Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Upon Further Reflection

So I was toying with the idea of a revised and updated version of Sentinels of Echo City. I could update the rules to align with some of the minor tweaks that I've made with Tales of the Splintered Realm. I could upgrade the layout and give the entire art an overhaul. I could really tighten up the presentation and the layout, cleaning up text and refining some of the rough edges out of it.

Then I read the first half of the book again. I'll finish reading it tomorrow.

But I love it. It's just a bit quirky. And free-wheeling. And just shy of polished. It's clean, and well-presented, and bursting at the seams with good ideas. I haven't actually sat down and READ the thing in two years, but I had to admit it. Despite the little grammatical things I now know how to clean up, and the breezy layout, it's a gem of a game.

It's not a perfect, tightly-edited product. It's a great, high-energy, burst of superhero love. It captures what I wanted it to capture, exactly the way I wanted to capture it. In some ways, it is lightning in a bottle. I could tighten it up and refine it, but that might just kill the thing I love most about it.

One of the things that separates the better creative people from others is their knowledge of when to stop work on something. Could it be cleaner? Sharper? More professional? Yes, yes, and yes.

But would it be BETTER? I don't think so. 

I accept that Sentinels of Echo City and Tales of the Splintered Realm, although sharing the same basic engine, are actually different games. The differences in the two books are surprisingly stark to my eyes. I love them both. Tales is going to college and will have health insurance. Sentinels is going to tour the country in his van for a bit. But they're both fantastic kids.
And I am going to do what I can to support them both on their journeys forward.

Print Edition of Tales Update

A copy of the print rules is on its way to me! Once I get a chance to proof it one last time, I'll update the files on Drivethrurpg and put it live for sale. Probably about two weeks...

Here's the wrap-around cover, as a proof of life.

More LULU Trouble

Oh snap. Since I expect you want the good news before the bad news, I'll do that.

The good news: Lulu is up! It works. I can login, and I solved the problem of why my pdf files were not uploading. I can now proceed with a layout for Tales.

The bad news: I have to make a list. There's a lot of bad news.

1. Almost all of my old files have broken covers. Either (A) the covers have not finished porting over yet, and Lulu is still getting things up to speed (crosses fingers); or (B) the covers are not compatible with the new Lulu system, and I have to re-do them. Which sucks. So, I'm going to wait and see.

2. Lulu will not let me create a saddle-stitched book at 52 pages. Yes, it's divisible by 4, but that's not enough for Lulu. I created a dummy version where I cut 4 pages, and was able to create a saddle-stitched print edition. I am at a crossroads. I could (A) reduce the campaign setting information to a one-page overview (get rid of encounter tables) and cut the three tombs adventure - to get to 48. It's a solution I could live with. Or, I could (B) add 12 pages of content. I am leaning towards A, because I could see the campaign setting being its own setting book with significant expansion, and the three tombs could then be ported to that book as one of a series of adventures in the Splintered Realm. That's actually a workable solution to me. But, it means less game in the end. But 48 pages makes my heart happier, and sounds like a model I can replicate for the next book (the campaign guide). I see two more books right now: the Vault of the D'Ro and the Campaign Setting. If my target for each is 48 pages, I see a lot of possibility for both projects. I could always just put the three brothers up as a free adventure, or as the first in a series of free pdfs to support the game... or I don't know what. But it could easily be 'out there' without it being in the core rulebook.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

LULU No Like Me

I was in the middle of trying to format the print edition of Tales of the Splintered Realm the other night, when Lulu decided it needed 'about 2 hours' for a system update.

Two days later, I cannot log in, I get error messages when I ask for password help, and only one of my print books is live. I'm assuming that something went horribly askew at their end, and that they are still trying to get their full system up to speed. I think I have a print edition formatted and ready to go - Lulu REALLY did not like the fonts I was using - and I hope to be able to get a preview copy ordered by the middle of next week. Once I have a print copy in hand and can confirm that it looks good to my eyes, I'll be putting it live for the world.

Hope you are enjoying playing around with the new system.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Tales of the Splintered Realm Now Available

Welcome to the Splintered Realm. Don your armor, heft your weapon, and prepare your magic. Adventure awaits.

In this fantasy roleplaying game, you will play a heroic player character in a fellowship of other heroes, taking on the role of your character. You will use these rules, an assortment of dice, and your imagination to help build a shared tale of the Splintered Realm.

This game is released under the Open Game License, with original content released under a Creative Commons Share-Alike License. You are free to take, adapt, modify, and re-publish this work as you see fit.

All you need is this book, a stack of graph paper, a pencil, and some dice that you fill in with a crayon, and you’ll be ready to play.

A print edition will be available by May 15; you will receive a code to take $4.95 off the cover price when the print edition is available (getting the print edition for $10.00 instead of $14.95).

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Play Test Report Part B

Got to play test the warden and the bard, and learned some cool things...

The warden is actually overpowered. He had nearly as much firepower as the magic user, but also gets some healing, some defense, better armor, a fair weapon attack. He has got it all. The warden is definitely my answer to the B/X elf. I like the difference between them, though - it's a totally different set of magic you have as a warden than as a magic user, even though there are comparable effects. I had originally built the warden magic as 1 die back from comparable magic user stuff - if a tier 4 area of effect is dealing level d10 damage for a magic user, I had it as level d8 for the warden. I have pulled that back another die, so now those effects are level d6. You are still a viable offensive caster, but you are not packing the punch of a magic user.

The bard was AWESOME. Loved it. Simply fantastic. He doesn't get the high damage spells, because they don't kick in until tier 3+ (fireball), but that is no good against a fire giant, so I skipped it, and went with utility: hastes, slows, levitates, shield... this battle was about using magic to support a levitating bard raining arrows down on frustrated (and slowed) fire giant.

One other thing was that the timing of spells, with a turn being only a minute, and consisting of ten rounds, was perfect. I had to consider strategy with spell rotations - had to stop firing the bow a round before I wanted to because the levitate was wearing off and had to re-cast it, and once haste dropped, it was more effective to start throwing arcane darts (a guaranteed hit) than to keep up with the bow. 3 bow attacks with a 50% chance of hitting and 7 average damage were better than a guaranteed average of 10 at first... but not after haste dropped and it was 2 attacks. I felt a little bit like I was racing the clock - I did NOT want slow wearing off on that giant and for him to start throwing a boulder every round. I expected the bard to get owned; he was actually pretty awesome.

Niche Characters

I do my best thinking while doing dishes and mowing the lawn. Truly.

And I just washed a big ol' sinkful of dishes.

In thinking about the warden and bard, and how to distinguish them a little, I had a few revelations that I'm excited to test.

For the warden, I realized that I had left the classic ranger idea of the hated enemy out of the game. I'm not sure how that happened - it has been part of most fantasy game engines I've toyed with over the last several decades, yet somehow it eluded inclusion in this version. It makes sense for a warden to have a hated enemy, and it makes sense for the warden's ability to ramp up considerably. A bonus of + level to all rolls against that enemy makes sense to me, and is VERY powerful, but also very niche. I'm going to play test with it vs. giants. Yeah. He should be excellent against giants. But I would think he'd be pretty mediocre against the giant without it. I'll probably simulate both just to see. I like this a lot - it allows the warden to really shine and dominate in certain encounters, but to be a support character the rest of the time. (I would think 'humanoids would be an enemy against any humanoid of small or medium size, while giants and their kin would be against large or bigger humanoids... thinking on this further).

For the bard, I realized that he doesn't shine during combat. He shines before and after it. It's in those quiet moments when nothing is really happening, but we're either recovering from or preparing for adventure. I am thinking of these sorts of things:

- Your song allows all allies within 30' to add your CHA modifier to their resting healing rolls.
- Your song protects the fellowship from any chance of a random encounter while you are singing.
- Your song allows all casters (yourself included) to recover a certain number of slots of spells. You may have used up your daily spell limit, but the bard can sing you into a few extra spells today. It would be small - maybe CHA modifier slots total. Hey, one extra tier 2 spell today is a help.
- Your song protects those within 30' from scrying, crystal balls, and arcane eyes.
- Your song reveals the presence of all traps within 30'.
- Your song reveals the presence of all magic within 30'.
- Your song reveals the presence of all enemies within 30'. (this one could be REALLY powerful if used in the middle of a packed inn). As you string your lyre and prepare to sing, that shifty dude in the corner makes sure to get at least 31' feet away from you... I'd call that a tell.

You would get to use your song your level times per day, and each time you use it you could stack in a number of effects equal to your CHA modifier (minimum of 1). So, a bard 3 could sing 3x per day. If he has CHA 14 (+3) he would be able to stack 3 of these effects together at once. In combat, the bard is okay, and can basically back up any caster in a pinch. Outside of combat, he makes your fellowship much more durable and resilient. You wouldn't be able to sing twice in a row; I'm thinking there has to be an hour cool down between uses or something.

I REALLY like this. It's much more of a roleplaying thing, and makes those quiet moments between combat important, too. It FEELS more bard to me, which is nice.

And THAT... is why we playtest

Yesterday, I threw together a set of level 5 characters with solid gear and good abilities, to represent what a level 5 character of each class might look like. I made them all human, and gave them the same attribute distribution (albeit in different attributes). I gave them max hit points. A tried to balance abilities and magic for efficiency.

And then I had each of them fight a fire giant. I got through the first four, and I'll play out the other two today.

It was... interesting.

The fighter was the most straight-up battle. He just kept hitting the giant hard, and the giant would hit him back harder. It was a straight-up slugfust. The fighter won in 8 rounds. It was a 2-hand fighter; I might try a sword and shield fighter as well, just to see the difference. I'm starting to think that 2-hand might be underpowered, or that sword and shield is overpowered. We'll find out. As it is, the fighter's higher AC and excellent damage output meant the fight was never really in doubt. He missed an unusual number of times as well, so the fight should have probably been even quicker than it was.

The magic user was a rout. He dropped ice storm, then hold monster, then a few more ice storms. He used up all of his tier 4 spells, and finished with an arcane dart to seal the deal, but once the giant failed the hold monster resist Feat, it didn't matter. Six rounds total. If the giant had made the Feat to resist hold monster, it MIGHT have been a different situation... but the magic user still had a few big guns to pull out if needed. There was a whole layer of potential strategy to prolong the fight if he had to. But it was never needed.

The thief was where I learned a lot. As written, the thief is pretty weak. Only one attack per round with a dagger and a pretty meh sneak attack. The sneak attack was successful, but only dealt an extra 11 points of damage. Against a foe with 100 hp? Not gonna matter. And it didn't. There was the possibility of an instant kill with assassination, but it's a small chance that didn't happen. The thief kept hitting, but he just could not match the damage output. Not that he SHOULD, but he should at least be competitive. I went back and added options for two weapon fighting and archery to the thief, making him a viable backup fighter (but still not nearly as effective as a true fighter), and upped the damage die on the sneak attacks from d4 to d6. It also made me revisit poison damage, which had all been level d4s. A wyvern sting deals an extra 6 points? Nope. Not a real threat. I have changed poison throughout to D6s, which are still not automatic kills, but at least they feel a little worse. I might end up going to D8s, since you get a Feat to resist. I mean, if a wyvern is going to sting you, you should have a risk of dying from it. 3d8 means you could sustain up to 24 points of damage, and that makes more sense than the 12 point cap that is currently in place.

The friar was, far and away, the most fun. He was able to deal consistent damage. He had a lot of options during the fight. He dropped sanctuary twice, allowing him to rest, cast healing spells, activate spiritual hammers, put up some vigor, and jump back into the fight. It went 17 rounds, with the friar almost dying twice, and he managed to whittle away the giant over time. He had to use a blade barrier strategically coming out of his second sanctuary to hem the giant in (and deal some quick damage) and ultimately took home a victory. I love everything about this class.

Today I will test the warden and the bard. I have a few predictions:

The warden will feel midway between the magic user and friar. His melee is weaker than the friar, but his spells are able to take bigger chunks of damage. He doesn't have the "I win" button that the magic user does, but he can still do more offensively than the friar regarding magic.

The bard is kind of a mess. I LOVE the idea of chants, but I can already see that they are going to be relatively innocuous in actual play. I mean, the idea of regenerating 1 point of damage per round all the time feels good, except when faced with a foe who can deal an average of 20 points per round. The idea that you could compel him to listen to you during combat is nice, but what are you going to do once he's compelled? It's not like you have any way to really deal significant damage. The bard is the ultimate support character and jack of all trades - that is both his strength and his weakness. I've already revised so that he takes a tier of magic every level, and will always end up with 2 tiers each of arcane, faith, and nature. I might change this so that you can take any tier you want, but you are limited to tier 3 - the thing is that I don't want a bard keeping pace with another caster. If I set a limit that you cannot learn the same spell type two levels in a row, that solves it. You can alternate between arcane and faith, for instance, and ignore nature altogether (if that's the kind of bard you want), but you still will never be as good as a magic user or friar in their arena. The bard is also going to default to the bow as the go to weapon. He's going to get archery, giving him two attacks per round when he's not casting, which will be helpful. Again, he's the ultimate support character. He's going to get owned by the giant. I just want him to be able to do a few things before he dies.  

I've spent twenty years trying to get chants into the core of the system. I may have to wait another twenty before I really figure out how to do it well.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Classes and Flavor

The core rules have six classes available, and I wanted to find a balance between presenting the classic tropes, and reflecting this world. Classes are where you kind of put your stamp on the game, since it's the most visible flavor piece from a player's perspective.

So, there are three classic tropes: the fighter, the magic user, and the thief. These hew as close as possible to the source material, while still being the best fit for this game. They, and their abilities, are directly inspired by B/X.

But, the three others are unique to my world, drawing from multiple sources.

The warden is inspired by the druid, but it's not really a druid. It's more of a cleric of the wilderness, if that makes sense.

The bard is more aligned with role playing. Bards get chants, which work different from the other three kinds of magic. I have wanted to put chants in the core rules for a long time, and I found a simple way to layer them in. They are nifty and different. You don't lose anything by not using bards (and ignoring the class altogether if you really want to), but they add a different layer to the game that I like.

The friar is the last one I solved. Originally, it was just a re-skinned cleric, but I have shifted it subtly to be a bit more monkish. The friar has light armor and weapons, but gets to carry a quarterstaff. The friar attacks twice each round with the quarterstaff, damage increases every level, and it is always considered an enchanted weapon - so a friar at level 1 can hit anything with it.

The friar and warden reflect the religious realities of this world. The true goddess has died, and other things have stepped up to fill the void. There has been a return to worshiping nature, and the warden has emerged as an important religious leader that is trying to fill that gap. Friars hold on to the past, looking to restore the goddess. It's sort of a reversal of a classic paradigm. The contemporary worship is in the past, while more pagan beliefs are coming to the fore. The idea of a temple in town where a bunch of priests are sitting around isn't really a thing. The temples are old, many relegated to the role of museum of the distant past, with a few lonely caretakers.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Kobold Den

In play testing, my character found a map (it was a random treasure) in the lair of a giant bat. I decided this would be an area beyond the secret door in the starter dungeon for the core rules. This will ultimately be the first expansion for the game (because I'm already working on THAT). The idea is that I'm going to build a mega-dungeon over time. This is part of level 1, where it connects to the sewers under Stalwart Keep. I have learned to appreciate the value of secret doors - you can have a whole lot of things happening right next to each other if one side is not aware of the door.

In this case, a pack of kobolds set up shop in what was an abandoned start to a mine. They sneak into the sewers to hunt rats and spiders. It's fun. But then the gibbering mouther that lives in the muck pit (former start of a mine) in the middle drove their clan chief mad. And he started to sacrifice bigger and bigger things to it. And they tried to give it a rot creeper as a special treat. But the creeper wasn't as dead as they thought it was. And it ended up killing their chief. So now, they are holed up in the northwest corner, the creeper patrols the south hall, and a few guards have been forced to stand watch in the east, behind a barricade of garbage, to keep the creeper at bay. And there's a living statue that knows not to attack the kobolds. And that mouther just keeps screeching all the time, and everyone is a little on edge about it. And nobody knows that there has been a well-hidden secret door in the southwest that leads to dungeon level 2 there the whole time.

A few meditations

I had time to sleep on some concepts in play testing, and here are some things I've mulled over:

Money and XP
I have to take money out of the XP progression. The XP chart is lean - it has to be. There are only 6 levels in the game. The default progression has to be slow. The difference between level 2 and level 3 is huge - it's comparable to two levels in B/X. It's comparable from moving from level 3 to level 5. The treasure charts are, by design (and necessity) relatively random. You can find a lot of gold in one lair, and nothing in the next three. That's by design. The problem is the opposite; if you get lucky for two or three lairs in a row, suddenly you are ramping up XP like crazy, and you can pick up a level very fast. Now, you've moved from level 3 (B/X numbers) to level 7 in a handful of encounters. It's a potential campaign killer. If you can kill three dragons, you deserve that XP. But if you just happen to get really lucky when rolling their treasures, it shouldn't automatically end the game because you top out your character.

CON checks vs. Feats for Poison
I toyed with making poison saves a CON check vs. a Feat. I really like this, because it makes CON a little more important, and it feels more reasonable. But, then I realized why I made it Feats in the first place:
- All creatures have a Feat rating, but only player characters have attributes. What about when a goblin gets poisoned? You have to hand wave it. Hate that.
- This opens Pandora's box. Then, shouldn't avoiding a trap be a DEX check? And shouldn't some spells be WIS checks? Shouldn't some manipulation require an INT check? Ugh. Breaks the simplicity of the engine.
- The source material says no. Feats are a synthesis of the entire saving throw system from B/X. Poison was resolved as a saving throw, not as a CON check. Old school, yo.

Attributes Revisited (Again)
Thought a little bit more about attribute scores and modifiers. My original system has the progression at +1 modifier for every 2 attribute points, and the system I was tinkering with moved it to every 4 - what if we meet in the middle at every 3? It looks like this:

Rating (Modifier) - Descriptor

2-4 (-1) Poor
5-7 (-) Average
8-10 (+1) Above Average
11-13 (+2) Exceptional
14-16 (+3) Heroic
17-19 (+4) Epic
20-22 (+5) Titanic
23-25 (+6) Godly

There is a a lot to like here. It still keeps the numbers in check, but gives a little more gradation. It also moves 'average' down slightly, which I like. A 'typical' PC has 7s across the board - he or she is nearly above average in all things. You are likely to get a handful of +1 modifiers, and getting an 11 once in a while is not unlikely. Min/Max rules have to go, however. That's old school. You get what you get.

I like the crossover for monsters. An ogre has STR 16. Giants are 17 (hill), 18 (fire and frost), or 19 (storm). A titan starts at 20.

It keeps an important break point at 14 (that's the threshold for being able to attempt epic checks). You feel almost as good about your 8 as you would 13, so a fighter with STR 8 is not feeling like a total loser next to that Fighter with STR 13. He's still capable, and viable as a character. I also like that magical devices can have a +3 attribute modifier as their default - that guarantees you will bump to the same location in the next tier up. I like that it breaks the tiers into 3 parts (low epic, medium epic, high epic). And, this ultimately ports over to the supers game a little better. I like that the Hulk gets +6 to attack and damage, and not 'just' +4. The raw scores don't change in that game, just the modifiers. Captain America (STR 13) is getting +2 to hit and damage, Spider Man (STR 15) is getting +3, Iron Man (STR 18) is getting +4, the Thing (STR 20) is getting +5, and Hulk is at his +6. This keeps a progression in place that distinguishes the characters mechanically enough to feel different, but keeps it relatively old school as well.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Play Test Reporting

I've spent the evening exploring part of the starter dungeon for the core rules with a fighter I rolled up and have been playing with my revised rules, including the mods to character attributes. Oh my goodness does this feel old school. He's running from monsters, hiding behind doors, getting jumped by random encounters, climbing into little alcoves, making INT checks to map correctly... he just needs a 10' pole and he'd be the most old school dungeon crawler ever.

I LOVE the changes to attributes. Now, I am playing a viable fighter who doesn't have over the top attributes. It doesn't really matter that much. He failed a STR check to force a door (by 1 point), so that higher STR would have helped there, but that's been it. I LOVE the rules for fighting with sword and shield. Fights feel messy and dirty, as he's swinging (and repeatedly dropping) his sword and trying to shield bash skeletons to dust. I got very lucky (literally rolled 15 twice on a D30 potion chart) to get 2 greater potions of healing, which he had to drink both of just to survive. The XP are coming slow, and the treasure is small (but appropriate). Treasure no longer gives XP, so I have to keep killing monsters if I want to get XP. And I do. I really do.

The temptation to pick up a level of thief once I hit 2 is going to overwhelming (it will be SO helpful for solo dungeon crawling), and I might need lore at some point just to keep up with all the magic items I'm finding, but this has been fun.

If I was to tie XP to treasure (1 gold = 1 XP), I'd have picked up another 12 XP in addition to the 14 XP from monsters. That seems reasonable. I house rule that back in, which means that it is literally back in the rules - so it goes from house rule to official rule instantly.

The next thing is going to be to pick up a retainer of some kind. It would be cool to have a goblin or kobold who follows him around... hmm...

Attribute Scores

Rut Roh.

I keep going back and tinkering with foundation concepts that underpin everything. I figure, this is my chance to do that, so I may as well at least investigate options as they come to mind.

One of the things that occurred to me last night while rolling up a fighter was attribute scores - if you are a fighter at level 1 who doesn't have STR 12, you are at a disadvantage. You are losing +1 to hit and damage every round just by dropping to 11, and +2 to hit and damage every round if you let STR slip to 9. And a fighter with STR 7? Fugeddaboutit. You are looking at a loss of +3 to both hit and damage every single time you attack.

The other issue arises at the top end. One of the intentional things in magical item design is trying to keep attribute creep under control. If you pick up an item that gives you giant strength, you have both STR 18, and +6 to attack and damage rolls in combat, which is HUGE. You are dealing tremendous damage with every swing.

What if we cut the scale down considerably, and put our break points every 4, rather than every 2, attribute points. Here's an example of how that might look:

Rating 2-5 (-1 modifier). Below average range.
Rating 6-9 (no modifier). Average range.
Rating 10-13 (+1 modifier). Exceptional range.
Rating 14-17 (+2 modifier). Heroic range.
Rating 18-21 (+3 modifier). Epic range.
Rating 22+ (+4 modifier). Beyond mortal ability.

Now, your level 1 fighter can have STR 10, 11, 12, or 13 and get +1 to attacks and damage. Or, he can have a 'lowly' STR of 6, and only be +1 back from a much stronger fighter.

It's not that your high STR doesn't matter. The game relies on a large number of checks, so your high strength score still makes a difference. Just not in combat.

Now, you can pick up a gauntlet of storm giant strength (STR 18) and rock the checks - you can rip doors off their hinges and lift huge weights. But, you are still only getting +3 to attack and damage, so it's not breaking the game in terms of bonuses. Your level still matters a lot, and your magical weapon is just as important. This keeps attributes in line with other, comparable scales.

Let's look at other implications:

For INT, this means that the formula for arcane spells would be different; your number of spells would be your tier + your INT modifier. As a tier 3 caster with INT 10, you get 4 spells of tier 1, 3 spells of tier 2, and 2 spells of tier 3 each day. If you can get that INT to 14, you get 1 more spell of each tier. It's not a game breaker, but it's a nice perk for having that exceptional intelligence. You can still be a magic user with INT 6... it's just going to be a little bit harder for you. The difference between 6 and 14 matters, but it's not an impossible difference. However, those lore checks are going to be far, far easier for the smarter magic user.

WIS and CON work the same way with their spells.

DEX modifiers to armor class would be mitigated, which keeps AC scaled a bit lower - which aligns with how AC scales for monsters a little better. I am ALMOST tempted to allow you to add your level to AC (as happens with my other games), and to make the armor you wear less important. Now we're DEEP into tinkering with the rules. However, your ability to get out of the way of damage should in large measure be a facet of experience. A magic user 1 and magic user 6 with the exact same gear should not be just as easy to hit; that second magic user has been in hundreds of battles, and has learned how to avoid being hit.

Since the game only goes to 6 levels, this is easy to mitigate. At the top end:

That magic user 6 has a ring of protection +3, and has DEX 14 (+2) from magical items. He has AC 21. In the current system, he has AC 15.
A fighter 6 has a suit of plate mail (+3) with a +3 enchantment, carries a shield (+2) with a +3 enchantment, but gets no DEX bonus because of the heavy armor. He has AC 27. In the current system, he would have AC 23.

Don't love how this is scaling. It works to add level for the supers and army ants games, because there are so few add-ons in game that contribute to AC, but here (where there is a lot of magic), that's not so much.

We could always scale back magic, too, so that there are only 2 levels of enchantment - enchanted and mystical. This would cut our magic user down to a 20 AC at level 6, and our fighter down to 25... and if we pull the AC bonus from a shield back to +1 (which makes more sense here), he's now down to AC 24. Again, your level matters more than your gear.

I'm going to let this simmer for a day or two...

Saturday, April 18, 2020


A few years ago, I directed a production of the Tempest at my school, and I made the poster. I really liked the design at the time, and I found a copy of the image online, and decided to redraw it for the TSR ruleset. It turned out AWESOME. I'm going to put this on the index page. I wanted to put it with Nature Magic (an example of weather control), but don't really have the room to do it justice, and wanted to give it like a third of a page. I thought I would share...

Thursday, April 16, 2020


And to think I had originally cut the decapus from the rulebook! I ended up with some room on that page, added it back, and decided to give it an upgrade. It's now a beholder-style threat, but for lower-level characters. Probably my favorite monster now.

I'm thinking a group of level 2 characters could maybe take this guy on. He's going to attack with the tentacles for sure, but he's also got a few magical tricks up his sleeve... er, tentacle.

I like the idea that he keeps shifting his weight all the time, and attacks with a different number of tentacles each round; he's got 9, and 1d4+3 of them are attacking at any time.

Stalwart Keep

And here is the starter location for our intrepid heroes. I mean, they don't have to be intrepid. Or heroes. And they don't have to START here, I guess. They could just kind of end up here. Or not.

I mean. It's a place, okay?

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

A Starter Dungeon

My draft of the core rules for the updated and expanded Tales of the Splintered Realm has the same introductory adventure from the original rules, albeit with a few minor tweaks that ground it in the present setting more directly, and which provide some hooks for later expansion.

However, as I was working out this morning (yeah, I do that now - THANKS virus), I was thinking of a starter dungeon that was both introductory adventure and guide to designing dungeons. It was not only an adventure, but a how to with the fundamentals of things that are likely to be in a dungeon crawl.

I started to think about maps, but then found this map I made maybe a year ago. I updated it with stairs and doors, threw a grid on it, and spent an hour and a half putting in the cross hatching. I still don't know if I'm using it, but thought I'd share anyway.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Design Challenge

When I teach my students about creative writing, I explain that you need to create a framework for yourself in which to be creative; if I give a student a blank sheet of paper and say that students can write about anything, paralysis sets in. If I tell students that they have to write a story with two characters trapped in an elevator, it's 8 in the morning, and one of them keeps sneezing, I suddenly have everyone with pen to paper.

It's just how creativity works.

So, I've created the same confines for myself with the new edition of Tales. I did it with the first edition as well, with the challenge to get the complete game system into 16 pages (which I later expanded to 20 when I realized I had left out some things I really wanted in there).

For this draft, the challenge was originally 64 pages, but I have since been able to slim it down to 48. So, the challenge is to get an entire game (basically, all of the Basic and Expert rules of '81, plus my own mad creations) down to 48 pages. 

And I'm almost there. I have a solid working draft that includes the following:

- 6 races and 6 classes, for a total of 36 possible race/class combinations. And with multi-classing, this actually means that there are 720 possible character options in the core rules (gnome fighter, gnome fighter/thief, gnome fighter/thief/magic user...).
- 31 Talents, including rules for alchemy, familiars, and ethereal animals (think Patronus)
- 120 spells
- Rules for chants
- Hundreds of magical items (30 potions, 100 miscellaneous items, plus dozens of combinations of armor and weapons, and every possible spell as a scroll - and the potential that any of these is cursed).
- 141 monsters (at present - might squeeze in a few more)
- An overview of a campaign setting, a campaign map (in full color), a starter location map with key, an introductory adventure, and hooks for further campaign exploration.
- And of course, guidelines for henchmen, hirelings, building strongholds, and 'name-level' gaming.


I plan to release the pdf first (in a week or two) and the print version a bit later. It will be a saddle-stitched 8.5x11 book the way that nature intended.


Sunday, April 12, 2020

Ch-Ch-Ch Changes

First of all, Happy Easter!

Now, on to gaming...

In going through my draft for Tales of the Splintered Realm, which is coming along nicely, I was trying to clean up the archetypes. I had twelve different archetypes going, and was trying to get them to not look so ... messy.

Then I realized that I've made this a LOT more complicated than it needs to be. I decided to go with the 3E option (which might be in 5E... I have no idea) that each level you can advance in a different class, and that we go back to race and class as two separate options. I know that I've made race and class a hybrid thing for this game, and I may revise the 'basic rules' to do that, but the main rulebook is going to have the mix and match option. This cleans things up, and lets me build every character I could want to build. I want to make a gnome trickster who has more arcane magic than thievery... fine. He's going to progress 2x in magic user for every level of thief, and ultimately wants to end up as a magic user 4/thief 2. Exactly the character I want. This caused me to revisit a few core concepts.

1. Class Progression and Attribute Increases are changed.

You select a class and a race. Every time you level up, you can progress in your current class, or you can take 1 level in another class. At level 1, Mimsby was a magic user 1. At level 2, he became a magic user 1/thief 1. At level 3, he took another level of magic user, becoming a magic user 2/thief 1.

Ever level, there is a chance that you have an attribute score increase. Roll 1d6. If you roll equal to or above the current attribute modifier, you increase the rating +1. For example, Mimsby moves to level 4, and takes 1 level of magic user. He currently has INT 11 (+2). He rolls 1d6; if he rolls 2 or above, his INT increases to 12. If he rolls a 1, it stays where it is. Any rating of 9 or lower automatically will increase; once you get up around 15 (+4), it gets less and less likely to see that increase.

2. Classes and Races are simplified.

They each give a few specific benefits. When you hit level 4, you trigger a special ability for your class. For example:

- Magic User gives you the lore talent, and 1 tier of arcane magic every level. You have a chance of increasing INT every level. At level 4, you get to cast one instant spell each turn.

- Elf gives you +1 to INT at level 1. You add +2 to sense Feats. You have darkvision.

That's it.

And by the way, I took shield use away as a separate ability. It comes included with medium armor access. However, a fighter with two weapons can choose to use the shield as his second weapon; he gets the benefit of the armor class bonus, but also gets to bash enemies with the shield every round for a little bit of damage (1d4). However, he'd get to add magical shield bonuses to attack and damage rolls, so it's a pretty nifty combo. Fighters are now much more awesome. I need to upgrade the two-handed talent by giving an extra +1 to attack rolls just to offset this; the two weapons ability for a fighter is SWEET if you go sword and shield. You get two attacks per round and +2 to AC at level 1. Good stuff, but only fighters get it. Of course, anyone can take one level of fighter just to do it...

3. Attributes and how they link to magic are moved around.

I bumped WIS back to faith magic, because Healer is now the default class for that. I bumped nature magic over to CON, since it makes sense that your ability to channel nature would be based on your personal endurance; you are channeling a lightning bolt through yourself, so you better be hardy. This allowed me to free up CHA for the bard, and to include chants as part of the core rules, which I am very happy about. It also gave me a class to link CON to, since I was having trouble with that. STR is the fighter, INT is the magic user, DEX is the thief… it was the other three I couldn’t firm up. Now I have.

And now I can make my dream stoutling bard character who picks up one level of fighter. Bwahahaha.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Back Cover Map

I normally don't put much thought into back covers. I was actually very happy for a while to have a great looking pre-made advertisement for Blue Dungeon Tiles to put on my releases. However, for the new book, I decided the back cover would be the perfect place to put the campaign map. I went completely old school with this one, doing my best World of Greyhawk riff.

I am so excited that this is going to be the back cover, and that it is going to be presented in glorious full color.

By the way, this is the western side of the continent that has been my campaign map for 20+ years. It connects to the rest of the Splintered Realm I've already detailed ad nauseum, but it is a hitherto unexplored area.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Cover Layout

I decided to go with a blood moon. And I remembered that in the Splintered Realm, the moon is broken, so that was kind of important. Here is a revised version that I absolutely love.

Color Version

Here is my working cover design for the deluxe edition of Tales of the Splintered Realm. In my mind, it's like my version of the D+D rules compendium. Or at least the Basic and Expert sets combined.

We'll see where it goes. My target is 128 pages, and I have lots of free time. Only about half of that is created right now, so I have miles to go before I sleep or some such.

If you have a wish list for what the game might include, comment away.

Monday, April 6, 2020

I Guess It's a Thing

Here is the cover design for the deluxe edition of Tales of the Splintered Realm.

This is the black and white version. The color version will be forthcoming... all that time I spent looking at Mike Mignola art tonight is starting to pay off.

Actions Per Round

One of the key changes to combat between the other iterations of the current game engine (The TSR engine is my nomenclature) and the Army Ants variation is the number of attacks per round. I decided that ants and other insects act often but don't do much damage; an ant can attack a number of times per round equal to his level; a level 5 ant gets off 5 shots per round, or can run, shoot, throw a grenade, run, and shoot some more. Or any combination like that.

I really, really like this. It makes gameplay fast, but also makes winning initiative at higher levels tremendously important. Your fighter 6 is swinging that sword 6 times per round. This means that damage probably needs to get scaled back to offset this.

  • Small weapons deal 1d4 damage
  • Medium weapons deal 1d6 damage (1d8 when two-handed)
  • Large weapons deal 1d8 damage (1d10 when two-handed)

A level 6 fighter with STR 18 (+6) and a good magic sword is attacking at 1s/+12/1d10+12. Against a foe with AC 16, he is hitting 5 out of 6 times, dealing an average total of 85 points of damage. Yeah. That's a LOT. But he's an endgame character with max abilities and gear. I might need to figure out how to mitigate this some.

In Army Ants, the difference between bugs and predators is that huge predators only attack once per round, but their damage is much higher. So, I was thinking of a variation on this that creates more strategy and variety to combat, but which might require more paperwork. Here it is...

  • You have a number of attack segments each round equal to your level. The default is that you make one attack/take one action with each segment.
  • Huge weapons (like a ballista) require more than one segment. A level 2 character can fire a ballista once per round, but a level 4 can fire it twice a round. 
  • Spells take a number of segments equal to their tier. A tier 1 spell requires 1 segment; a tier 6 spell requires 6 segments. So, a wizard 6 could cast one tier 6 spell on his action, two tier 3 spells, or a tier 2 spell, a tier 3 spell, and fire his sling. You have strategic options every round, and every spell 'feels' different in terms of how long it takes to cast.
  • A quick weapon grants +4 to initiative. Small weapons are quick. (or d4 damage?)
  • A slow weapon imposes -4 to initiative. Any weapon wielded 2-handed is slow. (or d12 damage?)
  • Monster attacks would be tiered in a similar way; a bear 4 might have a bite that has a rating of S2, while its claws have S1. It could bite twice in a round, attack with 4 claws, or do a classic claw/claw/bite. A huge dragon 6 could have a bite S4 and claws S1. Breath weapons work the same way; every die the creature uses is S1. A dragon 4 might have a breath weapon pool of 9d10, but can only use up to 4d10 at a time. If it uses a 1d10 breath weapon, it takes 1 sequence, but if it uses the full 4d10, it uses all 4 of its segments that round. 
  • Ghouls are level 2, but their claw attack is only S1, so they get to claw twice a round. The creature is coded so that its rate of attack and options are hard-wired into the system, and don't have to be explained.  
EDIT: I just thought of a permutation that solves a lot of problems. Your initiative is the order in which you act, but you only get one action per rotation, regardless of how many of your segments you use. So, a wizard 4 gets 4 segments per round. If on his first segment he casts a tier 1 spell, he still has 3 segments left, but has to wait until a full rotation (everyone else gets to act once) before acting again. This means you can layer in other options easily. You can always use a segment to defend, increasing your AC by +1 for the rest of the round, or to ready attacks, taking +1 to all remaining attacks the rest of the round. There are so many strategic options! If you have battle cry (for instance), you use 1 segment to activate your battle cry, but then all enemies within range suffer a penalty for the rest of the round. Nifty stuff. This means that level 1 sucks because you only get 1 action per round, so drinking a potion or moving a short distance is a killer, especially against a foe of higher level that gets multiple actions.

Sunday, April 5, 2020


I working through my solo play for Tales of the Splintered Realm, I found the need to develop rules for chants. These are something that I've wanted to layer in for some time, but I think I finally have a system in place that makes sense. I also realized that these were perfect for Potato Bugs in the Army Ants game; these are subtle magical effects that don't have the wow factor of arcane magic, but which can provide exceptional team support. This allows for a number of new classes as well, because this can be an add-on to warriors (the skald), thieves (the bard) and even fighter/clerics (the paladin).

Chants are musical effects that you emit, and that you stack as you become more powerful. While at level 1 your chant only does one thing, by level 6 it is doing several things simultaneously. You must have at least 2 lesser chants before you may take a greater chant; you must have the lesser version of a chant before you may take the greater version. You must be able to move and make noise to use a chant; you cannot sneak while chanting, and when your chant ends, all benefits from it end as well. You can start and end chants as a free action.

Sample Chants
  • Lesser Chant of Regeneration. Each ally within 30’ recovers 1 hit point every other round.
  • Greater Chant of Regeneration. Each ally within within 30’ recovers 1 hit point per round.
  • Lesser Chant of Armor. Each ally within 30’ takes +1 to AC.
  • Greater Chant of Armor. Each ally within 30’ takes +2 to AC.
  • Lesser Chant of Striking. Each ally within 30’ takes +1 to attack rolls.
  • Greater Chant of Striking. Each ally within 30’ takes +2 to attack rolls.
  • Lesser Chant of Acuity. Each ally within 30’ receives +1 to Feats
  • Greater Chant of Acuity. Each ally within 30’ receives +2 to Feats. 

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Two Interludes (Because Backstory)

Interlude One

I returned to the bustle of Stalwart Keep. The Recondite Society had heard rumor of my investigations surrounding the Burial Mounds, sending one of their lackeys, a thin, cagey, fifty-something thief named Juniper, to try and get information from me. He used his dagger to pick his teeth. It was, frankly, quite unsanitary. [Makes CHA check]. I explained that I was simply looking for one item of relatively little monetary value, but I would (of course) cut the Society in on 25% of anything I found. This didn’t mean I was a member, but it meant that I could be considered at some point for membership, and they wouldn’t hunt me down and kill me immediately, so that was progress. I would have offered him 25% of my current take, but that amounted to a handful of rat teeth, so he took the IOU and went on his way. I was eating a bowl of pheasant stew at the time, so my poverty needed no further proof. I did ask if he knew anything of the missing Rod piece that I had been searching for, but he seemed confused at the question. Never mind.

[From the first mound, Mimsby had earned 17 XP but no cash. Meh.]

I decided to peruse some of the books at the bookshop, seeing if I could discern anything about the secret door, the construction of the mounds, or anything else. [Makes Lore check easily; I will learn 2 things]

I learned first about the presence of a secret door in the tomb I had just explored. I was simultaneously humbled and heartened. Smart Mimsby for doing research! Stupid Mimsby for missing it the first time.  

I also learn that the next mound was made for the spy to the High Seneschal. These mounds were built at the end of the Kindreds War (really a series of skirmishes and back-alley brawls, if we’re being honest) after Lord Vontu died unexpectedly with no heir (rumors abounded regarding him and livestock. I digress.). Four noble houses vied for his title. In that time, the High Seneschal declared marshal law and took over the army until one of the four families could emerge to replace Lord Vontu. Eventually, House Whitebridle claimed authority, the Seneschal stepped down, granted a burial mound for his entire family. Seeing as he had no family (and no livestock were harmed, I presume), that was out - but he did have eight loyal lieutenants who had served him well in the tense eighteen months he ruled over the region around Stalwart Keep. Each Lieutenant received an individual mound, and he hired a team of dwarfs of questionable heritage (Clan Thunderkiller? Really? Nobody actually believed that, I hope) to complete the work. I was able to find some of the original designs, although the maps were crude, not to scale, and covered in scrawlings that included an improvised game of find the blugger and recipe possibilities for a type of mead derived from rat droppings. Again, Thunderkiller seems an overstatement. However (fun fact), the Seneschal was in possession of a family heirloom, a Rod of 9 Parts, which he divided (nicely) among his and his lieutenant’s tombs. It may have been cursed, and dividing it in this way may have cursed each of the tombs, and the remains may actually be unrestful in afterlife, and I probably shouldn’t be looking for this item now that I think about it.

Eh. I’m sure I will figure out the curse thing eventually.

I was going to peruse some lore regarding curses, but then the owner of the bookshop started to get sarcastic in his tone, suggesting something about paying customers and the differences between honest businesses and those whorish libraries, and since I could no longer concentrate with his blathering filling up my ears, I decided to set off and return to the first tomb. There was a secret door to explore!  

[This is becoming a novel in my head. SO much fun writing this.]

Interlude Two: Of Stalwart Keep

I have made passing mention of my home, but thought it was due something of a descriptor. Stalwart Keep is, to put it plainly, ten weight of dung in a five-weight satchel. It was originally intended as a mid-journey layover between North Brisford to the north (obviously) and Elsingston to the south. However, North Brisford fell into the hands of the northern ork tribes (we get it – they are north; stop putting it in the title already) and was rechristened Blood Haven (because ‘ork city’ would have been too on the nose, one presumes), and Elsingston suffered something of a setback when it was set upon by a dragon and large numbers of folk decided that living in an unwalled city in dragon territory was not the best long-term decision. In short order, a keep designed to comfortably quarter one thousand had been turned into the abode for either 5,220 or 3,897, depending upon to whom the question was posed. According to the official census, the tally was 3,897 – which the Whitebridle family brandished routinely to justify an ever more ponderous policy of taxation. “You want to live like a keep with 5,000, but we have fewer than 4,000 – someone has to pay for all of this!” However, 5,220 was the official population writ upon the application to the Alliance of Cities of State, which requires a minimum population of 5,000 to meet the threshold for city statehood.   

Whichever number was honest, the truth was such: there were too many damned folk. Zoning laws had changed to allow alleys to shrink to 3’ wide and ‘streets’ to 6 (curious, considering the average carriage is 5’ wide); building permits were issued to allow two-story structures to grow to five stories, and suddenly the family that had been living on the first floor (and was NOT about to move) was dwelling beneath a stable that had been erected on the second level, with an awkward ramp system to allow horses to travel to and fro. And above that was an apothecary, which was only accessed by a rope ladder, because that was all the room we had and you had best make use of what you could and stop complaining so much Elwick, you should be happy you got to open your stupid shop at all.

But Stalwart Keep was on a good mound, and it had a good wall, and there was arable farmland about, and trade came in from many directions, so the minor inconvenience of being routinely squeezed by your neighbors in all directions was considered a necessity for modern life. But the fact is that we were all packed in like so many sardines in a tin.

Therefore, any opportunity to stretch one's legs was welcome, even if (or especially, to be honest) that meant descending into the tombs of the dead to plunder their riches.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Mimsby’s Journal: A Solo Play for Tales of the Splintered Realm

Inspired by this post by Dyson Logos, I decided to create a solo character (Mimsby, a gnome trickster) and use the Solitaire Framework and Tales of the Splintered Realm to do some old-fashioned tomb raiding. Away we go…. I keyed the map as I adventured.

Part the First

Having learned of a Rod of 9 Parts hidden among the Funeral Mounds of the Sullen Marches, I set out to recover them. I first entered the Mound of Remembrance, the rumored rest of a skeletal soldier of some repute.

I was able to pick the lock to the door of the mound, sneaking within quietly. I was met with thick cobwebs and ancient dust. I failed to notice the trapped stair just beyond the door, and I set off the spear that fired upon me from the opposite wall. I deftly evaded this, and it wedged itself into the door. I vowed to move forward more carefully.

Entering a main hall, I was attacked by some form of minor dust elemental that arose from the thick grime. I timed my defense perfectly, cutting through it in two quick strikes of my blades. It dissipated immediately. The tombs nearby had been prepared but never used.

(Note: Mimsby failed to find a loose stone in one of the alcoves that contained something of interest).

I continued northward and watched as rats scurried away from me. I entered what appeared to be a mundane storage area. Many of the less valuable possessions of the dead soldier were placed here, but they have long-since rotted and decayed. I found nothing of value. However, I found a fabric covering a strange shape, and removed it to find the carefully-preserved corpse of a war dog. It came to life and attacked me.  I was able to evade its bite, but I struggled to prepare my blades to counter-attack. I dodged its second bite, and my swords found their mark. I gave it its final rest. Another check of the chamber gleaned nothing of value.

(Note: There is nothing of value to find)

As I was leaving, I realized that something had attracted a small pack of rats that set upon me. 4 of them attacked. I still had my swords at the ready, and I was able to bring the fight to them. I killed one immediately, but then the other three were upon me. I managed to beat one away, but two delivered cruel bites to my arm and leg. (Mimsby suffers 5 hp damage). I managed to deliver a grievous wound to one and decapitated another. Only one remained. He hesitated a moment, but decided his hunger was greater than the threat I posed. As he leapt at me, I stabbed him through the heart. I rested for several minutes to recover my strength, drinking some of the thin wine and eating a piece of the flatbread I had brought along. I hoped that I would find something soon that would afford me a better meal.

I made my way to the tomb towards the east. The door was locked and trapped. I discovered the poison needle in the door, but set it off while trying to disarm it, much to my chagrin. The poison turned my arm blue, but I managed to tie off the arm below the shoulder and cut myself to bleed out enough of the poison to survive. It made me violently ill, however. I was worried the sounds of my screaming and the smell of blood would bring on scavengers, but I was lucky to avoid that fate. I rested again.

Once I had my wits about me, I entered the door and descended into the resting place of the old soldier. It was a casket surrounded by valuables – crates of coins, a variety of jewelry, a handful of weapons. As I perused it, I quickly noticed the forgeries. At best, the entirely of the chamber was worth a handful of copper coins. It was all fakery of the lowest quality, easily detected by even a mediocre fence. As I prepared to wedge open the casket, I was attacked by a huge spider that had been slowly descending upon me as I examined the chamber. I cursed myself for my foolishness in not looking up before entering this hall.

I felt the presence of the spider just before it bit at my neck, and managed to leap forward of its snapping mandibles. I swung at it twice, but my strikes met only air. It fell to the ground and charged at me, snapping viciously. It bit the ground at my feet, kicking up a cloud of dust. I decided to press my luck no further, whispering an incantation that loosed an arcane dart, which burst directly into the mouth of creature, causing it to combust. I could see its web 30’ overhead. I could see something bundled up there, and decided I must investigate. I first opened the casket to find a skeleton inside; this instantly came to life and attacked. I was not surprised in the least, and I drove my sword through its eye socket as it sprung to life, destroying it quickly. I searched the chamber twice, but I was unable to find anything of value. I was frustrated beyond measure; either the rumors I had paid for were wrong, or I was missing something. Either possibility was unnerving. I returned to Stalwart Keep no richer, but perhaps a bit wiser than I had been at the start of this fool’s errand.

(Note: He failed to find the secret door! Ugh)

Thursday, April 2, 2020

MTDAA Twilight Issue 2 Now Posted

The second issue of MTDAA: Twilight is now posted. 

I like how this turned out... the termites are nice and crazy, just as I wanted them.

It's PWYW, and uses the Solitaire Framework.

It has solo rules, so you can play today - even if you are stuck under a quarantine.

So that's something!

And urmugurd, I just realized this is my 700th posting! Go me.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Number Crunchin' - It's Transparency Time!

So, I used March to run a PWYW promotion on MTDAA stuff, based around the release of the new game. I also happened to release the Solitaire Framework this month. I decided to use this number to see how March went, and figured I would do that in a public forum. Because, why not?

First off, I ran a banner that I kept re-upping for the month to try and direct traffic to my page. It was kind of meh. Here's the recap as of this morning...

The banner ran 238,739 impressions in March, with 177 clicking through. That's 0.07%, which is pretty low. I don't have any of my older banners (I went through and deleted those a month ago in a general housecleaning of my back end at Drivethrurpg), but I am confident that other banners have performed significantly better. I figured I will let the banner go through the end of the day, and then revert things to their normal prices.

Now, on to sales!

Hmf. Not sure what to do with this. Are the numbers skewed because of coronavirus? Maybe. Likely. On one hand, people had more free time in general, so they are probably downloading more stuff. On the other hand, a large number of publishers offered high-profile things at significant discounts or as pay-what-you wants this month, so that drew focus. People had more concern about money in general, so they probably spent less than they might have otherwise. In the end, I kind of assume that the two balanced each other out, and my numbers are what they are, and are likely close to what they would have been otherwise.

Spoiler alert: My 'business model' is as follows: release a few 'prestige' books that have a decent price tag, and a lot of freebie/PWYW stuff that continues to draw traffic and keeps my back catalog in some circulation. This month, I downgraded some of the prestige books (the three MTDAA core books) to PWYW, so that also skews things quite a bit. Seeing as one sale of Sentinels of Echo City Revised accounts for about 1/4 of my total sales for the month (in which Army Ants was the entire focus), that's not very good. In general, I expected sales would have been a bit stronger (or more than a bit, if I'm being honest).

- There was one rating of the Solitaire Framework (3 stars with no comments), and two ratings for Army Ants: Twilight (3 stars and 4 stars, both with no comments). This is about as vanilla of a response as you could possibly get. I have no idea what to do with that, other than people were not real excited about these releases. I honestly thought the Solitaire Framework was going to be pretty popular, if for no other reason than it is a very simple, solid engine for solo gaming, so I thought the timing on that was ideal. Not sure what to do with that. Did it need one piece of killer art to get people excited? I mean, it's one page... still not sure.
- I also was intentional about updated my blog more (11 updates in March) and in posting to social media (I cross posted 11 times to MeWe; I posted 31 pages on Tumblr).
- Tumblr is easy to use, but it's kind of dead. I know - I should have known this. But I didn't realize how dead it really was. I don't like the alternatives, but I may have to find one.
- I'm not a great business man. There are probably better ways to market, leverage, and spread the word about my work. I am trying to get better at that, but the results are pretty mundane.

Anyhow, issue 2 of Army Ants: Twilight drops today, and I'm going to keep on keeping on. Thanks for reading!