All posts by Michael Jasper

About Michael Jasper

Writer, reader, husband, father, son, brother, friend, publisher, bookmaker, tech-head, newbie DM, writer. I know I already said that. http://michaeljasper.net

D&D Dad: Explaining D&D to new players

Stranger Things DnD
The “Stranger Things” guys, playing some D&D.

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably interested in being a Dungeon Master for Dungeons & Dragons.

I used to feel like being a DM would be way too much work, but then I just bit the bullet and ran a few sessions. It was rocky at first, but the bonus was that my players were also new to the game, so they didn’t really know I was doing a mediocre job at first.

But each time we played, it got easier for me, and more fun for them. It’s definitely worth the stress you might feel at first.

If you have a party of all-new players, or a couple new players have joined your group, here’s a list of things I like to share with new players to quickly get them up to speed (and to keep them from feeling overwhelmed):

Continue reading D&D Dad: Explaining D&D to new players

D&D Dad: Some more of our characters

While we were working our way through The Lost Mine of Phandalin, Mitch talked to his buddy Caleb, who decided he wanted to play. Caleb got his parents, Melissa and Robinson, to join us for a couple games. It was a blast!

So of course we had to create NEW CHARACTERS. And this time, we had enough players, so I didn’t need to run a player character while also working as the DM. Yay!

TIP: Click the links to see each character’s full character sheet at the awesome D&D Beyond website.

Mitch created Revali:

Revali

Continue reading D&D Dad: Some more of our characters

D&D Dad: Our (first) characters!

I wanted to show off the first four Dungeons & Dragons characters we created last year. We made them using the rules in the D&D Starter Set, and they all survived The Lost Mine of Phandelver. And now they’re all Level FIVE and moving from Phandalin and the ruins of Thundertree into other adventures.

TIP: Click the links to see each character’s full character sheet at the awesome D&D Beyond website.

First up, my guy: Zaxbinaxby the Silverthorn:

Zaxbinaxby

Continue reading D&D Dad: Our (first) characters!

D&D Dad: What is D&D?

Welcome to the D&D Dad blog! This is the second blog in the “Historical” section (after “We’re going on an adventure!“), and in this entry, I’m going to try to take some of the complexity out of the game for new players (including new Dungeon Masters).

DungeonMaster
The Dungeon Master from the D&D cartoons from the early ’80s.

I’m a technical writer for a software company for my day job, and I started out my career as a junior high English and Reading teacher many moons ago. So I have a need to help people learn, and I spend most of my time at work breaking down complicated processes into simpler steps.

I’ve noticed a lot of similarities between being a tech writer and teacher with being a Dungeon Master and running a game of Dungeons & Dragons.

So I thought I’d use my love of the game and my experience with writing and teaching to help explain D&D to new players.

Continue reading D&D Dad: What is D&D?

D&D Dad: We’re going on an adventure!

When I was in sixth grade way back in 1980, when I was almost ten years old, I really got into Dungeons & Dragons.

An ad for the “purple box” version of D&D, which came with “random number generators” (also known as dice)!

There was no bookstore in the small, rural town in Iowa where I grew up, so I had to wait for trips to the “big city” of Dubuque to hit the Waldenbooks at the mall to check out the latest D&D modules. The modules had these amazing, brightly colored covers, and inside were all the treasures: maps, monsters, quests, and more charts than you could shake a ten-foot pole at.

I was hooked. I’d just read The Hobbit in fifth grade, and was working my way through The Lord of the Rings, and I couldn’t get enough of these fantasy worlds. I was an avid reader, but those books opened up a place inside of me I never knew existed. It was an amazing feeling, and something I’ve tried to recapture over the years in the books I read and the books I’ve written.

The dice that came with the boxed set, along with a black crayon you used to color in the numbers so you could actually SEE them.

So my ten-year-old self read the modules, tried my best to study the rules, and tried painting some pewter miniatures.

I even wrote an adventure or two, collaborating with my sixth-grade buddy on a two-parter: “Victory at Castle Deepmoat” (mine) and “The Diamond of Terror Mountain” (his).

But I never actually played the game.

Years passed, and I played computer role-playing games like Wizardry, Ultima, and Might & Magic, and I read (and re-read) fantasy novels like the Dragonlance series, Thomas Covenant, the many Drizzt novels, and more. But still no D&D.

Continue reading D&D Dad: We’re going on an adventure!

New Book Release: UnWrecked Tales

UnWrecked Tales contains twenty-one of the best stories I’ve written in the past two decades (!), give or take a year or three.

UnWrecked Tales_400w

From the Author’s Introduction:

Some stories were gauntlets thrown down by friends editing anthologies. Some were hatchling ideas that later were added to novels. Some were side trips from other novels that didn’t make it into those bigger stories. Some were just strange nuggets of humanity that needed to be shined up and shared.

I did my best to polish up all these nuggets and organize them for you in some sort of coherent structure. But feel free to jump around and let yourself be surprised.

UnWrecked Tales includes the following stories:

  • “Wrecked”
  • “Fences”
  • “The Rise and Fall of Basskick”
  • “Finders, Keepers”
  • “The Brotherhood of Trees”
  • “Skidmark and Mudbeam”
  • “Painting Haiti”
  • “What the Land Takes”
  • “Comfort and Joy”
  • “Tiny Disaster”
  • “This Divided Land”
  • “A Game of Contact”
  • “Meet the Madfeet”
  • “Heart and Map, Ink and Blade”
  • “Remainders”
  • “Drinker”
  • “The Inverted Bearded Boy of Chicago”
  • “A Ghost in Her Heart”
  • “A Miracle in Shreveport”
  • “Family, New and Old”
  • “Finder”

To buy a copy:

296 pages (trade paperback version). First published July 2018 by UnWrecked Press.

 

New Book Release: Lost & Finders (finally!)

It’s taken a while to get here, but I’m happy to announce that my new novel is finally available! Today marks the launch of the second book in the “slightly paranormal” Finder Team mystery series: Lost & Finders.

NOTE: This book does have a cliffhanger ending, but the book that follows it is not only the third book in the Finder Team series, but it’s also the third book in the Family Pack series. Yes, this third book is a crossover, featuring characters from both series!

Here’s the official book description — I hope you enjoy it!

Lost&Finders2018_300pYou can only stay lost for so long…

Mid-summer in the mountains. The breeze carries the smell of pines and campfires, and expensive cars with Florida plates clog the roads. The students at nearby Appalachian State are gone for the summer, and Bim Mayer and Hank Johnson get to enjoy a lazy start to August after a rough winter and busy spring.

But they soon realize that summer’s gotten just a bit too lazy. Something is going down in the remote Blue Ridge Mountain town of Boone, North Carolina. People stop by the Finders, Inc. office to tell stories about whispering strangers just outside of Boone, and they aren’t white-haired tourists asking for directions to the antique stores.

Then, during one week in early August, half a dozen people from all walks of life are reported as missing. The Finder team suddenly has its hands full with work, with Bim (and his special mental skills) carrying the bulk of the finding on his rounded shoulders.

As summer heats up into a scorching fall and bizarre clues continue to pile up, Bim and Hank might just lose more than a couple pounds and a few nights of sleep. They could lose everything.

Read an excerpt from chapter 1.

  • Ebook version available from Amazon.
  • Trade paperback available from Amazon.

FindersInc_Cover_300Lost & Finders is the second book in the Finder Team series after Finders, Inc.

In Case You Were Wondering…

I use Scrivener to write fiction, and it has all sorts of bells and whistles to keep track of notes and ideas and inspiration. A while back I put together “character sheets” (for lack of a better term) for the main characters in the Finder Team mystery series.

So if you’ve ever wondered which actors (or directors!) I’d “cast” in the movie version of Finders, Inc. and Lost & Finders, well, wonder no more:

The Finder Team (casting call)
(click the picture to make it bigger)

 

At least, these faces are what I have in mind while I’m typing away. Thanks for indulging me!

So yeah, Jorge Garcia and Spike Lee, let’s talk, okay?

 

Lost & Finders: the end to chapter 1!

Lost & FindersWith just a little over three weeks(!) until the June 14th release launch of Lost & Finders from UnWrecked Press, I wanted to share the last section of chapter 1.

Just a reminder that the ebook version is available for pre-order from Amazon, and the trade paperback will be available very soon. Later this year the audiobook version should be out as well, which is awesome news!

If you want to read the first book in the series, Finders, Inc., you might be able to snag it for free as an ebook in the next few weeks over at Amazon (or heck, just buy it for $4.99!).

Here are links to the earlier sections of chapter 1 to get you up to speed: part 1, part 2.

Let’s go back to our big fella Bim, who just caught an old-fashioned black key thrown to him by his old friend Hank (aka Hanky J), and Bim slips into someone else’s head… Enjoy!

Continue reading Lost & Finders: the end to chapter 1!

Lost & Finders: more from chapter 1

Lost & FindersAs we count down the weeks (days!) until the launch of Lost & Finders, the 2nd book in my Finder Team series, I wanted to share another chunk of chapter 1 of that book.

Lost & Finders is set to release on June 14, and the ebook version is now available for pre-order from Amazon.

In case you missed last week’s opening excerpt, here’s a link to it. Also, if you want to read the first book, Finders, Inc., you might be able to snag it for free as an ebook in the next few weeks over at Amazon (or heck, just buy for $4.99!).

Let’s go back to our big fella Bim, hanging out on the tiny company pool on the first day of August, when things get a bit… weird:

Continue reading Lost & Finders: more from chapter 1