The reason fame and wealth don’t matter.

The ReasonI use the WordPress Plugin “Counterize” to track statistics of the blog: What brings me traffic? Which posts are popular? Which links get clicked?

Most fascinating are the search terms that lead people here. Self-promotion goes to shared spheres: Writers, Bloggers, Techies, Gamers. Search traffic comes from anywhere; people who’ve never heard of me Google a topic and read what I had to say.

It’s as intimidating as it is gratifying.

Today, this search caught my eye:

what is important …fame or wealth

That’s brought two visitors here, 3.08% of my search traffic.

I haven’t blogged explicitly about either fame or wealth. But if people are going to search it and land here, however rarely, I’ll help:

Fame and wealth are not important.

What? Jason, your blog is called LEGENDS of JRP. Aren’t you chasing fame and wealth?

Not exactly. Writing is not lucrative. A convention panelist confessed that selling two books and six short stories inside a year (which is impressive) net him approximately…$10k. Not luxurious. Read More →

The day I reveal mechanics for Infinite Advent.

PathsYesterday, I introduced INFINITE ADVENT, the RPG I created after researching D&D Next.

Today, I’m going to share specific mechanics.

Background

If you’re a fan of Pathfinder or 3.5, it’s possible Next is just what the doctor ordered.

I’m a 4E man, however, for no other reason than I thought 4E was a move (first of many, I’d hoped) into the new millennium. It embraced MMO concepts like replenished resources, classes that level in parallel.

It also got things horribly, horribly wrong (duration of combat). 4E’s infrastructure screams “power bloat.” That might be great for a publisher like WOTC, but for DMs and gamers, it’s just more to look up. Read More →

The day I introduce “Infinite Advent,” a different kind of RPG.

The following excerpts in full the first chapter of my source rulebook. “Infinite Advent” is a working title.

Overview

Infinite Advent is a tabletop fantasy role-playing game with several breaks from traditional staples of the genre:

  • There aren’t specific character classes (like Fighter, Wizard or Cleric). However, archetypical characters like those classes can be developed if the player chooses.
  • Character development is determined by the player’s choice to explore paths and disciplines in any order or combination.
  • There is no arbitrary division in mechanics between attacks, feats, skills, proficiencies, spells, powers, rituals, saves and defenses. Read More →

Five reasons good Dungeon Masters aren’t great.

Five ReasonsThe title of “Dungeon Master” is odd. In most circles, it’s either meaningless or translates to “permanent virgin.” To a select group, it’s a title of respect. But there’s no test for it. Like writing, once you’ve decided you’re a Dungeon Master…you are.

That doesn’t make you any good at it.

Even good Dungeon Masters often fall short of greatness. Here’s five reasons why. Read More →

The legendary men I know.

ThanksI’m fortunate. I have not lost anyone to war…no one personal, no one dear. On the contrary, I am blessed to know marines and soldiers who’ve returned safely every time.

For that, I thank their comrades, particularly the ones who didn’t make it.

Here is what your blood bought for your brothers back home.
Read More →

The day I review “Star Trek Into Darkness.”

star_trek_into_darkness_poster_enterprise

“Into Darkness” might be the best Star Trek film ever made. That claim invites the wrath of Khan and his fans, but I will risk it. The franchise reboot already fights uphill against They Changed It, Now It Sucks.

The film opens with two vignettes. In media res, snappy dialog explores Trek themes; it’s episodic, a day-in-the-life for the Enterprise. The next scene changes gears entirely as a silent drama unfolds for new characters…episodic again.

Then Kirk’s called out for being Kirk, and the movie explodes. Simple motives become complex. Mentors clash. It’s impossible to tell who the villain is. My nitpicks vanished as the characters engaged me.

I was guessing until the very end. We’re in the hands of expert storytellers: They let us feel ‘in the know’ seconds before The Reveal.

But I was surprised (even shocked) just as often.

“Into Darkness” turns Mood Whiplash into art. There’s hardly time to digest one transformative event before the next tragedy unfolds. Armor Piercing Questions leave cast and audience deliciously clutching for purchase. You don’t know the right course any more than they do.

The characters evolve, yet remain believably iconic. That particular tightrope is why I don’t attempt fanfiction, but Abrams succeeded on the silver screen. Shatner’s Kirk was a surefooted, his reputation established. Our younger Kirk has the same  instincts, but no clout, and it matters. When success in Starfleet directly contradicts the conscience of his crew, you wonder which way he’ll leap.

True to form, Kirk Takes Third Options, but even those have consequences.

Fans of the Original Series may miss the methodical, scientific storytelling of trial and error. “Into Darkness” is more about human ethics than understanding new life. It’s not cerebral in the puzzle-solving sense, it’s cerebral the way “The West Wing” was, rapidly moving from topic to topic (quite hypnotic). The heroes are larger than life, but they also make mistakes. I have new respect for Chris Pine; Quinto and Cummerbatch were already favorites.

The action borrows as much from the superhero genre as Star Trek. Fortunately, the plot isn’t just an excuse to blow things up. People fight when they’re out of options. I would prefer advanced choreography to quick cuts and shaky cam, though. That kind of storytelling has also evolved.

The ending will be intensely personal for any Trekkie. Whatever you think of his choices, Abrams was faithful to the spirit of the franchise, and he borrows with pride from your favorite moments. Just like the characters, the plot manages to be both iconic and new.

See this one in theaters. You won’t be disappointed.

And later when you buy it, it’ll fit snugly in your collection. Right across from Wrath of Khan.

The day of my grandfather’s funeral.

John PetersJust before Christmas 2013, my grandfather passed away. I read the following at his memorial service.

I did not know the same John Peters you did. When you’re children, your parents are superheroes; it just so happens that mine still are. Your grandparents are beings of even greater power and mystery.

Grandpa was made of granite, stern-faced and serious, with impenetrable eyes of steely blue. Even a child could tell his approval was hard to win. He was the last person I wanted to admit weakness to. So when I was severely sunburned after a day wakeboarding on the lake, crying in pain, grandpa was the last person whose help I wanted.

But children rarely get a say in such matters, so it was grandpa who helped me. Wary of disappointing him, I composed my cries to mere sniffles. But grandpa gave no reprimand, no recrimination. He simply took care of me, massaging aloe into my scorched skin, his hands as gentle as any I’ve ever known.

Grandpa constantly shaped the world to his vision, whether he was running a restaurant, building a house or uprooting trees. That particular day, his vision was to heal his grandson.

I said before that grandpa was serious, but that is only half the story. Grandpa was more prone to issue proclamations than mere opinions, his eyes full of blue fire, holding my gaze, daring me to challenge him. Then the corners of his mouth would twitch, his eyes would crinkle, and ever so gradually, a huge grin would split that granite face.

While I remember grandpa as stern and ambitious, he had moments of great tenderness and great humor.

Perhaps his greatest fault was having too much vision, and never enough time.