“So you want to play rebel against the Dark?” the voice asked. It took on an amused, almost condescending tone. “Why should the resistance want your help? It needs fighters and spies, not spoiled noble girls acting out an adolescent rebellion.”
Diana felt the heat rising in her face. She fought to control her anger, to keep her voice calm and reasoned. She didn’t fully succeed.
“I watched good people die when the Warlord came,” she whispered hotly. “And every day I tend others who were maimed in the massacre. I lost another a few minutes ago. You dare call me a spoiled girl for wanting to fight the monsters that did this?”
“You’re a pampered ambassador’s daughter,” the voice said. It was openly mocking now. “You’ve read too many adventure stories that romanticize fighting the Dark. The reality will be nothing like that. You’ll run home to your father’s protection at the first sign of real danger.”
Diana’s hands balled into fists as she spun, angrily seeking the source of the taunting voice. She knew in that moment that if she’d found the man, she would have hit him.
“You know nothing about me,” she said acidly. “Or what I’m prepared to do.”
The voice chuckled. “And what is that?”
“Whatever it takes.”
The flat coldness of her response silenced him. Diana went on, practically spitting her words.
“I fought a demon in the city,” she said. “It attacked the group I was with. It slaughtered them with magic and claws. I put a knife in its eye. When it was over only two of us were left, and it was dead.”
“Talk,” the voice mocked.
“The only ‘talk’ here is from you,” she retorted. “I have the scars to prove it. And if this is all you have to say, then you’re wasting my time. Go away and don’t contact me again.”
She turned, groping for the handrail in the dark, stepping blindly to find the stairs.
To her surprise, her hand found not the banister, but another hand. The grip was strong and masculine, and it held hers firmly. She found herself suddenly aware of the man’s presence — the sound of his breathing, the shift of his feet on the stone floor, the faint scent of cologne. She stopped, uncertain, and they stood together for a long moment.
“You have an angry fire in you, Lady Dal Meara,” he said at last. “You will need to learn to control it better, and to be more careful, if you are to be of any use to us.”
Diana relaxed. She should have known the taunting was a test. She felt suddenly foolish.From Sanctum of the Archmage: Dawn of Chaos – Aftermath, by Tony Andarian
“I saw one of their ‘registrars’ down the hill,” he said at last. “A few people came out and approached him. They looked really scared. But they weren’t killed, and they weren’t taken.”
“What happened to them?”
“The registrar wrote some information in a ledger,” he explained. “Then he gave them some kind of yellow pin to wear and sent them on their way.”
“Then you think the truce is sincere?”
“I do. Or as sincere as bureaucrats of the Dark can be expected to be, at any rate.”From Sanctum of the Archmage: Dawn of Chaos – The End of the Beginning, Chapter 20 – The New Order, by Tony Andarian, now available from Andarian Publishing.
The Queen glanced at Lindas. “The Horde will send a second wave,” she continued. “Eventually. That won’t be battle demons and dragons, though. It’ll be Hellman clerks and thugs. To establish and enforce a bureaucracy.” She sighed. “That’s the ancient pattern of conquest by the Dark.”From Sanctum of the Archmage: Dawn of Chaos – Aftermath, Chapter 4 – The Muster of the Elves, by Tony Andarian, soon to be published by Andarian Publishing.
I have a major announcement regarding the future of my writing and gaming projects.
Those who’ve been following my work likely know that for many years, I’ve had to juggle my novel writing and game modding ambitions with a full-time career as a data scientist and software engineer. That ongoing need to “earn a living” has made it necessary for me to prioritize time and focus on my “paying day job” over the Sanctum of the Archmage projects. As a result, and to the disappointment of some of my fans, I’ve only been able to work on them in what has not been a particularly copious amount of spare time. That situation has unfortunately only gotten worse in recent years, to the point where I’ve had to put most of my “indie” ambitions on indefinite hold.
In the near future, all of that will all be changing. As of this month, and after decades devoted to it, I have joined “The Great Resignation” and officially retired from my day job.
The next stage in my life will be what I’m informally calling “The Great Pivot.” That will involve, first and foremost, moving. I’m expecting our retirement relocation to take a good bit of my focus over the next six months or more, until we find and settle into a new home. During that time I also intend to position myself for more independent and self-employed work in the future. I may also do some software contracting, as needed.
What this means for my creative projects is that I will soon be in a position to devote a lot more time and focus to them. They, and particularly my novel writing, will be my main profession going forward. In other words, I’m retiring to become a full-time author and IP creator-entrepreneur.
So Andarian Publishing is now a full-time business. Writing books and making games will be my job for the near and forseeable future. Here’s what that will mean for the future of the Sanctum of the Archmage novels and games.
Novels. For those who have been waiting for the re-release of my first novel, and for the following books in the series, I have especially good news. These will be my primary (although not exclusive) focus for the next several years. They represent a project I’ve been working on for decades, and there are ten volumes planned in the full saga. So this will be a major undertaking, and I expect that it will keep me busy for much of the rest of my life. Here is what I hope to accomplish in the near term:
- Finish re-publishing my first novel, Dawn of Chaos, as a series of six novellas. The first five are already on my website, and on the Kobo e-book store. The sixth book, Aftermath, only needs a cover, and will be published as soon as I have one.
- Finally publish Dawn of Chaos “wide.” This means getting all six books out on most of the major e-book stores: Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Apple Books. I’m considering a few other smaller online bookstores as well. This should be done by the end of the year, with print on demand and audiobook versions following sometime next year.
- I will likely also publish the rest of the first volume to Amazon Kindle (book 1 is there now). I have not decided whether to do the same for the subsequent volumes. My work will not appear on the Google Play store.
- Finally begin the serious marketing and promotion campaign for my novel writing that I’ve been putting off for lack of time. I’ve done a lot of research on how to do this, so I know most of what I need to do; I just need to actually do it.
- Write and publish the next two volumes in the series: Crucible of Heroes and The Sight. These will be made available in e-book, print, and audio form. My plan (which I now have the time to follow through on) is to get them out in 2022 and 2023, respectively.
Games. I currently have two separate game development avenues that I plan to explore. The first is continuing work on the Sanctum of the Archmage adventure modules for Neverwinter Nights. The second is exploring indie game development options for the series outside the modding community.
Neverwinter Nights Mods. One of my greatest regrets over the last dozen years has been having to disappoint fans of my Neverwinter Nights module series. I genuinely appreciate the enthusiasm I’ve seen from them for me to continue it, and in particular to complete and release Chapter 3: Mission to Rayche. And as much as I love writing novels, I love making games even more. As a writer and a computer tech, it is, to me, the ideal blend of storytelling and technical creativity. But modding is an inherently unpaid activity, and I have always had to put my job and book writing (which I can earn an income from) first. While that won’t change entirely with my retirement, I now have some flexibility to shift those priorities. So here are my near-term goals for the Sanctum of the Archmage modding projects.
- Sanctum as NWN:EE “Curated Content.” Beamdog has invited me (and I’ve agreed) to prepare my Sanctum of the Archmage modules for inclusion in its curated content program. This won’t be a small effort, but I think it’ll be a great opportunity to bring greater exposure and visibility to my work. I’ll be starting on this over the next several months, and it will hopefully be available sometime next year.
- Sanctum 3 is Now Officially Back in Development. Removing the major time-suck that was keeping me from my creative projects will enable me to finally set aside time to work on completing the next adventure module in the series. With the full title Sanctum of the Archmage: The Miracle Worker, the third and fourth modules (Mission to Rayche and Treason) will finally continue the game saga from the end of chapter 2: The Quest.
Indie Game Development. Although I’m currently treating this as a secondary side-project for some time in the future, I do have thoughts of building new, independent game content set in the Sanctum universe as well. Unlike my work on the NWN game modules, this would be something that would allow me to both explore and monetize my passion for game development. Starting any of these is likely a few years out, but options from visual novel projects to building a new, marketable implementation in something like Unreal Engine are all on the table.
That’s all I have to share for now. Thanks to everyone who read through this announcement! And if you have thoughts or feedback on it, please don’t hesitate to comment. Dialogue with my readers and players is something that I really enjoy, and I’m very happy that I’ll be able to devote more time to it in the future.
If you’re looking to purchase Tony Andarian’s Sanctum of the Archmage books on Kobo, you can find them here:
Unfortunately, and due to a need to deal with some unexpected and urgent life-events, the release of my next novella, Aftermath, will be delayed until further notice.
EDIT: Aftermath was published on December 24th, 2021.
I’ve been reading a bit about “log-lines” recently. A log-line is supposed to be a one sentence summary of your story, usually a novel or screenplay, for “pitching” purposes. I decided to take a few minutes to try to come up with one for the first volume in my Sanctum of the Archmage series, Dawn of Chaos. Here’s my first cut:
The people of Carlissa struggle for survival when a professor of magic summons an army of demons to enforce his elitist ideas on their society, and its maverick bard princess tries to reach the Archmage for the power to defeat them.
Here’s the longer description from the book’s page:
A new constitution prepares Carlissa for an era of enlightenment. The harsh traditions of the past fade, and a promise of freedom stirs the air.
In the space of one terrifying day, that promise is shattered in a bloodbath of fire and magic.
Thousands of years ago, an epic battle was fought between good and evil. The demon lords had opened a door to the realms of hell itself, and their horde threatened to overrun the earth. But the Kalarans, led by the hero Calindra, destroyed their hellgate and drove them from the world.
The Great War has long since been lost to myth and legend. The Church struggles for relevance as the people forget their covenant with the gods. A renaissance of freedom and learning stirs the air in the modern age of Carlissa, led by the royal family, and the wisdom of the Archmage.
All of that comes to an end when a dome of shimmering magic appears in the capital city.
The people fight desperately to survive the chaos that follows, and wonder bitterly why the gods seem to have abandoned them. Their only hope lies with the magic of the Archmage — and his, with a young princess who never wanted to rule. She must find the strength to set aside her bard’s calling and take up a battle against impossible odds, or surrender her land and people to the Black Magus and his demons.Sanctum of the Archmage: Dawn of Chaos, by Tony Andarian