Can you help a Dungeon Master out?

So this Marathon Event has grown into a beast all it’s own. A true dragon in every sense of the word. We have maxed out at 5 tables. That is 40 people, assuming I include the DMs in that mix. And we are tapped out (to steal a Magic the Gathering term). I don’t have any more DMs or any more tables to expand it further.

If you take a look back, I was starting out with two Dungeon Masters for the event. And while this expansion means my team will do well (in true Amway fashion), I am now looking for some direct support of my efforts. Specifically at my table.

The Rewards

Please help my group reach its Extra Life goals; for fundraising, Zombie Joe has set the following donation rewards. Just mention what reward you’re choosing in the comments when you donate.Limited rewards will be stricken from the list if/when they are first chosen.

  • $20: DM Reroll. The DM gains a reroll to use during the game.
  • $20: DM Inspiration. A monster or NPC gains one use of inspiration (advantage on a saving throw, a check, or an attack roll).
  • $20: Blessing of the Loa. A monster or NPC of my choice gains the instaneous effect of one potion of healing.
  • $20: Curse of the Sky Ponies. DM can force a reroll of any roll on the Pega-Minion.
  • $50: That’s how it starts… DM adds one surprise encounter with a dinosaur/group of dinosaurs.
  • $50: Tag! You’re it! DM marks the Pega-Minion as “it” in an encounter of their choosing. (limit 3)
  • $75: Magic Item. DM can add a pop-up market from Meepo into the campaign. He will have standard items for sale as well as up to two magic items. (limit 2)
  • $100: Extra Life. During the course of the game the DM can choose a PC or an NPC to be brought to 1 hit point when they would have normally died. (limit 2)
  • $200: Get my gear! If anyone donates this amount, I will send them my dice used during the game, my sheets/notes, and even the copy of Tomb of Annihilation I use at the table. And maybe a couple extra goodies…

That last one puts me in the situation where I will need another book, but I am fine with that. (I do still have to run tables at our events after this one, after all.) But should someone bid for my gear, I will have the players at my table sign the inside cover. Well the survivors anyhow – if a player doesn’t make it to the end, maybe I will have them sign the back cover.

To donate is easy, just go to MY PAGE over on Extra Life. You will notice there are a couple of options in there to mess with the store employee at my table. Just sayin’

NOTE: There is a player table at the bottom of my page. Please ignore that – I placed it there for the players to cut and paste the template to their own pages.

Extra Life Marathon for Charity

D&D for Charity

This is the only marathon I really am able to do now, isn’t it? Also, this is a way to show the strength of the gaming community. Let’s face it, everyone can use good press once in a while. Not to mention cancer, children and pet related charities are my go-to’s. In the recent future I have gone from losing friends and family to cancer, to losing my dog to it. So this one is important to me.

Pegasus Games will be hosting our games this year. When available, we will be giving out certs for items given out in game. And the DMs will be running events as they have 4-7 players ready to sit down and roll. And if players are interested, we may do some of the long play or casual events through Adventurers League.

Each DM will be running events they are able to (have prepared for), mine will be going along the following list:
DDEX 2-4 Mayhem in the Earthspur Mines (L5-10)
DDEX 2-3 The Drowned Tower (L5-10)
DDEX 2-5 Flames of Kythorn (L1-4)

DDEX 2-8 Foulness Beneath Mulmaster (L1-4)

I could likely do others, and may based on interest. Additionally, if at least 5 people donate to get a seat running Out of the Abyss from the book for the entire day (minus meal breaks), I will do that. It is very sandbox in its design and is AL legal.

Donation Levels

  • a seat at a 4 hour block table: $5
  • a full day seat for Out of the Abyss $15 (we may run a little later than 8pm)
  • reroll an attack roll, skill check or saving throw (must take the new number) $1
  • standard healing (2d4+2): $1
  • make a weapon deal magical damage for the course of a fight: $2

Where to Donate

Donations can be entered on my Extra Life account. You can specify what they are for in your comments, or simply donate a set amount and use that as your “reserve pool” for the weekend. We will take donations on site as well.
You can also donate in support of the DMs that will be running events this weekend for the charity. If you are interested in running something, please let me know.

In which Zombie Joe considers neither food, nor writing…

This past weekend we spent the anniversary of the day our dog died of cancer taking the newest member of our family (a rescue that really needed our home) to visit Aladdin’s favorite park in Door County. We were actually staying at the cabin we rented just north of that park. Cave Point County Park in Jacksonport, Wisconsin. Door County. No better place on Earth.

ginger-beachWell, we tried to take her to that park. If you’ve been following me through social media, you’ve likely heard me lament that she is agoraphobic and not friendly towards small children or other animals. I’m good, but those fears/aggression might be beyond my skills. So we sat in the truck with the AC on while Robin went to visit Aladdin’s beach. We could take Ginger to the beach behind the cabin. That one is private.

I bring this up because I was considering the number of Represent tshirt campaigns that have been going on lately. And there are many. More than I can possibly contribute to. Choices must be made. But at the same time, the Amells (Stephen Amell from Arrow and Robbie Amell from Flash) have been hitting them one after another for me.

Last year, after our latest stint of cursing cancer, Stephen Amell did another run of his Sinceriously “Fuck Cancer” shirt. While I spent July last year stating “Today was a good day” and “we’ve all got jobs to do”… I spent the better part of August saying “fuck cancer” pretty much daily. And this past Friday, I was wearing my Captain Amell Fuck Cancer shirt.

I’m going to skip past Stephen Amell’s second charity shirt (even though it struck solid for me too), and talk about the one going on right now. Robbie Amell posted a link through Twitter to his Camp Hometown Heroes charity shirt. I clicked it simply because, as a fan, I wanted to see what he was supporting. The charity is a free summer camp for the kids and younger siblings of fallen soldiers. As if that wasn’t enough it is in Grafton, Wisconsin. I remember seeing a news report about Aaron Rodgers taking a group of kids from the camp out on a boat a while back.

Children’s charities are my thing. Children’s cancer charities… forget about it. I’m there. Much like how I knew Ginger needed a place like ours to heal from her mistreatment the first year of her life, I could see how these kids of service members could really benefit from this camp. So you know I will be picking up a shirt from the Robbie Amell “Camp Hometown Heroes” page when I get home tonight.

You should too. It’s a sharp shirt. And a really great cause.

Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, I hear they are giving away a shirt that is signed by both of the Amells.

Charity and Geekdom

This Christmas, as gifts for my wife and son, I ordered us all “Fuck Cancer” shirts from the campaign being run by Stephen Amell from Arrow. Part of this was from the link to my geek roots (and Arrow being one of my favorite shows), but the motivation goes much deeper. Sure my family is a supporter of cancer related charities – it’s one of the defining things about my family. Especially in recent years. Directly though, for me, it was about what cancer has taken from me. If you have been following this blog, you know that in July cancer took my best friend and dog from me.

I knew he was getting old, but to have him diagnosed with cancer that was causing such large tumors in him was a shock. I actually found myself echoing “fuck cancer” in my head. After more than fifteen years with us, not even my dog was safe. So I did what I could. Donated food to a local shelter. Adopted a rescue dog from that same shelter. And bought a shirt to show my personal support and to give money to charities working towards a cure.

Just this week, Amell’s new campaign started. A similar shirt design (though more family friendly), but this time when looking for a charity he went to the fans. The same fans that (literally) knocked it out of the park with the first campaign. From those suggestions, the proceeds are slotted to go to two different charities: Stand for the Silent as well as Paws and Stripes. I’ll definitely be picking up this shirt too.

Stand for the Silent is a charity that supports young people against bullying. While the discussion of bullying (causes, solutions, etc.) isn’t cut and dry, a dialog needs to be opened. And any charity that does this has my support. I was bullied quite a bit as a kid. Back then there wasn’t a focus on it like there is today. It was just one of those things you had to get through. And each school had at least one of “those kids.” Which is to say the target. In 3rd grade I beat up two 5th graders who were abusing someone else unable to stand up for themselves. Even after that, I was still the preferred target. It took someone else being in harms way for me to take a stand. Yup, I’ll stand with these folks.


post from Stephen Amell’s Facebook page

Paws and Stripes is a localized charity in the New Mexico area that takes rescue animals and trains them to be companion animals for veteran’s with PTSD and TBI. I think we all know how I feel about helping rescue dogs. But back somewhere around 17 or so years ago I suffered one of the “lesser” of the TBIs. I took a concussion bad enough it stripped away years of memory and forever change how I processed numbers in my memory. It is difficult to fully explain, but my memory of numbers was pretty core to a job where I routinely had to spout off numeric addresses of servers to customers or the support agents on my team. (At the time I worked for AT&T Worldnet in their support division.) It also left me with an increase in my migraines (frequency and intensity) as well as a constant, low-grade headache. Yeah, my 1-10 scale for pain is all sorts of screwed up.

Really, both of these hit home for me. Or hit a home run… since one of the shirts is a softball style jersey.

All of this sparked not only through social media (something I touched on in my blog over at Wicked Lil Pixie this morning), but through geekly pursuits. An actor, playing a DC superhero, engaging with his fans on a level similar to Felicia Day did with the Guild or Wayland does as each an every gig they play (as well as multiple forms of social networking). I may have joked about this back in college, but I fully believe it…

The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth.

So maybe go forth to the Represent site for the Sinceriously Campaign and pick up a shirt, hoodie, or tote bag. And maybe go check out the sites for the charities. I’m already picking up one of the dog shirts from Paws and Stripes for Ginger’s birthday. And yes… pictures will follow. 😉

Make Good Art

Yesterday I posted an update to get more donations. I even included MATH! This marks one of the few times outside of gaming that I’ve used math since school. But I digress…

For those of you not on the cusp of geekdom, Neil Gaiman did a commencement speech for the University of the Arts a while back. It does pertain in part to what I’m going to say, so I’ll embed it. Really though it can be summed up in the title of the blog. Simply put, make good art.

Go ahead, watch it. It is an entertaining speech. We’ll wait…

Told you, right?

Here’s where the two differing elements I described above converge. I was looking to make up the difference of what the pledge drive needed to hit goal. Taking top spot in the list would be a bonus. I figured this might be possible based on percentages, but time was going to be crucial. In one night a small group of friends increased my pledge page by a bunch. Hell, I even got my sister to donate and she hasn’t even finished the book I suggested to her close to three years ago. And I even got the author to smack talk her for not finishing it! These people, as well as all of you who either donated or spread the word around (or did both)… all of you… you collectively make it so I can make good art.

Since this is me we’re talking about, keep in mind that “good art” means any art at all. A while ago an online friend started her campaign to publish and make it on Oprah’s book club. She wanted to sit on her couch. I knew that wasn’t me. I was the popcorn film of the literary world, the summer flick that people would enjoy but wouldn’t win any awards. You all let me do this. Hopefully I won’t turn out to be a Michael Bay movie. At least not Transformers. I’ll take a Bad Boys no matter what anyone says.

A handful of years ago I was left with a gap in my schedule. For the first time in decades there was no gaming company that wanted me as convention help, judge, content writer or any such thing. I didn’t have four to five cons to make spanning across the country. I was free. For a person like me, only having to work a 40 hour a week job is free – trust me. So after two decades of putting off what I had always intended to do once free of high school, I was writing. Without knowing it I had made a conscious decision to make good art.

There is a subtle beauty to that. If my art is a zombie novel starring a country western singer who moonlights as a monster hunter, then that is my art. Even if someone on the Internet doesn’t agree.

Quite a few of my friends may not like the playlist I have for the book. One protagonist (Dukes) has a playlist that is obviously country western in theme. Write what you know? Hell, I needed help even putting that one together. (Thanks again, Dukes.) But that is the good art. I can totally appreciate Hank Jr. even if he isn’t in my normal playlist. And yes, I did buy every song in my playlist.

My wife decorates cakes and cupcakes. She also does stained glass. My mother does jewelry, as do a number of my friends. (Hey Synde!) They all make good art. My father organizes a hell of a festival. He does it for Festa Italia as well as several other ethnic festivals around Madison. He also makes our Sister City Program with Mantova, Italy happen with some other guys from the club. That is his good art. Trust me, running a smooth festival is an art form.

Hopefully everyone who asked to be inserted into this story, either in name or in form, will appreciate the art. I hope I served your pledge well. But I think there are two real highlights here. Only the first being that the charity did break through its goal. And this does make me happy. More than this though, is that a friend of mine who lives a life much busier than mine has picked up his writing again.

Twice a week or so he is stepping out to a coffee shop for lunch. He’s calling it a Zombie Joe Lunch. These lunches are garnering him 400 words or so for the 30+ minutes he is writing. Will he make a 50,000 word novel in a month that way? Nope. Is he making good art? Totally. If my insanity spreads to even just one other person, thus making me the literary Patient Zero (no headshots, please), then I am a happy man.

That said, I have another batch of words to finish and a novel to verify through the Camp NaNoWriMo web site. Then I have to look at piecing my scenes together, fitting it into a cohesive story and editing it into something readable. Not to mention I have to make cover art and figure out the formatting. Who’s idea was this again? Oh, right. Damn.

I think for my sister’s “care package” I’ll get her copy of Mark of the Demon signed by Diana Rowland in New Orleans. Hell, maybe by every author there that wants to snark something at her. I may make good art, but that doesn’t prevent me from being a right bastard too. 😉

Last Chance to Maul

There is a final push to hit the Camp NaNoWriMo fundraising goal. On a more personal level there is a last effort shove to put me from second to the top slot as a fundraiser. What can I say, I’m a competitive bastard. In the spirit of this I have some math for y’all and a listing of my final offers for donors.

The Math…

According to the last email from the organizers, if 30% of my Facebook friends donated enough to “prebuy” a copy of the story (that’s $5 to you and me) it would make up the difference to put them over goal (and increase my donations by more than double). The same would go for around 6% of my Twitter followers. When you look at it that way, it seems to be a totally possible goal. Doing it in about 60 hours is a bit of a challenge.

I can’t promise the next Harry Potter, but I can assure you a horror story set in Madison, WI with a detective who moonlights as a monster hunter, a country western singing version of Desperado (in a pair of aviators) and a collection of friends, family and followers mauled by zombies. Oh yeah… and bath salt addicted zombies. No, I’m not kidding. (It’s fiction, I can ignore toxicology reports.)

That leads us to the offers. Otherwise known as “what you get for helping Zombie Joe out.”

A Care Package

Anyone donating before Saturday night (let’s say 8pm CT), send me your mailing address and the detective in the story will send you a care package. This is serious. The goodies are relating to the protagonist.

A Copy of the Book

Any donation $5 or more will still get you a copy of the ebook once published. Depending on rewrites, editing and the cover art I am shooting for early August release, just before Authors After Dark in New Orleans. Since I am doing all of the production, it all depends on how much I think it’s crap on the first pass-through.

Maul a Friend/Volunteer as a Victim

Anyone donating at least $10 can choose the Maul a Friend option, or simply offer themselves up as a victim. Now it will just be a small scene where a monster eats you, but I put a couple of placeholders in there. If I can’t write you in during the final scenes I’m pushing through, I’ll add you in during the edits.

The more you donate in, the more people you can have mauled. Or, should the opportunity be there, the larger role the character I name after you will have. I may or may not have left one or two hunters unnamed for just such an occasion.

Youth Writing Contest

In the event that I take the top spot, I will solidify and announce a youth writing contest. With prizes! If any of you published authors out there are interested in helping to judge, let me know.

Playlist to Random Donor

In the event I take the top spot on the pledge pages, I will choose a random donor from all donors (including even the very first donors) and will send one of them at random the playlist. I believe this will require you to have an iTunes account. If I make my original goal of $500 donors I will send out two playlists, one from each protagonist.

My Gratitude

Seriously, I appreciate everyone supporting this. If you think you might know others interested in it, send it out to them as well. Of course if sheer numbers bury me in requests care packages may take on a different note and will take a bit longer to get out. The more time I spend doing shipping the less time I’ll have for editing.

Thanks again to all who’ve already donated and all the rest of you for sitting through this shameless plug. 😉

EDIT: Adding easy link to donate. Click Here

Back in the Land of WiFi

I’m not even being trite. The further up you get in Door County the less connected you are. I spent a whole week with nary a G to speak of. Verizon is a great service, but even they have their limits. Our friend’s kid took out his flip phone at one point and proudly claimed, “I have 3Gs.” I just looked at him and said, “Prove it. Do something with them.” 😉

Honestly I could have traveled about 5-10 minutes south of Fish Harbor to a coffee shop that offered WiFi for my iPad (still no 3G-4G there), but the point was to get away. Also the closer one in Ephraim reminded me of The Victory more. It was also a cash only place. A little less Brooklyn, but still eccentric. Leroy’s Coffee Cafe, and I’m guessing Leroy is an ex-surfer or ex-skateboarder. Between that place and The Good Egg, Ephraim is an excellent vacation spot. Really, most of Door County is.

My writing highlight of Door County (aside from some kick ass scenes that make the book harder to finish but the story better) came from day three of showing up at the coffee shop at 7am to write until 9-10 in the morning. A long line had formed so I set up my stuff and started getting ready to write. When the line was gone I walked up and ordered my coffee. The barista was fixing it and asked if I was writing a book. My gut reaction was to say, “No, I just really like coffee.” Then I remembered she was fixing my drink.

Another highlight that came back to bite me in the ass was when I was told that television signals were able to be picked up in the park. This was awesome for me as Ben Dukes was making his debut on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. If you remember back earlier this month, I blogged about how his bit on the show as a worker was my inspiration for my protagonist in my Camp NaNoWriMo story. So we cranked up the antenna and did a channel scan. Sure enough we had a CBS channel. Unfortunately it was fuzzy at best and storms Wednesday night knocked it out entirely. On the upside, I had the DVR set, so I caught the show on Sunday when we got home. Also, the clip is already up on his YouTube channel.

For the record, Down in Flames is one of my favorite songs from his album. Also, the playlist for Dukes will be coming out shortly. The one for my other protagonist is only about half done.

Now on our way to Chippewa Falls (Lake Wissota specifically) we passed through Cadot. My wife texted this to my sister (who had already been camping there with her husband and our cousins for a day) and she requested we bring her some Country AND Western. (Country Fest was going on in Cadot this past weekend.) I told her to text her back with “done” but I don’t think she did.

You guessed it. As we were driving to the boat launch so my wife could scope out photo opportunities, I advanced through the iPod to play the Johnny Cash song that made the playlist (When the Man Comes Around) and Down in Flames. Also, as we were leaving the Leinenkugel Brewery on the way back to the campsite, the first song on the shuffle was When Do We Start Drinking, also by Ben Dukes. My sister may never make a smart ass request of me again. Oh who am I kidding? I know damn well she will.

So this morning I sat back in my usual spot. The Victory. I busted out as many words as I could in the hour and a half I had. About a thousand. Well under my normal amount. But it was my first day back. Also there were multiple people pacing up and down across the tables. Multiple. All of them. Stalking like a caged friggin’ tigers. As I was writing about the Big Bad™ in the story… you guessed it… stalking up and down like a tiger. Seriously, it was freaking me out. But I digress.

I was back in the Land of Connectivity. The Nirvana of WiFi. And what did I do? I sequestered myself into a WiFi Wasteland to write. On the upside, I am coming up on 40k total. So that means, charity story update time.


  • I’m nearing 40k.
  • The story will likely top out at 53-56k with the scenes left to write.
  • Editing, revising and writing between the scenes might get me 60-65k. For my genre that is a bit light, but it is still novel length.
  • I have a couple more people to write into the story.
  • The ending is solid in my mind. (Although I haven’t written it yet.)
  • Dukes is fleshing out well. He’s becoming the young Obi-Wan to my detective’s Qui-Gon.
  • I met my revised goal of $300 raised, but I’d like to give the top spot a run for their money. (I’m currently second.)
  • To offer incentives, until the end of this week I will continue to give the care package to any donors. The person donating the most I’ll send the playlist for Dukes to them. Or just Ben Duke’s album, since half of it is in the playlist.
  • As always, anyone who donates $5 or more will get a copy of the ebook.

So, get to work people. Tell your friends, tell your neighbors. Tell anyone and everyone. If enough of your friends, family and neighbors sign up, I’ll send you a care package too!

To donate, click on the Camp NaNoWriMo tab above, the Sponsored Camper stamp to the right, or simply go to

First Weekend Down

Opening weekend. A roller coaster ride under the best of circumstances, and it’s hardly ever the best of circumstances. This month was no exception. While there was the blessings of serendipity in the music that was playing at The Victory on June 1st when I stopped in for my morning writing spree (which I will go into in a later post on my playlist for the story), there was also the task of working the Festa Italia in Madison. Add to that a pair of granddaughters visiting and going to Festa with us Friday night. Oh, and baking two dozen cupcakes from a recipe I invented from one of our base recipes on the way home Thursday. I mentioned opening weekend is never really the best of circumstances, right?

I did manage to get through two “scenes” which will likely get made into chapters. My idea is almost a series of vignettes written around an outbreak of violence with a semi-supernatural catalyst. Due to this method and having two protagonists in the book, I am looking at doing a 3rd person point of view. I’m not a fan of 3rd person, but it has to be done. Once I have all of these scenes written, I’ll see how they fit together and write any bits I need to for connecting them.

Saturday kind of broke me though. After being up until around 11:00-11:30 I was up at 6:00 and at the coffee shop just after 7:30. I wrote and worked on ending my first scene and starting a second. I wrote until nearly 10:00am. From there I went to the Festa grounds and did some ninja writing until I was needed for anything. Due to my own inability to say no, I wound up closing up the Pepsi tent (to offer an alternative for as long as the beer tent is open) until midnight. That put me to bed around 2am when the dog finally realized if he kept me up any longer I would kick him out of the condo. I didn’t get up in time to make it to the coffee shop Sunday morning. I barely made it back to Festa grounds to drop off the keys for the golf carts.

Monday morning I made it to the coffee shop only a bit late. My mind needed a kick start, so I was only able to get in about 400-500 words. That means I am writing tonight. On the upside, I have a blog post on the first scene coming up and hopefully another on the main character I’m introducing in this story. Keep an eye out here for those definitely.

I also have an update for people sponsoring my story through the charity pledge page. When you donate, contact me with the format of ebook you’d like. Most of you I know personally and will get your email address if I don’t already have it. Otherwise, place a comment here and I’ll try and set up a form to send me the information I’ll need.

If you are wondering what I’m talking about, click on the Camp NaNoWriMo tab above. For a $5 donation to the charity (using the Sponsored Camper button to the right) you can get an electronic copy of the story once it is done. For more money, I’ll even include your name as a character, maul a friend of yours with a monster or a variety of other options. Everyone who donates at least $5 gets a copy of the book.

I’ll also plant this seed early. There are a lot of people choosing the Maul a Friend option as well as the Name a Character option. This means a lot of side characters that are getting eaten by monsters or taking small roles in the story. If my amount of characters/vignettes gets too large, I will be splitting this project into two books. In the event that I do that, everyone who donated the $5 or more will be sent a copy of both stories. My plan would be to write the second in August for the next installment of Camp NaNoWriMo. At this point, I think I can safely fit in all the names already penciled in as well as a few more without it getting too cramped.

Tomorrow, the post on the setting for my first scene will go live. See you all there.