What I'm Running on Kickstarter:

What I'm Running on Kickstarter:
Ballista Adventures

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Ballista Adventures: Final 48 Hours on Kickstarter

Well, I've been busy the past few weeks managing this Kickstarter and trying to get the word out.  It's finally paying off and the campaign has fully funded about 24 hours ago (give or take) and we are currently still climbing -- albeit slowly. CA $3500 might have been a bit ambitious but, it also wasn't a single product but a product line I've been trying to fund. Plus it wasn't a dedicated 5E product which a lot of people love to throw money at.

However I think the concept behind Ballista is striking a cord with some people. Hopefully, the word will continue to spread and I really want this to be a great product and this line be the first few titles of a series which will end up having many more.

As it stand right now, someone going for the all print bundle gets SIX small modules to them for about CA $60 -- that is with shipping included. After the USD exchange, that works about to less than $8 per module *AND* you get the PDF versions of that complimentary.  I like to think that's a pretty good deal as it stands but I am also understandably biased.  ;)

If you prefer a digital only format, CA $22 gets you the same six adventures and this works out to a little less than $3 USD per title.

I love the support I've gotten from my fellow gamers and I am thankful for it.

So... if you want to check out the Kickstarter, you can do so HERE.

Oh... and here's a cover of the fourth module in the series:


Friday, September 21, 2018

Ballista: Two Never-Before-Published Titles

When Arcana Creations started out around 9 years ago. I had ideas, spare time, and was inspired. It's been an interesting decade with many rough patches. There have been highs and lows but one thing that I kept on saying up to the start of last year was that I was a 'hobby publisher' at best. Earlier on, I didn't even want to be known as a publisher! Rather... I was happier being recognized as a 'Studio' doing work on existing projects. You see, almost 10 years ago, Brave Halfling Publishing was doing great work and John from BHP was very encouraging to a few people. Some have gone on to do even better things but Arcana Creations stumbled a bit earlier on.

In those early years, I have been given manuscripts for scenarios that have not yet been published though TWO of them have most of the work done on them and were a very short way from actually seeing the light of day. I also have others beyond that but I'll get to those later.

One of these two which will be making an appearance is an adventure scenario by Bill DeFranza entitled, Hide in Plain Sight. Unlike the other three modules, there is just more content in this adventure which could easily be broken up in two parts. It is undergoing a new round of edits with a very basic level of tweaks since the scenario was originally written with Castles & Crusades in mind. Now, it is getting a Ballista makeover.

The other module being produced that has gone through full editing and is in layout is Todd Pote's Mystery at Morfurt. Like Bill, Todd has been an early support of Arcana Creations and he presented what looks to be a straight-forward and fun scenario. I've recently been in contact with him regarding a map in order to finalize the content for the module.

Both of these still need art and they need to be finalized but, everything should be finished up before the end of the year. And, it is only taking THAT long because between now and the holidays, I do have my full time 9-5 job and a couple of small shows that I am doing.

I mentioned other content too and I do have more to publish for Ballista. However, being a big fan of Kickstarter, I know that over reaching can be problematic and over promising can just kill a great idea. Aside from a COUPLE of surprises I'm holding for the Kickstarter starting this weekend (should be tomorrow but might actually end up being Sunday), I'm keeping things 'finite'. I'm also giving myself EXTRA time for fulfillment. If by some chance, the campaign being launched becomes WILDLY successful, we'll be able to handle the volume and TWO-THIRDs of the project is already complete!

Arcana Creations have brought two projects to Kickstarter. Both were small and only one successfully funded. Both were for the Arcana Elements imprint publishing fiction and non-fiction. The first delivered early. The second still got completed without funding but was kept to a very small print run sold at shows. Had it funded, it would have been ready to go out to backers within a month of the end of the campaign. The intent is to do no different with this campaign and deliver on time... if not earlier.

Once that is under way, I'll be happy to launch more titles... perhaps another small batch in 2019.  :)


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Ballista: A Trick on the Tain

The third adventure in the Ballista Adventures line is A Trick on the Tain.  Like the first two, this was a module originally published for Castles & Crusades and this version has also seen changes between that version and this new Ballista version. Where as the Skerry scenario was primarily a local-area overland scenario, and Ramat was primarily a dungeon scenario, A Trick on the Tain takes place over a broader region and can be classified as a wilderness adventure. In this case, the adventure takes place in the tundra.

As a location-based adventure, there is enough material and ideas in the pages of the module to get you going but it also leaves plenty of room for a creative GM to flesh out. The region could easily become the home of many other adventures as the players explore this wilderness. James Maliszewski from the old Grognardia blog had this to say about it when he reviewed the original C&C version back in 2010:

It's also a good example of the old school design philosophy, leaving many aspects of the adventure open to referee interpretation rather than providing a definitive answer to every question that's likely to arise. I appreciate that and think it only adds to the module's utility, although some will no doubt disagree, expecting a published module to be completely self-explanatory.
His full review on the original C&C version can be found HERE.

He did go on to say that he didn't think it would have as broad of an appeal to everyone but I do believe it is an underappreciated gem. It was also a gem that was still a bit on the rough side that got a Swords & Wizardry conversion done for it a couple years back.

In preparation for this new version, a new round of edits where made. Material that was at the end of the module and the appendix was cut for this version. However, all that material critical to the actual core of this adventure has remained. It is my hope that we will revisit this region and expand on the material in the near future.

At this point, there are two more titles I want to present which are unpublished adventure scenarios which, along with the three already discussed, will be part of the upcoming Kickstarter launching this weekend! Expect a post about those two in the next day or two.


Saturday, September 15, 2018

Ballista: How the Base Rules Work

So... you picked up a copy of a Ballista Adventure and you have dice in hand along with some characters. What next? If not using one of the many existing systems compatible with the Ballista line, each module also includes a basic set of rules which can be used instead.

As the rules included in these books are not meant as a replacement for other systems, you won't find rules to create actual characters. Some books in the line will offer some pre-generated characters and there are other online resources that can be used to meet this need. Naturally, characters from any d20 system derived from the world's most popular Role Playing Game such as Swords & Wizardry or Castles & Crusades will easily fit the bill.

Beyond that, if someone prefers to use their favorite system instead, more power to them. Nothing in the line should be an impediment from doing so. Others may wish to mix and match various rules for their own home brew campaign.

The rules included on the inside cover as separated in seven sections. They are How to Use This Book, Attributes & The Game, Understanding the Encounters, Battle, Damage, Bonuses & Penalties, and finally Magic & Miscellanea.

The first section is a simple and basic introduction but the second is far more significant. It covers the six traditional attributes and how to go about deal with saving throws or skill saves. A target number is determining by added a base value and a difficulty level rated on a scale of 1 to 10. A player would roll a d20 plus relevant attribute modifier and character level.

Understanding the Encounters breaks down the stat block and details how each part impacts the game where as the following Battle section quickly covers the order of combat in relation to this information. Damage is the logical continuation of both previous sections and informs the reader on how to proceed.

Of course, anyone who has played a similar role playing game before will already know how all of this works. Even the following section isn't particularly 'new' given the multitude of other systems that use a similar mechanic. Greatly popularized in 5th Edition and utilized to great effect in other games such as Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu (7th Edition), Ballista advocates the use of bonus and penalty dice in the game to avoid stacking additional numbers to a skill, save, or attack roll in a veritable escalation of numbers.

Magic & Miscellanea is a quick and dirty way of running magic without the need of a Vancian-type of, fire-and-forget, spellcasting. The GM will need to determine challenge level, taking into account the scale of the desired effect, which the spell caster will need to roll for in order to success. This taxes the spell caster (in the form of nonlethal damage).

The rules are very basic but, in their own way, complete enough to run a game. They represent an easy set of guidelines that can be used instead of a rule book -- especially if the participants are experienced gamers. In time, a bit more will be offered, if only to provide some interesting options for the campaign YOU want to run.


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Ballista: Layout & Stat Blocks

One of the things I have come to be very happy with when I began the layout work for this Ballista line of adventures is the approach I took in breaking down the information and the nature of the stat blocks. I will not claim this as some sort of break through, but a clean and uncluttered layout and ease of access to find and use this information was of the utmost importance to me. Cleanliness is next to godliness, or so they say, and now that I have three titles complete with another two on the way, I am appreciating the final result more and more.

Naturally, it won't be for everyone.

The layout for any of the adventures produced in the Ballista line is such that a page has a two column set-up but the size of each column is different. The smaller column found is found on the exterior edge of the page and is intended for the creature stat blocks, relevant item stats, or hazards such as traps. This information is concise in nature but complete and are in an italicized font to further distinguish it from the text in the column next to it. The larger column on the page is the text of the adventure itself. Any tables found in the adventure (random encounter tables for instance) are also in the main body but the table itself is kept fairly minimalist in style.

When the main body of the text makes reference to a monster or trap, you can find the stats for that along the side of the page. If a particular creature is used frequently in the following pages, repetition is kept to a minimum unless they reappear in a different section. At most you may have to flip back a page or two to easily find what you are looking for.

Here is an example from the Secret of Ronan Skerry:

The Stat Blocks themselves represent an attempt to bridge to popular d20 systems together for the principal purpose of ensuring compatibility with Swords & Wizardry and Castles & Crusades. This is possible since both games are streamlined and simple in their approaches. As such, you'll find the Stat Blocks in Ballista which contain both ascending and descending armor class numbers as well as Save type or, to borrow the terminology from C&C, prime attributes. Beyond that, the Stat Blocks are detailed enough to run the encounters along with which ever preferred ruleset you choose to play with the Ballista material or the base Ballista rules themselves.

They all follow a simple format providing the name, Size, Movement, Saves, Hit Dice, Armor Class, Attack, any other Special info and Spell Resistance if applicable. Several examples are found on this page due to the accompanying encounter table and, Ballista tries to keep things relatively simple and in the GMs control. For example, if you consider the Giant Spider listed on the page is poisonous, it will does not inform the GM of the effects. Instead it relies on the GM to decide on the outcome should a character be bitten (and fail their saving throw vs poison). It is *YOUR* game after all.

As you may have also noticed, on the page, you have text in bold (in brackets) regarding checks. Not all systems, or even GMs, will need this sort of thing but it is there just in case. CL refers to Challenge Level which is always measured on a scale of 1 to 10 in Ballista.

The intent behind all of this is to keep things simple and VERY compatible to other existing and popular FRPGs even if we use both Swords & Wizardry and Castles & Crusades as a baseline for certain things. It just makes things easier and, given that Swords & Wizardry Complete has been made completely free in electronic format, and you can find a fairly complete set of starter rules for a game like Castles & Crusades, it seems foolish not to use these as references when they are so readily available.