Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Making Your Campaign METAL!

A couple years ago there was a thread over on about how to make one's campaign METAL. So I gave my own response, and put it here as well.

Recently another such thread has popped up, same thing happening, so here I repost my May 29, 2010 blog entry.

This came up on some time back... "How do I make my campaign METAL?"

Most people, of course, went for style over substance and went for the look that metal is known for, without capturing anything that will make it feel metal. I saw that awful Metalocalypse show for the first time yesterday, and when most people want to "metal up" their role-playing, it's kind of like that - stereotypical and fucking stupid.

Here's a reprint of my suggestions to make your campaign HEAVY fucking METAL:

Considering all of metal's concepts were solidified in the 70s through mid-80s, the most metal thing you could do to your campaign is run it using AD&D 1E. ;)

But you want to make it metal...

War pigs.

Make the violence horrible. All of the ruling class - all of them - are despicable warmongers who sacrifice the well-being of their people to wage ever more senseless and destructive wars.

If it's rich, it's evil. If it's powerful, it's evil.

The PCs serve as Iron Hippies, fighting the power in the only way it understands... violence and force. The "points of light" are not physical locations, as the entire world is a dark, dark place. The points of light are in the hearts of the true, the unconquered, those that can see through the lies.

... until one day in the campaign... it's the PCs who are rich. And powerful. And even if they've always fought well for the cause, they're going to wake up one day and find that they're the enemy they've always been fighting against. Power always corrupts, always. If it's rich, it's evil. And the PCs have killed a lot of evil, and taken its stuff, and have gotten very rich. If it's powerful, it's evil. And the PCs have gained a lot of levels, and are very powerful. They've sold out, they've come too far to truly embody the spirit they've always championed, and it's up to the next generation of oppressed, angry warriors to be able to fight the good fight.

That's fucking metal.

Seems a lot more genuine than SPIKES, LEATHER, and SKULLS. I challenge you to name one quality album that has a skull on the cover. Yeah, there are a few, but you're going to have to think to name any. Skulls = Suck as a general rule.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Future is (Almost) Here

All of the minor box components (character sheets, graph paper, all the miscellaneous sheets) are ready, and of course I've had the dice and pencils for months. Two of the six main booklets (defined as the ones with color covers) are at the printer now, another two will be by the end of the week, and the last two will hopefully be submitted next week. My printer turns those things around in 2-3 days so no panic there. The box was the only thing I was panicking about, and as you can see, there was no need.

Only 620 of these are being printed (it says 610 on the box but I'm allowing for a few damaged ones and frankly I'm not counting the ones the library requires as freebie copies in exchange for free ISBNs... :P), and of those I do believe only about 550 will be available for sale to the public. This box will not be reprinted - future editions of the game will be in hardcover form if there is demand. I would start checking back, and often, starting the end of next week as I will start pre-orders when the booklets are all printed. A quick sell-out seems unlikely to me, but then again if it does sell out quick, I'll still have my copy. The exact price will depend on the weight of the full box but I'm still thinking around 50€, economy shipping included, with a combo discount deal if you pick up Hammers of the God at the same time.

Thanks to Eero Tuovinen for doing the box design.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Why I Haven't Done So Much Preparation for my Speeches and Why it Doesn't Bother Me

So I have a presentation this Sunday at Tracon in Tampere and then in a few weeks at Ropecon.

I really haven't done jack shit to prepare for them, honestly. I want the Magic, Referee, and Tutorial books for the box to go to the printer this week (Tower of the Stargazer went this morning) and the Rules and Weird New World early next week (and then I'm DONE!). I'm swamped.

But I'm not so concerned.

Because I'm a freak.

But you already know this if you read this blog. Remember this post? Where I told about complaining about the Carcosa controversy while on the first date with the woman who would become my wife? There's the secret.

(quick aside: Remember, first dates are basically other people auditioning for whether they're cool enough to hang out with you a lot. Don't go easy on them, hit them with the most you that you've got.)

(No, that wasn't meant to be dirty. I reconsidered and decided not to use the really bad "immediately blast them with the essential you" double entendre.)

(see, that first one wasn't actually dirty in comparison, now was it?)

But Maria didn't know anything about RPGs. So to explain Carcosa, I had to explain a whole lot more. And I do that all the time. "Argh! Something is funny/clever/infuriating/interesting! I must tell Maria! But she has no idea why that would be funny/clever/infuriating/interesting, so I must explain the entire history of the subject to her first!"

You name it, RPGs, movies, comics, pro wrestling, if there's something I'm interested in, I want to assault her with tales about it.

Since I'm publishing RPG material and sort of have to justify all this time and money spent to her, RPGs come up a lot. I have to explain why I'm doing things and how it relates to what and how things have been done in the past.

I'm also a goofy bastard so I'm unconsciously channeling (in theory, anyway) George Carlin and Tony Robins, so I'm animated when I talk.

So I've actually had plenty of practice with both the content and the delivery of that content for a live presentation.

I just have to be able to adapt the whole thing so it's good for a crowd of people instead of having an audience of one. And there's no good way to practice that without doing it, so...

Wish me luck. I'm going to need it. :D

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hammers of the God - Some Hype

It's at the printer, and I can't wait to see what the reaction is to it.

I always have the same fears and expectations. "This is awesome and different! Nobody's going to care, are they?" I mean, I'm the guy that thought Death Frost Doom was this little dungeon crawl thing that I wrote while trying to figure what to do with the No Dignity in Death masterpiece, ya know?

Looking at Hammers of the God now, after three phases of its development (the original two adventures that were run, the for-publication writeup at the end of last year, and the empty-room description update earlier this month), I think it rocks.

One one hand it's got fabulous set pieces. The great chasm, the whirlpool room, the great hall... your players will have to cooperate and plan amongst themselves in order to get anywhere in some of the coolest areas yet seen in print. (yeah, I'm talking up my own stuff. I dare you to not find anything grand and epic in this adventure. That's right. I dare you.)

On the other hand it's got a deep backstory that players will only ever learn if they read the books found in the adventure. Tower of the Stargazer has this feature as well. One one hand (maybe I should be counting fingers instead), the assumption is adventure! Nobody interrupts their adventure to study. That's a between-adventure thing to do! On the other hand, if you're in this place and you find a vast repository of knowledge, completely ignoring it is really, really dumb, you know? By the way, my wife is usually very uninterested in the actual content of my writing when she proofreads, but she was actually excited about the history detailed in the adventure. How that will translate to you guys liking it, I don't know.

No standard monsters. Every monster is a new monster but none are treated as a new monster big deal. They get a description and a stat block where they are encountered, not a "Monster Manual" style entry at the back. OK, I admit it, maybe there's a snake, but the stats weren't taken out of any monster book. :P

Two great artifacts and a gem worth seven figures are present. In an adventure for levels 3 - 5. This is gonna piss some players off. :D Plus a good deal of more standard treasure as well - LotFP modules may be hell, but they reward commensurately.

Plenty of threads that are left hanging so they can be sewn into an individual campaign. Some of the history will be shared with other adventures I release, but there will be no sequel to follow up on this adventure. Modules should be campaign aids, not campaign replacements. (until my megadungeon, anyway ;) )

I think it is magnificent (but I would say that, wouldn't I?) in establishing that "You're not supposed to be here" kind of vibe. Your PCs will feel like they are intruding. You will have plenty of time to sit back and observe while the players discuss things amongst themselves.

... and a few traps so utterly diabolical that your players will hate you if they trigger them. But they are also so incredibly avoidable, and in some cases telegraphed, that they will lynch you if you explain how easy it would have been to avoid them.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Some Information About the LotFP RPG

So I'm working hard to get the LotFP game into stores. But I'm also making sure the product itself is uncompromising.

The game has a ton of tutorial and explanatory material in the hopes that new people can be reached, but the core customer base is still likely to be the old school crowd who was happy to basically drop out of the industry and embrace fan-made products.

Now I'll admit that I'm a horrible salesman. I've got a few fans who are going to order this as soon as it's put on sale, but what I'm really counting on selling this product are the reviews and talk that will result when those few receive their boxes, and when the contributors receive their copies and start raving about it.

Yes, I expect them to be raving about it.

This product isn't going to be successful because it gives you something new and indispensable that you've never seen before and can't live without. It's another simulacrum. Compatibility is the goal so how much can I screw around with things? Yeah, innovation in encumbrance, big selling point there, right?

This product is going to be successful because it's going to be the coolest friggin thing that anyone's laid eyes on this year in addition to being a fully functional game.

Part of me wants to go silent on the updates and how things are going and not give out any details because I want people's eyeballs to pop out when they open their box because they're surprised at all the cool stuff in it. Just announce it as ready when it is and let word of mouth carry it.

The other part of me realizes that's a great way to be stuck with a great many boxes clogging up the apartment forevermore.

So I thought I'd talk about a few of the little unique elements that you'll find in LotFP Weird Fantasy Role-Playing:

Extensive "how to play" material. There's a whole Tutorial book dedicated to the subject. The Referee book is a how-to guide as well. The two included modules will continue the lessons. At first I was using the Mentzer Basic set as my format guide, but I think I've gone far beyond that. I think anyone reading the material in this box will get it so much better than I or many other people who got into gaming with a random purchase rather than a mentor ever could.

The Example of Play is not a boring-ass fake transcript of perfectly behaved players and a suave Referee walking through a sterile example of the rules in action. No, it's a fake transcript of the way people really play when things get heated. My editorial volunteers are split in their opinions... some think it's an awful thing that will turn people off, and some think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. I do believe the Example of Play has a bigger page count than the rulebook does, but who knows how that will end up in final layouts. What I do know is it will be talked about, and maybe even argued about.

The Rules book is the shortest of the 4 main books (Tutorial, Rules, Magic, Referee), but admittedly that's only because the spell lists are in their own book.

There is a full section in the Referee book giving cross-compatibility information across the clones, by name. I'm somewhat surprised everyone gave permission for that. :) I also advertise several companies making other games and supplements in this section, so any hypothetical newcomer to the scene who picks this up in a store will be shown the way to so much more than just what I have to offer.

In my game there are: No standard monster lists. No standard magic items. No setting. Those are all things that I think should not be standardized. There is extensive advice for making your own setting, magic items, and monsters, but anyone picking up my game is going to be instructed to have a DIY attitude to use it to its fullest. I think modules are an important part of the hobby for both shared experiences and for variety in an individual campaign, but I don't believe for a second that pre-published material should be the entirety of anybody's campaign.

(OK, I fibbed. There are scroll, staff/wand, and potion creation rules, so I guess the most standard of magic items are in there. But there's no table of completed examples, and no Sword +1 type things.)

And I think you'll be pleased with some of my layout choices. I'm not fancy at all, but I think I'll be doing a couple of things that enhance the convenience and usability of the game during actual play. This is a box set with books that aren't available separately, and I am taking advantage of that fact. I am also using the format of the box to its fullest. There will be little details to be found even when everything in the box is removed.

It's coming...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sometimes I Get the Feeling...

... that some people in the RPG industry are very deeply ashamed of being in the RPG industry, and some gamers really hate themselves.

Check this.
And this (Skarka-Mona fight in there is especially revealing).
And this.

Here's a free clue courtesy of your Uncle Jim: If you have enough interest in Role-Playing Games to be reading forums or blogs about them, let alone posting to them, you're a goddamn gamer. No exceptions.

Here's another: There are two types of gamers: Those who actually play, and those who do not. All other distinctions, while not meaningless, are inconsequential in the grand scheme of role-playing. Those who do play, and play often, no matter how stupid or no matter how smelly or Cheeto-stained their shirt, even if they're playing FATAL or Rahowa or giggle while raping cabin boy's necks, are superior to those that don't game but like to comment on it anyway, no matter how many degrees or real-life friends or how sophisticated or "well-socialized" they may otherwise be. In fact, I laugh loud and hard when people complain about not being able to find a group because all the gamers around them are losers. Yeah, they're gaming and doing the thing you want to do but won't, and they're the losers. Mmm Hmm. Somewhere along the line, the "No Gaming is Better than Bad Gaming" idea got polluted with, "Unless everyone at the table is exactly like me and plays the same way I do, it's Bad Gaming."

Yet another: Pencil. Paper. Dice. Imagination. A traditional role-playing game requires all of these, and traditional role-playing is my hobby. I don't care if you have an app for that, if you show up to my games without any of the first three, they will be provided for you and you will use them. If you don't have the fourth, well, shit, wrong hobby for you!

Me, I'm leaning towards believing that the unnamed "cool online tools" which were "pretty much tailor-made for roleplayers" were by definition about as useful, or cool, as titties on a cheese grater. Maybe I'm just an old-fashioned cattpiss fatbeard lawncrapper cynical relater-to of content, but when I'm in some heavy preparation, I go one of three routes:

  • I have two pieces of graph paper. On one I sketch a map. On the other I jot down a key and monster stats. No books or anything else present. Adventure results.
  • I read the module I plan to run. No other books present.
  • I go all out at the kitchen table with a pile of books all open and spread out and I'm being really detailed and using all of the accumulated published tricks available to me... so on one piece of graph paper I sketch a map, and on the other piece of graph paper I jot down a key, and they are filly with mighty and meaty detail.

Anything else would be uncivilized.

Because let's not make any mistake about it. I am one of these difficult people being complained about.

How many non-OSR dollars or euros do you think I've spent on RPG products in the past 4 years? Zero, if we don't count dice. How many non-OSR dollars or euros do I really plan to spend on RPG products again? Ever? Guess.

Just like I'm skipping all of the big Finnish metal festivals this summer, again, with their hot acts that are the mainstream of metal fandom. Tuska, Finland's biggest metal fest, is a 20 minute walk from my house. Probably a good dozen festivals are out there in Finland aimed straight at the heavy metal fan, and I don't give a shit and I'm not going. Fuck 'em. They won't see a penny from me. Not one.

But I've put in orders totaling a couple thousand euros from OSR companies if we include all this stuff I'm carrying for Ropecon (And why wouldn't we? They're getting paid, aren't they?). Many times that on my own offerings to other people.

I'm going to Jalometalli again, an eight hour drive to a fest less than a tenth the size of Tuska, so I can see motherfucking Carcass play a 90 minute set (I passed when they came around a couple years ago playing a Heartwork-based set) and there will also be ANGEL WITCH and Lord Vicar and this is going to be Demilich's last show ever (again, hah)!

As you can see, I do have nice things, and I get more nice things all the time. They might not be what you think are nice things, or what businesspeople think would be nice for people like me. But I find what I like and I support it. That my support never shows up on any industry tracking is completely irrelevant to my decision to support something.

And next month I am releasing a big-ticket item to this same type of difficult, crabby, picky, cynical bastards, and there will be a ton of people questioning why anyone would ever buy such a thing. They are my people. I know what I'm getting into and what I'm risking.

If it doesn't sell, it's my fault, not theirs.

One Month


Ropecon is July 23, and that's the release date for the game as well.

A month away. ay ay ay! Time is short.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Finland Presentation Schedule Is Set!

Tracon, July 3 - 4 Tampere
Q&A with me in the Soolo room July 4 at 11am - Noon.
Old School Renaissance presentation July 4 2pm - 3pm in the Sopraano room.

There's also been some talk of me joining the "The Everyday of an RPG Designer" panel (with Matthijs Holter, Eero Tuovinen, Miska Fredman and Ville "Burger" Vuorela), but my name hasn't been added to the official program as of yet. That would be July 3 1pm - 2pm in the Pieni Sali room.

At other times during the convention I'll be in the Opus 4 room selling stuff (I won't have the full selection listed here a few days ago, and I don't think the box will be ready quite yet, but I'll have some stuff) and running games.

Ropecon, July 23 - 25 Espoo
My two hour presentation covering first the Old School Renaissance and then the particulars of putting my game together will be Friday the 23rd, 8pm - 10pm in the Auditorio. I've made a Facebook Event page for this one.

Otherwise I'll be in the vendor room selling a whole boatload of stuff that you absolutely can't live without. :)

The vendor room is open July 23 3pm - 6pm, July 24 10am - 6pm, and July 25 10am - 3pm.

What is the Best Beginner Module?

Which adventure would you say is the best published adventure module for beginning players and characters?

There are rules for this survey:

  • One module. Not a series, not your best three. One module.
  • The module must have been intended for Pre-89 D&D editions, or one of the clone/simulacra or various compatible things.
  • The module must have been published as a physical book.
  • Naming a module you wrote, proofread, laid out, etc is not allowed. Don't be lame.

So name it, and say why you chose it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

One-Shots, Campaign Play, Newbies, Death Rate

So how dangerous should an adventure be? When should you turn it up? And when should you turn it down?

Should there be a difference in deadliness in Campaign Play vs One-Shots?

Should there be a difference in danger when you're running for new players vs experienced players?

Not that I'm an expert in one-shots (my "short adventures" take like 10 hours of play... anyone want to write a good one-shot or better yet "convention-slot length" LotFP adventure? :D), but I would think that campaign play can afford to be deadlier overall.

My thinking is, that while death may break individual character continuity in campaign play, the true concern is long-term continuity. Whether a character dies in the first half hour of a session or five minutes before a session ends doesn't matter when the game as a whole will be measured in months or years. In a one-shot or a convention (barring scenarios like the Tower of Gygax or something where cycling through characters/players is expected), these kinds of deaths can seriously impact play. There is no "long-term" pacing, no long-term planning around dangerous areas, there is just this one adventure and a disastrous encounter can ruin the whole darn session. So there should be more defined, pacing-appropriate "death points" to keep these games going.

And then there are newbies versus experienced players. New players should really be creating first level characters. And first level characters are entirely disposable. Not that there should be the intent of slaughtering all the characters, just that the punches shouldn't be pulled.

I see the arguments stating that newbies should be helped along and basically treated like children. (if the new players are children, perhaps this advice doesn't apply) Like if they "lose" the first time they play they'll just hate it and hate it and hate it. (does any other type of game suffer from this viewpoint? "Shit, Joey lost at darts, he'll never play that game again! I better let him beat me at checkers or he'll go off of that too!")

Look, these "old school" games are frickin deadly and unforgiving in a lot of ways. Save-or-die poison, rust monsters laying waste to equipment, energy drain, etc. Characters die. They're supposed to.

Are these challenges only worthy of those who have put the time in with training wheels?

To me, the quintessential low-level module is Keep on the Borderlands. Always was, always will be. All of us publishing low level modules ain't shit compared to what Gygax did there. It was included in so many Basic sets, it's got so much advice for those that presumably have no clue what they're supposed to be doing, that it was obviously intended as a starter module for people who had never played before.

And what does it feature?

Death. Death is everywhere for a first level party. Let's say you have eight players, each with a character. There may be Sleep spells amongst them, but there may not be.

Are you telling me this party is going to tackle that lizard man lair with no casualties? You telling me those giant spiders don't have an excellent chance of killing someone? 12 bandits? That hermit that can turn invisible? These are possible first encounters for a brand new party.

And the actual Caves, forget about it. Even in the Kobold cave are encounters like 18 giant rats, and a room with 16 kobolds. How many Sleep spells are a completely inexperienced party (with inexperienced players) likely to have, and what are the chances a bunch of new players are going to know when to retreat? This first cave is more than capable of a TPK.

And remember that this novice party can wander into the Ogre lair, the Minotaur cave, or the Chaos Temple without going anywhere else first.

Yet I don't think Keep on the Borderlands is any type of screwjob module, and I don't think it is inappropriate for beginning characters or players.

Danger and death are a part of the traditional fantasy role-playing experience. I don't see what anybody has to gain by dialing it down for new players. Anyone that's upset about their new guy dying when they have no idea what they're doing isn't going to be any happier when their 3rd level guy dies once you've decided they don't need the kid gloves anymore. But most people aren't such ninnies and I find that this ultra-sensitive "you can't kill my character! It's not fair!" type is created by gamers through reinforcement and not anything that exists in someone off the street. Stop fearing that internet horror stories are going to come to your table and for Pete's sake don't create one yourself.

Treat the players with respect. Give them the whole game, right from the start.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Tracon Presentation: July 4 2pm

So the Tracon schedule is out, and somebody decided to let the American speak on Independence Day. :D

The (literal) translation of the description for my presentation:

The cultural flow called old school renaissance is one of the most exciting phenomena in table-top role playing. Old school role playing is about the 70s first generation of role playing games and the ideas they take from war gaming culture. There are grumpy-grognards who never stopped playing the first edition of D&D as well as young, experimental game designers who get excited about the philosophy and approaches which were overridden by the 80's drama gaming culture. The subject of this lecture is to get familiar with the OSR phenomenon on general level and go through some good sources for information to start learning more about it. Notice: The program is in English!

Whoever wrote this must not be aware that I'm a fourth-waver who got in on Mentzer. :D

While I will give a timeline of early D&D, I plan on talking more about the Renaissance in the 2000s more than any play styles of the 1970s.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tracon July 3 - 4 in Tampere

I'll be at Tracon V, running games, selling modules (the game won't be ready yet), and speaking. Details to come.

LotFP Ropecon Vendor Table Offerings

It's going to be a bonanza, an extravaganza, a big to-do at Ropecon. The following is the list of items I'll be carrying at the con. I don't have these all in my possession quite yet, but they are all ordered, so unless the mail plane crashes into the Atlantic or somebody didn't pack an order correctly... If I've forgotten anything, I'll add it to the list and add a comment noting the addition.

Behold the Old School Renaissance.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess
LotFP Weird Fantasy Role-Playing
Death Frost Doom
No Dignity in Death: The Three Brides
People of Pembrooktonshire
The Grinding Gear
Hammers of the God
Tower of the Stargazer
Weird New World

Black Blade Publishing/Mythmere Games
Adventure Design Deskbook #1 - Principles and Starting Points
Adventure Design Deskbook #2 - Monsters
Eldritch Weirdness Compilation - Books Three to One
Iron Tower of the Salka
Knockspell #1
Knockspell #2
Knockspell #3
Knockspell #4
The Secret of Smuggler's Cove
The Spire of Iron and Crystal
Tomb of the Iron God

Brave Halfling Publishing
The Village of Larm

Expeditious Retreat Press
The Barrow Mound of Gravemoor
The Chasm of the Damned
The Conqueror Worm
The Curse of the Witch-Head
The Flaming Footprints of Jilanth
The Lost Keys of Solitude
The Lost Pyramid of Imhotep
The Pod-Caverns of the Sinister Shroom
The Prison of Menetaph
The Red Mausoleum
The Sarcophagus Legion
The Seven Shrines of Nav'k-Qar
The Verdant Vault of Malakum
White Dragon Run
Malevolent and Benign - A First Edition Bestiary
A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe
A Magical Society: Silk Road

Fight On!
Compendium #1 (issues 1-4)
Compendium #2 (issues 5-8)

Goodman Games
The Dungeon Alphabet
Points of Light Vol. 1
The Random Esoteric Creature Generator for Classic Fantasy Role-Playing Games and their Modern Simulacra

North Wind Adventures
Charnel Crypt of the Sightless Serpent

Otherworld Miniatures
The entire line. Everything.

Pied Piper Publishing
Bottle City
Daemonic and Arcane
Dungeon Set #1
Dungeon Set #2
El Raja Key's Arcane Treasury
The Stalk

RC Pinnell
Sanctum of the Stone Giant Lord
Curse of the Cloud Giant Queen
The Forge of the Fomoroian Smith Lord
The Pearl of Pirate's Cove

Rogue Games
The Cursed Chateau

Bring your wallet. (please!)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Oh Screw It

So the game got canceled over the weekend so I ended up going to this lunch thing with Maria's family that I hadn't planned on attending (be a publisher - your gaming sessions become legit "he's working" excuses to get out of these things).

I brought along the cool print of the cover art with me. I always go to these gatherings and I'm the quiet guy at the end of the table - it's rather rude to make the whole table speak English on my account, and I'm really really shit with Finnish even after all these years. So I said to hell with it. I'm doing something really cool and none of these people really know me or anything I do, so maybe a proper introduction would be in order. You know, participation and interaction.

There were a lot more people there than I figured, including a couple with a six year old child. It was also in a halfway fancy restaurant and not at anyone's house. With this new information, I was rather nervous about my plans, but... hell with it, right? This is what I'm doing, I'm proud of it, everyone else is there talking about their lives and what they do and this and that, I'm part of the damn family now, so why should I worry about it?

Towards the end of the lunch I stand up, introduce myself to everyone, told them what I'm doing, and presented the print for them all to look at. They start passing the thing around the table, and I note that the parents of the little kid are showing the thing to him, and pointing out something or other on the pic to him.

That's it. The big "uh oh" moment. Parents, people that I had never met before, showing the picture to their kid and passing it on to the next person. The father was the one at the table who then showed the most interest in the project in conversation afterwards. There was no scandal at this table.

And really, any sort of scandal that comes of this thing will be ridiculous. If parents at a public family gathering can show the picture to their six year old child and nobody raises an eyebrow, there is no issue. I'm sick of having this lingering guilt because I'm from a country that went into convulsions when Janet Jackson's boob was exposed for 9/16ths of a second on TV. I love being in a country that can show Dreams in the Witch House and Jason X uncut on broadcast TV as happened this past Saturday (nudity and violence in both, although Jason X sucks bad).

It'll be an issue with distribution on the retail end in Anglo countries, but I'm officially adopting a "take no shit" attitude about this. Anyone actually offended, or worse yet, speaking up on the behalf of other people they are afraid will be offended, best just walk away.

Oh, and now hanging on the living room wall, in full view of any visitors:

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Color Proofs Approved, Plus Madness

I was just down at the printer today to check the color on the box format and a few posters I'm having done up for internal purposes.

They look so damn good I shut up about it to the rep I deal with down there. I'm sure she hates me going on and on about things, but at least now I'm submitting actual work instead of just going over pricing and formats and other plans like I had been doing January - May. If everything looks as good in the final form as these prints did today, these are going to fly off the shelf.

I also took the opportunity to proofread the box copy again and since it was a to-size print I checked the size to make sure it can fit everything. The boxes are going to be finished and completed and delivered before any of the interior booklets...

In mind-boggling news (and also Reason #485347853 why my wife is the best ever), yesterday evening Maria informed me that she purchased a lottery ticket for this weekend's drawing. That was unusual, since we don't play the lottery. Her explanation? "It's the only way you'd get to make a movie."

Oh Yeah, Down at the Game Store...

So I was down at Fantasiapelit for a couple minutes today, checking out how other games do their layouts and looking at the new releases.

The new version of the Ars Magica adventure The Broken Covenant of Calebais by Jonathan Tweet, Mark Rein-Hagen, and Erik Dahl was on the shelf. The promo copy on the back cover which dominates all the other text?

"Delve into a Dungeon Done Right"

... the first thing to cross my mind was "So I wonder which dungeons they considered to have been done wrong?"

Anyone know if this ad copy was in the original 90s version of the adventure or if this is brand new for the 2010 edition?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

LotFP: The Movie!

... so today I submitted the box for printing (as in the box itself, not everything inside) and a few posters for myself and the people involved with the cover art.

After that, the wife and I went to lunch, and to keep myself from worrying that the color on the proofs will look OK, I started thinking out loud about what Lamentations of the Flame Princess might look like as a movie.

My thoughts on the matter:

  • In look and feel, it would be like those 60s and 70s British horror movies like Witchfinder General, Blood on Satan's Claw (ahh, Tigon!), Hammer films (Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter, all those Christopher Lee Dracula movies, etc), and the Blind Dead series of films out of Spain, with a Dario Argento-style flair for color and special effects inspired by Herschell Gordon Lewis movies. Using touches like red paint for blood, and absolutely no computer generated effects.
  • Low-key. Basic, rustic visuals, brief and pointed dialogue.
  • No romance or sex.
  • Grim. Utterly humorless.
  • Ugly. The kind, good people are always wrong, and lose, and the disgusting, cruel people are always right, and win.
  • The heroine is neither the most powerful or skilled, nor the most good-natured person in the story. Not even close.
  • One Tyrone Power/Basil Rathbone styled swordfight.
  • An ending that seems like it's building to a smashing climax, and then cuts off brutally, leaving both the film and the plot dead in the water (the Blair Witch ending). It should cement the ill feeling and distress that the rest of the film built, and people should feel maybe a bit dirty for having seen the thing.

My wife pointed out that I'd have to finance such a production myself because there's no way in hell anyone else ever would. I'd likely also have to go to film school because I don't know shit about making movies and what director would want to be my puppet to make this thing? :D

LotFP Official Character Sheet

By Jeremy Jagosz (who has done the official Atomic Highway sheet plus some cool fan sheets for other games). If you see anything that you think should be changed, let me know, because otherwise I'll be printing up over 6000 of these at the end of the week... (click to enlarge, and I'll make bigger/higher resolution sheets available for download as soon as we've made sure no mistakes are present).

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Living in Finland

So my wife logs on to the website of a bookstore here in Finland. She notes a couple books she wants.

We go to the store. The books are there. My wife picks them up and pages through them. But they are quite a bit more expensive. 19€ more at the store between the two.

No, they can't give us the online price at the store.

So we come home. My wife logs on to the bookstore's website. Orders the two books. Yes, 19€ less. She chooses the in-store pickup option. From the same store we were just at.

The books will be available for pickup in 2 - 3 business days.

In relevant news, I think I'm in negotiations for another Finnish convention appearance. And thinking of Germany more and more.

Monday, June 7, 2010

So, Ah, A Crap Idea I Offer to You for the Low Low Price of...

Here in Finland, one of the big retailers has on their name tags national flags representing the languages spoken by the employee. With the two official languages in Finland, plus all us damn foreigners running around Helsinki, it's a really useful system.

When I'm manning my table at Ropecon, I'm dreading having to say, "Uh, I can't speak Finnish, talk to the wife," (or worse, "En puhu suomea, puhu hänelle") five hundred times during the convention. So I thought getting a couple of these pro name tags (with the logo and our names engraved) would be really neat and convey the message without drawing attention to it. Crap name tag stickers just won't cut it for my booth, especially since who the hell cares what our names are, that's not the point of the tag.

... found a place that makes them. Minimum order 10 at 12,90€ each. I just need two, for me and the wife. You should have seen the emphatic NO she gave me as I wondered whether spending 129€ for the two name tags we needed was a good idea.

This is probably a waste of time, but you never know until you ask:

I don't suppose 8 of you want official personalized LotFP name tags at 15€ each, postage included?

Friday, June 4, 2010

It Has Begun

Three items that will appear in the box set have been submitted to the printer. They are very minor bits, but they are the first things on my end to be submitted for the game. (the dice and the pencils to appear in the set have been in my possession for some time)

The graphics file to create the LotFP banner for Ropecon was submitted at that same time.

The arrangements for the money to pay for all the printing for the box set was also finalized today.

This is happening. Now.

Several of the books to appear in the box aren't in such a state of completion though. The Referee book in particular is still in process. Four people had made extensive (and sometimes contradictory) notes about how to improve it, and to keep everything straight I attached all their comments to a single copy of the existing draft, and then went through to make my own comments. So I just read through that thing five damn times, and now I've got to do the actual revising based on all these notes. I expect that to take all of tonight and most of tomorrow.

Sunday I have the weekly game, and after that I'll finally (and late!) send new drafts to the editor types to go through. Might be the last round of revisions and editing before print.

Excellent work is being done on an official character sheet, and with luck both it and the box layout will be ready for print next week.

While everything is about three weeks behind the schedule I'd like, everything is still on a more than satisfactory schedule to get done on time.

(this doesn't mean that all you people doing work for me right now should kick back and take a break though. :P)

Honestly, the biggest concern right now is where we're going to put all this finished product in the apartment. We really don't have any space. :D



Thanks for the interest, everyone!



Thursday, June 3, 2010

Giving a Presentation About LotFP and Old School - Confirmed

I will be giving a two hour presentation (including a fifteen minute break) at Ropecon. The exact scheduling won't be determined until sometime after the 13th of this month, but it will be in the large auditorium in the building, which holds 250 people.

Title: Lamentations of the Flame Princess and the Old School Renaissance

Synopsis: Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Role-Playing: The creative goals, the process of putting together a box set from concept to finished product, and the business concerns of the small publisher. Or, “How to get the government to pay for drawings of goblins cooking babies."


The Old School Renaissance: What it is, who it is, where it came from, and why it’s great.

I had thought of using the title "The Once and Future King" but I was advised to keep it relevant and descriptive.

I'm working on getting a video camera for the presentation so it can be posted afterwards. (I've experimented with vegan diets and we've been going out playing basketball and tennis lately but it looks like over the next six weeks I really have to bust my ass to lose some weight to look more presentable for this... Health? PHAUGH. Vanity? ACTION MUST BE TAKEN!)

Now I've already gone on a bit about what I might talk about in terms of the OSR here, which will need some revising, but I need to be organized top to bottom.

What items should I cover in the LotFP part of the presentation?

(I am so scared to death now... I've never really talked in front of a large crowd...)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I Am the Human Stress Machine

Some days, things go swimmingly. I feel like I have momentum and come July 23 I will debut a new game which will turn heads and maybe even generate a few pennies. Some days I even daydream that all my Ropecon efforts (the presentation might be on, by the way) will start Finland on the way to becoming an OSR powerhouse territory.

Other days I look at everything I've done and everything I've still do to and I wonder if I'm not just completely wasting my time and I fear I'm about to throw five figures right down the toilet.

Enough is done that this isn't just a cool idea anymore. It's a real, imminent thing. My investor money is going to be put in my bank account next week as I submit some of the smaller components for print. It's go time.

Yet there is still so much to do. The Referee book needs revising and reorganizing and in some parts rewriting; that's the big thing. Still need more sessions playing Weird New World and that manuscript needs to actually get done. I still need to fill back in the "flavor" areas for Hammers of the God. None of these books are laid out, although I've got a lot of the covers done. I'm dealing with almost half a dozen people for various graphic elements - and not dealing with some not very closely at all.

I can do any of these things without much of a problem. That they all need to be done, and the sooner the better, creates problems. I have trouble deciding and sticking to priorities, especially when that next email hits concerning something that needs addressing and I make a decision to drop everything I'm doing and go straight to that, or "get to it later" and then I realize I haven't answered it in almost a week.

I have pretensions of being a Professional Publisher, but what I am is a writer who insists on complete creative control . When people ask me what I do, I say "Writer," not "Publisher."

But I care about it. Every bit of it. I'm writing notes to someone about what an inner corner flap of the frickin' box should look like, for crying out loud.

And when this gaming thing isn't working out anymore, be it this fall or in a few years and I'm back working some shit job that I don't care about while trying to avoid getting in trouble with some dumb shit boss that doesn't even care about whatever the issue is, I'm going to remember these days and know how amazing it was that I even got the chance to do this.

Stress relief done. Whining over. Time to hit the next item on the checklist. Today's going to be one of those good days.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Enraging JB/X Blackrazor

I talked to the Finnish ISBN Agency yesterday, and at 3:37pm local time (after their office had closed) I sent in my electronic requests for the ISBNs I'll need for my July releases. This morning at 9:12am, 12 minutes after their office opened, I received through email a block of 100 ISBNs to cover these and any future publications (it'll take a couple years to use those all up I think, although I am using up 20 just for everything being released next month - every individual book within the box set needs its own ISBN, as do the electronic versions, according to the Agency).

(I'm dealing with an Agency. Somehow that seems cool.)

Cost for this?

0,00€, although I do have to submit six copies of all published material, details here.

Check out what you have to do to get ISBNs in the States here.

This isn't just to stick it in the face of JB over at B/X Blackrazor (although it does make a way cool post title, don't you think?). Obviously submitting six copies of everything is a bit of its own hassle, but it is interesting how these things work in different areas of the world.

Anyway, I've been doing cover layouts and preparing retailer pitches now that I've got my ISBNs. I'll get back to the wordsmithing and editorialing a bit later in the afternoon. One goes crazy if one doesn't break up their workload.

There are still lots of revisions and things to do for the box set, but if I had to, like if I was knocked on the head and went into a coma for four weeks, when I woke up I could have a rushed bunch of files to take to the printers to get everything made within 24 hours.

Luckily I have about a month to make it not-rushed...