What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:

What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:
Demonologie Playing Cards

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Arcana Creations 2018: The Year Ahead

 A bunch of things happened in 2017 and more is planned for 2018!

First off, lets talk about the shows.  Not everything has been confirmed yet but we things are taking shape and are as follows:

Our first event of the year will be in Ottawa, Canada at the small Goddess of Love Valentine Psychic Fair Fundraiser for Animals.  Ok... I didn't come up with the name and it's seems pretty far removed from the typical venue you might expect to find us.  However, it's small enough, not hard to get to, and ultimately it's for a good cause.  I can pretty much guarantee our table with be the ONLY table selling anything remotely gaming related and the rest of the fair will have all sorts of things.  This fair is NEXT WEEK on Sunday, February 11th, 2018 at the Bronson Community center and runs from 12:00pm to 4:00pm.

Our second event that we still need to confirm is Festival Draconis in Montreal.  Festival Draconis is best described as a gaming 'meet-up' as opposed to a convention.  It seems less formal than a typical convention but people can sign up to run and play in a variety of table-top RPGs.  Unlike a typical gaming convention, there isn't much vending but there are a handful that will.  It is a 3 day convention starting on the evening of March 2nd, 2018 and runs all day Saturday and Sunday held at the Cegep du Vieux Montreal.  If we do go, we may end up only going on the Saturday of the convention.  Details to be finalized in the next couple of weeks.

Our third event is at the Montreal Beltaine Fair on Sunday, April 29th, 2018 which starts at 10:00am. It runs to 5:00pm and is located at West Island Curing Club. It's a smaller craft fair and the focus is 'storytelling' for this year's event.  Arcana Creations will be launching a new title through the Arcana Elements imprint at the fair entitled: Quebec's Distinct Paganism which is an ethnography on the Montreal Pagan community.

Our fourth event and our biggest will be at the Montreal Comic Con being held at the Palais des Congres during the weekend of July 6th - 8th, 2018.  We are planning to have the official launch of the Ballista gaming line at this event.

Our final confirmed event for the 2018 is slated to be Can-Con in Ottawa. The convention is held at the Sheraton located downtown during the October 12th - 14th weekend. If you are a fan of science fiction, fantasy, and great Canadian literature in general, stopping by is a must! Arcana Creations will be one of the sponsors for this years' convention.

Beyond the October date, we are planning to do an additional fair or two just before the holidays as we did in 2017 but those dates for the events have yet to be finalized.

For everything else, as already mentioned, we have some releases that are finally seeing the light of day. Via the Arcana Elements imprint, we will have Quebec's Distinct Paganism as well another (unconfirmed) title for Can-Con. For Arcana Creations proper, the launch of Ballista is something that had many false starts and changes over the years but we are excited to finally see it come to fruition.  But before any of that happens, Shaman of the Mire for Castles & Crusades will be available in the next few weeks.

With all of these projects, no firm decision has been made whether or not we will be using a crowd funding platform to help with the production with any of these. Since the beginning, anything we did decide to crowdfund was developed to the point of being practically ready for production.  Star Rover, our second, but failed Kickstarter, still ended up being produced and will be made available for purchase on Amazon in the coming weeks and we have had advance copies for sale direct since the last show we did at the end of 2017. It is likely that the planned Ballista line will be crowdfunded via Kickstarter or Indiegogo due to the scope of the project.

We still have many plans but it won't be till much later this year before we are able to determine what we will pursue next and what we may drop. With all things, we thank you all for your continued support.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Arcana Creations 2017: A Year In Review

 The year of 2017 was an interesting and busy time for Arcana Creations.  Did I meet all the personal objectives set for it?  No... we did fall short of a couple but nothing got dropped.  Things are just taking longer to come out.  So, where did we meet or surpass expectations and goals and where did we fall short.

In 2017, there were a couple of releases and a successful Kickstarter which helped us shift gears.  Earlier in the year, we released our first fiction novel under our non-gaming imprint, 'Arcana Elements'.  The title of the book is 'Mother of Mortals' and this was successfully Kickstarted to bring in the funds necessary to produce rewards for backers as well as a small print run to sell directly at shows and events.  The Kickstarter success was attributed by the simple fact that it had a modest goal and the first proofs of the book were already in our hand.  We also delivered EARLY on our commitments.

With new product and things finally moving for Arcana Creations, we also began to do smaller shows and conventions.  Sales of 'Mother of Mortals' at the shows were good and the books has gotten positive reviews.  Between the shows and other projects, we decided to keep the momentum going with a second novel, Jack London's 'The Star Rover'.  While not a new title, being in the public domain and not as well known as his other works, we felt it a good match for the stuff we wanted to produce. Like our first novel release, we went to Kickstarter to secure funding and, again, we launched in the proofing stage of the book. Unfortunately, the Kickstarter failed (more on that later) but despite this setback, we still brought in advance copies of the book to sell in December.

On the gaming front, we re-embraced our love of Castles & Crusades and committed to deliver 'The Shaman of the Mire'.  For the benefit of the shows and conventions we were doing, we brought in some stock from Troll Lord Games as well as some other gaming odds and ends and some inexpensive dice (because everyone needs more dice). Gaming sales have not been as strong at the shows we have done but these were not focused on gaming so much as other things.

Of course, the primary reason for all of this is to branch out and get a bit more exposure and possibly lay a more solid foundation to build from.  We have continued making some contacts and despite things still being a bit touch and go from project to project and show to show, it's making a positive difference.

But we also stumbled.  The focus on the Arcana Elements imprint and various shows (while working a full time job) meant some projects got pushed back and set aside and this blog was updated way less than I hoped to.

'Shaman of the Mire' was the first casualty of this followed by the (re)launch of our own gaming line.  A sizeable book which I originally hoped to be out in the last quarter of 2017 was instrumental in these delays and, in the end, it had to be pushed till 2018.  We are back on to finishing 'Shaman of the Mire' and other pressing gaming releases.  As for that second Kickstarter... why did it fail if the first one did well enough?  The biggest problem was timing.  I wanted to have a short campaign and I wanted to close the campaign by the end of November.  Being Canadian, I somehow forgot about Thanksgiving and Black Friday that happened within a week of a campaign that was little more than a couple weeks in length.  That hurt the campaign as much as recent changes to advertising and promoting things on social media (notably Facebook).  It ended up being something of a disaster which took away time from other pressing projects.

As for the blog... at the end of the day, I don't have the time or energy to be very active on the blog so I don't expect that 2018 will be terribly different on that front.  It will still be a place for news with updates for Arcana Creations but less musings, thoughts, and reviews.  Hopefully, when I caught up sufficiently with the backlog of work in my production queue, I can get back to it as well as some of my other hobbies like painting miniatures.

Up next... What's planned for 2018!


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Can-Con 2017... So Far.

When I first did Can-Con as exhibitor, Arcana Creations was still new-ish.  It was a small convention in Ottawa but an interesting one. With the cost of the table, and a friend who also had a few books to sell, we split a table and decided to go for it. The good news was that I sold enough to cover the costs of my portion of the table. The bad news was that this was ALL I made and the table wasn't that expensive to begin with!  Since we had come in to Ottawa from Montreal, we also had to factor in things one does when coming in from out of town to a convention such as hotel stay.

To be fair, the experience wasn't horrible and I still had fun doing it.

Since then, a couple things have happened. Over the past few years, I decided to come in as a regular attendee and in that time, I witnessed it grow. It is STILL a small and fairly intimate convention but there was a remarkable difference in attendance, and more importantly, traffic and the number of different vendors at the con.  The other thing that shifted is a broader appeal to what was being presented. More people coming in are looking at the gaming books and, since we have also released our first novel under the Arcana Elements imprint, our table has generated a fair bit of interest to appeal to a greater number of attendees.

For me, I also realized that I am spending more at this particular convention as well. My first Can-Con a few years back had me purchasing a single book. I ended up trading for another book at the end of the show with another publisher/author.

Now, with a day left to go, I already picked up eight books and I'm still eyeing a couple more! However, unlike my first Can-Con, I honestly have doubts I will have any copies left of 'Mother of Mortals' to trade! The novel has sold REALLY well today.

Any way, on the strength of the numbers for the first two days of sales, I have already committed our attendence for Can-Con 2018.  Ballista will be up and going by then so Arcana Creations will newer product to sell on top of the fantastic gaming product we already support and Arcana Elementas should have about three more books added to the roster!  Maybe even a follow-up book to our very first release if we are lucky.  :)

Here's hoping our final day of sales end up doing just as well, if not better, than the first couple.  :)


Sunday, October 1, 2017

A Six Month Hiatus -- UPDATES!

It's been six months since I last updated the blog and by the looks of it, my various posts have still gotten a decent amount of traffic during my absence. To my loyal readers as well as seekers coming across the blog by chance, I thank you.

Things have continued to be eventful and I have been busy since the Spring.

The first novel released under the Arcana Elements imprint I've set up was successfully crowdfunded and delivered ON TIME and the feedback we've received on it has been very positive! Two more books are going to added to the catalog by the end of the year. One is an academic work of non-fiction and the other is a great novel presently in the public domain. During the next week or two, I will be making specific announcements on what these two books are exactly and provide other details regarding their respective releases.

As for Arcana Creations, on the gaming front, things are continuing to progress albeit at a much slower pace. I have fallen behind on a couple of my goals as my time is demanded elsewhere. I still need to finish up the Castles & Crusades adventure, The Shaman of the Mire as well as finish up the long overdue Hide in Plain Sight. I am also revisiting previous releases like The Secret of Ronan Skerry, A Trick on the Tain, and Ruins of Ramat. I also have a couple more things up my sleeve. When looking at this previously released material, I made the decision to re-brand these adventures as well as the new releases going forward.

My commitment to Castles & Crusades as well as Swords & Wizardry is still there but these will now all be published as part of the Ballista line of adventures Arcana Creations will be focusing on. These are going be compatible with both these games as well as other similar FRPGs that share common ground with these two systems.

This isn't the first time I've talked about Ballista and I guarantee that it won't be the last. The idea of it has also changed considerably over the past few years too. This time, a fair bit of headway has been made in the past few months and I've come to a point that I feel secure enough start talking about it again.

Lately, the big push for Arcana Creations have been the upcoming shows for both CanCon in Ottawa as well as a local Yule Fair in Montreal. This means getting more stock and all the necessary preparations to vend at this two shows. I've also taken the Arcana Creations website down to set up an online store. It's still down but all that will be remedied in the next few days.

CANCON is happening on October 13th-15th, 2017 in downtown Ottawa and Arcana Creations will be there selling some gaming material as well as Arcana Element's first release, Mother of Mortals.  We will have an introductory selection of various products from Troll Lord Games (Castles & Crusades, Amazing Adventures, and Victorious) as well as our publishing partner, Brave Halfling Publishing. There will be other gaming odds and ends and plenty of dice. There may even be a pick up game or two during the weekend if we are lucky enough!  :)

You can find out more about CanCon HERE.

The Montreal Community Yule Fair will be taking place on December 3rd, 2017 though is a small scale event hosted by the Crescent Moon School of Magic & Paganism. I don't have too many details to share yet but both new releases by Arcana Elements will be available for that show as well.  With any luck, the first Ballista module will be there as well supported by much of the same product we will be showcasing at CanCan in a couple of weeks.


Monday, April 3, 2017

Castles & Crusades: A $15 Players Handbook

I need more time to actually relax and enjoy myself. Castles & Crusades has been my go to FRPG for years now and I realize that it's been a over a decade since I've picked up my first Players Handbook for C&C. The book has gone through multiple printings and is gearing for a 7th print run right now on Kickstarter. In some ways, the book has changed a lot over the printings ... but not so much in terms of the actual content. You can gather a group of players each with different printing and still be on the same page as far as rules are concerned. It's a rules light game that is a good balance of what I was looking for.I love this game a lot.

I'll write more about the how the game feels mechanically in a couple of days. For now, I want to talk about the evolution of the Player's Handbook.

It started off as a booklet in a white boxed set. Before Swords & Wizardry had their white box and before other various OSR clones did their own white box tribute, Troll Lord Games did it first with their white, collectors edition box. Three booklets in a box containing all the basics you needed to play! It was a proof of concept as no one at that time had used the SRD and the OGL to recreate d20 version of the D&D game that was a nod to the classic versions of D&D that many people grew up with. Sure... it was rooted with a slightly more modern system design with ascending armor class and a unified d20 mechanic to resolve a variety of challenges, but it was so elegant when unhindered by the mountain of skills and feats and a requirement of miniatures that Third Edition forced you to contend with.

From there, the first printing of the Player's Handbook was made possible and... well... never had I seen a more abysmal display of layout and editing in a 'professionally' released gaming product. Had I come across Castles & Crusades in that guise, I would have closed the book and walked away. It was a more complete game and on par to contain some of the things one became accustomed to seeing in first edition AD&D.  Unlike the booklet that had the four core classes... the PHB had 13 classes in all... from Assassin to Wizard!  A much greater and detailed selection of spells as well as an array of demihumans to choose from.

I was one of the lucky ones though as I came upon C&C with the 2nd printing of the PHB.  The text was basically the same but it was finally laid out correctly and pleasant to flip through.  Both 1st and 2nd printings where black and white and printed on white paper. A good stock that took pencil (and ink) well which made some people happy. The game was new so there were errors and mistakes littered throughout the book. I have met more than one person that marked up their books accordingly. I was not one of those people.

The cover artwork began to change slightly with the third printing but the biggest change was the paper.  It went to a higher quality but thinner stock of paper while retaining the black and white look.  There were LITTLE variations to the text and the most significant change was to the poison tables.  The thinner stock also meant the books were slightly thinner as well. Many loves this new printing but others didn't care for it as much.

Up to this point, the books have also remained at a bargain selling at $19.95 a book. You could get the Players Handbook and the Monsters & Treasure book for the same price (if not cheaper) than the current 3rd Edition PHB!

The next printing was a big thing for Troll Lord Games though and they were making a concentrated push to expand the game. All books in their main line were getting reprinted and all sported the same dark olive green trade dress. The 4th printing of the PHB also represented the most changes in any of the printings. New material was added and a couple of classes got revamped. Notably, the Barbarian class moves away from being a berserker to a regular barbarian befitting a variety of cultures. The Monk on the other hand moved away from an oriental themed influence to a slightly more western one. There were new spell and multiclass options also presented in the volume. The book also saw a $5 price increase.

The 5th printing was another big step even if it was a bit of a misstep. It was the first printing of the PHB which would see color and the art and pages all got colorized. Have you ever seen a black and white movie that got colored after the fact?  It doesn't always work out does it. The same thing happened here. Some pages and pieces of art looked good while others looked worse. It was significant nonetheless and, aside from errata, no content changes happened here.

The last printing is probably the finest printing we have to date.  It is also full color but TLG went back and made sure the color was done perfectly.  It got an expanded page count but not so much because content, but because they chose to make the font slightly bigger and more legible. The font had always been on the smaller side for these books but the new look is bigger and crisper and suits the book very well. Some of the text was clarified a bit and a lot of errata was corrected. The book has a $39.95 price tag if I'm not mistaken but, given the quality of paper, color, and increased page count, no one should be surprised. In my case, I treated myself and made sure my copy was a leather copy.

I've owned easily a couple dozen players handbooks for C&C books over the years and often gift copies or even sell some of them second hand. I've kept my third printing, fourth printing, and definitely will be keeping my sixth printing. I like to see the book getting arguably better with each printing but I honestly figured that the 6th printing would be my last printing.

The current kickstarter is for the 7th printing and they got me by offering a collector's cloth edition with my name embossed on the cover. That sounds nice and I'm of course happy to support them.

Why should you support them? How does $15 for a full color hardcover sound?  That's right, they are planning a deep print run and, at the same time, want to thank current fans and supporters that might already have the books to allow for an inexpensive upgrade. They also think that $15 is a great incentive to buy the game to see if they like it. In other words not a lot of risk.

And there are stretch goals and add-ons to consider.

If it sounds like you might be tempted, I invite you to check out the current Kickstarter campaign HERE.