Thursday, April 24, 2014

Fanzines, The Complete Illusionist, Norse God Classes, And More

Another update/round-up post. I think you'll like this one. It'll also be the last of its kind for a bit; I want to get back to gaming content.

Secrets: Omens & Artifacts has done...pardon my french...fucking fantastic. My plan was always to print twenty copies and reprint as necessary. I hoped to sell twenty in a month, at best. Right now, in less than a week I've sold 17, have one "on hold", and have two left. I'll gladly and gleefully print more, but...yeah!

(Paypal for the print version is in the right sidebar, or buy the black& white pdf here.

This means I've made enough to cover the costs I wanted to cover, AND I can buy the license for Scrivener. So what, you ask?  So...The Complete Illusionist, people!  Work on TCI has been stalled because I really love Scrivener, and all my illusionist stuff is in it, and I'm 3/4 of the way through the trial period, and I didn't want to use up the trial before I had a license ready. Well, no more worries, people! IT's handled! Because of you, The Complete Illusionist is FULL STEAM AHEAD!

What else? You know what would rock as the next issue of SecretsStrange Races. That's the official title, btw. The race compilation is more than half-done, and while I will be full-steam ahead on The Complete Illusionist, Secrets: Strange Races will almost certainly be the next thing out the door.

And, well... it turns out I really like this 24-page booklet format. Who knew, right? The wee little pages make me feel like I'm Making Progress every time I write something, and that makes me really enthusiastic. Also, I work in cycles, and while I'm kinda sick of monsters right now (but not too much), you know what I'm really getting interested in again? Norse Gods as Classes. Yeah. And it would totally rock as an issue of Secrets.

There are a few other things kicking around too. I've been keeping it quiet, but I've got a bestiary with 80+ monsters kinda sorta finished. But not. The monsters are all done, but the adventure seeds aren't. They're a wicked lot of fun to write, but take longer than I expected, so I work on them when I need a break from something else.

And the 24-page booklet concept has conflated in my head with Pars Fortuna and Jon Stater's recent musings about different versions of  Bloody Basic to create -another- sideline/can-I-do-this? project, so that's at least 3 issues of Secrets right there.

Oh, and the hexcrawl. I wanted to do a random hexcrawl thing. It was going to be the bonus pages in Secrets #1, but the outline alone was way too big.

And Secrets. I'm not doing the two-format pdfs again. I won't change it for Secrets #1, but I figured out how to do the layout that I wanted and not require people to print a ink-buster cover, although they can if they want to. I will keep doing the stickers for the prints because it's fun.

Here's the mixed news. I did Secrets to see if I could, and because I had a lot of the materials available and just sitting around, unused. Paper, cardstock, several new ink cartridges, envelopes, etc.  I'm hoping to do at least 5 issues right now, but we'll see. It looks like I'll be able to cover costs after that if I wanted to. What I'd really like to do eventually is migrate to a Patreon model, and make Secrets - at least the pdfs - free. Before I can do that, however, I need to prove to myself and everyone else that I can produce consistent quality and figure out how to package it. The two Patreon blogs I'm most familiar with are Dyson's Dodecahedron and Lapsus Calumni, but their primary currency is maps, which are a bit more consistent/discrete a unit than what I usually produce (but see below...). If I post 3 spells, is that worthwhile? A class? 5 spells? 10? How many magic items equal a PC race?  Do I only do it per issue of Secrets? How does that play for something larger, like The Complete Illusionist (or even The Basic Illusionist, which would clock in at roughly 70+ pages in booklet format).

Basically, if I can make enough for my wife to view this as a worthwhile endeavor, AND release it for free, I'll be happier than a clam. (My wife, bless her calculating soul, has not a whit of interest in gaming or what I do, unless it makes money or costs money.)

And finally finally....  I'm not a "natural" doodler. If you put a pen in my hand, I will scratch my head with it, and eventually start writing. I won't draw. My daughter's stick figures are more advanced than mine.
I have a masters in landscape architecture. I studied set design. I worked in construction for 12 years.
I can draft your ass off. And drafting is drawing plans. And plans are really maps. And I actually really really like drawing maps, but I forget it because when you put a pen in my hand, I write with it. So I'm going to try to remember that maps are awesome fun, and do more maps.

That's what it really boils down to. Those are my goals. Writing and mapping.  Stuff. Lots of stuff. Stuff I haven't even come close to mentioning yet. Awesome stuff.

Wicked cool stuff.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Table: Castle Encounters (Roll All the Dice)

First, a public service reminder that Secrets #1: Omens & Artifacts is available in PDF (at the store) or in print (see the sidebar).

Castle Encounters (Roll All The Dice)
(d4) Castle Lord
1. Magic-User (-1 on d10: Castle Type)
2. Cleric
3. Fighter
4. Fighter (+1 on d10: Castle Type)

(d6) Castle Purpose
1. Dwelling or None (folly)
2. Settlement Defense
3. Roadway Defense or Toll
4. Waterway Defense or Toll
5. River Crossing Defense or Toll
6. Border Defense

(d8) Castle Status
1. Ruined/Abandoned
2. Deserted (monsters)
3. Occupied (civilians/locals)
4. Fortified (monsters or bandits)
5. Fortified (outpost; -2 on d10: Castle Type)
6-7. Fortified (lord in service to local ruler)
8. Fortified (lord independent of local ruler)

(d10) Castle Type
1. Moat House
2. Tower
3. Monastery
4. Small Shell Keep
5. Large Shell Keep
6. Small Walled Castle with Keep
7. Medium Walled Castle with Keep
8. Concentric Castle
9. Large Walled Castle with Keep
10. Fortress Complex

(d12) Castle Surroundings Encounter
1-2. Castle servants
3. Castle lord or lady & entourage
4. Castle lord or lady sneaking out or in for secret rendezvous
5. Guardian monster
6. Beggar(s) looking for charity
7. Merchants or tradesmen
8. Knight
9. Pilgrims
10. Farmers bringing produce or livestock to castle
11. Castle patrol
12. Monster or force hostile to castle

(d20) Castle Features
1. Castle is magical or enchanted
2. Castle’s lord is magical or enchanted
3. Castle constructed of unusual materials (brick, living plants, iron, brass, horn, bone, crystal)
4. Castle is disguised as something else (different type, different status, natural feature, hidden by illusion, etc)
5. Castle is in conflict with another force (local conflict, rebellion, war)
6. Castle possesses notable feature or item
7. Castle has two or more lords (roll 1d6 and compare to Table 1: if result is 5-6, add one lord and roll again)
8. Castle has notable history, legend, or prophecy
9. Castle’s lord has notable history, legend, or prophecy
10. Castle’s lord is of a different race than expected (monster-fortified castle led by an elf lord; vassal hobgoblin lord in human kingdom; etc.)
11. A celebration is underway at the castle (birth, wedding, tournament, fair).
12. Castle’s lord is holding a hostage for political purposes.
13. Castle is a prison for a powerful creature.
14. Castle is laboring under a curse
15. Castle is a secret refuge for a persecuted sect, faith, clan, or race.
16. A tragedy is underway at the castle (murder, plague, flood)
17. Castle inhabitants are divided into different factions and engaged in a “cold” war just short of rebellion
18. Castle’s lord is absent and castle is in disarray.
19. Castle’s lord is not as seems (doppelganger; polymorphed dragon; monster)
20. Castle is actually a construct or living creature disguised as a castle (mimic; 500 stone golems; etc.)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Secrets #1 PRINT edition now available!! :)

Yes!  :)
The hardcopy, dead-tree, snail-mail version of Secrets #1 is ready!

Why should you buy? Because the hardcopy version has an awesome cover and you don't have to blow your ink cartridge on it.  Plus, you get a REAL piece of mail in your mailbox. That's cool. AND it comes with one of twenty different print-only magic items.  That's in addition to:

  • 24 spells;
  • 24 magic items;
  • 3 monsters;
  • the shaman, a variant druid class;
  • the shaman's spell list, including spells in this issue of Secrets;
  • and an introduction to the Shadowend.

The hardcopy alone is $4, or a hardcopy + pdf of the hardcopy edition (with the ink-blowing cover art, but no sticker on the pdf, they just clutter my screen) for $6. 
I will email  pdfs out regularly, but probably not immediately immediately as soon as you pay, because it's just me sending out emails, not some auto-return thing from Paypal, and I have to sleep n' work n' stuff. I do try to send them ASAP, though, so it'll probably be within 12 hours. I'm also online a lot, so it could be within 5 minutes.

INTERNATIONAL is the same price as regular. The cost differences are minimal, so I can swing it for now, particularly if you get the hardcopy + pdf, which will let you enjoy the pdf while you wait for the envelope.

To order, click on the Paypal button to the right.
Cover and first page of the revised version are pictured below.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Available Now! Secrets #1: Omens & Artifacts

Secrets #1 just went live at the Store. <--clicky de="" link="" p="">

There's a very good chance I'll have the print version ready to go sometime this weekend.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

30-minute map doodle

One thing I do is draw test maps. I have a concept in my head of how I want a particular area or region to connect and lay out, and I'll draw test maps until I can get how I want them. Usually those are doodles with circles and triangles, even more basic than the 15-minute from a few posts ago, but in this case I didn't think the details that I wanted to emphasize would show well in that style. I also wanted to test different ways of representing mountain ranges and forests; I haven't done most of this in years, so I'm a bit rusty.

The first image is the raw scan.

 The second image is after a few passes through Picasa to take the yellow out and tone down the grid.

If I were I "really" working on a map, I would've scanned this several times by now.  Somewhere in here I'd scan it, tweak it, and print it onto vellum for coloring.  Someday I'll learn photoshop coloring, but it's fast and easy to do it by hand.

This one isn't quite where I want it to be. The placement of almost everything is good, but I'm not sure about the mountain technique. I like the connected ridgeline, but I'm not sure it's quite conveying what I want. Time to browse the cartographers guild.  :)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Zine - Secrets #1

OK, so here's what's up.  The races zine isn't done, but it's in good shape. I wanted to do _something_, though, so I pulled together the spells and magic items I've posted here in the past year or so, and made a zine out of them (this has been on my list too, just not very high up).

I added a few new magic items to get rid of white space, and my magic items from the OSR contest, and two creatures, including my submission for round #2 of the OSR Superstar.  With the OGL, it's a nicely stuffed 20 pages.

I'm going to put the pdf up for a small fee.

You can also get a physical, brought-to-you-by-a-mail-carrier, version.
Why? Because the physical zine will have MORE STUFF.
Why? Because it'll have a proper cover. Which gives me 4 extra pages: 1 for the cover, and 3 for more stuff. NEW STUFF.

I'm going to take a bunch (probably twenty) of new spells, or items, or somethings, and put them stickers. And then I'm going to put one of those stickers on a special blank space inside the zine. Because I think it'll be hilarious to have twenty different versions, and everyone can argue about whose is the best.

I need to figure out a few costs (postage, probably photocopying prices at Staples for the cover at least), and I might wait a little to see how long this round of the Superstar contest takes (since my entry is in the zine), but otherwise it's good to go. The pdf is done; I just need to finalize the bonus pages.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Table: Sons of Kaw

Presenting the Sons of Kaw. Because nothing says random NPC like the list of names in Culhwch and Olwen.

You arrive at the Court of Arthur seeking aid. Alas, everyone is out except for the sons of Kaw.  Which one(s) agrees to assist you?

Roll 1d4 to determine how many Sons of Kaw want to come. If a 4 is rolled, roll 1d4 again, subtract one, and add that to the initial result (4+ (0-3)). If a second 4 is rolled, roll a 3rd time (8+ (0-3)), and so forth.

  1. Dirmyg the son of Kaw
  2. Justic the son of Kaw
  3. Etmic the son of Kaw
  4. Anghawd the son of Kaw
  5. Ovan the son of Kaw
  6. Kelin the son of Kaw
  7. Connyn the son of Kaw
  8. Mabsant the son of Kaw
  9. Gwyngad the son of Kaw
  10. Llwybyr the son of Kaw
  11. Coth the son of Kaw
  12. Meilic the son of Kaw
  13. Kynwas the son of Kaw
  14. Ardwyad the son of Kaw
  15. Ergyryad the son of Kaw
  16. Neb the son of Kaw
  17. Gilda the son of Kaw
  18. Calcas the son of Kaw
  19. Hueil the son of Kaw
  20. Gwydre, the son of Llwyddeu & Gwenabwy (daughter of Kaw). 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Fifteen-minute unfinished map.

Somewhere between a pictorial note to myself and a work-in-progress. Used to do a ton of these doodles, but haven't actually done one like this in years.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Best. Adventure. Ever.

A Fine Flerd Indeed

The small village of Fuly is renowned for its eels. Pies, stews, sausages – it seems like there’s no dish you can’t improve with a Fuly eel. In recent days, however, the flow of eels from Fuly has stopped, and the chefs of Amin are beside themselves. The Feast of St. Tondius is in a week, and without eels for the traditional dish, it’s just not worth the bother. Clearly something needs to be done.

The wizard Zurminus was a recent addition to Fuly. A plain and simple town, the people were duly impressed by the black-robed wizard and his hatchet-faced manservant as they strode around town acting mystical. Zurminus’s stone tower, a full three stories high, was erected over the course of a single month, with the assistance of a large band of ipotane laborers – clearly magically transformed giants, ogres, or dwarves. The tower stood for nearly six months until it was felled by a wizardly duel…or shoddy construction on a foundation of mud. In any event, the tower fell into the large moat-like ditch around the village, that separated Fuly from the fens, so no real harm was done...until the frogs appeared.

Zurminus, of course, was a hack. A low-grade mage with almost no ambition, his only talent and primary obsession was breeding frogs. He’d moved to Fuly to take advantage of the moderate climate and abundant insect life, and to raise frogs. The collapse of his cut-rate tower put an end to those dreams and his life (concerned characters may unearth Zurminus’s body from the bottom of the ditch, beneath the remains of his tower), but spelled trouble for Fuly as well. His frogs, a rare and mildly poisonous breed, were exposed to a combination of magical reagents and escaped into the wild. The reagents multiplied the quantity of frogs into the thousands before it became inert. As a result, Fuly is now isolated by a horde of tiny yellow and pink frogs that cause intoxication, hallucinations, and temporary skin discoloration (swirls of blue, yellow, and green). Eel fishing has ground to a halt.

The best and fastest solution is for someone to quickly bring in a flerd of ass-bitterns from the nearby village of Gibbil. The ass-bitterns are natural frog-eaters, hardy enough to resist the intoxication effects, and – as literal bird brains – don’t care about the odd and ephemeral skin markings. A flerd of 20-30 ass-bitterns can remove 90% of the delicious thumb-sized batrachians besiegers in a day, allowing eel-fishing to resume and salvaging the Feast of St. Tondius. But the Gibilians are hard bargainers, and they have want something in exchange for lending their flerd….

Asbittern: HD 2+1; AC 7[12]; Atk 1 bite (1d6), 2 hooves (1d3); Move 15; Save 16; AL N; CL/XP 2/30; Special: None.