On a Blog Post About Nothing

Oblivion


Apparently I'm nothing.

This is a better thing than one might suppose. I came up in a podcast about nothing, where two droll englishmen discuss nothing. The other day, this meant a discussion about which Star Trek movie is the best, what reasons their might be to rewatch Bond films, and a rather unsavory yet good natured comparison between myself and another blogger.

The podcast brings up two specific issues that seem somewhat ripe for discussion and comment. The first, as David points out, is Yoon-Suin the single largest OSR project ever published? Moments of deep thought followed. Is this true? Does Rappan Atthuk count? Perhaps Tome of Adventure Design? Can we exclude Frog God's reprint of 3rd edition material? In my mind Hackmaster counts. Jolly is doing some of the best game design work in the field, and is a black sheep to most OSR blogs.

What is being done in the OSR right now is very Avant Garde. Is there any value to a largest book? David notes himself that a good graphic designer could reduce the page count to 85. This is a joke, the book is full of tables and is well formatted to contain tables. Could one produce a work with 900 pages and one item on every other page with the art of Matthew Adams facing each item? I would buy that in a heartbeat. I doubt it would have much utility at the table.

I mention the forward thinkingness of what's going on in the OSR, because today we are starting to supersede our forbearers. Products being released today are starting to eclipse the usefulness of the Ready Ref Sheets, Jenelle Jaquay's Savage North, or Keep on the Borderlands. The design, content, and presentation of such items, is a move forward in a new direction. That combined with 30 years of wisdom about gaming has resulted in better play experiences across the board. The bar is being raised.

Becoming


Do we participate in a hobby to somehow acquire skill at the hobby? Or is it just about having a laugh with friends? This is the root of the unfortunate comparison.

All advice on how to Dungeon Master a game is bullshit.

I talk a lot about Dungeon Mastering on this blog, along with player agency, and analysis of games and game forms. Is everything I write bullshit?

Well, of course, I don't think Reint's "How to Awesome up your players" is bullshit. I don't think Raggi's "I  Hate Fun" essay is bullshit. I certainly don't think the Quantum Ogre or On A Guide to New Dungeon Masters is bullshit.

The comparison was that this other blogger claims we don't take gaming seriously enough. Like, we allow people to talk at the table, denigrating the integrity of the game.

Advice is proscriptive. Directions, "You should do it like this." This is, like all pseudo-science, multi-level marketing schemes, and spam, simply a way for one person to take advantage of another.
You've got people, who, for the sake of argument might be complete raging narcissistic assholes and you've got other people, who, for the continuing sake of argument might be exploitive, spamming, con-artists. The first have been in our community for a long time. The second are recent arrivals, due to the fact that there are hobbyists here to be taken advantage of. Before this, it was the last popular thing.

I'm pulling back on the stick, because I've got to pull out of this negativity dive. The point is, people talking about gaming, like Finch, Raggi, Reints, Kemp, Sabbath, or others aren't "trying to master the skill of dungeon mastering" and aren't writing about "the ten secrets of dungeon mastering you don't know".

People trying to sell you a secret or advice, that's spam, exploitive click bait. Also, nearly universally useless. I'm sure you've read things like that before, and if you compare them with your memories or impressions of the articles linked above, you can intuitively tell the difference. (Of course, I have my own series of top 10 lists and clickbaity headlines—I leave it as an exercise to the reader if they find those things immediately game-able and useful or not.)

However, we aren't forced to rely on our intuition. What we share is our intent when running a game and experience from games we've run. We talk about how we approach a problem, and provide a new perspective. We game dozens of hours a week. And it's not just some group of insular bloggers—it's people talking about why five out of six convention games were terrible. Anyone can do it, and it lifts gamers and our games up.

Enlightenment


You can tell the difference between things things fairly easily. Is the content of the article vapid or void of new insights? Is there a paywall to discover what the "true secret" is? Does reading the article give you a new approach or a new idea? What do other people think of the content?

I'm a far stretch from perfect. I'm a difficult person to deal with. People can tell you I'm a terrible player. But I have good relationships with people. I'm not afraid of conflict. I'm open and have a wide and varied circle of friends. I have a variety of positive life experiences!

A piece of mind-boggling idiocy popped up on the internet the other day (where else?) that postulated the absurd notion that all games cause harm. Because we might be in competition with friends, or they might give us desires that aren't immediately met.

Yes. Really. He lives on the same planet where every living creature is in constant competition with every other living creature over the limited energy provided by the sun. The idea that his very existence causes harm so the only moral course of action is to lock yourself in a closet and quietly die isn't a parody. What's the next step? Taking away my grandmothers cards so she can't play solitaire? Canceling the celebration of humanity known as the olympics? Taking away the Hearthstone World Championship money from Firebat?

What those articles cited above share are our experiences navigating a situation where the game by design creates a power imbalance. The idea that a power imbalance is a bad thing is naive. That's a polite way of saying if you think that, you haven't thought about it, because if you had, you'd have to be dumber than a sack of rocks to think that it is a bad thing. There's a consensus in the design community that games that mathematically ensure equal balance are dull as drying paint.

I'm all about having fun with my friends. That requires a certain level of respect, which is the whole idea behind agency. We play a game with a huge power imbalance (One person makes all the rules and decisions). If you go re-read any of the articles linked above, you'll note that the message, over and over, is that decisions made with priorities other than creating a positive experience for you and your friends are bad ones. There's some counter-intuitive conclusions there, such as dynamically altering the game for a "more satisfying" experience by increasing the hit points of a monster or some such, actually has the opposite effect.  But that's the whole reason we are in this game—it's complex, challenging, and more satisfying than any other four hobbies combined. (Well, maybe any two.)

There's no one in our community who is seeking mastery of some non-quantifiable skill. There is no "certificate of good Dungeon Mastery". There is no board where you must show your skill. You do not need to publish in order to gain tenure. All you need to do is play games.

So, next time you gather, sit back, have a laugh, and don't worry too much about how someone thinks you should be doing it. But we're all here if you'd like to come back and tell us how it was.


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On Towns, Carwyn's Gate

The town of Carwyn's Gate is a bustling city of 3,669 people. It is in the center of several smaller villages and hamlets and serves as a local meeting place and landmark. Most construction in the city is of wood, including it's distinctive triple external walls and it's somewhat advanced and imposing aqueduct.

Carwyn's Gate

Description


Bustling Lawful Neutral town, known for its wooden walls and construction
"Tellus Nos Defendit" The Earth Protects Us.

Demographics


Government: Feudal, town is managed by a council of city elders, nominally subservient to the nearby Duke Deniel Paol.

Population: There are around 1,200 human households (average slightly more than 5 people per household) and assorted humans (6,202 humans total). There are about 200 half-elves who make their home in the city, along with 2 extended halfling families (133 total halflings). There are somewhere around 120 gnomes and dwarves who live in the city, but no family groups. The city has a floating population of somewhere between an additional 500-2,000 people depending on the day, bursting upwards of 5,000 people on market fair days.

Languages Spoken: Common, Human regional dialect
Local Gods & Religions:

  • Adea is the goddess of fortune and travel. She is a young maiden with large hips and a round belly, and golden hair with dark skin. Her eyes are the color of rubies and what little of her clothing there is, is that of golden plates with the forms of various animals upon them. Many shrines of hers abound in the city, filled with fresh water. Coins and small gifts are left at the base for the destitute and needy travelers. 
  • Rame is a short, fat, rotund deity of summer and earth. His skin is a wooden bronze, and his eyes are pupiless and white. He wears the skin of a stag, and it's antlers protrude over his head. he is otherwise naked and well endowed. There are no shrines to Rame, but his mark of an angle and a line arranged like an axe is carved into any wooden structure built by his worshipers. On weekly holy days sacrifices of blood are made near the roots of trees. 


Notable NPC's:

  • Celeste Adebola is a very talented halfling jeweler, who's work is said to rival that of the dwarves. 

Districts


Inns:

  • The Castle, known for its roasted meats, particularly elk. It is run by Vahagn Jarrett (M/Fi/6) and his wife. Vahagn is 63, grizzled, with braided hair, a low pitched voice, and has a hook for a left hand. He is grouchy and kind. His wife is plump and astoundingly beautiful.
  • The Druids Lute, Known for meals free of animal products, with convincing imitations. Few actually know that the baked beef doesn't actually have any beef in it. It's run by Sky Riverride (M/Druid/3) a well-groomed, pock-marked half-elf. He is 34 and owns the building and frequently comes out an leers at the guests. 

Locations / Interesting Features:

  • Baroque Hill of the Holy Lady
  • Prince Bel's Park
  • Lonely Gate is the smallest entry into the city, barely large enough for a horse and rider. It is always manned, day and night.
  • The undersewers are ignored and maligned, but are actually connected to the ruins of an ancient civilization.

Men for Hire:

  • Gayla Caitlin, is a noble women who is unwilling to agree to an arranged marriage and has settled for exile instead.
  • Rodolph, A reptilian man, who wields a large greatsword. Says little. Probably has psychic powers.
  • Nyree Timaios, an albino sorceress in white gossamer robes. Wears a collar of gold. Her teeth are sharpened, and her mucus membranes are dark black.
  • Theodosia Marlee, a religious squire. Red hair, happy, bright and brave.
  • Georgiana, a Veteran and polearm specialist. Disheveled. Possibly a little crazy.
  • Bertha, Thin halfling with a large head. Sneaky, has many delusional beliefs that she is reluctant to share. Looking for a golden dagger. 
  • Plus up to 2d8 more people per week, due to the transient population.


Resources: Moderate, Fertile Farmland (wheat), Geography (plains/light forest), Hunting/Game, Pastures (Cows/Sheep), Timber

Diversions


Obstacles: Transient populations, drinkers, thieves

Adventure Seeds & Local News:

  • A local physickers guild has ejected Eugenius Melanthios (F/Sor/4) for unsavory practices and violating the guild rules and standards of practices. Rumor has it that she swore revenge and disappeared. 
  • The old Weaver house, long used as a guildhall for the rugmaker guild, has been boarded up and closed down, due to reports of a curse involving miniature demons. 
  • There's a new scam being perpetrated against the wifes of law officers while they are on duty, and Archimedes Rhode (M/Ex/2) Barrister for the Carriage makers coalition has be imprisoned for it, but he protests his innocence. 

NamesYasur, Ralin, Phuad, Danar, Ptolemaios, Bion Andreas, Mael Diodotus, Ligeia, Charissa, Jordan, Kallie, Xander, Gyles Winter


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On a 5th Edition Ranger Variant, the Bounty Hunter

Ranger Archetype

At 3rd level, you choose an archetype that you strive to emulate: Hunter, Bounty Hunter or Beast Master, both detailed at the end of the class description. Your choice grants you features at 3rd level and again at 7th, 11th,
and 15th level.

Bounty Hunter


You are a bulwark of nothing. You specialize in killing or capturing other creatures or characters for profit. Sometimes this may involve clearing out a specific hazard to civilization, sometimes this involves removing a specific target.

Hunter's Bounty
At 3rd level, you gain all the following features:
Hunter's Protection: You gain a +1 bonus to your Armor Class in Medium or Light Armor.
Hunter's Quarry: You spend 1 week of downtime learning about your target or quarry. If you succeed at an Intelligence (Investigation) check, you gain advantage when attacking or tracking (Wisdom (Survival)) your target or quarry. Note that this advantage must apply to a specific creature type (Xvarts, or Black Oozes) not a category of creatures, or it will apply to a specific individual. The DC should be 10 for a common or uncommon creature, 15 for a rare creature or specific individual, or 20 for a private, reclusive, or hiding individual or very rare or unique creature. This check may be retried if failed at the cost of another weeks investigation. This bonus may only apply to one person or creature type at a time.
Bounty's Safe Return: You may choose to knock a target unconscious with a ranged weapon in addition to a being able to with a melee attack.

Hunter's Skill
At 7th level, gain all the following features.
Quarry's Mark: The victim of your target or quarry is always considered to be under the effect of a Hunter's Mark spell for you. In addition, if moving towards your quarry, once per round, you may expend your reaction to move an additional 10 feet to them. Each time you do so, you must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw. On a failure you cannot use this ability again till you take a short rest.
Talented: You can select an additional skill to be proficient in.

Tracker's Posse 
At 11th level, gain the following features.
Improved Protection: Gain an additional +1 to your armor class in medium or light armor, for a total of +2. You also gain proficiency in an additional saving throw category.
Ally's Mark: Any of your allies may treat your quarry as if they are under the effect of a Hunter's Mark spell in regards to extra damage. This cannot affect more allies than 1/2 your level.

Power of the Dog
At 15th level, gain the following feature.
Stalker in the Night: Any hit you strike against your Quarry is a critical hit.
Speed of the Hunt: You may use Dash as a bonus action.

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On the Wizards Panopoly: Rules & Talismans

A few months ago +Benjamin Baugh created a post about the accoutrements of wizards on Google+. It's a great idea and I wanted to examine the suggestions in greater depth, both providing more options and ideas, collecting some of the articles written about the items so far, and expanding on the general idea.

The objects presented are talismans, foci, familiars, cabals, raiments, servants, pacts, and sanctums, in order of difficulty of acquirement.

Humans themselves are relatively poor conduits of magical or elemental energy.

The basic conceit of this system is that humans are incapable of safely wielding any magic beyond the first level of power. 

Attempts to cast a second level spell or higher roll 1d6 plus spell level on the following table. If you have exceptional intelligence (13+) you may subtract 1 from the roll. If an effect is rolled more than once a session, move up to the next higher effect on the list.

2. Spell functions normally.
3. Spell functions normally, but magical energies have warped your aura. -2 or disadvantage on all saving throws for 1 session.
4. Spell fails and is lost from memory.
5. Spell functions normally, but magical backlash occurs. Take 1d6 damage per spell level.
6. Spell functions normally, but magical explosion occurs. Take 1d6 damage per spell level in 30 foot radius.
7. Spell fails, but magical explosion as above.
8. Spell nominally fails, wild magical energy is released, roll on wild magic table.
9. Spell fails, and you have attracted the attention of an extraplanar being who has taken offense at your arrogance. It begins hunting you.
10. Spell fails and you suffer an immediate brain aneurysm and die.
11. Spell fails and you are immediately and irrevocably lobotomized.
12. Spell functions normally, but your spirit and personality are annihilated and you are possessed by a demon
13. Spell fails. Magical energies fluxuate out from the caster, instantly slaying the caster and all living creatures and beings within 60 feet.
14. Spell fails. Magical devastation strikes the surrounding lands, in a radius of 1d10 miles + 1d4 miles per spell level.
15. You are instantly erased from existence as if you never lived.

Designer's note: Why bother with the table? 
Clearly, we could just say "No, you can't cast second level spells or above." but there are several good reasons to include such a table. 
Firstly, the entries help define the setting. In the setting above, magic is likely viewed with suspicion, because of the devastation it can cause. If you change and replace entries with polymorphs and mutations, the fear becomes not of devastation, but of corruption of the soul. If anyone could attempt a ninth level spell, and cause magical devastation out to 9-46 miles, that might make the unregulated practice of magic something to pay attention to (e.g. restrict, legislate, or criminalize). 
Secondly, it allows players to make stupid insane risks that really affect the campaign world. You aren't saying no, you are saying "this is the way the world works". 
1d6 with two modifiers (spell level and a one point adjustment for high intelligence) is just about as complicated as you would want to get with something that should only come up very rarely. 

This drawback makes the acquisition of a panoply meaningful (I can cast higher level spells) without immediately increasing the power of the wizard, who is already plenty powerful.

System Adjustments

I'm going to note that in my B/X style games, I use a Bell Curve Magic System where casters have a pool of dice to cast spells and very limited spell lists (no more than 8 spells of each level). In that particular system, only allowing additional dice instead of higher level spells from the panoply works. In 5e style games since nearly every single class is a spellcasting class (Every class excepting the Barbarian class has a spellcasting option and there are three pure spellcasting classes) I'd avoid using such a system. I haven't played enough 5e to know for sure, but so far at level 6, fighting classes seem completely on par with spellcasters.

Rules


  • Attempts to cast magic of a level higher than 1st require a roll on the table above. 
  • This limit can be increased by the acquisition of accoutrements. They may be acquired in any order.
  • Each accoutrement acquired increases the level of spells the caster can cast by one. 
  • No type of accoutrement can be applied more than once, even if you own more than one. Each one only counts towards spell levels you can cast once. 
  • These are generally acquired and lost during play. 
  • If lost or destroyed, that type of thing can't be used again until you have gained a level or a year and a day have passed. 

Talismans 

A small personal object used to concentrate magical power.  You can only have a single talisman, but can make one for yourself with time and tools.   Each spell level invested in a Talisman grants a +1 bonus to saving throws.  -Benjamin Baugh

The first item suggested is a relatively simple one. The talisman allows the caster to cast second level spells, in addition to allowing/requiring them to sacrifice spell spells for a small bonus. What other types of talismans and items can their be? Satyre over on the idle blog Fame & Fortune made a post describing some common minor bonuses available on talismans. These include effects like bonuses to reactions, slow magical healing, a small bonus to stealth, rerolling saves, and protections from a specific type of attack. Any of these would be reasonable bonuses for an item such as a talisman.

Adding in the cost of a spell level for an effect or increased effect (or in the Bell Curve system, assigning a die) seems like an excellent trade off for a "magic item" that isn't really magic. Some other ideas for effects from Talismans include: preservation of youth, a continuous minor protection effect from extraplanar creatures, an immunity against a specific type of effect (poisons, charms, etc.), minor damage reduction, or a small bonus to a specific knowledge or skill.

Drawbacks to talismans can include: A malaise that affects nearby people with ennui and fatigue, a corruption of your aura, an odd smell or scent, minor physical changes (nails of iron, or pupiless eyes, for example), minor psychological effects such as hypo-mania, minor delusions, mild paranoia or phobia, increased anxiety, intrusive thoughts, or unusual visual phenomena.

Another fascinating use of talismans for higher level casters, is as a phylactery or soul storage device, providing a way for the spellcaster to take over another persons body, while leaving their own body in stasis.

Talismans can be created at a cost of 100 gold pieces per level of the spell or per hit die they are expected to contain. It takes 1 week per 100 gold pieces of the cost, and the time to create can be cut in half by doubling the expense.

Note that the spell levels invested at attunement or creation cannot be recovered without the destruction of the talisman. If lost it will require "great struggle" to regain the invested power.

Examples

Talisman of the Domino: This talisman prevents the touch of living things. It requires a third level spell slot to function and costs 300 gold and three weeks to create. Plants and underbrush are shoved aside at the users passing, allowing travel through brambles and briars without hinderance. Attacks and magic spells by the claws and tendrils of living creatures and plants are treated as if the user has a +1 bonus to their armor class. The users skin is affected with a black and white large checkered pattern, with a division down the center of their face, one-half white and one-half black.

Talisman of Magical Warding: This talisman protects the mage from enchantments and spells. It can be created providing a bonus to saving throws versus magic from +1 to +5. It requires an invested spell slot equal to the value of the bonus. A +4 bonus to saves versus magic requires a fourth level spell slot. It costs 100 gold and takes 1 week per spell slot invested. As a side effect, this talisman disrupts your magical aura. If your save bonus is +2 are higher and you are not already subject to spell mishaps/surges you now are. If you are affected by spell mishaps, you roll twice and the Dungeon Master selects the result of the effect.

footnote: my one reservation about this series is that wizards already have enough nice things. I wouldn't implement a system like this, without drawbacks or a similar system and opportunity for fighters specifically (and other classes secondarily) to have options to acquire similar effects.


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On a Disdain for Vance

There was a time when I held a disdain for Vancian magic.

It was before I had read Vance.

On the surface, it doesn't make sense. How can you put one spell into your brain? How can you forget it after you cast it? Shouldn't magic be like a force or a tool? Once you know how to do something, how do you unknow it?

I work in a building built in 2008, state of the art. I've worked there since they opened in 2009.

It is very cold on my unit, always. 64 degrees (17c) at the floor, around 68 (20c) at chest level. They say "adjust the thermostat". Adjusting the thermostat does nothing. Room 200 is 74 (23c) degrees, pretty much constantly. Room 201 is 58 degrees (14c). Yes, they are across the hall from each other.

Did a diagram exist of the building at some point? The building was built so I assume it must. But there isn't a copy in the building. I know this, because before we were open, I had a large part in preparing for our opening. I had to count and mark the exit signs and sprinkler nozzles because there was no document containing their number.

The position of building manager has changed hands at least 4 times in the intervening years. Whatever knowledge one had, had to be relearned from another, from arcane texts, oral history, and inductive reasoning.

We continue to complain about the temperature. Why is it so cold? 
They go to reference their books, to seek out the answer. They return. 
It is because of the baffles in the building! says the balding man, with the shirt opened down to his belly, greying hair curling out from his chest. Some are open, he says, and others are closed. His cologne stinks of a different fallow age.
Well, I ask, can you fix them? 
No. He says. We don't know where they are or how to get to them. The baffles in our buildings are lost.
See, the only way for him to find the baffles to correct the problem is empirical and arbitrary. He has to literally poke around and attempt to find where they are and how to adjust them inside the buildings superstructure. He has no idea how many there are nor how they are controlled or adjusted. Any knowledge he acquires and passes on is didactic, oral secrets passed from one person to another.

This building was built less then 7 years ago, and already the knowledge of how it works is lost.

Soon, our power and control over our environment will become even greater. And our knowledge of how it works will be lost even faster.

I think Jack Vance is a visionary, because in a few short paragraphs, he managed to foresee that this is the way of power in the far future. Yes, if you know engineering, you could rig a vacuum to give an electric shock or alter its construction from pulling air to blowing air, but the most anyone will ever know is to turn it on or off. Those who use it frequently might find some setting switches. Many of those who experiment without knowing the principles will shock themselves or break the vacuum beyond all repair. This is the future, the way of all technology. didactic, empirical, arbitrary.

In Vance's own words:

"In this fashion did Turjan enter his apprenticeship with Pandelume. Day and far into the opalescent Embelyon night he worked under Pandelume's unseen tutelage. He learned the secret of of renewed youth, many spells of the ancients, and a strange abstract lore that Pandelume termed "Mathematics". 
"Within this instrument," said Pandelume, "resides the Universe. Passive in itself and not of sorcery, it elucidates every problem, each phase of existence, all the secrets of time and space. Your spells and runes are built upon its power and codified according to a great underlying mosaic of magic. The design of this mosaic we cannot surmise; our knowledge is didactic, empirical, arbitrary. Phandaal glimpsed the pattern and so was able to formulate many of the spells which bear his name. I have endeavored through the ages to break the clouded glass, but so far my research has failed. He who discovers the pattern will know all of sorcery and be a man powerful beyond comprehension." 
So Turjan applied himself to the study and learned many of the simpler routines. 
"I find herein a wonderful beauty," he told Pandelume. "This is no science, this is art, where equations fall away to elements like resolving chords, and where always prevails a symmetry either explicit or multiplex, but always of a crystalline serenity." - The Dying Earth by Jack Vance
Last day to grab the #1 seller on RPG.now Hack & Slash Compendium II for free. In a few more days, March cancer donation numbers will go up! Thanks to all the patreons who make this possible.

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On Blogs Versus Books

There is hardly any new content in the Hack & Slash Compendium: Blog Collection II, yet it took over a month and nearly 500$ to create.

It wouldn't be worth it, if I didn't need the compendium. I used the treasure pdf when designing dungeons. But over the years, I've made additions to it, and used Abulafia to automate it. The original document wasn't enough. I've added to my own personal copy.

I also put a lot of content up here on the blog, a 50 item series on interesting treasure, discussion of hoard types, etc. Blogs aren't the best format for reference. It's not only a collection for utility, but also prosperity. Although I don't think my blog will disappear or I'll suddenly be without electricity or internet access at some future date, it is even less likely someone will come into my house and destroy the books on my shelves and lulu will shut down, and my blog will be shut down, and all my digital devices die.

If that does happen, I'll probably have bigger worries than generating treasure.

But that's not enough. Tom's article on who you meet when leaving the dungeon is the best implementation of the baroque Gygaxian tax force that's ever been written. How could I publish a treatise on treasure and economies without including it? Arnold, who's the most creative writer in the OSR had just written the single best list of 100 minor magic items I've ever read (and I've read about a dozen of them since I started gaming). John wrote an article on an unspoken tradition that has been part of our history that I felt needed to be recorded.

I feel, and I could be wrong here, that each of them would have let me publish their work for free. That's not right. So I paid them. 5 cents a word. Apparently that's better then a lot of professional publishers pay (he said, stroking his own mane).

Arnold wrote a lot of words. c_c

Paying people when releasing pay what you want is a risk. I honestly don't know if I'll make any money on this project, but losing money is ok too because I don't mind so much come tax time. All the revenue generated will be going to future projects, because the point isn't profit. Objectivists and wall street accountants everywhere are losing their minds.

Picking the articles, contacting everyone, getting them paid, that all took some time. But that's not the whole of it.

This book goes down on my permanent record. I recently read a self-published book by a young author who died (at 33) that is filled with grammar errors. He was intelligent and college educated, yet anyone who reads his work will think—well, I'm concerned about my permanent record. In history.

So blog articles are editable. They are edited once after I write them and usually again shortly after they are posted. Then, I am lucky enough to have thousands of readers who point out obvious errors. But that's still not enough. There are a lot of extra words. I frequently mis-use then/than. Incorrect but correctly spelled words slip past the spell check. The the slips by the the editor, because brain error correction.

After selecting then editing the articles once again, that stuff has to be laid out.

I want to be clear here. I am doing nothing unusual or innovative with my layout. It is a book, organized into three sections. Still layout took 7 days. I have a full time job, but that's half a day of layout on each of my days off (the other half was spent writing blog posts) and then a few hours I could get in every morning.

This next part sounds crazy, but it went really fast this time because my wife was hospitalized. Because I had to work, Pawpaw (my wife's mother) took our daughter and my wife was alternately at the hospital or staying with her family for their assistance. I could provide little child-care assistance while at work or sleeping and she needed the help. So I had several days in a row where I didn't get have family time, or spend time with my daughter.

On the other hand, I got an awful lot of layout done.

Even the simplest layout takes time. Every page has to be gone through. Individual pieces and blocks of text need to be adjusted. You have to consider the final page count. I was shooting for 64. The final book is 100+.

At work, I used my spare time to do the art for the cover. Ink on bristol.

Once it was laid out, I printed it out again and gave it another edit. Came back and made more changes, and then set it up on lulu and ordered print proofs.

It was a good thing I did. On my print proofs, I forgot to texture the compendium II covers in the same way the compendium I covers were textured. I also made an error on the spine with the publisher logo and author name, putting it far enough down that it got cut off. It was my first time printing with spine text, so I wasn't surprised.

Once lulu printed and shipped me the books (paying for printing and shipping again), then I was able to check everything out. And like any good publisher, opening the book you just printed makes every error you've made stick out like a sore thumb. Another round of edits at my day job, and I was ready to spend the entire work-day yesterday fixing those errors and getting the copies put up on RPGnow and Lulu.

Throw some articles in a .pdf, I said. Do it once a month, I said.

Yes, technically this makes me a liar to my Patreons. I am clearly not doing a Compendium every month. But then again, I've messaged them telling them about this, and the general response was themed blog collections that are nicer and take longer are more appreciated. Also, I always try to do something extra for them, from bonus backgrounds in the first one to offering a coil bound version at cost for the second one. They always get them at cost.

It's not like I have seven unfullfilled kickstarters and am spending all my free time attacking people online. I'm ok with me.

It's a lot of work, but there's something really nice about seeing books on a shelf that are yours. I look at Fire on the Velvet Horizon, Yoon-Suin, Strange Stars, Slumbering Ursine Dunes, A Red and Pleasant Land, and The Mad Monks of Kwantoom, and I know that other people are having that same sense of satisfaction. (Also it doesn't hurt that this is my second release to reach #1 on hottest titles on rpg.now).

So, I hope this explains some things. I hope you find the compendium useful or inspiring. I certainly get a lot of use out of it. I'm going to write articles for a week or two, figure out what I want to compendium next and get in touch with some artists and writers over the next several days to start work on Ecology.

Hope everyone checks it out!

Print Copy, Perfect Bound at Lulu
.pdf Copy, at RPG.now
Print Copy, Coil Bound at Lulu (Patreon Only)


Hack & Slash 
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On the Hack and Slash Compendium 2

Guys, I want to show you something:

Yeah. That's the second blog compendium.

It's basically a complete reworking of Treasure. Oh, you should see this->

It's thick. 100 pages thick. Treasure was 13 pages.

Oh! Oh! You know what? John Bell, Arnold Kemp and Tom Fitzgerald wrote for it! I paid them, actual real world money for their articles. Well, I paid everyone but John, only because Canadian banks apparently only accept moose as payment, so there have been some delays. But he has money coming to him. So if you like Retired Adventurer, Goblin Punch, or Middenmurk (and who doesn't?!), you should get it!

Oh, right, you're broke. It's tight this month. I understand.

That's why it's FREE. I mean Pay What You Want. But you can pay $0. So effectively free.

Only for 7 days though.

What if you pay me though?

I'm going to use the money to pay artists for ecology. BIG FAMOUS ARTISTS. People who's names you have heard. Also, hopefully, I won't lose money. Also, just like patronage, 10% will be donated to Cancer research. Because my wife has cancer. And cancer can die in a fire.

If you are a patron, you can even get a coil bound edition for cost, to be even more helpful when you're rolling up that key treasure hoard.

There's a lot in there:

  • Things players can spend money on!
  • Hotlinked/Bookmarked .pdf!
  • Weights and capacities for the transportation of valuable goods!
  • Public domain illustrations!
  • Hundreds of unique and interesting items!
  • The secret to creating interesting treasure!
  • Essays by John Bell of the Retired Adventurer, Arnold Kemp of Goblin Punch, and Tom Fitzgerald of Middenmurk!
  • Random generation of treasure, including books, magical books, and book traps!
  • Expanded gemstone descriptions!
  • Perfect Bound (Coil Bound for Patreons)
  • Costs 0$ for a limited time! Affordable print copy available. 

The .pdf is A5, perfect for tablets, and is hotlinked to the table of contents for lightning fast navigation.

So you should get it, because all the cool people are getting it. And you really really should share this as widely as possible so no one misses the pay what you want window! It's only 7 days before it becomes its regular price! The print version will increase in price in 7 days also!

It is, as they say, hot. That is the best time for getting things.

Print Copy, Perfect Bound at Lulu
.pdf Copy, at RPG.now
Print Copy, Coil Bound at Lulu (Patreon Only)


Hack & Slash 
FollowGoogle +NewsletterSupportDonate to end Cancer (5 Star Rating) (77$ donated so far!)
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