Monday, February 29, 2016

Shards of Tomorrow Revised and in Print

Look at me, a whole 50 minutes early!

The revised pdf for Shards of Tomorrow is now available on RPGNow. This includes minor corrections based on the errata that people had suggested or which I had found. I ended up not including an appendix on companions, because I wasn't really happy with how it was turning out, and I decided to save it for the next issue of Splintered Realms Magazine.

You can also order your copy of the print edition now, BUT if you purchased the pdf, you should follow the link in the revised file (bottom of the last page) to get the $5 discount on the print edition.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Splintered Realms Magazine #1 Now Available

The first issue of Splintered Realms Magazine is now available as a pay-what-you-want download.

This ongoing publication is your go-to resource for the old-school games Saga of the Splintered Realm, Sentinels of Echo City, and Shards of Tomorrow. Resources for all three of these B/X-inspired games will appear in every issue.

Even if you don’t play these games, the resources herein can be used for any old-school game with minimal tinkering. And, because it’s all released under either a Creative Commons License or the Open Game License, you can take the content and use it anywhere, and anyhow, you want.

This first issue includes new archetypes and a campaign setting for Saga of the Splintered Realm, a cosmic adversary and GM guidelines for Sentinels of Echo City, along with a guide to bounty hunters and stellar random encounters for Shards of Tomorrow.

In the long-standing tradition of comics artists, the cover of this issue is a tribute to the frontpiece of the greatest edition of any game ever published.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Revamped Ants Site

The army ants site has seen a complete overhaul, and is about ready for the launch of my new series, Venn Golrik: Last of the Ants. I will be updating this twice a week (the plan is Tuesdays and Saturdays), while I continue to update Teaching Ted on Monday/Wednesday/Friday every week. The ants strips will be in full color, so I simplified the layout and color palette of the site. I still have some work to do on the data files page (as in, creating one) and I still have some lingering pieces of the old navigation menu on the main page that you can eventually hover over if you try. However, I'm happy with how it's turned out, and I'm especially happy with the revised collage cover page, which I decided to re-format after I changed around some characters and realized it should be formatted landscape for the page.

Now, I have to finish work on the update to Shards of Tomorrow, and the first issue of Splintered Realms Magazine...

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Venn Golrik Cover Poster

I've wanted to do a movie-style poster for one of my stories for nigh on twenty years.
Today I finally did it. I'm really digging where this is going :)

Friday, February 19, 2016

A Patreon Appeal

I don't do a lot of pitching of my Patreon Campaign, but I've been thinking a bit about this, and how I want to use it. I've been somewhat idiosyncratic about it, since I do a lot of things. Am I a cartoonist? A game publisher? Both? On one hand, I'd like to come forward with a polished, clear 'this is what it is' sales pitch, but the fact is that Patreon itself is designed around the concept that it's NOT a sales pitch. It's a chance for people to support a creative person who just does what he does.

So, I want to continue to be a creative person who just does what he does. I am asking you to help me do that.

I produce several things with some regularity:

- This blog serves as the hub for my gaming publishing activities. I've finished my 'triple crown' of games, but would really like to spend the next phase of my game publishing career creating support material for the game, and (even more important) empowering the community to generate their own content. I see the Patreon page as a place where I regularly post content for others to use. For example, I would like to post regular (weekly?) stock images under creative commons for the community to take and use in their products. Instead of drawing content for my publications, I'd actually post it for yours. This would include stock art for all of my games, as well as maps, ship schematics, etc.

- I've got a regular (three-day-a-week) comic strip about life in public education called Teaching Ted. It's a fun strip that I enjoy doing, and which allows me to do something productive with the frustrations that arise from seeing how public education works from the inside.

- I'm launching a new strip in the world of the army ants set in the far future. This is still in its infancy, but I'm excited about the possibilities for it.

I'm literally asking you to consider signing up for a dollar or two a month. It would mean a great deal to me.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

So all of my many projects have come together in the last few days, as I've realized that one of the stories I've always wanted to tell of the Army Ants works even better when set in a future where the ants have been completely wiped out... and I've just published a game where the main nation has been wiped out. In the future.

Basically, I'm launching a comic strip set in the world of Shards of Tomorrow, but the entire thing is shrunk to the perspective of an ant. I've even taken my main character from the game, Golrik Venn, and made him an ant named Venn Golrik.

The strip launches soon.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Comic Thing

This evening I was thinking about all of the things I love, and ended up starting this... I don't know what it is going to be yet, if anything, but I guess that it's something right now.

LEGO Update

The Shard Drifter continues to come together, although figuring out how all of these angled plates are going to ultimately work together is something of a mystery at present... and then the whole stability/swooshability issue will have to be solved. But, it's progress... and I am especially proud of the little escape pod/scout ship that fits in the engineering bay at the back :)

Also, Grace decided to make her own junker, the Nastia, named after the famous gymnast.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

LEGO Shard Drifter

So Golrik Venn has been hard at work on his junker, and it's coming along nicely. Here are steps one through three of the construction process... 1) I set out the basic layout; 2: I linked the pieces together on the undercarriage for stability (along with the loading ramp); 3) I put on the framework that will hold the deck in place; and 4) I put the floor in.

I had to turn my Star Destroyer to scrap for this to happen, but I don't have room to display it anyway, and it's been in pieces for a bit.

Good times.

Shard Drifter

Although the Void Splicer was my first 'junker' for Shards of Tomorrow, it was a little small and limited, and I didn't really like how it worked for long-term play. It was an 'ultra-lite junker', all things considered. I've decided to upgrade to a different ship with more nooks and crannies. I present to you the Shard Drifter... a ship I am probably going to make out of LEGO at some point soon :) When I do, I am totally posting pictures...

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Freemaker Adventures

So I'm maybe a little TOO excited about the Freemaker Adventures. I could never get all that into the Rebels show (not sure why), but this seems right in my wheelhouse. Basically, the concept for this show is almost exactly how I picture an ideal Shards of Tomorrow campaign running. Swap out the dad for a gnorom tinker (I wanted to do a drawing of one where he has a big wrench on his shoulder, just like that... but I'd already done an ant image like that a while back)... so the mom is the terran adventurer, the son is the terran templar, they have a S-Series service bot, and they're flying a junker. It will take every bit of my willpower not to immediately stat up these characters and their ship after watching the first episode.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Some Shards Actual Play

I actually got to play this afternoon with my friend and his son, and we made a few discoveries...

My friend played a synthoid. Their omni-knowledge is AWESOME if played well. He had INT 14 (we started at level 3) and was able to interface with the computer aboard the orak gunship from the core rules. In a few seconds, he had completely overridden their controls, and had gathered all of the information from the ship's database. He was able to remotely trigger a self-destruct mechanism as they were leaving aboard an orak interceptor. Seriously cool stuff, and easily supported by the rules (it was both challenging and awesome, requiring a roll of 30. He rolled 17 on the die with his INT 14, so he snuck it through the uprights).

His son played a terran templar, and the stunts balance very well. He tried to use a suggestion on one of the guards but failed, and then had to wait until next turn to call his sun blade to his hand, and cut himself out of the chains, which worked. 

We played with the rules for generating junkers, and we ended up with a junker that had a dependability of 2! It broke down twice during a short combat, and only escaped because he was able to get the jump drive back online and win initiative before three interceptors finished the ship off. It was down to 2 hp when it jumped.


I'm giving the rules for XP some serious thought. I wanted to honor the original XP system from Saga of the Splintered Realm, but a different XP system may be in order, closer to the one in Sentinels of Echo City. Right now, I can see that any Junker is going to require the credits to be coming in hand over fist just to keep it running, and the XP balance on that is going to be somewhat difficult. Plus, the game lends itself to making off with vehicles valued in the tens of thousands of credits, meaning that you'd be getting routine (and unbalancing) XP spikes. This will be addressed in the March 1 update. 

Shards of Tomorrow Errata

As I hear from players and spend more time in the rules, I'm sure that more things that need to be corrected/clarified will rise to the surface. I was intentional in waiting a month to release the print edition, because I knew there would be something somewhere that would need a tweak. On this thread I will post all of the errata for Shards as it comes up:

- Junkers start with a dependability of 2d4.
- Junkers start with speed of 1d10+10.
- The Junker Profile will be updated with these two attributes.
- Synthoids can survive in the vacuum of space; they do not need to eat or breathe.
- The nuaru must be lawful. There is a comment about chaotic nuaru, but that will be removed.


Also, some changes I know will be coming with the March 1 update:

- An additional appendix will outline followers: your first mate, wingman, or best friend; that guy who is always by your side. The player classes will be available for the role, but I will also include a few other besties, including an advanced bot and a myconoid fungus dude.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Banner for Shards of Tomorrow

Here's the banner I'll be putting up on RPGNow tomorrow... after I launch the game tomorrow afternoon! It needs one final editing sweep before I feel comfortable releasing it into the wild (putting it at roughly 99.9% done), and then you'll be able to pick up your very own copy. I think the banner below is hi-lar-ee-ous, but Mary sort of shook her head at me. Maybe I've been working on this too long...

Obligatory 99% Done Post

Shards of Tomorrow is at 99% done, and only needs a final editing sweep, page numbers citations throughout, and an index. That, my friends, is what we call nearly in the books.

There is a LOT I love about this game, but my favorite thing is the rules for rolling up and playing your own junker. This game within a game of keeping your starship going and just keeping up with the basic maintenance is just so much fun... here's the character sheet for your starship...

By the way, I'm thinking that one of the ads for the game is a starship bumper sticker that says "I got 99 problems, but my junker ain't one of them."