Thursday, February 28, 2013

GM Games Sales Report

It's hitting the end of the month and I try to post my sales for GM Games when I have any to report.  Why do I do it?  I believe I do it because I like when companies let me peek behind the curtain.  To have concrete numbers that go with sales and gaming.  When I started, I had no clue how many I would sell.  I still don't.  But my guessing is a lot better.

In February I released the third issue of The Manor and participated in Jim Raggi's Free RPG Day Kickstarter.  The Kickstarter alone gave me more sales in PDFs than I had previously combined.  I sell all my print items from my home.  But I'm planning on doing a combo, issues #1-4 in a book form, but due to the new policy of RPGNow's printer they will not ship books to my PO box.  I'll figure something out.  The PDFs I have for sale are on RPGNow and Lulu.  I've inquired about selling them on FRP Games, but haven't heard back.

Here are the numbers for February.  I've broken them down to show where the sales come from. 

Manor #3
43 - Print Sales
 0  - Lulu PDF
 9  - RPGNow PDF

Manor #2
 4  - Print Sales
 0  - Lulu PDF
 2  - PRGNow PDF
70 - LotFP Kickstarter PDF

Manor #1
 4 - Print Sales
 0 - Lulu PDF
 3 - RPGNow PDF
92 - LotFP Kickstarter PDF

Knowledge Illuminates
1  - Print Sale
2  - Lulu PDF 
3  - RPGNow PDF
73 - LotFP Kickstarter PDF

The Kickstarter made a decent month into a stellar month.  I plan on storing the money from the Kickstarter to get art for the zine and other projects.  Also this month I had some people who ordered back issues.  It's very cool coming home after a long ass day of work and see a few sales in my e-mail.  But what I am seeing is a spiraling downward trend with PDF sales.  Here are the number of PDF sales I had for each zine in their first month.

PDF Sales 1st Month
Issue #1: 40
Issue #2: 14
Issue #3:  9

I'm not sure why this is.  I know Issue #1 had some difficulties and took me a few attempts to get them straightened out.  What I think I'm going to do from now on with the PDFs is get them cleaned up and bookmarked by someone who knows how to do it.  I'll be reading up on it so I can eventually do it myself, but may need to enlist someone already versed in that already.  And when I get the 4th issue released I'll start doing bundle packages.  I know I always look for those when cruising around RPGNow.

Speaking of the 4th issue, its coming along nicely.  Jason Sholtis is really putting in a lot of hard work with not only art, but content.  He's already done more art for this issue than the first three combined.  And it looks like the 4th issue is going to be a tad larger than past issue, I'm guessing it'll be 28 pages instead of the usual 24 pages. 

I also wanted to thank everyone who did reviews or gave me a shout out for issue #3.  That would be Tenkard's Tavern, Tabletop Diversions, Bat in the Attic, Lapsus Calumni, and I am sure I'm missing a couple.  Ivy is better at spotting them than I am.

Here are the total sales of each issue to date.
Knowledge Illuminates - 266    (released February 16th, 2011)
Manor #1 - 253    (released May 4th, 2012)
Manor #2 - 170    (released July 4th, 2012)
Manor #3 - 52      (released February 16th, 2013)
Cave of Seiljua - 231    (released September 9th, 2012)

I know I've mentioned this before, but Dak from CRAWL! and I have opened up a community on Google+ called RPG Zines.  If your interested learning about how to do a zine or have some knowledge to share please join.  There has been a lot of good discussion about the process and the culture of zines.  I'm learning a lot from the input.  So if that's the kind of thing that interests you, please join and say hello.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Lulu Discount

Hey I just found out from Matthias Weeks that Lulu does have a discount code going right now, FEBBOOKS13.  It's good for 20% off.  Head on over to Lulu and grab a few OSR books.  The code is only good until tomorrow so click fast, buy good and know you've done a good thing.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I Made a Bad Bet, but Got a Great Zine

So I cruise on over to Wizards Mutants Lazer Pistols and for some reason I thought it would be fun to challenge Alex to a contest, who could get issue #4 out.  First one who does gets a free zine from the other guy.  I think it was the next day Alex released Issue #4 of Wizards Mutants and Lazer Pistols.  Within 24hrs I lost the bet.  I never had a chance.  I am glad to see issue #4 WMLP out and will happily send issue #4 of the Manor (getting my Deadwood gravel voice going) to Alex.

I've linked the page above.  If you just like buying zines go click and I'll wait till you get back......

On to the review.

I have all 4 issues of WMLP and I will not pretend this is a critical overview.  This will be a fan perspective.  There is something about WMPL that makes me feel like building a fort in the woods, grab a flashlight and sneak out some Pop Tarts and read my issue there.

Yeah, it's that cool.

WMLP is a full sized paper.  They don't need no stinking long armed staplers.  Full page, double sided print, carstock covers.  It's 20 pages long.  Oh and before I forget, if you haven't clicked the link, here it is again if you're too lazy to scroll back for lazy people.  He is giving away a homemade gelatinous cube absorbing a zombie figurine to one of the lucky people who order the zine before the end of the month.  If that won't do it for you then you are reading the wrong blog.  That is almost as cool as a sleestak.  Not quite, but damn near.

Content.  There is a lot of variety in the content.  All of its very fun and accompanied by an amateurish style art that I love.  I dunno, when I look at it I can see myself doodling these pictures.  It's honest.  It's fun.  Included are monsters, a City-State, an adventure, a class, magic items and one of my favorite things a crossword puzzle based on Lord of the Rings.  Alex knows I like those puzzles and quizzes he adds. 

Seriously though this is a good zine.  Clean, useful, easy to read and what I've said a few times already, the essence of fun.  WMLP reminds me of how I felt when I first got into gaming.  It's a good trip.  Now go buy a copy.  I have to finish my forth issue so I can send it off to Alex.

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Peek at Inside Issue #4

Here is a fantastic picture drawn by none other than Jason Sholtis for issue #4 of the Manor.  Yeah, it looks like this one is going to be out much quicker than the last one.  Of course that wouldn't be tough to do.  Jason is really helping out in this issue with art and I've recruited some of my gaming friends to help contribute content.  In this issue there will me a mini monster manual that Jason came up with the title, From Beneath the Manor.  I like it.  Because of the extra contributions and the fantastic art I'm thinking this might be a larger issue.  Not sure yet, but I'm pretty sure it will be expanded to 28 pages.

Dak of CRAWL! fame and I have started a zine community on Google+ and I think its going well.  There are some people just starting out or having trouble connecting with the proper talents.  I guess I would divide talents into content contributor, artists, proof readers and in some cases layout assistance.  If you have one or all of these skill and you have a spare moment to help someone stop on over to the RPG Zine community and let them know you're available.  I know my zine wouldn't exist without the help of others in the OSR community. 

Off to work.  Which sucks.  Paperwork up to my ass, convicts waiting to lie to me, homeless families scrambling for a moment of my time and my workers are thinking up excuses of why they can't come in.  But, it keep the lights and heat on and on occasion it allows me to buy something fun.  I got my eye on a Tardis.  Because Tardis's are cool.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

What To Do With All These Dice

Look at all these dice all over my table.  I sure wish I had something to put them.

I wonder is I look around the house if I can find a home for my dice.

Hmm, I have a paper bag, but what if it rains.  It will tear and my dice will fall out into the mud.

I have a plastic bag so that would stop the rain, but it could tear and all my dice would be lost.

I have a tea bag, but that is just weird.  And I don;t think Ivy would like me tea bagging my dice.

I have a classic Crown Royal bag, but its way to small.  I wonder what I can do to find to the perfect home for my dice....

I know.  I'll contact Michael who runs Greyed Out on Etsy.  He makes some great dice bags.  I know he has a Bad Moon orc dice bag I've been looking at for a while.  I'll go order one now.

{4 days pass}

Look what came in the mail today.  My brand new Bad Moon orc dice bag from Greyed Out.  Even all my dice love it.  They are surrounding it ready to move in.

My dice can't wait.  They are jumping in as fast as they can.

It got a little violent.  The d6s started ganging up against the d12s.  The d30 had to start policing the move.  

Everybody is moved in and there is plenty of room to spare.  My dice are very happy and so am I.

So end the quest to find a home for my dice.  Greyed Out has a lot of cool designs and Michael will do custom orders.  I wanted my Bad moon Orc to be free standing and wa la, Michael made it happen.  I'm very happy with the finished product.  The dice bags prices range from $16 to $24, but most are at the lower end.  Thank you Michael for doing a great job.  I'll be back for more.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

GM Games Warehouse

I thought you might like to take a look behind the curtain here at GM Games.  This is the first pictures ever of my warehouse, where all my print copies of The Manors and adventures I've published.  Several people have tried to get a glimpse at this, but I have it barricaded more than Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory.

As you can see my vast warehouse is none other than a old Christmas Card box.  It's sturdy construction and perfect size made it a no brainer to move in.  The Christmas Cards were evicted and no dwell in a corner lot some where in Pittsburgh.  I thought I would also give you a before and after picture.  As you can see the warehouse's inventory is low after a week of orders.

This is what the warehouse looks like after a night of restocking.  As most of you know GM Games prints all their zines in house.  The envelopes in the back are stamped and ready to go.  What you don;t see here is the mailroom.  It is off to the right.  That is where we keep all the creepy butterflies and other postage.

I hope you have enjoyed your tour of the GM Games warehouse, but I am going to have to ask you to leave now.  We are having trouble in our storage basement, apparently the sleestaks have tunneled in again and they are fighting with the displacer beast (hint hint) we are keeping there.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Question

Dak Ultimak and I discussed opening a RPG Zines in Google Communities.  Which we have done mainly due to the efforts of Dak.  Here is the link to it, RPG Zines.  We thought it would fill a niche for those of us who enjoy reading or creating zines.  I'm hoping it becomes a resource for people who have questions about how to start a zine, find artists or content, and a place to bounce off ideas with constructive input. 

My question is with so many communities out there and, to me, it becomes more of a forum, do they provide what you want?  Do Google Communities help you find the information or people?  And what makes a successful community for you?

I've joined a few communities and I tend to shy away from the larger ones with 1000s of people.  I can't keep up with them and the noise level is high.  I do like the smaller, more focused ones.  Like Tenkar's 2000 Copper Pieces.  Erik is interactive with his community and its focused.  So I get more out of it. 

Lastly, if you want to join RPG Zines come on over.  I'm not sure how its set up, but if you would like an invite leave a comment for me on Google+.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Over 200 Copies Sold...Thanks

John Stater, creator of the Blood & Treasure RPG and Land of Nod magazine has penned a review of Knowledge Illuminates.  I think its very cool that KI is still getting reviews.  Earlier this month it had its second birthday.  That little adventure gets these weird bursts of sales.  I've been lucky enough to sell over 200 copies of it over the years.  When I published it I set my goal at 25, but was hoping to sell 50. Its because of reviews like this I get those bursts of sales.  So thank you John for taking the time to do the review.

My second review, I guess it would be more of an award ceremony from Mr. Blue over at The Cobalt Kobold.  Mr. Blue has a great way of doing reviews.  The Manor #3 won a bunch of Big Mean Awards.  You have to check it out its a fun read.  He's done reviews for Manor #2 and Manor #1.  It's cool for someone who is publishing their small efforts to see guys like Mr. Blue get excited about it.  It helps fuel me onto the next project and so on.  Thanks Mr. Blue for another stellar award ceremony. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

This WIll Not be a Post About WotC Releasing a Wooden Version of the White Box

Okay, got that out of the way.

Actually this post is about is about buying stuff.  Just not that.  Too much for me.  It looks impressive, but it would probably sit on a shelf and collect dust.  Not to mention Ivy would probably knock the crap out of me and put rainbows and bunnies on my blog.

I posted yesterday about all the work that goes into a zine.  So what do you get to do with the profits.  Well, first keep some set aside for more supplies and art.  Always good to have a stash.  The rest you get to play with.  Most of my print sales cover the cost of the zine biz.  What I make on PDFs is what I usually get to shop with.  So my RPGNow and Lulu sales are my fun money.

This fun money goes towards games and other zines.  While I could buy the $170 Wooden White Box.  I would rather get Bare Bones Fantasy, 4th issue of Wizards Mutants Laser Pistols (which was just released yeah!), eventually I want to fill in the holes for Knockspell and Fight On!.  I want John Staters stack of Land of Nod magazines.  The reissues I do want to get are the S and A series they are releasing.  I'm on the fence about Dungeon World.  I want to get a hardback of Savage Worlds.  Tim Brannen's, The Witch in print.  I've been eyeballing Jalizar, City of Thieves for a while, it looks good.  I think I would want that one in print.  Get a copy of Dyson's Delves, probably the paperback.  And all I've hearing about the Teratic Tome, I gots to get me a copy of that also.

This is just a sampling off all the cool stuff I'd love to get.  There are probably a hundred other items I'm forgetting that could easily be on this list.  So that's where my profits go.  Back to buying gaming stuff.  Shocking, I know. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Construction of a Zine

Matt Jackson posted a review of the third Manor and asked me about the card stock I use and mentions the construction of my zine.  A few people during the week have contacted me about starting their own zine.  I thought I'd use this post to go over the physical parts, price and putting together a zine.  Along with a little advice.  Before I get started let me say there are many ways to go about doing a zine, I'm just sharing my experience.  Each one of you will have to find their own path, hopefully one less traveled.

Click here to get an issue.
   Starting Equipment
Get a good printer.  Don't be cheap.  Get a full fledged office printer, not a home printer.  There are plenty of good sales. Make sure it can do auto double sided printing or you're going to be re-feeding the pages through the printer again and that takes a lot of time.  Make sure the page yield per cartridge is high.  By high I mean over a 1000.  Ink is expensive.  You'll be burning through it quickly with dozens of copies with weird fonts and pictures. 

Long-armed Stapler:  I never knew the possibilities until I bought my long-armed stapler.  They run about $30+ depending on the store.  I have a simple black Swingline brand.  It uses normal staples.

Publishing Programs: I warn you not to put together a zine in Word.  Especially if it has pictures.  If you want to know what the 1st circle of Hell is like, try to format your zine in Word.  I went with Publisher, but there are several free programs.  Just get one that works for you.

Space.  You'll need some dedicated space for your zine.  You're going to fall in love with cardstock colors, so have room to store extra paper, printed issues, and a well lit space to put together your zine.  Make sure its clean.  No Cheeto or Dorito dust, or spilled beverages.  The owner has the privilege of staining the zine not you.

I'm not including any of these costs into the zine.  It's the start up costs before you can even think about doing it. 

The cover is typical card stock you can buy in any office supply or hobby store.  Just watch the measurements because some of them are slightly smaller than a normal page.  Card stock is usually 67lb paper.  I'm sure it can go higher, but weight is a consideration when shipping and 67 hits a sweet spot of being sturdy and not weighting too much.  For a ream of 250 sheets you can expect to pay around $15.  Some of them only come in 50 or 100 packs.  They seem cheaper, but when you average the price they end up being much more expensive.  That said, if you have to pay a bit more to get the color you want, go for it.

The paper inside is something I went over in a previous post, Experiment of the Paper Kind.  The paper I use is the typical all-purpose 20lb, 96 bright.  I have paper that is 92 bright and I don't like it because the ink shows through.

My Staples runs sales, where I'd buy two reams of paper and get rebated the entire cost.  Not sure how that works out for them, but for it works great for me.  Normally paper should run about $4 a ream.

I recently bought 24lb/98 bright paper and holy crap is it nice.  However, it costs twice as much as the 20lb.  I paid $8 for the ream, and my wife almost killed me.  There were other reams that went to 28lb and 30lb.  I plan on buying those in the near future just so I can compare.  I'll make sure I leave Ivy in the car for that purchase.

Back to the 24lb paper.  While you wouldn't think such small upgrades would make a difference, it does.  Feels and looks different.  I plan on using it in a future issue.  It may cost a little more, but I think it will be worth it.

I do all the printing in-house, which keeps my costs low.  I get rebated for paper, so that helps, and card stock works out to be .06 cents a sheet.

I have a Epson WP-4530 printer.  It kicks some ass.  It costs $38 for a black ink cartridge, but has a yield of 2400 pages.  That's just for text though.  Pictures suck up a lot more ink so lets cut it by a quarter to 1800 pages.  That means it costs about .2 cents to print/page.  I have six pages and a cover, front and back, so at 14 printed pages costs me .28 cents in ink. 

Cost of Printing Services
I could go to Staples and have them print copies of my zine.  I called Staples, these prices include the printing, paper, and cardstock, at 50 copies of a 24 page zine (6 half pages printed on both sides + the cover), would cost $97.26 or $1.95 an issue.  At 100 copies it costs $181.79 or $1.82 an issue.  I'm going to be optimistic and use the 100 copy cost.  This does not include any other costs except to get a printed issue in your hand.

I am not trying to make Staples the villain.  I get most of my supplies there.  Just a comparison.  Staples costs me $1.82 and issue.  I can print it at home for .34 cents. 

This is a weird expense.  Zines fit into a normal greeting card sized envelope, and there's a lot to choose from.  Wal-Mart has a box of 100 for $11.54 (or 12 cents an envelope), top open.  Staples has a box of 250 for $31.49 (or 13 cents an envelope), side open, self-adhesive envelopes.

I try to get ones that are sturdier since some of The Manor buyers are in United Kingdom, Sweden, and Australia, to name a few I recently sent out.   And I want the zine to find its way there with minimal damage.

Postage recently increased. For domestic mail it went from .65 cents to .66 cents.  And they made creepier butterflies for the 66 cent stamps. This is for packages 2oz or under.  Should it weight over 2oz the postage leaps to 86 cent per stamp.  My zine weights in at 1.7oz.  I'm thinking I have enough room to add another page (which would mean 4 additional pages) into the Manor.

International shipping. Canada cost a $1.10.  The rest of the world as far as I have shipped, costs $2.05.  If I remember correctly the world postage was at $1.92 so it went up 13 cents.

I use Paypal for all my print sales.  For USA sales I charge $3.50 and Paypal takes out a .40 cent transaction fee. International, I charge $4.50 and Paypal takes out .48 cents.  So Paypal takes about 11% of what I charge for a zine.  When I did subscriptions at higher amounts the percentage was lower.

Other Costs
Other costs would include the little bit of pizza money I send to the artists who draw those fantastic pictures.  It's not a lot, but I like to give them something.  A show of appreciation.  And along with that and other contributors, I give them at least one contributor's copy or a CC.  I can't figure these into the costs exactly.  Since this is not a professionally run business and while I could account for all the CCs and pizza money costs, I don't.  Too much math for me.

Total Costs
Here are the total costs if I had Staples do the the printing for me.
Print Costs: $1.82 + .13 envelope + .66 stamp +.40 Paypal fee = $3.01 (a .49 cent profit)
International: + $2.05 stamp + 48 Paypal fee = $.4.48 (a .02 cent profit)

I'm no business man, but that sucks.  While I am not in it to make big bucks I would like to make enough profit so I can buy the next cool gaming book I see.  Or upgrade the paper I want to use.  Or pay for colored art for an issue (spoiler).

My costs printing it from home.
Print Costs: .34 + .13 envelope + .66 stamp + .40 Paypal fee = $1.53 (a $1.97 profit)
International: + $2.05 stamp + .48 Paypal fee = $3.00 ( a $1.50 profit)

Those are numbers I can work with. In a future post I plan on writing about what I do with the profits.

First, make sure its something you want to invest a lot of time into. It's not easy.  Well not for me at least, but its something I really enjoy doing.  So make sure the zine is a personal reflection of you and what you like about gaming (or whatever yours may be about).  That's why people love zines because they're personal.  Most of the things I include are directly from my games or stuff I think is cool.

Second, use your friends.  Not in a bad way, but all my friends have different talents they bring to the table.  Whether ts be a map maker, proof reader or content contributor, accept some help.  You'll have a ton on your plate as is.

Third, CCs.  As I mentioned above, contributors' copies are important to those who have helped. Hell, I even send a copy to my mother.  Again, it is a show of appreciation for the people who have helped.

Fourth, be generous.  Zines are not a money making project.  If I know someone is having financial difficulties or a bad day I'll fire off an issue, gratis.  If someone emails me and says they got my zine in the mail and it made their day, cool.  There are a lot of good people out there that will support you if you take the time to get to know them, and show you're willing to give them hand also.

Fifth, ties to the first, have fun with it.  Don't think you have to be bound by expectations or genres or conventions.  You're going to spend a lot of time on that little book, you might as well enjoy it.

There are many ways of doing a zine.  You can Google videos of people hand sewing the binding.  Photo coping the content.  Countless ways you can express you gaming mojo.  But if you plan on doing it, get the tools to make it a little easier for yourself.   I'm hoping this post gives you a sample of what it I needed to get things going.  By all means give it a try.  Its a blast.  And if you find its something you don't enjoy then move on to your next gaming project.

If you have any questions or want to know something in more detail you can email me at elder(underscore)sensa(at)yahoo(dot)com.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Art by Me

I've already been plugging away at the 4th Manor.  Whether you guys know it or not I always try to include one 'picture' or thing I drew myself into each issue.  First issue it was the map of the salt pit.  The second issue bore Hugo's sign.  Third issue I created that Monster Hunter symbol and in the 4th issue I drew this.  Underwhelmed?  I know.  That's why I get guys like Sholtis, Hartwell, Bingham and soon to be another new guy who can draw the pants off Porky Pig. 

I was writing an adventure for the next issue and a cavern is blocked by two big stalagmites.  This is my artistic impression of it.  I call it...Upside Down Fangs.  I bet you feel better about your artistic ability now.  I'm gonna enjoy my day off Monday.  *chair dance* 

Sleestak Sunday - Super Size Me

I do not know from whence this big lipped sleestak came.  He looks a little unhealthy with that big belly and skinny legs.  He must be the evolution of the species.  He grown finger, but has no opposible (sp?) thumb.  I'm guessing this is the fast food version of the sleestak.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Map and Adventure Under Construction

here's the map I've been working on this morning.  Drawn in pencil, gone over with a Sharpie Pen then colored in the pencil.  I can't crosshatch worth a shit.  So coloring within the lines is what I go.  Not completely happy with it, but like the shape.  Needs some tweaking.  There will be one other cave that goes with this one.  Possibly two.

This is the second map.  It's another MiP.  A natural (maybe) bridge spans an creek.  No shading yet.  Might try something in Xara.

I wrote an introduction to an adventure today.  It's a narrative.  The GM would read it as is or put it into his own when words to start the adventure.  Why did I do it this way?  No clue.  It's still new, the embryonic fluid is still dripping off.  Here's a sample...

Little is know of the caves along Butcher Creek.  The sides of the valley are too steep for climbing.  Creek too shallow for fishing.  The woods too overgrown for traveling.  Not much motivation to go in until a few months ago when two good ol’boys, Clarence and Pickle found themselves a gold coin laying in the ice cold water of Butcher Creek.  Right there shining in the sun, stuck against a big rock.  So they go traveling up the creek and find themselves another coin in the water.  Silver this time.  That’s where they stopped.  They was on the edge of Misty Hollow where the caves are. 

Well Clarence and Pickle came into town hooting and a hollering.  They got drunk as ever I saw a man get drunk.  With the ale disappearing as fast as the small fortune they found they went and told everyone in the tavern where and how they found it.  Never said they were smart. 

Next morning there was at least fifty people out there in the creek turning over rocks, digging in the muck and fighting over which stretch of creek was theirs.  People only yesterday who were friendly neighbors were now broken up into rival tribes, each fighting over stretches of the creek. 

While I am no coward, I am also no imbecile.  I saw no sense of what these people were doing.  It wasn’t like it was raw gold.  Someone probably dropped coins into the water by accident.  Who knows.  Lots of people come this way once the weather starts to turn.

Another gold coin was found under a rock.  This time a fight occurred between two young boys who started the week as friends.  They got into a dust up then the fathers took up to fighting.  Barric stabbed Willie in the arm.  While the wound would heal in a week the town would suffer from that wound for a long time.  No one got to trusting no one. 

If I recall it was the night of no moon.  Dark as the nine hells out.  People had been at each other for a couple weeks by this time.  When I heard the first scream I didn’t pay it much mind.  Thought it was Malcolm next door taking liberties with his wife.  The second scream froze my soul.  Something inside me said to stay inside.  Don’t open the door. 
 This is about half of it. It's just an unnamed narrator (at this time) telling the players of what happened. Of course a GM can completely ignore all this and get right to it.  Anyway, that's what I'm up to this Saturday. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

I Got Interviewed by Rusty Battle Axe and Survived

I got interviewed over at Ken Harrison's Rusty Battle Axe blog.  He delves deep into my gamer soul, asking me questions no one would dare to in the light of day or within arm's reach.  Yet Ken dared to ask his cutting questions...not really.  It's a quick five question interview about gaming of course.  Please take a look and if you are so inclined give Rusty Battle Axe a join.  That way Ken knows someone else is reading his blog besides his gaming friends and his wife.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Solo Gaming & a Review of #3

Danjou's Hand writes for the blog Tabletop Diversions.  I always enjoy his reviews because he comes at them from a unique point of view (for me) as a solo gamer.  There are tons of different ways to write an adventure and how to deliver the information.  I like the different way Danjou comes at the adventures.  It's got me thinking more about solo adventures.  I know Tunnels & Trolls has a good selection of solo adventures, but I think they are more like a choose your own adventure. 

I confess to be ignorant of the various systems and ways one can do solo adventures, but its something that's interested me.  He mentions Mythic, a system I know nothing about, but I look on RPGNow and its a Platinum seller.  Apparently its not a secret. 

Donjou's Hand has done a review of Manor issue #3.  He goes into detail about his experience with running the adventure solo.  I apparently make tough, low level adventures.  I know I do.  I guess I like to write them how I play them.  Anyways, please head over to Tabletop Diversion and check out the review and his blog.  I think he's convinced me to give Mythic a go.

A Quick Ramble

First off, thank you to my wife for providing me with one of my highest, if not the highest, page-view day in the history of my blog by putting hearts on it.  That was an unexpected bonus.  And she got me creepy butterfly stamps so all is good.  Although I do wonder about the focus of this blog now since hearts and butterflies seem to be everywhere...


Congrats to Hannah and the finding of her Kickstarter Tavern Cards.  I was worried there for a while, but in the last hours she flew by the goal with plenty to spare.

Sales of Manor #3 are a little slower than that of Manor #2, but still not bad.  I always think its pretty cool when someone comes by and buys the whole back catalog.  I've already got ideas for issue #4 and some pieces in place.  I'll be getting a few pieces from friends to help out.  With this help I'm hoping to get out the 4th issue in a timely manner (I could have so done a pun there, but I didn't.  I resisted.)

LotFP's kickstarter is doing well.  I'm contributing PDFs to it.  I think its a good idea to get some old school material into the Free RPG Day.  When I first came back to old school gaming Free RPG Day helped nudge that process along.  SO I hope it hits its primary goal to get as much into those boxes as possible.

That's about it.  I'll soon be running a playtest for a campaign starter adventure and looking for a few players.  Probably around four or five.  I think I have two or three slots filled.  I'm still reading over the material and should be running it next week.

Okay, time for work.  Enjoy the day cause mine is gonna suck.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Creepier Butterflies Take Flight

Well holy shit.  I was bummed out to see my formerly creepy butterflies be put to grass due to the increase in postage.  I was left with lame ass dog stamps.  I love dogs and even I thought they were lame.  Yesterday, Ivy meets me for lunch and says "I have a Valentines Day present for you."

This is before I knew she did the heart thing.

I opened up the package and the post has issued creepier butterfly stamps.

I was thrilled to see creepier critters. 

Then she took all the money out of my wallet...

...but I had my creepy butterflies back.  Do you know what's better than creepy butterflies?


Fantasy Billboards Revisited

A while ago I did a post on Fantasy Billboards.  It's a favorite prop of mine for face-to-face games.  It's a good icebreaker, I have it set up so before the game they can pursue the the ads, notes and declarations.  Plus it helped with setting plot hooks and establishing personalities within the city that they haven't met yet.  Almost a minor celebrity status.  Last night Rob and I were talking and he's a much better archivist than I am.  I lost my gaming stuff all the time.  Well not lose I tend to toss it so I can make room for the new stuff.  Anyway I found my folder of billboard material and thought I would share a few of the items.

This one is a second part of post.  It was a minor adventure hook that went ignored.  When this posting on the billboard appeared the player took notice.  

Sometimes I liked to put nonsensical stuff up.  But it tempted the players and I had an adventure ready for this one.  If I remember correctly they did get the gold, but the people waiting outside took the magic items they wanted.

Only mages got to do their ads in color.  I guess I figured they would be the ones to do it.  And that symbol in the upper right corner is the symbol of the Guild of Arcane Lore.  I always liked it.

This was another plot hook.  Like most things in life, if you deal with it right away its not a big issue, but if you let it slide for a while it will become a problem. 

I hope you can read this through the falling hearts.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Post to My Wife

I'm at work and I thought I would take a moment to check my blog.  Then I see hearts falling down...

Not funny Ivy.  I know you're laughing right now.

Stop the hearts or I'll press my thumb into all the bread.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Map Time!

I've been messing around with another map.  This one was hand drawn then I decided to redo it in Paint.  Simple map with minimal details.  Have ideas, but nothing put to paper yet.

So what do think lives in here?

The Manor #3 Get its First Review

And you'll be completely shocked and amazed who did it...Tenkard's Tavern.  Thanks Erik for taking the time to do the review.  Click this sentence to find the review.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Recently I was contacted by Greg Christopher and he asked if I would playtest an adventure he created.  Absolutely.  I'm always interested to see what others are up to.  I received his file and now I have to find some people.

I'm curious as to who would be interested.  I don't have a time or date set as of yet, but I think it'll be a Wednesday, starting sharp at 6:30pm EST sometime later this month.  I still need to read through it and make notes.  I'll use the Roll20 tabletop.  While I'm not well versed with Roll20, my Fantasy Grounds has been giving me problems.

If it sounds cool to you and you're interested, leave a comment. 

0-Hour for Tavern Cards

The Kickstarter for Tavern Cards is winding down and Hannah is just $1000 below the goal.  I'm calling out to an gamers who were thinking of pledging, but haven't yet.  Please do so because in a few hours the Kickstarter for the Tavern Cards will be over.  Don't miss out.  While I know most gamers have a dice fetish why not start a card fetish.  The cards are cool in so many ways.  The obvious reason is you can deal out an instant tavern and not just a generic alehouse, but one that is going to have a personality.  These cards are drawn in a Tarot deck style that I appreciate.  I have a small collection of tarot cards and would like to add these to the mix.  Lastly, they can be used to play gin rummy, crazy eights or a game of no limited Texas Hold'em. 

These cards look fantastic.  I'm hoping the funding reach the goal.  I have already cried myself to sleep as I've come to terms that there will probably be no pirate decks, but at least I can hope is the Tavern Cards get funded. I've made this post one entire link to the Kickstarter page so click any word and know in a couple months you have done a very good thing.   

Saturday, February 9, 2013

An Experiment of the Paper Kind

Went to Staples after shipping out issues of the Manor.  I've been wanting to try a different grade of paper.  Staples has been doing a ton of buy this ream of paper and you get it free with a rebate.  So I've been stocking up on paper.  I've got 26 reams of paper sitting on my shelves and in boxes.  I'm stocked for a while.  The normal grade multipurpose paper is 20 weight with a 92 whiteness.

 I wanted to see what an upgrade in paper would look and feel like.  My office received one of their orders and by mistake received a ream of 24 weight paper.  I'm at the copier machine rubbing it with my fingers like some office supply pervert thinking this feels really good.  *told ya*

The cost for a single ream of this type of paper is 8 bucks.  Twice as much as normal paper.  And a lot more expensive than free paper.  But I wanted to check it out.  Oh, and I got Sharpie pens.  After hearing Matt Jackson singing their praises I thought I would buy a pack and give them a try. 

And at the post office I only pushed one button I shouldn't have.  Well, two, but nothing happened bad on the second push.

Guess What I've Been Doing This Morning.

Printed text, printed covers, assembled, addressed, filled envelops, stapling and postage.  It's been an assembly line this morning.  It's been good.  Except when Ivy read my introduction and found two or three typos I failed to fix.  They are now fixed, but some of the issues will still have them.

I'm finished with my store site, GM Games.  I decided I needed to make it primarily for purchasing and use Gothridge Manor for updates and announcements.  I made buttons for the right side for quick searches.  Not that I have enough to get lost in, but if you want an adventure, copies of The Manor or see what free stuff I have available just select the appropriate button.

Postage has been a slight pain in the ass.  The post did not have the new 66 cent stamps yet so I'll be standing at the machine printing each one individually.  I guess I'll get some quality time at the post office.  My problem is I get bored and start pushing buttons to see what they do.  It never ends well when I do that.  

Friday, February 8, 2013

Reconstructing GM Games

My second blog, GM Games, is going to be turned into a storefront.  Items will be static and there will be no posts there.  It will be easier for me to add new products and add reviews and links to where to buy them.  I don't have the mental capacity to write for two blogs.  So Gothridge Manor will continue to be my main yapping place and I'll do announcements here, but I'll direct people over to my GM Games site if you'd like to get something of mine.

I've got four items in my "catalog".  I have one freebie, but I'll be adding a couple more freebies.  I'm thinking of having a section for one-page dungeon freebies.  They're always good to have around in a little glass case so a GM can break in case of an emergency.

I've had a good response for initial sales for Manor #3.  I'm getting everything to ship out tomorrow.  I was going to go to the post tonight, but we got slammed with some icy storms and sliding around in a car is not as fun as it sounds.  They'll be coming at you next week.  Those of you who have a subscription or has recently ordered a copy of Manor #3 you should have been sent a coupon for a free version of the PDF.  Please let me know if you haven't. do not need to pay me again for separate issues.  You've got a script so you are good to go.  I blame myself, it's been so long since the second issue you probably forgot you got a subscription.  And I'm not even talking about Boric G.  Monies were returned to the enthusiastic parties.  Take that money and go get another cool gaming thing from the ever growing OSR library.

Thanks again to those who've support the zine.  Enjoy!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Manor #3 is Now Available!

Where's it going?

The long wait it over. The Manor #3 is now ready to be consumed by greedy-eyed gamers. You can get the print by pushing that little button up top or go to RPGNow and snag a PDF. I'll be putting up on Lulu in an hour or so. Those who buy the print will get the the PDF for free. There are some NPCs I could not fit into the print page count, but in PDF world there are no worries. Grab a copy. Grab two copes. Except you Boric. You're wife called, she told me no more buying multiple copies. She scared me a little.

Thanks for everyone's patience. I know it took a long time for issue #3 to get done. But, I have to say I really like this issue a lot. And as I mentioned in my previous post, I had two stellar proofreaders that helped make it even better.

So enjoy and have a great night.

**EDIT...Issue #3 is Now Available on Lulu**

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

To Write is Human, To Edit is Divine

I believe Stephen King said that in his book, On Writing.  Even if he wasn't the first its the first place I read it.  While I am just a minor fan of the King, I am a huge fan of On Writing.  Great book about writing.  A straight forward approach with none of the stardust of inspiration bullshit.  The reason I am bring this up is last night I received feedback from my proofreader/editors.


Boric G gave me a seven page, point by point detail of edits.  He'd tell me right now there should be hyphens in point-by-point.  It was fantastic.  It was like a verbal treasure map to all my mistakes.  He provided fixes and great suggestions.  Plus, having not read the manuscript before he was able to point out discrepancies of names and where more clarification was needed.

I have a fiction background and I tend to have a loose prose style.  Fragmented sentences.  Wandering thoughts.  Grammatical hand waving.  After reading through his editorial suggestions I could see how he was making what I was trying to say clearer.  Just fantastic.  It is one of the best edits I've received in my three decades of wasting paper and ink. 

Onto the other editor that's helping, Ken Harrison aka The Rusty Battle Axe has sent me his edits and his suggestions while not as detailed as Boric's he pinpoint some weak prose and gave great suggestions. 

With these two guys helping with the edits I have no excuse for The Manor #3 not to be great.  If it isn't great its all me cause these guys have really went out of their way to help.  And for that guys I thank both of you. 

The Manor #3 will be ready for release this Friday.

Oh, and one more thing, Jason Sholtis sent me a kick ass piece of art.  I want to print it on a professional grade paper and frame it. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Working Weekend

I spent about 20+ hours over the weekend putting together the 3rd issue of The Manor.  It's all written.  It's all pretty much complete.  It's off to the proofreaders now.  I've read through it a couple times, but I need those extra sets of eyes to help me catch my mistakes.  I'm very happy with how it came out.  I'm hoping to release it later this week or early next week.  I want to thank all my subscribers for being patient.  As soon as I get the green light from the proofreaders I'll fire them off.  

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Rob Conley Gets Interviewed

My good friend Rob Conley of Bat in the Attic has been interviewed over at The Bedrock Blog.  Rob's a historian of RPGs and one hell of a GM. 

Sleestak Sunday

Chakka Discovers His Secret Weapon

The sleestak fear him now!

If you're feeling brave check out more of Dr. Twistid's work.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Tavern Cards Reminder

Just wanted to remind anyone who was interested in Tavern Cards to get in while there is still time.  They're down to the 10 day mark and at the 64% funded mark.  Hannah has set a very reasonable goal of $5000.  If you've ever bought or used any products from Chaotic Shiny Productions you know the tools Hannah creates are useful for your game.  I use her treasure generator, city generator and kingdom generator often.  They are a great source of inspiration. So head on over to Kickstarter.  You don't even need to put down your beer, pizza, chocolate cake or the peanut butter cookie you got at the mall that's the size of a monkey's head.  I'll provide the link to Tavern Cards, you click, you pledge and never have to stop chewing.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Friday Question

Cutting to the quick with the question.  How many games can you comfortable play in, in a week?

For a while I was in a Monday Night GURPS game and a Wednesday night Weird Adventures game.  That was pushing it for me.  I loved playing both games.  We tried to make a hard deadline for quitting time, but once you get jazzed up from the game that time seems to slide on you.  So the late nights were tough.  Early mornings, difficult work makes for a very tired worker. 

Currently I'm just with the Monday GURPS group.  Ken is purposing a Blood & Treasure RPG dungeon crawl type campaign.  He would like to do it once a month.  I'd love that.  And I'm always interested in getting in on a casual weekend game, but would prefer to play on an actually table top.  With real dice.  Real miniatures.  I miss that.