Monday, December 24, 2012

End of the World--er, End of the Year Review

     And with a blink of our eyes, we’ve come once again to the end of another year.  Despite the anti-climatic apocalypse, 2012 has turned out to be an eventful year for Laughing Moon, and one that has put us on an exciting path for 2013 and beyond.
    As far as releases, 2012 has been the most productive year to date.  May brought about the release of two RPG supplements—The Book of Arcane Spells, and The Book of Divine Powers.  Both of these books are the products of a great deal of time and effort, and I felt a swell of pride when I was at last able to hold them together with Adventures Under the Laughing Moon.  Both of these books premiered at the Tempe-based Leprecon convention where I was brought in as the “Gaming Guest of Honor.”  Both supplements round out the game, and for the first time since the publication of Adventures, I feel that the RPG is truly complete.  My focus now shifts away from the design of the game and its components and into a storytelling mode with upcoming adventure modules.
     Late May saw the release of “The Mind’s Eye,” a prequel story to The Barren Twelve. This is a story that had languished on the back-burner for many years—something written mostly for myself than for an intended audience.  However, after sharing it with a few special friends, I was convinced this was indeed a story that needed to be told and that fans of the Laughing Moon Chronicles would enjoy.  This one is a definite shift in tone from the other Laughing Moon fiction, and I have to admit that I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to introduce this into the mix.  To capture the sense of danger, magic and romance, I also wanted to ensure that the cover was something unlike anything we had previously seen.  Local artist Natali Sanders was able to capture all of that in her fantastic cover art, and give us a glimpse into a quiet, desperate moment under the Laughing Moon.

    The convention schedule was a good mix of pop-culture and gaming, and as usual the Laughing Moon crew made the most of the events we attended.  Darkcon, Amazing Arizona Comic Con, Vul-con, Leprecon, Phoenix Comicon, Conflagration, Nerdvana, Sabotencon, Laughing Moon Con, and Tuscon Comic Con all made the list this year.  I attended several of these as a guest of honor and participated in various gaming-related panels.  I love having this opportunity, and look forward to the discussions that occur.  Hearing people like John Wick, Ken St. Andre, and Dennis Kauffman discuss game theory, what makes a good game, the development process, storytelling strategies, and more has helped give me insight into my own work.  There are some great games and great designers in our local circle, and I feel privileged to learn from these masters.
    Out of all the events I attend any year, nothing is more near and dear that our very own Laughing Moon Con.  This was our fourth round, and I honestly think it was the most entertaining. Our event had some fan-favorite returning guests with April Grady-Reyna doing personal commissions and the Barry Bard “At the Movies” presentation with cool giveaways and movie freebies. We had a great turnout of local talent with an emphasis on art this year, and our good friends from did the best stunt show to date as they tore up the parking lot with a police chase involving the General Lee.  We had a good mix of games with a little something for everyone and an unforgettable "Laughing Moon meets Ravenloft mash-up" that left a trail of blood, tears and good memories.  With over 300 attendees, this was once again a fun and successful year and we’ve already got plans to make next year bigger and better.  I had the pleasure of making some great acquaintances in the fall which should help bring in even more writing and artistic talent for the 2013 Laughing Moon Con.  With any luck we should be able to announce the date in the very near future.
    And although 2012 did not bring the promised end-of-days, it was not without its revelations. First and foremost, as always, I stand amazed at the love I receive from my most inner circle of my tight-knit crew.  The level of dedication, loyalty, and strength they give me is unparalleled.  The people you see me with at events, conventions, the gaming table—they are more than friends.  They are my inspiration.
     That’s not to say we haven’t seen the standard ebb and flow of involvement.  We have gained new faces along the way and watched as others faded away.  This last year has shown some true colors, and I’m not even sure some of those people know their colors are showing. We bid a fond farewell to some, a necessary farewell to a few, and an anticipated farewell as the fade begins its slow tug on still others.  To quote Hamlet, I say "adieu, adieu...remember me."  A sad but natural part of life, and one I've come to acknowledge for its true value.  Through this process, I feel like I’ve at long last got the right people at my side. 
    It has been a long road, and I feel like these last few miles I’ve been carried by a handful of very loyal, very loving friends who, for reasons I cannot fully fathom but deeply appreciate, share my vision.  Dreams, I have learned, are very heavy burdens.  Crushing weights, in fact.  Maybe they were never meant to be carried alone.
    Thanks to them my dream is lifted on sturdy hands and we have big things on the horizon.
    Already we have added new art to our catalog, and will be showing off even more in the months ahead.  Artist Trevor Smith has been commissioned not only by me, but by a number of Laughing Moon gamers to bring individual characters to life through his work. Two of these sketches can already be seen on the Laughing Moon Facebook page
     I am extremely excited to announce that I have teamed up with artist Ethan Scott Alan Gregory on the very first published Laughing Moon adventure—"The Ragged Man."  Ethan’s work is unlike anything we have used on previous publications.  The richness of his style, and his eye for the aesthetic combined with the overtones of horror will amaze you.  We’ll be offering some exclusive “teaser” prints at Amazing Arizona Comic Con in January, and we hope to see the published adventure module out in late winter/early spring.
    This coming year will bring a new look to Laughing Moon, new products, new stories and new adventures.  I want people involved who build each other up, who can be relied upon, who are true to their word, and who can appreciate the notion of extended family.  The Laughing Moon corner of a convention will be transforming into a visually striking location populated with characters who have unique stories.  Our costumed crew aren’t dressed as characters they have read or seen in a comic book or movie—they are dressed as characters they have individually created and brainstormed with me. I encourage their involvement, their creativity, and their vision. I no longer want our group to be mistaken as a part of any “cosplay elite,” but rather “that group over there having all the fun.” 
    2012 was spent positioning and preparing.  It was a year of growth, and a year of rediscovery.  I was able to take a breath of fresh air.  I’ve never been one to write or create solely for myself, and this year I was reminded that there are those out there who love this world I’ve created and hunger for more.  Seeing that desire rekindles my creative fire.  If you’re reading this, you’re likely one of those people holding a match.
    I sincerely hope you drop by our booth at one of the 2013 events and say hi.  We’ll have good people at our booth eager to welcome you to a new world.  Hopefully it’s a world you’ll want to escape into and come back to visit often.
    I bid 2012 a fond farewell, and look to the new year with excitement, anticipation, and a curiosity as to where this dream can take us.

    Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and may bandu be on your side under the Laughing Moon.


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