Are you ready for a shameless puff piece?

With the launch of The Curse of Er’Mah’Gerd in my rearview mirror and the game’s promotions well underway, I’ve spent the past month looking down the road at what might come next.

Outlining a possible sequel to Magic’s Daughter, coming up with characters for a loser superhero comedy tentatively titled The D-Team, letting my mind wander down even weirder avenues—in the spirit of my Year of Less, I’ve taken a casual approach to planning my next big project.

Therefore, in lieu of a grand announcement proclaiming my next novel/game/whatever, I’m penning a playful post spotlighting a source of my inspiration: my golden retriever, Marvel!

Pets of Projects Past

I haven’t featured many domesticated animals in my fiction. The Renegade Chronicles didn’t provide many opportunities. Giving a certain pirate king a pet parrot would’ve been too on the beak. The closest I came was Opal’s equine companion, Nisson.

Leah from The Soul Sleep Cycle owned a cat named Emira, and Selena crossed paths with a mouser in Magic’s Daughter—an encounter that proved far less lucky for the black cat than the aspiring spellcaster.

It wasn’t until The Lost Tale of Sir Larpsalot that I decided to model a character directly after my current pet. Asher’s energetic dog doesn’t play a substantial part in the story, though an argument could be made that Jabber serves as something of a plot device. Mostly, I included a golden retriever because it made me happy.

The Golden Galoot

My dog Marv is a big, goofy lug. He barrels down the stairs, mindless of whatever—or whoever—happens to be in his way. While reasonably intelligent, he is governed more by his heart than his head. He fancies himself a deadly guard dog, and the family likes to joke that everyone who enters our home is a burglar until proven otherwise.

Of the many nicknames I’ve given Marv over the years, “the Golden Galoot” always makes me chuckle because he’d make a horrible superhero (in spite of the fact that his given name is an homage to Marvel Comics). Forget kryptonite; just turn on a vacuum cleaner, and the Golden Galoot is sure to flee the scene with his tail tucked between his legs.

Which might just make Marv’s apocryphal alter-ego a prime candidate for the aforementioned D-Team novel.

A Game of Bones

A couple of months ago, I had the idea for a tabletop roleplaying game where people play as dogs (and possibly other pets) navigating a world of magical beings whose opposable thumbs allow them to manipulate reality beyond all reason. Because from a dog’s perspective, we humans are miracle workers.

I shared this silly idea with some D&D friends of mine, and we (ahem) rolled with it, coming up with a few possible game mechanics:

  • Instead of earning experience points (XP), the dogs seek attention points (AP) in the form of scritches and treats.
  • Different breeds have different abilities, but all dogs must have a Good alignment (because they’re all good dogs, yes, they are!).
  • For example, a golden retriever’s dump stat is Agility, but its wagging tail deals double damage to inanimate objects.
  • At least one objective would be a literal fetch quest.
  • The Big Bad is a sadistic monster known only as the VEE EE TEE.

Whether my next project goes to the dogs remains to be seen. But even if Marv doesn’t make a canine cameo in a future book or game, I posit that man’s best friend is worthy of at least one blog post.

I dare you to look at that dopey grin and tell me I’m wrong!