Thursday, May 30, 2013

Working on Black Tokyo Unlimited

Right now I'm working on Black Tokyo Unlimited. Aside from a quick trip to a Mexican restaurant nearby, to get some delicious tacos, I haven't left my house in two days. I've just been hunkered down, on my 'weekend' from my restaurant job, trying to get as much good work done as I can.

Right now, I'm about 70 pages into the manuscript. Actually, make that manuscripts. As I mentioned last time, I'm simultaneously laying out the PDF and print on demand versions. They're different enough its a bit of challenge to work on both simultaneously. For one thing, the POD version has different margins than I'm used to working with- the text actually covers more of the page, which means the POD version will be quite a few pages shorter than the PDF version. Right now, the POD version is about 5 1/2 pages shorter than its on-screen counterpart, and I expect the page count difference will only increase as the project continues.

The project is VERY art heavy. I have a ton of John Picot art to choose from, as well as Amanda Webb artwork from both the original Black Tokyo, as well as recently comissioned stuff and tons of usable stock. I'm trying for illos every 3-4 pages, and right now I'm laying out the section on Tokyo itself. Since the city of Tokyo lends its name to the setting, I want to have tons of art for that section. Right now, I've got 3 illos for the Tokyo section of the atlas alone, and I'm not halfway done. It'll look fucking amazing when I'm finished.

The illustration for this post depicts Noriko Gibson, a POETICA club owner, who originally appeared in Expanded Occupations: Maids! She, and her Cyber Heart Cafe return in BTU, and get expanded on a little bit. To me, she's a fairly minor character in the fiction- an android that seems outwardly independent and maternal but is really a pawn of the mega-corp that assembled her. However, John Picot fucking LOVED the character and illustrated her. As a writer, I love seeing my artists responding emotionally to a character I've created- what's even better is its rarely the major players of my settings. My artists tend to latch onto a specific supporting player, and start imagining whole new stories for them. With John, its Noriko Gibson. With Amanda, it's Hiemdall. It's too my advantage, because I usually get cool art out of the deal, and some new ideas, that may take my fiction in a different direction.

Also, speaking of Amanda, she's going to be leaving her civilian job and working as a full time mom and freelance artist soon. So if any of you want to comission anything from her, either for personal projects or future RPG projects of your own, you can get in touch with her at:

Mandapandarawks AT gmail DOT com.

Anyway, I'm off to do a little more work. I want to finish up Tokyo before I bed down for the night.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Black Tokyo Unlimited: Print on Demand

I'm going to be laying out two separate files for Black Tokyo Unlimited, a full color, on-screen PDF version and a B&W print on demand version. The two books will be similar, but not identical.

This will be our first POD release, so Black Tokyo Unlimited's print version will be fairly clean and simple. It will include as much art as the PDF version, but all this art will be in B&W. For the print version, I'll use Amanda and Anthony Cournoyer's inks, rather than the fully colored version of the same pieces I'll be using for the on-screen version. John works digitally, so there isn't an inked version. I'll end up having to go through and create greyscale versions of his images in GIMP before publication. Hopefully I can do it without losing too much detail.

After this, I want to do some other books in POD format. I have already talked to Mark about doing a compiled version of the first three Fursona books in a POD version.

Anyway, talk to you soon,

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Black Tokyo Unlimited: Cover Art

Sorry for the relative paucity of posts this month. I've switched to the graveyard shift at my restaurant- getting better hours and more money, but I haven't adjusted fully to the vampire lifestyle.

This afternoon, before heading in, I laid out the cover for Black Tokyo Unlimited, and thought I'd preview it here. The cover illustration is by John Picot- I've had this image in my morgue for a while, and I knew I was going to use it for BTU the moment I saw it.

Font geekery: I chose the "Invisible Killer" font, as opposed to the "Flat Earth Scribe" font I initially planned on. Not only does using Invisible Killer recall Black Tokyo's first edition, for which Mark used the font, it just looks a lot stronger and punchier. I had tried a variety of color schemes and layout using Flat Earth Scribe, but none of them had the sheer visceral, movie-poster feel that using the blood red Invis. Killer font did.

Over the last couple days, I've added about 15 pages to the manuscript. Right now, the raw text file tops out at about 115,000 words, or about 290 pages, up from 275 pages at the beginning of the weekend. The new content includes more options for the Hentai Hero class, a new Modern Spellcaster archetype, and lots of cultural sidebars, on subjects ranging from how a Japanese arcade looks to how the Japanese Self Defense Forces are percieved by the public at large. Basically, one of the things I want to do with BTU is write a setting with enough depth in the text, that it will feel like Japan (or at least a cinematic equivalent) even if a 17 year old kid who's never been out of his home state is running it. I don't think I gave enough a sense of culture in the first edition, and I hope I correct that oversight with BTU.

So when can you expect Black Tokyo's second edition? I'm going to start laying the book out during mid-week sometime, and will likely have a finished book available at RPGnow within 2 weeks.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Update: Black Tokyo Unlimited

I'm gathering the last pieces of art for Black Tokyo Unlimited. Here are a couple of images of the setting's heroes. On top, we have a rendition of a Modern Spellcaster in the Black Tokyo world. Below, we have an image of the Chaste. Both images are by John Picot.

The Chaste were originally presented as an advanced class in Black Tokyo II: Chastity and Depravity.

I've reskinned them as a Monk archetype, because in the five years since BTII hit, Paizo introduced archetypes to the rules, and really, the Chaste works better as a monk variant than a stand alone class.

I'll go ahead and preview the Chaste's new write up. Enjoy.

The Chaste (Monk Archetype)

            The agony lasts only a moment, and than there is power.

            The Chaste Sisterhood is a warrior society older than Christianity by a  millennium; the first Chaste Sister spoke her oath and made her bloody sacrifice in a snow-shrouded Chinese monastery at the roof of the world. In the olden days, the Chaste served the Imperial Court, protecting the first Sovereign Emperor as he slept, riding into battle at the forefront of the army to unite the young and proud Middle Kingdom. The order claims its descent from the supposedly executed, Yang Kwei Fei, mistress and advisor to the first Sovereign Emperor, who was sentenced to mutilation, not death as the legends say, and who eventually found power in her mutilation.
            To appease his court, the First Sovereign Emperor ordered his mistress’ sex ruined, so that she could never again lay with the Emperor, nor with any other man. Yang Kwei Fei screamed until her voice broke as the Imperial surgeons cut away her clitoris and sewed her labia together with golden thread. When it was done, her hair had gone white. Her execution as recorded in the legends would probably have been a gentler fate.

            Shamed and scarred, she exiled herself from the court, exactly as her enemies hoped. But instead of dying out in the wilds, she healed. Within days, her scars had scabbed over, and she grew strong again. Soon, she was stronger than she had ever been before, stronger than any woman she knew. Yang Kwei Fei had reached enlightenment through suffering, the most profound agony any woman could ever endure. She retreated to the mountains, meditating on this and within a generation, she had welcomed the first seekers to her order.

            As the ages wore down, and the idea of China expanded, the Chaste Sisters rode with it. They landed on Japanese soil, waging war and brining trade, and in time, they became as much a part of Japan as they were of China. The Chaste Sisterhood endures today, still offering the same ancient path to power through pain. Following the strictures laid down by Yang Kwei Fei, the Chaste protect women, both from supernatural predators and from the mortal men who would use and discard them.

             Today, their monasteries are found in the cities and in the country, and their teachings are hidden in plain sight, because the need for the Chaste is greater than ever before. Mountain top temples have given way to penthouse dojos and skyscrapers, and more women have been allowed to hear the order’s call, though only the strongest and most indomitable ever take their vows, shed their blood. The Chaste Sisterhood still exists today. They simply call it the Sisterhood, these days. The Chaste are the best and most committed of the Sisterhood, the guiding force behind the movement, and the protectors of all women.

Entry Requirements: Only female Monks may accept the Chaste archetype.

            Unchanging Hand Technique (SU)
            Chaste are absolute masters of a form of kung fu that is especially effective against shapeshifters. Any creature damaged by the Chaste’s unarmed strike loses the ability to change its shape by any means (such as Polymorph or similar spells, wild shape, or innate racial abilities) for one round after the injury. At higher levels, additional effects become possible when a creature is damaged by the Chaste’s unarmed strike. The Chaste must decide which ability to apply to her unarmed strike at the moment she makes the attack.

            At fourth level, a creature damaged by the Chaste’s unarmed strike cannot benefit from effects from the Transmutation school or effects that duplicate Transmutation spells for one round, though existing Transmutation effects are not affected.

            At eighth level, a creature damaged by the Chaste’s unarmed strike is affected as if by a targeted dispel magic cast by a wizard of the Chaste’s total Monk level.

            At 12th level, a creature affected by the Chaste’s unarmed strike is slowed as if by a wizard of the Chaste’s total Monk level.

            At 16th level, a creature affected by the Chaste’s unarmed strike loses all unusual movement modes (Climb, Burrow, Fly) for one minute.

            At 20th level, a creature affected by the Chaste’s unarmed strike is transformed into a helpless form. The creature is affected as if by Baleful Polymorph cast by a wizard of the Chaste’s total Monk level.

            Unchanging Hand Technique replaces Stunning Fist. 

            Iron Chastity (SU)
            The Chaste becomes completely immune to harmful sexual effects. She cannot be affected by hentai feats or spells with a sexual component or transmission method. If charmed or otherwise mind-controlled, she cannot be compelled to perform sexual actions; such actions provoke a new saving throw at a +5 morale bonus. Even if the new save is unsuccessful, rather than carrying out the sexual command, the Chaste simply takes no actions.

            Iron Chastity replaces Still Mind. 

            Iron Root Stance (SU)
The Chaste practices a hard martial arts style focusing on strength, willpower and supernatural endurance. She refuses to be moved if she does not wish to be. The Chaste receives a +1 bonus to her CMD score for every two Monk levels (maximum +10 bonus).

            Iron Root Stance replaces Fast Movement.
            Iron Body (SU)
            At 19th level, the Chaste gains the ability to transform her body into living iron for one minute. While in her Iron Body, the Chaste gains Damage Reduction 30/+5, becoming virtually indestructible. Using this ability is a move action that consumes 3 points from her ki pool.

            Iron Body replaces Empty Body.