RPG systems Michael owns

This is a “top of my head” list, and I may have forgotten a few. Starred titles are systems I personally like.

  • * Bunkers & Badasses (Tiny Tina of Borderlands runs an RPG)
  • * Deadlands (alternate Wild West with Cosmic Horror)
  • * Glitter Hearts (magical girls, also heavy on role-play)
  • * PARANOIA XP Edition
  • * Shadowrun Eds. 1-6
  • * Space: 1889
  • * Star Wars (the 90s D6 version)
  • * Teenagers From Outer Space (wacky anime school comedy)
  • * The Excellents (She-Ra for kids and kids-at-heart)
  • * Thirsty Sword Lesbians (more role-playing, less combat dice)

Weapons Test

More 3D printing! This is a scene from one of my short comedy films in which intergalactic bounty hunter Sammie Eden is helping test some dubious “armor” against even more dubious “weapons”. The Diorama was a present for the actress. The pieces are kit-bashed from all kinds of sources, and often heavily modified by me in the Blender software.

Pirate Pistol Prop Printed Parts

Prop-in-progress: flintlock pistol for Barb’s pirate costume. Work laptop and home laptop provided for scale.

The prop that killed my resin 3D printer! Not really, I had just been using the printer non-stop since I got it as a late Xmas present and I think I just wore it out. Once the bad part was replaced, I finally finished re-printing the middle section with the trigger and flintlock, and today found the moxie to sand down all the square joints so they would fit snugly into their sockets – I don’t want this falling apart!

Now that the epoxy is drying, the next step is of course filling the seams, which won’t be too bad. The seams on each side of the lock are nice and square, but the one at the front of the barrel is a little uneven. Then a primer coat, and off if goes to Barb for her own custom paint job!!

Hiss of the Catgirls

A sneak preview! Pre-production on Star Wars: Episode XIII, due out in summer 2038. So happy to have been involved! May the Fourth Be With You!

These Are The Voyages of the Sharkship Sarko

My friend Steven has been dealing with a LOT lately. Since he loves sharks, ST: Voyager, and Esperanto, I made him a little something on the 3D printer to remind him how much he is loved. (Shark with warp drive and dedication plaque full of in-jokes created in Blender.)

From the Archives

There is a Star Trek fan club called Starfleet. Once upon a time, a chapter in Lynchburg, Virginia spawned multiple daughter chapters in nearby cities such as Roanoke, Blacksburg, Hampton, and Bluefield. We all enjoyed pretending to be futuristic starship crew, and that all our chapters were part of a squadron of ships assigned to the most unusual missions. It didn’t take long at all for us to start writing fiction about these ships, and even un-subtly working in many references to our other sci-fi and fantasy favorites.

Over the course of six or seven years, some of this fiction turned into 100,000 words of interlinked storytelling covering multiple chapters, dozens of characters, and many alternate science-fiction universes. We were pretty shameless. But you know, looking at it two decades later… it’s not bad! We’ve all grown as authors since then, but you can tell we were on our way. I’m pretty proud of our hard work, and I think Tom, Beth, and Jerry should be too.

By an odd coincidence, this month I decided I needed to learn how to make an e-book, for… no special reason. And what better place to practice than with this material that would need clean-up, formatting, and other new skills. And here’s there result: 1993’s “The Multiverse Cycle”, in its complete form for the first time in 22 years. And due to matters of copyright, free to anyone who’d like a look.

multiverse-front The Multiverse Cycle in EPUB format for iOS, Nook, and other readers

The Multiverse Cycle in MOBI format for Kindle and other readers

Check your documentation for details on adding these books to your e-reader library. And – enjoy!

Ordering Pizzas in Fan Film

A few months ago, Maya and I went to a convention at which someone was showing their latest fan film effort. I won’t say which con or which fandom, but it’s well-known. I remember many thoughts going through the filmmaker side of my brain while the other half sat back to be entertained:

“Wow, the production values are stunning. Good job on them getting the talent and funding.”

“How did they get that guy to show up? Are they that well-connected, or did he just think it would be fun to be in a random fan thing?”

“This story’s kinda weird, but that fits the universe in which this is set, so okay.”

But most importantly: “After going to all this trouble, why can’t the lead performer act worth beans?”

Now, I’m no award-winner when it comes to acting. I’ve done community theater, no-budget film, and sketch comedy on stage. Humble stuff, yet I’m proud of it. But one of the things I do know about acting is that in 2015, any computer can read lines. But if you are playing a real, live person, everything you say has emotions, opinions, history, and personality in it. Doesn’t matter if it’s a single line: this is how human beings behave!

Here’s a line: “Well, I’m going to order pizza.” Alone, that line means nothing. But think of all the different ways you might say that in real life! Perhaps you haven’t had pizza in a month, and now you can order your favorite. Perhaps you are bored by pizza, but you know it’s the only thing the rest of the room will agree on so you’ve given up. Perhaps you’re defiant, because the rest of the room is ordering Chinese, but screw them. Perhaps you are a Vulcan, and you must act like the ordering of pizza means nothing to you but inside, pizza reminds you of the mother for whom you could never properly express love. (Now we’re getting into the tricky stuff.)

Too many fan film actors just read lines as if that’s enough. Since the character speaking isn’t real, there is no need to consider who they feel about the line, what they are thinking inside, the context of the situation and the others nearby; it’s just typing on a script page. And it doesn’t matter if your Kickstarter collected a million dollars and you got Benedict Cumberbatch to appear, if you just read the lines, your film is going to suck.

And that, by the way, is why I’m not naming names. Even the cheapest fan film represents a massive outlay of time, resources, and effort on the parts of multiple people. I can’t just sit here and sneer at that hard work. I celebrate it, and I hope they learn and they get better, because that kind of dedication will always beat “Oh, I always wanted to make a fan film, but I somehow never got around to it.” That really sucks.


Whether it be a fan con or a lifestyle event, from this day forward I will do everything in my power to make sure that every convention with which I am involved has an anti-harassment policy in place, well-publicized, and enforced. For decades, I have been under the impression that my subcultures were better than the everyday rank-and-file, and we didn’t do that crap. Over the last few years, I’ve had this mistaken impression corrected.

Today, someone actually said directly to me, “Cons don’t need anti-harassment policies because the women are always lying anyway.” And that does it. I don’t want my life polluted by these kinds of people, much less the lives of my friends. I can’t fix it myself, but I can be one more drop of water in the inevitable erosion of this mountain of idiocy. So yeah, I’ll be checking.

And I can name two events off the top of my head that have beat me to the punch: Intervention in fandom, and Debauchery in lifestyle. Since day one, neither event has been willing to put up with harassment against gender identity, skin color, or any similar method the greyfaces use to try to split us up. These conventions aren’t the only ones willing to stand up for their attendees, and more are joining the tide. Rising Star, Black Rose, and Virginia’s MarsCon either have or will soon have such policies with the eager support of their staffs.

I hope anyone who reads this is with me. Eventually, we’ll reduce these fucktards to the impotent, whining fraction they should be.

Threads of a Dilemma

Yesterday, I saw a trailer for a Fox Network “comedy” in which a lady wore the Japanese schoolgirl outfit known as a fuku, or seifuku, and I was repulsed by the sight. I have friends who own seifuku costumes. Heck, I own one. Why was I so horrified?

I knew I liked looking at ladies in various unlikely outfits at least as early as my introduction to Dungeons and Dragons. If you look at how they dressed female characters back then, “practical for fighting monsters” is the last concept that would cross your mind. I could only assume that the chainmail bikinis had to include some kind of magical deflector shield to be usable armor. Back then, I found the idea silly, but this was just a game, and it didn’t bother me.

Once I discovered anime, the seeds of doubt took root. I still loved some of the even more-implausible outfits, but seeing the characters move and be voiced by humans changed my perspective. I felt somehow more obliged to believe that someone would really wear this, and that was a bit of a stretch. Japan isn’t the most sexism-progressive country, and I wondered how women felt about being depicted in these costumes designed only to draw in the male gaze.

At fan conventions, I began to find out – or at least to become further confused. There were ladies all over the place wearing these costumes – at least the ones which could physically be hung on a human being’s body. I wanted to look, but was it okay to look? Which emotions were acceptable while I looked? What expression should I maintain to not seem creepy? The whole thing confused the hell out of me. If the costumes were not sexist, then why were there no obvious male equivalents? Why did they seem designed solely to encourage sexual thoughts in the viewer? And if they were sexist, how could these women – many of whom I knew to be intelligent, capable, and unwilling to take crap from anyone – be wearing them, and having such fun doing so?

Now I have an answer. There may be other answers but this idea has cleared up a few things. I’ve been into costuming since I was little, but in recent years I’ve chosen to wear rather more flamboyant outfits, for reasons which could be several blog posts on their own. Now some would call these outfits degrading when worn by any gender, but I stumbled upon a secret: if I’m wearing a costume *because I want to*, it’s not degrading at all. Someone else can try to convince me it is, but that’s my decision to make; and if my costume choice makes me feel appealing, confident, and happy, then people’s negative opinions don’t matter much.

And that’s the answer to my dilemma. If anyone wears something that makes them happy to wear, then I’m free to enjoy it. The inverse also holds true: no matter what the garment, if someone’s wearing something they don’t feel good in, something they are forced to wear to cater to another person’s whims, it’s bad. And these can be the exact same outfit, because at the end of the day, it’s just clothing. It has no power besides what we allow.

That’s how a seifuku on Fox turned my stomach. The lady didn’t want to wear the outfit, it was forced on her by someone to make it clear they had no respect at all for her. Hell, the costume was more over-the-top sexualized than you’d ever see at a con – which on its own doesn’t have to be a problem, but here was meant to say, “You are not a person, you are an advertising prop.” Nauseating.

So I’ll go back to looking with a clear conscience; I only hope that the wearer is having ten times as much fun wearing it as I am looking, because that’s how it works for me when I’m dressed up. I still can’t recommend the chainmail bikini for actual monster fighting, though. Dramatic poses only!

February: A Con Odyssey

Just did Farpoint in Baltimore, and MystiCon in Roanoke back to back. Both cons are five hours away from my home. Pro tip: don’t do this.

Farpoint was the second stop for Luna-C, so as usual I spent most of the weekend preparing for the performance in one way or another. Of course, I simultaneously love live performing from the depths of my soul and it triggers my anxieties as only a job interview can, so it’s both relief and regret when the show is done. Regret must win, though, since I’m always eager for the next show. We premiered my “Lonely Villain” skit which I think is quite funny; and I got to play Scotty again, which has been one of my lifelong dreams.

I also premiered the My Little Pony “Twilight Sparkle” costume at Farpoint, and I must say it was a pretty big hit. I’ve known since the fandom took off that I would need an MLP costume before long, so of course I had to do it in my own special fashion.


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