Good News, Amazing Art, and Three Conversations About a Kickstarter

First off, good news.

Since I first posted about the new Kickstarter Project I’m doing with Cheapass Games a couple weeks ago, my previous kickstarter from last year has started shipping out.

By now, thousands of you have already received your cards in the mail:

(Monique’s decks and one of the limited edition bookplates.)

So far, the reactions have been great. And while I’m happy for y’all, this also fills me with a certain amount of envy, because I’m one of the thousands of you that *haven’t* gotten my package in the mail yet.

Let me say this: be strong my brothers and sisters. Know that you are not alone, and know that the folks at Albino Dragon have been furiously shipping stuff out. It’s just that there are, quite literally, thousands of packages to send, and many of them have *lots* of individual items that have to be picked and packed. It takes time.

But rest assured, they’re on their way.

*    *     *

The current kickstarter is clipping along nicely. As I type this, we’ve crested over 106,000 dollars. Which means that we’ve just unlocked the 105K stretch goal: adding another limited edition bookplate to the project.


(Lanre, drawn by Shane Tyree.)

We’ll only be doing a single, limited run of these, exclusively for this Kickstarter. They’ll be individually numbered adhesive bookplates printed on high-quality archival paper.

Right now, anyone who pitches into the kickstarter at the $80 level or higher gets everything listed in that level, *plus* one of these bookplates.

I’ll be signing it too, of course.

*     *     *

Right now there are there are two decks set in my world. The core deck (from the commonwealth) and the Modegan deck. (From, y’know, Modeg.) The art for both of these is being done by Shane Tyree, who did the art for the NOTW cards.


(So you *know* they’re going to be beautiful.)

There’s also other decks that we’ve unlocked in the kickstarter as well: a goblin deck, a pirate deck, and a barmaid deck all by different, lovely artists.

There’s also the Falling deck, which is actually an entire playable game by itself.

At $115,000, we’re unlocking another one of my decks, one based on The Princess and Mr. Whiffle.


This one’s drawn by Nate Taylor of course.

And at $130K, we’re hitting my fourth deck, the Faen Deck….

This one’s also by Nate, and you’ll be getting a sneak peek at the Twilight court. So Bast will be showing up there.


That’s right ladies. I’m going to put the kickstarter link right here, just in case you’re feeling a sudden, irresistible urge to click something.

Felurian will be showing up too. Which leads into the first of three recent conversations I’ve had with James Ernest that I’d like to share with you today.

*     *     *

I e-mailed James about a week ago. I’m paraphrasing a bit here, but this was the gist of our exchange….

Pat: Spent some time talking with Nate today about the Faen deck, which cards we’re going to include. What secrets we can hint at. He knows my world really well, so it’s easy. 

James: Glad to hear it.

Pat: So…. Can I show a bare ass in the Faen Deck? In my opinion, there’s hardly any point in doing a Faen deck at all if I can’t show Felurian’s ass and some tasteful side boob…

James: I’m okay with bare ass and tasteful side boob. Heck, we could go with bare boob if you want.

It will require me to figure out how to label it properly for retail, but I expect the Faen deck will be limited edition anyway. So that’s not a huge concern.

Let’s make sure the NSFW isn’t limited to just one card, though. That seems like a wasted opportunity. :)

Pat: I love you.

Two things resulted from this exchange.

1. I emailed Nate and told him to take Bast’s shirt off.

2. I realized the Faen deck isn’t reflecting a strict social hierarchy like the Commonwealth and Modegan decks. (Nobility on the top, Ruh at the bottom in the Commonwealth, for example.) This deck is almost telling a story instead.

3. I immediately cut some of the weaker cards and added better ones like: “The Mortal Guest” “The Sithe” and “The Faerie Revel.”

It’s going to be so much cooler than I’d originally thought….

*     *     *

A few days after that, I had another e-mail chat with James:

Pat: Hey there. I just had a couple of ideas for things we could add to the kickstarter. [Pat launches into a 500-word bullet pointed list proposing about 8 different things.]

James: Those are some good ideas. I especially like [secret thing we might announce Friday]. That would be fun. I’ll need to talk to a few people to see if we can make that work.

Pat: What about [six previously mentioned things]? Also, I just had two new ideas! [Details.]

Pat: Oh, and I forgot. Here’s one more idea. [Idea.]

Pat: [Two minutes later.] I’ve kinda had a bunch of caffeine today.

James: Well, they’re good ideas. But they’d also be a lot of work…

Pat: I wouldn’t say a *lot* of work.

James: That’s probably because you’re really caffeinated right now.

Pat: That’s… possible.

James: Besides, I’d rather focus on the core of the kickstarter: the decks themselves. I want them to be as good as possible.

Also, some of the things you’re suggesting would make more work for the artists or complicate our shipping process. Or both. If that happens, it might delay the kickstarter itself, and I really want it to ship on time.

Pat: Wow. Yeah. You’re right. Let’s focus on the key stuff.

James: No problem. Not my first rodeo.

*     *     *

So by this time, you should see part of the reason why I’ve really loved working with James so far. He’s not just a great game designer, he’s a good businessman and a good communicator too.

But as they say, third time pays for all.

Pat: At the risk of sounding like the idiot I am, I have to ask a question. Looking at your math from the previous e-mail, it seems like you’re cutting me in for a percentage of the entire kickstarter. Is that the case?

James: Yup.

Pat: Because I assumed I was only getting a percentage of the me-related stuff. My decks.

James: Nope. Our deal is that you get a percentage off the top. The core deck is based on your world. The other decks are, too. You’re making this something bigger and cooler, and I want to respect and reward that.

Pat: Are you sure about that?

James: Yup. Besides, your readers are remarkably cool and supportive of your projects. That’s a rare thing. You’re bringing the noise here, You get the big numbers.

Pat: Well. That’s terribly decent of you. Not just in the initial offering, but also in not slyly sliding it off the table right now when I was obviously clueless about it.

James: Well, thanks for giving me the chance to feel magnanimous in giving you what you already had.

So… yeah. James has pretty much won me over forever at this point.

What’s more, since I’m now making more money off this project than I’d anticipated, I’ve decided to give a piece of that to Worldbuilders.

So if you were looking for one more reason to jump in and play a little game with us, you just got one.

I’ll just leave a link here at the end of the post. Just in case any of you might happen to want it.

Goodnight Nobody,


Posted in calling on the legions, cool things | By Pat89 Responses

WMF Photo Contest Part III – Book Metaphors

As things settle out here at Worldbuilders HQ, I took the time to go through some more photo contest entries again.

If you don’t remember the Photo Contest… well… it’s probably not your fault given that I actually started this contest back in 2011 and am only now finally getting around to posting up the winners.

In my defense, there were over a thousand entries. But honestly, even that isn’t much of an excuse. There’s a reason why I’m thinking of getting business cards made that list my title as “King of Broken Promises.”

If you want to see the previous photo contest posts, they’re over here.

But for now, let’s move on to today’s categories.

  • Heavy Book

When the hardcover of The Wise Man’s Fear came out, it was the same size as NOTW. However, it was also 330 pages longer. This led to a book that was startlingly heavy to some folks. So it makes sense that about a dozen folks made that the focus of their their photo entries.

This one’s called, “Discarding the old equipment:”

Discarding the old equipment 2

Even the hero of Canton can’t hold it up forever.


Honorable Mention

Doctor, my spine is broken

I like this one because it went for the more subtle approach…. at least in the image itself. The title was slightly more forthright: “Doctor, my spine is broken.”


hot stone therapy

This one rings the winning bell because of the implication that the heft of the book is part of its therapeutic charm. Bridget had this to say when she sent the photos:

“Reading Kvothe’s story is enjoyably therapeutic. Yours words are like the basalt stones, heavy and dark but with the deep, sigh-inducing weight of ancient warmth seeping into my tense muscles and tired bones, melting the stress of the day into a puddle of wax.”


  • Things We Fear

This was another category with a dozen or so entries….

learning about fear

Dentists are a pretty obvious fear, especially if they read while drilling your teeth.

book 001

Honorable Mention

This picture might have been baffling (see our final category below) if not for the title, which was “Fear of Rabbits.”

fear of rabbits

I don’t know if they’re making a specific reference to Anya from Buffy, but I thought it was off-beat enough to warrant an honorable mention.



Yeah. Clowns. Winner.

Don’t make eye contact. Let’s move on.

  • Congrats, you have baffled me.

This was a surprisingly large category, comprised entirely of pictures that… well… that just confused the hell out of me.

The-Wise-Man's-Fear Contest Charlie Brown

Don’t get me wrong. I *like* a lot of these pictures.

Handsome book stand

But I have no idea what they were meant to convey.

competition for reading this book is stiff

Is there a narrative here? An implication?


Did my book get you pregnant? Congratulations? I’m sorry?


Is this a metaphor? Does the fancy giraffe represent… strife? Man’s inhumanity to man? The uncaring chains of fate and causality that bind us all?

My HipstaPrint 0(2)-2

More importantly, is Yoda shoving something up that wooden man’s ass?

Some of these I’m sure have hidden meaning. I know if I viewed them through the proper lens, they would reveal their mysteries to me.

Like this one:

2011 Winner!

It took me ages to realize it’s about Auri.

Before you realize that, it’s utterly confusticating. But after you make the connection, the picture makes perfect sense. It tells a story. What’s more, it’s rather sweet.

But some pictures… I don’t think there’s any hidden meaning. Some pictures, I’m pretty sure y’all are just fucking with me.

Like bookface.


And the bone cake.

chocolate cake of death and awesome

And… this.


But when two men ride of a horse, one must ride behind. So…

Honorable Mention


This one tugged my heartstrings for sheer enthusiasm. I don’t know why she’s wearing a swim cap and goggles, and honestly I don’t care. I’m just glad you’re happy. You keep being your awesome self.



(Click to Embiggen. It’s worth it.)

Here we have a beautiful, delightfully mysterious masterpiece. The title of the image? “Bird.”

Winners will be receiving a set of the rare gold talent pipes that I give to beta readers and other folks that have made my life better/cooler.

Gold Pipes

And you know what? Because I feel bad that it’s taken me ages to get around to awarding prizes, we’ll give out pipes to the honorable mentions too.

If your picture was a winner, keep an eye on whatever email you used in 2011, because we’ll be contacting you to make sure we have the right address for you.

*     *     *

Lastly, as I’ve mentioned, there are too many pictures to post up in the blog. If you’d like to check the other ones out, you can head over to the Flickr stream we made. And by “we” I mean “Amanda” because we’ve all seen what happens when you wait for me to get shit done…

More photo contest results soon,


Posted in fan coolness, Photo Contest 2011 | By Pat57 Responses

The Philosopher’s Stone

Okay guys. Are you ready? This is my best idea ever.

Did you know if you mix tea and cup-a-soup together it tastes really good?

It does.

I’m not going to tell you which kind of tea or which flavor cup-a-soup, because honestly, I think I might want to patent this. I’m serious. It’s like I’ve discovered the philosopher’s stone.


I have an unhealthy fondness for cup-a-soup. I drink… well… kind of a lot of it, and I’m not proud of that. It’s also not a secret that I have a burgeoning substance abuse problem when it comes to caffeine, either.

But here’s the beauty of the situation. When you put these two things together, they form an elegant balance.

Sure the cup-a-soup has my entire day’s worth of sodium in a single serving, but the caffeine in the tea is a diuretic. Zero sum.

Sure the cup-a-soup is full of MSG and terrible artificial preservatives, but the tea is full of all sorts of healthy antioxidants, so I’m pretty sure they just cancel each other out.

It’s low calorie. It’s delicious. It’s cheap. It fills me with energy. I’m pretty sure it’s boosting my metabolism right now. I’m pretty sure if I keep drinking this, I’ll be able to communicate directly with angels and shit. When I market this, I’m going to put this on the side of the box: Now With More Enochian!

My heart is beating really fast right now. That’s how I know it’s working.

How did I have this brilliant idea? I’m glad you asked. See, I had a lot of e-mail to get through this morning, so I made a big cup of tea and drank half of it.


And then I wanted cup-a-soup, so I made some and drank half of it:


I know what you’re thinking. “Wow Pat. Your life is pretty glamorous! Someday I hope I become a #1 New York Times Bestselling author so I can eat soup in a cup and have a desk that consists of a piece of particle board sitting on two filing cabinets!!!!”

Well fine. Be that way. Mock all you like. You’re just jealous because it never occurred to you to do this:


No, I’m not talking about the photoshop filter. I’m talking about mixing tea and soup together to form a miraculous uberbeverage that is going to revolutionize life as we know it and usher in an age of peace and harmony to all mankind.

Now you might be looking at saying to yourself, “Wow, that’s a pretty big mug, Pat.”

Yes. It is a big mug. Self-actualization is not for the faint of heart. And besides, the size of the mug is just going to be another selling point of my miraculous three-tiered souper-tea regimen. Each of those mugs contains a full quart of liquid. That means after drinking both of them, I’ve already had all eight of my recommended eight-ounce servings of water for the day. And it’s not even 10:00 yet.

That’s right. I’ve figured out all the angles. I can feel myself getting healthier by the minute. I think my entire body is turning into pure energy. What does a stroke feel like? Does it feel like you are becoming a being of pure transcendent light? Probably not. I think it’s more likely that I’m just fast-tracking my way to Nirvana here.

I’m fine. Today is going to be a really productive day. I’m fine.

*     *     *

In other news. The Pairs Kickstarter is clipping along nicely.

There are five decks unlocked right now, and we just passed the stretch goal for the second one of mine: the Modegan Deck with art by Shane Tyree.

I’m really looking forward to giving y’all a look into that world. You haven’t even caught a glimpse of Modeg yet. It’s a very different place.

We’ve got two more of my decks lined up as future stretch goals too. One is a Princess and Mr. Whiffle deck, and the other one is a Faen deck. Specifically, it’s set in the Twilight court, the corner of the Fae where Felurian and Bast hie from.

The art for both of those will be done by the excellent Nathan Taylor.

Nate's Sketches

Nate drew these sketches to tease y’all a bit, but remember we’re only going to be doing those decks when they get unlocked around the 115K level.

We’re well on our way to hit that, mind you. I’m just letting you know. Full disclosure.

I’ll be making a more detailed update about the Kickstarter early next week, including showing off some more of the art.

But for now, here’s the link to the kickstarter if you want it.



Posted in being awesome, My brilliant ideas, Terrible Science | By Pat73 Responses

A Pair of Kickstarters, and Kickstarting Pairs

Hey there everybody,

I’ve got some cool news today. Something that I’m really seriously geeked about.

But before I share that with you, I have to take care of some business. And that means sharing a little bit of bad news.

  • The (kinda) Bad News:

Luckily, this news shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s already involved. If you backed the NOTW Kickstarter last year, and you’ve been reading your e-mail, you already know the Kickstarter isn’t shipping on time.

I’m sorry as hell about that. But I’m afraid there’s not much I can do on my end. At this point, all the production, logistics, and shipping is being handled by Albino Dragon. There were over 11,000 orders, and it’s taken longer than all of us would like.

Rest assured that the parts of the kickstarter I do have direct control over are being taken care of as quickly as possible. Those of you who were lucky enough to get into the tiers that included a the prototype jot should have already received it, as I personally mailed all of those out before Christmas.

The only part that’s still up to me is signing the bookplates.

bookplate crop

So. Many. Bookplates.

You know what the best part of signing 4500 bookplates is? Nothing.

Okay, that’s not really true. They actually turned out really nice, and I know they’re going to make y’all happy when you get them. But you honestly have no idea how numbing it is signing several thousand of them.

I got these toward the end of January, and I’ve been signing them ever since.

At first I had a vague fantasy of signing all of them in one long 18 hour marathon. Unfortunately, I discovered signing my name 300 times in a row without a break caused a blinding pain to shoot up my arm, making me want to die.

And here’s the thing, I use that arm for a lot of things. Important things.

So, rather than flirt with carpal tunnel and potentially destroy my ability to type, I’ve been doing them in small batches over the last couple weeks.

As of last week, I’d sent about 2300 of them back to Albino Dragon so they could start shipping packages as soon as the other items end up at the warehouse.

(Edit! Only 20 minutes or so after posting this blog, I had a few people on facebook tell me they *just* got shipping notifications from Albino Dragon. So it looks like packages are moving toward backers at this very moment. Huzzah!)

As bad news goes, it’s not that bad. Everything’s still moving forward. The cards are going to look great, the poker chips will be cool, and the bookplates are beautiful.

But it does make my good news today a little awkward….

  • The Awkward News:

Any of you who have spent some time on kickstarter know that a project shipping late isn’t that uncommon. Especially when the overall kickstarter ended up being about six times bigger than any of us expected.

Here’s the problem. Months and months ago, game designer James Ernest dropped me a line. He’d created a new card game, he explained, and asked if I’d have any interest in incorporating it into my world.

For those of you that don’t know, James is the owner and head game designer for Cheapass Games. I’ve been playing his games for over 15 years.

Though a monumental effort of will, I kept my cool. I told James I was flattered, but I needed to play the game first to make sure it was a good fit for my world.

He sent me the rules, and I played it with a few friends. It was brilliant. Easy to learn, but with some good strategy. You can bet on it. You can play for drinks (or Sounten.) In 30 minutes everyone was mocking each other, cursing our own bad luck, and talking shit.

It’s exactly the sort of game you’d see people playing in the Eolian.

I told James I thought it was a great fit. “My people will love it,” I said. “But I can’t feel good about launching this project until my other Kickstarter ships though.”

“How about February?” James asked.

“Perfect,” I said.

But things didn’t go as smoothly as I’d hoped. And by the time I knew the NOTW kickstarter was going to be shipping late, James had already brought other people onboard and scheduled his launch. There was no good way to move things around.

  • The Good News:

Despite my Midwestern guilt and the awkwardness of having these kickstarters overlap, I’m still really excited.

Not only is the game designed by James Ernest, but the art is going to be done by Shane Tyree. He did the NOTW deck with Albino dragon. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to working with him again:


The previous kickstarter was a deck of cards *about* The Name of the Wind. But this is something different. This is a deck of cards *from* the Four Corners. It’s the deck of cards that Kvothe and Wil and Sim would sit down and play with at Ankers.

A few details:

  • This isn’t a standard deck of 52 cards. It’s a pyramid deck with 55.
  • It’s got ten tens, nine nines, eight eights, and so on.
  • The point of the game is to avoid pairs. To simplify this all the cards of each number have the same picture. (So there’s one Tinker, two Amyr, three nobles, etc etc, all the way down to 8 Bandits, 9 Beggars, and 10 Ruh.)


  • The one exception is the sevens. We hit one of our early stretch goals, so the sevens (Calamities) are each going to be unique. I’m sure the savvy among you can figure out why.
  • Folks were clamoring for an Adem mercenary in the deck, so we’re going to put that in. It’s probably going to replace the courtesan.

Honestly, there’s a lot more I could tell you about the decks, but I think I’ll save that for a later blog.

For now, I’ll just keep it to two things:

1. We’d like to do some other decks from my world, too. A Modegan deck. A University deck. A Faen deck….

James is hoping to bring in decks from other worlds, too. Like a Girl Genius deck done by Phil Foglio. I would love to see that.

But those need to happen as stretch goals. That way James can cover printing costs and afford to pay the artists.

That means the more people jump onto the kickstarter early, the more decks we’ll all have to choose from.

2. For those of you who like awesome things: Here’s the link.

Later Space Cowboys,


P.S. Okay. One final thing. When I was talking with James last night, he mentioned that as a game designer, the thought of designing a game like Tak was really interesting to him.

What would you guys think about us making that a stretch goal in this kickstarter? Is that something you’d like to see?

Posted in calling on the legions, cool news, gaming | By Pat70 Responses

Love Redux

So last year I made a post on Valentines day that happened to be about love.

I wasn’t happy about that, as I’ve got a strong iconoclastic element in my personality. And writing about love on Valentines day is just… it just feels so fucking Hallmark.

But something happened a couple days ago, and it’s been spinning in my head ever since. When that happens, I have to tell a story about it, because that’s just how I’m wired.

So. I’m writing about love again, not because it’s Valentines day, but despite that.

I just want to make it clear this isn’t going to be a yearly thing. Okay? Okay.

*     *     *

A couple days ago, my baby boy smiled at me. A little crooked smile, a smirk.

Cutie - 8 weeks

(The onesie was a gift from a fan. Honest.)

A few days before that, I got my first smile. Today I got several. He also said, “goo” a couple times. I’m not even kidding. It’s amazingly cute.

Here’s the thing. He also smiled at the ceiling fan. He *really* likes the ceiling fan. Given the choice between the ceiling fan and me, the fan will win 3 times out of 4.

But you know what’s strange? I don’t mind. I really don’t.

I don’t mind that he smiles and coos at his mom more than me. It doesn’t make me sad that the ceiling fan takes second place, and that almost any window with a sunlight behind it is a close third.

I’m fine being fourth in line for smiles. I’m just happy to be on the list.

Standing there, holding my new baby, I had a strange sort of revelation. I was feeling a type of love that was in no way jealous.

I think this might be the purest type of love.

*     *     *

Here’s the thing, I’m not a fan of LOVE as a singular concept. It’s a ridiculously broad term that can be applied to pets, sex partners, or Oreos. When a word accretes that many definitions, it becomes virtually nonsensical.

If you’re hunting for more specific words for love, Greek is a good language to start with. They have Eros, Philos, and Agape. Those three do a pretty good job of breaking the great multifarious monolith of LOVE into slightly more manageable pieces.

I’m assuming you know about them, but just for reference:

  • Philos is friend love. Family love.
  • Eros is “I want to bone you” love.
  • Agape is… tricky. Some people call it “unconditional love.” I’ve heard it referred to as “True love” “God Love” or “That love which instils worth.”

There’s also lesser-known storge: “Kindness love.” Which is the sort of love you feel for something that’s dependent on you. Like an infant or a dog.

So. I’m standing there, looking at my sweet baby, and he’s smiling at the ceiling fan. And I realize I don’t mind. I’m just happy that he’s happy. I’m just happy that sometimes he smiles at me. I’m just happy he’s around.

This is a strange and wonderful sensation. This is, I feel, a different type of love.

Now it might seem like I’m talking about agape-style love here. Or storge. But I’m not. This is something different.

What I’m talking about here is love-without-expectation.

*     *     *

We need to stop for a moment and make a word.

If I’m going to spend some time trying to describe a largely unfamiliar concept, I need a name for it. Love-without-expectation-or-desire isn’t going to work. It’s not elegant. A newish concept needs a newish name. It needs its own space to grow. You grok?

Plus I just like making words. It’s kind of a thing that I do.

From what I gather the Hebrew concept of “חסד” is pretty close to what I’m looking for here. And it’s one of the Sephira, which gives it extra gravitas. Unfortunately, it’s not going to work because when you transliterate it, it’s spelled “chesed” and that looks too much like “cheesed” to me.

Fuck it. I know it’s not linguistically sound, but I’m going to call it Eleutheria.

*     *     *

Remember where we were? Me. My baby. Ceiling fan.


(In his defense, it’s a really nice fan.)

I simply love him, and I expect nothing in return. This is strangely, delightfully freeing. I don’t feel bad that if he pays more attention to his mom. I don’t mind that he smiles at the fan or his big brother.

I don’t mind if he falls asleep. I don’t mind if he throws up on me.

Elutheria – Love which demands nothing. The love that expects nothing.

This is an odd concept for me. Because I am a creature composed almost entirely of expectations.

This isn’t entirely a bad thing. The ability to anticipate, desire, and plan is important. It gives us control of our lives. It gives us the ability to see forward in time a little. It gives us the ability to steer our destiny a little so we can avoid wrecking our lives against the rocks.

Not always, of course, sometimes your ship is going to wreck no matter your best efforts. Shit happens. But if you’re able to anticipate the future, you can at least brace for impact. That’s better than nothing.

Without the ability to predict and therefore exert control on the future, we are helpless. Subject to the constant random battering of a largely entropic universe.

The ability to predict and anticipate isn’t bad. The desire for control isn’t bad. If you put those things together with a love for language and a vague compulsion for storytelling, you get The Name of the Wind.

If you combine these characteristics with a love of charity and a desire to make the world a better place, you get Worldbuilders.

If you combine them with a relationship… it’s not so good.

Because trying to control the people you love isn’t good.

For one thing, people don’t like it. (For the most part.) But also because controlling someone means hanging expectations on them. And if people don’t live up to your expectations, you’re disappointed. And disappointment leads to frustration and anger. This spiral continues down to the dark side of the force.

How much nicer would it be to simply love someone? If you expected nothing from your beloved, you could never be disappointed. Nothing could jeopardize that love. It would be unassailable.

This would be Elutheria, the love that expects nothing.

*     *     *

What I’m talking about here, is the diametrical opposite of selfish love.

Selfish love demands things. It demands attention. Most of all, selfish love demands love in return. Typically it usually demands ALL the love in return. It demands primacy. Exclusivity. Ownership. Control.

What I’m talking about here is what’s commonly called “Romantic Love.”

Romantic love is championed as being awesome in our culture. It’s the sort of love you’ve seen a thousand times in movies and literature. You’ve seen it the lives of your friends and family members. You’ve probably experienced some version of it yourselves.

It’s the sort of love where you where you fall for someone, and they don’t love you back, and then you kill yourself. (Actual results may vary.)

It’s the sort of love where you see you girl talking to another guy and you feel jealous.

It’s the sort of love where you see your guy looking at another girl and you feel angry.

It’s the sort of love that makes you think it’s okay to consider someone “your girl” or “your guy.” As if you owned them. As if they were under your control. As if your affection made them somehow beholden to you.

And as I stand there, smiling at my baby, (who is smiling at our ceiling fan) I am perfectly happy. And I wonder to my self, “At what point did loving someone become an excuse to be a greedy asshole?”

*     *     *

I bounced my idea off a couple people over the last week or so. Love without expectation. I explained about my baby and the ceiling fan. I talked about the chains of desire….

“Well,” someone said. “It sounds nice, but I don’t think that’s something that could exist in an adult relationship.”

Several people said this, or something very close to it. These comments came up almost compulsively, in a knee-jerk way.

I think people have this automatic response for two reasons.

First, I think they feel attacked. As if I’m telling them they’re loving wrong.

I’m not. That’s not what this is about. When I talk about how much I’d like a Tesla, it doesn’t mean I think you’re a dick for driving a Prius. I’m not trying to start a fight here. I’m looking to discuss an idea.

Second, I think people react badly because Elutheria a profoundly unfamiliar concept. We all grew up reading stories about Lancelot and Guenevere (or permutations thereof.)

The Arthurian legend is one of our mythic cornerstones. It echoes through the last 1000 years of our art and literature. Well… 800 years, if we’re talking about Lancelot. You see, he wasn’t in the original story. The French added him in the 1200′s.


(Yeah. I know that’s not Lance and Gwen. I just really love Waterhouse.)

And you know what? It’s a better story with Lancelot in it. More drama. More tension. More universal appeal.

The downside? Lancelot and Guenevere are generally held up to be the villains of the whole Arthurian schtick. They ruined Camelot. Their dirty, dirty lust wrecked the golden age.

But the truth is, if Arthur hadn’t been such a douche about the whole thing, there wouldn’t have been any problem. If Arthur had just gotten over himself and admitted that Lance was pretty hunky, it could have been cool. If he’d just wanted Gwen to be happy, he should have just stepped aside. Or at least turned a blind eye.

Either that or jumped into the sack with both of them. Because… y’know… hunky.

Imagine the glorious world we’d be living in if *that* was one of our mythic cornerstones, folks. Imagine a world where slash fiction didn’t exist because we were, all of us, constantly living the dream.

Okay, back on track here.

Generally speaking, everyone agrees that Arthur overreacted. But Lance and Gwen? They’re traitors. It’s their *fault*. Traitors deserve the lowest, darkest circle of hell.

Arthur was a little hot headed, sure. But it was justified, right? Lance and Gwen, their actions were a betrayal.

What were they betraying?


*     *     *

Those of you who have studied any Buddhism are probably nodding along by this point. Believe me, I’m very aware that the more I roll the concept of Elutheria around, the more similar it seems to the four noble truths that lead to the eightfold path.

For those of you who haven’t studied Buddhism, here it is in a nutshell:

  1. There is suffering.
  2. Suffering comes from thwarted desire.
  3. Therefore, if you eliminate desire, you eliminate suffering.
  4. Profit. Moksha.

There is an unassailable simplicity here. There’s a reason I’m fond of Buddhism.

*     *     *

I wish I had a strong closer for you, but I’m not really making an argument here. I’m not heading for a conclusion. I’m merely working out my thoughts in text. Writing things down helps me understand them better. It helps me knock the rough corners off my new ideas. (It’s my attempt at “Right Understanding,” the first step of the eightfold path.)

But is Elutheria something a person can realistically achieve?

With my baby, the answer seems to be yes.

But then things become more complicated. You see, I have responsibilities.

My older son is four. And while it would be pleasant to simply love him and let the chips fall where they may, if I were to do that, I would be failing him as a parent. I need to provide guidance and discipline. I need to control his base monkey instincts with the hope that he may eventually rise above them and become a fully-formed human being.

There’s that word again: Control. It’s my job to control him. It’s my job to have expectations.

Still, I think discarding Elutheria entirely would be like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There are certain expectations that are essential. I expect him to be polite. I expect him to be honest. I expect him to be mindful and kind.

Those are the requirements for being a good human being. It’s my job to guide and coach him until he gets there.

Any expectations beyond that, I should be wary of. I shouldn’t expect him to be all those things *all* the time. I shouldn’t expect him to be tidy. Or quiet when I’m trying to work.

I shouldn’t expect him to be straight, or a democrat, or a painter. I shouldn’t expect him to love books.

Oot and book

Expectation is a trap, you see. There’s nothing to be gained from it. I don’t feel *more* joy seeing him read because I hoped for it. I only leave myself open to disappointment if he doesn’t.

Similarly, my relationship with Sarah consists of more than simple love. We are engaged in the partnership. We maintain a household and the purpose of that household is to raise children that are physically and emotionally healthy.

Her cooperation in these things is essential. I expect it.

But other things? Should I expect her never ogle the pretty college boys on the track team who jog around town every spring? No. Foolishness. Should I expect her to want to organize the kitchen the way I would? To want the same color paint in the dining room? To have dinner cooked and ready for me when I come home from work?

Should I expect her to always love me best, and most, and only?

No. I think not. I think that would be selfish and self-centered.

The more of these expectations I can let go of, the happier I will be.

But it’s hard. Oh it’s hard. It goes against a lifetime full of training. It goes against my obsessive desire to control. It goes against my meticulous nature. It goes against what so many stories told me was true.

Inconclusively yours,


Posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, Cutie Snoo, love, musings, naming, the longest fucking blog ever | By Pat95 Responses

Following up, Moving on, and the Cuteness of Cutie

Hey there everybody.

Just wanted to let y’all know that we’re working behind the scenes here. Gearing up for what we’ve come to think of as our yearly “packaging party” when we pick the prizes for Worldbuilders, wrap them with loving care, and ship them out to the winners.

But before we actually get to the point where we’re shipping things out, a lot of things have to happen first. We have to rally volunteers. Organize our inventory. Juggle spreadsheets. Mash spreadsheets together until they do what we want.

And to answer a question that gets asked every year: no we won’t be posting up a list of who won which prizes. Not only would it be a lot of work for us, but it would violate the confidentiality of people who donated. We don’t want to do that.

We *will* however probably have some sort of… picture sharing internet thing that people can use to post pictures of themselves with their prizes. Like… flicker? Does anyone use flicker anymore? Fuck. I’m getting to be like that uncle you have that doesn’t understand nobody uses Friendster anymore….

Anyway, my point is that I wanted you to know even though we’re not posting up a blog a day any more, we’re still busy as bees over here.

And by “we” I mean “The Worldbuilders Team.” And by “The Worldbuilders Team” I mean mostly them, not me.

Me, I’m doing my best to gather up the forgotten pieces of my shattered life.

A piece of advice? Don’t try to run a fundraiser, write a novella, and have a baby all at the same time. It’s really not good for you.

So right now I’m trying desperately to catch up on e-mail, re-establish communication with people I’ve accidentally neglected or ignored, pick up projects that I had to lay down half-finished. Sign about 4000 bookplates for the last kickstarter we did, get ready for *another* kickstarter that will be showing up on your radar soon, write a piece of a video game…

Oh. And spend a little time with my family, too. I’ve been rationing my time to them like World War II sugar. Fifteen minutes here. Half an hour there. The occasional dinner. The rare jewel of enough time to watch a movie together. It’s not healthy. That has to change.

Meh. I’m rambling.

My point is… fuck. Do I even have a point to this blog?

Maybe I don’t. Big surprise. Welcome to me.

Maybe the point is that things are happening over here. And when they happen more, I’ll let you know here on the blog. (And on Facebook and Twitter.)

A few quick pieces of news in an attempt to make this blog less pointless:

  • I posted a review of a Roald Dahl book on Goodreads yesterday.

Half the people who read it seem to love it and agree with me. The other half think I’m some sort of monster.

You can read it over here if you like, and make your own decisions.

Which is kind of cool, if you’re the sort of person who is excited about getting verified on Twitter. Which I kinda am.

Verified b

 (This is not encouragement to join twitter. Seriously. Save yourselves.)

Since calendar season is well and truly over, we’re selling the last of our calendars off at 10 bucks each. They’re even less if you buy more than one.

This counts for *all* the calendars, by the way. We’ve got, like, 4 different 2014 calendars in the store this year. So unless you’ve been following the blog obsessively, odds are you haven’t seen all of them.

Also, we have a few things items in the store with only one or two items left. Like the Cheapass game bundle and Chocolate frogs. If people would go in and buy them, I’d appreciate it.

Not only would it let us clean up the store a little, but it would remove the temptation for me to eat those damn frogs every time I go in to work. I’m trying to lose some weight here.

  • Lastly, a picture of the newest Rothfuss.

Because I can’t remember if I’ve shared a picture of him on here yet. And because it’s my blog, and I can show off my baby if I want….

Cutie in car-seat 6 weeks

Codename: Cutie Snoo.

Say it with me now… Awwwww.

  • And one other thing.

I know you can’t technically have something *after* the last thing. But when I called in to check on how many chocolate frogs we still had in the store, Nicole asked me if I was going to mention the coupon code.

“What coupon code?” I asked.

“Our Valentines Day Coupon Code,” she said, somehow making the capital letters clear over the phone. “If people use the code HUGSANDSTUFF they get five dollars off any purchase of $10.00 or more.”

“Why didn’t I already know about this?” I asked.

“If you were following The Tinkers Packs on Facebook, you would know,” she said.

“I am following it,” I said. “I’ve just been busy. Y’know. With stuff.”

“Right,” she said.

“Plus don’t sass the boss,” I said. “Let everyone know that’s a new rule. I am too dignified to be sassed. Plus, y’know, boss.”

So… yeah. There’s a coupon code too. Which means if you want to grab a calendar right now you could get them *super* cheap. Same for the frogs or the games or any number of things we have in the store.

The code is only good until the end of Feb 14th. Which is a fact that I know because I just looked on the Tinker’s Packs Facebook page. Because I *am* following it, Nicole. No matter what you might think.

See you later space cowboys,


Posted in Cutie Snoo | By Pat49 Responses


Well folks, we’re about eleven hours away from the end of this year’s Worldbuilders fundraiser, and I couldn’t be happier. As I type this, geeks of all creeds and nations have banded together to raise $651,000 dollars for Heifer International.

Simply said, that’s a lot of goats.


I’m not going to make any sort of pitch today. I’m not looking to nudge anyone in the direction of donating. You’ve already done so much, asking for more at this point would feel weird to me.

Instead I’d like to share some letters people have sent us over the last year. Stories about Worldbuilders.

Like Brian’s creative fundraising idea…

Hello Pat and Team,

I wanted to share a quick story about the donation I just made on behalf of Worldbuilders to Heifer International.  I was thinking this year I would take a little more of the Pat approach to my donation.

I am a part owner of 8 Record stores in Arizona and Nevada. (Well, we actually sell all kinds of stuff including two of our stores now have full book sections!) I decided for the month of December we would give customers the option of choosing to take a bag for their purchases or donate the cost of that bag to charity. I also added that for every person that chooses Worldbuilders I would personally match the donation this year.

Now, our bags cost us about a nickel so this year over 11 thousand people in one month choose to donate to Heifer International. That’s 11 thousand people that hopefully learned about the charity for the first time and their collective effort equaled over $550, a full heifer plus some!

I was thrilled to personally match their efforts from my own pocket. So that”s over $1100 bucks from us music and book geeks out here in Arizona and Nevada…a lot of it was one nickel at a time. Keep up the good work! My mind is already thinking of ways to do more next year!

Brian (Zia Record Exchange)

Thanks so much, Brian. This is a brilliant idea. Not only does it show how a lot of little donations can really add up, but each of those 11,000 people heard about Heifer International, even if it’s just briefly. Talk about spreading the word….

And I see you have a store in Tuscon. I’m hoping to swing through there later this year. I don’t know how big your store is, but I’d be happy to do a signing there if you’d like….

*     *     *

Amie won the tuckerization that Adam Casalino put up for auction last year. After she won, she sent us the following e-mail:

Hi Maria:

Thank you for your quick response and I look forward to working with yourself and Adam!  I have four children and my 14 year old thinks this is the uncoolest thing I have done to date–which means it has already paid for itself!  :)


(I feel obliged to mention that in our handful of remaining auctions, Adam Casalino, has put up another tuckerization.)

Amie also came with us to the Heifer Ranch last April, too. So it’s pretty certain we’ve continued to embarrass her 14 year old as thoroughly as possible. Which, from what I understand, is the best thing to do with 14 year olds. Other than get them started playing D&D….

Pat and Amie

The story has a happy ending, too. These days, Amie stops by Worldbuilders headquarter once a week and helps us out with packaging orders in The Tinker’s Packs.

*       *       *

Here’s a poem from Sky Corbelli. Some of you you might remember the Song Review of Name of the Wind, he did about a year ago.

Hey Pat, seems Worldbuilders is just ’round the bend.
Last year was so great, didn’t want it to end!

Then I thought to myself, why end it at all?
I may be an indie with sales quite small
But I’ve flagged each dollar my books have brought in
And set them aside for a Worldbuilding win.

Now straight out the gate, I am happy to say,
I’ve over a thousand that’s coming your way
Plus, all further profits I’ll kick in with pride
And see what I can’t russel up on the side.

So keep being awesome; we’re cheering for you!
And I’m sure that the world cheers right along too.


Sky Luke Corbelli
Mathematician, Zookeeper, Placer of Poems with Purpose

*      *      *

Some folks told us how they’re forgoing gifts in favor of donations:

Hi Pat,

My birthday is coming up next week and instead of gifts or birthday wishes, I’ve asked all of my friends to donate to Heifer International, and set up a page for it. I’ve got enough stuff; what do I need with more stuff lying around, just being stuff? Other people could use what the money can buy far more than I could.

Thank you for advertising for such a great cause. I doubt I would’ve happened across it without you. I feel fantastic about doing this, and I hope that everyone who donates on my behalf does as well. It’s a far more worthwhile cause than I am, that’s for sure!

Cheers, and thanks again,

Thanks for being awesome, Craig.

Along similar lines, Javan and Emily forewent giving wedding favors, and even used Worldbuilders as their wedding theme. At their reception, there was the following note as the centerpiece on their tables:

We wanted to give you a little present to thank you for sharing this day with us, so please help yourself to the sweets that are on your table
(If you can’t find them, look in the teacup).

We also bought you a water buffalo.

We know, we know – you don’t have room for a water buffalo, you haven’t got the time to take it for walks and you don’t have a swamp for it to wallow in.

Don’t panic. We bought your water buffalo through Worldbuilders, a yearly event founded by one of our favourite authors, Patrick Rothfuss, in order to use the collective power of readers, fellow authors and book lovers to raise money for Heifer International. That means your water buffalo is going to help fight poverty and hunger by providing a family with milk and helping them plough their fields.

We hope you won’t mind that you can’t take your wedding favour home with you.

Emily and Javan
25th May 2013

P.S. Their wedding photos were pretty great.

Paul Wilkinson Photography Ltd.

I could share stories all day, but the blog would be so long nobody would read it.

Just one more:

Hi Mr. Rothfuss,

My name is Colleen and I am 15 years old. I am writing to tell you about my day.

Today I woke up, got out of bed, ate breakfast…just kidding. I am writing to tell you about the most important part of my day. Today I gave $30 to Heifer International with Worldbuilders. I am very, very, very, sorry that I couldn’t give more-I wanted to give hundreds. But as I said, I am 15, with no job, no car, no income. My family does not have much extra money so I have saved up for months to get this much. I apologize that I can’t give more, but I hope that this small amount can make a small difference.

I want you to know how much I admire your work with Worldbuilders and Heifer International and I hope that when I grow older, I can give back to the world as much as you have. With your magical words (your books are my absolute favorite and you are my favorite author ever) and wonderful work with this charity, you give so much back to the global community. You are my hero and I admire you so much. I hope you always keep doing what you”re doing, and never stop!

Best wishes, your biggest fan,

And now I’m a little weepy.

We get a fair number of letters from people telling their stories. And I love reading them. But one of the unfortunate things that I’ve seen crop up several times is people expressing regret that they weren’t able to donate more.

So let me say to you, Colleen, that thirty dollars will change someone’s life.

But more than that, Colleen, the fact that you were willing to donate thirty dollars means the world to me. It fills me with joy and makes me hopeful for the future.

Here’s the truth. If Bill Gates walked into this room right now and gave us a million dollars, it would not make me as happy as your donation. I would want to shake his hand. But you I want to hug.

While I’m glad we’ve raised $650,000 for Heifer this year, what makes me really proud is how we did it. Many of our donors have never given money to charity before. Many are students without much money. Many of them have money troubles of their own.

You see, I want to make the world a better place. And while your donation is a piece of that, a much bigger part of it is you. The fact that you genuinely care and have gone out of your way to help…. *that* makes me like the world more. Above and beyond what you do, the fact that you *exist* makes the world a better place. Not just for me. For everybody.

So thank you, Colleen. Thank you Emily and Javan and Brian and Sky and Amie.  Thank you corporate sponsors. Thank you authors and publishers, actors and vloggers, musicians and game designers. Thank you donors.

Thank you geeks of all creeds and nations.

Thank you.


P.S. If you’d like to share your story, you can do it the comments below. Or you can email it to us at We love hearing the stories, and might use them in future blogs or newsposts.

P.P.S. Just in case you need it: one final link to the Worldbuilders Team Page.

Posted in Warm Fuzzies, Worldbuilders 2013 | By Pat48 Responses
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