Tuesday, October 30, 2012

PROJECT `77 - The Whole Enchilada

This is something I've had floating around for awhile, and it remains highly relevant to what I am currently up to. 

So, this gets to be my Wednesday blog entry (a day early).


A Manifesto for the RPG Hobby

Sean Patrick Fannon, July 2006

Premise: There is a perceived problem for non-electronic roleplaying games (hereafter referred in simple terms as RPGs). Sales are reported down in most sectors. Game stores are not selling RPGs in anywhere near the numbers they once did, and many are giving up on them. Online sales of RPGs have picked up considerably, but not in the numbers that can sustain most companies without the employees (and, in most cases, the owners) maintaining outside jobs to survive.

Many believe we are losing players to online, electronic games that at least simulate many of the elements of classic RPGs. Others insist we are doing too little to bring new blood into the hobby. Both of these assertions make a certain amount of sense and are hard to ignore.

On the other hand, there are others who believe people are still playing lots of RPGs. Wizards of the Coast asserts that there are more RPG enthusiasts than ever before. There are certainly plenty of people playing RPGs at the various gaming conventions around the world, including a record number of living campaign players at this year’s Origins. 

The truth lies in the murky between, to be sure. Nonetheless, the RPG hobby really could use a major shove in an upwards direction. RPGs need to ascend in the public eye somehow. Something needs to happen to set off some fireworks and draw a few more eyeballs our way.

That’s what “Project: `77” is about…

Statement of Purpose: In 1977, I discovered Dungeons & Dragons, and the moment was a true epiphany that forever changed my life. It deeply affected many of those around me, and shaped the paths of many in this world that I call friends and colleagues. There was magic in that moment; the imagination filled to bursting with ideas, excitement, and a yearning for more.

What I propose is that we who live and work in the industry that produces such games here in the early part of the 21st Century do our utmost to recreate something of that moment for not only our extant fans, but for all those who may yet become fans of our still intriguingly novel form of entertainment.

It is my hope to lead by example; as such, I intend to incorporate Shaintar: Immortal Legends, Talisman Studios, and the Savage Worlds game system into a kind of “test case with a profit motive.” To this end, we will produce and sell books, as most companies in our position do. However, we will endeavor to do much, much more to create a culture around our property, one that sustains itself with creative energy and sustains us with continued support, both financial and otherwise.

If we are successful, it is my sincerest hope that other companies will be able to take something out of our example and accomplish similar goals. Perhaps if enough of us strive to recreate the magic of 1977, granting a moment of magical discovery in the hearts and minds of old and new fans alike, maybe we can coax a phoenix of some shape and size out of the ashes everyone seems to think we are currently stirring.

Presumptions, Assumptions, Assertions, and Ideas: In no particular order, the following elements are foundational to my plans for changing the (RPG) world.

Follow the Dead to Margaritaville. 

My friend and colleague Matt Ragsdale likes to tell the story about how, many years ago while playing multiple shows in a venue in Toledo, Jimmy Buffett spotted some people dressed exactly the same as some other folks he’d noticed at his previous show, many miles away. The next night, he saw the same people, dressed much the same way, and saw them again on the third and final night he played that venue. He actually stopped the show for a moment and asked these people if they were, indeed, the same ones from the nights previous. They responded very enthusiastically that, yes, they were and that they followed him to every show they could manage to get to. He remarked in his gently humorous way that it was like having his own “Deadheads;” his drummer (with perfect timing, of course) corrected him and said “No. More like Parrot Heads.”

A phenomenon of rather epic proportions was born.

The one-hit-wonder hit-machine concept works very well to make young men and women fairly rich (and the executives who manufacture such groups much richer), but it will do little for an RPG publisher beyond a brief moment in time of personal satisfaction. Selling a million copies of one thing is not the goal for us. Selling a few thousand of every single thing we create that relates to the property we are putting out there is much more reasonable goal to strive for; achieving that goal will sustain a small, well-run company for many years.

For the Truly Dedicated Fan, the Creator is King. 

Actors portray memorable characters, and we love them for it. For the true fan of fantasy and science-fiction, however, the creators of the worlds those characters exist in are far more compelling. J. Michael Straczynski (JMS to his fans, and “Joe” to those who claim true kinship with him) will forever be the prophet who brought the masses “Babylon 5.” Sarah, David, and Nathan may have the hearts of the fans, but Joss Whedon has their souls, and they will follow him wherever his muse takes them all next. Every name at the end of every list of credits rolling after everything Paramount can push out will be held up to the standard of the “Great Bird of the Galaxy,” Gene Roddenberry. 

Lucas burns on the pyres for what his fans feel he’s done to their Star Wars, while Jackson continues to bask in the adulation of fans who feel he properly re-invented Middle Earth.

Once a year, in either San Diego or Chicago, comic book fans swarm together and beg for just a few moments to pick the brain of the writers and editors of their comics. The artists are rock stars to be sure, and everyone is nice to the letterers, inkers, and colorists… but the writers and the editors must be sought out, must be talked to, must be thanked or admonished for what they have done lately.

Now then.

What if it mattered? What if it really mattered? What if you could connect with the creator of something you’ve invested your emotions and time in, and what if he cared? What if your interactions with the creation could be further enhanced by continued connection with the creator?

What if, by some miracle of shared gestalt, the two of you could make the creation grow and evolve – together?

Would you want to help create an adventure in the `Verse, with Joss looking on and offering ideas? Would you want to craft a story in Astro City while Kurt nodded, smiled, and said “Hey, wouldn’t it be neat if…?”


The Game Master as X-Box. 

RPG Publishers know the following to be true, but they have yet to truly exploit this truth to its fullest extent.

The Game Master is the world’s most powerful content delivery system. 

Game consoles deliver what is programmed. Novels and comic books deliver what is written and drawn. DVDs, movie reels, and the cable/satellite companies deliver what is produced and sent. Even in theatre, where the content can change night to night, and actors can respond in subtle ways to the mood of the audience, still does the audience receive a package of content to accept or reject, with the moment ending and the experience concluded when the final bows are taken.

Game books are not the primary content delivery systems for RPGs; they merely provide the foundational understanding of the content for the real deliverer – the Game Master. In no other entertainment medium is it as possible to deliver an experience that can immediately adapt to the input of the audience. The GM does this; the Game Master delivers the content the Game Writer/Designer creates. He delivers it to the audience – the players – on the behalf of the publisher and creative team. What’s more, he can deliver it over and over, ever changing and ever immersing the audience, ad infinitum (or at least until he burns out on it, or dies).

Publishers need to truly learn this, live it, and love it. The experience the end users have with their content is entirely dependent on how the GM handles the delivery; embrace this, and learn how best to exploit it. There is no clearer path to long term success for an RPG publisher than this.

If you sell a book to a GM, you’ve sold a book. If you sell a book to a GM and then help him to run a kick-ass game with your content, you’ve sold six-to-eight times the number of books (and related products) and added to your long-term support base.

Is this a statement of the obvious? It certainly should be. That makes it no less important to note and keep on the stove as you bring out the other ingredients…

The Culture of Content. 

Various news channels have been carrying the story about how many “Star Trek” fans, bereft of anything Trek on the small or big screen since the early demise of “Enterprise,” have adopted the technologies of today and are filming their own episodes. Some of these shows (shown for free on the Internet everywhere) are even considered pretty good, but that’s not the point.

Trek fans are creating content for want of it.

They’re not the only ones, it turns out. There are “X-Files,” “Firefly,” and all kinds of other “fan-isodes” coming alive out there; A/V versions of the fan fiction (“fanfic”) that’s been embedded in geek culture for decades.

Attack it from another angle; the last product published for R. Talsorian’s quirky Castle Falkenstein came out close to a decade ago. Nonetheless, Falkenstein-themed LARPs still draw a real crowd, dressed to the nines and ready to dance and intrigue the night away.

That vein of gold has yet to be truly mined, as far as I am concerned. To this day, there is nothing more truly immersive than a roleplaying experience. Finding a way to frequently and effectively immerse RPG fans into the Culture of your Content is a real key to sustained success. You want them to talk about your world between sessions. You want them to wear costumes to conventions based on your game. You want them to write fan fiction and share it with the world.

You want Trekkies. Of course you do. You know that. You have to be willing to do everything it takes to create Trekkies for your stuff. You have to wade into that pool, get wet, and hug everybody.

This means, naturally, that you must love your stuff at least as much as they do. You must be thoroughly invested in your material to make it really work. Otherwise, you’re just printing books (or filing data in PDF form).

If you want it – if you really want it to go beyond the moment of publication – you have to create a Culture of Content.

The Cult of Continuity. 

“What happens next?” will always be the most compelling question in the entertainment universe. The continued existence – and thriving – of soap operas is testament enough. The geeks of the world got caught up in it when David Lynch messed with our heads with “Twin Peaks.” Not too long after, the “X-Files” and “Babylon 5” really took us all for that particular “can’t wait until next week” ride. 

Now it’s “4400” and “24.” Even “Desperate Housewives.”

“Lost,” in particular, goes the very effective extra mile in terms of keeping people attached between episodes. Web-delivered content, often teased with alternate reality-style commercial aired with the show, drives the fans crazy between shows.

That, my friends, is heap big mojo.

What is a roleplaying campaign if not an even more immersive and compelling “what happens next?” experience for the participants? The idea, then, would be to create a way for the participants to feel and stay connected to the content between their game sessions. GMs often go the extra mile to do just that, but imagine what happens if they aren’t doing it alone.

What happens when you partner with your Game Masters to create a Cult of Continuity, related to your Culture of Content?

It’s a “Living” – What Paradigm and Zeitgeist Understand. 

The concept of connecting to a larger, shared experience is not a new one for roleplayers. In 1990, West End Games tried to launch the “Infiniverse” campaign for their TORG property. Though it foundered after a year, the idea was absolutely breathtaking. People were encouraged to take the results of their individual game sessions and report them to West End; a newsletter was published containing “rumors” that featured those events from other campaigns.

It took many years for the next major effort to really take off. The RPGA’s “Living City” was the beta test. Though it eventually crashed and burned (with a significant fan base that still laments its passing), the lessons learned became the foundation for quite a few follow-on efforts, both from within and without the House of D&D. Oddly, the one campaign WotC would probably most like to commit assisted suicide on, “Living Greyhawk,” is the one that grows in spite of their central efforts. This is, in all ways, due to the autonomy granted to regional groups to create adventures tailored to their claimed areas.

(Ironically, it was the Ohio-based Veluna region players that ensured Origins 2006 had its most successful RPGA program, in spite of WotC’s decision not to come…)

Other WotC “Living” campaigns have had muted success or have failed outright, but other such campaigns (most of which were once part of the RPGA until they were more or less kicked out; one is RPGA almost is spite of itself) have begun to flourish as their organizers have empowered the fan base more and more. Paradigm’s “Living Arcanis” is a powerful example of what happens when creators work hand-in-hand with fans to jointly administer a shared story. Zeitgeist, with the legacy of Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor to draw on and a clear idea of what their fans want, has very effectively coined the term MMRPG (Massive Multiplayer, but not online, yo) and has a rapidly growing support base.

All of them are growing. In the days where RPG publishers can’t figure out how to eat and print a book at the same time, and game stores are faltering like brachiosaurs after a comet, shared campaigns are growing.


People want to play, that’s why. They like facilitated games, and they like feeling like they are a part of something bigger. Something huge, epic, and far-reaching.

However, there is turnover, and there are plenty of players who feel like the “Living” campaigns get close to the mark but… something doesn’t quite click. The “module chase” gets really old after a while, and many find the illusion doesn’t hold up; they know that, ultimately, what they are doing doesn’t really matter to the world.

They still want what the “Infiniverse” promised – that their unique experience, their specific participation, has meaning in the grander scheme.

A way has been found…

If You Plan It, They Will Play – the Big Convention Events. 

The first real opportunities for the players of shared campaigns to have a sense of impact started happening at the one place where organizers could be sure to have central command of the entire experience, all at once.


Gamers still plan their entire year’s vacation around when their convention(s) of choice is scheduled. Sales are down everywhere else, but companies still bring in the bucks at conventions. Attendance, overall, has been higher in the last few years. Nowhere are the numbers higher than in the areas where one shared campaign or another is hosting a special “interactive” event. 

“Battle Interactives” are now to shared campaigns what Pennsic is to the SCA. Come one, come all, and let’s have a showdown of epic proportions that wraps up a major conflict with the key bad guys of at least one of the prime story arcs. Even if you’re just one of a couple of hundred “foot soldiers,” this time your experience is unique, and this time what you do or fail to do really matters.

The fans fill these events to bursting, and more are outside begging to get in. The limit is always based on how many people can be called in to help run the thing.

There are two key lessons I’ve learned from studying shared campaigns, conventions, and the rest of it:

1) Conventions have always been vital to a company publishing RPGs; that importance is increasing in recent years. Conventions are where you gather the faithful and reinforce the Culture.

2) RPG players crave impact on the settings they care about.

Next slide, please…

The Power of Impact. 

Glory, even imagined glory, is so much sweeter when it’s shared. Sweeter, still, when it’s shared with everyone who might possibly care about what happened.

One of the things that has stayed with me through the years I’ve been a professional creator is how very much my friends have been willing to contribute to my efforts. They’ve never asked for money, and only rarely have they ever had a strong urge to see their actual name in print.

No, all any of them have ever wanted – and make no mistake, every single one of them has wanted this – 

Their character in a book. A story, a picture if Santa is extra kind. Something that indicates “Kilroy was here” for all eternity. So much the better if that character can be referenced in some legendary, historical way.

Hell, I’ve wanted it. Reading through Scott Bennie’s “Gestalt Universe” document (which isn’t even really “published,” but such is the importance of Scott among Old School Champions fans, it doesn’t matter), I scanned voraciously for any mention of Agent Cromwell, my character in his campaign.

You know the story about Christian Slater and the last original crew Star Trek movie, “Undiscovered Country,” right? You know there are a ton of others before him, right? And let’s not forget Samuel L. and the prequels…

If they love your stuff, they will want to be as big a part of it as you will let them. If you are letting people be a part of your stuff, even more of them will love it… and love it all the more. It’s one of those beautiful recursive things, trust me.

I’ve often read or heard statements from RPGA fans, wishing against all hope that somehow their characters could be mentioned in some way, somewhere, in the official stuff.

Just imagine… imagine if that really were possible.

And why the hell isn’t it?

Even imaginary worlds are pretty freaking huge, right? There’s room for everyone, and there’s room for everyone’s stories. 

And, if handled correctly (and I really, truly believe this is possible; I am, in fact, counting on it), there’s room for everyone’s stories to matter, in some way.

Dice + Keyboard = 21st Century Success. 

I find myself thinking a lot these days about what would have happened if Gary and the three Daves hadn’t put together this stuff until around the mid-80s or so. Yes, I know, “inevitable development; someone else would have gotten there before then, 100 monkeys, etc..,” but just bear with me for this exercise.

Just imagine what the RPG community would look like had e-mail and, eventually, web pages had been available tools that early on.

This figures into my thinking when I assert that maybe, just maybe, we can engineer a kind of renaissance for RPGs. We’ve been playing with the tools, integrating them as they’ve come along. There are some very clever people out there who have done some very impressive things, keeping their business alive through adaptation to electronic media and online sales and all that.

But… have we really created a whole-cloth structure that includes all these wonderful communication tools at the outset of a property’s development and release? Have we created and delivered a roleplaying experience that involves the full set of tools right off the bat?

Another thought for you… the pendulum is swinging. It’s slow, and possibly imperceptible to those too close to the thing. But it is swinging its way back, I believe.

Have you noticed that even though computer games are getting prettier and prettier, they are pretty much the… same… thing… over and over and over and …?

Sure, there are some outstanding breakout ideas (I must admit to being more than blown away by the very concept of Spore, the kind of game that only works when you’ve got processors working at lightspeed). None of those breakout ideas, from what I see, are in the RPG realm. They’re gorgeous and fun, yes, but most of the “RPGs” online are really not much more than real-time strategy/action games.

Coming from the electronic design side, you aren’t likely to see the kinds of innovations I am seeking; World of Warcraft makes too damn much money.

And yet… 

It’s time to offer alternatives. We aren’t going to drag people away from the computers; that’s a fool’s errand. However, we can sure as hell give them a new way to be entertained using their PCs (and, who knows, probably the consoles as well, since they’re practically living room PCs now, anyway). 

Parents want their kids to interact with real people. Why else do you think Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon exist? “Dateline” has done a pretty bang up job of terrifying parents while demonizing MySpace, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Encouraging parents to seek entertainment for their kids where they actually have a chance to meet who the kids are playing with will be a huge boon for face-to-face gaming.

As well, the older generations are starting to get bored. Sure, they still play, and they aren’t dropping off in droves or anything like that. I just think that there’s a lot of them who’d be happy if a new/old style of play became available. You can believe a lot of them miss the old D&D days, but they know they won’t be happy just dusting off the books and finding people to play.

But if something new and interesting were being done, something that started with the “old school” dice and paper style but expanded way beyond that… well, now, it would be time to take a new look at the whole thing, wouldn’t it?

I am not trying to be unnecessarily vague here. I am talking about integrating a web presence and other 21st Century ideas (hell, I’ve even been looking at the whole cellular texting thing) to more fully immerse the players and keep everyone more continuously involved and connected with the Content. I’ve also been looking at how best to create a Community of Content where the Game Masters, my prime Deliverers, have a primo role with a strong sense of entitlement.

The details are still being laid out, but I think you can see where I am headed, now.

Bullet Points are Fun!

With this insane amount of rambling, it’s probably a good idea if I do some summing up.

For all our sakes.

  • The RPG Hobby and Industry as we know it seems to be in trouble. It certainly could use a shot in the arm.
  • Most RPG fans can all agree that the time they first got involved with these games was a magical, inspiring period of their lives. It would be cool to recapture that in some way.
  • Sustaining a fan base that truly supports you over time is the real key to longevity and reasonable business success for a niche market like ours. This will kick the crap out of any model that is based on selling thousands of books all at once.
  • RPG fans, like any group of geeks, have massive respect for and interest in the creators of the worlds they connect to. This desire to connect with the creator is a powerful opportunity to expand and extend the life of a property.
  • Game Masters are the life or death of an RPG property. Understanding their role and developing a plan based more purely on that role is essential to success, and to innovation. You don’t reach the players without them.
  • The Culture of Content – create it, sustain it, exploit it. You won’t go far without it.
  • The Cult of Continuity – the entire point of putting an RPG world on the market is to exploit this. Go all the way.
  • Shared campaign experiences = long life. Bring them all together if you are serious about what you’ve created and want to go the distance.
  • Conventions are your “tent revivals,” and the big events will draw your pilgrims. Accept that, go for broke with them, and you’re playing for real, and for a while.
  • Your world is meant to be played with. You know that. Acknowledge what they’re doing to it, and let it matter. You won’t believe the magic of that until you see it for yourself.
  • Yes, Web. Yes, the Internets. Blah blah blah – stop! Wake up. They aren’t just sales and PR tools. Make them, and the other tools out there, part of the game and you get “Keep on the Borderlands, welcome to Greyhawk,” 21st Century style.

As always, comments are welcome. I would like to reiterate that I am full-speed-ahead on applying these ideas to my own efforts. As well, I am interested in seeing others in the industry benefit in any way they can from what is shared here.

Monday, October 29, 2012

SPF's VLOG, 10/29/12

A short and sweet one this time around. Changes to Evil Beagle Games and support for everyone facing Hurricane Sandy.

Hang in there, everyone, and as I said, I hope to have a huge announcement for next week.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Roundup of the Week's Picks (10/26/12)

Time for another roundup, but first I should explain some changes that I've made today.

First off, I've had to suspend my Your SAVAGE Expert services (except for the publisher-facing Your SAVAGE Setting). Simply put, I can't put the time into it anymore. I've had a number of wonderful opportunities present themselves to me, and I won't do a half-assed job on anything I work on just to get it done.

As many folks have pointed out, I dramatically under-sold myself with the initial offerings. If I do get back to the other Expert offerings, I will have to structure things differently to make the numbers make more sense. I truly appreciate those who initially supported me in my "grand experiment."

Two other changes that have appeared on the Evil Beagle Games site are the change of the name of the OmniVerse Project to OmniCosm, and the addition of my impending Modern Gods line. More on the latter in blogs to come...

Now let's get to this week's Picks of the Day -

The Hyper Halfling's Book of Lists, Vol.1

This book is the RPG runner's solution to blank brain moments! Whether you're building an adventure or in the midst of play, The Hyper Halfling's Book of Lists can help!

Imagine you drop your carefully crafted campaign notes in a puddle on the way to game. This could mean disaster, but no! The Hyper Halfling's got you covered! With lists of conversations overheard in a tavern, along with the name of the tavern, the drinks they serve, what's for dinner, the name of the guy in the corner, the axe on his back and the town they're in, you can build a story with a handful of dice.

When your players wander into a building you didn't expect them to notice, you can quickly discover who works there, who's skulking in the alley and why, what's in the closet in the back room and in the treasure chest under the owner's bed. There are even lists about the gem in his ear and the stuff in his pockets.

40 list categories give any game runner a vast variety of things to plug into the inevitable game hole. Many lists have sub-categories, variations and optional extras. The depth of detail is entirely up to the reader's preference.

The Hyper Halfling's Book of Lists is laid out in landscape orientation for easy viewing on your computer screen. Lists include links to other lists for easy navigation. Pages can be printed if you like, and maps are suitable for handing out to players for in-game use.

The Hyper Halfling's Book of Lists is suitable for all ages and is not picky about the game rules you use. You will want a full set of polyhedral dice. (Yes, even the d12!)

Precis Intermedia Halloween Special [BUNDLE]

Prepare to enter a world where anything can happen - the world of dreams.Humanity is under attack. The enemy is an alien species that assails us in our most vulnerable state - while we sleep. You are a Dreamwalker and capable of leaving your own dreams and travelling into the Dreamworlds of others. Not only must you face the parasitic Taenia, but also satisfy the whims and desires of the Dreamer in whose mind they are ensconced. Can you do this and still maintain a grasp on your own sanity? Dreamwalker Diceless allows players to delve deep into the hidden recesses of the human mind. A place where the dreamer must act out his past experiences or current desires. A place where reality has no influence and the surreal makes perfect sense...

For mature readers. Note: this compiles the former PDF Collection into a single book, which is identical to the softcover version. Ghostories includes everything you need for edge-of-your seat, paranormal mysteries. Explore the paranormal as innocents, investigating ghostly encounters, possessed victims, or freakish constructs. Or, delve into the arcane pursuits associated with empathy, faith, magic, meditation, the occult, science, or vigilantism. Tangle with a variety of ghosts, embodied spirits, phantoms, banes, and other creatures -- or mortal threats, such as rogue sorcerers, diabolists, mad scientists, and endowed cults. Ghostories includes special rules for investigations, fear and dementia, paranormal powers, and using connections, as well as nine scenarios...

Precis Intermedia makes this classic Bloodshadows novel (originally published by West End Books) available again. Murder Most Magical… Jack Deacon was just another average gumshoe on another average case. Until his client flashed a set of fangs, the sentinels came calling, and an out-of-town caster tossed a spell with his name on it. Now he has to track down a bizarre killer or take the ultimate fall. The first novel in The World of Bloodshadows. "Not only as a game novel but also as a hard-boiled detective story, I found Hell’s Feast a great read." NOTE: This is a 5x8" scanned reprint of the classic 1994 novel...

Family Games: The 100 Best

In Family Games: The 100 Best, top game designers and publishers write about the most enjoyable, most cleverly designed titles of the last one hundred years. Their essays cover the spectrum from board games to card games, wargames to miniatures games to role-playing games, including old favorites and little known gems. These are the games that the designers themselves play, the ones that have inspired their most popular inventions.

Essayists include such legendary creators as Alan R. Moon (designer of Ticket to Ride), Matthew Kirby (Apples to Apples), Richard Garfield (Magic: The Gathering), Susan McKinley Ross (Qwirkle), Ken Levine (BioShock), Peter Olotka (Cosmic Encounter), Leo Colovini (Clans), Mike Selinker (Risk: Godstorm), Tom Wham (Great Khan Game), James Ernest (Kill Dr. Lucky), Phil Orbanes (Cartel), Eric Goldberg (Junta), David Parlett (Hare & Tortoise), Kevin Wilson (Descent), Emiliano Sciarra (Bang!), Warren Spector (Toon), Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson (co-founders of Games Workshop), and dozens of other noteworthy and award-winning designers. Family Games: The 100 Best also features a foreword by board game legend and Senior Director of Product Acquisition for Hasbro Games Mike Gray (Fortress America) and an afterword by author and actor Wil Wheaton (Stand By Me, Star Trek: The Next Generation).

Editor James Lowder has helmed more than a dozen critically acclaimed anthologies and authored several best-selling novels, including Prince of Lies and Knight of the Black Rose. He's been a finalist for the Stoker Award and International Horror Guild Award, and has won an ENnie Award and four Origins Awards.

Daredevil Adventures: Nefarious Plots

Crime of the Century by Stephen Dedman
Terror of the Red Fist by Stefan Jones
Curse of the Countess by Stephen Dedman
Illustrated by James Bishop

Dust off that old leather whip or put on your favorite Fedora.

There's adventure to be had in this series of pulp-style adventures set in the 1930s!

A classic supplement for the old Daredevil RPG that is grand source material for anyone running pulp-style RPGs.

Lee's Lists

Here's descriptions for the first three of MANY of the lists:

Got 99 problems? Make sure that coming up with an reason to adventure for tonight's game isn't one!

100 Adventuring Motivations is a finely crafted list of mostly historically accurate and verisimilitudinous motiviations collected by our semi-professional adventurers. Perfect for deciding why your character is adventuring.

A sample of what you might find:

11. The church outlawed dancing and you need excitement.
47. You ate some bad shrimp.
83. You must tear down the walls between man and monster.

This product is system and genre agnostic, so feel free to use it to use it to feed your fantasy PCs, to name your tanks in any number of popular war games set in the far future, to add some realism to your virtual reality simulator adventures, or just to spark your own imagination!

Got 99 problems? Make sure that coming up with an alchemical reagent for tonight's game isn't one!

100 Alchemical Reagents is a finely crafted list of mostly historically accurate and verisimilitudinous reagents collected by our semi-professional alchemists. Perfect for snap decisions when your players rummage through the belongings of an alchemist, or just filling out a treasure horde with some mysterious jars of stuff.

A sample of what you might find:

50. Polar Moss
51. Liquid Hematite
52. Bodybloat Lichen

Got 99 problems? Make sure that coming up with an artifact for tonight's game isn't one!

100 Amazing Artifacts is a finely crafted list of mostly historically accurate and verisimilitudinous artifacts collected by our semi-professional artificers. Perfect for adding to a horde of magical treasure, giving to your wizards, or give you an idea for your own magical enchantments

A sample of what you might find:

15. The Infuriating Mask, with the ability to anger all those who see it worn.

51. The Clear Eye, with the ability to see through solid objects.

89. The Emphasis Spear, with the ability to always hold a sharp point.

And there are the products we liked this week. Have a great weekend, and roll some dice!


Monday, October 22, 2012

No VLOG Today

I know this makes two Mondays in a row, but trust me - you don't want to see me like this.

I'm battling with cellulitis again. This makes my 8th bout with the chronic condition that's taken up residence in my right leg. We've been treating it with oral antibiotics over the weekend, and this morning's follow up resulted in a shot to boost them.

However, the docs are not happy with the progress, and the fact that I am now feeling a bit nauseous adds to the overall concern.

Thus, I will likely be in the hospital come tomorrow in order to get the IV antibiotics that are likely needed to knock this out.

If you don't see any new blog posts for a bit, that's why.

Roll some dice for me!


Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Roundup of the Week's Picks (10/19/12)

Missed last week, since I was at Con on the Cob, and I am shy one for this week.

Apologies all the way around, but Life... Is.

And here we go -

BASIC-1: A Learning Time

VTT (Virtual Tabletop) files now included with all Adventureaweek.com adventure modules!  Play it now on Roll20.net!!


A Pathfinder compatible adventure for beginner players and game masters, 4 PCs of levels 1-2

Prepare to be schooled!

Exallizar Preparatory Academy is a place that, for generations, has trained the best and brightest heroes in the land. All of the students are the children of famous heroes, and as one of the fortunate attendees, it is your job to uphold the legacy of excellence attached to your family name.

As a student in Exallizar, you will be put through the paces like never before. This first year will see you and three strangers attempting the Gauntlet – a mysterious crucible that will put all of your studies to the test!

Also included in “A Learning Time”:

  • The first look at an exciting new miniature campaign setting specifically intended for the basic version of Pathfinder
  • Four new iconic pre-generated PCs for quick and immersive play
  • A classic monster never before seen in the basic version of Pathfinder
  • A grading system to let you know how well you’ve done at the end of the adventure
  • The first chapter of a series of seasonally thematic modules that can be run to completion in 3-6 hours
  • HERO LAB files available for all encounters within the adventure as well as the BASIC Iconics, all playable as PCs!

Note: This Nation Guide is an extract from Savage Insider Premium Issue #3 and presented here as a standalone product. The content has not been altered other than for layout purposes. Savage Insider Premium is a quarterly magazine dedicated to providing quality content for Savage Worlds and the many Savage Worlds settings published by Mystical Throne Entertainment.

Welcome to the first FAITH & DEMONS: THE RISING NATION GUIDE, a series of mini-sourcebooks detailing the different nations during the Dark Ages. Each Nation Guide depicts historical information alongside that of mythology, folklore, speculation, and fiction for the purpose of providing additional content for your adventures and campaigns. This first Nation Guide details the Anglo-Saxon nation located in modern day Britain.

Faith & Demons Nation Guide: Anglo-Saxon includes:
  • A deeper look at the Anglo-Saxon pagan religion.
  • A Gazetteer detailing the seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.
  • Alternate history adventure hooks.
  • A 600-year timeline of historical events.
  • New Hindrances and Edges.
  • 6 new creatures from Anglo-Saxon folklore.
FAITH & DEMONS: THE RISING is a Dark Ages, gothic fantasy plot point setting for Savage Worlds where united lords have brought the world’s warriors together to prevent the armies of chaos from enslaving their people.

Faith & Demons Nation Guide: Anglo-Saxon is not a stand-alone game and requires the Savage Worlds core rulebook. Although designed to be used in conjunction with the Faith & Demons: The Rising core setting guide, the source material can be with used any Savage Worlds product.

A new adventure for Ashen Stars from Robin D Laws.

In this scenario of exploration and confrontation in a devastatingly hostile environment, hard-bitten lasers, who know enough not to touch the gooey stuff or take off their helmets in an untested biosphere, investigate the demise of a survey crew doomed by the above mistakes, and more.

The interstellar corporation Shrawley-Gosha Industries offers a contract for an extraction operation on a notorious Bad Planet called Tartarus. A recent SGI survey mission went awry there, with all hands presumed lost. The company seeks a crew to retrieve DNA samples from the dead team members, to see if they were exposed to an experimental viroware treatment, and, if so, whether it contributed to the mission’s failure. As a secondary objective, the lasers are to gather enough evidence to reconstruct the sequence of events leading to whatever catastrophe destroyed the original team.

Wartime roleplaying…with tentacles!

Achtung! Cthulhu brings you a wartime SAVAGE WORLDS / REALMS OF CTHULHU roleplaying game setting packed full of fiendish Nazis, terrifying ancient mysteries, legendary war machines, and enough writhing tentacles to fill ten Reichstags!

Heroes of the Sea is the second standalone adventure supplement in the globe-spanning Zero Point campaign. Play soldiers, agents, and resistance fighters in the chaos and carnage of the Battle of Dunkirk, as a sinister conspiracy threatens the lives of the retreating Allied forces!

Inside you will find everything you need:

• A standalone 63 PAGE multi-episode adventure for several sessions of play!

• New rules for wartime investigations, including tanks and Stukas!

• Maps of Europe and the evacuation at Dunkirk

• An “Operational Briefing” and many other beautiful handouts!

• Four pre-generated characters to get you playing immediately!

Requires a copy of the SAVAGE WORLDS rules & REALMS OF CTHULHU Supplement to play.

For press info and review copies please contact chris @ modiphius.com

If you purchase any of the Achtung! Cthulhu releases in PDF you will qualify for a discount to purchase other Achtung! Cthulhu releases. 

Please note this is currently a PDF only product. At the end of the series, the full set of PDF's in each campaign will be compiled as one printed book. Buyers of the PDF's will also get a discount on our print releases. A print anthology of Three Kings & Heroes of the Sea is due out for Christmas, 2012

Your purchase includes a colour and printer friendly version of the PDF


Have a great weekend! May there be lots of gaming!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Post-Con Report: Con on the Cob 2012

Carinn and I are back from Con on the Cob, which was fantastic as always. That is a show that has enjoyed a steady growth curve, not only in terms of attendance but in terms of sheer enjoyment. Andy and Heather Hopp, along with the rest of the staff, the MSTB folks, the AnCon folks, and everyone else that helps put that show together all deserve a great deal of praise and thanks for their efforts. It made the 20+ hours we spent on the road getting there and back again more than worth it.

Of course, we had our annual Savage Saturday Night Bar & Grill party on Saturday, and it was the usual master shindig. Craig Henson blew everyone away with both his purchase and serving of alcohol; Tim Hannon and the rest of the Dirty Dirty Grill & Sauce Gang brought their A-Game with food and music; and Carinn was truly the Hostess with the Mostest, checking IDs, keeping things straight, and gathering more than a few admirers.

And, yes, I ended the party in my usual fashion. I was rather impressed with the handful of folks who didn't bail in the first few seconds, instead remaining to bask in my post-party non-wear. ;-)

I also want to give a shout-out to the Commodore and the rest of Bar Fleet. Not only did they once again host a fine party right down the hall, but the Commodore honored me beyond words to convey by bestowing a "Bar Fleet Staff" wrist band upon me. I continue to serve gratefully as Ambassador Spiffy Beagle, spreading the message of "Drink Long and Prosper" and the grand tradition of raucous-yet-safe hospitality wherever I can.

It was, as always, an exceptional Gathering of Savages as well. Got to play Deadlands Noir under Shane Hensely with Aaron & Jeannine Acevedo, Evil Mike, Chaos Steve (who died horribly, and apparently not for the first time), and Tim Hannon. Also got to play in a Space: 1889, Savage style, with Mark Margraf and under a great GM named Mike (last name is lost to me at the moment, for which I apologize). I was thrilled when Mike McNeal ran the game he had me design for him (via my "Your SAVAGE Expert" program) for a group of Savage Stalwarts (Steve Todd, Dave McGuire, Norm Hensley, Deb Gordon, Al Bohannon and Gordon Ford among them).

I also got to hang out with my good friend, Patrick Benson, especially while playing the exceptionally engaging and engrossing Artemis Bridge Simulator! Oh, man, were we all up in that thing! Patrick is already thinking through his budget to set on up in his home, which means I may well have to make some special trips to Chicago. We even managed to drag Jamie Chambers into it, on Sunday, which made those sessions extra-awesome.

The major downside is that the Con Crud Specter seems to have followed us home, and Carinn is currently down with it. I feel "off," but I remain hopeful that my resistances (bolstered by considerable amounts of alcohol remaining in my system from the weekend) will fight the thing off.

Here's hoping...


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Once More Unto Hudson

For the second time this year (the first one was for AnCon), Carinn and I are off to Hudson, OH for a great gaming convention.

This one is Con on the Cob, run by the Amazing Hopps and their extended clan of crazies.

We've become part of the tradition, as once more the Savage Saturday Night Bar & Grill will be open for "bidness."

That is all - have a great rest-of-the-week!


Monday, October 8, 2012

Monday VLOG, 100812

Yet another VLOG, this time covering the earliest part of my personal gaming history. This one is by multiple request, so here ya go!

We're off to Con on the Cob come Wednesday, so I may not be able to get a post up Wednesday or Friday - but I will try.



Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday Roundup of the Week's Picks (10/05/12)

Here we go again, with a variety of interesting stuff.

Mutants & Masterminds Power Profile #31: Radiation Powers

Each Power Profile takes a look at a particular type of super-power in Mutants & Masterminds game terms, putting together the effects and modifiers from the Hero's Handbook to present different abilities associated with that power, from offensive and defensive to movement and utility. It also discusses different power descriptors and how they affect game play, as well as features and complications associated with the power. It's a ready-made guide to creating new heroes and villains for your M&M game!

Power Profile #31: Radiation Powers

Command the unleashed power of the atom! In the modern age, no powers are associated more with changing ordinary people into superhumans than Radiation Powers. The "radiation accident" is a time-honored origin, and radioactivity offers a powerful weapon and tool for those able to wield it. From radiation blasts to blinding light and burning heat, radiation powers let you nuke 'em until they glow!

21 Plots III

Running a Traveller game can often be challenging. Perhaps your campaign isn't quite ready.  Maybe the last campaign finished a session or two early.  Maybe your players have strayed from the expected path.  Or maybe you're looking for a short session idea to introduce Traveller to a new group of players.

Whatever the reason, we're here to help!

Much like 21 Plots and 21 Plots Too before it, 21 Plots III presents 21 situations with 6 possible outcomes for Traveller groups equipped with a starship and ready to travel.

Like all our products, the main intention of this book is to provide an extra spark to the Referee's imagination.

"Traveller" and the Traveller logo are Trademarks owned by Far Future Enterprises, Inc. and are used with permission.  The Traveller Main Rulebook is available from Mongoose Publishing.

HELLAS: Worlds of Sun and Stone 2nd Edition

Your Heroic Journey Begins...

It is the dawn of a dark, new Age for the Hellenes and their allies. An ancient enemy has returned from beyond the stars, threatening to destroy everything the Hellenes hold dear. Facing insurmountable odds against dark foes who can smash entire planets, the peoples of the known worlds have raised their voices to pray to the Twelve Gods.

The Gods have answered.

You are one of the Heroes who has been chosen to drive back the dark menace that threatens the galaxy. With heroic resolve, strength, and skill, you will win the war and be placed among the stars for all to see your Glory!

Follow your Destiny!

HELLAS is an epic space opera in the style of ancient Greek culture and legend. Every player character is a Hero in a story that you will help create, with the power to influence the settings and elements of the game. HELLAS spans multiple generations, allowing for the continuation of the epic story even after the death of a Hero, in the style of the epic poets of old.

  • Rules and charts to use a modified Omni System with a Grecian flair
  • A life path system to construct a detailed, epic back story for your Hero
  • Mechanics that allow for permanent change in the universe, to ensure the players are the primary (and most important) elements in the story
  • An introductory campaign, setting the stage for the first 25 years of this century-long epic, along with a dozen short "side-quest style" adventures
  • Detailed maps, descriptions, and statistics for ease of play
  • And so much more!

May your brave deeds be remembered forever, as you lead the Hellenes to victory!

Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. - Savage Worlds Edition

Join the fight to protect earth - Now using the Savage Worlds ruleset! Monsters and demons have existed on Earth since its inception, terrorizing humanity throughout history. But some of them decided to fight back, creating a company of like-minded beings (even other demons) to defend the Earth from supernatural threats.

Today, the shadow company has it's hands in every facet of life all around the globe, using this grasp to police supernatural activity. Demon races that live on Earth (i.e. the aquatic Lochs, shape-shifting Changelings, or even the pyrotechnic Burners) have joined the company as well, ensuring their safety as well as humanity's.

Each agent arms themselves in a different way, but all stand as the last chance for Earth's defense against countless dimensional and magical enemies. Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. details everything you need to become agents and protect the Earth.

  • Full details regarding API, their methods and motivations
  • 12 playable races, from Humans to the vampiric Taylari and the lunatic Wolf People
  • New systems for Magic and Cybernetics
  • A host of new Edges and Hindrances, including new Martial Arts Edges

Doctor Who - Defending the Earth: The UNIT Sourcebook

Front and centre, soldier! You're part of UNIT now, the Unified Intelligence Taskforce. We are the Earth's best defence against the myriad alien forces who would try to subjugate and conquer our planet.

It's not an easy job, and even those recruited for their scientific knowledge can find themselves on the front lines of combat against almost unstoppable foes. We will protect humanity from extraterrestrial terrors or die trying.

Defending the Earth is a 160 page full colour sourcebook for the Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space roleplaying game. Within, you’ll will find:

  • The history of UNIT
  • Rules for creating UNIT characters, including new Traits and Areas of Expertise
  • Expanded firearms and combat rules, including mass combat and skirmish rules
  • Details on major UNIT personnel, including the legendary Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
  • Two new adventures
  • and more…
Like I said, a lot of interesting stuff this week. Check it out, and happy gaming!


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Like Trying to Fly Multiple Planes at Once

"Too many balls in the air."

"Too many irons in the fire."

These are common cliches that are often applied to people in my situation. However, I've come to the conclusion today that they are inadequate to what I am really doing to myself.

  • I've got a steady flow of Your SAVAGE Expert stuff going, and even with the raised prices, more are signing on.
  • I've got consulting gigs with a few folks at different stages of development.
  • I've been helping the Savage Mojo folks out with their Dungeonlands Kickstarter, both creatively and from a promotional standpoint.
  • OmniVerse slid back to the back-burner again, but I really need to bring it to a front eye and put some more ingredients in it*.
  • My search for "my next supers game system" has me brain-deep in Capes, Cowls and Villains Foul. As those of you who've known me long enough no doubt can guess, that means some seriously obsessive system tinkering on my part, which eats a lot of time and energy. Good results, though (which I will likely share some of here in a later post).
  • It's long past time for me to delve back into Shaintar, as well. There's a lot of support material that needs to be in the Reality Blurs pipeline to back up the initial releases.
  • FASA Games is ramping up for its new 1879 product line, which I will be very much involved in.
So these are all like planes that I am flying at the same time. I am trying to keep them on track and in the air, and it can be thoroughly overwhelming on a daily basis.

Exciting. Terrifying. Creatively satisfying. Intensely stressful.

It takes a particular brand of mental case to do this. I don't recommend it for anyone who relishes their sense of inner peace.



* - There's also the matter of possibly needing to change the name altogether

Monday, October 1, 2012

Monday VLOG, 100112

Wherein I reveal the "hacking" I did on CC&VF this weekend; my work on a Firefly campaign for one of my Your SAVAGE Expert customers (and the awesomeness that is the Firefly/Serenity wiki); my Swing Shift State of Mind; and other random stuff.

As always, comments, questions, and requests are welcome!