The Immigrant's Song

The Immigrant's Song

I am a guinea wop goombah greaseball grape-stomper Guido Mafioso, a garlic-breathed Fonzi with, as fellow Siciliano Quentin Tarantio pointed out in True Romance, n-word blood. I am part Swedish meatball bork-bork chef, and part Slav – an ethnicity from which the English word slave was drawn because Slavs were so often conquered and enserfed. My grandparents and great-grandparents on all three sides of my family (Dad’s side, and the two halves of Mom’s ancestry) were part of the “great unwashed,” the Ellis Island mob of European immigrants who fled Europe around the time of World War I. My people Read more »

The Path With a Future

The Path With a Future

I have myself felt suicidal – felt trapped and hopeless and without a shred of a future. At that time, I was stuck in a decaying marriage, working two shitty dead-end jobs, trapped by poverty with my then-wife in a building we called Domestic Abuse Central because getting drunk and beating the shit out of their wives, husbands, kids, partners and each other is all our neighbors ever seemed to do. I had been forced to abandon my dream of being an actor, had been kicked out of a band I’d help form, and was constantly overdrawing my bank account. Read more »

Good Riddance, You Brutalizing Hag

Good Riddance, You Brutalizing Hag

Thirty years later, my then-girlfriend and her fellow inmates still live with the psychological and often physical scars of their abuse. Some of them didn’t survive. Her brother is one of them. After the insurance refused to pay for more “treatment,” he was released from Straight, supposedly drug-free. He died a few years afterward.

THAT was Nancy Reagan’s America.

THAT is what she left behind…

50 Rocks: Part One – Fire and Four Strings

50 Rocks: Part One – Fire and Four Strings

I’ve always wanted to be a rock star. Go figure. Like any red-blooded pre-teenage male in 1978, I used to air-guitar with my friend Mike Delahanty to the antics of KISS Alive II – complete with fireballs made from hairspray and lighters. [1] I envisioned myself shredding guitar like Eddie Van Halen by way of George Thorogood before a horde of shrieking fans [2], and memorized the contents of liner notes as if mere familiarity could imbue me with the power of rock gods. Unlike lots of kids, I actually tried to manifest those dreams through work. In addition to my devotion Read more »

Mage 20 Q&A, Part III: Mage and Various Mass Media

Mage 20 Q&A, Part III: Mage and Various Mass Media

PART III: MAGE’S MEDIA INFLUENCES   (Jaz Coleman – chaos magician and bandleader of Killing Joke.) Q: What are some of your favorite movies, TV shows, comedians, and musical artists? And how might they have influenced your work on Mage? For starters, I prefer artists and shows with something important to say. “Mindless entertainment” doesn’t really do much for me. A sense of passion is also vital. Especially given the vast landscape of art and entertainment we can access these days, I have no time or patience for stamped-out commercial product. I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy big-budget spectacles Read more »

Mage 20 Q&A, Part II: Who's Satyr, and What Does He Have to do With Mage?

Mage 20 Q&A, Part II: Who's Satyr, and What Does He Have to do With Mage?

PART II: A SEATTLE SATYR IN THE WORLD OF DARKNESS COURT (For Part I, click here.) (“Verbena,” from Mage: The Ascension 1st Edition; art by Michael William Kaluta.) Q: What’s your involvement with White Wolf, Onyx Path, and the World of Darkness? That short question has a very long and complicated answer. I’ll just give you the relatively simple version of events – it’ll still keep us busy for a while. I’d been a professional writer for around two years when my college friend, roommate, and gaming buddy Bill Bridges went to work for White Wolf in 1992. At the Read more »

Mage 20 Q&A, Part I: What IS Mage, Anyway?

Mage 20 Q&A, Part I: What IS Mage, Anyway?

PART I: WHAT’S MAGE, AND WHY SHOULD I CARE?   Q: For people who may not know about it already, could you please describe what Mage: The Ascension is all about, and tell us what Mage means to you? Put simply, Mage is a collaborative story-telling game about people who believe in what they do so strongly that their beliefs literally change the world. Such power, though, is dangerous. And because these “mages” – devotees of magic, faith and science – disagree about how it should be used, they wind up fighting shadow-wars to advance their various beliefs. Some pursue Read more »

Appendix: A Game of You (Part 3.5 of 3)

Appendix: A Game of You (Part 3.5 of 3)

As a supplement to the three-part article I’ve been posting these last few days (and as part of the original article series in newWitch magazine), I commend the following works to gamers intrigued by “real world” magical/ spiritual elements. Cited authors are the primary creators. None of the following games feature “real-life” spellwork or demand the blood of innocents. Enjoy!  Ars Magica, by Jonathan Tweet and Mark Rein•Hagen (many editions and publishers; currently Atlas Games, 2004) Armageddon, by C.J. Carella (Myrmidon Press, 1997; Eden Studios, 2003) Authentic Thaumaturgy, by Isaac Bonewits (Chaosium Games, 1978; Steve Jackson Games, 1998) Changeling: The Lost, Read more »

Gaming: From Premise to Print (Part 3 of 3)

Gaming: From Premise to Print (Part 3 of 3)

“The number one rule,” I said, “in storytelling is this: Keep your audience engaged!” It was winter 2008, and the geeky kid had become the seasoned pro, standing in front of two dozen students and teaching a course inconceivable in 1978: roleplaying game design. At the moment, RPGs are more popular – yet less profitable – than ever. Although MMORPGs(1) dominate pop culture, the book-based medium is a dying industry. High costs and low profits force even the most successful publishers to produce books at a loss. Fortunately, the independent game scene is booming. Technology (2) allows anyone with a computer, some software and Read more »

Gaming: Serious Fun (Part 2 of 3)

Gaming: Serious Fun (Part 2 of 3)

“It’s all yours. We don’t have the slightest idea what to do with it.” So spoke Ken Cliffe, my boss at White Wolf Game Studio, as he handed me the advance copy of Mage: The Ascension, first edition. This was 1993, and my introduction to game design. From summer ’93 until winter ’98, I helmed this purple-cloaked beast. Since then, I’ve managed other game lines, notably Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade and Deliria: Faerie Tales for a New Millennium. In that time, I’ve journeyed from part-time Pagan gamer to full-time Pagan author, learning volumes about magic, gaming, publishing and myself. I could fill a book Read more »