Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sometimes I Post Just to Hear Myself Type (Out of Office Thu-Fri)

... but you didn't have any doubt about that, did you?

Anyway, I'm doing prelim layouts for Vornheim, which is taking ages, with the added fun of distractions.

One such distraction is TAX STUFF! Woohoo! One of the drawbacks of being an actual businessthing is the paperwork... and I've decided to not wait until the last minute before filing certain 2010 paperwork (due Jan 31! I have a week!) so I've been doing that.

But now I'm hoping Vornheim goes to press at the same time as the Grindhouse Edition... and hoping that press date is March 1 now, but who the hell knows. Just by naming a date I jinx it.

Art continues to be a slow going process. I don't have any of the completed booklet covers yet and a lot of key interior pieces are yet to be done. However, I had a few people make some "plop in anywhere" fillers so I'm good to go once these key pieces are done.

As the book covers for the box set are completed I'll post them here. Going to be some good stuff.

Isle of the Unknown seems to be at a very advanced stage of readiness. A very easy to handle format to the writing there, but anything more has to wait until April or so before that moves forward... and the print date will be at the mercy of the art.

Art direction for Carcosa is still up in the air though. We haven't totally settled on an art direction, but discussion and "tryouts" are ongoing.

My historical books are coming in at a brisk rate. Those Osprey books really do rock. I am completely in awe of the completely disorganized nature of arms and armor in early-to-mid 1600s warfare. Knights in full armor with pistols and wearing full helmets with baseball hat-like brims.

Several other history books are in the mix too, and I find Bert S. Hall's Weapons & Warfare in Renaissance Europe to be fascinating reading.

I think I know what I'm going to do with guns to make them guns. People are going to whine that they're underpowered but keep this in mind: A regular sword or axe or whatever does d8 damage. A regular human has d6hp, a man-at-arms probably should be around 5 or 6. Guns are not super-weapons (not during the time period in question, anyway), certainly no more so than longbows or crossbows. From everything I'm reading, crossbows really would be the superior weapon to a gun in an adventuring context because the advantage that guns have over bows or crossbows largely involve factors that our games don't deal with.

I'm stopping the local store games for awhile for the sake of my sanity, and am preparing a new sandbox to try out for a campaign.

Picked up a couple of Taschen's art books (Baroque and Gothic, but Renaissance wasn't there...) on sale cheap to get myself into the period mood.

I've come down with some sort of something that caused me to canceled tonight's Skype game.

Off to Tampere tomorrow so will be out of the office until sometime Friday.


  1. One thought which occurred to me - Renaissance guns were not just loud and powerful, but smoky also. In a low-light situation, firing off an arquebus would likely not help matters too much.

  2. regarding the advantages of guns, are you are refering to the fear factor vs horses, concealing smoke on the battlefield, etc?

  3. My understanding of the advantage of guns was that they penetrated armor. If that was their advantage, leaving damage in the same range as other weapons but not counting armor's contribution to the target's armor class might work. That gets complicated with monster armor class, because in old school rule books the effect of armor is not separated from other factors like speed or size.

  4. I know you are not doing it for the money,
    but love of the game$.
    Unfortunately, so MANY small publishers are offering their RPGs for FREE
    or nominal cost ($1 for adamant entertainment);
    as predicted by James Misler in July 2010; it is hard for the small publisher to generate a living wage.

    With your artist costs, high production values and print costs you have an uphill battle against Pathfinder.

    Hang in there TIGER, there are still some true believers who are willing to pay for quality.
    Sadly, my gaming group is mostly 3-tards
    (I jab in jest, I appreciate my playing group);
    however, can’t separate them from their love
    of feats and skill crunching.

  5. The biggest advantage of firearms
    is ease of training -
    6 weeks to train a handgunner and years to train a bowman, and some people
    (like myself)
    never get the hang of archery.

    Also their high muzzle velocity gives firearms ease of penetration of heavy armor,
    this does NOT exist for crossbows and longbows.

  6. >>as predicted by James Misler in July 2010

    People have brought this example up to me many times in the past 18 months.

    I wish they'd stop, because his company failed to take off, and even if I never make one more sale I've still produced more than half a dozen profitable releases (one immensely so).

    >>Hang in there TIGER, there are still some true believers who are willing to pay for quality.

    Judging by what all the top RPGs have in common, far more are willing to pay for quality books than willing to pay for bare bones books.

  7. Regarding firearms. Some pros and cons.

    +Ease of use
    +Armour penetration

    -Loud and smoky
    -Prone to mishap

    With these points in mind, firearms in LotFP could work somewhat along these lines: A bonus to hit (would account for both pros mentioned above), but rather low damage (kind of a necessary balancing factor, also, see Jim's points above). Loud & Smoky would be a definite disadvantage in, say, a dungeon. The prone to mishap thing might work somewhat like this: A natural one is a mishap (or a 1-2 or 1-3), and you'd roll on a d6 mishap table with most of the results being relatively harmless (powder didn't ignite, etc) and some results being a bit more lethal (gun explodes).

  8. I still have more research to do, but I think by the early-to-mid 1600s (when the firearm had been in use in Europe for 250 years) the whole "mishap" thing was no longer an issue.

    If I have a "different firearms from different periods" thing, then yeah, some of that early stuff go boom too soon.

  9. I wasn't so much thinking about historical accuracy as game balance and genre. A good bonus to hit necessitates there be a definite drawback to firearms. Also, the pulp genre is full of weapon malfunctions at critical moments, be it due to just the powder being wet, or the whole gun actually exploding in the dastardly villain's hand.

  10. Don't forget one big problem with guns not mentioned in comments yet: up until the mid 19th century, they were extremely slow to reload. With longbows vs guns, the bows would win every time.

    The only reason we have the impression that guns were an obviously better weapon is that all the nations of Europe started switching to them wholesale long before they had developed to the point where they were better, so the longbow-vs-gun scenario never actually happened in real life.

    Another downside: you had to keep your powder dry. Bows were relatively immune to humidity, damp, rain, dousing in a stream, etc, but with guns if the powder got even a little damp then forget it. WHich slowed things down even more with guns, since preloading them was not always a good idea - there was always a risk that the loaded gun would have gotten damp and fail to go off.

    Basically, the mystery historians puzzle over is why guns were adopted as the ranged weapon of choice well before they had become a useful battlefield weapon. Sure, they were loud an flashy and psychosexually impressive, but their cost was prohibitive, and IIRC, they weren't actually practical as battlefield weapons until around the 18th century with the development of massed volley + bayonet tactics.

  11. "Basically, the mystery historians puzzle over is why guns were adopted as the ranged weapon of choice well before they had become a useful battlefield weapon. Sure, they were loud an flashy and psychosexually impressive, but their cost was prohibitive, and IIRC, they weren't actually practical as battlefield weapons until around the 18th century with the development of massed volley + bayonet tactics. "

    I'm not sure that they puzzle over this one at all. If you look at the prices for bowstaves in Strickland and Hardy's The great warbow, what you will see is that, over time, the prices for bowstaves trended upwards, as the availability of suitable yew trees to fell declined. Meanwhile, the prices for gunpowder and firearms trended downwards as technical advances were made and, of course, economies of scale came into play. Eventually, the bow found itself priced out of the market, even in England, where the bow tradition was very strong. Ultimately, cheaper weapons and ammunitions combined with less need for training or for physical strength to make an very powerful argument for the adoption of firearms.

    I'm not sure just what you mean by saying "they weren't actually practical as battlefield weapons", but I would suggest that it would be very strange for every army in Europe to adopt and carry in the field a great quantity of useless and quite heavy weapons. What did change around the end of the 17th century was that the pike finally dropped from use and that musketeers were now expected to be able to defend their own frontage against cavalry. This was after roughly a century of the pike having been seen as a support for the shot, every since the introduction of volley fire with the system of countermarch, which itself came at the end of a century in which the shot had been seen as the support for the pikemen. By my count, that's a couple of hundred years of battlefield practicality, at least in the European context - things were rather different when the Europeans had to fight in the Americas, for example.

  12. @JimLotFP:
    Depends on how 'realistic' your (fantasy! ;-))world setup is, I'd say. I agree with Prince Herb's conclusions. Beaten to the punch AGAIN today, damn... :-)

    Quality as distinct from price, I'd assume.(Pathfinder PDF is $9.99, with similar discounts across the line. WOTC's Stuff has come down slightly with the Essentials.)

    The topselling RPG isn't selling all that well itself. I'd say part of the reason WOTC(other parts being system shock over far-reaching changes to base systems, and the (former) miniatures-centric direction, from what I could tell) is having difficulty with sales and retention is Pathfinder's steep discounts.(Erik Mona has said something to that effect, IIRC; not to mention the Beta was FREE.)

    bare bones books:
    These seem to be clones mostly, variations on rules many people have already. So sales would tend to be smaller. Though huge expensive books/board games don't sell as much, they can tap into niche markets with dedicated purchasers who are willing(and able) to pay for them. Though even WFRP 3rd is offering softcover books(cheaper overall than the core), after their 'paradigm shift' to cards/'board'/specialty dice gaming!

    Reasonably priced doesn't mean 'cheap'.
    Labyrinth Lord, Swords and Wizardry, Basic Fanatsy RPG, Peryton Fantasy RPG, Wayfarers, Rolemaster Classic, Call of Cthulu, BRP, etc... I'd say prove that.
    I believe there should be deluxe and standard hardback/softback options tailored for preference/current economic circumstances, providing more choices would benefit publishers and consumers, I believe.(Quite a few people I know buy both play and dis-play copies, if possible. I've also noted this on the Internet. :-)) And more Box Sets. :-)

    Great post. March? Cool. We're holdingg ya to it! ;-) Fear our RAGE at failure!

  13. Re: Guns.

    Guns are not as deadly as people think. People get non fatally wounded far more often than killed outright in bullet fights. Typically they get hit in arms or legs as well. Citation needed, I know, but it was in some research paper thing which referenced both world wars and a few other significant conflicts.

    Also: not that accurate in combat situations. Ask anyone who has been in a shootout/war.

    Point being that I support your decision.

  14. >>The topselling RPG isn't selling all that well itself.

    By what standard? I bet every RPG company *ever* would be delighted to have a game with 4e's sales.

    Hasbro standards, or even WotC standards where D&D is far from the main moneymaker, are different.

    As far as why guns became dominant on the battlefield, Herb mostly summed it up. It was far, far cheaper to field a force carrying guns than archers or even crossbowmen.

    Gunpowder-based artillery changed things up right quick though.

  15. @JimLoTFP
    'By what standard? I bet every RPG company *ever* would be delighted to have a game with 4e's sales.':
    :-) TSR's/WOTC's previous editions'(IIRC Ryan Dancey said so recently at EnWorld as well.) sales were higher(even for 'Basic' D&D during the fad!) as I understand!(Other companies pre-millenium may have been as well.... GW, GDW, FASA, West End Games, etc...) I think many smaller to midsize RPG companies would love to have the current sales of 4E, though! Paizo seems to be on their heels, and you never know what can happen if they get more of a push!(Or if Hasbro starts helping WOTC with more leverage...)