Archive for the ‘Chaosium’ Category

Call of Cthulhu 7th edition layout in full swing…

Monday, November 4th, 2013

For the past couple of weeks, i’ve been actively pounding away at laying out the text for CoC 7th edition. After meetings and swapping of emails, i’ve got a much better handle on what’s expected in the next couple of months.

So far, i’ve knocked out the first three chapters, which are admittedly pretty easy and not very big. The next chapter, dealing with creating Investigators, is going to be the first real large chapter, and certainly the most challenging by far. Feedback on my progress has been positive, which is real encouraging.

Some artwork is starting to trickle in, as well, for the DPS pages (here’s something i’ll reveal right now about the core rule book- each chapter will be preceded by a double page spread, containing the chapter title and a quote from ol’ HPL). And…man, do they look fucking amazing. I’ve been…hoping that we would line up some artists, and they would create some captivating work. If these first pieces are any indication of how the rest of the art is going to turn out….holy crap.

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

I’m happy to announce that Golden Goblin Press first release, The Island of Ignorance, is in the can, and is now available for order! Anyone who wishes to grab the pdf version can buy it now from GGP’s website…or you can wait a little while longer for the dead tree version.

Plus, i’ve finished my first book for Montag Press, M Against M by Declan Tan. It’s not up on Montag’s site yet, but should be soon. Once i hear that it’s out and available, i’ll definitely post about it here. But you can always check Montag’s site by going here.

Meanwhile, i’ve been making headway with the design for CoC 7th edition. It’s slow going at the moment, as i still have to wait for art and text assets to come in, but i’ve completed chapter 3, which is the Call of Cthulhu short story itself. I’ve also been working on more card art for Feed the Shoggoth, and that continues to chug along. Funny how some pieces get reworked as they do. One card, “Horde of Penguins”, is an in-joke, making a reference to the story “At the Mountains of Madness”. Obviously, shoggoths and blind albino penguins aren’t going to get along well. At all. (in the game, using the “Horde of Penguins” card allows the player to move the shoggoth a certain number of spaces in any direction; the shoggoth just wants to get the hell away of those penguins).

It makes sense to me, anyway.




When i originally drew the art, they were normal looking penguins. But in the story, they appear as blind, albino penguins. So i’ve taken this opportunity to go back and make sure they’re the right kind of penguins. Gotta get my in-jokes right!

Lastly, i updated my portfolio with the latest books that i’ve designed; four more this year! There’s actually another Cthulhu fiction anthology (with added sci-fi!!) in Chaosium’s print queue, but it hasn’t come out yet: Eldritch Chrome. I guess that’ll be in 2014.

So close to being done…

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

I’ve been slaving away furiously, attempting to get done the layout for Island of Ignorance. For a long while, i was pounding away at the looooong list of corrections that were handed to me from the proofreaders.

At this stage of the game, handling corrections like this can be…well, it’s kinda like throwing wrenches into the gears. I mean, most of the things, in and of themselves, aren’t difficult to fix; delete a word here, tweak those tabs over there, swap this art from that page to the other page…but it’s amazing sometimes how even one line of text, or even a single character, can result in over an hour of work. That one word might be enough to push a line of text to the next page, throwing off your header, making a stat block suddenly run against a graphic and making the tabs look like crap, create an orphaned text line…ugh. There can be (and there was) a lot of tinkering, massaging, and fudging during this period.

However…all that’s done! There’s just a few more things to do, and then it sounds like next week, the book will be off to the printer. Woot!

In addition, it looks like my first book for Montag Press, M Against M, is done and dusted, and i’ve already started basic layout for the next book, Punish the Wicked.

Lastly, i’ve more or less officially started on the layout for Call of Cthulhu 7th ed; i was recently sent the text for the Call of Cthulhu short story. I’ve created the page design, and dropped in the text. Looks pretty good, if i do say so myself. I’d like to spiffy it up a little, but by and large, /that/ chapter, at least, is almost done.

Almost there!

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

My latest design mock up for Call of Cthulhu 7th ed. was reviewed by the authors last week, and the response was very positive. Outside of a few tweaks here and there, and pending approval from Charlie, i think i can consider the design for 7th ed. done. Somehow, i suspect that this was the easy part…

Now, i should add that i’ve been concentrating on the core rulebook only. However, in the course of coming up with the design for that book, i’ve been able to experiment with design elements that i’ll end up using for the Investigator’s Handbook. Expect to see two very distinct designs between the two books. I’m really excited about this; i’m hoping it’ll come across as an actual handbook, or field guide, if you will.

I’m currently attempting to wrap up production on Deepest, Darkest Eden for Miskatonic River Press. I’m pretty sure all that’s left to do is place the ads in the back of the book, and i’ll be able to officially put this in the “done” pile.

Similarly, my first for Montag Press, M Against M, is nearly done. Feedback from both the author and publisher have been enthusiastic, which is awesome. Everyone has different expectations on what they want to see in book design, and working for a company, completely out of the RPG industry, has been a real change for me. But since everyone is digging what i’m doing, i guess i don’t need to worry.

Work also continues on Island of Ignorance– i’m done with all the articles, and am now throwing together the scenarios in the back.

And, somewhere, lurking in the shadows, Feed the Shoggoth waits to be worked on….

More feedback

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

I met with Charlie over the weekend to go over my mock ups, and get specific pointers on what he thought was going right, and what was going…not so right. Thankfully, overall, he likes the direction i’m going in. Most of the comments and criticisms he had were little things (increase the distance between paragraphs, get rid of the font point increase for the first paragraph, drop the transparency of this background art to 30%, and so on). The issue of header fonts continues to be a surprisingly sticky one; i’ve tried at least five iterations of different fonts for them, and so far, nothing can be agreed upon. I rather like the all caps one i’m using, but then, i liked the more period/tome styled font, too…back to the drawing board.

The basic layout design for the chapter start double page spread everyone seems to agree with, however, so that’s real good.

While that goes on, i continue working on Island of Ignorance for Golden Goblin Press, which is coming along fine. The only hitch with that book now is that, with everything else going on with the development of the project, getting someone to create the handouts for the adventures kinda slipped everyone’s minds, until i happened to bring it up. Whoops. 🙂

I’m also in the midst of polishing up my first book for Montag Press, M Against M. Had a bit of fun with it last night, creating my first [redacted] text for something. It’s always nice when something that i /think/ i can do in InDesign works how i planned it.

I also ran yet another playtest of Feed the Shoggoth over the weekend, and got more valuable feedback on it. I think this was the first time i ran it with seven players, and the game lasted about 1.5 hours…a bit too long, but not surprising. I think i may have to pitch the game as suitable for 3-6 players. And some interesting comments about any card that reduces scores actually dragging out the game, which is true. If i follow that advice, that’ll mean The Crown of the Yellow King will go under another revision…

Feedback Galore // MRP RIP

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Well, i had turned in my first layout example to Charlie and the gang last week, and, um, the feedback on it was…there were a lot of points brought up. All valid. So last night, i sent in two more examples- kind of a salad bar approach. “Pick and chose which bits from both of these that you like, and i’ll mash ’em all together, sprinkle some croutons and dressing on them, and Bob’s your uncle”.

So far, opinions on those are much more positive, and while they’re more things to address, my gut tells me that i’m on the right course now. I think what i’ll do, once the books are in (or maybe even when they’re in the process of being laid out, but the design is locked in), is post images of the evolution stages of design for the book. To show what worked and what didn’t.

In other feedback news, i’ve heard back from Golden Goblin Press, and Oscar is really happy with what i’ve done for the Cthulhu Companion. Work continues apace on that.

Sadly, i have to report that Tom has decided to put Miskatonic River Press on indefinite hiatus; the struggles of a new career, low sales and support, and the fact that managing a publishing house was distracting from his first love, writing, forced him to make a choice.

I joined up with MRP back in 2009, i think. Tom had announced that Keith Herber had suddenly died, and that Tom had no idea of what the future may hold for MRP. I instantly volunteered to help out in any way that i could. Turns out, Keith was in the process of laying out Our Ladies of Sorrow, so Tom enlisted my help in getting the files off Keith’s computer and finishing the book. Since then, i’ve had the joy to work with Tom as staff layout monkey. Tom has been nothing but a stand up guy, forthright and honest. He’s allowed me a metric shit ton of creative freedom, and really trusted me to do what i felt was right design-wise. This, in turn, allowed me to grow and experiment, really honing my skills as a designer. I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity, or a better boss.

I’m terribly sad to see MRP having to stop production soon (we’ve two more books; a fiction anthology, and Punktown), but i don’t regret for one second all the hard work we sweated over. The quality of the writing was top notch, and Tom was able to wrangle some of the best artists and writers. I /know/ Keith would be proud of what Tom did with MRP. Cheers, mate.

And so it begins…

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Needless to say, the biggest news around here in the Shoggoth pits is Call of Cthulhu 7th edition (if you haven’t checked out the Kickstarter for it yet, you can do so here). I’ve been putting together design elements and resources, gathering fonts, and tinkering with page design. After some early struggles with InDesign not bending to my will, i’ve managed to get the start of a framework going for the basic page layout. Right now, i’m getting really fussy with fonts, and still haven’t decided on the final font for the header. But other parts are coming together, and i’m (mostly) happy with the results so far.

Part of the thrill and terror of this sort of project is that i feel that in some ways, i need to pull out all the stops, and use every ounce of skill and technique that i’ve learned over the years to make this the best book it can be. It also means a) still trying new things, and b) making sure i stick to my function-over-form rule.

I’ve been seeing a lot of clamor lately about “FFG edition/Spanish edition/French edition looks so gorgeous! That’s what we want!” on the interwebs. It would be really easy to try to mimic those designs, and i understand that some gamers really want a pretty book. But as a Keeper myself, i know that the first thing i want out of a rulebook is for it to allow me to read it easily, and find the information i need quickly. I cannot in good conscience let the organization of a book suffer to make it look more attractive.

Since i’ve been doing book design, i’ve by and large trusted my gut, as to what looked and felt right. That’s what has gotten me to this point. I’m not about to change that now. So…i hope people will be able to trust my judgement.

In other news, i’ve finished off Grimscribe’s Puppets (though i need to send the files off to MRP), and i’m making a lot of headway with my first book for Montag Press. I’m also gearing up layout for Golden Goblin’s first book, really diving back into art deco styling.

Beeeeeeg frikkin’ news

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Oh man. Where to start.

I guess i’ll be blunt. I’ve just, as of last week, been given the honour and responsibility of creating the book design and layout for Call of Cthulhu 7th edition.


Not only will i be doing the core rulebook, but i’ll also be designing the Investigator’s Handbook, as well as the Keeper’s Screen.

This, obviously, is a huge deal. And not something i take lightly. As someone who actively plays CoC, and knows about the….various opinions on how CoC 6th edition looks, and how i’m doing the book design for RPG i love the most, it’s a little daunting. Well, okay. A lot daunting. Kinda terrifying, but in a good way.

Anyway. I’ll be discussing my progress right here, at ol’ Squamous. Right now i’m in pre-production, going over the manuscript and getting ideas for the design. At this point, i’m pouring over fonts, how page elements might look, navigation, splash pages, and so on. One thing i’m keeping mind that, as pretty as this could be, it is still a /rule/ book, and needs to be easily referenced by people (one thing that people complained about with 6th ed. (me included) that it’s a bitch to find information in it sometimes). But i still want it to reflect a period look and feel, evocative of the Classic era. We’ll see how it goes.


Meanwhile, other stuff has been slithering around in the Squamous camp-

I’ve been pounding out a fiction anthology for Miskatonic River Press, called The Grimscribe’s Puppets:


The first pass is already done; now i’m going back and making corrections and the usual lot. I still hate italics text.

Work continues on the card art for FtS!. I’ve kinda lost track of how many i’ve finished, but i’ve gotta be close to the 30 mark. I need to post more examples about that here. I’ll get on that.

In non-Lovecraftian news, i’ve been hired as book designer for Montag Press! I’ve already received my first assignment from them; more news on that as it happens.


A two-fer!

Monday, March 25th, 2013

I recently stopped by to drop off not one, but *two* completed projects for Chaosium:

1) The first is a collection of science fiction short stories based around the Cthulhu Mythos, called Eldritch Chrome. It’s edited by Brian M. Sammons and David Conyers, who, if you don’t recognize the names, well…you can be rest assured that they know what they’re doing. It’s good stuff, from what i read.

2) The Cthulhu by Gaslight 3rd edition pdf Supplement! There were some articles that had to be trimmed or cut entirely, due to space constraints or whatnot, and i had these pretty, full colour versions of the handouts that Dean Engelhardt had made…not to mention an easy way to print out the spiffing character sheet that Dean had lovingly hand-crafted. I didn’t want all this to go to waste, so heck, why not put together a small pdf for people to enjoy? I don’t know if Chaosium plans to charge for it, or offer it up as a free download. Once i do know, i’ll post about it here, along with links and cat toys and jam and such.

Meanwhile, i continue to chug slowly but assuredly on the artwork for Feed the Shoggoth!…

(speaking of, it’s a helluva thing to be able to have an impromptu game demo session with Charlie and some of the other folks in the office…)

It’s gotten a little quieter…

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

With Gaslight 3rd ed. out the door, things are calm(er) at the moment, but that doesn’t mean i still have stuff i’m working on. I’ve just started assembling the Gaslight supplement, which is going to a be a pdf that will include all of the maps from the book, plus full colour versions of the handouts that Dean deliciously crafted. Plus the character sheet, as well. So there’s that, plus some writing that i need to finish up. (Altered) Resonance got a great response once again when i ran it at the local convention a couple weeks ago. Hopefully that’ll see publication at some point.


Also: 127.