One Sheet Wednesday: The Endless Stair

I enjoy creating content for RPGs. Be they 1 sheet self contained role-playing systems, or 1 sheet supplements for DM’s to expand their npcs/locations/encounters, I love to make them. I host them on my website, but I thought I would start spotlighting them here, one per week. Here is a little micro-setting:

The Endless Stair

Need your players to move from one plane to another? Why not use the Endless Stair?

Outline: A stone, spiral staircase set inside a tower that is thought to be infinite in height. It is thirty feet wide, and spirals ever upwards (or downwards if that’s the way you are heading). Every twenty steps, on the outer wall of the stair is a plain wooden door with a metal handle.

Each of these doors leads to a different plane of existence. There is seemingly no rhyme or reason as to the order of the doors, as it’s perfectly likely that a door to a plane of fire might be next to a door leading to a city in the heart of the mortal realm.


Breakers Inn – There are a number of inns that dot the Stair, but Breakers is one of the oldest, and most famous. Long known as a haven for map makers, and those plotting out the Stair, it is an excellent place to hire a guide or buy a map to take you to your desired doorway.

Krintown – The only city to ever to last in the Stair, it was founded by the merchant Herverd Krin over a century and a half ago. The buildings, each of which is not more than 15 feet wide, are built of wood and curve around the inner wall of the Stair. There are a pair of inns, a half dozen shops, a restaurant, and two score of small homes. Situated around a number of doors leading to rather favorable locations, it is a hub of trade, and kept safe by the dozen rather nasty guards that Krin keeps employed for just that reason.

Bogrun Point – Bogrun Twinfist is a brute of a warrior. He and his score of warriors have built a barricade of loose stone and debris pillaged from passers by. From this wall, which has a small gate in its center, they charge a toll on those going through. Ten gold per group is the standard rate, though especially rich looking groups can expect to pay more. The only folk they allow to pass through unmolested are the Hermits.

A Selection of Doors:

This Door opens into a small back bedroom in an abandoned farmhouse in the mortal realm. The house is haunted, but the ghost is friendly.

This Door opens in to a pocket dimension of an owl-headed demi-god who will answer one question on the nature of death.

This Door opens into a giant clam, sitting on the bottom of a bay inhabited by merfolk. Giving it a handful of pure black sand will cause it to safely spit you out.


The Climbing Hermits – Monks of the Order of the Endless Stair, these beings travel the stairs. They always ascend, it being against their code to ever travel back down the stairs unless it is a life or death emergency. They are well used to life in the Stair, and make passable guides if you are heading up. They all wear a necklace of white stones. Each stone on the band marks some distance, though no one knows exactly how far. A million steps? The monks aren’t telling. What is known is that it is considered intensely bad luck to interfere with a Hermit on his climb.

The Ferrymen – Finding animals well equipped for life in the Stair is almost impossible. So most goods are carried up and down the stairs by Ferrymen. These beings, mostly human, have lived in the Stair for generations, and have evolved for a life of carrying heavy loads up and down the steps. They are broad-shouldered, if hunched, and their legs are like tree stumps. Most are pale, very pale, there being no sunlight, unless someone left a door open to a well lit place. They can be hired to carry goods for a gold a day, and can easily bear up to 200lbs a load.

For a printable pdf, go HERE.


Whiter Shade of Pale

The above picture was taken roughly five or six years ago. At the time it was taken, I had already started my novella Whiter Shade of Pale.

I finally finished it last week.

I have no idea what made this novella such a struggle to finish. I had the plot and ending from damn near the moment the idea came to me. And yet, every few months I would pick it up, try to finish it, and fail miserably.

At one point I had lost about 2k words in a file backup somehow. I was so pissed I thought I would never finish it, then a year later I stumbled upon a backup in a weird place that had the missing words. So it was back to the races then.

There was even one time that it had been so long since I had worked on it, that I forgot what perspective I was writing in, and pecked out about 3k words in 1st person, when the rest was in 3rd! It was a struggle unlike any other project I have ever had, and still, I couldn’t tell you why.

But now it’s done. Well, the first draft at least. And even though the entire time I have been writing this I have considered its name Whiter Shade of Pale, I am thinking it will see the light of day as Fake Empire. But that remains to be seen.

Moral of the story: damn it, I will finish! It just might take longer than anticipated some times.

Depression Cast T-Shirt

Ever break your arm or leg? Remember what it was like to have folks gather around and sign you cast? Clear, easy to see wounds are easy for folks to process, to commiserate over. But something like depression? There is no cast for that, nothing for people to sign. This shirt hopes to in some small way remedy that.

For those of us who deal with depression it can quite often feel like you are all alone. Sure, you know on some level that there are countless other folks out there with the same problem, but that knowledge can feel very distant. Having a visual reminder that you are loved, and that people care about you can make all the difference.

So I hope that you will wear this shirt, and carry a pen around with you, a sharpie, a marker, something. And I hope that you will get your friends or strangers to sign it, so that you will know that people really do care, and that you are not alone.

To be clear, I have the price set as low as Amazon will let me, and am not even using my affiliate link for this. I make nothing off of these shirts, I just want to them to go out and do a little good if possible. If you want one, here is the link:

Purchase Here


Deadline: January

I have been hemming and hawing too long. It’s time to make a real dive into my writing career, to really give it a go and see if I have what it takes. So to that end I am setting myself a deadline of January. By then I will have my writings ready to go, covers designed, advertising plotted, and release strategy developed.

The tentative plan as of today is that each year I will release a trio of ebooks in the spring, and a trio in the fall. They will be shorter, novella length roughly, and will then be bundled together into a full length print book. Some will be chained novellas, others will be collections of short stories. In the summer, I will release at least one novel or novella, something not tied to the fall or spring releases.

I have a huge back log of work begging to see the light of day, enough to put out stuff for about the next three years under this schedule. And now it is time to finally pull the trigger on it. Wish me luck!

Kondo My Digital

So those who know me well, will be aware that I try to live as minimalist as possible. I’m not tiny house levels of minimalist yet, but that is a long term goal. For now though, its a little difficult to really cut back to the bare bones because of what all it takes to run the Tales by Bob Empire as it were haha. I have a lot of podcast gear, stuff for my con booth, computers for writing and editing, and all the other myriad little things that it takes to tackle all my projects.

It’s a lot, and currently there is nothing I can do about that. But, what I can do is work towards streamlining my digital presence. I have a lot of pans in the fire, and working by myself mostly, its getting hard to give them all the attention they deserve. So while I am not making any sudden decisions, I am going to be taking a long hard look at all the various ways I ‘spread the word’ as it were. And some of them will be getting the ax.

Most glaring would be tumblr and twitter. I have a tales by bob account for both…but why? I never actually engage on there, just post links to blog posts like this, or new podcast episodes. They get functionally zero engagement, and sure, I could start working to build them up…but I only have so much time in the day. I need to streamline, and I would rather have 2-3 presences that are top notch, than 5-6 that all suffer from varying degrees of lack of attention.

So in the coming months, expect to see less of me in some places, and more of me in others (like this blog which I have somewhat let slip). Like the tree in my original logo, things are going to get trimmed around here, and I hope it is to all of our benefit!

Cutting Class

Partnering with Seville Basement Cuts, I am starting a childhood literacy program called Cutting Class. The idea is that each child who is getting their hair cut gets to select a book to read. They are encouraged to read it aloud, with the stylist there to help them with any words they have trouble with. At the end, they get to take the book home with them.

To this end I have been collecting book and cash donations, and have so far acquired what I am guessing is close to 200 books. They are currently ranging from ‘learn to reads’ up to books like ‘Babysitters Club’ and ‘Hardy Boys.’ The goal is to have a wide enough variety that any child between 5 and 12 can find something enjoyable to read. We want to encourage reading, and help them grow their confidence in reading aloud.

If this goes as well as I am hoping, the goal is to expand it to other salons within Montgomery, and then perhaps even some of the surrounding towns! If you would like to help, contact me at

End of the 100 Days!

For those keeping score, here is a reminder of everything I set out to do:

* I want to start each day by doing the sun salutation yoga series of poses. I could stand to be more limber, that’s for sure.
Well, I quickly figured out that yoga, sans an instructor, is not for me. So I switched to just doing a regular set of stretches, trying to get to where I can easily touch my toes.
* I want to work out for at least 30 minutes. I don’t care what, so long as I do it. Jogging, body weight moves, whatever.
I did really well up until buying the house. A good 40 days or so.
* I want to drink 2 liters of water. I used to be so good about this, but I have gotten out of the habit.
I still do this pretty much. My nice glass water bottle broke, so it’s a little harder, but I still do this.
* I want to eat better. I want to get to a place where I don’t need low carb to lose weight, and where I am eating good, healthy food.
Did well until the house. Then this went to shit, and even more shit once I fully moved.
* I want to cut all soda, and replace it with green tea.
Stuck with this 100%. Not one drop of soda has touched these lips.
* I want to write at least 100 words a day. I write plenty on work days, but slack on the weekend.
Went well, until the house. See a pattern here?
* I want to write a meaningful letter to someone at least once a week. A letter thanking thing for something, forgiving them, or building them up in some way. 14 or so letters in total.
I did this, via snail mail, email, and even in one instance, Facebook messenger. But I kinda ran out of folks I really wanted to send letters too after awhile, so I count this complete.
* I want to cut booze, except for my birthday and vortex
This I did, up until the house. It wasn’t easy, as there is so much temptation, but over all it went pretty well I thought.
So in short, I did great for about 40 days, then spent the next 35 buying a house/moving/killing myself with stress. The rest of the time I just sorta coasted on a wave of stress and angst haha.
In retrospect I think 100 days was a little ambitious. So come Monday, I plan to start again, with some new, tweaked goals, and shoot for a 50 day challenge! I hope you all will join me! Remember, this is a process. Every step in the right direction, no matter how small, is still great!