Gen Con Recap

Wow! It’s hard to believe we’re running headlong into autumn. This year has flown by as we worked to fulfill our Kickstarter and prepare for Gen Con. We still have a couple of things left for the Kickstarter, one of which will be done today. However, Gen Con has come and gone.

We were part of the Indie Game Developer Network booth, #571. Shared with several other independent publishers, product space was well occupied and demo slots were spread around. We were fortunate to have such a great team of people who ran the sales and answered questions about everyone’s games, not just their own. While our actual sales weren’t stellar, they did exist! Such is the lot of those who are starting out in a niche within a niche: we have to build community one gamer, demo, and game at a time – but it’s worth it!

Tunse’al was well-received by those who demoed, excepting only two people who clearly weren’t into it and left. Given that we must have shown it to dozens of people, finding only two whose tastes didn’t run to a tribal fantasy RPG with non-human races really wasn’t bad at all.

We had one table out of six not show up at all for our ticketed games. While disappointing, it did afford us to demo Savage Worlds and Tunse’al to someone who was interested in seeing it after the game he was playing in wrapped up. We only found out later that the nice gentleman was one of the gnomes from Gnome Stew! (Thanks Troy Taylor for making my time at what would have been an empty table a worthwhile endeavor! –Vickey)

One of our last tables included three of the Rocky Mountain Savages who often GM and play at Denver Gamers Association‘s increasingly Savage cons, Tacticon and Genghis Con, as well as a Savage GM from TN. (It was great to FINALLY meet you, Chris Fuchs! –Vickey)

We missed getting to say “hi” to a bunch of other Savage GMs and licensees as without the traditional Savage Saturday Night, we were all wrapped up doing our own things. We hope SSN returns for 2014. We did manage to see Jodi Black from Pinnacle Entertainment Group (we know others were there, too, but didn’t get to chat since they were overrun with Savages buying stuff – yea, PEG!), Eloy Lasanta of Third Eye Games, and Chris Birch of Modiphius (even if only at a distance when he accepted his ENnie for Achtung!Cthulhu and via e-mail during the show).

All in all it was a great show. Gen Con broke records AGAIN with over 49,000 unique attendees. We saw The Doubleclicks (really cook sister duo playing geeky music extremely well), played a lot of games (I figured out how to do an RPG demo of system and setting in 15 minutes or less!!! – Vickey), talked to a lot of wonderful people, and enjoyed the ENnies. Personally, we got to meet up with some great non-gaming friends who are close enough to Indy to visit when we’re around.

We also got to chat with a few folks who we met when we were doing some freelancing with Savage Mojo. Great people!

Tunse’al Setting Guide for Savage Worlds Released to Backers

It’s been much longer than I had anticipated since our last post. A lot has happened in between holidays and personal household transitioning. We JUST sent download directions to our Kickstarter backers for the Savage Worlds version of Tunse’al Setting Guide. I’d thought I’d have that out at the close of the Kickstarter. I was Overconfident. Yes, as in the Hindrance.

Even after reading post-edit, I found some things during layout that were system related and the editors wouldn’t have known to flag. It’s amazing what happens when you step away from something you wrote for more than 72 hours. You see it through much fresher eyes! I also discovered some logic errors that didn’t come out earlier. A big hurdle was just how much of a pain tables created within Word turned out to be.

I didn’t know that the software for layout would read them as some sort of funky text-image hybrid and make it nigh impossible to separate. In the end, it was faster to create the tables as an image file, put a manual tag in referencing the image name to REPLACE in a particular place, then re-flow the text, look for the tags, and replace those with the appropriate images. (Flowing the text is the layout term for dumping the text into the page and making it go where you want it to.)

After all of that came moving images around, making sure the text wasn’t too close to them. Then there were the adjustments for when something wasn’t quite right in the text. I also altered how the table of contents was presenting. The last part of the adjustments to what had been the manuscript was the index. That took some serious doing, especially since I’d never done one in a software program before.

I hope folks use the index in their books because that was a labor of love if ever there was one! And I’m sure there are still more things that could be put in. Hopefully helpful readers will provide their opinion on additional entries.

Once all of that was done, there were still a couple more pieces to do before the book could be turned into a PDF for folks to download. We needed to include the hex map, pre-generated characters, and the blank character sheet. The map was pretty fast, but the character sheets bogged me down.

It became painfully obvious that in responding to playtests and convention games, we failed to keep up with our changes in the pre-generated characters. That required overhauling all nine characters and creating a tenth. It’s one thing to go the “quick-and-dirty” route to have a character to play that you can alter as you go. It’s another to do one for publication where once it’s out there, it’s out there. We wanted to be sure the pre-generated characters weren’t carbon copies of each other, still had enough overlap for folks to have choices of different characters who could do similar jobs, and included Edges, Hindrances, and Skills that show off Tunse’al. We also gave them all back stories so that they’d work for groups who just want to get going on a game, but don’t necessarily want to play all the same race or all the same tribe.

The last item for the process was creating a character sheet specific to Tunse’al for Savage Worlds. I took inspiration from designs of the character sheet in each SWD and Hellfrost, as well as the notes I added to my personal in-use character sheet. I was shooting for a functional sheet with stylish accents that wouldn’t drain all the ink or toner and would look good whether printed in color or not. I hope players feel I accomplished that!

The last step was to combine files to create a PDF. All looked good until i realized something happened that made something appear out of place on the character sheet. Luckily, I figured out what happened and how to fix it before making it available for download. At long last, it is off to the backers and will soon be made available to people who won it before they could buy it through various means.

Then there’s the Systemless version. And the Player’s Guide. And the Print-Your-Own minis. And bookmarks. And…well, there’s still a LOT to do!


Kickstarter Progress & Editing

Thanks to everyone who has backed our Kickstarter. We’re well on our way to being funded thanks to you! Check out our Tunse’al section for a list of everyone who has backed us as of 9 a.m. Eastern 11/15/12.

If you haven’t backed us yet, please check out our Kickstarter page chocked full of information and rewards for helping us get the funding we need to print out a supplement specific to Free RPG Day, a major marketing event in the role-playing game industry.

Meanwhile, our editors have finished seconds edits. We’re now in the final editing where we incorporate those changes and take one more pass through each. Then it’s doing the final layout and one more pass through to ensure nothing breaks in funny places, text hasn’t played hide-and-seek with us, and that all the formatting is the way it is supposed to be. After that, Kickstarter backers and past prize winners get their copies of Tunse’al Setting Guide in whichever format they choose and we load the PDF to DriveThruRPG for sale.

Thanks for your interest and support!


We Just Launched a Kickstarter Project!

We are happy to announce that we just launched our first Kickstarter project. Ahead of our debut release of Tunse’al Setting Guide, we’ve launched a Kickstarter called Tunse’al Quick Starts and Side Tracks for Free RPG Day.

You’ll be able to pledge at levels that allow you to get the PDF and print versions of Tunse’al Setting Guide (TSG) and Tunse’al Quick Starts and Side Tracks (TQSST). You even choose which format: Savage Worlds or systemless. The TSG is available to qualifying backers right after the close of the fundraiser. Everyone else has to wait for it to go live at DriveThruRPG and elsewhere on November 30.

Check out the Kickstarter and share it with everyone you think would be interested.

Your support is much appreciated!


You Hear the Whining of Something Behind You…

Who doesn’t love a good noise to jump-start character action? Here’s the creature behind that sound today.

Mosquito, Giant The size of a large adult’s hand, giant mosquitoes are not as benign as their smaller relatives. They are nearly as agile with thin bodies and adaptive flying patterns. They can be quite sneaky, undetectable even, as they plunge a sharply pointed tube into a victim’s skin, anesthetizing the surface so that the suctioning tube isn’t easily noticed.

Favoring large arteries, in less than a minute, it can take enough blood and pump in enough anesthetic to make a person dizzy for a couple of minutes. If the person reacts badly to the injection, it can cause feinting or a day-long coma. Furthermore, the wound results in tenderness, swelling, and itchiness for days. The puncture may become infected, if not treated. Giant mosquitoes have a 1:10 chance of carrying an infectious disease, which could be fatal over time. DR 1

Creatures on the Prowl

Working through the preliminary layout, there are still some odds and ends we want to address before we release Tunse’al. To give you at taste of what we’re doing, here’s a sample of the kind of creature your party could encounter as it traipses across the land. The DR is a difficulty rating defined in the book. –Vickey

Eel, Electric Electric eels are strange, snake-like beings that lurk in murky streams and ponds. They largely feed on fish, birds, and small mammals. They have poor eyesight and locate prey by emitting a pulse underwater to guide them to unsuspecting beasts.

Their 8’ long, 45 pound bodies are cylindrical, starting from flattened heads. They are often dark green or gray on top with yellowish coloring underneath.

Bipedal deaths from electric eels don’t happen often. However, multiple shocks can cause people to stop breathing, their hearts to stop beating, or to become general stunned. That can result in drowning if people topple into the water and are too disoriented to right themselves. Most just get out of the water if they get shocked or if they think they might, but some feel they need to fight. Sometimes people eat the eels if they win. DR 1

Preliminary Layout

We’ve still working in the Word document of the Tunse’al manuscript for the preliminary layout. As we’ve reviewed the document, we’ve realized some things just weren’t where or how we wanted them to be.

As an example, the Bestiary & Fae section had been broken out by regions beasts occupied. That’s great, except it meant a lot of redundant information and wasn’t intuitive. No one wants to find bears in two different locations or saurs (our version of dinosaurs) in multiple locations unless there’s a good reason for it. We wanted people to know what was in which regions since the land is thousands of miles wide and long, but that wasn’t a good enough reason.

We’re now revising the format, using a chart to indicate what’s where so it’s at a glance, and then having it so you can look up the beast alphabetically. We’re trying to ensure we don’t make things needlessly complicated!


Tables to the Rescue!

One challenge we’ve had with creating a setting that is independent of any particular system, or systemless, as we call it, is ensuring that the parts that make something cool translate to whatever game mechanics a GM chooses to employ. That means everything from character skills and traits to the difficulty of an encounter, an NPC, or an entire supplement.

After much debate and various angles of looking at the concepts, we’ve come up with two character tables and a three difficulty tables for illustration. Don’t worry, the difficulty tables include two that show how we got at the one that you’ll actually use for gauging how hard a situation is. You don’t need all three.

So what are they? The character creation tables show off Level of Ease (LE) as it pertains to a skill your character has and the degree of an Innate Trait (IT) that your character has. Skills are things you have to learn to do, where traits are those things that are natural part of you. As in spear chucking and athleticism respectively.

The difficulty tables started out with one showing the relationship of the percentage chance of success a character at any given level of experience would have of success in any given situation given its inherent difficulty. A character that’s a rookie pitted against another rookie has a 50% chance of winning the slingshot match. One that’s against an apprentice has a 30% chance. We assigned percentages for 36 match-ups.

After doing that, we still weren’t quite where we wanted to be. Our goal was to have an at-a-glance mechanism to convey difficulty. The percentages were not short enough, and required too much thought for someone who worked eight hours, came home to take care of the house, and only has 20 minutes left before the gamers are going to arrive. Enter the next table: odds!

On that, we got a bit closer to something that was quick to spot and comprehend. Sometimes folks just find odds easier to deal with than percentages. When you start dealing with things like 13% chance of success, it’s a lot different than when it was 50/50. That wasn’t quite tight enough, though. What we were going for was really a difficulty rating, which odds are not.

Having two tables in front of us, both essentially saying the same thing, we were able to distill that down to single digits that had meaning attached. We finally had our Difficulty Rating (DR). And now you have it, too!

Difficulty Rating Table
The Difficulty Rating Table helps GMs apply the appropriate mechanics from their favorite systems to our setting. A 0 denotes that the situation requires negligible effort for the character(s) to overcome it.