Wednesday, April 22, 2009

You know what's really gratifying....

.... going on RPGnow, seeing that a product that I put out less than 24 hours ago is the 6th current best seller, on the Top One Hundred.

Even better, seeing that alot of purchasers have also picked up other products I've worked on, such as D7ACU: Voidsparrow, Otherverse America, Giants In the Earth....

To all my readers:



Cruel Evolution, MotherF@#$er!

I mentioned it last post, but Cruel Evolution is up and running at and all the usual suspects. Go pick it up, I had alot of fun laying that one out. I've realized that post-apoc stuff is some of the most fun to work with, especially magi-tech post apocalyptic fiction, because the blending of the traditional fantasy and sci-fi genre lines. Lots to love.

Anyway, I'm putting the finishing touches on the APEX manuscript, right now. I'm working up the 100 plot hooks section at the back of the book, as well as flavor fiction. The 100 plots part is especially important to me. Otherverse is a politicized, social-interaction heavy, deep roleplaying experience, but I see how it can easily be played as just a 'mission-based' wargame. I've seen it happen with the old World of Darkness stuff, instead of getting deep into an alien psychology and fictional culture, you're tasked by your Boss Vampire or Boss Werewolf with going and killin' something- the same exact kind of missions that you'd find in D&D or Shadowrun.

That always disappointed me, as a gamer, especially when I was stuck in a thinly disguised WOD dungeoncrawl. Not fun. So making sure that Otherverse game masters have ALOT of good inspiration and plot hooks to draw upon, which incorporate mysteries, political action, problem solving, romance, seduction, exploration of the culture, ect.... as well as straight up combat is of prime importance to me. I don't want the missions in Otherverse America to turn into:

"You're all Lifer soldiers. Your XO tells you that you've got to destroy a Choicer clinic and a nearby weapons depot."


"You're all Choicer soldiers. Your XO tells you that you've got to destroy a Lifer weapons cache and assassinate a terrorist leader."

Anyway, like I've said before, the 100 Plots section is probally my favorite part of the sourcebook.

I'm planning out the third big 'faction splat' for Otherverse America as I wrap up APEX: Outcast America, which focuses on the poor, the young, the abused and the fanatical in the setting. After that, I'll probally give a full write up for Solomon Station, and I'm speculating on creating a HUGE species book for Otherverse America, tentatively titled the "Patriot's Alphabet". (Alternatively, I can release a line of shorter splats, each covering 5 or 6 mutates. I'll probally do the latter.)

In Psi-Watch, I introduced three species of human-engineered supersoldiers codenamed the Patriot Anvils, Patriot Boxers and Patriot Ivories. Those mutates exist in the Otherverse as well, as do the Patriot Couriers and Patriot Mechanic superhumans, who are described in APEX. So we've got A, B, C, I and M covered. There's alot of letters of the alphabet still there, and alot of mutant soldiers whose codenames can start with those letters.

Finally, I have to comment on something I read on Louis' blog (which I follow religiously). In a post last week, he divided RPG publishers into two categories, based on sales footprint and distribution method: PDF publishers and hard-back publishers. I can certainly see where he is coming from, but I think that in his post, there is an unspoken 'submission' to hard-back publishers, a feeling that as a PDF publisher we can't compete on the same level, an acceptance of lower sales and lower levels of prestige.

Certainly, as a small PDF publisher I don't have the logistical support, art budget or advertising capability of a big 'HB' publisher. But in terms of just IDEAS, I think all RPG publishers, no matter what their operating budgets or distribution methods are, compete on the same plane. Every product I put out, I feel like I am directly competing against industry giants like Green Ronin, Paizo, LPJD, Adamant, and yes, WOTC (well, less now, but you know what I mean). In order to feel satisfied as an artist, each time I release something, I have to feel that the ideas you'll find inside are AS GOOD IF NOT BETTER than anything from any other publisher, big or small. The art, the layout, the limitations of the PDF format.... screw it.

The question for me is: are the black words on the white page as good as anything WOTC put out? As good as anything Monte Cook does? If yes, I'm happy as a publisher. If not, I'm pissed and try to do better next time.

I don't know.... I find myself agreeing intellectual with everything that Louis said, but for some reason, some emotional part of me wants to disagree wtih everything. Something about that post just sorta rankles me, and I can't really put my finger on WHY.

Anyway, just my thoughts,
talk to you all later,

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Attack is for times of plenty.....

....defense is for times of insufficiency.
-Sun Tsu.

The quote is appropriate right now. About 6 months ago I was contracted to produce a modern magic/post-apocalyptic setting for Reality Deviants. Unfortunately, the money fell through, which is a problem when working freelance. So for about half a year now, I've had a draft of Slaughterhouse Earth sitting on my harddrive, doing nothing.

And every spare dollar I've had, I've put into building up a stock art morgue during this time. And my tastes in stock art tend to run to the dark, the violent and the creepy. I like images of monsters, guns, and monsters with guns.

So I have a surplus of 1) post apocalyptic text and 2) stock art suitable for a post-apoc setting. So guess what I'm doing right now?

I'm taking a break from APEX for a couple of days to put out a new post-apoc/horror sourcebook entitled Cruel Evolution. I'm breaking the big Slaughterhouse Earth manuscript into 3-4 smaller products, which I'll release over the next few months in conjunction with Skortched Urf.

The first sourcebook will be a 'powers' book- expect a new player race, the Clavers, new mutation rules, a bunch of feats spells and 5 new advanced classes. The best way I can describe Cruel Evolution and the Slaughterhouse Earth campaign world is "Rifts as written by Clive Barker"......

Hopefully it'll be well recieved.

Anyway, I'm about 2/3 done with the layout. One of the great satisfactions of self publishing is the fact I'm getting better at layout and design with every book I put out. Cruel Evolution is clean, pretty and lavishly illustrated.

Anyway, have a good one, and expect a bunch of releases from me, and from Mark, over the next few months.

Blessed Be,

Friday, April 10, 2009

Just a quickie.....

You know, I'm not even going to get into the myriad reasons that Wizards of the Coast is shooting itself in the genitals, and I will not comment upon my opinion that if this nonsense keeps up, WOTC will be a closed division of the Hasbro unholy megacorp within 10 years at this rate.

I just won't. Folks alot more articulate than I have already commented. Read Gareth or Mark Cathro''s blogs on the subject, because they have said everything I wanted to, and they got there first with better quality material.

I will say this. I will be continuing to produce D20 Modern-compatable products under the Otherverse America banner, as well as continuing to produce D20 Fantasy and Pathfinder goodies for you guys.

Speaking of Otherverse America, I'm still at work on the APEX soucebook. Right now, its about 140 pages or so. I'm not quite satisfied with it yet- I want to have more. I've got a pretty good selection of gear, armor and aircraft but I want more. I've detailed alot of the history of the world, but it doesn't feel clear and cohesive enough yet.

Still, I'm having fun with it. One thing I'm anxious to get started on is the 100 Plot Hooks section at the end of the book. That section is one of my favorite parts of Otherverse America, and I'm saving the big list of 1 paragraph plot hooks for my last task. It'll be something to savor.

Anyway, I'm off. I've got some family stuff to do tonight.


Friday, April 3, 2009

More Influential Than I Thought....

Just a quick post. I'm on vacation this weekend, visiting my mother up in Kerrville TX, where I'm writing this with a minor concussion from a gardening accident.

I am still working. I've got about 120 pgs of good material for the APEX sourcebook, which I'll get back to on Monday. But that's not the reason I'm posting.

I'm a bit more influential in my selection of stock art than I thought. About two weeks ago, Mark and I put up Giants in the Earth, which is illustrated completely with public domain illos of various dinosaurs. I just saw this product,which is a stock art collection using the same dinosaurs I did.

I noticed the same thing. In the weeks after PSI-WATCH came out, which used alot of art from Louis Porter's Image Portfolio, I noticed a bunch of other supers products using the same stock art.

It's flattering to see that people are reading my products and respecting my choices enough to follow my design lead- plus it gives the producers of stock art packages a bit of free exposure.

Let me say the names of some of the stock art collectons I've either used or plan to use:

Louis Porter Jr Image Portfolio
Anthony Cournoyer's Shaman Stock Art Packages
Art by Shinkei, Sci-Fi and Fantasy images (which I'll use in APEX)
Sade's Stock Art
Richard Spake military stock art (another one which will be in APEX)
Dark Sphere Productions

I've also been trying to convince Amanda Webb that she should put a stock art collecton of her own. If you agree, or if you're a game publisher who needs some work done fast, cheap and at high quality, you can find the contact informaton for her on her website, over to the right hand side of this blog.