All posts by Mark

Time’s Arrow – Now Published!

Sorry for the delay in getting this out – there was a bit of a delay with some of the distribution channels, but Time’s Arrow is now available as an eBook globally!

In the far future Time Travel is a reality. A researcher uses it to go back in time to the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. William Chan finds much that he would expect—English archers raining arrows on the heads of heavily armed French knights, mood and blood. But there is an unexpected turn of events that have far-reaching consequences.

Time’s Arrow is a time-travelling short story with a historical fantasy theme.

Available to Purchase at:

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Other Amazon Stores
Smashwords | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

Time’s Arrow – Free Excerpt

Following on from my posts about Time’s Arrow and the cover reveal, here’s a free excerpt from my new short story.

I hope you enjoy the read and if you do stay tuned for details about how you can buy a copy of the story.

Times’s Arrow by Mark Lord

William Chan punched the number 1415 into the time machine. And followed it with the month of October and the day was 25. St. Crispin’s Day, 1415. The Battle of Agincourt. He breathed deeply, feeling the blood pump through his veins. He looked down at what he wore. A leather jerkin with a white badge and a red cross sown above his heart, green legged-hose, leather boots, a buckler shield, arrows stuffed into his belt and held together by a piece of rope on his right hip and a sword in a scabbard on his left. He stepped forward onto the central plate in the chamber of the machine. He adjusted the helmet strap under his chin and pealed back the woolen sleeve covering his wrist. He kept his finger pressed on a small button on the small black device strapped there and waited until the L.E.D. showed the time he wanted. Nine o’clock. Just half an hour, he hoped, before the first French attack. That should give him enough time to get a good vantage of the battle from the cover of the woods.  

A green light flashed on the device, waiting for him. He pressed another button and held it down until the green light stopped flashing and was a solid green. 

# 

The G.P.S. should have placed him perfectly into the woods where he could watch undisturbed. But it didn’t. He was standing in a ploughed field behind a large mass of men. They were archers like him, like he was pretending to be. They were all facing away from him and most were busy with large stakes of wood, driving them with mallets or pushing them, getting their whole weight behind them so that they sank into the earth. They were building an impenetrable fence between themselves and the French mounted knights. A single line of stakes, William noted, not stakes in front of each man reaching in every ranks. That was one question answered. 

“Archer! Where’s your bow? Find it and get into the ranks.” 

William turned. Behind him was a grey-bearded man-at-arms riding a huge horse. He waved a rod at William and pointed towards the archers in front of them. 

“Deserters will be hung.” The man nudged the flanks of his horse with his plate armored heals and the beast moved threateningly towards William. Just then there was a blast of a trumpet and the man looked towards his right, towards the centre of the English army. 

William looked too. There he could see what he knew was a pitifully small number of dismounted men-at-arms. He couldn’t make them out properly across the flat field, but he knew that arrayed in the centre of the English army there would be three units, or battles, of men-at-arms; a mix of belted knights, squires and common soldiers, anyone with enough money to afford proper armor and the horses that were required. But the English men-at-arms hardly ever fought on horseback these days. Their usual strategy was to dismount and wait for their French enemies to attack. The English archers positioned on the flanks would pepper the approaching French hordes with arrows, breaking up their formations and then the English, hopefully fighting with the advantage of a hill or from behind some prepared defenses would break the enemy with their pole-axes, their cut-down lances and their swords. And here, near the small chateau of Agincourt, would occur the epitome of the English victory against the odds. Only a thousand English men-at-arms, with perhaps four thousand archers arrayed in support on the flanks, all hungry and tired from a desperate march across northern France and many suffering from the rigors of dysentery, their bowels opening without any self-control. This rag-tag of an army against the pride of French chivalry, over ten thousand men-at-arms on foot, drawn up in three great lines of attack with a thousand mounted men-at-arms on the flanks ready to disperse the English archers. But what should have been forlorn hope for the English was to be their greatest victory, with only 112 dead they would leave seven thousand French dead on the field and within five years Henry V, the English King, would have forced them into a peace that would hand him the crown of France upon the death of King Charles VI of France. 

William licked his lips. It was an amazing prospect, and no-one from the 22nd century had ever seen it before. 

The trumpet blared again and the man on horseback turned his horse to watch. William looked across at the banners. He could see one massive banner of cloth bearing Henry’s arms, the leopards of England quartered with the fleur-de-lis of France. He watched as the banner was raised up in the air and pointed forward. Battlefield signaling in action. Something else to add to his research paper. Another first for him. 

“For flip’s sake,” growled the horseman. “We’ve only just got the bloomin’ stakes in.” William’s universal translator earpiece not only parsed Middle English, Old French and Latin into modern English, but it also, annoyingly, took most of the fun out of the swearing. 

William was no longer important to the man on the horse. William watched him ride away, taking another mental note of the man’s arms that he could now more clearly on the back of his surcoat as he rode away from him towards the unit of archers. A green shield with a number of white blobs inside it –probably representing birds. Most likely, this was Sir Thomas Erpingham, charged with commanding both wings of archers. He would be a busy man that day. 

William had nearly been caught out. But now he could make his way towards the woods and a safe place to watch the action. It had never been his intention to stand with either of the armies (especially not the French)—much too dangerous! And besides, from in the middle of the melee, would he really see much of what was going on? But a soldier’s disguise would help him get near enough. Even if he was to pose as an archer in the ranks (perhaps the least dangerous role on the English side), he would soon be shown up—there were no yew trees left in the 22nd century and his upper body muscles were certainly not strong enough to use one of the great English war-bows. 

In front of him the archers were pulling their stakes out of the ground. They would march forward several hundred yards until they were in bow range of the French and plant their stakes again and then goad the French into attacking. And the rest would be history. William walked towards the woods on the western side of the field directly to the left of the formation of archers which faced the French army in the north. He didn’t run to get his position. There was too much to take in. It was not a simple task for the archers to pull-up the stakes they had just hammered into the ground and he noticed that many were giving up. He watched one man slip in the mud as the stake he was pulling came free. The archer landed on his backside. The men around him laughed and William couldn’t help but smile. 

But the man didn’t seem to notice his comrades laughing. As he regained his feet he was staring straight at William. 

“Oi! What are you looking at?” 

William looked away and started walking quickly towards the woods. 

“You, come here!” 

TO BE CONTINUED

Time’s Arrow – Cover Reveal

As recently announced, I am working on the publication of a new short story – Time’s Arrow.

I have now done a first draft of the cover. It may need some tidying up – but here it is!
In the far future Time Travel is a reality. A researcher uses it to go back in time to the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. William Chan finds much that he would expect—English archers raining arrows on the heads of heavily armed French knights, mood and blood. But there is an unexpected turn of events that have far-reaching consequences.

Time’s Arrow is a time-travelling short story with a historical fantasy theme. It’s about five and a half thousand words long, so should take about twenty minutes to read.

To follow soon will be an excerpt from the story.

Seamus Sweeney on the Radio: A Pseudo-Biography of Fr Noise

Seamus Sweeney, a previous contributor to Alt Hist, has been featured in a radio documentary for RTE the Irish broadcaster. Hes been involved in writing a pseudo-biography of Fr Noise. You can find the documentary at https://www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone/2017/1102/917047-a-man-out-of-time/. I encourage you to have a listen. It’s an interesting story and piece of pseudo-fact—you could call it Fake History perhaps?

Seamus has told me more about similar projects he has been working on:

And indeed having got a taste for this I began writing biographies of so-called “fake artists” on Spotify – basically on various playlists spotify seems to use artists with no presence anywhere except Spotify, the suspicion is they hire session musicians to reduce playing royalties. .. examples of my bios are here https://seamussweeney.wordpress.com/2018/02/06/the-lost-world-of-amity-cadet/ and here https://seamussweeney.wordpress.com/2018/02/09/the-lost-world-of-ana-olgica/ and https://seamussweeney.wordpress.com/2018/07/10/the-lost-world-of-enno-aare/

Time’s Arrow – New Short Story Coming Soon

I am putting the finishing touches to a new short story – Time’s Arrow.

Here’s some more information about it. I’ll post an excerpt and the cover of the story during the next week.

In the far future Time Travel is a reality. A researcher uses it to go back in time to the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. William Chan finds much that he would expect—English archers raining arrows on the heads of heavily armed French knights, mood and blood. But there is an unexpected turn of events that have far-reaching consequences.  

Time’s Arrow is a time-travelling short story with a historical fantasy theme. It’s about five and a half thousand words long, so should take about twenty minutes to read.

I am now on Patreon

Just to let regular readers of my blog know that I am now on Patreon! You’ll see a link in the sidebar and at the bottom of this post if you would like to support me. Here’s some explanation of what I am hoping to achieve:

I’m a part-time writer and tabletop gamer – I have a passion for writing fantasy and historical fiction and also dabble in science fiction too. Also I am really into tabletop gaming – so RPGs, miniature wargames and PC games as well and love writing about those as well – even creating some of my own content such as RPG adventures for instance.

Your help will keep me motivated to achieve my writing goals and also producing more content about tabletop games as well – for instance blog posts and other content. I don’t have a firm plan of what you’ll get as a patreon of my work, so I’m starting with a modest tier scheme at the moment – whatever you can contribute will help me on my journey to get my work out there to more people. In the future I might introduce higher tiers and for those I’ll include specific rewards – exclusive short stories or gaming content for instance.

The Best RPG and Wargames Podcasts (IMO!)

I enjoy listening to podcasts – they’re like a more interesting version of radio – and ideal if you’re doing something else that doesn’t take too much thought – for instance walking, commuting or working on fairly mundane task.

There’s quite a few podcasts out there that cover tabletop gaming in general and specifically for RPGs and Wargames – my main gaming interests. I’ve tried quite a few out over the last few years. I have found I am not that keen on the most common type of RPG podcasts – the actual play session. These are recordings of people playing RPGs. Much like watching someone playing Fortnite, I don’t really see the point – I’d rather be playing as well! I also find that they can be difficult to follow unless you’re concentrating on them. Having said that I have found The Enemy Within podcast from GM Noely to be quite good – partly because the campaign is so well-known to me. So I would recommend that one if you like Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. But I’m not going to suggest any others.

The type of podcast that works better for me tends to be where people talk about stuff to do with games. This can be in the form of an interview – e.g. someone interviewing Rick Priestley is always worth listening to – or just people talking about what interests them – the wonderful Grognard Files be a great example of that, but I also really enjoy Save for Half (a US Old School equivalent) and also the house podcast for the Wargames, Strategy and Soldiers magazine – the presenters of these are down to earth and have interesting things to say.

On the corporate side of things the Dragon Talk podcast is OK depending on the subject – there tends to be too much filler for me, and too many live streamer interviews, but the hosts are quite funny and it has great music – the Bing Bongs!

Also a new one is Stormcast – the official Warhammer Age of Sigmar podcast set-up to promote the launch of the new edition (but hopefully sticking around). As well as going over the new rules in a succinct way, it also offers some great tips on gaming and painting, and isn’t too cringily promotional.

One of my favourites though is Improvised Radio Theatre with Dice – two charming English gents chatting about RPGs in their garden somewhere in the home counties – RPGs are taken to a new cerebral level.

I’m not going to review each podcast I listen to, but here’s a list of my current favourites in no particular order:

Improvised Radio Theatre with Dice
Stormcast Podcast
Grognard Files
Save for Half
Warmaster Podcast
The Veteran Wargamer
Meeples and Miniatures
Cast Dice Podcast
Dragon Talk
The Enemy Within
Wargames, Strategy and Soldiers

Let me know what your favourite podcasts are!

Stonehearted Update

A little bit of news about my current writing project – the Stonehearted series of novellas set in the Hundred Years War.

I’ve now about to finish the first draft of volume 4, which will be titles For a Heart Made of Stone. This will be now the final volume of the series! I have enjoyed writing the books, which are a face-paced action-adventure historical fiction set in the Middle Ages, but I am also looking forward too to moving onto other things!

Once For a Heart Made of Stone has been edited, I will announce some more information about publication dates.

 

Warhammer Fantasy Role Play – 4th Edition – Preorders to be open Thursday 3rd May 2018!

So obviously my last post was great timing!

Here’s the announcement from Cubicle 7:

The Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Fourth Edition pre-order opens later this week! To whet your appetite, here are 4 things you can expect from the new edition of this beloved game.

Your Warhammer for You!
Something that is really core to *our* WFRP is that we’ve created tools for you to play *your* Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. We recognise and support that everyone plays their own version of the rules and the setting, and we fully embrace and encourage that. It’s your game! With 30 years of history under its belt, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay means a lot of things to a huge number of players.

Ideal starting point
Not much experience with RPGs? The Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Starter Set is designed to be the ideal introduction, with a structured adventure to help you learn how to play. Also containing a guide to Ubersreik, there’s loads of gaming material for more experienced GMs too!

System matters
WFRP4 uses ten-sided dice, and a tuned-up version of the familiar d100 system. You can tailor the rules to your preferences or different in-game situations, choosing from a menu of fast ‘roll under’ Simple Tests, Dramatic Tests giving success levels where you need more than a ‘yes or no’ result, and even barely rolling at all, if that’s your style.

Passion for Warhammer
Our creative team are lifelong players of the three previous editions of the game, and between us we’ve worked on all these editions too! We bloomin’ love Warhammer, and we think it shows.

We’ll be bringing you more on WFRP4 regularly, so watch this space! And, very excitingly, pre-orders go live on Thursday…

Warhammer Fantasy Role Play 4th Edition – What We Know So Far and Release Date

Before Grimdark, George R R Martin et all was a thing, there was …

Warhammer – and specifically Warhammer Fantasy Role Play (WFRP) that fleshed out the Old World which was the setting for Games Workshop’s Fantasy battle game. WFRP portrayed a world much like late medieval Europe which was dirty, deadly and dark – with the corruption of chaos lurking hidden within the normal society – evoking an atmosphere similar to the paranoia of the witch crazes of the 15th/16th centuries in Europe.

Adventures such as Shadows over Bogenhafen cemented the reputation of WFRP as something more sophisticated and “realistic” than the dungeon bash D&D fare available during the 1980s. It was more a mish-mash of a Fantasy RPG and Call of Cthulhu.

And it was bloody brilliant!

Soon to be released is a 4th edition of this great RPG – and the new publishers, Cubicle 7 have promised to take the game back to its roots.

I can’t wait!

Here I’m going to collate and summarise the sketchy information we have so far about the new edition of WFRP.

Setting

A lot of assumptions have been made about this, but I don’t think anything concrete has been announced yet – it will be the Old World, we know that, but I don’t think they have given any indication what the chronology will be with vis a vis events such as Storm of Chaos or the End Times.

Most people are assuming before End Times, or at least flexible.

Design Philosophy

We have had some hints about this – Dominic McDowall, Cubicle 7 CEO has said that they are huge fans of 1e and 2e, so that should please older fans of WFRP who would like to see it go back to its roots. They have also indicated that they have given the system more of an overhaul than first planned:

“The initial plan was to make some small updates to the awesome second edition, and that would mean we would be able to release the game in 2017. We’re all huge fans of the first and second editions of WFRP, and we wanted to take the game back to those roots.

“When I got into the guts of the game I started seeing more opportunities to add in some of the things we’ve learned over the years. This more creative direction meant a longer development phase. Games Workshop are extremely supportive of us taking the time we need to make WFRP Fourth Edition the very best game it can be, and so that’s what we did. I’m very excited about the way things have come together!”

We also know that one of the old writers for WFRP, Graeme Davis, has been brought back on board to do a new version of the Enemy Within campaign for 4th edition – a kind of director’s cut.

But they have also promised there will be new material as well.

Products

Initial products will be a Starter Set and a Rulebook – cover art has been release for both, and they have also appeared in a distributor’s catalogue – with USD pricing (image from Lance Anderson on the WFRP 4e Facebook group):

Plus we know there is a new version of the Enemy Within campaign being worked on as well for all the nostalgic old timers (me included!) No more details though on that.

Covers

The two cover images released so far are for the Starter Set and the Rulebook. The rulebook image is certainly an homage to 1st edition, whereas the Starter Set strikes me as something that might appeal to fans of games such as Vermintide, so perhaps they’re trying to appeal to a new market of Warhammer Fantasy fans here? That can only be a good thing. I’m not sure if I love the artwork yet – it looks a bit too bright and cartoony for me. I also wonder if the archetypal hero characters displayed will give players the wrong idea about WFRP – where are the rat-catchers and artisan apprentices? Although having said that those mundane characters never appeared on the WFRP 1e cover either! WFRP 1e ended up having more of a pathetic aesthetic than perhaps the cover artwork indicated.

Rulebook Cover
Starter Set Cover

Release Date

Very possibly at UK Games Expo between 1st and 3rd June 2018 – the organisers have announced that it will be launched – see this video about the show.

Although there’s not much information, I’m excited to see what the game will look like and also to read people’s opinions as well over at the Warhammer Role Play 4th Edition Facebook Group.

UPDATE

New Teaser image published today (2nd May 2018) so including that as well as the Featured image at the top – previous image below. Looks like other careers are getting a mention!