Sorry about the lack of updates. I have been busy writing Flames of Freedom: Shadows Upon The Hudson. Work is moving along on that, and I am happy with the results so far. When I am not working on that, I am working on a stand alone adventure for Shadow, Sword & Spell, and that is reaching a nearly finished state. If that was not enough to keep me busy, Shadow, Sword & Spell: Companion is still moving along, and many sections are being play tested.
That is what’s new here.
So now that the new year is here, I am back at work on a number of projects, and 2013 is shaping up to be a busy year for Rogue Games.
Two stand alone adventures are being worked on. One by me, and one by another author. I plan on publishing them as saddle stitch chap books. The PDF adventures I have done, are good, but I think they will do better as printed releases. Since I do the buy the book get the PDF for free, you will still have the PDF, but I think it is time to print the adventures. They are perfect for retail, and I can design them so they work for the page format I’ve embraced.
Also being worked on is Part Three of Flames of Freedom. The adventure is “written” but no where close to being done. By “written” I mean is is written in long hand and I need to type it up and make it work. I’ve run the adventure from the hand written draft, and it is time to get this done.
There is another Locations book due out this year, and Jennifer is working on it now. I am really happy how the first one went over, and we are going to outdo ourselves with the new on.
Graeme and I are also working on a special Colonial Gothic book, and this one I will keep very close to the vest.
Shadow, Sword & Spell has not seen much love by me, and for that, I am sorry. I have at least three stand alone adventures I am working on and these are in various stages of completion.
Companion is being written, revised, play tested, and will be out this year. This is a very long time in coming, and the wait will be worth it. Once I get Companion done, I will work on City.
Finally I have been kicking around ideas for a revisit to a game that is different. I am thinking of doing it as a Kickstarter, but I am not even close to moving forward, let alone talk about. If I do this project, I need to leave myself time. If I undertake it as a Kickstarter, I plan on making sure that game is ready to go, so that when the campaign starts, the wait will not be long. Basically, I want to avoid many of the pratfalls that have taken place with other Kickstarters. If I solicit it, then the game should be 90% there. I am still thinking about this. I am a long way off on any decision, but I bring it up, just so you know what I am thinking about.
Oh, and I almost forgot, I want to redo the website. This is something that will take place soon. The website needs to be better, and there is a lot of info here that needs to be better organized.
So there you go. Thoughts, as always, are welcomed.
Also, as of today, you can get the PDF at Indie Press Revolution, e23 and Paizo.
Kindle and ePub versions should be ready next week.
Now that CG2E is over – work that is – I am turning my attention to a couple of other Colonial Gothic projects. One is a stand alone adventure, and the other is part three of Flames of Freedom.
Before I tackle those, I need to get through the upcoming Christmas holiday.
As you probably know by now, yesterday I released Colonial Gothic Second Edition, or CG2E, and as I should have realized, I have been hit with a ton of things. Namely keeping up. This post will bring you all up too speed as to the why’s and what’s.
So first question, why Second Edition?
The game needed it. Revised had a lot of bugs, and my attempts to correct them were nearly impossible. The reason is that the original layout files for the book was corrupted, and I could not open the files on my Mac. This made correcting errata next to impossible, and even though I wanted to update the PDF, I just could not unless I relaid out the whole book. So I started to do that, and after the first chapter, I gave up. Not because I hated the work, but, because I realized the game should be better. Thus, I decided that if I was going to relayout the game, why not really clean it up?
I was on the fence about this for awhile, and then I was pushed off the fence after Graeme came onboard. He voiced the concerns I had, and really gave me the nudge to get off my butt and clean up the game. This was in 2010, and for the next year I wrote, rewrote, revised, rewrote, and cursed the game. Finally it was 2011 that the game was in a state I was happy with. I sent it to Graeme, and his criticism was harsh, but it was the right harsh. He said it could be better, and he was right. Thus, I started from scratch. I killed everything, and rewrote the game from page one.
Doing this, I rethought things, and took the lessons I have learned with Shadow, Sword & Spell, and applied them to the game. The result is the game you see today.
Still this was not enough. I wanted to make sure that this was put through the paces and was thoroughly playtested. The playtesting ran from July 2011 to about August 2012. During this time, every rule was tested, questioned, pulled apart and retested. The result is that the game changed because of this and changed for the better.
So the second question, anything change?
To be honest, not really. This game still plays, runs, and is compatible with what has come before. You can easily play and use the previous version and not notice anything. That being said two things have changed.
First, Social Combat has been totally rewritten. It runs smoother, it is quicker and it actually is a lot easier to use then it was before. Because of this, Resolve is no longer in the game. This is not a bad thing, because the Resolve stat always pissed me off.
Second, there are no longer rules for Specialized Skill use. This is one of the major areas that has caused confusion, and no mater how much I tried to clear it up, I failed. So I killed it. Why? How the game works, there is no need to allow for specialization. Since the TN is based on Stat + Skill, there is no benefit to specializing. Because of this, it made no sense to keep it. Since dropping it, play has been smoother.
The third question, is it edited?
Yes. For me, this was the most important thing that needed to be done. If I was going to do CG2E, then I needed, no, required, that better editing was needed. I went with an outsider, someone who was not in the inner circle, and that someone is Tom Cadorette. This was my first time working with him, and the work he put in on this game was amazing. This game reads better, and is so much cleaner, that I could not be more proud.
The fourth question, is it backward compatible?
Short answer. Yes. Long answer, yes. :)
The only changes are mentioned above. You can use what has come before with this game. I made sure of it.
The last question, does it look better?
I hate to toot my own horn, but yes. I laid this book out, and I did so to make sure it read easily. As many do not know I do freelance graphic design, book design and ebook programming, and I wanted to make sure this book looked as good as it could. The body font is easy on the eyes. Headers are clear, and the organization is there. The book is 282 pages, but does not feel thick. In addition, is hardcover. This is the best looking book I’ve put out, but this is the first time I am proud how the Rulebook looks.
So there you go.
Bruce Whitacre, who wrote Colonial Gothic: French & Indian War as well as The Defeated Dead, has a Kickstarter campaign underway. The campaign is for a game he has designed titled Coffin and Tombstones. In short the game is:
Coffins and Tombstones is the first in a series that Fearlight Games is going to produce. Powered by the Spectrum System, a ruleset that uses d6’s to determine the outcome of a character’s action; these are a set of miniatures skirmish games that are not tied to a specific set of miniatures, scale, genre, or setting. It does not use target numbers, but instead allows both players to make die rolls and then compare their numbers of successes.
I have always loved the Old West, and the game, from all the information on the Kickstarter page, and the website, looks to be in the sweet spot of rule complexity.
Anyway, if you want to back the project, here is the direct link:
I just backed it myself.
This is now a go.
The third Tuesday of every month is Rogue Games Chat. It will start at 7 PM CST, and last for at least 30 minutes. Every month this chat will take place, and if you cannot make it, the chat will be recorded and you can watch it at your leisure.
My plan is to have a topic every month, but this first chat is the shake down cruise if you will. This will be a little looser and have no topic, unless you want one.
Every month the chat will bring you up to date on what is going on, and it is a place to share ideas.
So mark your calendar, for:
November 20 @ 7:00 PM on Google+ Hangout.
One area that I struggled with, however, is races. I knew I wanted to create a section that dealt with fantasy races. I also knew how to approach the rules. I knew some gamers did not like that Shadow, Sword & Spell: Basic or Expert covered races at all. For them, a fantasy game is not a fantasy game if it does not allow for elves, dwarves and the like. For me, Shadow, Sword & Spell was never about this, after all it is based on the pulp fiction of Howard, Smith and Lovecraft. In those works, humans are front and center. They are the driver of events. They are the protagonists, as well as the antagonist.
Still 12° is flexible, and one can easily create different races, as well as other things (see Background and Modifiers in Shadow, Sword & Spell and Backgrounds in Colonial Gothic) that any type of character enhancement is possible. As such, Shadow, Sword & Spell is all about flexibility, and the Companion is designed to give you different styles of fantasy. So races exist.
What I had trouble with, was not what races to include or create, but how to make them not cliches. It is easy to fall to cliches, and the last thing I wanted to do was follow convention. So I have tried to make races different. Here is a recent example, Orcs, that I wrote last night. This is as is, by that It is a rough draft, I am still thinking through some things.
Stat Adjustments: +1 Brawn, +1 Vigor, −1 Reason, −1 Will
Bonus: +1 TN Melee, +1 Tactics
Traits: Scent, Nightvision
Orcs are an interesting race when it comes to fantasy role playing games. They often depicted as creature of pure evil, who only live to serve as foes to put in the way of player characters. It was J.R.R. Tolkien who turned orcs into a pervasion of the elves, and even with him, they were a race devoid of any redeeming characteristics. When Dungeons & Dragons was introduced the ors was depicted as nothing more that a “evil” creature. This is a boring take, and the concept of a race who is inherently evil, though a staple of the genre is rather silly. It strikes me, and has always strikes me, as, well, silly.
No race is inherently evil. For me this is lazy writing. Villainy is not a racial trait it is a outlook, and philosophy if you will. You choose to to willfully due what is wrong, and you are not born to it. Thus, orcs, are evil. To this, I say no. Orcs are no more evil, that the general who orders his troops to slaughter a village of innocents.
For Shadow, Sword & Spell, orcs are a race of warriors. For them strength is what is honored, and those who are the strongest are seen as the more capable of leading. Though not as smart as elves, or even some humans, they are a race who has perfected the art of war. A simple people, their word is their bond, and they are quick to protect those who are in their care, and even quick to avenge a wrong. Though warriors, they do not live for war. It is a part of their culture, but so to is hunting, weaponsmithing, and studying the ways of battle.
Orcs are an enigma. One minute they are ready to charge into battle, and the next they would rather debate the finer points of siege craft.
The other day I posted a simple question to G+: What do you all think of a monthly Rogue Games chat via Google Hangouts?
I posted that to Twitter and Facebook as well. The response was overwhelming. I thought no one would care, but I was wrong. Everyone, to a person, expressed interest in this. So I am going to do this.
The first session will be next month, and my plans for this one is simple: A freeform discussion for about an hour. It will give me, and whoever chooses to stop by a chance to test out the whole thing. Once this shake out cruise is done, the following month -- December -- and every month after that, it will be discussion day. I will post the topic or topics, and that way, you know what is in store.
As for the date, and time, I am not sure yet. I want to make this as easy for people to take part, so I am shooting for a weekday, and probably around 7 PM CST. Speak up in the comments as too what times you would prefer, and I will see what I can do.
The last thing I need to look into is if there is a way I can record this whole thing, and post these on the Rogue Games' website, so people can download them if they cannot make the monthly discussion.
So there you go. I will have a date and time posted next week.
Thoughts are welcomed, and I am looking forward to doing this.
I have been a huge fan of The Artifact RPG since it’s initial release. For my money, it has one of the things that I like, a hook.
I have never been a huge fan of science fiction. It just really never struck me, but I still try to find and play games that are in the genre in hopes that something will click.
The Artifact RPG is one of those games that have clicked, and still clicks with me.
The premise of the game is simple:
The Year is 2085 and long range teleportation technology has made faster than light travel possible, In an attempt to find habitable planets earth’s governments send out probes into deep space.They found something. . .Welcome to the Artifact, a world foreign to our own Earth in many ways. A world that was manufactured for some as yet unknown purpose. Here you will encounter hostile aliens like the Kelrath and the Chezbah, and those that will seek your aid, like the Scimrahn. Races that appear human but are different from us in many ways. Then there are those that hide in the shadows, like the giant Tanroc Fredar, and the thing called Loc, revered as a god by some, despised as a demon by others.
Anyway, they have launched a Kickstarter for a new edition of this game, and I really think, that if you like sci-fi games, this game has something different to offer. It has been free since it’s first release, and it has grown into a nice game. If you do not believe me, check out the review that The Free RPG Blog did (http://www.thefreerpgblog.com/2010/12/epic-science-fiction-homebrew-genius-in.html).
So if you feel like supporting a game that is unique, I hope you support this one.
Please not, I am not getting anything out of this. I simply really like this game, and would love to see it succeed with the Kickstarter.
Updates have been few and far between, and I have been quiet about Rogue Games. Nothing major, or bad, just a lot of life issues have intruded upon my time. It stinks that things have slowed down, but sometimes you need to take a step back to get things done. Now that the personal stuff has been cleared up (sick father-in-law for those who are wondering) and my art school is winding down, I have more time.
One of the first things that will be out the door is a new Colonial Gothic release, Colonial Gothic: Locations.
Locations details four locations: three within the Thirteen Colonies, and one in the newly-acquired British territory of Florida. Each location is described in detail, with notes on its history, current inhabitants, and local mysteries and intrigues.
Plymouth was the seed from which the Massachusetts Colony grew. By the 1770s, it is a bustling town of some 3,000 souls. No longer dominated by Puritans, it is still a place where religion matters.
Elizabethtown in Maryland is both smaller and more recently founded. Named after the wife of founder Jonathan Hager and sometimes called Hagerstown, it is a bulwark against Indian attacks. Its population of 500 can increase fourfold when outlying colonists flee here from Lenape attacks.
Savannah was founded according to grander designs, as the capital of the Georgia colony. Its broad streets and open squares lend grace to this thriving port city.
Charlotte Haven is tiny by comparison. Along with the rest of Spanish Florida, it came into British hands after the French and Indian War, traded for the return of captured Cuba. British and Spanish colonists live side-by-side in a peace that is sometimes fragile; outside the small town, the Seminole and Calusa are known to give refuge to escaped slaves.
Each of these locations can be used as the base for a Colonial Gothic campaign, and each is treated in the same format. A brief history of the area sets the scene. Profiles of prominent local people provide a cast of NPCs. Local mysteries, secrets, and scandals are laid out with rumor and hearsay for the players and hard facts for the GM. Descriptions and statistics are given for local monsters as needed, and finally, a mini-campaign is laid out in skeleton form.
Colonial Gothic: Locations is written by Jennifer Brozek, and this is some of the best work she has done for Colonial Gothic. The book will be out in September. I am waiting on just one more map, and once that is done, the layout will be finished.
Locations is what will be the first, of what Graeme and I hope will be a regular release. Locations is designed to give gamemasters and players ready to run settlements set in the colonial period. If you have read the two ebooks (Elizabethtown and Plymouth), you know what we have in store for you.
Written by Jennifer Brozek, Locations contains fully revised and cleaned up Elizabethtown and Plymouth. In addition two previously unpublished locations – Savannah, Georgia and Charlotte Haven in British Florida – are found here as well. Jennifer has created four full colonial communities that are ready for play. Mysteries, random events, new monsters, and more is detailed.
Already another volume of Locations is being worked on, and that volume will have some interesting twists as well.
The book is going into layout soon, I am still working on the presentation of the book. I am waiting on one more map to be finished, and then it is ready. In a few days I’ll write more about the book, and share a few snippets.
Now that I am out of all of that, the book is moving along. I hope the books is wroth the wait. There are a lot of new threats added to the game, in addition to some very nice unique threats.
This summer will see the release of a new Colonial Gothic book, but more on that later.
Any way, I was interviewed by the podcast G*M*S Magazine a few weeks ago, and the interview has finally been posted. I really enjoyed the interview, and you can listen to it yourself, by clicking here.
So what does the map look like?
This is not to print size. I just shrunk it down to fit in this post. Up close the map is a thing of beauty – I have only seen lo-rez versions – and will be great looking as a stand alone poster. This is something I am looking into.
There are a lot of maps in this book. Which is what I always wanted. Some are from the period, the others are the work of Gabriel. All really make this book something special.
When can you expect the preorder to go live? I am shooting for next week, but I do not want to rush things. I want Gabriel to have the time he needs to get the maps done. The book will be out next month, just have a little patience.
So what do the rules look like? Here are two example of the races being used. These are still works in progress, and they still need some work. What they will show you is where the thinking lies and what play testers have been using.
Ability Adjustments: -2 Brawn, +2 Quickness
Skill Bonus: Stealth +1, Subterfuge +1
Traits: Bite, Nightvision, Size -1
Ability Adjustments: Brawn +2, Quickness -2, Reason -2
Skill Bonus: Intimidation +2
Traits: Size +1
So looking at this, you notice two things, when the race sections are fully written, there are going to be a lot of choice for GMs when it comes to what type of races they can choose from. The other thing that stands out is the section Traits. Traits are the unique things that make each race standout from each other. These traits are similar to creature traits (as found in Shadow, Sword & Spell: Expert), and when you choose a race, your character gains these traits as well.
There are currently sixteen different races being play tested, some are very familiar (elf and dwarf) some are unique mythological beings (centaurs) while others are unique (the ghoulkin).
So there you go a brief look at what is being play tested. Take these two rough text blocks and play with them and see how they work in your games. If you do use them, be sure to let me know what your impressions are.
I just started on the rough layout of the book, and it is already shaping up to be a nice looking work. Maps are being done and this will be ready for preorder in a few weeks. I am really working on something that feels right and honors the text. This is a book that has been in the works for awhile, and I really want to do it right. Below is a very rough snapshot of a two-page spread.
This is very much a work in progress. I simply started and the Orphan header on page 12, will not be there. The text in the chapter header on page 13 is temporary. The point of this is to show that the book is coming, and I really cannot wait till you see it.
What else is being worked on for Colonial Gothic? A book for the summer, and it deals with locations. More on that in a bit.
Though fantasy races do not fit within the standard game of SS&S, Companion is a collection of options. One option that I wanted to give players and GMs was the option of doing more high fantasy with the game. A way to allow this is by giving rules for fantasy races.
How the rules behave now, is that choosing a race is very much like a Modifier. Your race will have you adjust a few stats, give you a couple of bonuses, and help you stand out from the other characters.
Where I am having issues is what type of races to include. Confession time, I am not a great fan of high fantasy. I can appreciate it as a genre but the traditional tropes of the style are lost on me. Still, I am not designing for myself, and I realize that a book like the Companion should appeal to many. That is why I am stuck on what types of races to include. Here is what I got right now:
Not a long list, and I am sure I am missing a few obvious ones. So I turn to you, what other races would you like to see? The only caveat I have is this: No hobbit-like creatures or cat girls.
Sorry, I tend to think faster than I type.
What I am talking about is The French and Indian War. Though I have not talked about it as much, this book is making its’ way to final layout. I am happy with the book, and happy to have this project finally reaching its’ end. It has been in the works for awhile and I am going to be glad to have it off my plated.
So what is the book about? This is a comprehensive sourcebook dealing with the war of 1754-1763. More importantly it opens up a new time period for the game. One of my favorite additions to the book, and what is one of my favorite additions to the game, are rules for mass battles. If that is not enough, there is an extended campaign presented as adventure seeds and handout-ready newspaper reports.
Once this book is done, then I will be moving on to Shadows on the Hudson (part three of Flames of Freedom) and the big release of summer which is currently untitled.
In all there is a lot coming out for the game.
There are a lot of cool monsters, animals and “stuff” in this book. There are enough choices in it that a gamemaster will have a lot of options on the type of threats they pit against their players. One of the key things I wanted to do with this book, was to have a wide range of power levels. There are some very lower powered threats, and there are some very powerful threats contained in the book. This is good, because GMs should have choices.
One of my favorite threats is the one below. The art is done by Freddy Lopez Jr. (who has done a lot of nice work for the book), and the creature is one that is inspired by H.P. Lovecraft.
“Medusa’s Coil,” by H. P. Lovecraft and Zealia Bishop was published two years after his death in January 1939 in Weird Tales.
The story is one that I have always liked and though it is not my favorite Lovecraft story, there is a lot to like about it. The key to this story, I feel, is how Lovecraft takes a simple creature from myth, and puts a new spin on it. Though the story starts off a bit archaic, the slow build to the end is one that I always felt worked. I also like how the reveal to what Marceline’s true nature is. This different take on a standard creature is something that effected me greatly, and it is something I try to do in all my games.
Anyway, here is a preview of the Medusa, and you will find it in the forthcoming Shadow, Sword & Spell: Threats.
Brawn 5, Quickness 9, Toughness 9, Wits 11, Will 15, Resolve 65, Vitality 35
Skills: Brawl [+9], Diplomacy [+12], Empathy [+11], Intimidation [+12], Observe [+11], Spell – Arcane (Geas +12)
- Drain: Those who are caught in the hair of a medusa lose 5 Vitality each round they are trapped.
• Squeeze: The hair of a medusa is able to grab and squeeze opponents. In order to use this ability, the medusa must make a successful Brawl Test to grab its opponent. Those trapped can try to break out by making a successful Brawn Test. For every round trapped by the medusa, the opponent suffers a cumulative -1 to the Test. For example, if the opponent has been squeezed for 3 Rounds he would suffer a -3 to the Test. The damage from this ability is equal to the creature’s Brawn + Toughness.
Medusas (or gorgons if male) are creatures who appear human, but in fact are not. They are always pale, and have long black hair which reaches the knees. This hair is a living thing which acts on behalf of the medusa as well as on its own. The hair lives on if the medusa is killed, and it pulls itself away from the medusa to attack her killers. The hair is able to live for a number of weeks equal to the medusa’s Will, and it slithers like a snake while it seeks its revenge.
Take the time and read the best three articles that deal with and PIPA: Free Speech, Problems, Security.
Also take the time and sign the petition.
Now that the holidays are over, it is time to kick things into gear. This is going to be a productive month, and there is a lot going on.
First up will be the printed version of Colonial Gothic: The Templars. The layout is done, and this will go up for pre-order next week. I am waiting for one batch of proofreading comments, and the cover is about 50% done. This is a nice little book, and for those who bought the original PDF/eBook release, will like the changes that have been made.
Edits for Shadow, Sword & Spell: Threats are in, and the art is coming in as well. I really like this book, and though I wish I got it done sooner, I think all the time I spent writing — and rewriting — it paid off.
Graeme is putting the finishing touches on Colonial Gothic: The French & Indian War book. I am working up page designs and I want to really make this book feel a little bit different.
If that was not enough, I will be recording the first real episode of Rogue Transmissions.
As you can see, busy month. Not on this list is a few of the things I am working out that will be coming out at year’s end. In all, it is going to be busy, but a fun time.
You should notice one of them right now, the first test transmission for Rogue Transmission is up. You can download it over here.
When I have not been doing that – you do not know how many takes it took me for that small transmission – I’ve been layout out the print version of Colonial Gothic: The Templars. It will be going to the printer next week.
If that is not enough, I have been writing both Shadow, Sword & Spell: Companion and the next part of Flames of Freedom, Shadows Upon The Hudson. I hope to have some things to share for Companion next week.
If that was not enough to keep me busy, I moved to a new web host this week, and briefly the Rogue Games website was down. That is now done, and hopefully, the site is stable.
Major sections have been written (by hand as is always the case), and some sections have been noted out. Sections that are still waiting to be written, have been put to the side while I finish up reading and research.
This is going to be a book, that has everything I ever wanted to say about fantasy. There are a lot of options, as well as new items waiting to be added to the existing game.
One option I have really grown to like, is an idea I almost left off the book’s outline. That option is bloodlines.
Bloodlines deal with characters being descendants of historical figures, heroes, or even the gods. What the concept allows is for Gamemasters and players to create characters who have a certain spark to them that sets them apart from others. Bloodlines have four types – diluted, minor, major and true – and depending on what type of bloodline your character has, they either have one power or a few they are able to call upon. bloodlines are a way for you to create a character like Hercules, in that you want a character who is the result of a coupling between a god and mortal woman.
The rules for bloodlines call for you to pick, or have your Gamemaster assign to you one of the types. Depending on the type, you have access to either one or three powers (diluted have access to no powers, but still have something that makes them stand out amongst others). Powers vary from such things as uncanny luck, or being skilled in a certain skill. In addition, certain powers are only available to certain bloodlines, and it is by doing this, that the various types bloodlines are separated from each other.
Besides the rules for these bloodlines, rules for how the bloodline is passed down to another character are provided. With this, groups who want to play a more historical campaign of having their characters be descendants of other characters is possible.
It is the generational play which is found throughout the book. Rules for family and family status are provided, and when you combine them with bloodlines, you could play a game where descendants come into and out of play.
Bloodlines. Just one of the many things that will be found in this book.
Speaking of the threats found within the book, here is a new one, ready to be used in your Shadow, Sword & Spell games now, the White Ape.
Brawn 8, Quickness 8, Toughness 8, Wits 9, Will 9, Resolve 45, Vitality 40
Skills: Athletics–Climb [+8/+10], Brawl [+9], Melee [+9], Observe [+10], Tactics [+10], Track [+9]
▪ Albinism: White Apes suffers from albinism, and as a result their fur is white, and eyes are red. Albinism gains Fear −2.
▪ Fierce: White Apes are naturally aggressive, and once they take damage they must make a Will Test. Failure, they become enraged, and as a result, its Brawn and Toughness are temporarily raised by 2 points each, and its Vitality is temporarily increased by 15 Points. In addition, both its Will and Wits are temporarily lowered by 2 points each. Fierce lasts for 1d12 Rounds, and while in this state, the white apes is immune to all Fear and ignores any modifiers associated with lost Vitality. As soon as the Fierce state passes, the creature’s Abilities return to normal, and the boosted Vitality disappears.
▪ Leaper: White Apes are able to leap incredible distances, and gain +5 bonus on all Athletics (Jump) Tests or any other Tests where the GM rules that this Trait has bearing. They are also able to leap 16 feet every round as an action.
Before the time of the Lost Kingdom, even before the Rise of the Lost Empire, the White Apes possess an advanced civilization which rivaled that of the Serpent People. How, or why, their culture fell, no one knows. Now the White Apes are found scattered throughout The World, but there are persistent reports that living amongst the ruins scattering The Jungles of Moarn is a city populated by the apes. White apes resemble gorillas, but are bipedal, and their hair allows some to past as human. Though they are afflicted with albinos the white apes show no real effects from it.
- Settings (if applicable)
- Fiction (if applicable)
Next up with be a reorganization of the information pages. This will be followed by building a new section which will be dedicated to the Rogue Games podcast I plan on starting the first of 2012. The last step will be rebuilding and redoing the entire online store.
Yeah, I sort of snuck that in there, didn’t I? There will be a monthly podcast starting the first of the year (2012). The plan is to use it as a place to talk about the games. I am still working out the details, but it will happen.
Companion was always a book in the works when Basic and Expert was being written. Both Basic & Expert had a clear goal in mind, and everything that went into those two books was put in for a reason. The design goals was focused on creating a pulp fantasy inspired game, that was influenced by the writing of Howard, Smith and Lovecraft. Because of that, certain things were not covered. Some may balk at this, but I really wanted both books to be as slim as they could be, and I did not want to try to make the game as inclusive as it could. Thus Companion was going to be the book that the kitchen-sink would appear.
Fuzzy footed goblins? In Companion.
Weird styles of magic? Companion.
More options than you can shake a stick at? Companion.
Basically, Companion is an attempt to harken back to an earlier time of game design and game publishing. A collection of add ons that anyone can use, without harming the base game.
Think of Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu. No matter what edition of the game that exists, that rulebook is all you ever need if you want to run CoC. For just as long as the rulebook existed, that has always been a Keeper’s Companion and an Investigator’s Companion. These books exist to present new ideas and topics that would not fit within the main rulebook. In many ways they offer a buffet of game ideas that players and Keepers alike can use to expand upon their games. The Call of Cthulhu example is just one example, and many earlier games always followed the companion model, which presented new ideas and topics without cluttering the main rulebook. a companion is not a splatbook, in that there is no meta plot being advanced, official world setting be explored, or marketing blitz being launched. The design idea of a companion is to collect all the odd bits and pieces that would not hold their own release, and present players and gamemasters alike new ideas to explore.
Thus, Shadow, Sword & Spell: Companion is the book where all the extraneous bits and pieces are going to appear, and allow the players and gamemasters to add new things to their own games, to make them their own games.
Thus if you want to have elfs, dwarfs and the like, Companion has those rules. Does that mean if you rather play pulp fantasy, you can skip this book? Yes and no.
If you love Shadow, Sword & Spell as it is, nothing in Basic and Expert is changed. They game still runs as is. If you want new spells, or new little options that you can plug in, then Companion is an accessory that will allow you to tinker. If you like Shadow, Sword & Spell’s The World, there is more information in Companion, but it is not exhaustive. It is there to give color to the rules and put things into context.
So what does Companion contain? Here is the rough outline as it exists today, November 19, 2011.
Chapter One: Character Options
- Animal Totems
- Family and Social Levels
- New Backgrounds
- Character Templates
- Fantasy Races
Chapter Two: Combat Options
- Martial Arts
- Ariel Combat
- Ocean Combat
- Chase Rules
- Combat Maneuvers & Stunts
Chapter Three: Gear
- Oriental weapons and armor
- Other weapons and armor from historical cultures
Chapter Four: Psionics
Chapter Five: Magic
- Counter spelling
- Name Magic - knowing the true name allows for power
- Rune Magic
- New Alchemical Arts
- New Common Spells
- New Arcane Spells
- Scrolls and their use
- Crystals and gems and using their magical properties
- Ritual Magic - Domain scale spells
- Ley Lines (maybe)
Chapter Six: Settlements & Domains
- Treating settlements as if they are characters
- Expanding the events and actions you can do on the domain level.
Chapter Seven: Dimensions and other planes
- Possessions and exorcism
- Corruption from extra-dimensional creatures
- Using planes and dimensions
- The cosmology of The World
Chapter Eight: Random Items
- Creating random items or power
- Creating random tomes
Chapter Nine: New Creatures
- New devils and demons
- New monsters
- Psionic creatures
Chapter Ten: Campaigns
- New types of campaigns
- Using Domains as characters and each player plays one
So there you go. That is the outline right now.
What will change is:
- Color Scheme
- Page Organization
Why is this taking place? There is a lot of information here, that needs to be organized.
Friday I will have a post about Shadow, Sword & Spell: Companion.
At the end of said conversation we had rethought and remapped the release schedule between now and the end of next year. Said schedule is packed with some cool things. Counting Shadow, Sword & Spell, there are thirteen releases planned. If we take out the Shadow, Sword & Spell releases, we are looking at 11 new books for Colonial Gothic. Some of these books will be familiar, due to the fact they have existed as original PDFs.
We have decided that some of the older PDFs have been showing their age, and are in the process of reediting, and laying them out for print release. By doing this, we can now offer them to gamers who might have passed up on them due to their availability being as PDFs. So which PDFs are being promoted if you will? Here’s the list:
All three will be released throughout next year as new print books.
In addition, a few of the PDFs, will be added to upcoming releases. One of them, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, is going to see some major additions. Why? It is important to the first half of Flames of Freedom: Shadows on the Hudson. Some out there got a small taste of this in a few games I have run.
What else is in store? Some very cool things for the summer and winter of 2012. I do not want to spoil it all, but if you love this game, as much as I do, there will be some cool releases which will make you very happy. Looking ahead to 2013 (yeah that far) I know there is at least one book I am writing due out in January 2013.
When I look at Shadow, Sword & Spell, Threats will be out the start of the year, and Companion at the end of the year. As for the middle of the year? Something is coming.
So why have things been a little slow as of late? Life has stepped in the way. The summer was very rough, and a bout of sickness slowed me down. Now that it is over, and a lot of the hurdles have been cleared, things are coming back online. One of the big changes is that Rogue Games will be taking over distribution of our own titles. Come January 1, 2011, we will no longer be represented by Studio 2. As a result of this, I’ve been busy signing with distributors to insure that our games are available, and that no delays happen. How has this gone? I am happy to report very good. I am heartened at the responses I have gotten, and who have decided to pick us up.
January 2012 is going to be a big year for Rogue Games. There is a lot planned and a lot of surprises in store for you through out the year. Have no doubt, that the countdown to 12-12-12 12:12:12 is no joke. Those who know what is coming, are very happy. :)
So that is where things stand. Over the next week I will have posted the schedule for the next six months.
Thank you for your patience and thank you for your support.
Things have been slow on Shadow, Sword & Spell as of late, and that is due to the simple fact that I lost the plot.
My entire focus for two years was getting Basic and Expert done, and once done, I felt that I had said everything I wanted to say. I struggled with trying to figure out what I wanted to do, because for me, Basic and Expert was all you really needed.
I worked on a few things, but nothing seemed to click.
So I worked on Colonial Gothic.
When the inspiration struck, I cannot say, but recently I finished the draft of Shadow, Sword & Spell: Threats, and have been working on Companion. Of the two, Threats is closer to being done, and if all goes well (and it will) Threats will be out early next year. Companion I am not sure yet, because I am still working on it.
With these two titles, I then returned to City and found the hook I lost. I am still not sure on this book, but there are ideas.
With that being said, I am left with a question:
What would _you_ like to see?
Yeah, I want to know. There are so many fantasy games out there, that it is hard to know what way to go sometimes. So in the end, I am left with the simple question, that I want to know what you, the fans and players, want to see. There is a lot of material in notes on The World, as well as rough adventure ideas. I know what I would like to see, but I am not sure what I like, is what you will like.
So here you go tell me what you want to see. I really want to know.
Preorders for this should be ready no later than next week, maybe sooner.
Enjoy the look, and James will be posting about the revision some more.
Thousand Suns Revised Preview
So, what do you think? Looks good huh?
When James and I started this, we never thought we would be here this long. It is not that we doubted what we could do, or the type of games we wanted to not only design, but play. It is just a simple fact that publishing games is a high risk proposition. One mistake can cost you, and no matter how good you think your games, design and products are, if the gamer does not like it, then they will not buy it. It is not small fact that we have made it this long, and though we have made our share of mistakes, we have learned from them, and continue learning from them. So from James and myself, thank you for allowing us to do what we enjoy.
Ok, so that is out of the way, let’s get to the update.
With August coming to an end, four more months ahead of us, what do we have in the works?
- Flames of Freedom: The Philadelphia Affair: This will be out in time for Halloween. I know it has taken longer than we thought, but this is a massive adventure and is set in Philadelphia. It is a direct tie into Boston Besieged, and if you thought the plot that debuted in that book was a throw away, you are in for a surprise. This is a big book. Half devoted to source material on the most important city of the colonies, and the second half a sprawling, multi-layered adventure set throughout, under, and around this great city. Be warned this is a tough adventure, both in threats and structure. No bull. Anyway, the adventure is going into its final proofing stage, maps are being finished, and the layout is about to begin.
- Shadow, Sword & Spell: Threats: If all goes well this will be out year end. I have rewritten this book twice, and the third time is the charm. What does it contain? Well Threats. :)
Information on the website will appear shorty about the above.
- Thousand Suns Revised: In its’ final stages. This is a James product, and by that, unless he is happy, the book is not ready. :) It has been gone over with a fine tooth comb. This is well worth the wait. I know we have been slow, but trust me, it is not because we were not working on it.
Next year will see a lot of cool things. Graeme Davis, James and myself have some very cool things we have been working on. In addition, mark your calendar now for 12-12-12 12:12:12. For those with poor eyesight, that is December 12, 2012 at 12:12:12 PM. Something big will be released on this day, and that is all I will say now.
As always, thank you for allowing us to do this. We hope we are keeping you happy.
This book has been in the works for awhile, and it is a compiling of magic. Some of this material has appeared in the now out of print Secrets and Poor Wizard while o the majority is new material. I think the introduction of the book will come in handy. Here you go:
This is a book about magic.
Ok, admittedly, reading this book will not give you the ability to summon daemons, craft love potions, or plumb the depths of esoteric knowledge. Yet, it will present you with a solid collection of ideas that you can easily slip into COLONIAL GOTHIC. The GRIMOIRE is the sum of over five years of playing this game, as well as designing for this game. In that time myself, and others, have created new spells, and found new challenges to spring on unsuspecting players. What will you find here?
In Chapter 1 you will find common and arcane spells. These spells take the game into new realms, and open up numerous possibilities for gamemasters and players alike. From summoning Elder Gods, to being able to travel vast distances, the spells found here are designed to quickly be slipped into your current games.
In Chapter 2 the topic of books are covered. These rules appeared in the now out of print COLONIAL GOTHIC: SECRETES and since their originally printing, they have been changed and tweaked to be easier to use. In addition, no chapter covering books would be complete without numerous books to use. Many of the books found here are real books found throughout history, and some, are wholly creations of the imaginations. As to which are real, and which are “make-believe,” that is up to you to decide.
Chapter 3 introduces the concept of magical talismans. Talismans are objects which are imbued with magical power, and allow those who are not skilled in magic, to be able to call on magical powers.
Chapter 4 covers the topic of relics. Relics are items that have a specialness about them. Think of them as magical items, or objects from mythology.
No book dealing with magic in the world of COLONIAL GOTHIC would be complete without a in-depth discussion on witchcraft. This discussion is found in Chapter 5.
Chapter 6 covers objects of the occult. From cold iron to holy water, these objects give the hunter of the supernatural the edge they need.
Finally in Chapter 7 new monsters are found.
So take a deep breath, whisper a silent prayer, and prepare yourself to plumb the depths of COLONIAL GOTHIC’S occult world.
The book is nearly done. How done? 95%.
All that is left to do is the table of contents, index, a few footnotes and the cover. All of this will be done over the next few days. The book has been thoroughly edited, and is now being looked over to make sure nothing was missed.
In all this is a great book. It looks good, reads good, and has a lot of good ideas.
With this small break, I can now turn my attention to finishing up the next book for Shadow, Sword & Spell. That book? Threats.
Here is what I have written for the Introduction:
For any game, let alone a fantasy game, threats are the primary component to great adventures.
Threats take many forms.
They might be band of thieves plaguing the streets of a city. Or, they might be a loathsome terror whose fangs drip with black poison. A threats can be something as mundane as a plant. A threat can also be as fear inducing as a band of cutthroats terrorizing a farming community.
In Shadow, Sword & Spell: Threats you will find a collection of threats running the gamut from monsters of myth to more mundane ones. These threats are ready to run as is. They are fully stated, have hooks, and in some cases adventure plots ready for you to take shape into adventures of your own.
There is going to be a lot of cool things in this book, from new monsters, to fully fleshed out villains, and new traits for monsters of your own design.
When working on Shadow, Sword & Spell, I had a couple of ideas for follow up books. One of them was Shadow, Sword & Spell: City. The idea behind this book was simple: provide rules and guidelines for city games. This book was not only going to provide guidelines and help in building a city, but also present a city. My idea was simple, once I introduced a chapter of new rules or guidelines, the following chapter would put that into practice and present some of the city. As I built the outline, the book was going to be close to twenty chapters. Half with city advice, and the other half with the actual city. I was enthused, but the more I worked on this, the more I began to second guess myself, and actually hate what I was working on.
The more I worked on City the more I hated it, and finally I decided to take a break on it. I switched my focus to writing Shadow, Sword & Spell: Threats (draft done getting ready to finish this), and dove back into Colonial Gothic projects. Mind you, I still tinkered on City, but my enthusiasm and desire to create a sprawling mess of what would be a shitty book.
Then, I bought this. Upon reading it I had two thoughts:
- Holy Shit! Zak (I Hit It With My Axe and D&D With Porn Stars) is a genius and this is pure brilliance.
- This is everything I wanted to do, and it is done better.
At first I thought maybe it was just my lack of desire to work on City, but then I reread the book. Actually at last count I have read this think five times. Each time I read it, I realize more and more, this is the perfect city book. Everything I was trying to do with City is done so much better in VORNHEIM. From how to run a city, to a lot of simply cool ideas. For the first time, in a very long time, I found myself excited by a gaming supplement.
So upon finishing the reading for the fifth time, I asked myself a very simple question:
Richard, do you think you can do better than this?
(Yeah, I talk in the third person to myself).
It is a simple question, and upon reflection, I realized that I cannot do better than what Zak has done in VORNHEIM. Even if I thought I could, I do not want to. This is a perfect little book, and covers the areas that I wanted to do. The world does not need another city book. It really doesn’t. Doing one would be an exercise in futility. I have nothing to say on the topic, and I am not going to to a book just to do a book.
So what’s next? City might be dead, but the wealth of city details I wrote will not go to waste. I plan on cleaning things up and over the following weeks start posting the material to The Tome. The wiki has been a joke in that I’ve done nothing to update it for close to a year. That is about to change.
In conclusion, a book that no one has seen might have died in development, but the work will be shared. In addition, hopefully, you will get a copy of VORNHEIM it is that good.
Found in all cities of the world, scattered along the street, filing the squares and hiding in the shadows of the alleys are those who’ve slipped through the cracks and eek out a living amongst civilizations scraps. Beggars, due to their living on the streets see and hear many things. They are skilled in scrounging, both for wealth as well as information.
Skills: Acrobatics (Contortion), Bargain (Haggling) Dodge, Observe, Stealth (Shadowing), Streetwise (Scrounging) Subterfuge (Pick Pocket)
Gear: Staff, Clay Bowl
Every city found throughout The World, has men and women selling their services as guides and escorts to the newly arrived. Bawds are those who know every nook and cranny of their chosen city, and are so tuned into it they are able to get a person what they need. In addition, bawds allow outsiders to gain access to areas or information they might not know.
Skills: Bargain (Bribery), Defend (Parry), Diplomacy (Negotiation), Gaming (Dice), Language (Trade plus one other), Lore (Specific City), Melee (Club), Observe, Streetwise (Criminal Contacts)
Found in the City States of Doarn, as well as the League of Merchants, barbers are a group of people skilled in many areas dealing with the body. More that hair cutters, they are dentists, doctors as well as sources of information. Plying their trade in cities, those unable to afford the cost of a physician, often find themselves under a barber’s care.
Skills: Bargain (Charm), Brawl (Dirty Fighting), Heal, Melee (Knife), Observe, Physick (First Aid), Socialize (Carousing), Streetwise (Criminal Contacts), Subterfuge (Sleight of Hand), Throw (Knife)
Character templates are designed to make character creation not only quicker, but easier. They supplement the cultures and modifiers given in Shadow, Sword & Spell: Basic and Expert by adding more detail according to a more specific character concept.
Players can use character templates for suggestions on spending points on abilities and skills, buying equipment, and creating Hooks for a Hero. GMs can use them as a quick way to create NPCs of a desired type.
Nothing in any character template is mandatory. Their purpose is to aid in character creation, not restrict it. However, when departing from a character template, it can be helpful to think about why this particular character is different from the norm; doing so will help flesh out the character’s background and personality.
Though there are those who sell their skills and offer to kill others, and rumors abound that the Veil of Caim hire their services out, there are those who train and enter the ranks of professional killers. Known as assassins, they organize themselves into small guilds and gangs, and ply their trade for a price. Found in all major cities, assassins are dispassionate killers.
Skills: Archery (Crossbow), Athletics (Climbing), Brawl (Punching), Defend (Parry), Herbalist (Poison Making), Intimidation (Torture), Melee (Knife, Sword), Observe, Stealth (Shadowing), Throw (Knife)
Gear: Short Sword, 3 Knives, …..
- It is not personal it is only business.
- Your death will bring me great wealth.
- Let it not be said, I did not kill my target.
- No one weeps for your death.
- I have a message for you, it is a simple one: die.
First off, nothing is wrong. James and I have been feeling burned out, and we decided to slow things done a little a bit, in order to stay fresh.
Secondly, I returned to school (first week was this week) and as a result time in a little more tight than normal.
That out of the way, there are projects being worked on. There are two adventures coming up for Shadow, Sword & Spell, a new release for the game coming up this summer, and a demo adventure that just needs to be laid out and posted.
For Colonial Gothic PDFs are coming up, and I am finishing up not only the second part of Flames of Freedom, but a little book titled The Grimoire.
Thousand Suns: Revised is nearing the finishing line and James also has a few PDFs coming up.
So that is the update, now a question:
What would you like to see next? Adventures? Sourcebooks? Use the comments below and let us know.
Shadow, Sword & Spell Expert -- Preview
It is bittersweet to be reaching the end.
This book has been a large part of my life for the past three years. The work in here, to put it simply, is work I am the most proud of. Everything I wanted to say about the “end game” is here. A lot of long conversations went into this with James, as well as a lot of writing, rewriting, rewriting, and rewriting on my part. There is so much in this book, and what is in here, is what I have been using in my games.
So I am happy with this book, but I am sad. Why? It has filled my life for so long, that I now no longer have it to work on. I have a ton of other projects, but the book is done, and now I wait to see what other have to say.
Working? On. What?
Shadow, Sword & Spell: Expert is in layout.
The reedit of Shadow, Sword & Spell: Basic is done, and it is now ready for order. In addition the PDFs have been updated.
Speaking of Shadow, Sword & Spell, three new adventures are in editing, and they will start rolling out over the next few weeks. Two of these adventures take place within The Merchant League (see Shadow, Sword & Spell: Basic) and the third one takes place in the kingdom of Beidha (see the soon to be released Shadow, Sword & Spell: Expert). One of these adventures are written by myself, while the other two are written by names which should be familiar (Brendan Davis and Gabriel Brouillard).
This is not all the things being worked on for Shadow, Sword & Spell. Threats is almost done, and I hope to kick it to editing by the end of the month. City is coming along, and I am hoping once I get the other things off my list the pace will pick up. In addition I am kicking around notes for a couple of other adventures, as well as Companion.
Shifting to Thousand Suns, the Revised Rulebook is in layout. James is working on a number of other items, which I will let him talk about.
As for Colonial Gothic, there is a lot going on. The second part of Flames of Freedom is almost done with editing. A new book is being worked on now, and this is one that will be a collection of magic and the like. This one is being worked on by me. In addition I am finishing up research for the third part (due out next year). I am also working on the Freemason PDF.
If that was not enough, I am reaching the end of the layout of all the eBooks. By month’s end, all current titles will available as not only ePub but for Kindle. These will be sold direct from the Rogue Games Online Store. In addition, we will be moving to the second phase of our bundling. That phase? The option phase.
For as long as we have been in existence, if you buy the book, you get the PDF for free. This then moved to buying the book anywhere, even conventions. Now, with the growth of eReaders, and the growing demand for eReader versions, the bundling is going to apply to them as well. Now when you buy a print version of games, you will have your choice of either the PDF, ePub or Kindle version. In addition, just like our PDF Guarantee, if you buy the book, you will get your choice of either file.
Ok, so there is the latest. More to come.
As have been stated many times, Basic covers the early adventures of your heroes, and Expert covers the end game.
So, if Expert is covering the end game, the book has to cover certain things. Like what? Here’s the list:
- Domain Rules
- Henchmen and Retainers
- Merchant Rules
- Spell and Alchemical Art Creation
- Ancient Tomes
- Mass Combat
Expert contains all of this, as well as other things. This post, however, is about the Mass Combat rules.
My goal in designing these rules were simple: allow for large scale army conflict that has the player characters able to take a role. You can quickly run mass combat with these rules, and in playtests I have seen engagements go for no longer than 15 minutes. The criteria mass combat have in regards to a roleplaying game, is much different when you are doing a wargame. Mass combat must be fast, it must allow for a more descriptive nature of things, and more importantly, it must be fast.
Those who play roleplaying games, for the most part, are not wargammers. Rolepayers do not have the desire to push counters, measure distances, and deal with the complexity wargaming has. I am a wargammer, and for me, more so than roleplaying, wargamming is my favorite thing to do. Just because I enjoy it, does not mean, others will.
So in designing the rules, I worked hard to strip wargaming down to something that can be done in a few minutes. Here is just a small example.
Chapter Seven: Mass Combat
As your Hero grows in fame and prestige, she will eventually come into contact with armies. The world of Shadow, Sword & Spell is a violent one, and various powers clash in battle. The rules governing Mass Combat are straightforward and allow you to quickly run mass combat on the table top. These rules cover small squads as well as large armies. These simple rules are designed to allow both the Gamemaster and players to fight out battles involving these armies quickly and easily.
The first thing to keep in mind is that this system is narrative in scope, and this has been done intentionally. Mass Combat is very complex, and typically involves miniatures, counters, and terrain, as well as a lot of time. This is not a knock against wargames and miniatures. Hell, growing up, wargames and miniature wargaming consumed a lot of my free time. However, for a roleplaying game, the needs are quite different. Often war, or a clash of armies, is just one small facet of an adventure. There isn’t a need to have a detailed, drawn out battle. Instead, Mass Combat for Shadow, Sword & Spell has been reduced down to a few simple dice rolls. This system is designed to allow not only armies but small units to clash. It allows the Gamemaster and players to deal with Mass Combat quickly and efficiently.
Before going into detail, it’s important to note that all armies have six basic elements. No matter the type of troops, these common elements quickly allow you to assess the strength or weakness of various troops. These elements are: Unit Type, Unit Rating, Quality, Size, Engagement Rating, and Hooks.
Unit Type is simply the type of unit with which one is dealing. The Unit Type can be infantry, cavalry, and the like.
Unit Rating is a simple stat which takes into account a unit’s training, skills, abilities, and the like. Over time, this stat can and does improve.
Quality is not only partially based on the Unit Rating, but it takes into account the weapons, armor, mounts, and any other type of special abilities that the unit might have.
Size is a simple concept, and is mainly comes down to the number of soldiers found in the unit.
Engagement Rating is the number used to see if you win or lose a battle.
Hooks are well, hooks. They are similar to the Hooks that individual Heroes have.
Combat involves two armies declaring tactics, taking the calculated Engagement Scores, a few other factors, and then rolling 2d12. This result is added to the Engagement Score, and whichever side has the highest number, wins. Combat continues until one side is destroyed, retreats or surrenders.
With the basics out of the way, let’s go into detail about how the system works.
There is more to this, but this should give you an idea where we are going.
If that is not all, layout is moving fast on the first release of 2011, Colonial Gothic: New France. Don’t believe me? Take a look:
Yeah, that is pretty sweet. Oh, the art on page 82? David Deitrick did it. Yeah, that David Deitrick.
So, yes, we are working on some very cool stuff.
endgame |ˈen(d)ˌgām| (also end game)
the final stage of a game such as chess or bridge, when few pieces or cards remain : the knight was trapped in the endgame | figurative the retaliatory endgame of nuclear warfare.
As long as fantasy games have existed, players and Gamemasters have looked for the endgame. For roleplaying games, especially fantasy ones, the concept of the endgame has been there since the hobby’s beginnings. After all, when playing your hero, they grow in stature as well as power and influence. It is only a natural desire for a player to want their character to lead mercenary companies, sit on thrones, and work their influence within merchant circles. Many attempts to define the endgame have occurred in the roleplaying game industry, some of these attempts divorcing the slow build and growth of the hero, and instead focusing on the immediate. Two ready examples of this are TSR’s Birthright setting, and REIGN. Both of these games center around rulership, and are great at what they set out to accomplish. However, what has always been difficult is to find games that contain rules or advice centered on taking your own hero and having them rule their own domains, band of cut throats, or... well you get the point.
Shadow Sword & Spell: Expert builds upon the rules found in Basic. In Basic, you created your character. You have braved numerous dangers, made many enemies, and probably killed a few of your foes as well. You have gone from not having any or little influence or prestige, to now being a person of renown or infamy. You have survived the trials and ordeals before you.
Through your wits, guile, and fortitude, you have fought back the hordes of unholy terror. You have saved countless men and women from the bonds of slavery. You have discovered hidden treasures, long forgotten tombs, and tomes of arcane knowledge. You have become a hero, an outlaw, even a thorn in the side of the powers that be. Your trials have prepared you, and now, you are ready to inscribe your name in the rolls of history. The world will feel your justice. Your enemies will know your vengeance. Those with the power will now have no choice but to share it with you. You will be a king, and the dynasty you found will endure for centuries.
Shadow, Sword & Spell: Expert answers the question: What’s next? Your hero has grown in power, and now they are ready to tame the world. Building upon the rules found in Basic, Expert adds new opportunities for your game. What you will find here are new options and rules that you can use to expand your current Shadow, Sword & Spell game, as well as allow you to run games grander in scope.
Shadow, Sword & Spell is a game influenced by The Three – H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith and Robert E. Howard – and the game works as an homage to, and to pay respect to them. Expert, perhaps more than Basic, is heavily influenced by Howard’s (By this axe I Rule) and the later stories of Conan as king. Howard, more than the others, had a firm grasp of showing the possibilities offered in this vein by heroes who rule kingdoms. In his stories, even though the hero is a leader, they still have just as many dangers to face. The stakes become even higher when you have to fight to protect your throne. In addition, Expert focuses on other type of characters who might not be a warriors, and instead make a living through thievery.
What if you are not ready to run a game centered around politics? Have no fear, Expert contains items that are easily added to Basic. New magic, relics, monsters, and the like, are all found here. Think of Expert as your inspiration. Take from it what you want, and ignore areas you are not ready for; this is your game after all, and make of it what you will.
Starting today you can now buy a version formatted for any eReader.
What’s the difference you ask? Let me explain.
Unlike a PDF, a ePub file, is a file that is formatted to work with such eReaders like a Kindle, Nook, or Sony eReader. A ePub file is even able to be reader is such eBooks apps like Stanza (on the iPhone, iPad, and iPhone Touch). The ePub file is formatted to display in b&w, designed to not task the screen, and have a small file footprint. For devices that use this file, the benefits are many, but the downside is that ePub does a poor job handling layout, full color, as well as a lot of the fancy layout techniques available in physical books.
Since we started, we have always embraced technology and have strived to use it to our advantage. For us, we are not a book publisher, we are a content provider, and our content happens to be roleplaying games. Because of this, we have worked to ensure you have access to the content in as many ways possible. Our games are for sale for the Kindle (here and here), on the iBook Store, and numerous other vendors.
There is more for us to do.
That is why starting with Colonial Gothic Organizations: Vol 1. The Templars ePub versions will be available for sale direct from Rogue Games. The goal is to have ePub versions of all our releases for sale by the end of the January. Then, if all goes well, the same day we release a book for sale, not only will the PDF go up for sale, but so too will the ePub version.
To make it easier, in the coming weeks, the online store will be reorganized, but in the mean time, the two images on the right will clue you in on what version to buy.
As for the future, the goal is to eventually give you the choice between having either the PDF or the ePub version of the file bundled with the purchase of the physical book.
So there you go, the latest.
Colonial Gothic: New France is in layout, SS&S: Expert is about to go into proof reading, SS&S: Basic’s reedit is done and about to go into layout, Thousand Suns: Revised is nearing the end, and Dwimmermount is as well. There is a lot more going on, and my list of projects are out of control. Anyway, it is Dwimmermount which this post is about. To the right is the final cover. I love this.
So here is a small section straight from Chapter 3. Enjoy.
Henchman & Hirelings
As characters grow and gain experience, their reputations grow as well. Because of this increased reputation they might often be asked to undertake missions, or perform tasks, that are too big for just themselves. Some characters might have their own goals, and in order to accomplish these goals, they might need to hire extra help. Conversely the characters reputation might have others seek them out in hope of joining their cause or swearing allegiance to their banner.
Henchmen and hirelings come from all walks of life and offer characters access to skills that they might nov, or the time time to use. Henchmen and hirelings are more than just tools – however some characters might view them as this – they are trusted confidents, loyal followers or even well respected friends.
Exactly when a hero, or a villain, attracts followers is left up to the Gamemaster. Acquiring followers is an organic outgrowth that follows through play and deeds. A rough rule of thumb is that a hero begins to attract followers once they have made a name for themselves. This can be done after numerous adventures, or after performing tasks that bring them prestige.
How many henchmen can a hero have? A number equal to the hero’s Resolve. For example, your Hero has a Resolve 40. This means that they can easily lead a group of henchmen that numbers up to 40. Keep in mind that just because your hero can have henchmen, it means that they acquire them automatically. They must hire them, persuade them to join their cause, or have a reputation which attracts people to them.
Case in point. Let’s use an example. Growing up on the mean streets and canals of Gravina, Johan the Black took to thieving to survive. As a young lad he became a pickpocket, and eventually learned the skills enabling him to be a burglar. Over time his reputation grows, and because of this, one, then two, partners in crime seek him out to join his “gang.” Johan, whose Resolve is 30, soon finds himself leading a band of 15 thieves. To keep his band together, Johan’s player constantly seeks ways to keep them happy.
So, can you have more henchmen than your Resolve allows? Yes, but to do so requires the hero to make a Diplomacy, Tactics, or Intimidation Test every time he wishes to have his henchmen undertake something. This Test has a penalty depending on how many henchman over their usual maximum total they are leading.
Table 3:1 Leadership Penalty
# Over Resolve Penalty
Note, that the number of henchmen your character has is not the same as the number of families attached in their domain (see below). Henchmen are a whole different beast when compared to ruling a kingdom. Think of Henchmen as trusted agents, lieutenants and people who have been with your hero as they have gained in power and infamy.
Unlike hirelings who get paid (see below), henchmen are not covered by a set pay rate. That does not mean that henchmen do not cost anything, or that they work out of gratitude. Their is an exception among henchmen that they are to be given a place to live, food to eat and a chance to gain wealth via a percentage of spoils. Character who do not take care of their henchmen needs soon find themselves with henchmen harder to lead, prove to leaving, or worse wanting to mutiny.
As a general rule of thumb payment for henchmen can use Tables 2:9 and 2:10 (see pages XXX) as a rough guideline when it comes to henchmen pay.
Hirelings are those who are loyal to your hero due to one fact — they are being paid. Hirelings work for the hero and perform jobs, and it cost a number of Crowns per day to employ a hireling (see Chapter 2).
Henchmen and Hirelings are collectively known as Retainers, and they have Retainer Resolve, which is a measure of how happy, or angry, they are. Retainer Resolve covers both henchmen and hirelings as a a means to keep track of all retainers moral. The initial Resolve rating is equal to the sum of the the characters’ Resolve multiplied by 5. In addition to Resolve, retainers also have a Resolve Level which is based on the rating, and periodically a Resolve check is made. Whenever a Resolve Check is made, look up the current Resolve rating on the Resolve Level Table which indicates the new Resolve. Remember although Resolve changes frequently, the Resolve Level only changes when a Resolve Check is made — even if the rating moves into a different range between checks.
Table 3:2 Resolve Level
Resolve Resolve Level
19 or less Turbulent
20 to 49 Belligerent
50 to 100 Rebellious
101 to 150 Defiant
151 to 200 Unsteady
201 to 250 Average
251 to 300 Steady
301 to 350 Healthy
351 to 400 Prosperous
401 to 450 Thriving
I might be bias, but this is a good book. There is a lot of cool additions and options found here. Areas have been expanded, as well as added to. I am really pleased with the rules I’ve created for Domains, Henchmen and War. There are a lot of new spells -- including Arcana -- as well as new monsters. Here is just one example of one of the new monsters.
Brawn 8, Quickness 10, Toughness 8, Wits 7, Will 11, Fear -4, Resolve 55, Vitality 57
Skills: Brawl [+10], Dodge [+10], Shoot [+11]
Traits: Breath: Fire [DV 2(30), R 5/15/30, ROF 1/1], Claws, Fierce, Fear, Gaze [R 50’, ROF 1/1, successful hit, target must make a Toughness Test, with Failure resulting in their being paralyzed for 1 day, Dramatic Failure target dies], Moan — Hiss [Effective only against animals, any animal within a 50-foot radius of Basilisk must make a Toughness Test with Failure causing them to lose half their Vitality, and a Dramatic Failure causes them to instantly die], Weakness — Weasels [a weasel’s attacks cause double damage].
The basilisk looks like a rooster, with the tail of a snake. A fierce creature, it is a danger to all life, and has been known to attack with no regard for itself or its surroundings. Like the scorpion, it prefers dry places, and thus they are native to The Shimmering Sands. Though some think this creature is able to turn a person to stone, that is just a myth. A Basilisk is hatched from a cock's egg — a rare occurrence — and they are susceptible to the attacks of weasels.
I’ve been busy, here is the rundown.
Colonial Gothic: New France is in layout. I love this book.
A new Colonial Gothic PDF is in editing.
Shadow, Sword & Spell: Basic reedit is moving along. All goes well this will be in layout in a few weeks. I plan on sending this to some proofreaders, but the editing has been very tight.
Shadow, Sword & Spell: Expert is almost done. News on that in a day.
I have to get back to work.
That is one bad ass unicorn.
Even better is how unicorns are created.
Just to put everyone's fears at ease, the game is doing well. James and I are following the same plan that we had set up for Colonial Gothic and Thousand Suns. That plan is a simple one: slow build.
We strongly believe that the main reason most games "fail" is that they are not given time to grow. The market gets flooded with product, and soon, fans become overwhelmed by the amount of "things" they need to play a game. Also, as you pump out more and more product, the product suffers in that, it might not be all good. Or worse, it might be half-assed and not fully thought out. We take a different approach, and that is, take our time, get it right, and release product when it is ready. This is a good and bad thing. It is good, because you do not over promise, and you do not miss deadlines. It is bad, because you need to feed the beast of demand -- if you will -- which is always there.
We've made a lot of mistakes since starting Rogue Games, but we have learned from them all. In addition, for the most part, it is just James and I doing all the writing. There are only so many things we can write, and only so many hours in the day before we get burned out. This is not a complaint, just the truth.
"Get freelancers!" I hear you say. We are and do, but sadly, freelancers flake out, miss deadlines, or worse, fail to even deliver a final product. This is the downside of freelancers, but there is an upside. When you find ones who can hit deadlines, who deliver the work they promise, when they promise, you are happy. You also might be tempted to give them more work then they can handle, so you have to weigh their time as well.
Could we work faster? Sure, but, by working faster, you make more mistakes and really do not give the product a chance to grow.
That being said, we are working, and working hard. How hard, here is the run down for things in the work for Shadow, Sword & Spell:
- Next PDF. It is a supplement, and the writer is doing revisions. Once it is done, it goes to editing. It will hopefully be out in a few weeks.
- New adventure. I just got a proposal, and rough draft by a writer for a new adventure. It is good. Once I go through it and give him notes, he will get to work finishing it.
- SS&S Expert. John is editing it as I write this, and is nearly done with the first pass. I am waiting for a writer to finish a chapter he is writing, but they are on track. Once I finish the Colonial Gothic book I am writing (this week) I will turn my attention to finishing the draft. The book will be out in March.
- SS&S Basic Reedit. See above about freelancers. John is on this. This has gone much slower than I would like, but it is what it is.
- SS&S Threats. Will be out August 2011. Manuscript needs to be typed, but this will be done by the end of next month.
- New adventure/Quickstart. I finished the adventure and it is being play tested now.
- SS&S Templates. PDF release, writing it within the next two weeks.
- New adventure. I am writing this, adventure is roughed out.
- SS&S City. Outline done. Writing, 50%. Due out end of 2011, and manuscript will be done early next year.
So that is the immediate future.
Now I need your help. If you are a writer, or have even thought about trying your hand at this, I am looking for submissions. Said submissions could be for The Scroll, or they could be for adventures. We have two types of submissions: fan submissions and submissions.
Fan submissions are for The Scroll. Details for this are here.
Submissions are submissions for PDF or print releases, and are paid. Details are here.
So what do we pay?
Typically $.02/word payable 60-days upon acceptance for the first contract, 30-days for any other contracts with us.
Ok, so there you go.
Questions? Ask away.
As of today, I have been working on making the downloads for each of the game easier. Colonial Gothic’s download page is being reworked, and you can see the results here. I should have this done by tomorrow (all I have left are maps). Once that is done, I will move on to the other game pages.
Once this is done, I am going to have to move on to a much larger project. That project? Revamping the New World Almanack. The wiki is now too large, and I am going to have to move it over to a new format.
Down the line, I want to come up with a mobile version of the site.
What do you want to see?
Cities are big (I know, no shock there) and they can be intimidating for GMs when using them. What I have done is rethink the approach, and boil down what is important, and what not is important. Thus, there are sections dealing with Inns, Taverns & Coffee Houses, as well as the City Watch, Streets, Education and the like. I like this, because it enables the GM to take these bits, and use them for their own work.
The good thing about this, is that while I am working on the ending points on this manuscript, I am also working on Shadow, Sword & Spell: City. As I think about cities in the colonial period, I am also thinking about them in the pulp fantasy sense. It is strange to be working on cites as much as I have.
One of the projects I am nearing completion on is the second part of Flames of Freedom. This part takes place in Philadelphia, and I am very much enjoying my time with it. This is probably going to be a big book, just how big, I am not sure.
While I am working on this, I have been noodling ideas for a PDF I want to do. Said PDF will be a collection of floor plans of period houses and the like. The only thing I am not sure about, is what else should this PDF contain.
The other project I have to undertake is a total revamp of the New World Almanack. This has gotten to big, and it needs a major over haul.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand: PDF of Floor Plans. What else would you like to see in something like this?
The pulps, from which much of Shadow, Sword & Spell’s inspiration comes from is rich in the tradition of exploring the world. Think of Howard’s Conan, or Kull and the stories where his heroes explore the larger world and discover adventure. Even in more “modern” works such as Moorcock’s in which Elrich wanders the Young Kingdoms in such of his lost love (Cymoril), his peace (Tanelorn), and for opportunities. World spanning is important, especially if the hero is searching for land to claim as their own, a throne to take, or new markets to buy and sell goods.
Unlike SS&S: Basic, Expert has a setting. Unlike Basic, Expert’s setting is larger and offers many opportunities for GMs to use. Like Basic this setting is only barely detailed. A lot is left blank so you can take it and create what you want. Where we describe aspects of the setting, this is done in broad strokes. We do this for a few reasons.
First a fantasy game without a setting is not useful. A setting helps give context to the rules, but also serves as an example for Gamemasters when creating their own. In addition a setting helps give a tone to a game. Think of Game Workshop’s Warhammer Fantasy Role Play, TSR’s Greyhawk, Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor, or even Judge’s Guild City State of the Overlord (as I type this I realize I have just dated myself). These settings stand the test of time, because of not only the tone, but the hook. The hook for a setting is important, and should be summed up in one succinct sentence. For example, let’s use Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. What is the hook? A grim world of perilous of adventure. That hook is a perfect descriptive element and when kept in mind, helps you create adventures and other items for your players.
Another reason a setting is useful is that it helps set a baseline that players ad Gamemasters can use in their games. This baseline provides not only inspiration for players in creating their characters, as well as for GMs in creating their own adventures.
Finally the other reason to provide a setting is that it is fun top create a world, no matter how large or small it is.
Before diving into the setting let’s talk about the nuts and bolts of setting design. Setting design is easy, as well as offers numerous rewards. However when faced with a blank piece of paper, many world builders fall into two groups:
1. World builders with stage of fight
2. World builders with too many ideas
There might be other groups, but over the years these are the two groups that commonly appear. What follows are the guidelines and lessons we’ve learned over the years. There might be other ways to approach setting design, and our methods are not the only way to follow, but through the years this method has worked for us. Before writing any history, drawing any map, or naming any feature, you need to ask yourself a simple question: What type of campaign do I want?
The answer to this question is important and the answering of it helps guide you in the building of your world.
Is your campaign going to be centered on exploration? if so is it trekking across massive landmasses like some fantastical Marco Polo or Lewis & Clark?
Is this going to center on oceanic exploration where new lands are discovered?
Is war going to be the focus?
Are two kingdoms at war? Cities? Tribes?
The answer to this help guides your in the creation? How? For two kingdoms, you need to come up with the bare bones of who rules, why they are fighting, and what the two kingdoms look like geographically. For two cities, these same questions are useful as well, but you are more confide to the area. For tribes, the area is even smaller.
With the answer to what type of campaign you want, the process of creation begins. Often this is seen as a daunting task. It isn’t. World building is just as enjoyable as creating adventurers, running a weekly game, and devising clever encounters to pit against the player’s characters. where the struggle comes in, is the type of campaign you create. when you boil all the advice down, all the options, and the possibilities, you are left with two types of settings: encyclopedia and sandbox. each has their plusses and minuses, and both are very rewarding.
Encyclopedic settings are setting where you strive to detail everything. Encyclopedic settings are the one that show off the creativity of a Gamemaster and the thought that goes into one often serves as a springboard for other ideas. Another advantage is that the Gamemaster is ready for any question a player asks, and creates a richness of detail that makes the world seem alive. The downside of this is that often the bulk of this material never comes into play.
Though nothing goes to waste, per-say, the details do go to waste if they never leave the confines of note filled notebooks. Players might not even care to ask what the lineage of a certain ruler is. Their concerns are more primal like who is paying them, how do they afford a new sword, or how they can learn a new spell. Examples of Encyclopedic Settings are found in sprawling multi-volume fantasy epics such as Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Raymond E. Feist’s work, and TSR/Wizard of the Coast Forgotten Realms (originally created by Ed Greenwood). These settings are rich and brimming with detail, however, most of this detail is not needed. So, should not create a setting like this? No. Go for it, but keep in mind that often the bulk of your creation is for your own enjoyment.
So if an Encyclopedic Setting is one of the spectrum, a Sandbox is the other.
What is a Sandbox Setting? It is a setting where you purposely leave areas empty. Instead you think about the area where you plan to have your adventures take place, and you flesh it out in broad strokes. One example of this is The Merchant League found in Shadow, Sword & Spell: Basic. That is a sandbox. Only the bare minimum is written up and as your adventurers explore details are figured out. Growth is more spontaneous and details are created as players ask question, or as you need them.
Sandbox campaigns are rewarding in that everyone has a hand in shaping the growth. However some GMs find them daunting because they often have to “wing it.” This is a good thing, because some of the best creations are the ones you make up as you go along. The key to a sandbox is that all you need are a few notes, as well as a notebook which you can jot down what you create.
Shadow, Sword & Spell is a sandbox. It is designed this way to serve not only as an example, but because we want you to make it your own.
I am having a problem with the writing of this. The adventure is good and runs well. Where my issue is in regard to the supplement material for the city itself. Philadelphia is a freaking huge city with a freaking long history. The amount of material is overwhelming, and unlike the other items I’ve written, I am having a problem with knowing what to include and what not to include. This is part of the reason why this book has been so hard to write. The other reason is that I want to do right by Philadelphia.
One of the things most people do not realize is that with Colonial Gothic, we have to not only be true to history, but true to the geographical reality. Philadelphia is real, and real people live there. Residents of the cities we use look to make sure that we get it right. This is what I learned first hand when a residents of Boston looked through Boston Besieged, and shared their pleasure in how we got it “right.”
I am a writer who worries. I do not worry about the writing, or the deadline. I worry about getting it right. This is why Philadelphia has taken me so long. I have to just get it done.
Yes, that is the name of the landmass that Shadow, Sword & Spell is set on. Take a look:
Oh yeah, this is a big land mass.
What do the numbers mean?
Those are the locations talked about in Expert. A lot of space is being left open. A lot.
So what are those location’s names?
I will give you one.
1 is The League of Merchants.
As for the others?
I am not telling.
I tend to be very loose in the descriptions I write. I do this because I want the artist to feel that they have freedom. Also, I do not want to describe something that is overly complicated. I simply give a few words, maybe a sentence. This works great, because over time, when working with the same artists, they begin to trust and well feel free to let their skill take them to where ever they want to go.
So, for that one piece, I knew whoever would get it would draw something awesome. I rolled, the number came up, and the artist got the piece.
What is the piece?
Here is the description in all of its’ detail:
Cthulhu: Ok, go for it on this one. I want a fucking big ass bad ass Cthulhu looming over a mountain, or emerging from the sea. Go crazy with this one.
Short. To the point.
I love my job.
I got a lot on my plate, writing wise, and I will be busy writing various manuscripts for not only Shadow, Sword & Spell, but Colonial Gothic and something else which will remain a mystery for a time. I am not complaining about this, I love to write and design, so this is all fun for me.
Today I want to share with you one of the projects filling my time. That project is SS&S: Expert. The book is about 75% done. I am really excited about this book, and I like what we have here. Here is the outline, and it will show you where Expert is going.
I. Chapter One: Skills and Scheming
a. New Options for Skill Buying
b. Schemes and Scheming
II. Chapter Two: New Gear
III. Chapter Three: Followers and Domains
a. Hirelings & Henchmen
vi. Income & Expenses
x. Natural Disasters
IV. Chapter Four: Magic
a. New Common Spells
b. Arcane Spells
c. New Alchemy Arts
V. Chapter Five: Relics
a. Why Relics?
b. Possibilities of relics in adventures
c. When can you have too many?
d. What is the difference between Relics and items characters create?
e. Should characters be able to create relics?
f. Sample Relics
i. Claw of Crowtan
iii. Roland’s Finger
VI. Chapter Six: Ancient Tomes & Books
VII. Chapter Seven: Mass Combat
VIII. Chapter Eight: Other Worlds & Dimensions
IX. Chapter Nine: Setting
a. Creating your own Setting
b. Setting – The World
X. Chapter Ten: Creatures Great & Small
a. Monster Creation
b. New Creatures
The key to Expert is pretty simple, keep it simple and show the possibilities. Though the book deals with the “endgame” if you will, what James and I really want to do is give you more options and ideas that you can use in your games, even if you do not want to play the “endgame.” Examples of this is with the new gear in Chapter Two and the magic in Chapter Four. For us, SS&S is about options and possibilities, and this is what this book will be.
Today is H.P. Lovecraft’s 120 birthday. I wanted to make an epic post about this, but I am currently sick so there goes my plans.
Lovecraft, for me (and I know for James) is probably one of the biggest influences on our writing. Two of our games -- Colonial Gothic and Shadow, Sword & Spell -- were heavily influenced by him. Say what you will about the man, but when he was on, his words were some of the best ever put on to paper.
So raise a glass and toast the man.
First off, let me say, I got sick at GenCon on Friday (8/6). I woke up not feeling well, and got progressively worse throughout the day. This pissed me off, because I had a lot of meetings as well as was going to run Shadow, Sword & Spell for Zachary Houghton and his friends and I couldn’t. As the con went on, I got worse. Being sick stinks, but being sick at a con sucks.
I mention this fact of being sick as a way to explain why this might not be as long, or a little less in depth as I like.
Ok, so another GenCon comes and goes, and like the past three, I find myself with the same sense of being overwhelmed and humbled. I know I say this a lot, but it is true. My hobby (as well as James’ hobby) is designing games for people to play for their hobby. We design games. We are passionate about the games that we design. We are passionate about games period. So when you go to a con such as GenCon, you are not ready for the press of people who not only want to buy the things you design, but are enthused by what you design.
As in year’s past, GenCon is the start of Rogue Games’ design year. Our entire schedule and operations revolve around kicking off the year at this show. Why? It is the one place where we can spread the news and show the world what we have in store. GenCon is thus the time to look back and look forward.
We released Flames of Freedom: Boston Besieged at the show. I came with 50 copies and we sold out on Sunday. If I was not sure about gamers wanting more published adventures, then I would be sure now. Everyone who bought was happy to see it, and many came back to the booth gushing their praise about it. All I kept thinking was: “If you think Boston is good, wait until you see Philadelphia.”
The rest of the books were in the booth, and sales were very strong. I nearly sold out of everything else, and what really made me smile was people who like the game for the history. Working on Colonial Gothic is fun but draining and that is due to the research. It felt nice for people to notice the effort put in. Another interesting fact is that one of the people who bought the game (every book) is an American Revolution Reenacter. She invited me to a reenact in October and they have promised (or threatened) to get me in period dress. This is something my wife is dying to see.
The big hit was the full color 11”x17” maps of Boston and the Colonies I had for sale. I did not think these would be as much as a hit as they were, and I sold out of Boston and almost all of the colony maps. I plan on doing a reprint of these and getting them up for sale on the website. I am also working on getting some done for retail stores for give aways.
As for the future books, here is the news that everyone found out at the show:
- Colonial Gothic: New France -- Next book and this is due out January 2011
- Colonial Gothic: French Indian War -- Due out in Spring 2011
- Flames of Freedom: Philadelphia -- Due out Summer 2011 (title not set in stone)
- There will be a pirate book but not until 2012.
- There are more PDFs coming, and Jennifer Brozek (Elizabethtown, Plymouth and Ross-Allen Letters) wants to write more of them.
- There is a plan in place to explore the period backward in time, as well as other areas of the world. My goal, and it is one Graeme shares with me, is to show how history can be the spring board.
I came to GenCon with 48 copies of Starships and I left with 5. Not only was this book selling, but everything was selling. The big topic of conversation was what the revision is going to be like. I will let James take this over:
When I first conceived of the idea, I mostly wanted to fix some typos, clean up some vague rules, and give the whole thing a new layout and art, because I wasn't happy with the way the original turned out esthetically. This revision was planned to be finished in time for May 2010.
As I worked on it, though, I realized that what the game really needed was to be rewritten. Not *changed* -- I still want a revision that's 95+% compatible with the original -- but more clearly and evocatively written. The original rulebook is longer and more verbose than it needs to be. It's also badly organized and includes more detail than is needed in some areas and not enough in others. So, I decided that rather than just tweak the rulebook I'd rebuild it from the bottom up and that's taking more time than I'd originally thought it would.
Again, let me reiterate that the revision will be 95+% compatible with the original. I'm not creating a new game but I am creating a new rulebook, one that I hope will be easier to understand and to use, as well as nicer looking overall. Fortunately, I've got a lot of ideas on how to do this and the art I've commissioned for the new book is awesome, as is the layout we have in mind. Take a look at the recently released Starships book to get a small taste of my new approach to the game.
The revision will likely come out in early 2011, but I can't set a specific date yet, because this is one of those "it's done when it's done" projects. The current rulebook does what it needs to do and the new book isn't going to change much (aside from the starship rules, which you now have access to through Starships), so there's no rush. On the other hand, I really do want to get a new rulebook out there, because I think Thousand Suns is a great game that's not yet reached its full potential due to poor layout and organization and writing that's not as good as it should be. So I expect we'll see it sooner rather than later.
Ok, so there you go. James is working on it now, and it is moving along really well. My hope is that it will be out next summer. Do not hold me to this, however.
Still, all is not lost. Greg Videll (Starships) and I talked about a Thousand Suns Campaign. We hit upon a good idea and work on this will soon start. In addition Jennifer Brozek and I talked about the game and she is keen on doing some writing as well and we are talking about some PDFs that will be setting specific. James is working on a number of PDFs as well. There is a lot going on behind the scenes.
Shadow, Sword & Spell
Basic is due out next month. Expert is being written now and will be out within 6 months. I am also working on the first supplement City which will deal with urban fantasy in a pulp vein. We will be ramping up support for this game once the game is out, and this includes PDFs. In fact the first adventure is being edited now, and should be out the same time the game is released.
Oh, and we sold out at the con.
(Way to bury the lead).
I came with 50 and left with 0. To say the reaction to this game was intense would be an understatement. I was not really prepared for the reaction the game got. For $12.99 you can have a complete fantasy game. I should have thought about this. I am really proud of this game and I cannot wait to work on it some more.
Coming December 2010 is the following:
Oh and original PDFs are coming soon as well.
Bits and Mortar
I mentioned this briefly yesterday, and I will have a lot more to say in the days to come, but let me say this. I am really proud of this. Bits and Mortar is something both James and I believe in, and I am passionate about making the PDF Guarantee that we do available to as many retailers as possible. I jokingly called our Friday meeting as the Meeting of the Seven Families (yes I know there are six, it was a joke), but it is very cool to be working with others who share the vision.
Other News and Thoughts
I saw a lot of cool things, bought a lot of cool things, and have a few thoughts that I am still mulling over. I will post them on my personal blog. I will say this, James and I have a lot of plans, and we are as committed to our plans as ever before. We are passionate about what we do, and we both feel very lucky that we can do this.
I ran a pick up game of Colonial Gothic and it was a blast. One of the player’s wife played, and she learned the game within 5 minutes. It was a deadly adventure, but it was fun. Next year I will do more, and I am working on having demos in the booth. Period. It will happen, and there will not be another GenCon without everyone having a chance to play in a demo.
It has been a long four years. We’ve made mistakes, we learned a lot, but in the end we have had nothing but fun. We cannot thank you enough for your support, and for reaction you bring to what we do. We truly are humbled by the reaction to our work. Thank you.
So as I work on Expert, I realize that I have more freedom then I thought. Expert is all about possibilities, and now I find myself coming up with the final versions of rules dealing with creating Items of Magic, powerful magic, and dimensional travel. This then leads me to realize this book will not be as large as I thought, and because of this I have more room for other ideas. Freedom is a nice thing.
Let’s get this one out of the way first. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here is a picture:
Yeah, Shadow, Sword & Spell: Basic will be in the booth and this is the first time you will have a chance to not only buy a copy, but look at it. This book will set you back $13, but everything you need is here.
Besides this game, copies of James’ The Cursed Chateau will be there as well. This is the first Old School adventure we released for d20 based fantasy games (*cough* D&D *cough* *cough* Swords & Wizardry *cough*). Stop by the booth and ask me about the upcoming Dwimmermount.
Basic has a setting in the book, and the setting is very slim and the idea behind it is that a GM gas enough of information on the setting to create their own campaigns. The setting’s goal is a simple one: provide an example on how the rules work and how a pulp fantasy setting behaves. Setting information is found through out the rulebook, and serves as the examples for concepts. The setting chapter is a small, concise chapter that presents you a small slice of the much larger world. When Expert is released, there will be another setting chapter and it will show you a larger slice of the world.
Is this like Thousand Suns meta-setting?
In a way, but what we want to do is build the setting in releases and use it as the example for everything we do. Case in point the two future releases I am writing.
Shadow, Sword & Spell: City
This is a book I have been thinking on and working on even before we settled on the Shadow, Sword & Spell. I have always loved running urban adventures and most of my games revolve around urban adventures. My current Colonial Gothic campaign is set in Philadelphia, and the playtesting I have done for Shadow, Sword & Spell takes place in a city as well. For me, nothing is more than pulp fantasy then urban adventures. So this book is going to center on this type of campaign. From advice and guidance in creating your own cities, to how to make the city come alive, this is the book that deals with it. In order to highlight and provide concrete examples, the book includes a city ready for play. This is how the setting comes into play. You can ignore the city, or use the city, but the book is structured that all the material is useable.
Shadow, Sword & Spell’s Campaign
There is no title for this, but there is a very detailed outline that breaks this campaign up into three parts. The campaign will come out once Expert is released, and the reason, is that this is when the whole world is revealed. The campaign is designed to be sprawling when it comes to travel. Think of some of the best Conan stores, and travel plays a role. The campaign needs a setting, and though it will have one, it can easily be used in the GMs own world. The goal with this campaign is to provide a fun and interesting adventure, not build a mega world.
Feeding the Urge
Ok, so the above two titles are in the works, and will have setting information, the urge is always there to create more material than you need. World building is fun, and sometimes the fun forces you to write and design things that you do not need, nor you want to publish. That is is why there will a wiki designed for Shadow, Sword & Spell, similar to the New World Almanack and the Encyclopedia Galactica this wiki will be the place where a lot of the smaller setting ideas James and I have will end up. For those who are interested in this setting, this is going to be the spot to visit. Some of this material might end up in releases, but who knows. In the end this will be the repository for ideas we have that do not fit in the books.
So that is where we stand as of today. As always a lot of this might change over time. Yet, the above is solid enough in place I feel safe in sharing it.
I know, a bit over the top, but this has been a very stressful few weeks. During this time, there has been a job lost, sick family members, and a lot of “stuff” going on that was distracting. The fact that we got not one, not two, but three books done and out during that time amazes me.
So Shadow, Sword & Spell: Basic exists and it will be at Rogue Games’ booth at GenCon 2010.
- Shadow, Sword & Spell: Expert
- Shadow, Sword & Spell: City
- Shadow, Sword & Spell’s campaign
Yeah, that is a lot of projects, but I enjoy the work. What amuses me that if it was five years ago I would not be dealing with fantasy at all. I was burned out. Then I begun working on Colonial Gothic and Thousand Suns, and I found myself longing for some fantasy. So for the past few days I have once again immersed myself in the realms of fantasy.
Today I’ve done a lot of work and thinking about magic. Shadow, Sword & Spell: Expert is going to have new spells as well as alchemical arts. In terms of spells, there are new Common ones, as well as Arcane ones. The Arcane ones are powerful and fit the scope of the source material we pull from. As far as alchemy goes, I am doing some things that I could not get away with in Colonial Gothic.
The thing is, I stress about magic in this game. The reason is that pulp fantasy has magic, but the magic found there is powerful and typical out of the scope of most people. Now as much as I would love to have no magic in the player’s hands, I realize that this would not make a fun game. So I worry about making magic too powerful, but not powerful enough.
So I stressed about this for about a week, making magic magical. Then I get hit with the idea and make a break through. I call James to bounce the ideas off of him, and, like what always happens the talk makes me rethink the ideas. However, the ideas are now better.
The point of all of this?
It is nice having friends.
Thousand Suns: Starships. A nice sexy little book, all about, well, starships. Price? $12.99. In addition the author, Greg Videll, will be in the booth.
In addition to this new book, the rest of the line is there. Speaking of Thousand Suns, this is your chance to ask me about the revision in the works, as well as the slew of books being worked on as well.
The Primer was put up on our Scribd site, as well as blogged about earlier this week.
So with Shadow, Sword & Spell: Basic I argued that a setting was needed, and it was needed for a reason. The reason? To show how the rules work, and what the game should be. This is what I learned with Colonial Gothic, gamers need guidance in what the game should be, and the best way to do this is give as many setting examples as possible. This is one reason I pulled the trigger on Colonial Gothic’s Flames of Freedom campaign, and this is why I argued that we needed some form of a setting in SS&S.
SS&S has the same problem James faces with Thousand Suns. That problem is that a setting of some type needs to be crafted. This, from a distance seems like not that big of a problem, but it is. You need to have a sense of what you want to create. You need to make sure it is not a derivative and is original. More importantly you need to create it. The pressure for this is great, because you are doing it in front of gamers. You do not have the luxury to tweak with it in the background and keep it to yourself. In addition, you have to get it right out of the gates. You do not have the luxury of hiding your design mistakes or you missing internal consistency.
In some ways with the Colonial Gothic process is easier. Why? Because I have history to work with it, and I can use the history to inspire the setting. When you have a historical period to deal with, the temptation is to play it loose and fall back on the belief that the game is not historical but is just a game. When you deal with history, you owe it to not only the gamer, but the history, to get it right. That is why I do m research, and spend more time on it, then the writing. I want to get it right.
So that is why I have the pile of research in the picture. That is just the research for the Philadelphia portion of Flames of Freedom. That is why I’ve been doing this research for close to a year, and have already begun the process for Part Three and Part Four.
- Dwimmermount PDFs: I am going to be doing the layout and art direction for these. I’m already sketching ideas out. These are James’ babies and I am doing what he tells me.
- Colonial Gothic PDFs: Not only am I researching one, but I am overseeing the creation of three news written by others. The one I am researching and planning on writing deals with Freemasons. I have no plan idea when this will be ready, but I am shooting for the end of the year. As for the other three, Graeme is writing on and this one will deal with another secret society. This will be a fall release. The other two are setting PDFs similar to Elizabethtown and Plymouth. Why no new adventurers? Two reasons:
- No one has sent in any proposals to write them.
- I’ve been busy writing the Flames of Freedom campaign.
- Flames of Freedom: I am working on a lot of things for this. The campaign is going to be in four parts (part one is due out September) and I am either researching or writing two of the next parts. Part 2 is going to be in Philadelphia. The adventure portion is done (I still need to revise it and tie up loose ends, but the guts are there. I am researching the sourcebook portion now and that will be written in the fall. Part three is in outline stage, and I know where the adventure is going to go. The third part will take place in New York. The fourth, and final part, is sketched out, but not solid yet. I know it will take place in the south, but I need to see where the adventure goes as I write it.
- Shadow, Sword & Spell: Expert: 50% written, but I need to rethink a few things. Expert is growing a little bit, as far as scope, but the book is still what it was planed to be -- end game. I have two writers working on a portion of the book (the mass combat system) and James is working on his portions. This is going to be a very nice addition, and in many ways it is easier to work on than Basic. Basic required a lot of research and reading (wait till you see the Bibliography), and Expert is not going to require as much.
- Shadow, Sword & Spell: City: This is one of the first supplements for the game, and it deals with urban pulp fantasy. The supplement is in outline stage, and I should have that done in a week or so. Once done, I will start writing it.
- Shadow, Sword & Spell: Campaign: James and I talked about this for awhile, and we decided to pull the trigger. There is going to be a campaign for SS&S and I have outlined it three times. I am almost happy with where it is, and once we agree, we’ll get to writing.
- Thousand Suns: This is James’ and whatever help he needs, he gets. I’ve helped already on the revision, and I plan on doing some more.
There you go. It seems like a lot, but I am currently unemployed from my day job, so I have more time to devote to projects. There might be other things I’ve forgotten, but the above is what is filling my time now. Well, what is filling my time now is GenCon prep, but you get the point.
Though the Gazetteer has been out since Spring, it is new for GenCon, and might be new for some of you. Price? $12.99.
The other new book, as you can see from the picture is Flames of Freedom: Boston Besieged. This is the first part of the Colonial Gothic campaign. Price? $12.99.
Besides these two books, the rest of the Colonial Gothic line will be there as well. Just like last year, if you buy a book, you will get the PDF for free. As we did last year, we will ask you for your email address, and then after the show, the PDFs will be emailed. Customers last year got their PDFs the Monday after the show.
Now, there is also going to a cool item for sale. The item? A poster map of the 13 Original Colonies.
Said poster is printed on card stock, and is priced at $2.00. Supplies for this is limited. I do not know if this is going to be sale on the Rogue Games Online store, so this might be the only time this is for sale.
So there you go. Next week? Thousand Suns.
The first thing you need to get your hands on is limiting options. Unlike modern settings (I will throw Call of Cthulhu Gaslight into this broad category as well) during the 18th century investigators will not have access to the tools they are use to having. There are very few libraries they can walk into and research, mail takes a very long time to reach its' destination. Though newspapers exist, they are found mainly in the larger urban areas, and when available outside of these areas, the news is usually at least a few days old. What I do is follow the model laid out in Burton's "Sleepy Hollow" as well as the movie "Brotherhood of the Wolf."
Investigation is going to involve a lot of interviewing, as well as snooping. Books, which are rare due to expense, need to be obtained or found. For my campaign the players have developed a large source of contacts allowing them to call upon them for aid and information. One player has went out of her way to establish contacts with people in other Colonial cities (due to adventuring) and keeps in touch with them regularly -- more on this in another blog post -- allowing her to have sources of information in specific cities, as well as sources via post. Using her contacts, as well as the other contacts of the players, my group have ways to gain information, and I have a way to pass on clues as well as spur adventure.
Besides contacts, another thing to keep in mind is that investigations require Diplomacy or Intimidation Tests which allow for learning clues and information. Most of the time players forget this, but the use of these skills often turn up just enough information to move forward. ANother skill to use Spot and these tests allow for the discovery of physical evidence.
Though you cannot run CSI type events in Colonial Gothic, you can allow for body searches to discover how victims have died. I want to go back to books for a second. Though public libraries do not exist, some of the Colonial colleges did have them, but they are not massive. To access them you need to have a contact that will let you in, or be a graduate from said college. There are two other ways to gain access to research books: reading societies and personal libraries.
Reading societies are small social circles of people who pool their books together, and allow members to borrow tomes. Yearly membership dues are typically a few shillings, as well as a having a collection of books, but members gain access to the groups books. Private libraries, are another form of reading societies, but only allows members to enter and read. Typically these libraries are connected to a college or private group. These type of societies offer many opportunities for roleplaying as well as adventure hooks.
As for personal libraries, they are just that, personal libraries. Books cost a lot, but a hero with their own library do not have the issues of access. However, the downside is that it is difficult to carry a personal library on adventures, Heroes then need to pick and choose which tomes to bring with them, or always return to their library to conduct research.
My best advice, is to look at how Poe, Doyle, and Lovecraft handle investigations, but keep in mind the low tech of the period.
There will be a lot of cool things for sale in the booth this year, and I hope to have a full list ready in a few days. One thing for sure, I know there will be a small print for sale. Said print is a full color version of the map found in the Colonial Gothic: Gazetteer. In addition, just like last year, we will be collecting email addresses and sending you your PDF copy of any print purchases you make. This worked out great last year, and I am sure it will work out just as good this year.
Now off to get some items done.