reading the¬†Mutants and Masterminds 3E core book again for mysterious reasons. ūüėČ
  • Polishing the pitch for a really awesome niche RPG in an intellectual property that I practically worship. I really, really wish I could tell people about it because it is¬†AWESOME but I cannot do so for quite a while yet.
    Rest assured that my oldest fans will go bonkers when they find out.
  • Working on this amazing thing (Kickstarter before December!!):


If you are a GM interested in playtesting this (which will be on Kickstarter before December!) please comment below with how I can contact you, when you are scheduling your games, and the #2099Wasteland hashtag!

Awesome things you will find in Hypercorps 2099: Wasteland:

  • A 120 page (or larger) book
  • A World Design Engine: there will be stretch goals for a section that details a specific city or region, but the way I’m doing this will allow for GMs to generate the Wasteland as the PCs discover more of it
  • Settlement Rules: Build a settlement, attack a settlement, defend your settlement, expand your settlement — it’s all here (and a preliminary graphic for it is below)
  • Four New Classes: Doctor, Mechanic, Mutated Freak, and Scrapper.¬†Doctors are the new healers (any non-necromancy magic has trouble functioning around radiation), Mechanics build deadly mechaframes they wear into battle, Mutated Freaks indulge in radiation and try to influence their mutations, and Scrappers are the technological masters of the Wasteland
  • Class Archetypes like the Commando Fighter or Wasteland Trader Bard.¬†I expect to have more of these as the project takes shape but as of right now, we’re mostly concerned with “I am the best at shooting” and “bartering is crucial”
  • New Equipment and Weapons Rules.¬†This will range from astronaut suits to plasma boots and we’re making a system for building a firearm from scrap or just improving whatever you’ve got on hand
  • New Races, Backgrounds, and Feats.¬†Play as an android, an awakened animal, an alien gaxion, a mutant, or the husk of life known as the smart walker. Did you grow up in an underground shelter? Have a childhood as part of a feral gang of scavengers? Get abducted by aliens? All also covered
  • New Rules.¬†These range from new conditions (such as starvation, irradiated, or limb damage) to new skills like Science and (the maybe familiar) Technology
  • New Hazards. Be it¬†EM Storms, Radstorms, Radtwisters, or Unexpected Detonations, the very nature of this alternate timeline is lethal
  • A host of Wasteland Warlords, each with lackeys, soldiers, and commanders.¬†The words of the day for Hypercorps 2099: Wasteland¬†are “mad science” and I’ve been taking that to heart. Fight the militant Atomic Army, discover the secrets of the mysterious Bureau, battle against Axkrazdhi the Gaxian Masterlord, risk becoming a slave to the brain-slug Cult of Slarsh, and much more! Most excitingly, YOU, THE BACKERS, will determine which warlords make it into the book and which don’t!
  • Surviving Operators.¬†While they aren’t out fighting (or working for) hypercorporations in the Wasteland, some of the characters from the core Hypercorps 2099¬†timeline will also be present–although quite different–in this universe!
  • MORE MONSTERS.¬†Radiation dragon, irradiated elementals, psionic revenants, mordors, and the dreaded Wyrm — these will all be making an appearance in the Wasteland.


That’s all I can reveal right now! I’ll leave you with this amazing video of me playing Birdly, which was hands down the best two minutes of my life. IF YOU GET THE OPPORTUNITY TO TRY THIS,¬†DO IT.


Paizo Con and Mists of Akuma End (Successfully!)

Before anything else, I want to address the people that are my fans.

I do not know how to react to having fans.
You are all awesome.

If I failed to thank you for enjoying my work, if I seemed out of sorts, generally came off as¬†curt or strange, or otherwise conducted myself untoward in any way whatsoever, I apologize profusely. I don’t¬†think I managed to offend anyone, but I feel so unbelievably awkward when someone says “you have done something awesome” that I seriously forget how to be a human.

So:¬†thank you¬†for saying hello to me, it was wonderful to meet so many of you, and in the future please be like “MIKE! HIGH FIVE AWESOME TOWN!” and we will slap hands in a most epic manner that I am 100% prepared for and then talk shop or predict the weather or whatever.¬†ūüėÄ


I am super duper excited about the project!!! Not only are we really breaking into some truly unique ground with¬†Mists of Akuma as a setting, going to be the first to bring in eastern fantasy to D&D 5th Edition, and enabling me to place some AWESOME art orders, the GM of my youth is writing an adventure for it! Chris Rippee is a peerless storyteller¬†and I seriously cannot wait to see the final copy he turns over (there’s an encounter preview here).

If you would like to support the project but were unable to pledge to the Kickstarter, email and we’ll get you sorted.

PaizoCon 2016

I have had¬†quite¬†a week. One of¬†Hypercorps 2099‘s backers, Steve Caron, bought me a plane ticket to and from Seattle, and my inimitable (and unflinchingly polite, almost to a fault) right-hand man Michael McCarthy put me up in his hotel room for most of the trip. Once again, you both have my sincere thanks for your graciousness!

After a cramped flight to the west coast I wandered down to the hotel and dropped off my belongings before wandering around that area of Seattle for a while before hanging out with some folks in the bar. In the evening we got most of the Hypercorps crew together and made for a fantastic thai restaurant down the rail line, then hit up a grocery before getting to bed early.

Friday kicked off with my first Shadow of the Demon Lord¬†game run by none other than Stephen Radney-MacFarland, then it was straight away to the¬†first¬†Hypercorps 2099 seminar and it went great! Unfortunately to make it to the Hyper RPG studio in time to appear on Rabbit Stew, we had to leave the panel in the hands of Luis Loza and Jason Nelson — I am assured it went well, but will make sure to put links to the Know Direction recordings of the panel so you can be your own judges (and will definitely share the video for Rabbit Stew when it gets onto YouTube).

That night we also did the first scheduled¬†Hypercorps 2099 game, Operation Varsity.¬†I had a¬†very exciting very secret¬†meeting somewhere before we came back to the hotel and sprinted into the game room late, but everyone was very cool about it. Because Steve had a penthouse suite (which was HUGE) we took the group up there and played with a gorgeous view behind us (and many glasses of rum drinks). Getting things underway I was in great trepidation because this was the first time I’d actually played¬†Hypercorps 2099 in person as opposed to through, but there was no reason to be worried–a good time was had by all and the system performed as well in real life as it does through the Hypernet. ūüėČ

Saturday was my “whatever” day and ¬†I mostly hit up seminars (which were all good) before the banquet.¬†There was¬†much talk of¬†Starfinder and I look forward to it as much as you likely expect. I have spoken to many Paizo people and many¬†other people about the new ruleset and what that means for¬†Hypercorps 2099 and when I’m able to say more about any of that, I will do so.

Sunday was another day of enjoyable and informative seminars until the second¬†Hypercorps 2099¬†game (Skirmish with Soldier Corps) which had¬†seven players! It was SUPER intense and much to my delight, at the end of the table one of Friday’s players (a netjacker mechwarrior) was doing side battles with one of his friends (that scheduled game’s netjacker)! HOW AWESOME IS THAT!!!

Immediately afterward, the Hypercorps 2099 crew got together and this happened.

Hypercorps cast airport transformed
My peeps are the best peeps.

The next day kicked off with a seminar for both Aethera and Hypercorps 2099; despite being the morning of the final day of the convention we had more attendees than panelists! There will be a link provided when Know Direction puts it up. ūüėÄ That night I hung out with Steve and my returning mechwarrior (Miles Smith) and we had one final Hypercorps game,¬†¬†and it was as awesome as the rest of the sessions at PaizoCon!

Today (nearly 24 hours ago ~.~) I woke up and walked to the airport with Steve, hopped on my plane, and spent most of the trip brainstorming for Mists of Akuma and reading The Blood Chalice (a Warhammer 40k novel).

Interesting note: Starting Friday morning, my right ankle started doing weird things! There’s no real¬†pain, just¬†discomfort — it feels like there’s a bag of wet sand above my right heel. My regular source of wisdom for these things (my grandmother was a nurse for decades) was just as perplexed as I was. I’ll be taking it easy for a few days (no jogging) to see if some hot/cold pressing fixes it.

All told I had a wonderful time at PaizoCon 2016. All of the Paizo staff put on a fantastic convention and they have both my thanks and congratulations! I feel weird tagging them about Facebook and so on and so forth, but should any of them stop by my website (Cosmo I’m looking at you!) boom — ya been thanked.


Rogue Door (Elite) and PRD Updates!

I was going to wait a few days before unleashing Elite Rogue Door, but something happened that folks should know about before they enjoy any downtime to get into Pathfinder mode:

The PRD has been thoroughly updated!

Not only has the¬†Feat Index gotten a HUGE facelift,¬†Pathfinder Unchained is on there as well (which is perfect – you’ll see why below),¬†AND¬†Occult Adventures is on Paizo’s site now too!

Before I get back to toiling, I leave you with ELITE ROGUE DOOR – the retrained Unchained Rogue juggernaut of deception (and, of course, Professor Ratwicket).

elite rogue door

When something needs to be professionally hidden, there’s no name in the halls of thievery more trusted than

Form-trapped mimic unchained rogue 10
CG Medium aberration (shapechanger)
Init +5; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +8

AC 20, touch 15, flat-footed 15 (+5 armor, +5 Dex)
hp 68 (10d8+20)
Fort +6, Ref +11, Will +7
Defensive Abilities danger sense +3, evasion, improved uncanny dodge, uncanny dodge; Immune acid

Speed 10 ft.
Melee slam +12/+7 (1d8+6 plus adhesive) or mwk dagger +9/+4 (1d4+1, Crit 19-20/x2)
Ranged mwk hand crossbow +13 (1d4, Crit 19-20/x2, Range 20 ft.) or mwk dagger +13/+7 (1d4+1, Crit 19-20/x2, Range 10 ft.)
Special Attacks sneak attack +5d6
Spell-Like Abilities Known (CL 10th; concentration +12)
¬† ¬† ¬†1st (2/day)‚ÄĒvanish, ventriloquism
¬† ¬† ¬†0th (3/day)‚ÄĒdetect magic

Before Combat ROGUE DOOR hides professionally.
During Combat ROGUE DOOR opens a portal to pain for his opponents with sneak attack slams, attempting to only fight in places with many doors.
Morale ROGUE DOOR strikes swiftly but doesn’t often stay for a prolonged combat.

Str 13, Dex 20, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 10, Cha 15
Base Atk +7; CMB +9; CMD 24 (19 vs. steal)
Feats AlertnessB, Deceitful, Eschew MaterialsB, Extra Rogue Talent, Evolved Familiar, Point-Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon FinesseB
Skills Acrobatics +18, Climb +14, Bluff +19, Disable Device +20, Disguise +15 (+35 as an object), Perception +17, Sense Motive +17, Sleight of Hand +18, Stealth +18, Survival +8, Use Magic Device +10; Racial Modifiers +20 Disguise when mimicking objects
Languages Common, Halfling, Undercommon
SQ finesse training (natural), rogue’s edge (Disguise, Stealth), rogue talent (familiar, fast stealth, minor magic, major magic [2]), trapfinding +5
Combat Gear potion of cure light wounds (6), potion of expeditious retreat (10), potion of magic fang (3), potion of stone fist (2), potion of touch of the sea (2), acid flask (5), alchemist’s fire (3); Other Gear +1 glamered chain shirt, amulet of mighty ghost touch fists +1, bag of holding type II, minor stone cloak, monkey belt, tan bag of tricks, mwk daggers (6), mwk hand crossbow (30 bolts), grappling hook, rope (200 ft. silk), sacks (3), 342 gold

Adhesive (Ex) Rogue Door automatically grapples any creature it hits with its slam attack. Opponents so grappled cannot get free while Rogue Door is alive without removing the adhesive first. A weapon that strikes Rogue Door is stuck fast unless the wielder succeeds on a DC 16 Reflex save. A successful DC 16 Strength check is needed to pry off a stuck weapon. Strong alcohol or universal solvent dissolves the adhesive, but Rogue Door can still grapple normally. Rogue Door can dissolve its adhesive at will, and the substance breaks down 5 rounds after it dies. The save DC is Strength-based.
Pinned Items (Su) Fewer slots, still restricted by location on ‚Äúbody‚ÄĚ, easier to steal (-5 CMD).
Debilitating Injury (Ex) At 4th level, whenever a rogue deals sneak attack damage to a foe, she can also debilitate the target of her attack, causing it to take a penalty for 1 round (this is in addition to any penalty caused by a rogue talent or other special ability). The rogue can choose to apply any one of the following penalties when the damage is dealt.
¬† ¬† ¬† Bewildered: The target becomes bewildered, taking a ‚Äď2 penalty to AC. The target takes an additional ‚Äď2 penalty to AC against all attacks made by the rogue. At 10th level and 16th level, the penalty to AC against attacks made by the rogue increases by ‚Äď2 (to a total maximum of ‚Äď8).
¬† ¬† ¬† Disoriented: The target takes a ‚Äď2 penalty on attack rolls. In addition, the target takes an additional ‚Äď2 penalty on all attack rolls it makes against the rogue. At 10th level and 16th level, the penalty on attack rolls made against the rogue increases by ‚Äď2 (to a total maximum of ‚Äď8).
¬† ¬† ¬† Hampered: All of the target’s speeds are reduced by half (to a minimum of 5 feet). In addition, the target cannot take a 5-foot step.
These penalties do not stack with themselves, but additional attacks that deal sneak attack damage extend the duration by 1 round. A creature cannot suffer from more than one penalty from this ability at a time. If a new penalty is applied, the old penalty immediately ends. Any form of healing applied to a target suffering from one of these penalties also removes the penalty.

Disguise Skill Unlock: You can create a disguise in 1d3 rounds. If you take the full normal amount of time to create your disguise, you take no penalty for disguising your gender, race, or age category.

Stealth Skill Unlock: Reduce the Stealth penalty from sniping by 10. Stealth check penalties for moving quickly are halved, including the ability unlocked at 5 ranks, moving full speed, and reaching concealment after creating a distraction.

STONE CLOAK, MINOR Price 10,000 gp; Aura faint abjuration; CL 5th; Weight 1 lb.
This mottled gray cloak looks like granite or some other light gray stone. The wearer can pull a minor stone cloak tight around herself and freeze in place as a move action, which causes the cloak to harden like the stone it resembles. When she does this, the wearer can take no actions other than free actions and is denied her Dexterity bonus to AC but gains DR 5/adamantine. She also gains a +5 circumstance bonus to Stealth checks while protected in this manner. This effect can be dismissed as a free action.

MONKEY BELT           Price 9,400 gp; Aura moderate transmutation; CL 8th; Weight 1 lb.
This furry brown belt resembles the tail of a monkey. The belt grants the wearer a +2 enhancement bonus to Dexterity. Treat this as a temporary ability bonus for the first 24 hours the belt is worn. The wearer does not lose his Dexterity bonus to AC while climbing, and does not take a ‚Äď5 penalty on Climb checks when climbing at half his speed. As a swift action the wearer can command the belt to animate, transforming it into a prehensile tail under the wearer’s control. The tail does not grant the wearer any additional attacks or actions per round, nor can it wield weapons, but it can make unarmed attacks and hold or manipulate objects about as well as the wearer’s normal limbs (though any activity requiring fingers is beyond the tail’s capabilities). The belt can function as a tail for 5 minutes per day. These minutes do not need to be consecutive.

professor ratwicketPROFESSOR RATWICKET
N Tiny animal
Init +2; Senses low-light vision, scent; Perception +3

AC 16, touch 14, flat-footed 14 (+2 Dex, +2 natural, +2 size)
hp 34 (5d8; ¬Ĺ master‚Äôs hp)
Fort +3 Ref +9, Will +4
Defensive Abilities improved evasion

Speed 15 ft., climb 15 ft., swim 15 ft.
Melee bite +5 (1d3‚Äď4)
Space 2-1/2 ft.; Reach 0 ft.

Str 2, Dex 15, Con 11, Int 7, Wis 13, Cha 2
Base Atk +1; CMB +1; CMD 7 (11 vs. trip)
Feats Weapon Finesse
Skills Bluff +4, Climb +10, Perform (entrance) -4, Stealth +18, Swim +10; Racial Modifiers +4 Stealth
SQ empathic link, evolution (skilled: Bluff), share spells
Gear top hat, monocle, and cane mimic-adhesive stuck to head, around eye, and in ‚Äúhand‚ÄĚ