New Adventures (and East Coast Convention Appearance!)
May 4th, 2016

New Adventures (and East Coast Convention Appearance!)

Here’s the latest stuff I’ve been up to:

NEW DUNGEONS & DRAGONS WALKTHROUGH MAP!: My latest D&D walkthrough map is available exclusively at Dragon+, the D&D online magazine! You can get a small peek at it above (without text), but for the whole story you’ll have to go to the Dragon+ website or download the Dragon+ iOS or Android app. This map covers “Curse of Strahd”, the newly released 5th edition D&D makeover/expansion of the classic D&D module “Ravenloft”! In fact, the “Curse of Strahd” map is a prequel to my Ravenloft Walkthrough Map. So if it inspires you, enter the sunless land of Barovia and follow the path of the foolhardy adventurers from their first step into wolf-haunted forests to their final battle with the Vampire Strahd…

MANGAKA IS COMING OUT!: Our boardgame, Mangaka: The Fast & Furious Game of Drawing Comics, has a distributor and a release date!! Mangaka will be distributed into game & hobby stores by Global Games Distribution, and will be available in August 2016. Furthermore, Mangaka will be co-published with Japanime Games, whose focus on import Japanese and anime-themed games makes them the best partner we could have ever hoped for.

I’m really excited that Mangaka is finally coming out!! (I imagine that the Kickstarter backers are also glad it won’t be much longer.) This game which started as a whimsical side project in 2011 has evolved into something I truly love, a game into which me and my spouse put hundreds of hours of work and playtesting. That work and playtesting paid off, transforming a veritable Ugly Ducking of a game into… well… saying “a swan” seems vain, so I’ll just say a sleek, badass crocodile. We’ll be selling Mangaka at as well, but game store sales are wonderful and help get the word out, so if you have a favorite local game store, please buy Mangaka through them and tell them to order it from GGD! All the information on the August 2016 release is available here.

OTAKU USA ANIME FAN FEST: I’ve been doing manga reviews and editing the manga section for Otaku USA magazine since the magazine debuted in 2007. Now, Newark, NJ is seeing the very first Otaku USA Anime Fan Fest, an anime/manga/J-stuff convention coordinated with myself and the other editors of the magazine! The convention runs from May 6-8 in the Garden State Exhibit Center. I’m a guest and will be running several panels, including:

* Saturday, May 7, 2-3 PM: A MILLION WAYS TO DRAW IN THE WEST: Are you an aspiring artist, graphic novelist or mangaka? Jason Thompson (Manga: The Complete Guide, Mangaka: The Fast & Furious Game of Drawing Comics), Tommy Yune (Speed Racer, Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles), and Secret Special Guest discuss the business of drawing and making comics. How can you improve your art and comic storytelling? Is there anything you can learn from “How to Draw Manga” books? How can you find a publisher, or use Patreon and Kickstarter to turn a hobby into a profession? What can American artists learn from the Japanese manga industry? All this, plus embarrassing manga industry stories!

* Sunday, May 8, 11 AM-12PM: MANGAKA: THE FAST & FURIOUS GAMESHOW OF DRAWING COMICS! Compete to make 5-minute comics based on crazy Themes & fleeting Trends in this live version of “Mangaka: The Fast & Furious Game of Drawing Comics”! Join the battle or watch from the audience as the competitors challenge their creativity to make the weirdest stories ever, based on manga Themes like Science Fiction, Shojo Manga, Zombies or Body Pillows! Featuring fabulous prizes, no drawing skills required.

* Sunday, May 8, 1PM-2PM: THE BEST & WORST MANGA OF 2016: What’s the best, weirdest and most underappreciated manga of the year? Join us for an hour of 100% manga with manga reviewers Jason Thompson (Otaku USA Manga Editor and author of Manga: The Complete Guide), Daryl Surat (Otaku USA contributor and Anime World Order Podcast cohost), and AM Cosmos (awesome manga/anime blogger). Discover the year’s best new and upcoming manga (both in Japanese and in English translation) and stare in morbid curiosity at the nominations for worst manga…if you dare. Talk manga with us, find out what’s new, and take sides in the inevitable argument between AM, Jason & Daryl!

That’s the news for now! Please stop by and say hi at Anime Fan Fest! If you don’t see me on the floor or on Twitter, check out the gaming area and maybe we’ll play a game of something!

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My Homemade Dungeons & Dragons Class: The Priest

As you probably know, I love Dungeons & Dragons, and my favorite settings are historical (or, frankly, pseudo-historical) ones. Inspired by Scott Bennie’s amazing “Testament: Roleplaying in the Biblical Era” and by my current Ancient Mesopotamia D&D campaign, I hereby present a homebrew D&D class I’ve been working on for several months: the Priest, keeper of secrets, shepherd of the community, worshipper of idols!

The Priest is a totally unofficial, fan-created, no-relation-to-the-good-folks-at-Wizards-of-the-Coast D&D class which I’ve statted out up to 20th level, with several variant builds (chiefly the Idol Aspects through which the priest worships their god: Praisehungry, Resplendent, Mortifying, Ecstatic and Bloodthirsty). As I explain briefly in the PDF, the Priest is an attempt to transform the D&D Cleric class back into something like the archetype of the ‘mysterious high priest’ as seen in an earlier type of fantasy fiction. The Cleric is basically a crusader/undead-buster class at heart, a holy warrior, but there’s plenty of precedent in fantasy for a different type of holy character… one who’s mysterious, a master of illusion and enchantment as well as of healing, more like a wizard than a cleric. This, plus much inspiration and flavor from real-world iconodulic religions, equals the Priest!

This is something I’ve been working on for awhile, and it probably still needs more tinkering and playtesting (many thanks to Shanti, the awesomest playtester ever!). But it’s the kind of thing where you’ve got to just throw it out there and see if it sinks or swims and what people think. The Priest’s special spell focus — the idol — makes an interesting roleplaying challenge, and some campaigns might prefer to have priests as NPCs (antagonists perhaps?) rather than player characters. Do whatever you like with it, but let me know what you think! This has been a fun vanity project inspired by my love of D&D, and if you get some enjoyment out of it, and best of all can use it in your own game, I’ll be super happy. You can download it by clicking the image or clicking here.

If you like it, please also check out my Mangaka: The Fast & Furious Game of Drawing Comics Kickstarter!