Sunday, February 28, 2010

Death Ferox Doom!

My regular Sunday group hadn't played for a few weeks, and even though half the group was down with the flu, I wasn't canceling again. The decision almost killed them, as there were only three of them, two clerics (one which wears no armor, carries no real weapon, and is pretty much a non-combatant) and a magic-user. All level 5 or 6, I forget exactly.

The first few sessions for what will be Death Ferox Doom were kind of slow.

They disabled and impersonated the people that were supposed to be going on the mission (per an oracle's orders), and traveled to the Southern Continent to the Empire's colonial beachhead, Fort Coronado. (This preliminary stuff won't be in the module; it will start at the Fort.)

Once there, they collected information about the mission: the Great General, Royal Blade of Arms, Mortimer Coleridge, and Imperial Arch-Mage Shelton Farrington had led an expedition searching for a City of Gold in this region... and disappeared. Someone has to find them.

They learn that the entire region is covered in thick jungle and had several native tribes living along the waterways. the colonial administration (little more than the military garrison at the fort at this point) considers the natives to be little more than animals, and the natives consider them to be something unto gods. The tribe local to the fort has been "domesticated," and one of their number is assigned the task of being the party's guide.

Their only clue at the beginning as to the general and arch-mage's fate (along with the squad of men-at-arms they brought with them) is an amulet - the Dead Sign. Word from the natives (who are all terrified of the symbol) is that one of the "pale men" returned from the east, alone and stripped of other equipment, wearing it. No sign of the rest of the expedition.

They don't travel up the river I'd set out for them... they boat up the coast a bit and go upstream on the larger river than can support canoe travel. They learn that the tribes in the area pretty much all hate each other, and in fact can treat each other worse than the imperial military treats them.

Most of the native tribes are not much trouble, however, as they are already frightened - Coleridge and Farrington had apparently not been gentle in their treatment. They finally come to a tribe that had given the expedition some grief - the Dida-Sine, a tribe at the fork of the two rivers that has a very large rust monster herd. Here they get their best leads to the City of Gold, and a warning about the To-Lem - the cannibals of the jungle.

My players, at least a couple of them, have honorable characters right now, so the trek through the jungle was much less eventful than it could have been. Let's just say a group of more mercenary or paranoid types can commit a bit of genocide on their way through the wilderness, and they might be able to easily excuse their slaughter as self-defense. Life is different in the jungle, and in addition to the more expected dangers to come, I offer the opportunity to make the players rather disgusted with themselves.

But my players avoided that as they avoided most of the tribes altogether, and dealt peacefully with those they did encounter. While this robbed them of the opportunity to get some important information, they avoided a lot of bait and temptation, and in fact one of the possible conclusions to the adventure is now closed to them (which is not a bad thing), unless they royally go out of their way to mess things up on the way out.

After some traveling, they find the "City of Gold." It is actually a pyramid in a clearing in the middle of a dead part of the jungle.

Before the pyramid are two large Dead Sign scultpures. Also a couple pools, and refuse pits - one filled with human remains. A large amount of equipment has been strung up on one of the Dead Signs - including the Arch-Mage's staff. If the PCs figure out how to use it, they will have a potent magic item.

The pyramid has eight entrances, and all three (plus the top) surface levels are much like Death Frost Doom - a lot of setup and things to look at, but not much that will get you if you keep a level head. The multiple entrances (including the shaft which sinks straight through most of the levels, allowing the party to go to the bottom level before entering any other room) correct one issue I have with Death Frost Doom - the linear nature of the map.

To show how cautious my players are, there are several altars with treasure, including a ruby, just sitting out in the open. In the three or four sessions they've been there, nobody has touched any of this treasure. It's actually fairly satisfying that nobody ever wants to touch anything in this place, but they know they have to in order to accomplish anything.

They've been pushing on into the lower levels of the pyramid and have found a number of interesting things. They've suffered many interesting threats. There have been multiple deaths in this pyramid (Explosive Runes for the win!), and this session one cleric was turned to gold, until a scroll was expended to fix the problem.

The great shark skeleton didn't pose much of a threat, but the squad of warriors clad in colorful ceramic armor, led by a mage, was almost the death of them. If the Hold Person didn't work, this would have been a TPK. But they were able to run away.

I want to see the looks on their faces when they discover who these guys are. :D

Oh yeah, and they're kind of trapped at the pyramid. The cannibal tribe discovered their presence, and while the cannibals won't enter the pyramid (or even the clearing area after having their butts handed to them a couple times), they do prevent escape. Their poisoned blowgun darts are a potential instant incapacitator, and with some of the party in plate mail, there will be no outrunning them.

The party has explored around (but not done much with) the Final Areas, but they haven't yet set foot in the more bizarre sections of the dungeon yet.

I won't be able to properly write this module for publication until bigger projects are completed, but especially this session, I got very excited about this and feel like I've got a worthy followup to Death Frost Doom on my hands. My big fear by making Death x Doom a series of modules is that I'll dilute the idea and lessen Death Frost Doom, but as long as I'm not just cranking them out, I should be OK. One a year sounds good to me.

gaaahh, I have so many frickin awesome things to do, and only so much time. Ah well, once the box is out, the floodgates will open. I've had a lot of time to get excited about a good many projects, and once I can get to them they should come out in fairly rapid succession. This will be a good year.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Poverty is a Wonderful Thing

I'm not being sarcastic.

I just paid off the majority of my art costs last night. Had to pay off the American artists ASAP, before the work was done, because the euro is trending down down down.

I still have a fun chunk that I have to pay the Finnish-based artists, but that won't be until that work is done.

But I'm still swimming in really great/stupid ideas for artwork, with the knowledge that all I have to do is spread some bucks around and I can get pretty much what I want from pretty much who I want.

So thank goodness for not actually having a great big pile of cash sitting around, because impulse control has never been my strong point.

Still, for 48 hours I've had this idea of "A young King Arthur pulling Stormbr^H^H^H^H^H^H^H a black runesword from a stone to claim the throne of England." With a specific artist in mind who probably isn't very cheap.

So three cheers for poverty and its control on random ideas!

(or, "Fuck it, I'll send an email and get a price quote anyway.")

Friday, February 26, 2010

Bill Willingham and Lands of Adventure

This game (and cover) has been mentioned in a couple places today. I'd never heard of the game or seen this picture before, but wow.

If You Die by Fire, Turn to Page 54. If You Die by Poison, Turn to Page 12.

I finally stopped sandbagging and got around to outlining the choose-your-own-adventure style section for the tutorial booklet.

9 areas, 10 "plot point" flags (those certainly need renaming), over a dozen ways to die, 148 entries in total.

The original intent was just a standard walkthrough of a dungeon, but as I was plotting the various choices, the possibilities opened up. One of the possible deaths caused my wife to get that sickened look on her face and she needed to confirm that this was indeed for beginners. I took that as a compliment, since it is supposed to be quite horrible.

Soak the beginner in atmosphere and then light him up to highlight the dangers of the adventuring profession, that's what I say. None of this "Have a boatload of success to make you feel great about this swell game!" nonsense.

Just looking through the rules, it might be easy to think, "Oh, same old shit." But everything, all together, will be about as "same old shit" as any of the modules I've released. It's good to get some of the material written that will give this its unique character rather than worrying so much about the stuff that needs to fit in with everything else.

I still have to update all the numbering for the entries (I did them in order first, then shuffled and renumbered) and do the actual writing, but the hard part of this section of the project is the organization and that is done.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night...

... can screw up a movie with awful plot twists and CG that looks like crap."

Guess what I saw today?

It was alright, not an insult or desecration or anything, but it was a lot less than it should have been.

Probably more disturbing is watching movies with my wife. She's always "been there." When we watched Star Wars, she said "I've been there!" We saw The Wolfman today, "I've been there! I've had a pint at that pub!" The advantages to using actual locations rather than sets, I guess.

Managed to talk some business with a local retailer, made an art contact, ran into one of my players on the street, had lunch, you know, the usual day in the life of a gaming high roller. :P

Back to work!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

LotFP Weird Fantasy Role-Playing Version 0.03 Available Now

"I'll just do a quick mock layout," he says. "Look out for that this evening," he says.


Anyway, that was just a slight bit more complicated than I figured. I didn't get to try out a lot of tricks I was planning to do, but even though the layout's not exactly professional quality, it should be a bit easier to read than the previous text dump.

The file is here.

It's a complete draft. Sort of. I took out the Waterborne Adventures section because I'll be heavily revising is, if not completely rebuilding it from scratch, for the northern seas adventure.

The entire thing needs a rewrite to make sure it's all in the same "voice" as it is in large part a cut and paste of existing OGC, so suggestions about wording or typos isn't necessary at this time. Things like combing through all the spell listings and making sure the saving throws match my categories exactly, that hasn't been edited yet. I hope a lot of this can be trimmed of wordiness as well. This is but a "skin" at this point.

But if anything just looks wrong as far as the meat of what's being said, certainly inform me.

This draft, when finished, will be two separate booklets within the box.

Next items: Finish the tutorial booklet and then attack that referee booklet and get significant portions of it done.

All the while tinkering with some of the fiddly bits in the rules. I want to get that encumbrance stuff nailed down so character sheet design can begin. There's a good idea for an encumbrance system bubbling there but I don't think I've hit paydirt with it yet.

And my copy of CAS' Vintage from Atlantis arrived earlier today and I didn't even crack it open because I was doing this. Ay ay ay.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Second Interior Cover for LotFP Weird Fantasy Role-Playing Box

Kevin Mayle's work on the as-yet untitled wilderness/maritime adventure that will be both included with the box and sold separately for those of you who like my adventures but have no interest in another full game.

You can see the progress of the work from the beginning in this post over on Mayle's blog.

This adventure will be a northern exploration adventure, as I've become rather amused/horrified at the tales of the expeditions to find the Northwest Passage in the 18th and 19th Century and I'm currently making my way through a book on the subject. I've got the adventure outlined, and I have plans for what the physical product will look like, but I am a bit worried about its scope and how generic it would be for an individual referee's campaign. The subject demands that there be rival powers offering rewards for certain discoveries, and the better part of an entire continent's far northern areas must be detailed (in rough form at least) for exploration. Making expedition patrons generic shouldn't be too difficult, but copping out on a specific map for an exploration adventure would be unforgivable.

And I do have to say I'm worried that I'm being a most unreasonable boss when it comes to the art on this project. I don't have the first clue how most publishers/art directors interact with their artists, so I just hope I'm reasonably handling my five million "change this!" requests that are happening per piece.

Probably doesn't help that the original instructions are vague, but I generally have only a general sense of what I want and it's only after seeing something that it comes together in my brain.

I should be getting the first prelim sketches for the main box cover soon, and I supplied that artist with a list of links for clothing references, weapon references, did half a dozen thumbnails, and have models for the figures to establish what it is I'm looking for so hopefully a lot of this "Wait, no, do that instead!" can be avoided.

As for the promised next draft of the rules, I just have two short sections to complete, and then I'm going to do a layout using my new software. It won't at all be the layout, but I figure I should practice with the software and become familiar with its basic functions so I'm not learning at the same time I'm doing final layouts. Look for that this evening.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"How Many Games Can the OSR Sustain?"

Last month I found out Goodman Games was doing their own sorta-retro game, and that news seems to have gotten out this past week.

And again there are the concerns of "How many companies and products can the Old School community support?"

It's irrelevant, and after a few days' thought my response is now, "Stop acting like lepers or victims of some sort of gaming apartheid."

"Niche of a niche" is bullshit defeatist phrasing, and I keep reading it. It should be what detractors say about us, not how we describe ourselves, for fuck's sake.

It's good now, because it's good. It's not good just because it's like it was 25+ years ago. "Play Swords & Wizardry/Labyrinth Lord because it delivers this awesome fucking experience," not "Play Swords & Wizardry/Labyrinth Lord because your 1974/1981 boxes are too valuable/worn to actually handle during game play!"

Our games can stand proudly next to anything ever done for this hobby (because they largely are the games that laid the foundation for the hobby, untrademarkedly speaking). The trick for anyone releasing material is to stand your ground and release only material which reflects and reinforces your gaming principles, not adjusting those principles to any sort of movement/philosophy and not for the sake of appealing to the larger market.

Build it, and build it well, and they will come. It won't spark a new Golden Age, you're not going to outsell WotC or Paizo or whoever else is on top of the mountain right now, but there is a whole damn lot of space between "failure" and "#1" that anyone should be proud to inhabit. And there are a shitload of modernist, state-of-the-art games that don't get the attention that "our" games get, so quit whining. If people don't go for your project (because there is never any guarantee that people will give a shit no matter how spectacular you feel it is), well, be bitter and disappear for a little while (you've earned it if you've put in the blood sweat and tears), then get over it, and come back.

Don't accept a ghetto. You want that house on the hills? "Market conditions" are not an excuse. "The economy" is not an excuse. There are people who are making good money in RPGs, and people that have been gainfully employed and increasing their standard of living during the current recession. This will be what we make of it, not what prevailing conditions will allow us.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Practical Advice from Uncle Jim

Using Google Alerts is a great way to keep up on who is talking about your stuff, you, or other topics you might care about. I use it to keep track of who is talking (trash) about the "Old School Renaissance," for instance.

However, if using that particular program, don't name any of your own work after common phrases. I find Death Frost Doom has a pretty much 100% relevancy rate. No Dignity in Death, however, has netted me slightly less than thirty million hits talking about the Haiti earthquake, and I get notified when anyone posts the lyrics to that Robbie Williams song anywhere, or when someone digs up any story about anything involving dying. Lots of people are talking about Roger Ebert right now thanks to that Esquire piece.

Grinding Gear is slightly more annoying since I get a lot of technical links and did you know that online games have some sort of tactic called "grinding for gear?" I didn't until I started getting these hits.

So the dungeon adventure in the box will not be called The Wizard's Tower, but rather something like "The Tower of GHeoweoisdv'kdfd'sfdf'd." Should be unique enough for the internet.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Odo of Bayeux

I've been reading Sean McGlynn's By Sword and Fire: Cruelty and Atrocity in Medieval Warfare to keep the correct atmosphere for the writing and revising I haven't been doing while I've been all icky-poo.

It mentions one Bishop Odo:

Clergy came under the nominal protection afforded to non-combatants, but many clergy exempted themselves from this category. Active ecclesiastical participants in warfare ranged from the highest to the lowest, from Bishop Odo of Bayeux vigorously swinging his club over his head at the Battle of Hastings as depicted in his famous tapestry (he wielded a club and not a cutting weapon for as a churchman he was forbidden from spilling Christian blood)...

Anyone have any more historical/academic references dealing with the traditional D&D cleric's weapon restrctions? (... figures my game won't have the restrictions...)

In other "news," I've gotten the dice bagged into the cutest little baggies, received a rather disastrous preliminary quote from the printers for this summer's box set (but just the one quote so far, and I will negotiate that down as there are some oddities), and set about assigning more artwork where needed.

As far as actual work that I do (content!), I've fixed the OGL problem I mentioned and several of the missing rules sections have been filled in, but I really have been knocked on my ass all this week so everything I wanted to have done isn't quite there yet. I'll deal with that this weekend (barring relapse), so look for a posting Monday.

I may have another cover to post soon. The wilderness adventure that was formerly going to be about pirates is now going to be about arctic exploration (and I bought a book about the search for the Northwest Passage , Voyages of Delusion by Glyn Williams, as reference material), as all my pirate ideas were too expansive for my desired 16 page limit.

Those of you who A are good at making character sheets and B want a free box set should start doing your calisthenics. :D

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

First Cover Art for LotFP: Weird Fantasy Role-Playing is Finished!

That's the cover artwork for the Magic booklet for the box set. The model is Karoliina Valli, her photo taken by Laura Jalo, scenery by NASA/STCSI, and Jesse Rothacher put it all together.

There's been talk lately about "How much do we need?" My answer, quite obviously, "At least one more." My future releases after the box will continue to be multi-game adventure modules just as the previous releases have been. The box will just be my little gauntlet-throwing: We aren't a "niche of a niche," we don't have to settle for crumbs and "it's good for what it is"quality. My goal is nothing less than to leave every purchaser awestruck when they open their box and go through all the stuff in it. Awestruck. And have a game that they can use as-is, with its own distinct flavor and atmosphere, or take apart to use piecemeal with their current old-school campaign.

More updates as they happen, work is continuing in all sectors of the project.

Some more slowly than others: As for the new version of the rules file, this sickness thing has kicked my butt. Sunday was a fine, if sniffly, workday, but yesterday and today I can barely keep my head up. The wife went to the doctor this morning and will be off work all week. Fun fun fun! Not to mention I totally goofed on what exactly was Open Game Content in a certain document so some things have to be redone taking such content from the correct document. Better to catch that now than after publication, but I have taken the previous file down and if anyone is, errr, dim enough to use OGC from a file labeled Version 0.02, I warn that it wasn't actually all open content in there. No wonder my head hurts.

For an added bonus, here is a picture I took of the chair that Laura and Karoliina used in their photo... it's on one of the busiest streets in downtown Helsinki, and it was snowing quite heavily when they did it (this pic taken at a different time, obviously):

Weirdos. :P

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Look at the Bright Side

This kind of thing answers the question, "How do we market RPGs and make people aware of them?"

The biggest period of success for both of my main obsessions happened at a time when they were being accused of inspiring this sort of thing and they were both in the news constantly for contributing to the downfall of civilization.

It may be a chicken-egg thing (did the publicity feed their popularity or did their popularity draw the publicity?), but I don't think it's a coincidence.

That said, what a bunch of shit.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

LotFP Collectibles Up for Auction for TARGA's Pledge-an-Auction 2010!

The listing is here, and includes not-available-anymore items Fantasy Fucking Vietnam (GDF #1's original presentation) and the original printing of Death Frost Doom.

The auction benefits this thing here.

Right now the auction is at $5 for the six books, so if you haven't sampled LotFP's releases yet and you've been curious, this is likely the best/cheapest chance you're ever going to have!

Sick Day

The got icky-poo, and gave it to me, so we had to cancel our appearance at a show last night (and I was on the guest list... *sigh*) and cancel today's game.

On the plus side, I should have the latest (complete!) rules document for the game up by the time I leave for my business class tomorrow. I can't miss that class... it's all about market advantage and hanging out naked with other businessmen in steam rooms. At least that's what last week was all about, and this is the second part of that presentation. (Finland is weird)

Just to make sure this isn't a completely wasted post, and because I haven't said something oh so highly controversial in days, I now give you two more songs by way of Youtube. I call this "An Old-Schooler's Reaction to 3e and 4e, in Musical Form."



Thursday, February 11, 2010

This is What 600 Sets of Dice Look Like

They arrived! I got them from Dice & Games Limited.

I now need to find 600 appropriately-sized griplock baggies, and at that point sorting can begin.

They aren't your usual dice though. A size comparison between the new dice and one of the normal sets in my dice bag:

ha ha, fooled you! Those solid blue ones are jumbo dice! Nah, here's a real comparison between the dice that will be in the box set and a set of normal dice.

The small size of the dice saved me a bundle in both the cost of the dice and the shipping from the UK. And I get to have the dice included in my box and it's not impossible that it's a set unlike any in an experienced gamer's dicebag. And I might be able to shave a centimeter or so off the box thickness, which will save some money. And when I save money, you'll save money, since I formulate my profit margin and wholesale prices and retail prices based on my actual costs.

And they take up surprisingly little space, even all boxed together.

I'm a happy man today!

In other news, work is progressing nicely on the Spells and Magic booklet cover. I think the final concept is nailed down and I might have something to show you real soon. Personal issues prevented me from working as much as I should have on the rules this week, so I might not have the new upload ready tomorrow, but I have had the opportunity to really dig in and make a really good outline for the Referee booklet.

The Referee booklet is going to be rules-free, really, just being a collection of techniques, processes, and advice, covering everything from the basics to advanced campaign construction. This is the sort of thing that I really start rambling with in blog posts, so a tight outline is the first step to making sure the rambling and tangents are kept to a minimum for this all-important project.

As far as the rules, I had an epiphany of the obvious the other day (kind of like I just noticed last night, after living in this apartment for 14 months now, that the outer blanket on the bed has doggies on it). I'm not a rules minimalist by any means, but there comes a point where I'm looking at these big clever charts I've made and I just say "What in the hell am I thinking?"

Clear example:

I think encumbrance and movement rules are important. Particularly when it comes to overland travel and determining trip times. If they are important, then factors that affect movement overland are important too. Terrain and weather, namely.

But then I sat there and was coming up with weather generation tables. Not so very complicated, but after fiddling with it, I realized it was a complete waste of time. Knowing how weather affects travel, yes, I think that should be there. Detailing how to determine the weather in the first place? Unnecessary!

So I'll need to make another pass: Only player-facing issues should be actual rules in the first place. Let supplemental material fill in the Referee-aid issues like weather generation.

What else has been happening lately? I'm pricing hard drive backup systems. Any recommendations? It occurs to me that with various work items being done daily, and this being a job and all, it would be right inconvenient for this hard drive to go ptbtbtbbt. Need to take precautions, but I'm not vigilant enough to manually back things up every frickin night (or week). Of course now that I say all this out loud it'll take a dive tonight.

I also finished a couple of Arthur Conan Doyle's Challenger stories. The Lost World was decent, but The Poison Belt was rather predictable (although if it was so in 1914, I couldn't say). There are a few more stories to go in that collection, then I need to decide between Dumas' Three Musketeers and Arabian Nights (neither of which I've read before). Also, after watching some of the newer (corrupted) Miss Marple TV movies, I found a good collection of Christie's Marple books, in English, at a used book store today (never read any of those either).

Apparently my order for Vol 3 of the Clark Ashton Smith collection by Nightshade Books got canceled. Damned Amazon third party vendors! I knew that price for a new copy was too good to be true...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Visibility Distances

Visibility distances have always been a pain in the crotch for me as a referee.

But I came upon this formula over at today. Apparently I'm the last one on Earth to have heard of it, but just in case I'm not, I'll pass it along:


D is the visibility distance in unobstructed miles
H is the height (in feet) being viewed from

So, roughly, a 6' tall man can see 3 miles in every direction if the terrain is flat and featureless (plains or ocean?).

Very helpful to me at the moment, and maybe helpful to all you sandboxers out there.

So if there's a tower 50' high, is it simple enough to just say it can be seen from 8.66 miles away? If there's an escarpment 100' high, 12 miles or so away? Or is there a different formula for that?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I've got the Noble Knight Blues!

All the new Swords & Wizardry stuff is finally in stock there (Adventure Design Deskbook and Iron Tower of the Salka are what I was waiting for)... and so of course now the Cursed Chateau is sold out.

*shakes fist at the sky*

The damnable Gods of Inconvenience look at me and say, "No combined shipping rates for you!"

I look to them in defiance and say, "I'll wait."

And in the meantime portray all of their clerics in my game as bumbling oafs with no spells. Twats.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Another Podcast Appearance! Box Talk!

I was a guest again over at RPG Circus and we recorded a show last night. I was invited on to talk about box sets. It's already online, so go listen to it, and then come back here.

As always with these things, as soon as we disconnect, I immediately thought of a million things I should have said, but didn't for reasons of both time constraints (they like to keep their show a bit trimmed, and both times I've been on now it's been a looooooooong episode) and the fact that I don't want to sound like a politician getting in my prepared soundbytes no matter where the conversation goes.

One factor about box sets I didn't talk about was the freedom of presentation. It's all good and well to say "Games come in boxes!" but that doesn't explain what is meant. A book has a fairly static way of being presented. I've seen foldout maps stuck on the inside of covers, but otherwise, it's a book. There's only so much you can do with it.

A box on the other hand has almost unlimited potential. Whatever you want to put in there, you can. Whatever you want the box to look like, whatever material you want the box to be made out of, you can. You want multiple foldout maps? Dice (especially applicable to games that require non-standard dice)? Spinners? Hourglass timer? Loose sheets (like, I don't know, character sheets!)? You want to arrange your content in book form, but not all be in the same book and not sold as separate products? A box can do that. So it's not just that Box Equals Game, it's also that a box is far more flexible for presenting a game than a book is.

There talk about the issue of cost, both on the producer and consumer sides. I talked a bit about my costs, and talked about what Brave Halfling grossed in effectively a few days. What I forgot to mention is that while I was throwing out numbers approaching five figures, to put it in perspective you have to realize we are absolutely tiny small potatoes operations. Green Ronin, Fantasy Flight, Wizards of the Coast, and fancy presentation non-box companies like Paizo are playing with numbers and risks and expections 100 times what's talked about in the podcast. On the consumer side, when talking about how much things cost, add non-box biggies Ptolus and World's Largest Dungeon to the Warhammer 3e and Wilderlands of High Fantasy examples.

It's not about cost-effectiveness or necessity, it's about capturing the imagination. Do that, and you're gold. Don't do that, and it doesn't matter how economical you are.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Grinding Gear Actual Play Report!

Two sessions so far, here and here.

Miscellaneous Notes and a Question

Finished up all the equipment list details today for the game. I still have things to do here and there to finish up the first full draft, and then before posting it I'm going to format it this time so it looks halfway presentable.

Any image manipulation wizards out there? I need some help putting the Spells and Magic cover together. I've got the photos from Laura and Karoliina but I'm not going to be the one to fix everything up right.

How about people who can do logos and that sort of thing?

(previous two items, I can pay, but not much)

I have a new layout program due in the mail any day now that I can't wait to play with. I hope it works well and that I can learn it well enough to use for all the upcoming releases - I'm sick of using ancient layout software.

Grinding Gear is sold out at Noble Knight. Print copies in the US are available at IPR though.

I'll be reprinting Death Frost Doom earlier than expected because I want to submit it for Ennie consideration... and it would be dumb to just have 6 printed up.

I put through the payment for 600 sets of dice today... and afterwards, someone asked why I didn't do 666 sets instead. A little too late to mention it... *sigh*

But this confirms my print run at 600 for sure now.

And I think I want to make them hand-numbered copies. But how to handle hand-numbered copies when there are so many earmarked for different people?

Here are the various groups that will be getting copies (I'll be keeping #1 for myself, thankyouverymuch):

  • My home group for playtesting through the rules
  • The Insect Shrine pre-orderers (and this will be my final make-good and I'll consider us even as this alone will retail for 3-4x what they paid, plus everything they've already gotten)
  • Comp copies for those directly involved like the artists and models
  • Contest winners
  • Vendors that order
  • Vendors that work on consignment
  • The retail distributor that is interested (can at least get me into a variety of webstores even if tits keeps me off of actual gamestore shelves)
  • The local Finnish chain(s?) that will get copies
  • Reviewers and publisher courtesy copies (there will be much less of these than usual, sorry)
  • People that pre-order direct from me when it's ready
  • People that order direct from me after it's on sale

So who should get what numbers? Back-numbering the freebies from #600-down seems wrong as that won't be the actual copy # sent out.

Here's what I'm thinking:

  1. Me
  2. Artists and models and other contributor copies
  3. Insect Shrine pre-orders
  4. Direct pre-orders
  5. Initial vendor, store, and distributor orders that arrive before first shipment
  6. Consignment vendor shipment
  7. My group's copies
  8. Reviewer and publisher courtesy copies and contest winner copies
  9. ... and then after the first shipment, the numbers going out as orders arrive from whatever source.

Is that fair?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I'm An Idiot!

(because I know many of you have just been waiting for me to let that one slip out!)

So I'm working on filling the details of the equipment lists for the game. Yeah, chain is going to be AC 5 and a normal sword does d8 damage. Compatibility yay!

But I'm reassigning costs and weights across the board, to make them more plausible, if not realistic. This sort of detail is the kind of thing that will get people pointing out how dumb you are in a hurry, so I was trying to get it reasonably correct for the next PDF update.

So I'm trying to look up real weights of armor and weapons and blah blah. I get distracted and click on links and I'm looking at Youtube videos where guys in 80 pound armor are doing forward rolls and some actual impressive feats of athleticism (the guy jumping off a horse in armor and landing on his ass - on purpose - is impressive in any event).

And none of it matters! Not one whit!

I've already covered this in the encumbrance rules!

The "short list of questions" encumbrance rule, while not perfected yet (holes have been found), seems to be a good idea overall. Nobody has to keep track of the weight of anything, let alone spikes and torches and arrows, and encumbrance is still accounted for and people have to be careful carrying too much stuff.

And as it is, a plate mail plus sword combo, if not carrying anything else, still leaves you unencumbered. So you can do your rolls and such like the Youtube yahoos. Carry all that plus a backpack plus crap on your belt and treasure and and a giant tuning fork (flashbacks to doings in my game in 2006), and you're not moving very fast anymore.

So instead of agonizing over the weights of 100+ items... I'm just deleting the weight column from the equipment list. Don't care. Referees are free to consult other games' equipment lists if they really need to know (and my impression is those weights are mostly fiction anyway), online resources, or just make it up on the spot and get on with things if it's important.

So why didn't I do that as soon as I came up with the general encumbrance rule in the first place? Why did I have to waste time to get to this point?

ay ay ay

Now to actually fill in all these prices. I'd love to present something like this, or at least a how-to guide to construct such tables, but I just don't have the knowledge to do so. But you'll be getting "urban" and "rural" price lists - not going to buy plate mail out in the country, y'hear?

LotFP Releases Now Available at Indie Press Revolution!

Here! In print and PDF!

Monday, February 1, 2010

More Info on the Box

I found a box around the house that's the same type of box as I'll be using for the game. Of course this one isn't the exact same size (and mine will be thinner), but the material and the format is identical.

It's damn sturdy. (and ha! Wifebutt in the background!)

I'd also like to talk about some of the people helping out with the project. I've talked a bit already about the artists who will be involved (Jalo, Mayle, Mullen, Münch, Sheppard), but in some cases I'm having real people be used for reference for some of the art pieces.

For the cover of the box, there will be a Flame Princess vs. Snake Demon thing going on. Exactly how it will end up remains to be decided, but...

Luz de Luna Duran will be the snake demon:

Marjut Mykkänen will be the Flame Princess:

Laura Jalo is doing photo work for the magic book cover in addition to doing interior art. The model for that shot will be Karoliina Valli:

It's an interesting experiment (to me, at least) to do this sort of thing, and I hope it turns out well. I have two goals for the look of the final product: To look good (not just good, but good), and to look different. Working with other people along the way is a big plus and an inspiration, as writing can sometimes take my natural hermetical tendencies to unhealthy extremes.

This just in - I found a great deal on dice, one that will reduce the cost of the project from more than one angle. I had been worried - aside from the art and the box itself, the dice were going to be most expensive part of the whole thing. There was also the issue that realistically I don't have the market penetration to reach brand new people, so all of my customers would have dice already, so why include them? With this, I'll still be able to say "Everything you need to play," and the gaming veterans most likely to buy this just might get a set of dice unlike any in their collection. Photos when they arrive.

The pencils have been ordered and are on the way as well, if I hadn't mentioned that. Two ingredients down! Many more (including, you know, content... argh!) to go!

(If you've sent me an email in the past couple of whenevers and I haven't gotten back to you... I've read it, it's still in my inbox, don't worry, I'm not ignoring you permanently. Bug me on one of the IM platforms for instant response!)

And that's the news!

Review of No Dignity in Death: The Three Brides