Letter to You

The only understanding my parents and I had growing up was a constant shift between love and malice. This was based on the few simple facts we shared between us: The band XTC was really good, we each had problems with addiction, and we didn’t like one other.

Years passed. Some of them were good, when looked at in pieces. Which is the way all childhoods are remembered. A lot of it was bad, actually. I love my family. They love me. It’s just in ways that make no sense to either of us.


*

My parents arrived in town and Meagen and I met them. I handed them copies of the EFFORTS LP. The next day we met them an hour away at the wedding of a family friend. My mother and I dressed as wizards without consulting one another first. It was good to see her.

Two weeks previously, I had received a dramatic voicemail from my Uncle Mike. His voice has always sounded the same, a guarded classist who wants the attention of the room, and aren’t you lucky to hear him speak? I adore him for this. But that day his voice had something else in it. Nerves. “Todd. It’s uncle Mike” (he always reminds me who he is) “uhm call me back.” I knew it wasn’t good. I knew it would be about my Mother. In truth, I had been worried for her (not enough to call) and assumed my Uncle was going to tell me she was dying (I should have called sooner).

My sister texted me next. I read it. And then called my Uncle back. He told me his concerns and I agreed with some of them. After we hung up I talked to Meagen about what he said. My Dad texted all the kids in one group message. Nothing about my mother. Just a picture of my youngest sister, and a caption making fun of her for smiling at him.

I had to call my mother. It took me three days. Three days. When she answered she was shopping in a mall in Beverly Hills. I could barely hear her over the in-store music. “Are you alright?” I asked. “Yeah!” she said, “Maybe?” (when I was a kid she only spoke through snaps of cinnamon gum, and so that’s how her voice still sounds to me). “Are going to go to a doctor?” I asked. “Yeah!” she said. “A real doctor?” I asked. “Yeah. Soon.”



We talked a little more after that. I’m not sure about what. The mall was pretty loud and I was somehow fourteen again, afraid to pester someone between snaps of spicy gum.



At the wedding I tried to pay more attention to her than usual. Studying certain things about her, and how she made me feel. I love my mother, but I don’t know her very well. I know her from afar, if I had to describe it. As I grew older I discovered more and more of her brain inside of mine, and it’s been nice to read the hieroglyphic moments of my childhood through a healthier lens.

The rest of the wedding was spent standing next to my Sister, who rarely leaves her house unless veiled in a life unknown to her family and friends. We are alike; except she always has this look on her face, like someone strapped a bomb to her back, and if anyone sees it she might explode.

We don’t talk much. I miss her, but I never knew her. Not really. I spent as much time at the reception as I could standing next to her, treating her and her kid like a photograph that fades each time I look at it. “I have to be getting home soon.” she kept saying. As if the bomb on her back was growing louder as the wedding wore on.

When she left early, I walked her out with my parents. My Dad and I stood off to the side while my Mother did her best to have a nice goodbye with my sister, who was busy packing up her truck as if the entire venue was now ticking.

Watching from across the street, my Dad started talking about the fights and arguments in his life. This usually comes up, and usually I point out that he’s just as bad as anyone else. I do this because I don’t like selfish behavior. When I see it in the person who made me, I feel the need correct it. That if, by some chance I could course-correct the thoughts of my progenitor, I might somehow save myself from those familial floodwaters.

He never likes it. He didn’t like it now. As we stood there in the growing cold of an October darkness, he told me the only fight he ever won was probably the one where he knocked me to the ground in his bedroom. Then he laughed, and hugged me. I hugged him back, my sister’s invisible bomb now inside of me, in my chest, where I have tried my best to forget about it. Then he retold the joke to my Mother and we walked inside, my head spinning with echoes of dialogue from seventeen years ago. “I probably broke his ribs. I hope I did.” and “you’re not longer my Son.”

When I sat down again at the table Meagen asked me what was wrong. “Later.” I told her.

The wedding was for the youngest daughter of a family friend named Uncle Kevin. Growing up Kevin had been a second father as much as Uncle Mike, That had started at age fourteen, when my Mother had asked him to speak to me about the dangers of pornography. “Satan is coming through the phone lines!” she had yelled at me.


Now Uncle Kevin was about to dance with his daughter, and I was trying to glide from one island of logic to another.  An incredible attempt of navigation.

The father daughter dance began, and I knew the song by the first note. My Dad did to. It was devastating in a nice sort of way. Who the fuck dances to a song by Jellyfish at their wedding? Incredible. As “Russian Hill” continued to play I thought about the Christmas twenty years ago, when my Dad had bought me both Jellyfish records and somehow hidden a hundred dollar bill in each of them. As the father daughter dance continued, I began to cry, and kept it mostly to myself.

*

Monday the 15th came and left, and left it’s own little mark upon the world. This was the release of the first EFFORTS album; a stunning feat which took my buddy Zach and I about three years to accomplish.

Growing up in the Meth Deserts of California (and then the blank expanse of coffee-stand horror nothingness that was once Spokane Washington), our family walked a long road from poverty-stricken yokels living in a shack, to lower middle class “Friends of Costco” (You could tell when we were starting to do well, Mom would show up with 24 packs of flavored Bubble-Gum or tropical flavored candies, “just because.”) When we left The West Coast for The Good Ole South™ it was 1995: the dawn of True Internet, lavish trips to drive-thrus and my Dad’s career as a songwriter about to blossom. After about 22 years of the rise and fall of the house of Rogers, my parents took my youngest sister and departed, back to California, now as Upper Middle Class conquerors. My dad left his electric guitar behind, the last dregs of his musical career hanging up on two pegs in my brother’s abandoned room.


I was thirty by then. It was about half a year after the first failed fundraiser for Spell Saga (and about another half a year before the second, miraculous how-did-this-work fundraiser of 2014). I asked my pops if I could hold onto the guitar for him. He said yes, though he knew damn well I had never played a note of anything in my life. I think probably because all the other musician kids had jettisoned off to the East to seek their fortunes, each of them (I think) confusing my Father’s rags to riches lifestyle as some sort of genetically earned inheritance of events.

I never taught myself to play the guitar. Not properly, anyhow. But I decorated it with vintage Halloween stickers, and I played it whenever I was upset. Eventually songs started to drop out of it and spill across the floors of my own “still-in-rags”-style rented half of a duplex.

I met other people who made music. Some stayed, and some left. Zach stayed with me from the beginning, and together we finished an album. All those first songs that I found on my Father’s old Mexican Stratocaster (a bit of sharpie just noticeable on the headstock, where I had tried to scratch out the branding and written “Spellcaster” instead).


We released the album to little fanfare. The date of the release was more important to me than setting up a chain of social media events that would inevitably lead to nothing. Though I did spend about three days afterward, panicking and sending letters out to various blogs, hash tagging posts and experimenting with various platforms for attention. I had to shake it off, though. The Music Industry is dead, and long live the survivors. Zach and I have made our own plans for sharing music, and you will see it/hear it over the next twelve months (unless you don’t, which is okay too). It’s time to find new ways to share things. I have no used for a crusty empire of dead gatekeepers.

*

Geoffrey Maybe is/was/should have been/still is the bass player for EFFORTS. He was both integral and divorced from the project. When Zach and I sat down to finish mastering the thing, he was supposed to be there, but bailed. He’s like Peter Parker, if Peter Parker’s motto was “With Great Power Comes Great I’m-Afraid-of-Commitment.”. I love him the way people love ex-lovers and  imaginary friends. Which is helpful, as most of the time he ain’t around.


But his musical talent is uncontrollable. No one wants to be called a robot for natural musical theory, but you can’t fight the results. We had messaged a bit since Zach and I finished the album. I had left him about ten copies in his mailbox, but heard nothing back about it. Our texts were playfully mean and cautious, we have always talked as if we were about to break up.

We met for coffee near his house. I showed up dressed as a bug. We talked about his own band’s recording adventures, and his ongoing worry about the future. Geoff has been trying to join the air force for as long as I’ve known him, throwing everything in his life into a USA wartime wood-chipper to get there. It is not uncommon for us to talk joyfully about which ways he might die.

I told him over coffee my thoughts about him, that he hadn’t been there for the band, but that I thought I understood why. He agreed with my assessment. Then I asked if he had heard the album yet (“no.”) or whether he had even opened up a copy of the thing (“nuh-uh.”). I nodded my head. Then we went for a drive in his car, and listened to the whole album, from start to finish. We did not talk much as we listened, just commented on parts every now and then, noth us staring out at Halloween decorations littering various lawns in broad daylight. And then Geoffrey got quiet as the album played on. This was the first time he had heard most of the song with finished parts and lyrics. It’s always hard to tell what Geoffrey’s thinking, he keeps his thoughts off his face on purpose. But he looked a bit emotional as we finished the album. I am glad to have that memory with him.

*


At the end of October, Meagen and I celebrated seven years of spending time together. This anniversary was especially nice, as we’ve never been more in love.

It’s not the desperate want and desire of those selfish 27 year olds who met back in 2011; it’s something else. Some private knowledge. We still fight. We’re still stupid. But we're lucky too. Meagen and I adore one another. I think past understanding, for the most part. We are good together. And that is a miracle. It’s almost as if we are becoming the people we thought each other were when we met. What a relief. What an unexpected “rags-to-riches” both of us have lived in terms of emotional growth. It has been over half a decade, and I still look at her and think, “how do I get to b with this person?” even after all the bullshit. Of which, I assure you, we both brought enough to the table to make this paragraph seem prophetically unlikely.


*

Halloween came with two final surprises.

The first was waking up and deciding to write Andy Partridge, the lead singer of XTC. I had sent him a quick note years ago to let him know I had put him in a card game (The Minstrel of Chalkhill in Spell Saga is based on him). But I had wanted to reach out a bit further for years now.

Sometimes I will want to write something and spend anywhere from days to years waiting for the right lines to enter my head. I wrote him a letter, discovered there was no contact email on his website, and so I cut the letter up, and wrote him on Twitter. It was enough. Secure in the knowledge that he would see it, and that I would never hear back from him, I took a long shower, imagining what it would be like to get a response. We might become friends. I would have to fly out to the UK to record in his home studio. My siblings would never speak to me again, so great was there jealousy.

We did not grow up with The Beatles. We grew up with XTC. Their music has informed my entire understanding of songwriting. It is the same with my brothers.

When I got out of the shower I found he had indeed responded to me, and even listened to my band. I started hyperventilating and then laughed like The Joker until I had to sit down. Here is a screenshot. I will not include the texts I got back from my family, though I certainly kept those as well.

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*

The second surprise of October Thirty-First found my Father and I sitting outside of a coffee shop just outside of the town I had grown up in. It was odd design of a Starbucks. We had a tiny patio mostly to ourselves, but it was surrounded on one side by a drive-thru for rich people who stared at us from open windows like some sort of slightly estranged Father/Son safari.

We did not talk about the wedding, or what had been said. But we did talk of other things. There is often a moment where either of us feels the very real need to defend ourselves or the history we share in one another’s lives. But the conversations went a little farther than normal. A little deeper. At one point he told me he had come to realize just how damaging it might have been to bring us up in a cult-like belief system.

I told him that I thought maybe he and at least one other sibling of mine might have had it harder than me. That I had been seen as a stranger, and a fuck-up growing up, but how easy that made it for me to achieve something--anything really. That because nobody in our house  understood me, or believed in me, that it sort of gave me permission to walk the infamous hero journey of everyone I looked up to. I told my Dad how I felt bad for him. That he had grown up being told he was special, and believing in his own destiny--not that he didn’t deserve it, or achieve a great many things--but that because of  how dangerous that headspace is. That when things fell apart (Things Must fall Apart. For Everyone.) that he wasn’t prepared to handle it.

My Dad nodded and agreed with me, and told me something he had never shared; that when he was my age, his band had fallen apart, and he had stood in our kitchen in confusion. Because he was supposed to be someone.

I did not tell him how many times that has happened to me. Because it didn’t affect me the same way. I was treated like shit by most of the people I knew growing up. A practice that still continues. Not all the time, and not everyday (I’m no victim here). But I’m weird. And people don’t know what to do with weird people. Even my Dad seems generally bewildered by me, still. But there’s an acceptance there now; on both our parts.

*

Sometime after the wedding I heard a knock on my door, it was my sister. She waved to me from the doorstep. I opened the door and hugged her. “I have to leave.” she told me. I nodded my head and remembered the bomb that we both share. I walked he out to her car, and gave her a CD I wrote with our Father’s guitar. Then I watched her drive off. It was good to see her.

-mE.

Todd Rogers
Letter to You

Dearly Departed,
Outside The Black Garden and the whispers of a fallen wind, there are directions for those who hear such. And if one listens well, they might find their way to a city.


WIND: Are you one of The Shul Brunei? We say Hala Shien dt’o, to you, Ruiner.


RUINER: I know you, and I name you, Southern Wind.


WIND: The world is asleep, Atomic Mercenary. Maybe try to wake it up?


RUINER: No. Welcome Me. Bring me to the city gates, though I have no sails.


WIND: And what city do you wish to step inside, Ruiner?


RUINER:The first city outside the Garden.


WIND: Welcome to Xoto Nāʾim.



*

If you and yours are just now joining us on these psychic transmissions, welcome to the Towers of Doom!

I am losing my fucking mind. Yesterday I was sitting across from Meagen and whisper-talking (we were in a library, but it was the low blood sugar mainly). And I was talking to her about all the stuff spinning on my finger, all the projects that are about to see the light of day. It is years and years of work all being released at once. It feels heavy, like I have a spiral galaxy tipping this way and that on my index finger. If I’m not carefully I’ll destroy everything.


“But what IS everything, my hyperbolic comrade?” you might ask. And I will tell you:


Spell Saga is about to be sent around the world. One corner of my living room is stacked with boxes of a fantasy card game, and another corner has a table where I’ve begun to showcase various prizes that are to be sent out along with it.

For them new ruiners: Spell Saga is a game that took nine years from concept to merchandise, and was first unveiled to the public half a decade ago, during the horrific Spring of 2013. My cousin Lauren did the artwork, and I wrote and designed the game. We funded it using Kickstarter four years ago, and it’s since been an uphill battle of manufacturing woes, bad choices, amazing moments and, oh let’s say about $10,000 in unexpected loss.

There’s a whole timeline for the project that reads like a Stephen King novel, and you can find it pretty easily on this site and others. But suffice it to say, the game was meant to be released in three parts, and I went ahead and paid for the second part to be made. And now that everything has arrived from Ye olde Hong Kong...I’m still spending money.

I feel so badly, and so in love with all the people who waited (4 years… imagine waiting for something between the first and last day of high school) that I started creating new content and prizes to be sent out with everything. There’s card binders, new holofoil cards (including one-of-a-kind holofoils, holy shit) and oversized playmats. There’s shirts too, and stickers, and special limited edition card boxes...it’s about $5,000 in extra merch.

One of the things about everything taking so long is...well things take time. Especially art. Especially MY art. But the timeline actually helped us out. There was no way Lauren would have been ready to tackle part 3 of the release until now. And there was absolutely no way some of this merch could have been made into real-life objects.

The world has changed in the last four years. Often for the worst...but in terms of manufacturing…it’s incredible. Listen, I started researching how to make Spell Saga five years ago. And it was impossible. The only way to make a card game like this was to raise thousands of dollars and hope your pick of an overseas manufacturer worked out.

Now? I can log into a website, upload my shit, and wait by my door for things to arrive. Even holofoil cards! And Binders! It’s fucking insane!

The only thing that can stop anyone now is poor design, bad rulebooks, and not pushing yourself to get things done. To this end, I’ve been working on a new finalized rulebook. I know how to teach Spell Saga a lot better now, and if the game had been released even six months ago, it would have been a disaster. The rulebook used to be 50 pages long, and it barely worked. Now I’ve got that shit down to sixteen pages, about ten if you take away all the pictures. More importantly all the knowledge is in the correct order for ease of learning.

When I was a kid I had a really tough time in school. It didn’t help that my formative years were spent being “homeschooled” which I believe is a religion involving the desire for someone to kick the shit out of your kids when they enter the real world.

Looking back I don’t think I was dumb--but I was certainly made to think so. The school had all sorts of ideas about me. My parents did too. Certain terms were thrown around, and different dosages of medicine were administered. All it ever led to was them putting me in Special Education Class--That’s when you spend part of the day in a small room with the autistic kids, and the ones who can’t talk or wipe their mouths. It was a rough time. But eventually I realized that I was not dumb, that in fact I was really smart. I just learned things differently.

I think that’s why the rulebook has been so hard to write. Because I have to write it for myself, in a manner that I can understand. But then I also have to write it out for everyone else, working backwards to restructure my headspace into one that “normal” people might understand. Which is something I’ve had to do anyway, in my day-to-day life. (“I’m weird. You’re not. I get it. Let me find a way to communicate with you.”)

When rewriting the rulebook, I tried to pay attention to what worked, or (more importantly) what did not work when teaching the game to my friends. I also read other guides for different types of games. If you’re interested, here is the final order I came upon for learning Spell Saga:


1 Getting Started

2 Card Types

3 Play Area

4 Moving Cards into Play Area

5 Turn Structure

6 How to Battle

7 The Last Two Rules

8 Glossary


*


After three years of pain and sorrow, the very first EFFORTS LP is going to be released this Monday. It took a crunch to get it ready. Zach is not just my bandmate and brother, but he’s also the producer and engineer of the thing, and he’s spent the last few months weaving in and out of his own schedule just to see this thing completed. And just like me, he’s never been busier. Right now he’s in Japan with his real band, but we decided to release the album on our three year anniversary (this Monday!) so it's up to me to see it through.

It kind of works out better this way. The songs all started with me alone in my living room, holding my Dad’s old guitar and whining about my life. A lot of the songs are about my parents, or my siblings, but most of them are about Meagen and I. So it feels right to have no one except her and my shadow beside me to celebrate the release. And my parents just arrived in town. So we’re full circle.

Before he left, Zach and I spent a full 48 hours  finishing the mixes and then mastering the thing by ourselves. And it was good to do a final push like this--we had spent so many years redoing parts of songs that to have no time and everything locked in place felt really good. The night we finished I got home and uploaded the tracks online to a manufacturer, and a week later 100 CD’s arrived at my doorstep. I left 50 of them on Zach’s back porch, and in true EFFORTS fashion I walked through a giant spider-web while doing so. It was so big, it felt like I was caught in a net. Like Jesus and his fishers of men had found me once again.

This may be Nashville, but the music industry is a toxic lake of fire. Because of this, Zach and I have a lot of very strange plans for this release. One of them involves sending stacks of promo copies to various record stores, and slipping a copy in with every Spell Saga package I send out. It’s always hard to say if a plan is going to work or not (again, spell saga is four years late) but here is a pic that Zach sent me from Japan. That’s him with the owner of a really cool record shop in Tokyo called LFR. They are giving out EFFORTS LPs with every purchase.


*

Sometimes I worry about the music I’ve made. We named our album I Bought You a Coffin, and most of those songs were written during moments that I felt helpless or suicidal.


When I realized I was an alcoholic, one of the most upsetting things was finding that--much like math problems in 7th grade pre-algebra, I don’t uh…“alcoholic” correctly. Drinking was different for me. I wasn’t a black out drunk, and I wasn’t ruining my life. At least not quickly, anyway. The problems for me were different, but just as bad. It was the same way with feeling suicidal. I’m not listening to Blink 182 with a razor in my hands. But those thoughts were there, all the same.

Those feelings are not day-to-day for me though. So when I look back and listen to these songs we’ve recorded, I worry. “Do I have the right to sing about this stuff? Is this irresponsible?” And then I have a day like last Monday, and I remember where all those songs came from.


It was a bad mental health day. That’s hard for me to admit, because growing up we didn’t talk about mental health. We just put you in special education and filled you with meds. You were wrong, and you were stupid.


But if you are, like myself, driving around listening to Gregorian Chants all day, and walking around a department store imagining ways to kill yourself. Uh, that’s bad day. That’s a bad mental health day.


It was that spiral galaxy on my fingertips. Everything I had worked for, and everything I wanted to be, spinning on my nail. Crushing me to sorrow. I have never before felt so much pressure.


I can handle it. I can! I really can. But if something ELSE gets thrown at me--like my wife and I arguing about who knows what (last Monday) or the drummer for Beset. and I nearly getting in a fist fight (last night...when I had to walk away...and slam a metal sheet into the sidewalk...until it was bent up like the letter C, at an angle)--I just lose it.


I don’t swing at anyone. I’m not that person. And I don’t often yell, not for more than a few words. I don’t like the idea of making anyone else feel stupid or wrong.  Even when I’m angry with them. But I lose...my ability to be myself...I lose all the bricks I built up around my heart. The Tower of Todd falls and everything that I worked for since I was too “stupid” or “mental” to be in class with regular kids, is laid bare.


It is these moments that I write little blogs and post them online. These Letters to You (whoever you are), are my way of building my bricks up, one word at a time, until that tower is back where it needs to be.



*



Everything Will be Wrong & Fine.



*



I sent my Cousin a package of things to autograph and sketch upon, and then, when she sends it back, I’ll be ready to start sending out all these Spell Saga packages. Everyone’s getting one. Even people who already got cards from us. This is the long awaited end of the fundraiser, but much more importantly: it is the start of Spell Saga’s true beginning: 2019 will be the year our tabletop novel gets to shine.


And it will also be the year Zach and I start playing shows again, and filming videos while we send our album into every shop that will have us.


I’m not sure what’s to become of my other groups. Beset. Still seems likely to give it a try, but DAMNSEL & THE EUTH GROUP is floundering, not least of which because Geoffrey Maybe  is leaving town forever, and did not see fit to join us in finishing EFFORTS. It will be weird to play these songs live without a bass player. But fuck it. We’re so loud it won’t matter.

*


One last bit: the whole thing about driving around and listening to Gregorian Chants. That was true, but I did have reasons beyond madness:

I’ve been rewriting The Novel again--I know! I know! I need to get to the end. I can’t just keep going backwards...but...I have this idea. Because I don’t learn the same, or drink the same...or do anything tried and true, I have this sort of plan for how to present this novel...one that requires me to go back and fix a few things in the first couple of chapters. So I’ve been rewriting those again.


But something has happened.

If typing words to you is one way of building myself back up to normal, than reading on a couch late at night is another. Those bricks are some of my oldest, and the tower they build is filled to bursting with a sense of self.

I pulled a book off the shelf the other night, and sat down, and started reading. And something inside me broke. Something that was holding me back. There are many towers inside a person, and not all of them are good. I don’t know if it was the type of paper, or the font, or some form of mental illness they never cruelly diagnosed me with, but I saw the writing the way the enlightened might see a man’s spirit. I saw the structure, and the rules, and I learned it, in a way that others could not. I saw what to bend or what to break, and how to do it. I read language the way that trees breathe the wind.


It was music. And it was not. It was something I could do too, now that I saw it. Now that I could see the form and function, the veins of blood and ore that make something into something else.


I think it helped that I had been using an online service to check my grammar in the novel. I had spent about a week or so doing this. The combination of hard work, online corrections and a good book in the right light finally taught me what I’ve been striving toward for over a decade. I just wanted to write things, and write them well. But it’s so god damn hard for me to learn. It takes me so much time. I used to rip out pages of good writing and hang them around my walls, as if begging the room to teach me by osmosis.


Now I see the path to a finished story, a story I might have finished at any given time, but not in the  manner I wished for it to be seen. But knowing is not enough. I still need some more music in those words. Listening to Gregorian Chanting will, I hope, do the trick.


Or this is all a very convoluted breakdown. Either way. I am at the end of it all, very happy and relieved. But also very tired. And far too overwhelmed.



*


Meagen will be going out of town the end of October. She will be back the day of our seven year “we made it” anniversary. In that time I’ll be sending out packages, and finishing the Spell Saga website, while I send the album out to any blog that will have us. But I’m also going to move forward too.

It is time to start finishing this novel, I want it done by December 31st. And Beset. Is supposed to be recording in November...we have three full days in a multi-million dollar. If we can keep it together. The Weapon went and got us a new practice space, so next Monday is sort of a test run. I need to keep the galaxy on my fingers spinning, and balanced. It will require a tower stronger than I’ve ever built before. Writing thee words has helped to build it, and knowing you have read them will help as well, so I thank you.

*


One last thing. I called The Weapon last night and he gave me some advice that I had once given him. It was a rough night and he told me, “bad things lead to good songs.” It was kind of him to remember this, and to feel the need to call me and say it. Here is a demo I started last night.

I have to go meet my parents, they just landed.

May all you towers hold, and fall only when they should.

-mE.

Todd Rogers
Letter to You

Everything takes three years. Your mileage may vary.

My headphones keep breaking. I paid good money for them but they keep going deaf on one side. Geoffrey fixed them last time. But he’ll be joining the air force soon and then who will fix my cans?

We used to change our names and pics for each other in our phones, and then when one of us called, screenshot what we had for them. In this way Geoffrey went from Jieff, to Geoff a Sexless Stalk of Broccoli, to Geoffrey Maybe. Which is his official name in the liner notes for EFFORTS, where he plays bass, and DAMNSEL & THE EUTH GROUP, where he does everything except sing poorly (that’s my job!)

A few weeks ago I was at Geoff’s house with Noah, who drums for Beset. Noah was thinking about moving into Geoff’s home, which I believe is dubbed “hot dog palace” though that might be just the living room. Either way, his house that day was just as surreal as usual--I once described it to Meagen as the set of a sitcom, like what would happen if a child had only seen a home while watching prime time television in the nineties. She didn’t believe me until she walked in. It was especially strange to have Noah there, as if two very separate pieces of my life were colliding.

That night Geoff and I sat down on the couch and he told me he was leaving town at the end of the year. He would be joining the air force (an odd time to feel patriotic, don’t you think?) and as he told it, would basically become a ghost for the next ten years. Unless he is killed in combat, in which case he would become a real ghost. I told him I hope he fails out. And I meant it. And then we made plans to finish the DAMNSEL & THE EUTH GROUP LP, “Sorry Everyone Disappoints You”  before Christmas.

Yesterday he texted me from New York to tell me we would have another few months, and that he would not be a ghost until next Spring.

We already know the next song we’ll be recording It’s called “I believe in Horror” and thank god Geoff remembered how to play it--we had only come up with it for about 30 seconds a year and a half ago. I did my part and cracked into the files of an old phone to find the lyrics I had written in those timeless days.

With or without (often without) Geoffrey, Zach & I have been hard at work mixing and mastering the first EFFORTS LP, “I Bought You a Coffin” for it’s hopeful and inevitable release this October. Zach has been on tour with his real band, so we’ve been darting in-and-out of his schedule to get it done. My hope is that we have time to get some pressed so I can throw them into the Spell Saga packages going out around the same time.

I was at a show with Zach the other night, talking shit about the shit-show of a band on stage. I told him we should try playing a show without a bassist. He made a face like he was eating sour candy, but I think we could pull it off.

*

The lock screen of my phone is a screenshot of one of those gaudy-looking countdown sites, the sort of one where you type in “how many days until this specific date” and it displays a timer. The date on this screenshot is the day I start sending out all packages, four years after the 2014 Spell Saga Kickstarter was successfully launched.

I couldn’t even look at the boxes after they arrived. I think it took a full week-and-a-half for me to enjoy the fact that they were there, instead of blanking them out of my mind so the weight of it wouldn’t kill me.

They arrived on July---how could I have forgotten this date already--July 27th. “But why aren’t you sendin’ them out immediately?!” cried the voices of only one commenter, but to me, of course, this was the loudest comment--the true voice of the crowd. “Why wait until October?!”

It’s not a bad question. But there are a few reasons, actually. The first is that our manufacturer forgot to send some of the boxes. So we are actually missing the holofoil sleeves for Deck One ~ The Highlands. And it took about a week or two for them to search the factory in Hong Kong, only to find the sleeves had gone missing forever (I know what you’re thinking, it was one of those damn holofoil card collector cartels, probably The Shining Snakes, is my guess).

But be ye not afraid! We have a great manufacturer and (what I hope but highly doubt) is still a good relationship with them. They are reprinted the sleeves on their own dime, and sending them to us here in the states ASAP. I took this as an opportunity to update the design--the sleeves were cool before, but we have a new company, and a new logo, and I took a chance to make ‘em better by upping the Satch to +20% (I made the saturation a little brighter as they are being printed on silver cardstock). Here is the new final holofoil sleeve. It feels real good to have that SUBHEATHEN logo on there:

Screen Shot 2018-08-31 at 4.03.53 PM.png

Once the new sleeves get here, Cousin Lauren is going to fly up and help me autograph them. This will be the first time we have seen each other in person since the month after the Kickstarter worked, when we finished the art for Deck Two ~ The Forest. And you better believe the plan is for us to go over what we got left for Deck Three ~ The Caves, as well as the next ~ realmwalker ~ deck, which is called “The Discordant Shore” both of which (I hope) will be out next year, 2019, along with Deck 1.5 The Undersky. But we’ll see. I know enough now to know I don’t know anything.

So that’s part of the wait in shipping the packages. But there’s other reason too. First, the practical one: Do you know just how much money it’s going to take me to ship these things out around the world? I do. And it's a lot! And I’m not complaining. The only thing I feel (besides the constant rumble of fear) is excitement to get everything out to everyone. To make good on one-thousand, four hundred and sixty days of promises.

But I ran out of Kickstarter money a long time ago. We reprinted the packaging and even Deck Two on mostly whatever I could scrounge working an impossible amount of jobs. And just getting the boxes to the shores of America took about three grand. I gotta make sure them coffers got enough.

And there’s the other stuff too. The other things everyone is getting in their shipments. Some of them are surprises, so I won’t spoil it here. But it almost doubles the amount of funds needed. It will be worth it. For both of us. Making things takes time and money. And if you’re me, really patient fans (some of whom may not even like me, but like my game and that is A-OK with me, Pardner. I get it).

One of the things I’ll be sending out are one-of-a-kind holofoil cards. These are being sent to everyone who pledged at the highest tiers of the 2014 Kickstarter. Each card is unique. None of them will ever be made again.

I spent a lot of time trying to think about Deck One ~ The Highlands, and get back into the feel and flavor of Spell Saga. It had been a few years since I tried to create anything in that world, especially with the sense of that first chapter in The Last Minstrel’s Story.

My notes included things like Heroes described with the letter “L”,  reminding myself that ITEM cards should (for the most part) perform useful and necessary actions, and a list of enemy names I had made up years ago. Though I did take those and mutilate some of them with a bit of quick research. If there is a formula for the tone Spell Saga (there is not), it’s Medieval Sword & Sorcery + Spaghetti Western  + Scotland + Africa + loneliness + the ratio 40 % known fantasy tropes & 60 % stuff I made up to add to that age-old mythos.

(and speaking of mythos I was careful to include a lot of clues as to the future of this game in the narration upon the cards).

Here are some of the cards I have made for the holofoils so far. Some of them I really wish were part of the original Kickstarter, or even the original Highlands Deck. Partly so I could see Cousin Lauren draw them, and partly so we could reprint them as perennial moments in the game. Especially the new PLACE card, Rhinoceros Rail. Damn, that’s a good one.

heroes.jpg
holofolk.png

*

Beset. has one again booked the same multi-million dollar studio space for free. Somehow. And we plan to get as much recorded for our forthcoming LP, “There Are Places They Can Get You”, in three days as it is humanly possible, though it helps these humans are pretending to be shipwrecked wizards.

One thing we do plan on finishing is our next single, We Brought Weapons. Which is a song I wrote one day when I woke up and the first thing I saw on my newsfeed was the Las Vegas shooting. I’m not so good with understanding my own emotional state without some form of time and distance. But seeing those pictures really fucked me up. I didn’t know what else to do, so I just started writing lyrics down. Of course, the song is about something else entirely. Most songs are, I guess. At least in the case of Beset. But that horrible thing happened, and I made something to deal with it. To either confront or escape the thing, depending upon who you ask.

Here’s a video of us recording a DEMO last November.

The Weapon (Giovani, guitar player. Beset. Boy) and I used to get together every week to record DEMOS, a practice that necessarily slowed down as the LP filled out and the band grew and changed in both shape and scope. To this day I’m not quite sure who is in Beset. Me, Noah, The Weapon, Gavin The Great (I hope). But Gio showed up at my house the other day, and we sat down and made a rough and dirty recording for our latest song Dire Doves.

(The last time we tried to get it down it was a disaster, as The Weapon forget to tell me 1) he had new neighbors, so we couldn’t be loud, 2) he had a new roommate so we did not have full use of the house and 3) he had dropped his recording gear and it no longer worked).

I like this song a lot. I wrote the lyrics one day while walking back to my car from a coffee shop. It was fortuitous that The Weapon showed up that same day with this fully formed song he had written while away in Florida, and that the lyrics and melody matched entirely.

I’m going to embed the dirty DEMO here for your pleasure. Though I do warn you, man, it is rough!

*

Once upon a time I got so stuck while writing a novel that, even two or three hundred pages in, I had to go back and rewrite the pieces that came before, and rework the entire structure until I had written two new beginnings, one of which was moved to begin the third book of a trilogy which had now changed its shape and purpose entirely. And then I was still stuck in the same place; a world of floating

asteroids, endless darkness, and two people whispering into one another's ears as they hung from one of the boulders. A person named The Häx listening below them.

I kept writing.

And it took a year. It took over a year, really. But yesterday I finished the chapter. Not well, not in any manner to be read. But I finished it. With a certainty and finality I have rarely experienced in my life. I got to the end of it. I bowed my head into my keyboard and nearly wept as I pulled the hair against my fingers, so filled with joy and overwhelmed by the moment.

It was this same month, nine years ago, that I started this god damn novel.

And it was also this month, just a week or so ago really, that I stayed up late one night, and wrote out what appears to be an accidental manifesto. About fiction, and the state of publishing. And etc.

And I did this because I have made the (for me) momentous decision to share the first few chapters on SUBHEATHEN.com. I have shared pieces of these before. During the Kickstarter, and on Patreon… But never this much, never presented in this manner. It may seem like nothing to the casual observer, but this is me telling the world that this story is real. That it is not some Courier Font unfinished idea of a manuscript. It is a line drawn in the digital sand, a promise that it is real, and important, and that it will be published someday.

I had a panic attack for about 24 hours after announcing this. But at least it has a cover (with help from Weshoyot Alvitre, who read the first chapter nine years ago and drew this illustration).

See you in October.

-mE.

Todd Rogers
Spell Saga News

Seven years ago around this time I was getting ready to drive to Gen Con with my buddy Sakroka to go and pitch Spell Saga to tabletop career key-holder Peter Adkison (founder of Wizards of The Coast). I had just spent three months straight trying to get the game to both work, AND look good (I was convinced I needed to design my own packaging).

Sakroka and I drove to Indianapolis on August 4th, of 2011. I was married at the time, or at least I might have been--she had told me it was over just days before the trip, and in my mind the fate of our vows was nebulous at best. I figured I could change my life in one swing--and by getting this game published it would change everything for me.

We drove back on August 5th, without a publishing deal and (at least in my case) a head filled with a growing sense of devastation.

It is now seven years later. I changed my life with one giant seven-years-long swing and got the game published myself, with the help of like, hundreds of people watching me from all over the world. I could not have done this without many of them--most of all without my Cousin Lauren, who provided an entire game's worth of artwork and more.

Yesterday a truck arrived at my house with fifty-something cartons of Spell Saga. My friend Josie and her friend Sarah helped me unpack everything and carry it up the steps into the living room I share with Meagen, the girl I met after the marriage feel apart, and a big part of how I was able to get my shit together enough to even attempt any of this.

It took almost four fucking years of manufacturing to get these boxes from a concept I shared with the world, to something sitting in my living room.

And now they're going to be sent out, and be a thing. a real thing. 

This is a nice blog post about dreams and things--but to be honest (and you know I always am) I can't even look at the boxes. it's like there's too much weight attached to them. I'll get around to dealing with my emotions. I'm sure one day I'll walk into my living room and the song "turn around bright eyes" will start playing, and I'll caress each carton of this fantasy card game with tears in my eyes. But man. It's gonna take like...a week.

I keep a lot of armor on this god-forskaen body. My heart is like the back of an Ankliosorus. Wait. Is that right? How do you spell this dinosaur.... (*takes break to Google) Aww GOD that's not it at all! 

Ankylosaurus.

Damn. 

Have you seen the Gary Shandling documentary--it's on HBO. It's like...amazing. But there's this scene where--their interviewing Bob Saget of all people, who was backstage after Shandling first did The Tonight Show. Appearing on that show was this guy's dream, right? And Bob Saget says that, afterwards, Gary Shandling came backstage and collapsed into his arms, crying, saying he didn't know what to do now, because that was his dream. And it was accomplished.

I felt a very similar feeling when those boxes arrived. I am--listen--I am excited (or rather, I will be) and I'm relieved. But it's the end of something and the start of another, and this damaged little middle-school heart just don't handle transitions all to well. I cant just "George Lucas" screen-wipe up tot he corner for the next scene of my life. I have to sit with these boxes. Like something that I did WRONG, and just process it. And I will. In fact, just writing this out did a lot for me.

I remember being at this book signing for some jerk, it was a Christian post-marriage book and the event was held in the cafeteria of a college I certainly did not attend (this was years before my own post-marriage crisis, when I was the age where you hang out with people you don't really know, and just go do things with them because you are young, and hoping to meet someone who might divorce you later). But I remember it really bugged me--because this guy, this author, went up on the stage and said that, after his book was published (and I use that term loosely), he just stared at this book on a shelf and was like "well...there's that." and that he felt NOTHING. And I judged him for years. And now here I am, talkin' the same shit.

but you know what? I'm as proud and embarrassed as I've ever been. And I can't wait to have Cousin Lauren fly down and autograph everything with me, and then send everything out and then--and THEN--start the long journey toward the end of this project. there's still plenty of more parts to design and print.

I hope you'll join us. We'll be thee, in the future, waiting for you.

++++POSTSCRIPT++++

Josie, her friend Sarah and I sat there and opened up the boxes with scissors (and, in Josie's case, the reflexes and nails of a feral cat). We are missing one of the items: The holofoil sleeves for Deck One: The Highlands, are nowhere to be found. It's a grievous error, but one that I can truly understand. I've reach out to our manufacturer (who worked with us to get everything right for over three years, including warehousing our stuff when they didn't have to)--in an attempt to see what we can do about this. In the meantime, we still have about 100 of those sleeves from two years ago, when I air shipped them over (which now, because o this, looking back is a godsend).

These sleeves cost a lot to make--but if it's a cost I have to eat then so be it. We'll see what happens. I'm fairly certain that everyone will have a chance to receive one. And if not--well, there's a lot of stuff being sent out that you don't know about yet. So please be very excited for out shipments to be sent out this October HELL OR HIGH WATER THIS OCTOBER.

-mE.

 

 

Todd Rogers
ITEM! EFFORTS EP NO. 2
maytheeyes.jpg

MAY THE EYES THAT RISE UPON YOU NEVER KNOW (YOUR TRUE HEART) is the second EP by the Nashville based punk band EFFORTS. Describing their sound as "god is dead" and "Deaf Buckley", you can isten to the EP or download it for free after performing the monumental task of clicking this LINK.

Todd Rogers
Letter to You

We had two babies. First there came a Son, and then a Daughter. I remember holding them both in my arms at the same time, my face beaming the same way my Father’s did whenever he was really excited. I remember looking at them, and then looking at Meagen, my voice shaking a little the way my Mother’s did whenever she was overjoyed.

“This better not be a dream, or I don’t know what I’m going to do when I wake up!”

Then I dreamed of a lonely spaceship captain, the entire crew just holograms winking out as he drifted further and further into oblivion.

When I woke up my arms were empty, and I walked into the bathroom only mildly surprised at the tears in my eyes.

*

It’s Toothless Tuesday today.

No, that’s not a regular thing in the South. Well, maybe it is. Perhaps the full knowledge of it will hit me once the dentist rips out two (two!) teeth from my living skull this afternoon. I’ll wake up with a small pamphlet on my chest tomorrow morning: “WELCOME BROTHER” it will say upon it, inside will be a cross-promotional coupon for The Gap .

The number of teeth in my mouth isn’t the only thing changing around here, as  ̷I̷’̷v̷e̷ ̷b̷e̷e̷n̷ ̷p̷a̷i̷n̷t̷i̷n̷g̷ ̷m̷y̷ ̷f̷a̷c̷e̷ ̷l̷i̷k̷e̷ ̷t̷h̷a̷t̷ ̷o̷f̷ ̷a̷ ̷l̷i̷z̷a̷r̷d̷’̷s̷ ̷f̷o̷r̷ ̷3̷2̷ ̷d̷a̷y̷s̷ ̷s̷t̷r̷a̷i̷g̷h̷t̷-- life has changed considerably for me in the last two weeks.

Some of it is cosmetic: I took a vacation for the first time in four years and did nothing except make new websites for both SUBHEATHEN & Spell Saga. That’s all I did, for days. And I loved it. When my time to shine was over, I returned to the restaurant with a new job and new schedule. I now work three days a week. In those 72, I make as much money as I did working two weeks at my old office job, all those years ago, when Spell Saga was just a daydream in the parking every lunch hour. (and now all that money I make GOES to Spell Saga so it’s really a full circle sort of thing).

...but some of the changes are more emotional in nature.

My own personal astral plane is often bereft of any guidebook, other than the pages I keep crumbled in a pocket or clutched in my palm.  It took me an entire childhood and much of my adult life to find the truth about myself, that I am complicated, but not without logic or reason.

Like, you can be depressed and happy at the same time. Did you know this? I did not. But I found out two weeks ago during a very unexpected Bad Night.

Sometimes I feel wrong, or badly about some of the songs I’ve written. That first EFFORTS record has a lot of stuff about death and suicide on it. I’ll look back on those tunes and wonder who wrote them, or why did I think it was okay to even bring that stuff up? And then I’ll have a night where I remember; where the only point of existence (As far as I can tell) is to to die alone.

That’s when I remember who wrote those songs, and why

As for the Bad Night...I don’t even remember the details. I was talking to Meagen on our couch, and some unpolished stone of truth tumbled out of me. I became unraveled. I didn’t cry. I wasn’t manic. I was just...pointless.  Don’t get me wrong...I’m always sad. But it’s often buried behind other emotions like being hopeful.

When I was a kid my parents took me to a lot of doctors to figure me out. I don’t know why they felt the need to single me out, it was obvious our family tree was mangled by the weather of Heaven long ago, why try to fix a brach if the rest are broken too? But try to fix it they did! But It never worked. In hindsight, because there wasn’t much there to fix. I just needed time to know myself.

I don’t even remember what bothered me the other night, just that I was sad, and that I’m not quite sure why. I think it had something to do with loneliness. What I do remember is that it became a hard reset for me. I had been hiding and holding myself back in the years of toil and trouble made by Spell Saga. I spent four years tiptoeing non-stop across a junkyard of broken glass to make sure I didn't’ fuck everything in my life up the way everyone growing up thought I would.

When I woke up the day after the Bad Night, I was filled with the sort of newfound hope and stability one would only expect after a exorcism. And that’s what it was. A stress related exorcism. And it broke me like a hard reset.

*

It was raining. Or maybe it had been raining. Either way everything was wet and grey. And humid. It’s July so everything was muggy, or as the toothless of The South call it, “Double-Dang Weather.” (that’s not true). But what IS true is that I was sitting on a blanket, in the road, in what soon became obvious was a puddle. I had a toothache, and I’m fairly certain my jaw was infected. I was trying to change a flat on my car--a vehicle that I wasn’t even sure would START because I’ve been ignoring all the problems it was having. And I looked down at myself, at my bird nest of a crotch spilling out from the giant hole in my jeans, I had a moment of clarity. Am I a vagrant? Why am I living my life like this?

And just like that, the place I was in--the dark curtain I had to hide behind just to make sure Spell Saga arrived on my doorstep from hong Kong...was gone.

I drove my car to get it fixed. I started combing my hair and shaving my face clean each day. I made a dental appointment. I looked at our living space and said “No. This is how animals live.” And then I bought groceries and started eating at home again. I made a budget, and plans, and started paying attention to myself and how I spend my time.

I honestly did not realize that I was depressed. It didn’t look anything like I’ve seen with other people. I was productive and happy, laughing and hopeful. Then again, I didn’t realize I was an alcoholic either, as it looked so different from any standard sort of definition (15 months sober, baby!). I suppose I can forgive my parents in retrospect, for not understanding my sadness was just manifesting unexpectedly.

I got a lot of shit done when staring into the sunset of depression; Can you imagine what I’ll be capable of, turning to see the sunrise?

*

I got an email that looked like a fax from the 1970’s. It was from a New York Shipping agent who told me the cargo (read: spell saga) would be arriving shortly. It is fifty-something odd boxes on three pallets weighing a combined weight of 3000 lbs. It is going in my living room.

That email was a month ago. I wrote once more. Again, a terse fax-like response, something like: CARGO ARRIVING SOON. WILL NOTIFY YOU SHORTLY.

The formatting on the letters is always so strange looking at I feel I’ve done something wrong if I respond. Like some advanced foreign nation is reaching out to me and I might offend them.

It’s to the point now where I keep forgetting that everything I worked so hard for is arriving any day now. Like, I’ll be eating a muffin and go: OH that’s right. A thing is happening. The only thing that mattered to me. And then I forget again but I’m busy doing other things.

*

Let’s talk about music.

Beset. Released our first double-single a year-to-the-day-or-so after The Weapon and I started the band. It took months of practicing, recording, failing. We have another single coming soon, called We Brought Weapons, and I think it’s the best album cover I’ve ever designed.

weaponsfinal.jpg

I’m also excited to say that I’ve found a way for us to do limited edition runs of vinyl picture discs. I’m having a lot of fun delving into the world of lathe cut vinyls, and so we’ll do some for Beset. And some for EFFORTS.

And SPEAKING of EFFORTS. This week should see the release of another album cover I’m in love with, and certainly our longest if not best title ever: MAY THE EYES THAT RISE UPON YOU NEVER KNOW (YOUR TRUE HEART). This is the last EP we’ll be producing before the LP is finished.

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What I like about these EFFORTS extended plays is, although the songs are culled from the eventual LP (I Bought You a Coffin), each EP has a special song made just for itself. In the case of MAY YOU ABSORB ALL EVIL (released last January) there was “Ringtone Money” and on this latest release, we have “I’ll Bring The Blood”. Which is a song I begged us to record. I thought it was important for two reasons: 1) this is a real rough EP. It’s mean, spiteful, and a little harrowing. And although these lyrics came from honest and truthful places, if you write stuff like “we used to be brothers/now we’re nothing” or “what’s the use if you’re not able/to turn your noose into a halo” ...you have to have something cleanse the pallet, and push all those feelings into the right mindscape. The second reason is, though I don’t think anyone else would remember it, this was the first rough idea that all two-and-a-half members of EFFORTS ever played together as a band.

Zach and I recorded this new track (and as it so happens, the final song to be recorded for this first EFFORTS era) by having each of us playing dueling acoustic guitars, with a microphone hung between us. It was the most fun and certainly a scene that a time-traveling version of myself would say” this is fake...and did you mean to gain so much weight?”

So that’s releasing this week or the next. And then it’s on to the full length album that we spent three years working on. Three years! That is a long time! We have decided to print up several hundred promo copies to just give out to people. I’ll package them with Spell Saga and we won’t make a dime off any of it. Which was sort of the plan from the beginning. Then next year we’ll start playing shows again and shooting music videos. Here is a mock-up files for the inside of the packaging:

EFFORTSPROMOinsideRGB.jpg

My other gig, DAMNSEL & THE EUTH GROUP, with my good friend Geoffrey Maybe was also supposed to be performing next year--along with various costumed creatures and puppets. But last night I sat on a couch with Geoffrey as he told me he would be leaving forever at the end of the year. I wished him luck and drove home slightly heartbroken. Hopefully his plans fail and he is forced to live out my dreams for his life.

*

I dreamed I was walking into a room where my brothers and childhood friends were playing music and I was not invited or allowed.

*

The Novel has reached a place where I can see the end off it. I stopped a year ago and went back and rewrote the whole thing, even giving it a new title and to more than some degree, a new purpose and identity.

The chapter I was stuck on before, The Return of The Häx has not only changed its placement in the story, but also its purpose and content. The stuff I was trying to write kept getting interrupted by these other ideas, until I just let it happen (by worrying about it a whole bunch and forcing myself to do it), and now I’m telling the story in a much more honest manner (and in a more original manner too, I might add). Now I just have to finish the thing, and then rewrite the chapter it now proceeds--which is also affected in a much better manner, as now a chapter that I liked, but felt worried towards, will now move all the more quicker, and will have a better purpose than it did (not just character driven, but now plot and character driven, with several different motives and emotions all playing against one another).

My favorite thing to do is take the rough nearly finished version of a chapter (or even a scene) and then read it to Meagen. There are times when I’m reading, and we both laugh at something I wrote, and it feels like a god damn magic trick (the book isn’t humor-based, but you gotta have some giggles during the introspective drama, right). Here is part of a scene that I like:

 


Chapter Thirteen

The Return of The Häx


Somewhere else, at a time yet to be determined, Sylvan The Magician was staring into the depths of a hotel room wall. There were no pictures hung for him to look at (he had taken them all down). And the wall was nothing special (except for the large stain, which hung like a grotesque reflectionless mirror before him). Sylvan knew what the stain was--he could read a magical accident with the best of them, even without a degree in occult forensics.

There had been an attack, of that he was sure. And the stain was the blood of a victim who was male, with legs thin as a skeleton, his hair styled in two long braids that hung down to his chest. Sylvan could even read the stain upon the wall in such a manner that he could knew the victim’s name (it was Cut-Punch) and his profession (a drug dealer who sold gender-bending pills). And if he concentrated on the stain for long enough, he could see the boxing gloves Cut-Punch never took off, the ones with steak-knives sticking out from the ends of them. But as to what had caused the stain, and Cut-Punch’s untimely death, of this The Magician could not be certain. There had been some sort of brawl, from the looks of things...and a demon had been involved.  It was hard to say who had won, but the mark occured after the ma named Cut-Punch had been thrown against the wall.

Sylvan was sure it was quite a story, but it had nothing to do with him. In fact, the only reason he was staring at the stain now was it was the one blank wall he could stare at comfortably while sitting at the edge of the bed. He put the image of the attack out of his mind. And stared past the stain, into the white vast beyond it. He was searching for answers. And failing somewhat miserably.

The room worked best when ignored. Sylvan knew this, and had even taught himself several techniques of deliberate non-listening (from modern schools of thought, like The Crumbling Tower, to ancient ideas like The Misheed Form of The Blinded Eye.

But it was no use.

“What’s that?” Francois asked, pointing at the stain on the wall.

Sylvan pretended not to hear him.

“What are you listening to?”

Sylvan ignored that question too. His Mp3 player was set to repeat the song it was playing, and the volume turned up loud enough to drown out most of the child’s questions. But no matter how long he stared at the wall, or how hard he concentrated on the song about fleeting dreams and a place called California, he knew Francois was beside him, staring intently. And this would not do.

Sylvan pulled the headphones out and tried his best to stay focused on the white spray along the wall. “I am Attempting.” he told him.

He could almost hear Francois cock his head to the side as he asked, “Attempting what?”

“Magic.” said Sylvan. And then, because he knew it was useless, and because he quite liked explaining how clever he was, he did his best to explain the whole thing quickly.

“Francois, you and I have done our best to tell everyone to meet us here at this hotel. We have popped and blinked across countless worlds, delivering our magic flyers--”

“But those flyers didn’t say anything on them! It was like all the words were…” Francois, paused, as if embarrassed, “...well they moved like insects, is all. I don’t see how anyone is gonna be able to read them, Sylvan.”

“It’s just an enchanted font.” the magician smiled. “The words are not viewable until someone believes they are truly a hero.”

“Oh.” said Francois. “So if the true hero of each world finds the flyer, they’ll know where to find us.”

“Precisely.”

“Well that will be my biggest coincidence yet.” Francois smiled to himself. “You’re lucky I’m traveling with you!”

“Am I?” Sylvan mumbled to himself, turning back to the stain on the wall.

“But why listen to that song on repeat? Why change a blood stain on the wall to make it look the color white?”

“It was a cheap trick, to be sure.” Sylvan agreed. “But I need to try and see things. And a blank white spot, with a simple melody, is a great start.” Sylvan turned back to Francois. “I’m trying to catch a glimpse of what our heroes might be up to.”

“That sounds like pretty advanced magic!”

“It is not so accomplished as all that.”

“Aren’t you accomplished, Sylvan?”

“I warn you. I am very Accomplished.” But then Sylvan was mumbling, his thoughts going adrift into the white ocean before him.

Why can’t I see anything? He wondered. Why is this so hard?

But he could almost hear his friend, The Wizard Jonas Tombstone’s voice answering him:

Why not stop feeling sorry for yourself? and Anyone can clearly see that your thoughts are too full to see through them clearly.

Jonas loved saying that one. Sylvan felt his face twitch in annoyance. More so that the advice was good than anything else. But how could he possibly clear his mind at a time like this? He was a magician with a lot going on. He gave himself a moment to think back on the events which had led him to ignoring a child in a hotel room.

He and Jonas had met the boy in the astral plane, sometime ago, by any decent measure of time. And then there had been that business in the restaurant, where they had first met Esperanto Crown-Killer, and then the rest of their company, The Council of Myths & Secrets.

That was when things really got uncomfortable for Sylvan, because the head of the council was a young woman named July Hollander, and though he had never met her before, she knew him exceedingly well.

Is that what bothers you? Sylvan asked himself. No, he answered. And yet perhaps it does.

A magician should know himself completely, and spend many quiet moments reflecting on the truth of themself and their actions. If they did not, magic could become quite dangerous if one was not honest with themself. In that sense, July Hollander knowing him better than he knew himself felt like a threat--in the world of magicians, knowledge was a threat. But according to xxxxx, not only did she know him, she had travelled with him in her youth.

I do hate time travel. Sylvan admitted to himself. And then, like a small firework of epiphany, he heard himself responding to his own thoughts,  You hate time travel, and you hate the truth about yourself.

Because it wasn’t just that this unknown woman knew him so well, it was that she knew him with anger in her eyes. She had been through much, anyone could see it. From the missing leg she had replaced with an obsidian antler; to the leather armor she wore, her shield kept safely beside her. This woman had known Sylvan in her youth, and he was sure, beyond a doubt, by the look in her eyes and the manner she held herself, Sylvan had let her down.

That was why he felt so upset. It was unnatural event to meet someone after they had already met you, and the magician had no emotional resistance to handle it. The truth of the matter was that soon, he would meet this young girl, and he was going to let her down. And he knew this. As surely as he knew his techniques of ignoring things. Because Sylvan The Magician was selfish. And he hated this about himself.

Just admitting it was a relief. And Sylvan felt the room wash away until it was just him and his Mp3 player, staring into the stain of a white space in front of him. And as he watched, it became snow.

There were other things in that wall too. Something horrible was happening at a school. A young girl named Victoria was tied to a chair somewhere in an abandoned building. Her eyes were closed tightly as the sound a crash was coming from somewhere up above her. And someplace else, in a world of pitch black darkness, he could hear two people whispering to one another.

But it was The Tundra which had caught his attention.

Sylvan focused on the white spot, trying to see the same lone figure standing where he had seen them. He could hear the chorus repeating itself at the end of the song. He tried to blur his eyes a little. Focusing on nothing. Ignoring the room. There was a woman standing in the snow. He could almost see her. And all of a sudden, he knew her name, and much more about her.

 

 

*

I was in the mall, it wasn’t a dream, though I often dream of this place during times of change; this is after all, where I spent most of my early adolescence, where I spent all my time and money on fantasy card games. I was walking up the stairs and turned to find Joshua Rizzo walking down them. He said my full name when we embraced. Joshua helped me get Spell Saga ready for the public, spending most of every day for two years next to me while I did so. But we haven’t talked much in years. “I was gonna call you thiS week” I told him, honestly. “Oh yeah?” he asked, his eyes darting around like he was both happy and uncomfortable. “I got 3000 lbs. Of a fantasy card game you helped me make showing up to the house this week. I’ll call ya.”

Then I left him on the stairs and bought myself pants without holes, and a bitchin’ jean jacket.

I gotta go get my teeth ripped out. See you when I look more Southern.

Todd Rogers
ITEM! The Grammar Knights Have Fallen
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With the cards (supposedly) coming any day now (couldn’t be true) part of the last month of my life has been going through the VAST amounts of updates and comments on the (2?!) Kickstarters, to make sure every single thing I promised almost four years ago is either delivered, or replaced with something better (re: costs me more moolah to produce). One thing I was really hesitant about, and really cursing myself over, was promising an eBook of all my stupid blog posts and tweets from when I first created Spell Saga to when it was funded. I often hate myself, and publishing what I consider an instruction manual for others to do the same seemed ridiculous when outside of the furry of a fully funded social media fundraising campaign. But last night I sat down, and I started to read pieces I had written about my life during the year 2009. Before I knew it, two hours had passed and I was staring at a fully edited and formatted beginning of a manuscript. It’s embarrassing stuff to look at, to be sure. But I think it’s also really helpful too, if you’re someone who wants to make things, or suffering from metal illness, or the keep of the keys to seven-hundred bad choices in a row. I made a cover for the thing today, and then, because I could, I made a back cover, and then a spine. And now I have this mock-up which has seemingly appeared upon my screen out of nowhere. so I guess I’ll end up printing my transgressions to sell on subheathen.com at some point. A memoir that no one asked for, by someone no one knows. My god, what have I done? If you are wondering about the art, it's my Cousin Lauren drawing stuff for Spell Saga, and me having to pose for it.

Todd Rogers
High Tidings from Beset.

 

Beset. has released our first DOUBLE SINGLE and you can hear it now on Bandcamp!

http://besetbesetbeset.bandcamp.com/album/psychic-loan-where-is-your-ocean-double-single or (stream at bottom of post)

I am mean to be doing other things--namely re-enchanting the Spell Saga website to stand up straight on it's own, but since we released this yesterday I think it merits a small post, if only to remind myself and future "bad-music" scholars of how we got here.

Beset. was a project I started by myself after writing notes down while driving away from one bad fourth of July party to another ("why are you on your phone?" Meagen will always ask, which means "why are you endangering my life, much less your own?" These are valid questions. 

But as we drove an hour back into Nashville in a car threatening to give up the ghost at any moment (seriously, this was a hot Summer day in 2017, the year white apparitional clouds began coughing up every time I started the thing) I wrote down the word Beset, and the words Where is Your Ocean?

And I can't remember if it was the next day, or the one after that, or even the NEXT one, but I remember being at work, serving in a restaurant for my last day, and scribbling ideas for an album cover down on a napkin in between a sparse amount of tables and money. I also remember trying to get ahold of Giovanni, this guy I did not know well at all--because I heard he had a small home studio. I texted him to meet me and I ended up driving to the middle of this very small downtown area of this little town. He was dressed in a full suit and standing in the dark by himself. That night he played guitar for me in the middle of The Most Derelict Room I Have Ever Been In. And then I asked him to join this band with me, and I played him a little lo-fi audio file I had for an opening of an LP. 

We spent that Summer and Fall writing music together, pushing out demos as I screamed in his closet or sang on the stairs, wires pulled all over the house and the heat of the night creeping in through his open window. I started calling Giovannni The Weapon. Our plan was to make music that sounded like wizards who had shipwrecked on a tropical island. I started telling everyone we were making this thing that defied logic, and that anyone could come and join...I said we would play shows wearing robes and have a projector play old vacation footage of islands over us. 

In January Noah appeared out of nowhere, a sort of imaginary friend of a person who everyone sort of knew. We had talked about him joining the project before he ever heard the music, but he had left to live in Colorado forever and The Weapon and I went back to our indie-rock EDM ideas of percussion. But at the start of 2018 Noah was back, after one of his roommates had performed a blood ritual over his synthesizers without permission. Noah brought another roommate along with him, a girl we will call "redacted". She was an incredible violinist, and suddenly the band had a sound.

Noah and The Weapon both have similarities to their playing. There is this young man's ADHD drug haze that gets in front of them when we talk, like sheets of raw wool and funhouse mirrors. Conversations can border between funny to infuriating--but when they play enough and hit their zone it's sort of like this emotional rhythm god takes over, like their both One With Their Emotional States. I think it comes through.

We practiced everywhere. From The Weapon's apocalyptic living room (until his neighbor broke through the front door once-- I wasn't there for that) to the coldest public park I've ever been in, to a storage unit filled with garden lights that created an accidental strobe effect (it was hard to keep our eyes open).

In the end The Weapon used his resources to secure us free time at a multi-million dollar recording studio way out in the middle of Fuck Knows Where.

We tried recording Where is Your Ocean and failed so spectacularly that one member walked out of the studio never to be seen again (redacted), and it nearly avalanched the whole project. Then we regrouped two months later and brought more people int he room to record with us.

Listen. It is not a normal thing to record the whole band at once. And it is CERTAINLY not a good idea to do this with three people who have never heard the songs before, much less played them. But we did it.

And fuck me, if it didn't sound like wizard's who had shipwrecked on a tropical island.

We brought in my buddy Zach from EFFORTS to sit in and muck the bass up all pretty-like. And both Noah & The Weapon pulled in a violinist--I couldn't remember the guy on violin's name, so I just started (respectfully) calling him Whistle Boy, and that sort of stuck--and another guitar guy named Trey, who looked rightfully nervous. he kept glancing at me after every take like we might execute him. Which is funny, because listening back he was incredible. None of us have seen him since, he's sort of a transient who used burner phones. But I'm glad we could have him when we did.

Look I have a video of us recording it!

When we finished the rough tracks everything got much, much harder.

It took two months of mixing, redoing vocals, redoing guitars, awkward phone calls and patience for us to get you the Double Single you now have before you. At one point I drove to The Weapon's House and brought my dog AND air conditioner so we could sit in the living room and start mixing together.

Luckily we had this guy named Gavin the Great. His real name is Gavin Mellberg, and he's now our official engineer/absolute band member. Eventually I had to drop everything and drive down to the studio to pull together our final mix for "Oceans" (as Noah calls it). That was a good day. My car doens't like to ummm work or "not-shut-off" so driving an hour through traffic and a torrential storm is a big deal. But Gavin and I sat there and got that song done. It took six hours of him and I being as careful and yet ballsy as possible.

The general rule for mixing songs for me is really simple (because I don't know what I'm doing) as my general input is to pay attention to my body, and the bodies of everyone else in the room. You're hands and feet react quicker than your brain when it comes to a groove (god I hate that word); so that's hat Gavin and I did. made big changes and little changes, always trying to keep it to where our bodies were moving of their own volition.

A week later we were back in the studio, all of us, and finishing up Psychic Loan. Gavin and I were even able to pull pieces form the original demo (I had stolen The Weapon's files for just such an occasion).

On July Fourth, a year to the day that I cam up with Beset., I drove Meagen's car to Geoffrey Maybe's house and sat with him while he mastered the tracks, both our buddies tapping along as we finalized everything. And then I released that shit, because why wait?

And that's the story of how you are no listening to the songs you probably listened to if you're reading this. I would also like to say this: the melted-cassette-tape song at the end of "Oceans" is one of my Dad's demoes from about 1986. Having this EP end with his earnest attempt at forging a record deal is very special to me.

Beset. will return with "We Brought Weapons" this November.

-mE.

Todd Rogers
Spell Saga News

Hey look! It’s a test printing for the 2nd edition of Spell Saga ~realmwalker~ Prelude: Science//Armor//Romance !!! Now with better colors, better tactile manufacturing (fuck gloss) and a dang rulebook! And just look at that shiny new company logo. These will be available this Winter. Spell Saga forever.

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Todd Rogers
SPELL SAGA NEWS

Ya’ll like matte or gloss? If you pitched in at least 100 bones during our Kickstarter(s) 100 years ago, yer gettin’ 1 of 25 mighty fine boxes with your cards. I love these. And I love you. Thanks for your enduring patience. Xoxoccult. -mE. 
🎼 grain by cricket engine

Todd Rogers
SPELL SAGA NEWS

Just got an email confirming the arrival dates for the Shenzhen shipment (assuming everything goes constantly well)--we should be receiving 50-something cartons of Spell Saga on or around July 29th. The plan is to have Cousin Lauren swing up to Nashville and help me autograph/plan for deck 3 and etc. sometime after that. My hope/goal/prayer/wish to to make sure everyone has everything they ordered and more BEFORE the 4 year anniversary of the Kickstarter (that's in October, in case ya don't recall that ancient era). In the meantime, there is a LOT to do, including the one-of-a-kind Paladin level cards promised during the 2015 New Language Launch. These were originally going to be hand drawn, until I realized it would be much more exciting for everyone to have a 1 of a kind unique holofoil that only they could use (they way they could read the rules too, my handwriting is not worth anyone's time). I was actually in the middle of designing these one-of-a-kinds when I got the shipment dates. This is the final look for the (hero) Paladin Level cards. You'll be getting at LEAST one of these packaged randomly with your stuff if you backed either Kickstarter (2014/2015) at a Weatherguard Level! OR EVERYTHING WILL GO WRONG AND THE WORLD WILL END.

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Todd Rogers
SPELL SAGA NEWS

I have spent the last two weeks or so since the cards were getting prepared to be shipped from Shenzhen by ignoring my feelings and throwing myself into a dangerous amount of Good Ole Fashioned Hard Work. Most of what I've been doing isn't so much art as *secret things* ya'll don't know about, like Weatherguard Prizes and such for everyone who waited so god damn long for me to pull this project together. I talked to Cousin Lauren yesterday on the phone for a good 40 minutes,just pacing around the hot salts of a dilapidated parking lot, telling her all the secrets and listening to her opinions about them. And we talked a bit about the future too.

Spell Saga has a long life ahead of it, now that it can finally be born (unless the freight shipment falls into the sea, or customs declares fantasy gaming illegal) and a big part of that future is correcting the growing pain mistakes of the past. I spent this week looking at a game I posted online almost three years ago (before pulling it for for too many reasons).

Spell Saga ~realmwalker~ Prelude: science // armor // romance was a bit too hard, had some game-fucking typos, and was pointless without everyone having their Spell Saga cards from the 2014 Kickstarter. But now I have the chance to go back, make things a little prettier, change two (major to me, but you won't notice them) specific cards and even redo the Potion cards (strange things bother me and it is a relief to fix them). And I forgot about the writing on the item cards. Some of is is maybe the best I have ever slapped onto a PSD file. And there's humor in it too! Who knew?!

Looking back over the game it is really apparent just how much I was struggling with alcohol and gender, I knew about it at the time, but with a few years comes a sense of self and some righteous clarity. It also helps that I have not had a drink in 15 months. but who's counting?

...And yes, the rumors are true--it looks like we'll have holofoil realmwalker decks for sale--that's the ENTIRE deck in holofoil. Every. Single. Card. (unless that specific factory blows up or something, or there's an international 2019 holofoil shortage).

Spell Saga forever. More soon.

-mE.

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Todd Rogers
SPELL SAGA NEWS

DONE. And Cousin Lauren's art has never looked better. This part's a secret, but suffice it to say, those last minute ideas take more time and money than expected. Spell Saga forever!

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Todd Rogers
SPELL SAGA NEWS

With the cards about to be shipped from Shenzhen, I thought I would share a little something I am working on. There is a lot of stuff everyone is getting that they don't know about. I also wanted to share the following comment I left on the 2014 Kickstarter.

Pt. 1

Greetings, from the fabulous former fallout shelter of the former FTGco! As of this typing, somewhere far away (Shenzhen, China) Spell Saga is being packaged up to be shipped to me, so that it may be shipped to you! In preparation, I've spent the last week reading every single update, comment, and private message between the Kickstarters, in order to make sure everyone gets more than they ever planned on getting (if you got a package from us already, that's cool, but you're getting another one). Everyone is getting Deck Two, and some of you are getting much more than that.

I won't be making any crazy updates until said shipment arrives at the brand-new SUBHEATHEN castle (same old bread forge, but it's a new company name 'cause it's just little 'ole me). But I wanted to leave this here, split between several comments. it's a VERY detailed timeline of events from when the 2014 Kickstarter ended, to where we are today. In case anyone wants to ever make a game of their own, or wants a detailed analysis between the ratio of bad luck vs. bad decisions that goes into something like a four year delay on a project (and how to pull out of that downward spiral)

I'm just relieved to finally arrive to what I consider the beginning of Spell Saga's long journey ahead of itself. Growing pains are embarrassing, but a lot of good stuff happens between them. And If I could say just one final thing, it's that our manufacturer has been incredible. PANDA is the real deal. Would that every manufacturer be as incredible as them.

After the Fundraiser Ended,

~December xx, 2014 We are quoted the wrong amount of money from manufacturer. 
Three times. (easy to do). 
We changed the amount of cards so that’s on us
~December 16, 2014 Cousin Lauren finishes Deck Two ~ The Forest card art
~December 19, 2014 Deck Two ~ The Forest PnP released

~January 11, 2015 Do to a misquote, we need to create 18 new cards. 
The Wand & The Hero Potion are two ITEMS I said we would give everyone for free
The Rare Story card was announced and given free to everyone
The Places + pack was available to purchase through our shop spellsaga.com 
~January 11, 2015 All the card art for Deck One ~ The Highlands and Bonus cards finished
~January 14, 2015 Spell Saga contract signed and dated with manufacturer
~January xx, 2015 all 18 new bonus cards finished being created. 
~January 27, 2015, I spend several weeks redoing every single card for the printer. 
~January 27th, all bonus cards from 2014 Kickstarter are gifted as PnP files
~February xx, 2015 I begin to design The Prelude Deck PnP
We offered this during the 2015 campaign
Design starts to bend around Cousin lauren’s hectic school schedule
~February 02, 2015 store.spellsaga.com opens
~February 17, 2015 cannot move forward without word from digital prepress team
~February 18, 2015 Ship date slips from March to June due to the bonus cards being printed
~February 28, 2015 all cards and packaging ready
~March 01, 2015 digital prepress team gets back to us
~March 07, 2015 Packaging and cards redone abased on digital prepress teams specifications
~March xx, 2015 The wobble starts here
Shipping quote from factory was wrong. Affecting our budget. 
Kickstarter bonus content was planned poorly. Dumb. Affects our budget. 
Miscommunication and language barriers mean files have to redone continually. 
Long weeks spent doing nothing but Photoshopping causes me to pay myself. Dumb. 
We (think we) need money to send decks to reviewers. Dumb. Affects our budget. 
People keep asking us how to get copies if they missed Kickstarter
An indieGoGo is planned to coincide with launch of International PnP decks. 
~March 26, 2015 digital prepress team finds mistakes
Deck One ~ The Highlands ~ tuckbox need a larger bleed
Several cards are in wrong format (RGB v.s CMYK) 
One card was missing a bleed
~April 02, 2015 Prelude Deck is now being printed with it’s own tuckbox
~April xx, 2015 I start working with an Italian translator (failed attempt). 
~April xx, 2015 Prelude PnP design is nearly finished
~April 11, 2015 digital proof from manufacturer arrives online
~April 29, 2015 Manufacturer asks if Deck One will be shrink-wrapped into two decks
we said no, but this is why your copy might have come in two pieces inside the box
(not a big deal) 
~May 05, 2015 receive word from printer we were given wrong box sizes based on their prototype
~June 13, 2015 tuckbox templates are sent to us
~June 13, 2015 “white” prototype shows sleeve is wrong size. Manufacturer sends sleeve template
~June 29, 2015 IndieGoGo is launched and immediately cancelled/moved to Kickstarter
~June 30, 2015 2015 Kickstarter is launched
~ Prelude ~ Deck (English) PnP made available
~ Prelude ~ Deck (English) now being printed and gifted to all backers of both campaigns. 
Deck One ~ Das Hochland ~ (German) PnP available
translated by Raimund Ruppel over 2 years
All backers of Previous campaign bumped up a level
Deck 1.5 ~ The Undersky announced
Deck 2.5 ~ The Heart of The Roots announced
Paladin Level (one-of-a-kind handmade cards) announced
Heavenly level (one-of-a-kind handmade decks) announced
~June release date slips to September
~July 08, 2015 final (not final) Deck One box art finished for printer. 
~July 09, 2015 final (not final) Prelude Deck box art finished for printer. 
~July 10, 2015 all redesigned boxes and cards for Prelude deck now uploaded to manufacturer
~July 13, 2015 first shipping by freight estimate arrives from manufacturer
~July 20, 2015 2015 MYTH cards announced
~July 20, 2015 official timeline of Spell Saga (all the planned games) announced on 2015 KS
~July 22, 2015 digital prepress time finds more mistakes
Several cards are in wrong format (RGB v.s CMYK) 
The boxes will need to be redone once more to make bleed match better
~August 02, 2015 Fever Games starts translating Italian Spell version of Spell Saga
~August 13th 2015 - first ever pre-production prototype overnighted from shenzhen
~September 01, 2015 new contract signed with manufacturer. Game now less expensive
~September 05, 2015 Shipment window slips from September to November
I give out my phone number to every backer. 
~September 05, 2015 first three MYTH cards now being printed & gifted to backers
~September 05, 2015 Deck One ~ As Teras Altas ~ (Portuguese) PnP available
translated by Dual Pistoleiro over 2 years
~September 21, 2015 second digital proof from manufacturer arrives online
mistakes are found in digital proof (this is what it’s for) 
~September 30, 2015 third digital proof from manufacturer arrives online
~October 05, 2016 Spell Saga begins mass production in Shenzhen, China
~October 25, 2016 Design work begins for Spell Saga ~realmwalker~ PSAR PNP
~November 24, 2015 Manufacturer has questions about holo foils
~November 30, 2015 we receive the first ever printed edition of Spell Saga from manufacturer
package comes with prototype laser-printed holofoils and holosleeve
the holofoil sleeve is gold and we our fault, so we pay for correcting the error
~December 06, 2015 Spell Saga ~realmwalker~ PSAR PnP is released
~December 13, 2015 we pay to have the gold holofoil sleeve material cut into blank cards
for Paladin Level handmade cards
~December xx, 2015 All cards are now printed except holofoils
~December 22, new blank silver holofoil sleeve arrived via overnight delivery
~December 22, 2015 We receive silver holofoil sleeve test printing of Deck One
~December xx 2015 Holofoil issues. 
Factory cuts holofoil cards at wrong size w/slightly discolored backs. 
(That's on us, holofoil stock is darker and we should have prepared our colors better) 
(they offer to reprint the entire holofoil on their dime and we said no they look great)

Pt. 2

~January xx, 2016 Spellsaga.com is updated daily with new articles
(this idea is soon dropped) 
~ January 08, 2016 We receive the second manufactured Spell Saga copy including holofoils
holofoils are cut wrong, too large to play with other cards
holofoils have wrong colored backs (too dark to play with) 
packaging looks somewhat horrendous
we wait to sign final contract until negotiations for fixing content go through
~January 14, 2016 manufacturer finds problem in card sizes and offers to recut them
~January 26, 2016 2nd manufacturing proof arrives with recut holofoil cards
these cards are damaged
another proof will be sent to determine if damage was caused from shipping or cutting
~February 16, 2016 Spell Saga Italian edition box finished
this becomes new packaging for entire line going forward
~February 23, 2016 we decide to pay out of pocket ot airship 200 units for backers (dumb) 
This way we can fulfill orders while fine-tuning product
The pricing for this made sense at the time
Manufacturer offers to reprint holofoils if these 200 units look damaged
~February 29, 2016 Deck One ~Gli Altopiani ~ (Italian) PnP available
Translated by Emanuele Pierangelo over 5 months
~March 15, 2016 I decide to pay for Deck Two ~ The Forest ~ on my own dime
~March 15, 2016 Spell Saga ~realmwalker~ PSAR now offered on Gamecrafter.com 
~March 16, 2016 pricing for airshipping 200 units goes up 400% 
we still decide to do it (dumb) 
~March 21, 2016 We pay to have the packaging reprinted to match the Italian packaging
The packaging we had previous is now referred to as zero edition. 
There are only 302 zero editions in existence
The zero edition packaging was deemed not suitable by me for branding purposes
~April 02, 2016 Spell Saga makes it’s Italian debut at PLAY fair through Fever Games
~April 14, 2016 we receive a new quote to redo the packaging
~June 23, 2016 we realize we need 300 zero edition units airshipped, not 300
manufacturer above and beyond helpful with this
everything costs money. every decision. whether good or bad. 
~June xx, 2016 Spell Saga ~realmwalker~ PSAR is removed from Gamecrafter.com 
A typo was found that made game impossible to win (dumb) 
The packaging was deemed not suitable by me for advertising/branding purposes
~June xx, 2016 store.spellsaga.com temporarily closes
~July xx, 2016 Work begins on Spell Saga ~ realmwalker ~ The Discordant Shore PnP
~July 06, 2016 300 zero edition units arrive at doorstep
~July 05, 2016 factory-cut holofoil card stock arrives for the (handwritten) Paladin Level cards
~July 11, 2016 Deck Two Holofoil sleeve designed
~September 20, 2016 Brand New Rulebook w/walkthrough is released after weeks of work
~September 24, 2016 we cannot print new packaging or deck two until remaining balance paid
this affects our plans to ship out the newly received 300 zero edition units
funds are now being pulled in two different directions (dumb) 
~October 01, 2016 manufacturer heroically agrees to warehouse product until balance is paid
~October xx, 2016 the first waves of the 300 zero editions begin to ship out
Most packages have to wait for Cousin Lauren to autograph them, 
her package was delayed by a hurricane
~November xx, 2016 post office gives us wrong shipping costs
the 300 units will now cost double to ship to backers
~November xx, 2016 Cousin Lauren’s autographed sleeves arrive, shipping can now begin
~November 28, 2016 Shipping dates for all 300 zero edition units are announced
End of December
~December xx, 2016 I lose both my jobs. My wife loses hers. 
All plans for shipping and Deck 2 start to wobble. 
~December 29, 2016 Work begins on Spell Saga ~ Deck 1.5 ~ The Undersky

~March 08, 2017 Final funds for project are wired to manufacturer
New packaging and deck two printing now okay
~April 25, 2017 final contract for new packaging and deck two printing is signed
~May 22, 2017 Shipping dates for the rest of the 300 Zero Edition units is moved to July 2017
~May 28, 2017 After 10 months of slow progress, Deck Two ~ The Forest ~ is redesigned
~June xx, 2017 Cousin lauren draws cover to Deck Two ~The Forest ~ 
~June xx, 2017 Design begins for box of Deck Two ~ The Forest ~ 
~July 06, 2017 it is decided to pay manufacturer a monthly fee for warehousing our product
(more than fair) 
~July xx, 2017 shipping dates for the rest of the zero editions slips
From July to whenever final product arrives
~July 31, 2017 box and holofoil sleeve design uploaded for digital pre-press team
~August 06, 2017 - Deck 2 is finished being redesigned
~August 10, 2017 all of deck two’s files uploaded for digital pre-press team
~September 25, 2017 all the packaging is wrong sized. Manufacturer templates wrong. 
New templates sent to us. 
~October 10, 2017 new packaging redesigned and uploaded to digital pre-press team
~October 17, 2017 digital pre press has approved and readying a digital mockup
~October 17, 2017 box sizes still wrong, manufacturer wants a bigger bleed
~November 01, 2017 All Spell Saga pre-print files (deck 2 and new packaging) approved
~November 16, 2017 Prototype printings for Deck Two cards & new packaging arrive
~December 19, 2017 much confusion over the repackaging

~January 19, 2018 the confusion over the repackaging is finally cleared up over many emails (understandable) 
~January 23, 2018 repackaging the reprinted packaging incurs a new unforeseen cost (fair) 
~February 01, 2018 renewed contract signed for cost of labor
~March 20, 2018 carton marking requested and sent for freight shipping
~March 23, 2018 First production copies of Deck Two w/holofoil sleeve arrive
With new packaging for Deck One & Prelude Deck
~March 30, 2018 mass production of Deck Two ~ The Forest ~ and new packaging begins
~March 30, 2018 new shipping quote for freighter is lower than expected
~June 05, 2018 The final deposit and shipping is paid to our manufacturer
~June xx, 2018 packages are shipped by freighter
from Shenzhen, China to Nashville, Tennessee in North America.

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Todd Rogers
WHYLC ISSUE 2

After 2 long years, issue 2 of WHYLC is finally released. You can read it for FREE at whylc.tumblr.com //Way out West, where the black roses bloom…dear reader we return to the world of devils, pocket watches and haunted revolvers. In this issue we’ll see just how The Caballero received those terrible weapons.And you’ve met The Taker, so be ready to meet The Keeper!

Todd Rogers

DAMNSEL & THE  EUTH GROUP - Birds at Night

NEW DAMSEL & THE EUTH GROUP special release!!! Happy birthday week to a certain someone who’s certainly a somebody: my partner in crime, @bluhz I know you already heard the rough of this song; but here’s the final thingamabop. I wrote this for you, and Geoffrey made it worth listening to. I am very lucky to have spent six(?!) If your b-days alongside you, and even more lucky to see who you were, and who you’ve become. Thank-you for not being embarrassed by this ridiculous song. It’ll be daylight before too long.

Todd Rogers
Spell Saga News

Everything is set. All the manufacturing is finished and tomorrow I wire the final payment to our printer in Shenzhen. All 3000 lbs. of cardboard product will arrive in about 40 days. And then the debt begins to be paid: everyone from the 2014 + 2015 Kickstarters is getting everything they asked for and more (plus surprises). I am so fucking relieved. Massive. Massive updates coming all Summer long. (you don't even know anything about the new version of Deck Two. Did you know we printed it for you, and that's half the reason everything took so long? Well yer gettin' deck two. Oh man and wait until you see The Under Sky. SPELL SAGA FOREVER. (sorry it took so long). TO ME, MY WEATHERGUARD. [[EDIT: we are sending metallic stickers to everyone]]

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Todd Rogersspell saga