Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Manor #5 Review

Erik Tenkar was the first to write a review of Manor #5.  And I didn't not even have to bribe him.  He's been a big supporter of the zine from day one and I appreciate the time he took to do a post.  Issue #5 got into second position on RPGNow's hottest items and seems to be lingering around number five.  Thanks to the folks who have bought PDF issues.  Those that bought print issues they are speeding your way.  Thanks again Erik.

Review: Tombstones of Terror

Tombstones of Terror is written and illustrated by veteran adventure writer +Dylan Hartwell.  This is a fantasy adventure using Labyrinth Lords ruleset and for character levels 7th thru 14th.  This review is based off the print version of the adventure.  Dylan also has a PDF version available.  The print format is a cardstock cover and he uses every bit of space in the 28 pages and inside covers.

Dylan, as I mentioned above, did the illustrations for this adventure like he's done with all his previous offerings.  The image above graces the cover and I think sets the creepy tone.  His pictures, with their heavy grays and blacks, have always had a creepy look which is perfect for Tombstones of Terror. 

The overall goal of the adventure is to lift the curse that is consuming a the town of Brot.  The curse, of course, seems to centered around the town's graveyard.  Simple enough plot, bad things happening.  Adventures asked to stop the bad thing.  Find bad thing.  Stop it.  Everyone happy until next bad thing. 

But this is a Dylan Hartwell adventure so it ain't easy.  He's got the adventure broken into seven different mini adventures.  Within these adventures there are puzzles and original bad guys.  It could take months of in-game time to find the correct answers to the puzzles.  If you know Dylan's  blog, Digital Orc, you know he loves his puzzles and these are good ones.  Difficult enough to require thought and ingenuity, but easy enough that a party will not get frustrated and walk away.  Also, I don't believe Dylan has ever used a 'canned' critter.  He creates original creatures to throw at the adventurers.  So the party cannot assume the power level of their opponent by its name. 

Now each of the adventure parts has a main bad dude.  And I think this is one of the shining spots in this adventure.  These guys are bad.  I could easy pluck them from the pages and place them in my campaign to use as a villain.  Each one has an angle/theme the players must figure out and eventually defeat. 

In the back half of the adventure are the maps and room descriptions.  The layout is very friendly to use in game.  Descriptions on the left page, map is on the right.  So there is no page flipping.  And here's another thing I like about Dylan's adventures, they all interact.  Well the later ones interact with the earlier adventures.  I like it when I see a reference to the Veiled Invocation or the Blasphemous Brewery of Pilz

Overall, this is a great adventure that can be used as a whole or could easy be used in sections, taking a couple of the tombs and running them on their own would be more than enough for a night of adventure.  I think this is Dylan's smartest and strongest adventure so far.  I like all the elements he infused which enhances the playability and over fun of the adventure.  Oh, and almost forgot, there can be an alternate ending if you wish.  The option is deadly, but I like it.

I high recommend the adventure.  I think it's fantastic.  And better yet, if you ever get a chance to have Dylan run you through one of his adventures, do it.  It is obvious the guy loves DMing and puts a lot of himself into his work.  And man, do I wish I had some his energy.

You can buy a print copy of Tombstones of Terror at his Digital Orc blog.  He has a video where he goes through the adventure so you can see what it looks like.  I love that idea and wish I did something like that, but no doubt all anyone would see is me dropping the camera as I turned pages.  The print version will run you $4.99, the price includes the shipping and the awesome.

And of course there is a PDF option over at RPGNow for $3.99.  Like me, Dylan is a gamer dude who pretty much reinvests his profits, and then some, back into other cool gaming products. 

Please check out his latest adventure.  It is excellent.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Game Night!

Everyone bailed.  No game.  Sucks.

But I'll be alright.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sleestak Sunday Future

I found this picture over at the Creature Spot.  They remind me of an evolutionary type of Sleestak.  I really dig the lava lamp brains.  If these guys were in Call of Duty they would look like bobble heads running around.  Brain pan splash.  Can you tell I got CoD: Ghosts?  I've been sucking bad and swearing a lot, but I still have my original controller intact.  So that's something.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Manor #5 for Sale

Well, the printer is churning out issues #5 of The Manor.  Ordering a shiny new print version is only a button smash away.  Here's the link to to get one of those paper miracles from above.  

You can find the PDF version of Manor #5 at RPGNow.

If you are wondering why there are two covers here's why...The gray card stock is a 110lb.  It's almost a board.  While last night my printer had no problem with it, this morning it gave me attitude.  Lots of it.  So I switch to a 65lb card stock, that's the tonal brown one, and it has gotten along with my printer.  I'm all about peace with technology because those are battle I can never win.  

Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday Question: Diseases

Disease is a minor threat in games.  It usually comes up when a character gets hit with a disease ridden creature and has to make a save. 

The question I pose is do you have multiple diseases in your campaign? 

Do you implement them in everyday situations where a population is suffering? 

And if you do have a cool disease, please share.

I've rarely used diseases in game.  With magic at hand Cure Disease spells (usually around 3rd level spell) and if you have the vaccine machine paladins running around, diseases get less dangerous.  But lately I've been collecting gaming diseases for various settings and situations.  Blood & Treasure has a nice handful of diseases.  But there is always room for more.

Friday folks.  That is a good thing.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Address Check

Hey folks, Issue #5 is ready to print tomorrow.  Just a few tweaks to go.  I just wanted to check with those who are subscribers if there have been address changes.  I have a few that were changed previously and wanted to catch it ahead of time.  I want the Manor to find its proper home.  Just throw me an email or Google+ me and let me know.  I'm setting up the mailing labels.  Yup I am all high tech.  I have stickers.

I wanted to thank everyone who did the pro-order so far.  I few are waiting for PDFs.  I received 32 orders last night and today.  Love it.  I'm looking forward to begin the printing and folding and stapling.  Again, thanks for supporting the Manor. 

A tease of what's inside.  Jay Penn drew this one.  You'll find Brom Shatterstone in the Vineyard of Villainy.  A zealous follower of Nillium, who would gladly sacrifice all of dwarvenkind to his god.  May the light never reach your eyes or the dust settle in your breath.

The Manor #5 on Sale

Where's it going?

This is a mini pre-order period.  I'll be printing this weekend and knowing how many I need to print will help.  The PDF will be released a couple days later.  If anyone has questions, please ask.

Here's a peek at the table of contents. place to sling some informal BS and give shoutouts.  Sometimes this is the easiest to write and sometimes the most difficult.
Vineyard of Villainy...Four evil NPCs to use in a campaign or build a short adventure around.  Each is depicted in loving detail by Jay Penn.
Cursed Chris Coski, a collection of some very nasty potions to throw in your treasure chests and make the player nervous next time they see a vial.
400 Tavern Sean Robson, a cool random table to generate fun names for your taverns.  I've used it already in my current campaign. 
Doors...a collection of designer dungeon doors brought to you by Onavas the Obstinate.  He breaks down (no pun intended) the pros and cons of each door and why they may benefit your dungeon design.
20 Random City Encounters...I got a requests for another collection of encounters.  This time they are set in the city.  They can create adventure hooks or make a uneventful errand more colorful.

Then a couple of other fun things.

So grab an early copy and get it in time to read over the turkey and stuffing.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Manor #5 Cover

As promised, here is the cover for issue #5.  Jay Penn did an incredible job.  The things I added were the the framing and instead of having issue #5 with the header I dropped it on the door like an apartment number.  I'm not sure if I will keep it that way, but I thought is was amusing and it didn't bother Jay's incredible cover art. 

I gave Jay this picture.

I asked Jay if he could make me a dungeon door like the one above, but with a creepy arm sticking out from behind it.  He did that and more. 

Tonight I'll make a button up for issue #5 for those who want to pre order and it will help me figure out how many I need to print.  The physical stats of issue #5 are, its 24 pages, card stock cover, I'll be using 20 pound paper, but that might increase to the 24 pound paper because I like it better.  And of course everything is done in my own home, printing, staple and fold right here.  I get my assembly line going.  I've also learned the value of setting my print from normal to fine.  Makes the art and the wording crisp.  It eats up more ink and more time (I estimate it takes me 1 minute to print out a zine on normal and it takes about 10 minutes on fine, so printing out 10 zine goes from 10 minutes to an hour and a half, but I think I'll time it next time I print to get accurate numbers).  It is well worth it.

Manor #5 Coming Soon

This is the time I always find the excited little kid in me wants the next issue rushed out because its so close to being done.  I'm waiting on a couple proof readers and I'll be ready to print and PDF.  Jay Penn (Realms of Faerie) sent me the cover art today and I was wowed.  It looks fantastic.  Getting the cover done makes me think I finally get this issue out the door.  Then the little kid in me starts his pestering. "Send it out.  Send it out.  Send it out."

I've grown more patient with the process and try to be steadier with the production.  I know my proofreaders are my best line of defense from making a fool of myself.  But really there is only so much they can do.  The fool in me just comes out. 

If you want to see a picture of the cover it's not here today.  I know.  Tease.  I'll post it here soon. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sleestak Sunday: A Day in the Life

Here's Fred Stak.  He's an amiable fellow who lives with his wife, Mary Stak and two children, Ben and Bonnie.  Fred work in the god pit mining for crystals to keep the pylons running.  With new order of forty-two new pylons from Lost World, he's been working a lot of ovetime.  Mary worries about him because instead of eating at home he's out hunting for food and he nearly been eaten by Grumpy twice last week. He's saving the extra crystals to purchase Ben a toy for his hatchday, a slingbow so he can practice to be as bad as his father.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Question: Keepin it Simple

Keeping it simple this Friday.

What RPG have you been playing lately?

The Monday Night crew continues to use Blood & Treasure in +Ken Harrison's megadungeon crawl.  We've played a little FUDGE with a homebrewed system for +Rob Conley's Majestic Wilderlands.  And I've been working on a Swords & Wizardry variant for the campaign world I'm working on.

It's Friday.  This is a good thing.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Campaign Map Funneling

Here's my, I guess I would call it a regional map.  It's not a world map, but its a chunk of it.  I don't think I've ever drawn a world map.  Never had a campaign where that was required and to tell the truth, I'm not all that interested drawing one at this time.  This is my largest scale map.  Hexes are 12 miles or 124 square miles. 

This will be the main campaign area out of all that above.  Hex 1010 is where the players will start.  I have that hex and all the surround hexes detailed.

This is Hex 1010 in detail.  Towns, villages, camps and places of interest are noted.  Along with names of the major geographical features in the hex.

The I select one of the town or areas of interest and draw another map.  It's like Google Map, we keep getting closer and in more detail.

Here's the Village of Bad Water.  And then below is a map of one of ruin locations.  Both get the same funnel level maps.

This one is nearly like the level above, a snap show of area and places of interested are noted with numbers.  But most of these will just have written entries as to what is there.  Unless, say number 10 is a set of stairs leading down to a dungeon.

Then there will be the last level of the funnel map.  I have been known to do detailed maps of the rooms, but for my campaign this is the smallest map I'll draw. 

So here is my campaign map funneling and the reason why I've been drawing a lot of maps lately.  While I won't probably draw maps for every village/camp/town, I'll still do a rough sketch and notes on what is in town and NPCs. 

Map funnel complete.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

GM Games Sales Report: September & October

I'd forgotten to a sales report for a while.  Not that there is too much to report.  No new releases during the past two months.  Yet I still managed to get a few sales.  The numbers in black are sales and the red number are free.

September 2013
Knowledge Illuminates: released February 16th, 2011, print version released October 29th, 2012
PDF: 2 (30)   Print: 1   Total Sales: 380 (126)

The Manor, Issue #1: released May 5th, 2012
PDF: 2   Print: 1   Total Sales: 293

The Manor, Issue #2: released July 4th, 2012
PDF: 2   Print: 1   Total Sales: 210

Cave of Seiljua: released September 9th, 2012
PDF: (21)   Print: N/A   Total Sales: (479)

The Manor, Issue #3: released released February 7th, 2013
PDF: 2   Print: 2   Total Sales: 117

Mini Manor: Faces Without Screams: released April 19th, 2013
PDF:  (3)   Print: N/A   Total Sales: (240)

The Manor, Issue #4: released July 28th, 2013
PDF: 2   Print: 3   Total Sales: 65
Where is Margesh Blackblood?: released August 12th, 2013
PDF: 5 (26)   Print: N/A   Total Sales:  10 (130)

Total Sales for September 2013
PDF: 15 (80)   Print: 8   Total Sales: 23 (80)

October 2013
Knowledge Illuminates: released February 16th, 2011, print version released October 29th, 2012
PDF: 6 (17)   Print: 0   Total Sales: 386 (143)

The Manor, Issue #1: released May 5th, 2012
PDF: 2   Print: 1   Total Sales: 296

The Manor, Issue #2: released July 4th, 2012
PDF: 2   Print: 1   Total Sales: 213

Cave of Seiljua: released September 9th, 2012
PDF: (17)   Print: N/A   Total Sales: (496)

The Manor, Issue #3: released released February 7th, 2013
PDF: 2   Print: 1   Total Sales: 120

Mini Manor: Faces Without Screams: released April 19th, 2013
PDF:  (4)   Print: N/A   Total Sales: (244)

The Manor, Issue #4: released July 28th, 2013
PDF: 3   Print: 2   Total Sales:70
Where is Margesh Blackblood?: released August 12th, 2013
PDF: 0 (13)   Print: N/A   Total Sales:  10 (143)

Total Sales for September 2013
PDF: 15 (47)   Print: 5   Total Sales: 20 (47)

Total Sales
1095 (1026)

These numbers do not reflect the number of print comp copies I've sent out or given away.  RPGNow is the only reason I can keep track of PDFs.  I'm sure these are not exact numbers, but they are a good estimation of the sales.  

The 5th issue of the Manor is in the final stages.  I'll fire off a copy to my proofreaders this week.  So I am guessing the 5th issue will be out before Thanksgiving.  It's a cool issue, it turned out pretty good I think.  With so many cool zines being produced these days I'm trying to put out something that is fun and useful.  Even if you don't use a word of it in your game I try to make it a good read.  

If anyone has any questions about my number or Manors please comment or sent me a message through email or Google+.  You can get a hold of me fairly easy.  Thanks to the folks who've supported my products and continue to do so.  

Sleestak Sunday Hug

This one goes out to Lurker cause I know he's got mad love for my green friend.  Share a sleestak hug today.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Did a Map, Bailed on NaNo

Yesterday I came home and drew a map for the next part I planned to write.  Took me better part of the night to draw it.  I could have just drawn a rough sketch and left the map for later, but drawing maps is something I can do as I watch something.  Because of drawing the map I didn't get any writing done.  While I'm very glad I got done what I got done over this past week, but by yesterday I was spent.  I'm probably just a lightweight, but I made a decision to not do NaNo. 

Drawing maps, layout and editing don't count toward word count.  While I plan on putting more effort into getting my writing done, producing more content for Manor, adventure and my campaign I don't, won't be beholden to a word count.  Like yesterday, I missed the day writing and then spent most of the morning today beating myself up over it.  Dumb.  Waste of a perfectly good Saturday.

Now I'll continue to plow away at campaign and have fun with it instead of feeling an obligation that made it no fun.  Just to show you I wasn't blowing smoke/sunshine or whiskey up your ass here is the map I worked on. 

There are a series of ruins located near where the party will start.  This is the first.  I can't go into too much detail because my guys are probably reading this.  I like how this one turned out.  Tonight I'll write the numbered areas...and not count how many I did, but set the goal to complete them. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Manor #5 News

As I mentioned in the last post that the 5th Manor is done writing wise.  I'm going through the process of doing a quick edit on my part before handing it off to my proof readers.  I hope to do that this weekend.  I'm waiting on one piece of art.

Issue #5 is back to the standard 24 page zine and I filled the cover front and pack with stuff.  I try to cram as much into each issue as I can.  I was going to show you the mock up, but I'd rather wait until I get the final art.

The 'prestigious' back cover where I always select an OSR product I really like goes to.....hmm, no drum, so no roll.  The back cover is going to +Dylan Hartwell's, The Curse of Sin.

You want to hear something weird, I really enjoy doing the layout for their ads.  I think Dylan's new adventure looks fantastic on the back cover. 

This time around I also added some talent to the non-existent writing pool.  It was more of a puddle of one, me.  This time +Sean Robson added a great table for generating tavern names and +Chris C. add a fantastic collection of Cursed Concoctions.  Of course I've added a few more items, one of the cooler one is the Vineyard of Villainy that features the incredible artwork of Jay Penn who did all the covers for Loviatar.  I think it looks fantastic. 

Okay, back to writing.  None of this, the layout or editing counts toward my word count for the day.  I'm behind and would like to finish before 11pm.  Enjoy the night folks.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Falling Short

Yesterday, Day 5...I didn't get to my 1700 words.  Nope.  I wrote 1059 words for the Village of Bad Water I'm working on.  It's okay.  No one panic.  I got this.  Today I've been writing, but also working hard on the layout of Issue #5 of the Manor.  I need to give a thorough once over and then hand it to my very capable proofreaders.  While I can't count that as writing I'm pleased with the progress. 

Back to work.  I need to produce.  And I think I've got a pretty good idea for some of the villagers...

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Day 4 and I Already Hit the Wall

I'm a fricking lightweight.  Last night was the 4th night and I already wanted to pass on doing my writing.  Tired from work and just wanting to watch Netflix...nope.  Whisk coached me into starting.  Grind.  Grind.  That's me grinding on my writing...not the other kind.  I know, TMI.  Fast forward, around 10:30pm I had the b button buried in my forehead from falling asleep and hitting my head on the keyboard, but I got my 1700 in last night.

What I worked on is the village of Bad Water.

I believe I posted this map a little while ago.  I'm going through and adding who is in each building their background, secrets and possible adventure hooks with the hard working villagers of Bad Water.  I got through 11 buildings last night and just started working on the next batch.

Back to work.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Home Ruling NaNoWriMo for Gaming

Like a good game system that gets house ruled, that's what I've done to NaNoWritMo.  I've taken the concept and skeleton form of it and then applied my own house rules.  I am not writing a novel.  I did this in the past and while the exercise was interesting and fun, its not something I'm interested in right now.  What I am doing is applying those 50k words into gaming.  Yesterday for example, I wrote nearly 2500 words for the 5th Manor.  The first draft is nearly done now.

Some of the other areas I'm applying my 50k words is the campaign world I've been tinkering with.  I've done some work on this morning, a few hundred words, but tonight I'll need to sit down and pound out at least another 1500 words.  No revising.  No editing.  Just producing now.  I can second guess myself in December.

I'm using NaNoWritMo to develop a writing habit.  An expectation of myself.  I love to write, but rarely give myself the chance to do it.  NaNoWriMo focuses your attention on the writing and makes it a priority.  While I may not have a novel at the end of the month, I will have a lot written for my gaming world.  Some will be for publishing purposes, but most of what I do this month will be for me and the Monday Night crew. 

Off to work.  Hope to get some good writing time in afterwards.  Either way I will be hitting my minimum goal of 1700 words.

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Practice in Self Flagellation

Day one of NaNoWriMo started off shaky.  I thought I had an idea of where I wanted to start, but when I sat down everything seemed simple, stupid and worst of all, boring.  But I kept hitting the keyboard until it stopped boring me.  Yes, I will blame my keyboard for now. 

I have a timer I use when I write so I can keep track of how long I've been at it.  Especially when doing the 50k words in a month.  That breaks down to 1666.666 words a day.  See, even the devil own NaNoWriMo.  That's why its such a pain. 

After two hours I got in 1700+ words.  I'm looking to get a minimum of 1.7k words a day.  Ideally I would like to get in 2.5k words a day so if I need to take a day off I have a little breathing room.

Do I like what I wrote so far?  No yet.  I think there are kernels of some fun characters, but not enough there at this time.  As for place, it's so generic.  I need to get into more details of the area and a little background. 

I plan on going back and writing for a little while longer.  The great thing about NaNoWriMo is it is focused on producing.  I, like many people get caught up with the details, get hung up on small problems, fiddle with crap that doesn't matter.  This month its about producing content.  The details be damned now.  Your job is to apply ass to chair and keep typing until the blood drips from your eyes and tips of your finger snap off.  Or for most of you, until the coffee runs out.