As Fall of X is close enough that we're all tottering on the edge, the last of the Before the Fall specials arrive. These have mainly been the machinations of various villains. Paco and me show where the remaining Sinsters are. This is primarily about Dr Stasis and Mother Righteous. That Stasis is our narrator basically means that – in structure - it's an Immortal X-men annual and I believe it'll be included in the next Immortal X-men trade.
My main aim here was to do some heavy character work with Stasis and Mother Righteous. We know they do things. But why do they do things? We've had the long dead Nathaniel Essex's perspective on why he made them – to pursue posthumanity and magic, respectively. We've never really had their own. Especially with Stasis, by the end I hope people will walk away getting why he's a different kind if monster than Sinister. Character work, with elements of genre, I do love this kind of stuff. It's kind of the thing which pays off long term, if you see what I mean, due to what it gives the characters.
It's also got perhaps my favourite title of this whole X run. It's certainly up there with The Bond Age.
Anyway – here's the preview. I'll include the first 3 pages here, as it's totally us getting our historical period stuff on...
...and you can read the rest here, plus covers.
Next week, we're back with Immortal X-men 13, where things go very well for everyone.
Forbidden Planet TV had me on to talk about a bunch of stuff recently. Relevantly, here's a bit about this week's The Sinister Four.
And here I am talking about DIE RPG...
I think there's a third one incoming? Maybe the Journey Into Mystery collection? My brain.
The Sktchd vs James Tynion IV series continues, and this time they're talking about how James uses variant covers. James is very deliberate about his choices, and interesting to watch. When I'm thinking about my own move back into Creator Owned, I'm aware this is stuff that I need to start thinking about again. It's not really my forte, in terms of actually being use commercially rather than artistically. I think historically speaking, the indie books I've worked on have done pretty useful things with the alternates.
Old housemate Dan Griliopoulos writes about how he sees, sight, and subjectivity. “I sometimes play the game of looking people in one of their eyes then the other, and asking which one they feel themselves to be “in”. Some people are plain confused, but others answer promptly that they feel themself to be in one or the other.” This stuff has been on my mind this week, for reasons you'll see in the outro, and Dan's really good.
I loved this Guardian article about a close-work magician who is hired by casinos to spot people cheating. Real set a thief to catch a thief stuff.
Humble Bundle are doing a series on the Ultimate RPG Guide books. I haven't read them all, but James D'Amato's ultimate RPG Gameplay guide is a really strong grounding in a bunch of principles that should improve you as a player, no matter what you're playing, whether you're a player or the GM.
It's been just shy of a month. Surprising no-one, a lot has happened. Just none of that involved a comic coming out, so no newsletter. I'm keeping it tight, as a lot more needs to happen today, and know I'll be doing one next week.
Work's primarily circled X-stuff. I should be finishing a first draft of Immortal X-men 18 tomorrow, having finished a first draft of 17 last week. This puts me comfortably ahead of Lucas. I've done both back to back and not handed them in, as I want to do some prodding and tweaking. It's a big sequence of issues, and I want them to land as well as I can. Things are getting intricate, surprising no-one.
But it is coming together. The larger structure for the future was there, but details and methods are now filling in. Some of them are just obvious things I'd missed until now – of course, that. Other stuff is looking for details we can pick up and appear geniuses. Some is panic. This is how it works.
I've got a draft of a DIE adventure. It's called BIZARRE LOVE TRIANGLES and is basically a DIE Hex Crawl, except about a group of people who are all hung up on previous partners. So, yes, it's an Ex-Crawl. It's the longest DIE adventure (unless you count Rituals itself) but I have managed to keep it under 5000 words. My goal with this was to show you can write an adventure for DIE which feels a little more like a pre-generated adventure you can run out the box. As in, this is how you can do a set adventure – by narrowing persona gen just so you get specific answers, and then writing encounters which can have the specific answers integrate. I think this is useful technology, and hopefully other folks will use it as a model for their own thinking. “What does a DIE Adventure look like?” is one of those open questions with the game, and I'm trying to show some of the answers.
(I'm also thinking I can re-use the technology here to write a geniune, honest-to-god DIE quick start, even more so than Total Party Kill.)
Bar my X stuff, my side project has to be working out the details for the scenario I'm running at GenCon at the start of next month – it should be relatively easy, as I know exactly what I'm doing. The tickets for my games are taken, but RRD would love folks to get tickets for my signings so they know what to expect in terms of number of people.
I also did a stretch goal for Zach's Inevitable, which was a fun bit of Western-Arthuriana horror, with me riffing a bit on Lancelot/Galahad mythology, plus talking to an artist about doing a cover for a new small indie game. I've likely said the title before – HOW DO ALIENS DO “IT”? - and it's coming together nicely. When art is done, I'll likely find time to record a game, and then get it out there.
On a human level, it's been a tough one, and will be for the next few weeks. C has had to have an eye operation, and she's getting used to her new vision at the mo – and then having the other eye done in a week. It's clearly no fun at all. “Eye surgery” isn't exactly anyone's list of kicking back and chilling activities. It also means that she is forbidden from anything which causes any physical strain... which includes picking up Iris. This has been going on for a week, and the prohibition is going to carry on for another three weeks. Iris is quite confused by this, so that's pretty tough for everyone. It also means that all bedtimes, mornings and nights are on me solo for this whole period. Iris' sleep is (er) variable. 2 hour wakings aren't usual, but they're also not rare. As such, I'm trying to keep my energy levels together so I can do this, and also everything my job requires. Basically, I'm on survival mode. It's going okay, but certainly no better than okay, and it does mean that life is nothing but ensuring things are okay.
As such, you can understand that I'm cutting it here. More next time, hopefully. I'm still chewing over the Substack idea from last time – I had 4 bits of feedback, two broadly encouraging, one not liking but okay with it and one strongly negative. Sorry I haven't responded yet. If anyone else wants to chip in, do so.
To close with a song, I've been obsessed with this Cash cover this week.
I had no idea it was by Sting, which has me thinking of the power of the cover, and having a take on someone else's material. Sting's original is really not great. It's not just Cash is Cash and Sting is Sting, but all the arrangement choices burying what the song does in the mush of the studio, and everything. The original is unlistenable. The cover is transcendent.
Which has me thinking of that old “no bad characters” thing WFH superhero comics used to throw around, especially as the flip is true – what is great about the song is 100% there in the Sting original. He just didn't see it, or execute it, or choose to pursue it.
Oh – I'm on blue sky now, as kierongillen, because I am highly imaginative.