Saturday, August 16, 2014

Saddle up for Laughing Moon Crossroads at Gateway

The Laughing Moon crew is bringing the new Crossroads game to the Gateway gaming convention put on by Strategicon in LA August 29-September 1st. Crossroads takes the world of Laughing Moon and puts an Old West spin on it.  Magic, curses, and bullet will fly!

We're lookin' to round up gamers at Gateway to check out the new system. Our gang will be runnin' two tables each session with room for you and your pardner. So saddle up and be a part of the epic adventures players have come to expect with Laughing Moon.

Here's the skinny on all five sessions.


The Wolves of Cherry Creek
Cherry Creek is a small establishment  that  lies just west of the border between the New Republic and the Federation. No cherry trees grow in this region, however. The name came about after a massive gun fight between settlers and soldiers of the Federation. The result was so bloody the streams ran red, or so say the survivors. Once again Federation lawmen have arrived in unwanted territory and the adventuring party is called on to keep the peace. 
But what’s drawn the Federation back to a simple one-saloon town after all these years?
Day and Time: Saturday 9:00am

Shades of the Red Hill Mine
The Red Hill Mine was abandoned decades ago. History claims the miners died in a tragic collapse of the narrow tunnels, but local legend makes other claims. Few tears were shed, as the victims were mostly dark elves and dwarves—no human casualties, thank the powers above.  Regardless, the graves of those long-dead miners have recently been dug up, and Federation agents seem intent on diverting all interest away. 

Meanwhile, something stirs deep in the mine that could threaten everyone living in the shadow of Red Hill.
Day and Time: Saturday 2:00pm

The Guns of Godsteel
Ancient powers that had long slept in the Red Hill Mine have awakened and an unnatural darkness has settled over the region. Creatures of myth now stalk the land, and the adventuring party is sent on a desperate mission to find the one legendary gunslinger capable of putting an end to the nightmare—the fact that he’s been dead for twenty years is only one problem they’ll have to overcome.
Day and Time: Sunday 9:00am



Hanged Man’s Crossing
Time is running out as the adventuring party must race to a forbidden crossroads in an effort to awaken the fabled Hanged Man before the sickle moon rises. Talismans of the ancient world point to hidden truths long kept buried in the forgotten past. Not everyone wants the secrets known however, and agents of the Federation have made dark alliances to ensure that dead men tell no tales.
Day and Time: Sunday 2:00pm



Happy Trails
With the last remaining clues now in hand, the adventuring party returns to Cherry Creek. Hot on their trail is an outlaw gang of the undead that seems to have evaded not only the Federation lawmen, but the long arm of death as well. Magic, bullets, and curses fly in an epic struggle of literal life and death.   
Day and Time: Monday 9:00am
  
-T
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Introducing Laughing Moon Crossroads

I am pleased to announce a new spin on the Laughing Moon RPG setting. Laughing Moon Crossroads takes the familiar setting and races of my fantasy world and combines it with elements of the Old West. The history of the world has taken a turn that allows for the rise of steam engines and gunpowder. Players are able to choose traditional character types, but the combination of fantasy and western elements will allow for entirely new adventures and a lot of fun.

Myself and the Laughing Moon crew are currently beta-testing the mechanics of the game and ironing out the history behind this "alternate universe" version of the world. When the work is done, we'll have a fun game on our hands that I'll be eager to bring to gamers.


-T
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Friday, June 27, 2014

The Ridges: Setting Details for a Laughing Moon Adventure


Decades ago this quaint location was used by Delerion nobles as a place to discretely offer comfort and care to their “afflicted” children.  A collection of cottages constructed by a nearby lake would make for a serene sanctuary away from the harsh public eye, or so said the wealthy investors who commissioned the project. Here, tucked away in the Andron Mountains, those born into specific wealthy families with mental illness, disease, deformaties, or disciplinary issues were sent to the Ridges and kept under the watchful eye of the Sisters of the Hand—acolytes of Krymara, the Goddess of Healing.  

Though their hearts were pure, the Sisters were not true priestesses and lacked the divine gift of magical healing. They were caregivers and counselors, but ill-equipped to deal with the increasing number of residents or the multitude of afflictions they possessed.  Those sent to the Ridges were never cured, they were merely contained.  And in the pristine getaway of their mountain retreat, the outcast children of Delerion’s highborn became sullen, angry, and vengeful.

Over time, the inhabitants of the Ridges grew older, and despite promises made by the Delerion nobles to provide money for supplies, additional shelter and general care, soon the flow of gold into the quiet camp ceased all together.  With many of the Sisters abandoning the camp, unrest began to stir amongst the inhabitants as the Ridges turned from a place of comfort into a hidden asylum with increasingly dangerous denizens.








The first known murder was committed by a boy of sixteen named Joachim. Sister Tyrell had never been known as a tender heart,  but what set the brutal act off remains a mystery. She was killed just outside the perimeter of the Ridges, bludgeoned to death with a stone, and perhaps out of fear of being caught, Joachim attempted to hide her body in a nearby cave.  Deep within the dark confines, he found the perfect location to conceal his crime: an ancient archway that outlined a yawning abyss.  How could the boy have known about Fey Ways or the myths and legends surrounding them?

How could he have understood the sacrifice he was offering?

The body was thrown in, and a devilish fey entity was awakened.  When Joachim left the cave he carried more than a murderer’s guilt—he carried the spirit of an evil monstrosity hungry for mortal blood.
Madness erupted shortly thereafter and the inhabitants of the Ridges fell victim to the murderous will of the possessed Joachim. Death claimed uncounted victims, and those that escaped did so screaming into the surrounding woods.

From the open Fey Way, additional creatures slipped out like sinuous shadows to occupy the cabins and cottages once held by the “afflicted.” Here they fed off of the residual anger and trauma that lingered from years of abandonment and neglect. They took the tangible form of the most horrifying thoughts long kept hidden in the inarticulate vaults of the inhabitants’ minds. Murder and madness bred and gave birth to new terror.

Soon the Ridges fell quiet and time slipped by. Some say the former denizens still wander the wooded region, lost in a perpetual nightmare or perhaps possessed like Joachim. The cabins and cottages still stand, though time and elements have been cruel. Within, the gloom conceals the atrocities of yesterday as sleeping monsters drift ever closer to waking. 


-T
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Monday, June 2, 2014

Laughing Moon Setting Update: The Rise of the Ancient World

The Age of Prophecy has been an era of fear and waiting.

Born from the ashes of the Age of Dominion, those who rose to power in the new age did so in the wake of loss and utter catastrophe. Tales spoke of Sorcerer-kings and angels in rebellion. Legend whispered of a wrathful Oracle. Prophets warned that the ancient world would rise again.
Artwork by Ethan Scott

For more than a thousand years this warning has hung like a shadow over the lands. The keepers of magic guard against the return of ancient powers and seek to hide the truth of what lies buried or lost between the pages of history and the legends of old.

Yet nothing remains buried forever. Prophecy, whether self-fulfilled or by destiny, has come to pass. And secrets long hidden or forgotten have once again found their way back to the world beneath the Laughing Moon.

The village of Kiano Tol, long used as a cover to house relics of the ancient world, has been breached and its age-old secrets have at last been unleashed on an unsuspecting population. The forgotten demi-gods, absent from Mythren for thousands of years, escape their prison of obscurity. Among them: Ashyrdican, dragon god of greed and stolen luck, Murkel, worshiped by orlocks, gand and scads, Harrow, the doom bringer, and Shikal, called the wolf-mother.

Artwork by Chris Wood
The surviving ilvastu, the titans that once ruled the lands as earth-bound gods, have also been revealed--many of whom have been hiding in plain sight for generations. The returned include Dercilean, the Hammer, forger and smithy of the immortals, Bendahal once worshiped by the vandi before her immortal song was stolen, Chorrt, the Carrion King of the Twilight Kingdom, and Rhaen, whose power and legacy has been inherited by a character called the Burned Man.

But most disconcerting of all is that a new titan has risen. Crawling from the black water of the Dim, a corrupted and forsaken fey realm, is something called Almyn. The living embodiment of the curse once held in the Key of Almyn, this titan holds power unlike any before. The Key once had the power to resurrect the dead--but at the cost of some future disaster centered around the returned. Now the Almyn titan spreads this curse like a plague, returning life to the dead, and charging each of those returned with the power to bring doom and destruction to all around them. At her side is the vastral, Cezares. She was once the first vastral created by the titan Jezaphar--a noble lioness imbued with divine breath. Later she was stripped of her power, but not of her immortality. Desperate and vengeful, Cezares has now sided with the Almyn, obsessed with regaining the power she once knew.

Ancient powers have risen and war threatens the lands as these forgotten gods seek to reclaim what was so long ago lost.


The Laughing Moon RPG setting updates pull heavily from situations, events and conflicts found in the Laughing Moon Chronicles fiction as well as from actual games that occur around the RPG table.  For more detailed back story be sure to check out the books and graphic novels, or join the Laughing Moon crew at a gaming convention!

-T
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New Release: Grimhold

Just in time for Phoenix Comicon, we bring you the second book in the Laughing Moon graphic novel series--Song of Dominion: Grimhold.

Grimhold takes our readers to the infamous Spire of Mystics, where the Chroniclers have been summoned to a secret meeting. The discovery of the Burned Man, as seen in the prologue, Candle, has introduced a significant threat to the balance of magic in the lands. 

Now the Spire of Mystics is charged with negating that threat by any means necessary. Desperate, the Chroniclers turn to the dark angel, Sershae. Held prisoner for the atrocities committed during the Senduan Persecution hundreds of years ago, she is now their greatest weapon against the rise of the ancient world and the power which now resides in the hands of the Burned Man. 

You can catch a sneak peek inside the first two books in the series by clicking on the video below.
 
A tremendous amount of work has gone into the writing and the artwork, and once again a project like this would not be possible without the amazing talent I have been surrounded by. Ethan Scott has done beautiful artwork, and our cast did an outstanding job bringing our characters to life.

You can order a copy of Grimhold on the official website at www.toddvanhooser.com

-T
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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Making a Comic Book

I love telling stories.  Always have.

Publishing my first book was a fascinating, roller-coaster experience that introduced me to the talent pool of convention-going artists, writers, and more. On that scene I've seen some of the best and some of the most questionable professionals making the rounds.  Being a part of that experience inspired me to consider offering new means by which my story could reach an audience. Fiction has been my preferred writing mode since I was young, and the role-playing game seemed a natural progression to my style of fantasy.  But I was eager to try something new. To be perfectly honest, based on a lot of what I was seeing and reading on the "comic con" floor, I felt like I could do better.

A comic book offered not only a new means of story telling, it also provided a visual element missing from traditional fiction. The Laughing Moon world certainly has a great deal to show off in the visual department with character and creature designs, as well as unique settings. A comic book could show off a unique story in a brand new way.

But there are countless comics out there.  Countless artists.  There are adaptations of stories, re-imagined worlds and characters--plenty of old sandboxes populated by new people.  Personally, I have no desire to play in a previously established world.  I don't need to re-imagine Wonderland, Oz, or partake in what is essentially elaborate fan-fiction.  I want to create.  I have my own sandbox, and there are plenty of castles yet to be built.

I needed and wanted my series to have a different look that set it apart from everything else on the shelf.  I felt confident in my own writing skills to deliver the story, but finding an art style would be more challenging.

Enter Ethan Scott.  Our initial team-up with my first RPG adventure, The Ragged Man, yielded a beautiful book with an edgy look that provided a window into the horror-themed situation I had created.  A few conversations later, and our plan for the graphic novel was in motion.

To further set ourselves apart from the crowd, Ethan suggested casting the characters with live actors/models and photographing the books panel by panel.  The photos would then be used as reference for the final art that would appear in the book.  The strategy, used in a handful of big name books out there, would lend emotional resonance, and sympathetic overtones into the fantasy setting.  Laughing Moon has sought ways to "make fantasy a reality" and this approach would underline that motto.

Seeing the books come to life through the work of our selected cast, has been surreal.  And the final product has surpassed even my expectations. 

The first book in the series, Lullaby, is now available for purchase.  The story offers a glimpse into the magic and power acquired by a character called the Burned Man, first introduced in my novella, Garden of Fire. Questions are asked, and a disturbing truth begins to reveal itself as the Burned Man takes a step closer to his answers.

Check it out.  Give it a read.  It's a good book, and I'm not just saying that because I wrote it.  I'm saying that because its true. See how this self-published fantasy author is pushing into new territory, and jump on board for the adventure.

We're deep into the work on Book 2 in the series now, with story and photography already in the bag.  More on that down the road.

-T
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Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Look Ahead

This year has already been packed with some exciting work, and I thought a little look ahead might be in order to see what's on the horizon.  I've got a full plate, and I'm thrilled to be working with the creative power-houses that have become involved with Laughing Moon.

Here's what we can look forward to:

Song of Dominion: Grimhold

The second book in the graphic novel series is written and we've completed our first photo shoot.  Those of you who read the first book, Lullaby, know that we're using photographic reference for the interior art.  The combination of models/actors and illustration brought a unique style to the book as well as a true human element that bridged reality and fantasy. Because the story in book two explores new conflicts and settings, I had the opportunity to involve brand new people and the breath of fresh air they have brought to the project has been inspiring.  We still have a couple more shoots ahead of us to wrap up the necessary coverage, and then its up to Ethan Scott to work his illustration magic and create the final pages we'll see in the finished product. Below you'll see a couple of pics from the first shoot featuring Kristina Hardin-Moss, Shae Hardin, and Matthew Lenzi as well as a sneak peek at a finished page.


Fireflies in the Garden: The Heir of Despair

Last September I met Alana Rose from the SyFy Channel's Face/Off series and I had a feeling that great things were going to come from this friendship.  The two of us are now hard at work on a dark fairy tale told in graphic novel form.  The idea we have will incorporate Alana's incredible creature designs as featured characters--giving a home to some of her most imaginative and creative creatures to date.  I have written the prologue to the larger work, a story called The Heir of Despair, and I love having the chance to delve into a Laughing Moon fairy tale.  We've never done anything like this before, and I can promise that the final story will be something very special. Below you'll see a couple of creature designs that will eventually appear in the graphic novel.

Ashes of Evermore

The sequel to The Barren Twelve has been forced to the back-burner on several occasions as new opportunities arise and take priority.  This book has never left my mind and it is one that I have been diligently working on as time allows. Ashes of Evermore is something I am immensely proud of and very eager to make available to readers.  Its very close now, and as you can see from the cover art, you're in for an epic adventure that will be well worth the wait.

There's a lot to look forward to already, and sometime this fall I'll be able to announce yet another project that will take Laughing Moon in a new direction.  Lots of work to do on that secret project between now and then, but it promises to be a LOT of fun.


It's going to be a very busy year!

-T
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