Monday, September 1, 2014

GM Games August Sales Report: A Nod to the Artists

July 22nd saw the release of The Manor #7.  The great thing about this issue is I got to meet and work with several people I'd never met before or hadn't spoken to before.  I mean +Jim Magnusson comes out of nowhere and just kicks ass all over the place with his creepy cover and fantastic interior art.  Then I meet +Jarrod Shaw, again out of nowhere, and he provides me with the coyote and mind flayer picture.  Both them were great to work.  I threw them out generic ideas and they ran with them and produced some amazing stuff.

In the way back when The Manor was just an idea, blank folded papers with no words, my biggest worry was the art.  I have no ability to draw.  None.  And as Christian Walker's Loviatar was my inspiration, +Jay Penn did the art for every issue.  I did not want to produce something that lacked the standard Christian had established.  But I wasn't sure how to find and contact artists and I had nothing in my piggy bank to spare.  And here's what makes the OSR so fucking cool, before long I had offers from top-notched artists like +Jason Sholtis and +Johnathan Bingham offering to help me with my zine.  And since then I've had several artist assist making my The Manor a fun read.  Look at this line-up of artist that I've had the privilege to work with.

+Jason Sholtis has the cover art in the 1st and 6th issue of The Manor.  Did interior art for issues #2, #3 and in #4 he did a mini monster collection for me.  Without hesitation, Jason is one of the main reasons why The Manor has been successful. 

Emily Burnette did the cover for #2.  She was a co-worker who did fantastic portraits.  I saw her doodling during a boring training and afterwards asked if she would like to draw for me.  She was thrilled to participate.  Her portrait of Hugo and his crew are some of my favorites. 

My wife did the cover and interior art for issue #3.  First she made a skeleton who looked very happy.  Jazz hands happy.  I said, "Ummm, can you draw a scary skeleton?"  The next skeleton was frowning and looked sad.  I asked, "Why does this one look sad?"  She replied, "Because someone took his blueberry muffin."  So we had a few glitches to work out.  I really like her style, I think if I write an adventure for young ones, her artwork will be perfect.  She loves to draw cartoons.  And maybe the adventure will about finding the sad skeleton's blueberry muffin. 

I recruited another co-worker, Mike Varhola, to help me with some artwork.  He's another doodler during training (that doesn't sound right).  I guess the lesson here is don't doodle next to me or I'll put you to work.  (Hmm, that doesn't sound right either).  Mike worked his butt off trying to get the picture just right for me.  Originally he was just going to do the cover, but then drew this other picture that just came to him and I saw it and said you just gave me the conclusion to the adventure.

Issue #5 I was able to recruit +Jay Penn himself, the man who inked all the art for Loviatar, to do my cover.  I gave Jay this simple photo of a door and asked him if he could make it creepy...ha, hell yeah he did.  I loved it.  Jay even sent me the original art for it.  I have it hanging on my wall now.

Issue #6's cover was done by the already mention Jason Sholtis, and OSR alumni did some creepy ass artwork for me, +Dylan Hartwell.  His pictures set the mood to the adventure perfectly.  Dylan also did all the art work for Knowledge Illuminates.  This is again, is one of those times, where I thought the adventure I wrote was good (I liked it at least), the artwork just brought it to another level.

And finally the latest issue #7, getting to work with +Jim Magnusson and +Jarrod Shaw has been fantastic.  Probably too good because I plan on recruiting them again!

Oh.  Yeah.  This is supposed to be a sales report.  Here are my numbers for July.  There is of course,, always a big jump in sales when there is a new release, even at the end of the month.  I had a total of 4 sales until I released Issue #7.  For the month I has total of 103 sales. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Bar Scene: "What My Name? What's My Name!?"

You walk into the tavern, it's an open air structure.  A simple eight pole building with a low hanging roof to shield patrons from the light rain.  There are obvious repairs to the roof.  There looks to have been a small fire as one of the poles is charred.  You can see the squatting bodies hunched on low stools and tables. 

You duck under the roof's edge and once inside you see a large sign hanging from the peak of the roof.  A snake slithers out of a knot hole its tongue out and in the shape of a figure 8.  You recognize it immediately as a thieves guild symbol for a safe house.

Folks look at you without looking at you.  Some hide their faces behind a tankard and others assess your motives with quick glances.  The bartender, Max, glares at you.  The giant man makes no attempt to hide his contempt.  You approach.  Out of the corner of your eye you notice a man you've seen in the pits numerous times, you think his name is Chun or Dunt or something simple, he moves around to flank you.

"Get out," Max mumbles.  He reaches under the bar and brings out a mace.

You stand a few hand spans away from Max.  You look him in the eye.  Unconcerned the mace is waving close to your head.  "Are we going to do this again?"  You ask.  Chun or Dunt is no longer in your peripheral vision.  

"Get out now," Max slams his mace on the bar.

"Do you want me to do this another way?"  Your patience is fading.  You turn and see Chun, you've decided that was his name, he's stooped down with a dagger in his hand.  The stupid little man.  Chun has a habit of choosing poorly, but that would end.  The palm of your hand gripped the familiar blackened wood handle of your throwing axe.  It took no effort at all to free it from your belt.  With a practiced motion the axe took flight, it spun on its side.  Not good for accuracy, but good for quick, short distances.  The axe planted deeply into Chun's forehead.  He looked surprised for a moment.  He dropped his dagger and fell to  his knees.  Blood flowed between the skin and the blade, covering his face.  Nearby, patrons stood and moved out of the way.  Chun desperately grabbed for a stool.  You didn't see the point, but dying men do have odd behaviors during their final moments.  It looked as if Chun wanted to scream.  His mouth went wide, but then he just stopped.  Eyes open and vacant.  Now he just bled.

The crowd quieted.  Death was nothing new under this roof.  The floorboards were saturated with lives.  But you only wanted something simple, a questioned answered.  A person found.  But it was never that simple.  Never.  Someone needed to die.  Again, you turn to Max who still held the mace, but his expression was no longer one of anger or contempt, but he now looked impressed, a bit more agreeable.  Max put his mace down and poured a full tankard of ale.  "I'll go get him."

You nod.  The ale is welcome.  Two men grab Chun to drag him away.  Before they do you address them.  "My axe."

The older man, he had thieves guild written all over his wrinkled face, struggled to unwedge your axe.  He approaches you with the wet axe.  "You didn't have to kill John.  He may have been a drunk, but he never hurt no one."

You take you axe and put it on the bar.  "Hmm, strange.  I though his name was Chun."

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review: The Overrun Mines

The Overrun Mines was written by +Shane Ward under the 3 Toadstools Publishing banner.  It's a low-level adventure, for 4 characters of levels 1+ using the Labyrinth Lord & B/X rule systems.

.50 cents

Physical Make-Up:
Available in PDF only.   It is 15 pages long.  1 for the cover, 2 for maps, 6 for the adventure, 1 for author bio, 2 for pre-gen characters and 3 for the OGL.  It's well organized and easy to read.  It uses a two column format.  For the PDF is is formatted on regular sized paper (8.5" x 11"), but I printed mine out on zine form (shocking I know) and I can read it fine.

There are 5 pieces of art, including the cover.  Shane grabbed them from  The art is simple and small.  While the art doesn't add to the adventure it helps break up the text giving it a light and fun look. 

Shane has kept the details generic so you can place it into your campaign easier.  A mine near a town.  It's all that it needs.  And you'll be shocked to hear that the adventure is underground!  There are two levels of mines to explore.

Mines have been the title reads.  But there is a twist to it.  Something I could definitely play on in my campaign.  I won't go into details to spoil the fun. 

 Rumor Table
There is a rumor table, which is very good.  There is a lot of little things going on and if the players take the time (and the ale) to listen they'll get a pretty good idea of what is going on and what to expect.

Resurrection Rules
heh, you gotta love an adventure starts with a set of rules for when your characters die.

Underworld Day Rules
An interesting addition, a table of random effects from spending time in the underworld.  Each player rolls a d20 each day to see what boon they receive or what penalty they suffer.

There are two simple, line drawn cave maps.  Shane uses some crosshatching to help define the areas.  I would have liked to have seen a darker pen to make them pop a little more.  While there isn't much detail, there is enough that a little more definition would have helped.

The Adventure:
An underground adventure that consists of two-levels, with 22 encounter areas.  I think a party should be able to get through the adventure in a single session (2 - 4 hours). 

My Opinion:
I think Shane captures the essences of an old school adventure with The Overrun Mines.  He keeps the adventure straight forward.  A GM can pick up this adventure and run it in five minutes.  But like a good old school adventure, GMs can integrate the adventure into their campaigns and add the layers of intrigue into it with little effort.  There is a political slant to this adventure that I could see myself run with.  What's also fun about the adventure is there are several different types of encounters.  The players will have a variety of things to hack at.  And there is enough elements within to keep every class busy.  It would be handy to have a diverse crew when entering the mines.  I like the touch of having the pre-gen characters in the back.  With them, running a pick-up game would take no time.

Grab yourself a copy of The Overrun Mines at RPGNow, it's only .50 cents.  While you are there, also check out his other short adventure, The Caverns of Ugard.  It is a PWYW product.  It's a 12 room underground adventure with the added bonus of his entry, Assault on the Thieves Guild, Shane's One-Page Dungeon 2014 entry.


Monday, August 25, 2014

What is Your Favorite Adventure Setting?

Over on my Patreon page, I ask my dudes once in a while what kind of adventure they would like to see.  What's going on in their campaigns and maybe I can churn something out.  I got a couple of requests.  One for a graveyard adventure.  Probably my favorite adventure setting.  The second request was for a swamp adventure in Corcosa.  How fricking cool is that?  So I've been trying to come up with something suitably twisted. 

I know its not Friday.  Not even close.  But here goes.

What's your favorite adventure setting?  And what is your favorite kind of twist to your adventure setting?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Manor #7 Available on RPGNow

The print version is available at GM Games.

And just to entice more, here is some of a cool artwork you'll find inside.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Manor, Issue #7 is on Sale

Where you at?

I am really happy to announce that the seventh issue of The Manor is now on sale.  I had a TON of help with this issue.

+Jim Magnusson who did this fantastic cover and contributed a batch of interior art.  The guy draws crazy fast and crazy good.  As soon as I saw this guy I knew I had my cover.

+Jarrod Shaw who came in out of no where, I think I spoke to him for about 5 minutes before I put him to work.  He did a couple pieces of interior art for me.  Don't go no where Jarrod, I'll be pinging you again.

+Chris C. poor guy has to game with me and then I put him to work.  Chris has been in past issues of The Manor and this time that's his boy on the cover.  He's collected a batch of nasty mirrors to put into your game.  They will freak your players out.

+Johua De Santo submitted an interesting take on a Skinwalker class.  A very cool old school class to add to your game.  It has a nature/Native American vibe.  It an easily fit into any ruleset. 

+Boric Glanduum has added a article I'm very fond of.  He's potion dealer harkens to the snake oil salesman.  And I like that the potions can only be guaranteed for mostly fresh.  I like it when magical items are not cut and dry.  I like it when there is a little risk involved.  Oh, and Boric has been bitten by the zine bug also. Heh, I warned him it would happen.

+j garrison allowed me to print a creepy adventure of his.  I can't explain it, but when I read it, even though it is a fantasy adventure, I could see it be a sci-fi adventure.  Plus, he did the art that is included in his adventure.  I am always jealous when I see folks who and draw and write.

+Simon Forster, master map maker, has created a micro-adventure!  It is cool!  I was so glad when Simon asked if he could submit anything.  I said how fast do you want your yes.  I love the idea he weaved in, in such a small space.

+Ken H another one who suffers to game with me on Mondays.  Ken returns to The Manor once again with a very cool Haiku featuring the mind flayer. 

So you can see there is a lot of great stuff in this issue.  I packed a ton of it in the 24 pages. 

I'll update the bundle package to include Issue #7 sometime this weekend.  I'll also check through the PDF version and put it up on RPGNow and Lulu this weekend also.

Just a note for Manor subscribers, thanks a ton for your support.  This is the last issue of your subscription.  You guys really helped prop up this zine in the beginning and I just want to say I appreciated your trust in me to getting it completed.  Thanks!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Polls Are Closed and the Winner is...

Brown for the win. 
22 - Brown
15 - Blue
5   - Yellow
3   - White
0   - Red

And the winners of the free copies of Issue #7 are: 

+Rob Monroe


+Robert Miller

There is some sort of Rob conspiracy going on here, but I cannot refute the results of the dice.  Thanks to everyone who voted.  I'm printing out new Manors tonight.  I should have them go live tomorrow or this weekend.

Manor #7 Giveaway

Last night I posted this picture on Google+ and asked which color should I pick.  Blue has a slight lead over the brown.  Let me know which cover you like best and I'll randomly select someone who comments to get a free print version.  Once I make the Paypal button and post it I'll end it, should be like 7 or 8pm tonight.

Then I begin printing.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

5E Elaboration: Why I Like the System

I received a couple requests to explain what I like about 5E from my last post.  So I'll try to explain.  I won't promise it'll make sense, but I'll give it a go because it is a good question.

So to answer +Sean Robson, you are right.  It also feels like a simplified version of 3E.  Which is probably why I like it.  It's not as bloated and it has very simple mechanics to resolve challenges.  I listened to a podcast where the group was playing 3.5 or Pathfinder, not sure, and a player rolled a skill challenge, he was upset that he only got a 31!  When you're disappointed when your result is a 31 while rolling a d20, to me, that system is broke.  In 5E players have a slower power scale.  At least what I've experience.

5E is not a clone of the old version (which is good, we have enough of those), but it is a Frankenstein Monster.  So I guess if you don't like skill checks, you won't like 5E.  I do like the skill checks, it add a concrete number to target and to me adds an element of tension.  And 5E doesn't seem to have the ridiculous power creep that 3.5 had.

To JB & +Alexis is tough for me to answer because Rob is such a good DM.  Much of the excitement we had was due to the situation, tight dice rolls and challenging combat with different types of combatants.  We've had four sessions and each combat has been very close.  Can assign that to the system or just crappy dice rolls, I don't know.  But it has happened consistently enough that I can say that 5E handles combat well.  And like I said in Sean's answer, I do like the skill system resolution.  It's easy to figure out and doesn't seem to get bloated, but my experience so far has only been with 1st and 2nd level characters.

I can't say if I would feel differently if someone else DMed the session.  I'm just not sure.  But when I read the rules I like what I see.  Only some of the newer edition stuff is what I have the most trouble with.  I've written this before, I am not a fan of the second wind, short rest, long rest healing.  But that's what is offered in the system and if the GM wants to use it, I'll use it.  However, if I ran my own 5E game, I would probably houserule them differently.

The death saving throw is proving to be fun.  Rolling to see if you get three rolls under ten or over ten first has added a lot of tension.

Despite what others have said before, since playing 5E, I will also argue that it is a system built to keep players alive.  We would have been TPKed probably two or three times with old school systems.  But it adds a heroic element to it.  In old school games you mainly start out as an average Joe with a few extra skills.  In 5E you start as a hero in training. 

It's a new system.  It feels like we are exploring the game a little like in the way back.  Learning what we can do.  Learning what the monsters can do to us.  So I guess in these small ways, it is system based for some of the fun.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

5E D&D Has Been a Blast

Last night we completed our 4th session of 5E D&D.  +Rob Conley is DMing us through Lost Mine of Phandelver, the adventure that comes in the Starter Set.  Rob has seamlessly integrated the adventure into his own campaign world, The Majestic Wilderlands.

Last night was a blast.  Usually we start at 6:30p and end at 9:30p because we are old and we smell bad if we stay up too late.  But last night he fought through our own funk and gamed until 11:30p.  We had nearly a full crew, +Chris C. players a opera singing fighter called Vougner, +Daniel McEntee plays a elf, ranger with a name I cannot remember.  And our newest addition to the group, +Joshua Macy is an elven mage, by the name of Aria.  I play Sidwin the Sharp, a rogue with an 18 charisma (it has saved our bacon twice).

Last night we got into it with the Red Brands.  Local bully group.  We just returned from kicking the goblins asses we come into town to find out the Red Brands have murdered a local farmer and they captured his wife and children to sell into slavery.  Now Sidwin is not a pillar of moral decency by any means, this doesn't set well with him.

The Plan
Sidwin tells the party that he's going to scout the Sleeping Giant, a ale house in the village where the Red Brands hang out.  He'll sneak up listen in and come back with the information.

Where the Plan Goes to Shit
Sidwin tippy-toes over.  Hears what he needs.  Tries to tippy-toe away, but one of the Red Brands catch him walking away.  Questions.  Sidwin pretends to be a drunk who water a nearby bush and offers the Red Brand a chance to taste it.  He declines.  Then all the Red Brands come out.  Sidwin goes into drunk ruffian mode who is running out of money.  Needs a job.  After some talking, drinking and gambling they seem to accept Sidwin.  Except the dwarven ale wife who make shitty ale.  I want to return to the inn, but they say, no no, you need to stay here.  Shitty ale making dwarf lady hold a crossbow on my ass all night.

Where the Shit Gets Real
My comrades find I have not returned.  They find me sleeping in the ale house with the Red Brands.  We kill them all.  Sidwin got enough information and we have a source that can tell us about a secret tunnel into the manor where the farmer's family is being held.

Where We Alert Every Fricking Person in the World that We are in the Dungeon
Yeah, we fought a lot.  We did well.  We actually got through a few fights without anyone going down.  This time Sidwin went down from a volley of magic missiles from a mage who kept shouting something about his glass staff.  Again my fellow party dudes saved my bacon. 

We left off still in combat!

We've been having a great time playing.  Rob is always an excellent DM.  Having Joshua in our party is great to get new blood mixed in.  The only thing missing was +Ken H, he hates us and won't play with us any more.  He keeps making up excuses about having to work and family, blah, blah, blah.  Have some priorities man!

I was really hoping to have my 5E handbook today, but the UPS man would not leave it on my porch (even though I left him a fricking note to do so) and now I have to wait until tomorrow.  I want to punch him.  Not hard.  Maybe in the upper leg to give him a charlie horse. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Review: How to Create Great Fantasy Maps (even if you can't draw)

Sometimes I go on to RPGNow and cruise around for some random thing to buy.  I always stash away some store credit for such occasions.  This time around I saw the title, How to Create Great Fantasy Maps (even if you can't draw)Great title.  I like maps.  I like great maps.  I like to try and draw maps.  So I bought it.  At the low price of a $1.50, hell yeah I was going to get it.

This is the PDF printed.  The staple is not included in the PDF.
How to Create Fantasy Maps was written by Mark Wightman (don't touch him or you'll lose a level) for Draken Games.  The PDF comes in at 24 letter sized pages.  This features, don't be shocked, a lot of maps.  It's very printer friendly.  No large black spaces.  No backgrounds.  Just text and maps. 

Being a map guy myself, I'm always looking for a few tips, tricks or cheats.  There are a couple of cool techniques I learned in this that I want to try.  I won't go into detail because that would spoil the fun.  While you won't find any deep, dark secrets of mapping within, it is very handy and I can see it being especially useful to beginners or folks like me who want to see how other hand draw their maps.

The biggest draw to How to Create Fantasy Maps is Mark's writing.  The guy's excitement for maps really comes across in his writing.  In the intro he mentions his love for the Tolkien maps and a spectacular example of his lack of artistic ability (I am right there with you brother).  It's a fun, practical way to learn how to draw maps.  The examples are great.  He gives advice that I would have difficulty following, such as be patient.  I forget that.  Let the ink dry first before you try to erase the pencil lines.  Good advice.

I give a big thumbs up for How to Create Fantasy Maps

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Village of the Zombies

Sounds like a bad-good movie, right?  I think so at least.  I finished my 10th micro-adventure with bad horror movie on a Saturday night in mind.  Oh, and with a big bowl of popcorn.  There are zombies, lots of zombies, all kinds of zombies.  Whole zombies and partial zombies.  Big zombies and little zombies.  Quiet zombies and singing(?) zombies.

Here's the map:

Here's the link:

Go forth and download.  It is free for all to do thus.  Much gratitudus to my generous patrons.  The gods will favor you with much wine and women in the afterlife. 

Please let me know if you end up using it and how it went.  I've got to get something figured out for Con on the Cob.  It's going to running up on me in no time and I want to run a couple of adventures.  Wonder if I have any laying around?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Dice Porn...Orgy Time


All Over the Place Weekend

I spent most of the weekend bouncing from one project to another.  I gave myself permission to do this since I finally sent the 7th issue of The Manor to my vicious editors. 

I have my map done for my next micro-adventure.  It turned out well I think.  I've titled it Crypt Hill for now.  I'll probably stick with it, but I have a couple of ideas I may play with for this map. 

I worked on a piece for the next Manor.  I may do a theme issue.

I worked on an adventure for the Esoterrorist game I want to run.  I'm using local sites, groups and lore mixed in with made up stuff.  This will give it a more authentic feel.  Plus, being a modern day type adventure I will know what resources the players would have available to them.

That's it for my weekend.  Tonight we play our third session of 5e and I hope we finally get into the cave.  The GM has been ruthless with his rolls.