An Allegory about Inclusivity in D&D

From the D&D Next Player’s Handbook:

D&D Next: on character creation and inclusivity

D&D Next: on character creation and inclusivity*


I just spent entirely too much energy discussing why it’s important and good for WOTC to take this most recent step toward inclusivity of people on various parts of the gender and sexuality spectra. Mostly, I was talking with people who just don’t see the point, who see it as the “PC police” (ugh) cluttering up their game.

It inspired this story that I wrote, to try and put privileged people in the shoes of the unprivileged. An allegory, if you will (though it’s not an allegory–I just like that word):

Imagine that you are a straight white man, but most of the heroes you see in movies, TV, books, etc, are lesbian Asian women.*

(*Not that Asian lesbians aren’t awesome–they are–it’s just part of the analogy.)

It’s always been that way, as far as you know. 99% of the heroes you’re supposed to relate to are proud, strong, awesome Asian women. Occasionally there’ll be an Asian beta male, who’s generally reduced to one or two characteristics, like being handsome or stupid or whatever, and usually gets rescued, tortured, and/or dead, mostly as a way to make the Asian woman’s story better.

This is particularly true of your favorite genre, fantasy. All the book covers, the main characters, the movies, the example characters in D&D sourcebooks. You’ve been playing the game for most of your life, and still reading about and fighting or interacting with hordes of NPC Asian lesbians. Most of the example PC portraits are of Asian women, and it’s assumed they’re off to save the princess. You might even like lesbian Asian women, and you’re certainly willing to play one if it means a seat at the table, but you kinda want to play a character that looks like you but is equally respected.

And sure you CAN play a straight white dude. There’s no rule that says you can’t. But almost none of the art is of a white dude, and generally the few pictures that are depict guys who look a lot like Robert Redford. Not a caricature of a straight white dude, exactly, but you don’t look and act like RR, and it’s a little annoying that everyone thinks straight white dudes are supposed to look and act like that.

And maybe you’ve been in a couple gaming groups that were cool with you playing a straight white dude (while most of them played Asian women), but whenever you do so at a con people give you this *look* or just kind of ignore you. When you post about your neat straight white dude online, there are always people chiming in to say how you’re so PC, or that aren’t you so daring to do something so “unusual” or even “unnatural”–even though all you wanted to do was make a character that looked like you.

Then, 40 years into its history, your favorite RPG publishes a paragraph in the character creation section… Just 100 words or so… That specifically acknowledges that you should play whatever gender/sexuality/ethnicity you want, and even gives you some examples outside the norm (Asian lesbian). In fact, you can play a straight white male, it says!

How would you feel if, for the first time in your life of always feeling unwelcome, your favorite game (and the most well-known tabletop RPG in the world) explicitly welcomes you? Says “your vision? It belongs here.”

And how would you feel if immediately thereafter, a whole host of people flocked to the internet and said “this is pandering” and “this offends me as an Asian lesbian” and “this is unnecessary”?


Now, I’m not calling anyone out or meaning to imply that anyone is a bad person. That isn’t the case. I’m just saying, maybe try on those boots you just found for a couple rounds to see what they do–you know, the +5 boots of Walking in Someone Else’s Boots.

Or heels, if you like. :)


And no, the 5e PHB gender/sexuality statement isn’t perfect. It chooses examples of trans* or otherwise non-binary gendered characters that are all very, very specific and not particularly positive. A female character who presents herself as a man, a man who feels trapped in a female body, or a bearded female dwarf aggravated by being mistaken for a man  are all specific stories about a character’s struggle being about his/her/their/zer/xer gender. Outside of an elven god (and it’s not made clear, rather just assumed that Corellon is down with his/her fierce self), nowhere do we see a more positive, accepting statement about a character who defies the binary gender configuration in favor of a continuum.  I get that the PHB is trying to discuss gender in a way that turns it into fuel for roleplaying and narration, but it would have been nice to see something like “or maybe you fully accept yourself for who and how you define yourself, and don’t make a thing about it.”

Ultimately, create and play the characters you want. You always have been able to, you always should be able to. But it’s really, really heartening to see a major gaming company like WotC stepping up to make that overt.

Kudos, D&D Next! I hope this leads to even more and better things.


D&D, Game Design, Social Justice, Uncategorized

Highlights from my Reddit AMA (6/18/14)

I had a great time on Reddit yesterday, and I wanted to share some of the conversation for those who might have missed it. Here are some of my favorite exchanges!


On Writing

elquesogrande: Thanks for joining us, Erik!

How do you find writing in a set world like in Wizards of The Coast or Neverwinter versus worlds where you create everything yourself? Challenges for either? Preferences?

What are your favorite comic series / graphic novels out there and why?

What does it take to be a good comic book writer versus writing novels or games? The differences among the three in order to be successful?

erikscottdebie: That’s a lot of questions! Let me field those one at a time. :)

1) Writing in a Shared World like the Realms vs. Creator-Owned: There are pros and cons to both. In a Shared World, typically a lot of the ground work is already there, meaning both that you have to do a lot of research (it’s like writing a historical fiction book) but also that you don’t have to spend a lot of time world-building (as much of that’s already done for you).

The fanbase is also a double-edged sword: they’re built-in, they care about the world, and they know enough to fill in any gaps that you leave in your writing, but at the same time, if you get it wrong, they skewer you. As well they should. :)

The primary reasons to write in a Shared World are twofold: 1) because you happen to love that setting, 2) because the money tends to be better.

When you’re working in an entirely self-generated, creator-owned setting, you’re on your own. There is no safety net. There’s no built in fanbase. Your book lives or dies on the strength of your world-building, skill, and talent alone.

I thoroughly enjoy both types of writing, and I put as much effort into my shared world stuff as I do my creator-owned stuff.

2) My favorite comic/graphic novel series: I really, really like Bendis’s POWERS, because of the tone and the unique way it looks at heroes-as-celebrities (something similar shows up in JUSTICE/VENGEANCE). For just plain superhero awesome, I can’t get enough of DeConnick’s CAPTAIN MARVEL, obviously (if you aren’t reading that, you really should). And I frequently find myself returning to the very intellectual look at heroes you find in Moore’s WATCHMEN. Basically, I really like comics that treat their heroes as people–good, bad, gray, flawed, with all the same concerns and characterization you find in yourself and others.

3) Justice/Vengeance is the first comic I’ve ever written, so I’m not particularly qualified to answer that question definitively.

What I will say is that the primary trait that any writer needs–whether it’s novels, comics, game design, etc.–is perseverance.

Before talent, before connections, before money (though that helps), you need to have an unstoppable drive (one that borders on obsession) that makes you just keep getting up no matter how many times you get knocked down. And make no mistake, you will get knocked down. You need to believe, deep in your heart and in your gut, in the value of your work and the value of you as a person, and you need to respect yourself and your craft enough to keep refining, keep pushing, and keep striving through all the rejections, all the stonewalls, and all the people telling you that you aren’t good enough.

My advice to would-be writers getting into this game:

Be unstoppable.


On Characters (particularly Fox-at-Twilight)

Snakeoilsage:Of all the characters you’ve written, which was the most fun?

erikscottdebie: Sophie’s Choice! Gah! :)

I just went with the first one that occurred to me, which is Lady Ilira “Fox-at-Twilight” Nathalan, from several of my Forgotten Realms books. There’s something deviously fun about writing a firmly chaotic sort of character–she’s unpredictable, mysterious, and can get away with just about anything (though it rarely goes exactly her way). Plus she’s sexy, determined, and has a cool set of magical powers that work well visually. I could write about her all day every day.

A close runner up is Mask, from Shadow of the Winter King, who is in a similar mold: devious, witty, and ruthless, and with a certain charisma that makes him/her/it glow on the page.

Snakeoilsage: So would you say you have a special place in your heart for tricksters?

erikscottdebie: Absolutely. :)

a_woodz: Can you please forward this to the appropriate parties at WotC?


(Not my call, Liam Neeson!)

(Not my call, Liam Neeson!)











Campbell5: Erik, how do you respond to criticism that certain characters of yours are too overtly sexual, particularly in the case of Fox-at-Twilight.

Also, you seem to have an attraction to writing about elves across settings. Confirmation/ Denial?

erikscottdebie: 1) When you’re talking to a sex-positive writer like me, there’s no such thing as “too sexual.” People have sexual impulses, and they have sex, and some of them do it more often than others and with partners other people might not consider. And I understand that not all fantasy readers like sex in their fantasy books. It’s a matter of personal preference.

Twilight is a very sexual person, as a bunch of my characters (both male and female and otherwise) are. In part, the choice to make her very sexual in her original incarnations in “The Greater Treasure” and Depths of Madness is a setup for her later appearances in the Shadowbane series, where physical expression of sexual feelings are not generally possible for her (or at least extremely limited). I set up that dynamic in her character, and I’m exploiting it to what I hope is good effect.

I also want to make a distinction between the term “sexual” (a perfectly fine and healthy characteristic of a character) and “sexualized” (a process by which a character is instilled with a sexual nature). And even that is ok–one can certainly sexualize a character in fantasy, just as in fantasies, one can sexualize a person in the real world. (See what I did there?)

“Overly sexualized” to me describes a character who is reduced primarily or only to his or her sexual characteristics/actions (such as many female characters in fantasy novels/movies and many of the minor female GoT characters). I try not to reduce characters to any dimension, whether it be sex, violence, physical appearance, good, or evil. And I don’t think any of my significant characters can reasonably be described as sexualized in this way. I’ll have the occasional prostitute or bedmate in one of my books whose only role in the narrative is a sexual one, but I give equal play to male and female and otherwise prostitutes in my fiction.

Also, if one is put off by sex in fantasy novels, REALLY don’t read my novel Scourge of the Realm. But if you DO like it, then definitely do. :)

2) I like elves. I relate to them more than the other fantasy tropes, being also tall and inclined to be slender.

Short people in my books (dwarves, halflings, etc.) rarely end up in good places. Infected by a demon and cut in half, eyes exploded, poisoned and left to die with a sucking gut wound, etc.

I will note, however, that I have not as yet published anything outside an existing Shared World with elves, dwarves, halflings, etc. The Realms, Immoren, Golarion, etc., sure, I’ll write about elves. But in my own Creator-owned stuff? No elves.

The closest I’ve come is a character in Scourge who is a “fey” creature, but she’s definitely not an elf.


On Writing for Games

mgallowglas: High Erik! Welcome and thanks for doing the AMA.

How did you get started in writing for game companies, both as a designer and as a novelist. What advice would you give to someone interested in breaking into game writing today?

erikscottdebie: Hey, how’s it going? :)

1) I started writing Realms novels through the Maiden of Pain open call back in 2003 or so. I didn’t win, but my submission was good enough that it warranted a second, closed-call (of like 20 people), which turned into my novel Ghostwalker. Thereafter, I wrote several novels for them, made friends at WotC, and eventually started designing with the D&D Encounters program and my first sourcebook, Plane Above.

As for getting into designing, look for open calls. Submit to game companies. Paizo is constantly looking for people, particularly through the RPG Superstar contest it puts on regularly. Go to Conventions. Interact with designers online. Show them your stuff. There’s no real trick to it–just meet people, keep practicing, and eventually someone will say yes.

As for writing for a game company, eh, I wouldn’t advise seeking it out. I mean, I’ve loved doing it, and obviously it’s a great fit, but it’s really, really difficult, and doesn’t do a lot to kickstart your writing career. You get money out of it, but not a lot of acclaim, and you may get stuck producing something you really want to use some day but can’t because it’s not your property. Why give them all your best ideas? My Realms work helped me make some connections and I have a number of devoted fans, but generally I’ve had to reinvent myself as a writer thereafter anyway.

My advice is: publish your own, Creator-owned stuff, and let the game companies come to you. Be cool on your own, and then you’ll be a shoe-in for when they need someone.


DancesWithPugs: Which is more likely: That a novel with an original setting helps launch a game system with the same setting, or vice versa? Is it worth developing both at the same time?

erikscottdebie: It’s very rare, in my experience, that a novel with an original setting launches a successful game system based on that setting. I mean, Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire has inspired dozens of game adaptations, but none of them have really caught on. I’d love to produce game material for my World of Ruin series, but I don’t really anticipate it taking off and founding a new game system.

Game settings derive great support from a dedicated fiction line, which initially appeals mostly (though not entirely) to people who play that game. As tie-in fiction is getting a better reputation and becoming more plentiful, more and more non-gamers are buying into it.

And yes, I think producing both at the same time is probably the best way to go. If the setting is a fledgling, you won’t turn away potential readers who would say “oh, these are D&D books,” and your gamers won’t be intimidated by your 200+ backlist of tie-in novels.

Not that they should be, obviously, but I think one of the mistakes game companies often make with their fiction is to drive the world through the fiction. Which makes gamers feel like they either have to read the novels (they shouldn’t have to) or fall behind.

I’m not saying significant stuff shouldn’t happen in the novels, it’s just that the novels shouldn’t be the driving force of change that’s then felt in the game world without any explanation other than “read the novels.” I prefer the concept of the players being in charge of changing things in the world, and that the novels should be more personal stories set on a smaller scale.


On the Mechanics of Game Design

DancesWithPugs: As a game designer, which do you find to be more important: accessibility or comprehensiveness? Is this answer completely different for the casual market and hobby game market (someone already familiar with RPGs, CCGs, and complex board games)?

erikscottdebie: Between those options, accessibility. I trust the human imagination to fill in gaps that I as a designer can’t necessarily foresee. I’d rather spend my word count inspiring you than setting out rules for every eventuality.

I’m a freelancer, not a full-time game designer, so I don’t generally consider marketing to casual gamers or hobby gamers. It seems like casual gamers tend to favor games that don’t require them to fill in so many gaps, but games where the rules are relatively simple and straight-forward. So with them you need to be comprehensive, but not intimidating in your design–enough that they know what they’re doing without being overwhelmed. If anyone’s played Marvel: Avengers Alliance, that’s an excellent example of a game that’s pretty good for casual gamers.

Hobby gamers generally know what they like and are flexible enough to ignore rules that don’t work for them. Most of my design is for hobbyists, and so I lean toward accessibility, trusting them to take what they need and make up the rest.


On Word Counts and Multiple Media

gabrielle_h: You’ve written novels, short stories, and now comics. How do you tailor your ideas so that they fit into the right word-count length for what you’re doing? Aside from the length, what would you say is the biggest difference between writing a short story and writing a novel?

erikscottdebie: Experience. I get to a point where I know what I can do in a certain amount of words and how to do it.

The big difference between a short story and a novel is scope. A short story is very efficient–it’s all building to a single effect. A novel, on the other hand, has room to flex and meander and might be building to multiple effects. A short story is much more limited, but can be quite powerful all the same.


On Becoming a Writer

BigDom2: Was there anything specific you did to become a writer? Was it something you were compelled to do?

erikscottdebie: Well, the required blood ritual went awry because I couldn’t find a unicorn to sacrifice to Gwilzagak, so instead I just kinda said “f*** it,” sat down, and did it.

Seriously, though, I was in my Honors Chem class back in High School, going nuts with all the vast amounts of homework, and somehow it occurred to me that instead of the copious other distractions I could indulge in–sports, girls, etc–I should write a novel. So I did. And I kept writing one consistently once a year after that.

I never really did it all that seriously–never intending my work for publication–but I had a pretty serious near-death experience my first year in college, and it instilled in me the understanding that life was short, and I had a responsibility to myself to tell these stories that were bubbling up inside me. And so here we are. :)


On Magic Swords

stk_kreations: Okay, random question time (this stems from me having just seen the Conan Atlantean sword pop up while looking at books). There are a lot of legendary, epic, memorable weapons throughout the fantasy world (books and games). So the question is: do you have a favorite fantasy weapon from fiction or gaming? and yes, it can be one of your own.

erikscottdebie: Magic swords! Magic swords! Yay!

It’s hard to go wrong with the Holy Avenger, which provides a bit of the mold for Vindicator, the sword my rogue-turned-paladin Kalen Dren wields in the Shadowbane series. And of course Elric’s Stormbringer, which is kind of the opposite in many ways.

From my own work, I particularly like Draca, Ovelia the Bloodbreaker’s relic sword in Shadow of the Winter King, a red steel flamberge that exudes crimson shadows that, in the hands of a trained user, reflect imminent danger, making her basically impossible to be surprised. The sword also absorbs magic, thus powering itself and making it a serious threat to sorcerers and those who rely on their power armor or thaumaturgical weapons.

stk_kreations: Awesome! I love when authors get creative with the weapons and turn them into characters in their own right.

Very good answer. I haven’t gotten to Shadow of the Winter King yet, but now I’m even more excited for it!

erikscottdebie: My other main character, Regel also is known for a magic sword, though it only appears in flashbacks in the first book. Frostburn is a falcat (a sword similar to a falcata in our world) whose blue steel blade is always covered in a layer of frost. It draws heat from those it touches–both victim and wielder–to feed its insatiable hunger for warmth and life. It is a blade made for reaping men, or so say the legendary Deathless who forged it.

Those are the only two properly magical swords as yet known in the world, any others having been lost in the calamity that destroyed the World of Wonders and ushered in the World of Ruin. People can imbue all manner of weapons with short term thaumaturgical magic, but it isn’t the real thing, and it tends to be much messier. (As a stand in for technology, magic in my setting causes pollution–smog, foul odors, etc.)

stk_kreations: Very cool Erik! Sounds very new and different than what I’ve been reading lately.


On Writing Speed and Quirky Fans

arzvi: What’s the timeframe for writing one book? from start to finish? do you work on multiple and choose one that inspires you – to finish and edit or take up one story and stop when it gets published?

Also, what is the funniest, quirkiest thing that happened when you spoke about self-publishing and generally during your first book?


1) It really varies. As I said above, I wrote the first 90k draft of Downshadow in 12 days, though I spent about a month of editing and rewriting to produce the second draft. Usually I do a book in about 2-3 months if I can focus on it most of the time.

If I’m working on multiple things (which is almost always the case), it takes longer, but I try to carve out time that is exclusively dedicated to one project or another.

2) I wouldn’t know, I’ve never self-published anything. :)

The funniest, quirkiest thing that happened at one of my first readings (back in 2006 or 2007) was when I talked about fencing, and this crazy lady in the audience misunderstood and assumed I was talking about building fences (which she mimed with some sort of hand-saw gesture). Apparently, later during the signing she got up and walked around looking at the bookshelves behind me, and my wife and a good friend were ready to tackle her if she made a wrong move. It was awesome. :)


On D&D Movies

rodtod: After the debacle of the Dungeons & Dragons film, is it time for a reboot?

erikscottdebie: Which one do you mean, the first one? The second one? The third one? (Wait, third one? Huh?)

Regardless, clearly they should make the Ghostwalker movie. High Plains Drifter in the Forgotten Realms. It’s a soft-Realms story–they don’t even have to introduce all the iconic things about the Realms, since it’s mostly in an obscure little town in the wilderness in the North, but it’s very, very Realmsy.

rodtod: Ghostwalker would make an excellent fantasy flick for the devout stealth and dagger viewer. Perhaps with Christophe Gans directing?

erikscottdebie: Gans? I don’t know. I mean, I enjoy *Brotherhood of the Wolf * as much as the next guy (hey look, boobs!), but the last thing WotC needs is a campy movie. But maybe. Get the people from the Game of Thrones show and let’s talk. :)


On the Realms

a_woodz: Loved your Neverwinter sourcebook. Any chance you’ll be fleshing out the Realms again in some 5E campaign settings or modules?

erikscottdebie: Thank you for the kind words. I’m so glad you enjoyed. I had a great time working on that book, and it was one of those projects that just came all together really well.

As for 5e, well, that’s the question, isn’t it? It’s hard to say what WotC plans to do as regards the Realms in D&D-Next. I rather suspect they’re in “wait-and-see” mode with the launch of 5e. If it proves a financial success, there will be stuff. They know I’m available and interested (and I love that world). Ball’s in their court.


Tysilio: Two years ago WTC released some Forgotten Realms novels in eBook format only. What was the story on that and are there any plans to release them in mass market paperback? I’d get an eReader and download them, but I don’t want to only find out soon after that they are being released in paperback. Now that the last Sundering novel is out, will we be seeing more Realms novels in the near future from you or any of the other authors, current and/or new?

erikscottdebie: I don’t know.

What I can tell you is that I’ve heard no word of any plans to bring the “e-book only” releases (of which my last two Shadowbane novels belong) to the physical world. It seems like they would, after leaving so much money on the table that they could have easily earned by printing physical books. I’m not privy to their plans.

At this point, AFAIK, there are only three novelists writing for WotC: Bob Salvatore (obviously), Ed Greenwood (it’s in his contract that he writes a book a year for them), and Erin Evans (whose Brimstone Angels series is quite awesome). Nothing from Paul Kemp, nothing from Richard Lee Byers, nothing from me, nothing from anyone else. Perhaps they have plans for other novels, but they haven’t told me.


GalufTheDwarf: Hey, there, Erik, old friend. I was curious what you consider to be your greatest contribution to the Forgotten Realms campaign setting thus far. I know you’ve been working with WoTC for almost 10 years now, so I’d love to hear your opinion on such.

erikscottdebie: Hail, Galuf! Great to see you.

I’ve made numerous minute contributions that have gone mostly unnoticed. For instance, I am the reason goliaths exist in the Realms (because I thought the race from Races of Stone was cool, so I included one in Depths of Madness), the reason half-elves can be bladesingers in 4e (initially design had them restricted only to elves until I pointed out that WotC had published a novel called Bladesinger in which the main character was a half-elf), I totally did the “last paladin of Helm” thing before it was cool (I published three novels about the last paladin of Helm before Denning wrote his novel The Sentinel about the last paladin of Helm) as well as a few others.

Above those, though, I think my involvement in the Realms just fleshed out the world and added another perspective (mine) as well as some cool characters. I like to think my enthusiasm for the setting (at a time when WotC has been steadily pruning it down) was useful, even if I’ve finally had to focus on other projects. And if WotC ever called, I would definitely write more for the Realms. It’s so closely tied up with what fantasy is to me, and I dearly wish to see it rise once more to a position of prominence in the industry.


Check out the full AMA on Reddit/r/Fantasy!


Reddit/Fantasy AMA with Erik: Tuesday 6/17

I’m doing an AMA on Reddit/Fantasy Tuesday, June 17. Come ask me anything! I’ll be around all day.

Ask me about . . .

- Publishing three novels this summer!
- My forthcoming comic book kickstarter!
- The Forgotten Realms!
- Game design!
- Writing action scenes (or any other writing thing)!
- Quitting meat!
- Anything else!

Or just stop by and hang out for a minute. The more visitors the better! :)

Also, I will be doing give-aways of some kind! You know, for free!



My happily-never-after fantasy epic, Scourge of the Realm, is officially out! It’s what happens after the epic campaign to save the kingdom from the evil tyrant . . . when all the heroes become corrupted by dark magic and only that same tyrant can once again save the kingdom. Go pick up a copy today!

SCOURGE OF THE REALM, by Erik Scott de Bie, Art by Emma Rios

SCOURGE OF THE REALM, by Erik Scott de Bie, Art by Emma Rios

This brings my number of published novels this summer to TWO, as I recently released Shadow of the Winter King, the first book of my epic World of Ruin fantasy series. Game of Thrones meets Fallout by way of Assassin’s Creed: adventure in an apocalyptic world crippled by the irresponsible use of magic, where barbarians warped by pollution radiation are storming the gates of the last bastions of civilization.

Shadow of the Winter King, Book One of the epic World of Ruin series

Shadow of the Winter King, Book One of the epic World of Ruin series

And there will be yet a THIRD novel coming out sometime soon, called Priority: Hyperion, a scifi adventure set in the classic Traveller universe, which I liken to Firefly + Mass Effect + The Thing.

The cover art isn’t out yet, so enjoy this pic of Shepard.

"I should go . . . kick some Reaper ass." (Copyright (c) Bioware)

“I should go . . . kick some Reaper ass.”
(Copyright (c) Bioware)

And what did I do today? Well, worked on putting together the kickstarter for my comic book, Justice/Vengeance. Which I plan to launch the second half of this month.

It’s a busy summer. :)


Justice/Vengeance: Libations for the Dead (not final cover), art by Tangra and Robot Panda

Justice/Vengeance: Libations for the Dead (not final cover), art by Tangra and Robot Panda

Announcements, Comics, Justice/Vengeance, Kickstarter, Scourge of the Realm, Superheroes, World of Ruin, Writing

What If: Marvel’s Female Centric Universe

It’s the female Winter Soldier cosplays. I swear. That’s just an awesome costume.

Bucky Cosplayers (from charliekellygreen on Tmblr)

Bucky Cosplayers (from charliekellygreen on Tmblr)

And it got me thinking: what if Bucky HAD been a girl?

That is to say, what if the Marvel universe were turned upside down so the women were on top?

(I’ve tried to identify the cosplayers in each of these pictures, but if I haven’t labeled one–or marked one incorrectly, please let me know so I can update it!)

Female Wolverine by Rosanna Rocha

Female Wolverine by Rosanna Rocha

It all kicks off in the rugged Canadian frontier of the 19th century, where a young Laura Kinney is forcibly abducted, subjected to numerous psychological tortures that then her into the lethal but amnesiac operative, Wolverine. She will one day face a male clone of herself called Weapon X.

Captain America by imatangelo

Captain America by imatangelo

In the 1940s, based on knowledge gained from researching the alien Minn-Erva, Dr. Kavita Rao empowers an otherwise average Air Force trainee named Carol Danvers into the amazing Captain America. This blonde, blue-eyed bombshell makes short work of the Axis powers with under the command of her archnemesis Sin, also called the Red Skull. Ultimately, after a battle with Madame Hydra, she is frozen in an iceberg until she is eventually thawed out and leads the avengers.

(A bunch of other great female Cap cosplays to be found here.)

Female Winter Soldier, by SpideyVille

Female Winter Soldier, by SpideyVille

Cap’s young sidekick Natasha “Natty” Romanov loses her left arm and is seemingly killed, only to return later as the dangerous Hydra assassin, the Winter Soldier. She is redeemed in part through her friendship with Cap but also her on-again, off-again romance with Clint Barton, the Purple Widower. This causes some complication with Hawkingbird, Bobby Morse, who was formerly involved with Barton, but eventually she moves on to Spider-Boy, Peter Parker.

Gwen Stacy as Spider-Man (photography by Paul Elder Design)

Gwen Stacy as Spider-Man (photography by Paul Elder Design)

Spider-Boy is himself a knock-off of Spider-Woman (Gwen Stacy), good friend of Hollywood heiress and occasional super villain Mary Jane Watson as well as the late lamented Harry Osborn, who was thrown off the Brooklyn bridge by MJ’s demented mother. Meanwhile, Jessica Drew and good friend Jessica Jones found Heroines for Hire, though eventually they include old friends Luke Cage and Danny Rand, who have potent martial arts skills and look great in their shirtless costumes.

(I looked for female cosplays of Iron Fist and Luke Cage but didn’t find any. Though you never know . . .)

Rescue by Angela Bermudez

Rescue by Angela Bermudez

Always seeking her genius mother’s approval, billionaire Pepper Potts invents the Iron Woman armor, which she continues to wear despite the frequent protests and endangerment of her secretary boyfriend, Tony.

Jennifer Walters saves a little girl named Layla Miller from a gamma test, becoming the Incredible Hulk. Her strength is rivaled by none, including her cousin Bruce, He-Hulk, who has a complicated romantic history.

Yes, it's a Mord Sith, but it could be Daredevil

Yes, it’s a Mord Sith, but it could be Daredevil

Elektra Nachios becomes the heroine Daredevil and suffers crushing defeat after crushing defeat, including the death of her sometimes lover, sometimes enemy assassin Murdock at the hands of Lady Bullseye. Eventually she will face a male Bullseye, but he will never be quite as effective or iconic.

Sue Storm leads an expedition into space, where she and the Richards family are exposed to cosmic rays that make them the Fantastic Four. The genius Fantastic Woman has a romance with Invisible Dude, Reed Richards, who can turn invisible when he’s not wearing clothes. The Human Torch, Reed’s bratty sister Joanna, can fly and project fire. Meanwhile, Sue’s old friend Betty Ross becomes the Red Thing. (How does one cosplay a stretchy dude?)

Cyclops by Jenn Marvel

Cyclops by Jenn Marvel

After years of struggle trying to help a world that hates and fears them, Cassandra Xavier’s X-Women mourns the loss of their sole original male member, Scott Summers, aka Marvel Boy, who’s been driven insane by his crazy telepathic powers. Cyclops (Jean Grey) leads the team of Gambit (Anna-Marie Raven), Black Panther (Ororo Munroe), and Captain Britain (Betsy Braddock) against Polaris (Lorna Dane), their greatest threat.

Gambit via

Gambit via

Seriously, I could do this all day. Make Mine Marvel!

Captain Britain by ohmusetta

Captain Britain by ohmusetta

And I think this classic photoshop demonstrates how effective female versions of our heroes could be on the screen . . .

Alison Brie as Captain America (via geekytyrant, also elsewhere online)

Alison Brie as Captain America (via geekytyrant, also elsewhere online)

Comics, Conventions, Social Justice, Uncategorized

Dear Realms Readers: Check out my New Stuff!

Hail and Well Met, Friends!

To all my devoted Realms readers out there (and anyone else reading this), I thought I’d take a moment to update you on what’s going on.

Back in 2012, for whatever reason, WotC decided not to buy any books from me for a while, so I decided to use my free time to write three novels that are coming out in the next couple months (Shadow of the Winter King, Scourge of the Realm, and Priority: Hyperion). Oh and a comic book (JUSTICE/VENGEANCE, Kickstarter coming soon!). Plus all this Red Aegis work. Busy scribe is busy.

If you’re curious, the first and most “Realmsy” of my novels, SHADOW OF THE WINTER KING, book one of the World of Ruin series (something I know many of you have been waiting for, sometimes for years) is now available through Amazon, Dragonmoon Press, and an e-signing.

Shadowbane, Shmadowbane. Check out MY magic sword.

Shadowbane, Shmadowbane. Check out MY magic sword.

Here’s the basics:

An aging assassin goes on one last quest to avenge his fallen king, to light one last fire in a darkening world–and perhaps change it. Game of Thrones meets Fallout by way of Assassin’s Creed.

Like I said, the book is in the same vein as my Realms work, and I think you’ll find it a comfy spot to put up your boots.

Also, for those of you who read WHEN THE HERO COMES HOME, my story in that anthology (“Oathbreaker”) was a prequel to this novel. Many of the same characters (including the main character) are the same.

As for if/when you’ll see more Realms stuff from me–particularly more Shadowbane–the answer is, “who knows?” I have a deep and abiding love for those characters, whose stories are definitely not done. The struggles of Kalen Dren to balance his paladinhood with his dark past, Myrin’s quest for her lost memories, and the ever unfolding mystery of Ilira Nathalan, the Fox-at-Twilight.

I certainly have plans for Shadowbane 4–even a working title (Shadowbane: Kingdom of Night)–even 50k words of the book already written (and it’s awesome). I am obviously down for writing more. It is entirely up to Wizards of the Coast.

If you’d like to drop WotC a line and advocate for Shadowbane’s return, the best I can do is suggest politely worded emails and/or snail mail letters sent to their Customer Service. If you want to put a letter directly in the hands of the Book Department, address it to:

James Wyattc/o Wizards of the Coast LLC
P.O. Box 707
Renton, WA 98057


Forgotten Realms, Shadow of the Winter King, Shadowbane, World of Ruin, Writing

Shadow of the Winter King E-Signing!

Does the stinging wind burn at your soul until you can clasp a physical trade paperback copy of my latest novel, SHADOW OF THE WINTER KING and shout your victory to the heavens?

Well I’ve got just the deal for you. :)

I am currently taking orders for signed copies of the novel while supplies last. I can always order more copies–it just takes a while to get them.

Shadow of the Winter King, by Erik Scott de Bie

Shadow of the Winter King, by Yours Truly

Simply Paypal $25 per copy (the book’s cover price plus shipping and handling, add an additional $1 Read more »

Announcements, Shadow of the Winter King, Signings, World of Ruin

Shadow of the Winter King on Amazon!

Amazon will now take your (pre)orders for Shadow of the Winter King!

I say “(pre)orders,” because the official release date was supposed to be May 20. But if you happen to get the book earlier, well, I can’t imagine you’ll object. :)

The text on Amazon is a bit confusing because of a spacing issue. Let me clear that up for you:


Armed with the voracious sword Frostburn, court slayer Regel Winter once shed the blood of countless foes in service to Orbrin the Winter King.


But even the coldest steel cannot save those Regel loves: his beloved Princess Lenalin, her daughter Semana, and the Winter King himself, felled by treachery five years ago.


Barely an echo of the man he was, Regel forges a pact with the assassin who slew Orbrin, setting out on a deadly quest for vengeance that will change the face of the World of Ruin.

(It’s the back cover copy for the book!)

Note that I will be doing an e-signing soon, so stay tuned for details about that. If you’ve already ordered the book through Amazon, great! You can ship it to me or give that copy to someone else and purchase a signed copy from me.


Announcements, World of Ruin

Shadow of the Winter King: WINTER IS COMING

To add a few extra words to the classic words of House Stark: (Shadow of the) WINTER (King) IS COMING.

The epic full-metal-fantasy series I’ve been crafting for some years now is finally hitting the stands, available in ebook and print. I don’t yet have links for the exchange of coins, but in the meantime, go learn about the book!

What are you waiting for–barbarians? evil magic? treachery? love? revenge?

This book has it all.


Announcements, World of Ruin, Writing

Norwescon 37 Schedule

Pending updates, this is my schedule for Norwescon 37 next weekend!

My annual late Friday night reading is not to be missed, since I’m reading a passage from Shadow of the Winter King, the debut of my epic fantasy series, The World of Ruin. Also, don’t miss your chance to pick up a physical copy of the book (assuming all goes well and the books arrive on time) at the autograph session on Saturday! And who knows what else I’ll have?


How I Sold My Novel (Cascade 3&4, 3pm–4pm)

Some debut novelists discuss the path they took in selling their first novel.

Anne Charnock, Erik Scott de Bie, Frog Jones, Patrick Swenson


Comics: Self-Publishing, Small Press, or Traditional Publishing? (Cascade 2, 4pm–5pm)

What’s the best way to get your comic noticed: a regular webcomic, digital distribution, local zines, or a publishing company? How should a creator or creative team approach a small press publisher or a large publishing house? Is crowd-sourcing the best way to pay for printing your comic, or are there other less work-intensive (and risky) methods? Creators give their opinions on the ever-changing field of comics publishing.

Erik Scott de Bie (M), Charles “Zan” Christensen, Phil Foglio, Roberta Gregory


Managing POV (Cascade 9, 8pm–9pm)

Any story can be told from any point of view: How do you find the best one for yours? What gains and losses come with first person, with limited third person, with multiple third, with multiple first?

Carol Berg (M), Erik Scott de Bie, Cheryl Dyson, Tim McDaniel, Ann Gimpel, Kat Richardson



Tabletop RPG Design: Game Design Workshop (Cascade 7&8, 5pm–6pm)

Are you designing, or thinking about designing a tabletop RPG? Are you stuck? Unclear how to begin? Need feedback? Let our panelists help you through the design process.

Ogre Whiteside (M), Erik Scott de Bie, Sage LaTorra, Ryan Macklin


Reading: Erik Scott de Bie (Cascade 1, 11:30pm–Midnight)

Shadow of the Winter King. One last quest for vengeance and redemption in a world on the brink of utter ruin. Rated R

Erik Scott de Bie (M)



Gender and Sexuality in SF & Fantasy (Evergreen 1&2, Noon–1pm)

Many modern science fiction and fantasy authors, including Kameron Hurley, Elizabeth Bear, Trudi Canavan, and Paul Cornell include LGBTQ characters in their work. What does this mean to readers? How does it compare with the limited portrayal of gender and sexuality in many classic genre works? Come join us as we talk about how the changing portrayal of gender and sexuality is changing the face of our genre.

Caren Gussoff (M), Cassandra Clarke, Erik Scott de Bie, Gregory Gadow


Autograph Session 1 (Grand 2, 2pm–3pm)

Our Attending Professionals are available to sign autographs. PLEASE NOTE: So that as many fans as possible can participate, we will be enforcing a three-items-at-a-time (or single-sketch) autograph limit.

Jason Andrew (M), Steven Barnes, Bradley P. Beaulieu, Carol Berg, Shubzilla, Kurt Cagle, Cassandra Clarke, Erik Scott de Bie, Cymbric Early-Smith, Elton Elliott, Erin Evans, Steve Gillett, James C. Glass, Jude-Marie Green, Jeff Grubb, Rhiannon Held, Frog Jones, Karen Kincy, Nancy Kress, Pat MacEwen, Edward Martin III, Lish McBride, Angel Leigh McCoy, Darragh Metzger, G. David Nordley, Margaret Organ-Kean, Kevin Radthorne, Jon Rogers, Mike Selinker, Sara Stamey, G. Willow Wilson, Gregory A. Wilson



Tracking Your Fictional Universe (Cascade 7&8, 10am–11am)

Did that character’s blue eyes just turn brown? How do writers keep track of all the little details about characters and worlds so that they aren’t forgetting things or contradicting themselves? We’ll discuss what sorts of information might be tracked, how to organize it, and how to store it.

Kurt Cagle (M), Erik Scott de Bie, Andrea Howe, Angel Leigh McCoy


Subplots (Cascade 3&4, 1pm–2pm)

How do you choose a complementary B plot for your story – and where can you add in a C, D, and E plot? How do you know when subplots will make your story richer, and when they’ll just add clutter and confusion?

Keffy R. M. Kehrli (M), Erik Scott de Bie, Erin Evans, Angel Leigh McCoy, Kevin Radthorne


Writing Action (Cascade 3&4, 2pm–3pm)

Penning a thrilling action sequence requires specific writing skills. Learn how to change up the tone of your prose, sequence events properly, and triple your pace without sacrificing clarity.

Craig English (M), Erik Scott de Bie, Erin Evans, Michael Tinker Pearce, Dean Wells

Announcements, Conventions, Norwescon