Thursday, April 15, 2021

Artist Spotlight: Luigi Castellani

Luigi Castellani's work is someone I've used for years. His artwork ranges the entire gambit of fantasy, to sci-fi, cyberpunk, to halflings riding owlbears. I've been a member of his Patreon for years. Each month I get four pieces and each piece comes in three versions. B&W, grayscale, and color. 

I love using his art for my NPC Cards because they have so much personality that they write themselves.

While I focus on fantasy he has a lot of great art featuring other genres. 

Above are a couple examples of  his science fiction art. 

If you're looking for a versatile artist with a healthy back catalog and producing new pieces every month. Here are links to check out and follow Luigi Castellani's creations.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Starting a Campaign: Crawlers of Scorn


It's been over a year since I concluded my last campaign. Time to get into the GM's chair and begin the next chapter in my world building. The focus moves south of Hounds Head and the Komor Forest to a town known as Scorn. The seat of power of Baron Maybray. 

Welcome to Crawlers of Scorn

This campaign starts as an urban setting and I'll see where the party takes it. Streets, alleys, shops, tenements, and more NPCs than I can name. Most shy away from urban crawls, but I love them. I spent years wandering the streets in the City-State of the Invincible Overlord and loved every second. I hope to capture some of that gritty magic and develop an interesting setting where opportunities are not just in a dark tavern.

The system I'm using is Old School Essentials with home rules, of course. The platform leveling is not something I enjoy so I plan to create a more step progression with added bonuses each player can chose from upon leveling. This will allow them some diversity of their abilities so not all 3rd level fighters or thieves look alike. 

This my map of Scorn. I need to find the original copy this one bears the mark of a previous game. Each of the dark shapes are a group of buildings. And if there is space between them there is an alley. And the open areas are the thoroughfares. While I Scorn is a gritty setting, I am not trying to emulate a realistic medieval town, but one that is influenced by history with a lot of dark fantasy spice through in.  

Example of the city blocks broken down into individual buildings. These blocks are what are circled on the larger map.

I'm keeping the party small. Probably four players at this time. I'm using Roll 20. More than four players and a GM it tends to get noisy and I think it's a great number to create diversity without overcrowding

I am using a blog to record sessions. Some entries have links so the players and myself remember and track what has gone on in past sessions.

Here's a couple of examples from a one-on-one campaign I've run with Joe the Lawyer. 

Guildmaster Gordon Quarterton visited the site. Commented on the shoddy work of Snickle's shovel, but liked the idea of it. If Snickle could improve on his design Gordon said he'd be interested in buying a bunch for the guild.

Later that evening Snickle went home to fiddle with a few devices he was working on. A few hours later there was a frantic knock at his door. Carl pleaded with Snickle to let him in. After Carl entered he said the Spears of Sarrath were chasing him. He drank a bit too much and threw up the boots of a Spear.

When the players or myself want to recall what happened with a particular person, place, thing, or event, we can click on the link and there should be a 'play date' for each time they interacted and the result. This helps me as a GM to keep track of events and interactions and I think the players will find the information very useful. 

Soon. I plan on running on Mondays. It'll be good to get back behind the screen once again. 

Monday, February 15, 2021

Successfully Funded! Some Stats and Insights

The Zine Quest 3 Kickstarter campaign for The Many Crypts of Lady Ingrade came to a close. It funded within an hour and had a steady growth through the 14 days. Here are some stats from my campaign. 

Backers: 406 

Pledged: $4616, of that amount $1009 was collected for postage. 

Biggest Pledge Day: $1357 (106 backers) - this was the first day of the campaign. 

Project Followers: 284 at the end. The highest number I had was 301 at one point.

Converted Followers: 124 which translated into a 43% conversation rate. Which is excellent. 

Coffee Pledge: 2 pledged the coffee level. One was my mother who pledge a $100. I can get a lot of coffee with that. Equates to 28.3% of the total pledges. 

PDF Pledge: 115 wanted the PDF. Equates to 28.3% of the total pledges. 

Print/PDF Pledge: 287 wanted the zine in their hands. Equates to 70.7% of the total pledges. 74 are from international backers from 21 different countries. 

Reduced or Cancelled Pledges: There were many cancelled and reduced pledges this time around. It happens. I'm estimating $400 to $600 pledges were cancelled or reduced. The funny thing is when Ivy would ask me the check where I was at, I'd click on my page and a few seconds later I'd lose a pledge. I kept jinxing myself. 

My Take on this Year's Zine Quest: This year I started behind. The original idea I had that was mostly written was too large. And then Jim, my artist from last year, was already booked to the gills. So I was scrambling to come up with something that was interesting that I wanted to work on for the next few months. And search for an artist at the last minute.

I got lucky and I contacted Jason Sholtis. He helped me with my first zine and was available. His style really fit the style I wanted to go with this year.

Over a year ago I did an adventure for my Patreon called The Many Crypts of Lady Ingrade. I always loved the title and concept. I wanted to expand it and thought it was perfect for this years Zine Quest. 

Printing: I also chose to go with a professional printer this year instead of printing it on my own. It'll be less stressful and after doing the numbers, much, much cheaper. In addition, it's going to give me a lot more options for layout. I'm excited to play around with that.

Maps: This year I recruited Rob Conley to help me with maps. His maps are amazing and will work great on VTT. I am added his maps for VTT play.

Editing: I have my editng team from last year. Joethelawyer and my wife, Ivy, will clean up my work. Make it look good. 

Distributors: I'm going to read out to distributors this year to carry my zine. I've attempted this in the past, but haven't had any luck. Fingers crossed.

That's a look behind this year's Kickstarter. I've got to get back to writing some crypts. It's been a blast so far. 

Saturday, February 6, 2021

The Many Crypts of Lady Ingrade Sneak Peek

Here is a glimpse at The Many Crypts of Lady Ingrade's Jason Sholtis cover. Still needs tweaks and smoothing out some of the details because of the layout I'm going for. I wanted a 50's horror movie poster look and I'm pretty happy with its progress. 

Then I've been getting maps from Rob Conley. Some folks asked why I didn't use my own maps this time. I wanted to have maps that are clear even if small. Rob's maps are always fantastic and the map pack that'll come with the pdf will be very useful with online play. 

One of Zine Quest's rules is you can have black, white, and one color. Some of my favorite book covers are by Michael Whelan. He did these series of gray scale covers for HP Lovecraft paperbacks with a splash of red mingled in. That simple splash of red made those covers amazing and something that I always remembered. That's what I wanted for this zine. The pop of red. Here's a few sample covers by Michael. 

The Kickstarter campaign is going very well. I funded within the first hour and now stand at 657% funding. Which is phenomenal. With so many projects out there it's easy to get lost in the tidal zine tidal wave. And this was just the first week!

My next post I'm focusing on the zine projects I backed. This year I've invested a chunk of money to get zines. And to get physical copies. Last year, I backed a few oat the PDF level and it's not the same. I need to have it in my hand and on my shelf.

Now for more self-promotion. Please check out my Kickstarter campaign, The Many Crypts of Lady Ingrade. It's been a fun project so far. And really, how can you have too many crypts to explore?

Thursday, February 4, 2021

A Zine Nudge

Zine Quest 3 is going crazy with a ton of selections, but there are two that will fund, but I wanted to give them a nudge to get them over the funding line. 

This first one is by Frank Turfler Jr. Lair of the Manticore! Barrow NO. 13. Located deep in the marshes, protected by the dangerous local fauna and nearly impassable terrain, it is rumored that a terrifying Manticore has recently made its home here.

Rumors spread fast and suddenly there is an odd stranger at the Keep offering an extremely large reward for the live capture of the beast.

Frank's only $82 away!

The second is by Jeffery Jones, Scoundrels: Making Your Game Criminal. Running games involving crimes is fun. Many of our favorite movies, TV shows, and comics center around themes of heists, robberies, gangs, bootlegging, or even acts of extreme violence. Sometimes the protagonists are criminals trying to climb the ladder for wealth and power; other times they are “Robin Hoods”, nobly fighting injustices through their own criminal acts.

When you want to run games with a criminal focus, you'll find a lack of solid tools that support this kind of play. From sandbox adventures, to side-quests, to fleshing out existing adventures, Scoundrels helps you–the GM–run a successful crime-themed game each and every game night.

Jeffery is a mere $44 away.

Please take a moment and check these two out and give them the nudge to put them over their funding goal!

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Zine Quest #3: The Many Crypts of Lady Ingrade

Nothing like waiting until the last minute to get my shit together. My offerings for Zine Quest #3, The Many Crypts of Lady Ingrade has been approved.

With art by Jason Sholtis and maps by Robert Conley I need to step up my game and make sure the writing matches the quality they produce. 

It goes live Monday, February 1st. 

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Deck of Many Things with a Bonus!

One of my favorite magic items of all time, The Deck of Many Things. I was cruising on Amazon checking out some random gaming trinkets and this one populated in my feed.

Also included is the Deck of Fates. I guess it did say it on the lid of the box, but I missed it. The box itself is very nice. Divided for the two tuck boxes and I dig the Emperor Moth on the lid and on the desks. 

I was extremely pleased with the quality of the box, but of course this is all about the cards. And I'm a bit of a RPG card junkie. Not sure why, but cards with dungeons, hooks, NPCs, or whatever, I want. 

Here's a picture with the Deck of Many Things on the bottom and The Deck of Fates in the top row. There are 49 cards total. Here are a few close up shots of some of the cards.

A small sampling of The Deck of Many Things. For $15 you can't go wrong. I almost bought a second set!

The links in this post are affiliate links. It helps keep the lights on in the Manor...well not really, just let's me grab a few more gaming trinkets. Even if you don't use my link you should definitely grab a set!

Monday, January 4, 2021

Behold! The World Breaker!

 I got this beautiful beast today. A antique gold, metal 100 sided die. It weights almost a pound! This thing can do some damage. I love the look of it. It's going to make me create d100 tables. 

I grabbed mine at SkullSplitter Dice. I've grabbed a ton of dice there. Along with this die I grabbed a mystery bag of dice. I always get crazy, weird dice from them. 

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Grab a Copy of Majestic Fantasy RPG

My good friend Rob Conley released his Majestic Fantasy RPG to the world yesterday. This is an interesting take on developing an RPG system using the nuts and bolds of Swords & Wizardry and adding original content and rules to reflect the setting. The tweaks Rob made are simple to implement and I adds a lot to a game. Rob and I have gamed together for over three decades so I am bias, but I also think it's very good.

In addition to the rule book he has his Basic Rules Reference Cards and Quick Reference Cards for Swords & Wizardry. Both handy tools when running a game. Imagine having an entire GM screen on a single page. Or if you are like me, having these cards near me while I'm developing adventures of content for my game is invaluable. 

I know Rob spent a lot of time getting this just the way he wanted. He had two editors look it over. He scored Richard Laschek, the artist for Harn products, to do his cover. Rob is one of the best GMs out there and if you want to take a peek at how he does it, grab a copy Majestic Fantasy RPG and find out. 

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Mork Borg, Black Hack, Fallout, Dice, and More

It was a very good Christmas at the Manor. Ivy and I worked hard this year to make the best of it. Our reward was to have the ability to splurge on some gifts and enjoy a real vacation. Here are the gaming gifts I am loving. 
Ivy bought herself a Staedtler stylus for her new Remarkable 2 and absolutely loved it. She saw they had products I might enjoy and so she grabbed these ergo-friendly colored pencils. They are so good! The triangle shape and soft texture make them fantastic to use. Plus they blend so well. I hope to share some maps soon.
Part 2 of the Staedtler gifts. Markers. They are all the same size .03, and they bleed a bit. But the black is a true black. I used it as a filler pen and it works fantastic. I am curious to see what other options they have.
Dollar Tree has this deal going on where they are selling a set of 7 dice for a buck. That's $1. I went in for the case of 24 sets. Now I know I don't need more dice, but I have a good reason. Really I do. I was thinking of doing an endtable, fill a box with the dice and epoxy. Although I really want to open them all up and just roll. 
I received a copy of Black Hack. I actually thought it was The Black Hack 2. I have to read better. However, I only had this on PDF so I am happy to have a copy. 
I grabbed three (well four, I accidently bought two of one of the decks) Inkwell Sidequest Decks. 
I've been wanting these decks for a while now. I've looked through them and see Matt Jackson and Dyson contributed maps. Small write ups on each map. A variation of my micro-adventures. It got me to thinking of doing something like this only with tarot card sized decks. 
The beast of 2020, Mork Borg. This won a bunch of awards and I've seen several Kickstarters and other 3rd party publishers jumping on board this juggernaut. Each page is a mind explosion. The time it must have taken to layout each page. No pair of pages is a like. 
And my last gaming gifts, I love my Fallout. I grabbed Fallout Wasteland Warefare RPG and Wasteland Warefare Dice Set. I'm not sure if I would ever run this as is. I've always wanted to create a d20 version of it. I think with this book and with the other source materials I have, the only thing that is stopping me is time. 

That wraps up my Christmas. I am excited to read and use them all. 

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Mystery Box of Adventures: Sold Out! Thanks!


The GM Games warehouse needs room. So this year I'm offering a Mystery Box of Adventures! The picture above is a sample of what you might find in one of the boxes. 

The Mystery Box of Adventures consists of 25 items from my warehouse. All randomly packed by Whisk. Inside each box, all of these are possible. 
  • Micro-Adventures, small and zine-sized
  • Micro-Locations, small and also zine-sized 
  • NPC Cards
  • Mini Manor Zines
  • Issues of the Manor
  • Hunters in Death 
  • And other surprises
These will be shipped in zine-sized manuscript box. These boxes are sturdy and can withstand fireballs and the paralytic touch of ghouls. But the best thing about them, perfect to store zines. Even though I'm throwing 25 items into each box, there is plenty of room left for other zines. And we all need more zine storage.  

The Mystery Box of Adventure is $50. That's $2 per adventure and shipping is included.. Help me make more space in my warehouse for 2021 and you'll have more adventures, locations, and NPCs than you can shake a +5 Holy Avenger at. 

I only have a couple dozen of Mystery Boxes of Adventure! so grab one while you can. Or two, sent one to a gaming friend. 

Due to the brutal cost of international shipping I can only ship within the United States. 

Friday, October 30, 2020

Artist Spotlight: Jeremy Hart

Jeremy Hart is not an artist that is going to give you a standard goblin or an angry face orc. Jeremy gives you nightmares. 

I've been using his work for years. His style and choice of subject allows a writer like myself to go deeper and darker. The creatures he draws won't be found in any standard monster book. Jeremy digs into that dark ID we possess and manifests these horrors. 

One of the features I really love about his artwork is the backgrounds he adds. These backgrounds set the mood, framing his creatures in chaos. 

This is the cover of the alpha release of Mythhoard. It was the first exclusive. Jeremy's art inspired the entire sandbox adventure. And I absolutely love that cover.

Jeremy's art has been on the cover for some of my micro-adventures. His images pack a punch. When scrolling through products and one of Jeremy' pieces comes up, I stop to check it out. Just fantastic.

Right now Jeremy has a Kickstarter. The Creature Feature Quarterly. He's offering four volumes. He crafts the monster and stats them using OSR systems. There is one day left. I'm in for the $15 to get all four quarters. 

Here are some of the other links where you can find Jeremy Hart and his incredible work.
Blogspot - check this page out, really shows off his work

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Giveaway: A Copy of Hunters in Death

How would you like to get a copy of Hunters in Death?

Well Matt Jackson ordered two copies and said to give the other one away. So let's do that. 

Just comment below or in any of my social media posts about the giveaway to enter. Maybe thank Matt for the idea.

I ship worldwide so anyone can enter.

I'll pick a winner tomorrow night, 8pm Eastern time. 

Good luck and enjoy the day. 

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Game Store Finds: Zine Artifacts

I rarely go out these days, and even rarer do I go to the gaming stores. But yesterday I felt the need to go for a drive and I ended up 35 minutes away at a gaming store I visit a couple times a year. About half the time I go they have a small selection of older gaming items. I scored yesterday. I grabbed all of it except for two 2nd ed. GM screens. 

A Forgotten Realms map? I know I have one or two copies of it, but for a buck! Hell yeah I am getting it.
I'd forgotten how large the map is. It's as tall as Ivy. She tried to stand on her tip-toes and act like she was a giant, but she was still shorter.
I wasn't expecting to find zine artifacts! What!?!? I don't have a lot of knowledge of past zines so I did a little research. It looks like Griffon Magazine had a six issue run that ran from May 1988 to January 1990.
It looks like I know have issues #4 and #5. I haven't had a chance to look through them other than a flip through. The font is tiny, but surprisingly legible. 
Then this zine sized gem, Bounty Hunters Handbook. It looks to be from the same folks who did Griffon Magazine. This one looks to use similar format also. I was psyched to find these in the store. Completely unexpected.
Another old time magazine. I've never owned a copy of Polyhedron. Unfortunately this one was kind of jacked up. Someone carelessly jammed it into a tight protective sleeve and the back pages were ripped. 
It was tight because there were two other items inside. Silver Griffin (seems to be a theme forming) was the NRPA newszine. Never saw a copy before. 
I have a lot JG from back in the day, but I don't think I owned this one. Either way for $3 why not. It's in good condition. I have a special fondness for this adventure because my friend Rob Conley updated it for Goodman Games. Which happened long enough ago that it would be considered a relic. 
I know I have a copy of this, but I decided to grab it for an extra.
I didn't know what this one was. No title. Just knew it was Forgotten Realms. It's for a region called The Great Glacier. I know I don't have that one. Now I need to find the rest of it.
Not a bad run at the gaming store. I think my total was $22.