Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Hunters in Death Available in Print!!!!

Where are the hunters going?


Now that the Kickstarter has been fulfilled I've got a few copies of Hunters in Death available for sale for those who missed out. When you buy a print copy make sure to add your email that you use for DriveThruRPG so I can send you a coupon for a free PDF. Paypal sends me an email automatically, but if your DriveThruRPG account is connected to a different email let me know.

Here is a video by Joe where he gives an overview of Hunters in Death. 



Thanks!

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Hunters in Death PDF Now Available on DriveThru RPG

 

I posted Hunters in Death for sale on DriveThruRPG. I haven't posted anything new on the site for years. It was interesting navigating the new setup. I think it they improved the process. How do I know? I didn't swear once. Now that's an improvement. 

For those who don't know, Hunters in Death was my first Kickstarter. I spent a lot of time on this and had a lot of great help. It is filled with artwork from Jim Magnusson. I love his style and it fits the aesthetic I was look for. 

It's 32 pages with additional front and back covers. The first section is a description and particulars of the hex crawl of the Komor Forest, and Hounds Head, a hamlet as a base. Second section focuses on the large random table for travelers in the Komor Forest. To create random barrow mounds that populate the area. Then three adventures to test your party's mettle. 

If you are interested you can grab Hunters in Death on DriveThruRPG. Thanks for taking the time to read my post and if you purchase the PDF, double thanks!

Friday, September 11, 2020

My First Kickstarter Experience



In the Beginning
I started this in January of 2020. Kickstarter promoted their 2nd annual Zine Quest. I remember reading about the first one, but didn't get my shit together quick enough to take advantage of it. I mean Zine Quest is built specifically for someone like myself. A small game publisher with help from friends with little to no money having a time of it. I'd never attempted a Kickstarter. I'm always looking for different ways to share my stuff. But Kickstarter was intimidating. It had brought larger and more popular publishers to their knees. I'm not talking about the scammers, the folks that honestly wanted to write a gaming book and get it out into the public. I told Ivy what I planned and she helped me get my head wrapped around the process. 

The Concept
I dug up a concept I wanted to develop a few years back, Hunters in Death. I wanted to flesh out a hex crawl with an array of adventures that were discovered more then hooked into. Because these adventures shared an area with the other adventures there were connections. Also, during travels there were hints, some subtle, some obvious, of a nasty evil that lurked in the Komor Forest. The idea of the big bad was present through out, but not fully realized until their source was discovered. 

Getting My Art Guy
When Zine Quest 2 reared its head I jumped in with with the idea of Hunters in Death. I already had the setting mostly written. I'll come back to this later. I contacted Jim Magnusson for one of his killer pieces. I wanted to start with a killer cover. Jim delivered. His cover was a huge part of the success of the campaign. I hired Jim to do all the art for the zine to keep a cohesive theme. Jim thankfully agreed. Check out the cover and back cover. I thought the quote from Ernest Hemingway was perfect for the zine's concept. 


Still love it even after looking at it constantly for the last nine months. 

The Write Up for Hunters in Death
First off, I needed to write the information about Hunters and Death and what it was about. The concept. Sometimes I write things as if the reader is supposed to know what I'm talking about. And they don't. Ivy kept nudging me to rewrite it. It didn't sound like me. I hate when she says that. First, because that means I needed to rewrite it again. Second, because she's right. After doing as much as I could do with it, Joethelawyer volunteered to give it a much needed edit. Not only did he clean it up, he injected it with a big dose of steroids. His help was also a huge part of the success of Hunters in Death.

Figuring Out Pledge Levels and Pricing
I wanted to keep it simple. A pledge level for the PDF. A pledge level for both the print copy and PDF. Done. I get annoyed at multiple pledge levels. They confuse the shit out of me. But then there was the matter of pricing. Here was my math with no science or research involved. 

I figured I'd get 50 to 100 people to pledge. So I averaged it at 75 who'd take an interest in my zine. I went back and forth on my goal. I started thinking I should have a $1000 pledge level. So that meant the average pledge needed to be at $13.33. That wasn't going to happen. I finally settled on my PDFs at $4 and Print copies w/PDF at $8. In my head I figured a third would want PDF only and two-thirds print. So using my mind bending logic...

From PDFs I estimated: $100
From print I estimated: $400

Boom! Done. I set my goal at $500. I felt comfortable that I could hit that. And like Ivy said, if you don't reach your goal you'll still do it. She was right. Again. 

The Launch
There was some discussion before hand of when to launch. Zine Quest is run in February and could run for 14 days. Some took the strategy of waiting, to allow some of the deluge of zines to subside. I wanted to get involve as soon as I could. And I am glad I did. It seemed as the month went on more zines kept coming in. Plus, people's wallets aren't endless so I wanted to be in the front of the zine mall. Not in the back.

I was in the first batch of zines in Zine Quest 2. Not only that, Kickstarter selected me as one of their favorites. So my campaign spent a significant time one the front page. 

1st Day
The first day of the launch was on a Sunday. I was glad because if it was Monday, I would have missed a lot of the excitement. My expectations were shattered before the first day was over. It...was...fantastic. I whooshed passed my goal by a bunch.

The Campaign
It was a hell of a ride. While I was at work friends were texting me when I'd hit a pledge or backer milestone. By the end of the campaign I had nearly 600 backers and nearly $5300. While of course seeing the money is good to see, I admit I was more interested in the number of backers. Wow.



What I Didn't Know
When I created my pledges I had people pay for their postage. A $2 mailing charge for US backers and $4 for the rest of the world. When Kickstarter collected their pledge they counted the shipping into the pledge total. I wouldn't do it like that again. It makes sense that Kickstarter would want this to happen. First, it increases the chances of campaigns to fund and second, they get a bigger slice. But knowing this now. Yeah, I won't include shipping in pledges.

Realization
I decided at the beginning I was going to print all the zines at home. I have a Patreon where I print about 60 to 120 zines a month. To put it in perspective though those are usually one page, folded zines. 

Hunters in Death is a cover and 8 pages. With contributor copies and backers I needed to print 450 copies. And I wanted to print an extra 50 for those damaged during mailing and selling for those who missed the Kickstarter. That's 4500 pages that needed printing. Without mistakes. 

I needed to order more paper...and a lot more ink.

Don't Go For Cheap Ink
I'd been using this cheaper ink on Amazon for a while. I had a single Epson cartridge left. It looked so much better. So no cheap ink. I think we burned through eighteen cartridges. I lost count. It was worth it. Made the zine look much better.

Editor
Back to Joe. My editor for this project. After figuring out details Joe really helped hone Hunters in Death. He was quick to get back to me. He was as enthusiastic about the project as I was. His contribution was invaluable. And he tried to sneak in his character as much as possible. A little Easter egg, you'll find Joe's guy in there twice. A big thanks to Joe.

Ivy
Ivy supported me through the entire process, but she really got this project done. First of all she is the one who made me do read thrus when I didn't want to. And each damn time I'd find something I could tweak to make better. "Yes, this is good, but you can make it better." And we did. 

She took over the entire production process. I was struggling with getting the zine to print properly. I have been using MS Publisher for a long time. And it was dropping pictures randomly. I'd print ten copies and the last two would have a picture missing. Or drop the last sentences in text cells. Frustrating me to the point I was ready to punch my printer into pieces. I am not exaggerating about this part. She came up with another way to do the printing process and we switch programs to Affinity Publisher. No more problems with pictures or sentences coming up missing. She pulled all-nighters printing and assembling the zines. 

Then she helped organize the mailing. Much better than I ever would have. At the end I ended up getting sick (I know, a Kickstarter creator cliche), and she got the postage taken care of the delivered it to the post. 

Amazing lady.


Aftermath
440 some copies of Hunters in Death are now spread across the globe to 33 different countries. I still have about five people I don't have addresses for. I'll try one last time to reach out to get them their zine. I'm taking a break from it for a while. Then I'll put the PDF for sale on RPGDriveThru and offer the print copies I have left for those who missed the Kickstarter. 

Conclusion 
I have nothing to complain about. I learned a ton from the process. I'm glad I did Zine Quest and will probably do it again and do Kickstarters in general again. So many people were supportive and their excitement helped me get it done. So you'll see future projects from me, but not right now. A little time to breathe.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Kickstarter: For Coin & Blood 2nd Edition

Another Kickstarter I wanted to bring to your attention. Gallant Knight Games has written a second edition to Coin & Blood RPG. It's already written, artwork is done, and as soon as the KS campaign is done it looks like the PDF version is ready to go. 


One of the things I like about this Kickstarter is the simplicity of their pledges. One for PDF at $10 and one for print and PDF at $25. The print version comes with a hardcover they ship and the PDF. And now at both pledge levels you you get a POD coupon for a B&W softcover copy through DriveThruRPG. You can't beat those pledge prices. 

Here are a few excerpts from the campaign text to get you interested in taking a look.
Playing assassins, cult leaders, blackguards and more, For Coin & Blood is a different look at the other side of the coin of fantasy roleplaying games.

While most roleplaying games hide their murderers under the mantle of “hero” (I mean, what “hero” invades underground complexes in search of treasure and murders the denizens because their whole species is “evil?”), For Coin & Blood makes no pretenses about what it asks you to be. You’re the villains that other campaigns fight. You’re the cult leaders, assassins, fallen nobles, murderers, mercenaries, necromancers and thugs.

If that doesn't interest you I have no idea what you're doing reading my blog. I grabbed the first edition when it came out and like the concepts. Plundered the books for the ideas I could put into my campaign which wasn't that difficult since I have a similar philosophy. I'm looking forward to what the second edition For Coin & Blood has to offer. You've got less than 2 days to get on this! Go!

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Kickstarter: The Majestic Fantasy RPG

 

So there is this guy, let's call him Rob, because that's his name. He's got this Kickstarter. It's called the Majestic Fantasy RPG. It's a standalone RPG & supplement for Swords & Wizardry. It covers 1st thru 5th levels. 

Rob and I have been friends for more years than I can count. I've played in all his variations of his campaign through the years. Basic, AD&D, GURPS, a brief stint of 3.0, Runequest, and most recently 5th edition D&D. I'm sure he snuck in Harn for a few weeks. 

This version however is his own creation. One where he's taken his decades of experience of running his campaign and solidifying it into a system that uses Swords & Wizardry as the chassis. I've  had the pleasure of seeing his system develop and play in games to try out the different rules and they work. They work fantastically well. Many of his ideas I've adapted for my own game. 

He's got 5 days left as of this writing. I hope if you haven't you consider joining his campaign. The buy in price is low at $8 for the PDF and $12 for the print. In addition you get a coupon to get a print version of Blackmarch which is the BEST hex crawl product out there. I'm bias, but I know my hex crawls also. 

The Majestic Fantasy RPG Basic Rules is waiting for you.  

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Zine Tools: Affinity Publisher

I don't normally do these type of posts, but I think this one is called for. Anyone who knows me can attest to my ability to FUBAR programs/electronics/computers is nearly godlike. After my battle with Microsoft Publisher with my Hunters in Death Kickstarter, I jumped over to Affinity Publisher.


Ivy took over the printing process and used Affinity Publisher I was amazed at how much better it printed. It was a significant difference. Not to mention my frustration with MS Publisher dropping last sentences in table cells or randomly deleting artwork from my layout. I couldn't keep track of what it would do next to fuck up my zine. With Affinity, I...Ivy had none of those issues. 

As part of my initiation into Affinity Publisher I needed to do one of my micro-adventures. So I did. I found plenty of YouTube videos to assist me on my journey. And I finished my first one tonight. I'll do a read through tomorrow then release it.


One of the things I loved about the program is you can seamlessly go between Affinity Publisher to Affinity Photo to make adjustments. They have a third program called Affinity Designer which I have no idea what it does, but I'm sure it's great.

Price point? $50. Yup. You own it at $50. The other two are $50 each also. They have sales from time to time. So you could possibly get them cheaper. Here is a link to the site. I am not affiliated with Affinity in any way. Unless I have some long lost relative working there, but I probably wouldn't like them any way. Oh, the link...Affinity and Beyond!

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Kickstarter Alert!! Phylactery 2


During this year's Zinequest Levi Combs of Planet X Games, Kickstarted The Phylactery. He kicked ass. He promised an Old School Heroic Zine and that's exactly what he delivered. Now he's doing a second issue, Phylactery 2, and this time he promising...
OSR-inspired material that is unavailable anywhere else, giving you an entire cover-to-cover zine devoted strictly to cool new adventures, quirky NPCs, wondrous magical items, marauding  monsters, fell locations, relics from beyond the mists of time and all sorts of heroic fantasy resources for your tabletop games.
This Kickstarter has four days left of this writing. Head over there and read about it for yourself. There is a lot of tantalizing details about its content and the amazing art.

And just to tempt you more, here's a sample from the first issue. Prepare to get pissed off if you didn't get a copy. Don't make the same mistake twice!




Sunday, August 23, 2020


Joethelawyer interview Rob Conley and myself today. He's been wanting to do this for about a year ever since he figured out Rob and I have been friends for about 40 years.

Here's the Anchor link to Joe's podcast, No-So-Wondrous Imaginings. If you have a podcatcher I suggest listening to it on that. Anchor tends to suck.

Rob and I discuss our gaming history together. There is a lot of back pats and appreciation going on, but it's honest. Rob is good people and a good friend. And so is Joe. It was a fun interview. I learned a couple of things I didn't know.

I hope you give it a listen. And consider listening to Joe's other podcasts with his brother. They're hilarious. These two sit around a fire, drinking and smoking pot talking about D&D like excited 11 year-olds.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Hunters in Death is Done!


I put the final touches on Hunters in Death this morning. A final look through with fresh eyes. I can easily say this is the most work I've ever put into a writing project. Without my editors Joe and my wife Ivy and their persistence of wanting to go through it again, it wouldn't have turned out so damn good. They wanted it to be the best I could do. I'm glad I listened to them. 

The PDFs were sent to all those who pledged.

I've already begun the printing process. For some reason I thought it was a good idea to print from home. I'm printing 500 copies. I timed my printer, it takes 5 minutes and 15 seconds to print one copy. So after 43 hours and 45 minutes of printing, that's without mistakes, jams, or other creative things my printer likes to do, all the copies will be done. So guess what I'm doing this weekend?

I have about 450 copies spoken for. Once I get everyone's shipped I'll put the remaining copies up for sale. 

That's all for now. My printer needs my attention.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020


One of my favorite creators in the DYI/OSR community Glynn Seal has a Kickstater, Chewer of Fingers, with a few days left. It already blew past its funding goal and creeping up on the final stretch goal. I want to give another shout out to Glynn, I've backed him in many of his Kickstarters and every time he has exceeded my expectations. Glynn just does fun and interest projects.


His maps are fantastic. I study Glynn's maps to see what techniques I can steal. He didn't win his Goldn ENnie for nothing. 


The guy can draw also. Just look at this lineup of NPCs. Each mug has a distinctive look. And he has fun, pronounceable names! It's nice to run an adventure when you don't need a phonetic guide to pronounce the names correct. 

Let's talk about the buy in. I'm talking in dollars not pounds. PDFs run $8. Print copy is $24 plus shipping costs. This is sent directly to you, not a coupon through RPG Drivethru which costs you more. 

I need to mention his editor, they don't get enough love, Matthew Pook. He's edited many other offerings from Glynn. He does a top-notch job and a huge asset. 

Consider joining Glynn's campaign, Chewer of Fingers. Grab yourself a quality adventure. 

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Transforming Black Hack's Usage Die Into a Quality Die for Equipment


At lunch I was listening to the Purple Worms podcast. The specific episode was titled Spicing up Combat. They mentioned Black Hack and its usage die and the idea of changing the usage die into a simple quality die for equipment banged into my head. I've heard since there are variable versions of this already, but I thought I would explain my version.

Before I get too far into this, the quality die I am considering is just a rough idea and I haven't put into play yet. I understand that it adds extra dice throws, but shame on you if you complain about that. And I thought about it, in my game the extra dice throws might happen once to three times in game. So the intrusion is minimal.

What Items Would it Work On
For this post's purposes I am focusing on combat items. Weapons and armor.

When to Roll
After a combat I'd have the players make a single roll for each  weapon used. Even if the PC missed all three attempts. Combat considers all the dodging, parrying, and so on. Also missile weapons would need to roll. While a bow or crossbow isn't used as a contact weapon, it does wear. Wood cracks, strings snap. Armor and shields would need to roll also. I'm guess a fighter might need to make three rolls after combat, most classes two, and possibly none for a magic-user. 

How it Would Work
I would use the Black Hack version where an object is designated a die of quality and if a 1 or 2 is rolled the item's quality is reduced. A d8 quality die would reduce to a d6. A d6 would reduce to a d4. If a failure occurs on a d4 the item breaks.

Repairs
Example, if you had a d8 quality sword and during your adventure of murder hoboing you fail and your sword drops to a d6. Then in the final fight against the big bad thingy you failed and now the sword is a d4 quality. When you return to town and want to get your sword repaired. Repairing it only improves the quality die by one. So that d8 quality sword is now only a d6 at its best.

Repairing a magic item is difficult due to the quality level it needs to be before hand. I'd say a crafter of exceptional skill would have the ability to repair a magic item. Again, I am writing about combat items.


What Happens on a Critical Failure/Success
The item loses a quality die automatically. No roll. And I would say if the PC was critically struck the armor quality die is decreased automatically. I considered a chance of catastrophic failure but decided against it. The item automatically declines a die, the player then makes a roll using the new usage die and if a 1 or 2 were rolls the items breaks on the spot no matter the quality die.

Example of Standard Quality Dice
If the party is buying things straight out of the book I would assign those pieces a d8 quality die. If they are buying used items on the cheap, a d6 quality die. Say they find an item made by some sort of quality craftsman I'd bump the quality die to a d10 or d12. This gives a little range for craftsman ability. Then the d20 would most likely be assigned to magic items. But not necessarily. Some of the magic items may decrease in quality due to use or age.

Conclusion
I like the idea. I really do, but until I put it into play I'm not sure how it'll work and if the players will find it annoying. But I like the fact that a found sword wears out after usage and a new one would need to found after a time. I run a tight resource game, so sometime the store in town may not have a sword, but if you have a game where resources are plentiful it won't have much impact.

And don't be this guy. Cannon balls are not your friends.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Going Through the Spells: Resist Cold

Wow, Am I tired. Getting back into swing of having other people around, opening the doors to the crowds, and the general chaos that is a constant of my job. But we are not here to speak about such nonsense. I have one more spell in the 1st level cleric spells in OSE to cover. The all important Resist Cold! A it anti-climatic, but here we are. Grab a coat and a hat.


Old School Essentials Mechanics
Duration: 6 turns
Range: 30'
All creatures within this range are protected from cold, as follows:
Normal Cold: Unharmed by non-magical freezing temperatures. 
Save Bonus: Gain a +2 to all saving throws vs. cold-based magical or breath attacks.
Cold-based damaged: Is reduced by 1 point per die damage rolled. (Each die inflicts a minimum of 1 hit point of damage.)

So there it is. One of the first things that popped out at me is I didn't realize it was a radius spell. So everybody who huddles around the cast, within 30', gains the bonuses of the spell. That makes the spell more interesting. More useful. While the cold-based attacks, I did a quick search through OSE Monster book, only a white dragon, frost giant, and frost salamander do that kind of damage. Magic items include Wand of Cold, Staff of Wizardry, and the spell of Cone of Cold. 

But I think of it more as an environmental spell to help survive arctic-like conditions. And 6 turns won't get you too far so it could add some urgency to the game. "The next village is an hour away so we've got to move fast." Then the dread GM rolls a random encounter, giant flying frost worms with laser eyes! This is going to slow down the party. While they may hide to let the giant flying frost worms with laser eyes pass, they've used valuable time as the spell is now going to end one or two turns before they reach the village. That's good stuff right there. 

AD&D Mechanics
Duration: 1 turn/level
Range: Touch
When this spell is placed on a creature by a cleric, the creature's body is inured to cold. The repentant can stand can stand zero degrees Fahrenheit without discomfort, even totally nude. Greater cold such as that produced by a sword of cold, ice storm, cold wand, or white dragon's breath, must be saved against. All saving throws made against cold are made with a bonus of +3, and damage sustained is one-half (if the saving throw is not made) or one-quarter (if saving throw is made) of damage from that attack form. The resistance lasts for 1 turn per level of experience of the caster. A pinch of sulphur is necessary to complete this spell. 

Whew. Got to love those AD&D spell descriptions. The simplicity of OSE version shines when sitting next to this version. 

Let's take a look at what I think works in the spell. 

  • I'm always a fan to have a spell increase in use/power as a mage gains levels, so the duration advancement is a welcome option. 
  • While it's not going to be much good for exploration it'll have more use in combat in AD&D. More opponents, magic items, and spells use cold based damage. 
  • And I always enjoyed the addition of specific spell components even though I never used them in game. I have adopted the components to enhance a spell's performance.
What I'm not a fan of is...
  • The overly complicated way the saving throw works. Too much math. 
  • I'm not sure why the spell description was so specific about working at zero degrees. Gary lived in Wisconsin, I'm sure he know zero degrees wouldn't do in most location especially if you have some wind. 
  • And while I like spell components I don't feel sulphur is the correct one. While I understand is associates with flame and warmth I would lean more toward something like a vial of ice from a glacier. I dunno, just throwing it out there.
Normally I would do another version of the spell to compare it to, but not this time.

This concludes the going through the 1st level cleric spells in Old School Essentials. I haven't decided to move onto the 2nd level of clerical spells or do the 1st level magic-user spells. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Let's Get Weird


And let's face it, those of you reading my blog have already passed getting weird. However, I wanted to spotlight Weird Adventures by Trey Causey. He's the maestro behind From the Sorcerer's Skull blog and long time member of the dubious and infamous group of RPG Publishers known as The Hydra Cooperative.  

I've had the absolute pleasure to be in a game where Trey ran Weird Adventures. If you're looking for a pulp setting with lots of crazy stuff worked in seamlessly, this is it. It reads like entries in Atlas Obscura. A road map through this weird setting. Make no mistake, this is a setting all on its own. And it is a blast.

Normally the PDF runs $10, but today it's only $4. But I'm telling you just go for a physical copy. This is one of those gaming books that's a great read. 

I bought Weird Adventures nine years ago. It still sits on my prime shelf next to me when I game. It's that good.

And if you don't believe me I wrote a review about Weird Adventures in 2012 give it a read. 

Sunday, June 28, 2020

One Page Dungeon Contest 2020


I received an email from Aaron to let me know the deadline for the One Page Dungeon Contest deadline for 2020 has been extended to July 15th. This is great news!

I absolutely love the OPDC. I have for years. To me, it's what gaming is all about. People getting together and throwing in their efforts into a creative pool. While there are winners, everyone appreciates and cheers on everyone else. It's a great thing.

While I have other pressing matters consuming my time I really want to participate. I was digging a little into my map folder to find something that sparked my interest. Here's what I found.


Something I drew for another project, but it didn't fit. There is a crypt that goes with it. Those stairs go there. I don't know. Gonna play around with it and see what happens. 

Consider joining in. The rules for submission are easy, but read the submission guide first. 

Besides creating something cool, who knows, you might win a few fun prizes. Go forth and kick some ass.