Free E-Books: Why Pay For Anything?

A quick share about a series The Fussy Librarian is running.

They ask the question, “Why pay for ebooks?”

One answer is, “Because the writers are people too.”

Check it out by clicking here and see what I mean.  It’s a very nice idea they have here, and it helps illustrate the rant below.

This also comes on the heels of me discovering that some Russian-based pirate site has stolen some of my work, which has been downloaded over 2000 times!  That’s 2000 times that people have preferred to pay a pirate for a subscription of ill-gotten material rather than the writer who made it!  I probably haven’t sold 2000 books total over the last three years.  I pay for cover art and editing services to make my work the best it can be, and 2000 people read it, enjoyed it (as evidenced by the 96 positive comments), and happily paid some Russian mobster for that entertainment over me, the humble author who invested time, money, and soul into the work.

PIRACY IS NOT A VICTIMLESS CRIME, PEOPLE.

I am not a wealthy conglomerate that can get by without the money.  Eventually cyber-readers are going to realize that by supporting thieves instead of writers, they make us less able to write more material.  If I need to work 50+ hours a week to support my family and pay my bills, I have less time to write more books for you to enjoy.

Next time, consider making your own cup of coffee at home, and redirect that four bucks toward paying an artist for the week of entertainment you’re going to get from their book.

(This blog is a repost from my “old blog,” thus the “classic” tag.)

Cthulhu Warlock for D&D 5th Edition

This is reposted from my old website (thus the “classic” tag), where it was by far the most popular blog post.  Apparently there’s a lot of D&D gamers looking for a good warlock build, most likely of the dark and mysterious Cthulhu variety.

blackeye_cvr-miniYou can find Jansen here, as well as within the virtual pages of a free sample book on the Dungeon Masters Guild website called The Eye in the Shadow (just click here).  He’s one of three characters profiled there.

You can also find him with 9 other characters, 16 feats, and lot whole lot more in my new Fifth Edition Creative Companion,  available from theDungeon Masters Guild right now for only $0.99.  You can find it by clicking here.  

female elf with a bow in the forestThe 5eCC is a 45 page PDF.  Here’s the description:

Fantasy author J. D. Brink first discovered Dungeons & Dragons more thirty years ago.  Finally, with the advent of the Dungeon Masters’ Guild, he can now share some of his own game innovations with fellow players of the world’s greatest roleplaying game.  

Contained herein are more than 40 pages featuring custom game rules, a new experience point system, and 16 new feats for players.  But that’s not all. 

A Cthulhu warlock, steampunk mage, Shinto samurai, and rogue spymaster: these are just 4 of 10 characters created from new takes on existing classes, complete with detailed backstories and decision descriptions.  Ten characters meant to provide players and DMs with new inspiration for developing their own worlds and the heroes to save them.    

*****

JANSEN, THE EYE IN THE SHADOW

“Kinda a funny looking feller, eh?  Don’t look dangerous, but something ‘bout him makes me skin crawl.  Better keep a distance.” – Constable’s Deputy, Dunwich

Warlock (3)

Alignment: CN

STR 8 -1
INT 14 +2
WIS 14 +2
DEX 11 0
CON 10 0
CHAR 16 +3

HP:  24

AC:  12

PROF:  +2

SAVES:  WIS (+4) CHAR (+5)

INIT:  +2

RACE:  Human

BACKGROUND:  Noble

* Dragon chess gaming proficiency

* Life of Privilege

* Languages: Common, Elven

WARLOCK: 

* Otherworldly Patron: Great Old One

* Awakened Mind

Pact Boon: Book of Shadows

Eldritch Invocations:

— Beguiling Influence

— Mask of Many Faces

SPELLS:

* Spell DC (13)  Spell Attack Mod (+5)

* Warlock: 2 Cantrips, 4 Known Spells, 2 Spell Slots at 2nd Level

— Cantrips: Eldritch Blast, Prestidigitation

— 1st Level: Hex, Arms of Hadar

— 2nd Level: Suggestion, Crown of Madness

Eldritch Invocation: Disguise Self at will

Books of Shadows: Druid (WIS)

— Cantrips: Shillelagh, Produce Flame, Resistance

* Magic Initiate Feat: Bard (CHAR)

— Cantrips: Mage Hand, Minor Illusion

— Once per long rest: Dissonant Whispers

* Ritual Caster: Wizard (INT)

— 1st Level: Find Familiar, Unseen Servant

FAMILIAR:  Lovecraft, the ferret (fiend)

SKILLS:

* Intimidation (+5)

* Arcana (+4)

* Investigation (+4)

* History (+4)

* Insight (+4)

* Deception (+5)

* Persuasion (+5)

* Bonus Languages: Primordial, Abyssal

FEATS:

* Magic Initiate

* Ritual Caster

BASIC GEAR:

* Ornate cane (club), 2 daggers

* Studded leather armor

* Fine clothes, Scholar’s pack, scroll of pedigree, 2 signet rings – one of Fellcorr family, one unknown (arcane focus)

* His uncle’s estate in Dunwich

STORY NOTES:

Jansen Fellcorr came from a family of minor nobility and had lived most of his life in abject boredom.  The life of privilege didn’t disagree with him, per say, but there was very little about that easy, controlled life that held his interest.  He made study and observation (“people watching”) his hobbies, sometimes following strangers all day, even back to their homes, to discover the secrets of their lives.  Jansen was an intelligent, polite, and rather creepy young man.

The death of Hadspen Fellcorr–Jansen’s uncle–went largely unnoticed, as Hadspen had been the strange and estranged black sheep of the family.  Jansen, at twenty-six years of age, barely even remembered his uncle Hadspen.  But when he heard of the man’s passing and saw how the rest of his noble family chose to ignore the black sheep’s death from their flock, Jansen made it his business to find out more.  (He had nothing better to do, after all.)  It took him a week to travel to the city of Dunwich, where his uncle had lived and died.  The Dunwich mortician and Hadspen’s landlord were only too happy to turn over the odd nobleman’s personal effects and quarters to the nephew who had come to claim them.  Though he had lived there for years, no one in town seemed to know Hadspen very well, nor did they want to.  It was rumored that he dabbled in dark magic and secrets best left undiscovered.

It was in his dead uncle’s home that Jansen uncovered new mysteries and a new purpose in life.  Hadspen’s quarters were filled with books and rarities: drawings and journals, maps and star charts, ancient artifacts and dusty grimoires.  Jansen dove in eagerly and lived in Dunwich through the summer,  fall, and into winter.  And it was on the bitter cold evening of the winter solstice that he finally unlocked the same key that his uncle had years before.  It was on this cold, snowy night that he finally met Hadspen Fellcorr’s other-worldly benefactor.

Jansen has taken his uncle’s place as the servant and apprentice of a strange, extra-planar power.  He has, in fact, surpassed his uncle and become an actively mobile agent, taking on the title of Eye in the Shadow.  The motives of his patron are unclear, even to him, but he serves it with no less devotion.  Be it good or evil, Jansen’s benefactor seems to be an entity of shadow, deception, knowledge, and madness.  Though his master speaks to him only rarely, Jansen continues to follow wherever his destiny seems to be leading.

As an adventurer, Jansen carries the same cane that his uncle had used in life.  This is a very ornate walking stick carved to resemble an alien tower on another plane of existence.  It is patterned after the very structure that is benefactor inhabits, be it a palace or a prison.  His loyal companion and familiar, Lovecraft the ferret, acts as his eyes and ears, sticky fingers, and only true friend.  Jansen wears two signet rings: the Fellcorr crest on his right hand, and, on his left, a ring bearing a symbol unknown to any court in this reality.  Jansen uses his family pedigree only when needed to infiltrate or influence others along his course, preferring to forget the worthless life of nobility he’d lived before.

GAME NOTES: 

I actually did quite a bit of dark research myself to see what options and spells I wanted to take with this character.  Warlocks have three paths they can follow, called Eldritch Invocations, and in a way I have managed to take all three here rather than settling for just one!

I wanted to favor spellcraft with this guy, partially because Warlocks have such a weird and limited magic-user mechanic.  (Though I do like that they work in a different way than the rest.)  I took the Book of Shadows, which lets me pick 3 cantrips from any class list.  I chose Druids and Shillelagh, a spell that lets me turn Jansen’s fancy cane (club) into a magical weapon of moderate power.  Therefore, I kind of get the bonded weapon invocation.  I also tend to make human characters, so I started with two Feats.  For both I took more spells, which gave me access to Find Familiar, thus effectively giving me the Chain invocation too.

BAM!  All three Warlock paths in one character!  And I have an amazing number of spells for a 3rd level character, especially a warlock!

And while he is magicked up pretty darn well, he’s not going to dodge or take a hit very well.  But not all characters need to be combat powerhouses!  I like how Fifth Edition clearly states the three main aspects of game play: not just combat, but also exploration and social interaction.  Jansen is a brainy magic user who will excel at the second and third aspects far more that the first one.  As a player and DM—as I’ve said before—I like to make sure skills and non-combat spells are valuable in the game too.  This character will put his best ability score—Charisma—to good use, along with useful INT- and WIS-based skills.

His role as the Eye in the Shadow makes him a spy and a manipulator.  I chose many of his spells to specifically fit his shadowy and Cthulhu-like nature.  I also considered an owl and raven for his familiar, both of which seem very Cthulhu to me, but the ferret just seemed to fit more comfortably somehow.

I actually really like this character concept.  He’s just begging to be in a story/novel someday!