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2019 year in review

Tuesday, January 7th, 2020

Well, I didn’t post again before the year was over, but I’m at least pretty close…

2019 felt like an odd year for us at Squamous Studios, insofar as we worked our butts off on various projects, but we didn’t see much in the way of the fruits of our labor.

We launched two Kickstarters this year, both of which were successful. The first was for Morsels of Madness. I had thought that there was a good possibility of getting the game done and into the hands of folks by October or thereabouts, but the art took a bit longer than anticipated, as well as the box design. The second KS was for Arkham Relic Hunt, which is slated for release next year. Err, this year. 2020. Sheesh, that’s weird to type out. Anyway, we’re on track to get both products out this year (I’m guessing Morsels will be out in Q1, with ARH arriving some time around Q3).

On the Stygian Fox side of things, we snagged another ENnie, this time for Fear’s Sharp Little Needles. While that’s great news, we had some controversy hit us in the form of outstanding Kickstarters that haven’t been fulfilled, raising the (totally justified, imho) ire of people who saw Stygian spin up another KS (for Innsmouth ’86). That led to Kickstarter putting a halt to any in-progress or upcoming projects, until we finished off our unfulfilled ones. Which, despite the fact that…well, sucks on a few levels (Innsmouth ’86 was getting a huge positive reaction), I think we needed to be put in this place.

My big project has been New Tales of the Misk. Valley 2nd edition, which, again, I thought I’d have it done for release by the end of 2019, but obviously I was wrong. That seems to be the overarching theme of 2019; however, as of last night, we have released the digital version of the book to our backers, and the print version will be coming out soonish, depending entirely on how cooperative the printer behaves this time around.

So, I’m hoping that 2020 (and dammit, I can’t help but think of Cyberpunk 2020 every time I write that) will be the year of Releasing Stuff. Looks like we’re already off to a great start, with New Tales coming out in digital form. I aim to keep that up, both on the Squamous front and with Stygian Fox.

And maybe update this place more than once or twice a year. 😉

Only four months since our last update!

Friday, November 1st, 2019

Yes, I realize that’s damning with faint praise. 😉 Let’s get right into our latest update, shall we?

  1. Back in June we discussed Morsels of Madness, the upcoming expansion for Feed the Shoggoth!. As of now, all of the artwork is done, and the cards are ready to go to print. The last thing we need to do is get the box art/design locked down, and that’s in process. For the Kickstarter, we originally set our shipping estimate for October; if things with the printer go well, we should only be missing that estimate by a couple of months.
  2. Our second go at a Kickstarter for Arkham Relic Hunt was successful! We raised over $10k, and are now waist-deep in production. Galen continues to crank out the artwork at an amazing pace.
  3. Over on the Stygian Fox side of things, I’m wrapping up work on New Tales of the Miskatonic Valley 2nd edition. We should be going press with that (not so little!) book in the coming weeks. I’ve also begun work on Occam’s Razor, a collection of modern-day scenarios for Call of Cthulhu that are designed to not have a Mythos influence or baddie that the investigators must face. I also have a small pile of Patreon-related books to prepare for printing.
  4. I wish I had more news on The Dare. Maps have come in (though one last one needs to be inked), but I’m still not able to advance the project on my end as the manuscript needs another edit.

And I think that’s it! Hopefully I’ll post something anew before the year ends. 😉

Whole lot to talk about…

Friday, June 7th, 2019

There’s been a ton of (mostly good) stuff going on in the Studios, and we’re way past due for an update here. So let’s get started:

  1. Squamous Studios is finally, officially, Squamous Studios LLC! That doesn’t really mean much to you, as it isn’t going to have any impact on what we’re doing as a company, but we’re now a legal entity, which is pretty damn cool (and starting your own business is quite the involved process, as I’ve discovered).
  2. The Kickstarter for Morsels of Madness was started and successfully funded earlier in the year, and now I’m in the process of finishing up all of the artwork. As of this writing, I have two more pieces to do, and then it’s on to the layout part of things (which thankfully is mostly done already. The layout will primarily involve placing the new art, and cleaning up the rules text on the cards).
  3. We had another Kickstarter launch last month, for Damon’s game Arkham Relic Hunt. Sadly, this did not meet its funding goal, so we have cancelled that KS. Fear not, though! We’re going to regroup, learn from the reasons why it didn’t succeed, and re-launch it again in early August. One of the big stumbling blocks with the Kickstarter was a lack of artwork to show potential backers early on, due to the artist having to deal with a host of unfortunate circumstances. We had to let him go, but have now enlisted the services of Galen P., who has been amazing so far.
  4. Soon after my last post here in December, I was offered not one, but two positions at Stygian Fox- Art Director, and Co-Director of the company (along with Chitin Proctor, Simon Brake, and a couple others). Naturally, I accepted this tremendous honor. 🙂
  5. I wish I had news on The Dare, but Bret is still waiting for some final art and maps to come in. Until that happens, I’m unfortunately still stuck in a holding pattern. :/
  6. Meanwhile, I’ve been neck deep in the design and layout for New Tales of the Miskatonic Valley 2nd edition. I’m almost done with the text layout, and once that’s completed I’ll be moving back to the top of the book and begin placing elements such as maps, art, and so on.
  7. Lastly (and this is the biggest piece of news), Squamous Studios has entered into an agreement with Indie Press Revolution, who will now distribute all of our products! This is huuuuuge. We’ve been attempting to hook up with a distributor for months (if not years), and haven’t had any luck up until now. The proliferation of successful Kickstarter projects within the gaming industry has been a great boon for small companies such as ours, but it has had one unfortunate side effect; because there are now so many games on the market, distributors have to be a lot more choosy about what they can store in their warehouses and sell. And unless you’re already a good sized company, or end up with a massive hit on your hands, most distributors aren’t even going to look your way. Indie Press Revolution has been, as their name states, a big supporter of small, independent game companies for a long time. And I was able to talk to Jason Walters (owner of IPR) at a local con a couple of weekends ago. He and I had been talking off and on every once in a while about Squamous joining up with IPR, and recently things have changed within them such that they could take us on. You can still get our wares at Feed the Shoggoth’s own website, but now we have a much, much bigger reach into stores and conventions than we ever did before.

I think that’s it! Whew. If you’ve read this entire entry, I commend you. 🙂

Random bits o’ stuff

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

By now, Fear’s Sharp Little Needles has been out for a couple of months or so. What’s that? You don’t own a copy of it yet? Well then! Please follow this link to DriveThruRPG and order one now! Related to FSLN, there’s a .pdf supplement for it, Aspirations, which I’m still awaiting a couple of maps for. Once I have those, Stygian will be able to release that as well.

I know that people have been asking about the status of The Dare and why I haven’t posted an update about it here lately. Sadly, that’s due to the fact that there hasn’t been a whole lot to discuss lately. Bret at Sentinel Hill Press has had to deal with a whole host of hiccups and roadblocks thrown his way, not the least of which has been artists and cartographers going AWOL on him. And I can’t continue my work until I have those elements to place in the book. :/ I am in contact with Bret constantly, so nothing going on is due to a lack of communication from either party. Once I do have some news about it, I’ll of course post it here. I just got word that more maps are coming shortly, so that’s great.

Meanwhile, I’ve been finalizing the Kickstarter for the first Feed the Shoggoth! expansion, which will be titled Feed the Shoggoth!: Morsels of Madness!. We’re pretty much ready to launch, but we’ve decided to postpone going live until the beginning of 2019. With the holidays almost here, people are going to be less apt to spend their present money on Kickstaters (yep, there’s actually data to back this up. If you start looking, you’ll find people who have devoted a crap ton of time compiling and pouring over statistics about Kickstarters over the past several years). Plus, I’ll be able to devote much more time for it after the silly season is over with. 

FSLN, an ENnie nomination, and more on The Dare

Wednesday, July 25th, 2018

A whole bunch of stuff to get to, so let’s not waste any more time babbling on or apologizing for yet another post that took forever to get out, shall we?

First up, good news on the latest book project we’ve been working on. Fear’s Sharp Little Needles, a vast collection of small, modern day scenarios for Call of Cthulhu by Stygian Fox, has finally been sent to the printer for approval (the .pdf has already been released to Kickstarter backers. I won’t go into details, but goddammit, it was another last minute struggle to get the files to play nice with the printer. Adding to the delay were a few rounds of editorial corrections and typos that needed to be fixed (I think at one point I had a list printed out that was 27 pages long). At any rate, I’m hoping we’ll get the proofs back soon and be able to approve them, and get the physical book into people’s hands.

Second, we found out that Hudson & Brand has been nominated for an ENnie award! H&B is up for Best Electronic Book (why, you ask, when it’s out in physical form? Apparently there was some misunderstanding between SF and the GenCon committee), and a bunch of other Call of Cthulhu and Delta Green products have been nominated for a number of awards as well. It’s pretty amazing that both games are dominating the awards field this year, and it’s a testament to the outstanding quality from both companies.

Meanwhile, work slowly continues (when I have the time) on the artwork for the new Feed the Shoggoth! expansion. I want to get the final pieces at least 75% done before I go live with the Kickstarter, as I refuse to have a huge lag time between the KS completing and actually going to the printer with the expansion. I’ll post another piece of art here soon.



The Dare Development Journal Entry #2:

A couple of weeks ago, Bret at Sentinel Hill Press posted an update regarding the design of The Dare. All around, feedback on it has been positive; Kevin Ross has also given it his stamp of approval, and is digging the retro look. Here’s the example that was posted on The Dare’s Kickstarter page:

One challenge with The Dare so far has been attempting to accurately nail down which fonts are going to best emulate those that were used during the period of Chaosium’s “Golden Age”. If I remember what Charlie Krank told me, back when I was freelancing for him and visiting the Chaosium offices, they were probably using something like PageMaker. Or possibly doing all the typesetting and such by hand, using some early variant of HTML-type tagging. Whatever the case may be, there’s no concrete reference files that I can use, so I’m basically eyeballing everything and winging it, keeping in mind the relative lack of fonts back then (which means no Papyrus then…*snif*). For example, with that boxed text on the right page, it took a bit of trial and error to figure out the fonts for the header and main text (which ended up being Helvetica).

After the above sample was posted on the Kickstarter, someone (specifically Jon from the Misk. U Podcast) made the observation that the page decoration on the outer edges of the pages were too dark, and thus distracting to the eyes. So, when I went back and finished the basic layout of the text, I tweaked the levels a bit on them to lighten them a bit. In addition, I started placing a few pieces of art that I have:

As you can see, the lightening of the page decoration helps, but I might wash them out a little more. And something else that I didn’t notice until I processed this latest example is that the page numbers are way, way too close to the bottom edge of the pages. Not to mention that there isn’t enough space between the numbers and the columns of text. This is even more problematic on page “13”, where that image is bumping right up against the number. This required me to both move the numbers up on the master pages, but also adjust the lengths of the columns as well. A minor fix as far as time went, but an important one.

Right now, I’m awaiting the rest of the art to come in, as well as the maps. I’m hoping to have the of those elements soon.

Meanwhile, in Lovecraft Country…

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

A couple of years ago (or so), Stygian Fox made a deal with Tom Lynch from Miskatonic River Press to revamp and re-publish four books: New Tales of the Miskatonic Valley, More Adventures in Arkham Country, Our Ladies of Sorrow, and Tales of the Sleepless City. With things steadily wrapping up for the work on Fear’s Sharp Little Needles, we’ve launched our Kickstarter for the second edition of New Tales of the Miskatonic Valley. With 16 days still left to go (as of this writing), there’s still plenty of time to get in on this project; already successful within 24 hours!

A brief history of MRP and the first version of New Tales. The company was the brainchild of Doc Herber and Tom Lynch, with the intent of releasing new material for Classic Call of Cthulhu. Originally, Doc was doing all of the layout of the books himself; sadly, his passing resulted in him being only able to complete the first book in MRP’s line up (yours truly took up the mantle of book designer for MRP afterward).

Fast forward to today. Stephanie and I wanted to get a head start on New Tales volume 2, since the Kickstarter is already funded. We both originally assumed that I would have the source files from the original version, but I discovered that I actually don’t, because I never worked on that book. That was all on Doc, who was working in Quark with the text directly in the program. Obviously, none of us can get to that stuff.

So after some quick conversation, we got something back from Tom that’s an export from a .pdf file, which I’m in turn doing some further conversion with, and then doing a massive clean up to try to get all the text into a workable flow that I can drop into InDesign. It’s…a slog.

But hey, at least I’m getting a jump on all this now!

Various updates, and The Dare Development: Part I

Saturday, 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)

Tuesday, 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

Tuesday, 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.

More Pelgrane-related news

Wednesday, 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.