Actually, it’s been out a couple of weeks, but I’ve held off announcing it in case something unfortunate cropped up. So far, so good. Now just wait, the two copies I ordered for myself, that have taken two weeks to get here, will arrive and horrify me.
So, what else has been happening? Well, quite a lot in the world of tabletop gaming. WoTC pulled a boner by trying to revoke the Open Gaming License companies have been using for the last 20+ years. They got hit with more bad press than you can shake a spiny at, and eventually backed off after a ton of folks unsubscribed from D&D Beyond. In addition, the move spurred other influential gaming companies to create their own open license agreement (Paizo) and/or announce they’re coming out with their own game system (Kobold Press). It’s my understanding that Hasbro/WoTC’s misstep rocketed sales of their rivals. I know I became nostalgic for Hero System and ordered their Sixth Edition Fantasy Hero book. I put some of their other books on my wish list. It’s actually a bit silly for me to purchase Hero products since it’s highly unlikely I’ll get anyone to give it a go. Even the people who turned me onto it in the first place have moved on to Savage Worlds because of its easier rules.
Then there’s the big AI debate. As someone who used to do book covers for people, I can understand the fear of losing work because people can crank out covers left and right by typing in some descriptive wording. Things like ChatGPT are also giving writers shivers of horror. I write ad copy on the side for a small company, and there’s already been excitement from our clients that they can ditch us and create their own blurbs. I plugged one of my own book blurbs into ChatGPT and was not thrilled with the results, but that doesn’t mean someone who doesn’t understand what makes compelling ad copy won’t think it’s fantastic.
Now, I did give it a prompt involving a story I’m working on. It involves the twins, Jaki, Gus, and Rocks.
Here is the prompt:
Tell me a story about four friends who go into a haunted fae forest to hunt for truffles. They make a deal with a lonely ghost chef and trade their pig to him as a pet in exchange for magical truffles.
And here is one of the results (I tried the same prompt three times and got a different result each time):
Once upon a time, there were four friends named Mark, Rachel, Sarah, and John who lived in a small village near a mysterious fae forest. The forest was known for its rare and delicious truffles, but it was also said to be haunted by the ghost of a former chef who roamed its woods.
One day, the friends heard about the magical truffles and decided to go into the forest to hunt for them. They were determined to find the truffles and bring them back to the village to sell them at a high price.
As they entered the forest, they encountered the ghost of the chef who appeared before them. He was a lonely spirit who had been searching for someone to share his love of cooking with. The friends were scared, but the ghost proposed a deal. If they gave him their pig as a pet, he would help them find the magical truffles and show them the secrets of the forest.
The friends agreed and traded their pig for the ghost’s help. To their surprise, the ghost was a fantastic cook and showed them how to find the truffles. He also taught them how to prepare the truffles in different dishes.
The friends were amazed at the deliciousness of the truffles and thanked the ghost for his help. As they were about to leave the forest, the ghost gave them a warning. He told them that the forest was protected by the fae and that they should not take too many truffles or they would anger the fae.
The friends followed the ghost’s advice and only took a few truffles with them. When they returned to the village, they sold the truffles for a high price and everyone was amazed at the deliciousness of the truffles. The friends had become known as the Truffle Hunters and were admired for their bravery and wisdom.
The ghost of the chef was happy to have made new friends and was no longer lonely. He was content with his new pet pig and continued to roam the fae forest, sharing his love of cooking with all who entered.
And that is the story of the four friends who went into a haunted fae forest to hunt for truffles and made a deal with a lonely ghost of a chef.
Yeah, it’s clunky and the AI is more than happy to use the same bloody words over and over again, but considering it cranked this out in less than a minute, it’s pretty cool. I definitely have mixed feelings about the entire thing. I’ve always loved techie stuff and dreaming about what’s possible. But I’m also leery about people losing their livelihoods and/or having their intellectual property, if not outright stolen, compromised. All of this is heading to the courts now, so it will be interesting to see how it all falls out.
In the meantime, here are some drone images I rendered in MidJourney as I was thinking about the brownie-operated killing machine in “Neon Ashes”. It’s supposed to be black with red lasers, but the crab look is intriguing.
And if you’d like to read about the “real” thing, you can pick up your copy of “Neon Ashes” at the ‘Zon. And a shot at the cover with the less stylized drone I used via 3D rendering.