Various updates, and The Dare Development: Part I

April 7th, 2018

Lots of stuff going on here at the Studio. Let’s get to it all:

Hudson & Brand is in production at the printer, thank the Ancient Ones. We finally got all the pre-press problems taken care of, and the Standard edition is getting sent out to backers as I type this. The other editions are also on their way- I received my copies in the mail last week, which included the Curator edition. 

Fear’s Sharp Little Needles is damn close to being done. I received the last piece of art from Reuben Dodd, so that part of the book is complete. The last assets I’ve been waiting for are the maps; unfortunately, Stephanie (who’s also doing the maps for the book) came down with pneumonia, and is going to be out for a couple of weeks recovering. And I’m awaiting several maps from her, so this will delay things on that front.

The silver lining in this situation is that it’ll give me more time to do some tweaking and improvements to the book, and give FSLN some more spit and polish.

Development for the first expansion for Feed the Shoggoth! continues apace. I’ve run a few play test sessions now, and the new cards are working out better than I hoped. I’ve been working on the final artwork for them, and making rules adjustments as they come up during testing.

There will be more play testing in the coming couple of months, but I’m feeling pretty confident that what I’ve got now helps really enhances the gameplay, and puts some new twists on the base game (summoning a second shoggoth to the table really changes the Cult Leader’s actions, for example…).

To whet your appetite, here are previews of three of the cards that will be in the new expansion:

 

 

 


The Dare Development Journal Entry #1:

An upcoming project I have is dong the design and layout for The Dare, a scenario originally written by Kevin Ross, which will be released by Sentinel Hill Press (you can read much more about the book here). I’ve just begun work on it, and I thought it would be neat to try another series of entries to detail the process of assembling this book.

The process begins in two ways; one is the technical side of things, and the other is artistic. For the technical side tasks like putting a template together, setting overall margins for the pages, selecting fonts, and so on are handled at this point. 

As for all things artistic, that side began with several conversations with Bret, head of SHP and of this project. Bret wants a very retro look and feel, both to evoke the horror movies and video rentals of the 80s, but also the classic Call of Cthulhu books from that same era. Hence, a combo of stripped down, minimalist design, with a dash of 80s videotape horror thrown in.

So the first thing I did was pull some old CoC books off my shelf (Fatal Experiments, Blood Brothers, Escape From Innsmouth, etc.) to get an idea of how to proceed from that angle. ITC Benguiat is the font that was used pretty much exclusively for headers and chapter titles. Page decoration from these times is virtually non-existent, and the formatting used is very basic.

Some classic books I grabbed to guide me in emulating the look-and-feel of the Chaosium Golden Age…

 

But I still want to have some sort of look-and-feel that helps immerse the reader, and make some visual reference to the scenario itself. TV static, for whatever the reason, felt right (and ties in the cover art that looks like a VHS tape rental cover), but also a little too plain and generic. Well, my muse whispered, the main antagonist in the scenario is a [REDACTED], so why not put some [CENSORED] in the page decoration too? And perhaps part of the decrepit house where the bulk of the scenario takes place? I discussed all these ideas with Bret, who gave his stamp of approval.

Here’s an example, warts and all, of the very very first pass of the page design. Not much to it, as you can see:

 

I don’t yet have the house image, but I’ve done the other work listed above. I do know that I’ll want to tweak things from how the design and layout was done for the Call of Cthulhu books originally. For one, I don’t like how the page numbers are right up against the book title in the page headers, and box text tended towards using a serif font, and I’ve always been a firm believer that there should be a definite difference between the box text and the main text.

That’s all for now. Be seeing you!

 

Pre-press follies (or: how to cause yourself unending grief)

January 30th, 2018

It’s now the end of January, and Hudson & Brand still hasn’t quite gotten to the finish line, although it’s damn close. We’re at the stage of the game where we’re trying to get things squared away with the printer, and it’s been a…struggle. Without boring you with the details (do you really care about the difference between PDF and PDF/X, or different image compression settings? No? I thought not.), there’s been quite a bit of back and forth, leading to corrections, adjustments, re-processing of files (which take quite a while, especially with all these different versions)…but the short of it is that i think we’re good now. Right now, Stephanie is awaiting the arrival of the proof copies for approval (and for me to give my stamp as well). I sure as shit hope they turn out okay.

Meanwhile, I’ve been continuing work on Fear’s Sharp Little Needles, and it’s coming along nicely. In fact, i’m in a bit of a holding pattern while i await some more art and map assets. And i managed to enlist the services of the masterful Dean Engelhardt to create the handouts. I’ve already seen some previews of them, and they look fantastic (as usual).

Also meanwhile, I’ve wrapped up another book for Pelgrane Press- this one is a supplement for the 13th Age RPG, called Book of Demons.  Not only has it been a great project overall, but i have to give a shout out to Rob Heinsoo, who is the author of the book (and co-creator of 13th Age), and has a been a pleasure to work with. In addition, he used to work for Chaosium back in Ye Golden Years, so it was cool to talk Chaosium shop with him.

Also meanwhile also, i’m FINALLY resuming work on Feed the Shoggoth! After blabbing here and there last year about starting up development on the first expansion, i carved out some time for myself last week and did some rough art for the cards. The rules are already written (with a lot of help from my friend Damon), so now it’s a matter of making the art semi-visible, and assembling everything in Illustrator. I’ll be running play tests at DunDraCon in February, but i’ll toss in a preview here as well.

Whew! I guess that’s a lot. And i can’t even talk about all the other stuff going on…yet.

Sneaking up on the finish line

January 30th, 2018

[EDIT: For some dumb reason, i thought i’d published this post back in November, but i apparently just saved it as a draft instead. Whoops.]

 

Hudson & Brand has proven to be one of my most complex projects to date, with no less than four different editions:

  • The Standard Edition
  • The Spirits Edition (Standard + the Spirits of London extra chapter)
  • The Immortals Edition (Standard + the Immortals extra chapter)
  • The Curator’s Edition (Standard + Spirits + Immortals)

Not to mention the extras spun off as separate PDFs, and a bunch of other stuff. At one point, Stephanie made a chart to help keep track of all of this, it was so unwieldy and confusing at times.

But i’m happy to say that the Standard and Spirits editions are damn near complete, pending approval from Mike at Chaosium. Soon after, the Immortals and Curator’s edition will be wrapped up; all by the end of the year, at latest. Whew.

Which means that Fear’s Sharp Little Needles is next. And i’m already far along with that project. Huzzah.

Projects update

October 10th, 2017

Without much further ado, here’s what’s going on with all the latest books and things I’ve been plowing ahead on as of late:

Hudson & Brand: The Cthulhu by Gaslight sourcebook by us at Stygian Fox is nearing completion, at least for the basic book (there are a few separate editions that have extra content that i’ve yet to tackle). We’ll be in approval and corrections/final fiddling mode very soon with this. If you’re a Kickstarter backer on this project, you should be seeing more frequent updates on this, i reckon.

Fear’s Sharp Little Needles: As time permits (and H&B, as that’s my top priority), i’ve been continuing work on FSLN. I’m less than halfway through this, and it’s already turning into a very beefy tome. I wouldn’t be surprised if, by the end of it all, we end up surpassing 200 pages. Call of Cthulhu Keepers are gonna really love this one.

Distant Realms: We’ve had to put DR on the back burner for now, while we finish up Hudson & Brand. I think i’m about halfway done with this book as well. 

Fall of Delta Green: Well, in some disappointing news, I’ve been taken off this project. My vision for the look and feel wasn’t quite what Pelgrane and others were looking for, sadly. It happens sometimes, and while i’m bummed, i know it’s part of the business. The good news is that they’ve already assigned me a new book to tackle, which i’ll hold off on announcing, so as to not jinx myself. 😉

The Dare: This is a small scenario project by Sentinel Hill Press; they just successfully completed their Kickstarter for the project, and we’re hoping to get it out by Hallowe’en. I’m so happy to be working on a Kevin Ross-penned project again, and am stoked about the positive response to the KS.


There’s a lot more coming down the pipeline in the next few months, but i’ll stay mum on those for now. In the mean time, i’ll put some page examples of Hudson & Brand up here in the next few days.

Be seeing you!

We won an ENnie!

August 24th, 2017

The 50th annual GenCon rolled around this past week, and Stygian Fox had been nominated for two awards: Best Adventure, and Best Electronic Book. We found out Friday that The Things We Leave Behind won for Best Electronic Book! I’m so proud of this award, on so many levels; Stephanie busted her ass to get this project off the ground, wrangled all the amazing authors and artists together, and worked long hours to get it out. Oh, and not to mention the maps. The writers were amazing, some of the best i’ve ever worked with. And Stephanie basically gave me free reign to design the book how i wanted to. For our very first book to nab two nominations, and a gold ENnie…that’s pretty damn amazing. Between this and the 2012 gold for Cthulhu by Gaslight, i feel confident in calling myself “award-winning graphic designer” :

 

So, then. With the afterglow of that award, i’d like to give two updates:

NecronomiCon: The largest HP Lovecraft convention in the world took place this last weekend, and it was a blast. This marks our third time in attendance, and again, it didn’t disappoint. We sold out of all of our copies of Feed the Shoggoth! (a big, big thanks to Arkham Bazaar in that regard), the two sessions of the game went great (with two simultaneous games springing up!), a good amount of networking, and seeing friends new and old made it once again a stellar convention. I already can’t wait until 2019.

Books: We’ve decided to move Hudson & Brand to the top of the design queue, so i’ve been working on that project pretty much exclusively at the moment. Plans are that, once H&B is completed, i’ll move back to working on Fear’s Sharp Little Needles, which is already well on its way. After that, i believe Distant Realms will be next (again, with a good amount of work already having been done on it).

Besides all that, i still have plans to do an expansion or two for Feed the Shoggoth!, and 2018 sounds like it’s going to be a huge year for Stygian Fox. The Fall of Delta Green book has been on hold temporarily, awaiting approval on various things from Arc Dream. Once i know about that particular project, i’ll definitely post an update on that.

Be seeing you,

-=Badger

More Pelgrane-related news

June 7th, 2017

*sigh* Falling behind here on the news, as usual.

So, first up, i put together another book for Pelgrane Press last month (my gods, is it June already?), which is a dual scenario book for the Free RPG Day event that’s happening nationwide. The book is called Swords Against Owlbears/Font of Knowledge, and contains a scenario for 13th Age, and one for TimeWatch (you can find out more about the book here).

Well, I guess Cat and the other folks at Pelgrane have been happy with my work, because i’ve been given a brand new assignment, one that is, not to underplay it, pretty frikkin’ damn big. Namely, Fall of Delta Green.

Fall of Delta Green was originally slated as an add-on for the new Delta Green RPG Kickstarter. But now it’s being broken off to it’s own standalone book. 

Kenneth Hite (and others). 175,000 words. Full hardcover book built from the ground up.

Holy shit.

So….yeah, between that and continued work with Stygian Fox, i think i’ll be busy for a little while.

New Pelgrane PDF out now

March 15th, 2017

Remember that small project i mentioned that i’d be doing for Pelgrane Press? Well, Looking Glass: Hong Kong is out now. It’s a wee supplement for Night’s Black Agents, Pelgrane’s RPG about spies, vampires, fighting vampires and spies, and probably spying on vampires. Or Vampiring on spies. It’s by Ken Hite. You should get it.

And apparently Pelgrane liked what i did, because i’ve been tapped to work on something a bit larger for them; namely, a special project for the upcoming Free RPG Day event next month.

Also, i just got asked to work on a certain kind of secret thing for NecronomiCon that i’m not sure i can mention just yet…

Oh yeah, and i *finally* updated my portfolio to represent the last few projects i’ve completed. I’d almost forgotten about some of those novels for Montag Press…

New Stygian Fox Kickstarter

January 27th, 2017

Things are really heating up with us at Stygian Fox. Last year we released The Things We Left Behind, which has garnered a lot of positive attention, and i mentioned in my last post about Hudson & Brand and Distant Realms.

Well, the latest Kickstarter has reared it’s abnormally-shaped head, this time in the form of Fear’s Sharp Little Needles, a collection of 19 (!) one-shot scenarios for Call of Cthulhu 7th in the modern era. Just going live a few hours ago (as of this writing), the Kickstarter has already been funded. More stretch goals are being added, and this looks to be another spectacular collection, and i can’t wait to work on it.

It was also announced that Stygian Fox made a deal to republish pretty much all the works of Miskatonic River Press. And since i did all the design/layout on those books originally, i’ll be revamping them for release at some point in 2017. I suddenly find myself with a very, very full queue for this year…and it’s only January. *ulp*

Oh yeah, i almost forgot. I’m also working on a wee PDF release for some company called Pelgrane Press….you might have heard of them. 😉 More on that soon…which shouldn’t be too long, since my deadline is next week.

Happy New Year

January 3rd, 2017

As the sun mercifully sets on 2016 and rises on 2017, we can talk about a few projects that are coming up from the Studio:

  1. I’ve been hired by Aaron Vanek (he of the famed HPL Film Fest in L.A., writer, game designer, and all around awesome guy) to begin work on a handful of tiny games. The first one is a LARP called Rock Band Murder Mystery. Production on my side is well underway, and i would be surprised if it doesn’t come out by the end of the month.
  2. Preliminary design work has begun on Distant Realms, a new, non-CoC release by Stygian Fox. I’m currently working on the page design, which is really making me stretch my skills (and pushing my use of Illustrator, which i have to admit i kinda despise) to new levels. Once i have something that i can show, i’ll post it here.
  3. A bit further out, i’ll be doing the layout for Hudson & Brand, a Victorian-era sourcebook for Call of Cthulhu.
  4. And lastly, i’m hoping hoping hoping to get a Kickstarter going for the first expansion for Feed the Shoggoth! launched some time during the summer.

Whew!

TTWLB and other musings

October 27th, 2016

So a couple months (!) ago, i announced that my latest book, The Things We Leave Behind, was available for purchase. I wasn’t entirely clear when i mentioned that, because at the time, it was only for the PDF version.

But now, you can get the print version of it as well, by going to the same exact place, DrivethruRPG. As a bonus, if you by the dead tree edition, you’ll get the PDF for free!

In other layout news, i continue to work on Skinner’s art book. And am in early discussions with Stygian Fox regarding another RPG book, this one wildly different from anything i’ve worked on before. More on that as it develops; i’m not sure what i can or can’t say yet about it.

Part of the whole process of running a business is, you know, actually being a business. Doing so requires taking a lot of not-fun steps, in a very particular order, as i continue to find out. None of it is very difficult, per se, but it does require a fair amount of busywork, mostly involving filling out forms and paying fees to various government agencies. For example, if you want to get your Neat And Really Fun Game to be sold by distributors, you need to fill out an application. To complete that application, you need to have a State Sales Tax license. To finish that application, you have to get your business license. To get that license, you have to…

…etc. and so forth. The reason i bring this up is not to complain, but to explain that, if you’ve ever pondered getting into the gaming business for yourself (or any other business for that matter), it may sound daunting, but it’s really not. There’s just a definite path you have to take, and the process will take a while. If you wonder how to find out what the first steps are, i can tell you that what i did is go to my city’s government website (you have to, it seems, start local and work your way up/out), and i found a well-written guide on how to start a business in my town. Your city’s website probably has the same sort of thing; if not, they will have an office or two in city hall that can help you out.