Comrade Vladimir

Vladimir is a retribution melee caster (magic tank) who waits for targets to come to him before metering out spine crushing damage. He is built to soak up everything the opposition can give him and pound them for trying.

Lore: Comrade Vladimir was a naval infantry hero of the Red Rustok-Nestra conflict who became first among equals by crushing all enemy resistance. After the war Red Rustok scientists took advantage of the great bear’s physique and used their cutting edge science to augment him for the Greater Glory of the People’s State.

Vladimir has journeyed to the Fields of Strife to demonstrate to the galaxy the State’s unquestionable superiority. With augmentation of ice, fire, and his own brand of bone crushing might he will best all those who oppose the Red Rustok State.

Early test sketch of Vladimir

Q: Freeze and Thaw (90)

Vladimir swipes ice with his right paw and fire with his left. This attack hits targets within a 180º radius in front of him. Targets are momentarily slowed as the ice chills them to the bone and then their movement speed is increased slightly when the fire paw hits them.

Damage 100/110/120/140%

Cool down: 11 seconds

W: Panic Roar (100)

The great bear roars and all targets in his immediate vicinity temporally are struck with fear. NPCs cannot move or fight, heroes afflicted cannot move, but can still attack.

Panic: 1.5/2.0/2.2/3.0

Cool down: 15 seconds

E: Furnace of Rage (50)

The gray bear drops a barrier of brimstone from his furnace which surrounds him in protective fire. All incoming damage is reduced by 35% for the duration. Enemies that attack Vladimir while the barrier is active take 50/60/70/90 damage and suffer movement slow. Additional hits incur progressive 5% damage increase.

Cool down: 16 seconds

R: Red Blizzard (130)

A large area around Vladimir is engulfed in a momentary blizzard. Targeted area deals 140/185/230 physical damage and applied a 70% movement slow.

Enemies that hit Vladimir during this time receive an additional 75/100/125 damage and bonus slow. Additional hits incur progressive 5% damage increase.

Cool down: 90 seconds

Hadiya the Werehippo

EDIT: (10.10.14) – Zane Kinney did a really cool concept piece using Hadiya. Fear the hippo!

EDIT (10.9.14) – A little feed back and a little more thought later I’ve changed a little about the way Hadiya works. Chomp and Charge to Shore have been sketched as well.

The werehippo on the warpath Hadiya is an aggressive melee hero who can dish a beating and soak plenty of damage. Her skills provide mobility and crushing direct damage and she can stand up to the worst of physical attacks. Hadiya dances, spins, and crushes the opposition.

Hadiya is from a distant race of swamp dwellers who call the mangroves of Nigetia home. The Nigetians trained her in their fighting style, which looks remarkably like a dance, so that she could represent their far culture in the Trials of Strife. She spent her childhood dedicated to this one cause. On the eve of her passage to the trials she was cursed by the hag Nikto and now must integrate the hippo spirit that inhabits her body into her fighting style. She learned to let the hippo emerge at just the right moment on the threshold of the Trials.

Q: Chomp (80)

Hadiya quickly sends forth her hippo form three times. Any target caught in the attack cone takes damage and is pulled close to her.

90/100/110/120% damage.

Cooldown: 12 seconds

W: Restlessness (120)

Grants Hadiya 90 bonus move speed and 10% damage reduction. After 3 seconds, deals 80,105,130,155 magic damage to nearby enemies and stuns for 1,1.25,1.5,1.75 seconds.

Cooldown: 15 seconds

E: Thick Skin (0)

Passively grants stacking shield against physical damage equal to 4,4.5,6.5,9% of Hadiya’s maximum health on ability use. Shield last 6 seconds

Cooldown: 0 seconds

R: Charge to shore (140)

Target direction to charge. Any unit encountered in the path is dealt 140,180,220 physical damage and is pushed to the side of Hadiya’s destination.

If an obstacle is encountered enemies take 50% additional damage and a 0.8 second stun.

Cooldown: 60 seconds

Getting Out There

Race to Alaska

I have been toying with an idea for a while now, since before my appearance at DetCon1 last July actually. Human powered endurance sports tend to exist on the bleeding edge of materials science and efficient design. I like to use this in my science fiction writing because it is not much of a stretch to imagine pushing these two contributing factors just a little bit further in the pursuit of glories we already seek.

Today I realize that when I was much younger and had far fewer responsibilities I was living an optimal science fiction life style. Working on the White River National Forest as a back country wilderness guard was the beginning of my pursuit of an ultralight backpack. That first summer I showed up with a huge haul ruck for mountaineering and enough extra stuff that I walked out on my first patrol loaded down with fifty or more pounds strapped to my back. I was young and stupid, but equally motivated by avoiding pain. As soon as that first trip came to a close I realized that I needed to shed weight and bulk rapidly. It was easy enough to repurpose lighter gear from the back of my Subaru hatchback and soon I was skipping down trails thirty-five miles a day. My consistent experimentation was rewarded with easier travels and more miles.

The rest of the family is down for some sleep, and I just got back from a run around the block. Now age is a governing factor in that equation. But I still envy those guys that do amazing distances under their own power.

Gavin McClurg and Will Gadd just flew the length of the Canadian Rockies vol-bivy style in thirty-five days. Heather Anderson powered out a sixty day Pacific Crest Trail thru hike. And the venerable Jefe Branham bike-packed the Divide in sixteen days and change. When people at Geek Fan Expo asked me what are my favorite sports this weekend my reply was “anything single-stage, self-supported.”

My problem is that, while I enjoy watching others do amazing things, doing so fills my pants with ants. Tour the Divide has been an itching welt on my conscious for quite some time. So too each and every PCT segment and thru hike record on the books. Writing about these kinds of things only helps for a little while.

And when I get a bug for long distance races they are very difficult to squish. Right now I’m thinking about how I might enter Race to Alaska. From my seat at this desk I’ve got less than a year to get back into long distance shape for a crossing I should have attempted twenty years ago. Tomorrow the roof top tent goes on the block to generate some seed money and right now I’m trying to calculate my realistic exercise speed given calm conditions.

Ten days. Can I afford that time? Can I afford the hours of training and the gear costs that would put me in a position to compete? Good grief I love and hate it when a mania like this takes hold.

This Should Be a Thing

I’m plum tuckered out. Today I have been more or less consistently disappointed by humanity. Disappointed in general, as well as in particular. Pretty much everyone I’ve encountered in the last twelve to sixteen hours has figured out a new and sometimes interesting way to let me down. For example, the long line of college aged kids on the trail to Lake Serene who were speaking so loudly I could make them out over the din of the forest and a 200 foot cascade crashing into boulders. Guys, hiking should be a lot like visiting the library. Then there is pretty much everyone on social media for, well, saying dumb shit.

After our hike we picked up some passable fried fish and an okay beer. Expectations thereafter lowered, the Fam and I returned to our castle on the hill and played frisbee at the park for a while. Mostly good, but I caught a disc, thrown at close range by my three year old, with my ear. It’s still throbbing. Eventually, we made our way back to the house and I thought, “Hey, I need a pick-me-up. I should see what my friends are up to,” and then clicked through to Facebook because I’m a glutton for punishment, or disappointment. Take your pick. At the top of my feed the fine folks at Facebook thought I’d appreciate this.

Got a request from a new author to read his book. These always set me on edge.

I love helping out new authors. But I’m super busy, so I can’t really take the time to pour myself into that kind of critical reading. And whenever I tell someone this, it’s always a crapshoot whether I’ll get a “thanks for your time” or a raging screed about arrogant writers.

I will not name the author that wrote this. He’s a good guy, and I suspect that this was probably written out of frustration. The amount of reading anybody associated with this gig is constantly asked to undertake can be daunting. At some point we all have to draw lines and declare “None shall pass.” Also noteworthy, I am not the author making said request. This guy writes fantasy, I write science fiction; I’m uncertain he would understand my works any more than I get his. Add to this he’s just an acquaintance I’ve made, not a bosom buddy or a connection to an agent or an imprint. Just some dude I was friendly with over beers at a convention. I’d be really surprised if he reads this blog post. Ever.

But this very public comment struck me as particularly off-putting for a couple of reasons. First, it is a public declaration characterized by indirect refusal to the request of another. He’s not refusing to help by telling the requesting author, he is refusing by telling his fans. While this avenue of response avoids direct confrontation, it also creates more drama than it solves. While at the same time, the comment itself appears to be a lightly veiled attempt to raise one author above another. The Cliff notes for this post? “I’ve got mine, don’t bother asking.”

Add to the above that I’ve found this attitude somewhat widespread. At conventions I’ve sat next to people, other authors, who spend an inordinate amount of time bitching about the unwashed masses with whom they’re too good to consort. To further the misattribution of a phrase “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche.” This seems to me the genre specific contemporary version of Marie Antoinette’s contempt. Funnily it is not the people with swimming pools of book revenue that tend to do this. Go figure.

If you “love helping out new authors” than give it your best shot. Do what you can, no one expects any more. Be more than a self-promoter, be an advocate for your favorite stories. Tell others about all the really fine works that will improve their appreciation of your canon. You’ve worked hard to find your audience, and you may have had help along the way. If not, it cannot hurt to pay it forward. If you really don’t have the time to read someone else’s work than, at the very least, be honest and mature. Tell them upfront.

In an attempt to reconstruct my attitude I turned this nugget on its head because I’m not into maintaining a never ending streak of disappointment. I seriously had to let this one go or risk staying up all night thinking about it, thus, this is a little bit of therapy. I probably need to turn this into a policy statement, but in the mean time consider my public declaration an invitation. Feel free to change out the pronouns as you see fit.

Got a request from a new author to read his book. These always get me excited.

I love helping out new authors because I might have just been given an early opportunity to find my next favorite wordsmith. This is why I will create time in my busy schedule to read his book instead of concocting a series of excuses designed to passive-aggressively justify my own narcissism and surreptitiously segregate him from my social crowd. Besides, I should spend less time playing video games. Whenever I tell someone that I will read their book I am reasonably confident I’ll receive a sincere “thank you” for my time, perhaps some quid pro quo. This is far preferable to the anxiety of waiting on their reply which can range from polite dismissal to an arrogant, raging screed.

It is the last day of August. Today I can officially say I’ve been doing this professionally for a year. Writing, or making shit up for living as I love to call it, is an excellent way to make a living.

One of the most important things I’ve learned over the last year is that it’s a group effort. No one makes it alone. The idea of an “independent author” is a myth, a complete and utter fabrication. For each and every one of us who takes this chance, who writes something down and then sends it out into the world, there must necessarily be a collection of people to read that wager. If you’ve got your’s, I say, “Great! Good on ya.” But I’d also remind you that you did not find your level of success on your own. Someone read what you had to write and loved it enough to tell a friend, to write a blurb, put it in front of your agent or your publisher, or just leave a review on Amazon.

Don’t crap on your fans. Don’t crap on your peers. Pay it forward when ever you can. And always, ALWAYS play nice.

Textbook Example

Extreme Precipitation in US Increasing Data from the latest National Climate Assessment shows that brief, heavy downpours are increasing across the United States, with the Northeastern and Upper Midwestern states hardest hit.

Good morning! For the first time in a very long while the Seattle area is covered, horizon to horizon, with a dense, probably-won’t-burn-off-today layer of creamy, rich, gray clouds. In celebration of this momentous day I put on my running shorts, loaded up the bulki, added Aral, and ran down into Issaquah. Right now, we’re sitting near the rear of the Issaquah Coffee Company; well I am anyway, he is playing with trains and friends in the play area.

First observation of the day: while it is far cooler, it is dog gamed muggy today. Running in muggy is miserable. The body wants to sweat, but the air is not going to help you out. Not one little bit. So you plow through that air moving faster, because while you might sweat a little more, the movement of air over your body feels marginally more comfortable than clinging, humid, still air.

I think about it this way, muggy running should be naked running. Seems you cannot even get away with that at Burning Man these days so I suppose I’m SOL. Otherwise, it was a good run. When we’re done at coffee I’m going to pack everything back up into the bulki, run around town getting some errands done, and then head back up the hill. Perhaps some of the moisture will fall out of the air in the mean time.

Now, beyond contemplating my slimy skin in humid weather, my mind did wonder quite a bit on the run down. I kept coming back to this PopSci article about extreme precipitation, which has been making me say to myself, “Well yeah, this is news?” It’s not news. Rather this is textbook, meaning predictions of a general increase in the intensity of weather events has been around since nearly the beginning of climate science. Meaning that you can literally read about extreme weather predictions in any credible textbook on the subject.

I realize that this may be me experiencing some some cultural dissociation from the rest of the country. Hell, even the rest of the population juxtaposed right next to me. That there are people who still don’t believe in anthropogenic climate change is something I know about. And while I know this, my rational mind wants, desperately, to not believe in this ridiculous state of affairs.

Derp, derp, derpy, derp. Numbers from Gallup’s annual Environment poll, a nationally representative telephone survey conducted each March since 2001. The 2014 update was conducted March 6-9.

So you’re wondering, “Where is Matt going with this? How is he ever going to tie this back into science fiction?” Dear Audiance, that’s the fun part. There is a lot of science fiction and speculative fiction out there which describes a future so morbidly FUBAR that this question is no longer permitted. In these stories, the stark reality that everyone inhabits is so far gone that characters are no longer aloud the luxury of being such bone headed ingrates.

Now here’s the challenging part. John Scalzi has written extensively about white male privilege in the genre. He’s been acknowledged as something of an expert opinion on this topic and having met the man I’d have to endorse that opinion. Dude’s got credit when it comes to recognizing easy mode.

John Scalzi’s linked essay has a line in it which I believe is endlessly quotable:

So that’s “Straight White Male” for you in The Real World (and also, in the real world): The lowest difficulty setting there is. All things being equal, and even when they are not, if the computer — or life — assigns you the “Straight White Male” difficulty setting, then brother, you’ve caught a break.

The thought occurred to me while running down from the plateau this morning that writers who write a) in the future and often b) in settings that have been fundamentally altered by climate change are often choosing easy mode. Myself included. In these stories it is a very rare bird that does not believe in what he or she can  easily see happening all around them.

Paolo Bachigalupi’s Ship Breaker series, for instance, lacks characters who persistently ignore their setting. Who insist that climate change is not affecting them. Even Nailer, illiterate and uneducated as he is, knows that things are now much different than they were in the distant past. And those characters necessarily padded by privilege from the consequences of climate change still believe that so much has changed, often for the worse.

This is not a criticism of Bachigalupi’s work, but it is illustrative of my point. Writing in this mode preempts the debate and worse avoids solving a persistent problem of our time. I’m guessing here, but I imagine that Bachigalupi set out to scare/thrill our pants off with Ship Breaker, not quell an irrational dissension on a contemporary topic.

But if you’re writing cli-fi and you’re not writing irrational denial of the obvious you are choosing easy mode. Why? Because, right now, every day, plenty of people are still holding out despite the very real consequences of anthropogenic climate change.

Detroit, Boulder, Kearney, the whole freaking Gulf Coast, the East Coast, the West Coast, the Rocky Mountain Region, you name a place and even the most cursory web search looking for an extreme weather event will likely reveal occurrence as well as increase. And in every one of these locations there will be a population of cognitively dissonant people who will deny the obvious happening right outside their doors. In fact, the will dogmatically cling to the fiction of denial, even when those events come crashing through those doors. If 43% of the US population can ignore these facts of everyday life in 2014, how do we imagine that a similar percentage of people won’t defect from reality in 2040?

Much of my editing of late has been focused on getting Counterfeit Horizon closer to publishing. Not to provide spoilers, but I’ve effectively removed all human agency when it comes to climate change in the conclusion of this story. In doing so I’ve also crossed into the gray area which resides somewhere between science fiction and fantasy and consequently I’ve neglected to realistically solve the very problem that I pose. Humanity does not solve for climate change.

Convincing others of the obvious, then somehow compelling them to act in their own best interests, that’s hard mode and even I haven’t written that story yet. The good news is that the plot arc is now written, the outline is right there. I don’t believe that the existing mechanisms for changing people’s minds will be any more effective in the future than they have been up to this point. The fun and the challenge is going to come making up workable solutions to this problem.

Blind Date with a Book (GIVE AWAY)

FeetForBrains:

Reblogging because free stuff from Little Red. Seriously, I’m guessing that some of these could be Hugo winners. I want the red one with the snow flakes, because snow flakes. Ugh, I’m done with summer.

Originally posted on the Little Red Reviewer:

2014-08-17 18.16.56

I’ve got books to give away!  But we’re gonna do this the fun way. And by fun way, I mean blind date with a book!  that means I give you a little bit of info about the book, and you get to decide if it looks interesting.  I won’t tell you the title, or the author, but I can tell you that these are all new books published in the last 12 months,  from publishers like Orbit, Tachyon, and Titan Books. They were all sent to me as review copies, and either I have duplicates, I’ve read them and don’t plan to read them again, or it’s a title I opted to skip on.

Here’s the rules:

– due to the cost of shipping overseas, this give away is for US only

– let me know in the comments which book(s) you’re interested in, and yes, you can request more…

View original 222 more words