Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Black Tokyo: The Mixed Bag

Alright, Black Tokyo is out, and has been so for coming up on two weeks now. During that time, we've got alot of contraversy and some great sales. Looking over the sales figures with Mark, Black Tokyo hit sales numbers that takes a normal Skortched Urf product almost a year to reach within the first two weeks, so awesome. More importantly, there's alot of fans out there who have bought and really seem to get a kick out of this kinky little game supplement. There's even a online game of Black Tokyo getting spun up on, and I hope everyone involved has a good, long running campaign. To all you guys and gals outthere, enjoy the game, and may all your hits be crits.... even if you're hitting with your 20 ft long prehensile, combat penis.

On the down side, Black Tokyo has got some of the harshest criticism of my writing career. Some of it's a bit harsh, but there's alot of validity there. Mark and I'll be looking at layout, some of thedesign elements a bit more closely on future releases. Some of the reviews seem excessively negative, probally in reaction to the subject matter and some of the sheer vitriol of the posters just shocked me.

One of the biggest criticisms (which I can't really agree with) was that some of the reivewers felt they didn't get their money's worth. Now, at 13 bucks for 175 pages of dense gaming goodness, I can't agree, but with that in mind I've decided to release the almost equally large D20 Decade the 1980s as a bargin PDF. I was initially planning to price it over 10 dollars, but I've decided to release the supplement at around half that cost. That way, gamers get another 170 pages of cool 80s flavor and new rules elements for the cost of a couple of comics (or two gallons of gas). Anyway,D20 decade should be out soon, and hopefully, it'll be well recieved.

Right now, I've sent off a first draft of the Otherverse America setting to a bunch of other game designers I've worked with to get their input on the setting. Anyway, while I'm waiting to hear back, I've decided I'll play with the D&D toolbox some more. I really enjoyed doing the Adventuer Essential line with Mark,and I've got a new respect for the Craft Wondrous Item feat as a result, since I can make a bunch of really cool stuff with it. I'm working on a pair of new ADV ESS pdfs, which I'll send Marks way when I'm done. Right now, I'm working on barding, saddling, and riding gear, with a look at fantasy undergarments when I'm done with that.

D20 Fantasy is a nice break from doing more adult oriented, politically heavy projects like Otherverse America since I can just cut loose, throw some stuff together and have, for lack of a better term, 'goofy fun." I don't have to be as serious.

Speaking of having fun with Fantasy, a few months ago I was recommended the ElfStones of Shanara by a friend. Turns out the book was pretty horrible, so I can't really pass the recommendation on. Just read Lord of the Rings, you'll get the same effect.

Anyhow, the novel did get me thinking of how wizards were portrayed in LOTR and the Elfstones and the differences between Gandalf and Allanon and the typical D&D mage. With that in mind, I cobbled together a new 20 level core class, called the Wizard of Shadowfall over a lazy weekend. The WOS is alot tougher, more competent and a bit higher power than a standard wizard- he's good with a sword, has a host of useful skills, and can pretty much cast minor spells at will. Pound per pound, the WOS can kick a regular single classed Wizard's ass, but is bound by some serious in game restrictions on working powerful magic, bringing the D&D spellslinger closer to the 'facts' of wizardry laid down by authors like Tolkien and Brooks.

In any case, the WOS is a character concept I came up almost purely for my own pleasure, so it's a real joy that this guy has been picked up for distrubution. Anyway, I think WOS will sell well, and the art should be stellar as always.

Its ironic, at least to me, that since I consider D20 Modern my 'real job' and D2o Fantasy my 'working vacation' that anywing with a D20 Fantasy label on it will do much bigger numbers than anything set for D20 Modern or Future. I've always perfered sci-fi for my fiction and gaming, which is odd considering how I make my money. It goes back to my childhood- I always bought the Space and Town Legos, never the Castle stuff.

After a few D20 fantasy projects, it'll be back to the cyberpunk grindstone.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Black Tokyo Is Here

Okay, boys and girls, thank you for your patience. The audio commentary for Black Tokyo is up on the Skortched Urf Website, and the book itself will be releasesed sometime tonight or tomorrow most likely. It's strangely ironic that a book about tentacle porn is going to be released this close to Valentine's Day, but there ya go. Life is funny sometimes.

Anyhow, give the audio commentary a listen, and please, forgive me my squeeky little voice.

On the new releases front, D20 Decade: The 1980s will be hitting soon after Black Tokyo, also from Otherverse Games. Mark will be releasing another few D20 Modern Advanced Classes within a few weeks of Black Tokyo. The first, the Innocent is pretty much ready to go, so he tells me. The Innocent is a toy-using magic user, basically a playful, magically enhanced child. The class pretty much the anti-thesis of Black Tokyo, but since it's a fairly anime influenced concept, could easily be adapted to a Black Tokyo campaign.

I sold some D20 Modern, post-apocalypse advanced classes to Reality Deviants, each of whom have some really fun powers and give the reader the potential for some really cool roleplaying options. I don't want to say too much about these guys, since they're pretty early in the design process, but I had alot of fun writing them, espeically what I'm calling the "Rust-Borg" advanced class, which is basically Trap Jaw from He-Man mutated into a D20 Modern class. Very sweet stuff.

Over the last couple of weeks I've also been working on Guide to the Known Galaxy and the Otherverse America core rulebook. The text for GTKG is pretty much set in stone, and I'm working on my portion of the art. I'll start comissioning some art for it pretty soon. Also, being the relative low-budget designer that I am, I just have to say, I frickin' love NASA's public domain image gallery. There are some really beautiful shots of space and various starscapes, which I plan to uses as backgrounds for alot of the figures. If you get a chance, broswe NASA's site, because there are some mindblowingly beautiful images out there.

Right now, the Otherverse America corebook is less than 1/3 done, and it's already huge, well over 70,000 words. It's going to be a well thought out superhero/cyberpunk setting, closer in tone to really detail orientied sci-fi settings like Abberant and Trinity than the more generic worlds that D20 Modern and Future postulate. Right now, the plan is the core book will introduce readers to the setting and concepts, provide a general overview of America, circa 2107 C.E. and provide alot of crunch to support the setting flavor.

The basic premise- America torn apart by a religious civil war- shapes everything in the setting. It's not typical cyberpunk, and I make no bones about it. This setting is shaped by my own world view, prejudices and obsessions, and my view of current American politics. Like Christian Gosset's Red Star, which grew out of his fascination with Russian history and the Cold War, Otherverse America is a definate labor of love. It's also going to be exhaustingly researched; Otherverse America is going to be an absolutely huge world with alot for the players to see and do.

The core rules will introduce the three main powers of setting: The pagan-inspired Choicers, the evangelical Christian flavored Lifers, and moderate, unaligned America, with an emphasis on the corporation and military power structure which is controlling what's left of the federal government. Each of the factions are going to feel VERY different- each has its own history, language, holidays, sex roles, political structures, not to mention feats, exclusive classes, weapons and gear. Crossing the theological 'borders' of the 22nd Century should feel like crossing an armed DMZ and visiting a new country with its own traditions.

I've also decided to incorporate alot of the material from Sexually Transmitted future into the core rules, since the game was going to be a mature readers OGL product anyhow. Doing so has allowed me to integrate popular civilian technology into the core rules, which is going to make the Otherverse seem alot more complete and realistic. Guns and power armor are awesome, but not the be all and end all of civilian technology. You're going to have things like civilian genetic engineering, non-combat cybernetics and smartlight technology: forcefield based computers which are operated telepathically as 'over the counter' gadgets.

Otherverse America's going to incorporate the Psionic Rules from the upcoming Psi-Watch as well as Lifechained feat chains from the GTKG, as well as the cybernetics rules I published with Skortched Urf last year. Superpowers and metahuman abilites, imagined as part of class abilities and feat chains, rather than the free form stuff in Mutants & Mastermind are going to be really common. Additionally, there are going to be some pretty dramatic abilities which are exclusive to a particular faction, detailed in the core book.

Imagine urban combat in a reality where high level neo-pagan priestesses can summon hurricanes and lightning strikes, or specially trained anti-abortion terrorists can walk through walls or return the dead to life. Otherverse America is going to be a really wierd setting, and one I think you'll enjoy exploring.

After the mainbook hits, probally sometime this summer, I'm going to do some expansions for the setting. I'd like to do a few short 30-50 page 'city books' focusing on the major power centers of the setting, San Fransisco, Boston and Pensacola, FL, as well as on the major human space colonies, such as Diana Station on the moon, and the Lifer-controlled Soloman Station, out in Jupiter orbit. Follow that up with a 'NPC / monster book' focusing on stats and write ups for the major setting NPCs and stock characters, in the tradtion of the D20 Menace Manual, and maybe a couple of expanced 'weapons and toys books' focusing more deeply on the guns and warmachines, and you've got a pretty gamable, well supported setting.

Talk to you later, and happy V-Day,