Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Closing the Year and Another One to Open

I started this blog on a wild whim in May. I had no idea what I was doing how to proceed past the few posts that I had already created and that were - in all honesty - mostly game content with little to nothing else.  Since I started Genius Loci I have released over 43 monsters to this blog, 10 spells, 3 free adventures, 5 races and 7 or 8 classes! This on top of about 200 other posts ranging from reviews, rants, ideas about how to run games, and kickstarter barking.

When this started up I figured by the end of the year I would have maybe 10,000 its to the blog, Instead I am ranging some where in the 40,000s with my most popular post ( Five things to remember in a post-apocalyptic setting) having over 1,546 views. Again wow!

I have all the people who read this blog to thank for the success (or apparent success in my mind) I have been a part of. 124 followers, 11 blog centric followers. People +1ing me, commenting on what I do, and seemingly enjoying and using what I am creating! Once again, let me repeat, wow! The support of this community is what has allowed me to do something that was previously only a pipe dream to me to be published and to sell! The sell part is important because what is the point of having a work if no one reads it or plays it? Currently the three products I have made this year sit like this: Horus Adrift - 127 copies sold, Cartographer's Guide to the Creatures of Eira (on double sale until tomorrow morning) - 30 copies sold, and Blossom in the Darkness (A Short Fiction Piece) - 12 copies sold.

All an all I think that 2013 was a wonderful year for Genius Loci and as I said before this year was made wonderful by the community, the readers, the commentors and the people who I have grown to regard as friends, peers and collegues.

Now moving in 2014 ...

1.  The next Adventure in my Edge of Space (created by Matt Jackson) arc, Helena's Gauntlet is running smoothly toward completion. As with Horus Adrift it will by a PWYW title and should round out between 15-20 pages. right now a big part of Helena is trying to create a city map that looks like a futuristic tactical map but still usable by Game Masters and Players alike.

2. Speaking of Edge of Space I am currently in the process of adapting the rules (and once down begging Matt's permission) for use with a more space opera/serial pulp theme.

3. Lights over Innsfjord is so near completion that I can feel the tendrils of the Outside attempting to draw me through a fissure in reality. The entire alpha build of the game is nearly done! And once that is complete it will be time to beg, borrow and steal the money needed to hire a mapper to do the considerable amount of maps for this one (1 crypt, 1 temple, 3 cave, 5 light house). I have grudingly decided to forgo a book with completely original commisioned art and have started to look toward Stock Art to round things out. +Oxide JCHart and +Theo Evans are still featured with commisioned pieces, but there will be few if any others. Although I may try and hunt down a cheaper cover artist.

4. Still in the earlest design phases is another OSR adventure that I am currently calling "Creepy Dream Powered Child" which I intend to be my last "darker" adventure for awhile as I attempt to take my own advice and add some WONDER back into the Hobby.

As for other projects. I am currently wondering if the OSR Supers Game will be ready for playtesting in February or if it sohuld be abandoned as there are now a lot of Supers games on the market and frankly I cannot stand next to some of those. I will also be compiling and expending on my races and classes for a "Cartographer's Guide to the Peoples of Eira" book some time next summer.

One a personal note 2014 will also be the year I offical marry my "wife" who I am not offiically married to. We will be wed on June the 13th (which is also a Friday!) So I will be gone for the better part of June. This is one of th emajor reasons why I switched toward stock art for Innsfjord and Creepy Dream Powered Kid.

Well that's it for me, tonight is my family's First Annual New Game Marathon! Which is to say for New Years we willl be playing all the games we got our daughter for Christmas. Including Tsuro, Catan Junior, The Hobbit, Life, and something with a Panda! 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Quick Note - Back to Work!

I am back to work on Innfjord! After a much needed break from the the huge adventure I've finally returned to it and am ready to finish! I have art resources on the way in terms of both commision (thank you +Oxide JCHart and +Theo Evans ) and stock art and am working on getting some more of both.

Here is a small sampling of the Temple of Balance Crypt area that will be part of the adventure (if the Referee and Players choice it to be). I will be posting my designer map of it tomorrow so you can all see the process of design. My wife would worry that this would cause no one to buy it because it is here for free, however, if anyone here can read my hand-writing you deserve it for free :)

One thing that may be noticed while looking over the sample is that I've begun to pull Innfjord more and more into the Eira setting and away from the Generic drop and play of the five-minute adventures. I don't know if this is a good idea yet, but with the Cartographer's Guide to the Creatures of Eira (also if you want to see a samp eof the above named artists also take a look at the guide, as both are in there as well) being a pretty solid product (numbers-wise), I think this move may be the right one.

~*~

C-2. Water Hall
Water laps and flows away from the landing from an unknown source. This large, one-hundred by forty foot room connects every area of the crypt, on either side ten feet is taken up by the flowing salt-water pools, with each of the four pools having two pillars stretching up to an arched ceiling mostly hidden in darkness.

While in the Water Hall the players have a 1 in 4 chance of encountering 1d6 Corrupted Nixies. These Nixies once served as protectors and caretakers of the crypt in exchange for the safety of its protected and blessed waters. However, whatever has befallen the crypt has also affected the Nixies, turning them from gentle caretakers to vicious, murderers.

Corrupted Nixie (1d6): HD 1d4; AC 7[12]; Atk 2 weapon (1d6), 1bite (1d6+poison); Move 6/12 (swimming); Save 18; AL C; CL/XP 1/15; Special: As Fae, Iron deals an extra 1 hit point of damage, Charm Person (-2 penalty to saving throw) that causes the victim to walk into the water were the corrupted Nixies will drown him in 1d3 rounds.
 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Quick Note - Error with Cartographer's Guide

I got an e-mail today from someone who ordered the Cartographer's Guide before the update. So anyone who picked up the original release (or later) are you getting the update file with the Z-listings, new cover and interior artwork?

all of these things show on the preview, however, there seems to be a hiccup in Drvethru's system that is still defaulting to the original file.

Please let me know if anyone else is having this issue, thank you!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Quick Note - Cartographer's Guide to the Creatures of Eira @ 26!


As of 1930 EST my Creature guide is sitting at 26th in the top 100 over at RPGnow! Quite awesome!

Cartographer's Guide to the Creatures of Eira, Final Edition is Live!

The final edition of the Creature Guide is now available over at Drivethrurpg for $1.50 until January 2nd, after which it will be going up to its full price of $4.00. The creature guide features 45 (including several never seen before on the Genius Loci blog) monsters inspired pulp stories of the 1930s and the mythology and folklore of the British Isles. This final edition features six pieces of interior art of original commission pieces and stock art as well as a new cover that invokes the "tome" look of the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons.

All monsters presented in the Creature Guide are written in the stat block style of Swords & Wizardry and Crypts and Things and are fully compatible with most if not all early edition OSR.

Take a look, pick up a copy and spread the word! 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Quick Note - Creature Guide, Eira and more

Yesterday I released the Creature Guide, a collection of monsters and creatures from this blog an a number of adventures (both published and unpublished). All said the book contains 43 monsters and comes in at 27 pages.

So far the Guide is not doing to well and I am trying to figure out ways of improving sales and getting the book out there. One of those is a new cover. While I love the simplicity of the current cover (and +Theo Evans art), I must admit that the simple white and black nature of the cover may be turning people away from it. The potential new cover is still being figured out but below is my idea so far. I need to get in contact with some people to see about a small image for the cover but so far the center is blank


I have also removed the "Preview Edition" from the title as that may have also impacted anyone taking a look at the book.

~*~

Eira has gone through a number of changes recently, the biggest being that I have decided to take my own advice and make the setting older with more mysteries and places of old magic and ... well wonder. This being the case after Innsfjord is completed I am going to be going back my abandoned project for Knockspell "The Mad Mage's Tomb" as both a way of connecting Innsfjord to the wider world of Eira and to explore a less ... pulpy side of the world.

Some people may remember a few mentions and previews of "The Mad Mage's Tomb" from the blog's earliest days, if not take a look at

and

I feel as I continue into the depths of Innsfjord and into the streets of my Helena project that I am getting a little too dark for what I want to accomplish as a game designer. I won't be adding in anything crazy but the Unicorn Graveyard is probably the closest to breath-taking wonder I've managed to insert into anything of late.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cartographer's Guide to the Creatures of Eira is now live!

The preview edition of my creature guide is now live over at Drivethrurpg. As I've discussed previously, this preview version has all 43 creatures from my blog and adventures.

This version of the Creature Guide is a preview edtion due to the lack of artwork or advanced layout styles and as I've mentioned before I am using the funds gained from the preview edition to fund the hiring of artists for the full and final version.

So please, pick it up and spread the word!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Quick Note - Air ships, floating islands and WONDER!

Quick Note – Islands in the Sky

One of the most classic (in my opinion) tenets of fantasy is the sky island, or temple or generally just a giant floating SOMETHING that shouldn't be floating at all. Throughout games, movies, tv shows and so on there have been various means and ways in which character have made it to these places, but the most famous tend to be teleportation and airships.

Airships are in my opinion one of the best methods as they allow for so much more than just a one stop mechanic, like teleportation does. However, airships (outside of Eberron and some Science Fantasy settings) have pretty much gone the way of the dodo and are considered to be hooky little things that take away from the modern opinion of grimdark and dungeon punk. Personally I like airships, they add a sense of swashbuckling, high adventure to a game and if they are a rare thing make the characters think of themselves as somehow special or unique in their world. However, let's go back to the islands in the sky and lets go back with a bang.

Take a look at this remastered clip from the remake of the early 1990s JRPG “Lunar: Silver Star Story”


(Note if embedding didn't work with time stamp fast forward to about the five minute mark)


If even for a moment, even in the final session of the campaign, the characters are given access to an ancient weapon of some long forgotten race (a staple of fantasy) the Referee has just given them something worth talking about for days if not years on end. An entire island at their fingertips, not just a simple airship but a land mass flying through the sky under means unknown to any of them … and it was theirs!

Obviously it cannot always be, such power cannot be too long in the hands of the players, but for a session, maybe two it has the potential to be something amazing! Why is that? Because it is a truly magical thing, it is something old and ancient and just up there on the list of the fantastical that, while not alone, can wipe some of the mud and grime away from so much of a game and just allow the players to wonder for a moment …

To me we are lacking in the fantastical anymore in our games. So many of us (myself included) go straight to the weird, the dark the frightening and one of the most amazing things about fantasy is lost and that is a sense of wonder a sense that our character inhabit a world of so much lost beauty and magic and that they(!) are finding it, discovering it and exploring the lost and fantastic depths of a world. Too much anymore I see myself in PbP games, in convention games and so on fighting, sloushing my way through muck and dirt and just generally seeming to exist in deary, violent, DARK worlds.

One thing that got me excited about 4e when it was first announced was this idea that while the world was dark and evil was on all sides that their would be shining beacons of light and hope of finding glorious lost cities and places of wonder that reflected a better time … Instead I got more dark, “look we're hardcore!” stuff.

Recently Dragon Age Origins went on sale for $8.00 on Steam around the same time a 2d platforming action RPG named Dust went on sale. I got Dust, why? Giant statues as big as a mountain, lost, floating ruins, just … stuff that made me wonder at the construction the history and so on. Dragon Age … Dragon Age had more mud.


So what am I saying in this long rant? Well I started off wanting to talk about ho much I love airships and floating islands, but really, I just want people, tabletop gamers, video gamers, card gamers to remember and attempt to once again remember it doesn't all have to be dark and gritty and hopeless in games. Think back to the first time you read (or watched) The Fellowship of the Rings and imagined Middle Earth, the colors, the ancient fortresses, Last Home and even Moria! All were things of beauty and wonder even if bad things happened there they all filled you (or at least me) with wonder and a driving need to explore and find them!

Quick Note - Blizzard Combat (no not that Blizzard!)

There's a storm coming, a possible blizzard and some are even whispering of a nor'easter. Honestly, the mountains protect us from most bad things, however, with all the talk and all the fear going on at work (I work for a courier business this is the busy time of year) it got me thinking, how can weather and blizzards especially effect a game … or more specifically how can it affect encounters.

Here is the scene: The party is breaking hard for the north, something of importance lay in the depths of an ancient ice cavern thought scared by the local tribe of Yeti-Men. Unfortunately, the Eldritch Queen has her glowing green eyes on the same damn thing.

While it has been snowing the whole time the wind and speed and cold come to a head around the second round once this happens three things occur.

Weather Effects – Blizzard:

    1. Visibility drops seventy-five percent. What does this mean? It means the players can only see a quarter of their move rate in front of them, it also means that everyone, enemy and ally is flat foot.
    2. All melee to-hit rolls take a -1 modifier due to the storm and decreased visibility. All ranged take a -2 per 25% outside of the character's visibility range.
    3. All Spell-casting has an increased failure chance (between 2 and 4) due to the blizzard both playing havoc with gathering arcane energies and interfering with the magic-user's ability to concentrate on his or her spell-casting abilities.
    4. After two rounds the first the players and creatures movement is treated as being in difficult terrain and takes the appropriate negative modifiers.

Now these are only ideas, haven't been play-tested at all and are very rough in form and function. I looked back at my Mentzer Expert rules (thank you flea markets!) as well as the 3rd and 4th printing of Swords & Wizardry just to make sure I wasn't diving into well used waters. It doesn't seem that I am … I think that later rule-sets, including a 3e title called Frostburn may have actual rules for blizzard condition combat.

The scene as well is not meant to be something that is played, however, if it gives a Referee a good idea … run with it!


And yes, I am now tempted to stat up a Yeti-men race/class and creature block. Maybe if work gets canceled today.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Quick Note - Dyvers' and a General Update

First a most awesome annoucement: I have made it onto +Charles Akins Great Blog roll. This, for me is a great honor and Ipretty much squeeled for joy when I found out. To make it even more awesome is the great write up that Mr. Akins did for Genius Loci:

Genius Loci  This highly productive blog will re-energize you and remind you why playing Dungeons and Dragons is so worth the effort. The author has a quick mind and will make you a fan of their style of play. Always worth reading, and not read nearly enough. Updates: Daily.
So pretty much totaly awesome. If you haven't checked out the Great Blog Roll I suggest you do, I have found a good ten blogs I've not hear dof or read that I am now thoroughly enjoying.

In other news! I am watching Venger's The Island kickstarter with an almost obsessive habit as I both want it too suceed for I think Venger is rather awesome and because I gauge whether or not I can accomplish the same at some later date. As others have said before, Venger is a successful publisher who did not over burden himself on stretch goals/rewards so funding him is a good idea. I on the other hand have a single small adventure under my belt and have never previously full financed anything, so ... yeah ...

Helena's Gauntlet is still chugging along, moving from the closed in and confined space ship of "Horus Adrift" to a small open world has been challenging and I've been debating on whether or not to go to a more classic hex map for the adventure. I don't think that is what I will do since the game takes place in a good twelve blocks of a destoryed city but it is tempting.

Finishing up the clean up on the plan version of the Creature Guide and trying to figure out how to bookmark a pdf file. I am hoping to have this up on drivethru by the middle of January. Right now, I am planning on sending everyone who purchases a Pay-What-You-Want version a 50% off coupon of the final version of the game. This was picked over offering a fully free updated version over concerns from my wife over people who grab the plan version for free.

Finally, after 20 years of searching I finally got a new (actually used) copy of Del Dowdell's "Spearmen of Arn". If you want go check out my "review" of the book over at Goodreads. Expect some off topic Sword and Planet style posts in the next few weeks.  Speaking of Sword and Planet, I sure do miss that genre and want to kick Disney for botching John Carter up because if that had been a success we may have seen a resurgence in stories.

Finally and speaking of old pulp science fantasy, I have been throwing around the idea of a hollow earth play-by-post game on Google + using a mixture of Swords  & Wizardry and Sabres and Witchery. Thoughts?


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Quick Note - I got nothing

Nothing so much as being done tonight thanks to the real world. But I hope some enjoyment can be had over my most recent D20 Future post from the PBP game I'm in over at www.roleplayinggames.net

A little backgorund on the game. A comet was going to hit Earth, the governments of the world united created "The Last Hope" a cyroship that would be autopiloted throughout the universe looking for a new home for the human race while a couple hundred thousand people slept in cyrosleep.

Something happened a couple hundred years later a few of the people in cyrosleep were awakened by an AI that was not part of the ship's original programing and now we're here ...

~*~

Lily chuckled at Tom’s question and shrugged. “Way too much Sci Fi intake as a kid. I would rather John Carter over Aliens any day …” she looked down at her leg and more soberly added. “ … and with recent events I’d rather be paranoid than not, sir … Tom ... Sir Tom?”
She mentally face-palmed as she backed away. She wasn’t comfortable with the informality that Tom had suggested. To her it didn’t matter if the pentagon was gone, that her entire chain of command consisted of a ship born A.I. and the pilot … She was still Army, just because the United States Army didn’t exist anymore didn’t mean that it didn’t truly exist. The discipline, the values … Lily sighed and took a seat next to Cassondra doing her best not to show how crumpled everything was for her at the moment.
Taking the moment of peace on the bridge Lily settled down to watch as Tom deftly moved the ship (with Jayne’s assistance) closer to the giant marble ahead of them and smiled inwardly at the thought of fresh air, blue skies and sun. To her it had only been two weeks since she had felt the warmth of the sun, but the reality was it had been centuries. Even if her mind couldn’t tell the difference, her body did and it CRAVED that warmth with a ferocity that scared her slightly.
She didn’t know why or even how she knew to do it, but as her own emotions toward a possible new homeworld struck her she moved her hand and griped the Doctor’s and offered the other woman a gentle smile.
Everything seemed to be going right, and then all hell broke loose.
Lights and alarms blared and screamed for attention, the ship started to tumble and pull toward the planet ahead. “Crap!” She mumbled when the ship stopped trying to scramble her. She checked those closest to her. “Everyone okay?!” She half screamed over the alarms. “Damn it, Jayne turn those off!”
Moving forward she slid into the co-pilot chair and her eyes went wide, not a bird, she thought and cracking her fingers she looked over at Tom. It’s been awhile and this is no helicopter, what do you need?
OOC: And this is why she has the +3 in pilot. Aid another on Tom’s pilot checks if I can.
Roll #1
Reflex
1d20
 14
(+2)= 16

~*~

IF anyone is interested in reading more about what is going on in this game or in PBP gaming in general check out: Last Hope (the Game) and www.roleplayinggames.net

Quick Note - Brian Fitzpatrick's Urban Dressings is Live

+Brian Fitzpatrick just released his Game Master resource kit "Urban Dressing: Sages" over on the Onebookshelf sites for $1.99. It is a table generator  for populating and making a sages' market or shop in any urban setting different and unique while giving the Game Master's brain a bit of a break in plan all the lurid details. There is also a few sample sages at the end of the title if the GM has even less time!

From Drivethru:

A Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatible GM's Resource by Brian Fitzpatrick
Tired of your towns and cities being boring, bland places in which your PCs show little or no interest? Want to bring your towns and cities alive with cool, interesting minor features of note? Then Urban Dressing is for you!
Each installment in the line focuses on a different common urban fixture such as shops, stalls, thieves and so on and gives the harried GM the tools to bring such features to life with interesting and noteworthy features.
This installment of Urban Dressing presents loads of great details about sages to add into your campaign. Designed to be used both during preparation or actual play, Urban Dressing: Sages is an invaluable addition to any GM's armoury!
Urban Dressing: Sages presents:
  • One table (50 entries) presenting external details of a sage’s place of work.
  • One table (50 entries) presenting internal details of a sage’s place of work.
  • One table (20 entries) presenting whispers and rumours about a sage.
  • One table (20 entries) presenting hooks, complications and opportunities.
  • Ten sample sages.
This product is a Dual Format PDF. The downloadable ZIP file contains two versions, one optimized for printing and use on a normal computer and one optimized for use on a mobile device such as an iPad.
For free samples head over to Raging Swan's website
      While primarily for Pathfinder, the quick skim I did of its preview show me that it can be pretty easily adapted to most if not all the d20 based systems (including our lovely retroclones!).


      Wednesday, December 11, 2013

      The Crawling Madness - Generic Creature for Any Setting

      Work is extremely insane this time of year for me. From what I understand it wasn't that bad before the internet but now with everyone ordering online working in a shipping service can be a bit crazy. Haven't had much time of late for much, but I hope this one find everyone well ...

      Crawling Madness
      Type: Outsider 
      Hit Dice: 6
      Armor Class: 3 [16]
      Attacks: Bash (4d6)
      Saving Throw: 11
      Special: Non-magic weapons do half damage. See Below
      Move: 6
      Alignment: Chaos
      Challenge Level/XP: 11/1,700
       The Crawling Madness is a semi-sentient creature of the Outside, which resembles a mass of mangled cancerous bodies  fused into the shell of a giant slug which itself appears to be a raw, oozing tumor full of tufts of hair, gnashing teeth and glistening blisters and boils.
      The “shell” of the Crawling Madness moves and writhes, eyes bulge and fade back into the massive of melded bodies and oddly, every so often, the forms of coupling can be seen from the figures of the “shell”.
      The sight of the Crawling Madness is enough to make anyone go insane, the soft wet sounds it makes as it moves and fight do not help in this either. For every round the player is within visual distance of the Crawling Madness they must succeed a will based saving through with a growing negative depending on what round they are in. Should the player fail this save he or she loses 2 points of their Wisdom score. If a wisdom score falls below 3 the player is permanently insane and becomes an NPC.
      Any player that comes into physical contact with the Crawling Madness has a 1 in 3 chance of becoming melded to the creature. If the player is unable to free him or herself within five rounds of first becoming melded to the Crawling Madness he or she becomes a permanent part of the creature’s “shell”.

      Quic Note - Here P.I.G.gy, P.I.G.gy, P.I.G.gy

      +Mark Van Vlack has a very interesting post over at his Dustpan Games blog today about game development and moving a game from a P.I.G (Possibly Interesting Game) to an I.G (Interesting Game). At the end of the piece he poses a question, one that I hope I can suitably answer.

       What about a game grabs your attention enough to give it a second or even third look? What is it for you that will turn a P.I.G into a purchase?


      The first and most important thing for me when choosing a game is to be able to flip[ through it and review what is on pages. This is one of the main reasons I like One Bookshelf's “PayWhat You Want” feature and believe more developers should utilize it. As our hobby moves more and more away from the traditional brick and mortar game stores and from physical books in general the normal ways of discovering a game system go away as well. Typically with pdf and epub the reader is unable to flip through the digital pages and skim to see if he enjoys what is on the page and the risk exists for people to be burned by cool covers and blurbs that don't pan out in the actual product.

      This is why the “Pay What You Want” feature is excellent as it allows me to browse the product and decide partially if it will move from the P.I.G. pile to the I.G. pile. By browsing the product I can see if the flavor matches what I am personally into, if the rules are or are not overly complex and if the product as a whole is composed and presented in such a way that “flow” exists in a nice and linear fashion.

      First lets talk about flavor. Believe it or not flavor isn't that important in the long run as any rule system can be shoehorned into any setting, genre or flavor of either of the previous. However, when first picking up a flavored system (see Numenera, Eberron, Vampire) the flavor matters because the flavor is part of the reason that the product was picked up in the first place. Yes, I can d20 Modern to play a well rounded Supers game with little modification or I can go and play a flavored version like d6 Powers or Champions. All three can work in the Supers setting, two were created for the pure reason of a Supers game. However, (and note I have not yet read d6 Powers) while d6 Powers is built on one of the founding fathers of game systems the flavor and flavor related mechanics may drive me away … for now … and right into the arms of Champions, d20 or some other system.

      In the end mechanics trump flavor for the reason mentioned above. My personal belief is that any game worth playing should be readily playable by anyone within five or ten minutes of the core book being placed in that person's hand. After all, these are games that we're playing and no game should ever feel like homework. This is another reason being able to browse a product is a wonderful idea, because if a potential player is able to grasp the basic mechanics of character creation from a quick flip through then the game is probably worth getting. The simplicity of the rules brings up another point of the mechanics that will change my opinion toward a potential product; rules over story.

       

      Back when I first saw “Gamers: Dorkness Rising” I was utterly thrilled that one of the main poles of the movie was the struggle between the players wanting to adhere to “the rules as written” and the Dungeon Master just wanting to tell a great story. Both sides of the coin where shown, the DM getting railroad-y, the players ruining excellent roleplaying moments with rules lawyer. It was fun to see this battle brought to life outside of the tables of real gamers and brings about my point. The rules to any system should never be so comprehensive that they ruin the ability for a story to be told. The Game Master should be trusted to adjudicate fairly and balance player freedom to his story. Once a game publisher starts to distrust their GMs a lot of potential fun is lost.

      Finally the flow of any given product in our hobby matters. I personally tend to look at everything from a character creation point of view. A core book should flow from one step to the next of character creation and in such away that a first time player can fill out his character sheet with out constantly flipping back and forth between the pages. If the core book has a game master, how-to-play, and monster sections then those two should be placed in such a way that the player (the person with a character) comes first. While not the biggest gripe on my end I have seen more than one new player walk away from a table because they couldn't find a straight forward question to how CMD worked.

      While flavor, mechanics and flow are important there are other things I look for when trying to discover if a game is worth my time and cash. Chief among these is the thought of how much stuff I need or do not need to play the game. Before the advent of the e-reader and .pdf as the near default means in which the gaming community consumed the hobby the thought of lugging a players manual, a Dungeon Master's Guide and a Monster Manual as well as dice and possibly miniatures would cause my arm and satchel to whimper. Near the end of 4e the books weren't an issue but my DM required fortune cards at his game, miniatures, the expanded character sheets that required an insider account and … too much stuff!

      Personally I believe that one book and a set of dice (and maybe a mini) are all that is needed. This goes so far as when I see my brother with his ten pound bag of d10s at a Vampire game I get sad. Seriously, this should play a role in the design process of a game, to make the game simple on every level. A few dice, a reference sheet and maybe a book is all that is really needed.


      Hopefully I answered the question of what I look for in a potential game and more-so I hope that my own endeavors into game design will eventually invoke these thoughts and belief.

      Tuesday, December 10, 2013

      Quick Notes - Its Alive! ALIVE!

      Designing monsters and creatures is, by now, old hat for me. It is by far my favorite thing to do outside of adventure design when it comes to game design. There is just something purely unique about taking something that does not exist anywhere but your head and giving it physical form and property.

      Right now I've taken a break from “Lights Over Innsfjord” for the simple fact that I was starting to get burnt out from it. I plan to continue the writing part after Christmas but for now have allowed myself to just do map design for the eventual hiring of someone to do actual good maps. In the meantime however I’ve been putting in work on another (much shorter) adventure for Matt Jackson’s “Edge of Space”. I’ve talked of “Helena’s Gauntlet” a few times over the past few weeks but this will be the first time that more than a simple fictional blurb has appeared.

      ~*~

      After the initial battle with the a great roaring sound can be heard in the distance and echoes off the canyon-like walls of the ruined city of Helena. This is giant shooter bug reacting to the other bugs’ death echoes. In one minute a plasma strike from the giant shooter bug will hit the ally the players currently occupy.

      Plasma Strike – Damage 10, Range 120, Rounds 1/round. A bioplasma burst from the Giant version of the Shooter class of the Bug forces. It is a devastating weapon, typically used by the bugs as a surface-to-air weapon against Confederate Ships of the Wall.

      ~*~
      The Giant Shooter Bug (which will eventually be named something) is not just a creature but an event in and of itself within the Helena adventure and will in some ways will hopefully be the most remembered segment of the adventure.


      Monday, December 9, 2013

      Quick Note - Monster Slayers WotC's old attempt at a Kids Game

      A few years ago (2010 I believe) Wizards of the Coast released a download on their site for teachers, librarians and parents interested in using games (and in particular roleplaying games) as a teaching aid. They touted the math skills, the social interaction and problem solving skills and a whole slew of things that sounded wonderful towards inventative ways to teach kids. What we got was Monster Slayers, a quick skeleton of a game with an attached adventure all building off of the Monster Slayer kids book that Wizard's produced the year before (but rarely found in the wild).

      The best way to describe Monster Slayers is to say +Justin Halliday did it better. It is a parsed down 4e game with widgets for health that can be marked off, special abilties and cute pictures. What's missing is a sense of wonder and adventure (which Halliday's Hero Kids has in spades). Still it was an interesting direction that WotC tried to go into and honestly I wish it would have been a success because with some minor improvements, a more robust monster catalog, and some out of combat focus this thing could have been great for the community.

      Today, WotC released Monster Slayers onto all of Onebookshelf as a free download. Go check it out since it costs nothing, steal from it what you will for your Hero Kids game and enjoy the really cute art (Seriously, the art is lovely in its simple nature!)

      Monster Slayers on RPGnow.

      Now lets hope they put that damn book up so I can finally read/read it too my kids! Seriously, who the hell publishes a book that can never be found?!

      Kickstarter Barking - The Island of Purple-Haunted Putrescence

      +Venger Satanis's who is the creator of Liberation of the Demon Slayer (see part one of my review here) has just started a kickstarter campaign for another massive adventure. Unlike the dungeon crawl of LotDS, The Island will will be a wilderness adventure. That's right, take Venger's flavor for the Lovecraftian and Weird Fantasy and place it in an open world!

      The kickstarter has a pretty average buy in rate with  $10 getting donors a .pdf, $20 getting them a soft cover and so on and so forth up to $150 which gets the donor a chance to help create a a piece of the adventure. That could be anything from an NPC on up (but I would suppose within reason and copyright).

      The Island of the Purple-Haunted Putrescence runs for the next 29 days, so it has a rather short funding cycle, but goal is at a reasonable $3,500. Venger has also kept the stretch goals at a pretty reasonable level with page and story increases rather than the oft-doomed physical rewards.



      Take a look and if you liked LotDS or just enjoy weird and some times WTFD roleplaying, put a few bucks in the pot!

      I'll be adding a widget to the side of the page here so we can all keep track in a moment!

      Quick Note - DM's Craft started a monthly building competition.

      I don't know how many of you watch the DM's Craft on youtube so let me give you all a quick run down. Basically a series of DIY videos for roleplaying set-pieces. Things like tiles, miniatures, props and so on.

      Honestly, I don't have the time or the room to do some of the things that get taught in these videos but they are very interesting to watch. I always find people actually making their stuff to be extremely fascinating. There is just something about knowing people are using their own skill and abilities (or even just trying) to create something from nearly nothing. Always amazing.




      As for the competition it will be held monthly, a topic will be given over at the DM's Craft forums (link here), which you would have to join. People create, post about and the best wins (and wins something). In the process the DIY crew learns a bit from one another and the skills of each crafter grow.

      Quite excellent.

      Now, paging +matt jackson because I know he enjoys the crating of things.

      Friday, December 6, 2013

      Quick Note - The Future of the Creature Guide

      Looking at the WIP creature catalogue today I realized that without an introduction, table of contents, cover, pictures or any frills I have nearly 30 pages of creatures now for the Cartographers' Guild's Guide to the Creatures of Eira. Unfortunately, I in no shape, way or form can afford to get the art or for cover or interior of the book nor can I get a layout artist or editor.

      I am faced with three choices at this point:

      1. Abandon the idea of publishing a collected list of the creatures I've so far created.
      2. Take to indiegogo or kickstarter and become another Nystul.
      3. Release a pay-what-you-want no frills version of the guide. Just monsters in a bookmarked pdf for the express reason of gaining funds to buy art and layout for the a true release of the book.

      Personally I'm leaning toward the third option but I figured I would ask the community at large their opinion on the matter.

      So how do you think a no frills pwyw would work as a funding source for a true release of a book?

      Thursday, December 5, 2013

      Arkan Sonney - Creatures of Eira Preview

      In Manx folklore, the Arkan Sonney is a fae-being that has the appearance of a white wild pig or boar with glowing red eyes. It is said that catching an Arkan Sonney alive will bring good luck to the person that caught it.

      In Eira the Arkan Sonney is a creature of the Night Lands that escaped into the mortal realms during the war between the Au-Sidhe and the Un-Sidhe. With no natural predators, and a natural ability to mate with mortal pigs and boars, the Arkan Sonney soon spread across the entirety of Eira.

      The Arken Sonney is tempered much like the Wild Boar but much more intelligent and cunning and with some powers native of the fae realms. It is said (although never seen) that some of the older Arken Sonney can speak in both the fae and mortal tongues.

      Arkan Sonney
      King Eld, known as the “Hunter of the North” to his people looked with dismay as the tracks of the boar he had spent most of the day tracking vanished into the frozen bogs. Holding up his hand in a lose fist to signal to his men to hold, he moved forward, pole-arm at the ready. A noise cought him by surprise from the south, he turned – too late – to see the menacing red eyes of the creature that only looked like a boar. “Run!” He screamed to his men. “RUN!”

      Hit Dice: 4+4
      Armor Class: 5 [14]
      Attacks: Gore (3d4)
      Saving Throw: 14
      Special: Continues attacking 2 rounds after being “killed”, Can grow larger (Medium to Giant)
      Move: 15
      Alignment: Neutrality
      Challenge Level/XP: 5/240

      Much like their mortal brethren the wild boar, the Arkan Sonney will continue to attack anyone adjacent to it for two-rounds after it reaches zero hit points. Due to its fae heritage the Arkan Sonney can, at-will, increase its size from medium to Giant for up to four rounds, While in its increased size, the Arkan Sonney does an additional +2 damage.

      Wednesday, December 4, 2013

      Quick Note - Suffer my bad writing skills!

      Jorge and his dwarven companion sat in silence, looking out into the darkness of the forest, behind them the camp fire burned bright and merry and the wizard, Torbis snored gently into his bed roll. The journey from the forgotten mines had been tough and full of lose. Someone had let loss the news that they, the Company of the Fallen Star, had conquered that eldritch place and taken its treasures.
      First came the bandits, easy fodder for the Company’s blades and spells. Than came the knights and war-wizards of every warlord and should-of-been-king in the Nine .  Those hadn’t been so easy to be dispatched and the running game of cat and mouse had cost the Company much including Eli. Helm (for no one knew his real name) was the hardest hit by the loss of the Halfling rogue, the large dwarf had considered her a blood sister, and a kid sister to boot.
       He looked back at the fire, removing his glasses so he wouldn’t be blinded, and stared at the empty patch of ground where her bedroll should have been.
      “It doesn’t help to dwell on these things,” Jorge said. “Since the Merge things have been different, you need to just accept that she … she has faded and may have returned.” The large human was a man of few words, but when he spoke his voice rumbled out in a low growl that spoke of an anger deeper than anything Helm had ever seen.
      “No, she couldn’t have.” Helm whispered. “She was aether-kin” he pulled out his pipe and lit it, then returned his glasses to their resting place above his nose. “Nothing to fade back to … not like me, not like you.” He took a puff and looked out into the dark forest.
      “Movement …” Jorge rumbled and got to his feet, a small squeal coming from his glasses as they re-adjusted to his new height. “East toward the Point.”
      Helm groaned as he went to his feet and let his pipe fall to the ground. “There was a time I would think this was fun.”
      “Still is.”
      “Yep, if you don’t mind being eviscerated.”
      A growl sounded from the forest to their right and as the men turned another growl came from the rear.
      “Smart, they know about the glasses.” Helm muttered and slid the glasses back over his shaky head. “Keep watching I’ll wake Torbis.”
      ~*~
      I think two things should be apparent from this almost page worth of story snippet. 1. Those are night vision goggles and 2 I suck at naming characters in a fantasy setting.
      This little snippet, however, brings up the question I wanted to pose today to all my readers. What is the general opinion of science fantasy or of technology (modern or futuristic) within the realms of a fantasy setting?
      I have always been a “John Carter” fan since the first time I secretly read “A Princess of Mars” in second-grade (I went to a catholic school all that suggested nudity was … well you can guess) and of the planetary romance genre since I first heard the term. No, in my opinion nothing can beat ERB but stories like “The Spearsmen Arn” and  even things like Flash Gordon have always held my attention more than a lot of hard sci fi (with the exception of military/navel sci fi).
      As such one of the things I always attempted to include in the games I ran was some sort of science or “real” element. Whether it be that the characters discovered that their world was a giant holodeck simulation that had been running for a thousand years or something as simple as a piece of rebar stinking out of an old, buried ruin.
      I think this is one of the reasons I enjoyed Eberron as a setting so much because it had so much “science” in it. Air ships, “robots”, nuclear weapons … it amazed me to read the stories set in the world of Eberron (Seriously go read the “Heirs of Ash” trilogy) but when I joined an Eberron game I was dismayed to find that the game was pretty much standard fantasy with MMO fast-travel.  Yes, that could be because of the DM in question on this and I could make an entire post based on my adventures in online rpg games, but I shall not.
      So the question then is do you, my readers, like or dislike science fantasy? What is your favorite setting and are there any good games out there that are premade to suit those tastes?
      Bonus!
      Tell me the dark secret of the world in the snippet above and win a $5.00 rpgnow gift card!

      Barking - Bad Myrmidon

      As Erik Tenker over at Tenker's Tavern already reported, the OSR adventure Bad Myrmidon was released yesterday through drive-thru rpg and its affiliated sites as well as Lulu. The adventure is pay-what-you-want but any proceeds gained from it help Mandy Morbid in her continued battle against Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Honestly, I had no idea what Enlers-Danlos Syndrome was before seeing this adventure but according to Mayo Clinic it is

      a group of inherited disorders that affect your connective tissues — primarily your skin, joints and blood vessel walls. Connective tissue is a complex mixture of proteins and other substances that provides strength and elasticity to the underlying structures in your body. 
      People who have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome usually have overly flexible joints and stretchy, fragile skin. This can become a problem if you have a wound that requires stitches, because the skin often isn't strong enough to hold them.
      The adventure is made by a pretty kick-ass crew including +Gennifer Bone on art, +Dyson Logos on maps and an adventure written by +James Raggi.
      From Drive-thru
      Cowardly Achilles has hidden his treasures in a temple on the island of Leuke. The undead Sisters of Penthesilea want vengeance, the Myrmidons want to protect the temple, and the Amazons want to kill the Myrmidons.
      Outside the temples, forest fires rage in slow-motion; feathered viragos stalk hapless men; madfolk torture and burn each other; and nude cultists preach love, tolerance, and self-mutilation. This island is damned, and those who voyage here are damned as well. But treasure awaits!

      As with others, I've picked it up and plan on giving it a short review after I finally finish LotDS and +Shane Ward's newest. 

      Drive-thru link here
      Lulu link here

      Tuesday, December 3, 2013

      Quick Note – Video Blogs, Monsters and Mansions … Oh, my

      Last week I talked of branching out and starting to do something besides the normal blog on a weekly or monthly basis. So far the thoughts of everyone seem to be in the realm of a video blog addition to the normal blog. This was the top of my list as well so I have been rather happy with the result that others seem to like it as well. Now then the question is what to do with it.
      My first thought for this is to use a video blog entry to highlight play-testing of Eira material, “kid” thoughts on the modules of the old school. Why kid in quotes, because I’m 32 and didn’t start playing Dungeons and Dragons until the third edition which means that I am a kid in my own mind to the OSR community.  I think it would also be nice to use the video blog to feature other things that I have yet to think of … if anything.
      If I do a video entry though I would like it to be semi good looking, I’m already wondering what I would need to do to make it look as if I’m not just sitting in front of my computer (If I had the money I’d totally go Sword & Laser or Tabletop).
      ~*~
      This morning as my eldest daughter prepared for school she told me about a dream she had the night before. This dream involved a mansion tucked away and forgotten in a dark forest, far away from any town or village. What follows is more or less a transcription of this dream.
      ~*~
      This mansion was old, ivy and moss crawling up the walls of the three storey brick and stone building, covering the stained glass of the windows.
      This mansion, my daughter told was alive. Not like an animal or a monster, it couldn’t move or walk but it could think and plan and bring people to it. Once anyone entered the mansion they couldn’t leave it, even if they died.
      The inside of the inside of the mansion was huge, with libraries, bedrooms, studies, inside gardens, kitchens, a ballroom and at its very heart, a walled in rose garden with a black fountain that had a large statue of a man with a goat head on it.
      In the drawing room off the foyer was a large dollhouse and anything that happened in the dollhouse would happen in the mansion … but only if no one was in the room that the changes happened in. After a person stayed one night in the mansion a doll that looked like them would appear in the doll house.
      There are lots of ghosts in the mansion but they’re mostly harmless though and don’t normally see the people that are alive. But there is a monster that haunts the mansion a huge giant of a monster that is silent and can never be heard and is always hunting the people in the mansion trying to kill them and add them to the collection of ghosts.
      There is no way out of the house, it doesn’t want anyone to ever leave and wants as many people and ghosts as it can get to live, forever, inside it. The only way to get out of the house is too find out what the house is afraid of (being alone) and to use that fear against it.

      ~*~
      For a girl who is utterly hateful of reading and tends to the “kill it now and figure out everything else later” mentality of gaming I was really surprised by this as it showed a heck of a lot of imagination and really speaks to me as a gaming location.  I couldn’t help by rub her head and tell her she had an awesome dream and that she should make it into an adventure she could run with her friends.
      ~*~
      Considering the awesome job my daughter’s imagine did for her last night I couldn’t help be to get in on the action and so I present the Silent Boogey for your old-school fun.
      Silent Boogey
      Type: Undead (Unique)
      Armor Class: 0 [19]
      Hit Dice 10
      Attack: Attacks 2 (1d6+4 Slam)
      Save: 5
      Move: 60
      Special: Physical Damage Reduction 75%, Magical Damage Reduction 50%, Choke, Immortal
      Challenge Level/XP: 9/1,100
      On a success attack the Silent Boogey has a 75% chance of catching and holding the target by the throat. For every round there after the target must succeed a saving throw or be hurt for 1d4 health points from being choked.
      The Silent Boggey is and immortal being and cannot truly die but only fall into a death-like state that it will awake from in 1d4 days.

      Monday, December 2, 2013

      Quick Note - Art samples for innsfjord

      +Oxide JCHart of omegapointilliststudios is working on some of the art for my upcoming Lights over Innsfjord adventure. Check out what he's done so far and if you want to see more or get some for yourself see his storefront over at RPGnow/drivethrurpg.

      Quick Note - The Gifts of the Frog Gods!

      Got my Frog god gift box in today. I picked up the $30.00 box for mainly financial reasons but I am impressed by what I got.



      The List:

      Swords & Wizardry Monster Deck
      Rappan Athuk kickstarter pin
      Necromancer Games sticker
      K2 - The Diamond Fortress
      G5 - Chaos Rising
      G7 - Morrick Mansion
      The Tome of Horrors III
      The Lost City of Barakus

      A lot of old Necromancer Games stuff for 3rd edition. I had my fingers crossed for more S&W type stuff but still great haul for $30.00!

      If any of you haven't looked at Erik Tenkar's post about this than I suggest you either do that or head right over to the Frog's site for the deal!

      Also I bet I'm the reason for the big red text message at the top of the page. My apologizes +Bill Webb and the rest of the Frogs!