Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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.

Happy New Year

Tuesday, 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!

The Things We Left Behind finished

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

At long last, i can say that The Things We Left Behind is really done. Right now, the interiors are complete, and is getting a once over to check for typos and other issues right now. I’m expecting that, if everything goes okay, it’ll be ready some time next week. I believe the plan is to get the .pdf out to backers first, and then to DriveThruRPG for POD orders.

I’m really rather proud if this book; Stygian Fox really let me stretch myself creatively, and i got to try some things design-wise that i haven’t done before. I believe Stephanie said that it looks “visceral”, which is definitely something i was shooting for when working on the design. I’ll post a couple of pictures here to give you an idea of what the interiors look like.

Meanwhile, i’ve also been working on an art book for my friend Skinner. You may or may not have seen his work; his stuff is gonzo, underground, insane…and completely awesome. I can’t tell you how honored i feel to be working on this project.

Lastly,  i’ve been running Horror on the Orient Express for my gaming group. And, being the handouts/props geek that i am, i’ve been making my own versions of the handouts that are needed for the campaign. As much as i love OE, the production the handouts in the books leave a lot to be desired. Guessing that other people may want to use them, i’ll start posting them here- i might even make a dedicated page for the campaign, if interest is there.

Be seeing you…

It might be starting to pour a bit

Saturday, June 4th, 2016

You know that saying, “when it rains…”? Yeah…after a bit of a dearth of assignments, i’m suddenly starting to get contacted a lot about new projects to work on, which is awesome.

What is decidedly NOT awesome is the fact that we recently moved, and my work station is all in bits and pieces. Which is not good when you have assignments to finish and now others to potentially start on. Oh, and our internet access isn’t up and running yet. I’m hoping to get this all sorted out this week.

Speaking of assignments to finish, The Things We Leave Behind has been in a holding pattern as a) i wait for more maps to come in, and b) we get our move completed. But Stephanie has been putting more map files in my Dropbox lately, so that’s good. Now i just have to take care of part b.

In Feed the Shoggoth! news, we’ve been slowly but surely expanding the number of stores that carry the game (including one in Denmark!), and our online store is up and running: you can check that out at FeedtheShoggoth.com. You know you want a copy.

That’s all for now. Be seeing you!

Weird West Call of Cthulhu Character Booklets

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

Last month, i had the pleasure of attending a small horror RPG convention. While i’ve been running Call of Cthulhu for years and years, it’s really only at cons where i actually write original material; in my regular campaign, i almost always run pre-written adventures. So, for this convention, i got a bug in my bonnet about writing a scenario set in the Wild West. Previous adventures that i’ve done have covered modern day, the 1950s, World War II, and of course the 1920s, but i’d never done anything in the Western era. I’d been partially  influenced by my friend Dovi, who ran this utterly amazing scenario early last year.

Naturally, as a huge prop geek, i wanted to do more than just the typical character sheet. I did a search online, of course, and found one that was done by the Mad Irishman for Worlds of Cthulhu #2. It looked great, but it wasn’t quite what i was looking for. I wanted a booklet, something really tangible that my players could sink their teeth into. A friend of mine suggested that i make it in the style of an old playbill. Eureka! That was the inspiration i needed, and off to InDesign i went…

I thought it might be cool to make that booklet available for people to use, if they want to, so i’m offering up some files for free download. Some things of note:

  1. You’ll notice that the pages might look a little out of order. This is done so that you can print the booklet double sided. For example, the page that has “One Night Only” is meant to be the front cover; the Gear and Weapons page would appear on the back. “The Main Cast” would be the inside front cover, and so on.
  2. You’ll want to print these out in landscape mode, on two normal 8.5″ x 11″ pages. I used some special marbled paper from an office supply store to get more of an old timey look.
  3. There are a few skills listed, and Draw! rules, from Worlds of Cthulhu #2. I know it’s out of print, but if you can track that book down, i’d advise it. I think it’s all self-explanatory, though.
  4. I’ve made most applicable fields editable, but please note that it’s my first time doing so, so please let me know if i can improve on the pdf.
  5. The “Ace in the Hole” is a house rule i came up with just for the scenario. Each of the six characters has a secret, heroic ability they can use, mostly just once per game. You can read an example of this in August Black’s character booklet.

I think that’s it. Here’s an example of what the front and back covers look like:

August Black example

 

Here’s the link to the editable pdf: Blank Wild West CoC Char Booklet

And here’s where you can download an example of how the final booklets looked: August Black.pdf

Enjoy!

-=Badger