General

Adventuring on DMsGuild

There's a confluence of three things going on right now:

  1. I've been working on a lot of Eclipse Phase adventures, and trying hard to evolve their presentation to make them easier to absorb when first reading and easier to run at the table without a ton of page-flipping — especially page-flipping that requires leaving one book for another. Shameless plug: we just released Overrun which is the first adventure where we really took extra development time to address these things. (Print Pre-Order + PDFPDF)
  2. I've been running a D&D5e game for family via Roll20, which is my first time DMing D&D5e and my first time using Roll20. I've started out (We actually have two different games going, one started last year when we were visiting Lake Geneva — it seemed appropriate!) using Wizards' introductory boxed set stuff and the Stranger Things boxed set. I absolutely do not have time to build my own adventures right now for D&D, and I'm not particularly interested in diving deeply into any one particular setting.
  3. DMsGuild is doing a promotion until May 17th where creators are getting 100% royalties, which is a great deal for creators as the normal royalty at DMsGuild is 50% to them.

So I put out a call on Twitter for DMsGuild adventures that have a unique presentation or break the norm in some ways — part research, part fun — and a slew of titles were recommended to me.

This is what I've bought, with a short description as to why! Everything is based on the page on DMsGuild and the previews the creator shared.

  • Flight of the Magpies: An Ebberon Adventure — I would have passed this by if I had been scrolling, based on the cover. But author Marco Michelutto has used the preview function to show the entire book and the inside is much nicer than the cover. A quick glance shows some rough edges but after peeking the inside I eagerly added it to my cart.
  • Keep of the Kobold Queen — I turned 40 this year. 8-bit retro sprites? Yes please. The graphic design is totally in-line with the art. This was a snap-add plus hollerin' at the creator on twitter about how awesome it looks.
  • Weekend at Strahd's — Awesome 80s vibe. One player plays Strahd’s corpse. I think I know just the guy.
  • AE01-01 Fired & Forgotten — This came well-recommended, and looked to have some nice DM helpers even though some of the presentation threw me off initially.
  • The Princess Project — nine adventures about twisting fairytale tropes and dethroning the patriarchy? I wasn't planning on picking up larger anthology-style titles, but this one is the exception.
  • Amarune's Adventures: The Ghosts of the Glimmersea — This feels like a somewhat standard "adventure with a point and a lot of sandbox" from a quick skim but it seemed very concise for the breadth of ground covered.
  • Murder on the Eberron Express — this adventure's title made me laugh because of the Eclipse Phase adventures we're working on, one starts with "Murder" and another ends with "On the $Spoiler Express" (they're unrelated to each other.) I like the idea of running a train mystery whodonuit in D&D, especially for my family, who are into that trope.
  • Myriad, City of Tiers — higher level than I was looking for, but the oversized landscape layout on this book is interesting at first glance. Myriad has a lot of praise for being cross-referenced/hyperlinked, which is interesting to me as I consider that "standard" for a PDF RPG book — but I suspect it's less common on DMsGuild. I'm picking it up based on the visual concept and quality, but I sure wish the preview included more information about the adventure itself, and not the mechanical bits that go with the adventure.
  • The Secrets of Skyhorn Lighthouse — This title is free, and otherwise I wouldn't be picking it up, as there's no PDF preview and I see a few red flags to me in the images used as the preview. But it's free, has a ton of positive reviews, and there are giant hunter sharks!
  • The Magister's Tomb — This two-page adventure features the whole thing in the preview. Deciding how to preview small books is difficult, so I'm rewarding them with a purchase. The adventure looks very sandboxy and, obviously, concise.
  • Good Country Dyin' — another title that made me laugh. The preview is the whole book, and I liked the use of photographs. Is this going to be D&D Hinterkaifeck?

Eleven titles in the first batch. I've got some reading — and DMing! — to do. Drop me a line on twitter @adamjury if you have any other titles to recommend!

Richard Jury: 1945-2016

Richard Jury

Our dearly loved husband and beloved father, Richard Frederick Jury, died in Taber on Wednesday, December 7, 2016 at the age of 71 years.

At Richard's request, there will be no public service.

Besides Helen, his loving wife of fifty one years, he is survived by their children Lesley Whalen (Rob) of Innisfail, Pauline Meisinger (Frank) of Edmonton and Adam Jury (Nora) of Lethbridge; grandchildren Dustin, Joel, McKenzie, Patrick, Noah and great grandson Bentley, He is also survived by his sisters Elizabeth (John) Shannon and Susan (Len) Whalley and their families in England.

Richard was born in Huddersfield, England on May 10, 1945. He met his future wife Helen in 1957, before he first visited Canada in 1960. After his return to England, they married in 1966, raising Lesley and Pauline in Huddersfield until 1977 when the family of four moved to Canada, where he farmed near Taber. In 1980, they welcomed Adam and in 1984 they moved into town.

Richard's pride and joy were his family, home and garden, which he tended to after retirement. He enjoyed vintage farm machinery, playing cards, a wide range of music and collecting metal sculptures.

In lieu of gifts of any type, if friends so desire, memorial tributes in Richard’s name may be made directly to the Canadian Cancer Society, 200, 325 Manning Road NE, Calgary, Alberta T2E 2P5 www.cancer.ca. Condolences can be left at Southland Funeral Chapel.

Executing at Gen Con and Other Conventions

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As we are only a week away from Gen Con as I write this, I want to touch on one aspect of convention planning that made a big difference in stress levels and accuracy: the Execution Document.

"Damn Adam, what happened to calling something a 'Plan'? That's harsh!"

And that's the point. The execution document is blunt, because it's vital stuff that needs to get done, and it needs to get done in a timely manner. Forgetting or delaying items on it may inconvenience other people (your staff, your volunteers, etc.) and they may have adverse effects on your business (having to spend more money because you missed an early re-booking deadline, for example.)

In brief, I'm going to cover the important parts of the Execution Document, and then provide you a sample one, which is a mishmash of our Execution Document from 2014 and 2015 Gen Con.

Start Early and End Late

The document must include necessary items that occur before the convention "” such as taking money out of the bank and depositing it afterwards. By including those items, you create logical starting and stopping steps, and each item should prompt further questions that are answered in the document (such a question might be "At the end of each day, who takes the money?" By knowing who deposits it in the bank at the end of the convention, we can work backwards to the answers and make sure they are included in the document.

However, I do not include things like ordering convention displays, business cards, etc "” you can choose to do this if you like, but as I'm the only person at our business that does that kind of thing currently, it would just bog down the document for everyone else.

Location, Time, and Person

Every event in the Execution Document must have a specific location tagged to it, a specific time for it to happen, and have a person assigned to it. It's possible to do this by creating a list of things that must happen in a certain location, but that list also must be broken down by time frames.

I am less strict about locations/times that pre-convention activities must be carried out (it doesn't matter where we print the booth schedule, for example), but even those items should have two out of three fulfilled.

One person is The Show Manager: the boss.

Names and Numbers

The phone numbers or other contact info for anyone mentioned in the document should be included in it.

The Binder

The binder contains all sorts of documentation you may need at the show: receipts, booth maps, planograms, as well as sheets to record books that are given out as comp copies, inventory reports, all that sort of stuff.

Explicitness

The more people that will be referring to the document and the less familiar they are with your inner workings, the more explicit your instructions need to be. Remember that some things aren't always obvious (for example, it's usually the convention center that handles electricity-related requests, but a different outlet often deals with furniture rentals!).

Include contact numbers and the location of vendors you may need to deal with in the document.

Explicit instructions and information also help prevent mistakes: if the booth guide says that you're expecting three packages to be shipped to your hotel, it means that someone probably won't walk away with only two packages after being assigned "collect all our shipments from the hotel."

Bonus true story: We had a pallet of books shipped to our hotel one year. In their haste to pick up their books, another publisher managed to snag our pallet and the hotel let them sign off with it! Thankfully it was a publisher who knew us and recognized the problem as soon as they got to their booth and started inventory. So they delivered the boxes to our booth, even before we arrived! But if they had known exactly how many pallets to pick up this would have not happened.

Include Travel Plans

Including travel plans keeps you aware of how many people you have around to do specific tasks, and how to organize those tasks.

Print the Document and Mark It Up

The show manager should have a printed copy of the document with them at all times, and they should physically mark off each item as it is completed. People assigned tasks on-the-fly should report back to the show manager when they have done so, and get another task.

Sample Execution Document

Here is a sample execution document: Sample Execution Document

Good luck with your convention setups, and I'll see you at Gen Con!

Turning Air Canada’s display screen off

Flying Air Canada and want to turn the display screen off in front of you?:

  1. Tap once to get to the language selection screen.
  2. Select a language
  3. Tap near the bottom to select the brightness/volume screen.
  4. Tap the screen off button!

With that visual distraction no longer in front of you, you can enjoy your laptop and iPad at the exact same time!

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 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!

FYF Fest, LA, 2011: Did you see someone throw a spike?

My friend Rae was injured at FYF Fest in LA earlier this year when someone threw a metal spike through the crowd. If you were at FYF Fest or had friends or co-workers there, please help spread the word about this, so she can find who did it.

Her words are below:

Dear friends: I'm writing to you today to ask for your help. My name is Rae Deslich, and I got stabbed in the neck at FYF Fest.

It's pretty much what it sounds like. Labor Day weekend, I was standing in the crowd at FYF during the last band of the night- Death From Above 1979. I had gotten separated from my friends in the rush of people, but that was fine because I had a good spot and the crowd was tight around me, but not rowdy, just dancing. I was center left-ish, behind the mosh pit.

About two songs in, a giant metal spike came flying through the air and landed, point down, in my neck. It embedded itself about an inch in. You can imagine my shock, dismay, pain, etc. I staggered out of the crowd, attracting some attention, and ran into some friends, who guided me to the medical tent. The EMTs there put me in an ambulance, where I was taken to USC-LA County Hospital. I received an x-ray and a CAT scan, and the spike was surgically removed. The final cost: 5 hours in the hospital and $2,000 in medical bills. The ER doctor told me that I nearly died, and if an ER doctor says that, it's serious.

I filed a police report at the hospital, the spike (I believe it was a tent spike, the kind used to secure shade structures and canopies at FYF) was turned over to LAPD as evidence. As far as i can tell, someone threw the spike: I was in the middle of an open field, not near any structures or scaffolding, nothing nearby exploded, etc. Someone just picked up a spike, said to themselves, "fuck it", threw it into the air, and it nearly killed me.

A few days after the incident, I contacted the FYF organizers. I told them, via email, that I'd like to talk to them about an assault that happened at their event. They told me, in about two sentences, that I should talk to the LAPD and that they are not responsible for anything that happened at the festival because it was held on state property. (This is categorically untrue.) Mostly I was just amazed that they didn't even want to know what had happened at their event. I have spoken to both a lawyer and a detective, but neither can do much for me because we don't know who threw the spike.

That's where you come in. I need a way to reach everyone that was at FYF and might have seen something happen. There was a person who threw a spike into the crowd- and they were surrounded by people, thousands of people. Someone had to have seen it; I need to find that person, and my best bet is by having them read something online- and tell their friends, and they tell their friends, until someone says, "Wait, really? 'Cause I saw a guy throw something..."

So that's what I'm asking for. please help me spread the word. Because what happened to me was stupid and horrible, and if nothing else, people need to understand that something they think is funny and drunk-fucking-around could possibly kill someone. Please repost this, re-tweet, blog, tumblr, etc. And if anyone saw anything, or has any information they think can help: please email me at zapevaj at gmail.com. Thanks.

Piracy “Doesn’t Matter”

I've said that "piracy doesn't matter" several times, and people like to argue with me about that. Of course, it's a phrase said for effect. Piracy matters, but: publishers can do little to influence piracy. Giant conglomerates like the RIAA, MPAA, and BSA are incapable of stamping out commercial and non-commercial piracy. Does such an organization exist for publishers? I don't know, and I don't care.

(As usual, when I say piracy, I mean non-commercial duplication of content without paying for it. Commercial piracy is a whole different ball of wax that is harmful, but not something that I personally encounter in my industry.)

Piracy doesn't matter because we can't stop it, and we can't control it. If you can't control it, it's a waste of time to worry about—so I worry about the things I can control and influence:

  • Improving my books so people want to buy them.
  • Building titles in formats that people actually use.
  • Marketing and distributing my works to new venues.
  • Empowering existing fans so they want to and can more effectively share the love.
  • Continued business practices focused on respect for our markets, partners, and customers.
  • Not vilifying pirates; no use making enemies out of people that might become or are already customers. (You would be surprised how many people comment on torrent sites using handles that they use on other sites ... including the publisher's own site.)

And that's just off the top of my head, big-picture things. Plenty to work on, productively, with actual measurable results; and an ongoing learning process towards producing and selling Better Stuff. Stuff that matters.

My Friends and Their Kids

I went out for dinner with a couple friends last week during NeonCon, and on the walk back from the restaurant, the discussion turned to their children. Both of them have a couple kids, some of them old enough to have started gaming. The discussion went back and forth until one of them said "Whoah, we're probably boring Adam, sorry dude."

And I said, essentially: "Hell no. Your kids are an important part of your life, and I am your friend. Therefore, I want to and need to hear about your kids."

And that needs to be repeated loud and clear for my many other friends who weren't walking down the hallway of the Tropicana at the time: I don't want children of my own, but I want to hear about the cool, funny, and wonderful things your kids do, and that you do together.

The happiness I see in my friends-who-are-parents is wonderful and most Wacky Kid Hijinx amuses me—especially when they are roughly 4-8 years old and get really quotable, IMO.

I'd prefer to still hear about you, too—I don't want my friend replaced by my friend's child—but alternately I also don't want my friends to fade away because they feel they can't talk to me about an important part of their life.