August 8th, 2012 § § permalink
One of my projects this fall is the HERO System fantasy game, Narosia: Sea of Tears. The Kickstarter launched on August 1st and closes on August 31st!
Narosia is a gritty fantasy RPG, designed by Shane Harsch of Legendsmiths and Marc Tassin, with artwork from Universe M, and contributions from Kenneth Hite. I’m especially excited because this is actually the first project where I’ll get to work with Ken!
I’m also excited about seeing what sort of new graphical takes I can do on a HERO System game, without alienating the diehard HERO fan base … I do suspect some samples will end up hitting this blog over the next couple months!
Narosia: Sea of Tears will be published by Silverback Press, the new publishing company run by ex-HERO Darren Watts. The core rulebook will be complete with HERO System rules and setting information, not requiring a distinct HERO System core rulebook to use!
December 20th, 2011 § § permalink
Just before the holidays, PDF, softcover, and hardcover versions of Thousand Suns Rulebook are now available. I did the cover and interior design on this project, and all the production.
It’s been interesting working on a sci-fi game that is so different from Eclipse Phase, and also working on such a setting-light game. I think we did a sweet job of showing the setting style through art, captions, and examples without being too heavy-handed.
This is the first new release for James Maliszewski’s Grognardia Games, and I’m excited to see it live!
There is a nice preview—including the first chapter and the entire Table of Contents—available via OneBookShelf, so check it out!
It is a time of wonder.
Humanity has reached the stars and created a society of glittering sophistication and diversity on hundreds of planets. Poets declaim, lovers rendezvous, and rakes duel with wits and monoblades. Colonists settle virgin worlds, merchant princes vie for emerging markets, and free traders hawk their exotic wares. The Navy rules the jumplines, putting down pirates and charting new star systems. Scientists uncover startling new truths on long-dead worlds and posit revolutionary theories dizzying in their implications. Technology advances at a rapid pace, each year improving the lot of all who accept its boons. None dare deny the bright destiny Man has seized for himself.
It is a time of upheaval.
The inhabited galaxy-the Thousand Suns-teeters on the brink of chaos. Half a millennium since the Concord, and a generation since the bloody Civil War, the dynamism that ended the Age of Warring States is sorely tested. Diplomats try new gambits, shifting their ground for an unknown future. On dozens of worlds across known space, the lights are going out again and the process of decivilization begins anew. Despots and tyrants who would rather lord it over benighted backwaters than bend their knee to even a distant authority, arise once more. At the edges of explored space, rivals-both human and alien-watch and wait.
It is a time of glory.
Victorious fleets smash enemy armadas in distant star systems. Soldiers parade through liberated planets to alien cheers. Sector governors draw up breathtaking visions of terraforming and orbital cities. New jumplines open to the heart of unex- plored space, daring the bold to venture into the unknown for profit and peril. Surveyors stumble upon lost colonies and puzzle out the mysteries of inscrutable clades. Captains with blazing eyes save worlds from barbarism-and rule them as gods. Daring thieves turn new technologies to unexpected ends or sell them to shadowy cartels on the fringes of known space.
Meanwhile, bold operatives seek out these criminal plans for reprisal. Everything is possible with enough beauty, brains, or blasters, and it’s all within reach of a single jump.
It is a time of adventure.
November 30th, 2011 § § permalink
James Maliszewski posted up the cover of the new Thousand Suns Rulebook today, and it’s already received some nice praise. We’ve been working on this project for a long time, and I’m super-pleased to help take Thousand Suns to the next level, and to help launch James’ new company Grognardia Games with it.
James describes Thousand Suns thus: Thousand Suns is basically Poul Anderson and H. Beam Piper the Roleplaying Game, but with 21st century special effects.
The PDF and POD editions (hardcover and softcover) of Thousand Suns will be rocking out soon, and when more preview material is available I’ll be sure to let you know!
November 2nd, 2011 § § permalink
Over the past few weeks I’ve been getting a small project off the ground that I intended to launch earlier this year; a series of Creative Commons-licensed textures that can be used and remixed into book covers, interior graphics, ePub covers — anything. No limits on what media they can be used in, commercial use allowed. They’re CC BY 3.0 licensed, which simply means that myself and Posthuman Studios need to be credited in a product where you use them.
Each of the texture packs is $5, and they contain at least four graphics each, at 18″x12.6″, 240DPI.
Battered and Blasted:
Dead Television Explosion:
These three packs are all kind of grungy; I’ll hit other themes and tropes in later packs.
May 31st, 2011 § § permalink
I was at the InDesignSecretsLive Print and ePublishing 2011 conference last week, and did a five minute Ignite speech talking about my publishing philosophy, Posthuman Studios, and Eclipse Phase. Regular readers of my blog will be familiar with many of those principles, but I have a sexy slideshow available for download.
I wrote way too much text for a five minute speech, but I had fun and got a lot of nice reactions to it from a crowd of people largely unfamiliar with roleplaying games and their particular publishing niche.
If you were at PepCon and want to chat about the things I said or toss ideas around, there are a ton of ways to get in contact with me!
November 22nd, 2010 § § permalink
Over on RPG.net, there’s a thread discussing TheMouse’s “bite-sized” explanation of Fate. Several people have made 1-page (front and back) pamphlet-style versions of his condensed rules. My rough take on the idea is here:
(if I update this file, I’ll just update that link and post a note. For now, I’m asking that people don’t distribute/mirror the file—please link back to here, and people can grab the most up-to-date version.)
August 23rd, 2009 § § permalink
I just made a brief comment on twitter towards Cam Banks:
Here’s a quick example of what I mean. We just released the 20th Anniversary Edition of Shadowrun (link is to PDF version). One of the chapters that I spent a lot of time tinkering with was the Skills chapter. Here’s the fundamental problem with the Skills chapter, from an organizational/layout point of view: All of the skills have a short description that are of a similar length, but some skills have no additional rules, while others have a few hundred words of additional rules, and others have even more, plus some reference tables. Then, there are the general rules for how skills work, some sidebars with example power levels and the Skill Groups, some guidelines on the various types of skills, and finally, rules for using attributes in place of skills.
Note 1: For those of you with copy of the Shadowrun 20th Anniversary rulebook handy, when I say “Basic” I mean the descriptions starting with “Combat Active Skills” near the bottom of p. 121 and ending at the bottom of the first column of p. 127. The “Using” rules start with the Using Specific Skills header on p. 130 and continue until the end of the second column on p. 138.
Note 2:The organizational work I describe here is not necessarily the job of the graphic designer; depending on how production on a book works, this organization is probably handled first by the managing editor [or in Catalyst parlance, the "Line Developer"] or editor, and given to the graphic designer to implement. In the case of this title, I had a lot of latitude to make my own decisions for organization, with developer approval. Some graphic designers will consider this work not their responsibility, and in many situations, it wouldn’t be.
There’s one obvious choice on how to organize this chapter: put all the general purpose “these rules apply to all skills” early in the chapter, along with any tables/sidebars that list all the skills and how they relate to each other, along with what categories they fit in. I’d like to think this is a no-brainer.
Other slightly less obvious but still easy choices are: sandwich the more specific rules for using the Special groups of skills [Knowledge and Language] in between the “Basic” section and the “Using” section, and put the rules for using Attributes as Skills right at the back of the chapter. They’re the most odd duck thing in the chapter, but they belong there more than in the Game Concepts chapter, as they’re somewhat special case rules.
So the big question is: do you lump all the skills ["Basic"] and all of their specific rules/tables ["Using"] together, or do you break it out into two distinct sections? Some of the questions I ask myself whenever I have an organization question like this are: How is the book going to be used? Is this chapter mostly going to be read? Used during character generation only? Used during play only? Both play and chargen? How many questions do I have to ask myself to answer another question?
In the case of the Skills chapter, the “basic” short descriptions of each skill are heavily used during character creation … but once you have a few games under your belt, you know what the skill is used for and probably won’t need to refer to them often. The “Using” rules that you may only use once a session or every couple of sessions, however, those will be harder to memorize, and aren’t as likely to be consulted during character generation. However, there’s no doubt that both “sets” of rules are 100% tied to each other, and people will be flipping between the basic and advanced occasionally, if they are separated.
Looking at all that, I made the decision that the “Basic” rules should be distinct from the advanced “Using” rules. Now within those two sets, I have more decisions to make, primarily: how to organize the list of skills. Shadowrun skills are divided into categories, such as Combat, Social, Technical, etc. In previous editions those categories may have been slightly different, but there have always been categories. Within the categories, skills are alphabetized, and skills that have an entry in the “Using” section have a page reference to that section. This should work fine — when making a character, you are often looking for certain types of skills at a time, and when skills are in categories it’s easier to see how they relate to other similar skills; if the entire skill list were one big alphabetical list, you might think you need Intimidation when the skill you’re really looking for is Leadership. With categories, those skills are much more likely to be within a few entries of each other, so it’s easier to get the “big picture” of what a category represents and how it’s broken down.
Now for the “Using” section, which frankly, was a mess in the original ["green"] versions of Shadowrun, Fourth Edition. How to fix it? First off, I put “Using” in front of every single entry: “Using Etiquette,” “Using Jumping,” “Using Survival,” etc. Yeah, there’s some slightly odd phrasing in those, but by putting the “Using” in front of every header I was able to differentiate every single one of them from their “Basic” descriptions, to make cross-referencing easier.
One major decision for the “Using” section — do I break these skills down by category, or just alphabetize them all? I chose to alphabetize them all, because this is a section that you aren’t likely to read straight through, comparing and contrasting. This is a reference section. You use it when the boat that your ‘runner was on just burst into flames and you jumped into the water and need to stay afloat: you’re looking for Swimming first, not Physical Active Skills, and when actually using the skill, the category rarely matters.
Then came adding in what I refer to as “signposts,” a subset of cross-references. Here’s the easiest example of a signpost, and why it’s in the book: there’s a header named Using Build or Repair that does nothing but point you to the header Using Technical Skills to Build or Repair. Why do this? Because players looking to Build to Repair something are likely going to look there first, especially if they are players of Shadowrun First through Third Edition, when every skill had a “Build/Repair” specialization, discussed in a distinct section. Yup, some people might consider those two lines in the book “wasted,” but I consider it space well spent.
Some of these signposts also point to subsections like Using Charisma-linked Skills, which covers such skills as Con, Intimidation, etc – so if you flip to Using Intimidation, you get pointed to the correct page, not left in the middle of a field with a broken GPS and no cel-phone signal. And some of them go right to other chapters — such as the rules for spellcasting, which are intricate enough to be in the Magic / Awakened World chapter.
I hope this sheds some insight on how and why some organizational/layout decisions are made for a gaming book. It’s a matter of give and take — balancing organization, fitting all the text in, fitting in artwork, keeping things looking “cool,” while maintaining the utility of text/tables/diagrams. There’s no “one true way” for organizing a game book, or any other book — but the right way to figure out the best way for any particular title is to identify how the book [or a particular section of it] will be used, and go from there!
June 9th, 2009 § § permalink
Episode 3 of my videocast Dirty Words Design is now up.
February 16th, 2009 § § permalink
Early Sunday morning I released the second episode of Dirty Words Design; covering a file cleanup technique that you can use to get a handle on unruly projects. This was a fun episode to record, and I’m already looking forward to sitting down and recording the next one!
You can also Subscribe to the Dirty Words Design weblog and also subscribe to the videocast with iTunes.
February 1st, 2009 § § permalink
I pushed out Episode 0 of the Dirty Words Design videocast tonight. RSS feeds and all that are functional on the site, and it should be on iTunes as soon as they approve it.