Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Mutants & Marvels stuff

M&M is doing ok.  The PDF sells better than any of my other stuff, and the print edition is doing well over at Lulu.  All in all, I’m happy with it.  My only gripe is not enough reviews . . .

Anyways, after some feedback, and going back over the whole thing a few times, I have some ideas of things to add.  So, I am currently working on an updated version of the game.  However, rather than going the traditional route that RPG’s do, and calling it “Second Edition,” I’m going to call it “2.0.”  It’s an important distinction.

In my mind, a new Edition implies that there have been changes to the mechanics.  That the rules will somehow need some conversion work to be compatible with the previous edition(s).  And this is not what I am looking at doing.  The mechanics will remain exactly as they are.  Mainly because I think they work just fine for the game as it is written and presented.

2.0 will actually be the same exact game, but with some errata integrated, some more detailed explanations and clarifications, and added content.  Additionally, I would like to update the artwork by adding more (especially female) characters.  And I even have an idea for a new cover image that I think will kick ass, if I can pull it off.  As always, the artwork will be on me, since I can’t afford to commission any from anyone with real talent.

This will effect the future of the game in two main ways.  First, the price will go up for both versions.  Not a lot, but some.  Right now the game is probably way underpriced, so I don’t see it being much of a problem.  On the print-side, I am going to go with a whole different format.  I plan to have it printed in 8.5” x 11”, saddle-stitched, with B&W interior art.  As neat as the smaller format is, I’ve come to the conclusion that I prefer the larger format.  Chances are, for the print edition, both sizes will be available, since I can simply update the file it is printed from.

As a side note, I tried setting up a POD thru RPGNow, but the process for rendering the cover image was too complex, and I don’t have the right program to do it (I have an older version of Photoshop).

Anyways, I’m not sure when this will all be done.  I’m still pretty busy with real-life stuff.  But it is probably a safe bet that this little project will preclude issue #3 of Zine-O-Morph from being about M&M.  Still, I haven’t even gotten #2 ready for publication, though I am getting closer.  So, I’m not too worried about that.

If you have purchased it, or know someone who has, and you’ve played it, please, PLEASE give it a review.  You have no idea how beneficial those are to indie publishers.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Gary Con 2015 – The Schedule

Well, we’re all registered for our games at Gray Con this year.  The up side is I have 22 hours of official gaming scheduled, plus another 2-3 hours of my own private game with my gaming group, most of whom will be at the Con.

The down side is that I didn’t get into any of the games that I had wanted.  In fact, I didn’t even get into games in the genres that I had wanted.  This year it was my intent to avoid high fantasy as much as possible, and aim for supers, sci-fi, and maybe some modern/spy.  That meant no D&D or any of its clones or direct competitors.  In this, I had a 90% failure rate.

The five games I got into are a D&D 3.5 game, an AD&D 2E game, a Dungeon Crawl Classics game, an Empire of the Petal Throne game, and a Castles & Crusades game.  The only thing that keeps my stated goal from being a 100% failure is that the DCC game is actually a post-apocalypse game in a world that I believe is based on the world of Thundarr the Barbarian (“Under the Broken Moon”).  Which is actually pretty awesome, honestly.

I blame Gary Con’s registration system.  It’s kind of clunky and unwieldy to begin with.  And when you add to that the fact that it obviously didn’t like my iPad…well, at one point I got pissed and rage-quit.  It didn’t help that I was trying (unsuccessfully) to watch Agent Carter during the time.  And finally, there was the expected rush on registrations, so the servers were pretty bogged down the whole time.

But, I am trying to stay positive about it.  And really, that’s not too difficult.  All of the games I got into sound pretty cool.  The Petal Throne game is a nice throwback to the origins of the hobby.  And I know of at least one of my friends who will be in a game with me.  Sadly, my wife and I have no games together.  But, we’re cool with that.  It just means we’ll have more stories to tell each other afterwards.

I’m thinking about ordering some print copies of Mutants & Marvels to sell, if anyone is interested.  I might also get a T-shirt made from the cover image.  You just never know.  Either way, I’ll probably still do the T-shirt, simply because I like the design.

So, anyone else going to Gary Con?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Concept is King

Today I thought I would talk about something a little less “newsy” and a bit more “philosophical.”

From my earliest days of roleplaying, I have always been somewhat of a “roll-player.”  I have kind of always been keen to how well my character performs in combat, and other, dice-derived situations.  And yes, I have been known to be a munchkin, and min/max a character from time to time.

But, one thing I latched onto very early on was the Concept.  Every character I play has a basic concept.  What that means to me is that I always know who my character is, where he came from, and what his “motivations” are.  In many games, this has had little effect on the actual play of the game beyond my character creation choices.  But, when 3rd Edition D&D came out, I think the idea of Concept really came into its own for me.

With 3E I was able to customize my character on the fly, as he progressed through levels.  If the story of the campaign caused the character to take a turn from his original concept, it was easy to add a different class in order to reflect the changes in the character.  No edition prior to 3E would allow that kind of character development to happen.

At this point I feel compelled to explain why this works for me, and why it may not make sense to others.  Basically, when it comes to class-based games like D&D, there are two schools of thought (in my view, YMMV).  The first is that your class is your profession.  You trained or were taught, maybe formally or informally, how to be a member of that class.  You went to Borg’s Fighter School, or Nanadron’s Wizard College, or what have you.  This concept works well for players whose characters will never change, and who want to excel in one area.  “A fighter I am, and a Fighter I will always be.”

The other school of thought is that classes are merely groups of characteristics represented by a conceptual name.  Your abilities define your class, rather than your class defining your abilities.  This idea first came to me when a friend was playing a fighter in someone’s game, and the character went through a lot of Roleplay difficulty (being manipulated by a God, not the least among them).  So, he decided that the character had become so filled with anger and resentment that he would take a level in barbarian to represent that.  Brilliant! Thanks to my friend, I now had a whole new way of looking at D&D.

My current character is the best example yet of how I have used this idea.  Our campaign, which has been running for four years in real time now, takes place in an alternate Middle Ages Earth.  Replace the real world religions of Christianity, Islam, etc., with a classical-styled pantheon of deities, but run it like the Catholic church (Pope, Bishops, and so on), then add in all of the standard fantasy races from the PHB, and you kind of have what we have been playing in.  Our DM created this setting with an eye towards a lot of role-play opportunities (he came from a V:tM school of gaming).

Unfortunately, this style of game was not my forte, and my immediate thought was a Half-Orc Barbarian (probably my favorite race/class combo ever) from Germany, named Ahnuld.  During the first few levels of play, Ahnuld was kind of out of his element unless we were in a fight.  But, I started getting into the setting, and decided that Ahnuld had an overarching back story of wanting to become a General, and eventually unite the disparate tribes of Orcs in Germany into a nation.  So, he started taking levels in Fighter, to reflect his refinement as a warrior, and his learning of tactics and strategy.  Then, as the story unfolded, it became apparent that the Gods of this Earth were behind the entire campaign.  Ahnuld naturally latched onto Templarus, the God of War, and I really got into the idea of Ahnuld becoming a priest devoted to him.  So, I did some research, and found the Favored Soul class.  Basically, the Favored Soul is to Cleric what the Sorcerer is to Wizard.

We are now at 18th level, and are nearing the end of the campaign (which involved rooting out the source of a plague, and defeating an evil trifecta and their armies).  Ahnuld is now a 7th level Barbarian, 6th Level Favored Soul, and 5th level Fighter.  He is among the most devoted and powerful representatives of Templarus in the known world.  And I credit the flexibility of 3E for allowing me to evolve my character from a simple uncouth barbarian, to one who can influence world events, as well as stand (literally) toe-to-toe with a Balor in melee combat, and live to tell the tale.

In short, as his Concept evolved, his varied classes allowed his abilities to evolve with it.