I Get The Weirdest Search Terms Sometimes

I should probably be figuring out how to flesh Guinevere out for another Merlin post, but I’m kind of tired and I’ve been wanting to do a post on this subject for a while: I have some of the weirdest search results sometimes. I expect this is common amongst anyone whose blog manages to achieve even the tiny amount of success I’ve managed, but the fact that it’s normal makes it weirder.

For example:

are there any official books about trielta hills

How did this person find my blog? It’s not a completely weird question to ask. The Trielta Hills are a location in Faerun, their thing is that they’re uniquely devoid of any lost wizard towers, ancient burial mounds, or lost kingdoms, which is supposed to be a “ha ha, we’ve got so many adventure locations that normalcy is weird!” but if you can’t find any location within 100 miles of where you’re sitting right now that wouldn’t make a great D&D adventure site then you live in a uniquely desolate area. It is indeed super weird that the Trielta Hills apparently have no notable history whatsoever.

Griping about dumb worldbuilding aside, though, how many pages of Google results did this guy scroll through to reach my blog? Must’ve been on like page twelve or something. Did I even mention the Trielta Hills in my Sphere of Influence posts?

“princess peach” “different plot”

When I wrote my weird Mario ramblings in 2017, I thought it was barely reaching the level of “better than nothing,” but apparently it’s actually bringing some amount of traffic in? I hope this guy found what he was looking for. My interpretation of the Mario canon is definitely a different plot.

5e op necromancer

Was this guy looking for an explanation of why Necromancers are OP? Or was he just looking for how to build an OP necromancer? The latter one isn’t exactly hard. You just prepare Animate Dead into every slot you can and call it a day. Sure, we can quibble a little bit over how often you should prepare Animate Objects instead, but really, do we care exactly how much we’re breaking the game after we’ve already broken it?

what awaken on line affinity are you

Dark. You are dark affinity, because everyone is dark affinity. Jason got there by killing two NPCs for power, and I guarantee you’ve done that at least once.

ffx11 love chaos

This guy was probably trying to type in FFXII and just failed super hard at it, but I like to imagine that this is actually a secret code used to communicate to Google that he is ready to join their chaos cult.


Apparently at least one person has reached this blog by Googling its exact url.

vampirer blog white wolf

It’s not weird that someone searching for a blog about White Wolf wound up running into my Beast: the Primordial article. It’s also not weird that they made a minor spelling error. It is kind of weird that I got three different views from the exact same misspelling.


This is the single most popular known search result leading people to this blog (which still makes it a minute amount of total traffic – almost all search results are unknown). The exact url of one of my articles. It’s a good article and all, but why do people enter this one into a search engine instead of the address bar by mistake so often?


Forget page twelve, this guy must’ve been on like page two hundred before my blog came up in a Google search for a term that refers to a massive online marketplace, a massive rain forest, and a famous tribe of warrior women with an association with the hero of a recently popular super hero movie.

Dungeon Born: Dale Strikes Back

Chapter 7

Dale had returned home with the sad news of the deaths of his comrades, citing a landslide which buried all of them. The recent events and his guileless, lightly bearded face meant he had no issues convincing the townsfolk of his sincerity. He shed tears from soulful brown eyes for the lost men… while at the same time selling everything he owned. With the money gained, he purchased the empty parcel of land containing the dungeon – claiming it would be good grazing for the sheep he was planning to buy.

Oh, good. We’re back with Dale. Looks like he’s going to either gear himself up for a solo dungeon raid or else get himself some better trained reinforcements.

His claim to the land secure, he sent a letter to the Adventurers Guild, announcing that he had found a new dungeon and was willing to allow adventurers to come into it for a percentage of the yearly profit it brought in.

Wow, okay, looks like option B. Is Dale even going to return to the dungeon, or is he just going to be the recurring face of a cast of antagonists that otherwise sees constant turnover as parties are mostly or completely wiped out upon entry? Here’s our first group of schmucks:

Quite an event to have any travelers at all, this far into the mountains, people were shocked to see not only armored knights, but an Elf in the group!

Oh. Oh, wow. This is not the ragtag band of starting adventurers out to scout out a new dungeon and get their start that I was expecting. These guys are stomping around in plate. I don’t know how badass that makes them (maybe magical crystal armor a thousand times stronger than steel is the cap for this kind of thing), but I damn well know it makes them, like, a hundred times more dangerous than a bunch of shepherds.

Continue reading “Dungeon Born: Dale Strikes Back”

Dungeon Born: Ongoing Tutorials and Video Game Morals

Chapter 6

We open this chapter with a brief recount of the dungeon raid from before from Cal’s perspective, the only important takeaway from which is that he has done an atrocious job placing his static defenses or else made his corridors way too wide, because despite multiple chokepoints it was only through pure chance that one of the raiders actually walked into any of his defenses. Shouldn’t have been hard to give total coverage to the entrances and exits to each room, Cal.

The other important takeaway is that Cal gets essence from people dying within his influence, and it is worth a lot. So much that he has trouble holding onto it all and threatens to overload and die.

Continue reading “Dungeon Born: Ongoing Tutorials and Video Game Morals”

Adventures In Professional GMing

I’ve sort of been doing the professional GM thing for a year-ish, but it was only about two months ago that I got at all serious about it, publishing my services page and figuring out how to advertise without being an irritating jackass about it. Those two months have seen in some ways explosive success, but if things do not continue to scale up, it cannot last.

To explain, I am now running about four or five games per week, constantly riding the limit of what I can handle. Even though I’ve found a far easier way to feed this blog than what I did during 2017, I feel just as busy, if not busier, with personal projects because of how much time is consumed running all these games. My GM’s Guide videos aren’t improving the way I’d hoped, considering I have very little experience making this kind of content and should therefore be able to rapidly improve as I learn basic concepts, because I have little time to experiment. When I do take the time to try something new, I have to use the result even if I don’t like it, even if it needed several more takes, because there’s no time for refinement or to re-record using my existing style. I’m not wrapping up Vestitas at the pace I’d hoped to. I should be nearly done with the Grey Harbor urbancrawl by now, but instead I’m hardly 10% of the way in. Work on side projects like Dark Lord and Dinosaur Riding Barbarians has completely halted as all effort goes to the GMing. I’m not writing as much as prose as I used to.

Despite having consumed a large chunk of my spare time and creative energy, I’m still making less than a quarter of what I’d need to quit my day job. I make less than $300/month right now, optimistic estimates for August suggest I may make $500/month if everyone who’s paid for at least two sessions (i.e. the first session to see if they like it, then at least one more afterwards) continues to do so, and I estimate the ceiling for this is between $1,000/month and $2,000/month. That upper bound is still not enough to live reasonably comfortably on even in a fairly low cost of living area, but it’s a pretty beastly fund for creative side projects. The annual cost for covers and editing on fiction is in the neighborhood of $2,000-$3,000, and speaking with map and token artists from Roll20, the cost on putting out an adventure to the Roll20 Marketplace is looking to be in the neighborhood of $1,000-$1,500. It would take only two or three months of effort to fund these projects if I can hit that ceiling.

If. The main question at this point is whether or not I can get away from running games for tiny groups of two or three people and start putting together larger groups of five or six, and if the $15 price point will be as consistently successful as my current $10 price point has been. If so, that could provide the money I need to pay for the art assets and editing I’ll require to get some high quality products on the market and generating passive income, enough to supplement the GMing and let me live off of creative work. It’s not an impossible plan, but there’s a lot of “ifs” (if I can scale upwards to $1,000/month, if my books or adventures are profitable, if this even lasts longer than a few months at all rather than burning out quickly), and this whole thing may end up being a big waste of a considerable amount of time.

But hey, after several years of effort, I’ve at least gotten as far as step 1) Convince a significant number of people to consistently pay me for my creative work in any amount.

Dungeon Born: A Stoppable Force Meets A Movable Object

Chapter 5

”Well something had to cause it!” broadcasted an angry bearded man. “I lost half my flock. Maybe some meteoric iron is laying around? The whole damn mountain nearly fell over.”

This is the opening paragraph of the chapter. We’re seeing things from the perspective of the townsfolk now. Being 14% of the way through, it’s not a bad place for a change in perspective, especially since Cal and Dani aren’t very fun to listen to.

A small group of sheepherders were walking along a sloping mountainside, sunshine streaming around them as they searched for the source of their sudden misfortune.

Why didn’t this scene open with this? Why lead with disembodied heads talking to each other and then set the scene? It’s not the first line of the book. Anyone who’s reached chapter five is pretty likely to read through to the end (unless there is a sudden plunge in quality), so there’s no need to be trying to hook anyone this late in the game.

Continue reading “Dungeon Born: A Stoppable Force Meets A Movable Object”

Dungeon Born: Why Is The Dungeon Heart More Mobile Than His Minions?

Chapter 4

Dani’s out to look around, which means Cal is on his own. Turns out the solid rock he spread his influence through contains a bunch of high-value coal (specifically anthracite, because that’s still happening), which he sucks dry in order to make a bunch of rooms.

Just as I finished my fourth room Dani zipped in at full speed, “Cal! Are you ok? There is an earthquake happening!!”

<Surprise! I grew!> I paused, waiting for the glowing admiration to flow from her.

“Oh Cal no.” Dani whimpered. “We need to get ready. People are going to want to know what is going on.”

<Did I do something wrong?> I was a bit sad that she wasn’t happy with the new additions. <I was just trying to show you that I could do the things you wanted.>

“You didn’t do anything wrong, Cal. Just a little. . . too fast for the moment.

Well, at least she’s stopped scolding him for failing to read her mind, but we’re still pretty firmly in mother/son relations, here, and not in an interesting way.

“No, I am serious! You are growing so well! And your knowledge must be growing too, after all the work you put in, I’m seeing you as an F-rank zero dungeon! You are almost dangerous!” She half-praised, half-teased.

There wasn’t a description of G ranks 5-9 that I skipped, the narrative just skipped over them completely, as predicted. Apparently F-rank is the point where a dungeon has multiple rooms and begins to resemble an actual dungeon. It’s not a bad distinction to have between G-rank dungeons that are still poking around their natural environment and F-ranks that have begun serious (if not impressive) modifications and fortifications, but the numbered sub-ranks are still useless. And honestly, with how many ranks there are (all the way up to A, then three different S grades, then “heavenly” and “godly”) I’m not even confident that clear and reasonable divisions between the lettered super-ranks is going to remain consistent. Leveling is important to LitRPGs, it’s a core part of the genre’s appeal and you can make a reasonable argument that a book that features no kind of character progress analogous to leveling isn’t really in the genre (although assigning individual stat points or whatever as opposed to getting specific levels would definitely still qualify), so for sure a dungeon heart book benefits from some kind of dungeon ranking system. You could probably make it work with, like, 5-7 ranks, though. That’s more tiers than most dungeon heart games have in their tech trees.

Continue reading “Dungeon Born: Why Is The Dungeon Heart More Mobile Than His Minions?”

Rewriting Merlin: Arthur and Uther

Merlin was a 2008-2012 BBC show that pretty much butchered Arthuriana from front to back, wrenching characters so badly out of their originally established personalities in service to its repugnant and inconsistent morals that it may as well have been a completely original fantasy work (and also would have benefited greatly from nominal good guy Uther murdering fewer innocent people). This series of posts is me rewriting the show to better reflect the original legends while still keeping it appropriate for a family show in episodic format starring Merlin, not Arthur. Significant changes are necessary to make this work, but many of the changes made to the show are unnecessary, and not only that, they actually make the show worse.

We’ve already done Merlin and his mentor Gaius, so today we’re going to focus on the biggest supporting character in the cast, Arthur, and his father, Uther.

Continue reading “Rewriting Merlin: Arthur and Uther”

Dungeon Born: Black and White

Before we get started, Longes made a few predictions about Dungeon Born based on its xianxia-derived dungeon ranking system. I’m gonna go ahead and list them here so we can keep track of how many come true by the end of the book. Jury is currently out on whether I’ll read any of the sequels (but signs point to no), so anything that doesn’t come true in this book may come true in later books. I may never know.

Predictions about Dungeon Born based purely on it drawing from Xianxia:
1) Protagonist will find a variety of gimmicks and/or single innate gimmick that will help them skip massive chunks of Cultivation
2) There will be a bunch of time skips because Cultivation takes forever
3) Protagonist will level up to kill and replace God
4) Different levels of Cultivation equate to MASSIVE power differences and absolute curbstomping
5) Protagonist may find a gimmick that helps them fight people on higher Cultivation level
6) Being the very best like no one ever was is the protagonist’s primary motivation
7) There’ll be a bizarre economy and people will interact with it in a very bizarre way
8) Skills or their equivalent (minions?) will be bought and sold via bizarre economy
9) Protagonist will find a way to completely skullfuck said economy
Bonus predictions:
10) Cultivation requires or is greatly sped up by some magic potions or eating monster parts or something like that
11) Protagonist will subvert that, skullfucking the economy in the process

Look at all those predictions. It’s ridiculous. It’s not even funny.

And some more detailed predictions made shortly thereafter:

Based on your two posts I’m going to guess that the main key to skullfucking will be Cal’s ability to spawn matter. He’ll probably progress from a childlike imbecil into a mad scientist, learn alchemy and some kind of frankensteining and abuse that in a way that dungeons should have figured out millenia ago. This may lead to him learning to spawn Cultivation potions.

The story will likely go grimderp and Cal will become an unlikeable douche evil dungeon, probably starting to cultivate demonic chi in the process. He’ll probably fight the big white dungeon in the sky Cantor eventually. Alternately Cantor will get worfed by the real big white dungeon in the sky who is the main villain.

Eventually Cal will have a redemption arc

Chapter Three

The chapter opens with Cal having just finished expanding his zone of influence to cover the entire room of the cave he’s located in.

“Good work!” congratulated a very bored Dani. The poor girl hadn’t been able to order me around for days, I think it was wearing on her.

For those of you keeping track at home, Longes prediction #2 is at least half-true. It wasn’t essence cultivation that took forever (Cal has not increased any ranks so far as I can tell) but timeskips because increases in power take forever are confirmed.

<What about the door? Won’t it flow out?>

“If you focus hard there first, you can direct your will to cause the air to be too dense for less concentrated Essence to leak out, like a bubble.” Dani distractedly stated.

I considered this for a moment. <I like bubbles, they make my puddle dance.>

“HA! What? That took me by surprise.” She chuckled. “Try it out.”

They say you should keep your characterization consistent. Certainly that is true, but Dungeon Born appears to have misunderstood the directive. The idea is to have consistent motivations and personality traits, not for every character to consistently have the same bizarre verbal tics. Or, is Dani just going completely stir-crazy after several days with no one but Cal to talk to?

Continue reading “Dungeon Born: Black and White”

GM’s Guide Off-Script

What with how successful my professional GMing has been, experiments in my GMing videos like this one can take so much time that there’s none left to record something in the normal style if I decide I like the new stuff even less. So this is what you get this week: An off-script, even more poorly edited example that probably needed another half-dozen takes and will probably get covered much better in a fully scripted video two weeks from now.

In Iron Fang Invasion, Thorgrim gets in touch with his inner rock and the party kills two castles. Neither of them have anything really to do with the hobgoblins, but I’m sure that’ll sort itself out in the meantime.