Infrno is a Beta of a web-based RPG playing application/social site (isn’t everything these days?) which I’ve been signed up to for a while but hadn’t really gotten to grips with until this weekend.

We decided to keep things simple and went for a game of Dragon Warriors, playing through the first adventure in the main book, using the ‘whiteboard’ for maps and the webcam and audio to give the thing a proper test.

First the pluses:

  • Infrno is very easy to use and set up. Not necessarily always intuitive or simple but, in my experience, far more simple and intuitive than all the other, rival options that are out there at the moment.
  • Anyone with a web browser can use it.
  • The social side allows you to keep game notes etc on the site as well as characters, storing them in the cloud whether for your online or offline games. This makes life a lot easier.
  • The whiteboard isn’t complicated and its simplicity makes it extremely usable. You just have to drop images down onto there if you want to use them so making tokens, maps etc is a piece of piss. I never normally bother with them but it’s easy enough with this that I might more often.
  • It’s not wedded to any single system, so it’s open to all kinds of play, all kinds of games. It would be easy, EASY, even to play board games or war games over the interface if you created CGI tokens and that’s something I hope the Infrno guys look into doing with the blessing of various companies.
Now the minuses:
  • The in-site audio wasn’t great, we ended up switching to Ventrilo. We weren’t on the best of connections – one player was in rural Wales connecting via bean-tins and string and the site is in beta, but still that’s a problem. You can always conference in Skype or whatever until this gets fixed though.
  • We suffered the occasional random drop-out from the game, this wasn’t too much of an issue though as they were able to get right back in.
  • The whiteboard took a long time to load for some players.
  • There were pretty heavy, periodic, lag spikes.
  • The dice roller utility is not robust enough for many games.
  • The generic characters sheets are great, but huge and bewildering and unwieldy when trying to enter characters, especially if you’re doing pregens.
That said we had a good time and a successful game, playing online does always seem to be slower than playing in person though. We’re going to keep playing our Dragon Warriors game, at least for a while and I hope to use Infrno to run demos. Even with the Beta-period drawbacks and issues I think Infrno is a serious contender for a system neutral method of online play and of all the ones I’ve tried I like it the best. Get on there and look me up or find me on my company profile, let’s play!

A New Hope from Ghostwoods Books

Just as soon as I’m able I hope to publish some of my collected short stories or a novella through this and I wholeheartedly and absolutely endorse the ethos, aims, goals and attitude espoused on the press release below. You can read the original – and more at


I’m excited to be able to announce that as of today, my Fair Trade publishing house Ghostwoods Books is open for business. We’re launching with a slate of four exciting new novels, and my motto – which I’m absolutely determined to live up to, no matter what – is ‘Great Books at Great Prices’. To that end, I’m bringing you the very finest new fiction out there. As traditional publishing continues to disintegrate, Ghostwoods Books offers something older publishers never have – a genuinely fair deal for authors and readers alike.

But what does Fair Trade publishing mean? Well, I drink a lot of coffee. I’ve been impressed with the Fair Trade initiative, given how badly screwed coffee growers tend to be. Growing coffee takes years. So can writing and publishing a book. In practice, this translates to a 50/50 income share with authors. If I can’t make my wages and expenses out of my half of the income, I don’t deserve to be publishing. I’ve been writing for 20 years, and have more than 100 books out there. I’m determined to be the publisher I always longed to find.

But Fair Trade has to extend to readers, too. Traditional publishing is falling apart under the weight of its own greed. Far too many companies have been unfairly avaricious for too long, complacent in their power as Gatekeepers of what gets published. The digital revolution has changed all of that. Readers are sick of being treated like stupid, naughty children. For the reader, Fair Trade means a great book, well written and fairly priced, prepared to full professional standard, free of crippling DRM. Every Ghostwoods book has been painstakingly laid out, proof-read, and then proof-read again.

The Ghostwoods launch novels represent the best in modern fiction. You can see the covers just to the right of this post. Click on one, and you’ll be taken to that book.

All Lies and Jest, by Kate Harrad, is a counter-culture thriller with a delicious vein of dark humour. In it, you’ll meet crazed cultists, psychopaths, lettuce-eating vampires, and a chilling conspiracy to bring about the end of the world.

American Monsters, by Sezin Koehler, is a post-modern feminist horror, and a savage indictment of rave culture. Its heroines are traumatised, quirkily super-powered, and absolutely not putting up with any more shit.

Ghost Patrol, by P.D. Jordan, is a tense science fiction story. When a brilliant young space captain is captured by the enemy, he finds himself thrown into a lethal game of psychological cat and mouse with his would-be reprogrammers.

SwitchFlipped by Greg Stolze is an exciting urban fantasy about a normal guy who gets drawn into a lunatic reality where people can turn into electricity, where ghosts live suburban lives, and where nothing is impossible, if you’re prepared to pay the price.

The digital revolution is a very exciting time to be a reader. It’s exciting for writers, too. I’m determined to bring the two together, as pleasantly and generously as I possibly can.