What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:

What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:
Castles & Crusades Players Handbook - 7th Print Edition

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Frost Wyrm: Painting Guide

One last painting guide for 2013... I've been under the weather for the past week and a half in part because I've little time to rest up and properly recuperate.  Condensed word schedules made for longer day and the days off was spent maximizing time with family and friends.  Oh... and had to work the past too weekends as well.  In any event, I took advantage of the day off today to do some painting and get a model I had primed a couple months back actually painted and finished.

The model is from Reaper's line of Bones miniatures and the initial priming was done with Gesso ... a darker gray color.  I mention the color due to an unexpected mistake I had made when experimenting with another paint -- an Iridescent Pearl.  You see, as a favor for someone else, I had primed a frame in white and painted with the new paint and got fantastic results.  I figured that this same color would be fantastic as a base color for the Frost Wyrm.  I missed the part on the bottle which stated the paint was 'SO' (semi-opaque).  The paint is a white-ish color but when I applied it to the model with my airbrush, the model became silver as opposed to a white pearl.

Oops.

The effect was still pretty nice but a silver frost wyrm was not what I was looking for.  I was still able to transform it into something a lot more serviceable that I am proud with.  It was quite easy to do too.  Once again, I am using paints from the Citadel line for the rest of the model.

First thing was first, I applied a dark blue wash called 'Drakenhof Nightshade' over the entire wyrm. 

Second step was extensive drybrushing using 'Ehterium Blue' and Praxeti White' -- both Dry compounds from the Citadel line.

One the drybrushing was done to my satisfaction (heavier in some areas and lighter in others), I used 'Ulthuan Grey' to highlight its arms and legs with a touch more drybrushing with the same paints as before.

I used 'Mephiston Red' with some 'Bloodletter' Glaze for the creature's eyes and a touch of 'Screamer Pink' for the back interior of the creatures tongue and throat.

With all of the model done, some of the iridescent bits are still coming through but the creature is no longer a 'silver' but a blue-greyish white.



M

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Male Human Wizard: Painting Guide

It's been far too long since I last did a painting guide and since the blog has really been quiet in the past 6 weeks or so, I felt that I should at least manage one more painting guide before the end of 2013.  I have recently re-started my C&C campaign and I have a new player who's never played a tabletop RPG before -- he went with a wizard and based on what he wanted, I pulled out on of the Bones miniatures from Reaper that I had yet to paint and decided to do it up for him.

In many ways the model was not difficult to do and I'm really happy how it turned out.  As usual, I am working with the Citadel lines of paints but before painting, I primed the model with acrylic gesso.

As far as base coats were concerned, nothing too fancy.  Robes and hat were done in a 'Celestra Grey', inner coat in 'Naggaroth Night', beard and hair in 'Ceramite White', shoes and hat banding in 'Khorne Red', and scroll in 'Rakarth Flesh'.  Skin was done in a 'Gorthor Brown'. The staff (and belt pouch) was done with 'Dryad Bark' for the shaft and 'Balthasar Gold' for the head and base of the shaft.  I opted to use 'Warpstone Glow' for the ribbon tied to staff.



Once the entire base coat was done, I used 'Nuln Oil' as a shade very liberally over the entire model with the exception of the scroll itself.  The work on the scroll was among some of the last I would do to the model.  I touched up the purple with a bit of 'Druchi Violet' wash as well.

With the shading done, I did some drybrushing to bring out details and some of the highlights.  Robes and hat got some 'Longbeard Grey'

Robes and hat were done in a 'Longbeard Grey' and I used 'Praxeti White' for the beard and hair.  With the shading brought about by the 'Nuln Oil', the hair and beard looked a bit like a white but peppered beard -- exactly the kind of effect I was looking for.  Both ends of the staff got a a bit of 'Golden Griffon' to accentuate the gold effect already present from the base coat.

Coming back to the scroll, I used layers of drybrushing using 'Underhive Ash', 'Tyrant Skull' and 'Praxeti White' in combination with a wash of 'Seraphim Sepia' to get the texture and color I was after.

The very last thing on the model was the base.  It was a perfect excuse to try out one of Citadel's new technical paints -- the 'Agrellan Earth'.  It basically cracks when it dries giving it a very cool looking effect with a next to no fuss.  I was very happy with the effect and is similar to the effect you can get when using a crackle medium but without the long drying time and heavy coats.

M

Friday, December 6, 2013

Overdue Blog Posts

A bit behind these days. A few too many of those 'too few hours in a day' lead into being 'not enough days in the week'.

The good news: I've brought someone on board to help me nail down a couple of key concepts for the Ballista Fast Play rules.  Much discussions on that and related projects were had and more than a few issues resolved.

The bad news: This isn't really bad.  I'm just busy which means I'm about a couple weeks behind were I would like to be.  I also have a couple of painting commissions and a couple of OTHER projects which is occupying my time this month.

With all of that, certain bits of upkeep like regular blogging hasn't been kept up and the sale price for S&W version of Ramat is still going on.  If you have any interest and want to take advantage of the lower price, please do so before Monday.  Afterwards, it will be going back up to the regular price.

You can get it HERE.

Thanks,

M


Sunday, November 24, 2013

State of Arcana Creations - 4th Quarter, 2013

It feels like the month of November, much like the weeks that preceded it, is just zipping by.  This means busy times and if I was solely working on Arcana Creations projects, this would be great.  Unfortunately, like pretty much everybody else, I have a regular 9-5 gig that keeps me busy as well as pay for the bills.  It is what it is.  But there have been a few significant goals I set at the start of this quarter that I have been meeting.

Towards the end of September, Arcana Creations created it's own storefront on RPG Now.  The older Castles & Crusades releases published through Brave Halfling Publishing have a new home as a result and an effort has been done to slowly build up and expand our catalog.

Of particular note is the efforts to bring out more Swords & Wizardry material.  When I first set up the store front at RPG Now, one of the first products was 'The Vile Worm' for S&W.  It was a bit of conversion work that was done and offered for free way back during S&W Appreciation Day.  I never bothered keeping track how many copies were downloaded when I hosted off my own space but I kept it free and available during all that time.  With the migration to RPG Now, I decided to make it freely available for while longer up to mid-October.  That would mean that it would have been free for 6 months with the last of those months being hosted up on the new storefront.  Naturally I let people know that this was happening, and fellow readers and bloggers spread the word.  Thanks to those nifty reports that are available when one has a store through any of the One Book Shelf services, I now have some numbers.  While it was free, there were over 500 downloads in those 4 weeks it was hosted on RPG Now.

Now, before any of you get any ideas and start churning out your own product thinking 'easy money', the reality that the actual purchases with the price increase to a single dollar have been less than 2% in the four weeks that followed and I'm cool with that.  For me it confirms something I have known all along: Swords & Wizardry has a decent fan base.  Since then, I have released two other S&W titles which were conversions based on previously released Castles & Crusades titles.  These were, 'A Trick on the Tain' and 'The Ruins of Ramat'.  Sales for these seem to be a constant though slow trickle as far as numbers are concerned but it seems that some people are taking notice.

Is there any love remaining for Castles & Crusades?  I hate to say it but, it does seem to be a greater love for S&W than there is for C&C based on my past experiences but I think there is still plenty to go around.  With that in mind, I will be taking the time to do a C&C conversion of 'The Vile Worm' to be released towards the end of the month.  At that point, it will be really interesting to compare some of the sales figures between the two.

As to other projects and previous announcements... I mentioned the release of four things in particular this quarter and early 2014.  The good news is that we are more or less on track with some of the work involving these things.  When I made that series of announcements, I was unsure of exactly how I was going about these things as I was still working out some details.  I have made decisions since then and I have pretty much decided how I am proceeding.  I have already have made the initial inquires with the artist I have in mind for the products and after doing a lot of number crunching, I have decided to go with some sort of crowd-funding option.

The decision to go with something like Kickstarter or Indiegogo was not taken lightly.  A lot of us have seen problems with Kickstarters and as someone who has backed MANY projects, I have been disappointed with more than a couple of them.  I know that others have been soured by various experiences as well.  In this case, the projects in question are nearing completion and the art is one of the last steps.  The layout is something I'm toying around with because I intend to change things up a bit in order to be more intuitive and useful for in-game use.  Lastly, the Ballista Fast Play rules I mentioned also factors into my plans.  Once what I refer to as my 'proof of concept' is done, I will be launching the funding campaign but not before.

The wait is deliberate though because, when it does launch, rewards will be delivered quickly upon the completion of the funding drive.  The goal would be to deliver digital copies within a couple of weeks of the end of the campaign and hard copies 6-8 weeks after the campaign end.  More on that later.  The other reason for the delay is the holidays.  As it stands, the campaign will be starting soon enough but that would put the end of the campaign dangerously close to the holidays.  The solution to this issue is either to start it later or simply make the campaign longer than a month.  What will likely happen is do a bit of both.

The one thing I didn't really talk about is how the project fits in to my support of C&C and S&W.  The answer is that I will continue to support both of these games in one fashion or another going forward.  I love Swords & Wizardry and I enjoy and primarily play Castles & Crusades with an increasing amount of 'tweaks'.  There is no reason why I wouldn't show my love for both.

Beyond that, I'm still looking towards the future and I have a couple more projects that will be tackled in the new year for productions during the 2014 year.


To visit the store front for any of the PDFs, you can do so HERE.

M

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Swords & Wizardry: The Ruins of Ramat

The Ruins of Ramat is an adventure that has gone several incarnations and revisions since it was first published by Brave Halfling Publishing in early 2009. Two versions were initially published – one for Labyrinth Lord and another released for ‘Original Edition Adventures’ to denote compatibility to the original edition of the world’s most popular role-playing game.  Arcana Creations was subsequently recruited that same year to bring Ramat to Castles & Crusades with the additional goal to expand the adventure.  It’s been four years since that version has been released and this Swords & Wizardry conversion is based on that version of John Adam’s Ruins of Ramat.

The Original Edition Adventures version was the first version I came in contact with and was my first dealings as a customer of Brave Halfling Publishing.  Little did I know that, some weeks later, John would be calling for my assistance for some Castles & Crusades conversions which led to the creation of Arcana Creations.

It is now available at RPGNow over HERE at a special price of $1.50.  This price won't be sticking around forever though because come the month of December, the price will be bumped to the regular price of $2.50 for this little, introductory adventure.


M

Friday, November 15, 2013

Last Call: Sale on the PDF for A Trick on the Tain (S&W)

Today is the last day to take advantage of the sale price on the Swords & Wizardry version of 'A Trick on the Tain'.

What is it?  It's a low-level, wilderness-based adventure that takes place in a northern-tundra type environment.  Presently priced at $2.50, you can check out a preview at RPG Now, HERE.  Price will be bumped to $3.50 at the end of this day.

That is all.

M


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Alignment Axis

Good, Evil, Law, and Chaos.

Alignment plays an interesting role in some of our RPGs where as others ignore them.  Depending on whom you ask, some gamers would do away with them completely were as others stick by them and argue that certain games effects are affected by or have an impact on a character's alignment.  I suppose it does make certain things easier when you codify it.

When I first started playing AD&D the notion of choosing an alignment didn't really strike me as odd but that might have been because so many other things were a bit odd when I was creating my first character.  Having been brought up on stories, mythology, movies, and comic books, I had a fair grasp of what was good and what was evil.  By equal measure, I understood what was law and that chaos was the absence of law and pretty much an embracing of anarchy.  Neutrality was just neutrality so none of this is something I gave much thought about.

It wasn't until years later that I did give it more consideration.

In classic D&D ... you have three alignments: Law, Chaos, and Neutrality with Law generally being associated with 'good' and Chaos being associated with 'evil' (but not always... good and evil are based on intent).  With AD&D, more depth was added when ethics were separated from these original concepts  Where you once had three alignments, you now had a total of nine which ranged from Lawful Good to Chaotic Evil.  These seemed to be more representative of many common archetypes though it feels a bit more 'cookie-cutter' to me.

A lot of this became a lot clearer to me once I read a lot more Moorcock -- the Eric series in particular.  There you have the forces of Law in constant struggle with the forces of Chaos but are these strictly good or evil?  To me, the Elric character is certainly of 'Chaos' but I wouldn't necessarily put him as evil.  Of course, with Games Workshop... the forces of Chaos are universally twisted, warped, and evil.  In fact, I've thought about doing away with alignment completely in my games, and other times I felt like just adopting the Law / Chaos dynamic instead.  It certainly worked well enough in the past without over complicating matters.  Is there another option?

A couple of games have tried to do something a bit different though usually this is centered on a cosmetic aspect of the game (the fluff) as opposed to a system.  How the new Fellwater RPG handles this issue was very interesting.  First, it's not a simple two sided argument of good or evil.  These are more like 'world views' or philosophies and a much more detailed replacement for a conventional alignment system.  In the game, the author refers to them as Sources.  When I asked him about it, this is what he had to say:

The Source represents the character’s overall world view, as well as that which the supplies the character with her energy. It is comparable to D&D’s “alignment”, but it does not represent stations on a spectrum between good and evil. One could also compare the Sources to the “Roads” in Vampire. But the eight Roads described in Vampire are very specific models of good and evil: so specific they attach to specific clans in most cases. They aren't comprehensive world views. But the Sources in my game are comparable to the general world views of monotheism (divinity), pantheism and taoism (nature), the dharmic traditions (consciousness), and scientific rationalism (forces). The fifth source (emptiness) may be comparable to existentialism or nihilism, but it is a 'source' of my own creation for the sake of the game. I got the idea for the sources by reading books on the anthropology of religion, and the works of philosophers like Albert Schweitzer and Michael York, and of course my own life-long study of folklore and philosophy. My hope is that they will enrich people's gaming experience, but also enrich their thoughts about their own world views.

Now, some of these might seem a bit abstract at first but, to give an example from the text (a draft of the manuscript):

The intentionality of Divinity is order: whether this is the rational order of a just and fair society, or the oppressive order of a domineering state, or even the simple order of a clean house and well-organized garden.

By embedding a slightly more detailed philosophy to the character, it may help give a greater dimension to the character you are trying to portray as well as a better set of guidelines for their behaviors and responses.

Curious to know more about the Fellwater RPG?  You can find out more by following the link HERE.


M

Monday, November 11, 2013

How Games Tell Stories...

What follows is not something I wrote but something I felt makes a lot sense to me and I think it will make sense to some of my readers out there too.  It's reposted with kind permission of Brendan Myers, writer and designer of the Fellwater RPG I wrote a bit about a few days ago, which you can check out HERE.

---

How Games Tell Stories, and How to Turn a Story Into a Game

Good games are games that tell interesting stories. Any kind of game can tell a story, from ancient classics like Chess, King’s Table, and Go, to complex military simulations like Warhammer. Characters appear; problems beset them; solutions are sought and struggles are endured; and events in the world unfold. At the end of the story, the original problem might have been solved, in a glorious victory. Or it might remain unsolved, in ambiguous stalemate or tragic defeat. But in either case, a story is a character who changes because of a problem.

In games, of course, the characters are the players, and they change by growing stronger or weaker in the course of play. And the problems they face are the competing players. The story might be so short it could be told in a few sentences: “A leader raised an army, and went to the field of battle to face a terrible enemy. The armies fought each other with all their might. Great acts of heroism were seen, but also great acts of treachery and cunning, and many men on both sides died. Eventually the leader and his army won the day.” That story could describe real-world battles like the Siege of Stalingrad, or mythological battles like the events of Homer’s Illiad. But it could also describe the events of a session of Dungeons and Dragons, or a chess tournament, or the Super Bowl (although one would hope that no one really died). In every case, there’s a story being told.

It’s easy to see how a story can emerge from a game: the act of playing the game is basically the same as the act of telling the story. Less easy to see is how a game could be made that replicates the events of a story that has already been told. Such games, of course, are commonplace: video games based on popular films are the most obvious examples. There’s also war simulation games, for tabletop and for computers, that replicate various historical battles. But games based on pre-existing stories present new challenges to the designers. 

First of all, stories are made of words, sentences, descriptions, characters, plot arcs, events, feelings, and dramatic experiences, and the like. Games are made of those things too, but games are also made of numbers. Chess pieces, for instance, have a capture value, and a mathematically quantifiable movement function. Characters in an RPG, and units in a military simulation, have hit points, attack and defense values, movement rates, and other numerical attributes which define how they behave, and how much of a challenge they present to players. So the game designer who wants to turn a story into a game has to find a way to tell a story using numbers instead of using words alone.

Here’s another challenge for the designers. A game based on a pre-existing story can offer players only one way to win the game: the players win by replicating the events of the story, and they lose by failing to replicate that story. Now, it’s not hard to understand why such games are popular, even though the victory conditions are so specific. After reading the Harry Potter books, for instance, one might want to explore the wizarding world on her own, and become Harry or one of his friends, and achieve Harry’s victory for herself. After reading some military history, you might want to know what it felt like to be General Eisenhower or Prime Minister Churchill, planning the Normandy landings. But the players and the game designers already know how the story ends – or how it “should” end. It ends in exactly the way the story says it ends. That is the very meaning of that kind of game. But the game designers still have to offer an unique experience to players. They have to offer interesting challenges, meaningful freedom to act and to strategize in the course of play, and real prospects for failure in order to make victory feel sweet. This creates a kind of paradox: the game has to offer that freedom and challenge to players, but at the same time it must preserve a pre-ordained conclusion.

I’m a novelist as well as a game designer. This summer, while finishing my third novel, it occurred to me that a tabletop RPG that I had been tinkering with for almost 20 years could be set in the same world as the novels. And that’s how I discovered those two challenges. I’d have to find a way to tell my story using numbers as well as words. And I’d have to find a way to offer freedom and challenge to the players whilst preserving a specific narrative arc. 

To the first challenge, I had to re-read my own books and look for anything that could be measured mathematically. I asked questions like: in what ways are some characters more powerful than others? Which characters are smarter? Which are better fighters? Which have more economic resources? And at first I was unhappy with this process. As a novelist, my characters are like people to me, and almost as real as my friends. And I didn’t like putting them into little mathematical boxes. But I remembered the arguments of philosopher David Hume, who observed that things are made of their properties (their size, shape, colour, weight, etc.), and it’s basically impossible to imagine an object with no properties. So although I didn’t like “digitizing” my characters, I sucked it up, and made the game.

The best solution to the second challenge was to offer players a kind of third option. Instead of creating a game where the only way to win is to conform to the story, I offered ways to allow players to tell a different story. Let’s call this third option “revision”. Sid Meyer’s “Civilization” series is an example of this: the game gives players a chance to “rewrite history”, just as its advertising slogan says. RPG’s based on films like Star Wars, or books like Tolkein’s “Lord of the Rings”, are also examples, when they allow players to create their own characters, and not just take over the role of Luke Skywalker or Frodo Baggins. Now this option may appear to defeat the purpose of creating a game based on a pre-existing story. The stories that players of my game will tell will be their stories, not mine. In the “revision” option, the game designers do not fix the narrative arc of the story that emerges from the game. Instead, the designers fix the “world” of the story. They fill in the background of history, and draw the maps, and lay out the social or political arrangements, define special terms or even whole languages, and in general they create the logical field in which all the player’s movements and choices have meaning. Thus, for instance, players of the Lord of the Rings RPG are not re-enacting the books or the films. They’re not re-telling the story that JRR Tolkien already told. But they are living in Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Gamers often find that to be just as satisfying as re-enacting a story from history or fiction. In the same way, players of my game will tell their own stories, but live in “my” world. And as a game designer and a novelist, I find that solution very satisfying, too.

---

Brendan Myers applies what he talks about when going about to create his new game, the Fellwater Tales RPG presently being Kickstarted.  You can find out more about the crowdfunding efforts HERE.



M

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Swords & Wizardry: Trick on the Tain PDF


Only 5 days left to take advantage of the sale price to celebrate this new release for Swords & Wizardry.  It is presently $2.50 until November 15th in PDF at RPGNow!.

You can get it HERE.

Aside from that, I'm already working on the next PDF release for S&W which I expect to be a bit later this month.

That is all.  ;)

M

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fellwater Tales RPG Kickstarter

Well, this morning I promised I had some Kickstarter news and I do of various sorts...

First and foremost, I want to call you attention to an interesting new RPG project being launched.  No, it's not mine but the author and designer is a friend of mine and it is a project that seems very promising.  Of course, there are have been and will continue to be many, MANY Kickstarters as it's become more and more the thing to do when wanting to publish an endeavor such as this.  So, before going any further...

  • Yes the game is largely written already.  There's a bit more that needs to be done to finish up but, I have seen the primary text for the game which comes in at over 180 pages thus far.  All text, single spaced, and art.  When you check out the kickstarter and you see reference that this system has been worked on and off for the past couple of decades, and then see the text, yes... you it shows.
  • This isn't his first Kickstarter.  Brendan Meyers is a published author of more than 10 books and he has done a text book through Kickstarter.  This book in question is titled 'Clear & Present Thinking: A Handbook in Logic and Rationality' and is intended as a textbook in colleges and universities in the subject of philosophy / critical thinking.  The electronic version of this text book is free and, available HERE.  It was a successful project that pulled in over three times the required amount with just over 700 backers (including myself).
  • This isn't his first gaming project.  A short while ago, I reviewed a game of his called Iron Age: Council of the Clans.  It's a game I rather enjoyed and you can read about my experiences with it HERE.
So, for those you shy away from Kickstarter, he has a mostly finished product, he has experience with Kickstarter, he is an established writer as well as a gamer.  So, with some concerns alleviated, why would any of you be interested in another role playing game.

A fair question and one I will endeavor to try in answer in detail in the weeks ahead -- to be fair I've got about over 180 pages to digest.  I'll try and summarize it though.

This game is primarily a skill based system and doesn't have 'levels' in the sense we understand other game systems.  Each character has a set of stats termed 'virtues': Strength, Dexterity, Stamina, Charisma, Perception, and Centre ranging from 1 to 7 and uses a point-buy system.  A player also chooses a path (which is basically like a profession), a lineage (your heritage), and source (closest thing would be alignment but not in a good and evil sense).  A point-buy system is also used to purchase skills for the starting character.

The system itself functions on opposed-rolls utilizing a d20 and adding the relevant stat (virtue) and skill ranks to the die roll for a total.  If it is equal to or higher the target or opposed roll, then the task being attempted is a success.

Of course, a game system is partially about the flavor and there seems to be tons.  If someone where to ask me what this game is closest to in terms of comparison, I would be a bit hard pressed to find a single example if you consider flavor and system.  I suppose it would be a cross between the Nephilim RPG and Vampire: The Masquarade though less dark than either.  With the flexible skill system and approach, you could even throw in a dash of the Elder Scrolls in there too.  The basic premise in the game is that you are essentially descended from the ancient gods.

All of this I will go into more detail in the weeks ahead but I heartily recommend that you check out the project HERE.

A couple of last points... Arcana Creations will be beta-testing the system which is why I have access to earlier documentation of the game.  If you are interested, you will quickly find out that this is a Canadian Kickstarter which won't be a problem as far as the exchange rate is concerned but won't be handled by the usual Amazon Payments as you might have expected.  It seems to be a Credit Card option only.

What about an Arcana Creations Kickstarter?  Yes... I am looking at one and possibly launching something very soon.  I am still doing some research and completing aspects of the projects before I try and raise money for it though.  ;)

M

PDF Product Reminders...

Just wanted to remind my readers about a couple things that are happening right now:

'A Trick on the Tain' was released for Swords & Wizardry a few days ago and is currently selling for $2.50 and is a tundra-based wilderness adventure that could be adapted easily enough to fit a regular winter-like setting.  As of November 15th, the price will go up to the regular price of $3.50

You can find it HERE.


With Christina Stile's newest release for Castles & Crusades, a gaming aid on Granite Dwarves, it occurred to me that the recent adventure I had converted was a good fit with her recent release.  After discussing it with her, we are happy to offer a BUNDLE combining the original C&C version of A 'Trick on the Tain' and the Granite Dwarves gaming aid.  The bundle is $5.50 which is a deal if you consider the regular price of the adventure alone for C&C sells at $4.95

You can find it HERE.

All in all, it looks like it's going to be another busy week for me and I don't think I'll be getting any painting done.  I am resuming one of my C&C campaigns that's been on hold for over a year now so I'm pretty happy about that.

Besides that, I've got some Kickstarter news to cover but that will have to wait tonight.

M

Monday, November 4, 2013

Weekend R&R: Fantasy Races Unlocked - Granite Dwarves

About a week ago, I wrote up a small review on a new digital release for the Castles & Crusades RPG called 'Fantasy Races Unlocked - Kobolds'.  Personally, I think there should be an exclamation mark at the end of the title because Kobolds, like Goblins, are freakin' awesome.  That said, I found this small gaming aid a very good start of what could be a promising series and I had heard there was something in the works.  Imagine my surprise when the new installment was made available.  The second in the series is 'Fantasy Races Unlocked - Granite Dwarves'.

Ok... I know what some of you may already be thinking.  It might be something along the lines of, 'What... more dwarves?  What makes these different and why should I care?'.  Ok... maybe nothing as harsh as that but, you get my point.  I was understandably curious and wondered what kind of angle would present this self with this new gaming aid.

Well, when I went through this title, I wasn't disappointed.  Actually I am really excited about it and I think that this is a solid step forward in the series.  It continues in the excellent direction that the first one takes and offers a bit more in the process.  And, damn it... I want to play a Granite Dwarf!

As I mentioned in the review I did for the Kobolds release, I have a soft spot for this kind of accessory as it reminds me of The Complete Book of Humanoids published by TSR.  As a fan of C&C, I was happy that the it, much like this one, followed the format of the races as presented in the Players Handbook.  Now, without going into a lot of detail for these types of dwarves, know that their environment is much colder, harsher, and unforgiving than what a regular dwarf is accustomed to.  Think of a boreal or sub-arctic environment.  You can safely put those stone carving notions of the traditional dwarves aside and while they share many racial traits, there are new ones that stand out.  And, like the previous accessory, you have some Alternate/Optional Racial Traits listed that you can swap one of these for a standard one.  This is a feature I love the most about these aids as it gives a bit more diversification beyond what one may expect from a game like C&C.

Where this accessory stands out from the previous release is the addition of a bit more material.  You have sample characters, encounter information, a new creature, and a couple of new items.  The sample characters provided come in the guise of a typical, 1st level fighter and a typical, 5th level cleric.  The encounter guidelines help supplement the information already provided in the aid but also introduce the 'Frigid Goblin'.  A complete stat-block is provided for the goblin in the familiar C&C format.  The new items are simple but interesting with just enough flavor text to make them enticing to what to introduce them in a game.

While this new gaming aid is a notch up in terms of value for the potential buyer (it is also selling HERE are RPGNow! for a mere $2), there is a singular limiting factor with this accessory and that is the region where these dwarves are likely to be used in -- at least at first glance.  I think the Granite Dwarves can be adapted easily enough to fit other environments or settings and this is, at the very least, a great example of a template to follow.  All you need is a bit of imagination.

Of course, the reason I was excited was the realization that they could be fit in as-is to the region outlined in 'A Trick on the Tain', a C&C module Arcana Creations put out about three years ago and recently released as a Swords & Wizardry conversion on RPGNow! just yesterday.  With that in mind, I quickly contacted Christina Stiles and we have decided to create a bundle on RPGNow! that combines both the Granite Dwarves gaming aid along with the original C&C version of 'A Trick on the Tain'.

If you are interested in just the Granite Dwarves release, you can find it HERE but if the idea of the aid bundled together with an adventure appeals to you, you can find the bundle HERE for $5.50 in PDF.

M


Friday, November 1, 2013

One Last Trick...

I hope my readers and fellow gamers have had a great Halloween yesterday.  Halloween traces it's historic roots to a Celtic festival known as Samhain which started at sunset and lasted till sunset the following day.  With that in mind and in the spirit of Halloween, I thought I'd offer up one last treat... or rather a trick for Samhain.  Click HERE to go there directly.

Three years ago, Arcana Creations with Brave Halfling Publishing put out an interested adventure entitled, 'A Trick on the Tain' for Castles & Crusades.  It attracted some minor attention when released and garnered a couple of promising reviews, such as the one on Grognardia which is found HERE.  I figured it was time to bring this to be closer in line with Swords & Wizardry since the Vile Worm release for it continues to be popular.



This version of the Trick on the Tain essentially cuts out the appendix which was largely irrelevant for Swords & Wizardry and sacrifices some of the artwork in order to keep the release small but it also has a lower price tag and all of the scenario text has been altered save the conversion itself.

For a limited time, it will be on sale at RPG Now! (and DrivethruRPG) for $2.50 instead of the regular $3.50 price.  You can find it HERE.  It will return to its original price on November 15th.

M

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dreadfire Portal - Painting Guide

Some weeks back, Games Workshop was having a sale on some of their fantasy-based scenary.  For anyone that knows Games Workshop products, this is very much a rarity and I decided to take advantage of it.  While I like miniatures and some props for the tabletop, I wasn't ever really big into scenary and, in part, the expense usually tied to it is the biggest deal breaker given how often one may end up using it.  In this case, I think the price was low enough to at least give it a shot.  One of the models from the lot is called the Dreadfire Portal.

It seemed pretty cool and not too difficult of a paint job to do what I wanted to do with it.  It's essentially a set of stairs that go up to a dias and the stairs themselves are held up by carved rock.  The carved rock are reapers and, while I have seen the model with these painted, I decided to just stick to a rock-like paint job and stairs which form up the majority of the model.

But before even starting to paint the model, I had to put it together.  I haven't had much luck with Games Workshop models and out of 5 kits I've opened to assemble and paint, 4 of them needed some work.  The plastic on this one was warped and had to be modified.  The model was cut from the sprues and cleaned up and, after it was glued together, a fair bit of greenstuff was used to fill the very obvious gabs.  Priming was a simple matter of stepping out on the balcony and spraying Chaos Black.


I still had a bit of misfortune though.  At one point I accidentally knocked it down from my worktable when reaching for something else on my desk.  A couple pieces broke off and it had to be re-glued before painting could begin.  Between the assembling and correcting of the model, priming, and then repairing the model, all this lasted twice as long than the actual painting did.

The key paint used for the base coast was 'Mechanicus Standard Grey' from the Citadel paint line.  The majority of the model needed this shade of grey and, aside from the dias, skulls, and flames, little else was needed.  The skulls circling the dias, the arches in the base, and on top of the pillars were done in 'Ushabti Bone' and the spikes, metal rings, and skull symbols in the dias was done in 'Gehenna's Gold'.  'Mournfang Brown' was used on the rest of the surface of the dias.  The blades on the scythes were done in 'Lead Belcher' with the blade edges down in 'Runefang Steel'.

With the exception of the flames and scythe blades, the entirety of the model was shaded using 'Nuln Oil' with a more generous amount applied to the skull ring and skull arches.  Afterwards, all stone received a drybrushing of 'Terminatus Stone', one of the dry compounds from Citadel.  The effect was turned out to be even better than I could have hoped for and looks amazing for something that was simple to do.  I also did some drybrushing on all the gold using the 'Golden Griffon' dry compound.

The flames were a concern initially but it ended up being a lot simpler than I thought.  Flames can be difficult to do well and I think it worked out well enough.  The flames received a coat of 'Averland Sunset' and I used a touch of 'Lugganath Orange' at the very base of the flames.  The flames got a wash of 'Fuegan Orange' while the model was upsiade down to allow the flow to come 'up' on the flames.  I touched up and brightened up the model and drybrushed with a bit of 'Kindelflame' followed by a wash of 'Casandora Yellow'.


With the model dry, I used a glossy varnish for the flames, dias surface, and scythe blades.  The rest of the model received a coat of matte varnish.

M

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sand Spider - Painting Guide

Since I did the Snow Spider quickly enough, I thought I would do up another in a different paint scheme.  Details on the Snow Spider can be found HERE.


Hence the Sand Spider was born.

The initial base coat once the model was primed was done in Citadel's 'Steel Legion Drab'. I used 'Nuln Oil' to shade the miniature and, like my Snow Spider followed up with two paints for some drybrushing in order to accentuate a few more of the details. I started with with 'Doombull Brown' which is one of Citadels's layer paints and then a bit of the dry compound called 'Undergive Ash'.

I finished the model by using Evil Sunz Scarlet' for the eyes and 'White Scar' with some 'Praxeti White' drybrushed for the fangs.

The work on this one from start to finish was just over a couple of hours (including all stages and drying times).

M

Weekend R&R: Fantasy Races Unlocked - Kobolds

For a few gamers, the name Christina Stiles will be a bit familiar.  The first time I encountered the name was with a pair of Dungeon Crawl Classics modules published by Goodman Games.  These were 'Assault on Stormbringer Castle' and 'The Stormbringer Juggernaught' -- both great modules written for D&D 3.x.  Christina has been involved in many different gaming projects over the years and also been a friend to Castles & Crusades.  Recently and under the label of 'Christina Stiles Presents', she has joined the tiny and select membership of third party publishers to produce material for C&C and has released a PDF entitled 'Fantasy Races Unlocked: Kobolds'.

I was initially excited to hear about the release.  Some my enthusiasm had to do with seeing others publishing for one of my favorite games.  The biggest reason for my excitement was because of what this release reminded me of -- 'The Complete Book of Humanoids'.

The Complete Book of Humanoids was part of the Player Reference series of brown books published by TSR for AD&D 2nd Edition.  There were many books in that series (15 if I remember correctly) but many were ones I could do without.  Not this one.  It became a favorite in my gaming group as it gave us a chance to play something a bit different.  I distinctly remember creating and playing a goblin which the party named Stoop.  He was a great underdog and fun to play.  The only humanoid which could be considered even more of an underdog though would be the lowly kobold.  Fodder for first level adventurers, kobolds get little respect but that doesn't mean that playing one couldn't be a lot of fun.  Who needs 'dragonborn' when you can play a kobold!  And yes, I realize they are a lot more reptilian than they are dog-like now if you compare the classic version of the kobold to the more modern rendition.  It is what it is folks. 

With the publication of this new gaming aid, you can for C&C.  What hopefully will end up being the first of many, Fantasy Races: Unlocked gives you all that you need to create and play a kobold for the C&C system and, by extension, other d20 based rules-light games.  For C&C 'purists', those gamers will be happy to know that the article follows the format of races as is found in the Players Handbook.  There sections covering description, society, personality, racial affinities, and their environment.  This is followed by an array of racial abilities and skills which will flesh out a kobold player character for the game with an array of bonuses and penalties distinct to the kobold.  The one thing I have noticed which helps this gaming aid stand out (since I already mentioned my fondness for a certain 2nd edition accessory) were the Alternate (and Optional) Racial Traits.  This represent a chance to play a Kobold slightly differently than what one may expect.  Think of it as a Kobold with a twist, if just having one as a PC wasn't enough.    Each are meant to replace one of the 'standard' kobold varieties and I really enjoyed seeing this included.

It's  a solid gaming aid even if it is very specific in purpose.  This, and the price may cause some fans to question its necessity.  I can't argue with the singular purpose with the game aid but, as indicated earlier, it is with hope we will see more and that helps justify this first step.  As for pricing... that's a tough call and very subjective.  As a developer and publisher, pricing is not something I take lightly.  People deserve to get paid for their work and a hefty investment (besides time) goes into something like this.  The PDF is a four page document but unfortunately, 2 of those pages are the cover and the credits/OGL page.  The document is professionally laid aid, editing top notch, and the art piece used is a bit whimsical and well done.  Fans of his art will recognize Peter Bradley's signature flair and this piece is simple and well done.  Artwork and layout costs money and, if you factor in RPGNows! cut, not much is gained if you consider the $2 price tag.  Some people will try to over think and justify not spending the couple of bucks but, given that I pay a lot more for a good cup of coffee, the amount of money spend on this gaming aid is a drop in the bucket.  I have always enjoyed Christina's work and this is a fine addition to the gaming library albeit short... just like a kobold should be.

You can find it HERE.

M

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Snow Spider - Painting Guide

With the highly successful Bones II Kickstarter ending yesterday, it only made sense (in my mind) to paint up and post a guide along with it. Having participated in last year's Kickstarter that Reaper did, I have only scratched the surface of the Bones Miniatures I have to paint.



The spider model was a neat but relatively easy model to paint as well as quite a bit of fun to do.

Priming was done in Gesso, as is my preference when working with the flexible plastic material that the Bones are made of, before starting with a white basecoat. As usual, I have used the Citadel line of paints to do the miniature.

With the first coat of paint applied (Ceramite White), I coated the entire model with 'Drakenhof Nightshade' -- a dark blue wash. Once dry, I drybrushed the model with 'Etherium Blue' and followed that with 'Praxeti White'. Both are dry compounds though I went a bit heavier with the white.

I finished the model by using a layer of 'Teclis Blue' for the eyes (all eight of them) and 'White Scar' for the fangs. Between drying times and various coats, it only took between 2-3 hours to do.

The 'Snow Spider' was a critter that I did up the stats for to use in 'A Trick on the Tain' -- a low-level adventure module for Castles & Crusades:

SPIDER, SNOW
NO. ENCOUNTERED: 1-3 / 1-8
SIZE: Medium
HD: 3d6
MOVE: 40' / 20' climb
AC: 15
ATTACKS: Bite (1d6)
SPECIAL: Twilight Vision, Poison, Surprise
SAVES: P
INT: Low
ALIGNMENT: Neutral
TYPE: Vermin
TREASURE: Nil
XP: 35 + 3


Snow Spiders are typically found in tundra and arctic-like
climates. They survive by burrowing in the snow and
insulating their lairs with its own silken webbing which
helps keep warm. These appear to be a large and hairy
spider and is largely blueish-white in color. It is also a
highly aggressive and more intelligent when compared
to other spiders. As opposed to spinning webs to ensnare
its prey, it prefers to burrow and use the snow as
camouflage and lay in wait till its target draws close.
Snow spiders are greatly feared by the people who live
in this climate.


Combat: The bite of a snow spider delivers a powerful
venom which is easily capable of paralyzing a full-sized
humanoid. It will typically wait till until the prey draws
before it bursts out of the snow to deliver this bite. Any
other of these spiders in the immediate area will converge
as well for the promise of sustenance.


Poison: Anyone bitten by a snow spider must make a
successful save vs poison or suffer from 1d2 points of
dexterity loss for up to 1d6 hours and be required to
make another saving throw the following round. Those
who fail the second save become paralyzed for 1d8 hours.


Surprise: Snow Spiders hide by burrowing into the
snow. When one of these spiders bursts out of hiding,
surprise checks are made at CL5.
'A Trick on the Tain is available for purchase HERE.

M

Monday, October 21, 2013

Path of a Crusader (C&C)

A few years ago, Arcana Creations put out three little titles for Castles & Crusades via Brave Halfling Publishing.  Early last week, I contacted Steve Chenault and, with Troll Lord Game's blessing, have renewed our commitment to publish material for the game.

In celebration of this, the three original titles have received price cut for the digital releases.  If you don't have any of them and are looking for an even better deal, the three have been bundled together for $9.50 -- giving you a savings $7.35 (44% off).

You can go to the Storefront HERE or straight to the Bundle over HERE.

It shouldn't be much longer now fellow Crusaders.  There are new quests on the horizon!  Hopefully these will tie you over till then.

M


Great Eagle - Painting Guide

A few weeks ago, I embarked on a 'secret' painting project as it was a gift for my father who happens to be the proud owner of a Harley Davidson motorcycle.  Most Harley owners are proud of their bikes and, the company has a thing for eagles and often associate the bird with their shield logo.  My dad already has a bike but I figured a nice painted eagle model along with the Harley Davidson shield might make for an interesting gift for his office.

The Great Eagles kit put out by Games Workshop for the Hobbit line of miniatures seemed to be the perfect model and the fact that two come in the box was a nice plus.  Who knows, I may do something similar with the 'spare'.

Assembling the model was easy enough to do but, as I have noticed with some Games Workshop plastic kits, they don't always fit perfectly.  A bit of green stuff was used to correct some of the issues as well as smooth out some of the services and mask the seems.

When everything was dried and fixed up, I primed in black (Chaos Black).  All paints were Citadel paints.


Painting the model was not too difficult... Most of the base coat was done in 'Rhinox Brown' with head and tail done in 'Ceramite White'.  I used 'Averland Sunset' for the beak and 'Jokaero Orange' for the legs.


All the feathers got a wash of 'Agrax Earthshade' and I then drybrushed 'XV-88' followed by 'Baneblade Brown' on the brown feathers.  The white feathers for head and tail had a drybrush treatment of 'Screaming Skull' and a generous drybrushing of 'Praxeti White' and applying the lighter shade in targeted areas.

The claws were done in 'Ushabti Bone' and the eyes of the eagle were done in 'Auric Armour Gold' for the iris and 'Abaddon Black' for the pupil.  Some 'Nuln Oil' was used for the shading on the claws and beak and additional 'Averland Sunset' drybrushing was applied to the legs/feet of the eagle.

The base itself was simple in comparison.  I used the base included in the kit, and affixed 3 small and flat river stones to the base.  I then adapted a metal Harley Davidson keychain using a Dremel to cut off the hoop on the shield and than smoothed the surface.  This shield was affixed on one of the river stones.  To affix all of these, I used a combination of green stuff and some super glue.  Not apparent in any of the pictures was the additional painting I did on the bottom of the base (it was originally clear but I painted it a dark grey).  I then glued the base to a slightly larger octagonal mirror.

All in all, the gift was very well received and I loved how the bird turned out.


M

Monday, October 14, 2013

Weekend R&R: Shadow Days

This weekend is Thanksgiving for us Canadians up in the Great White North, and a long weekend such as this is a great time to do a bit of gaming.  Somewhere between all the parties and feedings (a lot of food and drink was consumed all weekend long), there was a chance to do a bit of gaming and amongst it all, I finally got a chance to try out 'Shadow Days'.

Shadow Days is described as a Fantasy themed, deckbuilding, strategy game which supports 2-4 players and lists the playtime as 30-40 minutes.  For people who have had a passing fancy with collectible cards games such as Magic: The Gathering, the fact that there are still games being done that tries to capture the allure of this very successful game says something 20 years later.  As someone who has played and enjoyed this sort of game, I am always hopeful to find something equally as enticing but without the collectible angle.  After a 4 player game and over 2 hours of play, I have to say that this game isn't it.

Shadow Days does have some nice things going for it and a fair bit of potential.  First of all, the fantasy artwork for the cards is quite nice... I liked many of the pieces and, much like the artwork on those old magic cards, they do the job quite nicely to evoke the fantasy vibe.  The text is fairly clear on the cards though a bit small and inconvenient for opposing players sitting across a table.  The rules are easy to understand and can be picked up quickly when dealing with new players.

Each player has a maximum of five active cards before them which are typically creatures.  These are random and they are refreshed should any of these creatures get killed.  Each creature card has four major values... Hit Points, Attack Points, Gold Points, and Life Points.  In the combat phase each player selects one of their creatures and picks a target belonging to their opponent.  If the creature's attack points are equal to or greater than that of the target, the target is killed or destroyed.  The winning player is rewarded the gold point value and the losing player loses life points.  Each player takes a turn for combat and once everyone is done, each player then gets to 'regroup'.  The regroup phase is a chance to replenish cards lost, buy equipment to further enhance your forces, buy a stronghold, or hire a hero or villain.  Once the regroup phase is done, it's back to the combat phase and you play turn after turn until there is only one player left in the game with life points remaining.


The problem with the game quickly becomes apparent the longer you play a match.  As I mentioned, my first game was a four player game and it lasted over two hours.  A couple of the players quickly grew bored and frustrated and the lack of decisive action in the game.  After a few turns, most players had bigger and more powerful creatures which helped make the player untouchable.  This meant that the player that got the weaker critters drawn by chance were quick prey for the other opponents.  However, with a simple 5 life point loss and a 5 gold point gain, the game ends up painfully slow when gaming with four players.  This is because each player stars with 200 life points and most purchases only start at 60 gold or higher and you only attack once with a single creature every combat round.  Sure, there are random event cards to stir things up but, early in four player game, these can do more harm than good and generally will slow the game even further.

After the game, I gave it some thought and there are some easy ways to fix all of these problems and speed up game play without drastically altering the core design. 

Here are my house-rules to improve Shadow Days:

  1. Variable Life Points.  The Life Points that each starts with will be dependent upon the number of players in the game.  200 points each for a two player game, 100 points each for a three player game, and 50 points each for a 4 player game.
  2. In the Combat Phase, each player can attack once for EVERY opponent in the game.  In other words, a three player game means each player has two attacks during their attack phase.
  3. Creatures succeeding in an attack becomes 'bloodied'.  During the combat in which they defeated their target, they take 20 hp damage for the duration of the combat phase.  These should be marked with some sort of glass bead.  If a creature attacks more than once within the combat phase, the damage they take is cumulative.  This will render some creatures vulnerable and provide greater opportunity to defeat seemingly impossible creatures.  Note that this affects creatures ONLY... Heroes and Villains, War Machines, and Objects are not affected.
  4. Should a player find himself the target of an attack when there are no more creatures to defend him, a creature attacking will cause an automatic 5 life point loss to that player.
Other options:
  • At the start of the game, each player starts with a random hero or villain.
I think with these house-rules, play time will greatly speed up and no major alteration needs to be done for the game.  However, the Strongholds seem to be a waste of gold aside from being a reserve you can pull from in lieu of pulling other active cards.  They confer a protection bonus to a certain creature type where they become immune to attack but they can't be used while in a Stronghold either.  I'm note sure it's worth playing with them unless there was some other game advantage to using them.

All in all, the game deserves a shot if you can overcome it's obvious deficiencies.  It is not quite a deckbuilding game but you take what you have and improve your odds by selecting heroes, villains, and equipment to better accomplish your task.  The theme is just a theme and doesn't really add to the game and the mechanics are very basic though you often have exceptions and bonuses in addition to the standard text and game mechanics.

It should be mentioned that Shadow Days was one of those Kickstarter projects and, while delivery was initially slated for August of last year, people only started to receive their games over a year later -- in my case, I received my game at the end of September.  I don't regret buying the game and will be playing it again but I would be hesitant at the MSRP for the game which is presently $30 USD.  The Dark Star Expansion for it (I played with both the base game and expansion) is an additional $15 but you can buy both together for $40.  While nice, $40 seems a bit much to drop on a card game.

If interested in finding out more information, you can visit the game publisher's website HERE.

M

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Arcana Creations 4th Quarter 2013 Releases

I got an email today from one of the writers I've had the pleasure of dealing with in the past few years concerning what was up and what, if anything, was being published as we get closer to the holidays.

I've learned to be very careful to avoid promising things I cannot guarantee.  Just looking at the flak that John from Brave Halfing Publishing has gotten this past year has a very sobering effect.  I've missed a couple of deadlines I've set for myself in the past but only once has it severely impacted and caused the cancellation of a project that was being worked on.

However, I have never taken a dime on pre-orders and I've managed to avoid the siren's call of Kickstarter.  That may soon come to an end though as I consider projects that NEED to be completed and are currently near completion.  But we'll see.

In the meantime, I did want to give a glimpse at what is being planned for this last quarter and early 2014.  All going well, we should see the releases of the following titles:

  • Light Ballista: Fastplay Rules
  • Hide In Plain Sight
  • Mystery at Morfurt
  • All Clear
All of these should be out within the next 4 months with the goal of all being released by X-Mas.  These will be primarily electronic releases though limited print runs will be available and I may open up pre-orders for that purpose only.  The final decision has not been made yet.

After these have been released, the next three big releases will consist of the Ballista Rules Companion and a deluxe box set release for Ballista as well as an accessory called the Foamy Tankard.  There are a few things still up in the air but are quietly being sorted out.

For now, that's what I'm looking at.


M

Monday, October 7, 2013

Forumotion's Brave Halfling Forums... GONE!

After more than a year after I had committed to taking it down, I finally pulled the plug on it.

The forums had long since been abandoned but I kept them up for the singular purpose of allowing access to the old forums for fans that had posted material that they wanted to revisit.

Largely this was some of the interesting X-Plorers material that resided on a handful of posts.

The forums were really a place for some news for Arcana Creations and Brave Halfling Publishing but, with social media venues, the forums quickly fell to the wayside.

So... between the Blog, the Arcana Creations website, Google+, and Facebook, we're pretty much covered.  ;)

M

The Road to Can-Con

Can-Con.... what the hell is it?  Can-Con is the Conference on Canadian Content in Speculative Arts and Literature.  And yes... that's quite a mouthful.  ;)

Arcana Creations has been primarily a developer over the past few years (since the fall of 2009) and, as my loyal readers know, it has been a bit quiet as far as releases have been concerned.  However, I have been on a minor campaign since 2012.  I've been writing more on this blog and doing a bit of work here and there.  Arcana Creations has put out a couple of (free) issues of the Domesday (Castles & Crusades Society) as well as the free Swords & Wizardry adventure 'The Vile Worm' (Free until October 17th and available HERE).

There have been a couple of other things, not quite ready for publication, as well as the Ballista material.  Ballista has been mentioned in the past, but given the many changes its undergone and the simply the issue of interesting circumstances befalling me, I've talked about it less and less.  The good news is something will manifest itself VERY SOON.

With that in mind, I've finally set up the store site on RPG Now!  Titles I have worked on as developer (with Brave Halfling Publishing) have already been transferred to my Storefront there and there will be new material showing up later this month.  I'm even setting up some Cafepress swag since, once in a blue moon, someone may want some (even if it's me to promote stuff elsewhere).

All of this brings me to Can-Con.  While I've attended Cons before (though very few in number), this is the first one I attend and have a table for Arcana Creations.  Can-Con is a very tiny con the recently started up again after a 10 year hiatus.  For the past couple of years, my other half had attended this convention located in Ottawa (Canada's capital for my non-Canadian readers) as a panelist.  Given our familiarity with the convention and some of the people who run it, it seemed like a good marketing opportunity to 'put myself out there' and get people more familiar with what I do.
I also hoped to have a Quickstart for Ballista ready for the con.  However, with everything else I had going in preparation for the convention, and the fact I have a 9-5 job, it didn't quite happen.  So close though.... so very close.  :)

I was able to bring with me a sample of products that Arcana Creations had been involved with in the past as well as showcasing some Brave Halfling Publishing products.  While we didn't have the time needed to get a bunch of other BHP product shipped up to me (John is already elbow deep in shipping Appendix N and other Delving Deeper material), I decided it was a chance to sell some gently used and classic gaming material.  Between all that and some dice, people were at least visiting the table.

I had an interesting vantage point of the dealer room and in many ways I cornered the market on gaming stuff.  The convention is primarily a literary one as opposed to a gaming centric one which does skew sales expectations but at this point in the game, it's all about visibility and marketing.  Of course, next time around, I'll get a proper banner made up and hopefully step up the table presentation.  ;)
 


While I won't go into actual figures, my 'take' for the weekend did help cover some of the basic expenses generated by doing a convention like this.  I also walked away with a couple of books due to some trades I did with some of the other vendors.  It was a fun weekend but, more importantly, it got me 'out there'.  I met a lot of people and made a couple of contacts as well as some friends.

Most importantly perhaps was the impact we had by being there as far as the rest of the con is concerned.  Towards the end of the convention, there was some discussion about gaming have a bit more of a presence at the convention next year and I've already committed to do it.

M

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

SOS - Adventures at MTL Comic Con (2013)

Comic-Con… It’s become an important event for fans who are into movies, television, comics, and gaming. It is the present mecca of pop-culture. The San Diego convention grew out of the love of comic books to what it has become today and many similar events have popped up all over the place and model themselves after it. The Montreal Comic-Con was my first experience at one of these, and after attending the one in 2012, I resolved to go again this year and be a bit better prepared. One question that people have asked me is what do you do at something like this and how do you justify going the whole weekend?

MORE at Sound on Sight...

M

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

FREE S&W Adventure

Free for a limited time... the new conversion Arcana Creations did of the 'Vile Worm' for Swords & Wizardry.  This was done and released for free to celebrate S&W Appreciation Day back on April 17th earlier this year.  I have hosted the file myself for the better part of 6 months but with a recent web redesign (currently in progress at www.arcanacreations.com), I've also decided to set up the Store Front over at RPGNow! (and other One Book Shelf sites) and the file is now available there.

However, come October 17th, this file will no longer be available for free.  The price will increase to a whole $1.

So, if you think you might want to take a look or just haven't gotten around to grabbing it in the past, now is your chance before time runs out!

You can find it HERE.

Some of my readers may wonder why I am only setting this up now?  Well, the earliest products that Arcana Creations was involved with was publishing in collaboration with Brave Halfling Publishing and, to this day, these are still available through them.  However, after months (many many months), I finally have something tangible coming out for Ballista and it will be available through RPGNow!

M

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Day The Blog Went Silent?

It's odd and, while I know I haven't been as active here at Under Siege for the past few weeks, I have noticed a sudden trend about 2 weeks ago (give or take) where the traffic has dropped dramatically.  I'm not saying that I ever had loads of traffic but I was content at my monthly average which ranged between 2000 - 2500 views.

I know... peanuts.

Suddenly and overnight, it's dropped to half that.

A couple of referring sites don't seem to refer here anymore and, at one point, the blog got 'disconnected' from my Google+ profile (it's now reconnected), after Google did a few changes.

I may have to move from blogger and start up on Word Press.

M

Weekend R&R: Yarr!

In celebration of 'Talk Like A Pirate Day', Bill De Franza has released a Rules Light Pirate RPG entitled, "Yarr!".  The system that makes up Yarr! is based on the Dagger RPG system which is a set of supplemental rules for classic role-playing with children written by John Adams from Brave Halfling Publishing and Jimm Johnston.  For those of you who haven't seen Dagger, it's a great way to get a younger audience introduced to the world of pen and paper RPGs.

But we're not hear to talk about Dagger...

Yarr!  It be that pirate game we be talkin' about.


First and foremost, Yarr! is a class based system and there are five to choose from: The Atlantean, Captain, Marine, Rascal, and Sailer (they are all pirates). Each class has their own set of special abilities, but the Atlantean has access to spells and the Captain has access to special feats.

There is next to no complexity to the system though and, given the game's roots, it shouldn't be expected either.  There are, for instance, no stats to worry about.  Yarr does provide an optional skill system which encompasses eight skills such as Agility or Sneak.  By choosing to use the system, all character get all the skills but half of them are essentially things the character is good or trained at and thus have a better chance at succeeding.  These will improve as a character goes up in level.

Character advancement also increases their ability to fight (an increase in hit progression) and the number of hit points they have.  Rules for combat and gameplay are few and span a mere 7 pages or so.  Beyond that, the game provides a bestiary, rules for ship to ship combat, a variety of spells, and a glossary of pirate terms.

Of course, this game wasn't necessarily made for the typical gamer.  Being wonderfully simplistic, like Dagger, it's easy and simple enough to introduce to children.  That's not to say that older people wouldn't be able to get a kick out of the game, I think the optional skill system does well enough to add some variety to the game and something like this could be worthwhile to do a one-off for friends who don't necessarily game all that often but are open to the idea and open to some laughs.

That said, with a game as simple as this, these could be just as well suited to a Dungeon-type or Hero Quest-like board game proving once again, it doesn't have to be complicated to be fun.  As simple as it is, the book (65 page digest release) does seem to have everything you need to get set up and running.  The game is not a bunch of needless flash and polish but it gets the job done and it can be yours for $5 HERE.

M

Friday, September 13, 2013

Montreal Comic Con 2013

Last year was my first Comic Con and while small compared to the scale of San Diego's, there were a lot of people and the venue was packed on the biggest day of the con last year (being Saturday).  Highlights last year included Patrick Stewart, Shatner, and Wil Wheaton with Wheaton and I having a brief chat about old school gaming and C&C.  There was so much to see and do that both Mariosl (my significant other) and I decided then to do it again this year.

So... the events kick off today at noon if you are a VIP or Deluxe pass holder, and 3:00pm for everyone else.  We part of the 'everyone else' crowd this year.  We went deluxe last year and, while the earlier access is nice (really nice actually if crowds annoy you and you want to do some shopping), it was harder to justify this year.  Sure you also get a tote-bag and a limited edition comic book produced for the con (last year was a tote bag and t-shirt), but I found it harder to justify the $20 per ticket difference between regular and deluxe passes.  For that same price difference, the $40 (plus taxes) we save essentially pays for most photo-ops or autographs.  Besides, money has been tight for me (and Arcana Creations) for a few months now -- I have to tread carefully where my finances are concerned.  ;)

This year's Montreal Comic Con seems to have an interesting array of guests though there were quite a few lineup change the past 4 weeks.  The final lineup includes Gillian Anderson, George Takei, Christopher Loyd, Jason Mamoa, Sean Astin, a bunch from the Battlestar Galactica reboot/refresh, and a whole bunch more.  Honestly, there seems to be more celebrities this year than the last which is, no doubt, due to this con's continued success in the few years it's been in operation.

However, because of the many line up changes in the past few weeks, the schedule they've finally nailed down is, well, less than adequate IMO.  Like last year, it was pretty much released at the last minute.  A PDF version was released last Friday and there is an app which provides scheduling information which was released a bit earlier this week.  In the few days since the release of the PDF, there are ALREADY schedule changes and discrepancies.  Makes planning your weekend a bit more difficult.  Marisol and I took over an hour looking at the schedule, descriptions of events, and checking out movies trailers to decide what we were doing exactly to maximize our weekend.  Simply put, we haven't had a chance to do much as far as trips are concerned, so Comic Con is one of the highlights we focus on instead.


It will be great though and I'll be sure to post some pics and give a post-con report once the weekend is behind me.

M