Steven S. Long is a writer, game designer, and all 'round great guy. According to the secret files of the KGB, he once singlehandedly defeated the Kremlin's plot to attack America with laser-powered Godzillas.



Wherein I Pontificate Regarding Matters Of Interest To Me... And Hopefully To You


GenCon 2015 Report

Home again, home again from my 22nd consecutive GenCon, and recovered enough to file this report. ;)

As usual, GenCon was an absolute blast. Getting to see old friends, make new friends, discuss upcoming projects, and talk with the fans is not only a helluva lot of fun, it’s really energizing for me. I always come home eager to get to work on new projects.

My trip didn’t start so auspiciously. I meant to split the drive into two days, but realized a couple hours into it that I’d made my hotel reservation for the 28th — and if I didn’t get to Indy by the end of the day, I’d lose my room! That, coupled with a missed exit due to roadwork, made for a very long trip. But I got there in time to have dinner with Jason and Tina Walters, which made it all worthwhile. (I did split the trip home, which worked wonderfully. Definitely doing that again next year.)

Wednesday was miserable due to a 103 degree heat index. Just walking from one hotel to the next was enough to overheat you. Ducking into the un-air conditioned exhibit hall to take something to Jason left me dripping in sweat. Fortunately, the Roleplaying Game Creators Relief Fund board meeting was at Patachou, where the air conditioning was working well. Even better, for the rest of the weekend the temperatures dipped down to the low 80s with a nice breeze. It was so pleasant I ate lunch outside twice, something I rarely do.

The four days of the convention are sort of a blur of meetings, seminars, events, and excellent conversations. My friend Rich Howard and I discovered a cool lunch spot I think most con attendees aren’t aware of. (No, I’m not telling you about it. ;) ) I joined Ron Edwards at Peter Adkison’s kickoff dinner for his Chaldea project, which I’m defintely eager to learn more about in the near future. (Jonathan Tweet even ran me through an associated mini-RPG session related to it, in which I convinced a stableboy to poison my rival’s fighting lion.) Ron and I rarely seem to get more than ten minutes to talk, so having two or three hours of mostly uninterrupted conversation was a real treat. I met many of the other authors with whom I share the contents page of the just-released World Of Shadows anthology for Shadowrun, which was a lot of fun. I can’t wait to read their stories! Hopefully mine matches the quality I know theirs will have. ;) And as always, my traditional Sunday morning breakfast with Jim Lowder was both fun and informative; few people know the genre fiction biz as well as Jim.

I did numerous seminars for the Writer’s Symposium, which was once again marvelously organized by the hard-working Marc Tassin. They all went really well and were also both fun and a learning experience for me — the audiences asked great questions! The highlight was a humorous debate I had with Pat Rothfuss about whether the character Ozymandias in The Watchman accomplished anything meaningful.

As usual I particularly enjoyed the worldbuilding panels. Next year I’m hoping to run my Worldbuilding Workshop again, either in the same (but hopefully lengthier) format, or with some sort of tweak that I haven’t thought of yet. Ideally this will motivate me to finish my Worldbuilding Guidebook.

On the work front, I had the chance to talk with a couple of companies about upcoming projects that I’d love to be a part of. I need to do a little research and pondering so I can get back to them with some proposals and ideas. Between that, the Worldbuilding Guidebook, various people egging me on to finish my “indie” RPG Polis, Mythic Hero, and other ideas churning around in my fevered little brain, it looks like 2016 could become a pretty busy year.

Naturally, I did a good bit of shopping (though a lot of it was presents for friends). I picked up a bunch of Cthulhu Britannica books from Cubicle 7, some Shadowrun supplements from Catalyst, some Doc Savage paperbacks from Half Price Books, a bunch of mythology and academic books from McFarland, and plenty of other cool things. Ohhh, my aching wallet....

My only serious complaint about the show was the heat. The convention center seems to have decided to save money by turning up the air conditioning to the point where just walking down a corridor could make you sweat. The dealer’s room, particularly when filled with customers, was on the verge of sweltering. I get that the ICC’s electricity bill is huge, but the level of discomfort they inflicted on paying customers was inexcusable. The AC needs to be turned down at least 10 degrees, and frankly I wouldn’t mind 15-20. I hope GenCon does something about this for next year. It can’t do much to solve the rooming problem, but it can damn sure make certain the people paying to attend the con aren’t dripping sweat the entire time.

But that one problem aside, it was a fantastic four days. I’m already looking forward to next year’s con. ;)


GenCon 2015 -- Ready, Set, Go!

It’s almost time for GenCon! Ordinarily I spend the vast majority of my time selling books in the Hero Games/IPR booth, and while I’ll certainly do some of that this year I am spending just as much time at the Writer’s Symposium and other activities. So I thought I’d post my schedule in case any fans, assassins, process servers, or other folks want to find me:

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Con Of The Mountain 2015 Review

I’m just back from the inaugural Con of the Mountain, held in scenic Clifton Forge, high up in the mountainous country of western Virginia where you have to keep a close eye out for deer along the roads at night and you can’t shake the suspicion that somewhere nearby there’s a cave housing a sleeping dragon with a big pile of treasure (such as, perhaps, a stack of mint-condition Beatles albums). Clifton Forge is kind of like the anti-Dunwich: it’s not located in Massachusetts; the people are friendly, open, and helpful; and no one’s trying to summon Yog-Sothoth.

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The Hugos: Do They Choose The Classic Novels?

Earlier today Gray Rinehart, an accomplished Science Fiction writer and editor, worte what I consider to be an insightful blog piece about current controversies surrounding the Hugo Awards. (You can read his entire blog post here if you like, and I definitely recommend that you do.) As part of that blog post he considered the issue of “whether the Hugo Awards adequately represent the preferences of the SF&F-consuming public.”

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To The Land Of Gencondria

Whew! I’m back, though nowhere close to recovered or getting caught up. ;)

tl;dr — GenCon 2014 was an absolute blast, the best GenCon I’ve had in quite a few years. Already looking forward to next year.

(Opening caveat: I got to do so many cool things I’m virtually certain to forget to mention someone who deserves it in my description below. Mea culpa in advance; I didn’t mean it!)

GenCon’s one of the highlights of my annual work routine, and has been for over twenty years. It’s a time to hang out with old friends and colleagues, meet new ones, interact with some really cool fans, and just generally get my creative batteries recharged. It seems to get a little harder on me physically every year as age continues its inexorable march, but there are ways to counteract that (at least a little), and even if there weren’t it’d be worth it.

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Mythic Hero Cover!

As many of my friends and fans know, for some years now I've been working on Mythic Hero, a massive tome on world mythology for gaming. I've been working on it for nearly three years. So far I have 400,000 words written, and at this point I'm guessing I'm somewhere around halfway done. There are years of work yet to go, but it's such a fun project I always look forward to working on it.

Recently ace artist Eric Lofgren had some spare time in his schedule that I was able to make use of. I commissioned him to create a piece of art that I currently intend to use for the cover of MH in that distant day when I finish it and find a way to publish it. I think it's 100% distilled awesome. Take a look and tell me what you think!

 You can see it in larger form here.



Geatish Death Cage Match: Tolkien Versus Heaney For The Beowulf Belt

Last week the latest posthumous tome from J.R.R. Tolkien — Beowulf, his translation of the renowned Anglo-Saxon epic, accompanied by various notes and some related tales he wrote — hit bookstore shelves. As a fan of both Tolkien and Beowulf, naturally I picked up a copy first thing. A friend recently asked me if I’d let her know what I thought of the book, and I figured, what the heck, I can turn that into a blog post! So here ya go.

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FIASCO -- Roleplaying Game, Or Not?

One of the biggest successes to hit the roleplaying game field in recent years is Fiasco, by designer Jason Morningstar. Released in 2009, it continues to sell like wildfire through Indie Press Revolution and other outlets. It’s been translated into numerous languages. Sessions of it have inspired films. It’s a genuine phenomenon within the little pond we all love to splash around in.

Back at GenCon 2013 I went to dinner with several people, and naturally we discussed games. As we delved into various issues of game design, at some point someone mentioned Fiasco. Me, contrary cuss that I am, said, “Wait a minute, I don’t think Fiasco is actually a game at all — it’s more like guided improvisational acting.” That led to a short discussion but we let the issue pass; we weren’t going to see eye to eye on the issue, so we moved on to other, related, topics.

So I figured I’d carry on that conversation here and try to make my case to the harsh and unforgiving Internet. ;)

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Sometimes Technology Sucks

Everyone who knows me knows I love me some technology. I have a hard time resisting the latest gadget or gizmo, whether I actually need it. For example, I love my smartphone and update to a newer model every couple years after careful research on the latest ones. As little as I use my phone, I could probably get by with an old Motorola StarTac — but I can’t resist the lure of being able to carry an app-laden portal to the Internet in my pocket.

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GenCon 2013 Report

What a whirlwind! GenCon 2013 was so exciting and fun the whole thing passed by in a near blur. It was my twentieth GenCon in a row, and one of the best I’ve been to. Here’s my report on all the coolness.

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Origins 2013 Report

I spent this past week in Columbus, Ohio attending the Origins Game Fair, the second-largest gaming convention in the United States. It was my nineteenth year attending Origins, and as usual it did not disappoint.

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Character Development: Overrated Or Crucial?

Time to get too big for my britches and take a poke at another sacred cow: the concept of character growth.

(Ordinarily I’d prefer to use the label “character development” for what I’m about to discuss. In my experience it’s the term gamers use for this sort of thing, and it’s certainly the one I’ve used for decades now. However, it’s my understanding that in a literary sense the term “character development” tends to refer more to how a character’s traits are portrayed to the reader and represented throughout the story. It seems to me that the term “character presentation” would cover that better, but there’s no sense getting involved in a battle over terminology for a mere think-piece. ;) Similarly, I think a lot of writers and editors refer to “a character’s arc” when talking about this sort of thing. But again, terminology isn’t crucial as long as we all understand what’s being discussed.)

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Juggling Stories

Writers love to write about writing, so I figured what the heck, I can get on that bandwagon. But I’m not going to give writing advice. As I’ve said on many occasions, “All pieces of writing advice are, to one degree or another, crap — including this one.” Instead I’m going to talk about one of my writing habits and see what y’all have to say about yours in comparison. Perhaps we’ll both pick up a useful trick or two.

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Cthulhu's Hit Points

A gaming industry friend of mine (name withheld to protect the innocent, though I have thanked him for inspiring this blog entry) recently posted something on his Facebook feed that caught my attention. He said, in effect, “Once you give Cthulhu game stats, you make him into nothing more than a source of Experience Points.” (He said it much more colorfully, of course, as is his wont, which is one reason we love him.)

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Kickstarters I'm Supporting

Time for another edition of that favorite blog entry, "Kickstarters I'm Supporting," wherein I tell you about cool Kickstarters I'm pledging money toward that I think you might want to get in on too. ;)

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Origins Bound!

I'm pleased to announce that I've accepted an invitation to be a Guest of Honor this year at the Origins Game Fair, my second time so honored. This year's theme is "Superheroes," so I guess my work on Champions brought me up for consideration. (Or perhaps it was my first name, as I note Steve Jackson and Steve Kenson are also GoHs. If we can get a couple more Steves, we can form Stevetron and fight crime. ;) )

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Library Building

When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.

—variant translation of a quote by Erasmus in a letter to Jacob Batt, April 12, 1500

Since it’s the 513th anniversary of this quote by Erasmus, one of my favorites, I thought I’d blog a bit about books and the buying thereof.

As some of you out there know, I like books. I like books a lot. I suspect most of you out there reading my blog share this sentiment.

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Sex, Guns, Rock And Roll, And Website Updates!

Nothing much to see here, folx. ;) I just wanted to let the two or three of you who follow this website know that I've finally gotten around to updating it today. I've activated the Fiction link in the left-hand menu, updated the Elvensong Street Press sub-page, shuffled some things around, and made some belated replies to some thoughtful comments on recent blogs.

I also hope to update the blog on a more frequent basis going forward, though it may be tough at times with all the projects I have going on. As opinionated as I can be, it's difficult at times to force myself to fling an opinion out onto the Internet unasked for; it seems kinda rude. OTOH I have no objection to responding to questions or requests, so if any of you ever wanted to know anything in particular about me and my work, feel free to ask. ;)

Which reminds me:  I recently appeared on the Dorkland! Roundtable videocast talking about Hero Games, superheroes, and other fun stuff. Click on through if you'd like to hear me ramble on for an hour or so:

Steve on the Dorkland! Roundtable videocast



Priests Of Power

Earlier this week I finished another short story and sent it off to an anthology where I hope it will find a good home. This particular anthology is for Swords and Sorcery short stories — and as you might guess from some of what I’ve written in this blog previously, S&S is one of my favorite subgenres of Fantasy. In fact, I’d say that the majority of the short stories I’ve written to date, as well as my novel, fall into that subgenre.

So I had a lot of stories I could have submitted to this anthology. Instead of picking one of the more obvious choices (which might have been the better tactic in terms of increasing my odds of getting the story accepted), I decided to try something a little off the beaten path: I made the protagonist of the story a priest.

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Goodbye, John

I got some sad news earlier this week. My friend John Lees died unexpectedly early Tuesday morning at his home in Michigan.

Most of you out there didn’t know John, but if you’ve bought a Hero Games book published in the past six or seven years there’s a good chance you’re familiar with his work

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