My Novels

Robots and Vampires:

The Standard Tech Case Files: The Black Coats:

The Standard Tech Case Files: The Dead and The Damned

Some Art For You

So, one of the things I’m working on this year is learning how to draw. Mostly, this is because I need a map for Fort City, Joey and Jen’s haunt.

Naturally, progress has been slow, but damn good for somebody who hasn’t drawn anything since junior high!

Remember, if you want to support my creative endeavours, you can support me on Patreon or buy me a hot chocolate.

So, here are some samples of my attempts at drawing:

My first attempt at a map for Fort City. It’s supposed to be a star fort, but I don’t think this map quite got where I wanted.

My second, abortive attempt at a map. I realized about halfway through I’d drawn the vertical lines too far out. I needed to move them in more.

My final map for Fort City! Well, not quite. There’s a lot I’m not satisfied with (and more I haven’t settled on), but it is more or less the right shape.

The extra lines are supposed to be city streets, but I think for this map at this scale they just make the map look busy. I’m going to tinker with it some more.

My first attempt at drawing a human being! And it turned into something of a robot man. Whoops.

The non-robotic drawings are my dad’s. When I showed him my picture, he scribbled out some suggestions to help me improve.

I have good parents.

My most recent attempt at a human. Still a stick figure, but less of a robot.

Lots of practice yet!

Fandom Heresies: James Gunn And His Plan To Do The Same Old, Same Old

Hello all you happy people. Josh Stoodley here with more heresies for your viewing pleasure. Today we’re going to look at former (happily) Marvel director and current Kevin Feige wannabe (unhappily) over at DC, James Gunn, and his plan to reboot the DC movie universe. And, uh, spoiler alert: we’re not going to like it. At all.

First caveat: I say this all from a place of hating Kevin Feige. I really, really hate that guy and what he did to cinema, to Marvel and to the directors, cast and crew he stripped all agency from. Hollywood’s a rotten place to begin with, but Feige is a different kind of vile. It will be years before movies recover from the damage he and his ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe’ did, and longer still for comics. So if this comes across as a negative post… well, it is!

Remember kids, if you enjoy my writing please support me on Patreon or buy me a hot chocolate. It really does help, especially in this economic climate.

Now, join me under the cut!

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Fandom Heresies: The Difference Between Meme, Role-Playing, Min-Maxed and Cheese Builds

Hello all you happy people! It is I, Josh Stoodley, here with more Fandom Heresies.

This week, we’re going to talk a bit about something I’ve seen online recently: the difference between Role-playing and Min Maxed character builds, usually in the context of Dungeons and Dragons but sometimes in regards to other role-playing games as well.

I’m going to start by saying right off the bat that I feel this is a false dichotomy. There are, in my opinion, four distinct types of character builds (and a lot of overlap between them; we’re going to focus on the main four today). They are, in no particular order:

  1. Meme builds: these builds have no unifying concept, pay no attention to class archetypes and are generally nonsensical. These include things like wizards dumping Intelligence for Strength, warriors using magic staffs or weapons they otherwise aren’t built for, etc. They usually require some metagaming to make work and are a headache for everybody at the table.
  2. Role-playing builds: These builds start with a character concept first, then build a class and stats around it. Sometimes this means a less-optimized build than the min-maxers (see below) but not necessarily.
  3. Min-Maxing builds: These are sort of the opposite of role-playing builds. They start from the stats and classes, then build a character around that. These can, but don’t always, result in a bland character that is good at one thing and one thing only.
  4. Cheese builds: these are builds that, like meme builds, have no rhyme or reason to them. Unlike meme builds, which are usually made to be funny, these are meant to abuse the mechanics as much as possible. These include, but are not limited to, multi-class dips that make no sense, stacking tons of irrelevant flaws to stack build points, etc. The key point here is that these builds are purely mechanical and make no sense from a character perspective.

We’ll now go into these character build types into further detail below. The key point I want to make here is, yes, there are bad ways to build your character. There are many, many ways to build a character that will piss off your DM, your fellow players and subsequently get you banned from the table.

The reverse is also true, however. There are many, many ways to build characters that are fun, that make sense from both a mechanical and RP perspective and will make you a valued member of your table.

Join me under the cut!

And remember, if you enjoy this content and want to see more of it, you can support me on Patreon or buy me a hot chocolate.

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You Are Vengeance, You Are The Night, You Are, And Always Will Be, Batman

As I’m sure you all know, Kevin Conroy passed away on November 10th, 2022.

For all of us who grew up in the 90s and beyond, Kevin Conroy was Batman. There simply was no other.

Debuting in 1992, Batman: The Animated Series would define the franchise for thirty years with every subsequent animated series, and even live-action series, being compared to Kevin Conroy and his masterful take.

I was first introduced to Batman through reruns of the Adam West series, but soon became an avid watcher of the Animated Series. Alas, I was often prevented from watching it. Partially, it was due to my home life at the time, but mostly it was due to the relentless bullying I was subjected to by my babysitter’s daughter and her friends, none of whom were Batman fans.

Years later, I rediscovered the Animated Series and all of its successor series. It took me back to the childhood I’d wished I had and never got: a childhood full of fun and joy, with no bullies and with Batman as my friend.

For reasons that I should think are obvious at this point, the episode that meant the most to me, that I was the most glad to rediscover, was See No Evil.

It’s hard for me to talk about this. Thinking back to my childhood brings up a lot of memories I would rather not revisit.

But Kevin Conroy represented, and will always represent, the best parts of that childhood.

Thank you.

Marjorie Taylor Greene, Are You American Or Not?

A couple days ago, American representative and resident nutjob Marjorie Taylor Greene declared that, should the Republicans win the midterm elections, Ukraine will not receive any more support in its existential war against Russia.

And I only have one response to that:

Are you or are you not an American?

There was a time when America called itself the ‘Arsenal of Democracy.’ When America prided itself on being the backbone of the Free World and the ideals of democracy, freedom and liberty.

Guess those times are over, huh?

Look, I hate American imperialism as much as anybody. The attempted conquests of Afghanistan and Iraq (let us not kid ourselves here, that’s exactly what they were) were black marks on America’s already spotty record. They impose their culture on everybody else, demand perpetual recognition of their achievements and deflect any criticism. Americans are assholes, pure and simple.

Aaaand now they’re retreating into isolationism.

Isolationism is bad, okay? I’m going to do a whole post on why one of these days, but the short version is isolationism hurts everybody. It hurts your country, it hurts your allies and trading partners, it even hurts your enemies (who are also often your trading partners. International politics are complicated)! This is especially true when we’re talking about America.

Because, as much as we like to complain about Americans and their ego, the fact remains that they are the biggest economy in the world. And, as such, they are literally the ‘Arsenal of Democracy’ whether they like it or not.

Which brings us back to Ukraine. Ukraine is fighting for its life against genocidal imperialist and Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. Putin has made no bones about his end goal for Ukraine: the eradication of the state and its people. He sees Ukraine as an extension of Russia, not an independent nation with its own history and customs.

So far, he hasn’t succeeded. And while a lot of that has to do with the valiant efforts of Ukraine’s defenders, a lot of it also has to do with America’s unstinting support.

The United States of America, forgive me, kind of found its groove again with the Ukrainian war. It’s supporting a democracy, in a way that actually supports it: with the weapons and money Ukraine needs, not by invading.

‘America’s back,’ Joe Biden proclaimed when he took office. And he came through.

So I ask MGT once more:

Are you American? Or Russian?

If you enjoyed this post, please support me on Patreon or buy me a hot chocolate

Fandom Heresies: Batman Should Be Unarmoured, Part 3: Conclusion

Hello all you happy people! Josh Stoodley with the final post on whether or not Batman should be armoured.

In the first post (here) we discussed how armour works in the real world. In the second post (here) we discussed Batman’s origins, how he evolved, and why he isn’t DC’s knock off of Tony Stark, no matter how much modern writers want to make into one.

Today, we are going to sum up everything and lay out the final conclusion: that Batman should be unarmoured. That by going around and tanking bullets, he’s stepping on other characters toes and betraying a fundamental aspect of his character. That armour would in fact impede Batman’s style of combat and make him more vulnerable, not less.

However, before we get there we have some housekeeping to do. In the process of outlining Superman, Wonder Woman and Fantastic Four, I realized that I had half-finished chapters for all three of them. So I’m going to finish up and polish those chapters than post them sometime within the next two weeks. Work on No Blood for Business has also started extensively this month, and will be released in 2023.

And, as always, if you enjoy these posts you can support me on Patreon or buy me a hot chocolate.

Now on to the controversies!

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The Queen Is Dead! Long Live The King!

Man, the real world has a way of disrupting my plans, don’t it?

For those of you living under a rock, last Thursday, Queen Elizabeth II died peacefully in Balmoral Castle.

For Americans, the Queen was just another celebrity, albeit one with some political heft to her. No actual power, but a lifetime of experience and a certain symbolic status. A mobile portrait, if you will, good for livening up a slow news day.

As a Canadian, my relationship with my queen is very different.

To begin with, for me, she was the queen, as is true of pretty much everybody born after 1952. My dad remembers some coins with King George VI’s portrait on them, but that’s about it. Elizabeth defined the monarchy for, not just Canadians but everybody in the Commonwealth, for seventy years. No other politician has had such a long lasting impact on their country politics and cultural identity (note: dictators don’t count. By it’s very nature, dictatorships are designed to bypass the normal interplay of politics. This is also why they fuck up more often and more concretely than normal politicians. Right, Vlad?)

The key word there is cultural identity. The monarchy is a key part of what defines and separates us from the cultural black hole that is our southern neighbours. The end goal of the United States of America is to transform everyone into carbon copies of them: with the same culture, same political structure, same language, yes even the same spelling. America is the centre of political and cultural gravity in the modern world, whatever the PRC’s pretensions.

And to that end, it is vital we as Canadians, in concert with other nations in the Commonwealth, work to maintain our distinct cultural identity in the face of relentless attacks from the American machine.

The monarchy is a huge part of that. Not just culturally, but politically as well. The Americans are the presidential republic (even though they are kind of unique in that regard; most presidential republics separate the head of government from the head of state. America does not); keeping to a constitutional monarchy immediately identifies you as not American. You aren’t part of their grasping, greedy empire or their cultural machine.

Perhaps, in time, the monarchies will fade from the world, and we will all be poorer for it. The world works better with a rich tapestry of different governments, each tailored to their people’s needs and cultures and not just working out of the American playbook (again, dictatorships don’t count. They aren’t responsive to people’s needs, are invariably corrupt and are only superficially connected to their people’s culture. The world will improve greatly once the likes of Putin and Xi are dead and buried).

And now it falls to King Charles III to continue on this great work. Some nations are thinking of ditching the monarchy altogether; as I’ve made clear in this post I think this is a mistake. America, ever intent on remaking the world in their image, will reach out and attempt to remould these nations until they are little more than mini-Americas, just outlet stores for America’s excesses. On the plus side, they are too far away to be bothered by Russia or China (Australia and New Zealand are the exceptions here; they could very much be bothered by China. However, Australia and New Zealand are also much richer and more powerful than some of the other countries in the Commonwealth; if China gets too uppity she could find herself choking on the world’s smallest continent), and the Commonwealth will protect them somewhat.

Either way, it falls to Charles now to make the case for the monarchy. Part of this will be letting those nations go who want to go gracefully; my opinions on the wisdom of their choices aside, there is nothing that will sink the monarchy faster than the impression that they are still a greedy, grasping empire. In slamming America, we have to admit it suckled imperialism as mother’s milk: the British Empire once ruled one-quarter of the globe. It is time to bury that legacy in the ground where it belongs, and that will mean letting those countries who wish to pursue republicanism do so without complaint.

But it will also mean Charles will have to engage in the politics of the day in a way his mother couldn’t or shouldn’t. Environmentalism, a cause near and dear to Charles’ heart, is becoming a bigger issue every day. We are, if we haven’t reached it yet, damn near the brink here. Without radical change in how we do things, Earth is going to burn. Fortunately, some of this process has already been kickstarted (thanks, Vlad!), but Charles is going to need to be a leader here, conventions be damned. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and while I’m not advocating Charles take up real political power again (there’s no public appetite for it anyway), he needs to use his moral and celebrity authority to advocate for the environment. Because, man, I don’t want to burn to death in twenty years. Or die choking on smog.

Rising inequality is another area where Charles needs to lead. Fact is, guys, inequality is bad and getting worse. Canada is one of the worst, with income inequality rising faster here. If Charles wants to stay king and pass the throne to his son and grandchildren, he needs to start advocating for the poorest and weakest among us. When the impoverished feel disenfranchised, that’s when the start advocating for radical changes. People who feel like the king (or president, prime minister, whatever. The principle is universal) is working for them, they are much more likely to give him their support. Funny how that works, eh?

Again, I’m not saying Charles should take up real political power again. Far from it. But he does have authority; people listen to him. Sometimes whether they like it or not. And a person with a bully pulpit who does not advocate for the most pressing issues of today, be it the environment or rising inequality or any of a half-dozen other things, is someone who is unfit for that role.

Look, I get it. Charles will have to modify his style somewhat now that he’s king. A king really shouldn’t be micro-managing his ministers, ceremonial position or no. And I sure don’t expect him to give a stump speech outlining the policies of his administration!

No, leave the work a day politics to the work a day politicians. That is literally what we pay them for. But at the same time, neither should the royals be useless celebrities who are only good for tabloid fodder. There are real issues facing us today, issues that require us to come together to face them.

In this respect, Charles model should be the Pope. Pope Francis is an imperfect figure, no question. But he has lent his moral and spiritual authority to the weightiest of topics, trying to lead his people to a better, more peaceful life. I can’t say he’s always succeeded, and has been dead wrong on some accounts (no, it’s not NATO’s fault Russia invaded Ukraine. That particular bit of evil was all on Putin, as are the bloody losses his troops have suffered.), but I think he has threaded the needle of being a ceremonial leader with the need to confront real world issues rather well. The Catholic Church will endure, and that is partially due to Francis’ leadership. Charles would do well to learn from his compatriot.

That’s it for this week. Next week is our regularly scheduled Fandom Heresy, concluding our discussion on Batman’s armour.

See you then! And remember, God Save The King!

Happy Labour Day Weekend!

Hello all you happy people! Josh Stoodley here with yet another blog post!

This week is more of a housekeeping post than anything. I want to update you on my current plans, how some of my plans have fallen through and just generally what’s going on with me.

So, first off, I’ve done another social media purge. I’m off both Reddit and Instagram. I left Instagram because, let’s face it, Facebook (no, I’m not calling them Meta; that’s a stupid name) is really shady. I left Reddit for much the same reason I left Twitter: I just kept getting in stupid, pointless fights. I’m not sure if it’s me, other people, or just the nature of social media but hey! There’s an easy solution: don’t go on social media!

So the only places you can find me are here, my Patreon, Ko-fi , ArchiveofOurOwn and Tumblr. Tumblr is pretty much a deadspace at the moment; the only thing I’m posting there are my DCAU liveblogs.

Which I’m starting back up this week! Catch me today as we dig into the next episode of Static Shock!

On to fanfiction… followers of this blog and me on AO3 will notice that I still haven’t uploaded the next chapter of Batman. That’s because the chapter has gotten away from me somewhat; it’s much longer and more ungainly then I’d initially planned. So I’m going to have to split into two chapters, which is annoying because it disrupts my long term plans for both Batman and other series.

Speaking of which, this month will all be dedicated to outlining the remainder of Superman, Wonder Woman, Fantastic Four and No Blood for Business. That means I should be posting new chapters for all four of those by October; Brockhold will take a little longer but hopefully I will be posting it by November. Either way, I still plan to release both Brockhold and No Blood for Business in 2023. That is, of course, assuming Putin and his warmongering morons don’t nuke us all to hell and back. War is for idiots, people, don’t do it.

Next up are further updates for this blog. Next week we will be continuing the Fandom Heresies with our conclusions on why Batman should be unarmoured. The week after that, we will finally get to the long-promised post on Legends of Infernia, what my intentions are with it and how I intend to go about it. The week after that, I plan on doing some speculative analysis of Baldur’s Gate 3.

Which brings me to video games in general. Video games are much more work than novels or fanfiction, and they take much longer than either. I have finished the outline for LoI, and I hope to finish the script by November. But I don’t expect serious work on the game to start until 2023. Expect the game to only be on the Nintendo Switch!

That’s it for this week, guys. I’ll see you next time!