Sunday, October 31, 2021

Doc Stalwart 259

Well, that's some serendipity.

I finally finished worked on Doc Stalwart #259, and it is posted to the comics archive on the Doc Stalwart blog.

This ended being a Halloween-themed issue of sorts, so it's appropriate that it is released on Halloween. However, it is also one of the earliest Doc stories I wrote; I had about half of this done for the past two years, but never could figure out how to work it in to the larger narrative I was working on, or how to work all of the various pieces in that I wanted. I think this one has had more drafts and revisions than any Doc story I've written; I spent the last several days changing just a few words at a time until I got it right where I wanted it. 

SPOILER ALERT: Read it first before continuing below. Unless you don't really care, then keep reading, I guess :)

This issue is the culmination of several stories; Jynx and Zirah were never going to be permanent residents in the comic, and I always expected them to fade into the background at some point. This issue ends one part of the larger narrative I've been working on, and the next issue is (in my head) more of an epilogue to the larger story here. I see 261 as starting a 'new' storyline, where Doc will go in search of his daughter and he and Mikah will be traversing the Null Zone. I don't know what is going to happen there yet, like I only have the broadest of strokes done, but I have a few beats I need to hit. Next issue (260) I hope will be a payoff of a few other threads I have lingering, and I hope that it feels like a complete arc when it's done. I don't know that it will be long enough to release as a 'graphic novel without all the pictures' (or whatever I'm thinking of it as), but I do want to find some way to gather the whole thing together in some meaningful way.  

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Doc Stalwart Issue 258

 I had a little trouble getting this one right; it's a transitional issue, and I didn't want it to fall flat. I'm happy with how it turned out, even though it is far more character development and setting things up than it is straight-up adventure. I figure there's a lot of straight-up adventure I'm setting up...

Doc Stalwart 258

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Stalwart Age Character Database Update - Just Keep Swimming!

While I'm all about Shakespeare Deathmatch right now, and I'm still in transition back to school mode (first time teaching English 8 and brand new to middle school, so whew), I did find a little time to update the Stalwart Age Character Database, adding two undersea characters, Prince Aquari and his arch nemesis Lord Lamprey. There are a lot of titles being passed around in the deep, obviously.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Shakespeare Deathmatch is Now For Sale

Shakespeare Deathmatch is now up for sale!

That is all.

Final Cards Have Arrived

It took about two weeks, but the third draft of the deck of Shakespeare Deathmatch came in - and the cards are perfect! I'm so happy with the printing, and I finally banished all of the little layout gremlins that were messing with the cards. I'm going to go through to dot I's and cross T's on the DriveThru site, and the cards should be up for sale in a few hours. I can't wait for people to start playing this game. 

By the way, I recommend the hard plastic box for an extra dollar - totally worth it.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Shakespeare Deathmatch Game Overview: Part 2

I knew that beyond the four basic attack cards, I wanted something that would change play; I wanted there to be unexpected events, twists, and turns that could snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. I didn't want this to be random, but I wanted there to be a bit of strategy and luck combined. I ended up with two things: trickster cards and when revealed effects.

Trickster cards are kind of like wild cards, but they allow you to do something else on your attack, in addition to attacking. These allow you to do things like improve your hand, get a card you really need, or even to completely flip damage with another player. Sometimes, you know that a particularly good trickster card is out there, and the pressure is on to take a player out before they get a chance to use it. It puts a clock on the game, increasing intensity as you try to out-maneuver your foes.

"When Revealed" are strategic effects you choose to activate. You can play the entire game without ever revealing your character - but you get a perk when you do. It allows you to evade imminent doom, or to strategically move damage to another player (depending on the effect your character has). I have found that these also are a big matter of play style; my wife routinely waits as long as possible to reveal her character (and sometimes never does), while I look for opportunities to reveal, and jump on the first chance I get that makes sense. Neither option seems to be particularly more effective than another, but both are strategic, and both cause other players to adjust their strategies in response. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Shakespeare Deathmatch: Game Overview Part 1

The game ended up in a sweet spot for me of 'medium' complexity. I've played a few card games that were quite complex (if you didn't know how every card you had worked together, and you didn't know how every card your foe had worked together, you were at a significant disadvantage). I've also played a lot of games that were quite simple (UNO). I wanted to end somewhere in the middle. I wanted it to be complex enough that it was interesting and it challenged you to apply some strategy, but not so complex that you had to enroll in community college to keep up. I will record a demo video at some point, but I thought in the short term I'd talk through a few rules... the basics are this:

1. You play a character from a Shakespearean play, trying to kill other characters from a Shakespearean play. Spoiler alert: a lot of characters die in Shakespeare's plays. Don't get too attached to anyone; they are likely to be taken out.
2. You try to avoid taking damage of the types your character is susceptible to. For example, Ophelia is susceptible to letters (representing emotional damage - reputation and mean notes - the original cyber bullying) and to coins (she has a family of some wealth and status). She wants to avoid having others place those cards in her damage pool. She is the polar opposite of sticks and stones - sticks and stones won't break her bones, but names are gonna hurt her.
3. You try to deal damage to other characters that will hurt them. While at first you are just trying to throw any damage you can, eventually you can force characters to reveal who they are, allowing you to target your damage to what will do the most harm to them.
4. Once you have a total number of points in your damage pool equal to the totals on your character card, your character is slain. When Ophelia suffers 8+ letters AND 4+ coins, she is done. Last character standing wins.