East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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News from the Mana Bros Skunkworks Shed

italia-doppelgangerSo, we were kicking around a few ideas for a roleplaying game or our own, or maybe four.
The real instigator was my friend Alex,that is having a nice success with his Italia Doppelganger RPG, based on the universe of a popular series of horror stories of his.
And I’ve been talking about an Aculeo & Amunet RPG for ages, now. And then there’s the idea of the RPG spin-off of AMARNA1.
And a lot of other stuff – some projects I pitched and fizzed, some things I said “one of these nights I’ll do it” and we’re still here and waiting.
But not anymore!
So, let’s get to work.

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Killer job

The toughest writing job I’ve had in ages is writing a script for a Murder Party.


This is a sort of live roleplaying game: the guests become involved in a murder, and follow the development of the story, and in the end they have to guess the name of the killer, based on the clues and the behavior of the actors laying the suspects.
Quite fun to take place in, but… Continue reading

St Gertrude’s Day: All the Cats Join In

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Cheer Like an Egyptian

This post was shared with my Patrons, but it’s too good a story to keep for a chosen few. Also, this is the genre of anachronism thing that my friend Claire loves to hate, and I hope she passes hereabouts and enjoys the disaster.

Fact is, a friend forwarded me, three days ago, the preview of a book – I will not mention the author nor the title. The reason the pages were forwarded is simple, and three-fold:
. It’s a story set in Egypt, and therefore intersects my interests
. It’s a good example of bad worldbuilding (and I am currently teaching a course on the subject, so I need show-and-tell material)
. “See, you fool? You spend too much time doing research…”

Well, I do not.
I love doing research, and if it does not make my writing better, at least it helps with my Impostor’s Syndrome.


Anyway, the extract is rather amusing, sort of like putting a rabid cat in a box and then sitting over it, and it will certainly make for a great handout for my course.
The names are at best wrong, at worst ridiculous, the action is wooden and stilted, and then the Egyptians shout


Really? Continue reading


Wrote about astronomy





News from Nennius Britannicus and the boys

I am happy to say that I have just signed a contract for the publication of the (first?) story featuring centurion Nennius Britannicus and his Contubernium.


I am currently revising the proofs.
As soon as the story will be out I will post here (and everywhere else) the relevant links.
I am very happy (but I guess you guessed that).



Caveman names

Let’s talk about names.
And not just any name – primitive names.
Names for cavemen – and I don’t mean Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble.
My primitive fantasy story requires a hero, and a heroine, and what else… and if I have a way to play fast and loose with Atlanteans and Lemurians and assorted campers, the name of the hero is too important an element to improvise.


So, for “lost civilization” cultures, I’ll use a few Minoan names, shuffling a few consonants about.
And if Didikase and Kubaba are a silly name for bad guys, Kitanetos might work with a little adjustement.
And the female name Kitane is quite good.
But when it comes to the primitive Homo sapiens, that’s a territory that’s been explored in the past, and it’s hard to be original and effective. Continue reading