Archive for the ‘CoC 7th’ Category

New Stygian Fox Kickstarter

Friday, 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. ūüėČ More on that soon…which shouldn’t be too long, since my deadline is next week.

The Things We Leave Behind now available!

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

At long last, the first publication from Stygian Fox, The Things We Leave Behind, is available for purchase. Currently you can get it on DriveThruRPG as a .pdf here; in a couple of weeks time, you’ll also be able to buy it via print on demand. Once i have the info for that, i’ll post it here.

This is the official blurb:

The Things We Leave Behind is an anthology of 6 modern day scenarios for the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game published by Chaosium, Inc, edited by Jeff Moeller, and written by Brian M. Sammons, Scott Dorward, Simon Brake, Oscar Rios, and Jeff Moeller with art by Davide Como, Badger McInnes, Dean Engelhardt, and Stephanie McAlea.

Taking its inspirational cues from Delta Green, Fargo, Blood Simple, and True Detective, the book takes a mature look at the horror of human nature and its ability to be just as disturbing as anything from the Mythos.

The scenarios deal with unavoidable fates, dark secrets, and seriously bad choices made by the antagonists. As so often is the case, there are no winners when fate has trapped you in a dice game for doom or destiny. As such, please be aware that some of the themes are quite mature and are suitable for adult gamers only.
In other news, we’ll be at the SF ComicCon Friday and Saturday, running demos of Feed the Shoggoth! to unsuspecting patrons. Games of Berkeley is running the gaming section of the con, and have graciously invited Squamous Studios to show off FtS! there.
We’ll be at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis, in Sierra J (wherever that is), Friday and Saturday from noon to 4pm. Please stop by! More info on the con can be found here.

Call of Cthulhu 7th ed finally seeing the light of day

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

After what seems like an eternity, word is coming out that backers of the CoC 7th ed Kickstarter are finally starting to get their copies of the game. I haven’t seen the books myself (apparently my contributor’s copies are on the way), but reactions from people are starting to trickle in, and so far, it’s been very positive in regards to the design and layout.

I can’t tell you what a bloody relief it is to see 7th ed finally come out (and i’m sure that feeling of relief doesn’t compare to how Fricker & Mason, and all of the Chaosium management people feel); i think this the biggest delay from the time when i’ve turned in a book project until it actually saw¬†the light of day. But better late than never, especially considering that there was a real possibility that 7th edition wouldn’t come out at all.

I’ll be really glad to see this hit the stores eventually, too, and hear about people’s reaction to it, particularly when it comes to the new rules changes. There’s been quite enough written on that already, but customer reaction will have a big impact, i think, on how the rules mods play out (pardon the pun) over time.

I just wish we’d been able to save those corner icons, dammit. ūüôĀ

Clearing the plate

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

Well, at least it didn’t take until next year to post an update. Good gods. I’ve been terrible at this lately. And by “lately”, i mean for a long bloody time.

Since last we spoke, De Horrore Cosmico, a collection of Cthulhu Invictus scenarios, has been completed, sent out to Kickstarter backers, and should be on shelves at some point in the future (i would hope!). I’m rather proud of this book, especially since it was the first book i designed a cover for. Credit to Mark Shireman, also of GGP, for helping with some ideas on that. Check the book out; looks like you can get it on Amazon (edit: actually, it’s not available there!), but i would highly suggest purchasing it at your local gaming store instead.

De Horrore Cosmico

At least one fiction book for Montag Press was also completed during that time, and i’m currently working the layout for another one, plus going back and plugging in a bunch of corrections for a previous title, Xtremus.

 

Xtremus

But mostly, i’ve been working on Feed the Shoggoth! stuff. At this point, the game is done and dusted- in fact, it’s on the way here from China as i type this, and should be in my hands the first full week of October. Woot!

Speaking of Feed the Shoggoth!, i’ve learned yet another lesson through this process of self-publishing that i can pass along to you, dear reader. Make sure you’ve got your shipping costs nailed down before you start your Kickstarter. I’m not talking about the shipping fees that your backers will need to pay in order to get their stuff. I’m referring instead to the costs incurred from the printing company when they ship your product to your doorstep (or wherever you’re going to stash your product). I didn’t, and it’s come back to bite me in the ass, to the tune of $2000. Ouch. I have the money to cover it, thankfully, but i’m going to have to eat much of the costs of mailing out all the KS product out. And that’s going to suck.

Lastly, i’ve signed a contract to do the book design for a new company that’s a Chaosium licensee, Stygian Fox Publishing. The Things We Leave Behind will be a collection of six scenarios for Call of Cthulhu, all set in the modern era. It looks to be really good, and i’m excited to be a part of it.

Okay, that’s it for now. Oh, and in case you’re keeping an eye on it, i’ve finally updated my damn portfolio.

I’m not dead!

Sunday, June 7th, 2015

Honest! I’ve just been…ummm, off doing stuff. Seriously.

As usual, i don’t mean to let my blog here slide, but when you have only so many hours in a day, you have to prioritize.¬†It’s like editing, sometimes; you have to let slide bits and chunks of stuff that you know (or think, at least) that would be really cool, but just can’t fit for whatever reason. But i’m back! I swear!

What have i been working on? if your first guess was “Feed the Shoggoth!“, you’d be right. I won’t go into the long, boring details of it, but i spent most of the winter struggling with printer companies. One in particular that, even though they were highly recommended to me, ended up having the worst fucking customer service i’ve yet to experience in this process. You would think that when you’re telling a company that you literally want to give them your money, but they’re not letting you, they’d say something… This cost me precious time, and further delayed the game coming out.

Oh hell. You know what? I’ll out them. They’re called DeLano. I had gotten a quote from them about a year ago, and thought everything was fine. When i requested an updated quote…crickets. Several emails and calls went unanswered. Eventually, some emails were responded to…vaguely, as if they weren’t really paying attention to what i was writing.

Thankfully, i’ve solved that issue; we’re going with Panda Game Manufacturing now, and the difference is night and bloody day. The status of Feed the Shoggoth!, then, is this- pretty much everything concerning goodies for the Kickstarter have been created, paid for, and shipped to me. All i’m waiting for now are the minis and boxes. As far as the game itself, we were delayed (again!), when the pre-press fellow at Panda pointed out that our bleed amount wasn’t enough.

But, as of last night, i finished processing all the cards, after Damion went back in with Illustrator and did some tweaking. I need to do some last tweaking of the rules, and Damion is in the final steps to getting the box design finished. Then we’ll be off to get this all printed!

Of course, we won’t be done after that; there’s still the Print ‘n Play version to put together. But that should be easy (he says, well knowing he’s said that phrase before only to be kicked in the arse by it later).

Meanwhile, i’ve been working on some other projects. You probably know that Call of Cthulhu 7th edition is out now, at least in pdf form. I’ve been told that the dead tree version will be out…this month? May? Anyway, the new year has seen me working on the 7th ed revision of Cthulhu by Gaslight, which is about 90% done. ¬†I’ve also been actively working on the newest book for Golden Goblin Press, De Horrore Cosmico. That particular book is a collection of six, standalone scenarios for the Cthulhu Invictus era. I’m currently done with the big pass on that, and am waiting for the proofreading feedback to get back to me.¬†It’s been a challenge to not duplicate the work i did on The Legacy of Arrius Lurco.

What else…a couple of books for Montag Press that are in the can, and i really need to update my portfolio here….sheesh.

Okay, back to work with me!

I guess i’ve been that busy…

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

…because when i tend to get /this/ busy, that means that some things tend to get lost in the shuffle. Like my blog. :/

So what have i been doing for the past month-plus, besides taking trips around the world and buying pair after pair of argyle socks with all the money i raised from the Kickstarter?* ¬†Whelp, working on that damn card game of mine, mostly. Here’s the list of things that have gone on:

1) Read the short story, made edits, sent it back to author

2) Designed and got made 4000 score tokens

3) Continued the design of the cards for the game with Damion

4) Continued word on the card art (almost done!)

5) Designed the score counter, worked with manufacturer to get counter made

6) A bunch of boring KS admin stuff

7) Continued contact/shepherding of other KS goodies like the boxes and minis, Minion portrait cards, etc.

 

I’ve also been in talks with Chaosium about various things, evil, delicious things that i can’t mention in public. Yet. Except maybe that Gaslight scenario book i’ve been blathering about for a couple years now. Yes, maybe that.

Anyway. That’s where things stand. I’m trying to wrap up the art for Feed the Shoggoth! as quickly as i can; once they’re done, i can start throwing them onto the cards, and get the real manufacturing underway. I’m aiming for shipping in November sometime still, but i may slip a bit into December. We’ll see.

 

*Note: i really haven’t been doing this, i promise.

And i haven’t forgotten about 7th ed…

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

Since i haven’t mentioned it in my last post, lemme give you a quick update on Call of Cthulhu 7th edition: the printer’s proof has been released to Kickstarter backers for review, with the intent that people will crowdsource corrections and typos. I’ve already gone through both books and sent in my list of corrections (of which there are many).

Plan is to have the books out by Hallowe’en some time. I think that’s a reasonable goal, depending on how many problems are found, of course.

In the meantime, i’ll be meeting with Charlie and Mike Mason next week (Mr. Mason is in town for a few weeks in the bay area, visiting), to discuss future projects. One topic i know we’re going to hit is Gaslight supplements… ūüėÄ

Stay tuned!

The process of developing Call of Cthulhu 7th edition

Friday, June 13th, 2014

When I began the process of designing Call of Cthulhu 7th edition, I had it in mind from the start that two rules i needed to follow were to be paramount. One, that the book be easy to read; and two, that the book be easy to navigate and quickly find information. There had been a lot of talk in different circles about wanting CoC 7th ed to look like this, or look like that, and as a fan myself, it was easy to fall into the mindset of “Yes, I want to look as amazing as possible! Full color everything! Cool things everywhere!” But one thing (out of many, many things) that Lynn Willis taught me is that form should never supersede function. The primary job of a rulebook is to disseminate information in the quickest and easiest manner possible. Everything else is fluff. And if that fluff gets in the way, then I’m not doing my job right.

So I did a bunch of research. I looked at several iterations of Call of Cthulhu, from the first edition all the way up to 6th. I looked at the Spanish and French editions, as well. Each version had their strengths and weaknesses that I took note of. I then went outside Call of Cthulhu and the horror genre entirely and looked at other rulebooks that had come out in the last few years. The gaming world has advanced a lot since Call of Cthulhu 6th edition, with a ton of new artists and designers introducing new ideas and concepts into how rulebooks should look and function. What had they done right? What had they done wrong? I looked at titles such as Godlike, Pathfinder, Eclipse Phase, Kerberos Club, The One Ring, Hollow Earth Expedition, and others for inspiration and object lessons.

One thing that stood out to me was that, with a book as massive as this, easy navigation through the book was going to be really important. I hit upon the idea early on that I wanted to incorporate some sort of icon system that would give distinctive visual cues to the reader when flipping through the book. In addition, I borrowed an idea from Eclipse Phase in which the two columns of text really standing out from the page:

 

KS article example 1

 

As you can see in the above example, the icon navigation idea really didn’t work. The page is way too busy with icons, symbols in the background, splashes of blood, graphics at the top of the pages‚Ķthe main text just gets lost, even with the highlighting. You can see also that the font for the headers is an early attempt of a tome-like feel that didn’t quite work.

Some things were kept, however, as we’ll see in a bit.

 

KS article example 2

The main page background has been toned down greatly, and all but one of the icons show up on the page now. I wanted to have notebook pages and scraps of paper used for boxed text and other highlighted sections; you can see one example of this above. Still, too cluttered.

KS article example 3

After some more feedback, things start to change pretty radically. Borders have been placed for most of the boxed text, as well as all the page headers. The main page backgrounds have been toned down even futher, with arcane symbols in the upper corners, and distressed looks in the lower corners. Obviously, the red sidebar text didn’t really work. Header fonts are still very much in flux (i went through so many fonts throughout the evolution of the book, it’s not even funny).

KS article example 4

 

Amazing what one font will do for a book…once i introduced Cristoforo, it all really started coing together. Example boxes have been made. And, for the separate boxed text, you can see how i borrowed from my idea back in the first example of the highlighted box for the main text. Goes to show you that you should always hold on an idea; you never know when it might work for something else! The illuminated letter at the beginning of each chapter, as well, has been kept from the earliest iteration (and, later on in the process, colored for effect).

KS article example 5

And now we see the near-final look and feel of the design. The size of the header font has been dropped significantly (in some places, it was just huuuge), the page background have been darkened just a bit, and it all just looks…cleaner. One side benefit of using the Cristoforo font by Thomas Phinney is that he included some terrific Lovecraftian glyphs, some of which i was able to use for bullet point lists. Example boxes have been refined, and space in general has at once been tighened up, and expanded as need be, to give the text space to breathe.

 

KS article example 6

One last example after further polishing. Old photo borders have been added to the pictures, the “Example” headers in the Example boxes have been taken out (to conserve space), and general tightening up.

So there you go! It’s been a very long evolution, one that doesn’t happen in a vacuum. What you see here is the result of months of tweaking, refining, getting feedback, doing further tweaking, more feedback‚Ķuntil we reach something that we can all be happy with and proud of. And this is but a taste¬†of the many, many versions of the core book that we went through; these screenshots highlight only a small sample of them.

Thanks for reading!

CoC 7th edition is now in house

Monday, March 31st, 2014

As of yesterday afternoon, the last of my work for Call of Cthulhu 7th edition has been turned over; now the rest of the heavy lifting is in Charlie and co.’s hands. I had only about two weeks or so to do whatever work i could on the Investigator’s Handbook, which isn’t much. I was able to do the basic page decoration, and layout all the text, but there’s still plenty to do (tables and charts, inserting the art, etc.). Similarly, the core book has a lot left- inserting the rest of art and cleaning everything up).

The plan now is for the two books to finish getting assembled, and then they’ll be sent back to me for final clean up, look-and-feel wise. I’m assuming that at some point a final proofreading will happen, but that hasn’t been scheduled yet.

I have to say that it feels kinda weird not working on 7th ed anymore. I’d been plugging away at it in some fashion since last summer, and really ramped up work on it in October. I’ve spent most weekday nights and weekends on the core book and the IH for months…thus it was kind of anti-climactic to upload my files yesterday to Chaosium’s ftp server. No fanfare, no glass of champagne, just hitting Send and making sure the transfer worked.

In honour of that, i’ll share with you one more trick that i learned in InDesign that i wish i’d discovered years ago. Sure as shit would have saved me a ton of time and work…anyway. In addition to being able to search and replace text as one is used to, i found that you can also add formatting to the text.

Say, for example, you’re dealing with dozens of stat blocks. And you have “Damage Bonus:” repeated over and over. But you need to bold all of those. Whelp, in the past, i would do all of the bolding by hand. InDesign’s Find/Replace feature is way more powerful than i first suspected, though; you can use it to find all those instances of¬†“Damage Bonus:”, and tell it to bold every instance. I can’t remember the exact steps to enable this, but it’s pretty easy.

So…what’s next for Squamous Studios? Whelp, the Kickstarter for Feed the Shoggoth will be going live in April some time, so i’m doing as much work as i can for that. I’ll be posting more about the KS soon; right now, i’m polishing up the KS page, and getting all my ducks in a row, so to speak.

Bookwise, i have a few projects upcoming that are floating about in the aether, but i’ll wait until i have something more concrete before yammering about ’em.

The mother of all tables (and other musings)

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

I meant to post about this a while ago, but i kept on forgetting…

In a couple of spots in 7th edition, there exist some rather…large tables. One particularly massive table has to do with listing every single Mythos tome ever written about in any Mythos story. We’re talking well over a hundred entries.

Up to this point, i’d been doing all the tables by hand, but after starting in on the tome table, i was quickly realizing that i was losing Sanity points in big chunks. Surely there’s got to be a solution for this…

Lo and behold, InDesign has a function available, called Convert Text to Table, which can be found in the Table menu. I won’t bore you with too many details about it, but one important element i learned (the hard way, as usual) when using this tool is how tell it when to create a new cell. There are a few methods, but the simplest is by a tab. Basically, it works like this:

(glob of text)  [tab]  (another glob of text)

Select the text and apply Convert Text to Table

(glob of text in Cell 1)    (another glob of text in Cell 2)

It’s an awesome, time-saving feature, but you have to be careful that you have all your tabs cleaned up before you run the conversion; otherwise, entire rows in the table can be thrown off. If there are two tabs between your words instead of one, you’ll end up with an unwanted, blank cell.

In other news, i’ve sent off a completed chapter of 7th edition to Mike Mason; it’s been approved, and will hopefully be put on the KS page soon. And, of course, i’ll put up samples of it here as well. I’ve also mocked up some final card designs for Feed the Shoggoth; i brought those with me to a local con recently, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. Once those are prepped, i’ll post those here as well.