Nat Turner: Necrosis of the Serpent by Guy A. Sims (SOBSF Black History Story)

“Git’im in heah!  Quick now!”

The barn side door was opened just enough for the two dark men to carry the third in.  The barn was quiet except for the sounds of a few animals and low voices near the hay station.  “Him hurt bad?”

The taller of the two shook his head.  “Uh-huh!  Bloodied bad but need to tell what he know.”  The man who opened the door motioned for the two to lay the wounded man on a pile of old cloths.  He left them there, disappearing into the collection of gathered bodies at the hay station.  Briefly, heads turned to the direction of the man on the floor but returned just as fast to a figure who slowly began to rise.  The group parted as the silhouette illuminated by the small fire moved toward the three men. The two standing men could see the man was holding a machete but they did not move.  The figure kneeled next to the man on the ground.

“Tell me what happened.”  He placed his hand on the forehead of the man.  The man shivered but managed a smile when the face became recognized.

“My body is broken,” The man coughed, trickling blood from the corner of his mouth.  “But my spirit is with you.”  The man tried to sit up but he collapsed under his own pain.

“Stay still brother.  Our day of resurrection and jubilee is near.  I have seen it in the sky.  The sign…the signal from the trumpet of Gabriel…ordered by Gawd A’mighty.  Tomorrow we move like shadows.”  He was now talking to the group who had encircled the man on the ground.  “Tomorrow we seize what Gawd done destined for us.”  The figure pointed to the men around him.  “Gather your tools and sharpen your blades…”  The weakened man groaned as he struggled to grasp the leader’s shirt.

“No…listen…listen to me Nat Turner.”

An hour passed before the beaten man was able to sit up.  Nat Turner’s men applied poultice and wrapped his wounds.  The gash on the side of his face was bandaged but still continued to bleed.  Although advised to drink slowly, the man gulped down the ladle of water before speaking.

“I know’d I was joinin’ up with you so I make’d like nothin’ was goin’ on but Massa Miller was all drunktified and spittin’ fire.  He come ruunnin’ down to the fields wit his rifle in one hand and whip in the other.  Him yellin’ about folk not workin’ hard.  I reckon he was gonna make a example of me.”  One of the men who brought him in interrupted.

“Jes tell’im what you tole us and stop extra storyin’.”

The wounded man glared.

“I’m the one wit the buss head so I tell the story my way.  Anyway Mr. Turner, Massa Miller know he wasn’t shootin’ one o’ his slaves cause his money ain’t as much as before…but he’ll whip you up good for true.  Anyways, he knocks me good on my face and I falls to the ground.  He starts to lash me up but he can’t get no good swing holdin’ the gun.  So here’s what he do.  He jams it into a bushel o’ ‘taters so it stay up.  From there he whips me and cuss me.
“Now tell ‘im.”  The other man stamped his feet.

“Here it is!”  The wounded man adjusted in his seat.  “Lissen good Nat Turner.  When Massa Miller finished wit me he go to get his gun and there be a ‘tater stuck on the end.  Massa Miller start belly laughin’ like someone jes tell a funny.”  Nat Turner turned away from the man, thinking him delirious but the man’s hand clutched his trousers. “But then sompthin’ happen.  Sompthin’ that might bring you the victory.”  Nat Turner stopped. The other men drew their attention to the man on the floor.

“Go on!” Nat Turner ordered.

“Massa Miller takes the gun, points it in the air, and then shoots.  I thought he musta knocked my senses out cause’n I ain’t hardly hear the shot.  Like it was shushed.  Here what I’m sayin’ Mr. Turner?  The ‘tater made the gun hush.”  Nat Turner took a couple of steps as he looked to the top of the barn.  He then looked at the machete in his hand.  He pointed to one of the men by the door.

“Get me some bags of ‘taters!”

Slaves toiled under the sweltering sun on Robert Miller’s plantation.  Most days were filled with pain, anguish, and internalized grief but not this day.  Careful not to raise attention of overseers and others not to be trusted, hands slipped potatoes into pockets, pants, and shirts upon the instruction of their beloved prophet Nat Turner.  Songs of rivers and places beyond the Jordan were sung in cryptic harmony.  Melodies calling for the great getting’ up morning were merely the countdown to the setting sun.  For once, in a long time, there was hope for tomorrow, a longing for Gawd’s mighty hand to sweep time and bring forth dawn.  With each stooping, each picking, toting, washing, chopping, lashing, pulling, carrying, struggling, weeping, and wailing, the seeds of hope and desire took root in spirits and began to grow.

A group of twenty to twenty-five were gathered at the predetermined meeting place when the next group arrived, led by Nat Turner.  Even in the cover of darkness, his eyes, wide and intense, shined like beacons, blazed like fire.  His face was strong, forged from years of whippings, hunger, abuse, degradation, and loss.  On this night it was communicated that a new tomorrow was coming, carried on the wings of Heaven and fired on the winds of Hell.  Nat Turner stepped up onto a fallen tree trunk and surveyed the crowd.  His piercing eyes touched the faces of the sixty or more anxious hopeful ex-slaves.  The silence was accented by the rhythmic chirping of crickets.  Nat Turner raised his hand and the crowd dropped to one knee.  His voice was low and strong, laced with anger and retribution, charged with passion and spitfire, and seething with the breath of God and man and pain and hope.

“My brothers and sisters.  Let not your hearts be troubled.  Let not fear hold you in place.  The glory of the Lawd strengthens us in the same way Joshua was strengthened at Jericho.”  Nat Turner’s hand pointed sharp and quickly toward the Miller home.  “There stands the wall of our Jericho.  Listen! Listen!  Do you hear the trumpets of the angels? The trumpets that puts power in your hands and feet.  They blow with the hot winds of retribution and justice.”  The continually swelling crowd quietly moaned in agreement.  They shifted, anxious to stand, anxious to run, anxious to be free.  Nat Turner raised both hands above his head.

“Rise up soldiers of Gawd!  Rise up because you’s already free!   Let tonight be the last time you are ever on your knees ‘cept to pray to the Lawd.  You no longer bend as those shackled in the fields. You stand as children in the bosom of the A’mighty!  You stand as men!  Now, gather your instruments of Jubilee and let us move as heaven prepares a new day for us!”

One of the men signaled to his group and they took off toward the Miller home.  Other men doing the same with their groups began their quickened pace down the road.  In the warm summer night, the muffled cries of rebellion began to rise, filling the skies and stoking fury.  One group remained behind with Nat Turner.

“Tonight you are my archangels who carry the swords of the Divine.  We stay behind because we know Satan’s army will come but we will face them when they manifest themselves.”  Nat Turner reached down behind the tree trunk and lifted a rifle.  “I have one for each of you.  I also have this.”  He bent down again, this time lifting a small satchel.  “Inside are ‘taters.  After you prime your gun, place a ‘tater on the end before you shoot.  God will make your guns whisper.  So stay low and in the bush.  After you shoot, move so you confuse.  The A’mighty has foretold our victory so be not afraid.”  Each man secured his rifle and satchel and then said a prayer before heading out to the brush adjacent to the road.

“Them niggas done gone plumb crazy! Done lost their natural minds.”

The captain of the militia signaled halt and turned to address the talkative teen.

“Let me tell you!  Let me tell alla you!  We got serious business.  The word is slaves from the Miller place and the Thomas place are staging a revolt.”  The three rows of halted men stood silently, listening intently to the words of their superior officer.  “Our job is to track them down and suppress them…and for those who don’t know that ten-dollar word…it mean put’em in the ground without question!”  The teen raised his hand and offered a Sir? The captain nodded.

“Sir?  Do you think we’ll get a skirmish…”  The teen’s words were cut short as he dropped to the ground.  By the time the militia men next to the teen could react, a second man clutched his throat and stumbled before falling.

“We’s under attack!”  Cried one man.

“Where’s it coming from?”  Another screamed.

“Take cover!”

“Return fire!”  The captain ordered.  The men leveled their guns in multiple directions, eyes pierced for movement.

“You see anything?”

“It’s too dark to see nothin’.”

The captain pointed toward a clump of bushes and the men trained their sights.  He raised his hand but never finished the count.  A hail of bullets picked the militia men off, causing them to fall, to panic, to run.  Those who hightailed into the darkness were soon heard screaming as sounds of bludgeoning echoes rose then subsided.  In moments, a group of thirty slaves stepped from out of the darkness with bloodied sticks, rocks, candlesticks and other blunt household items.

“Damn you.”  The captain, his hands pressed against the increasingly wet circle on his chest, attempted to stand.  “Damn you niggas to hell!”  From within the crowd, Nat Turner moved to the now fallen militia leader.

“The Lawd told me to cut the snake or else it will strike with poison.  Well, the serpent may have gotten the best of Adam and Eve but tonight we cut off its head.”  Nat Turner positioned himself so he could see eye to eye with the slowly fading captain.  “The hell you speak of is not prepared for me or mine.  We are promised to paradise.”  Nat Turner stood and signaled for all survivors to be killed.  “Gather their weapons for our journey has just begun.  The Lawd commands us to keep on.”

The courier ran feverishly down the corridor of the Governor’s mansion.  He stopped when he reached the main chamber.  He caught his breath as he tried to compose himself.

“Go right in sir.”  The colored attendant opened a large ornate door.  “The governor is awaiting with great interest.”  The courier stepped with a quickened pace and entered the room.  In seconds he was standing in front of the governor’s desk.

“What’s the word from Southampton?”

“It’s bad Governor Floyd.  What started as a brazen mob of some crazed slaves has turned into what can only be described as an insurrection.”

“An insurrection?”  The last word I received was that a militia of about thirty were dispatched to quell the problem.”  The courier handed Governor Floyd a letter which was read immediately.  The courier remained at attention.  Moments later, the governor exploded.

“Dead?  Two militias dead?  One hundred and ten civilians murdered?  All those people killed and that group is still on the loose?”

“And gathering strength by overpowering plantation owners.  Those people are gentle farmers, not fighters.”  The governor screamed for his secretary who bolted into the room.

“Get me the Adjutant General right away!”  The governor patted his now perspiring forehead with a handkerchief.  “How? Who?”  The courier pointed to a portion of the letter.

“While many of the slaves were killed their numbers continued to grow as they overtook plantations.  They must have a group of about two to three hundred now.  Maybe more.”

The governor felt sick.  He had often bragged how Virginia had the most slaves, almost five hundred thousand.  He felt dizzy imagining what could happen if they were all suddenly free.  What would happen if it spread to other states?  America would cease to be. As he pondered the demise of the nation the Adjutant General arrived and was immediately updated.  The governor grabbed his quill and wrote furiously.

“I’m putting an executive order for the use of troops to suppress and eliminate all threats to the life and liberty of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia.”  As he handed the document to the Adjutant General he sneered.  “Kill all those animal bastards!”  The courier stepped in between the governor and the general.

“Sir, if I may.  It’s been said that two of the rampaging slaves had been captured.  The first refused to talk so he was killed right away.  The second was a little more fearful and mentioned the name Nat Turner.  He might be their leader.  Might I suggest that if he is found to be alive it would make for a great example to capture him and put on display as a way to regain faith in our people and fear in theirs?  Just a suggestion.”  Governor Floyd pressed the order into the Adjutant General’s hand.

“I want that agitator caught, disemboweled, and disassembled before us all.  Call up any Virginia Militia you need.  Use whatever arms at your disposal.  In the meantime I will dispatch a call for arms from President Jackson, asking him to mobilize the army for support.”  The governor paused, looking out of the window.  “Understand this!  While I’ll implore for his position to be on the ready,” The governor now looked the Adjutant General directly in his eyes. “I want us to satisfy our own dilemmas.”  The Adjutant General saluted and exited with all promptness, taking the courier with him.  The governor continued to speak out loud.  “Whatever leanings I may have had regarding slaves is now no longer a conflict of conscious and consequence.”

For seven days, Nat Turner’s raid evolved into an uprising then wholly into a revolution.  At first, plantation owners aware of what was going on awaited for the mythical band of raging Negroes only to be met with a growing hoard of freedom desiring humans.  Others, fearing for their lives, set their slaves free with the hopes they would induce mercy–only to be slain by even their most trusted and good darkies.  The swell of ex-slaves with the taste of freedom and vengeance began their march toward Petersburg, Virginia.  It was there they confronted the forces of the Adjutant General and his one-thousand troop army.  The Adjutant General released his cannons, raining spheres of fire and steel on the charging men and women hungry for liberty long denied.  In the end, three hundred-fifty black men, women, and children were killed. Another one-hundred eighty were captured and dispersed to plantations in Mississippi and Louisiana.  Fifty-three escaped the carnage of Petersburg, disappearing into the dense woods, never to be seen again.  The end had arrived but the citizens of the United States didn’t sense comfort until two weeks later when on a hog farm in Chesterfield, Virginia a farmer discovered discarded food remains and eventually a Negro, Nat Turner, hidden in his well.  Captured, the leader, the prophet, and now a malcontent, stood shackled in a courtroom in Richmond, Virginia.

The courtroom was filled to capacity; from the floor to the gallery to the front steps and out into the street.  The angry. The curious.  The mournful.  The vengeful.  All awaiting the outcome of the trial of Nat Turner.  During the course of the day, Nat Turner, tired, beaten, and weary, stood stoic, straight, and strong in the presence of the many white faces cursing and jeering him, wishing for a slow and painful death for his atrocious acts against civilized men, women, and children. His eyes, though swollen from the pummeling, were clear, fixed on the judge’s face.  His hands, lacerated and aching from their brine bath, were shackled behind him yet they remained clenched rocks of defiance.  A descending hush overcame the room as the judge raised his hand.

“As we prepare to pass judgment on the one called Nat Turner, the court shall continue its practice to afford the accused an opportunity to say words on his behalf.”  A rise of hisses and boos were met by the banging of the gavel.  When peace was restored, the judge looked to Nat Turner.  “Go ahead boy!”

Nat Turner closed his eyes before slowly shuffling his shackle-clad ankles, turning away from the judge to face the courtroom audience.  When he opened his mouth the voice was shrill and clear, resonating independence.  Nat Turner looked past the faces reddened by hate and anger.  He looked beyond the man-made system of power which continued to press the vice of oppression on his people.  He gazed past the country which continually fabricated lies woven within the fabric of its creed that all men were created equal. He looked past of all that and into the visage of the god who defined his every word, step, and deed. Nat Turner opened his mouth and spoke.

“I stand before you, not in fear of your judgment but in anticipation of the standing in judgment of Gawd A’mighty.  His divine finger ordered my steps and those of my people.  The sparrow singing his song and has no regrets for the sound it makes.  The river that swells and floods the countryside has no regrets.  I have no regrets for the liberation of my brothers and sisters.  We have tasted the bitter sweetness of freedom and know we can never be satisfied with the false servings of enslavement.  Every man deserves to be free.  No!  Every man must be free!  And I too am a man because you proved it today.  For you could have killed me in the street like an animal in a slaughterhouse but today, I stand on trial to hear my fate.  For only a man can be tried by another man.  You today acknowledge my manhood.  So I say again, every man must be free!  I am free!  My people are free!”

Days later, a White House aide entered the office of Andrew Jackson.  His face, sweaty and lacking in color caught the president’s attention.

“What is it?”

“Mr. President.  A most disturbing message sir.”  The aide collapsed to one knee, catching himself on the edge of the president’s desk.  “Massive uprisings of slaves in Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi…all over.  They’ve raided armories and have gained the advantage.” The president dropped his glasses as he stood.  “It’s spreading Mr. President,” gasped the aide.  “It’s spreading.”

The Beginning

Guy A. Sims is the author of the romantically romance novel, Living Just A Little, and the crime novellas, The Cold Hard Cases of Duke Denim.  He is also the head writer of the Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline comic book series and the forthcoming Brotherman graphic novel, Revelation. BCEPressworks.com


Paradigm by Nila N. Brown/SOBSF celebrates Black History Month


By Nila N. Brown

Canal Street

New York City, 1898

Ten-year old Leona Edwards took in as much of the busy street as she could, mindful of the non-stop pedestrians going in every direction.  She had never been out of Alabama before, and New York City was fussier than any street in Tuskegee. The horseless carriages making their way up Canal Street were certainly a sight to see with their loud, mechanized sputtering.

“Leona!” a voice called out from the other side of the street. She turned around and smiled as her cousin, Harriett, ran over carrying violets.

“Where did you get those?” Leona asked.

“From that man,” Harriet replied, pointing to a white man in a dark suit and a bowler now making his way toward them. “The one with the scrunchy beard.”

Leona shifted uneasily. “Why did he give you those?”

“He said they were for you,” Harriett said as she turned around to face him. “Hey, Mister! This is my cousin, Leona.”

“Hello, pretty little gal!” the man said with a wide smile, but Leona recoiled. She could hear his clumsy attempt at an accent that didn’t sound natural. He was definitely southern, and they needed to get away.

“We have to go, sir,” she said, grabbing Harriett by the hand and pulling her past him. “Good day!”

“Don’t you like flowers?” he asked. “A pretty little gal should have flowers to match her pretty little pinafore.”

Leona looked over her shoulder to see him watching them. Scared, she pulled Harriett across the street.

The man waved, and then grimaced before disappearing into the crowd.

“Leona!” Harriett huffed, trying to catch her breath. “Slow down!”

“He’s bad news!” Leona said, glancing around. She snatched the violets from Harriett and threw them down. “Stay away from that man!”

Harriett adjusted her large pink hair bow. “Oh, Leona, this isn’t the south! People in New York are very nice!”

Leona ignored her. Harriett might not have understood, but she knew all too well the potential danger. “Let’s go back to your house.”

The girls continued up the street until they were at the corner. “Oh look!” Harriett exclaimed, pointing to a five-and-dime. “Let’s look through the stereoscope!”

“What’s that?” Leona asked.

“You can look at pictures in it,” Harriett replied, taking Leona by the arm and crossing the busy street. “It’s fun!”

Relaxing somewhat, Leona took a deep breath and nodded, going into the store and spending the next half hour looking at funny pictures through the strange contraption.  After having malted milks, the girls headed back to Harriett’s house.

A whistle blew very loudly in the distance, signaling the start of the lunch shift at the nearby shirtwaist factory. The streets soon filled with women workers making their way to some of the food carts lining the street.

But Leona was staring up at the large, white clouds as they slowly floated across the blue sky. She smiled; remembering the last time she and her sister, Hattie Mae, watched them take funny shapes under the huge magnolia tree in her mother’s yard.

As she watched, a shape began to form. At first it appeared round like a giant ball, but as she continued watching, two eyes formed, and then turned downward in what looked like an evil glare. Suddenly, a mouth formed and to her horror, it opened wider, showing huge, jagged teeth.

She took a step back, and as she did, a horse and buggy turned the corner and was racing in her direction, but she continued staring at the sky, her heart beating with a foreboding that she hadn’t felt before.

Suddenly, she was pushed down hard onto the cobblestone street. She sprang to her feet just as the horse, its eyes seemingly glowing red, closed in on her.

“Leona!” Harriett cried as she pushed Leona down again. Frightened, she rolled over, looking down the street just in time to see the horse and buggy turn the corner and disappear from sight. She tried to stand up as a tall man ran over to her, gently picking her up.

“Are you alright?” he asked, as he stood her up and held her shoulders.

“I’m fine, sir,” she replied, dusting her dress off and looking up at the sky. The angry cloud was gone. How strange.

“What happened?” he asked.

“Someone pushed me down, and then my cousin pushed me.” She tried to pull herself free, but the man wouldn’t let go. “Let me go!”

“No,” he said gently, “don’t look.”

She angrily pulled away, dusting off her dress as she turned around. “Harriett Sue Edwards! Why did you push me?”

A crowd had formed on the sidewalk. Confused, Leona stared at them, wondering what they were looking at. Some had handkerchiefs over their mouths, some were pointing, and some were crying. Then she looked down. All she could make out was a pink bow on top of a mass of dark hair now drenched in blood.



Two weeks later

Grand Central Terminal


As the train neared its stop at the huge station, Ida B. Wells looked out of the window at the patrons standing on the platform. She was glad to see so many Negroes moving about freely, but she knew that this was deceptive. It only took one accusation; just one bumped shoulder; just one foot stepped on. She shook the thought from her mind. There was work to be done, and she had to be in Washington, DC in three days to speak to President McKinley about the lynching problem in America.

She disembarked as the train stopped and the steps were lowered. As she made her way down the platform, she was stopped by a young man quite familiar to her. It had been a long time since she had seen him.

“Ms. Wells?” he said, inclining his hat.

“Hello, Matthew,” she replied, smiling. “What brings you here?”

“Dr. Du Bois asked me to come and fetch you,” he replied.

Ida’s brow arched. Dr. Du Bois was brilliant, but arrogant, stuffy, and distant. She didn’t like him, and the feeling was mutual. However, the fact that he was sending for her meant something, and she would see what it was before refusing. It was the least she could do.

“What’s this all about?” she asked. “I thought he took a teaching job in Atlanta.”

Matthew took her bag from her. “You’ll have to ask Dr. Du Bois, Ms. Wells.”

She nodded and the two of them made it out to 42nd Street and got into a waiting buggy. The pace of the carriage picking up, they soon made their way to Upper Manhattan, where Dr. Du Bois owned a large brownstone on 143rd Street. Matthew helped her down and then up the stairs to a row house with flower boxes in the window. Before they could knock, a maid opened the door.

“Ms. Ida B. Wells to see Dr. Du Bois,” Matthew announced.

Before the maid could speak, Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois was standing at the top of the stairs.

“Ms. Wells,” Dr. Du Bois said. “It’s lovely to see you again.”

“Likewise,” she replied. “How have you been? I thought you were in Atlanta.”

“That will be all, Matthew,” he said to the young man, who handed lady Ida’s bag to the maid and nodded before heading down the hallway. “I was on my way back, but Jedidiah Adams of the Philadelphia Freemasons contacted me and requested a meeting. I’ve been here for about three weeks now.”

“It must be something urgent to take you off of your routine,” she said.

“Indeed,” he replied gruffly. “I must say that I’m in need of your assistance on a matter of the utmost importance.”

Ida resisted the urge to roll her eyes. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t get used to how longwinded he was, but was nonetheless intrigued. For him to want her help meant that he was desperate, or everyone else had said ‘no.’ They made their way down the hallway and knocked on the door. A young girl opened it, smiling softly at Dr. Du Bois.

“Hello, Leona,” he said. “This is Ms. Ida B. Wells. Ms. Wells, Leona Edwards.”

Leona curtsied politely. “How do you do, Ma’am?”

“I’m very well, Leona,” Ida replied. “It’s nice to meet you.”

“Run along and join your parents, my dear,” he said. Leona nodded and went into a back room as he ushered Ida to the parlor. She sat down while he poured tea for them.

“What can I do for you, Dr. Du Bois?” Ida asked. “I have to be in Washington, and I like my routine just as you like yours.”

“This is an unusual situation,” he said, “but I know that you love a good mystery and this is right up your alley.”

“What do you mean?”

He briefly described the events leading up to and after Harriett’s death, but Ida wasn’t fooled; there was something he was leaving out. He would probably get to it, but he seemed too busy hearing himself talk.

“This is all very interesting,” she said as he finished. “But deaths like this happen all the time, especially in New York. Why am I here?”

He took a deep breath. “We’re here because that little girl’s life is in danger. I know this will sound strange, but Jedidiah brought an old Creole woman from New Orleans calling herself ‘PreMarie’ to see me. She told me that she had a vision, and that Leona was going to be killed. She said that I had to prevent it.”

“Did she tell you why?” she asked.

“She refused to divulge any pertinent details,” he replied. “Some white man from the south whom Leona called ‘Scrunchy Beard’ tried to give her violets, but she refused. His false accent bothered her, so they ran off, stopped at a store, and were on their way home when someone pushed Leona into the street in front of a runaway horse and buggy. Harriett then pushed her out of the way before being run over and killed.”

Ida sat back, sipping her tea. “How unfortunate, but what’s the significance of this?”

Dr. Du Bois crossed his arms, a serious look on his face. “PreMarie revealed this two days before it happened. She also said that Leona would see an evil image in the sky that would distract her from the traffic. I’m a man of faith and don’t believe in such things, but this cannot be ignored.”

Ida sat the cup down. “If Leona was the one who was supposed to die, why didn’t she?”

“In the vision, Leona was alone,” he replied. “Harriett followed along at the last minute and it apparently changed the outcome. After the funeral, someone tried to break into Harriett Edwards’ home, but the intruder was discovered and escaped before he could harm her. Under the cloak of darkness, Jedidiah brought them here.”

He took a deep breath before continuing. “PreMarie also said that this strange character came from the future.”

This time Ida laughed. “That’s not possible, William! Someone is playing games with you!” She stood up. “I must be in Washington so I’ll bid you good day!”

“Ida,” he said, standing up. “You and I don’t get along; we never have, but if I didn’t believe this, I wouldn’t have brought you here.”

Ida stopped and took in his stance. There was something in the depths of his eyes that gave her pause. He was serious – and afraid. President McKinley could wait. This needed tending to.

“What’s so important about this girl?” she asked.

“PreMarie would only say that through Leona, a catastrophic event will occur, and the face of the Negro race in America will change and have an impact on the world.  She said that this Scrunchy Beard person has to die.  The lives of our people may very well depend on this moment in time.”

Ida took a deep breath. “Alright, I’ll help you. What must we do?”

“I thought to have the Freemasons search for him, but it occurred to me that this won’t be necessary. This ‘Scrunchy Beard’ has shown that he will come for Leona. We will move them and then set a trap and dispatch this foul person post haste.”

“Where will they be taken?” she asked.

“They’ll be moved to the uncle’s home in broad daylight,” he replied. “Once this character is dispatched, Jedidiah will escort the girl and her family back to Tuskegee and remain there until further notice.”

“And then what?” she asked. “How are we supposed to keep this girl alive?”

He took her by the arm. “We’ll find a way. Perhaps we could form a committee that would serve as both a way to champion the advancement of the Negro race, and serve as a secret society to protect the girl now, as she matures into an adult, and to her next generation until this event takes place.”

Ida smiled brightly. If Leona was this important, then she would see to her survival. Whatever happened, she would help see her live.


Two days later

The buggy carrying Sylvester, Rose, and Leona Edwards arrived at Samuel Edwards’ home in the early evening hour just before dinner. The family got out of the carriage and was greeted by Sam and his wife, Sarah Mae.

In the shadows down the street, Scrunchy Beard, juggling a silver and gold mechanized ball, quietly observed them entering the house, and then disappeared into the dusky twilight.

After midnight, a window on the far back wall in the kitchen slowly opened; a tall, thin man sliding through quickly and quietly. Pausing to make sure he wasn’t heard, he took off his shoes, and slowly made his way from the kitchen to the hallway, and then quietly up the stairs. He had seen Leona in the back window watering flowers earlier, so he knew where to go.

Onward he crept, pulling a thin silver rope from his pocket. He paused, listening intensely, and then crept on until he was at the door where Leona was sleeping. Ever so slowly, he turned the knob and peered in, seeing a small figure in bed. He crouched down, closing the door and crept closer until he was at her bedside.

He smirked; his hands tightening around the rope. “Hello, pretty little gal,” he whispered.

Suddenly, the figure in the bed sat up. “Well, hello to you too!” Ida yelled.

Stunned, Scrunchy Beard stood up and stumbled backwards as Jedidiah leaped from the closet and grabbed from behind, holding him in a vice-like grip around the neck while Ida turned on the gaslight. Dr. Du Bois, Sam, and Matthew quickly entered the room, helping to subdue him.

“Who are you and who sent you?” Dr. Du Bois yelled.

Scrunchy Beard, gasping for breath, snarled, “More will come from my time! She will die!”

“Search him!” Ida commanded, and Sam went through his pockets, pulling out the ball, and handing it to Dr. Du Bois.

“That’s mine!” he yelled.

“What is this for?” Dr. Du Bois asked.

Scrunchy Beard sneered. “Go to hell!”

“You first!” Dr. Du Bois said, nodding as Jedidiah pulled the assassin down to the floor, snapping his neck.

Ida quickly got out of the bed. “That was close!”

“You did just fine, my dear,” Dr. Du Bois replied as Jedidiah stood up. “Do you know where to hide him?”

“Yes, sir,” Jedidiah replied. “He’ll never be found.”

Dr. Du Bois gazed at the ball. “This is a strange object.”

“You should destroy it,” Matthew said. “He said more of them will come.”

“Or we could hold onto it and see what it can do,” Dr. Du Bois replied. “Who knows? It might be useful.”

“What will we do when they come?” Sam asked.

“We’ll be ready for them,” Ida replied. “We’ll get this organization off the ground and protect Leona and her family for however long it takes until this event happens.”

Dr. Du Bois nodded, while Jedidiah and Matthew wrapped Scrunchy Beard’s body in a tarp and carried it out to a waiting buggy, riding off into the New York night.


December 1, 1955

Dexter Ave. and Montgomery St.

Montgomery, Alabama

A young seamstress boarded the #2857 bus after a long day’s work. There was a chill in the air, and she was glad the bus was on time. She looked out of the window, smiling at two little girls walking hand-in-hand down the street. It made her remember the stories that her mother, Leona, had told her about the summer she spent in New York with her cousin, Harriett. Growing up, her parents were always so protective of her and her brother, Sylvester, and keep a close eye on them. At first she thought it was because of the Klan, but over the years, she and Sylvester figured there was more to the story; mainly because of the many Freemason “step uncles” visiting over the years, but no one would discuss it.

Mother always had a look of profound sadness in her eyes whenever she talked about Harriett, but always stopped whenever she got to the part about the pretty violets. She could never finish the story.

After awhile, the bus became crowded, and the driver began to notice that there were several white people standing. He stopped the bus and went to the back, demanding that she and three other riders got up. Not today, she thought. Not today.

“Are you going to stand up?” he asked angrily.

“No, I’m not,” she replied.

“Well, if you don’t stand up, I’m going to have to call the police and have you arrested.”

“You may do that,” she replied.

Within a few minutes, the police arrived and escorted her off the bus.

“What’s your name, gal?” the officer gruffly asked.

Head held high, she looked him in the eye as she replied, “Mrs. Rosa Parks.”


Journey to Ki Khanga™: Creating Your Sword and Soul Roleplaying Game Characters, Part 3

In the last two posts, we have worked on our Ki Khanga™ Characters. In this post, we complete our characters.

Milton Davis and I have decided to do a contest in celebration of Ki Khanga’s release in 2015: send in your completed character with their back-story. The top five characters will be included among the Ki Khanga pre-made characters in the rulebook and the best one will be illustrated by a popular artist. You will also receive credit in the rulebook if your character is included and your character will forever become part of the Ki Khanga Universe!

If you would like to know more about the world of Ki Khanga in order to flesh out your character, I suggest you read the Anthology.

Now, let’s put the finishing touches on our character as Milton does so with his character, Kofi:

Remember, using the 150 points of Aṣe allotted to him, Milton built Kofi’s Abilities, Calculated Abilities, Skills and Talents and now has 2 points of Aṣe left to finish building his character.

Milton’s breathing finally returns to normal. “I’ll never run that far again,” he vows. He then takes another sip of coffee. It is still hot; still delicious. Milton smiles at the cup and then takes a quick peek at the TRAIT COST CHART once more:

TRAIT                        COST IN AṢE

Ability                         2 per rank

Skill                            1 per rank

Talent                          1 per Talent or Talent rank

Effect                          (base Effect cost + modifiers) x rank + flat modifiers

Defense                       2 per rank

Fighting                      10 per addl. Rank

Health                         10 per addl. Rank

Will                             10 per addl. Rank

Wealth                       10 per addl. Rank.

Milton looks at the formula for the cost of Effects and calls Balogun for clarity.

“Hey, Balogun,” Milton says.

“Hello, Milton,” Balogun replies.

“I called to…”

“To ask me to clarify the formula for the cost of Effects,” Balogun says, finishing Milton’s sentence.

“How did you…”

“I knew years ago, when I first shook your hand in Starbucks,” Balogun replies.

“But how…”

“I’ve been playing roleplaying games for three decades,” Balogun answers. “I am roleplaying games; roleplaying games are me. There is no question about roleplaying games I do not hear; no confusion, elation, triumph or failure involving roleplaying games I do not feel. Every die thrown; every character made…I am there.”

“I thought so,” Milton says.

“The formula simply means that each Effect has a cost attached to it,” Balogun says. If you modify the power in any way, it increases the cost of the Effect. The cost also increases per rank you decide to start with. For example, if we take the Change SkinEffect, the base cost is 3 points of Aṣe / rank. You can transform into an ordinary animal, or a duplicate of another person (or humanoid) with this Effect. You choose which type – animal or human – when you purchase Change Skin.  Change Skin can be purchased twice – once to transform into animals; once to mimic humans. If you can only transform into one specific type of animal, or only mimic a specific person, the cost is reduced to 2 points of Aṣe /rank.”

“I see,” Milton says.

“So, if the character Thelma has Change Skin and can only mimic her uncle Nate,” Balogun continues. “The base cost of the Effect is 2 per rank. She doesn’t use any modifiers and takes one rank in Change Skin, which costs her two points of Aṣe.”

“Got it,” Milton replies. “So…”

“Yes, we can meet next Tuesday to go over the character,” Balogun replies. “You’re welcome. Peace!”

Balogun hangs up. Milton sips a bit more coffee and reads the descriptions for Effects:


Effects are extraordinary abilities possessed by characters, creatures and even weapons and items.  They can be magical, psionic, divine, biological, or technological, as described below (you choose the Source).


Biological: Comes from your own physiology, drawing power from the function of your organs or stores of personal aṣe. An octopus’ ink, neurotoxin and color / texture changes are biologically generated Effects. For checks, the base is END. ♥

Divine: Comes from a higher being or spirit. Divine power is usually available only to those with an allegiance to that divinity. The base is PRE. ♠

Magical: Comes from manipulation of mystic forces (some call “universal aṣe”). This includes the casting of spells and use of potions, scrolls and many items. The base is WIS. ♥

Psionic: Comes from the psyche of the wielder. The power of your mind. These include the classic mental powers of Telepathy and Mind Control, but can include any of the effects. The base is WIS. ♥

Technological: Comes from technological devices and specialized equipment.  The technology may come from an advanced society, an alien race, etc., which is to be described at your character’s creation. The base is INT. ♦

Effects are broken down as follows:

Name: Name of the Effect.  With the GM’s permission, you can change the name to something that sounds cooler, more intimidating, or more fitting for your style of play.

Cost: The cost of the power – per rank – in Aṣe.

Time: The amount of time it takes to cast or activate the Effect. An Effect with a Time of “1 Turn” can be used on your turn to act in a round, just like any other Action. Effects with a Time of “1 Round”, means the Effect happens on your turn in the following round and you can do nothing but perform that Effect.

Duration: How long the Effect lasts. “Sustained” means the Effect lasts as long as you concentrate on it (see ‘Concentration’ Skill); “Instantaneous” Effects happen and then end in the same Action it was used. Some outcomes are, however, permanent. For example, Heal is Instantaneous, but the healing it causes is permanent. “1 Round (or 2, 3, 5, etc.)” means the Effect last 1 round per rank. So, if you had Animal Tongue 5, which has a duration of 1 Round, the Effect, once activated, would last 5 rounds (or until you decided to cancel it).

Description: What the Effect does and how it works.

ANIMAL TONGUE – Cost: 1/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: 1 Round. You can communicate with ordinary animals.

BANISH – Cost: 3/rank; Time: 1 Round; Duration: Permanent, unless dispelled. You can cause a spirit or otherworldly entity to return to its plane of origin.

BEWITCH – Cost: 1/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: 1 Round. You can cause people to feel friendly about you and trust you enough to perform minor favors for you.

BEFUDDLE – Cost: 2/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: 2 Rounds. You can cause a target to be confused and unable to perform any action.

BLESS – Cost: 1/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: 3 Rounds. You may temporarily increase a target’s Health, Will, Attack Total, or Defense Total.

BOLT – Cost: 3/rank; Time: 2 Turns; Duration: Instantaneous. You cast a bolt of energy that does damage. The range of your Bolt is 10’/rank.

BREEZE – Cost: 1/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: 1 Round. You can cause a light breeze to blow.

CHANGE SKIN – Cost: 3/rank; Time: 1 Round; Duration: 3 Rounds. You can transform into an ordinary animal, or a duplicate of another person (or humanoid).

CHILL – Cost: 2/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: 1 Round. You can lower temperature in a 10’ radius around you per rank, causing those in the area to shiver and their breath to be visible (reveals invisible or hidden characters).

DARKSIGHT – Cost: 1/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: 1 Round. You can see in total darkness as if it was daylight.

DECIPHER – Cost: 1/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: 1 Round. You can understand languages and encrypted codes.

DEFLECT – Cost: 3/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: 2 Rounds. You can create a force-field that repels a number of damage per attack equal to a drawn card’s value.

The force-field forms a 360° dome around you, extending 1” from you. For an additional +1/rank cost, the field can extend out to a 2’ radius per rank and can protect anyone who can fit into this dome.

DISENCHANT – Cost: 2/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: Instantaneous. Disenchant negates Effects of equal or lower rank if successful.

DRAGON’S KISS – Cost: 3/rank; Time: 2 Turns; Duration: Instantaneous. Conjure either a 3’ wide wave of flame with a range of 50’, or three fireballs, which can be hurled up to 30’ at separate targets.

ELDER’S REPRIMAND – Cost: 3/rank; Time: 1 Round; Duration: 3 Rounds. You place a curse on your target.

ERASE MEMORY – Cost: 3/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: Permanent. You can remove a specific memory from a target if successful.

FEAR – Cost: 2/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: 2 Rounds. You cause your target to become frightened.

FLAME – Cost: 2/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: Instantaneous. You can create a large flame that can consume objects, such as a chair or a pile of wood.

FLASH – Cost: 1/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: Instantaneous. You can cause a blinding flash that causes the Blind Condition.

FLIGHT – Cost: 3/rank; Time: 1 Round; Duration: 3 Rounds. You or your target can fly at your running speed x rank. You can carry whatever your STR allows.

FREEZE – Cost: 3/rank; Time: 2 Turns; Duration: Instantaneous. You can freeze a human-sized creature or object inside a chunk of ice.

FROST – Cost: 2/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: 2 Rounds. You can cover a target with a layer of frost.

HEAL – Cost: 3/rank; Time: 1 Round; Duration: Instantaneous. You can reduce the Condition of others by one step per rank. You can heal one person/round per 2 ranks of Heal (round down). Thus, at Heal 7, you can heal up to 3 people per round. At a +1/rank cost, you can also Heal yourself.

IGNITE – Cost: 1/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: Instantaneous. You can create a small spark of heat that can light candles, fuses, or parchment.

ILLUSION – Cost: 3/rank; Time: 2 Turn; Duration: 3 Rounds. You can create convincing illusions with appropriate sound effects.

INSUBSTANTIAL – Cost: Special (see below); Time: 1 Turn; Duration: 1 Sustained. You can assume one of four Effects, each with a flat cost. For checks, each is considered to be 5 ranks.

  • Fluid/Rubbery (5 Aṣe): You can become a fluid mass, or a stretchable, rubbery form. You can flow through any sort of opening, under doors, and so on. You can automatically flow out of any restraint that is not watertight. You can exert normal STR and you can still push or carry objects. You may attempt to catch a falling person or object, cushioning the fall with your flexible form. This reduces falling damage by your Health + Defenses + a played card from your Hand.
  • Gaseous Particles (10 Aṣe): You can become a cloud of gas or fine particles (including a swarm of tiny insects). You have no effective STR in gaseous form, but you have immunity to physical damage. Energy and area attacks damage you normally. You can flow through any opening that isn’t airtight.
  • Energy (15 Ase): You can become coherent energy. You have no effective STR, but you are immune to physical damage. Energy attacks – other than the energy constituting your form (to which you are immune) – damage you normally. You can pass through solid objects permeable to your type of energy, but energy resistant barriers, such as force-fields, block your movement.
  • Incorporeal (20 Aṣe): You can become an incorporeal phantom. You can pass through solid matter at your normal speed and you are immune to physical and energy damage. Sensory Effects and those that target Will still work on you. You must also choose one other reasonably common Effect that works on you while you are incorporeal. You have no effective STR and cannot affect the physical world. Your sensory Effects work normally. Unless you have immunity to suffocation, you must hold your breath while passing through a solid object and you can suffocate. If you revert to solid form while inside a solid object, you suffer damage equal to the object’s Health, minus your END. If not Incapacitated (or worse), you are immediately ejected from the object into the nearest open space. If you are Incapacitated, you are trapped inside the object and your Condition worsens to Dying on the following round.

INVISIBILITY – Cost: 2 or 4/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: Sustained. You can vanish from sight at will, gaining total visual concealment, although other senses can still detect you. This costs 2/rank if you are only invisible to normal vision; 4/rank if you are invisible to all visual senses, including infrared and ultraviolet.

LEVITATE – Cost: 2/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: 2 Rounds. You – or a human-sized creature or object – can rise and float in the air.

LIGHT – Cost: 1/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: 2 Rounds. You can create a light that illuminates an area within a 15’ radius / rank.

LOCK / OPEN – Cost: 2/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: 2 Rounds. You can seal an object, making it magically locked, or unlock a locked object.

POSTCOGNITION – Cost: 3/rank; Time: 1 Round; Duration: 1 Instantaneous. You can see visions of the past. You pick up on past information in an area or from a subject.

PRECOGNITION – Cost: 3/rank; Time: 1 Round; Duration: 1 Instantaneous. You can perceive possible futures. If circumstances change, the vision may not come to pass.

PRODIGIOUS LUCK – Cost: 3/rank; Time: 1 Round; Duration: 1 Round. When attempting Actions, including combat, draw extra cards and add them to your Hand.

PUSH / PULL – Cost: 1/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: 1 Round. You can move objects up, down, toward you and away for you without physically touching them. The maximum weight you can move is 1 lb./rank.

READ MINDS – Cost: 3/rank; Time: 1 Round; Duration: Sustained. You can read another character’s mind by making a check against the target’s Will.

SAFE FALL – Cost: 2/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: Instantaneous. As long as you are capable of Action, you can fall – without harm – a distance equal to your Safe Fall rank x 20’. If there is a handhold for you to grab – or if you have the Wall-Crawl Effect – you can stop your fall with a DEX check.

SHIELD – Cost: 2/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: 1 Round. You can create a barrier of force that protects against frontal attacks of any type. Shield absorbs 2 points of damage per rank (works like a normal shield). Shield cannot be used to protect others.

SHOCK – Cost: 2/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: Instantaneous. You can deal electrical damage by touch, or by channeling the electricity through a conduit.

SLEEP – Cost: 2/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: 2 Rounds. You can cause your target to suffer the Asleep Condition.

STUN – Cost: 1/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: 2 Rounds. You can cause your target to suffer the Stunned Condition.

SUMMON ANIMAL – Cost: 1/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: 1 Round. You can summon an ordinary animal of your choosing to your area. The animal can be your steed whether it ordinarily is or not. The size of the animal depends on your Summon Animal rank:

1 – 3: Tiny (mouse, rat, bat, squirrel, hummingbird, house cat, pigeon)

4 – 5: Small (average-sized dog, monkey, rooster, average goat, owl, wild cat, chimpanzee)

6 – 7: Medium (baboon, large dog, wolf, condor, cheetah, hyena)

8 – 9: Large (gorilla, horse, lion, crocodile)

10 – 11: Huge (elephant, great white shark)

12+: Immense (blue whale)

TELEPATHY – Cost: 2/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: Sustained. You can communicate over a distance using a mental transmission. Communication is instantaneous with any subject within your range. Your range is equal to your Telepathy rank x 1 mile.

TELEPORT – Cost: 3/rank; Time: 2 Turns; Duration: Instantaneous. You disappear from one location and reappear in another instantaneously. You can teleport a distance up to your Teleport rank x 500’.

THUNDERCLAP – Cost: 2/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: 2 Rounds. You can emit or summon a powerful, concussive sound that causes your target to suffer Deaf and Dazed Conditions. For an additional cost per rank of +1, you can affect an area equal to a 10’ radius / rank.

TRANSFORM – Cost: 2 – 5/rank; Time: 1 Round; Duration: Sustained. You can change objects into other object, altering their shape or material compositions. What you can transform affects cost per rank as follows:

2/rank: Transform one thing or substance into another thing or substance, such as metal into wood, iron into glass, or broken objects into repaired ones.

3/rank: Transform a broad group of things into a single result, such as any metal into gold; or a single thing into a broad group, such as gold into any metal.

4/rank: Transform a broad group into a broad group, such as all metals into all liquids.

5/rank: Transform any material into anything else.

Transform only affects inanimate objects. You cannot Transform animate (living) beings.

WALL-CRAWL – Cost: 2/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: 1 Round. You can climb walls and ceilings at your normal walking speed with no chance of falling.

WALL OF FORCE – Cost: 3/rank; Time: 1 Round; Duration: 3 Rounds. You can create a wall of force that repels all projectiles and cannot be passed physically (not even by incorporeal creatures). For an additional cost per rank of +2, you can create an invisible wall that can be seen through from either side.

WEATHERCRAFT – Cost: 5/rank; Time: 1 Round; Duration: 3 Rounds. Summon and create thunderstorms, heat waves, powerful winds and so on. You affect an area equal to Weathercraft rank x 1500’ radius.

Cold: You can lower the temperature in an area, creating up to extreme cold. Those in the area must make a Health check against your Weathercraft Total  -2 for uncomfortable cold (a cold winter day); Weathercraft Total for intense cold (arctic conditions); or Weathercraft Total  +2 for extreme cold (an arctic winter storm). A Fumble = Dying; Failure = Incapacitated; Partial Success = Exhausted; Full Success = Fatigued; High Success = Suffer no Condition. Every 3 rounds, the condition worsens by one level until removed from the cold.

Heat: You can raise the temperature in an area, creating up to extreme heat. Those in the area must make a Health check against your Weathercraft Total  -2 for uncomfortable heat (a hot summer day); Weathercraft Total for intense cold (a blazing desert); or Weathercraft Total  +2 for extreme cold (the edge of a volcano). A Fumble = Dying; Failure = Incapacitated; Partial Success = Exhausted; Full Success = Fatigued; High Success = Suffer no Condition. Every 3 rounds, the condition worsens by one level until removed from the heat.

Impede Movement: You can impede movement through the area with high winds, icy or wet surfaces, and so on. Reduce speed by up to ¼.

Reduce Visibility: You create a dense fog that causes any Action requiring sight to suffer a -5 penalty.

You can use one aspect of the weather at a time. You can use more than one aspect at a time (e.g. Cold, Impede Movement and Reduce Visibility all happen at once; victims suffer all the effects) for a cost per rank increase of +1.

WIND – Cost: 2/rank; Time: 1 Turn; Duration: 2 Rounds. You can cause strong gusts of wind to blow through an area, stirring up dust clouds and loose debris and doing damage.

WRATH OF ṢANGO – Cost: 3/rank; Time: 1 Round; Duration: Instantaneous. You can hurl bolts of electricity. These bolts ignore all armor. If the target is wearing metal armor, he suffers the Dying Condition. Otherwise, the target is Incapacitated. The range of Wrath is 100’.

ZOMBIFICATION – Cost: 3/rank; Time: 1 Round; Duration: Permanent. You can control the minds of others. The Effect lasts until you relinquish control.

Milton chooses the Stun Effect, which costs 1 point of Aṣe per rank. He purchases two ranks, so he has no more points of Aṣe left.

Milton decides that the Effect is Technological – Kofi’s throwing clubs.

Finishing Touches

Now, Milton completes the design of his character. To do this, he must include some important information:


Ki KhangaSince Ki-Khanga™: The Sword & Soul RPG is set in a mythical Afrika, names are very important to the people. In fact, your surname is so important in many cultures that it is said before your given name, thus Oyabode (given, or first name) Ojetade (surname) would be called Ojetade Oyabode.

Most people on the continent of Ki-Khanga consider your name and / or your title to represent your mission, your power and your challenge. Your name tells people your personal story.

For example, in Oyo – the renowned warrior Balogun Oyayemi Adetutu’s name can be translated as: Balogun (“War Chief”) Oyayemi (“Oya befits me”) Adetutu (“The crown is cool”). This name / title combination tells people that their beloved warrior bears the rank of General, or War Chief (Balogun); he is a priest of the goddess Oya, or is to become one (Oyayemi); and that he is destined to rule and his rule will be one of peace and tranquility (Adetutu).

So, put some thought into the name you choose for your character.

Milton has already chosen the name Kofi for his character.


Ki KhangaHow old is your character? Most adventuring characters are typically between the ages of 20 and 40, but some are younger, as many cultures send teenagers on adventures as part of their passage into adulthood. Characters can also be much older than forty. It is up to you and the concept you have for your character.

Milton decides that the veteran constable, Kofi is 52 years old.


What does your hero look like? Consider the character’s ethnicity, country of origin, gender and other factors when determining what he or she looks like.  Determine height; weight; build; eye color; hair color, texture, length and style; and skin tone and texture. Also determine what the clothing, weapons and equipment you purchased for your character look like.

Milton determines that Kofi’s country of origin is Asanteman, but he is now a resident of Sati Baa. He is 6’2” tall; weighs 211 pounds; and has a muscular, well-defined build. Kfi’s eyes are brown and his hair is kinky, cut short and is salt-and-pepper colored. His skin is dark brown and leathery.


Your motivation is what drives you to be who you are; what keeps you going in the face of adversity. When you play out your character’s motivation, the GM rewards you a point of Aṣe.

Choose one Motivation for your character.

  • Acceptance: You feel that you are different from others and work hard to gain the trust and acceptance of them.
  • Doing Good: You believe in doing the right thing and have a strong moral center.
  • Greed: You seek only to make a profit from your adventuring and hire out your skills and talents to the highest bidder. You may do good deeds, but you figure why not make a living doing so?
  • Justice: You have a need to see the innocent protected and the guilty punished. You may walk a thin line between seeking justice and seeking vengeance.
  • Patriotism: You are devoted to the beliefs and morals of your home (or adopted) nation or culture. Perhaps you are the honored champion of your people, but it is the service – not the accolades – that matter to you.
  • Recognition: You want recognition and /or attention and what better way to get it than doing daring deeds and fighting epic battles?
  • Responsibility: You feel that it is your duty to use your talents and skills for good. Most likely, you are trying to live up to the teaching of a mentor or the ideals of a predecessor who inspired you.
  • Thrills: You live for the rush that is brought by overcoming obstacles, winning challenges and surviving danger.

Milton chooses Responsibility as Kofi’s Motivation.


Complications are the personal challenges that your character faces. They can affect how others treat you and how you interact with your environment. Complications can also provide interesting subplots and plot twists to adventures.

You must choose one Complication, but may choose as many as you wish, as long as the Griot allows it.

  • Addiction: You have a powerful need – physical, psychological, or spiritual – that you will go out of your way to satisfy. If you are unable to satisfy your addiction, you may suffer other Complications.
  • Disability: You are blind, deaf, mute, or paraplegic. You may have extraordinary traits that counter the disability, but it will still affect you from time to time.
  • Enemy: You have an enemy or enemies that are trying to do you harm. Enemies may abduct loved ones, sabotage your missions and attack you and so on.
  • Fame: You are a public figure, known throughout a country, a region, or even the entire continent.
  • Honor: You have a strong personal code that you live and act by. This becomes a complication when you face a moral dilemma, or must go against the majority.
  • Intolerance: You strongly dislike something and actively oppose the thing you dislike, regardless of the consequences.
  • Obsession: You are possessed with a particular person or thing and pursue it to the exclusion of all else.
  • Phobia: You are irrationally afraid of something. When confronted with it, it causes you to hesitate, flee or act irrationally.
  • Quirk: You have certain likes, dislikes, hobbies, or habits that are your “signature”.
  • Relationship: An important person, or people, in your life get involved in – or interfere with – your affairs in troublesome ways.
  • Reputation: You have a bad reputation – deserved or not – that affects the way others treat you.
  • Responsibility: You have family obligations, professional duties, or other demands on your time and attention.
  • Rivalry: You are in fierce competition with a person or group and try to outdo your rival(s) at every opportunity.
  • Secret: You have something potentially damaging or embarrassing that you are hiding from the world. Something, or someone, may one day threaten to reveal it.
  • Scorn: You are part of a group, suffer certain circumstances, or have a certain appearance that provokes others to react toward you with distrust and prejudice.
  • Temper: Certain things send you into a rage. When you lose your temper, you lash out at whatever provoked you.

Milton decides to pick Fame and Responsibility as Kofi’s Complications.

Now Milton must choose Kofi’s weapons and equipment. Kofi has 6 ranks of Wealth. Milton multiplies Kofi’s Wealth rank by 5 to determine how many Equipment Points (EP) Kofi has. Thus, Kofi has an EP of 30 (6 X 5).

Milton purchases his weapons first. He checks the charts and finds throwing clubs, which cost 1 point of EP each. Milton purchases 10 of them. He has 20 EP left.


ITEM PARTIAL     FULL     HIGH     COST     Special

Unarmed Strike, BA-AV Str 0                 1              2             n/a            n/a

Unarmed Strike, GF-HG Str 1                 2              3             n/a            n/a

Unarmed Strike, EX-BE Str                       2                 3              4             n/a               n/a

Dagger                                                                    1                 2              3               1             n/a

Punching Dagger                                        1                 2              3               1               n/a

Arm Knife                                                   1                 2              3               3               n/a

Tortoise Shell Knife                                   1                 2              3               6            +2 Protection

Wrist Knife                                                 1                 2              3               3               n/a

Knobkerrie                                                  1                 2              3               2              see below

Club                                                            1                 2              3               1               n/a

Quarterstaff                                                 1                 2              3               1               n/a

Shortspear                                                   1                 2              3               2               n/a

Leafspear                                                    3                 4              5               8               n/a

Longspear                                                   3                 4              5               3               n/a

Greatspear                                                   4                 5              6               5               n/a

Trident                                                                    4                 5              6               8             n/a

Hand Axe                                                    1                 2              3               3               n/a

Battle Axe                                                   3                 4              5               6               n/a

Great Axe                                                   5                 6              7               8               n/a

Warhammer                                                3                 4              5               7               n/a

Shortsword                                                  2                 3              4               6               n/a

Broadsword                                                 4                 5              6               6               n/a

Longsword                                                  3                 4              5               6               n/a

Scimitar                                                      2                 3              4               8               n/a

*Your STR is added to the damage you do with melee weapons.


ITEM COST             Range

Bola*                                                            1                        10’

Net                                                               9                        10’

Whip*                                                          3                        15’

Blowgun (needle)                                     1                         15’

Dart*                                                           1                         20’

Sling (bullet)                                             1                         50’

Throwing Club*                                        1                        20’

Returning Club*                                       3                        20’

Throwing Blade*                                      3                        15’

Throwing Spear*                                      2                        30’

Javelin*                                                      2                        30’

Light Crossbow (bolts)                           9                         80’

Heavy Crossbow (bolts)                         16                       110’

Shortbow                                                   7                         60’

Composite Shortbow                              11                        70’

Longbow                                                   16                        100’

Composite Longbow                              21                         110’

Greatbow                                                 31                          100’

Composite Greatbow                            40                          110’

*Your STR is added to the damage you do with thrown weapons.

Milton now checks the Armor Chart and chooses a suit of Studded Leather, which costs 3 EP. Milton now has 17 EP.


All armor has a Protection Rank, which is subtracted from the damage an attack does. Armor also has an Agility penalty that reduces AGL – and all Actions associated with it – by the listed number. This penalty only applies when the armor is worn and/or the shield is wielded. Finally, the cost – in Equipment Points – is given.

Light Armor Protection      AGL        Cost

Beaded                                               +2                    —               2

Chain Shirt (iron)                            +4                    —               10

Leather                                              +2                    —               2

Padded                                              +1                     —               1

Studded Leather                             +3                     —               3

Woven Cord                                    +1                      —               1

Medium Armor

Hide                                               +3                 -1            2

Iron Mantle                                    +5                 -3           15

Wooden Plate                                +4                 -2            8


Buckler, Wooden                           +1                 —            1

Buckler, Iron                                  +2                —            2

Small, Leather                               +1                 —             1

Small, Wooden                              +1                 —             1

Small, Iron                                     +2                 —             2

Large, Leather                               +2                 —            2

Large, Wooden                              +2                 —            2

Large, Iron                                     +3                 —           3

Leather Body                                 +3                 -1            3

Milton  peruses the clothing and decides to purchase two Explorer’s Outfits, which costs 4 EP each, leaving Milton with 9 EP. He decides to hang on to the 9 EP for spending in Sati Baa and on any adventures he may embark upon.


Artisan’s Outfit – Cultural standard; plus a cloth or leather apron for carrying tools. Low quality material. (Cost: 2 Equipment Points)

Citizen’s Outfit – Cultural standard; no decorations. Low quality material.  (1E.P.)

Courtier’s Outfit – Cultural standard; tailored to fit and in the latest fashions. High quality material. Usually embroidered or ornamental. (5 E.P.)

Entertainer’s Outfit – Cultural standard; designed for maximum mobility. Moderate quality material, dyed in bright patterns. Often decorated with small bells, streamers, or trinkets. (3 E.P.)

Explorer’s Outfit – Cultural standard; Many pockets; comes with a hat or a simple headdress. Sturdy, high quality material. (4 E.P.)

Noble’s Outfit – Cultural standard; tailored to fit and in the latest fashions. High quality material. Usually embroidered or ornamented with beads or cowry shells. (6 E.P.)

Priest’s Outfit – Cultural standard; tailored to fit and in the latest fashions. High quality material; may be dyed or embroidered. Ornamented with fetishes, culturally appropriate decorations and – often – non-magical masks. (4 E.P.)

Royal Outfit – Cultural standard; tailored to fit; heavily covered with embroidery, precious metals, gems, cowry shells and/or beads. Superb quality material. (9 E.P.)

Scholar’s Outfit – Cultural standard; emphasis on comfort. High quality material. Occassionally embroidered. (3 E.P.)

Traveler’s Outfit – Cultural standard; emphasis on comfort and durability. Moderate quality material. Usually dyed, but rarely embroidered or ornamented. (3 E.P.)


Item Cost

Barding, Huge                                     x8

Barding, Large                                    x4

Barding, Medium                               x2

Bit and Bridle, Huge                            2

Bit and Bridle, Large                            1

Camel, Riding or Pack                         5

Cart                                                       2

Donkey or Mule                                    1

Elephant, Labor                                    15

Horse, Light                                          8

Saddle, Huge, Military                         4

Saddle, Huge, Pack                               1

Saddle, Huge, Riding                           2

Saddle, Large, Pack                              1

Saddle, Large, Military                        2

Saddle, Large, Riding                           1

War Camel                                           10

War Elephant                                        40

Warhorse, Light                                    15

Milton is now done with his creation of Kofi. He now sits down to write the old constable’s back-story, which I recommend you do, too. Have fun!

Once your character is complete, if you desire to enter it into the Ki Khanga Character Contest, please email the character, with their back-story, to chroniclesofharriet@gmail.com.


Journey to Ki Khanga™: Creating Your Sword and Soul Roleplaying Game Characters, Part 2

In our last post, Milton (actually my evil twin)  was busy creating his character, Kofi, a veteran Constable in the merchant riverine city of Sati Baa.

Using the 150 points of Aṣe allotted to him, Milton built Kofi’s Abilities and Calculated Abilities and now has 46 points of Aṣe left to finish building his character.

Milton dunks his Danish in his coffee and then yanks the now soggy pastry from the cup of java and takes a bite. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, savoring the sweet gummy taste of the soaked Danish. “Heaven,” he whispers, and then he takes another peek at the TRAIT COST Chart:

TRAIT                         COST IN AṢE

Ability                         2 per rank

Skill                             1 per rank

Talent                          1 per Talent or Talent rank

Effect                          (base Effect cost + modifiers) x rank + flat modifiers

Defense                       2 per rank

Fighting                       10 per addl. Rank

Health                         10 per addl. Rank

Will                             10 per addl. Rank

Wealth                        10 per addl. Rank.

“Skills are next, huh?” Milton says. “Cool, let’s do this.” He thinks about Kofi, a skilled and highly experienced law enforcer in a town that is all about commerce. After a few moments of contemplation, Milton reads the Skills descriptions:


  1. Skills are learned abilities – a combination of training and natural affinity.
  2. Each skill is linked to an Ability and to that Ability’s applicable Suit.
  3. Each skill has a rank that indicates how many cards you draw to accomplish the task AND the points you add to your played card.

For example, Kofi wants to eavesdrop on a pair of sailors who are fifty feet away (a tough task, Difficulty Rating (DR) 7, plus the GM’s played card – a five of Diamonds, which raises DR to 8). Milton uses Kofi’s Listen skill, which has a rank of 3 and is linked to his Wisdom, which has a rank of 10. He draws 3 cards. He adds Kofi’s Listen and Wisdom ranks to the value of the played card (a 6 of Diamonds) for a total of 19 and compares it to the DR. In this case, Kofi easily overhears the sailors’ conversation.

  • Untrained: If you do not possess a skill, you are considered untrained. You can still attempt the skill, but you would only use the Ability linked to the appropriate skill. If the skill is designated as “Trained Only”, however, you cannot use the skill if you are not trained in it. To attempt to use a “Trained Only” skill untrained results in an automatic Fumble. Fumbles are discussed in detail in the Ki Khanga™ Sword and Soul Roleplaying Game.

Milton chooses from the list of skills below. Detailed descriptions are given in the Ki Khanga™ Sword and Soul Roleplaying Game. Here, we have included the Ability each Skill is linked to, the card Suit it is linked to and whether the Skill is ‘Trained Only,’ or not.

Each Skill costs 1 point of Aṣe per rank.

ACROBATICS [AGL; Trained Only; ♣]







CRAFT [INT; Trained Only; ♦]: Craft is actually a number of separate skills that are purchased and built individually. Some of the crafts include: Alchemy; Armor smithing; Basket Weaving; Book-Binding; Bow-Making; Blacksmithing; Calligraphy; Carpentry; Cobbling; Gem Cutting; Leather Working; Locksmithing; Painting; Pottery; Sculpting; Shipmaking; Stonemasonry; Trap-Making; Weaponsmithing; Weaving and Woodcarving.

DECIPHER SCRIPT [INT; Trained Only; ♦]


DISABLE DEVICE [INT; Trained Only; ♦]





HANDLE ANIMAL [PRE; Trained Only; ♠]





KNOWLEDGE [INT; ♦]: This skill encompasses a number of unrelated skills. Knowledge represents a study of some body of lore. Typical fields of study include: Arcana (ancient mysteries, magic traditions, arcane symbols, magical creatures); Architecture & Engineering (edifices, dams, bridges, roads, fortifications); Art & Literature (artists, ballads, plays); Folklore (legends & myths, superstitions, cultural / racial lore, folk remedies); Creature Lore (habits, habitat, strengths, weaknesses); Geography (lands, terrain, climate, people, customs); History (royalty, wars, migrations, notable events, catastrophes); Local Lore (local customs, personalities, laws, traditions, creatures);Nature (flora, fauna, fractals, weather, climate, natural cycles); Peerage (bloodlines & genealogies, heraldry, factions, duties); Religion (deities, history, traditions, holy symbols, shrines); Warcraft (tactics, strategies, leaders, siegecraft, military history).




PICK LOCK [DEX; Trained Only; ♦]

PROFESSION [WIS; Trained Only; ♥]




SLEIGHT OF HAND [DEX; Trained Only; ♦]

SPEAK LANGUAGE [INT; Trained Only; ♦]: Though Kikhanga (the “Common” Tongue) is a nearly universal trade language; most people speak their native tongue as well. You begin the game fluent in Kikhanga and the native language of your people. For every rank in this skill, you gain fluency in another language.





USE MAGIC DEVICE [PRE; Trained Only; ♠]


Milton chooses the following skills and gives them the listed ranks: Bluff: 2; Climb: 1; Concentration: 2; Diplomacy: 3; Disable Device: 1; Gather Information: 4; Intimidate: 3; Knowledge – Creature Lore: 1, Geography: 1, Local Lore: 2; Listen: 3; Move Silently: 1; Ride: 1; Search: 3; Sense Motive: 3; Speak Languages – Ki Khanga (common)Twi / Asanteman (native)Kiswala; Spot: 2; Swim: 1; Taunt: 2.

The total cost of these skills is 37 points of Aṣe. Milton now has 9 points of Aṣe left.


  1. Talents are the extraordinary traits we all possess that are more than skills, but not quite on the same level of power as Effects (see Effects in Part 3).
  2. Talents often enhance skills we already possess and sometimes give us access to abilities most people do not have.
  3. Like Abilities and Skills, Talents are bought with – and advanced by – Aṣe. Also, like Abilities and Skills, Talents are rated in ranks. Most are 1 rank (the rank required to purchase the Talent), however, some Talents can be purchased multiple times to increase outcomes, or to add new outcomes. Some Talents are linked to Suits and some are not, as they apply to Skills of more than one Suit.

Milton peruses the list of Talents below. He doesn’t have many points left, so he decides to pick only a few talents and save a few points to buy an Effect.

The Talents and the Skills they modify are listed below. The cost of each talent is 1 point of Aṣe or 1 point per rank in that Talent. A more detailed look at Talents is included in the Ki Khanga™ Sword and Soul Roleplaying Game rulebook:

AGILE: +2 on all Balance and Escape Artist checks.

ALERTNESS: +2 on all Listen and Spot checks.

ANIMAL AFFINITY: +2 on all Handle Animal and Ride checks.

ATHLETIC: +2 on all Climb and Swim checks.

AMBIDEXTERITY: You can use either hand with equal aptitude. ♦

BASH: You can make a bash attack with a shield. ♣

BEGGAR: +4 on Diplomacy checks when you are begging. ♠

BREW POTION: You can create potions, which carry spells within themselves. Prerequisite: Knowledge – Arcana 5; you must possess the Spell Effect you want to add to the potion. ♦

BRUTISH: You are strong and menacing-looking. Add your STR as well as your PRE to Intimidate.

COMBAT CASTING: + 4 to Concentration checks made to cast a spell or to maintain an Effect. ♥

COMBAT EXPERTISE: Take up to -5 from your Attack check and add the same rank number (5 or less) as a bonus to your Defense. Prerequisite: INT 6. ♦

COMBAT REFLEXES: You can take up to your AGL rank in attacks against Stunned and Unaware opponents (only one additional attack per opponent) (see Conditions). Prerequisite: AGL 6. ♣

CRAFT MAGIC ARMS & ARMOR: You can create and repair magic weapons, armor and shields. Prerequisite: Craft – Armorsmithing 6, Weaponsmithing 6; Knowledge – Arcana6.

CRAFT MAGIC ITEM: You can create a wide variety of magic items (other than armor and weapons). Prerequisite: Knowledge – Arcana 5; Use Magic Item 6. ♦

DECEITFUL: +2 on all Disguise and Forgery checks.

DEFLECT ARROWS: Once per round, when you would normally be hit by a ranged weapon, you may deflect it so that you take no damage. Prerequisite: DEX 6; Combat Expertise. ♦

DEFT HANDS: +2 on all Sleight of Hand and Use Rope checks.

DILIGENT: +2 on all Appraise and Decipher Script checks.

DODGE: During your Action, choose an opponent and receive +1 to Defense against attacks from him.

DUAL WIELD: You can make an additional attack with an “off-hand” weapon. Both attacks are executed using only one attack Action. ♣

CONSTITUTION: You receive a +4 on the following checks: Swim, to resist drowning; END to keep running, avoid damage from starvation or thirst and from hot or cold environments. ♥

FAR SHOT: When you use a projectile weapon, such as a bow, increase its range by x1½ . For thrown weapons, increase range by x2. Prerequisite: Point Blank (Talent). ♦

GREAT FORTITUDE: + 2 on END checks against poisons, disease and environmental hazards. ♥

HAND-TO HAND: +2 on all unarmed attack checks. ♣

IMPROVED DISARM: +4 on Attack checks to disarm your opponent. Prerequisite: INT 6; Combat Expertise. ♦

IMPROVED GRAPPLE: +4 on all Grapple checks, whether you initiated the grapple or not. Prerequisite: DEX 6; Hand-To-Hand. ♦

IMPROVED INITIATIVE: +4 on Initiative checks. ♣

INVESTIGATOR: +2 on all Gather Information checks.

IRON WILL: You receive +2 on all Will checks. ♥

MAGICAL APTITUDE: +2 on all Use Magic Item and Knowledge – Arcana checks.

MOUNTED ARCHERY: Using a ranged weapon while mounted does not increase the DR level for performing several Actions at once. Prerequisite: Ride 6; Mounted Combat.

MOUNTED COMBAT: Once per round, you can add your Ride rank to your steed’s Protection and Health when it is attacked. Prerequisite: Ride 1.

NEGOTIATOR: +2 on all Diplomacy and Sense Motive checks.

NIMBLE FINGERS: +2 on all Disable Device and pick Locks checks.

PERSUASIVE: +2 on all Bluff and Intimidate checks.

POINT BLANK: +1 to your Attack Total with ranged weapons at a distance of 30’ or less.

PRECISE SHOT: You can fire a ranged weapon into melee combat without imposing the standard -4 penalty to your Attack Total. Prerequisite: Point Blank. ♦

RAPID SHOT: Add another attack as if you were executing a combined effort (see Dual Wield). Prerequisite: DEX 6; Point Blank. ♦

RIDE-BY ATTACK: Charge and attack while mounted on your steed (which is standard) and then move again. Prerequisite: Mounted Combat; Ride 6. ♣

RUN: Move at 6x normal walking speed when running. ♣

SCRIBE SCROLL: Create a scroll of any spell that you know. Prerequisite: Craft Magic Item. ♦

SELF-SUFFICIENT: +2 on all Heal and Survival checks.

SKILL FOCUS: Choose a skill – you gain +3 on all checks involving that skill.

SPIRITED CHARGE: When you execute a mounted charge, you do double damage (triple if using a lance or a great spear). Prerequisite: Ride 6; Mounted Combat; Ride-By Attack. ♣

SPIRIT-STEP: Move up to ½ your total speed before and after your Attack check. ♣

STEALTHY: +2 on all Hide and Move Silently checks.

SUNDER: +4 on Attack checks on your opponent’s weapon or shield (as well as other objects) when your goal is to break the object. ♣

SWIFT: Your speed is increased by x1½. You can purchase this twice for x2 speed.

TOUGH: Draw a card: a red card = +2 Health; a black card = +1 Health; If you draw a ♥, add the +2 and draw again, adding the second draw also (if that is a ♥ too, add +2 and draw yet again, etc.). ♥

TRACK: You can follow the trails of creatures and characters across most types of terrain. Prerequisite: Survival 6.

TUMBLE: +2 on all Jump and Acrobatics checks.

TWO-WEAPON DEFENSE: When wielding a double weapon (like a quarterstaff), or two melee weapons (not including natural weapons, like claws, or unarmed strikes), you gain +2 Protection. Prerequisite: Dual Wield.

WEAPON PROFICIENCY: Each choosing of this talent adds one weapon you are skilled in the use of. You suffer a -4 to your Attack Total when you use a weapon you are not proficient with.

Ki KhangaMilton chooses the following Talents for Kofi: Alertness; Ambidexterity; Far Shot; Investigator; Precise Shot; Weapon Proficiency – Throwing Club,Club.

These Talents cost Milton 7 points of Aṣe. He has 2 points of Aṣe left.

The corners of Milton’s mouth curl up into a broad smile. “I have 2 points left,” he says, lifting his gaze toward the Heavens. “I can purchase an Effect!”

Milton leaps from his chair and jogs around his office once. He collapses into his chair, struggling for breath. He silently curses himself for getting overly excited and running too far, too fast.

While Milton catches his breath, let’s do the same and return in two days to add an Effect and to put the finishing touches on our character.


Journey to Ki Khanga™: Creating Your Sword and Soul Roleplaying Game Characters, Part 1

For the past two years, author and publisher, Milton Davis (me!) and author and filmmaker, Balogun Ojetade have worked diligently at the creation of Ki Khanga™, the Sword and Soul tabletop roleplaying game.

What is a tabletop roleplaying game, you ask?

A roleplaying – or role-playing – game, also called an RPG, is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting or through a process of decision-making and character development.

Actions taken within the games succeed or fail according to a system of rules and guidelines.

There are several types of roleplaying games. The original form is the tabletoproleplaying game.

Sword and Soul RPGA tabletop RPG is conducted through discussion, whereas in live action roleplaying games, or LARPs, players physically perform their characters’ actions. In both of these forms, a game-master (GM), which we call a Griot in the Ki Khanga™ Sword and Soul RPG, decides on the rules and setting to be used and acts as storyteller and referee, while each of the other players plays the role of a single character.

Ki Khanga ™, like most great tabletop roleplaying games, is a form of interactive and collaborative storytelling. Events, characters, and narrative structure give a sense of a narrative experience.

Interactivity is the crucial difference between roleplaying games and traditional fiction – a player in a roleplaying game makes choices that affect the story. Such roleplaying games have their origins in an old Afrikan tradition of storytelling games in which a group of friends collaborate to create and tell a story.

Sword and Soul RPGParticipants in a role-playing game will generate their own unique characters or play pre-made ones and as they play, they create an ongoing plot. A consistent system of rules and a more or less realistic campaign setting in games aids suspension of disbelief. The level of realism in games ranges from just enough internal consistency to set up a believable story or credible challenge up to full-blown simulations of real-world processes and activities.

In Ki Khanga™, the Griot describes the game world and its inhabitants. The other players describe the intended actions of their characters, and the Griot describes the outcomes of attempted actions and interactions. Some outcomes are determined by the game system, and some are chosen by the Griot.

A standard concept in RPGs is the player character – or PC – which is a character in the fictional world of the game whose actions the player controls. Typically each player controls a separate player character, each of whom acts as a protagonist in the story.

In contrast to player characters, non-player characters, or NPCs, are controlled by the Griot. NPCs make up the population of the fictional setting and can act as antagonists, bystanders or allies of the player characters.

Ki Khanga Play 1We will now examine the basic character creation process in Ki Khanga™ to make your own player character.

Let’s join Milton Davis as he creates his very first Ki Khanga™ character:

Milton sits down with a steaming hazelnut latte…not the fancy type you buy at a coffeehouse; the kind you buy at your local gas station. Milton says cheap latte knockoffs help him understand roleplaying games. If you need to go grab a cup, too, dear reader, go ahead, we’ll wait…

Back?  Now, grab a pen, a calculator (there is a calculator app in your phone in case you don’t own such lo-tech antiques as a calculator) and a few sheets of paper. Got ‘em? Okay, let’s get to it!


  1. Your character is built from Aṣe [ah-SHEH] – points used to build and advance him or her.
  2. Aṣe is an overall measure of power and effectiveness. Each character starts with 120 points of Aṣe. The Griot (GM) may decide to give more or less points, but starting at over 200 Aṣe could unbalance your game as 200+ Aṣe is considered demi-god level.

Milton asks Balogun, the Griot, how many points of Aṣe he is allowed to build his character with.

Balogun answers, his voice like rolling thunder in mountain air: “All characters in thisCampaign (story arc) will start with 150 points of Aṣe to build their character with.”

Milton decides he is going to create Kofi, a Constable in the merchant city of Sati Baa. Kofi is a gruff, experienced law enforcer who is an expert with a throwing club and good at deduction. Milton must first purchase Kofi’s Traits out of his 150 points:

Trait Costs

  1. Traits are the attributes that make up your character.
  2. Abilities, Skills, Talents, Effects, Defense, Wealth, Health, Will and Fighting are all Traits that define your character and affects how successful or unsuccessful he or she is.
  3. Each level of a Trait is called its rank, thus Str 5 means your character has 5 ranks of Strength.
  4. Each Trait costs points of Aṣe as described in the chart below:

TRAIT                         COST IN AṢE

Ability                         2 per rank

Skill                             1 per rank

Talent                          1 per Talent or Talent rank

Effect                          (base Effect cost + modifiers) x rank + flat modifiers

Defense                       2 per rank

Fighting                       10 per addl. Rank

Health                         10 per addl. Rank

Will                             10 per addl. Rank

Wealth                        10 per addl. Rank.

First, Milton must calculate each rank Kofi possesses in the 7 basic Abilities. He checks the above chart and sees that each Ability costs 2 points of Aṣe per rank.


  1. We all have certain basic abilities – how strong, attractive, coordinated, charismatic and smart we are.
  2. There are seven basic abilities: StrengthEnduranceDexterityAgilityIntellect;Wisdom; and Presence.
  3. There are also four calculated abilities that are a combination of basic abilities:FightingHealthWill; and Wealth.
  • Strength (STR): Measures muscle power; damage dealt unarmed and with most melee (close combat) weapons; how far you can jump; the amount of weight you can lift, carry and throw; and is a factor in calculating your Health. STR is linked to theClubs ♣ Suit.
  • Endurance (END): Measures fitness, stamina and overall resilience; resistance to poison, disease, drowning and similar threats; and is a factor in calculating your Health. END is linked to the Hearts ♥ Suit.
  • Dexterity (DEX): Measures hand-eye coordination, precision and reflexes. Dexterity is a factor in calculating your Fighting and is applied to Ranged Combat checks. DEX is linked to the Diamonds ♦ Suit.
  • Agility (AGL): Measures balance, grace, speed and overall physical coordination. Agility is a factor in calculating your Fighting. AGL is linked to the Clubs ♣ Suit.
  • Intellect (INT): Measures how well your character learns and reasons. Intellect is a factor in calculating your Fighting and Wealth. INT is linked to the Diamonds ♦ Suit.
  • Wisdom (WIS): Measures common sense, perception and intuition. Wisdom is a factor in calculating your Will and Fighting. WIS is linked to the Hearts ♥ Suit.
  • Presence (PRE): Measures force of personality, persuasiveness, leadership ability and physical attractiveness. Presence is a factor in calculating your Will and Wealth. PRE is linked to the Spades ♠ Suit.


1 – 3: Below Average (BA)

4 – 5: Average (AV)

6 – 7: Gifted (GF)

8 – 9: Highly Gifted (HG)

10 – 11: Exceptional (EX)

12+: Best Ever (BE)

Milton decides although Kofi is an older man, he is still an active Constable in the elite Constabulary of Sati Baa, so his Strength and Endurance should be above average. He checks the ABILITY VALUES Chart and decides Kofi has somewhat above average Strength, so he gives him a rank of 6, which costs him 12 points of Aṣe. This puts his Strength, or STR, in the Gifted (GF) category.

Milton decides Kofi will also have Gifted level Endurance (END), but it will be greater than his Strength, so he gives him an END of 7, which costs Milton 14 points of Aṣe.

The third Ability Milton gives Kofi is Dexterity (DEX). Milton determines that, as a master with throwing clubs, Kofi must have a high Dexterity. He feels that Kofi’s dexterity is Exceptional. He looks at the ABILITIES VALUE chart again. He gives Kofi a 10 Dexterity, which costs him 20 points of Aṣe.

Milton continues with this process for the remaining four Abilities. He ends up with the following stats:

Strength: 6 (cost: 12 Aṣe)

Endurance: 7 (cost: 14 Aṣe)

Dexterity: 10 (cost: 20 Aṣe)

Agility: 5 (cost: 10 Aṣe)

Intellect: 8 (cost: 16 Aṣe)

Wisdom: 10 (cost: 20 Aṣe)

Presence: 6 (cost: 12 Aṣe)

Total Cost: 104

Milton now has 46 points left to complete his character. He now determines Calculated Abilities, which are determined by a combination of basic Abilities. The Calculated Ability’s rank can be increased by spending 10 points of Aṣe. It can also be lowered if the player chooses to do so. A lowered Calculated Ability adds 10 points of Aṣe to the player’s remaining Aṣe points.

Milton studies the Calculated Abilities and each one’s corresponding chart:

Calculated Abilities

Fighting (FIGHT): Measures your natural, raw ability to attack and defend in both Close and Ranged Combat. FIGHT is used to determine how many cards you draw at the beginning of combat. Your base FIGHT rank is calculated on the chart below:

(AGL + WIS)/2 (round up)

(DEX + INT)/2 (round up) BA   AV   GF   HG   EX   BE

BA 2       3       4       5       6       7

AV 3       4       5       6       7       7

GF 4       5       6       7       7       7

HG 5       6       7       7       7       8

EX 6       7       7     7       8       8

BE 7       7       7     8       8       8

Kofi has a DEX 10, AGL 5, INT 8 and WIS 10. Milton calculates the base scores from the chart: (10+ 8)/2 = (18)/2 = 9; (5 + 10)/2 = (15)/2 = 7.5, rounded up to 8.

Kofi’s first score, the average of his Dexterity and Intellect, is 9, which is Highly Gifted (HG). His second score, the average of his Agility and Wisdom, is 8, which is also Highly Gifted (HG). Checking the chart, HG and HG meet at the rank of 7.

Kofi’s fighting rank is 7, so in the game, Milton will draw seven cards at the beginning of each combat Kofi is engaged in.

FIGHT (and all other calculated Abilities) can be increased with Aṣe during character creation and as the game progresses.

Health (HLTH): Measures fortitude, ruggedness, metabolism and the ability to resist damage from attacks and from the environment. HLTH is the amount of physical damage you can take before suffering critical Conditions (see Conditions). Your character’s HLTH score is calculated on the chart below:

Strength (STR)

Endurance (END) BA   AV   GF   HG   EX   BE

BA 5       6       7       8       9     10

AV 6       7       8       9       10     10

GF 7       8       9       10     10     10

HG 8       9       10     10     10     11

EX 9       10     10     10     11     11

BE 10     10     10     11     11     12

Kofi has an END 7 (GF), and a STR of 6 (GF).

Checking the chart, GF and GF meet at the rank of 9, so Kofi’s Health is 9. Milton decides to increase Kofi’s health to 10 at the cost of 10 points of Aṣe.

Milton now has 36 points of Aṣe left to build his character.

Will (WILL): Measures mental stability, level-headedness, determination, self-awareness, self-confidence and willpower. WILL is used to resist mental and spiritual attacks and represents the amount of mental and spiritual damage you can take before suffering critical Conditions. Your WILL score is calculated on the chart below:

Wisdom (WIS)

Presence (PRE) BA   AV   GF   HG   EX   BE

BA 5       6       7       8       9     10

AV 6       7       8       9       10     10

GF 7       8       9       10     10     10

HG 8       9       10     10     10     11

EX 9       10     10     10     11     11

BE 10    10     10     11     11     12

Kofi has a PRE of 6 (GF), and a WIS of 10 (EX).

Checking the chart, GF and EX meet at the rank of 10, so Kofi’s Will is 10.

Wealth (WLTH): On the continent of Ki Khanga, currency comes in many forms – cowry shells, gold nuggets, pieces of ivory. To simplify things, money is expressed as Equipment Points (EP), which is related to your character’s Wealth rank. Wealth also represents your earnings at the end of each adventure. More EPs can be amassed through trade of goods and services, looting, etc. At character creation, you receive 5 EP per WLTH rank.

  1. For example, Yamil the Merchant has WLTH 8. He starts out with 40 Equipment Points (8 x 5). At the end of each adventure, Yamil is also awarded 40 EP.
  2. EP is used to buy equipment, weapons, clothing, other goods and services.
  3. Your Wealth is calculated on the chart below:

Presence (PRE)

Intellect (INT) BA   AV   GF   HG   EX   BE

BA 2       3       4       5       6       7

AV 3       4       5       6       7       7

GF 4       5      6       7       7       7

HG 5       6       7       7       7       8

EX 6       7       7       7       8       8

BE 7       7       7       8       8       8

Milton calculates Kofi’s final Calculated Ability. Kofi has a. INT of 8 (HG), and a PRE of 6 (GF).

Checking the chart, HG and GF meet at the rank of 7, so Kofi’s Wealth is 7. Milton decides to reduce Kofi’s WLTH to 6. He earns 10 points of Aṣe by reducing his WLTH by 1 rank. This earned Aṣe is added to Milton’s points for building his character.

Milton now has 46 points of Aṣe left to build his character.

Milton decides to take a break here and grab the cream cheese danish he hid among his collection of Sword and Soul novels and comic books. Go ahead and take a break, too. But be sure to join us in two days for Part 2, wherein we give Kofi his Skills and Talents.


The Keys by Balogun Ojetade

The Keys. Artwork by Chris Miller

Many years ago there was a series of books for young people called ‘you are the hero’ books. In these books the reader had the option of deciding what the hero would do. The decision would determine the outcome of the book. After a series of choices the reader could eventually come to the best ending by making the right choices.

I never read books like this growing up, but I know quite of few friends who did. Last year Balogun Ojetade changed that for me. The Keys is a unique and exciting ‘You Are the Hero’ novel by Balogun and it’s well worth the read.

The premise behind The Keys is vintage Ojetade, a mash up of history and culture that sets the stage. Hundreds of years ago the world was connected by teleporters in the form of pyramids. Ancient folks used these portals to travel and share commerce and culture. Unfortunately the pyramids had to be shut down to prevent the domination of nefarious people led by Henry the Navigator. Yes, you read that right: Henry the Navigator. The only way the pyramids can be reactivated is by descendants of the Oyo and Aztec empire,  people possessing the special qualities to be the ‘Keys.’

This is where you, the reader, enter the picture. You choose between two main characters, one young woman, one young man, each with special talents and abilities. After you choose your character you read along, making choices along the way that determine the outcome of the story. Now I kinda cheated a little. Because Balogun and I are friends I basically knew how the story would evolve. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying this wonderful book. I made the wrong choices deliberately to see what the outcome would be. And even though I knew how the story should flow I still manage to end up in some unexpected situations.

The Keys is written for a Young Adult audience (13 years and older) but its a great read for adults as well. The added bonus is the cover and interior illustration by Chris Miller which add flavor to a satisfying read. It makes a great present for the young reader in your life.

You can purchase The Keys at Balogun’s personal website, Roaring Lions productions (https://www.roaringlionsproductions.com/) as well as Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Keys-YOU-Are-Hero-Book/dp/0991407318/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1417882335&sr=8-1&keywords=the+keys+balogun+ojetade)


Wagadu Interview: Kiro’o Games

By now you know the purpose and focus of my writing is to develop stories based on African and African American culture, history and traditions. So imagine my excitement when I came across Kiro’o Games, a company based in Cameroon with the same focus. A few weeks ago I reached out the Kiro Games and asked if they would be interested in an interview about their company. They said yes, so here it is.

First off, thank you all for allowing us to interview you. Tell us briefly about Kiro’o Games.

Thank you. We are the ones to thank you for the attention you grant us.

Kiro’o Games is the very first professional video game studio of Central Africa. It is based in Cameroon (Yaounde). It is operational since December 2013 and is currently in the middle of the development of the first African game to target the international market; the game Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan.

What is your mission statement?

Our ambition is to create an internal awakening among gamers around the world through the spiritual vision we vehicle in this game, hence our slogan “Gamer-Spirit-Design”. This vision is deeply based on our cultural legacy that is still highly under exploited in the video game industry.

In addition to this, we intend to propose a new entertaining genre: the Kiro’o Tales. Literally translated as “The Stories of Kiro’o”, Kiro’o Tales is a new way of creating video games by tapping from our culture’s artistic, sound and visual potential.  Therefore, based on Kiro’o Tales, we intend to:

  • Create fantastic worlds by drawing inspiration from myths, traditions, practices, customs, tales, legends etc. from Africa;
  • Make African games international by introducing a strong existential and universal value to our themes;
  • Favor more than ever, the unity of the world by drawing inspiration from the cohesion values that are present in the best of our traditions (respecting the other, high family values, natural resources, etc.).

Why did you decide to develop games?

The first reason is that it was to achieve a childhood dream; MADIBA Olivier’s childhood dream since the age of 14 when he just finished playing the 7th part of Final Fantasy for the 6th time. In actual fact, after completing this game, he started imagining the follow up and thinking of what the gameplay would look like if a few elements of the African culture were introduced. That’s where he got the idea. But it remained a mere idea because at the time, Olivier envisaged to pursue a carrier in video games abroad. It is therefore after obtaining his BA in Computer Science and after his various studies in the sector that he discovered that being a developer in Cameroon also had many advantages (especially the value of the FCFA, the availability of work force, etc.). Now that the environment was favorable, we decided to embark into it in 2013.  Another motivation was to make the most of our raw material, the African culture to create games destined for an international audience. And we are gradually achieving that goal.

What games/game builders are your inspirations?

We have been inspired by many games. But those that enabled us to get to this level (without advertising them) are the Final Fantasy Saga. As mentioned above, it is the game that birthed the idea of becoming a creator in MADIBA Olivier. We also have Tales of Destiny that served as base for our Gameplay. At our level, we intend to bring much more creativity, dynamism and innovation.

Concerning developers, we were greatly impressed by Mr. SHIGERU, creator of Mario Bros.  We actually have one of his sayings to accompany use every day: “A good game is first of all … a good Gameplay”. We vividly expect that our game Aurion will live up to this citation.

As you know, I write what I describe as Sword and Soul. Do you have a particular name for what you do?

Wow!!! This is a good one (smiles)! As said earlier, we are placing the milestones of a new entertaining genre: the Kiro’o Tales. Our desire is that Aurion might succeed; this will enable Kiro’o Tales to grow in notoriety and stand out as a reference.

What history/culture are your games based on?

The game Aurion draws its essence from the African culture in general. Africa is a continent of great wealth at the level of its peoples and tribes as well as its landscape (fauna, flora, etc.). Our goal is not to represent all the African cultures in the game but to tap from most of them. Therefore some of our cultural references we can cite include the Adrinkas (Ghana); we based ourselves on some aspects of their culture to design tribal logos in the game. As concerns characters, there are many: the Peuhls, Massai (Enzo’s tunic that some compare to a Japanese dress is indeed a dress that the Massai people put on, we just made some adjustments on it), the Sawa, the Choa-Arabs (in Tchad, Niger, Soudan, Cameroon, Nigeria, etc.). As for habitations, we were inspired by constructions from the Yoruba (Nigeria), Sao (Cameroon, Tchad, Nigeria), Bambara (Mali), Massai (Kenya, Tanzania), Fang (Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea…).

We hope that as the development of the saga progresses, we will also continue to draw from more cultures.

What is your market focus?

We target all the Core Gamers in the world with an inclination for those who love role and action games designed for PCs and consoles. However, we would have loved this version of the game to be available on XBOX 360, but it might probably before the coming versions of the game. We seize this opportunity to apologise to our fans for this quite unpleasant news.

Our desire is that each person who plays Aurion will feel immersed and come out of it edified on the African world and its assets, values and symbols.

Do you plan to make your games available worldwide?

From the inception of the project, we studied axes to market the game on the international scene since that was our target market. We opted to release the game in a de-materialised form that we intend to sell on Steam.

Based on our research, besides Desura, Gog and the others, Steam is already the most important and most opened platform to the whole world. Also, it gives much room to independent developers (like us) to make their games known. We also intend to very soon register on the Greelight program and count on the community of gamers across the world to give Aurion their favourable opinions to enable it to be available on Steam.

As concerns to the local target which is not yet familiar with e-commerce but rather rooted in its old consumer habits, we thought of producing physical media (but in very small quantity).  Alongside producers, we are still studying possibilities of producing DVDs and commercialising them.

Tell us about Aurion.

Aurion is a 2D Action-RPG whose ambition is to bring a revolution in the world of 2D games, particularly with much innovation and dynamism at the level of the Gameplay. It is based on the principle of defining ones future by leaning on forces of the past. Considering that in Africa we are very much attached to ancestral worship, we decided to create an energy whose source would be this cultural specificity. This energy is called Aurion.

Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan is the story of Enzo Kori-Odan who suffers a coup d’état orchestrated by Ngarba, his brother in-law, on the day of his coronation. He goes round the world with his wife Erine by his side in order to assemble their Aurionic Legacy and confront the existential stakes of their people.  You can read the complete presentation of the game here (http://kiroogames.com/en/aurion.html )

What are your plans for the future?

The “immediate” objective of Kiro’o Games is to effectively and concretely create the first video game studio of Central Africa of international standard. But because all this would be pointless if it had to stop at this level, the vision of Kiro’o Games goes way beyond that.

In the long term, the Studio is expected to last for 30 years. We intend to:

–          Become editors in order to organise the distribution of games on the continent and improve production.

–          Initiate vocational training for gaming particularly in Cameroon and Africa at large;

–          Create games for mobile and tablet;

–          Create other entertaining and educative media (comics, cartoons and others);

–          Revitalize the exploitation of the African culture by entertainment media (games, cartoons, etc.);

–          Open new outlets for IT and African artists;

–          Transform Central Africa through Cameroon into a precursor in the field of video game;

In conclusion, the Kiro’o Games Studio aims at promoting and developing the video game industry in Africa. We believe that video games can be an important lever for economic development on the continent, enabling us in particular to promote entrepreneurship among young people.

What obstacles have you run into in developing your game?

We have encountered a good number of difficulties in realising this project. To begin with, it was difficult for us to earn the credibility that would enable us to get financing. Most of the Cameroonian companies where we submitted our file thought that it was for the creation of an arcade hall. But thanks to the support from our first shareholders (foreigners in majority), we were able to gain this credibility and today, we can count some Cameroonians in our list of shareholders.

We also suffered some technical problems (electricity outages, poor internet network) often slow us down every now and then in the development of the game. However, we keep on advancing and trying to work as best as we can. The trailer we recently published (http://youtu.be/gb7Z7NVmiZ8 ) can justify progress made that remains visible despite difficulties.

How do I purchase a copy of Aurion?

You will be able to download the game Aurion on Steam if everything goes on as planned. But for Aurion to be available on Team, we must work hand in hand you and us: you bringing all the necessary support for it to be green lighted; and us working hard to supply you with good content that meets your expectation.

Do you think your games will appeal to African Diaspora people throughout the world?

Yes, considering the excitement and return we receive, we believe that the African Diaspora in its entirety is very proud of our work. Some are shareholders of the Studio; this tells of their hearty support for us and their desire to see the game succeed since behind Aurion, the stakes are high for the expansion of the continent. On our part, we will do what is ours not to disappoint them and not to disappoint all the fans who follow us and encourage us daily.

And there you have it. I hope you’re as excited about  Kiro Games as I am. I’m following this groundbreaking enterprise so I can be one of the first to get my game. I hope you do the same.


It’s Been A Long Time Coming…

This week has been a proud moment for me. I have the privilege and the honor to release the first book of a new epic fantasy series by Sword and Soul creator and Sword and Sorcery Grandmaster Charles R. Saunders, Abengoni, First Calling. The path to this moment is a story of extraordinary circumstances and a rewarding journey to say the least.  I wrote a song about. Like to hear it? Here it go! (not really)

Most of you know how I ‘became’ a writer and publisher. After decades of toying around with the idea and a couple of stabs at it, I finally decided to jump into it as a self publishers nine years ago. I published my first book Meji Book one two years later. While I was putting the finishing touches on the Meji manuscript I came across a book that almost ended my plans of releasing Afrocentric sword and sorcery: Imaro. I was stunned; not only had I found the book I hoped someone would write but this masterpiece was written almost thirty years prior. The author’s name was familiar to me. I’d read Charles’ story ‘Gimmile’s Song in the wonderful Dark Matter anthology but my search for books by him came up short. I found his book at that time because they’d been re-released by Nightshade Books. I devoured both books then eagerly anticipated a third. Unfortunately that was not to be.

This is where the first bit of extraordinary surfaced. While lurking on Blacksuperhero.com a young man and internet friend of  mine going by the name Uraeus delivered bad new and good new simultaneously. He announced that Nightshade would no longer publish the Imaro series. Then he announced that he communicated with Charles and that he would continue to publish the books.  I immediately reached out to Uraeus then asked if he could get me in contact with Charles. He did. I was nervous when I first contacted him; writers can be fickle, and I knew plenty of people had probably done the same thing. I also intended to ask him to take a look at the Meji manuscript, which I was sure many people had done as well. Things turned out much better than I expected. Charles is a gracious and friendly man. We hit it off immediately. Both of us were inspired by the same sources and motivated to write sword and soul for the same reasons. After chatting for a while I built up the courage to ask Charles to take a look at the Meji manuscript. He agreed, and better yet, he liked it!

Since then Charles and I have collaborated on a number of projects, most noticeably the Griots anthology series. But a few years after we met Charles shared with me another gem. Back in the early ’90s he wrote a new epic, Abengoni. The manuscripts were never published. I immediately asked to read them and wasn’t disappointed. After reading them I asked Charles if I could have the honor of publishing them. He said yes!

It was after I got about the business of publishing Abegoni that the next extraordinary event occurred. I surf Deviantart.com on a regular basis looking for artists to work with. It was during one of those searches that I came across the artwork of Julie Dillon. I was blown away by her style and her depiction of diverse people, most she had done for her own personal portfolio. I was finally convinced that I would seek her out when I saw her amazing cover for the Long Hidden Anthology. I contacted Julie; like Charles she’s a friendly and gracious person. A few months after our initial contact I was ready to publish Abengoni. My timing couldn’t have been better. Julie had just completed her successful Kickstarter for her Imagined Realms book series. And as icing on the cake, two weeks after I commissioned her for Abengoni she received the Hugo Award for Best Fantasy Artist! As you can see, she did an amazing job. Both Charles and I are very pleased.

And that’s my song. Abengoni is the multi-cultural epic fantasy everyone has been asking for. It’s a grand epic that includes diverse cultures from the very beginning, not as an afterthought. It’s a story centered on an African based source, not the typical and overdone European scenario. It’s a book that wouldn’t have been possible without print on demand, e-books and social media. Most of all it’s a great read. I know you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. This is a book that deserves to be in your fantasy collection. It’s been a long time coming, and now it’s finally here. Enjoy.

As always you can purchase Abengoni and my other titles at http://www.mvmediaatl.com/. It’s also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


Why I still support Independent Publishing

A few years ago I found myself in a debate with a fellow writer who looked down upon independent/self publishing. Being a self publisher myself I took offense. During the exchange the writer contacted me through my personal e-mail, stating that he didn’t have a problem with my writing specifically, but independent publishing in general. He didn’t understand why I was taking this all personally, and then advised me to distance myself from other independent writers.

At the time I was angered by the writer’s comments and suggestions. At this point in writing career I’m amused.  Seven years ago when I began self publishing it was still considered abad thing. Nowadays most authors embrace it and even many publishers have backed off a bit in condemning the practice. The truth is independent publishing is here to stay.

Independent publishing has freed writers from the constraints of mainstream publishers and allowed us to truly express ourselves. It has given writers more options to share their work than ever before and allowed established mainstream published writers to share their older out of print works with new and old fans. But the reason I still support independent publishing is because that’s where my reading interest lies.  Before I began writing, I had given up on reading speculative fiction. The homogenization of the scifi/fantasy market Asimov warned us of when big publishers began to acquire the smaller publishers came to pass. Most of what I saw on the shelves seemed like variations on a theme. Most of all, I wanted to see stories that included black men and women as heroes and they were few and far between. So I reverted to my first love, reading history.

However, after I began self publishing I discovered a slew of writers with the same mindset. I read their books, and they were good. Many of them were very good. It’s like listening to a musician on a prominent record label then going to a local club and hearing a musician just as good. It doesn’t matter where the music, or in this case the writing, comes from as long as it’s good. And many readers are discovering this, too.

Another thing that I discovered was that independent writers had already answered the challenges mainstream publishers were still dealing with. At Dragoncon 2o14 I learned that many mainstream publishers are now seeking stories with multi-cultural characters. According to those in the know these books should begin to hit the market in approximately three years from now. The fact of the matter is that those novels already exists in independent publishing. I write them, as do most of my friends. Freed of the restrictions of appealing to a certain demographic, multi-cultural prose appeared naturally, and  in some cases deliberately among independent writers. There are a host of novels and anthologies that cover all spectrum of multi-cultural fiction.  I personally believe that independent publishing has had the biggest effect on black speculative fiction. Black writers are drawing in black readers, which is benefiting everyone

I still read books published by mainstream publishers, but I have to admit I have to make the effort to do so. I’ve always been the type of person that seeks creativity off the beaten path, and independent writers provide that for me. So just as I continue to write independently I’ll continue to read independently. I’m looking forward to what my fellow writers have in store for me and you. Whatever it is, I know it’s going to be good.

Here are a few of my black speculative fiction recommendations:

1). Charles R. Saunders: http://www.charlessaunderswriter.com/

2). Balogun Ojetade:  http://chroniclesofharriet.com/

3). Valjeanne Jeffers: http://www.vjeffersandqveal.com/

4). Alicia McCalla: http://www.aliciamccalla.com/

5). Alan Jones: http://wrestlewithdarkness.ning.com/

6). L. M. Davis: http://lmdaviswrites.wordpress.com/

7). Keith Gaston: http://www.dkgaston.blogspot.com/

8). Rasheedah Phillips: http://www.recurrenceplot.com/

9). Cerece Renee Murphy: http://www.cerecerenniemurphy.com/

This is just a start. To find out more, visit the State of Black Science Fiction 2012. You’ll thank me later.



Betta Listen: A SOBSF Horror Blog Tour Story

Betta Listen. Artwork by Paul Davey

The house wasn’t much but it was all he could afford. Stephanie told him a hundred times they needed more life insurance but he didn’t listen. Life insurance was for old people; they were still in their thirties and in great shape. Nothing could, or would happen to them.
Randolph Chambers followed the moving truck up the steep driveway then thought better of it. They would need room to take out the furniture, what little there was. Steph’s chemo drained everything they had and then some. What little he was able to keep was augmented by donations from family and friends. They should have counted themselves lucky but they didn’t. Randolph would rather live in the streets with Steph and Gina than in a mansion alone.
“So this is home now?” Gina barely looked up from her iPod. It was their last luxury, a gift from a co-worker.
“Yeah, baby girl, this is home.”
“Ummm.” Randolph heard her shift in her seat but he didn’t look at her. It was hard for him to. He hated to see the disappointment in her face and the pain that lingered just beneath it. She looked too much like her mother, her gestures and expressions a reflection of Stephanie. He gathered himself and turned to her, forcing a smile on his face.
“Come on. Let’s go see what our little bit of money bought us.”
He parked the Explorer next to the curb and exited. He was halfway to the driveway when he noticed Gina was still in the SUV. He walked back and tapped on her window. She looked at him, raising her eyebrows in annoyance.
“Roll down the window,” he mouthed.
The window slid down.
“Aren’t you coming?”
Gina rolled her eyes and snatched her earphones off her head. “It just a house. It’s not home.”
Randolph ignored the insult, just as he’d done every day since Stephanie died. The psychiatrist said it was normal for children to act out after a parent’s death so he sucked it in and took the blow. Some days it was harder than others.
They trudged up the driveway and into the house. Randolph had hoped his opinion of the modest home would change after a few weeks but it didn’t. He should have been thankful to be in a house at all but he wasn’t. Everything was less now.
He forced a smile. “Why don’t you go pick out your room?”
Gina stared at the floor. “It doesn’t matter.”
“Well pick out mine then.”
Gina cut him a curious glance. “Sure, whatever.” She stomped up the stairs.
Randolph stepped aside as the movers brought in the great room furniture and sat it down in the room to his right. He went down the narrow hallway into the kitchen/dinette area and did a quick inspection. He’d have to replace the faucets when he got paid. The laundry room was a cramped space that barely accommodated the washer and dryer but it would do.
Randolph broke his musing and trotted upstairs. “What’s up, baby girl?”
“I’m in here.”
Randolph entered the first room. Gina sat on the floor in the corner, a serious look on her face.
“This is it. This is my room.”
Randolph looked about the empty space and frowned. It was the smallest room in the house; her furniture wouldn’t fit. He’d have to put her chest of drawers in another room or the basement.
“You sure you want this…”
“I’m sure. This is my room.”
Randolph shrugged and walked out. He knew it wasn’t the right response but he didn’t care. He was tired, physically and mentally. He’d be a better father tomorrow.
He spent the next three hours leading the movers around the house making sure everything was in its proper place. He wouldn’t have much help arranging furniture once the movers left. Most of his friends were really Stephanie’s friends. After the mandatory support period they all slowly disappeared. His friends lived in his hometown of Atlanta, too far away to drop by and lend a hand. Stacy Upchurch, his best friend, had promised to fly out to visit ‘as soon as he got settled,’ but Stacy was never settled.
The movers arranged Gina’s furniture around her. She sat in the corner of the room, eyes closed and head bobbing to whatever played on her iPod.
“Where do you want your bed?” he asked.
“I don’t care,” Gina replied.
“Set it by the window,” Randolph told the movers.
“No!” Gina jumped to her feet, her expression angry.
“Anywhere but there.”
Randolph had enough. “Take off those damn earphones!”
Gina glared at him then slowly removed her headphones.
Randolph folded his arms. “Now you’re going to tell these hard working men where you want your furniture and you’re going to do it politely. And if you snap at me one more time I’m going to snatch that iPod and throw it into the street. You understand?”
Gina nodded her head.
“Do you understand?”
Gina looked away. “Yes, sir.”
Randolph stormed out of the room. When the movers were done he paid them then went to his own room. He’d sold the king size bed and replaced it with a queen. It was too big, but that wasn’t the reason he sold it. Stephanie loved that bed with its tall rice posts, standing do high from the floor she needed a step stool to climb into it. She used to say it made her feel like a child to sit on it, her feet dangling over the edge. The bed even smelled like her, or at least her favorite perfume. When he slept in the old bed her memories awakened. So he sold the bed not because he wanted to, but because he had to. That was when things between him and Gina started going bad. She accused him of trying to forget Stephanie. He couldn’t get her to understand that he wasn’t trying to forget. He just couldn’t have her memories so near.
The good thing about the new/old house was that it was still in Gina’s school district. The bad thing was that Randolph had to drive her to school. It wouldn’t have been a problem before. He was a street salesman before Stephanie took ill and he could arrange his calls around his personal life. Once Stephanie was diagnosed he took an inside sales position. It was less money and he hated sitting at a desk all day but he needed to be close to make sure she made her treatments and to help around the house. Having to take Gina to school meant getting up earlier, and Randolph was not a morning person. But that didn’t matter.
Gina stomped down the hallway and dropped into her chair. Randolph did a finishing flourish with the scrambled eggs then slid a portion on her plate. He scooped a spoonful of girts beside the eggs the placed two pieces of bacon on the edge.
“Good morning,” he croaked.
“Yeah,” Gina replied. Randolph would have been shocked if she had said more.
She attacked the food like a starved child as he made his own plate and sat opposite her.
“So how was your first night in the new room?”
“Terrible,” she mumbled.
Randolph nodded. “The first night in a new house can be rough.”
“It was all that damn noise.”
Randolph mixed his eggs and grits. “What noise?”
“All that talking. I guess it was the neighbors. You didn’t hear it?”
“No.” Randolph glanced at the clock. “Shit…I mean Darn it. It’s almost time to go. Hurry up.”
“I just got here!” Gina whined.
“It’s either ride or walk,” Randolph retorted.
Gina scooped up her food. “You need to talk to the neighbors. They’re too loud.”
She sounded like Stephanie. “I will. Now let’s get you to school and me to work.”
Randolph sped to the school and joined the parent processional. He was two cars away from the drop off point when Tanisha Bridges came outside. The young pretty assistant principal came straight for their car.
“Not today,” Randolph whispered. “I don’t have time for this.”
She walked up to the passenger door, flashing her bright smile and waving as if they were a mile away. Gina opened the door and stepped onto the curb. She was immediately swallowed into Tanisha’s hug.
“Welcome back, Gina! We missed you!”
“Yeah,” Gina replied. She escaped Tanisha’s hug and trudged to the school building.
Tanisha turned her attention to Randolph.
“How is everything?” she asked with over exaggerated concern.
“As good as can be expected,” Randolph replied.
“These things take time, Randolph. Is it okay if I call you Randolph?”
Hell no!
“It’s fine, Ms. Bridges.”
“Please, call me Tanisha.”
“Her smile changed, its intention matching her words.
“I’d love to talk – why did he say that- but I’m late for work.” Randolph shifted the Jeep into drive.
“I understand Randolph We’ll talk soon.” She closed the door and waved, mouthing the words, Have a nice day.
Randolph crept to the stoplight at the entrance of the school then into traffic. Steph was right. Ms. Barnes-Tanisha-did have a crush on him. She would tease him during PTO meeting about how she would look at him up and down and giggle like a twelve year old whenever he said something witty. It was funny then, but not now. She seemed like a vulture, waiting to swoop down on the remains of their marriage. He debated whether to curse her out the next time he saw her.
He pulled into the parking lot ten minutes late. Walking into the side entrance Taylor Freemen, his boss, stood before the coffee dispenser filling his cup. He cut an eye at Randolph then at the break room clock.
“Morning, Randy,” he said coolly.
“Good morning,” Randolph hurried by him. He went directly to his cubicle and sat before his computer. He was logging in when Randy appeared over him.
“How is going?” he asked.
“How’s Gina doing?”
“Is there anything I can…?”
Taylor lingered and the moment became awkward. Randolph waited for him to say it. Taylor wasn’t a tactful man, so his hesitance was out of character. He’s seen his boss rake other employees over the coals for taking too much bereavement time. But Randolph was different. He’d been the company’s best salesman when he was on the road and now he was its best in-house sale rep. Firing him meant losing money and Taylor hated losing money. It wasn’t that Randy’s work was bad; he was still closing deals head over heels compared to the other reps, he just wasn’t producing Randy numbers.
Taylor scratched his balding head. “Well, if you need to talk or anything, let me know.  We’re…I mean I’m here to help. You’re a valuable employee and I know things are tough right now. We want to see you back to your old self.”
“So I can get back to making you money.”
“Sure, thanks Taylor. I really appreciate it.”
Randolph logged in and went through the motions of the day. On his worst day he was better than most, and the past few weeks were his worst days. Before Steph’s illness he was road warrior, a street salesman bouncing from city to city and sometimes state to state hawking TF’s electronic goods. But he requested an inside job when she was diagnosed. Upper management resisted until he threatened to quit.
He ate lunch at his desk. On his screen a string of memories scrolled by, images of his life during better times. Photos of Hilton Head spring vacations, summers in Canada and winters in Miami marched by in perfect time, triggering as much joy as pain. He watched the images flash by over and over again. He was still watching them when his phone rang. It was another wasted day.
“Hello?” His voice was almost angry when he answered.
“Randolph, this is Tanisha. We need you to come to the school immediately. There’s an issue with Gina.”
“I’ll be right there,” Randolph hung up the phone before Tanisha could explain. He grabbed his things and rushed toward the door.
“Hey, hey hold up partner!” Taylor yelled. “Where are you running to? You just got here.”
“Trouble at my daughter’s school,” Randolph shouted back. “I’ll be in early tomorrow.”
He sped to the school. Tanisha waited outside.
“What’s going on, Tanisha?”
“Gina was in a fight.”
“Fight? Gina’s never been in a fight in her life! What happened? Was someone picking on her? You know she’s…”
“Calm down, Randolph.” Tanisha placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. He flinched then cut his eyes at Tanisha. She took her hand away.
“Gina started the fight. She’s in the principal’s office right now. As much as I hate it we have to suspend her for two days.”
Randolph nodded absently. “I understand.”
“Will there be anyone at home with her?”
“I’ll take the days off,” he said immediately, knowing he’d catch hell from Taylor.
“I’ll figure out some way to work from home.”
“Follow me.”
Randolph followed Tanisha through the narrow halls to the principal’s office. Gina sat by the door. Her clothes were rumbled and a dark bruise formed around her left eye. He knelt immediately in front of her.
“You alright, baby girl?”
Gina nodded. “Don’t call me that.”
“Mr. Chambers?”
Randolph turned to see Principal Wiggins approaching him. He shook the principal’s hand, wincing as the tall ex-football player squeeze a bit too hard.
“I’m sorry we have to meet under such circumstances,” Wiggins said. “Gina’s usually a good young lady. This is obviously a surprise to you, as it is to me.”
“It is,” Randolph said. He was angry and embarrassed.
“I wish we could handle this situation differently due to Gina’s circumstances but rules are rules. We have to suspend her.”
Gina’s circumstances? So Stephanie’s death was just circumstances to them.
“As I told Ms. Bridges, I understand.”
He went back to Gina. “Come on, let’s go.”
Gina followed him to the car. They rode home in silence. Randolph didn’t know what to say. He was angry at her for fighting, but he knew it had something to do with Stephanie. She should be punished, but how would she take it? He couldn’t do it any longer. It was time to talk to a therapist. No matter how he tried he couldn’t make it right, he could work things out. The pain went deep like old roots.
He was still coming to a stop when Gina flung open the car door then jumped out. She was fumbling with her keys at the door by the time he exited the car.
She shoved open the door then went inside. Randolph followed her to her room. When he entered she was on the bed crying. He tried to speak to her, searching his mind for a string of comforting words to say but he came up empty. The truth was he wanted to do the same thing but he couldn’t. He was her father. He had to be strong for her. So he placed his hand on her until she sat up, hugging him until she fell asleep in his arms. He lay her down then slipped to his room. He took a long, hot shower, trying his best to wash the tension from his body and mind. But his mind wouldn’t give in. He sat before the television, flipping channels before giving up then listening to Al Jarreau until he became drowsy. He decided to check on Gina before calling it a night.
He heard the voices halfway down the hallway. At first he thought Gina might be on the phone with one of her friends, but as he listened closely he realized it wasn’t her voice. It was a collection of voices, children and adults, male and female. He went to the window at the end of the hallway then peered outside; the streets were empty. Walking back to Gina’s door he was sure the voices came from her room. He opened the door.
Gina sat on the floor beside the wall, a blank look on her face. Behind her the wall moved with dozens of faces, their mouths spewing a torrent of words. Randolph lunged toward Gina but something shoved him back.
“Betta listen!” the voices said in unison. “Bring him back. Bring him back. Bring him back!”
A bright light emerged from the wall surrounding Gina. She began to fade.’
“No!” Randolph tried to reach her again but was shoved back again. He watched as she slowly faded then disappeared.
“Bring him back. You get her back. Betta listen!”
The last he saw of Gina was her eyes. Then the light and the faces were gone. He was alone in her room.
“Gina! Gina!” Randolph snatched open her closest. He looked under her bed. He ran through the house, searching every room as his voice went raw screaming her name. Then went back to her room then collapsed on the floor before the wall where she disappeared.
“Betta listen,” the voices whispered. “Bring the man back.”
“What man?” Randolph croaked.
“The man that lived here. The man that killed us.”
He’d gone mad,he thought. The strain of Stephanie’s death had driven him insane. Gina was somewhere in the house hiding from him, probably terrified of him.
“Gina, stop hiding and come on out,” he said. “I’m okay.”
“I’m not hiding, daddy,” he heard her whisper. “I’m with them.”
“It’s going to be alright baby,” he said. “Don’t worry, it’s going to be alright.”
Randolph ran back to his room. He had no idea who owned this house before. He rummaged through his top dresser drawer until he found the Sunshine Realty card. He punched the numbers on his phone with trembling fingers.
“This Ann Coolidge,” the sweet southern voice said.
“Ann, this is Randolph, Randolph Chambers. You sold me the house in the Old Fourth Ward.”
“Oh yes, Mr. Chambers! How is everything?”
“It’s fine. Ann, I was wondering if you knew the person that owned this house previously.”
There was silence for a moment. “Yes I do. His name is Charles Wynn. He bought a house in Griffin.  A small thing with a lot of land.”
“He left a few things at the house. I’d like to ship them to him. Do you have the address?”
“Yes I do. That’s kind of you. Most people would just count it as a bonus. I’ll text you the information tomorrow.”
“I was wondering if you could send it tonight.” Randolph struggled to keep his desperation out of his voice.
“Well, okay. Give me a minute. Nice talking to you Randolph.”
“Same here, Ann.”
Randolph hung up then immediately gazed at his screen. It took Ann thirty minutes to text the address. He immediately pulled up his GPS app then plugged in the address. As the GPS did its job he went into his closet then opened the safe. Inside was a 9mm Glock and a Taser. The Taser was Stephanie’s; she refused to carry a gun. He grabbed a coat and hat then hurried downstairs to the garage. There he found a new roll of duct tape. Not once did he hesitate, not once did he have second thoughts. He had to find Gina.
By the time he got in the car the directions to Charles Wynn’s house were plotted. He sped out of the neighborhood headed for Griffin. It was farther than he thought. By the time he reached the exit he was low on gas. The GPS guided him down a dark lightless road bordered by pines and oaks, the dark wall of vegetation occasionally interrupted by farms or small homesteads.
“You have reached your destination,” the GPS announced.
Randolph stopped his car before the open area. The grass rose high against the ragged barb wire fence, a damaged light flickering over the driveway entrance. The house stood about fifty yards from the road, so faking a broken down car wouldn’t work. He cut off his lights then drove up to the house. There was no pretense to his actions; he had no time for such things and had no idea what he was doing.
He banged on the door. Hard footsteps advanced the stopped. The door jerked open.
Charles Wynn stood about Randolph’s height but was powerfully built. A ragged beard covered his face. He glared at Randolph with    bloodshot blue eyes.
“What the hell are you doing here? What do you want?”
Randolph pulled out his gun with a shaky hand.
“I need you to come with me,” he said.
Charles knocked the gun from his hand. It struck the porch then went off, shattering the nearby window. He grabbed Randolph’s coat, jerked him inside then threw him across the room. He crashed against the wall, blacking out for a moment.
“How did you find out?” Charles barked. “How?”
Randolph’s sight cleared to Charles advancing on him with a knife. The blade was covered with blood. Randolph checked himself; it wasn’t his. He looked about desperately then saw someone lying on the couch. It was a man, his eyes staring blankly into the ceiling. Blood ran down his shirt then dripped onto the brown carpet. Randolph pushed back his fear, waiting for the murderer to come to him.
“Don’t matter how you found out,” he said. “Don’t matter at all.”’
Randolph waited until Charles reached for him. He slapped the man’s hand aside then drove the Taser into his chest then pressed the button. Charles shook, dropping the knife then collapsing to the floor. Randolph waited until he stopped convulsing then scrambled to his feet. He tased him again then ran outside to his car for the duct tape. Randolph fought to ignore the dead man on the couch, concentrating on his task. He taped Charles feet together then taped his hands behind his back. He taped his mouth last. The man was heavy; he dragged him outside, waiting until he was near the car before lifting him up then dropping him into the trunk. Then he sped away, driving back to the city. He waited until he was almost home before calling the Griffin police and reporting the dead man. He pulled into the garage then closed the door. When he opened the trunk Charles was conscious. There was no fear in his eyes, just anger.
Randolph reached for him and he struggled. He took out the Taser; Charles pleaded with his eyes just before Randolph tased him. He waited a moment then lifted him from the trunk. He carried the man to Gina’s room, dropping him on the floor.
“He’s here!” he shouted.
Faint mumbling danced about him.
“Where’s my daughter?” he shouted.
“He’s here!” the voices shouted.
The faces appeared in the walls, ecstatic smiles on the myriad faces. The light that consumed Gina materialized over Charles. He came to as it descended on him, his screams muffled by the tape. The faces laughed in delight at their light enveloped him, the laughter increasing with each tortured scream. Then the light exploded, blinding Randolph. When his sight cleared Gina lay on the floor before him. She seemed to be sleeping.
Randolph grabbed her, hugging her tight as tears streamed from his eyes.
“Daddy?” she said.
“Yes, baby, it’s Daddy.”
“They let me go like they said. You listened.”
“Yes baby, I listened.”
She hugged him back. “I saw momma.”
Randolph pulled away from her. “What?”
“I saw momma. She told me to tell you that she’s alright. She told me to tell you not to worry.”
She looked in Gina’s eyes. She was calm, her eyes peaceful.
Randolph hugged her again.
“Everything is going to be alright baby girl,” he said. “It’s going to be alright.”
“I know daddy,” Gina whispered. “I know. You listened.”