Thursday, August 21, 2014

I see the light!

Zine-O-Morph #1 is cruising along nicely. All of the content is done, and reads fairly well. I decided to ditch the idea of fiction for this first issue, as I am still trying to figure out how best to do it in such a publication. But the articles are all done, the new monster/race is done, a few new magic items have been created, and an adventure has been written.

I have three more pieces of art I need, plus a cover. One of them I am negotiating with one of my favorite DeviantArtists right now for. One has been offered by a fellow blogger. And the third I will do myself. The cover will take some thought, but may end up being a colorized, embellished version of one of the interior pieces. Unless I can get a separate piece out of someone...

Once those are done and in place, I will do the final edits and layout adjustments, create the ToC, and add some "window dressing" artwork. The very last piece will be an "Advertisement" page in the back where I can share some of the various other indie and zine publishers I know. I have a few in mind, but if you self-publish your own RPG material, and wouldn't mind a little free advertising, let me know, and we can work out what you would like in my zine. I'm thinking banners and block images. Like what we saw in the old Dragon issues. Alternately, I may place these throughout the book, rather than all on the same page.

I'm kind of excited !

On a side note, Mutants & Marvels sold quite well. So, if you bought and have had the chance to read, and hopefully play it, I humbly ask for reviews at RPGNow. And that goes for all of the stuff I have there. Sure, it helps with sales. But, mainly I'm just insecure and need some positive reinforcement.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Geek/Nerd Overlap

Ok, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool, card-carrying geek. But, I don't really consider myself a "nerd" per se. One is social, the other is academic. Basically, I love geek culture, but I suck at science and math.

However, due to my work experience, I'm kind of a whiz at MS Excel. On Friday, I had some downtime at work. So, I opened Excel and proceeded to create a spreadsheet using forumlae that would generate the bare-bones of a 5e character when you hit the F9 button. The results are hit or miss. I gave the abilities a spread of 6-18, rather than 3-18, to reflect rolling 3d6 and re-rolling 1's. Here are a couple of the better outcomes.

I'll probably flesh both of these out into full on characters, just because. Right now the sheet only randomizes what you see here. The racial modifiers to Abilities are not factored in, but are listed in case you decide you don't like the race it gives you (plus coding that to automatically calculate would be a pain). I might add in some other things like Starting Money and Backgrounds.

What's the point of doing this? Well, to get your ball rolling, of course. How many times have you sat down to create a new character, and realized you have no idea what you want to make? Well, open this puppy up, and start hitting F9 until something grabs you. It'd probably also be good for generating NPC ideas as well.

I did this sort of thing ages ago. Back when 2e was out, The World Builder's Guidebook was a really neat tool. So, I basically took a bunch of the major tables for world generation, and put them into an Excel sheet. In that one, hitting F9 would generate the bare bones of an entire campaign setting. Including races, geography type (no maps, though), a pantheon type, and other niceties. It was pretty cool, and I played around with it a lot.

Zine Fiction

Ok, I have a question for those who read indie gaming zines. As you may know, I am working on the first issue of my own creation. I am down to needing two things: new magic items/tools, and fiction. I started writing the fiction, but now I am questioning what I have.

As a writer of fiction I have a natural inclination to write expanded opening exposition. I want to introduce the characters, give them some personality, and a reasonable motivation for embarking on the journey to come. The journey itself is the meat of the story, but the opening part seems important to me.

However, in a short piece, written for a zine like this, I am wondering if I should skip the opening exposition, and drop the characters into the Journey, giving details about them along the way as I can. In short, it seems that fiction like this is meant to illustrate a concept introduced earlier in the zine itself, so the journey is more important than characterization.

The question for you is, how much is too much? Should I have a long(ish) character exposition at the beginning, or should I just jump into the journey?

I'd really like some solid opinions on this, so feel free to pass this question around (or just share this post).


Friday, August 15, 2014

Character Death

Ok, I've never reacted like this, but I do get irritated.

When I game, I detest character death. As a GM I will help players find ways to avoid it if at all possible. And as a player, I will fight tooth and nail against it. That being said, it has happened. Although the last time was when someone else was running my character in my absence. But, that’s a whole different story.

Anyways, I see a lot of people in the OSR community talking about how character death was the norm “back in the day.” They use it as a way of nitpicking more recent editions of D&D and the options for players to stave off the death of a character. Especially in 5e, with the hit dice as healing, the death saves, and what have you.

When I see these arguments, I just roll my eyes. But, on a deeper level, it bothers me, and irritates me a lot. Because this attitude is indicative of another attitude: the Adversarial DM. These are DM’s who relish character death, and will construct adventures based solely on the idea of killing as many PC’s as possible without breaking or circumventing the rules. These are the jackholes who will lament “I only killed half the party last week. I need to try twice as hard this week.”

Back to the OSR guys bashing 5e, if I had a dollar for every time one of them stated something along the lines of “Kids these days got it easy” in regards to how “deadly” a particularly edition of D&D was…well, I’d probably be able to pay cash out-of-pocket for the 5e Monster Manual next week.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Too much games

I recently ordered a printing of Stars Without Number through Lulu, and it’s on its way. In the meantime, I am reading the PDF bit by bit, and I am really into the idea of running/playing (probably would rather play) a sci fi game.

Tied into this, I am working on a novel based on the premise of a sci fi/space opera universe that also has magic in certain areas. To simulate this, I could easily drop magic elements from D&D into SWN. Which is why I am looking at it instead of the awesomeness that is Star Frontiers.

Of course, if no one bites the whole blended universe idea, and would rather just do straight up sci fi, then SF would be my first choice.

But then there’s the fact that the 5e PHB comes out today. I certainly plan to buy it ASAP. I kept forgetting to pre-order it from my FLGS, so I will probably pay full price (for RPG stuff I prefer to support local stores instead of Amazon). Though they might give me a discount for being a member of their “frequent shoppers club” thing.

Anyways, the shiny newness of 5e has me still wanting to give it a full-blown play of high-fantasy adventure. However, with my group still in the final phases of a 3.5 game, it may be a while before we want to switch gears. Which may be a good thing, as it would probably allow us time to get ahold of the other two core 5e books as well.

And finally, there’s the ever-burning desire to play every game on my game shelf. Marvel Superheroes (or perhaps Mutants & Marvels), Dragon Age, Spycraft…the list goes on and on. Sometimes it’s difficult to be so RPG AD…oooh…shiny!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Reconsidering things

Over the course of the last few days I have had the opportunity to flip through the Oriental Adventures book, and read some choice sections. First of all, what a great book! So much information and creativity, packed in a relatively slim volume (by RPG standards). However, I noticed a couple of things that I hadn't before.

First off, if you are an experienced D&D player, and know the basic mechanics for AD&D, you could conceivably play with the OA book all by itself. It has a complete character section, with all that you need to know about character creation, including generating abilities, all of the races available, and all of the classes. Not to mention a complete monster section, and sections on aspects of an OA game that would be unique. Really, if I were running an AD&D Oriental Adventures campaign, I would bring this book, with the DMG and maybe some setting splat books for reference. And that would be it!

Another thing I noticed is the lack of artwork. I think that there may be a total of 15-20 pieces of art in the entire book. And a handful of those are actually borrowed from another resource, rather than drawn by the in-house artists of the day. The monster section is completely devoid of artwork. Not a single monster illustration.

This second part has me re-thinking my strategy for putting Life of Rage out. As you may recall, I am working on expanding the supplement I had previously published into a stand-alone retro-clone. Right now I have a few pieces of art that I have done myself. And I have a list of ideas for several more. But now I am thinking that I may not need that much more than I have. There are a couple of things that I definitely want, such as a nice, full-color cover image. But, for the rest I'm thinking of just letting my descriptions stand as they are.

If I decide to go that route, I am probably over 90% done with it. And that's kind of encouraging.

In semi-related news, I have been looking into doing the PoD option through RPGNow instead of Lulu for Mutants & Marvels. If I can figure out how to do the cover and get it uploaded, I will switch over to that method. And, if I can get it all worked out, it will pave the way for setting up the LoR book for the same treatment.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Zine-O-Morph Issue 1

My fanzine's first issue is about 75% complete. I've done the intro, the new monster, and the adventure. Now I need to write up some cool new items (magic and/or mundane), and do a short fiction related to the theme of "low level underdark" and all of the text will be finished. From there I need to put together a couple of pieces of artwork, including something that works as a color cover, and then edit it all together.

As always, artwork is my one stumbling block. I know I can probably do it myself, but I never feel like my art is good enough. However, I don't have many options in that regard, so I will just have to muscle through.

In other news, I recently scored copies of the Fiend Folio and Oriental Adventures books from 1st Edition, both in pristine condition, and both for $4 each. I'm really excited about those, especially the OA book. I have always loved Oriental settings, and this was a favorite of mine back in the day. I never got to really play in Kara-Tur, but I read a lot of the stuff related to it. I was also in a long-running campaign of L5R many years ago, and totally dug that (which was probably why I didn't mind the 3e OA book using Rokugen as the setting).

Flipping through that book has me thinking about 5e, and the possibility of a new OA sourcebook. The concensus among those that follow 5e's development is that it's probably not even on the horizon. And of course, because I am me, that sparked the idea of doing one myself. At least creating 5e compatible classes based on the OA book. I'll probably put that together at my leisure. And who knows, maybe if WotC releases some kind of OGL for 5e that would allow me to publish it, I can put it out on RPGNow. Either way, it'll be a fun exercise.