Monday, May 30, 2011

Last Day to Order Before Postage Rate Hike

As talked about here, Finnish postage rates increase for non-European mailings starting June 1.

Before leaving for the post office tomorrow, I'll take the LotFP store down. When it comes back up later in the day, it will use the new rates.

I don't know exactly when I'll be off to the post office tomorrow (depends on how big the day's pile of orders is and how up-and-at-'em I'm feeling), so if you want to be sure to save yourself some change and you were thinking about buying something off the store, today would be a real good day to do so.

Strange Publisher Tales

(file under Stories Only Funny to Me and My Wife and Jim Tells a Boring-Ass Story When it's Just Written and You Can't See Him Waving His Arms Around)

So I recently had a meeting with the printer going over options for Carcosa and Exquisite Corpses, looking at ways to save money on the printing (and therefore keeping the price you pay down).

It's difficult since the options are effectively unlimited and the options don't have price tags on them. Hell, it depends what the printer has in their warehouse - a paper stock that would normally be cheaper than another if both were in stock is more expensive if they have to order it just for my book.

Basically, these meetings are hell because it's me really wanting things that feel nice, look nice, and are durable, and there are 3489237482 effectively interchangeable options that meet those standards (nobody is going to give a crap if Random Cool Paper Stock 3423b is used instead of Random Cool Paper Stock 9943g). So the meeting is basically "Which of these particular options is cheapest?" with the answer "I'll check on that" repeated a couple dozen times.

(Don't know if I've mentioned it here, but I'm fast becoming a publishing snob - when I encounter a new book the first things I do are check the binding, feel the paper, and check to see if the black reflects off the page or not.)

To get to the point, Exquisite Corpses' unique format requires some more expensive options than your average book (unavoidable since the ability to get this format to unlock the book's potential was the entire point of wanting to release it). Since the company rep at the printer surely knows more than I what options are available, and we already have the basic format of the book worked out, I ask her to recommend things that would still be quality stuff but get the price down. Maybe they're overstocked on some material that work just as well for the project?

"If the book's too expensive, it won't sell." A completely reasonable thing for me to say, I think. And a book that doesn't sell endangers my ability to give this company more business.

"Oh, that's your sales department's job."

I wait. Surely this is one of those times when there will be a momentary pause and then we both bust out laughing.



Shit. She's not laughing.

She thinks I have a sales department.

I'm doomed.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The True Definition of "Weird Fantasy"

... weird fantasy is when there is a secret passage leading up through the crapper.

This gem pointed out by one of the players of today's game, that notes no matter who's running the game, if you see a crapper, head on down.

Compatibility Logo Help?

Anyone out there able to help out with a compatibility logo for LotFP? I'm crap at it. If you can help out, I'll give you a great big E-hug.

Friday, May 27, 2011

LotFP Stuff in the Webstores

Noble Knight, IPR, and Spharenmeisters Spiele all sold out of their first batches of the Grindhouse box. Spharenmeisters is already restocked, and new shipments are on the way to the other two. (they're all still stocked up on Vornheim). FRP Games is out of Vornheim, but has Grindhouses left. Troll & Toad has healthy stock.

Ulisses Spiel's F-Shop's shipment is on the way.

Spain's Tesoros de la Marca del Este got their copies of Grindhouse and Vornheim in stock yesterday.

If you're in Sweden or Finland, don't forget I've got a few stores in each carrying stuff.

Or you can order direct from me, :D

I also cleaned out the Where to Buy section there on the left. Only places that order direct from me get listed ( I don't get notified who buys my stuff through distro, so it's kind of unfair to list them haphazardly), and if someone doesn't order for 2 product cycles, then BAM, gone!

If you want to support your local game store and get your LotFP through them, have them contact Warpath Games in the US and Canada, or IPR, or have them get directly in contact with me.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gaming Inspiration from Media

When one reads a good story that inspires some gaming ideas, what part of that story is the inspiration?

To me, it's mostly the adventure first, setting second. Very, very rarely is it the characters.

I've already gone on about the "What if Lord of the Rings happened without Aragorn or Gandalf?" thing. (to recap: It becomes a completely different, and darker, story, and that's a good thing from a gaming standpoint)

Hell, I really don't care about the characters (save Sam, really) or the stuff that's happening in that book. It's the setting and the stuff and how they intersect. Moria is a cool idea on its own, but its part in the lore of Middle-Earth makes it something greater.

I'd make a bad quester. The Fellowship didn't explore and loot Orthanc? aarrgghh!

But that kind of thinking applies to other authors' work as well. Take the Conan stories, another oft-mentioned prime inspiration for old school gaming. Hell, "It's like a game where you can be Conan!" is a not-uncommon way of summing up fantasy RPGs, right?

I don't give a shit about Conan! The Tower of the Elephant and all within it... that's interesting. Aram Baksh's conspiracy with the cannibal slaves, that's interesting, and so is Totrasmek's plot against the royal house of Zamboula and its implications for the surrounding nations. Xuchotl is interesting. And so on.

But Conan? He's merely the vehicle in which to experience the interesting bits. Don't need him, don't want him. It's all much more interesting with not-Conans in the situations (see A Witch Shall Be Born and the piece that became Horror from the Red Tower in the comics for Conan stories where the Conan isn't all up front...).

I guess this is why there isn't a strong Moorcock influence in my gaming. Those stories are really all about Elric (and his damn sword), or Von Bek, or Corum, or whichever one is your favorite. The situations, the places, the challenges to me seem more character-oriented. Elric's adventures don't make a shitload of sense without Elric. Good to read, bad to game.

This might be why I have such love for Poe, Lovecraft, CAS, and that sort of writer who doesn't really push character ahead of the stuff.

I'd love to read What Happened On The Expedition That At The Mountains of Madness Was Trying to Warn Against. Don't give a shit about The Continuing Adventures of the Guys Who Ran Around the City in At the Mountains of Madness.

I've sat and wondered what the world would be like if something like Ligeia could really happen. Never wondered what became of the guy who witnessed the Fall of the House of Usher.


(bet you couldn't guess that I quickly fell in love with Lost when it started, and by season three was so fucking angry whenever I watched that I had to give it up)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wait. What?

So people continue to be miffed that only Fighters advance in combat ability. That choir seems to be growing.

My reaction is "What difference do they think that would make?"

Let's look at some things.

Death Frost Doom

No Dignity in Death: The Three Brides
The Grinding Gear
Hammers of the God
Tower of the Stargazer
Weird New World
A Stranger Storm

The listed adventures are how I run things when I have my shit together.

Which of those adventures would substantially change if we all just decided that one or more classes just automatically hit every time they tried to strike in combat?

I say none.

Yes, some segments of the adventures would of course become easier, but fighting isn't everything - or the main thing. I would argue that success in all of those adventures comes down to player skill, not character stats or abilities.

I think players overconcerned with combat optimization (for lack of a better term) are in deep trouble anyway.

The next adventure you see from me will be a mid-level adventure, and if your party doesn't have any of the "suboptimal" demi-humans, your Specialist better be picking up the slack - or you're fucked, don't care how badass your party is.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Big Vornheim Hack This Book Contest!

Vornheim Review Roundup Here, and I post reviews on a regular basis here...

The Official Vornheim: Hack This Book Contest

(contest and contest description by Zak, not me!)

So what I want (and what we all want, because we like useful new GMing tools) is for you to hack Vornheim. Expand it, make it bigger, make it more fun, make it do things it doesn't yet do....

For example:

-Re-write a table in Vornheim for a different genre of city: a sci-fi city, a modern city, a gilded steampunk city, a pirate city, whatever.

-Re-write something in Vornheim for use outside a city--make it into a dungeon table or a wilderness table or a seagoing table.

-Expand something in Vornheim--like the Immortal Zoo of Ping Feng but feel like it could use an aquarium? Want to make 80 more legal situations? Want to make the encounter chart into a d1000 table? Knock yourself out.

-Did I forget something? Make a whole new table or tool for use in medieval urban adventures.

Point is, take any idea in Vornheim and run with it. Entries will be judged on:

-Usefulness: Does this thing look like it'd produce gameable results at many different tables? How often? At how many different tables? Or how many times at one table? Give us something that makes our job easier or more exciting--Your Random Medieval Funny Hat Table may wow them at your table but, to be honest, it doesn't really do a lot of heavy lifting.

-Efficiency: Did you manage to get what you need across without the GM having to dig for it?

-Style: Did Zak think it was neat?


-Enter as many times as you like, however, since the secret reason for this contest is to give us all more game stuff, each entry must be published on-line so that everybody can use whatever tool you've devised. If you don't have a blog or wish to remain anonymous, then send it to me at zakzsmith at hawt mayle dawt calm and I'll publish it if it's any good and I have time and I feel like it. If you do publish it on your own blog remember to email me and tell me you did it.

-Entries should be no longer than a double-page spread in Vornheim itself. Remember: efficiency is beautiful, efficiency is art.

-If it doesn't have to be a pdf DO NOT MAKE IT A PDF. In an email, text is fine: "cut" "paste". In a blog entry just type it. Pictures are fine. If you want to have a pdf, too, go ahead.

-Speaking of art, don't just send a picture unless it is also a map or diagram or otherwise game-useful tool

-I reserve the right to be totally arbitrary and my decision is final and entering the contest means you waive any legal rights to claim damages or claim anything legally-binding about this contest or anything arising from it and me writing this constitutes I'll do my best and try to be a right guy about all this shit and if you don't trust me, don't enter.

-Contest ends on Gary Gygax's birthday, July 27, 2011. Winners will be announced soon after unless there's like a gazillion entries.

Fabulous Prizes:

First place winners will receive a signed copy of Vornheim PLUS a single prize package thingy of their choice from the list below, second place winners will get to pick one thingy from what's left over after that, third place winners get to choose one from what's left over after that...

-Art: Original artwork from Vornheim signed by me

-Work: A d100 table on a topic of your own devising written by me (if this prize is chosen it will also be posted here on this blog).

-Game stuff: I will give you a list of all the game stuff sent to me over the years that's left around this house and you can pick something and I'll send it to you.

-Booby prize: If you're a fan of one or all of the DNDWPS girls I can get you signed pictures or memorabilia or some other mutually-agreed upon thing--lemme know once you win.

-Hey man, can you...?: If you have a product to pimp, I will review it and post the review here.

-15-minute Commission: I will take 15 whole minutes out of my day and draw a thing of your choice, then have the girl who works for me mail you the drawing.

Me, Zak, Mandy, Kimberly, Satine on All Games Considered!

We were the guests for All Games Considered's 150th podcast!

Listen to it... HERE!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Inspiration vs Commerce

The RPG industry is small, no doubt. Not as small as you'd think from listening to internet talk though.

(The more I learn, the more I realize that when people on the internet talk about the financial state of anything but their own bank balance, it's about as relevant to real world facts as arguing "Who's faster, Flash or Superman?")

But following the decision to be a publisher are the decisions about what to publish. (and after that, how to publish those things)

I put myself in the difficult position of wanting to do things that are complicated. I want to stand out. I want my next release to be better than the last one in quality of content and presentation. I want LotFP to be seen as better than the next publisher. I agonize over this shit. Be great or be gone, you know? (I still have a ways to go to be where I want to be, but those of you who have been with me since the first version of the Creature Generator can tell me whether I'm moving in the right direction or not)

So when deciding what to work on, I have to consider whether anyone else will give a shit about it. Even if I have a fabulous "Penis Monsters from the Planet Vagina!" idea, obviously that's not ever going to get a Sheppard cover or see a store shelf. And it's probably a bad idea to even do a PDF-only release of a 4 page "Silent But Deadly" fart joke adventure. (Most ideas like this start just as a way to horrify my wife, and then I think "... but wait, that could work!" Luckily, that feeling passes.)

The point is I have to second-guess whether I'm making my decisions based on what I think is cool or based on what I think will sell. I'm hardly a cool person (and I have a lot of bad ideas - I was exposed to Truly Tasteless Joke Books way too young) and I don't have my finger on the pulse of public demand, so it's all really just blind guessing anyway.

Take this Referee screen I'm thinking about. When I run a game, I use an old AD&D1e screen (with the Easley art, so not even the cool version with the old Trampier art).

I don't use a damn thing on the screen itself. Even in 2006-7 when I ran 1e, I needed different info than what was provided, so the screen has a bunch of printouts pasted onto it. I might as well have started with a piece of blank cardboard.

But I use a screen. I used that screen playing AD&D in 06-07, BFRPG in 07-09, Labyrinth Lord in 09, and then when playing with all the cool bits that become the LotFP RPG starting in early 2010.

And I do wish that screen could be useful. And I wish it could look non-ratty with the stuff I want actually on the screen without pages pasted on with Elmer's.

Cool games have cool screens.

I have a cool game! I want a cool screen for it!

But the vast majority of my game's go-to info is right there on the character sheets and on the back of the individual books. What goes on the screen then?

The fact that I have to think about that, after deciding I want a screen, makes me question my motivation for the screen. RPG products should be made to be cool. But cool is not a good justification on its own for publishing something. It needs meat.

So basically, my publishing decision-making is basically an exercise in mental masturbation, waiting for something to shoot.

With that in mind, enjoy your purchase. :D

(and yes, she winced at that one :D)

How do other publishers decide what to publish, I wonder?

Ah well. Work continues on Exquisite Corpses, Carcosa, Isle of the Unknown, and Death Ferox Doom regardless. :)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Demi-Humans and Weird Fantasy Role-Playing

The common cry: "They don't fit!"

Which is true in the common interpretation of the implied setting of the game. Hell, I'm moving towards just using Earth as the setting (against my own advice, as it will only end in tears!).

But... there's mileage in them shorties, beardies, and point-eared bastards yet. Last summer I released Weird New World featuring some demented elves, and Hammers of the God featuring some demented dwarfs. I still have my halfling thing that will come out sooner or (probably) later. The whole Pembrooktonshire thing, which I think is very representative of my style, depends on an elf and dwarfs as background for the shenanigans that occur in and around that town.

I don't think in any of those cases that switching out the demi-humans for "different human cultures" really works at all (except maybe in the case of Mrs. O'Shaunnessy).

Weird Fantasy Role-Playing isn't expressly Howard, or Lovecraft, or any of the elf-less pulp authors (or historical) any more than it is Tolkien.

Even if they aren't part of the mainstream of my campaign worlds (you don't find demi-humans in civilized areas, pretty much ever, in my game), the demi-humans do exist out on the fringes of civilization. I still have adventure ideas that rely on the common understanding of elves, dwarfs, and halflings.

They're not just in the game out of some sense of old school solidarity.
Sure, maybe I could be lame and make them "NPC-only" races in the Referee book or something, but that's not my kind of bet-hedging.

You don't want demi-humans in your campaign? Say "No non-humans!" and it's done. Or re-skin them (dwarfs as rough highlanders, elves as a human F/MU multiclass deal, and the halfling as a scouter dude or something). Or whatever. It's your campaign!

Completely Preliminary Future Art Poll

If LotFP puts out a Referee Screen, who would you want to do the artwork?

(I'm thinking of it being a bit epic like the Trampier D&D screen)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

LotFP on RPG Circus!

Wow. About 12 hours after get off the line with them, RPG Circus has posted its interview with me, Zak, and Mandy.

It was my favorite interview of the three this week, I must say...

Listen to the 'Circus episode here.

Extra Rules & Magic Books Available

We've finally finished assembling all the Grindhouse boxes and hopefully tomorrow night will be able to get the furniture back where it all belongs.

We did wind up with a few extra Rules & Magic books. People have mentioned being interested in having extra copies, so they're up for sale here. No PDF with this one though...

The Podcast Onslaught Begins!

Zak and I are doing the publicity rounds for Vornheim and the Grindhouse Edition, and the first of the podcast interviews has been posted.

Yellow Menace Gamecast Episode 4 can be found here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Evolution of the Flame Princess

By Dan Berger, commissioned in 2003 for the never-released LotFP: RPG:

(later scheduled for use in Insect Shrine of Goblin Hill, later actually used in the Grindhouse Edition)
By Diana Davidsson, commissioned in 2006 for the never-released Insect Shrine of Goblin Hill:

By Laura Jalo, commissioned in 2007 for the never-released Insect Shrine of Goblin Hill (colors by Kevin Mayle):

By Cynthia Sheppard, commissioned in 2010 for the (released!) LotFP Weird Fantasy Role-Playing Deluxe edition (with prelims):

(photo by Sara Strömmer)

By Cynthia Sheppard, commissioned in 2010 for LotFP Weird Fantasy Role-Playing Grindhouse Edition (and a pic from the photo shoot):

(photo by Sara Strömmer)

By Jason Rainville, commissioned in 2011 for LotFP Weird Fantasy Role-Playing Grindhouse Edition (with prelim):

By Amos Orion Sterns, commissioned in 2011 for the blog post announcing the Grindhouse Edition + Vornheim going on sale (only real instruction was to highlight the mass of the flailceratops):

Friday, May 13, 2011

Three Years

On May 13, 2008, 9:40pm, I hit "Publish Post" for the first time.

And it's early days yet.

Oh yeah. Fuck you, Blogger. That Vornheim Review Roundup was not a quick and easy post to put together. And I wanted this post to go live at 9:40pm today but it's still buggy and won't let me make advance posts. I bet this post disappears soon too.

Makes me glad I put my actual content into print rather than just on the phantom universe of the internet though. Some people think I'm an asshole to say that game content placed on blogs doesn't exist as far as I'm concerned. Well, for awhile, it didn't exist for anybody.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Vornheim Review Roundup

Alexandrian, The 1 and 2 and 3 "I can pretty much guarantee you that if you have any interest in running urban-based fantasy at any point in your campaign, then you, too, will find it worth every penny."

Apprentice of Old School (English Translation)

Brighton Role-Players "The stated goal of the book is not only to allow a GM to create a city on the fly, but to make it interesting, memorable and fun, and I would argue that it more than succeeds in that task."

Dragonsfoot Forum "It is inspirational reading; the most so I have seen in maybe 25 years for any sort of RPG. "

Drawings and Dragons "So the real magic of the book, like I said before, is how it becomes easy to create textural elements, randomly or semi-randomly, with very little effort"

Grognardia "This compact book does contain enough genuinely useful material for detailing a fantasy city on the fly to make it indispensable to any referee whose campaign involves regular urban forays outside the dungeon."

Haque in Black "Smart and yet playful. A bold kick up the arse to other setting books."

Hite, Kenneth "[Vornheim] is like the first crash of Johnny Ramone's guitar across the bow of fantasy arena rock. Vornheim is, as I have said elsewhere, like the Sex Pistols covering Ptolus."

LeckerTHAC0! (English Translation)

Lost Papers of Tsojcanth 1 and 2 "First, pre-game judgment: the book rocks. It threads a path rarely taken: describing a campaign setting encoding its behaviour. "

Metagame (English Translation)

Other Side, The "I have to admit I am rather impressed... 5 out of 5 stars"

Places to Go, People to Be " It's inspiring and I want to skip work, press gang my players or co-workers and use it right now."

Planet Algol 1 and 2 " It's an innovative product, but it shouldn't be; that not an indictment of Vornheim but of what RPG products are generally produced." Forum Discussion

RPGSite Forum Discussion

Savage Swords of Athanor "This is really my cup or tea."

Seeking Wing, The "Everything you've read about it is true. Including and especially the talk about changing how people make stuff for their games."

Sky is Full of Dust, The "I want something that will make it easier for me to run sessions in cities with little or no prep, and I really want this Kit to do that for me; so, first impressions, does it do the job it sets out to do? My quick answer: yes!"

UK Roleplayers Forum Discussion "HOLY **** IT'S **** AWESOME!"

Underdark Gazette

Vaults of Nagoh "It's exactly what it says on the tin: a thunk-provoking tool kit that'll probably be great fun to unleash on the players."

Vorpal Dice "In some urban RPG’s, an unexpected player decision might be disastrously time consuming; not so with the aid of Vornheim. Vornheim provides the referee tools to handle any number of circumstances that might occur within a city adventure."

WrathofZombie'a Blog "This is quite simply one of the best and most useful RPG products that I have every purchased and read through in my entire gaming career."

Monday, May 9, 2011

Oh Joy... Finnish Post Office Rates Increase June 1

It's not a large increase for the most part, but it can be a couple bucks depending on what you're ordering, and I have to increase my shipping rates to match.

For a couple of examples... For non EU orders:

An order for just Vornheim, 2nd Class: Is 2,60€ now, will become 2,90€
1st Class: Is 5,20€ now, will become 5,90€

If ordering just a Grindhouse box, 2nd class: Is 13,10€ now, will be 14,50€
1st Class: Is 23,80€ now, will become 24,00€

European rates remain the same so I should be able to continue to offer free shipping for orders over 10,00€, although there is all sorts of tax shenanigans under the surface there that I have to look at.

Parcel (over 2kg) pricing is changing significantly. 6 geographic zones will become 4, there will be no more 1st and 2nd class distinction, and the price breaks are every 5kg instead of every kg. If you're not in the EU, and you're looking at making a large order (weight-wise) from me, I'd do it no later than May 30, because shipping in bulk is about to get more expensive (but supposedly faster, for what that's worth).

Which will be just great for my distro and retail orders. :P

Sunday, May 8, 2011

RPG Art in General, OSR Art in Particular, Color vs Black & White (Plus First Ever Joesky Tax Payment!)

Blah blah.

It's not about the reader, the customer, or however you want refer to the person that'll be using the thing in the end.

It's what the person making the thing wants... and what they can afford.

Opinions are like assholes, and there are a lot of assholes on the internet, and I think any publisher that makes production choices based on blog and forum discussions is in for a lot of heartache as they scramble to fulfill the desires of the most fickle bunch of people on Planet Earth instead of following their own muse.

While my first choice is to make stuff that I think is cool and then sell enough to be able to make something else that I think is cool, if I had to choose (and was psychic), I would choose to go out of business making that one last cool thing rather than making something I don't think is cool but sold much better.

For example, take Grindhouse's art and presentation.

I like box sets, so a box set is what you get.

Ernie Chan was a very influential to me as a child, so you get an Ernie Chan piece, even if just about nobody cares and he was far from the most economic choice for a full page of art.

Vince Locke was very influential to me as a teenager, so you get a Vince Locke piece, even if it's the single most expensive new piece for the box and is (as one person complained) "hidden" in the middle of one of the books.

I doubt I'd sell one less copy if I hadn't hired these "celebrity" artists. But the game wouldn't be nearly as cool to me without them.

(Yeah, it's rather rude to mention money in the context of art, but I think we can stop pretending that it doesn't matter for a few minutes here. If you give someone a $5000 art budget, their book will always look tons different than if they have to get it done on a couple hundred bucks. We need a rich benefactor to play some sort of Top Chef reality show bullshit competition but for art direction, give several people the same manuscript and $5000 and see who can get the coolest and most effective artwork with it.)

I like color and black and white art. Each has its place. Yeah, at some point on this blog I talked about not liking color art quite so much (you can find that post yourself), but as soon as I could afford it what did I do? The truth was revealed...

If I wanted to do an all-color game, I would have. It would have been a smaller production, with not a great many pieces of art, but it would have been done. The vision comes first, then the project is shaped to match the vision. If I wanted a book with no color, I would have done that too.

But I like both.

Rainville's Rules & Magic cover doesn't work in black and white - how else than with color do you give the idea that it's the same character as the box cover? (for example, did you know the woman in Berger's piece on page 64 is also the same character? And for that one person that hates "iconics" because of some sort of implied character invincibility, defeating that impression is specifically what Sheppard's piece on page 69 is made to do)

I can't imagine Rainville's swamp exploration scene on page 73 being done in black and white, since the entire thing is about light effects.

On the other hand, Sterns' Fighter class picture wouldn't have worked as well with color. It has a lot of similarities to Rainville's picture on page 68, but I think the atmosphere in both pics is completely different and a lot of that is due to the color vs black and white issue. You can get lost in the details in Jalo's page 84 mechanical workshop or Nicholson's page 78 junkie wizard.

While a few of the black and white pieces would work well in color, there's only one color piece appearing in the LotFP box that might have worked just as well in black and white. Cardiff's Blackie Ritchmore on page 65 doesn't have much that demands color, but I think it's cool to do something a bit fancier with a low key subject. If I can pay Nicholson to draw people shopping, for crying out loud, I can have a lewd bard in color. :D

The similarities between the pics do show that there was no grand plan with the art - in the middle of things I just think "What would be cool here?" and sometimes I even have little plans like "page spread with pic and description for the classes" or "wandering eyeball header!" but no overarching scheme... when printing them out before press it's to search for typos and layout glitches to minimize them (unfortunately, they will not be eliminated altogether). It's only when the finished book comes back to the printer that I see things as a whole object and think of things like "I should have had Amos do borders for all the class pics like he did for the Elf and Dwarf pieces." Ah well. If I did anything perfectly I'd have to quit because why continue if you can't hope to put something better out next time?

Now I did poll "the internet" when it came to the Tutorial cover, because my first impression was the black and white version was better. But because there was no strong consensus on the matter online, I went with the artist's choice. But that was a specific thing; I didn't start off "Hey everyone, before I commission this new Tutorial cover, I want to ask everyone whether it should be color or black and white! Vote now!"

So those are my very concise thoughts on the matter.


The Bad Penny

The Bad Penny is a copper piece that disguises itself as another type of coin.

When the Bad Penny is discovered in a treasure pile, it will attach itself to a character so that any carried cash will always include the Bad Penny. Whenever the character spends money, there is a 50% chance that the Bad Penny is used in the purchase, for it will change itself to seem like a silver or gold coin in hopes of being spent as such. At this point the disguise is perfect, and only through magical means can the Bad Penny be detected.

d4 turns after a purchase using a Bad Penny is made, the seller will be compelled to count his money... and at this point the Bad Penny is obvious as a very poor counterfeit, and in fact will make all of the money spent along with it to appear counterfeit as well. d4 hours after this, the Bad Penny exchanges itself (even over great distances!) with a coin in the purchaser's possession. It will wait patiently if the buyer currently has no coin.

The only way to permanently get rid of a Bad Penny is to get rid of all of one's money, storing it somewhere (not giving it to anyone!) and never returning to collect it again. Then some poor sap will discover this hoard and the fun begins again...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Grindhouse Edition gets "Where I Read" Thread

It's here. Subscribe, comment liberally so it stays on the front page (and encourages the guy to follow through to the end!), and see how it goes...

The same guy is doing the thread over at the RPGSite here.

My predictions? The RPGNet version gets a lot more eyeballs but less comments, the RPGSite version gets a lot more activity as someone get mad about something and an argument completely unrelated to the thread breaks out where no minds are changed and it's doubtful that people are even reading the whole of each others' responses. :D

Friday, May 6, 2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Doing the Thinking Thing

I'll be honest - when Zak was instructing me on the details of how Vornheim was going to look, I didn't like it. It was hard! And different!

As the project went into the home stretch and I saw what the project looked like as a whole instead of looking at it in bits ("the border", "the map", "the medusa house", etc) I thought "ooooooo, smart!" Yeah, the parts that you read are in a nice-size font, and the parts that you reference can be smaller, because you're looking up info like in that big dictionary with the small type, not reading it like a story where your eyes have to be comfortable for long periods of time.

And here I thought I was just making a hardcover to be fancy. Zak took it and made it useful as a format.

Now I can't stop thinking of upcoming releases, and thinking of what other things to look at, with that in mind.

Exquisite Corpses is going to look a lot different than it would have if we'd finished everything a month ago, and the difference is all about at-the-table ease of use.

Carcosa's layout isn't much past the "each section will start with a page spread, with art on the left and the text starting on the right" as a concept, but there have to be things that can be done to make the book easier to use in play and not just have great content, be impressive as a physical object and awesome to touch, and comfortable to read. (since Isle of the Unknown resembles Carcosa in format, ideas here should work there as well) (I am doomed with that many priorities for a book...)

For upcoming adventure releases, how to format those books so the book format aids ease of use instead of just doing the same-old formatting that's always been used?

But I'm also thinking of weird ideas too, inspired by Vornheim and the Dungeonmorph Dice.

"Would this simple, oft-used chart be better as a deck of cards so you don't have to ever look anything up?"

"Would this series of tables be better as a flowchart?"

"Could one of these be made into something usable at the game table?" (and appeal to the female gamer market, score!)

"How does one make a Referee screen even more useful as a thing so that it demands to be used?" (hopefully without going to Hackmaster screen lengths, but I think that one was way too busy for ease of use).

Back to work now. :D

The Shirts Arrived

The shirts arrived and all orders including shirts are packed and will go to the post office in the morning.

Those of you in the "first 100" that get the free rulebook, if you ordered a shirt, your freebie stuff will be shipped separately, 2nd class. Your paid items will of course be sent by whichever method you chose.

Tomorrow is going to be an accounting day as I prepare April's records for the accountant, so those of you waiting to hear from me concerning art or maps or what have you probably need to wait until Thursday.

Hopefully by the beginning of next week it'll be the end of this whining about earning the money you guys are sending me, and back to whining about things of a more respectable nature.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Frog God S&W stuff up on the LotFP Store, Distro Orders Shipped

Ten different Frog God S&W titles are at the LotFP store here. (and people have already ordered before I posted any notices... what, do you guys just hit refresh on the store all day? You maniacs!)

Shipped out boxes to Noble Knight, Troll & Toad, Warpath Games, Ulisses Spiele, Sphärenmeisters Spiele, IPR, Alphaspel, La Marca del Este, and one for the North Texas RPG Convention as I bought two vendor shelves there, so hopefully they show up in 10 - 14 days for all you oddballs that refuse to order direct.

My life is so odd. I spent about $1000 on postage today and it made sense to do so.

Also got the Grindhouse and Vornheim PDFs up at the webstore and over at RPGNow. Will get them up at Paizo, YourGamesNow, and IPR in the next few days.

Tomorrow we take the drive to put another carload of LotFP boxes into storage, and I'll be picking up the shirts and finally packing those orders.

Somewhere in here I'm supposed to be working on formatting upcoming books and getting back to artists and cartographers on stuff for Carcosa but none of that has happened in the past few days.

I ask again: How do you publishers with day jobs do it?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Is It May Yet?

I can't wait to start reading the blogs again now that this A to Z crap is done.