What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:

What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:
After Winter Dark Campaign Setting

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Weekend R&R: Endless Adventures

I've re-iterated time and again my gaming start with AD&D back in 1989 just as Second Edition was coming out. The first time I was consciously aware of 'D&D' was the old cartoons when I was a kid, I would have been 7 or 8 when these started to air but I never made a connection to the RPG till a friend introduced me to the game. This probably had to do with the fact that I was going up in area of a French town in Quebec where there happened to be a Canadian Air Force base.  There just wasn't a lot of exposure to English books in stores when the province is French and while D&D might have gotten some material translated in French, casually stumbling upon them in a bookstore is a whole different issue.  ;)

Of course, this changed when my family was transferred to a base in Germany.  I know... seems contradictory that this would be where I discovered D&D but there you have it.  Actually, I suppose it was a 'perfect storm' of factors (I'll get to those elements later).  However, being relatively bored and now a teenager in a foreign country, where there isn't much TV to enjoy and a cutting edge computer being only a 086 XT system running MS DOS 3.x all in CGA (4 color) glory, I'm looking for something to do in a country where I really don't know anybody upon arriving.  So, what does one do?  Well, picking up a good book always helps and I did just that.  Most of the books I got at the bookstore on the base which sold mostly English books (and some French) for the members of the military and their dependents.  Off-base, you had housing set up for various military families along with schools and such as well as other amenities and conveniences such as the equivalent of a 'corner store' who also sold a handful of paperbacks.  It was one of these paperbacks which set me on the proper path of gaming.

I picked up a book which was essentially a French translation of a Fighting Fantasy title entitled: "L'Odyssee d'Altheos" (original title in English being the "Return of the Wanderer").  By this point, I already was familiar with the format of a Choose Your Own Adventure style book but this one was different.  You had hitpoints and used dice and you could die if you were unlucky in combat.  This particular book was also steeped in Greek Mythos which also appealed to me greatly which is what led me to pick it up.  I *loved* it.  In the months that followed, I got more of these books -- all of which were French translations and, due to our proximity to the German/French border, I didn't have any problems getting my hands on more.  When I started meeting new people and making some friends, I was shortly introduced to D&D and, admittedly, those French translations of Fighting Fantasy titles got set aside in favor of gaming with my new found friends.  Simply put, D&D blew me aware since it was a chance to play a largely 'unscripted' version of Fighting Fantasy but with other people.

Now truth to tell, I haven't though about some of these adventure books in years.  I also parted with most of them some time ago though I still have a handful.  This past week I was very fortunate to receive a wonderful gift which brought all this to mind once again.  A friend sent me copies of the old TSR Greyhawk books and, while I was expecting these, I did not expect what he threw in to package as well.  There were gaming books included in the package -- two of the D&D Endless Quest books (I used to own one entitled the Circus of Fear) as well as two of the AD&D Adventure Gamebooks.  I never owned any of the AD&D Adventure Gamebooks but these were closer to the spirit of the Fighting Fantasy books as opposed to the Endless Quest ones which were truly of the Choose Your Own Adventure type.

In any event, to look at me at that moment would probably be akin to watching a kid opening up his presents for XMas.  Bill, thanks a million for the books, the smile you've brought to my face, and reminding me of some good and happy memories!

Now, a slight postscript to all of this:

As I was writing this entry on and off as time allowed this afternoon and evening (we had some company over), I do what I always do.  I periodically check the blogs, facebook, and google+.  I came across a post talking about Tin Man Games and their Gamebook Adventures.  What started as mere recollection and fond memories has me now playing some of this stuff.  You see, Tin Man Games essentially produces these sort Fighting Fantasy adventures for the ipad and android devices as well as Mac and PC support.  You may ask, why would I be interested in such a thing?  It's not just an ebook... but an app / game.  Iyou create the character with it, you roll virtual dice which you see drop onto the page as well as links for the decisions you decide to make.  In short, it takes care of all the tracking for you so that you can just read and play be it on phone or tablet or computer.  Isn't that just awesome?

Well, that's it for this weekend... some work did get done on both the Hide in Plain Sight module and the Mystery at Morfurt module.  Up next is more mapping for HIPS as general editing and layout continues for the Morfurt adventure.

Thanks for reading!


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Review: A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore

I was first drawn to the Kickstarter effort because of the premise of the project.  I do like the charm and occasional quirks for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and adore reading that good ol' Gygaxian prose.  It is very fitting to have this volume released so shortly after the special reprints that were just released less than 2 weeks ago.  The book, "A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore" is part of the "Adventures Dark & Deep line" authored by Joseph Bloch and really explores the direction and presents material that *might* have shaped and formed the basis of a Second Edition created by Gary Gygax.  The material is drawn and inspired from some articles written prior to his departure from TSR as well as many sources in the years that followed.  Simply put, there is a lot of things to like in this book and Joseph Bloch, well known for his Greyhawk Grognard blog and the 'Castles of The Mad Archmage', does a great job in putting it all together.

So that said, what do you get in this book?  Well, there are new classes and subclasses (5 in all) as well as a secondary skill system, alternate combat mechanics, as well as sections on ships and sailing, an expanded section on magic, as well as one on game environments.  Obviously, you also have a host of new spells, items, and monsters to play too.  A decent selection of material for a 135 page book.  Of course, it is important to remember that this is a supplement to the AD&D books or other games with similar functionality.  You can't run a game with just his book alone.  However, there is enough additional material in this book to make it an indispensable resource to have alongside the PHB, DMG, and MM.  The material on ships, magic and the environment alone is worth having and take up about a third of the book.

 Other sections will please different people a lot more... the new classes are fun to at least look at and I'd be tempted to try a couple of them out.  The combat section is something that I could have done without but only because I'm familiar with other systems that have also taken a step beyond some of the ideas presented in AD&D.  There are STILL some neat things though and all the material in this book deserves a good read-through.

I would love to say that the book is perfect but it is not without its little flaws and shortcomings.

Fortunately, most of these have nothing to do with the material, but rather how it is presented.  There is TOO much wasted space for my liking.  I mean, it's OK to have some white space here and there but I can't ignore that fact that some of these spaces are wasted opportunities for other art or laying out the text in a more efficient manner.  The section on classes have 2-3 pages potentially wasted because of how the text was laid.  I do realize that the reason for this was the decision to only start detailing a new class on a new page but, given that the original Player's Handbook didn't bother with this luxury, I'm fairly certain that the fans wouldn't have minded if this book followed suit.  Naturally, none of this reflects badly on the actual book but the small lonely chart on page 27 (one column width and only 9 lines in the table) does leave the majority of the page blank and does make it look a tad out of place.

The art in the book is fantastic though -- a great old school vibe from the interior as well as the cover art piece.  I just wish there was a bit more of it, or that some of the pieces were bigger.  Actually, this could have really helped with some of that extra white space I see when going though the book.  However, I do understand that art can be expensive so that may explain a thing or two.  I should add that there is one single, full-page piece of art which is a great illustration (on page 118) but it's also the ONLY full page art piece in the book.  A real shame there isn't more, larger sizes.

Art and overall layout and presentation is a very subjective thing though and I know that some people just won't care.  Aside from that two things, the book itself is a fairly solid offering.  I only found one little issue when going through it earlier this evening and I sent Joseph a quick note so that it can be corrected before this goes to print.

As a PDF (available at RPGNow and Drivethru), it is certainly worth the $10 if you are looking to supplement your AD&D game -- especially if you've also gotten some of the reprints (or looking to start back into AD&D).  I do have to say that the prices for a physical copy (once they become available) might be a bit harder to justify.  As a Kickstarter backer, I pledged $30 for a softcover (perfect bound) copy though that entitled me to the PDF as well.  For $60, I could have gotten the same thing but in Hardcover.  Given that the Premium Reprint of the AD&D PHB cost $35 for a 128 page hardback ($45 for the 240 page DMG reprint), I do find the prices a tad overpriced for what is offered  -- especially if this ends being produced via POD.  I don't know if the prices will be adjusted one physical copies become available though.  My advice is to get the physical books if you KNOW  the physical book is going to be used.  Otherwise, the PDF may be the best best.

In summary: A fascinating volume which may bring more to your gaming table than the original Unearthed Arcana did.  This is not just another published House Rules document and certainly worth a look if actively engaged in 1st Edition style game.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Progress Report

This past weekend I quickly alluded to giving a bit of an update with how some of the work was going, it got late on Sunday and between how late it was and, a new episode of Breaking Bad,  it didn't happen.  Monday evening had me sucked into some overtime so here we are... Tuesday evening before I call it a night.

Despite my 9-5 job keeping me a bit busier than usual due to being short-staffed, the great news is that work is progressing nicely.  As far as 'Hide in Plain Sight' is concerned, I've hit the appendix section of the module.  There is still some revising I will do as far as layout is concerned and not all the maps are done yet and, while this project is behind my original time frame as far as the ideal period I would have liked to see this released, it is getting close to actual release.  I originally hoped to have it out by the end of the second quarter of this year which would have been end of June.  Given that art still needs to be dealt with, I'm looking something in the 3rd Quarter (hopefully end of August).

What I'm excited about though is that work has begun in earnest on the second C&C release, another adventure scenario, entitled 'The Mystery of Morfurt'.  Not only are we on target for a 4th quarter release, it may actually be released a bit earlier than originally planned.  Finally something going right with the deadlines I'm trying to put into place!!  The only reason this is possible is due to the diligent work that my wife, Marisol Charbonneau, is currently doing on the submitted MS.  She, like myself, is someone who is very 'hands-on' with the material and aggressive about achieving a higher standard of material.

Of course, it was only when she started to work on the material that she fully understood how time consuming some of the work I did actually was.  It was early on this particular MS that she found her first passage which she subsequently altered changing the meaning to what was more likely intended.  She also got a good laugh as did I.  The 'unaltered passage' read thus:

About fifteen years after the death of the young noble, a small band of clerics moved in and began a missionary from the tower.
Needless to say, we assume that the clerics began or started a mission though further clarification would benefit the reader.  It could mean that missionaries (the small band of clerics) worked from the tower or that clerics set off to on a mission.  If neither of these are correct, I may consider changing the tone and possibly the artwork to accompany the manuscript with a disclaimer of: 'Not for Children'.  ;)

In all seriousness, a missing word, improper punctuation, or even a word used improper context or an improperly chosen word can really make a difference and highlights the importance of good editing and proofreading.  I'm really happy to have the additional help when it comes to this and the layout out that comes along with it.  The Morfurt adventure is starting to come together nicely.

As a side note... still haven't 'flipped the switch' on the BHP forums.  I'm still trying to see it's its worth the effort to archive some of the stuff.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Weekend R&R: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2012

Taking a break from work this weekend (will post a small blurb about how that went later tonight or tomorrow evening) and for this week's edition, I decided to talk about the new premium reprints of the AD&D books as well as a bit on 1st Edition in general.  First off, let me say that I love what WOTC did with these reprints and, like most who were happy to see these, hope that they sell many, MANY copies.  Perhaps, between that and the promised relative compatibility of the D&D Next (aka 5th Edition), WOTC will reverse their stance on availability of these older materials in PDF format at the very least.  Besides, wouldn't owning a PDF of these cleaned up versions rock?  They would certainly be a notch upwards as far as quality is concerned in the ones that were previously made available.

Of course, a lot of this is wishful thinking but it doesn't deter from a great job that was done to put these together.  Flipping though the pages, which I did only briefly up to now (I picked them up yesterday afternoon), I couldn't help but smile.  When I got into the hobby my first books were the 2nd Edition books.  They had *just* come out and, up to that point, the small amount of D&D my friends and I played was thanks to the material found in the Mentzer box sets. It actually wasn't until  a year or so later that I had a chance to look through some of the 1st Edition rulebooks. There was something almost mysterious and awesome about the material in those 1st Edition Rulebooks -- particularly the Dungeon Master's Guide and the Player's Handbook.  Let's face it, the 2nd Edition DMG sucks in comparison to the 1st Edition one.  It would still be quite a few years before I got copies of the 1st Edition rulebooks.  Other 1st Edition titles already graced my collection, be it Legends & Lore, the Manual of the Planes, the Wilderness and Dungeoneer's Survival Guide, and so on.  The PHB, DMG, UA, and various Monster Books didn't find their way onto my shelves for almost another decade.

Why did it take so long?  Well, like most significant relationships, they can be complicated at times.  ;)

Due to where I lived, RPG material of any kind was harder to come by until the mid-90's.   When it was more accessible, TSR's change in focus for their various lines caused me to grow very weary of the material they were putting out.  It took TSR to be bought out and 3rd Edition to get me interested again which was also the time I chanced to find a set of these older books in a second hand bookstore.  These older classics now in hand, going through those pages were just as wondrous then as they were the first time and, unlike the 2nd Edition books, I didn't merely consult the manuals for rules but I also enjoyed reading many a passage in those books.

Now, with these beautiful reprints in hand, I can shelve them next to my worn but still solid original 1st Edition copies which I admit will remain my 'play copies' even if AD&D is not the game I presently play.  In any event, these reprints represent and solidify a notion (at least to me) that these are Source Reference Manuals.  So many games and versions derive from this books that it is only right to finally see these reprinted.

As a side note, I equally find it fascinating to hear about the arduous process that went into putting these reprints together.  There was no digital file that could be loaded up in a word processor.  There were no images digitally stored and untouched.  All they had to go on I figure were physical copies and the unimpressive scans of a quality some of us may already be familiar with.  These had to be reconstructed from scratch as opposed to just loading up a file in InDesign or whatever layout programs they use.  It kind of reminds me of the manuscripts of old ... specifically the illuminated manuscripts and various grimoires of the middle ages which were transcribed meticulously by hand.

Kind of cool when you think about it...

These reprints consisting of the DMG, PHB, and MM aren't cheap but they are very reasonably priced given what prices are like these days.  The PHB and MM are $39.95 each and the DMG being a bigger books is $44.95 each.  For some odd reason, there is a larger price discrepancy that what I would consider acceptable for Canadian prices being 6 to 7 dollars more than the US cover price.  Sorry WOTC, this is one part where you've failed.  The good news is that some places are sticking with the US pricing.  Of course, while most people who may really like the idea of the books may already have a set, the nice thing about these books is that part of the proceeds are going to support the Gygax Memorial Fund.  So on that count, it's kind of classy even if it's just a marketing ploy and an attempt to give the Old School community and olive branch of sorts.

Happy Gaming!


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Heat has Broken!

The Heat has broken due to an extended series of showers and brief storm activity a couple days ago.  On the outset, these just made the weather even more unbearable as we approached a very hot and heavy level of humidity in the air on the day in question. The flip side is we were rewarded with a nice sunny and comparatively cool summer day yesterday (and today).  Naturally, the temperature is on its way back up but the break was welcome.

As such, I did something yesterday I hadn't done in a while ... load up my XBox and play a few games after supper last night.  Almost a month ago, the Dawnguard DLC for Skyrim was released but yesterday was actually the first time I loaded it up.  Skyrim is still fun though, thanks to that DLC, I've got a few more hours (days?) of gameplay ahead of me to win those new achievements added to the game.

Of course, of more importance is catching up on some rest given that it's so hard to sleep in this sort of heat.  I've been going to bed considerably earlier these past few nights to try and do so.  Now that the weekend is just around the corner, I need to get a bit more work done and out of the way.

I'm closing in on the last few pages of HIPS (the module's appendix) and then I'll need to fine tune the layout a bit for some art.  As I mentioned in a previous entry, I've played with reducing the font size and I've decided to go ahead with that for this particular module.  The page count is coming out a bit higher than I had originally anticipated -- not that this is a huge issue or anything but the changes may suit something I will be trying for the layout.  If it doesn't work, I'll just scrap the new one and continue with the old one since I'm determined not to lose too much time over it.

I also think that next year, I will avoid working June and July entirely when it comes to regular AC production work.  If you can't beat the heat... then DON'T !!  ;)

As for the other things going... Not much new happened with Ballista in the past couple of weeks and the other C&C module due for the 4th quarter of this year has barely begun. On the other hand, work is moving along on the other unnamed and unspecified project.  It's nice to have someone working on this stuff FOR YOU instead of trying to do EVERYTHING yourself.

I should have some concrete news before Monday rolls around...

As a side-note, I read your recent blog entry John, and thanks for the kind words.  I am happy to help whenever I can.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Weekend R&R: Thieves' World - Pt.2

The heat is pounding a lot of regions in North America pretty hard and the trend seems to be continuing.  The past few days have brought me to the point of declaring the conditions too hot to get any extended work done on any of the projects I am currently engaged in.  Progress was made this past weekend but the heat has also gotten worse since.  Tomorrow will be hitting 38 degrees Celsius which would be 100 Fahrenheit.  The study is presently warmer than that due to sun exposure and computer equipment.  The heat is not good for me... nor is it good for that powerhouse of a computer I use.  Instead, I do basic stuff on my tablet (and keyboard dock) and a bit of blogging -- like tonight's Part 2 post.  :)

In the first part, I basically talked about the classic Chaosium box set they released for Thieves' World designed with multiple systems in mind.  There would be no real treatment beyond Chaosium's efforts in the early 80s for over two decades.  In 2005, Green Ronin Publishing released the "Thieves' World Players Manual".  Unlike its gaming predecessor, this book was made for only one system in mind: the d20 system (and thus, Third Edition).  The good thing to keep in mind is that the book is still full of material which will be of value to anyone who wants information on the setting regardless of the system it was written for.  That said, there is plenty of material and game mechanics to help bring a d20 D&D type game a step closer to Sanctuary but, there just seems to be too much of it at times.  I guess you can say that it had all that was deemed 'necessary' to run a d20 Thieves World campaign and, like Third Edition, a lot was deemed necessary judging by the countless books and rule supplements WOTC released for Third Edition.  ;)

Green Ronin followed up with other books which add to the setting material made available in the Players Manual.  These are the "Shadow Spawn's Guide to Sanctuary" as well as the "Thieves' World Gazetteer".  Arguably, the best book for Thieves' World which Green Ronin released was the Shadow Spawn's Guide to Sanctuary and, between this book and the Player's Manual, you essentially cover the same sort of material which the classic box set does.  The Gazetteer just expands the setting beyond the scope of the city.  Green Ronin's treatment of the setting was generally well received and does a fantastic job at presenting Thieves' World well beyond the scope that Chaosium did but that doesn't necessarily mean it's better.  It certainly is worth a look though.  Unlike the Chaosium material, it is easier to track down the Green Ronin material with the books running between $10 and $15 depending on the book and condition.  Some places may still also have these in 'new' condition though pricing will vary.  For those who prefer PDF, these remain available but the prices are more expensive than the physical books -- an unfortunate pricing decision.

It is unfortunate to see the value of these books have decreased as much as they have though -- this happened due to the original announcement of 4th Edition.  Green Ronin decided to liquidate the majority of their older d20 material but that didn't mean it was crap.  I know many people who don't play d20-based games that generally avoid the still prevalent abundance of all these d20 books out in the market but I find that those that do so may miss out on an occasional gem.

Should these Thieves' World books be considered gaming gems?  Truthfully, I don't know.  Personally, I prefer the older Chaosium material but Green Ronin did an excellent job all around and, despite my preference, I wouldn't call the box set 'better' than the Green Ronin books.  Either version would be a great addition to the gaming shelf if you're looking for a particular city with a certain special charm and it could be that Sanctuary could fit the bill.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Weekend R&R: Thieves' World - Pt.1

Well, this is long overdue and a bunch of the material contained in this post was originally written a couple weeks back but between the long weekend (holidays), family commitments and occasional emergencies, as well as a lot of other work on projects currently in development with Arcana Creations, there just hasn't been much R&R happening.  ;)  Probably just as well tha I've put aside some time to do this and break this down in two parts given the subject matter -- Thieves' World.

Thieves' World came about as a series of stories set about in the city of Sanctuary created by Robert L. Asprin.  What made it neat was that it was a shared setting.  Different authors contributed to the stories and lore that made up what we know of the city and its people.  It was dark and gritty and, a lot of people loved the stories and then, in 1981, Chaosium created a gaming supplement for it.  What made this gaming supplement really interesting was that it was advertised as being designed for no less than 9 Role-Playing Systems.  Much like the stories which attracted many fantasy authors to contribute, this project also brought many game designers on board including Dave Arneson, Steve Marsh, Marc Miller, and Ken St.Andre.  Of course, the whole D&D / AD&D angle on this project was interesting as this represented one of the very few examples of a third-party product being to legally being able to use the TSR trademarks.  This was thanks to TSR using trademarked material for their Deities & Demigods book which Chaosium held the rights to.  It was a conversation I was having with another gamer a few weeks ago which reminded me about Chaosium's D&D material and this box set.

First off, I was extremely lucky to come across my box set of Thieves' World.  I got it just a few years ago by chance on ebay.  While I was nervous at first (some purchases on ebay are never what they are made out to be), I have to say I was really pleased.  The box was in very good shape and the contents near pristine save for some pencil marks on a page (with items neatly crossed off).  Everything was still in the box and by everything, I really mean everything.  From the letter describing "What's in This Box?" to the original adverts put in. I have a color advert for Rune Quest (the Avalon Hill edition), one for the 'Gods of Glorantha' -- a supplement to the 'new' Rune Quest game, as well as a mini Chaosium catalog.  I even have the business reply card.  In short, nothing but fantastic and very lucky.  That said, I've known about Thieves' World for a long time... almost as long as I was involved in the hobby of gaming and I've read some of the stories so very long ago though I only have one of the later anthologies now (mental note... check to see if available as ebooks).

So aside from the adverts and, more pertinent to what we are talking about, what's in the freakin' box anyway?  Basically, 3 booklets and 3 maps.  The booklets consist of the Player's Guide to Sanctuary, The GM's Guide to Sanctuary, and the Personalities of Sanctuary. The titles are pretty much self explanatory but the contents are a bit unusual and, in this case, unusual means cool.  The Player's Guide for instance primarily consists of essays which does a nice job of informing the reader about various aspects of the city and the 'realities of Sanctuary'.  Actually, one of the opening essays titled 'Thud and Blunder' written by Poul Anderson is by far one of the most interesting pieces included her since it talks about High Fantasy in general and considerations not properly thought out when developing a piece in the genre.  A great piece which I recommend any writer or designer to read.  The very short booklet (16 pages) still manages to be complete enough to give a good feel for the setting.  It has a map, a history, and glossary and a few pieces to inform and entertain the reader.  The booklet is clearly designed to be read as opposed to just consulted.

As for the other two booklets, I think people are in for a genuine treat when they start to flip through this material -- particularly the GM's Guide.  This booklet continues with a series of essays which are great and entertaining to read.  Besides the essays, you have tons of maps ranging from building to various sections mapped out of the city.  Perhaps more importantly, you have a host of encounter tables to use when your players are travelling through or exploring the city.  The book is meant to be used but won't go so far as paint all the details of the city.  The book isn't written in such a way that it paints and details every single aspect of the city, and while that might be great, the box set and this booklet is primarily focused in providing the tools you'll need to enjoy the city as setting.  Of course, the  strangest book of the lot is the third booklet -- the Personalities of Sanctuary.  As you can pretty much surmise from the title, we talking about key characters in Sanctuary but this is also where the crunch happens.  The book is split up by system with the different stat blocks you'll find for one game or the next and each section has a significant contributor who could best be describes as experts for these respective systems (Ken St. Andre writing the section / conversions for Tunnels & Trolls for example).   Then again, AD&D and D&D each have their own respective sections which is interesting in itself (though understandable).

The maps are pretty simple but functional in their black and white glory and serve to round out the functional box set quite nicely.  Back in the day, this box set retailed for $18.00 (man, those were the days) but of course, this is now long out of circulation.  I have seen copies sell on ebay from anywhere between $30 and $75 (mine was around $20 I believe but I was lucky) and I notice that Noble Knight Games does not have a copy in stock.  Sadly, there is no legal method to obtain a PDF copy either.  The good news was that Thieves' World had a role playing revival thanks to Green Ronin a little more than two decades later but I'll look at those efforts in Part 2.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Crazy Week

It's been really busy these past few days.  Some overtime at work this past and a fantastic concert last night (Iron Maiden's current Maiden England 2012 tour with Alice Cooper) have left me more than a little bit tired and even less time to spare.

Some bitter news came in last week -- my wife is out of work currently (pretty much a clear case of wrongful dismissal IMO) so money looks to be a bit tight for the future. However, I've chosen to try and find (and polish) a silver lining amongst those dark clouds.  Besides looking for some work, I've got her doing two things for me for Arcana Creations.  One is getting familiar with some of the layout and design software I use.  She has agree to do some layout and proofreading (editing) for me and I think she'll do an excellent job (one of her previous jobs was doing proofreading and editing).  What I'm likely to do is get her working on different material to accelerate the production of the second C&C module I have planned for this year for the 4th quarter.  Probably a good thing given I'm a couple weeks behind where I should be with the first C&C module planned.

What is exciting is that she is busy doing a bunch of research for a project we had talked about months ago for a future (2013?) release.  Not an adventure but an accessory.  Can't say more on that at this point and we're months away from a reveal but it should be pretty cool.

Don't know how long the situation will last and, I'll be honest, while I like the extra help, I rather see in happy in a financially secure job.  The best would be for her to get a job sooner rather than later but still have her help me out with the AC material.

At any rate, the weekend is finally around the corner and I'll have more for my readers then.  Please be advised that writing may be a bit sparse over the next couple of weeks as I anticipate much more overtime which is not a bad thing given finances these days.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Perserverence Pays Off This Evening

Well, after a few struggles, having to start from scratch a couple times, and even a software crash, I finally got my into my stride as far as the mapping is concerned.  As I stated before, they are nothing very fancy but I believe there is elegance in simplicity and the classic dungeon maps were wonderful for that.  Obviously there is still some work to be done one these... I still have to key and number them for instance and there are still a few tweaks that need to be done.  Here are a couple samples from the batch I did up.  I think they should do the trick.


Annoyed at Lack of Progress this Weekend

Sometimes things just don't go the way you want them.

As I mentioned in a previous post yesterday, the day was pretty much lost as I was pulled away from my work to solve a malware situation on my father's computer.

Today I actually sat down to do some work and verify a few things.  Truth to tell, while the layout and editing was going well (though slower than I would like), there was a few things that nagged at me with regards to the layout. Now, to be fair, it's the same format I had adopted for the previous modules Arcana Creations put out for C&C and it works. However, the font size I chose to use was slightly on the larger size (sitting at 10.5 pt). At the time, a few people mentioned how they preferred this size as opposed to the tend that some publishers had of using a much smaller font. The recent newsletter I put out for the C&C Society (issue 5 of the Domesday Book) used a smaller size (9 pt) thought a different font. I admit that I the slightly smaller font size looks pleasing to me and I will likely be considering this size for the Ballista line. I was also considering it for the present module and it does make a difference but I'm not liking the impact it will have on the project (being additional time). So I shelved that notion, at least for now.

I decided to turn my attention on the task of getting the maps done. Most of the maps in the products put out by Arcana Creations are usually a result of my efforts based on preliminary sketches or other maps submitted with any of manuscripts I receive. This afternoon, I started doing the abandoned church maps for the same module presently being worked on.  I like mapping and I like looking at a good finished product. The dungeon maps are really nothing fancy but i tend to keep them clean with a 'classic dungeon map' feel (black as opposed to classic blue though).  It's taking me a bit longer than I would like and I did screw the maps I was working on a couple of times which will necessitate a bunch of work to be re-done.  It's just not my day.

Now, it is late afternoon, and the sun is hitting the windows and study full on with heat and I'm tossing in the towel for the day.  This has simply not been anywhere near as productive as I would have liked it to be this weekend.

*EDIT*  After taking a couple hours to relax and cook up some burgers on the BBQ, I'm back to my computer for some more punishment. A drink or two may help me along this evening.  ;)


Brave Halfling Forums Receives Temporary Reprieve!

Well, as I went on to the forums today to deliver the sentence of execution, I noticed two key things:

One, the X-Plorer forum section was still seeing some activity from at least a couple of members.

Two, my 'admin' account which is separate from the one I use regularly has a password which I have apparently forgotten.  I haven't used this account since the forums creation back in the summer of 2009 and the one I normally use gives me access to ALMOST everything anyway.  I need to find my admin password though in order to shut the forums down.

I could lock everything up making posting impossible which would keep the data there if people want to look back for some material (a concern that some fans have expressed) which is certainly a consideration.  However, even if I did this, I wouldn't want this to be kicking around forever either.  So, until I find the password, or contact the company responsible for hosting this, there will be no action done to shut it down this weekend as originally planned.  What I'll probably do is ensure an announcement of sorts is visible for those viewing the site to be made aware of the forums eventual demise (which will STILL be this month).


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Shanghai'd as Tech Support !

Well, I got started my day pretty much in a relaxed manner.

I was looking forward to getting a lot more work done on the website, a couple of articles (blog posts), and the Hide in Plain Sight module I'm still in the middle of working on.  I also was fortunate enough to get the Delving Deeper text as I had expressed interest to John of Brave Halfling Publishing of putting out something for it.  Yes... I realize it's not out and people have been waiting a long time for it but the project is in good hands over at Immersive Ink, the newest publishing partner to BHP.  But, with text in hand, I was looking forward to checking out some of the specifics as far as the game mechanics are concerned.  I don't expect many surprises being that this is a clone but the devil is in the details, so they say.  So I was looking forward to looking over the material.

I got to the point where I basically planned out my weekend and then I get the call.

It's my dad and he's having computer problems.  It sounds like a virus or trojan situation gone wild.  I figure I'd quickly look into it remotely and then do a quick search to confirm something I find.

To make a long story short, my father receives an email from UPS (in his defense, he was waiting for a package).  He clicks the link which directs him to a bogus website and a pop up appears telling him that his computer may be infected.  He installs software which then proceeds to tell him he's got about 30 viruses and trojans.  The problem is that this software *is* the trojan.  This malware kicks off all active and legitimate protection and essentially locks down his internet access.  Of course the program has an offer for a platinum version which will solve all of his problems.  It was at that point I got the call (he didn't opt in for the platinum support).


The problem can't be dealt with remotely, I will have to go over there and remove this thing while the computer is in safe-mode.  Safe-mode means no remote access will be possible.

So, I have no more plans this weekend as it is all now variable.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

And Here It Is... Volume III, Issue V

As promised, the Domesday Book newsletter is complete and available for the public.  It runs a mere 12 pages (which isn't bad for a newsletter) with an extra page for credits and the OGL.  I want to to thank all those who submitted material and, even if there are things that didn't quite make it in for this issue.

In the meantime, if you like what you see and want to contribute to future issues of the newsletter, I have set up a dedicated email for that very purpose:


I hope you enjoy it!  Here's the link to the file (remember to right-click in order to have the option to save the file otherwise your browser may decide to open it directly):


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Proofreading Done on Domesday

Notes from the proofreaders are in an corrections have been made.

I'm awaiting on one response on a numbers check on one of the articles.  Hopefully I will get these very soon or the article will risk getting the numbers 'fudged' by the editor to comply with the laws of arithmetic.  :)

Seriously, I'm hoping it's just a typo.

In any event, I'll release this thing one way or the other tomorrow evening.  I'll provide a link here and the C&CS website is up so a copy will be there, and eventually find it's way to a couple other repositories for these sorts of electronic documents.


Site Revamp

This is what I recently posted on the Arcana Creations website:

It's been a while since Arcana Creations last released a physical product -- about two years to be precise. However, since the start of 2012, Arcana Creations has been a bit busy expanding its online profile. My own blog, Under Siege has seen a jump in activity since the beginning of the year with new posts averaging 2-3 times a week. I have just created a Facebook page for Arcana Creations and I'm still trying to integrate Twitter into regular use. On the downside, the Arcana Creations website has been largely ignored since 2010 and this is clearly something that has to change if I want to better communicate with my fellow gamers.
As far as releases are concerned, I have finshed general editing, layout, and design of the new Domesday Book newsletter. It is currently in the hands of Proofreaders to ensure that no stray typo has escaped my attention. Once I get this back from them, it will be unleashed to the general public. The next physical product to be released is 'Hide in Plain Sight' for C&C which is nearing the general editing and layout phase. I have no firm release date on this yet but I should be able to provide on very soon. Of course, there is the Ballista line which I've talked about on my blog on occassion and, despite some of the changes it has gone through since it was announced initially in the spring of 2011, big things are happening there.

I am cautiously optimistic and I look forward to expanding and developing more material in the near future.

Well, it took a bunch of time and I have no where near completed the work I had set out to do but it's all a work in progress.  I've also begun updating the Facebook Page I've created a couple days ago. If you like my work, want to support me, or just want to check out, please do so with my thanks!

As for my Weekend R&R -- it got shanghaied by other work so it's not quite done yet.  The curse of the long weekend is that there is never enough time. My 9-5 will be a rough day tomorrow (I expect it may end up in some overtime actually) but at least I've got a bit of gaming to look forward to this coming Friday.  In the meantime, I'll try and get that web stuff all sorted out.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Happy Canada Day!

Well, I sincerely hope that my fellow Canadians have been enjoying Canada Day and, for many, the statutory holiday tomorrow (Monday) as a result of the national holiday falling on a weekend.

Between yesterday and today, I've been busy on and off, largely squaring away the Domesday newsletter and looking into a few things for the AC web redesign.  This work will continue on (and off) during the course of the evening.

A few bits of news... the Appendix N Adventures Kickstarter has still a few hours left to go (around 13 at the time of writing this) and all Bonus goals have been achieved.  At this point, additional pledges really just help with the expenses that the production of this line will incur as rewards are produced and mailed out.  Personally speaking, I still can't believe that there will be NO ADDITIONAL SHIPPING charges beyond the pledge no matter WHERE IN THE WORLD you happen to reside in.  It really doesn't get better than that.

I shudder at what the 'surprise' shipping is going to be like for that package coming in from the Frog God Games kickstarter being a Canadian resident.

Speaking of Kickstarters, the Traveller 5 kickstarter ended a few hours ago and the final tally is staggering.  Then again, I suppose a $100 minimum for to get a physical copy of the book helped out but it is truly dedicated Travaller fans that came out in force to support the project.  Congrats to Marc Miller and his team!  It presently holds the record as the highest funded RPG (and not Rappan Athuk which held it a few days ago). Will Orcus and his minions overcome this record setting setback?  We'll see in the next 21 hours.  ;)

As to the new website... I'm looking into a marketplace where goods can be purchased directed from Arcana Creations.  This is in part to act as a reseller of various BHP goods as well as other gaming odds and ends.  While residents in the US may not have much of a needs of such services, other Canadian (and in some cases, international) residents could find it interesting due to costs of shipping when dealing with online retailers from the US.  At the very least, it's something that I want to try and, for customers of BHP goods, it might provide another location to ship from.  Naturally, I'll gladly supply some details when I have a better idea of what's happening.  There's a few other features which I'm looking into rolling into the site but I'm still reviewing some of those options.

Enjoy your evening folks!  More tomorrow along with the next installment of the Weekend R&R.