Thursday, June 6, 2019

On The Fly Design Testing

Two weeks ago, my daughter Grace said she wanted to try playing one of my games...

After I picked my jaw up off the floor and stopped crying tears of joy, she rolled up a superhero and I took her through a short adventure. She actually liked it.

Then, last week, she said she wanted to try the fantasy game, and she made an elf scout, and I made a dwarf myrmidon. We went through part of the introductory adventure from the core rules and had fun. She wanted to play again tonight...

I decided to play test a system that I have had on the back burner for years, and which I think I read about somewhere else, but I have no idea where (I am not claiming originality on this; I am sure one of you can point me to where I got it from).

Roll 2d6:
3+  Probably
5 + Likely
7+  Maybe
9+  Unlikely
11+Very Unlikely

A roll of 2 is always NO; 12 is always YES.

You build the dungeon on the fly by asking questions and rolling 2d6. Before you roll, you decide the likelihood of an event happening... Is there a door? (Maybe, so yes on a roll of 7 or better) If so, it it locked (probably, so yes on a roll of 3 or better). Is the lock trapped (unlikely, so yes on a roll of 9 or better). Once the door is open... is there a monster in here (Maybe). Does the monster have treasure (unlikely). Is there anything else interesting in the room (unlikely). Is it a magic pool (very unlikely)... and so it goes...

Here's the map of the adventure we created in this way. I planned NONE of this, but we ended up exploring an underground river behind a waterfall in elfin lands that used to be a dragon's lair. We found the bones of the dragon (long dead), were attacked by a pack of swimming rats, and encountered three water-spirit elves at the base of a 10' waterfall that attacked us but then gave us a figurine of wondrous power when they realized they were going to be destroyed. It was a great adventure that I never would have designed on my own, and as we went Grace started asking questions and deciding on things without my prompting, which was fun to see as well.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Number Crunchin Time (Dollar Edition)

One of the things I wanted to do last month was release a whole bunch of product and see what stuck. I wanted to get a sense of how much interest there was in my stuff. Here's a recap since March 1 for five releases:

Stalwart Age Issue 1 (149 Downloads; $23.60 Gross Sales)
Stalwart Age Issue 2 (96 Downloads; $5.16 Gross Sales)
B1: Dungeon Denizens (181 Downloads; $8.65 Gross Sales)
C1: Trove of Treasures (114 Downloads; $4.00 Gross Sales)
D1: Against the Goblins (96 Downloads; $3.05 Gross Sales)

However, for context, there are two other important figures:

Sentinels of Echo City Deluxe Edition (9 Downloads; $78.11 Gross Sales)
A1: Tales of the Splintered Realm Core Rules (44 Downloads; $3.00 Gross Sales)

It's hard to take away anything concrete here, but there are a few general observations about these trends:

1. The primary purpose of the PWYW supplements is to drive sales of the core rules. Since the core rules for Tales of the Splintered Realm are also PWYW, that breaks the whole model. The benefit of Stalwart Age is not necessarily the sales of those supplements, but the way it drove sales of a game that is over a year old. At this rate, each PWYW release for Sentinels could be reasonably expected to generate 3-5 downloads of that game, which is nothing to scoff at. Making $20-$30 for releasing an 8-10 page supplement is a good business model from my end.

2. Stalwart Age 1 did remarkably well; earning over $20 when none of the other PWYW releases got to $10. That's maybe the first issue effect or something, since sales for 2 were in line with other PWYW releases.

3. The fact that the monster book had twice as many downloads, and over 2x the sales, of the adventure was surprising. I guess that the takeaway is to come out with more monster books than adventures; I didn't expect that, but I suppose that's already the model that D+D pretty much established; core rules sell the most, monster books and player guides second, and adventures in third place. My own small sample shows this trend to be true.

What all this means is that I better get going on Stalwart Age #3... that's in the early stages, but I hope to have it out by the end of the month (so I can still put May on the cover). I have a handful of story ideas for it, but I'm working out long-term plot stuff that will help the unify the whole thing later on a little better.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Let's Go Against the Goblins!

Module D1: Against the Goblins is now for sale. Here's the elevator pitch (for a really, really slow elevator)....


It seems like an easy enough task: cleanse the mound of the goblins. Not so fast there, buster brown. These goblins are bat-poop crazy. Maybe from eating all the bat poop. It’s time to take arms against the goblins.

Against the Goblins is designed for a fellowship of four heroes of level 1. This is designed for use with the free Tales of the Splintered Realmrules, or you can easily adapt this to the OSR game of your choice. I’m not saying you should do that, only that you can.

About the Goblins

These goblins are… different. They had a decent thing going here with a fortified mound. But then they discovered the slime pools… and the enchanted mushrooms… and then they started consuming bat poop.

It’s a whole thing.

The result is that there is a mound full of crazy, magically jacked-up goblins that live a paranoid and chaotic existence. As with all Tales of the Splintered Realm releases, this is a pay-what-you-want offering.

Sunday, April 21, 2019


You might remember that I posted this map a few weeks ago. As I have been writing up the adventure, I felt like the map was a little... cramped. I also didn't like how pieces of it were fitting together with each other in terms of the 'flow' of the adventure... so I gave myself a do over.

May I present the goblin's burrow version 2.0:

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Playing With Isometrics

I was showing Grace some maps online (she thought the isometric designs were cool) and I showed her how they are made. Whipped up this little map, and I thought I'd share. I do tend to find the isometric designs a little more evocative; I can feel the cold of the walls and squint into the shadows more easily when looking at isometric designs.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Get Your Treasures Here

Splintered April rolls on. Tales of the Splintered Realm Module C1: Trove of Treasures is now available. It's pay-what-you-want, so I don't want ANY excuses for why you didn't get a copy.

Roll a percentile die. Get treasure. It's that easy.

Well, I mean, you probably have to kill some monsters first. But other than that, totally easy.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

I Have Stuff I Should Be Doing

So I was looking at the classic World of Greyhawk map, and I decided to try my hand at that style, considering all of the cool stuff my new Surface Pro can do.

This turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself. It is for the upcoming sandboxy adventure set in the Desert of Despairing Souls (which is going to be my first 'super module', and I'll probably give it some moniker like "S:1-3" or something just to be cute). It's going to be my riff on the Desert of Desolation series... I mean, it has towers, tombs, an oasis, and a sea of glass for goodness' sake.

Get your sunscreen ready.