Thursday, December 15, 2005

[HMP] First Review for No Other Gods

No Other Gods has received its first review at from Staff Reviewer Anthony Roberson, who gives it 4 stars!

The review came in super fast at one day after release. The only low-point it finds is the Testament background, which apparently is still too dark, so it's just a matter of lightening it a little more. Beyond that, the review gives great marks to the product as a whole, from Scott's writing (and, by omission, Spike's excellent editing) to the layout and design of the book. I hope that this will help us out in the long run to generate sales, because I want to keep producing Testament material.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

[HMP] No Other Gods - An Adventure for Testament released

Highmoon Media Productions, in association with Green Ronin Publishing, is proud to present No Other Gods.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
-Exodus 20:3

The Lord is displeased with Bethbeer. This village in southern Israel has been experiencing a series of strange occurrences, from inordinately high birthrates to mysterious sightings in the wilderness, for three years. Visitors from afar have taken a keen interest in the isolated roadside town, and shadowy figures conspire with powers alien to the Lord. Will you discover the secret of Bethbeer and help redeem the village from its downward spiral into heresy?

No Other Gods is a challenging adventure set in the world of Testament: Roleplaying in the Biblical Era for heroes of 1st- through 3rd-level. Set in the time of the Judges, it can be easily adapted to any era between the Conquest and Exile, as well as scaled for higher-leveled parties.

No Other Gods is the first adventure in the Terra Mythica line, and the first licensed adventure for Green Ronin's Mythic Vistas setting Testament: Roleplaying in the Biblical Era.

Written by: Scott G. Carter
Pages: 28, Fully Bookmarked

No Other Gods is available now from

Our first adventure for Testament is now finally out for sale, and I am so incredibly psyched about it. This adventure has taken a long time to get done for various reasons, mostly dealing with timing and conflict with other projects, and the incredibly bad luck I had with freelance artist over the past year. Three different artists agreed to do illustrations for the adventure, and each of them cancelled/disappeared from the face of the planet over the past 6-7 months, leaving me, in the end, with no interior illustrations for the adventure, something I regret. Unfortunately, the adventure was fast approaching that dreaded state of Vaporware, and I couldn't wait any longer if I wanted to protect my investment.

I am, however, quite happy with the end product. Scott Carter did an excellent job of writing an introductory adventure that highlights the themes and feel of Testament; Spike Y Jones did a superb job as editor, teaching me along the way all that the position entails (hint: a LOT more than proofreding!); Craig Zipse came through with two great maps; and the graphic design by Deborah Balsam, of Dog Soul Publishing, truly tied it all together and gave the project its very own identity. (My layout is ok, I guess, though I already see a lot of things I can improve on for the next one.)

Special thanks go to Robert J. Schwalb at Green Ronin, who as Manager for the Mythic Vistas licensing program, has been of utmost help in getting this product done, not to mention a great supporter of the whole project. Many thanks also to Chris Pramas, and everyone else at Green Ronin, for the opportunity to play in their sandbox and letting us use their tools as well.

I love Testament, which is why I went ahead with this product, even though it is a niche-within-a-niche release. We have other products in the works, as well; be sure to check out the last page of the adventure for a teaser ad of our next big project for Testament, coming in 2006.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


I guess it had been a while since we'd have some @$$hole out himself publicly like this:

Iranian Leader Calls Holocaust a 'Myth' - Yahoo! News

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad escalated his anti-Israeli rhetoric Wednesday, calling the Holocaust a "myth" used by Europeans to create a Jewish
state in the heart of the Islamic world.

Ahmadinejad last week questioned whether the Nazi destruction of 6 million European Jews during World War II occurred and said Israel should be moved to Europe. He also provoked an international outcry in October when he called for Israel to be "wiped off the map."

But Wednesday was the first time he publicly denied the Holocaust. Touring southeast Iran, Ahmadinejad said that if Europeans insist the Holocaust happened, then they are responsible and should pay the price.

"Today, they have created a myth in the name of Holocaust and consider it to be above God, religion and the prophets," Ahmadinejad told thousands of people in the southeastern city of Zahedan.

"If you committed this big crime, then why should the oppressed Palestinian nation pay the price?" Ahmadinejad asked rhetorically.

"This is our proposal: if you committed the crime, then give a part of your own land in Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska to them so that the Jews can establish their country," he said, developing a theme he raised in Saudi Arabia last week

I am speechless. I shouldn't be, really. I should know there are pieces of work like this moron out there, but everytime I see or read one of these I am honestly dumbfounded by the capacity for stupidity some people have.

Sometimes, just sometimes, it is really hard to believe in good.

Monday, December 12, 2005

A Radical Thought

I normally stay away from topics that concern only Christians because it's really not for me to get involved in such issues. That said, I saw this story when I opened Yahoo! this morning and clicked on it.

Pope: Christmas Polluted by Consumerism - Yahoo! News

I have to say I agree 100% with the Pope on this one, and it's something I believed even back when I still celebrated Christmas.

Here's a radical thought for today:
If you are Jewish, Muslim, Agnostic, Atheist, Buddist, Satanist, or just plain undecided, don't celebrate Christmas. This is a Christian holiday which celebrates the birth of the central figure of the faith, the person Christians believe to be the Messiah and the son of God, in short, a religious holiday for those of the Christian faith. THAT MEANS NO CHANNUKAH BUSH, PEOPLE!

If you are Christian, celebrate the Christmas holiday as it applies to your faith, and don't debase it by polluting it with crass consumerism. Remember that this season celebrates a pivotal moment in your religion, and pass that lesson to your family.

If you are Pagan, and celebrate the Yule season, then by all means do. Just don't pollute it with the consumerism of the season. And see if you can make it to Norway, where the pagan symbols of the season are still very strong.

Whatever you do, just remember that Master Card and Lady Visa have nothing to do with the season.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

But Is It Art?

From, the local NBC affiliate:

Residents Furious Over Bound, Blindfolded Santa
Neighbors Call Police Over Creepy Santa

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. -- In one South Florida community, a man's holiday decorations are causing holiday fear for local children instead of creating holiday cheer.

Residents called police and complained to the city that a house near West 50th Street and Fifth Avenue in Miami Beach had a life-sized, blindfolded Santa Claus doll hanging on a tree with its hands tied. (More)

This is great (be sure to see all the pics they have)! I mean, it has a slightly creepy, "Nobody loved me as a child," deep-seated issue kind of vibe going on, but it is certainly funny, which of course most people fail to see. The guy who put it up said it was an "artistic expression." I'll let you decide.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

100 Questions

Found this on GMSkarka's blog, and decided, "Why not!"

h a v e y o u e v e r. . .
01. Tasted blood? Nope.
02. Made out with JUST a friend? No.
03. Been rejected? Yeah.
04. Been in love? Yes
05. Been in lust? Yes
06. Used someone? I want to say No, not consciously anyway.
07. Been used? Yeah.
08. Had a crush on someone of the same sex? Not really, no.
09. Fooled around with someone of the same sex? Does it count if you were very, very young?
10. (There was no question 10.)
11. Done something you regret? Haven't we all?

W h o w a s t h e l a s t p e r s o n t h a t . . .
12. You touched? My wife.
13. You talked to? My wife.
14. You hugged? My wife.
15. You instant messaged? Deborah Balsam of Dog Soul Publishing, who's doing some graphic design for me.
16. You called? My friend Josue in Puerto Rico.
17. You yelled at? My cat.
18. You laughed at? The cat.
19. You had a crush on? My wife, way when we were not a couple and I was going out with someone else. Over the years there have certainly been people who call my attention, but nothing I would call a crush. That has been reserved for my wife for the past decade.

D o Y o u ?
22. Color your hair? Not anymore. Did so for like 2 years back at the start of this decade.
23. (There was no question 23.)
24. Have Piercings? Not anymore, they've closed now.
25. Have a boyfriend/girlfriend/both? No/Yes (Wife, really)/No.
26. Floss daily? No, though my dentist would like me to.
27. (There was no question 27.)
28. Ever get off the damn computer? Yeah, I don't have the staying power I used to.
29. Sprechen sie deutsche? Nein (though I can sing Wolfsheim's Künstliche Welten almost perfectly).
30. Habla español? Sí, perfectamente (Spanish is actually my native language).

G e n e r a l Q u e s t i o n s
40. Considered a life of crime? No.
41. Considered being a hooker? Not seriously.
42. Considered being a pimp? No.
45. Schizophrenic? No.
46. Obsessive? Not really.
47. Obsessive compulsive? No.
48. Panic? Not like me, though I've done it.
49. Anxiety? Only under extreme stress.
50. Depressed? Not for a long time, never truly or deeply.
51. Suicidal? No.
52. Obsessed with Hate? No.
53. Dream of mutilated bodies? Not that I can remember.
54. Dream of doing those things instead of just seeing them? No.

R a n d o m S t u f f . . .
55. If you could be anywhere, where would you be? Back in Paris.
56. What would you be doing? Just enjoying life.
57. (There was no question 57.)
58. What are you listening to? The sound of my wife clicking her mouse.
59. Can you do anything freakish? I can be really dense in the face of something that should be utterly obvious.
60. Chicken or fish? Depends, though I'll go with fish.
61. Do you have a favorite animal? I like owls a lot, though cats would be a more accurate answer.

C u r r e n t l y :
62. Current Clothes: Pajama pants and sleeveless comfy shirt.
63. Current Mood: Tired.
64. Current Taste: None, yearning for something sweet.
65. Current Hair: What my wife refers to as a Roman haircut: short all around and combed to the front.
66. Current Annoyance: The multitude of super tacky, in-your-face, fuck-you-if-you-don't-celebrate-it X-mas decorations taking over the city (and the world, really). I've no problem with nicely done, elegant decorations, though.
67. Current Smell: None in particular.
68. Current thing I ought to be doing: Getting some work done.
69. Current Desktop Picture: This one, though it cycles every 15 minutes.
70. Current Favorite Group: Matisyahu.
71. Current Book: Paris to the Moon, after just having finished A Year in the Merde.
72. Current DVD In Player: Who the hell leaves DVDs in the player?
73. Current Refreshment: None, though I would like a Quik so bad.
74. Current Worry: Creating a worthwile future for me and my family, with Money never being too far behind.

F a v o r i t e s :
76. Food: Could never be just one thing, sorry.
77. Drink: Quik, Orangina.
78. Color: Black, Blue.
79. Shoes/Sandals: Shoes.
80. Candy: Dark chocolate.
81. Animal: Wasn't this asked already?
82. Movie: Too many. Off the top of my head: Braveheart, Amelie, LotR (all 3), The Matchmaker, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, etc.
83. Dance: None.
84. Vegetable: Potatoes.

F u t u r e :
85. What do you want to be when you get older? Fulfilled.
86: Married? Yes.
87: Kids?: None yet, though as many as G-d wants us to have.
88: Living Where? Europe, though it will probably be Miami.

T h i s o r T h a t :
89: Gay or straight?: Straight, though I sometimes confuse people for some reason.
90: Boxers or Briefs: Briefs.
91: Reading or Writing: Both.
92: Basketball or Baseball: None.
93: Walking or Running?: Walking.
94. (There was no question 94.)
95: Left or Right?: Depends if we're talking politics or road directions.
96: TV Shows or Movies?: Movies.
97: Brittany or Christina? Are they still around?
98: Rap or Rock? Rock, though none of the crap coming out now. EMO? What the fuck is EMO!
99: Day or Night? Night.
100. What do people call you? Danny, or (my wife, and only my wife) Monkey (and I am already regretting putting this out there...)


I was going to PayPal payment to my freelance graphic designer, so I decided to make sure my account balance could cover the payment. I went to, checked my account and, lo and behold, my balance is -$500!!! A quick check of the transactions done and pending reveals two charges to a, which a quick Google search reveals to be a Swedish Ticketmaster partner. So it seems some scumbag decided to charge for concerts in Sweden using my credit card. Considering the conversion is about 8 Swedish Kronor for each dollar, this bastard purchased tickets for him/herself and their whole family, friends, and village. Thankfully the folks at Wachovia were able to put a hold on the transactions, restore my original balance, cancel my card and issue me a new one, all in about 20 minutes.

Did I have this card saved on some online store? Yes, two to be precise: PayPal and Guess what I'm not doing from now on.

Monday, December 05, 2005

La Vie Boheme

I went with my wife and sister-in-law to see the RENT movie this past Saturday night. What you need to know upfront is that we are all huge fans of the musical; it is, to use the cliché, one of those things that changed our lives, to each in a particular way. In my case, RENT has always been about the Now, about the power of dreams to shape your life, about not giving in and selling out. The tag line, "No Day But Today," pretty much sums it all up. I've seen the musical only once, and as a traveling show at that, not on Broadway, but the CD has been one of those perennial favorites that we play to death, put aside for a while, and all of a sudden pick up and start playing again.

I've known about RENT for a few years now, which means I have grown with the message of the musical and indeed have it shape who I have become in some ways. At first, in my mid-20's, when I was angst-ridden and non-conformist and still had the luxury of that lofty idealism that rejects anything even remotely smelling of The System, RENT was a war-cry, a banner behind which to rally in our desire to never sell out and go for our dreams, even if we rarely did anything beyond talk about it. As I grew up, and entered my cynical stage in which you cannot see a way out of becoming another cog in The System and you are torn apart by the impending doom that is your future, RENT was a good memory of what I had once believed in, what I had wanted to do with my life, what society had crushed out of me. After I finished university, when I was more or less in control of myself, my actions and my future for the first time in almost a decade, RENT was a reminder of what I once thought possible, and what now could be a reality if only I applied myself. Perhaps now I could truly follow through with Mark's call in the song La Vie Boheme, "being an Us for once, instead of a Them."

The movie was good, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It had some weird issues with timing at the beginning, and I still can't figure out why set it in 1989-90 and not in the mid-90's when it was released (it causes some anachronisms, like referencing Thelma & Louise, which didn't come out till 1992). I agree with my wife that Chris Columbus' directing style was way too soft for this movie, and ended up removing a lot of the grit and grunge that is associated with RENT. These minor complaints aside, the movie did justice to the musical, and having 90% of the original cast was simply amazing (the two new additions, Rosario Dawson and Tracy Thoms, were very good ones and both help their own with the original cast wonderfully), giving the movie a timelessness that will allow it to survive the years to come.

The funny thing is that we live in such a different world than we did in the early- to mid-90's that a lot of the themes of the story seem now symbolic, as opposed to current, as they were back in the day. People don't necessarily die of AIDS as portrayed in the movie anymore, and NYC is a different place than that depicted in the musical/movie. This isn't a bad thing; we still have drug problems in the city, and AIDS is very much still a problem, if not an immediate death sentence as it used to be. You can substitute any current problem for those depicted in the movie, and the themes remain the same, though, which is what signals how good the story truly is (after all, RENT is a remake of Puccini's La Boheme, and that is still a valid work of art).

As for me, seeing the movie brought up those old feelings of rebelliousness back to the forefront. Coupled with my current state of mind after returning from Paris, RENT stirred up something in me, a desire to once again be one of Us instead of a Them. Things aren't as clear-cut as they once were, but then again, neither am I as naive as I was, and the options available to me are far greater now. I do have the tools to follow my own dreams, and in some respects I already have done so (Highmoon Media Productions). Now I just have to achieve that next step, where you find a way to have your dreams sustain you. That next step, for me, is my Travel Store, and that is what I am focusing on from now on.

I don't know that anyone can truly live La Vie Boheme anymore, but it is good to dream about it. Better yet is to make that a reality. It doesn't quite look like the one in the movie, the one in tales--even the artists who went to Paris to live and love and create art worked to do all this--but it can be done, and I intend to find the way to do it.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Rejoining Reality... Ugh!

It is a commom symptom once one returns from a trip, and for me it is greatly felt after European travel: I don't want to rejoin reality. The thing I most enjoy about traveling is that utter disconnection from everything that is your regular life: groceries, TV, cooking, bills, emails, work. As I sit at the office wondering exactly how slow can a minute be, I avoid work by checking my emails and catching up on last week's news for my other work, Highmoon Media. Frankly, I almost feel like ditching everything. Almost. I won't, of course, and I'm sure by Monday I'll be back to normal, but then again there is a certain sadness because by Monday I'll be back to normal. All I want to do now is curl up on my couch and finish my journal from the trip before the memories fade even a little. Maybe on Sunday I'll have a chance to do that and thus enact the transition back into regular life.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Photo From Paris

Just a shot from our trip to Paris (that's me and my wife):

Back From Paris, Back To Reality

We all got back from Paris yesterday at around 4:00 pm after a 9 1/2 hour flight. I am exhausted and drained and in the last place on Earth I'd like to be (work), but I am so glad we took this trip. It was an amazing experience, to see Paris as winter knocks on the door, and it makes the aches well worth it.

I have some 450 photos to go through, so I'll be posting some as I go along preparing the web journal for our trip.

As far as Highmoon Media business is concerned, I am back though it won't be until Monday at least that I am fully caught up, just so you know.

I can't believe that it is already December.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Almost Out Of Here

Just one more day before taking off to Paris for a week, and the last thing I want to do is work.

Nevertheless, I have had a couple of very productive days in the last week. I have finished the layout for the Testament adventure finally, and all I need to do now is fix a few things here and there. What's even cooler, I have contracted Deborah Balsam of Dog Soul Publishing to create a series of covers for my product lines, which means the Testament adventure should have a nice cover to boast.

As an aside, I want to state publically that I think it's a crime that Dog Soul Publishing be relegated to The Edge. I think these folks should be at the main site, and I hope that once the new year starts they will make the switch.

I have received a number of new Mythic Vistas adventure outlines, so I hope to have a good selection of those for next year. And of course, the new quarterly magazine, Targum, in support of Testament, though an official announcement still needs to be made (and no, this isn't it).

As far as NaNoWriMo goes, I have so given up for this year. There was too much other stuff to do, though I did get a good start on the ideas for the story I began. Maybe next year I'll be able to do the whole 50,000 words.

Lastly, Highmoon Media Productions has finally joined the EN World Game Store, though I have only uploaded one product. Once I get back from Paris, I'll put that storefront up to date.

I am so already in France in my mind. Now, all I need to do is finish this work day and finish packing up and get through tomorrow. Come Thursday, I'll be in Paris!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Head In The Clouds

This is where my mind is at today:

I can't wait to leave next week!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Damage From Wilma

Finally got around to posting the pictures I took on the day Wilma hit and afterwards.


Thursday, November 10, 2005

Yoda Dog

This is hilarious! My wife forwarded it to me, and someone forwarded it to her, so we have no idea whose dog this is, but it rocks.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Trudging Along

Today's been one of those days where you do a hundred different things but don't really finish anything completely.

I have not written much lately in my NaNoWriMo project, though last night I did about 770 words and currently have a total word count of just over 6000. Not bad but not great either. I am not giving up on NaNo, though. I'll write as much as I can during the month and see what happens, though with the trip to Paris, the last seven days will be a total loss. At least I'm writing again, which is good. Tonight, however, I have not written anything, nor do I think I will, seeing how I'll be going to bed soon.

I received today four outlines for Mythic Vistas adventures, including one for the sequel of the finished Medieval Player's Manual one by Bret Boyd. I need to finish laying out the Testament adventure and get it out for sale already. I'm hoping to be able to do it before I leave in exactly two weeks, which also means I need to finish the press release for the new project in association with Green Ronin, so I can put an ad for it in the adventure to start drumming up interest. After the Testament adventure is done, I can move to the MPM adventure (as soon as GR sends me the graphics). I guess somewhere along the way I'll find some space and time to write something myself. One hopes.

Today we emailed the hotel in Paris where we hope to stay. The price is a little high, but it is centrally located in the Marais, right next to the Jewish Quarter, which means we'll have kosher eateries by the dozen, as well as synagogues to choose from, not to mention two Metro stations just a street away and one of the landmarks of Paris, the Centre Pompidou, one block behind. I'm now waiting for their confirmation. Now we are trying to arrange our itinerary so we make the most of our 6 days in Paris.

Lastly, and the only thing actually accomplished today, my wife and I (by which I mean really my wife, with me just helping out here and there) made some etrog and orange marmalade. Etrog is a citrus fruit, known sometimes as citron, which looks like a large, bumpy lemon, and which Jews use during the festival of Sukkot. After the holy day is done we normally save the etrogs and either plant the seeds later in the year (during the New Year for Trees), burn it right before Passover, or make candy, as we did. It is now cooling, though we had a small taste and it is very yummy, an interesting combination of sweet and tart.

Now to sleep, cause I gotta work tomorrow.

Monday, November 07, 2005

I Get To Be A Minion

I got this from the nice folks at TableTop Adventures, on the occasion of our companies' mutual first anniversary:

Pretty sweet, no? :-)

Israel Yields Two Archeological Treasures

It seems the land of Israel is starting to be a little more cooperative with us humans bent on figuring out what secrets it holds in its dusty depths.

First, from, Reclaiming Biblical Jerusalem is an article about one of the, arguably, most important archeological discoveries in Jerusalem. Dr. Eilat Mazar has discovered what she thinks can be the outer wall of King David's palace in the Old City of Jerusalem, in the area known as Ir David (The City of David). While, as with any archeological finding, there is no 100% conclusive evidence, the circumstantial evidence, especially that of the finds in the same area in digs over the last few decades, leads Dr. Mazat to speculate with a good amount of confidence that the ruins excavated outline the sumptuous palace of the most famous of all Jewish Kings, David. It now remains to be seen what subsequent digs reveal, and how the obstinate groups that seek to deny any connection between Israel and the Jews react.

Second, from, Site Of Ancient Church Unveiled reports on a surprise discovery in the area of Meggido, believed by Christians to be the place where Armageddon, the final battle between good and evil, will be fought. Prisoners working on what will be the foundations for a new ward of the prison found two elaborate 3rd-century mosaics, one covered with fish--ancient symbol of the Christian faith--and one depicting the story of Roman officer and a woman named Aketous who donated money to build the church. The Vatican is happy about the discovery, as it would mean this is possibly the oldest Christian church in Israel, predating Constantine and the Council of Nicea.
Link: has better pictures of one of the mosaics.

And just think of all that the land of Israel has yet to reveal to us...

Sunday, November 06, 2005

[RPG] 652 Prestige Classes?!

Wizards posted a Prestige Class Index on their site today, covering only official D&D sources.

There are 652 Prestige Classes! Not quite, though, since there are 64 (more or less) classes repeated, so it's more like around 590 official prestige classes. That's a lot of PrCs! Funny thing is, as I look through the list, there's a lot of PrCs that I don't think should bear the name. D&D would be wise to introduce the concept of Advanced Classes, as found in d20 Modern. A PrC should not be something like the Tempest, which basically just turns you into a mobile food processor with two blades, but rather more like the Red Wizard of Thay, Disciple of [Insert Demon Lord Name Here], or Aglarondan Griffonrider, classes tied to prestigious organizations/situations that are demanding but rewarding in both mechanics and roleplaying aspects.

That's what I set out to do when I create/modify a PrC, and that's the reason why a product like Liber Sodalitas: The Blind Path is not just the Unsighted PrC, but rather a whole package of context for the class. I realize a lot of people just use the class by itself, which is why I named that one something rather generic, but it really is very tied to the context I gave it. With Liber Sodalitas: Scions of the Holy Triad I went all out with the concept, to the point where taking the PrC away from the context I gave it actually punishes the class and the character that takes it. It may hurt sales a little (Blind Path sells twice as much as Scions), but as a writer and publisher I need to take a stance. I believe the long-term effects will be much better for me.

Now, what I would really like to see, is that same PrC Index but with as many 3rd-party publisher sources added as possible. Now THAT would be a crapload of classes!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

[Travel] I'M GOING TO PARIS!!!

My wife and I are doing something out fiction, something only done in movies: we are going to Paris, France for a week, leaving the day before Thanksgiving.

Yes, we are dropping everything, saying to hell with everyone, and going to the City of Lights. We just purchased our tickets tonight, and now we are gathering info for hotels.

This is the kind of things we will tell our friends, especially those with kids, and they'll hate us for. But the way I see it, G-d willing we will have kids soon, and we won't be able to--literally-fly to Paris on a whim, so what the heck.

I am going to Paris!!!

Friday, November 04, 2005

[Travel/NaNoWriMo] Travel Dreams And Writing Realities

My travel dreams are soaring today, so here's a very nice slideshow on bella Italia.,9741926&pg=10

Of note:

  • Picture 1 - Check out the beautiful lights they placed above the streets.
  • Picture 3 - The Duomo in Milan has reopened (it was closed during 2004-2005 for rennovations). Check out also about Carless Day. We should do that here in the States as well.
  • Picture 5 - Awesome view of Pompeii, ancient and modern.
  • Picture 8 - Check out that most interesting tidbit about the Mole Antonelliana dome! Seems Torino was a lot more Jew-friendly than I knew.
  • Picture 10 - Imagine waking up to that in the morning.

On the NaNoWriMo front, my total word count stands at 3031 as of this post. I am trying to squeeze in some writing time today, but work keeps stealing my precious time away. As it is, I am a little behind schedule, but not by much.

The same songs keep driving the story forward. It seems that what I really want to write is the story of a relationship, but I am looking to wrap it in a dark modern fantasy blanket. I am also trying to keep the story contained to a relatively small area (Miami), but already there has been a murder in Brooklyn, so there goes that. Don't know if the main characters will travel to NYC, but I do feel like they should travel at some point. We'll see what they tell me.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

[NaNoWriMo] Music

There are two songs that are currently driving the forming story in my mind, though don't ask me why precisely these two, cause I don't know.

One is Damien Rice's "I Remember," though more the part sung by Laura Hannigan (below) than the part sung by Damien Rice (complete lyrics here).
I remember it well the first time that I saw
your head ‘round the door 'cause mine stopped working
I remember it well there was wet in your hair
you were stood in the stair and time stopped moving
I want you here tonight I want you here
'cause i can't believe what I found
I want you here tonight want you here
nothing is taking me down
I remember it well taxied out of a storm
to watch you perform and my ships were sailing
I remember it well I was stood in your line
and your mouth your mouth your mouth your mind
I want you here tonight I want you here
'cause i can't believe what I found
I want you here tonight want you
‘cause nothing is taking me down
‘cept you my love...

The other song is U2's "Bad," and this one is tied to a very traumatic death.

If you twist and turn away.
It you tear yourself in two again.
If I could, yes I would
If I could, I would let it go.
Surrender, dislocate.

If I could throw this lifeless life-line to the wind.
Leave this heart of clay, see you walk, walk away
Into the night, and through the rain
Into the half light and through the flame.

If I could, through myself, set your spirit free
I'd lead your heart away, see you break, break away
Into the light and to the day.

To let it go and so to find away.
To let it go and so find away.
I'm wide awake.
I'm wide awake, wide awake.
I'm not sleeping.

If you should ask, then maybe
They'd tell you what I would say
True colours fly in blue and black
Blue silken sky and burning flag.
Colours crash, collide in blood-shot eyes.

If I could, you know I would
If I could, I would let it go.

This desperation, dislocation
Separation, condemnation
Revelation, in temptation
Isolation, desolation
Let it go and so to find away
To let it go and so to find away
To let it go and so to find away

I'm wide awake, I'm wide awake, wide awake
I'm not sleeping
Oh no, no, no.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

My Nephew's First Halloween

And he looks cute as hell!

Monday, October 31, 2005

NaNoWriMo 2005

I have decided to participate in this year's NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

My wife participated last year and ended up with a complete novel which we hope to eventually self-publish via Highmoon Media Productions. I can't say that I have a very solid idea of what I'll be writing, but I do have a germ of a story born from a daily writing excercise a couple months ago. As a bonus, the story idea ties into a product HMP will be releasing in the near future.

50,000 words in 30 days. Let's see what happens.

Friday, October 28, 2005

After Wilma

Just a quick post. My family and I are all fine after Wilma. I just got power last night, thank G-d, but half of Miami is still in the dark. I'll post later more info as well as some pictures.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Time To Hunker Down!

With Wilma set to make its appereance in Florida starting later tonight, my wife and I have finished all our preparations and are ready to hunker down. The day off tomorrow comes in nice, though only if we don't lose power, in which case it's going to suck. If I lose power, I might post via my cellphone. If, however, we don't lose power, then I may be able to use the day productively and finish the layout for the Testament adventure once and for all.

Wish us luck, cause here we go again!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

About The RPG Business

Cross-posted from Mark Gedak's blog.

FYI, the quote Mark attributes to "One of the people I volunteer with" was said by me.

I think my biggest problem with the new move by EN World, as a fan (as a publisher, it's completely different), is that it has broken down the boundary of what EN World had set itself to be: THE site for d20 news on the internet. This is not the case anymore, and I lament that. I see many people say that nothing has changed, that people are reading too much into things, but I think that this is being naive. Though there has always been a business aspect to EN World, one I fully understand since it needs to keep itself afloat, I could count on this site to inform me with a fair amount of impartiality. Yes I understand that no thing is 100% unbiased, but this was pretty close to it, and that's now gone. Though I will still frequent EN World, I can't help but now take everything with a healthy dose of salt.

One of the weirdest realities I had to face once I began Highmoon Media Productions was that, while this is my hobby, this is also a business now, and that means loosing some of the fun, some of the magic, though to what extent is up to me. As I told a potential partner a couple days ago, fun is very much a part of the equation to me. If I am not having fun with my business, then that's it. Money is not everything, and I live by that statement.

And to answer two specific concerns:

When I revise and develop material with Daniel am I a) working with Daniel or b) working for Daniel?

Though my first instinct is to say both, it's really (a). Even in the project you are developing for HMP, it's really a joint effort (though you are really doing 99.9% of the work). If I were paying you to develop the project for me and that's all, then you would be working for me, but the way we are working, we both have a vested interest in the project, from development until it goes on sale, so "with Daniel" is correct.

I shudder at the thought of my name appearing on a business plan as a resource or asset.

As far as this is concerned, at least with me, that will never be the case.

Friday, October 21, 2005

And I Emerge To Find...

...a crapload of stuff going on! It is really the only drawback to the Holy Days, the mess of having to catch up with the rest of the world.

After the first two days of Sukkot, I emerge to find a really large hurricane (Wilma) already forecast to threaten South Florida, though we don't know yet when or where. I've taken some precautions, and much like the rest of South Florida, I wait.

I also emerge to find two big changes at EN World. First, we have been forbidden from providing links to, even mentioning by name, other e-book retailers, such as or DriveThruRPG. We are allowed to have links to our company websites, even if the website does link to other e-tailers, but in our signatures or press releases, we can only mention the ENWorld Game Store, and that would be the second big change.

EN World has thrown their hat in the e-book retailing arena with their own ENWorld GameStore. Already about a dozen publishers have joined, and so did I, though in a moment of complete business brain fart, I did not read the terms. Their percentage fee is very good, but they have a set-up fee that I am not too keen on, at least not at the moment. While I am 100% convinced of the importance of EN World to my business and to the general d20 market, I don't know that it will transfer to the store. I am happy to sell in yet another retailer (especially since I will be dropping one very soon), but I'm making some steady sales and I would like a little more security. RPGnow was, and is, the foremost name in gaming e-book retailing, DriveThruRPG exposes my products to people who shop form their cadre of exclusive vendors as well as those who don't shop at RPGnow, and e23 exposes my products to the SJGames/GURPS crowd, which is exclusive to their site. What does ENGS bring me as a publisher? Still trying to figure it out.

Right now I would rather use the money from the set-up fee to contract art for a product, though if they can show it's worth it in new customers and/or sales, I'll go ahead and put up my products.

I'm almost afraid of what I'll find once I emerge again Wednesday night after Simchat Torah is over.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Three Great News For Highmoon Media Today

I love days like this. Yom Kippur yesterday was great, and even though I started really feeling the fast late in the day, I was able to truly get into my prayers in a way I haven't really achieved before. Now, I check my mail/industry sources, and there are 3 wonderful pieces of news that make me all tingly. Please forgive if I am somewhat vague on two of them, as I need to wait for legal papers to be finalized (you know how these things do).
  1. Green Ronin has approved my proposal for a new type of support for their Testament: Roleplaying in the Biblical Era Mythic Vistas setting. I already have a signed license to do adventures for Testament and other MV settings, but this new project will go beyond adventures, and will actually include the other Ancient World MV settings in a fashion. An official announcement should be coming soon.
  2. A primarily non-d20 company has approved my proposal for support for one of their roleplaying lines. Yes, it is a medieval fantasy-type RPG, but not a D&D clone. This opportunity for HMP to venture outside of d20 is something I am very keen on, esepcially because it is a very low risk for us. More details after I sign contracts and such.
  3. Mongoose Publishing has just announced they will be doing a new edition of RuneQuest in 2006. What's even more interesting than that, they will be opening the system for 3rd-party development! If there was a competitor to D&D in the Golden Era (aka. the 80's) it was RuneQuest, and the ability to develop for another well-established brand is just too cool. I'll certainly be keeping an eye out for more details about this.

Like I said, great news all around on the business front. Now I just need some more capital. Anyone an investor? ;-)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Happy Birthday To Me!

Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday #31, Happy Birthday to me!!!


D&D Class Test

Now, this was a surprise. I expected Bard or Loremaster at most.

Mystic Theurge
48% Combativeness, 30% Sneakiness, 82% Intellect, 61% Spirituality

Brilliant and spiritual! You are a Mystic Theurge!

Score! You have a prestige class. A prestige class can only be taken after you’ve fulfilled certain requirements. This may mean that you’re an exceptionally talented person, but it probably doesn't.

The Mystic Theurge is a combination of a cleric and a mage. They can cast both arcane and divine spells, and are good at both, making them pretty terrifying on the battlefield. They have more raw spellpower than just about any other class.

You're both intelligent and faithful, but not violent or deceitful. I guess that makes you a pretty good person.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online dating
You scored higher than 33% on Combativeness
free online dating
You scored higher than 34% on Sneakiness
free online dating
You scored higher than 78% on Intellect
free online dating
You scored higher than 82% on Spirituality
Link: The RPG Class Test written by MFlowers on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Monday, October 10, 2005

[HMP] Highmoon Media Productions Turns One Year Old

One year ago, Highmoon Media Productions' first product went live at Today, we are here to celebrate this first milestone and reflect on where we have been and where we are going.

For celebration, we have put all our products on sale at from Monday, Oct. 10 until Friday, Oct. 14. In addition, any purchase of $5.00 or more gets a free copy of our first product, Liber Sodalitas: The Blind Path, as a gift. You can read more about our first year and the future of HMP below.



October 10, 2005--Miami Beach, FL: It has been one year since Highmoon Media Productions appeared on the electronic game publishing market with our first product up for sale at In the past year we have experienced tremendous growth, far beyond what we originally envisioned for this spare-time, why-the-heck-not business. From a one-man operation, we have grown to include a number of excellent freelance writers and artists as part of our regular ensemble, people who have contributed their hard work and vision to shape Highmoon Media Productions.

Our launching product, Liber Sodalitas: The Blind Path, received a very warm and enthusiastic reception since its release, and to this day remains our best-selling original product. Its success encouraged us to expand the series with two successful follow-ups, Erzsak's Drake Riders and Scions of the Holy Triad, both equally well-received by customers and reviewers alike.

Bardic Lore: The Fachan introduced readers to a creature out of Celtic mythology, launching our second product line. With the timed release of Bardic Lore: Ogham for St. Patrick’s Day, Bardic Lore acquired a life of its own, evolving from a general fantasy product line to our specialized Celtic-themed line, and introducing customers to new gaming material from Celtic mythology as well as presenting them a glimpse into the lands of Ierne. The third release in the series, and our first collaboration with another 3rd-party publisher (UKG Publishing), The Villa of Mysteries expanded the boundaries of the implied setting of Ierne to include the Roman lands of Albion by presenting a historically-accurate villa with gorgeous floor plans.

Over the last year we also became the exclusive online distributor for the critically acclaimed, but now defunct, d20 publisher MonkeyGod Enterprises. With our help, MonkeyGod's electronic catalog grew from five products to over a dozen, with many more on their way. This partnership has brought new life to MonkeyGod's excellent adventures for all levels, as well as their comprehensive sourcebooks, including the first environmental book for d20 rules, Frost & Fur: The Explorer's Guide to the Frozen Lands--declared by some as the best sourcebook on cold-weather adventuring--and the massive encyclopedia of weapons and armor, From Stone to Steel, the single most comprehensive tome of martial equipment published.

Our sales have grown steadily over the past year, allowing us to expand into new and exciting projects we hope to unveil in the near future. Though we are a small company, we are and have always been firmly committed to producing quality products, a commitment which has been clearly attested to by the fact that we remained in the main site after the reorganization into two sites. We will continue to work to bring you only the best of what we have to offer.

So where are we headed in our second year? We have a number of projects in the works to take Highmoon Media Productions to the next level:

  • New website - Highmoon Media Productions will be unveiling a brand-new website in the coming months, featuring simplified navigation, integrated forums, development blog and the capacity for expansion into member-only areas and store.

  • New product lines - We have two great new lines coming up: DaVinci Labs, our d20 Modern line for futuristic gaming, and Terra Mythica, featuring adventures and sourcebooks set in the most wondrous world of all: our own. And of course, we cannot forget about the new setting we have been developing for close to a year now, one that combines familiar concepts with elements seldom seen in modern gaming to create an innovative vision of the universe for characters to explore.

  • New partnerships - We have joined forces with Green Ronin Publishing for the development and publication of licensed support material for their Mythic Vistas line of settings. Our first product, an adventure for Testament: Roleplaying in the Biblical Era, should be out within the month.

  • Further support for established lines - New Liber Sodalitas, Bardic Lore and MonkeyGod products are in development, to bring you more exciting releases in your favorite lines.

We would like to thank each and every customer we have had in the past year for helping us reach this milestone. Highmoon Media Productions was started as a dream and it is your support that has made it not only a reality, but a successful one. In a small market with so many good publishers producing great books, we feel humble that you have chosen us time and time again to fulfill your gaming needs. This gives us the courage and impetus to continue on this journey and make even more great products for you.

Our second year promises to be one full of good things, and we couldn't be more excited about all that we have in store, so stick around and join us on this amazing ride.

Daniel M. Perez
Highmoon Media Productions
October 10, 2005

Daniel M. Perez
Highmoon Media Productions

Monday, October 03, 2005

Shanah Tovah!!!

I just want to wish everyone a Shanah Tovah, a Happy New Year!

On this Rosh Hashanah, may we all be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for good and blessings all year long.

Friday, September 30, 2005

[Article] Campus Surprise 2 (or Hashem Acts In Mysterious Ways)

Three days ago I posted about an article I read on called Campus Surprise, about the Anti-Israel/Anti-Semitic situation in many university campuses, including my alma mater, FIU. Lo and behold, G-d has a great sense of humor, and I see the following article in the weekly FIU newspaper, The Beacon:

Jewish students strive for culture on campus
When asked their opinion of Jewish life at FIU, feedback from Jewish students ranged from mixed to negative.
Those views may change soon, thanks to the efforts of various Jewish student outreach organizations such as Chabad, Hillel Second Generation and the Jewish Student Union. They plan to increase outreach efforts to Jewish students, attempting to provide more programs and activities for them.
Read more.

I am incredibly happy about everything I read here. When I was at FIU I hadn't converted yet, but Judaism was a growing part of my life, and I always found that the Jewish presence at the university was very inadequate; the groups were there, but you had to really search to find them, let alone learn about their activities. Now, however, I feel optimistic about the future of the Jewish presence at the university. With Chabad alone we are guaranteed a very visible and very obvious ambassador; I mean, getting kosher food in the cafeteria alone is a huge step, one that the university did not feel like doing before (I remember asking about it once and being told that there was no need since the Jews in FIU were mostly non-observant and those who wanted something kosher could eat from the health food kiosk, which just shows how utterly uninformed the administration was). Alongside Hillel, I think the Jewish student population at FIU will have a renaissance, especially if they take full advantage of the programs, like Shabbat Dinner on Campus or the upcoming High Holy Days services.

I don't know if/when I'll go back to FIU, but just knowing that when it happens I'll be able to have kosher meals, a place to go and meet other Jewish students, perhaps even study some Torah with them, and a Rabbi right on campus makes me happy.

Now all I need is a Rabbi and kosher meals at Gen Con and I'll be set 100%. :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

[HMP Open Call] Writer for Mythic Vistas Adventures


HMP is looking for freelancers to write adventures for one of the following Green Ronin's Mythic Vistas settings:

We are initially looking for short, self-contained introductory adventures that can be expanded into series if sucessful. We want to see adventures that really capture the essence of each setting and make the most of each line's specific options.

We will make sure that all material strictly conforms with the OGL, d20 System License and Green Ronin's specifications of use for the Mythic Vistas material. New game content should be derived from the SRD and OGC of the Mythic Vistas setting being used, with OGC from other sources to be approved on a case-by-case basis.

Payment is on a royalty basis off the net profit of the product sold, after's and Green Ronin's percentages are taken off, for the life of the product (2 years in most cases).

For more information, please email
You can visit our website at and see our Vendor Page for a list of our products.

Daniel M. Perez
Highmoon Media Productions

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

[Article] Campus Surprise

From Campus Surprise

Sadly, at a growing number of university campuses, glib, ignorant and hostile anti-Israel (occasionally sliding into anti-Semitism) sentiment has become the lingua franca of an influential chattering class.

And it's not only in Middle Eastern Studies departments, but campus-wide. I remember dealing with this crap when I was at FIU, long before my conversion, and almost getting into a few scuffles over it. It was when the Intifada began, and the Muslim Student Association held a weeks-long campout near the Student Center showing pictures of dead and/or wounded Palestinians, including the very famous picture of the Israeli soldier "beating" an insurgent, a photo that has been proven (and was already proven at the time they showed it) to be a fabrication, as the supposed insurgent was actually an American Jewish student being defended by an Israeli soldier from a Palestinian mob. It angered me that these people were using the suffering of various legitimate victims to justify the acts of a bunch of terrorist bastards.

It always bothered me that, at the one place where I thought I could find refuge from the world, the world came to intrude so obviously. Then I realized that that was the whole point of college, to put the Real World right in your face and in a concentrated form to have you deal with it, and I became quite vocal in my classes and faculty, more than all the actual Jews I knew in the English department. Thank G-d I never encountered an Anti-Israeli/Anti-Semitic professor (not that there weren't, I just didn't have classes with them) or I don't know how my GPA would have suffered.

I don't know how things are today at FIU, but one hopes that pro-Israel and pro-Jewish groups have become vocal and visible as well. Hiding in the Hillel meeting room won't work anymore.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

[HMP] Hellstone Deep Released Today!

Highmoon Media Productions and MonkeyGod Enterprises present Hellstone Deep.
Buy it from today!


There was a time when darkness reigned. In a war lost to history and myth, the dread God Chairos engaged on a campaign of destruction and conquest. His goal was to topple the existing pantheon of Gods, and to establish a dark new order in which he was supreme…a goal in which he was nearly successful. Only after a long and vicious campaign between Chairos' diabolic forces and the celestial armies of good were his evil plans torn asunder, and the God of Destruction himself forever undone.

But evil never dies. For Chairos' mightiest weapon in his dark campaign - the Chain of Scars - has been discovered. Draz Ghulan, a fiendish general with his mind set on revenge, has rekindled the flames of the ancient conflict with his burning hatred. In his possession lies the Chthonic Heart, the one item capable of reactivating the awesome power of the Chain of Scars. Unless Ghulan is stopped, Chairos' lost campaign of terror and annihilation will begin anew, and the awesome and untold powers of the Chthonic Heart shall be released unto the unsuspecting world.

To stop him, heroes will have to engage in a deadly race against Ghulan's own agents of evil, journeying through the stygian depths of the subterranean city of Il'drazza'kuul and to the horrific demi-plane known as The Sea of Endless Night. Ultimately, their quest will bring them to Hellstone Deep, an impenetrable fortress populated with Ghulan's Hellish minions. But within the Heart lie powers that even Ghulan cannot understand. Powers that, if released, could spell disaster for all. And darkness shall reign again...

Hellstone Deep is a d20 fantasy adventure for 18th- through 20th-level characters.

Written by: Steve Montano
Cover by: Jim Pavelec
Artwork by: Alan Dyson
106 pages, Fully Bookmarked

Buy it from today!


Daniel M. Perez
Highmoon Media Productions

Friday, September 16, 2005

Gotta Give It To Benedictus!

Pope Benedict XVI may not be John Paul II, but he's certainly setting up this papacy to be the most interesting one in some time, and the richest one in terms of plot hooks for gamers. I mean, take a look at this, from

Pssst! Where the devil is the exorcist meeting?
Pope greets convention members, urges them to continue good work
Updated: 11:49 a.m. ET Sept. 14, 2005

VATICAN CITY - Orthodontists have national conventions, as do lawyers and computer salespeople. So why not exorcists?

At the end of his weekly general audience on Wednesday Pope Benedict greeted Italian exorcists who, he disclosed, are currently holding their national convention. The pope encouraged them to “carry on their important work in the service of the Church.”

Problem was that until the pope spoke few people outside the inner circle knew that a convention of Beelzebub-busters was going on, presumably in Rome.

Read more.

I mean, it's just too easy! I have to admit, I like my Catholics old-school, and they don't come more old school than Ratzinger.

Monday, September 12, 2005


I am not a Magic fan by any stretch of the imagination. I used to play back in the day, but (except for three games when I went to Puerto Rico a couple weeks ago) I haven't touched a Magic deck in 5 or 6 years unless it was to search for a Rebecca Guay card for my collection. I state this caveat to make clear I am not a Magic fan, afficionado, or even a casual interested party and that my statements from now on are not those of a crazed card flopper.

RAVNICA looks awesome!!!

The first I read about it stated that Ravnica was set in a world that had been overrun by one huge metropolis (Ravnica); a world where nature had been incorporated into the architectural landscape, pushed underground or erradicated; a world ruled by ten world-spanning guilds that had been locked in a strained peace for the last ten thousand years. The copy sounded like the world was either very interesting or very lame. I followed the link in the story back to Magic's website and I beheld the artwork for one of the basic lands, the Ravnica Forest:

I was hooked. The art for the basic lands alone told me tons about this world, and gave me a dozen ideas in a second, more than any recent RPG product has done. (Top to bottom: Plains, Mountain, Island, Swamp - click on each to see a larger version, it's worth it.)

The artwork is incredibly evocative, and truly captures something I've always wanted to see/do in a game, a fantasy megapolis of truly epic proportions. The more I read about the setting, especially about the ten guilds, the more I've gotten hooked on the setting (heck, I'm even enjoying the articles on the design of the set!). Though I don't see myself buying cases and cases, I might buy a deck or two and then steal all the flavor from the online card database for this and the next two sets in the block. This is a world where I would like to run a game, where I can see myself developing stuff to fit the setting; in short, the first time I wish WotC would do a cross-over and release a D&D setting of their Magic material.

I invite everyone to check out the various articles on Ravnica at (both the Archives and the Ravnica section), if only to see the awesome artwork and the ideas they can spawn.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Sept. 11

It was a Tuesday, and I had class later that day. I was up already at around 8:30 am, and as was normal at that time, I went to the living room, and turned on the TV, going to the kitchen to start breakfast. Something in the newscast, however, was different; there was none of the usual high-impact, sensasionalist music used by Channel 7 News, instead there was a cable newscaster voice, from Fox News or CNN, I can't remember. They were talking about something in New York. I went from the kitchen to the living room and sat on the couch, watching the images that would forvere be burnt in my mind. "A plane has crashed into the World Trade Center."

I'd never gone to NYC at that point, so I had no idea what the size, the scale of the Twin Towers was. When they said a plane, I thought a small jet, at best. Even the replay showing the plane hitting the tower didn't really convey to me the scale of it all. Then they mentioned what kind of plane it was, an American Airlines passenger plane, and the horror dawned on me. It was about 8:50 am at this point, and I went to the room to wake up my girlfriend (now my wife).

"A plane crashed on the World Trade Center," I said to her, three times before she registered it all. I left her getting up and went back to the living room. It was just after 9:00 am at that moment, and I saw, live on TV, the second plane hit the South Tower. At first I thought that it had been an accident, like pretty much the rest of America, but after seeing the second plane aim and go straight for the tower, the world as I knew it, as we all knew it, ended. I heard a gasp to my side, and turned just in time to hold my girlfriend, whose knees had just given.

For the next hour we sat transfixed, unmoving, watching history unfold in front of us: 9:45 am, a third plane crashes into the Pentagon; 10:05 am, the South Tower, the second tower hit, collapses, and with it us into the floor, crying; 10:10 am, a fourth plane crashes into a field in Pennsylvania.

We left the house shortly after this, my wife dropping me at the university for my class. Along the way we heard that the North Tower had also collapsed; we cried in the car, and we were not alone. The atmosphere in my classroom was one of utter confusion; we shared what info each of us had, and when the news came from the university president that classes were dimissed for the day, I took the bus home, and went back to the TV, where I remained for the rest of the day.

I will never forget that day, that horrible, fateful day, September 11, 2001. Four years later, though I just spent the day like it was just another day, this memory still plays in my head, and I feel a knot in my chest when I think about it. Nothing I can say really makes a difference, so I won't even try.

May G-d bless and keep all those who perished on that fateful day. Four years later, I still cry for them.

Monday, September 05, 2005

No True20 Setting Submission

I just got an email from the writer that was working on what was to be our setting submission to Green Ronin's True20 Setting Search. The writer feels really strong that what he has right now is not strong enough for the submission, mainly due to need for more word count to further explore new concepts of this setting. I am okay with his decision as I believe it's better to pass than submit an incomplete setting.

So right now Highmoon Media is without an entry for a possible True20 license, and there's just not enough time for me to write up Bardic Lore as a possible setting, especially because I am not 100% sure how exactly I will end up handling the True20 engine along with the additions I want to make. I also decided long ago to keep Project Shirah as d20 Modern rather than convert it to True20.

I'm not bothered by this, I have to say. The True20 license you'd win through the setting search would only be for support of that setting, and I am more interested in publishing world-neutral supplements for the game engine. I may yet start dual-statting all our original products with True20 mechanics and let word of mouth take care of spreading that knowledge (along with a vague reference to the system). We'll see.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The OGC Wiki Debacle

Two weeks ago, Mike Mearls made a post to his livejournal suggesting the implementation of an OGC Wiki containing "every scrap of open gaming content [he] can find." Since then, he has added only a second quick comment to say he's "reading comments, thinking, planning, and putting together some ideas." In the meantime, a lot of people have been having nothing short of a conniption over the idea of such an OGC Wiki being implemented. Discussion has been going on at EN World and at, though the thread at EN World has been closed due to flare-ups. Some publishers have warned/threatened to severely limit their OGC declarations if such a project were to get off the ground, and one (Ronin Arts) has already done so.

So what do I think about this whole bru-ha-ha? I think it's not worth even half the attention people have been giving it. The project, at least the idea of the project, is a good one; I would LOVE a place where I can go and check out what OGC is out there for X or Y application before I sit down to write and possibly end up wasting my time reinventing the wheel. Almost everyone, especially publishers, I think can agree with this. However, much like with communism, what looks good on paper does not necessarily translate well to reality, and I think this OGC Wiki will prove to be a good idea that never really works well. Oh, a lot of people will try, especially now that Mike Mearls has put his name (it remains to see if he'll put his weight behind it, too, in the form of his own OGC) behind such a project, but I don't think it will work out in the end.

One of the main problems such a project faces is the vagaries of the OGL. Sure, for products that give out 100% of the text as OGC this is no problem, but these aren't the products that are the main target of an OGC Wiki (IMO). It's products like Mearls' own Iron Heroes that are the ones with a big bullseye painted on them because of their convoluted and obfuscated OGC declarations. And you know what, I'd be the first in line to see the result after they are put through the grinder of an OGC Wiki. But for that to happen, the people involved in the project would need to be incredibly cognizant of the labyrinthine ways of these OGC declaration so that OGC can be pulled clean and without any PI attached that would compromise its usability, and (please pardon my skepticism) I don't think even Mike Mearls can do that for his own authored Iron Heroes, let alone for other Malhavoc products, or the rest of "crippled" OGC products in the market.

This OGC Wiki issue will have two end results that I can think of: one, OGC is pulled from products with convoluted OGC declarations, this OGC is still contaminated with PI and steps, including legal ones, are taken to shut down the wiki; or two, project participants give up trying to figure out the arcane formulas that these OGC declarations amount to, and simply start filling up the wiki with OGC from products with easy OGC declarations (can't get much easier than "100% of all text" or "all text in chapters X, Y, Z"), which then forces these publishers to restrict their OGC using the very arcane and convoluted formulas used by the indecipherable products, leading to a market where it becomes a bitch, at best, to get OGC from a product, and an eventual defeat of the whole concept of Open Gaming in the first place. Either one is possible, quite possibly both.

I think, however, that taking any action right now in the possibility that such a project would actually take off the ground is an alarmist knee-jerk reaction. I understand, sympathize and empathize with the desire to protect one's work, but all that's being done is punish people now for a threat that may or may not become true, one that I feel will fail even if it takes off the ground.

Please understand, I LOVE the ideals of the OGL and I am all for giving the most amount of information as OGC (my own products, for example, are pretty much all OGC--both crunch and fluff--except for a few terms here and there that I claim as PI) and I think that most other publishers fall into this camp. In essence we would be punished for our willingness to exalt the ideals of Open Gaming, but we really can't bitch because the possibility of someone doing exactly what the proponents of an OGC Wiki are saying they'll do is quite clearly implied in the OGL; we all knew it, and we all decided to use the OGL anyway. We may not like it (I certainly don't), but tough cookies, we signed off on it. What this means is that it's time for us publishers to be a little bit more selective of what we give out as OGC from now on, without getting into convoluted OGC declarations. Personally, I'll be looking at my future products with a sharper eye towards deciding what I declare as OGC and what not, though I cannot claim that I know exactly what I'll do yet.

The second thing I've learned from this issue is that it is time to start adding more than just crunch to products. This has been my belief from the start, and has shaped what I release and how I release it. There have been many times when I have wondered if I should switch to a more generic model where I just put out a barrage of short collections of crunchy stuff as it comes to mind, but I always end up deciding against it and sticking to my original concept for HMP, publishing rules along with story that ties it to a greater picture. Sure, I've opened up my story as well as my rules, as have many others, but perhaps that needs to change. We'll see.

This is not the first time that an OGC Wiki idea comes up, and even with Mike Mearls behind it, I don't think it will happen. Sure, some people will set sites up (some already have), and get started, but it will fizzle down and die in little time (if I am wrong, you have permission to come here and tell me how wrong I was). People need to take a step back and just see what happens before making any decisions. Perhaps it is, indeed, time to reevaluate the business model and make provisions for the future, but it is not the time for knee-jerk reactions. What OGC's out there is already out there and there's nothing we can do about it except trust people to be nice enough to not mess with our income (though I also think it is time people stop basing their businesses on the goodwill of people; if people are nice to you fine, but if they aren't and are playing legally, then tough - I don't like it any more than the next person, but it is a reality) while we evaluate the general situation and make plans for future products.

So, to summarize...
OGC Wiki - a lot of hot air that won't amount to anything in the long run. Good idea, but will remain that, an idea.
Overgenerous OGC Declarations - open for abuse by the very same license that allows their existence, and will slowly disappear.
Convoluted OGC Declarations - the reason why this new round of the OGC wiki idea has come up, a bane to the industry, would love to see them disappear (I just don't understand what is so difficult about the phrase "you must clearly indicate which portions of the work that you are distributing are Open Game Content" in point 8 of the OGL, unless you are playing around with the letter of the license and not the spirit, in which case I am just as guilty of placing my trust on the goodwill of people).
My actions - none at the moment, except watch closely what develops so I can make an informed decision, most likely will restrict somewhat my OGC in future products so as to protect my IP.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

DaVinci Labs Competition - Winner

I just sent this post to the three contestants in our DaVinci Labs Writing Competition.

Hello, everyone. First of all, my apologies for having waited all week to contact you. I got back from Puerto Rico on Sunday to an apt. without power since Katrina passed by Miami on Thursday. I got back to my house on Wed night and have just finally finished arriving after a hectic two-week period. But enough of my life-story.

In the interest of fairness, what I did with the entries I received was remove all traces of names from the files, print them out, and read them without knowing which was from whom. In judging, I was looking for a combination of good game design, inventiveness when given an illustration to stat-up, imagination for story elements, and the potential to become a co-designer for the whole line based on these elements (not to mention good spelling, grammar, etc.).

All three entries were good, and this is not just lip service. It was hard deciding on a winner, because if I had my way, I would merge all three of you into a new creature that would justly earn me the moniker of "Mad Genius" and be done with it. Seeing as how that was not an option, I had to make a choice:

Congratulations to Joshua Hoade, winner of the DaVinci Labs competition and new co-designer for the whole line.

John and Chris, thanks a million for having taken part in this open call. Though you didn't win, here is something that hopefully will make you feel better: I will be using parts of your entries when editing the final version of the first DaVinci Labs release, because I liked some of your ideas a lot and I think they should see the light of day. You will both get Additional Design credit on the PDF, and get a free copy of the first two DaVinci Labs releases.If you have any questions, please feel free to email me. I hope that you will become members of the HMP-News mailing list, so you can keep informed of future open calls we may have.

Thanks again to all who replied to the DaVinci Labs open call, and expect the first release in this line very soon.

Congratulations to Joshua Hoade, and welcome to Highmoon Media Productions (wow, we now actually have a staff!).

Friday, September 02, 2005

Plans For The Weekend

My wife went to North Carolina (specifically, to Marion, about 1/2 hour from Asheville) to visit her best friend, who just recently moved there. Myself, I had planned to drive up to Orlando to visit my sister and see my baby nephew, Kevin, but with gas prices as they are in both Miami and Orlando ($2.89-$3.10/gallon) and the short supply on top of that, it looks like I'll be spending my Labor Day Weekend home. So I've decided to make the most of it and make a list of things to do in the next three days:
  • Notify the winner of the DaVinci Labs contest, as well as write comments to the runner-ups.
  • Write a blog entry on this whole OGC Wiki debacle that's been floating around.
  • Visit Dragon's Lair Games, my local gaming store, and just geek out for a few hours (quite looking forward to this, actually).
  • Send out to Green Ronin the edited MPM adventure I have, and bug them about sending the graphical elements for Testament and Medieval Player's Manual.
  • Start writing one of two new Bardic Lore releases, probably the one on the Giant's Causeway, along with the rules for Mythic Poetry, a new type of Bardic magic.
  • Try to figure out how to do a "horde" for d20 that's not cheesy and can be used as a type of cohort (if anyone knows OGC rules that partake of the spirit of the "mob" template from DMG II, let me know).
  • Finish updating my blog entries from Puerto Rico and post an index.
  • Sleep

I'm sure I won't do it all, but at least this way I can see the list and have an idea of what I need to do, and what I'm still slacking on.

Gotta go now, Shabbat is about to start.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Last 5 Days of Summer Sale at Digital Book Booth

Just wanted to let you all know, we are now in the last 5 days of the 10% Off Summer Sale at the Digital Book Booth. Sale ends Sept. 5, so pass by today and get any of our Bardic Lore or Liber Sodalitas releases for 10% regular price!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Back Home

Yay, home sweet home. My wife and I are now back at our apartment in Miami Beach after a 6-day "vacation" at my mother-in-law's. Power actually was restored yesterday evening, but it was still so hot here in the apt. that we decided to stay over one more night, and now, finally, we are home. Now, to sleep in our own bed. :-)

Monday, August 29, 2005

Back To The Grind

Well, it's back to "normal" here in Miami. My flight arrived early, and my bag was the third out at baggage claim, so I was out the airport quite fast. Then, to face the aftereffects of the hurricane. My wife had been staying with her mom away from the beach, and she discovered, when she went by our apartment on Miami Beach yesterday afternoon, that the place had been without power since Thursday night. We were told that our power was expected to be restored by Tuesday the earliest, Friday the latest, meaning we are stuck at my mother-in-law's house for now.

There was no major damage, though, and things are pretty much back to normal. There's still a lot of cleaning to do all around the city, but except for 40% of the county being without power, all the major kinks have been ironed out. My prayers go to those in Louisiana who are facing a Cat. 5 Katrina, not the Cat. 1 Miami saw. People need to understand that a hurricane is a hurricane, period.

I still need to finish uploading the entries from PR, as well as some photos I took. I'll probably post a hyperlinked index once I've finished all that. It will be slow, as I'm without power at home, and only have internet access at work, but I'll get to it.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

PR Day 8: Going Back Home (To An Apt. Without Power)

At the airport now. I really didn’t do anything major today, which is perfectly fine by me. I woke up at 9:30 am, had a very leisurely breakfast with my Mom, then went with her to drop my sister at her job in Plaza Las Americas. On the way back we went to pick up some “pan sobao” (a local sweet bread) to take back to Miami, but they had just put it in the oven and it would be another hour before it was ready, so no bread to take back. I went back to the house, and just prepared my stuff so we could go, drop the car and get to the airport with plenty of time so as to avoid a repeat of the overbooking problem I faced coming here. Mom and I just walked around the airport, bought some “dulces tipicos” (local-made all-natural fruit candies) and ate a quick snack. I just left my Mom at the other side of the gate and now I await the boarding call.

It’s been ten years since I first left my Mom on the other side of the gate when I took that one-way flight to Miami, and it really hasn’t gotten any easier. I always have a smile, I always tell her not to cry, I always tell her that it’s only for a short while, but inside it is always hard. Truth is I never know when I will see her again, and that is an uncertainty with which I live every day of my life. It was part and parcel of my choice to leave Puerto Rico and move to the U.S.

Thing is it’s not just my Mom; she’s just the most obvious representation of it all. I find it hard to leave the island behind. It’s the whole package of the land, the people, the culture, the memories. Even with all the changes for what I consider the worse (reggaeton squarely at the top of the list), the place is still my homeland, and there’s a big chunk of me deeply rooted there, one that I just can’t rip out. I know that a big part of this feeling is due to the distance; if I lived here permanently I would probably be just as nonchalant about it all as my friends are, but seeing as I live in Miami, my roots are quite stretched, and that tension, that pull means that I am always consciously aware of who I am, where I came from, and what I left behind in pursuit of a better life.

I don’t regret having gone to Miami, and in all honestly, I don’t know that I could return to live in the island permanently. I’ve changed too much, become too accustomed to a different way of life, that it would be a culture shock, to say the least. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t visit, and that every time I visit, there is actual pain in my heart as I board the plane back, as I must do right now.

It is quite possible that within the next ten years my whole immediately family (meaning my Mom, my sister and nephew) will have moved to Florida, either to Miami or Orlando, and that within the next thirty years my extended family (my grandparents, aunts and uncles) will have either passed away or be quite old, leaving me little, if any, reason to go back to the island. I don’t think, however, that even then I’ll lose my desire and longing to visit, to recharge my Puertorican batteries. It’s in the blood, and there’s little you can do about that.

So I say farewell to Puerto Rico once more, nursing the small wound where my heart tears every time I leave, in a way happy that that wound is still there, for it means my love for my Borinquen is still strong after all these years away. Now, to fly to Miami, back to my soulmate and love of my life, my wife.

PR Day 7: Shabbat

Today I slept in until almost 11:00 am, a luxury I can rarely afford. Being that it was Shabbat and I was homebound, I made the most of it. I had a good breakfast-lunch, and spent the rest of the day just talking with my Mom and playing with my nephew, which I really hadn't had a chance to do. It was good to be home and just relax. After my nephew went to spend the night with his father, my Mom and I just talked for about 4 hours about everything. Funny, since I actually talk to my Mom on the phone quite often, but it's not the same. Today we had a chance to really catch up on everything we had on our minds and talk about the future ahead.

Shabbat ended at around 7:30 pm, and then we had dinner, I took a shower, and we sat down to watch some old home movie my Mom had recently come into from her brother, most of it being movies shot during her trip to Europe in 1970. It's so weird seeing my Mom as a 16-year old in those movies! My late grandmother and late uncle (who died now in July and had had the movies and pictures of the trip to Europe all his life) were also there, and there even was a little surprise in the form of a quick 10-second shot of my Father when he and Mom first got married back in 1972. I'm gonna look into getting that video transfered to DVD.

At around 10:00 pm I took off to my friend's Braulio's store to hang out with my friends for the last time this time around. We basically just took up space at the store, playing Street Fighter and Soul Calibur up until almost 1:00 am. I bid them farewell and till the next one, as I always do. Braulio and Josue are like family to me, and it is just as hard to say goodbye as it would be to a dear cousin. I hope things go well for Braulio's store; we've all wanted to open up a gaming store in our lives, and Braulio actually managed it, so now we all live vicariously through him in that sense, and we all pitch in however we can to see that Gaming Emporium thrives.

I decided to head home, but I took a detour to see where my sister works as a waitress. The placed, called El Meson, is nice, secure and well-frequented, so at least I can breathe easily that she's in a safe place overnight. On a whim I decided then to head over to Old San Juan, at least to see it at night, but when I got there, I found out that have now closed access to what we call "el casco," the historic colonial area that is the heart of Old San Juan to all except residents. If you wish to go up there, you need to park at the foot of the island and walk up, and I wasn't about to do that alone and without a plan, so I turned around and came back via the very long, scenic way of Condado then Isla Verde (if you don't know P.R. then this means nothing to you--suffice to say it was a very long-winded, traffic-heavy trek I could have shortened considerably by taking the expressway).

Now I'm home and getting ready to sleep. In the morning I'll see if I have time to do anything, and if not, I'll just stay here, pack and spend the time with my Mom.

I do have various observations about P.R. from the little trip to San Juan I took, but I'm tired now and I'll write them in later. I'll probably end up doing a revision, along with some pictures I've taken, so I can add all the thoughts I've left unsaid so far.