Sunday, November 7, 2021

WHY I PUBLISHED... #5: 6X6X6: The Mayhemic Misssile Method (Tenscore and Sixteen Ways for Sorcerists, Witches, and Other Thaumatrophs to Defend Their Indefensible Persons)!

'allo all!

On October 25 we made 10 new releases available from ; eight for sale, and two freebies to entice purchase.
Packing and shipping from that initial avalanche of orders is ongoing, but I'm going to take a few minutes every day or two to explain why I decided to publish the items I did, and I will do so in order from what I expected to be the most generally acceptable to what I expect to be the most controversial.
Now coming in at #5... 6X6X6: The Mayhemic Misssile Method (Tenscore and Sixteen Ways for Sorcerists, Witches, and Other Thaumatrophs to Defend Their Indefensible Persons)!
Holy balls where do we start with this one? Last winter, while waiting for Antitheses to be completed, right around I did that call for collaborators... I receive an almost fully formed draft of a book all about magic missiles (or, as the book calls them, "misssiles").
There was an immediate conflict: I have one conception of Magic-Users as utility players, not combat artillery. Removing fireball and lightning bolt from the spell list was done long ago, but for the (still far in the future; the current rulebook will get at least one reprint which should last a few years) "next edition," I had an idea to remove absolutely all 'direct damage' spells from the list.
On the other hand, this thing I had just expands on something already coded right into the LotFP rules: "Each Magic-User’s Magic Missile is unique in appearance and always looks the same. When the caster writes a scroll, the resulting Missile looks identical to the normally cast version. When using a scroll written by another Magic-User, or memorizing a spell out of another’s spellbook, the resulting spell will look like that other caster’s Missile. Each different ‘signature’ for a Magic Missile must be researched and/or transcribed as if it were a different spell."
With 216 variations on the magic missile spell (the 6x6x6 title is a double entendre, referring to both the blasphemous nature of magic and the die mechanic used to randomly determine the variation), plus six separate frameworks by which magic missile can work, with each combination being researched/prepared/cast as a separate spell, the book provides 1296 variations of a single spell. I was seeing the book as something akin to the old Champions sourcebooks, "the Ultimate Energy Blaster" sort of thing (with a lot of the missile variants suggesting and having effects beyond just the damage rolled), which had the added bonus of making individual MUs unique in some way, even with the most generic of spells. Plus so many of the effects are going to be incongruous with individual campaign flavors, and I see that as a complete plus because that's what the very nature of magic is, an out of context intrusion into a world.
So this was either going to be a product with possible crossover mass appeal because what game doesn't use the most basic of pew-pew spells (absolutely everyone can use this as-is in their next game), or an incredibly niche exercise in pedantry.
So what the hell... let's do this!
The first concern was going to be whether to try to push this as a general audiences game aid or to go all LotFP with it. The answer to that one was pretty obvious. There were some pretty gnarly effects in the book, and some pretty bizarre effects, in the text, and it seemed like a complete waste to not highlight those in the artwork. I asked the author how much I was allowed to LotFP up the art (authors do have a strong say in how their books are presented!), and the answer was "As for interior art, I approve gruesomeness, if that's what you mean by LotFP. I prefer it cartoonish--Robocop, Evil Dead 2. But I request no genitals." No genitals, no problem! I consider 'Robocop' to be is pretty damn gruesome (but of course I have the director's cut in mind more than the theatrical cut when thinking of the movie... it that cheating?). OK. Let's go NUTS.
So yeah, I took this thing that could appeal to every damn body if they got to know about it, and made it something that'll repulse a great percentage of them. But mass appeal madness eats your brain, so I thought it should instead be as genuine and cool as possible.
But there was the problem of the cover. Individual pieces inside the book are no problem to conceptualize, just pick an entry and illustrate that, but how to do a cover that encapsulates the entire concept? Ideas went back and forth, but in the end I thought that any representation would somehow be limited or generic. So came the idea of just presenting a foiled text design and sidestepping the issue in favor of a classy look. The gold foil on purple cloth looks absolutely magnificent in the final product, if I do say so myself.
For the interior, to go all 'Robocop' gruesomeness will require anatomical realism to have the requisite impact, so Yannick Bouchard was the only person that could do it.
A layout that's going to be all table/formatting rather than the usual text flow, cloth and foil cover, Bouchard doing all the art. This was not going to be a cheap book, and I knew it before proceeding down this path. Fuck it. Full-effort failure is worth more than half-ass success.
One thing I didn't expect, as I was going through the text to figure out which entries would be best to illustrate, at first I thought I was being cheeky in putting metal references in the art briefs... but... ahhh... it wasn't me being cheeky or putting my influence on someone else's work, I was just reading what's in the frickin book. Like the entries in item #200 wasn't a dead dead dead giveaway.. oh yeah, that is Paul Di'Anno's arm we used as a model for the accompanying illustration across the spread. But I'm often bad in picking out such things when I'm reviewing drafts, as my concerns are general atmosphere and structural cohesion more than detail flair; that's the writer's job. (For example in Kelvin Green's work, I only discovered his recurring bits when fans started asking about them... hell, I learned about one thing he repeats every time just yesterday!)
So anyway, on page three is a Doug Johnson (Defenders of the Faith, Screaming for Vengeance cover artist) inspired piece that's pretty much saying what this book is all about. Yeah, that thing is a magic missile spell and this is what we're doing with the concept so get on board right the fuck now. Then the next picture is one that I hope makes people puke because it's dental trauma... but the fun thing about a lot of these illustrations is that the weird and gross stuff is showing what happens to the caster as their form distorts to shoot the missiles.
I'll specifically shout out p49's full-page illustration for being so ridiculous as to be sublime, and the final illustration on p64 is so LotFP to the core that I think I should put it on a roll-up stand so everyone passing by our convention booths when we return to the world next year has to look at it.
This book turned out beyond-anything-I-could-have-dreamed-when-it-was-first-presented-to-me awesome and it fucking rocks and if you haven't ordered it yet you are a fool. Because not only can you use it as-is in your game, you can just read through the first few pages and start using it in your game TODAY. So easy and adaptable.
#4 in a day or two! We are now crossing the rubicon.