Tuesday, May 26, 2015

1000th post - Fold Up Basic Monsters!

Well, it's a milestone I probably would have reached two or three years ago if I hadn't entered grad school, and months ago if I hadn't had a second child (10 months old today!), but it's my 1,000th post here on What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse...!

And what better way to help me celebrate, than by purchasing my newest offering from Hidden Treasure Books, Basic Monsters Set 1

If you're a DM who likes to use minis, but doesn't like the bulk of carrying them around, or the time spent searching through the racks and singles bins at your FLGS, or the cost of buying lots of minis (they add up, even for inexpensive plastics like Reaper Bones), you might want to consider this! Basic Monsters Set 1 has 37 creatures from the Basic D&D monster list, from Ant, Giant to Elf. Yes, that includes the six chromatic dragons, bears, great cats, bandits and berserkers, giant bees and beetles, etc.

And it's only $5, about the price of one (human-size) metal mini. That's not bad!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Rise from your grave

Funny how things work. I've completed my second ebook of paper minis for Hidden Treasure Books, and I'm just waiting on DrivethruRPG to OK it. Unfortunately, I didn't get it to them before the weekend started stateside, so I'll have to wait a bit for them to approve it and then I can start advertising it.

To tide me over (and because I can type on my tablet while outside with my son, but not work on digital image manipulation), I've started rebuilding Presidents of the Apocalypse from the ground up.

Part of the inspiration to go back to it was my ideas for re-vamping Flying Swordsmen. There's some overlap of ideas in the new Wu Xing system and PotA. Part of it is getting off to a slow start with Hidden Treasure Books. If I've got more material for sale, I stand to make more money, right? Finally, of course, was watching Mad Max: Fury Road.

People on DeviantArt get this game.
It was almost a decade ago that Paul and I came up with the idea for PotA. And I've mentioned it before, but the original version we hurriedly came up with was a bare-bones resolution system, and three charts (each d100) of crazy ass powers. But the powers were names only, no description. Part of the fun of the game was rolling up a random President. Part was trying to find ways to make the random names of powers into useful things to do. And part was being able to beat the tar out of Ronald McDonald, Kim Jong-Il, Teletubbies, David Hasselhoff, and Morning Musume (a J-Pop band) all in the same game.  Hell, in the same session!

Paul and I have made so many more detailed versions of the game over the years, but they've all been somewhat incoherent. This time, I've started by ignoring most of what came before, only bringing it back in when I see a need for it. And I'm looking at the game as what it truly is - a Supers game with a wacky post-apoc setting, rather than a post-apoc game with wacky characters.


Yes, they really get this game!
So hopefully, this version will be more coherent. Why are resurrected (or cloned, or unfrozen, etc.) mutated (cyborged) former presidents beating up historical and pop culture icons in a devastated wasteland? That's not important. They are. And the more "presidential" they are, and the more "American" their actions, the faster they will advance.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Well, what do you know?

Two things:

First of all, people are downloading my paper minis!  Thanks!  Not a lot of people yet, but hey, I wasn't expecting the PC types to be the big seller. People like to have nicely painted models of their characters, if they're going to be using minis on the table.

But the first of (hopefully) many monster books is on the way. And every DM who uses minis could always use a few more monsters.

How many times have you had to substitute some other critter for a carrion crawler because you just didn't have one? Or only had one but there are three in the encounter? Well, my fold-up paper minis should offer a cost-effective alternative.

Of course, my big problem is I suck at sales/promotion. I've worked retail, which is fine. Customers come to me, I provide them with what they like. Of course, the pay was crap. I tried working for commission once. Didn't last long. I just don't feel comfortable pestering people to buy something that they probably don't want to buy, actually. I tend to resist hard sales techniques when people try them on me. I'm a nice guy, and nice guys (at least in sales) finish last.

But hey, man...
OK, only two. But still. If they end up deciding to go to college in the States, I shudder to think what tuition will be 20 years from now.

So, I'll promote these items I've got for sale as best I can. I guess if people get sick of it, they can either buy the stuff already so I'll stop blabbering about it, or else stop reading my blog and uncircle me on G+. 

Anyway, a preview of the monster book. This first one has 37 figures, covering the first third of the Mentzer Basic monster list.  That's everything from Giant Ant to Elf (normal and leader), yes including all six chromatic dragons and that carrion crawler (although I'm only calling it a "crawler" since WotC didn't include it in the SRD).
Berserker

Blue Dragon

Brown Bear (Grizzly)
As with the characters in my first offering, these will have silhouette backs with labels.  Like so:

Alright, enough promotion for now. If you're still reading this, I found something else cool this afternoon.  I was on RPOL.net, and cleared out a game that had died from my list. I started looking for a replacement. And I found someone running a game of Flying Swordsmen!

Of course, I sent a Request to Join, and since my handle on RPOL is still Lord Gwydion, I bet the GM will put two and two together and figure out it's me asking to play in my own creation. That could be off-putting for some, I suppose. But I gotta ask.

Unfortunately, the game has been dormant since February of this year. But maybe someone's still around. It would be cool to get a chance to try playing it, especially as I move toward revising/revamping the game.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

My New Venture

This is it, the big announcement! Why has the blog been so silent lately? Well, because I've been spending a lot of my (very limited) free time creating this (and watching The Flash and Daredevil and reading good books like Andy Weir's The Martian).

So what is this? It's my new publishing venture for RPGs and RPG accessories. [I'll spare you the Hank Hill picture again], Hidden Treasure Books.

Yes, I'm now a vendor on DrivethruRPG.com and so far, I've got two products for sale, with #3 hopefully up by this time next week.

I'm initially starting out with some fold-up paper minis for gaming use.  Why paper minis? Well, I've got a fairly good sized collection of mostly plastic and some metal minis for gaming, but I rarely use them. Even a large number of plastic minis starts to get heavy, and they're bulky no matter what they're made of. If I were hosting games in my home (no space in our current apartment) it would be no problem. But when I go out to game, I tend to just leave them at home.

Paper minis solve those two issues. They're light and don't take up much space. And while they're not durable, it's easy enough to just print out more.

The first two offerings are one of Basic Adventurers - covering the BX/BECMI character classes, and a Free Sample with some PC types and a couple of monsters.
Basic Adventurers contains 28 figures.  There are four of each of the seven classes from Basic D&D or various retro-clones.  Half are male, half are female (and yes, it took some digital manipulation in a few cases to get more females since I'm working with public domain artwork instead of my own mediocre drawing skills here). I've also tried to use a variety of skin tones so it's not all whitey-white bog-standard pseudo-Euro fantasy. Although for the elves I went with Rankin-Bass/Magic: The Gathering blue instead of brown tones for the non-whites.

It's only $3. That's not bad for 28 minis, I'm guessing. Also, the PDF is layered, so you don't need to print all 10 figures on a page every time. Need just one replacement? Turn off all the layers except for the one you want and print. 

The Free Sample is just that. A small selection of minis (different from the ones in the paid book) just to get an idea what you're getting.  It has four PC types, one each of cleric, fighter, M-U and thief, plus a hill giant, carnivorous ape, and a riding horse. The horse even has markings to cut and reverse fold a section of the top edge to seat one of the character figures when riding.
Coming up next is the first of three books covering monsters in the Mentzer Basic Set. While I'm using that as my guide, the books will hopefully appeal to a broader audience than just the OSR. Most of these monsters could be used in any fantasy game.

In the future, I'm planning to add AD&D and up classes like barbarians, assassins, illusionists, monks, etc. And of course, a wuxia/samurai expansion. I'm also collecting images for the monsters in the Mentzer Expert set and others not present in the AD&D Monster Manual (probably stick to MM1 for now).

I've also got ideas for an NPC henchmen, hirelings, torchbearers, mercenaries set. And an undead pack, an orc warren pack (variety of orcs, related creatures like wolves, ogres, a troll, etc.), things like that.

Eventually, if the Ph.D dissertation process doesn't kill me, I'd like to move on to sci fi figures as well, with some public domain retro-futuristic figures.

And, I'll also be able to use my new Hidden Treasure Books vendor site to sell adventure modules and whole games (like Presidents of the Apocalypse, Chanbara and Flying Swordsmen: Wu Xing edition when I eventually get them finished).
 Here is a photo of a test printing I did as I was getting all this ready.

And here's a shot of a few of the figures in action on the battle mat that came with the 3.0 PHB to show scale.

Monsters coming soon, I promise!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I...

Like Mr. Frost, will I take the one less traveled by?  He claims it makes all the difference.

OK, so blog silence is broken and all I'm offering you are cryptic tidbits of poetic reference?  Nah, this will be a much more concrete post than that, but it does come down to a decision point for me.

First off, I'm just about to make the (hopefully big, hopefully well-received) announcement of the side project I've been working on the past couple of months.  I'm starting up a small web publishing business for RPGs and RPG accessories.
Dated reference FTW! (I did leave the States in 1998...)
More on that later, though.

Today, I want to talk about the direction of Chanbara and the future of Flying Swordsmen.

A month or so ago, Jonathan Becker, aka JB of the BX Blackrazor blog, sent me a long, detailed analysis of Flying Swordsmen (I may have mentioned that before).  I spent some time thinking about his feedback, and crafted a long response to it.  In the process, I developed the basic framework of a new wuxia RPG that will be much simpler (I think, it should definitely have a reduced page count) and maybe truer to the source fiction/film than Flying Swordsmen was.  Needless to say, it's not gonna be based on the D&D game engine like FS was.  I'll still be going for an old school vibe, though, but borrowing some stuff from some other old school games and some new school ones, too.  Not sure when I'll get around to it, but I've got plenty of notes written up already.

So, while considering this new wuxia game, which I'm calling Wu Xing (the Chinese name for the five elements), I can easily see how the system would also be appropriate for a samurai/ninja game.  And Chanbara is sitting here not getting completed.

Now, with me starting to work on dissertation ideas (I'd like to get that Ph.D within the next two years), a 9-month old baby in the house along with my 7-year old, my above-mentioned RPG products to try and sell, I don't know if I have it in me to put out both Chanbara as a Flying Swordsmen/D&D compatible game, and a version based on Wu Xing.

Should I just hurry up and put out D&D/OSR-based Chanbara, warts and all?  

Should I scrap that version and work on both Wu Xing and Chanbara using the new system?

My gut is telling me to do #2 because it will be less work, but there's a part of me that doesn't want to see all the work I've done on Chanbara so far go to waste.  

Decisions, decisions... 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron movie review

I went to see Avengers: Age of Ultron last Thursday, when it opened in Korea, with my son.  Since it still hasn't opened everywhere (and I'm maybe just squeaking this in as a "blog brag" that I've seen it and you haven't), I'll keep this spoiler free.

First of all, for those searching Google for "Avengers Age of Ultron curse words" and finding this post, yes there is some bad language in the film.  In fact, there's a running gag about it.  But there's not a lot, and much less than in Marvel's Netflix Daredevil TV series.

Overall, I liked Avengers 2.  They introduced the new characters well, brought in some old minor characters, and are setting up the transition from the original cast to the "next generation" of Avengers.  Contracts for the stars only run for one more (two part) movie, from what I hear. 

The movie has a darker tone than Avengers 1 or Guardians of the Galaxy.  There are jokes and humor in the movie, but it's muted.  Or maybe just not as funny this time around?  Joss Whedon isn't infallible, after all.  But the action is intense, the plot is character driven, and it's setting up the events to come in the next wave of MCU movies.

One thing that did surprise me (this is a tad spoilery so highlight the black bar to see it)

they didn't introduce any of the Phase Three characters, Ant Man, Black Panther, Dr. Strange, or Captain Marvel in this film.  I didn't think they'd have time to work in a Spider-Man cameo, but since Ant Man is coming up in a month and part of the film takes place in Wakanda, I thought they might have an after credits scene at least introducing one or both, but they don't.

How would I rate this film?  It's pretty good on its own.  As far as compared to the other MCU films?  Not at the top, but up there.  It's not as fun as Guardians of the Galaxy, it doesn't have the rough, rock n roll feel of Iron Man 1, and it's not as much of a roller coaster ride as Avengers 1 or Captain America: Winter Soldier, but it's solid. 

Hawkeye and Ultron really stand out as strong characters in this film, and I really like their take on the non-human intelligences of Ultron and Vision. 

If you're an MCU fan, you're gonna go see this anyway regardless of what I write.  But if you're on the fence, I'll ask you a question.  Do you want to see a semi serious take on super heroes and the stress that having to "save the world" puts on them, with some awesome fight scenes and a lot of fun references that comic book geeks will get?  Then go see it. 

If not, then save your money for Mad Max Fury Road or Terminator Genesys or something else that strikes your fancy.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Crafting a RIFTS character

God help me, Alex is finally getting a chance to run the RIFTS game he's been wanting to run for a few years now.  And yes, I'm playing in it.

Yet another reason I haven't been blogging much this month!

Anyway, I had a concept I wanted to try out (a cyborg commando), but it wasn't nearly cool or overpowered enough for the game Alex wants to run.  This game will be the sort where we're taking on demi-gods and alien intelligences and demonic ancient vampires and whatnot (so I'm told).

So after looking at the sheer number of titles available for options to sift through...yes, just literally only looking at the number of  books available for RIFTS (not to mention the Palladium system as a whole, from which things can easily be ported/grafted on), I gave up in frustration.  As the meme-makers like to say, "Ain't nobody got time for that."

Well, turns out Alex actually DOES have time for that.  He's graciously stepping in and helping me.  He scoured various sourcebooks for something close to my concept, but at the power level of the game.  He gave me some options.

I sorted through the options, and I've got my character basically sorted out.

I'll play an Oni Ninja (from the Phaseworld Sourcebook) who is also a Mystic Ninja (from RIFTS Japan) to boost his psychic powers, and who practices the version of Ninjitsu found in Ninjas and Superspies.  So I'll have mega-damage martial arts along with awesome psionically powered ninja skills.

Close enough to the Solid Snake meets the $6 Million Dollar Man concept I started with, and I can play a pseudo-Japanese culture without breaking a sweat.

HOWEVER, now I've got to sort through the Oni Ninja special abilities, Mystic Ninja abilities, Ninjitsu abilities, and also decide if I want magical or technological equipment (and what, of course).

Oh, and reacquainting myself with the Palladium system, since I haven't actually played a game since I was in high school.  P.E. and P.P. and all these acronyms...  There's definitely something to be said here about system familiarity and ease of use.  Luckily, this game will be a PbP game, so I'll have plenty of time to look up rules if they become relevant.

Alright, I'm off to read through some character options before my next class.  Excelsior!