Dudley Was A Buysexual

…mostly because it was just easier that way.



The Doclopedia #1,572

A Tale Of Six Wands: The Wand Of Seeking

Good morning once again, dear Tenna. When I was told that you had left early to take yesterday’s story to a no doubt panicked Theramachus, I took the liberty of heading out on yet more errands of my own.

He did? Hahahaha! I would have given a tenmoon to see his face. But he did send the proper bag of money, so everything is right.

I trust the room provided for you was satisfactory? Oh, really, you praise my humble household too much. It was the least I could do, since the hour was so late and Foxnight is often a less than safe time to be about. Now, let us have tea and begin today’s tale. I believe Prindeep has brewed us up some of the lovely Red Mountain Black today.

I would love for this tale to be about how complex and difficult it is to create a Wand of Seeking, but the fact is they are utterly common and made in batches of up to 30 at a time. Only a Wand of Light is more common.

As you perhaps know, Wands of Seeking are most commonly used by adventurers for locating everything from loot to monsters to traps. They are also a common item among city guards and rural patrols, most often to locate a guilty party or a lost child. The wands have long lasting charges and are quite versatile. Of course, versatility means a reduction in effective distance, so most such wands seldom reach out more than about 90 feet.

However, the Wand of Seeking I was asked to make needed to be very specific indeed. It also needed a very great range, as much as 20 miles. Why? Because the Six Saviors knew that somebody was behind the expansion of the Ostugar Giant Lands. Somebody not a Giant, whom we know now to be a fellow called Histeen the Mad, an outcast from the far Al’Anak’a Islands. Praise the gods he was utterly destroyed, and by the hand of the very Giants he had whipped into a frenzy of hate and bloodlust.

The components of the wand were of the usual type, but the construction process was slower and more intense. In addition, the breath of 100 hounds and the eyes of a Great Eagle (taken from a corpse that died of old age) were infused into it. Certain oils and bindings made of rare metals were used to limit the wand to 5 charges. Finally, it was rested in the crypt of Duliman the Explorer for a fortnight. Then, it was ready.

Activated, the wand would produce a line of red light visible only to the user. That line would extend out 20 miles in a straight line toward the objective. I am told that it took all five charges to finally locate Histeen, who was 150 miles behind enemy lines in a small castle, now completely gone and replaced by a meadow.

And that is all to that story, Tenna. Tomorrow’s story, I assure you, will be quite different, since it involves the creation of the single most dangerous wand anyone of my profession has ever made.

Until then, let us enjoy lunch and then, once you have dropped the story off with Theramachus and gotten payment, perhaps you would care to join me on a boat ride along the Border Canal? It will take a few hours, after which we could have dinner at a wonderful Syballan restaurant I know of. After that, perhaps a visit to the Royal Night Garden?

You will? My heart swells with joy! Now, let us see what tasty delights Prindeep has for us.


The Doclopedia #1,573

A Tale Of Six Wands: The Wand Of Wild Magic

Oh…oh my. I…I… Oh, please do excuse me if I stumble on my apology. I mean, it has been many years since something like this has happened and I assure you it was not my intention to…

Seduced me? I…what? I…did you? I must admit that I drank a bit too much guarit last night, so things are hazy, but…seduced? You seduced me? Yes, yes, I admit that I have never been seduced before. My life these last 150 years have been mostly about my work and business. When feminine companionship was needed, I simply went to the red lantern street. True, I was married when I was young. We had fifty years together, but…seduced? Why?

I, well, yes, you are beautiful and young and your body is delightfully formed, but that is my point. You are young and even though I look a fraction of my actual age, I am still an old man. Surely you could find…

Well, of course I find you interesting beyond your physical beauty. You are at the very least my intellectual equal, if not possessed of the same amount of lifetime learning. Indeed, you have taught me much about the arts, recent politics and the life of ordinary people. I find myself missing you when you are not…well, there we have it then. It has been so very long that I forgot what it was like and how it might happen.

You do? Are you sure? I am truthfully nearing the end of this life, so our years together would be few. My business has been sold these last 5 years to Murgin and Ranoe, and while I am well of, we would…

No? None of that matters to you? I…oh my, I find myself bereft of words.

Thank you, Prindeep. Yes, it has been a most interesting morning. Tell me, old friend, do you think us foolish? Love so late for me and early for her? She is but 25 and I, well, we both know I am near unto worn out. Yes, one cannot argue with love, though people often do. Yes, as always, you are right. Accept the path we are on and enjoy the view. Wise words.

Ah, there is the bell! Go admit her and bring in that bag of gold.

So, my dear, let me tell you the tale of the fifth Wand of Glory. It is indeed a strange one.

First of all, you need to know that creating a Wand of Wild Magic is both an insane undertaking and, as anyone who studies magic now will tell you, impossible. Naturally, my much younger self took this as a personal challenge.

Wands of Time Travel are incredibly tricky to construct, highly unstable and given to a limited amount of power. A person successfully using one might go back as far as a century, stay for an hour, then be jerked back into their proper time, most likely to be sick to their stomach for an hour or so. I needed to go back 4,000 years. You can see the problem.

Fortunately, there lived in Jal a member of my profession who was quite obsessed with time travel. Kaneera Lal lived some miles outside the city of Sotsomo, her nearest neighbors wisely living more than a mile from her. Her estate boundaries were easy to spot, being covered in a light early winter snow when the rest of this part of the world was sweating through mid-summer.

At first, she was highly suspicious of me, but once I told her of what I needed, she became quite eager to help me. As we walked into what she called the “Deep Basement”, I was slightly unnerved by the fact that she was slowly becoming younger. Despite the fact that she had appeared at least 80 when she had answered my knock on her door, she looked no more than 16 by the time we reached our destination.

Said destination was no less that a constantly shifting sphere of multicolored lights that Kaneera informed me was a “time warp portal”. As she puttered about looking for a Wand of Destination, she laid out the rules for time travel.

1: Each layer of colored light I would go through represented a century. Stopping for anything over 5 seconds would reset the color bands to decades, then months, then days, then hours.

2: I would have up to 10 hours in the past before popping back into the present.

3: Don’t worry about changing history, because you can’t.

4: Avoid all other time travelers. She was most insistent about this one.

After using the Wand of Destination to show me a clear path to the city of Peskandar, some 4,200 years in the past, I stepped into the portal and began my journey of 42 steps.

Oh, no, the actual walk through the portal was quite easily done. I was surprised by that. Like you, I felt that there would be enormous forces assaulting me, but such was not the case. It was no different that walking across an empty street.

I stopped in the 42nd band of light, a pleasant light orange, and waited a few seconds until it split into 10 decades. Not being picky, I stopped in the third decade, awaited the years, then went for the fifth year, sixth month, tenth day.

I emerged into the very busy market of a large city on a warm spring day. Seeing a merchant dealing in magical charms, I went over to him and inquired where I might find the most powerful wizard in the city. He merely pointed to a tower that rose above all else, including the grand castle on the hill. I thanked him and tossed him a silver piece.

The tower proved to be over two miles distant, but still well within the city walls. At least 500 feet tall, the tower seemed to be made of a single piece of stone, the exact type of which I could not determine. The base was about 200 feet across and surrounded by a low wall and a beautiful little garden. There was no gate under the entry arch.

No sooner had I walked through from the street to the garden, than a small being, perhaps 3 feet high, stepped out the front door of the tower. He looked like a vastly more civilized version of the Forest Kobits one sees in the Western Lands.

“Greetings, Vanderas of Geshpar. The Master has been expecting you. Please, follow me.”

Stunned though I was by being known to these people, I followed him into the first floor room, which seemed to be half waiting room and half indoor garden. My companion, whose name was Dolbo, showed me to a large round red carpet in the very center of the room, above which was a shaft that looked to run all the way to the top. He instructed me to stand in the center and enjoy the ride. A moment later, I was racing upward at a very high speed.

The carpet slowed and then stopped in a finely appointed room that had four large open arches leading out to a balcony that encircled the room. In a large and comfortable looking chair sat a man whom I supposed was my host. He looked no more than 30, but then, I do not look 345, do I? If I were to describe his looks, I would call them handsome, in a rugged way.

It is now time for me to be somewhat vague about our conversation, which took up most of my remaining hours. His name was Deron and he was the High Wizard for a vast empire. Of course, I knew this because his legend lives on today, albeit only to a very few scholars of magic and ancient history.

He poured tea and let me know that he knew of me simply because the entire city was ensorceled to let him know if a new mage or purveyor of magic entered it. When I told him what I needed, he nodded and said he would fetch everything and have it ready before I left.

From there on, we spoke of the past, the future and many things that probably should not be spoken of at all. He seemed quite unconcerned by the coming loss of magic as he knew it, telling me only that magic comes and goes over time, so it does naught to worry. He also told me that wands were not a bad way to go, magicwise, since they could make anyone a user of magic without “interminable years of serving under a Master Wizard with delusions of grandeur”.

Shortly before my 10 hours were up, we were brought a long thin crystal of pure wild magic, as well as a few other things. I thanked him and then, just a few seconds later, appeared in Kaneera’s Deep Basement. The old girl herself was asleep on a sofa, snoring loudly and unable to be awakened by my best efforts. I scribbled a note to her and then left.

Five days later, I was standing in a cow pasture just two miles outside the walls of Geshpar. It was quite late at night and both moons were full. After a short wait, I saw a shooting star hurtling toward me. It slowed and slowed again until a black and pitted steel cylinder came to rest gently on the ground a few yards from me. A quick wave of a Wand of Opening caused a door to open and allowed me to retrieve the package containing the wild magic and other items. I then mounted my horse and rode home. The cylinder was found by the farmer the next day and is still on display at the Geshparan Museum of Oddities.

The rest of the story is barely…what? Oh, I am sorry. Let me explain. You see, I could not bring anything back through time that I did not take with me. Hiding the package away for over 4,000 years was also out of the question, since all the magic would be drained. Therefore, Deron simply sent the steel cylinder to the Small Moon, since nothing beyond our world was affected by the magic leaving. A timing spell brought it back to me at the appointed date and time. Quite a tidy solution, if you ask me.

Anyway, the rest of the story is quick to tell. I constructed the wand easily, it was used in the Great Battle to devastating effect and the rest truly is history.

Now, my love, what say you to a long hot bath together before dinner? Excellent!



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Not In This Issue: Hogs, Body Modification, Cheese or Trainspotting

…we do have an article on brainspotting

The Doclopedia #1,505

More Islands of Adventure: Goat Island

At 20 miles long and 8 miles wide, Goat Island is not one of the bigger islands in the Shallow Sea. It offers ships little protection from storms, since it does not have more than a couple of places where a ship larger than a small fishing boat can drop anchor. What it does offer is food, and lots of it.

Nobody knows exactly when the island was set up to provide food to passing ships, but the Winta people who live on the island say they were brought here at least 300 years ago. Their legends say that a Captain Mesada stocked the island with goats, pigs and many types of poultry. Shortly thereafter, he brought the Winta to the island, along with many bags of seeds and small fruit trees. He told them to plant them and then sailed off. A year later, he returned with more seeds, more trees and many types of vines.

This went on for a few more years, then Captain Mesada returned and he and half his men went into the island’s interior with many cartloads of building materials. The rest of his men sailed off, but returned with even more merchandise and a number of women. The ship made three more trips before dropping off the remaining crew and sailing off with a new crew.

Captain Mesada and his crew of 150 men, plus their wives, settled in a small valley, built a village and pretty much kept to themselves. The Winta were told to trade food for gold or other items with passing ships and give half the proceeds to the Captain. In all other matters, the island was theirs to govern and live on as they chose.

300 years later, there are 10 Winta villages on the island, three of which trade with ships. The rest devote their time to preparing foods for the ships, from goat cheese to jerky to fresh or dried fruit and more. In a good year, there will be trade with 20 or 30 ships.

Mesada Village is still populated by descendents of the original sailors, plus other people who came to live their. Visitors from the outside world are not allowed.

The Doclopedia #1,506

More Islands of Adventure: Hrolf’s Island

Hrolf Horgunsson is not an easy man to deal with, in any sense of the word. His ex wives will tell you he is an arrogant and demanding son of a bitch. His former apprentices say he’s dangerous when angered. His children…well, they have nothing to do with him. As for people trying to do business, whether commercial or government based, well, they barely tolerate him.

Hrolf is one of the most powerful mages in the world and many have sought to buy things from him. His potions and enchanted weapons are highly sought after. Other, more powerful spells and items, can command extraordinarily high prices. Governments sometimes seek out Hrolf’s aid, which can come at steep prices beyond that of mere gold.

All of these business dealing come at the unavoidable cost of journeying to Hrolf’s Island, which the insufferable old bastard has created in the exact center of the Great Inland Sea, a freshwater lake 200 miles across and, near the island, home to great and dangerous beasts.

The island is perfectly round and measures 2 miles across. It slopes up evenly and gently to a small hill about 150 feet tall, on top of which is Hrolf’s small castle. Only one trail leads there and it passes through a dense forest filled with many creatures that are the result of Hrolf’s experiments. On the bright side, regardless of what is happening in the outside world, the weather on the island is always very pleasant.

Anyone going to Hrolf’s Island with bad intent will sorely regret it.

Of course, so do most of the people who come with good intent.

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Fish Stories

…but not about fish

A Sort Of A Teaser To Fill Space

One of the writing projects I’ve had on a back burner is called “Ten Short Stories About Death”. My main requirement and self imposed rules are…

1: Each story has to be short, preferably no more that 1,500 words
2: Each story has to be very different from the rest
3: When completed, all of the stories, read in order, will tell one extra story.
4: At least one character in each story has to die.

The titles I have, some of which are for stories already finished, are…

“The Final Battle Of Sergeant Freedom And Mechanico”
“Dave Olinski Kills His Boss”
“The Great Video Showdown And How Girls Rule”
“The Last Day Of Lulu & Flash”
“TJ-400 Has A Thought”
“Why War Is Bad”
“One Final Fuck You”
“The Last Civilized Woman On Earth”
“Toby Basset Says Goodbye”
“Return Of The Masters”

Once I get all the stories written, I figure I’ll post them one at a time on my Patreon, then later bundle them all up for sale.

And then after that, I’ll move on to “Seven Short Stories About Food”. :)

The Utterly Too Cool For School, Yet Very Peppy, Story Of Mostly Purple Patty And The Battle Of Blackberry Hill

…co-starring her rival in all things, Very Pink Penelope.

Thoughts On Gen Con 2019

First off , before I get to anything else, I want to thank my very dear and wonderful friends, Peter Hildreth and Avis Crane for paying my way to the con, putting me up in Peter’s room, buying my meals and everything else they did. Just seeing and hanging out with the two of them after a 12 year gap would have been more than enough for me. I love you guys, Peter and Avis!

As to the con itself and my reactions to it, I can do the basic sum up like this: I was sick and/or in some amount of pain most of the time, and, after not going for 12 years, was completely out of the Gen Con mental flow.

Now, that is not anyone’s fault, including mine. I had to have a tooth removed by oral surgery on the 25th of July which left my jaw very tender, bruised and swollen. The tenderness and pain were gone by GenCon Sunday, but the bruise is just now faded on Tuesday after the con. Again, not much I could have done to speed things up, but it made eating pretty damned challenging.

Indianapolis, or maybe just the whole Midwest, triggered an allergic reaction in me, so you know that was the opposite of fun. Allergies hit when they hit and you recover as fast as your body allows. In my case, that seems to be today, nearly a day after the con. Dog bless Calye Lacefield and Avis Crane for having allergy meds on hand. As of Tuesday (today) I am about 95% okay, with the exception of some excess snot production probably triggered by something here in the Sacramento Valley.

Being out of the Gen Con mental flow is a whole other thing. Again, it’s not anyone’s fault. When you don’t do something for that long, you stop thinking about it with the excitement you had when you were doing it every year. Even the gap from when I went in 2007, after skipping 2005 & 2006, had me feeling a bit lost when I got there.

I don’t know, maybe age has something to do with it, too, but I really think I just have not exercised my “Gen Con muscles” in so long that it was a bit much for me.

Moving on to other things that affected my enjoyment of the con, and no, this whole piece is NOT going to be a pity party of me bitching, the fact that I was old & out of shape and the con is spread out all over downtown Indianapolis did not help. All that walking with fucked up knees and hips was not pleasant, so there were events and things I didn’t go to. My own fault, really. I had 7 months to work out on the treadmill and I could have packed my superduper ibuprofen.

Now on to the good stuff.

Seeing old friends again after many years was just fucking excellent! Of course, for some unexplained reason we all looked older, but they were still the same fine folks they’ve always been. Sadly, there were a few folks who did not make it to the con this year. I’m not going to name names, because shit happens. Still, it was wonderful seeing the folks I did.

And then there were all of the people I’ve talked to online that I met for the first time! I’m not going to try naming them all, because I know I’ll forget somebody, but rest assured that they are all fine folks. Curiously, about 70% of them were women in the gaming industry, which of itself is a great thing.

One thing that kind of sucks, and not just for me, is the fact that the con is so big and busy, especially for folks in the industry, that you only get to see each other for very short periods of time, if at all. Not much to be done about that, I’m afraid. Maybe someday those folks will get their long dreamed of Relaxicon for industry folks only.

Before moving on to other things, let me say that I have never gotten so many hugs in so short a period of time, outside of a family reunion. I don’t know when hugging hello and goodbye became a thing at cons, but I heartily approve of it.

I hugged straight cis men, gay men, straight cis women, trans women, lesbians, bisexuals, old farts, a couple of ladies young enough to be my granddaughters (a damned sobering thought, since both were over 18), and 2 dogs. I may have hugged a couple of aliens, but it is impolite to ask. Anyway, this hugging thing is a very good idea. Go out and hug some people.

Everyone always asks two questions when you return from Gen Con. Let me address those now.

1: “What games did you play?”

I played in 2 official at Gen Con in 1991, my first time at the con. I had purchased a few tickets, despite not liking the idea of paying to get into games at cons, so I used them. That was the last time I ever played in an official game at Gen Con, although for several years I ran official games and ran demo games for Steve Jackson Games.

Most years, any RPG I play in is either a “room game”, wherein myself or a friend runs a game, or, in rarer instances, a quick game in a bar or empty con room.

This year, there were 3 room games. They were all great fun, including the one I ran for Peter and Avis which, from rules to dice to plotline was completely done on the fly. What can I say, I have mad GM skillz.

And no, I did not play any board games. I was too druggy or sore or tired most of the time.

2: “What games did you buy?”

My game & dice buying this year were not only dictated by my limited funds, but by my limited baggage area. I do not do checked baggage on plane trips. This is due to my inherent distrust of my fellow humans and the fact that I have had baggage arrive days late due to airline fuckups.

So I bought the following: Wizard, Melee and the combined solo Deathtests 1&2. That was it for games. I also bought some interlocking dry erase map boards from Gaming Paper. Aside from that, I bought dice for both my gaming groups, dice for my dice collecting wife and dice for me. I will never go to a game con and not buy dice. It’s an addiction.


Now that we have my gaming purchases summed up, let me say that I saw tons of stuff I may buy in the future. Mostly that falls into the smaller boardgames category, but there were some RPG books that tempted me despite the fact that I have drastically reduced my RPG buying over the last few years.

One thing I did not do at Gen Con, and this is amazingly common for me, is take many pictures and I took NO pictures of friends. I took a few pix of stuff in the Dealer’s Room and other areas of the con, and I took several short videos around various places, but no pix of people I knew. I didn’t even take any selfies. Pathetic.


So, let’s wrap things up. I had a good, but not great time at the con. It would have been much better if I had not been sick. I got to meet lots of folks, which is always good. All in all, a good, but maybe a bit of a strange return to Gen Con.

Will I go to Gen Con again? Well, I never say never, but unless Grace and I start traveling around the country after she retires…or unless I get a job that pays pretty well…and unless Indianapolis get a bunch more hotel rooms downtown, I kind of doubt it. The con has morphed into something altogether different than the con that used to excite me so much. That’s not a bad thing or a good thing, it’s just a thing.

I think if I travel that far from home again to go to a con, it will probably be to go to Origins. It’s been ages since I went to an Origins. And then there are all the West Coast conventions I don’t get to. Finally, there is the fact that I’m a board member of Your Turn Community Game Events and we put on lots of game days. At some point, we’ll put on a gaming weekend and if we aren’t real careful, that could well turn into a con of our own.

Which would pretty much mean I’d be working at a con and not playing at it. Just like my game industry friends. I’m sure there is some sort of Circle of Life, analogy there, but I need to finish this up.

So there you have it, friends, my trip to Gen Con 2019. It was fun and I suggest you go if you’ve never been before.

Doc Cross, signing out.

Update From May 19, 2020: Turns out going to Gen Con in 2019 was a good idea, since the Covid 19 pandemic has shut all 2020 cons down, including Gen Con, which announced today that it is cancelled.

Was the above bit of writing interesting to you? Well then, consider become a Patron of this blog! Besides being one of the cool kids and getting to read fun stuff, you get sweet compiled Doclopedia posts in the popular PDF format, plus other exclusive stuff, like five versions of the same tavern. You can get in on this for as little as one dollar a month, so click the link and check it out.

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Where Are The Cookies? I Was Told There Would Be Cookies.

…and milk!


Life On The Magic Bus

Chapter 8, Part 3: Across America At Random

The trip begins
Artwork is observed

Destination Sign: Gondor


It was 5:35 in the morning and all of the humans involved in the “Great Random Route Trip To GenCon” were standing on the beach looking out at the Pacific Ocean, the city of San Francisco behind them.

“Now remember, everyone, the exact routes we take from points whatever to whatever are purely up to you, except when there is no more than one choice or when a stopping point is off the interstate.” Phil Lacewood, kilt clad as always, paused to sip his tea. Doc picked up where Phil left off.

“Stopping time is 5:00 pm each day at whatever spot is randomly chosen. Starting times after today will always be 7:00 am, so we are doing 10 hour days. Each leg of the trip will have 3 points where you need to get a geek item. These are being set up now by our dedicated advance team, who left yesterday at 6:00 pm. Nobody knows exactly what the geeky items are, but their general locations will be well marked on your daily maps and the exact location will have a sign.”

“Everyone has a cell phone or other internet connection, so stay in touch.”, Phil said. “If you have trouble or find something cool we should know about, let everyone know. Okay, we’ve got sun up coming in about 5 minutes, so grab a couple more donuts and climb in your rigs. When the whistle blows, we’re off! Have fun and we’ll see you all at stop #1!”

There were 15 vehicles involved in the race, ranging from the Magic Bus to Phil’s heavily modified Saab wagon to a 1959 Cadillac Coupe DeVille to a Volkswagen bug. All of then held at least 2 people.

The drivers climbed into them and and a few minutes later, a young college student who had been paid $50 to start the race blew a very loud whistle. The race was on.

On the Magic Bus, Doc and Spike were in the cab and everyone else was either in the living room or still in bed. Both men had donuts and a hot drink. Their present route had them driving city streets until they got to the Bay Bridge. Along the way, they pointed out spots that they had visited in years gone by.

“There’s the Doggie Diner we ate at when Mary was pregnant with the twins”, Spike pointed out. “I think she ate more hot dogs on that trip than the previous year.”

Doc chuckled. “Yeah, pregnancy cravings will do that. When Grace was pregnant with Sam, we could not keep enough ice cream in the house for a while there. Then she switched over to thin sliced hard salami.”

They passed old game stores and restaurants and book stores, each one eliciting a memory or two. Eventually, they came to the bridge and not long after that, turned off onto city streets in the East Bay.

Somewhere about 90 minutes into the trip, as they were nearing Vallejo, Winker stepped into the cab.

“I’m taking breakfast orders. What will you two have?”

Spike went with a bowl of Cap’n Crunch and Doc opted for a steak & eggs breakfast burrito. Winker left and 15 minutes later a SmartBot arrived with their meals.

About 20 minutes later, while driving along a country road near Fairfield, they got a text from one of their fellow drivers saying there was a “field full of interesting artwork” up ahead. A few minutes later, Doc pulled up and everyone got off the Bus to have a look.

“Everything is made out of cans”, Sasha said as she went into the field for a better look.

True enough, each of the 6 statues was built entirely out of cans that had previously held food or drink. The largest was 15 feet tall and was a man in the middle of a golf swing. A 12 foot tall woman stood nearby in an ice skating pose. Three 7 foot tall kids playing baseball were about 50 feet away and the whole tableau was finished by a 6 foot long dog leaping to catch a Frisbee.

Very sporty”, Grace observed. “I wonder if it was done for the Sacramento Winter Olympics back in 1994?”

Doc was busy taking pictures. He was certain this was not on any Roadside attractions lists, and Roadside Attractions Monthly paid a hundred bucks for finding new stuff.

After a few more minutes, everyone got back into their vehicles and took off. Spike left the cab to go hang out in the living room and was soon replaced by Lulu. She and Doc chatted about various things until they were a few miles outside Dixon, where the first geeky items were. Doc popped open the door at the stop, which was right under a large hand painted sign about 60 feet off a short dead end side road. Lulu jumped out and grabbed one of the 6 inch plush 4 sided dice. As she got back on the Bus, everyone in the living room area cheered.

A bit later, after they had crossed into Sacramento via the I Street Bridge, Doc made a turn down an alley, leaving the 14 other cars behind. He knew that they were all planning on going out Auburn Boulevard until they got to Roseville. But Doc had been listening to the radio and knew that there was an accident on I-80, which would move traffic off to nearby surface streets. He would take a route down a slightly more distant street and avoid the slowdown.

Once the texts about slowing down started coming in, doc waited about 5 minutes, then texted everyone the route to use. He got back many texts, most of which went much like Phil’s text of “Thanks, you cunning bastard”. With a comfortable lead now his, Doc got back on Auburn Blvd and drove as fast as traffic would allow.

All things being equal, the drive from San Francisco to Reno, Nevada, usually takes about 4 hours or so. It had taken out intrepid races 6 hours, which included the stop at Donner Summit to get geeky item #2, a bottle of Jolt! Cola. All cars were now parked in the lot at the Peppermill Casino & Resort, where they would hit the buffet for the last joint lunch of the trip. After today, the rule was “grab lunch where ya can grab it!”.

An hour later, they were on the freeway heading to the next point where they could get off onto side roads. Doc chose to go north of the interstate for two reasons: a long straight stretch of gravel road and a nearly forgotten piece of roadside attraction history.

The First Cat Ranch West Of The Mississippi was, as it turned out, the only cat ranch anywhere. It seems that in the spring of 1897, a couple named Elom and Gussie Hork decided to settle down outside ?????, Nevada and “raise fancy cats to sell back East”. To feed the cats, they raised chickens. Unfortunately, the winter of 1898-1899 was pretty harsh and over the course of a month, bears and coyotes got all of the chickens. Deprived of food, the cats got…unruly. In May of 1869, the local sheriff came out to check on the ranch “cos them two wasn’t right in the head”. He found no trace of the Horks or the cats. The whole self guided tour took less than 15 minutes and cost nothing. Even Grace admitted that the little cat sized corrals and barns were kinda cute looking.

Geeky stop #3 was just west of Winnemucca and the item was an assortment of of convention t-shirts, please take only one. Doc chose an Origins 2001 shirt, mostly because that con had been in Sacramento and he and Spike had first discussed selling their company then.

At just before 5:00 PM, the last car in the race rolled into the Wendover Campground and RV Park in Wendover, Nevada. Conveniently located next to a casino, the racers all agreed that more buffet and some gambling might be in order. The day’s winner for the race were Chuck & Peter Hildreth, who had made great, if bone jarring, time across Nevada in a 1965 Ford Pickup belonging to Chuck. The Magic Bus came in third.

After a few hours of eating, drinking and general merrymaking, everyone went back to their campsites and got some sleep in preparation for Day #2.

Dark Secrets Of The Dog Park

…mostly, they’re about eating poop


After The Change Came

Series 4

A Day For Books And Walking

Greetings, Dear Readers. I’m back for another entry in the blog. Today, I’ll be telling you about my action packed yesterday. Well, action packed if you call a 24 mile walk to a used book store “action packed”. In point of fact, it was a pretty mellow day.

My favorite used book store here in the Sacramento area is Booktown Used Books, which is just about 12 miles from here, near downtown. It has been in that location since 1928. Arliss Brantner owns it and he is the 4th generation of his family to do so. It’s the largest bookstore in Northern California. The fantasy/science fiction section alone is twice the size our our living room, and our living room is big.

So, with the kids in school and Grace puttering around the house, I set off walking to Booktown. The weather has been great lately, with the spring rains mostly behind us and the summer heat a few weeks away. As I’ve said before, after the Change, downtown Sacramento was moved away from the rivers (American & Sacramento) to a spot 6 miles northeast and now high enough to never flood. As with all cities, towns & villages in the world, we have a Ring Road running in a perfect circle around town. It is located exactly 15 miles out from Sacramento’s Central Tower, where our City Dragon lives.

30 roads and streets run out from city center to the Ring Road. Grace and I live on Greenback Lane, one of the main roads. It meanders like a river toward downtown. Lots of curves, up and down hill, passing through our many greenbelts and farms and residential areas. It’s a nice walk.

Actually, almost all roads in Sacramento meander. There are very few that run straight for more than a mile or two. I probably ought to also point out that you’ll see very few cars on the road. People walk, ride bikes or horses or other animals, roller skate/skateboard, ride flying carpets (Mahmoud’s Enchanted Carpets has, like, 9 locations), or take the anibuses, which run every 15 minutes.

So there I am, at 8:00 in the morning, walking along, breathing the fresh air and enjoying the sunshine. Birds are singing in the trees, bunnies & squirrels and other wildlife are out doing their thing. I see neighbors tending their gardens or livestock. A few are just sitting on their porches, drinking their morning beverage. Other folks are walking along, including one young couple who are going on a picnic outside the city limits.

I’ve mentioned in the past that Ring Roads also double as city boundaries. They are enchanted to keep dangerous creatures or sapients out, and to a lesser extent mitigate really bad weather, wildfires and earthquakes. That’s why San Francisco will never again have a really terrible earthquake.

I tend to walk a bit faster than most non-mutant humans, so even pausing frequently to look at things or talk to folks or buy a peach milkshake at Bonnie’s Burgers, I’m doing 5 miles an hour. As with any city or town, the closer you get to downtown, the more urban things get. Now, that does not mean houses crammed right next too each other, since by law every home in California has to sit on at least half an acre of land and all urban areas must have extensive greenbelts. That latter is why you often see deer or even elk strolling through our downtown.

At just about the 2.5 hour mark, I reach Booktown. This may well be my 1,000th time there, since I’ve been going there for decades. My first visit was in 1970, a couple of months after I got my driver’s license. It was while I was on Easter break from Hobart’s School for Young Ladies & Gentlemen and on that visit, I bought about 30 books to take back with me, mostly pulp reprints.

Arliss and his wife, Olive, gave me a hearty greeting and advised me that they had gotten in about 5,000 books a week earlier that were now on the shelves. I grabbed a complimentary cup of tea and started looking around. Arliss had British Invasion rock & roll playing and coconut incense burning. Despite being born in 1985, Arliss and Olive are a couple of hippies.

90 minutes later I had a stack of 40 books and magazines, including the British mag “QuestWorld Spectator”, issues 1-4. I paid for them, said goodbye to the Brantners and left the shop to go grab some lunch. On my way to a great Indian buffet, I put the books on Ralph, a dogbus that runs up Fair Oaks Blvd to the Ring Road. He transferred them to Fancy, a bunnybus who transferred them to Waldo, another dogbus. Waldo dropped them off at our front gate and Ben, our main House Elf, transported them to our library.

After a wonderful lunch of Indian food and a mug of pale ale, I began my walk home. I decided to use the footpaths found in the greenbelts and had a great time birdwatching, looking at and talking to various animals, and generally grooving on nature. The walk home took 3.5 hours and when I arrived at the old homestead, I was greeted by the twins and their friends. They were making up a game that I won’t even try to explain, but for about 10 minutes, I was a moving goal post.

Once I got into the house and sat down, Ben showed up with a cold iced tea. After I finished the tea, I was considering a short nap. This plan was abandoned when my green skinned hottie of a wife came and sat on my lap and whispered saucy suggestions in my ear. Later, we ate dinner with the kids and then played some dice games.

All in all, a pretty damned great day.

More bloggage later.


The Cupcake Gnomes Meet The Pie Pixies

…it was a sweet meeting
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Sasha Explains It All


Hi, folks! In this edition, I’d like to talk about the many Sanctuary areas that the Non-Human Terran Alliance has set up around the world. Some of them are set up just to give NHT a place to live other than small enclaves out in the wild, while others are set up to allow endangered or even extinct species a place to survive. All of them were set up with the use of very advanced technology. I know, because I provided it.

Our first sanctuary, Dog Mountain, was started on January 4th, 1979 and finished 6 months later. This was done using very large robots and lots of nanotech. It was also done 2,000 years ago right here in California, down north of San Diego, where Camp Pendleton is now.

Dog Mountain is really more of a big hill. It’s about 3.5 miles across at the base and rises up 900 feet at the center. It is honeycombed with tunnels and open areas and places for dogs and other species to live. The majority of the outside is very park-like. 200,000 NHT live there, 90% being dogs. I own a rather large home in Dog Mountain. It is a great place.

Our second sanctuary opened a month after Dog Mountain and is located 4,000 years ago in Lake Superior. Wolf Island is actually a chain of three large islands that float just on the surface of the lake. The largest island is 50 miles wide and 80 miles long, the next largest is 90 miles long and 35 miles wide, and the smallest is 45 miles long and 22 miles across. The bridges that connect them are all 5 miles wide and from 11 to 29 miles long. The bridges are heavily planted and hardscaped, so you never really know you are on a bridges.

Due to wolves being, well, wolves, there are only 3,000 on the island, which, like dog island, has tunnels running through the hills for them to live in. There is a very small area at the southernmost point of the southernmost island for visitors of other NHT species. Humans are never allowed on Wolf Island. Given the millennia of mistreatment humans gave wolves, their attitude is understood.

Game, from mice to moose, is plentiful on the island and the wolves manage things very well. NHT wolves live one of the most traditional lifestyles of all NHT species, so they hunt their prey just as their ancestors did. Wolf Island has very little technology.

When the wolf population exceeds 3,000, the excess are given the choice of going into our time to live, or making a journey overland to Wolf Valley, 300 miles away in Canada. Most go there, but a very few decide to go live in the present, usually in another NHT Sanctuary. About half of the young wolves who do this adjust well to the NHT lifestyle. The rest go back to Wolf Valley.

Traveling again to the San Diego region, and then 2,500 years into the past, you come to Rabbit Valley. Set with one end right at the coastline and the other 30 miles to the northeast, this valley is actually protected by mindscreens that keep predators (including humans) out, with the exception of 10 north/south passages that are about a half mile wide. These passages offer easy travel, the better to get predators past the valley.

The valley is designed with wide meadows, many small streams, a few ponds, shady trees and…technology.

Of all the sapients on earth, only rabbits come close to humans in their love of tech. Rabbit valley has electricity (solar & wind), radio & tv stations, a subway (that’s how they get across those predator trails), telephones, theaters, internet…just about everything a modern city might have, except for guns and crime.

Here’s another jaw dropper: Rabbits are the financial wizards of the NHT world. Every NHT company, including my own, has bunnies keeping the books. My own CFO is a rabbit, Sundew Thumper, and I would be lost without her. The NHTA is worth about 5 trillion dollars and rabbits are the reason why.

I should note here that since the creation of the Ottopus, many young rabbits have moved away from finance to study the sciences. These young bucks & does are doing great in their chosen fields.

Of course, every once in a very great while, a young bun decides to completely rebel and go off on a different course. A couple of prime examples are my sister Daisy’s boyfriend, Max, and his best friend, Ollie.

One more note: No other NHT species has as complex a family setup or genealogy as rabbits. We dogs probably come closest, but are still a distant second.

Okay, it looks like I’ve written a lot here, but I also have two kids about to come home from a day out with Uncle Luke and Auntie Misty, so I need to get ready to hear how much fun they had. I’ll continue this piece in the next edition and discuss Sanctuaries outside North America.

Until my next rant,

Sasha Jane Cross, PhD (x6)

Obviously, Including The Koreans In The Plan Was A Bad Idea

…they ran off to form a boy band




Dear Sister Arilloni,

Well, here I am at Karrak City on the shore of Lake Vardestar and I’ve got to say, it truly is a beautiful city. The main portion is made up of rose marble buildings rising as high as 8 stories. This is primarily the administration and shopping hub of the city, although there are several very exclusive hotels and restaurants here. All of them are too rich for my pocketbook, or even my tastes. I’m staying in the southern portion of the city, which, while tending to the more economical traveler, still provides a wonderful stay.

I must say that being away from both my adventuring friends and the convent is sometimes a bit odd feeling. I have seldom in my life traveled alone and despite Amella assuring me that it would do me good to get out and about on my own, I sometimes feel a bit adrift. Of course, it has only been two days and I’m sure that the next 5 will find me doing just fine.

As you know, Lake Vardestar is really an inland freshwater sea, 200 mules long and as much as 80 miles across. The northern end is fed by the many rivers and streams that come from the Frozen Land. That end is deep and cold. The southern end is drained by the Great River Utas and the Serpent River. It is much shallower, warmer and has a huge wetland to the west and southwest.

Karrak City is at the halfway point of the lake and gets the benefit of fishermen from both ends selling their catch here. Last night I had a delicious platter of assorted smoked fish and various local cheeses. My breakfast this morning was a wonderful crawfish chowder. I will have to get in some exercise later, or I might come home with some extra pounds.

Well, I must be going now, Sister. I’m heading up into the nearby hills for a nature walk and picnic put on by the local Bird Watchers chapter. Give my regards to Mother Superior and the rest of the sisters.

Your friend,


The Springtime Fresh, But Also Rather Spicy, Story Of Mostly Purple Patty And The Great 4th Of July Bicycle Race

…co-starring her Auntie Griselda Weeks


Life On The Magic Bus


Chapter 9, Part 1: Across America At Random

Doc makes a case
Grace has doubts

Destination Sign: Suffragette City


Doc Clay was reading his email when he suddenly let out a loud “Hot Damn Yes!”. Grace, Lucy, Winker and Sasha all looked up from their own emails and gave him varying degrees of the same curious but wary stare.

What now?”, Grace asked.

“Phil Lacewood just suggested a totally cool idea for all of us driving from the West Coast to GenCon this year: a road rally along Interstate 80, from San Francisco to Milwaukee. This would be using roads near the interstate, but not I-80 itself.”

“Sounds like fun!”, Lucy exclaimed with her usual joy.

“Cool! We can see lots of stuff.”, said Sasha, who was still an innocent pup where Doc’s plans were concerned.

Winker sighed and said, “What could possibly go wrong?”

Grace just looked at Doc and said “Go on.”

Having been given the spousal green light, Doc continued.

So, we would leave San Fran at sun up a week before the Tuesday before the con. There will be a fishbowl with routes and stops in it on index cards. One will be drawn every morning and we’ll all leave at first light and stop at 4:00 in the afternoon. It will be hella fun, baby!”

Having been through nearly 40 years of “hella fun” plans, Grace gave this about a 70% chance of actually being fun. Considering all the things she had done in her life that had far less chance of success, she decided to give it a go.

“Okay, we’ll give this mad idea a try, but you tell Phil that I haven’t forgotten the scavenger hunt at GenCon 1998.”

Doc did a fair job of looking shocked and wounded.

“Aw, baby, that was a whole different thing. It would have turned out perfectly fine if the Milwaukee police hadn’t overreacted.”

“Overreacted? You were all stealing hubcaps! You had to hide in a tree for 3 hours and Phil jumped into the river to get away. One other guy hid in a dumpster.”

We were going to put those hubcaps back at some point.”


Everyone in the room, including the dogs who were now pretending to watch an exciting commercial on television, knew that “MmmHmmm” was Gracespeak for “Better change the subject”.

Doc blinked and quickly launched into a speech about how fun it would be to hang with friends and get off the interstate and maybe, just maybe, see a few roadside attractions that they might have missed in years past.

Winker let out a laugh. “And that sound you heard was the other shoe dropping. He’s gonna use this trip to write another series for Roadside Attraction Quarterly.”

Doc looked at Winker with fake anger. “Laugh it up, old girl, but money is money. And now, I’m off to start getting things ready for the trip. It’s only 6 weeks away!”

After he left the room, Grace and The Girls looked at each other, smiling.

“Well,” Grace sighed, “At least we’ll know what he’s up to between now and July 28th.”

Not In This Issue: Fig Parrots, Playing Strip Bingo, Singing Tree Pruners

… do NOT play Strip Tree Pruning

After The Change Came

Series 4

Hound Dog Tails

Roscoe here with a badly late entry to this blog. As Dad said in his last post, I’m still working for the State of California Department of Nature as a wildlife surveyor, and I still work at ManDog creating QuestWorld scenarios. In fact, since his post we have finished scenarios #97 (Return To Venus) and #98 (The Floating City Caper). #99, still awaiting a title, is about 30% finished. And that will bring us to #100, which is about halfway plotted out on paper and will be a real mindblower when we release it. More than that, I cannot say.

It just occurred to me that some of you in other realities may not know what the whole QuestWorld phenomenon is. Let me explain.

After the Change restructured our world, the internet and everything about it got way more fun and way more strange to use. This was because you could just slip on a helmet and step right into a virtual world. There would be all sorts of websites and stuff laid out before you like a huge city. To help you navigate this confusing new world, there were Computer Guides, entities based upon people who had died years before. They could get you where you needed to go and help you find what you needed. They were, and still are, pretty much indispensable.

Anyway, this new cyberspace was just crying out for games and a bunch of folks either wrote new games or ported old games. I can still remember when I was a pup and I’d play Joust with Dad. Believe me, it’s a much different game when you’re riding on the flying ostriches with all sorts of shit happening around you.

At some point in 2004, at GenCon, a group of young folks got to talking to Dad and Uncle Spike and a bunch of other Old School roleplayers and the topic turned to adventure modules and intro adventures and adventure seeds. By the time the evening was done, a young lady named Shema Oliver had an idea for an online game that used “modules”. Three weeks later, QuestWorld Inc. was a company and six months later QuestWorld the game made it’s debut.

The main concept about QuestWorld is that you, ordinary citizens, have been transported to the Multiversal Nexus and told that you must find parts of a McGuffin in several worlds, then return them, assemble them and go into yet another world and stop the big bad guy. You can go into the various worlds, all of which are small, but richly realized, by computer game standards, in any order you like. There are also many ways to get the job done, but some work better than others. Most worlds are set up for four to eight players, but you can play with smaller groups or even solo.

Another thing that is very cool is that your characters pick up skills and powers in each world. Some of those don’t port over to every world (magic is a good example), but you never lose these skills. Believe me, first things you want to learn is stealth and some sort of edged weapon. Useful anywhere.

The first QuestWorld had four initial worlds (Zombie New York, Sinking Atlantis, The Old West and Shogunate Japan) to fetch McGuffin parts from and the Boss world (Jungle of Death) to use the McGuffin in. 150,000 people signed up to play it the first week. That number tripled the second week. By the time the company celebrated their first year, they had four different adventures and 19 worlds.

And then they did their version of the Open Game License. Anyone could create adventures or just modules, but they could only be played on the official QuestWorld site. Developers got 50% of the take and prominent credit (in neon lights) for their company and everyone working on the game.

This opened as floodgate of adventures and modules. Many sucked badly, but some were great. The initial McGuffin/Big Bad concept began to get massaged into something different in some adventures. Sometimes, you might be searching for spell components or map pieces or evel lost family members. It was a chaotic and wonderful time.

After about two years, the QW folks had to start setting up minimal quality rules. That weeded out a bunch of developers. Another thing that happened, and this caught most of us by surprise, it that people who weren’t QW players started to actually pay to watch QW games. Pretty soon there were QW cons and cybershows and then the official online QuestCon, which now draws half a million people.

The big event at QuestCon is the Speed Challenge. 24 teams of 6 people go on a quest that covers 5 worlds (chosen by a panel of QW fans selected a couple of days before the event picking from a large number of excellent scenarios) and a Boss World. Fastest time wins $100,000.00. The world record was set in 2016 by Team Fluffy Kitty with 5 hours, 50 minutes, 11 seconds. As a long time Speed Challenge fan and sometimes participant, let me just say that time is fucking insane. Of course, they did finish with only 2 PCs left alive. I’ll note that as of 2018, the Speed Challenge was drawing above 4 million viewers worldwide.

This year, as we have for the last 7 years, Team ManDog will be in the running to participate in the Speed Challenge. Our team consists of me, Dad, my son Nick, Auntie Avis, my daughter May and Uncle Spike. I think we have a good shot at making it.

Okay, I took way to long writing this, so I’ll end for now.

Talk to you later,


We Never Stopped Liking Monkeys, We Just Took A Short Break.

…okay, it was 7 years


Confessions Of A Time Traveler

If Nobody Ever Finds It, Is It Really Lost?

As you may or not have heard Sasha mention in her rants, time travel is strange and wonderful and you cannot change history. You can cause history, you can spin off new timelines and you can kind of “cheat” history, but you can’t change it in any meaningful way.

It’s that cheating part I want to talk about today.

Sasha and I have told you about the “have your cake and eat it, too” way of duplicating a famous person (Abe Lincoln, Jack Kennedy, Ada Lovelace, Frank Zappa, etc) and bringing them to a point way in the future so they can live another, hopefully beneficial life. I’ve done it a couple of dozen times.

But what about stuff? Things? Can you bring those back to the present?

Yes, but…

You can do it with pretty much anything, but the more you bring or the rarer it is now, the harder it is to explain. I love my complete collection of comics from the 50’s & 60’s, but since they are in brand new condition and complete runs, explaining them would be very difficult. Same goes for my DVD collection of every Doctor Who episode, even the lost ones.

Now, what I mostly want to cover is bringing loot from the past. Gold, silver, diamonds, artwork, etc. Stuff worth a lot of money. I’m not saying you go back and rob a bank or an art gallery or something, but then again, maybe you consider it.

Generally speaking, you can’t do that easily. For one thing, if somebody gets a picture of you as you leap into your getaway car, it can cause no end of headaches later. Of course, there is also too much chance of getting shot or caught. But what you can do, is research “Lost (fill in the blank)” and then go find that stuff. Why? Because if it was never found by the time of your Absolute Now, who’s to say what happened to it.

An example: A gang of 1920s bank robbers hit a bank for $100,000.00. They get away, but two days later all of them die in a shootout with the cops. The money is never found and the folks in the 21st century who make television shows about lost treasures have another story to try and solve.

But you, Friend Time Traveler, go back to the day of the robbery, put a small tracking device on their car, then use a drone to follow them. You learn that they put the money into an old well in Nowhereville, Kansas, so you get there after they leave, grab the cash and go back to your present secure in the knowledge that the well gets filled in sometime in 1933 and has a bigass grain elevator built on the spot in 1953.

Art the Nazis stole? It’s yours, dude! You could keep it in a private collection or you could “find” it at some point and get huge rewards and your name in all the papers. Same could go for all the artwork the Nazi scum destroyed, but that is trickier to get hold of.

Did you ever wonder why they don’t find more wrecked ships full of gold, silver and other loot? Time travelers! Ancient treasures, like, say, what was in those looted Egyptian tombs? Time travelers! Movies, recordings, television shows that are “lost”? Yep, time travelers.

So remember, kids: Finder’s keepers, losers weepers.

Oh, and to keep from having to write another variation on this piece, collecting extinct animals or lost humans (IF they were truly lost. Many “lost” folks just get new identities) is WAY easier to do. Assuming you have a place in the present to hold them.



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DUDE! A Doclopedia Milestone!



Well spank my ass and call me Pinky, this is my 1,500th Doclopedia post!



The Doclopedia #1,500

Well, Since You Asked: Here’s How It Went Down

It started out with me leaving Penny’s house before the party started…no, not the after party, the PARTY party. The one she was giving for Walt and Debbie after they said they were going to get married, even though none of us figured that it would really happen because Debbie has commitment issues and Walt pisses off every woman he gets close to and Walt doesn’t have a good enough job to afford Debbie’s high maintenance ass. But anyway, I’m leaving her house to go get ice because Penny never get enough ice, like that time when we were in high school and had to drink most of a case of Buckeye beer that was really warm because her idea of enough ice was a 2 pound bag on a 90 degree night. Jesus, that stuff tasted like hot horse piss and one of the bags leaked water all over Paul’s backseat.

So I’m walking to the store, the 7-11 on Grand, not the one on Wilton because Grand is 6 blocks away on level ground while Wilton is 5 blocks away up a steep hill and my knee was not having that shit. I’ve never liked that hill since Old Man Rinski lost his brakes and ran over my bike before plowing into the dry cleaner’s that used to be on the corner of Maple. What the fuck was an 86 year old man doing driving anyway? And then he died a few months later and everyone had to wait for his estate to be settled. Of course, Dad used the bike money to help buy us a scooter. Yeah, Old Red! That was a great scooter.

I’m about a block from the store when I see the front window come crashing out because some guy wearing a werewolf costume has jumped through it. I looked around because I thought “are they filming a movie or tv show?”, but nope, no cameras. Only it isn’t a guy in a costume, it’s a real fuckin’ werewolf because he grabs Dirty Ernie, tears his fuckin’ arm off and starts eating it, which is pretty gross because I don’t think that druggie had bathed since Clinton was president. Dude, did he ever get close to you when he was panhandling? He smelled like 10,000 dirty socks that had been soaked in piss and left out in the sun. Disgusting!

So there’s Dirty Ernie bleeding out and people are running and screaming and three cop cars come screaming up and a fuckin’ zombie…one of the slow kind, thankfully, but still a goddamn real zombie…comes out of the 7-11 and I didn’t know whether to scream, run or just shit myself. I chose running, by the way.

The cops yell at the werewolf and it charges toward them and bullets start flying and I dive behind an SUV which proceeds to catch about 30 bullets which is a damned shame because it looked like a sweet ride. It took about 10 seconds for at least 7 bullets and a shotgun blast to hit it. Once the shooting stopped, I peek around the front tire and I see two cops on the ground all ripped to shit and the werewolf is blasted full of holes and deader than hell. The zombie is dead, too because somebody thought to blow his head off, which is even grosser and messier in real life than in any movie. After seeing all that, I lost my lunch in the gutter. I will live a long time before I see that much gore in real life again.

I get up and run over to a cop and ask him what the fuck is going on and damned if he isn’t Marty McCabe, that kid who was two years behind us in school and lived on Cimmaron Drive with the dad that wore a toupee and drove a sports car and the mom who always wore the fake jewelry and had that yappy little dog. Nobody liked that dog and I heard that a big alley cat kicked it’s ass good and Mrs. McCabe lost her shit while she was calling animal control from the vet’s office.

Marty tells me that all kinds of monsters are popping up all over town and I had better get my ass somewhere safe and then we see a Predator alien running up Grand toward us and the cops start shooting but the Predator is fast and dodging but then I notice it doesn’t have any weapons, just bigass teeth and claws, which, when you think about it, is probably good enough. I’m thinking that over when I stumble over the dead werewolf and realize that the cops didn’t use silver bullets to kill him, which would have been crazy expensive even if you could find any, and really, who the fuck has actual silver bullets you can fire from a pistol? Silver is pretty soft and I’ll bet it would fuck up your gun fast.

Anyway, that Predator is closing in and the cops need all the help they can get and so I grab a half full 40 ouncer from off the curb and lob it at that alien asshole. It hit him it the chest and he stops to look at me and then one of the cops rams him with a cop car and two more cops run up and shoot the shit out of it. It was dramatic as fuck and I could imagine Bruce Willis as the cop driving the car.

I’m thinking I need to get back to Penny’s place and warn everyone, when I see my cousin Tony and his pal Rigo come barreling up in his Impala, the red one, not the yellow one because that one is in the shop getting a new engine and transmission and I think maybe an exhaust system. So I ask Tony what the fuck two crazy Mexicans are doing out here in the burbs and he says that my sister, Kate, who I thought was on a trip to Seattle, but then I realize that was my sister Bonnie and it was Portland and you got to cut me some slack because keeping track of 5 sisters isn’t easy, told him I was going to a party at Penny’s and since there were more monsters popping up on this side of town, he figured he’s come over and see if I was okay. That’s the kind of guy Tony is, a crazy fucker, but one who will look out for you.

So I jump in his car and we head for Penny’s and one block from her place we see a fuckin’ troll. Not one of those wispy haired ugly doll little fuckers, but a goddamn 15 foot tall troll straight out of a Hobbit movie and it’s got a woman in it’s hand getting ready to eat her and Tony says “Oh fuck no!” and Rigo, who says maybe 10 words a week, shouts out something in Spanish and we ram right into the troll’s left leg. You could hear the leg bone snap, the car’s front end crumple, the lady scream and the troll let out a roar. We got out of the car and run around to the trunk and Tony pops it open and we grab crowbars and sledge hammers and a set of bolt cutters, none of which Tony is supposed to be carting around because he’s still on parole, but I’m damned glad he had them.

Rigo and I start wailing away on the troll’s busted leg and he drops the lady into a bush. I think it was a camellia bush, because Grandma Becky used to have a couple of those in her front yard and she got pissed off if her neighbor’s dog whizzed on them. The bush broke her fall enough that she wasn’t hurt bad, but that freed up both the troll’s hands and it started to pick up a Smart Car to drop on Tony. But just then, Dave Lawrence, you know, that friend of Penny’s who rolls into town for a visit 2 or 3 times a year when he’s not out surfing or snorkeling or diving or climbing a mountain? I’m pretty sure he mostly visits so he can play hide the weenie with Penny’s sister Andi, but anyway, he’s got a spear gun in his hands and he shoots the troll right in the junk. Even though I wanted that fuckin’ troll dead, I still winced and crossed my legs a bit. So did Rigo and Tony. Sympathetic spear to the dick pain, dude.

As you might think, the troll screamed and grabbed his, like, 3 foot long johnson, and was not thinking about us and can you really blame him? So Tony reaches up with this 5 foot crowbar and whacks the troll right in the left nut. Turns out, a troll falls over and screams just like we would, except way louder and it sounds kind of like two gravel trucks having a head on collision. Once the troll was down, we started whipping on it’s head until it stopped moving. Tony’s car was fucked up, but nothing the guys over at D&J Auto Body and A-1 Mechanics couldn’t repair. Those guys are great. They fixed my truck up like new after Rabbi Bob and I rolled it down that hill back in 2003.

So, with this humongous troll dead, still holding his dick, and blocking the street, we push Tony’s car over in front of Mr & Mrs Tong’s house, because we knew they’d be okay with it. Then we hoof it over to Penny’s and are just thanking Dave for spearing the troll in the dick when Nina, who is Penny’s cousin and a lawyer or a doctor or something like that, look up in the sky and screams.

Now, I’m thinking it’s gonna be a goddamn dragon or something, I dunno, a wyvern or giant bat or, well, hell, I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure it’s bad news. I was right, but it was Dracula. Not Bela Lugosi Dracula, which would be bad enough, but oh no, this is motherfucking Christopher Lee Hammer Horror fucking Dracula. I mean, Christopher Lee was a 100% certified badass in real life and his Dracula was the best ever and now here he is, red eyes and cape and big sharp goddamn teeth and he’s coming right at us and I may have pissed myself a little. Don’t you fucking laugh! You would have pissed, too.

Anyway, Dracula comes swooping down and lands in front of us and he grabs me by the neck and lifts me right up off the ground and I’m scared and pissed off and I see Tony swinging that crowbar so I kick Dracula right in the chin as the crowbar whacks the arm that is holding me. The arm breaks and Dracula drops me on my ass and I see his jaw is busted where I kicked him and I remember these monsters aren’t the real deal and then Penny blows a hole right through Dracula with a shotgun I didn’t know she had, but then I recognize it as her dad’s old shotgun because he used to go hunting with my dad and my Uncle Ray up on Elk Mountain.

We all ran into the house and locked the hell outta the doors and I grabbed a cold beer and chugged it down. There were about 20 of us in there, including Lori Diaz and you know that was a bit uncomfortable for her and I, or it would have been if the fucking town wasn’t overrun by goddamn movie monsters and D&D monsters and shit like that. I mean, Lori and I had a good 2 years, but then she started getting promotions at work and I got that job in Philly and then the one in Miami and, well, things just ended. The problem is, we still kinda have feelings for each other. It’s complicated.

The TV was on and the chopper cam was showing a shitload of kobolds, yeah, the dog faced lizard kind from the first Monster Manual, raising hell in the Taco Bell down at the Southside Mall, which was really no big deal for most of us because Taco Bell sucks and that Taco Bell sucks even more. Then the news guys showed a scorpion about the size of a bus heading up Main street until a guy runs out of the Arco station at Main and Third and lobs a few gallons of gas onto it, then lights it up. Dude, that things went up like a bomb went off and it went bugfuck for about a minute before it died. I’m thinking it probably smelled pretty gross, although since scorpions are related to lobsters, maybe it smelled not so bad, maybe like a busy night at Red Lobster.

By the time I got to beer #4, we had all calmed down a bit and some folks were talking about maybe trying to get out of town when Walt looks out a window and starts yelling and pointing and we all run over to see what’s what and fuck me sideways if it’s not Cthulhu, CTHU-FUCKING-LHU, coming towards us as he steps on that Vietnamese place over on Harper street, which I heard made a killer pho. He’s every fucking bit of 200 feet tall and tentacle faced and all that shit and even though we know he’s not REALLY Cthulhu, he’s still pretty fuckin’ scary because he’s 200 feet tall and stomping on ethnic restaurants and houses and cars and shit and he heading RIGHT TOWARD US! I may have peed a bit more, but dude, FOUR BEERS, okay?

We all run out the front door just in time to hear a big boom and see old tentacle face get hit by an artillery round fired by the guys from the National Guard armory over on Baker and 6th. Blew a bigass hole in him and then another round hit him and blew off his arm. He fell down and took out about 4 houses and the 7-11 I was just at. We all cheered and hugged.

Now, here’s where it gets really strange, which is sayin’ a lot considering the fucking Weirdfest-O-Rama that has been going on up to now. See, Cthulhu starts to glow and then fades away. Same with the troll and any other monsters we can see. We run back in the house to catch the news and the newsguy is saying that all the monsters are fading away and that the Air Force shot down a UFO west of town. Tony wanted to go out there and see it, until I reminded him that there would be a shitload of soldiers and FBI and CIA and NSA and cops out there and maybe it wasn’t the best place for a crazy fucker on parole like him to be. He agreed, plus his ride was trashed anyway, so he and Rigo decided they’d walk over a few blocks and see how some lady friends of theirs were doing. If it was the ladies I think it is, I’d say they were doing pretty well once Tony and Rigo showed up.

Things having died down, the party pretty much just turned into people talking and getting drunk and the next thing I know it’s morning and I’m waking up in Penny’s bed and she’s cooking bacon & eggs and her cat, Socks is laying on my chest and I’m thinking it’ll be a long time before I have a night as strange as that one. But you know, never say never.

Anyway, that’s how it all went down.

Ducks Causing Trouble, Geese On The Run

…it’s a waterfowl crime spree


The Doclopedia #1,498

Stairway to: Lincoln

Of all the stairways I have found, this one is the most random. Why? Because there are dozens of town and cities with the name Lincoln.

There are over 40 Lincolns in the United states alone. You’ll find more in the U.K., Canada, New Zealand, Argentina and Australia. The stairway can take you to any one of them.

The stairway itself usually appears in a park. It appears to be made of U.S. Penny coins and it has 7 steps. Once you get to the top, you are in a place called Lincoln. The stairway will remain there until you decide to leave.


The Doclopedia #1,499

Stairway to: Dinnerwhere

This stairway is always a favorite with stairway hunters. Simply put, it always takes you to the place you will most enjoy having dinner at that time. Feeling like seafood? It will take you to a great place. Steak? Asian? Southern? Barbecue? French? It doesn’t matter, you will go the the best place to eat what you want, wherever that may be on Earth.

Now, do be advised that while you will find that you have a reservation (where needed), you will not have any cash other that that of the place you left. You may also not speak the language of your destination. Fortunately, credit cards are accepted in most places and you may find your native language spoken by somebody.

This stairway is beautiful, being carved from a single large block of marble and having golden railings on both sides. As you go up the 10 steps, the smell of delicious cooking gets stronger.

The stairway will remain until you finish your meal. Once you return to the point of origin, the stairway disappears.


We Come From The Land Of The Ice And Snow, You Betcha

…oh ya, Minnesota


The Doclopedia #1,496

Stairway to: Lost Vegas

This spiral staircase appears only in casinos in Las Vegas, in whatever year is current. It’s a damned classy staircase, straight out of the heyday of Vegas, when the Rat Pack performed, the Mob ran the town and casinos weren’t “Family Destination Resorts”.

Going up the staircase takes you into the ground floor of a Las Vegas in the early 1960s. Could be any one of the big casinos. Regardless, a well dressed guy named “Archie” will give everyone in your party 100 bucks worth of chips and a ticket to the Sinatra show at 11:00 pm, which is always in about 3 hours.

So, what do you do in Lost Vegas? You do all the stuff everyone did. Gamble, drink, eat, see some shows and live it up. How long can you stay? As long as you want…IF you have money. The moment you go broke, you’ll see another spiral staircase that will take you back to the present.

But hey, go see Louis Prima and his band in the lounge before you go.



The Doclopedia #1,497

Stairway to: Dreamland

Yes, this stairway does lead to the Land of Dreams, but you may not want to go there. It’s a chaotic and ever changing place, full of strange creatures and people. The various areas of Dreamland can be fun, interesting, mindblowing, sad and terrifying.

The stairway only appears to folks who get out of bed half asleep late at night because they hear music playing. The stairway is where their bedroom door should be, but for some reason that does not seem strange. As they start up, the first 10 steps seem fine, but then they start changing into steps of various materials from sand to moss to fur to ice, and many others.

After about 30 steps, they arrive in Dreamland. To describe an “average” visit is impossible, but we can give some information about the various areas you might encounter.

Surreal Island: If Salvador Dali had dropped 100 hits of acid after taking peyote, he would still not have had a vision as strange as the ones you’ll find here. Don’t try to figure out anything you see or here. Fortunately, getting off this island is easy: just step into the water and you’re off and heading someplace else.

Movieland: Walking into this area will plop you down in some movie that you have seen at some time. Things may seem sharply real here, but that can change in a second. Expect the movie to morph into another sort of dream entirely.

Erotic Village: This is the area of sexual dreams. They may or may not morph into other dreams.

Happytown: The dreams here are fun and goofy. They also don’t last long, but you’ll probably leave laughing your ass off.

Real World City: Have you ever had the dream of being late for school or work? Maybe the one where you are totally unprepared for something? Well, this is where those dreams happen.

Nightmare Forest: Yeah, nightmares here. Try not to go here.

You’ll be stuck in Dreamland until you either find a door out or you really need to go pee. At that point, you find yourself back in your room.

Golden Racer Joe

…more fake anime



The Doclopedia #1,495

Stairway to: Toyland

This stairway always appears near a group of several old toys that you had as a kid. Most of them were your favorites. The door, which looks totally ordinary, has the words “This Way To Toyland” painted on the door in bright green.

The stairway has between 5 and 15 steps. At the top is another door, again, totally ordinary. Going through it puts you right on Main Street of Toyville, which is inhabited by humans and elves who make toys. They are all friendly and eager to show you the toys they make. Every sort of toy that has been on Earth is here.

Beyond Toyville is Toyburg, Toytown and Toy City. The first two are pretty much just like Toyville, but Toy City is the home of living, sapient toys. They are fascinated by visitors from Earth and will ask you all sorts of questions. They will also serve you cookies and milk. It’s a strange, but enormously fun, place.

After being in Toyland for a few hours, you will fall asleep and wake up in your bed at home with your favorite childhood toy sitting on your dining room/kitchen table.


The Fashionably Late, But Interesting And Cool, Story Of Mostly Purple Patty And The Girl Who Talked To Fish

…featuring her new best friend, Oceana Perchly


The Doclopedia #1,494

Stairway to: Asgard

This stairway moves around every few months, but you’ll always find it somewhere in the Scandinavian countries of Norway, Denmark and Sweden. The entrance is a door that is large (8’X4′), thick (3”) and very heavy. It’s made of a solid slab of pine and intricately carved with images of the Norse Gods and their adventures. Whatever doorway the door is hung in will be framed in a similar manner, although that doorway will change back to normal, including a reduction in size, once the stairway moves on.

Upon opening the door, one is presented with exactly 33 steps. Each step looks like a sword or ax blade. The top and sides of the stairway look like a soft white mist, but are thick and impenetrable. When a person reaches the top, the mists fade away and Asgard is revealed. It should also be mentioned that the stairway is gone, too, so there is no returning that way.

In less than a minute, Asgardian warriors arrive and announce that you must come with them. They are polite, but firm about this. Despite the city looking to be miles away, it takes but 10 minutes to walk there. The guards, who, like everyone else in Asgard, stand a good foot taller than a tall human, will chat with new arrivals, answering most questions honestly. They may also ask about news from Midgard, so be ready.

The city is impressive, but the great tree Yggdrasil rises above it. Once a traveler is inside the city, they are taken to meet Odin, who gives them two choices: Spend a day and a night there, then return home unable to tell anyone about their stay except somebody who has also been there, or stay for the rest of their lives. About 50% of travelers choose to stay.

After a day and night in the city, another stairway appears that leads to the exact location of the first door. When the traveler returns, they find that only 10 minutes have passed. The door disappears and moves on. Nobody has ever found the door a second time.



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Blue Petunia Waltz

…feel free to dance, y’all


I missed a few days due to being sick, so here are THREE Doclopedia entries.


The Doclopedia #1,491

Is This Your…: Hot Sauce?

Sir! Sir! You forgot your hot sauce! It was on your table when I went to bus it. Oh, no problem. People leave stuff behind all the time. Dragon’s Piss, eh? I’ve never heard of that brand, but the label looks homemade, so no wonder. No, no reward is necessary. Like I said, this happens all the time. You have a good day.”

“Man, Jimmy, that was an old dude. I’ve gotta admit though, he had mad cosplay skills. That outfit looked better than the stuff from Lord of the Rings. So, anyway, you ready? I had enough time before I ran after him to put 5 drops on each cracker. On the count of three, we pop the whole thing in our mouths and chew 10 times before swallowing. First one to drink anything is a wuss and has to take out the garbage all week.”



The Doclopedia #1,492

Is This Your…: Radio?

I’m asking, because we could hear it over in our yard and wondered what station was playing old time radio shows. We turned our radio on, but couldn’t find the station. Of course, your radio is way bigger than ours, so I guess it gets stations much farther. Is all that other stuff…okay.”

“Wow! That bit was pretty crazy. Some guys stuck in ancient Greece and there was a war going on? COOL! Will there be more of that show? I want to see if their guy at Mission Central send then the guns in time. Oh, okay, I need to go anyway. My dad is grilling burgers. Bye!”



The Doclopedia #1,493

Is This Your…: Crossbow?

Well, is it, ya stumpy dwarven bastard? My men and I are tasked with making sure that nobody brings weapons into our fair town. The Duke doesn’t like them.

So, it IS yours! Well, you won’t be so fuckin’ cocky when these four lads are beating you senseless before we drag your short ass off to jail. Go ahead, reach for it. They’ll be on you before…”

<Insert sound of swords piercing flesh and three bodies falling>

“I give up! Spare me! I don’t know anything. How dis you guys get past the gates with weapons? Please, spare me. Don’t kill…”

<insert sound of a crossbow firing>

Silence Of The Yams

…but, they are always silent

The Doclopedia #1,490

Is This Your…: Shoe?

It is? Okay. Yeah, I found it just back there by the old graveyard. At first, I thought maybe it was just some old shoe, ya know, because it looks like one of those old timey shoes and it’s dirty and stuff, but then I saw you with only one shoe.

I don’t mean to pry or anything, but are you an actor? I mean, your clothes look way out of style and you’re wearing makeup and, well, you look like you might be going to be in a horror movie or something. Or are you doing Vampire cosplay? Or a LARP? My former girlfriend was big on Vampire LARPing.

Dude, you look hungry. Would you like some of this cheesy garlic bread? I got way to much at Antonelli’s and I have them put extra garlic… Hey, why are you running off? Dude?


Chapter 329: In Which Our Hero Tickles A Wench And Makes Saucy Comments To A Nun

…the nun was not amused


The Doclopedia #1,489

Is This Your…: Cat?


I’m just asking because you have several cats, Mrs Fenster, so I thought you might have a new one. I mean, he comes over to my house every night and I feed him, but I used to do that with your one cat, Sonny. I liked Sonny.

Yeah, he is pretty, isn’t he? I’ve never seen an orange cat with black spots before. He’s got strange colored eyes, too. He’s a big guy. Must weigh 15 pounds or so. Funny, because he eats mostly fresh vegetables and only a little bit of tuna. He likes coffee, too.

Yeah, I know I look tired. I’ve been sleeping 8 or 9 hours, but I still wake up tired. It’s been going on maybe two weeks now, about the same time as I found this cat outside my door. I have these strange dreams about soldering wiring and gathering up electronic parts and chemicals. And welding, too, even though I don’t know how to weld. I’m lucky my job as a security guard lets me catch a nap or two during the day.

Noises from my garage at night? Huh. Couldn’t be me, I’ve been going to bed early. Maybe I left the radio on out there. Or maybe it’s the aliens from that UFO the cops say they saw a couple of weeks ago. Hahaha! Yeah, I think they were smoking weed, too.

Well, if this isn’t your cat, I’ll just hold onto him for a couple…or maybe 7…more days. Thanks anyway, Mrs Fenster.

Nowhere To Go But Sideways!

…at least it’s unpredictable


The Doclopedia #1,488

Alt. Rocks 2: Rhymestone


The Rhymestone is a cursed jewel that is hated by everyone who ever explored a dungeon. Quite simply, it is a jewel about the size of a small chicken’s egg and it is cursed to make the person who finds it speak only in rhyme for a full 30 days. Moreover, at the end of 30 days they have 24 hours to return it to a dungeon or be cursed for another month.

The jewel changes each time it is placed in a dungeon, so while it may be a diamond this time, it might be a sapphire next time. It always looks to be worth at least 500 gold.

Any attempt to just throw the Rhymestone away, or sell it, or destroy it, will cause it to reappear in your pocked and will add 5 more days to the curse. Likewise, you just cannot toss it down a dungeon entrance. You must take it at least 500 paces into the dungeon. And no pacing in circles or back and forth. The Rhymestone knows.


Was the above bit of writing interesting to you? Well then, consider become a Patron of this blog! Besides being one of the cool kids and getting to read fun stuff, you get sweet compiled Doclopedia posts in the popular PDF format, plus other exclusive stuff, like five versions of the same tavern. You can get in on this for as little as one dollar a month, so click the link and check it out.

Note: Some PDFs available only at the $3.00 level.

Support this blog on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/DocCross

Letters From My Granddaughter

…so far she has given me W, J, O, Z, G, E and T


The Doclopedia #1,486

Alt. Rocks 2: Boulderlings

Calm down, elf! Them’s just boulderlings. Ya see ’em all the time down here in the upper and middle depths. I’d say them is about 10 years along and headin’ for an area with the right minerals for to grow ’em some more. At this age, there ain’t a one of them more’n 50 pounds. They’ll need at least twice that weight before they go to the surface to become Bouldrons.

What, you didn’t know that? That’s what comes of livin’ deep in the woods and huggin’ trees all day. Ha ha ha! Yeah, these little fellers go up to the surface once they hit 100 pounds or so, then they start growin’ fast. Why, in just about a century, most of ’em will weigh nigh onto a ton. Then they’ll form up proper faces and watch what goes on around ’em. Sooner or later, some daffy bunch of bastards like us come along and ask ’em questions in exchange for sand or salt. They can’t lie, so the info ya get is good.

Now try to get yer wits about ya, pointy ears. There be stuff down here that’s a damned sight more dangerous than a few strolling boulders.



The Doclopedia #1,487

Alt. Rocks 2: Soft Rocks

Yes, Senator, those are the famous Martian Soft Rocks. Yes, you can touch them, but please put on a glove first. Yes, it is pretty amazing to see what looks like a hard stone turn out to be as soft as a marshmallow. No, you can’t mold them into other shapes, really. They go back to their original shape pretty quickly.

No, they aren’t alive, at least in any sense we know. They don’t breath or eat or drink. They don’t move or reproduce. We’ve cut some in two and they have no organs of any sort. They are just rocks that are soft.

We found them in two craters that were about 5 kilometers from each other. There are thousands of them there. No, sir, we have not seen them anywhere else on the planet. They aren’t even found below the surface in those two craters. Yes, yes, it is a hell of a mystery.

Now, if you’d like to pose holding some of the rocks, we can get that on the news tonight, Senator.

New: Squid Cream Oreos


The Doclopedia #1,485

Alt. Rocks 2: Memory Quartz

Memory quartz is a magical mineral found on several Fantasy Earths. When treated with the right substances, it can be made to retain the memories of any one person. There are limits, of course, but as a rule of thumb, a piece of memory quartz the size of a deck of cards will hold six third level spells. The memories stored inside the quarts will remain there, pristine, until they are removed or the stone is destroyed. A piece of memory quartz the size of the one described above will sell for no less that 500 gold.

The Ice Cream Dwarves Go Mining For Salted Caramel

…yum yum



The Doclopedia #1,483

Alt. Rocks 2: The Stone Testicles Of Yurr

Okay, first off, yes, those two huge ovoid stones really are the testicles of the ancient God Of Life, Yurr. They are, in fact, all that remains of him. Every other bit of his body was gone 3,000 years ago.

The testicles are made of a type of stone found nowhere else on the planet. Although the resemble marble, there is no way that marble could remain this smooth and unblemished after thousands of years out in the weather.

Yes, madame, they do give off a sort of energy one can feel. One can only assume it is “life energy”, since we are in a 9,000 acre wetland full of living creatures in the middle of a desert. In fact, this wetland increases by a few acres every year. It is truly amazing.

Ah yes, the barrier fence. It is there, surrounding the testicles for our safety. If any of us got any closer, we would find ourselves pregnant with at least triplets if female, or sporting a very painful and long lasting erection if male. Trust me, neither is something to be wanted.



The Doclopedia #1,484

Alt. Rocks 2: Hot Gravel

Right, lads, let’s get to work! Now, for every 10 carts of regular gravel we put in the big hopper, we need to add 1 cart of Hot Gravel.

What? You don’t know what Hot Gravel is? Oh, wait, of course you don’t, you’re new to the job. Sorry. Old timers like me tend to forget that everyone hasn’t been laying roads for King and Country for 40 years.

So, this gravel here is Hot Gravel. Now, the name is kind of wrong, because it never really gets hot. It gets nice and warm and it can transfer that warmth over a pretty wide are of non-hot gravel. The Crater Gnomes up north mine it and trade it to us for all sorts of metals they don’t have. We mix it with regular gravel and use it to make roads that stay snow free in the winter and have a very soft glow at night.

Well, now that you know what Hot Gravel is, let’s get to work. Like I said, 1 cart of Hot to 10 carts of Not. Run the mixer in the hopper for 3 minutes, then fill up 2 big gravel carts with mix. Then do it all over again until it’s time to knock off work.

Here’s To You, Pal

…one last time


The Roscoe Tapes

In a bit shy of 60 days, it will be the 14th anniversary of the death of our first dog, Roscoe. It will also be time for me to see, for maybe the 100th time, if I am ready to listen to his memoirs. Right now, I’m not sure if I am. Hearing the last words of a person’s voice is a hell of a thing. You feel all sorts of emotions, but the big one comes at the end. You feel great sorrow knowing that that was it. There will be no more messages, no more sound of their voice that you have not heard before. In a way, it puts a stamp on their death that says “Memories Only From Now On”.

About a month before he died, Roscoe finished his memoirs. He used a cassette recorder because that was years before the Bus, Sasha and Ottopus arms. To write, he would have needed a tricked out typewriter. Speaking into a microphone was easier and much faster.

When he finished the last tape, he came to me and said, “I’m done, boss. Put them somewhere safe and when I’m gone and you finally can do it, listen to them. Make ’em public if you want, I don’t care. It’s 50% of the damndest story you’ll ever hear. Now excuse me, but I need a double scotch neat.”

33 days later, he was dead. It took 4 years before I even really thought about the tapes. In that time, we had gained two dogs, lost one of them to cancer and adopted another, all on top of the curveballs life throws at you. When I did think of them, it was just to say, “nope, not yet.”

On the 10th anniversary, I actually opened the box, then shut it. About a week later, I had Sasha take the tapes and digitize them. The file “The Roscoe Tapes”, has been on all of my computers ever since. Many times, my cursor has hovered just above the “play” icon, but I haven’t clicked it. The only person who ever did listen to it was Silky, the day after she found out her days were numbered. We know that she cried and laughed while she listened, but she never said anything to anyone about the content.

Anyway, I think it might be time to hit “play”. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the old hound told what happened to him over the course of several lives, starting with his first one on his Earth during WWII. Having heard Silky’s story, I’m very curious to hear Roscoe’s, even though it will hurt like hell to have it finish.

So on May 23rd, at 9:45 am, the moment he left this life, I’ll sit on one of the sofas on the bus, put on my headphones and hit “play”. Jeeves will hand me a glass and a bottle of the good stuff and I’ll spend the next 15 hours listening to my old pal tell 50% of the damnedest story I’ll ever hear. No doubt I will laugh and cry more than a few times.

NOTE FROM MAY 22, 2020: Tomorrow is the 15th anniversary of Roscoe’s death. We found out a couple of weeks ago that the NHTA wanted to publish a combined book of his and Silky’s memoirs, which we all agreed to let them do. It will come out tomorrow. The title? “The Damndest Story You Will Ever Hear.” It is going to make headlines.

Wicked Flamingos Pestered My Penguins

…pink bastards!


The Doclopedia #1,481

The Alphabet: Z is For…Zikritz

Among the Guldiartan Dwarves, the game of Zikritz might as well be the national pastime. Everyone played it when they were young and most bet on it when they become adults. Each Dwarven clan has their own pro team and when the Zikritz Cup is held every 3 years, work pretty much comes to a stop.

Zikritz is played on an X shaped field. Each arm of the X is 200 feet long and 50 feet wide. The goals are a pair of 5 foot wide holes in the center and similar 2.5 foot holes at the end of each arm. The arms are not smooth and flat, but have small hills and depressions all along them.

The game starts with 6 players from each team on the center of the field, facing outward around the two scoring holes. One player from each team is located in front of the scoring holes at each arm. When the horn blows, a ball is tossed into the midway point of one of the arms and the game is on.

Scoring is simple: get the ball into your team’s center hole and you score 1 point. Get it into your team’s hole in any arm and you score 3 points. Since this is a dwarven game, you can expect lots of shoving, tripping, tackling, punching and body slamming. Games run for exactly two hours, at which point the winning team is declared and then both teams head off for a raucous feast.



The Doclopedia #1,482

The Alphabet: Z is For…Zenobia Savage

Now look, I ain’t sayin’ that Zenobia has anything more in common with that big bronze skinned guy than a last name. Then again, I ain’t sayin’ she don’t. I’m just sayin’ that it don’t take much observin’ to see all the similarities.

I mean, Zenobia is tall, right? 6’2” is taller than most men. She’s strong, too. Remember that time she knocked out that big German spy with one punch? That was damned impressive.

Then there’s how friggin’ smart she is. She’s a genius at all sorts of things. You an’ me, Joey, we ain’t idiots, an’ Stan is smarter than both of us, but she makes us all look dumb as doorknobs. She’s got them PhDs and stuff from universities.

Yeah, right, she’s rich, too. Got them cars an’ planes an’ boats an’ that big fancy house outside of Baltimore. Yeah, an’ that place out west in, whadda ya call it, Santa Barbera. I mean, we know she owns businesses an’ stuff, but maybe dear old dad gave her a nice grubstake after college.

Oh yeah, sure, she ain’t white like he is, but what of it? You gots Irish mixed with yer Puerto Rican an it’s plain to see that I ain’t one race or the other. I figure the big guy met some fine black woman an’ things went on from there. Ya know, rumor has it he’s got a half Chinese daughter and a son that’s half Navajo. Big handsome guy like him must be getting ladies on him like ants on a sugar bowl. Why, I’ll bet he…

Oh, hi, Zeno? Us, oh we was just yakkin’. Trouble somewhere? Hey, you know we’re yer boys!