Ennie Award nominations announced!

Ennie Award nominations announced!

The announcements were July 4th and I am pleased to say that Death & Taxes was nominated for two Ennie Awards- Best Production Values and Best Miniatures Product. I owe so much to so many people that I cannot begin to thank everyone here but a big shout out goes to the following people: Edwin Nagy, Scott Swift, Lloyd Metcalf, Alyssa Faden and Nicolas...

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Why so much?

Why so much?

Why is your game so expensive? This is far and away the most common non-content related question I get from others in the OSR. Sometimes they question is asked politely, sometimes harshly (usually the venomous ones are on dragonsfoot.org) but its a legitimate question. They are right, the Whisper & Venom box set was expensive.   My short answer is that it is expensive to make. This is true in every respect though the follow-ups will be less expensive to make and higher quality thanks to an improving skill set and economies of scale. I don’t expect the price point to change much though.   The longer answer is because I wanted it to get played.   I thought highly of the Whisper & Venom draft and looked at many options on how I might release it. After looking at them I almost decided not to bother. A big difference between the old days and now is the quality of options. An adventures price point has not changed much but what you get for that price point has changed substantially.   As I stated earlier my goal was to see it played. For that to happen it needed to be noticed by game masters. Game masters who are in their heart creators- good ones as well or they likely would not still be doing it. That is the biggest challenge I think everyone who wants to sell something in the OSR faces. Your audience is a built in competitor.   The explosion of publishing options along with the professional tools to publish anything is becoming more  available and more affordable cheaper  which is making a dragon’s hoard of adventures available to us all. I know because I own so many, both good and not so good. With most available as PDFs exclusively the prices are approaching free except for well established companies. Competing on price is hard (ask anyone who competes against WalMart or Amazon, though it is not the same thing, the result is similar). In the OSR competing on price making adventures is hard as well.   Even if an author is willing to compete in a pool of sub $5 PDF releases the obstacle to overcome is awareness. Attention is the new capital when it comes to creative business environments. Getting noticed can take a great deal of time and effort, time and effort that does...

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So it begins…

So it begins…

Those boxes in the picture need filling and I am in the home stretch. The major components for the last phase before shipping are either in my hands or verifiably a few weeks away. In honor of the huge amount of work ahead of me I woke up early and did some work.  What follows is a short aimless rant about workflow mapping and me. I don’t blame you for stopping your read right here. All my time since sunrise has been prepping/planning the soon to be RAM busting InDesign document for the Death & Taxes Layout(s). I learned the hard way in 2013 what happens when you just start layout, as opposed to doing a modicum of research and testing. Last time I did not plan the page settings, master pages, master page inheritance, base styles, nested styles, object states, hyperlinks, bookmarks, indexing, TOC Headings and calming pill acquisition. For the first time in my life I did a workflow plan without having somebody force it on me. It was less entertaining than you would expect but I am glad I did it. While going over steps of the workflow I tested some of the more advanced tools for large documents and books. Most I was only remotely aware of 6 weeks ago. In the process I re-created the already finished but not released PDF for The First Sentinel. It is much nicer than the one I did last month. I can’t stand to look at the old one now, thus I am either getting better or more delusional. What the files for Whisper & Venom would look like to me now is stomach churning. Death & Taxes will be much better looking than Whisper & Venom plus it will not take 5-6 weeks (of 12-20 hour days to complete). If it does I will blame Adobe. They add options and tweaks faster than I can be bothered to know about them. They probably just do it to drive traffic to their online tutorials for a sinister purpose.What that that purpose might be I haven’t a clue. I am certain it involves evil laughter around a smoking conference room counting their (formerly my) money. Enough rambling. I opened and named the InDesign just before I hit post. So here I...

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Hydra? Fountain?

Hydra? Fountain?

  Both? I would recommend the most sinister option as being the most likely of the possibilities. The image is the prototype of the resin hydra fountain kit from Death & Taxes. The sculpt was done by Nic Genovese and he worked with Valiant to make sure it worked as a kit. The water streams are translucent blue resin. I honestly could not be happier. Here is the Hydra non-fountain kit (also...

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The Great Big Head of Jeff Talanian

The Great Big Head of Jeff Talanian

That is the great big head of Jeff Talanian on my TV. Designer, author, one time Gary Gygax collaborator and all-around good guy Jeff was also helpful to me. I was able to locate the box company I used for Whisper and Venom on his recommendation. He has a short time left on his new Kicckstarter (here) that I know will be delivered better than promised. You should back it by clicking here now. When you get back I want to tell a story about the great big head and its belated advice. Ok, the story… Most box companies are leery of new publishers and/or small print runs. While they never tell you no outright, they will send you a quote that, to be generous, is interestingly priced (my favorite quote was $18 per box). While I was about 4 months out from Whisper & Venom’s Kickstarter I attended TotalCon. Good Con but it was more diversity of interests than I was used to, which was reflected in the vendor hall. My purchases were limited a Frank Mentzer module from Eldritch, a knitted Cthulu ski mask and a my copy of AS&SH. While making the purchase I inquired about who made the boxes and without hesitation he told me it was Marion Paperbox. This was a huge favor to me. I asked if he regretted the choice and he said no, he loved box sets. Fast forward to 2014. After having shipped over 120 boxes I was in my living room packing the last 30 Pathfinder sets. At this point I was exhausted and just barely covering my Kickstarter costs thanks to shipping. While packing I listen to podcasts and watch narrowly focused YouTube videos. That day Jeff was a guest on the Mythwits show (link), which on my 50″ HD TV enlarged his head beholder style. After an interesting first half they discuss the economics of games. I was able to pay attention regardless of the three days on next to no sleep of fulfillment. When asked if he would do a boxed set again the giant head of Jeff Talanian said, “I love the box set format but the logistic and costs s of assembling and shipping, particularly international shipping, is prohibitive.” Sitting boxing up sets for expensive international shipping I listened to that great big head contradict himself with those words. And wept Just kidding. He...

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Making a Miniature

Making a Miniature

Ever curious what the process is for creating figurines. Want to find out the easy way? I have updated an old article on the Lesser Gnome website describing my experiences with making the Thopas miniature. If that is the kind of thing you are into then point your browser to…...

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