Published on 7/22/2015 Written by 0 comments

Casting the Dungeons & Dragons TV Show, Season 2

Last year around this time I wrote a post about who I would cast in a D&D TV series. Such an event wouldn't be completely out of the realm of possibility: with the glut of fantasy and sci-fi filling our screens these days, there has never been a better time to get Fireballs and Magic Missiles on our TV screens. Plus, with the recently released 5th Edition going strong, Hasbro/WotC would be foolish not to jump on the chance for some cross promotion.

It can't possibly be as bad as the old official D&D movies. I'm hoping with a decent budget and a cable network that wouldn't shy away from blood and violence, we could have a fun little show on our hands. This could be the next Game of Thrones or Walking Dead, people...

And hey, even if this doesn't work out, there's a sequel to Hawk the Slayer in the works...


Emily Blunt as Tasty Sugarbush

Tasty graduated from Action Girl last season to Heroine this year as her mentor and lover, Sir Brador, is killed off early in the season and she takes up the mantel of leader for the Badass Crew.

Previously a loner who only looked out for herself, she now has to deal with the responsibility of bringing together a disparate group of weird and dangerous characters in order to save the world while also coming to grips with Brador's death and various other treacheries from people she once trusted.

Once again, she must never become the Damsel in Distress. She knows how to take care of herself. It's trying to figure out how to take care of everyone else that creates the drama.

Taye Diggs as Sylverius

Sylverius was a recurring character last season but gets promoted in Brador's absence. A mercenary who the Crew originally saw as a rival, he joins the Rebel's King's cause and tries to convince Tasty and her band to join him. He and Tasty actually have a history together, going back to childhood that will be revealed over the course of the season. She blames him for horrible things that happened to her as a child that may or may not be true.

Jordan Prentice as Hamhock the Dwarf

Hamhock was the artificer and cunning strategist of the group last season, but he has fallen to drink and depression after the death of his best friend Bluto. He just starts to overcome his demons when the man who killed Bluto - Fitzbibbons - joins the crew and sends the dwarf into an even more dangerous spiral of rage and self-destruction. Can he get past his issues to once again become a valuable member of the team? Or will he be causality of his own design before the season is over?

Christopher Lambert as Thromboné the Wizard

Last year it seemed Thromboné was a lock to betray the heroes in the final scene but he stayed true to the group and helped them survive their battle against the Rebel King.

He saved his betrayal for this season. With their goal of eliminating the King of Dyskovenia apparently accomplished, Thromboné mercilessly attacks his former allies at the behest of his King. Brador is killed and Bainthaureth is driven away, as Thromboné aligns himself with the new Big Bag (The Dark Lord). The rest of the group survives and joins up with the deposed Rebel King to extract revenge against Thromboné and the Big Bad.

John Leguizamo as Ezbar, the Rebel King of Dyzkovenia

Ezbar was the Big Bad last season, the vile and bloodthirsty rebel looking to destroy the kingdom. This season... he's still vile and bloodthirsty, but it turns out the True King is even worse than him.

Somehow the Rebel King survived the pitched battle at the end of last season and once again begins using his charismatic ways to rally forces around him. When the Badass Crew are betrayed by the King and Thromboné, they have no choice but to throw in with Ezbar as well in a desperate attempt to save the kingdom as well as their own necks. But can the Reformed Villain be trusted?

Colt Cabana as The Last Fitzbibbons 

In Season One a member of the Fitzbibbons family was killed almost every episode, the joke being that every one of them was played by Colt Cabana (once in drag as the Fitzbibbons sister). In the end, the "Last" Fitzbibbons turned out to be 100% more effective than his siblings, as he killed Bluto, the party barbarian and Hamhock's best friend.

When the party turns and joins the Rebel King's side, Fitzbibbons becomes the group's Token Evil Member, being a bad guy who doesn't know how to get along with the others. He is especially reviled by the dwarf Hamhock, and it will take great sacrifice by the Last Fitzbibbons before he is forgiven for his transgressions.


Vin Diesel as The Dark Lord

Come on. You know he would be down to be in a D&D show. I'm surprised he hasn't pitched this series himself, and I can't believe I missed including him the first time around.

Diesel takes over the King's orders to destroy Dyzkovenia after the Baron of Gutslinger failed in Season One. He starts as the party's patron and boss, but he becomes the Big Bad when it's revealed that The King is actually an evil lunatic trying to destroy the world, and the Rebel King was just the first person to see through his plans and tried to stop him.

Colm Feore as Mystic Martin Mithrandir

When Thromboné betrays the group in an early episode, they need a new wizard to round out their party. Who better to play the wild, insane wood mystic than the proper, straight-laced Colm Feore?

Mystic Martin is a Cloudcuckoolander/Mentor who is bat-shit insane but also an incredibly powerful. He has only moderate control over his magic, but he is dragged along because he is the only one who can combat Thromboné and the Dark Lord at their own game.

Naomi Harris as Dame Lorelai Heartrender

The Heartrender is the only genuinely good person in a party full of killers and cutthroat weirdos. The Dark Lord destroyed her home and family many years ago, so young Lorelai became a knight and a paladin to right the wrongs he caused. She joins Tasty and the Rebel King grudgingly because they are the only ones brave enough to stand against the King and his evil minions.

She is the Heart and moral compass of the team, trying to steer their wickedness to do good.

Kenny Omega as Lord Charming

Hey look, another wrestler. It's my show and I can do what I want!

Charming is The Dark Lord's right hand man and Dragon, a rakish, well-to-do noble that loves to feast and womanize but seems out of place in the dark army threatening to overtake the land. The truth, however is that he is a cleric of a dark god of ritualistic slaughter and a dangerous warrior in his own right. It becomes apparent late in the season that he may himself be plotting against the Dark Lord in order to strengthen his own position when the demons inevitably take over the world.


Jonathan Banks as Sir Brador

Brador was the original Leader of the Badass Crew, but since Better Call Saul is doing well he's walking out on us. He will be taken out in an early episode by Thromboné's treachery after finally consummating his weird relationship with Tasty. His death comes as a shock that nearly destroys the group and they spend the rest of the season trying to get back on the same page. 

We'll leave the door open for him to get raised when he's done with his Breaking Bad spin-offs. :-/

Noomi Rapace as Bainthaureth the Elf

Bainthaureth was an important member of the Badass Crew last season, the deadly elf warrior/mage who looked down on everyone as her inferior but had the skills to back it up. When the group sides with the Rebel King she forsakes her former allies as she blames him for murdering her family. She appears only occasionally through the rest of the season, though the door is still open for her to return in Season 3.

Bruce Campbell as the Warlord Autolycus

Autolycus was a mercenary warlord whose army was destroyed during the final battle of Season 1. Now a homeless, penniless crippled beggar, he wanders the countryside cursing those he blames for his failures and trying, pathetically and comedically, to raise another army.

Jewel Staite as Mistress Brumhilde

Owner of The Violent Mime tavern and almost every brothel and gambling house in the land, Mistress Brumhilde shows up regularly as a source of information for the main characters. She tries not to become too strongly aligned with any side during the conflict, but eventually she draws the attention of the Dark Lord who destroys her business and nearly kills her, leaving her broken and alone.

Mark Hamill as The Bard

A wandering minstrel and performer, The Bard appears a couple of times through the season as a bumbling and harmless musician, though oddly wherever he goes murder and monsters follow. He is actually cursed with powerful magic that forever haunts him and brings ruin and destruction to those around him, which causes numerous headaches and challenges for the Crew whenever they cross his path.

Jessica Walter as the voice of Trogdorlina the Dragon

Last season, the party defeated Trogdorlina's mate, but now she's back for revenge. Bigger, stronger and more pissed off that Trogdor, you can't have Dungeons & Dragons without a dragon, can you?
Chevy Chase as The King

The King of Everything He Sees is finally revealed in the second season after being only mentioned in name last year. He turns out to be a childish and senile old bastard who made pacts with dark forces in exchange for power and long life. Those powers are now coming to collect and endanger the entire world, but the King is too mad and self-centered to notice or care. He leaves only pain and suffering in his wake and his selfish and evil advisers (including the Dark Lord) are all to happy to humour him in exchange for their own power.

So that's my dramatis personae for Season 2. (Don't forget, Season 1 is right here) Who would you cast in a D&D TV show?

You can also catch C.D. Gallant-King on his other blog, Stories I Found in the Closet and on Twitter. Oh, and hey, he wrote a book, too! Ten Thousand Days by C.D. Gallant-King, now available from Amazon.com.
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Published on 5/15/2015 Written by 8 comments

How Role-Playing Games Make You a Better Writer

It's probably not the reason you're thinking.

Full disclosure: My debut novel is now available as an eBook on Amazon. The following is a description of a gaming trick that worked for me, that helped me to develop better stories. You may not find the same thing to be true, and you may completely disagree with me and think I'm full of shit. That's okay. I respect your right to be wrong.

When most young writers start playing role-playing games, especially Game-Mastering, they fall into a very common trap (I know I did) - they write their story and expect the other players/PCs to follow through it. The would-be writer doesn't want the players to be active members of the narrative - they want the party to stumble through his detailed adventure/novel, hitting HIS beats and telling the stories the way HE wants them told.

How do you know your GM is one of those who just runs you through the script of his novels? The following are pretty obvious tells:

"You can't do that!"

"You're not supposed to do it that way!"

"That's not what I had planned!"

I know I've probably said all of those things at one point or another (though hopefully not recently). They are not really the sign of someone who didn't prepare enough so much as somehow who prepared too much - and really wants to make certain he gets all his shit in.

So yeah, you can write a novel, plop your players into it and slog through it, but that doesn't make you a better writer, and makes you a downright shitty GM. So what the hell am I talking about?

For reference, this is too many notes for your novel OR your D&D adventure.
The best part of any role-playing game is the unexpected part(s). The players will come up with stuff you didn't plan for, and you often have to improvise to keep the story going. One of the players kills the big villain in cold blood half-way through the adventure. One of the player characters kills another player character out of the blue but actually makes perfect sense in retrospect. One of the players randomly declares he's another character's brother, even though (unbeknownst to the player), the character is a Cylon. Someone says something really stupid. These create wrinkles that make the game memorable. These are the moments you talk about for years to come, especially if you work them into the mythos of the campaign and they become canon.

You know what are also the best parts of many works of fiction? The unexpected parts. So many books, especially genre fiction, are pretty paint-by-numbers, and you can see every twist and turn of the plot coming a mile away. When something surprises you, hits you right in the feels, it makes that memorable mark on you the same way a surprise moment in a game does.

Bit of advice: Don't surprise a wookiee during a game of Monopoly.
Take for instance A Game of Thrones (I hear it's pretty popular these days). At the end of the book *SPOILER* a major character dies rather suddenly and unexpectedly (though upon further re-reads he totally deserves it). It was a defining moment in the series that sets it apart from other fantasy series: anything can and will happen in these books.

You know how that scene played out in Martin's D&D game the night before he wrote it?

Player One (playing Ned): Okay, so we've got a plan? I'm going to go to the Wall, raise an army, then come back to protect King's Landing.

Player Two (playing Cersei): Perfect! I'll hold down the fort and stir up distrust against the Targaryans. We want the people on our side when the bitch with the dragons comes back. 

Player Three (playing Joffrey): OFF WITH HIS HEAD!


Player Three: I'm the king now. I can do whatever the hell I want!

Player One: But you... but we... 

Martin (as Game Master): *rolls* He makes his command check. The headsman nods and attacks Ned with Ice, which is +4 to hit and automatically decapitates on a 19 or better... *rolls* NATURAL TWENTY!

Player One: FUCK! I was level 12, you fucking bastard!

You know that's exactly how it went down.

Pictured: Your little brother's character in like, every game. Ever.
Those are the kinds of moments you want to embrace. Those are the feelings of shock, awe and wonder you want in your writing. You don't necessarily have to kill off characters to get it (though that is the quick and easy way). But don't be afraid to add weird, interesting things for the sake of throwing in weird and interesting things.

Some people plot their novels to death, outlining every scene, every line in advance so they know exactly what will happen. This certainly has a place, but you also need to have room to explore and be creative and let unexpected things happen.

There are lots of weird things in my book, Ten Thousand Days. It starts off (after the prologue, anyway) as a very normal, real-world story. There's a few brief flutters of oddness but it stays fairly grounded until the weirdness grows more and more frequent. At the half-way mark reality goes out the window and we enter completely into a surreal fantasy world. Some of the oddness in the first part foreshadows this, some of is doesn't. There are a lot of odd goings-on in the second half that I throw out there but never really explain, and that was very much on purpose. The main character doesn't understand what's going on around him, and neither should the reader. They should experience the same unnerving sense of wrongness as our hero. When he does find something that makes sense that he can latch onto, it becomes important to him and he needs this thread of reality to keep him going, so I explain it more for the reader as well.

Basically he has his quest/adventure laid out, but there are lots of bits of set dressing thrown on top. This is the same as the fluff the GM adds to his game, or the stupid shit the players make up to entertain themselves. It doesn't always make sense right away, but it becomes part of your world and if you embrace it, it creates the best memories.

How do role-playing games affect your writing? Or your enjoyment in reading, for that matter? Do you read books and watch movies and automatically view them through the filter of an RPG?

My debut novel, Ten Thousand Days, is now available as an eBook on Amazon sites worldwide as well as Kobobooks.
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Published on 3/29/2015 Written by 7 comments

Steal this New Map

After watching these videos , I started playing around and drawing up some topographical maps in photoshop. They aren't my typical style, but I think my first effort turned out pretty decent.

So, here you go. Key up this map and use it for your game. The only thing I ask is that if you post it on your blog/Twitter/Google+/Facebook that you link back to here, or my Twitter, my Google+, or my Facebook page. Have fun.


The picture is quite large, so don't forget to zoom in to see the details.
Several people have inquired whether they could my maps in their commercial (for profit) projects. The answer is: No, you cannot use these maps for any commercial project. Read the creative commons copyright below.

But, if you are a DIY RPG person, with little to no money, and really want to use one of the maps for something that you're working on, that might earn you a bit of money, let me know. We can talk, and if I like your thing, I will most likely let you use my maps for free.

  Creative Commons License This work by John Williams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada License
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Published on 1/30/2015 Written by 2 comments

Time Keeps On Slippin' Slippin' Slippin'...

Anyone who is a regular reader of this blog (there are at least 2 or 3 of you, right??) will notice a distinct lack of posts over the last 3 months or so.  If I were getting paid for this, I'm sure I would have been fired by now.  Between the holidays, work, and some other hobbies, I haven't had time to write.  In fact I haven't even had time to play any games.  So this brings up the point of this post: How do you find time to play?

A couple of posts ago I talked about my new PBEM game.  It fell apart soon after that post.  I take a
huge part of the blame for it, as I  tried to build intrigue and world events before I built any reason for the players to care for their characters.  I also didn't introduce the combat mechanics soon enough, so I think the players weren't sure how to react to events as they didn't know how easily they could die.  Beyond these issues though, was also just a lack of time on everyone's part.  At first everyone posted a response once a day, or occasionally within 48 hours.  By the time I gave up, I was getting one or two responses a week.  I may try again with a simplified introduction in a little while.
In my board-game group things have fallen apart as well.  Other than the wedding I posted about here, there has only been 1 or 2 get togethers of that group, and I missed them due to work.  Actually, thinking about it, work has been the reason I've missed a lot of social engagements lately.  I'm at work right now, typing up this post... (don't tell da boss!).

Even my online RPG dates have fallen by the wayside.  To paraphrase quote another of our players / GM's:

How it feels trying to organize
a game night.
"I want to play a game but honestly I don't even have the time to organize it. If someone else can herd people to a time and place, then I will do my best to be there. ... If we don't have a regular schedule, someone needs to be the cheerleader to organize the game. ... I don't know if I have the drive to overcome the inertia to say 'so when are we playing?' every two or three weeks. Please, someone else take over that responsibility."

As much as we all want to play, none of us has stepped up to organize it yet, and I think it's because we're all just as busy. 

So here's the question of the day: How do YOU make time for gaming?  Do you have a regularly scheduled session? Is there a single person who is the driving force?  Do you cut something else out of your life to fit it in?

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Published on 1/09/2015 Written by 2 comments

Touching Can Also Be Funny.

Hmmm, that title doesn't quite sound right.  Oh well.
     Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of Alex and Emily, two of the people in my current table top gaming group.  They play with us a lot less often than I'd like, but that's only because they currently live in the UK and can only play when they come back to Canada for a visit. Ironically, the first visit back from England that we played at, they introduced us to Great Fire of London:1666.  At the wedding, another from our group, the brilliant Kathryn K gave one of the most impressive wedding speeches I've ever heard.  Here it is in all of its unabashed glory:

Kathryn and the Astronaut
"Friends and family, 3 years ago I met Alex and Emily working at St. Michael's College School and it was the greatest things about working there.... that and meeting Chris Hadfield, that was pretty great- Alex and Emily are a very close second to Chris Hadfield.
            They've asked me to say something today and I'm honoured to do so but I think is a real roll of the dice, they're playing with fire asking me to do this, but Alex and Emily have always enjoyed playing games and make a great team.
      Im so pleased youve decided to play The Game of Life together, I know it will only be one of many games you will play. Alex you have a Monopoly over Emilys heart, as Emily, you rule Dominion over his. Marriage is a Risk: Keeping your partner happy can be a delicate Operation, but it is also a Candy Land of opportunity. Don't let any of the Ghost Stories people tell about marriage scare you,  although marriage does take work. You must learn to say youre Sorry when you get into Trouble, let nothing become Taboo and love each others little Qwirkles. Stepping through the Portal into married life, it brings with it a kind of Evolution. From this point onward you will share everything. What is mine will be yours, and what is yours will be Mine. Craft your relationship so that none may shake it, and when you have no Clue what to do, Diplomacy will be the answer. Let commitment, compassion and a sense of adventure be your Ticket to Ride wherever life may take you.
Photo by Jennifer Xu Photography
            You will not be alone in this- We are all here for you.   To all those here today. This is a moment of Magic. The Gathering of this group of family and friends has the power to do wonderful things. This is a Smash Up of so many different ideals and experiences that together we have everything it takes to support Alex and Emily on their Journey. We must offer no Resistance, but instead give our unwavering support for their goals, and Guess Who is going to be there on the darker days when a Gloom falls. And if they should decide to add their own little Munchkin to the world, it will be welcome into the hearts of everyone present here today. Wherever you two find yourself in this Small WorldPuerto Rico, Waterdeep or in grand Citadels, you will always have friends near.
            Alex and Emily have custom made each other's rings, may they be a Talisman of their love for each other. May each one of us Scrabble to be the first by their side in times of need and celebration. And may I be only one of many to tell you both how happy am I for you, how much I love you both and what a wonderful team you make... Settlers of Catan."
Alex & Emily. Photo by Jennifer Xu Photography

As you can guess, we were all in stitches by the end of this.  So this post is dedicated to Alex and Emily, and brought to you by the letter K.
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