Character Tips, D&D / TTRPGs, Fantasy Topics, Storytelling Tips, Writing Tips

Character Prompt – Rune Layout

Creating a character is a difficult process. No matter if it’s for a book, ttrpg, video game, or LARP. You have to think about their past, present, and future and their goals, ambitions, and overall attitude. Developing a character is a fun and engaging process that requires a bit of brainstorming and critical thinking. We’ve talked about using prompts to create a story with tarot cards in a previous post. This time, we’re using runes to build a character by using the Runic V layout.

The Runic V Layout

  1. What influenced your character in the past?
    • The top left rune is Dagaz. It represents day, awakening, and new hope. The rune symbolizes discovering new insights, something unknown, or a fresh idea.
  2. What is influencing your character in the present?
    • The next rune, Kenaz, is associated with knowledge and the quest for truth. It is represented by learning one’s true and full potential.
  3. What is a future goal for your character?
    • Raidho represents the character’s personal journey. It symbolizes growth and movement towards control and rationality. The character may wish to learn who they are and who they want to become.
  4. How to achieve that goal?
    • Pertho symbolizes something hidden and is often represented by good omens, unexpected surprises, and forces of change. This could be a mysterious or dangerous challenge your character does not wish to take part in but must overcome in order to grow.
  5. What is your character’s attitude?
    • Jera is assocaited with patience, seasons, and waiting. To reach your goal will require time and understanding and you may not be ready to accept that. You’re character may be quick to take action or take their time.
  6. What problem stands in their way?
    • Mannaz is represented by humankind and humanity. Other associations include reflection, planning, analysis, and self potential. The struggle coud be caused by another person or even within yourself. The actions of another or your own could prevent you from reaching your goal.
  7. How to overcome the problem?
    • Algiz is represented by spirit guides, protection, divinity, and a teacher. It symbolizes going beyond yourself to connect with something spiritual or finding your higher self.

Misc Posts

National Reading Month – Our Favorite Books


May is National Get Caught Reading Month! As writers, we love to read although we aren’t able to as often as we’d like (does anyone?). To celebrate, we are listing some of our favorite books that have stuck with us!


The Bartimaeus Sequence by Jonathan Stroud

This is the only series that Talia has read more than once from cover to cover. She first discovered them while working as a library aide in high school. They’ve stuck with her after that, and she got Dorian to be a fan of them, as well! The witty characters, fully realized world, and fun adventures with heart and soul makes them a top read!

The Pendragon series by D.J. MacHale

Talia found these books during her early adolescent years when only the first couple of a nine-book series were out. She followed them throughout the years, feeling almost as if she grew up with Bobby Pendragon. The main character’s humor makes him easily likeable, and the grand adventures across diverse worlds keep each book feeling fresh and fun.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit has always been Dorian’s favorite book. He has owned multiple copies of it over the years with a variety of beautiful covers. We were both definitely excited to watch The Hobbit trilogy, as well! It’s a classic, fun, and timeless adventure story.

Heir Apparent & The Book of Mordred by Vivian Vande Velde

Heir Apparent was recommended to Talia by a teacher in sixth grade. She fell in love with Velde’s books after that, and The Book of Mordred was another top favorite. The style of writing is engaging and fun, and the characters are easily memorable. For fans of medieval-era stories, these are great reads!

The Magician’s Nephew by C.S Lewis

This is another book that has stuck around with Dorian since childhood. One of the things he connected to was the use of music in the book, as he later grew up to learn to play many instruments! This is the first in the Chronicles of Narnia series, which are charming children’s fantasy books.

Tell us about your favorite books!


Misc Posts

Slay a Dragon Day on World Book Day

Today we are celebrating two events at once. April 23 is both Slay a Dragon Day and World Book Day. Two things that are rather dear to our hearts for several reasons. As fantasy authors, we grew up with stories where heroes battled dragons. Many of which were actual dragons but slaying a dragon can also be a metaphor.

One of our favorite quotes is by fellow fantasy author, Neil Gaiman.

“Fairy tales are more than true: Not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

Slay a Dragon Day came about from a story where Saint Theodore Tiron slew a dragon. Legend has it Theodore came across a village where a dragon demanded sacrifice and treasure. After the village gave up its livestock and wealth, they turned to human sacrifice. When Saint Theodore witnessed this, he took a stand and tamed and killed the dragon. Thus the town was saved.

Digging deeper into this story, we learn it dates as far back as the mid-9th Century. Art at the Yılanlı Kilise shows three saints, Theodore, George, and Demetrius battling two snakes with separate heads.

The story represents the battle between good and evil and is a story as old as time really. Slay a Dragon Day is about overcoming challenges in your life. No matter how big or small.

Although, if you’re into slaying dragons and even befriending them or love books, our epic fantasy book series Thread of Souls is for you.

world art day
Misc Posts

World Art Day

Happy World Art Day! As a husband and wife team of artists, we want to take time to celebrate this day of creativity and imagination!

The arts have impacted our lives in so many ways. As co-authors of a fantasy book series, digital illustrators, crafters, designers, and more, we embrace and love the arts. Our home as our books on display as well as our own art and creations. It is a happy, inspiring place to be!

Talia’s journey as an artist began at her earliest memories. She was writing stories before she could really write, instead doing a series of crayon drawings and narrating the plot. She wrote five books before graduating high school (which shall never see the light of day). In her early twenties she became an award-winning fanfiction author. Now she writes, draws, and creates for a living!

Dorian was always making up stories. He especially loved the journalistic side of storytelling, and while in college researched, wrote, and hosted a radio program. Being a lover of all things creative, he prefers to write about video games, cars, and fantasy settings. He is grateful every day that he gets to continue living his dream career!

World Art Day is not only a time to celebrate well-known artists, but also indie artists. We’ve found some of the best content have come from indie creators, whether that’s on Etsy, indie video games, or small Twitch streams and Deviantart hobbyists. Take the time on World Art Day to discover a new artist and support them!


Misc Posts

How to Overcome Distractions While Creating


It can be difficult for creators to overcome distractions when they sit down (or stand up) to work on a project. Between the tasks of the day, outside noises, interruptions, and our own self-doubts, it can definitely come in the way of producing a product you are proud of! Whether you are a writer, an artist, a TTRPG player, a photographer, or any other passionate creator, we compiled a list of four top tips to help you out! These are items we have found indispensable when we sit down to create Thread of Souls content.

Play Music (Without Lyrics)

A great way to overcome distractions is to play music. But not just any music. Ensure there are no lyrics within the piece, and ensure it is a type of music you enjoy. Unfamiliar with the world of instrumentals? Spotify has a lot of great lo-fi playlists these days to work to. You can also explore soundtracks from your favorite movies or video games.

Keeping a pleasant background noise can give you energy and increase your focus. We’ve also found we get conditioned to entering the “work mindset” when we have our established instrumental playlist going. It makes us more productive and less distraction-prone.

Get in a Comfortable Area

This goes beyond just a comfortable chair, although that is very important. If you sit a lot while creating, it is worth it to invest in a gamer-type of chair to support you. You should have a dedicated creating space that is free from other distractions and always has what you need on-hand. A good desk, an organizer for items, a great lighting source, and quick-reference items all make your space more productive.

We have two gamer-style desks and chairs facing one another (for easy collaboration). We have a lamp and quick reference items on a side table. Between our two desks is a holder for pens, pencils, USB’s, and lip balm. We are also surrounded by depictions of Thread of Souls, keeping us inspired! We are also not far from our healthy snack bowl, ensuring we don’t get sidetracked if we get up to eat.

Complete Any Pressing Tasks Beforehand

One super easy way to overcome distractions is to remove those distractions beforehand. We’re talking about the “putting-off-that-call-laundry-pile-don’t-want-to-do-that” type of tasks. If those are turning in the back of your mind, it will just be a problem and make it harder to create your best work. By getting pressing tasks done upfront, you can free up your mental space and ease the tension.

Have an End-Goal in Mind

Something that has been tremendously helpful for us is to sit down with a goal. Whether that is a daily goal or a weekly goal, having something short-term to work towards is a good motivator. It also helps keep you on track, and can push you forward if you are struggling with your creation. This is flexible for whatever works for you. Maybe you want to complete one chapter a week, or your goal is to write 500 words a day. Maybe you want to do one step of your art each day so by the end of the week you have a full piece. Or if you are world-building, maybe you want to outline one bit of the fictional society a day. It also makes you feel great when you are able to check items off your to-do list for your creations!


Hope these are helpful! Remember that anytime you create something, that is beautiful in and of itself and should be celebrated. By using strategies to stay focused, you can accomplish more of what you want to create.


Misc Posts

Story Prompt – Tarot Card Spread


Coming up with a new story idea always presents a challenge. Whether it is for a book, fanfiction, TTRPG game, or creative video, it often involves some brainstorming for an effective story. We always enjoy seeing fun story prompts online, so we want to bring some of that to you! Using our personal tarot set based off Thread of Souls characters, we used a spread meant for storytelling prompts. Here is the spread below and what each represents. Have fun with it!

The Tarot Spread

  1. What is the central theme of this story?
    • Our top left position is the Humble One. This card is represented by Hwalla, who lives a simple farming life. He is soft-spoken, kind, and puts his children above everything else. This card symbolizes simplicity and focusing on the small things in life.
  2. Who is this story about?
    • The bottom left is the Shadow. The Shadow is represented by Neir Shadowsnare. He is a Gloom Stalker of great skill, and has strict morals to always do the right thing. This card symbolizes quiet action, unseen foes, patience, and anonymity.
  3. What is the obstacle the protagonist must overcome?
    • The top middle is the Barbarian. This card is represented by Sen, a good-nature pirate captain that is always down for a brawl. Despite his large size, Sen has a fear of magic. This card symbolizes strength, recklessness, letting go, and trying to hide inner vulnerability with boastfulness.
  4. How do they overcome this obstacle?
    • The bottom middle is the Criminal. This card is represented by Elisi, also known as the Grandmother and leader of the Shadow Guild. She is feared by even members of her own Guild and uses this to instill loyalty. This card symbolizes breaking the rules, not caring what others think of you, cheating, and moral lines.
  5. How does this change them or their world?
    • The top right card is the Dragon. This card is represented by Draxis, a gold dragon often disguised as a Human. He lives an easy and carefree life, but must keep himself secret. This card symbolizes inner power, epic journeys, and great challenges.
  6. What is the story’s ending?
    • The bottom right card is the Illusionist. This card is represented by Tymus, who is a Gnome Wizard trained at the Citadel. He has a sunny personality and takes his work very seriously. This card symbolizes illusions, analysis, not taking things at face value, and trusting your inner gut.


Misc Posts

Easy How-To Guide for Outlining a Book


Our guide for outlining a book is perfect for all those current or aspiring writers out there! We’ve been writing for decades, from four indie publications, short stories for a popular online game, and award-winning fanfictions. Knowing where you are going from the start helps craft a beautiful story. There are some writers that prefer to “wing it” in their first draft and rely heavily on multiple rounds of re-writing and revisions to pull the story together. That is perfectly fine! But if you are like us and prefer a strong first draft based around a comprehensive outline, then this one is for you!

Brainstorming

We’ve talked about brainstorming and getting ideas in older posts, so we are not going to rehash that here. We recommend drawing inspiration from music, games, books, nature, art, etc to generate multiple pages of ideas before whittling it down to the skeleton of a story. Then, you are ready for the outline!

Create Your “Acts”

So, you’ve got a loose series of notes and ideas for your book. How do you go about outlining a book from these? The first step is to organize your ideas into “acts”. We personally prefer the three-act structure, but others may prefer more complex structures. We like to have a beginning section to get the ball rolling, a middle section with rising drama and intense moments, and then a final act that is very emotionally-driven and large-scale. We also like to end each act on a “cliffhanger” or an emotional climax. When going through your notes, divide them into three parts (or more if you prefer) to set up your act structure. At this point, only focus on your major “scenes” such as characters leaving home, fights, deaths, developing romance, or entering new locations.

Character Arcs & Plot Points

At the start of each of these acts, write down some notes on what characters arcs you would like to be present. For example, does a character start out greedy in act one, having things taken from them in act two leading to self-reflection, and then in act three change their ways and behave honestly? It doesn’t matter if your outline doesn’t fully support it at this point, just write down how this arc is divided across the acts.

Do the same thing with your major plot points. The point of this while outlining a book is to ensure your plot is complete and makes sense. Let’s have an example from Phantom Five. In act one, we establish not all is as it seems in Brother Zok’s town. In act two, we have him discover treachery and set out into an unknown land to set it right. In act three, we follow him attempting to return home through challenges which change him into a stronger, more world-wise person.

Refine Your Scenes

Now you have your act structure and character and plot arcs written down. Go over these arcs and add in minor scenes into your outline to ensure these arcs are achieved. You can also take away scenes that you feel compromise these arcs. This might include something simple like “character has a conversation with her mentor on why she used to steal, but her life is changed now”, or “characters stop at a tavern and overhear conversation about the enemy army”.

Chapters & POV’s

What helps us the most when outlining a book is dividing it into chapters. That gives us clear breaking points for the story, shows us the pacing, and helps identify where scenes are needed, or not needed. Take the outline and break it down by chapters in a way that feels right to you. Some writers like short chapters, some like long. Ours tend to be an average of 4K words, but that depends on the content of the chapter and where a chapter “break” feels natural. Ending chapters on cliffhangers, emotional moments, or transition scenes works well.

If you are varying point-of-views like we do in Thread of Souls, then you’ll also want to choose a POV for each chapter. This may involve moving some scenes around to make sense based on whose POV is most impactful.

Read Over & Finalize

Now it is time to read over the outline of your book from start to finish! Here you are looking for good pacing, clear arcs, strong characters, and a solid plot. Make sure you have plenty of high points, as well as some “quiet scenes” to balance them out. If you are writing part of series, it also is good to keep in mind how this book works in the grand scheme of the series plot.

Make adjustments as needed until you are satisfied with how your book is at this stage of the process.

Enjoy the Writing Journey!

The most important thing is to enjoy this journey as a writer! When outlining a book, you give yourself a solid base from which to start. But that doesn’t mean you won’t change and revise plenty until your book is in its final form. Enjoy the process of telling a story, and tell it from the heart!


Thread of Souls, Writing Tips

How to Turn a Tabletop Roleplaying Campaign into a Book

Ever since we started playing our ttrpg campaign in 2015, we felt it could be so much more. We knew it would make an amazing fantasy novel. We always have an incredible amount of fun around the table and it’s been exciting to transpose our sessions to a book format. We wanted to share our process for doing so and how you can do so yourself. There’s a lot more to it than copying and pasting what happened word for word in game.

A lot can happen in a tabletop campaign and it can be a lot to keep track of when it’s time to translate it to a book. We’ve come up with a few tips we use when writing Thread of Souls. It helps us streamline the process and make everything more detailed, efficient, and easier to comprehend for the reader.

1. Don’t worry about side quests

Side quests or quests that don’t focus on the main story should be left out of the book. They may be great for a ttrpg session but can take up space and time when copied to the book.

They may help fill out the world and its lore, introduce the characters to NPCs, and reward them with fun new gear, but they slow down the overall pace. There are two ways we suggest inserting a side quest if you absolutely must. The first is to introduce a new main character. Say, for instance, a new player joined the game. The party may need to break away from the main plot for a brief moment to find this person, but to make it more interesting, you should always find a way to loop their story with the main narrative.

The second way to include side quests is if they are linked to the main narrative. As long as the reader learns — either through the quest or later on — it is connected to the main narrative, it can be included.

2. Keep combat short and quick

Ah, combat. What takes several hours at the table is only a few minutes in terms of game time. Typically, one round of combat for everyone involved is just a few seconds. While it can be engaging at the table, long-winded fight scenes can drag on and on and can become rather dull, especially in a book.

Fights are fast. The more time that passes, the more exhausted the characters will get. So while your fights can be hours long around the table, they should be short in the book.

Here’s an excerpt from book one of Thread of Souls, Phantom Five. Taliesin and Ruuda are fighting undead in an abandoned necromancer’s lair.

Taliesin rolled onto his back as the creatures swarmed him. The cave lit with silvery light as
magic burst forth from his hands, incinerating the undead it touched. But they kept coming and coming, a wave of bones and screams. He shouted in pain as blows rained down on him and sharp fingers tore at his skin and clothes, scraping across scale armor.

A good rule of thumb is to keep your fights to around two to three pages long.

3. Add more in-depth descriptions.

Sometimes all it takes to describe a location in a ttrpg game is short sentences to get your players caught up. But in a book, you need to add more sensory information to really bring the reader into the scene. By focusing on the five senses, you’ll be able to paint a better picture. Take for instance Thread of Souls. Ruuda and Taliesin are investigating necromantic magic coming from a hole in the ground.

He climbed down, vanishing from sight. She hesitated before following, using the roots and
rocks to support her weight. A strong smell of mud and earth hit her, and it almost reminded her of the Deep Hollows. It was still too fresh of a scent, though. The darkness was a welcome relief to her eyes as she found herself in an open cavern nearly thirty feet in length. Taliesin stood in the center of it, surveying a floor that was covered in bones.

At the table, the scene was described as Taliesin could feel an odd magical sensation coming from near a boulder. As both characters walk around it they saw a hole in the ground. They could just make out the rocky ground, spiking out in various directions. The players can fill in the rest as they see fit in their imagination and describe what they want to do. But the reader needs a bit more information.

4. Focus on the characters

The story should be driven by the characters. As readers, we connect with people. By knowing how certain characters think, move, and act, we can get a much better understanding of them. At the table, you may know what your character looks like and thinks in their head but the audience won’t, not unless you describe it to them. Readers should get more insight into the characters they are following. Hearing their inner dialogue will help better connect them.

This also comes into play with minor characters the party may meet in the game. Unless they are important to the plot, unnecessary characters should probably be removed from the book. Phil the bartender doesn’t really need to come up multiple times in the pages of your book. You can always add them into a compendium later on.

5. Focus on storytelling

When we say focus on storytelling, we mean to stick with the main plot and the elements that drive the narrative. If you deviate from the overall arc you’ll pull readers away. They need to be invested in the story and its characters.

Thread of Souls, we follow several characters as they investigate mysterious happenings with planer travel and missing spiders. If we were to suddenly shift the focus to political intrigue and assassinations of rulers, it wouldn’t really match the theme we’ve built and would end up being confusing.

Also, don’t take up a lot of time by having characters go on side missions or shop. If it doesn’t have anything to do with the plot, it should be altered or left out of the book. If you absolutely love a character or NPC in the game and want them in the book, give them a good reason to interact with the characters.


Once you get a rough idea down, you can really start to write. To learn more about turning your tabletop game into a book series, we’ve put together a video of our writing and editing process.

Let us know your thoughts and if you’ve ever wanted to write your own fantasy book?

Bardic Inspiration, Thread of Souls

Bardic Inspiration: The Sounds of Oceala

Ah, Oceala. The Gem of the Bay is featured in book two of Thread of Souls Ash & Thunder. So named because it sits near the Bay of Nailo and is nestled along the hills of a crescent shore. There are plenty of golden sandy beaches and everywhere you look, the buildings are round and pastel-colored. It’s a diverse coastal city where adventurers go to unwind and relax. Once they can get past the beast that guards the bay and the Fey creatures who protect the water crossing.

It is also a place full of music. Songs that make you want to dance or spend a calming night overlooking the ocean. The Phantom Five spent a bit of time shopping, exploring, and fighting in the city and had a backlog of music to guide them through it. During our time at the table, we put together a curated list of songs fit for Oceala. Here is what you can expect to hear while you walk the streets, dance in a tavern, or visit the many spas in Oceala.

Here’s an excerpt from Thread of Souls: Ash & Thunder.

As the late morning rolled by, land was finally seen again on the horizon. A strip of green that grew into rolling hills. A city shimmered to existence along the shore, all pastel colors and rounded buildings.

Oceala.

Island of the Starry Dream is a perfect place to start. The name alone is all it takes to understand Oceala. It’s peaceful and serene. It’s a great track for the background while the Phantom Five wanders the sand dunes and beaches of Oceala or shops at Altawayne’s Artifacts and Apparatus. The song also has an air of mystery to it and fits in well with the mysterious temple that lies beneath the hills of the city.

Tarir, the Forgotten City is meant to describe how difficult it is to reach Oceala. While it isn’t off-limits to outsiders, the city is protected by a great dragon turtle named Majora as well as Fey creatures. Both require a toll to be paid to gain entrance to the stunning town.

The Queen’s High Seas Tavern Version can be heard playing throughout the many taverns and inns found in Oceala. Its upbeat and pirate adventure style is bright and happy, making it a wonderful backdrop to dinner scenes and arriving and leaving the port.

Devilfish on the Line is another great track for hopping from tavern to tavern or exploring the open fish market. It can also be used if the party finds themself in a bit of trouble with the local guards or the city’s underbelly.

Shantytown Shuffle plays when there are scuffles at the docks or throughout the city streets. While the Phantom Five never got into any fights with the city guard or ruffians while they visited, they did find themselves in trouble nonetheless. It may be a peaceful place to call home or visit, but there are times when things can just get out of hand.

Eye of the Storm is full of spoilers from book two Ash & Thunder.

The climactic scene from the second book in the Thread of Souls series sees the oceanside city attacked by a great red dragon and wyverns. The Phantom Five find themselves split as they face doppelgangers and the fiery beast.


Those are the sounds of Oceala. The music is as vibrant and colorful as the city and its people. You can even use these songs in your own adventures. Each works well with a city with a major port and ocean theme.

Lore, Thread of Souls

Celebrating Lady Raven on National Bird Day

National Bird Day is every year on January fifth. Naturally, we wanted to take a bit of time to talk about Thread of Souls and how birds play a large part in the narrative. More specifically, Lady Raven, the Goddess of Death, healing, and natural order. She is so named because of her connection with ravens and their symbology with death.

Lady Raven in the Books

Lady Raven is mentioned on and off throughout the first two books. We talk about a temple in An’Ock and characters know of the deity but aren’t too familiar with what they represent. In Path of the Spiders, we learn much more about the goddess and meet a village full of worshippers. These acolytes are known as Ravenites and keep watch over her temple in the Gloomdwell. However, there are far more temples and shrines to the goddess of death throughout Tos.

Ravenites & Deathwalkers

Lady Raven’s symbol is a scythe surrounded by two raven wings. She is often depicted as a dark hooded and winged figure. She guards those that pass on and is actively opposed to necromancy, murder, and the perversion of death. She chooses an acolyte she deems worthy to become her champion known as a Deathwalker. This hero is part of an order of warriors that fight against the necromantic arts.

A common saying you will hear spoken by champions and followers is “Travel far. Threads connect us.” Her temples are often visited by groups of ravens. Her followers dress in robes of black and red.

History

Little is truly known about how Lady Raven became the goddess of death. From what texts and documents have been gathered, she joined the pantheon much later after the previous god of death corrupted his duties. She is not strongly connected to the other gods and is seen as an outsider. She took part in a key battle during the Divine Wars and is still suffering from the loss.

That’s a short history of Lady Raven to celebrate National Bird Day 2022.