Discover an incredible new fantasy universe.

Ballads of the Distant Reaches is a shared fantasy universe with a constantly growing story-world. Every week, subscribers receive a new piece of short fantasy fiction or lore from the world of the Distant Reaches, written by some of the most talented genre writers working today.

A unique illustration from Eisner Award-winner Shay Plummer accompanies each story!

Are you new to the Distant Reaches? Do you want to learn more about its people, history, magic, and more? Click here!

A whole world to explore.

Map of fantasy fiction universe The Distant Reaches.
Key locations in the Distant Reaches, circa 523 AE (Amal Era).

Every ten years, the Amal Empire summons the best bards from across the formidable scope of its lands. It is a great honor to attend this Conclave of Bards, for it affords the Empire’s subjects a chance to have their tales, triumphs, and sorrows enshrined in the goldstone annals. And to win the Conclave is to receive a binding boon from the Emperor, the Wielder of the Diamond Scepter himself.

But no two bards in the Distant Reaches are alike. Some dream of the Empire’s expansion; others, of its surrender. Some spin tales of love and wonder; others, of tragedy and terror. Some bring folk tales from far villages; others sing epics in service of the guilds. All embody the best of their people.

And the crowned winner of the competition may have the power to cement the Empire’s grip — or destroy it entirely.

Never miss an adventure.

Free subscribers receive a new tale of valor, skulduggery, intrigue, mystery, monsters, horror, love, or magic gone wrong in their inbox every other week.

Premium subscribers receive all that and more, including exclusive lore, peeks behind the scenes, and special longform stories exploring the vast history, myths, and legends of the Distant Reaches!

Plus, premium subscribers directly support independent writers and artists, help us promote their work, and run this publication.

Subscribe on a monthly or annual basis today ($9.99 per month/$99.99 per year)! You’ll get to explore an entire fantasy universe for less than the cost of a decent cappuccino and croissant!

Or, join as a Founding Member! Founding members receive additional special perks at the following tiers:

  • $160: All the benefits of the paid subscription, plus a Ballads of the Distant Reaches t-shirt!

  • $200: All the perks for $160, plus an annual subscription for a friend!

  • $500: All the perks for $200, plus naming rights for characters, Houses, or lore!

Support Ballads of the Distant Reaches today!

The creative process.

Ballads of the Distant Reaches puts a literary spin on collaborative storytelling experiences such as Dungeons & Dragons. Only instead of a “Rule Book,” our writers have access to a Lore Document filled with the history, secrets, terrors, wonders, and cultural practices of the Distant Reaches — everything they need to know to write a story.

Writers and balladeers eager to explore the Distant Reaches go through a few steps before they set out on their journey.

  1. Co-editors Robert Frankel and Benjamin Reeves take into consideration the writer’s interests — narrative, tonal, thematic, and so on — and give the writer a short prompt with some required elements and a theme.

  2. The writer then pitches three short story ideas. The editors work with the writer to select the best of the three pitches, and then the writer starts drafting!

  3. The editors work with writers to ensure the story content fits within the world of the Distant Reaches.

To learn more about the narrative structure and origins of the project, read Creator and Co-Editor Benjamin Reeves’s article on LinkedIn.

Ballads of the Distant Reaches is currently open for submissions!

Click here for our Submission Guidelines.

The Team.

Benjamin Reeves — Creator & Co-editor

Benjamin Reeves is an award-winning writer, filmmaker, and journalist. Across platforms and genres, he tells high-stakes stories about people confronting the seen and unseen forces of power, wealth, and influence in the world.

His feature screenplay Kane won the 2020 Big Apple Film Festival’s science fiction and fantasy competition and was an official selection of the 2020 Stowe Story Labs. His debut film, a sci-fi short called Crossing Acheron, which he wrote, directed and produced, premiered as part of the 2021 NYPause Film Festival.

Reeves’s journalism has appeared in publications ranging from the Los Angeles Review of Books to The New York Times. Reeves earned an MFA in screenwriting from the Brooklyn College Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema, an MA in Experimental Humanities from New York University, and a BA in Latin and History from Knox College.

Robert Frankel — Co-creator & Co-editor

Robert Frankel is a queer writer, filmmaker, and Air Force veteran. His work has placed at the Austin and Nashville Film Festivals, as a finalist in the ScreenCraft and WeScreenplay competitions, and twice in the top 15% of the Nicholl Fellowship. His feature screenplay Bitter Root was an official selection of the 2021 Stowe Story Labs, and he is an alumnus of the Writers Guild Foundation’s Veterans Writing Project. His short film, May I Speak, Now?, was a finalist for the Best Comedy Micro Film Award at the 2021 Portland Comedy Film Festival. He tells stories about wonder, passion, and cruelty.

Frankel earned a BA in Economics from the University of Washington, Seattle, and an MFA in screenwriting and producing from the Brooklyn College Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema.

Shay Plummer — Lead Artist

Shay Plummer is a college-trained and battle-tested illustrator who resides in the Northwestern US. As the art director and lead illustrator for the ongoing story and soundtrack project Magic Sword, Plummer continues to use that experience to weave together worlds, creatures, and characters in all manner of weird works, including his own unending stream of imagery, comics, projects, and games.

Plummer’s work as a contributing artist has been featured in many publications over the years, some of which are: DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, and Image comics; Wired and Field & Stream magazines; and the AMC cable channel. In 2015, Plummer contributed to the Eisner Award-winning anthology Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream.


People

Benjamin Reeves
Writer, filmmaker and journalist. Creator and co-editor of Ballads of the Distant Reaches. Journalism on business, tech, politics, and culture in publications including Vice, Worth, Chief Executive, Los Angeles Review of Books, and others.
Robert Frankel
Robert is a queer writer, filmmaker, and Writers Guild Foundation Veterans Writing Project alumnus. His work has placed at the Austin Film Festival, in the top 15% of the Nicholl Fellowship, and as ScreenCraft and WeScreenplay competition finalists.