Gen Con Highlight

On Friday morning, a woman walked up to our booth. She said: “You guys look like you know what you’re doing. Do you have a bandaid?”

And I replied: “Yes, let me get our first aid kit.”

As it happened, I had needed a bandaid myself earlier that morning and had opened the brand-new kit, thinking to myself “Good thing, because if there was an actual emergency, I sure wouldn’t want to be pulling the plastic off in a rush.”

This wasn’t an emergency either, but it felt good to a) be recognized as a place where we would have the necessary supplies, and b) to actually have them, know exactly where they are, and be able to quickly offer a variety of bandage choices to the con-goer—who, like many, had given herself a blister walking the show floor!

Making a TODO list for your next convention? Whether you’re an attendee or an exhibitor or a special guest or anyone else: get a small first aid kit. Hopefully you’ll never need it!

Transhuman Kickstarter!

I’ve been remiss in not posting here about the Transhuman Kickstarter, which is currently running!

Unlike other Kickstarters I’ve talked about here, this one is being run by my company, Posthuman Studios. We quickly funded at the level we needed to print the book ($14,000), and we’ve been working our way through additional stretch goals since then. We’ve added some new projects to our schedule as a result of the campaign, and we’re also paying our Transhuman freelancers a 15% bonus as a result of the Kickstarter’s success!

We have some more sweet things to come that we’ll be announcing early next week, so please check it out! The support so far has been amazing and humbling.

Transhuman kickstarter

Kickstarter, Freeport, and Real Costs

My friends at Green Ronin are currently running a Kickstarter to fund a new Pathfinder-compatible edition of Freeport: The City of Adventure. They are into the last week of the Kickstarter project, and they are just under $10,000 away from their $50,000 goal. Ronin head Chris Pramas just made a very interesting post about their Kickstarter campaign.

When Kickstarter first launched, I hoped it would be a service that could help publishers be more transparent about their costs, including the often invisible fixed costs that running a publisher entails. This has turned out to be true only in very specific situations. Instead, many Kickstarter campaigns have moved to a model of setting a low “base goal” that satisfy’s Kickstarter’s requirements but does not actually fully fund the project, and stretch goals that push the dollar total higher to fully-fund the actual project. I’m not placing a value judgement on this (I’m working on a Kickstarter campaign that does the same thing), but it’s nice to see this level of transparency from Pramas and Green Ronin.

Their new Freeport book is ambitious, and Green Ronin is up-front about that. Instead of starting at a small book and building more into it with stretch goals, they’ve outlined exactly what they want to do, and they’re either going to do that book or not.

I’ve enjoyed both previous versions of Freeport, but have never actually played or ran a game of it. A new Pathfinder-compatible edition makes that more likely to happen, and it could well be the version of Freeport. That’s something that is well-worth having.

Take Your One Shot!

I’ve been on an unintentional hiatus from blogging, but intend to get back on track. Here’s a start: One Shot, by Tracy Barnett of Exploding Rogue has just been released! You can grab the PDF and Soundtrack together.

Tracy funded One Shot via Kickstarter last year and brought me on board to handle the graphic design. One Shot is a 24-page RPG for one player (“The Shooter”) and one GM (“The Forces”)—very different from most of the things I’ve spent the last 10+ years working on! It’s laser-focused on the concept of vengeance and the sacrifices that one must make to obtain it.

Oneshot cover

Leah Huete’s photography in this book deserves extra praise—photographs as RPG art has often been half-baked. Her work is a full, delicious, evocative meal. If One Shot were a typical 160 or 300 page RPG, using photographs as every piece of art would probably be cost-and-time prohibitive, but in this case it works perfectly.

If you want to check out the text of One Shot before buying the PDF, you can read the entire game here.

Kickstart Narosia: Sea of Tears, one of my upcoming projects!

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!

Affordable Interlocking Convention Floor Mats

This is one of those posts that I started last year … but I’m buying more today, so I’m throwing this post up as-is!

I’ve been shopping for interlocking convention mats over the last few days. These mats are also used in playschools and martial arts studios and all sorts of places. They’re a couple feet wide, they link together to form a complete floor, they come in a variety of colors … and if you’re going to spend hours a day standing in a trade show booth, you’ll understand why they’re worth well more than their weight!

The companies that sell “convention” fixtures really like making money. If something is a “convention” supply, it automatically costs more than the exact same thing sold to a different market. They thrive on customers who need something yesterday and on those that have marketing budgets that must be spent in full.

And if you have to rent convention supplies, you’re basically boned. Rentals often cost more than buying the same thing.

Back, specifically, to tiles. I have a 10’x10′ booth; it needs 25 2’x2′ tiles to cover it completely. Over time, the tiles will become damaged due to the weight of tables or other displays on them, and of course, you may lose a couple, spill a drink on them, or otherwise need to replace them. So while I was tempted to simply buy 96 square feet of tiles (they are typically sold in increments of 24 square feet) and hide the “empty” square, I instead decided to buy a few more than I needed.

Looking at a typical convention supplies site, the price per tile is $6.56, or just under $200 for 30 of them. I nosed around a few sites, and the price is pretty close to the same. Some of them charge shipping, some offer free shipping. Depending on where you are in the country and how you transport them to and from your convention, this will of course add extra costs on a per-use basis. So keep that in mind.

After browsing the convention-specific sites, I checked out Amazon, and sure enough, there are tons of vendors selling basically the exact same product—just aimed at people who want them for their home gym or kid’s playroom. I had to compromise on the colors (I wanted black tiles and red tiles) and ended up buying 120 square feet of red tiles from this vendor, a pack of 24 and a pack of 6. For a total of $103, after shipping costs.

Shop around, and look for deals that you can get by buying things early—slower shipping instead of overnighting things to the hotel to pick up the day of convention setup can save you money and stress.

Kickstart This: Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology

When I landed in Chicago for a summer ten years ago, Jef Smith was one of the first people I met. He’s spent most of the past ten years working for Independent Publishers Group in that fine city, along with being an integral member of Chicago’s radical left reading group Think Galactic and their associated convention Think Galacticon. He’s now he’s working on publishing a Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology, edited by Hugo Award winner Ann VanderMeer and World Fantasy Award winner Jeff VanderMeer.

Like many independent projects these days, Jef is using Kickstarter to fund it, and with six days to go is only about $800 away from this goal of $12,000. A simple kick in of $15 gets you the electronic edition of the book, and $25 earns you both electronic and print. Higher backer levels are available, including a fabulous one where Jef adopts a new cat or dog and names it after your favourite feminist!

Depending on my schedule, I might be involved in the production of this project, or I might not—but either way, I backed it and I look forward to seeing and reading it!

Dwimmermount Preview and Kickstarter!

It’s going to be the most elegant and epic heavy metal dungeon crawl ever, isn’t it? It’s like a 3-hour Kirk Hammett guitar solo sending the party to war with the power of a hundred bards!1 Hell yes!

Several years ago I sent James Maliszewski the above, as I asked him if I could work on the eventual publication of Dwimmermount, his long in-progress megadungeon campaign.

And now that’s reality. James is working with the folks at Autarch, creators of Adventurer Conqueror King, to run the Kickstarter campaign and project manage Dwimmermount.

We are late into the Kickstarter campaign; it ends on Saturday, April 14th. And the campaign has reached the initial funding goal and three bonus goals, but we’d be very happy for more funding in these last few hours so we can push to make the book even better!

We’re still tweaking the graphic design of the book (most notably, some icons to help convey info in the sidebar), but here’s a two page preview of Level 1: The Path of Mavors. James has also posted a different preview of the same chapter on Grognardia. Check them out, let us know what you think, and remember: the Dwimmermount Kickstarter finishes on Saturday the 14th of April! As I post this, 30 hours to go!

1. I am not one of those “Heavy Metal is the music of D&D” guys … but neither is James, so that made it funny to me. To me.

Shadowrun Returns

A long time ago, the SEGA Genesis version of Shadowrun introduced me to the Sixth World. A few weeks later, my pay for babysitting my young nephew was a copy of Shadowrun, Second Edition. Good games, bad games, fandom, fanzines, being published, working for the publishers, and the 20th Anniversary Edition all followed. My nephew is nineteen years old now. The Sixth World has been dear to my heart for a long time.

I wouldn’t be here, doing what I do, without Shadowrun. As I once said to Jim Nelson: “I blame you.”

And now, Shadowrun is returning to the computer/video gaming world, with Shadowrun Returns from Jordan Weismann’s Harebrained Schemes. And I’d be remiss to say that this is really, really awesome. In just over a day, the Kickstarter project has been fully-funded, and it will surely go much higher with 23 days to go.

Harebrained’s approach is interesting: they’re rolling back the setting to 2050 and moving on from there. On an initial level, that kind of hurts—my work on Shadowrun appears to be in no way integrated into what they want to do. But on logical reflection, I’m fine with that. I think rolling back the world to 2050 gives Harebrained tons of room to tell stories that weave in-and-out of the existing metaplot that Shadowrun fans are familiar with. And on the personal side, I fell in love with that 2053 datajacks-and-rockers Shadowrun, so playing through a computer game set in it appeals to my tastes as well. I know I have some fresh stories to tell in the setting.

A fresh start for a game in a completely different medium sounds like a good move to me. Keep it familiar to old fans and accessible to new ones, and take the best of the existing canon material while sliding the rest under the rug.

What great news for Shadowrun fans, and what an amazing show of support by them!