Tag Archives: Black Mask

Pictorial of a gunslinger – video game edition

My character Shani from Guild Wars 2.  She’s very much a gunslinger now, with dagger and pistol in melee and dual pistols for ranged attacks.  The top picture, she’s not flying, she’s swimming.  And that’s a spear gun on her back.  That’s a might big spear gun on her back.

When she just stands with her guns drawn, she does a few interesting emotes.  Twirl the gun, check down the sights, turn left, check the sights again, twirl the gun, holster the pistols.

It’s pretty epic, no matter the situation.  And I’ve only uncovered 10% of the entire world while Shani is level 24.

The game is amazingly diverse and very subversive with its story telling.  Nothing really feels grindy when you go out and explore the world.  There’s lots to do, which seems to be encouraged as the story goes along, because you never ever out level your content.  Granted, I don’t know what that’s like in the upper levels as I’ve only hit level 24, which is fine for my third day in the game.

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Posted by on August 29, 2012 in Fun, randomness


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Early morning Black Mas & Pale Rider soundtrack

I’ve had a soundtrack bouncing around in my head for Black Mask and Pale Rider.  So, I thought I’d share.  The first book is still available in trade paperback and digital download.

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Posted by on June 29, 2012 in Black Mask and Pale Rider, Fun, randomness


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Black Mask & Pale Rider – rewriting the adventures

As I began to write Rocket Fox, I thought back to Black Mask and Pale Rider.  I came to the realization that I’d need to do some updating on that tale as well.  And that might very well extend a great deal of it.  I had hummed and hawed about how to start it.  One start would see the pair of elven gunslingers returning to their homeworld only to be arrested for misusing the gates between worlds.  The ensuing trial would be a retelling of their entire time on Earth.  The other idea would be much more tranquil, as the story would begin in Brockton during the festival, and at the urging of several children, Shani and Pania would tell the tale of the Civil War, and their wild ride between the Union and the Confederacy.

I decided to settle upon the latter, and came up with this to start it all off.

The Brockton Festival. A time of celebration in the town of Brockton. A two week long festival, celebrated twice a year in spring and once again as autumn arrives. It ushers in two very important rituals. The first in spring heralds the beginning of seeding and planting for the farmers in the district, and at the same time it says good-bye to the students of the Brockton Academy of the Arts, the prestigious school that elves from across the continent come to learn writing, painting, music and how to weave their magic with it properly. In the fall, it is the celebration of the harvest and welcoming the new students to the school. It’s said that centuries before the first elves to settle the town held a grand celebration, although much to the chagrin of the local farming area. But they opened their arms in friendship to the farmers to come celebrate with them. This action forged a feeling of peace at the time of the festival. It also is an honoured tradition that no fighting of any kind would be tolerated. To do so, would bring about a lifetime ban to those who took part in such debauchery.

On this day, the opening day of the festivities, most elves were just getting their first tastes of the different cultures and music that spanned the continent. There was the food brought in from the desert elves near Semerkhet. The stories and song from the elves of the Messewan Valley. The magical arts from the elves of the Mysterian Marshes. And the acts of strength and stamina from the hardy and tall elves of the Nordician Mountains. Travelers came from far and wide to partake in the festivities, some with performances of their own, others just merely to watch the different performances and partake in the food and drink.

One elf in particular was feeling more toward the latter. Pania Alow, a beautiful young elf of 325 had her moment on the stage, having once been a student of the Academy. At one time, she had marveled audiences with her song and dance on the stage. Today, however, she felt more at home mingling and being a part of the audience. This did not stop her family from having their own tent among all the dignitaries that set up camp on the grounds of the festival. It had become tradition for the Alows to have their own spot among the others who would set up camp. Her father, Karl, would chronicle the events for the local newspaper, while her mother, Titania would assist with the production of one of the main stage plays. Her brother, Mandrel would always tell tales to enrapture the ladies. And though she was still very, very young, Pania’s younger sister Pylia would hover near her mother, and help out where she could with the stage play.

As Pania walked past the tents and displays that lined the many pathways of the festival, she was joined by another elf. A tall, lanky woman, with jet black hair and tanned skin as though she spent a good deal of her life in the sun. A stark contrast to Pania’s own fair skin and blond hair. The woman was Shani Wennemein, and even though the pair had differences in gait, in dress and in fashion, one could tell they were friends and partners.

“Did ya hear?” Shani drawled slowly as she matched Pania’s pace. “The Muharane ‘re gonna have their sword dancin’ set up this afternoon. I hear tell they put on a skilled show.” She took an apple from her long coat pocket as they walked, slicing off a piece with a small dagger and fed some to a small wyrmling that perched on her shoulder. “I were gonna take thet in later. How ’bout you?”

“I did,” Pania replied with a smile, her voice soft and smooth. “I’d planned on takin’ in the performance later meself. Mayhap even speak to ’em an’ see if they’ll show me some o’ their stances.”

“They use scimitars, though,” Shani said as she sliced off another piece of apple and gobbled it down. “You use a rapier. Diff’rent kinda weapon.”

“True,” Pania replied with a nod. “But the principles o’ each stance can be translated, if done properly.” The pair continued to walk, discussing the different displays, vendors and shows that had been scheduled for the first day. All too much to take in at once, a good thing the festival was a two week affair. Eventually, their slow walk had brought them to the entrance of the Alow tent. They both continued to talk about the schedule of events as Pania pushed back the entrance flap to walk inside.

As they both entered the ornate tent, they stopped talking. Inside, which was quite large for it had to be to house five elves during this two week event, there sat several elven children. Pania did a quick head count. There had to be at least thirty that had taken seats here and there throughout the tent. In the middle of them all was Pania’s young sister Pylia, only a child herself. “Mother,” Pania called out as Pylia raced to meet her sister, grinning with glee as she hugged Pania’s leg.

From the back of the tent, an older elf, though still with her own grace and beauty appeared. Titania Alow, respected as one of the most acclaimed entertainers throughout Brytalonia, her performances were known far and wide. Her blond hair done up in curls, much like Pania’s own hair, though Titania’s manner of dress was different from her daughter’s, it was still elegant nonetheless. “Word has spread, my wee daughter, about the adventure the pair o’ ye took through the gates b’tween worlds.” She smiled a coy smile as she rested her hands on her hips. “An’ as everyone knows, that is a feat not done in over four hundred years.”

Pania nodded and smiled as she looked to the faces of all the children, all of whom were looking back with great anticipation. How could one turn aside such faces without them hearing a tale of adventure and triumph.

“Well, I guess I’ll see ya at the sword dancin’ later,” Shani said as she began to open the tent flap and let herself out. Her progress was halted, however, as she felt a firm grip on the sleeve of her long coat. She looked back, and took note that Pania had an iron grip on her arm. “Um…”

“It’s a point o’ fact that it were more ‘n me what went through the gates b’tween worlds,” Pania said as she looked to Shani with a coy smile that matched her own mother’s. “An’ any story worth it’s salt, an’ one as grand as this would need two ta tell it properly.” Shani just stared at Pania for a moment, finally sighing reluctantly and muttering a fine as she walked through the sea of children toward a long couch at one wall of the tent. As Shani took off her long coat and set her stetson on the couch, the children caught sight of a pair of the items that the two elves brought back with them from the other world. A pair of simple pistols, slung in their holsters and hanging low on Shani’s hips. As the lanky elf took her seat, the wyrmling crawled down to nestle himself comfortably in Shani’s lap.

Pania knelt down as she turned to her sister and spoke, signing with her hands as she did so. “Would you help mother an’ get some refreshments for everyone, please?” she asked with a pleasant smile. Pylia nodded and signed back before she ran off to the back of the tent. Pylia wasn’t deaf, if the truth be known. She just couldn’t speak. But the Alow family took it upon themselves to always sign whenever they spoke to her. Pania finally rose to her feet and removed the long cloak that hung at her shoulders. As she did there was a small peep that came from her collar, and a tired pixie walked onto Pania’s shoulder, stretching as though she’d just awakened from a long nap. “We have company, Verit,” Pania said to the pixie. Verit stopped and looked around, seeing all of the faces. For a moment she was caught off guard and slightly embarrassed, but eventually, she perched lightly on Pania’s shoulder and offered a wave to all in the tent.

Pania took a seat beside Shani, her own pistols now on display as well. She leaned forward just a bit and smiled to the children who looked back with anticipation of the story to come. “Well now, if it’s a story that ye want, it’s a story that ye will have. Another world, another place, diff’rent people an’ diff’rent situations. But in a way, familiar ta what we know.” She looked over to Shani as she spoke, the eyes of the children following as they looked over to the tall, lanky, elven gunslinger. “For me, it all began in a place called Chicago. But for Shani here, it all started in a place called Carrollton, Arkansas.” She looked back to the children with a smile. “We’ve all heard o’ stories ’bout sword an’ sorcery. Well, this one’s not much diff’rent. But instead o’ swords, this one is about six gun an’ sorcery.”


Posted by on April 20, 2012 in Black Mask and Pale Rider, Writing


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Elder Scrolls V Skyrim: Official Gameplay Trailer – YouTube

Elder Scrolls V Skyrim: Official Gameplay Trailer – YouTube.

Rocket Fox is taking a small break while I hunker down in a hole and play Skyrim.

Yes, I will never see the light of day AGAIN (thanks a lot Bethesda)!

On an unrelated note (yet, somewhat related), I’ve been looking through my notes for Black Mask & Pale Rider, and the journey Pania Alow (Pale Rider) takes.  At one point in the book Black Mask & Pale Rider: A Tale of Six Gun and Sorcery, Pania is approached by the goddess the Shining Lady, whom the Knights of the Order of the Scarlet Rose follow.  She informs Pania that she is on a path that no mere skald has ever walked before.  In time, Pania becomes a paladin.  But as the elves of Terra-Kal are long lived, the usual bonded mount which is often thought of as a horse wouldn’t be good enough.  An elven paladin would have to quest to find a new mount every ten years or so.


What if Pania’s destiny was to become bonded to a dragon.

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Posted by on April 14, 2012 in Black Mask and Pale Rider, Writing


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Historical maps

Some of the maps researched for the story Black Mask & Pale Rider are slightly off in years, but as close to 1863 as could be found.  The map of Chicago, for instance, is before the Great Fire.  Carrollton is merely a dot on the map as I couldn’t find any maps of the city, and at that time, Carrollton was actually around 5 to 10 thousand in population.  Harrisburg was also difficult to find at the time, but at least it’s location was simple enough.

Carrollton, Arkansas, circa 1863

Chicago, Illinois, circa 1856

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, circa 1870

I also did some doctoring of the maps to make them look a tad aged, and give it the feel of a map carried in a ruck sack.

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Posted by on January 4, 2012 in Black Mask and Pale Rider, Writing


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New map of the world

I decided to tinker and see what I could come up with for a new map for the world of Black Mask and Pale Rider.  Or at least where Shani and Pania come from.  In time, I’ll draw up maps for Chicago, Carrolton and Harrisburg.

Click to embiggen.

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Posted by on January 4, 2012 in Black Mask and Pale Rider, Fun


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Locales of Black Mask & Pale Rider: Stonebridge, Brytilona

More on the world of Black Mask and Pale Rider, this time focusing on their homeworld.

The world Shani and Pania come from is described in several languages, many of them having roots from old Earth languages.  Among the wild elves of this world, they call the planet hud y Ddaear, Nullam tellusMagie der Erde and even سحر الأرض. All of the translations mean the same thing, as they attempt to describe an Earth born of Magic.

Stonebridge is the capital and most regal of the cities of Brytilona.  It is in this region where the two main characters, Shani and Pania, come from.

Home to the Royal Palace, it is also the centerpiece of the world, and the central location of most of the guilds within Brytilona.  The Patrolers, Consolers and Magistrates all congregate here in this majestic city.

It’s streets are paved with cobble stones, with rich, finely crafted sidewalks, and immaculate buildings.  The city is also home to one of the most creative industrial areas, as air ships dock frequently to bring supplies from far off places such as Semerkhet and even the Meharaine city of Drakken.

While Stonebridge is a city of wealth, it is not without it’s slum areas.  In darkened corners that many of the upper class would like to forget about, these slums hide the downtrodden and criminal.  Often the Knights who make up the Patrolers will make weekly raids of the slums in order to find any squatters and criminals.

Stonebridge is also a city known for it’s towers and it’s bridges.  Built on the Messewan River, the city has eight bridges that cross the mighty waters, and the towers seem to reach up to the sky.  The main industry of this city is mixed between agriculture, tourism, commerce, industry and arcanum.

As a side note, the city of Stonebridge was inspired by the city of Saskatoon.  The Bridge City, as it is nicknamed, has a large number of bridges that span the South Saskatchewan River the city rests on.

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Posted by on January 3, 2012 in Black Mask and Pale Rider, Writing


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Casting Call

The casting call is up!  No, not actors I think would play the characters if ever Black Mask & Pale Rider became a movie (though, that would be fun to dream about) but the list of character descriptions of the different characters met in the story.  I’ll have a few more as time goes on, including Captain Samuel Williams, United States Cavalry Officer charged with hunting down the pair of dangerous gunslingers.

Cast of Characters

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Posted by on December 16, 2011 in Black Mask and Pale Rider, Writing


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Character Building: Pania Alow

Yesterday, I introduced two of the secondary characters to the rewrite for Black Mask & Pale Rider as well as Shani’s companion, Scales. Today, I detail one of the main characters of the story. Pania Alow, a.k.a. Pale Rider.

Pania Alow is, at the time of the story, a young elf (young being relative to elves, as she is 325 years old) with an adventuresome spirit, an opportunistic outlook and a warm heart. She comes from a family of artists, bards, story tellers and singers. She stands about 4 feet 10 inches tall, about average height for an elf, long, blond hair tucked into curls that seem to frame her sharp tipped ears. She always seems to have a smile on her face like she has some secret. Her green eyes help to draw anyone directly to them as she would converse with any other individual. Her frame is quite curvy, though athletic.

Pania has a style for fashion, choosing to wear whatever might be trendy at the time. She does have her favourites, though, such as her attire when she knows that she must face some sort of danger. She will often wear a silken poet’s shirt with a tunic made of elven chain underneath. Soft leather bracers with gold inlay marking her house and her faith. A leather corset around her midsection, with a belt that holds a finely crafted rapier. Later, a pair of leather holsters would be added, holding a well cared for pair of Smith and Wesson Army .32s. Her slacks are made of comfortable cotton, fitting to her form as though hugging her hips. She wears a pair of leather thigh high boots, with side buckles and spurs at each heel. This is topped off with a finely crafted cloak that rests around her shoulders, brown with gold embroidery at the edges.

Pania is very much a swashbuckler. An expert with her rapier, one might say that her form and fighting stance may have been studied later in life by the likes of Errol Flynn. While better with a blade, she knows how to use her pistols, able to combine the practice of sword and pistol in her ability to fight. But that is not all in her arsenal, for she is a sorceress. At first, when she arrives on Earth, she believes the planet to be dead of magic and worries for her companion, Verit. But eventually, she realizes the magic isn’t dead, just laying dormant. Pania is able to draw upon the arcane to heal and harm, to free and confine. Often she uses these abilities to tell a good tale or sing a song, adding an entertainment value to a possible historic tale of adventure.

When she arrives on Earth, one of her first goals is to find the Underground Railroad. She does not understand how humans could own other humans, and she sympathizes with those who would abolish slavery. Unknown to her, these steps she takes put her on a road she never believed she would see.


Posted by on December 14, 2011 in Black Mask and Pale Rider, Writing


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Character Building: Clayton “Slowhand” Johnson

Earlier, I posted information about the main companions for Shani and Pania.  Those being Verit the pixie, and Scales the pseudodragon.  Now, I would like to introduce the people who help Shani and Pania when they first arrive on Earth.  We’ll start with Clayton “Slowhand” Johnson.

Slowhand, as he is called, is an old, rugged gunslinger who travels the area that borders the frontier of 1860s United States.  He’s had his share of gun battles and his own share of misfortune, even avoiding the gallows a time or two.  Slowhand acquired his name because he would never draw first when it came to a gun duel.  He’d always wait until his opponent would begin to draw his pistol from it’s holster, causing many to believe that Johnson was slow on the draw.  But as Slowhand said, it’s not you draws first, it’s who fires first.  And he was always one to make sure his barrels fired first.

He is approximately 50 years old, and many will say he is the son of an affluent New York lawyer.  Slowhand left home at the age of 20 to explore the new frontier, completely against his father’s wishes.  Several bad run ins, and Johnson had to learn to fight.  Fortunately for him, he found a mentor that taught him well.

He in turn becomes a mentor for Shani, and even helps to take care of Scales.

While Johnson may be the type of man that Shani would call a brigand, he isn’t a cutthroat.  Johnson makes sure his renown is dulled, so he won’t become a target by the law or other gunslingers.  He teaches Shani reliance, survival, and how to use a gun.

Johnson is not the type of man to immediately brand someone without knowing a little about them first.  He has a knack for filtering out what is truth and what is rumour.

Clayton “Slowhand” Johnson stands approximately six feet two inches tall, and is a tad heavy set.  He does not stoop at all, finding that standing tall usually acts as a greater intimidation than any insulting words ever could.  His hair is long and grey, often hidden by the weathered stetson he is often seen wearing.  His skin is tanned and leathered, not exactly the complexion you would think a man born in New York would have.  He speaks in a soft tone, but not because he is a soft man.  Johnson knows that a whisper will at times garner more attention than a shout.


Posted by on December 13, 2011 in Black Mask and Pale Rider, Writing


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