Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Growing Through Creative Commons

One of the key reasons that I released Mythweaver: Legacy in Creative Commons (and will do so with Resolute: Legacy once it's cleaned up, and Army Ants: Legacy as well once I get that done) is to open the door for everyone who plays to also contribute to the game. Let me lead off with the description of the license from the Creative Commons people:


This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.


This means that YOU now have the ownership rights to Mythweaver: Legacy to create new game content. It's the same general principal as D+D 3E's OGL, only this appears (to me) even less restrictive than that license- and that one allowed an entire community to reverse-engineer all the way back to the beginnings of the game! True, the Pathfinder folks managed to one-up D+D 3E, and turn a tidy profit in the bargain, and I'm sure that scared the pants off of WOTC. I suppose that's a risk that's worth taking. I want to see a large community grow around these games, but I have neither the time nor resources to support the Resolute, Mythweaver and (ultimately) Army Ants in the ways that would allow for such growth. If this provides the motivation for others to generate some content - and maybe make a few bucks in the bargain - sounds good to me!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Pricing Updates

I received my print copy of Mythweaver: Legacy in the mail today, and I think it's SWEET. It looks pretty nifty, and Lulu turned it around in just under a week. All around, I'm happy with it.

Book now in hand, I was able to go in and change distribution so you can order it through your Friendly Local Bookstore, but I also set up a 20% discount through Lulu, meaning that if you order there, you get the book for $7.96...

While I had my price slashing pen out, I also went over to RPGNow and changed the price for Resolute: Legacy to $1. On my medium-term to-do list is an update to that game to fully align it with the new Mythweaver rules. There are a few discrepancies between the rule sets (boosts/shifts work a little differently, a few abilities have been cleaned up, and rules for combat sequence have been tightened), so I'd like to have 100% compatibility between them. As is, it's about 95% compatible, but before I release a print edition of Resolute (which is in the works), I decided to clean it up first.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Clash of the Demigods and Other Stuff Too!

On the forums (link over on the right side...), I'm discussing notes I have going for a Clash of the Demigods expansion for Resolute and Mythweaver that I've been working on. This was going to make it into a larger sourcebook (and still might someday), but getting this done has become a low priority with all the other projects I'm working on, but I've got a chunk of notes about it, so I figured I'd use the forums to share... feel free to stop by and check it out!

Also, I wanted to thank everyone who has helped to bring Mythweaver: Legacy into the top ten on RPGNow... it's been in the top 10 for a few days now, and peaked at #7. I'm quite pleased with that! In order to keep the momentum going, the game really needs some reviews! If you read and liked the game, please consider taking a few minutes and writing a brief review. Even though the game is 'impulse buy' purchased, people are going to pass on it unless they think it's worth the dollar. I know that when Mary and I consider an impulse purchase (I'm thinking here of Apps for the iPad), a few good reviews- or a few bad ones- are all we need to sway us one way or the other. If you'd consider contributing a few words so the community knows what to expect, I'd really appreciate it.

Also, if you frequent this blog (and if you're reading this, that's probably you!) please consider clicking the link as a follower. It always impresses me when I swing by Tenkar's Tavern (which I do about twice a day) and see that he has yet another new follower. It's a psychological thing, but I'm pretty sure it motivates him to keep writing and posting since so many people are reading.


Mythweaver Chronicles #1 Preview

Expansion for Mythweaver: Legacy is primarily going to take place through sourcebooks/ supplements/ periodicals called the Mythweaver Chronicles. Each of these (at least for the first few) is going to focus on a particular area of the larger continent of Eastern Del Anon (as outlined in the core rules), expanding a particular area. For the first issue, I'm focusing on the Scaled Coast, specifically the area surrounding the starting location of Gryphon Watch Keep. This will primarily be built as a sandbox environment for ongoing play, with new monsters, some new magic, and a handful of new magical items - as well as at least 5 adventures (one full length). Most of these adventures have appeared in previous editions of Mythweaver, but they've been out of print for some time, and I am going through and updating them for the new ruleset. Here's a new map I drew for the region, and I'm working on the glossography and updating the adventures now... I expect this will be released in a few weeks.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Appendix A

Appendix A has been posted on RPGNow. This includes all of the beasts from the core rules, in addition to another handful I worked up in the last few days. This should give you a good assortment of nasties to put against your heroes, but I'll update this resource regularly, and I expect it will number in the hundreds of foes pretty quickly...

Mythweaver: Legacy Print Edition

I've put Mythweaver: Legacy up for sale in print as well. It's $9.95 + shipping, and I've ordered one myself, so I'll let you know how the process goes through Lulu. I've always had success with them in the past, so I expect things to go smoothly. Here's the link if you want to order a copy...

Print Copy of Mythweaver: Legacy

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mythweaver: Legacy Now Live

Mythweaver: Legacy is now live on RPGNow.

Get your D12 Ready!

Here's my press info...

Welcome, hero. Your help is needed in this dire time.

Darkness surrounds us, and we summoned it. Although our goddess provided for all of our needs, empowering us to drive evil from the realm, we desired more. We saw Yahalla as a distant queen of unlimited power rather than the kind mother who watched over us. We saw a chance to grasp the gauntlet of immortality, and bartered our entire world to claim it. The Reckoning that followed her death unmade the borders of all lands, casting us into a realm in chaos.

The ruins of our forebears surround us. Great cities lie in ash; the mighty palaces of the old kings now harbor great evils. An epoch of learning and progress has come to nothing, its lofty works claimed by vile creatures and savage beasts.

It falls to us to rise up and recover what has been lost. The Splintered Realm cries out for heroes. Will you answer the call?

Does the world need another fantasy RPG?

In a nutshell, probably not. Many great games already exist, including the original Dungeons and Dragons and all of its variations/ clones/ derivatives. I don’t approach this project from the perspective of a perceived need in the game community- I approach this project because it’s what I do. I write games. It’s a hobby/ passion/ obsession that has had me in its grip for 30 years. I can fight it, or I can jump on for the ride. Thanks for jumping on with me!

Mythweaver celebrates its 10th anniversary this year; in 2002, I created a 32-page pdf rule set called Mythweaver. With this edition, I come full circle with that project, taking the ‘best’ from every version of fantasy gaming I’ve developed over the last decade, infusing all of it into a central rulebook with a dynamic engine driving it.

This core rulebook includes four character classes that provide a general framework for character development without limiting your choices, ten distinct race options, a granular point-based character progression system, and dozens of character abilities, spells and talents. Included herein are rules for running the game, developing treasures, building monsters (along with dozens of monster stat blocks), several sample adventure locations, and an overview of the game world. Everything you need for ongoing play is included in one tight core rulebook. You use a D12 for most resolution, using a D6 in some situations.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 444 Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain View, California, 94041, USA.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Creative Commons and Mythweaver

After much man vs. self conflict, I've decided to publish Mythweaver: Legacy under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. I know that this may not seem like a big deal to some, but it's (more than) a bit unnerving to step out from under the 'protection' of copyright with something that's been my creative outlet for some time. However, there are several realities to the situation...

1. I'm a relatively marginal publisher in a relatively marginal industry. I love RPGs, but the fact is that few people are selling many games. If I sell 250 copies of Mythweaver, it will be (far and away) the most successful publication I've ever had. And I've been doing this for ten years...

2. My primary 'business plan' is to cultivate a core group of people who actually play the game and want to contribute to the community. The only way to make that possible is to open up the possibility for other publishers to generate their own Mythweaver products, publishing these and possibly making money off of them. This means someone may beat me to publishing stats for a monster I wanted to develop or a spellbook I wanted to create. Geee... poor me. Other people getting excited enough about my game to create new content for it. That would be rough. If I spoke to anyone who knows anything about how to make money selling a game, I sure wouldn't put a $1 price tag on it. ICONS experimented with that a few months back, and all reports were that it was a financial setback for the game. I'm going totally for the low-end buy in here. I just want to get the game into the hands of people who will play it, and hopefully want to see it continue.

FYI, the game is DONE (I've done final edits, clean-ups, tweaks to layout... I'm just giving it a few days to percolate before I go through one more time with a fine-tooth comb and a clear head). Hey, maybe I can get back to actually playing it now!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Post #200... Bestiaries and Appendix A

For some time, I've had the idea of a 'living' book of beasts; the idea is that instead of multiple monster tomes, you have a single monster book that constantly gets updated with new information and monsters as the game grows. While this is a cool concept, I've had trouble with the implementation. It seemed that every update would cause minor changes (at the very least in formatting) of previous releases, so that printing it would be quite the chore for the user. I've also gone back and forth between the stat block I use for monsters; I have a somewhat longer and more comprehensive block for the full beast listing, and an abbreviated stat block with a short monster description. Through the rules for Mythweaver, when I introduce a major creature or character, I use the comprehensive block; Appendix A appears at the back of the rules, which is a brief listing of a number of foes, using the abbreviated stat block.

I've decided that Appendix A is going to be this living document. It will include (upon release) all of the beasts that appear in the core rules, using the abbreviated format. Then, any new release will have its monsters listed in the comprehensive block, with an abbreviated entry appearing in Appendix A, with update. Appendix A will have no artwork; it is just a list of monsters in alphabetical order. I assume that as new abilities and traits are added to the game (beyond those in the core rulebook), I will have to include these in the appendix as well, so that the full monster list remains compatible with only the core rules.

I find this especially handy because Appendix A will be easy to print out or have open in another window, allowing you to quickly cross-reference your nasties as the heroes encounter them, without having to flip back through the core rules. If you want to find the full stat block, you can always look that up, but you won't need it the majority of the time.

Appendix A will be a free supplement for Mythweaver: Legacy, will be fully compatible with Resolute; Legacy, and will be updated with new creatures every time I release a supplement that includes beasts.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Last Mile...

The last mile is the hardest to run.

As I close in on the end of the process of the latest incarnation of Mythweaver, I find that it's taking everything I have not to slap a quick coat of paint on what I have and publish it. It's very good. In most everything I work on (I'm talking beyond gaming here as well), I am generally pleased with 'very good'. My wife is more detail-oriented (of the opinion that 'perfect' should be the goal), while I'm more of a big picture kind of guy. As I get to the end of a project, I try to step back from the details and look at the whole package, letting the individual components fade into the background. This is partially from my experiences directing; a week before opening night, you need to step back and make sure the basic story holds up, even if that moment between two characters in Act 3 isn't quite firing on all cylinders.

Also, this is the part of the process I enjoy least. When I was cartooning, I HATED erasing pages. You had a finished page of artwork, all crisp and fine and lovely, but it still had that initial layer of pencil marks on it, and you had to get rid of those before scanning/copying the page. Now, you have to take something that you feel is 'done', and spend more time with it, doing this menial drudgery of a job. I find final edits make me feel the same way. I've written this, I've edited it, I've revised it- and here I am, editing it again. I'm tightening up prose. Cleaning up disparities in language. Making sure that the format for how I describe something on page 17 aligns with a similar description on page 42. It's a slow, plodding process that gleans little tangible results. The pages in the manuscript look fundamentally the same after a few hours of editing. You know they're better, but most of the improvement will escape the notice of the vast majority of your readers.

However, I'm pushing myself harder than I ever have to really tie this project up. Today, for instance, I decided to eliminate a small redundancy between "Dodge" and "Evade", cleaning up the terms and unifying the concept. It's not a big deal, but it will streamline things a bit. But, this also means that I have to go through the book and make sure every mention of Dodge and/or Evade reflects the correct language. I know that CTRL F helps here, but it's still a page-by-page, systematic process. The same is true for Weapons. I also realized this morning I use 'Weapons' both as an ability and as a general descriptor for physical weapons you can carry; I need to split this up, and create a new ability (Arms) that represents only the ability. Then, I have to go through 84 pages and make sure each use of this is correct. Not complaining, just pointing it out.

I'm at the part of the dungeon crawl where the dragon has fallen, the halls have been cleared, and it only remains to gather up the treasure, account and distribute it, and determine how I'm going to get it home. Many times, I hand wave these things in play. Not so in writing.

I'm close - very, very close - to the end. I'd love to tell you that Mythweaver: Legacy will be out this weekend, but so much depends upon a red wheelbarrow, glazed with rainwater beside the white chickens, and all of that. I think that I need to 'finish it', and then let it rest for a few days. Go back to it with fresh eyes, give it one more gleaning, and then set it loose to the world.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

More On Art

I've worked up a handful of new illustrations... the following is my favorite of the new batch that's going into the game. It started off as noodling a Charles Vess inspired tree, and then the figures and story for it came as I was drawing. It was fun to take my time and spend an hour or two on a drawing...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

My Art

In reading reviews of my previous games, I've found recurring comments about artwork. Either there is 1) not enough, or 2) it's too cartoony.

That first one is easy enough to address. In fact, I have. Mythweaver: Legacy weighs in at over 80 pages, and it has an average of one illustration per page. A handful of pages have no illustrations (because they layout wouldn't allow it, and I didn't to bump the text on that page to a different page and break up an important concept over several pages if I didn't need to); several pages have 2 illustrations. My previous 'best' art to page ratio has been about one illustration every four pages, and I usually aim for about one illustration every 5-6 pages. I'm always striving to keep the page count down to keep printing economical and to keep information together. This one has more breathing room, although changes I made to the fonts and some layout choices have allowed me to pack a little more text in anyway.

The second one is not so easy to address, and also not something I particularly care to. My favorite classic D+D illustrator was Jeff Dee, and a close second was Jim Holloway. I LOVED Holloway's cover to Dungeonland. Jeff Dee is a comics guy. My inspirations are all 'cartoony' guys. It's what I love. I've tried to draw more gritty illustrations, and they always fall flat for me. It's just how I draw. I can either decide that what I do is good enough, or hire someone else to do the illustrations. In truth, I love some of my illustrations, like the vast majority of them, and feel 'meh' about a handful. Of course, I feel that way about the art I see in pretty much any game; I could invest a huge chunk of change and get results that are comparable to what I have now, at least from my point of view. And then, it wouldn't be me fully reflected in the text. So, I can say I love my art, and if people don't like it... well, they don't like it. Not much I can do.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Everything I Need to Know About RPGs I Learned From the Hobbit

I've had the wonderful opportunity to read the Hobbit with my summer school students, and we've also been working through a lecture series on iTunes University regarding Tolkien and the Hobbit. Several wonderful discoveries have come from this...

1. You need to know what you are doing. Tolkien knew exactly what he was doing and why. He understood his world, what he wanted to accomplish in writing this text, and he didn't concern himself with how people would react. He didn't write a book to please anyone but himself, and expected (knew) that this would give it an authenticity that would make it appeal to people. I've endeavored to emulate this as I move towards final edits, making sure that the tone and details of the text reflect what I want it to say, not what I assume will be popular or be seen as somehow more modern from a design standpoint. I've completely given up any pretension I had towards trying to intentionally weave innovative elements into the design of the game.

2. Enjoy spending time in the world. Tolkien didn't need to necessarily have a huge battle or violent encounter to keep the story going- the story is about the characters and their interactions with every facet of this fantastic world. A great game should do the same thing. I've spent more time thinking about the world and the ways in which the heroes can interact with it in non-confrontational ways, and making sure that the game supports and rewards this sort of approach. One of my sets of play test notes is focused on having a character progress and gain levels only through non-violent interactions with the world. Is it possible to have your character advance and never draw a sword or cast an offensive spell? In short... yes, I think it is.

3. It takes time to develop something great. I've felt some levels of guilt for how long I've been working on an 'ideal' version of my game, and how many times I've published a game edition only to ditch it and rework from the ground up within the year. The development of the Hobbit shows that to truly refine your work takes space and time. It's okay. My first (and only) priority as a sub-creator (as Tolkien coined it) is to the work itself, and to making sure that I'm maintaining the integrity of the work. Whew. That right there lifts some weight.

Okay, back to editing...

Resolve, How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways...

Resolve has become the great equalizer of the core game system, solving pretty much every problem I’ve ever had in any game I’ve written in terms of game balance. It’s such a simple concept, but the myriad ways it can be applied makes Resolve such a game changer (please forgive the pun- I couldn’t help myself).

To whit, you can use a Resolve point to perform a special deed, such as disarming a foe, re-using an ability, or exceeding your mortal limitations. However, you can also use Resolve to take a quick extra turn, quickly recover a few wounds, or attempt to push a foe off of a balcony. You can re-cast a spell you’ve already used, cast a spell you don’t have prepared from your spellbook, increase the power of a spell you know, or prevent someone else from casting a spell at you.

In my previous games, each of these was possible (or at least, most of them were - all options have appeared at some point), but each brought its own sub-system of rules to drive it. Want to foil a caster’s spell? Fine... here are three paragraphs for how you do it. Want to disarm a foe? Okay, but it’s a little tricky... You can up the power of your spell, but we’re going to have to look up the rule for that, because I think it depends on how much health you have left... give me a minute...

Resolve does it all, and it does it all in the same fundamental way. Once you know how to use Resolve, you know how to do all of these things.

In terms of game balance, Resolve becomes self-limiting and self-balancing, because to get this opportunity to do things, you have to purchase Resolve as an ability... and purchasing Resolve forces you to give up other things you’d want too. You can have great attack/damage ratings in your primary weapons, or you can have tremendous Resolve to do a variety of cool things. Most players will strive for a balance, but the definition of balance is going to be a highly subjective thing. Is Resolve +2 enough? Do you need +4? Are you willing to give up what you’d need to give up to get to Resolve +6? Will it be worth it for you?

Refining and clarifying how and when Resolve works has been the linchpin that has formed a dynamic core game engine providing tremendous variety in play with a simple, single rule to govern it.

Jam Packing With Goodness

Rather than leaving the page count at 80 (which is what I have kept defaulting to), I’ve decided to expand Mythweaver: Legacy a little (though I’m still restricted to no more than 100 pages, so I can get that price breakoff for the print edition on RPG Now and make this quite economical for everyone); this means that I have been able to plug in a few things that were going to wait for the supplements. More game for your buck (and I mean that literally. It’s going to be a buck in pdf)!

Want to know what you’re getting that you weren’t going to?

- Psionics! Rules for psionic characters, monsters, and for adjudicating these. This also means that the Messari will finally rear their ugly heads in actual statistical form, and not just as background creatures. I particularly love that psionics are soaked (unlike other things) by Resolve... the fundamental thing that sets you apart as a heroic mortal is the thing that is toughest for the messari and their ilk to harm. It’s a great game/world synergy.
- Mass Combat. Want to hold that huge battle and get it done in an hour or two? I can help!
- More Spells. I was originally going to include a handful of starter spells to get you going. I keep writing spells up, and they keep going into the book. This has been a truly wonderful surprise, since the simplified game engine makes writing spells with unique effects easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy; the core mechanic dictates the logical direction for spells, but also leaves open a wide variety of possible effects.