Friday, June 29, 2012

The Madness Starts Sunday: The Full Lineup

We've had some lineup changes... but this is what we have: 19 adventures that will be individually up for grabs on IndieGoGo starting July 1 (if everything goes well, that'll be just after midnight Finnish time, still the evening of June 30 for you North Americaners). Campaign ends July 30.

I'm planning a full-on publicity blitz for this, with podcast appearances already recorded (and most of the writers getting their own interviews as well), a big banner ad campaign, the works.

The final lineup, in alphabetical order by author:

Escaping Leviathan by Aeron Alfrey
The Seclusium of Orphone by Vincent Baker (art by Cynthia Sheppard)
Strange and Sinister Shores by Johnathan Bingham
Towers Two by Dave Brockie
The Unbegotten Citadel by Monte Cook (art by Eric Lofgren)
The House of Bone and Amber by Kevin Crawford (art by Earl Geier)
Of Unknown Provenance by Michael Curtis (art by Amos Orion Sterns)
Machinations of the Space Princess by James Desborough (art by Satine Phoenix)
Horror Among Thieves by Kelvin Green
We Who Are Lost by Anna Kreider
The Land that Exuded Evil by Cynthia Celeste Miller (art by Rowena Aitken)
Pyre by Richard Pett (art by Michael Syrigos)
I Hate Myself for What I Must Do by Mike Pohjola (art by Joel Sammallahti)
Broodmother Sky Fortress by Jeff Rients (art by Stuart Robertson)
Normal for Norfolk by Juhani Seppälä (art by Rich Longmore)
Poor Blighters by Jeff and Joel Sparks (art by Mark Allen)
The Depths of Paranoia by Jennifer Steen (art by Jason Rainville)
Red in Beak and Claw by Jukka Särkijärvi (art by Jason Rainville)
The Dreaming Plague by Ville "Burger" Vuorela (art by Juha Makkonen)

Teasers for the adventures and bios for the talent and more info on the campaigns can be found here.

In addition, Jez Gordon is signed up to do layout for all the projects (brave, brave man), Jason Rainville, in addition to pulling double adventure duty, will also be doing the special slipcase artwork for the hardcover perk options (a six pieces so all six sides of the package show the same scene, each from a different vantage point...), and Zak S is signed on to do the cover for one of the advanced perk options as well.

This whole thing only works if you want it to, but I have done my best to present something you will want.

Good luck everyone. It's going to be an interesting July.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

How to Raggify An Adventure

And now for something completely different...

I did a little fun thing over on Google + today, Jeff Rients won, so he gets his d12 chart.

12 ways to creep up some random moldy old module. i.e. roll on this chart to make any adventure more Raggian.
  1. Put a Deck of Many Things in the first encounter area.
  2. Randomly select an encounter area. Simply replace it with another randomly selected encounter area from a randomly selected other adventure in your collection.
  3. Reverse the hit point totals of everything in the adventure (12hp becomes 21, 40hp becomes 4, etc).
  4. Randomly select a page in the adventure and begin reading. The next mention of any sort of liquid in the adventure, change it to "semen."
  5. Select one monster in the adventure randomly and multiply its hit points by 10. You're not supposed to be able to defeat everything, you know.
  6. Replace all of the magic items in the adventure with cursed counterparts.
  7. Put so many goddamn warning signs and spooky buildup to the dungeon that the players actually get freaked out and consider just quitting instead of playing the damn game. "Gorfar the Barbarian will settle for a farming life after all if adventuring means going in places like *that*."
  8. Insert an old crotchety and harmless NPC into some room (maybe as a prisoner if it's a dungeon adventure) who has no purpose other than telling the PCs how much they suck at adventuring.
  9. Go to Hit "Random Band." The first song title of the first item of the discography is the new name of the most important enemy/monster/NPC in the adventure.
  10. The next halfling the PCs encounter in the adventure should be replaced with Elijah Wood's Kevin from Sin City.
  11. Turn on the TV right now. The first person you see on the screen? That person is the first NPC you present to the PCs.
  12. Everything that's supposed to be hostile in the adventure runs away from the party. When they get to the end of the dungeon, they find it's just been solved/looted by their higher-level future selves who have time traveled back to solve this adventure. They tell the PCs "Sorry about this, I remember when this happened and it really sucked, but nothing to be done about it. Cheerio!" and they disappear. All those enemies that ran away have returned to their posts, and this time they won't run.

In Case Anyone's Unclear

Shitheads are flinging shit and it's sticking elsewhere and soon it's likely to land here and here's my statement on the matter.

The presentation of something in a fictional space, no matter how it is presented, is not an endorsement of that thing in real life. Enjoying something in fiction (or enjoying fiction that contains something) does not mean that a person would enjoy that same thing in real life.

Everything and anything is on the table when it comes to fictional works. The point is to be creative and explore (or not, as the creator wishes). There are no subjects so sacred that people should feel pressure not to explore them in fiction. No restrictions. 

Just about nobody is going to be as good as, say, Alan Moore (From Hell, Neonomicon, Lost Girls) or Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita), but everyone that wishes to try is entitled to do so, and failing (or succeeding, for that matter) is not a a reason for harassment.

Shit, neither is aspiring to be the next Hideki Takayama (Chôjin densetsu Urotsukidôji).

It's even OK to be silly about horrible things in the world of make-believe. It loses the entire point of imagination for it to be bound by the mores, restrictions, and taboos of reality.

How many people reading this have also read Chick Tracts? That guy means it, man, and yet here we are still living our same lives with our same morality and religious identity as before we read that stuff. It is bullshit to pretend you're somehow so much better and more aware and intelligent than the public at large who can't be trusted being exposed to certain things.

You know, before I got exposed to certain internet moral crusaders, I used to get pissed and crusadery concerning bands like Burzum and Graveland or attend a Nokturnal Mortem concert and lose my shit at the idea that people listened to them without caring about the bands' ideology. Now, while I still am not going to buy the albums or go to the concerts, I have chilled the fuck out about other people who listen to it. It doesn't matter. It doesn't affect the things I like at all.

(You'll also notice I edition war less in recent years... same reason. "Oh you're not allowed to like this thing that I don't like" is bullshit and it's wrong no matter what "this" is. I still slip now and again because I'm excited about things. oops.)

That a bad thing exists does not stain other things made in the same genre or using the same medium. Iron Maiden's music or sales or concert attendance isn't affected at all because they sometimes play the same festivals as Cannibal Corpse or Rotting Christ. The fact that Cannibal Holocaust and A Serbian Film and I Spit on Your Grave exist and have been screened maybe even in a cinema you've been in didn't stop anyone from seeing The Avengers - and neither did the fact that a ton of shitty superhero movies have been previously released.

I remember that soon after I announced my collaboration with Zak for Vornheim and Geoffrey for Carcosa and Isle, certain people raised their eyebrows. Both had been involved in OSR controversies because they've done stuff some people don't like and some people don't like standing in the same room with those they disagree with. I received one email that I wish I still had and I hope I'm not misremembering its wording (the wife says I am getting the gist right), but it basically was asking me quite strongly to not associate with Zak or Geoffrey or I'd be in danger of being associated with those kinds of things.


Look, people... the box set's cover has nudity on it as a protest and an "Up yours!" to American decency standards. Other art is in there to basically settle the question of good taste. I didn't hire Christina Casperson to do Grindhouse artwork because I wanted mass appeal. I didn't hire Vince Locke to do a piece to make people feel good about looking at his art. Just the opposite, in fact. Because that's the kind of guy I am.

I even approached Six Entertainment about licensing The Human Centipede for an adventure last year. Turns out I'm still too small a publisher to afford such licenses, but I really, really would have liked to have that in your hands by now. That's the kind of guy I am.

I just discovered something called "bizarro fiction" today. I know, way way way fuckin' late to the party. But after reading a bunch of reviews and interviews, I put some money down because there's a good chance it'll fit me like a glove. I ordered Carlton Mellick III's The Haunted Vagina from my local bookstore, even though it was a bit cheaper on Amazon, just so when it arrives I get to go down to the store and tell the cashier "I'm here to pick up my Haunted Vagina." That's the kind of guy I am.

(I did order Ryan Harding's Genital Grinder, Robert Devereaux's Baby's First Book of Seriously Fucked Up Shit, Edward Lee's Trolley No. 1852 and Brain Cheese Buffet and The Haunter of the Threshold and The Innswich Horror, Cameron Pierce's Ass-Goblins of Auschwitz, Garrett Cook's Jimmy Plush: Teddy Bear Detective, and Mellick's The Kobold Wizard's Dildo of Enlightenment +2 from Amazon as well today. Because that's the kind of guy I am too.)

So enough of this bullshit.

If you think "action" needs to be taken over someone's make-believe, then I am your enemy.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Why You're Waiting

With the big thing happening next month, it's even more important than it already is to get the first thing from this past spring to the printer. However, you should also know why you're waiting.

This is the sort of thing Alfrey is doing with the pages he's had to fill:

Zooming in:

LotFP: Shit ain't ever on time, but shit's worth it.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Story About Some Stories

People don't seem to like Identity Crisis. Hmm.

My experience with the Justice League started with the Superfriends TV show back whenever that was. I started collecting the comics with #216, which was cover dated July 1983 so it would have been out a few months earlier, making me 8 and a half years old.

The plotline from those days that I most remember, issues #221-223 (cover dates Dec 83-Feb 84, so they were released as I was reaching my ninth birthday), featured animal men that ran to-the-death gladitorial death games for the amusement of rich folks. It was rather brutal, as the Flash was gored by a rhino-man, Elongated Man was flattened in a steam press, etc. The animals were vicious, killing their own henchmen in cold blood (in-panel, no less). I remember it being comparable to Savage Sword of Conan blood-wise (no clue how accurate that is with almost 30 years of hindsight).

The takedown in 223 is pretty brutal as well, as Aquaman telepathically lobotimizes the whale-man, and pretty much all the beast men are either killed or go on to become simply animals.

Some miscellaneous stories occur (including a fun appearance by The Paragon which has stuck with me, no wonder since looking it up now it was written by Kurt Busiek) and the satellite is trashed and here come Steel, Gypsy, Vixen, and Vibe starting in issue #233, cover date December 1984. It was obvious this was a "second string" league but I thought it was fun because it was obvious the League had a long history and while it was cool reading something that was obviously bigger than what I held in my hand month to month, I felt like this fresh start meant I was getting in on the bottom floor.

One part that stuck with me for years and years was them moving into the new headquarters, and Ralph and Sue Dibney were painting the place so it would be more homey. (and I remember the "Chartreuse?" joke about their sense of style... something I was able to appreciate when finally getting into Morrison's Doom Patrol in the past year, and that team moved into this same headquarters and there were a few panels of unremarked-upon chartreuse walls as background).

Eventually things went to hell with Despero showing up and turning Gotham City into Hell and blah blah. So I don't read Justice League again for almost 20 years. Late 2000s I pick up Identity Crisis based on recommendations. ("It's great!" "It ruined the JL!" hmm, have to try that out.)

That the story that hinges on stuff that happened around the time period when I started reading, that it's about what happened to Sue Dibney, Sue "lives with the League and helps paint their headquarters but isn't a superhero or anything!" Dibney, that drew me right into it. Didn't know who Firehawk was, never heard of this Kyle Raynor guy (the last time I'd checked up on Green Lantern, he was hanging out with these aliens and this orange alien GL that looked like a little girl had unconsciously willed her body to change to look like a mature human so Hal Jordan would feel comfortable being with her... heady stuff for an 11 year old to read, which is how old I would have been when these issues came out), wait, I'd read Crisis On Infinite Earths and I thought Dr Light was a girl?

(speaking of Crisis, I don't know the Titans from the hole in my ass, but Crisis gave each character ridiculously blatant expository dialogue to help out young chumps like me who didn't know who 75% of these people were... and Starfire's exposition was basically "impulsive and emotional," "worried about her home planet," and "open about sexual matters"... so when people started complaining about how she was handled in the DC reboot, hell, I thought that's how she's always been and how she's supposed to be)

So yeah, I think Identity Crisis was an awesome story. It really humanized everyone in a way the 80s comics never did (although the throwaway death of Firestorm was ridiculous, he was one of my faves when I started reading the League). That it also gave narrative weight to The Atom was awesome for me, because he was the one that (ironically!) loomed very large on the first superhero comic book I ever bought.

That it "ruins" the innocence of the league by being "mature content" and retconning a dark "secret history" into things and not just being escapist superheroism... well my short run with reading the League in the 80s as a child featured man-beasts engaging in bloody slaughter, the "secret origin" of the Black Canary, their headquarters getting absolutely trashed and the team effectively disbanding to be reformed by the third string and a bunch of n00bs, alien plant life sucking the youth out of the League AND IT WAS ALL SUPERMAN'S FAULT based on some "secret unknown history" from a long-ago plotline, and a demon reborn through fire turning Gotham City into a blazing hell-dimension.

Maybe those old issues would seem childish to me today. Dunno, I seem to be fine with Marvel reprints from the late 60s and 70s (the early 60s though, wwhheeww) and the early 70s Green Lantern/Green Arrow stuff (heavy-handed, but not childish).

But innocent escapist superheroism? That's never what stuck in my mind from my JLA past. Identity Crisis fit right in, and the damn book made me cry ("Bruce, please. Please help hm...." the look on Batman's face right then... yikes.), the only other comic besides Cerebus that's gotten that reaction from me.

(after finishing every phonebook I used to call--or wish I could call--my then-girlfriend, an Atlanta-to-Vaasa call, because of how depressed and lonely Cerebus made me feel... absolutely devastating, unparalleled storytelling with a heaping helping of legitimate insanity so that even when it was boring, it was never _boring_).

I'm sure whatever point I had when I started writing this has been killed, dismembered, and buried in a shallow grave by now, but for some reason I felt the need to tell the story.

Friday, June 8, 2012

It's Coming...

The Grand Adventure Campaigns!
July 1 - 30

(art by Jason Rainville)

18 different adventures in separate crowdfunding campaigns running simultaneously. Support one or two or a few more, or go for the big discount (up to 51% off) by supporting all of them. Up to you. No "waiting in line" for adventures; each will stand or fall on its own.

The lineup:

Aeron Alfrey

Vincent Baker with Cynthia Sheppard
Johnathan Bingham
Dave Brockie
Monte Cook with Eric Lofgren
James Desborough with Satine Phoenix
Kelvin Green

Cynthia Celeste Miller with Rowena Aitken
Kevin Crawford with Earl Geier
Michael Curtis with Amos Orion Sterns
Richard Pett with Michael Syrigos
Mike Pohjola with Joel Sammallahti
Juhani Seppälä with Rich Longmore
Jeff and Joel Sparks with Mark Allen
Jennifer Steen with Jason Rainville
Jukka Särkijärvi with Jason Rainville

Read more about the pricing, format, and all the reasons why this is happening here.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Whew! Thanks! and thoughts...

The LotFP Rules & Magic hardcover is funded, as is Kenneth Hite's adventure, with a grand total of $16,240.

Hite is at Origins so he may not even know he's funded yet. Somebody tell him. :D

The project was not the $150,000 dream, but we got two books funded. I'll take this as a solid, if not spectacular, success.

The Bad:

There was a "floating" goal of separate Rules and Magic hardcovers. We were $760 shy of reaching that. So close...

The Good:

Revised, cleaned up hardcovers with new Cynthia Sheppard cover art AND A BRAND NEW KENNETH HITE ADVENTURE! wooo!

Not reaching the separate hardcovers was a blessing in disguise. The concerns there:
Reaching the goal almost exactly would have made the whole campaign a big money loser. Printing and shipping two hardcover books costs a lot more than one book even with the same total page count. I'd have done it no problem, but if it's going to be one book, having this extra money buffer is a very good thing. A new layout means some of the art, which was custom-made for the current layout, won't fit. We will need some new art for sure. Absolutely no problem now.

And that color section in the middle... what would we have done with all those pics if the books were separated?

The Weird:

By my quick count, 480 hardcovers are reserved from the contributions. Everyone who was up for writing an adventure will get a copy as well, it's the least I can do for their lending their names. That's 14, for a total of 494. Plus the editor should get one, the layout designer should get one, I'd like to keep one, plus whatever new artists contribute to the new version should get one.

See a potential problem with a print run of 500?

It's pretty close to a sure thing that anyone who didn't sign up for the campaign and doesn't work on the new version of the book will not be able to get one.

Huge thanks everyone. It's just about time to get the head down and get things done.

Friday, June 1, 2012

24 Hours Left! Last Chance! Hite = FUNDED! More July Campaign Names Announced!

$30 including worldwide first class shipping for the LotFP Rules & Magic in hardcover, corrected and with a new layout. ($22 if you're in Finland.)

$110 gets you four copies of that hardcover for you and your group in a tracked parcel. ($80 in Finland.) Oh yeah, AND THE KENNETH HITE ADVENTURE. It's FUNDED! There are other options from there (personalized greeting, 4 copies of the adventure, or unique Aino Purhonen art drawn directly in the rulebooks).

If we hit $17,000 the Rules and Magic books will be printed as separate hardcovers... so for every copy of the Rules & Magic book you thought you'd get, you'll get a Rules and a Magic book as well.

Any leftovers from the print run certainly won't be available for $30 including first class shipping so you better move your butt if you're at all interested.


New names announced for the July campaigns:

Jennifer Steen with art by Jason Rainville
Jeff Sparks with art by Mark Allen
Kelvin Green, and handling his own art
Cynthia Celeste Miller with Rowena Aitken on art

They join the previously announced:

Monte Cook with art by Eric Lofgren
Dave Brockie (aka Gwar's Oderus Urungus) - handling his own art!
Mike Pohjola with art by Joel Sammallahti
James Maliszewski with art by Eric Quigley
Tavis Allison and Benjamin Armintor with art by Ryan Browning
James Desborough with art by Satine Phoenix

More to come...