My 2014 Year in Review

I watched both the daughters officially leave home, and wallowed in my subsequent nervous breakdown and sense of having no purpose in life.

I got asked to edit a massive whack of D&D 5th Edition (all three core books plus “The Rise of Tiamat”), and realized I might still have a purpose in life after all.

I finished two novels I’d been working on for a while.

I wrote another novel that should be out fairly soon.

I read a lot of books.

I watched a lot of movies.

I watched some good TV.

I edited a number of novels for some really cool writers.

I read and reviewed a bunch of screenplays from some equally cool writers.

I watched a whole bunch of friends and people I’ve worked with launch and expand some massively cool creative endeavors.

After a long period of fits and starts, I finally dug into full-on development of a new game I can’t talk about yet.

I got my yellow belt in shotokan-ryu.

I wrote a lot of words about imaginary places.

I drew a lot of maps. Like, seriously, a lot of maps.

I spent another 365 days in the company of the most amazing woman in the world.

• • •

All things being equal, 2015 has its work cut out for it if it wants to measure up.


My Tidings For You

My tidings for you: the stag bells,
Winter snows, summer is gone.

Wind high and cold, low the sun,
Short his course, sea running high.

Deep red the bracken, its shape all gone —
The wild goose has raised his wonted cry.

Cold has caught the wings of birds;
Season of ice — these are my tidings.


It’s Good to be the Dungeon Master!

So with today’s random FedEx encounter, I get to officially close off what’s turned out to be probably the single busiest year of the ten-and-a-half years I’ve been freelancing for Wizards of the Coast. The Dungeon Master’s Guide is, of course, the third and last of the core rulebooks, and is the third and last of those books that I helped to edit.

Working on the 5th Edition core books involved pretty much exactly the amount of alpha-nerd awesomeness you’d expect. The team that put this edition together are an amazing group of people, from those I worked mostly closely with (including, on the DMG, James Wyatt, Jeremy Crawford, Chris Perkins, Michele Carter, and Greg Bilsland) to the developers and other editors who flailed away at the book (virtually) alongside me, to the entire R&D team going back to the D&D Next launch. It was, in the most real sense, a dream job, and will remain a singular highlight of the work I’ve done on D&D over the past decade, and of an overall experience of the game that goes back thirty-three years.

And of all the many amazing things that went into this book, and all of the many bits of rules work and story details and minutiae that I got to mess around with, clean up, tighten, double check, and massage as an editor on the Dungeon Master’s Guide, here’s what I’m most proud of right at this moment.

If you’re of that certain age that means you started off as a DM playing AD&D with the original Dungeon Master’s Guide from 1979 (as was I), you remember the random dungeon generation rules and the random dungeon dressing tables from that book. Those tables and the type of on-the-fly design they were built for are back in a big way in the 5e Dungeon Master’s Guide, which wholly embraces the philosophy that running a game can and should involve as much randomness as the way the game plays out at the table.

Now, I had absolutely nothing to do with the new edition embracing that philosophy; I’m just heavily on board with it, and highly appreciative of the R&D team deciding that it was high time that approach became a big part of the game again. But I was the one who got to make a change to the “General Furnishings and Appointments” table that I have literally wanted to make since 1981. Because I got to add to that table that a firkin is a small cask, and how much it holds.

(Yes, I know a firkin actually holds closer to 11 American gallons/9 Imperial gallons. One of the other things you get to do as an editor is round off.)

I did the same for the barrel, the butt, the cask, the hogshead, the keg, the pipe, and the tun. Because that’s how I roll. And so I bask tonight in the warm glow of knowing that an entire new generation of DMs can now play this game without going through the following, which may or may not be an actual conversation that happened:

“44… firkin. That’s, like, a miniature dagger, right?”

“I thought that was a bodkin.”

“No, that’s a leather jacket.”

“I thought a jerkin was a jacket.”

“That’s a type of pickle.”

“No, that’s a gherkin, dumbass.”

“Wait… what were we talking about again?”

And my job here is done.


NaNoWriMo After Mo After Mo After…

So I don’t normally do NaNoWriMo, just because in any given month, I’m usually hacking away at some fictional project or other. However, this time around, a strange confluence of big projects having finished up early combined with a few smaller projects getting pushed forward, and left me with about three-and-a-half weeks of November in which I got to work just on a single new-novel project of my own, which is unusual.

So I decided to track my progress for the month of most-of-November, and as of last Friday, had racked up a total of 91,195 words. I guess that’s all right.