Thursday, November 05, 2009

Damn 80%!

It's amazing how much I've changed from 20 years ago, heck even 10 years ago. When it came to school or college, I was never much of a perfectionist when it came to getting good marks. If I passed, I was happy. I think that had more to do with what I was studying at the time. High school was, well, high school. The Microcomputer Management program, at MacEwan, wasn't my calling. And neither was the programming course at NAIT. It was challenging, yes, but it left me cold. I needed more. I needed a chance to write. To thrive. To create. The classes I'm taking now are allowing me to do that. Therefore, when I only get a mark of 80% on an assignment it really bugs me. I don't want marks below 90%. 90+ is exceling. Below that is second best for me now. It's amazing how much I've changed.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Magazine Writing: Letter Assignment

This is my second assignment for my Magazine Writing night class. My mark wasn't as good for this one as for the first one. The assignment was a query letter for an article pitch for KQ Quarterly...

Wolfgang Baur
Kobold Quarterly
P.O. Box 2811
Kirkland, WA 98083

Mr. Baur,

Inspiration is a funny thing. It can strike when you least expect it. Gaming has been my life for so long that I've often misplaced campaign ideas in my own mind. Take, for example, one faithful day more than eight years ago when I was going through several containers of old floppy disks and rediscovered an old roleplaying world that was my first Dungeons and Dragons setting when I was a teenager.

The Islands of Malecade, as it was called then, was little more than a collection of maps, character ideas, and short lived campaigns. It had little cohesion overall and grew to become a huge setting (and mess) that I renamed Warped World. I had little choice but to shelf it and move on to create a new world (Kulan), yet Malecade remained in the back of my mind, fondly, even with all its faults. Therefore, inspiration bloomed upon its rediscovery and the world once again became alive – reborn as Time of Ages.

This rebirth took the core driving force of the campaign, an artifact called The Heart of the World (a magical bridge-divinity of time and space), and used it to create a unique back story for the world and its three primary races – the tigé, the trooda, and the teres. These three races would become the Children of the World – linked together by their devotion to the Heart of the World and the trials they would face in the Ages to come.

I propose a 3,000 word feature article that describes in detail the Children of the World and their combined history. The article would focus on each race's society and religion as well as each race's view on temporal magic and steamcraft technology. The article will provide racial traits for each race as well as new feats and class options designed specifically for the Children of the World.

I can also include a short overview of the campaign world, if requested, which has both steampunk and clockwork facets to its design. The universe that Time of Ages is set in can be best described as steampunk-in-space. However, such additions could be separate feature articles.

If you wish to view some of my game design work then I suggest you visit my roleplaying wiki, Walk the Road ( The site has a section for Time of Ages, which details part of the campaign's structure as well as Campaign Cartographer map for the world. You can also find a short list of my roleplaying game credits at the Pen & Paper RPG Database (

Thank you for considering my query.

Robert Blezard

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Magazine Writing: Magazine Analysis Assignment

This is an Magazine Analysis assignment that I wrote for my Magazine Writing night class. I picked Kobold Quarterly for my analysis. - Robert B.

Little Dragon
By Robert Blezard

Roleplaying magazines are hard to define. Such magazines are rarely famous beyond the niche market of comic book and hobby stores. When I say the word dragon you will probably think of Tolkien's Smaug, but if I say the word kobold, you will probably draw a blank unless you are up on your Germanic folklore. If you combine the word kobold with roleplaying, however, you get something else entirely.

Kobold Quarterly (KQ) is a publication that continues the grand tradition of famous roleplaying magazines such as Dragon (which is now an Internet only, subscription-based publication) and White Dwarf published by Games Workshop. Published by Open Design LLC., KQ is unabashedly “A Magazine of Kobolds and Dragons.”

Kobold Quarterly supports both the current version of the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game (that would be Dungeons and Dragons in case you're not sure) and the previous version (3.5) of the game. (Kobold Quarterly can do this due to the Open Gaming License and Game System License created by Wizards of the Coast.) KQ also supports anything related to sword & sorcery and tabletop RPGs in addition to D&D.

Kobold Quarterly fills its pages with articles typical of magazines that support tabletop RPGs but with a voice all its own. There are the standards such as Ecology and Reviews, yet each article is as unique as its author. Since KQ considers “article queries from all Open Design patrons, from subscribers, and from established freelancers in the tabletop RPG field” (Baur, 2009, ¶ 2), it isn't surprising that it thrives with a variety of freelance authors from issue to issue as well as online at Kobold Quarterly's web site ( where fantasy RPG fans can find exclusive content such as Monday Monsters, Friday Funny, and Trapsmith as well as the advice column Ask the Kobold.

Kobold Quarterly does suffer somewhat when it comes to eye-popping visuals, however. The magazine's art and few photos tend towards black & white with color being saved for major features and important advertisements. The magazine's simple, black text stands out on its glossy white pages, however, and is easy to read. The magazine has a throwback feel to the early years of Dragon; however, it is clearly designed for the future of fantasy tabletop roleplaying games.

Kobold Quarterly is still a little dragon, but it has big claws and an even bigger heart.

(Word Count: 400)

Article Pitches

Children of the World
On the World of Rielun, three races are united by their common history and veneration of the deity known as the Heart of the World. 'Children of the World' is a complete overview of these three races — the Teres, the Tigé, and the Trooda — including how they view the world, the other races of Rielun, temporal and steam magic, and the prominent civilizations of the Aether. New player options include a new prestige class for each race and new feats & weapons as well as a section on temporal and steam magic unique to Rielun.

An article for 3.5 roleplaying.

Dream Warriors
Dreams or nightmares. Which would you prefer? The average adventurer must take them as they come. Not the dream warrior. Masters of their own dreams, these warriors of the sleeping mind must battle night terrors and other creatures that stalk the dreams of innocents. They must ever stay vigilant against the monsters of the mind and other things that go bump in the night. 'Dream Warriors' details a unique prestige class available to spellcasters as well as magical items useful in combating the all-to-common night terrors and their enigmatic masters.

An article for 3.5 roleplaying.

Breakdown of Magazine

The front section of Kobold Quarterly is the smallest only including the magazine's contents page, editorial page, short letters section (three pages), and masthead. The section's other pages are dominated by full- or half-page color advertisements.

The magazine's feature well is quite large. It includes the magazines feature articles, which range from three to seven pages in length. These features are filled with a combination of fictional story elements and game mechanics to be used by the players or game master. The story elements usually come first with the mechanics listed at the end of the feature; however, there is some variation from feature to feature. Sidebars are also a common element in each article while art, photos, and other graphics (black and white dominate) are kept to a minimum.

The magazine's back section includes a variety of short articles, which range from one to three pages in length. Many of the articles here would likely be found in the front section of a different type of magazine. It might seem unusual to someone unfamiliar with tabletop RPG magazines, but it is a format that served Dragon well for years and Kobold Quarterly is obviously paying homage to the early years of Dragon. The articles here are less formulaic in their design; however, story elements and game mechanics are still the norm (this is a gaming magazine, after all).
The magazine's editor, Wolfgang Baur (who is referred to as Kobold-in-Chief in the masthead), appears to have a preference for articles that highlight a contributing author's most interesting ideas. Since Kobold Quarterly is a magazine dedicated to tabletop RPGs, it publishes articles that enhance play at the gaming table first and foremost. An article that has something for both players and game masters has the best chance of being accepted by the Kobold-in-Chief and his minions.

Kobold Quarterly is a magazine designed for fantasy first and it's themes reflect the genre. Dungeons and Dragons is a fantasy game, which means the magazine is strongly slanted towards dragons, elves, wizards, and, of course, kobolds. However, Mr. Baur has a strong affinity for clockwork and steampunk content and the magazine's back page is dedicated to Zobeck, a clockwork setting of his own design. It's important to note that he “holds articles dedicated to the subgenre to a very high standard because he loves it” (Baur, 2009, ¶ 12).

(Word Count: 400)

Summary and Reasoning

A look at the audience profile for on shows that the website attracts an educated, middle-aged audience who are single, less affluent, and without children. The audience is split with a slightly higher average for females.

However, what's true for the website isn't necessarily true for the magazine. I can only use my experience as a guide. I have been a roleplayer and fan of game design for over twenty years. I've read (and collected) both Dragon and Dungeon, but did not delve into White Dwarf.

While roleplaying demographics have changed with our changing world, I cannot say for certain that Quantcast's numbers regarding KQ are completely accurate. I suspect a split that is more towards a male audience; however, I cannot be certain without more data.

Since Kobold Quarterly is a roleplaying magazine, I'd already considered submitting queries and had little trouble thinking of ideas. Reading about Wolfgang's interest in steampunk, made me think of my own steampunk campaign. Thus, my pitch regarding three unique races I created for Rielun. The second pitch was a flash of insight that came to me after watching a television show about night terrors and my own experiences.

(Word Count: 200)


Thursday, October 01, 2009


I haven't written anything here in a while. Why? I could tell you the long story but it would take longer than i have right now.

Here's the short explantion...

I Hate Bed Bugs!

We now return you to your previously scheduled Internet.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Water Main Breaks in Downtown Edmonton

It's been really hot the last few days here in Edmonton. It got so bad that I decided to head to the "break room" in the basement of my apartment building. While my apartment doesn't get disgustingly hot most of the time, I decided the cool off as best as I could with my iPod blazing.

I lazed for nearly an hour before one of the locals came in to check to see if the water was turned off. (The room has a sink and two bathrooms.) It turns out that a water main had broken and that 116 Street was flooded from Jasper Avenue to near my building.

Well, I decided to go to check it out since I was bored silly anyway. The flooding was very severe and the situation got tense as several nearby apartment buildings (not mine) were threatened by the rising water. From my vantage point, I couldn't tell if the water was seriously threatening The Druid, a popular downtown Edmonton nightspot.

I took a few photos with my digital camera but I didn't try to get that perfect shot. It was too fucking hot out.

The situation seems to be under control now. The water has drained away as the city quickly moved to fix the problem.

It just goes to prove that if you blink that you could miss an event going on right outside your home.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

I Did It Again

I completely forgot to update this thing. I've got to start trying harder, especially since my one night class is now over. (I got an A.) I won't be taking any more night classes until September. The funding I get is limited to $2000 a year, so I'm stuck in limbo for the summer.

I'm toying with the idea of doing volunteer work, but I'm not sure if I'm ready for that yet. I hope I am.

I'm also considering my options for getting back into the pool. The pool in my building is now permanently closed, so I'm going to have to pick one of the city pools to use. The Kinsmen is the obvious choice but it isn't easy for me to get to.

Plus, I have to consider the noise factor.

I don't do well exposed to tons of people crowded into one area. Thus, the idea of going to a public pool kind of freaks me out. The pool at MacEwan might be a better option; although, it is going to cost me if I go there.

That's what's great about the city pools. They're free if you are on AlbertaWorks assistance. Still, I'm not sure that a city pool is right for me.

Anyway, what else is new you ask?

Well, I'm in the middle of running an online PbP campaign set in my World of Kulan campaign setting. The adventure is based on the DCC module called Aerie of the Crow God. I'm running the game on EN World's messageboards, and it's just begun. PbP campaigning is definitely different than playing in person. It takes longer but it's more flexible.

I haven't done much personal writing over the last few months and my night class (Mac Skills for Writers) wasn't a true writing class, so I didn't get to flex my writing muscles as part of the class. Still, I learned a lot about the latest Mac OS and several Adobe products, so it is all good! Heh.

I miss chatting with my classmates. The class was good for honing my poor interaction skills. The instructor knew how to make the class fun while teaching. Still, some of it was too easy. Mac Skills was a good class filled with good people. Fun and informative.

Hopefully I'll be able to renew acquantances with my peers in September. I saw one of them in a mall downtown but I don't think she saw me or recognized me. Either that or she simply decided to ignore me.

Anyway, I've been hanging out at the Wee Book Inns a lot lately. I usually don't have much money to buy books there or at other book stores but it's a good way to kill some time. Still, maybe I should try hanging out at the downtown city library instead. At least it would be air conditioned. Heh.

Man, I'm going to be 37 soon. July 18 is coming up fast. Another birthday, another year of family, friends, and even a few foes. I take solace in my peers and try to avoid the crazies out there.

Well, that's it for now.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I Hate It When..

I hurt myself just by going through the day.

I went to the Family Foods first thing today, and, while there, I misjudged how heavy the basket was getting. I overloaded it, I guess.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I pulled something in my upper back. At first, I thought I'd really hurt myself (severely!) as I nearly dropped the basket. However, I was able to get home without too much difficulty.

It's still hurting pretty bad, but I'm hopeful that it will be a little better tomorrow. Hopefully the new pain medication my doctor gave me recently will help. (My chronic pain has been tearing me down, lately.)

In other news...
I'm only taking one night class this semester — Mac Skills for Writers. The class isn't very hard but I have been learning some interesting things about Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop. The class will also include learning about InDesign and a few other programs.