Monday, July 29, 2013

Thrilling Tales 2nd Edition in print (on demand)

Several months ago Adamant Entertainment offered their two Savage Worlds lines, each of the core books, for just $1.00. I'm glad I took advantage of the sale then, the PDFs are back to their normal prices now- actually, still marked down quite a bit (Mars and Thrilling Tales).

Having the PDFs is great, but I still prefer my books in print. Mars is still out there and not too difficult to find, Thrilling Tales is much harder to find affordably. At this time the cheapest one on is $57.97 and there are plenty that cost more than that! I'd like the book in print, but not that much.

There is an affordable work-around for those who have or are willing to purchase the PDF. Using, you can sign up and create publishing projects for your own personal use which you can then order a copy for them to print and ship to you. The purpose for this is to print a product you've purchased. This cannot be sold as your own production.

Here are the steps I took to:

Start a new project, name the book and provide an author. Make sure you leave the Keep it private and accessible only to me selection marked. And then Save and Continue.

 Select the Publisher Grade paper on this page. The options available for Publisher Grade is the good old 8.5 x 11 or 5.5 x 8.5. The Thrilling Tales PDF is created in this later 5.5 x 8.5 and that is what you'll want to choose (as it's highlighted in the picture). Those are the only two choices for Publisher Grade paper.

Standard paper offers many more options for size and layout, but none of which are compatible with the PDF.

Publisher Grade will make the Perfect-bound style binding available. I would've preferred the coil-bound, but that is only available in the incompatible Standard paper as we covered above. So Perfect-bound it is.

The PDF is produced in black & white so only having this option worked out fine. Save and continue.

Here we upload the PDF file for the project. The file you receive from the vendor (in my case DriveThruRPG) will give you an error when trying to upload. "Your document could not be created: We do not accept password-encrypted PDF documents."

Getting around this error is not hard. In the PDF reader program under File click on Print. Select Print to File, designate where you this PDF copy to be saved and name it. This copy should not trigger the above error. This is the file we'll upload to Lulu.

One important note-
When Lulu prints this PDF, they consider the cover as page 1. Which makes the real page 1, page 2. This causes problems with the page numbering where you'll have the page number on the inside by the spine instead of out by the outer corner of the page. To overcome this problem I added a single page PDF in front of the full PDF. This additional page can be uploaded separate to the main document. The final book will come out with all included PDFs as if they were one combined file.

 In retrospect I realized that one could simply print to file- skipping the first page (the cover), i.e. print pages 2-257. This will also correct the page numbering problem and save one page in the final product.

I kind of like how that one page worked out, though.
The single page PDF added to offset the numbering.

The PDF's cover now as the 2nd page and page 1 in it's proper place.
After your PDF is uploaded, click Make Print-Ready File.

Here you can click on a link to preview the PDF as Lulu as received it. Most useful if you are combining multiple PDFs.

Click Save and Continue>>.

The next page is a bit tricky. This is where you can design a cover for the book. What I did was download an image of the PDF cover and the back cover, upload them over on the right in the Project Images box. Select Themes and the first option- ImageOnly. Once the pictures are uploaded, drag them to the black box with the camera icon. Front cover on the right, back cover on the left with the UPC image.
Each picture will have a yellow triangle with a "!" in it. If you hover the cursor over this sign a window reads "The photo you chose might not look clear when printed. You should choose a different image or pick a smaller image frame." I disregarded the warning and mine turned out perfectly.

There is a very narrow window between the cover and the back cover that represents the book's spine. You can click on this and edit the text- font and size even. This took some time to get right with trial and error. Not sure if my computer system was taxed trying this or if the website is just kind of slow in this feature. Work on it a bit and you can get some cool results. When you're done, click Preview & Make Print-Ready Cover which will send you to a preview image. If it looks good, click Make Print-Ready Cover>>.

You'll be presented with two links, one from before to preview the book and now and additional one that will give you a PDF of the cover art you've just created. Click Save & Continue.

The next page is a recap to double check everything. I would make sure to keep the Private Access option checked.

Save and Finish>>

There. Now you can purchase your own book. My experience in doing this was about $10.something. With the original price of the PDF, this was less than $12.00 total- shipping and everything.

I'm surprised how nice this turned out, compared to previous Lulu print projects I've tried.

The cover artwork looks worn and tattered. The actual cover is nice and new still.

The new UPC doesn't line up quite with the original one. Again, the worn out look is the printed cover.

Star Wars Rebels concept art

Orange like the Rebel pilot's jumpsuits
Rebels takes place between Episode III and Episode IV. The series is to follow one teen and chronicle the birth of the Rebel Alliance according to Dave Filoni (who gave us Clone Wars, as well as Avatar: The Last Airbender!). The show looks like it will be based around a ship called The Ghost. Concept art shows a real Ralph McQuarrie look which is always awesome. The Ghost design idea was a cross between a B-17 and a bit of the Millennium Falcon.

Episode IV's designs weren't exactly like McQuarrie's style. The concept art for Episode IV always seemed even older than how the actual models, etc turned out. That notion is what will fuel Rebel's older style.
“We wanted to create a look for this part of Star Wars that precedes A New Hope by just a little bit,” Filoni said. “We have created a set of digital brushes that replicate McQuarrie’s style. [...] We’re going for something that’s much more an illustrative look.”
The Ghost
More McQuarrie-like concept art
Star Wars Rebels is going to premiere in Fall 2014. That should be about time for Fantasy Flight's Age of Rebellion. Well played Chris Peterson, well played.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Hero Kids Halliday interviewed for the ENnies

Hero Kids is a game that our household supports and uses. The game benefits from an eye with smart design. The mechanics are elegant and can provide a challenge to young gamers, leading them to that moment when the coin falls into the slot where they 'get it'. The design perfectly goes hand in hand with the graphical elements of the game. Soft epicness, no grim-dark. Yet, also not too cartoony. I suspect quality productions such as Avatar: The Last Airbender served as great influence to the look and feel, because the game has that sort of spirit about it. And that's a very good thing.

This interview talks about the PDFs available, but I think it should be mentioned that the core book is also available in soft cover print:
The 2013 ENnies nominations have been announced and voting is now open. I caught up with Justin Halliday of Hero Forge Games. Hero Forge Games' role-playing game for kids, Hero Kids, was released last October and is up for a Best Family Game ENnie. Since then Justin has released seven adventures, as well as extra hero characters and an equipment pack. Voting begins on Monday, July 22 and runs to Wednesday, July 31. The ceremony itself will be on Friday, August 16, in the Union Station Grand Hall at 8 pm with the cocktail reception beginning at 6:30 pm.
Justin Halliday (JH): My company is Hero Forge Games, and it's actually just me! I'm based in Melbourne, Australia, and I'm a professional videogame designer, producer, and manager.Michael Tresca (MT): Tell us about your company.
My first RPG was a D&D variant called Heroes Against Darkness that I decided to create after playing a lot of D&D, from Basic to 4th Edition. Around the time I finished Heroes Against Darkness my daughter was just old enough to get interested in RPGs so I had a look around at some of the options to play with her. None of them really grabbed me; they were too simple, or too complicated, or too scrappy, and because of my design background I decided that I'd make my own game instead.
MT: Why should voters vote for your Hero Kids? What sets it apart?
JH: My goal with Hero Kids was to design a game that could be played by kids from 5 to 10, and would give them good foundation in the fundamentals of role-playing games: combat, exploration, and role-playing. Since its release, I've continued to support the game, so if someone buys the Complete Bundle, they're getting 281 pages of materials for the game for just $15.
The other aspect of Hero Kids that really sets it apart is that it encourages the kids to use their imaginations to engage with the stories, to solve puzzles, and to have exciting and fantastic adventures. The game doesn't pander to or talk down to kids, I prefer to use more advanced and evocative words and imagery (without profanity or overt violence) because kids at this age absorb so much that they're exposed to.
MT: How do you feel about the state of the gaming industry today?
JH: I'm really an outsider to the industry, so my perspective is probably very different from that of people working in America. From the outside I can see the maturation of the big RPGs like D&D, which has led to a an explosion of small press and self-published work, especially with sites like DriveThruRPG that sell PDFs.
MT: How hard is it for a game publisher in this economy?
JH: I imagine that it's very hard for a company that's trying to compete with the big publishers with print products. But advances and quality improvements to print-on-demand mean that companies can offer print products without the large up-front costs they would have had in the past.
MT: How has Kickstarter changed or influenced your business model, if at all?
JH: I'm based in Australia, so I can't technically use Kickstarter for my games. The trick with Kickstarter is to already have an audience that you can sell to. There's not much chance of success for unknown companies trying to launch 'groundbreaking' new products.
MT: What's next for your company?
JH: I'll continue to support Hero Kids while there's demand and interest in the game. At the same time I'm working on another RPG system that isn't just another variant of D&D. :-)
MT: Where can we find out more about your company online?
JH: You can read all about my work on Hero Kids at the game's blog and you can get Hero Kids from DriveThruRPG.
MT: Anything else you'd like to share?
JH: Just that Hero Kids' recognition wouldn't have been possible without the ongoing support of you mums and dads who've bought the game to share with your kids and to raise a whole new generation of role-players. And if anyone wants to support Hero Kids, they can buy a copy or even vote for the game in the ENnie awards Best Family Game category.
Link to Examiner article 

The Space 1889 Planet Project

Clockwork Publishing (or Uhrwerk Verlag, properly) is working on an interesting project.
Space: 1889 is a steampunk role-playing game taking place in a fictional Victorian era of earth. Using steam-powered spaceships, human explorers flew through the ether and colonized Mars, Venus and Mercury.
Under patronage of DereGlobus, our fan project aims to visualize the populated planets as interactive atlases in Google Earth.
Here's the link (in English) for more information.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Modus Operandi McAlister interviewed for the ENnies

I've been following Modus Operandi for about as long as it's existed. David McAlister started it mainly as a resource for Top Secret/S.I. and then for Spycraft. After that it became a resource for any and all espionage RPGs. Modus Operandi finds itself nominated for the 2013 ENnies, and this is far from it's first nomination. The Examiner found McAlister and talked with him about it...

The 2013 ENnies nominations have been announced and voting is now open. I caught up with Dave McAlister, Founder and Administrator of Modus Operandi, which is nominated for a Best Website ENnie. Voting begins on Monday, July 22 and runs to Wednesday, July 31. The ceremony itself will be on Friday, August 16, in the Union Station Grand Hall at 8 pm with the cocktail reception beginning at 6:30 pm.
Michael Tresca (MT): Tell us about your site.
Dave McAlister (DM): Modus Operandi is an espionage-themed resource for roleplaying games. It's been nominated for 4 Best (Fan) Website ENnies in the past (2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007) and another website I run (UK Role Players ( was nominated for a Best Website ENnie in 2011. Additionally, my Stargate SG-1 RPG website (which has since been folded into Modus Operandi) received an Honourable Mention in the Best Fan Website category in 2004.
MT: How did Modus Operandi come about?
DM: I've been roleplaying since the early '80s and fell in love with espionage RPGs when I picked up the Top Secret/S.I. box set was released in 1987. In late 1998 I joined this, relatively, new-fangled thing called the internet and, in May 1999 started what is now known as Modus Operandi. At first it focused on Top Secret/S.I. but over the years it has expanded to cover more espionage RPGs - including just last week when I received the first submissions for Night's Black Agents.
MT: Why should voters vote for your site?
DM: While I would love everyone to vote for Modus Operandi, just looking at the other nominees suggests that I'm facing an uphill battle. That said, I'm not looking for the sympathy vote either. Just being nominated is an achievement itself and one that I am very proud of.
MT: What's next for your company?

DM: Modus Operandi celebrates its 15th anniversary next year and I'm hoping to ramp up the updates. I plan on putting fingers to keyboard and typing a few articles on running modern day espionage games but I'm always on the lookout for guest articles. Whether they are for a system that I already support, one that I should support, or just generic articles that anyone can use. Feel free to get in contact through and we'll get things sorted. Thanks.

There's still time to vote! 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Savage Worlds character generators

Savage Worlds enjoys some of the hobby's most creative and talented fans. Several of them are also entrepreneurs. The more able of those have been using Kickstarter quite successfully to start projects and tools designed to assist in creating characters and using our current tech and gadgets to track character stats at the table. Sometimes even totally replacing the good old character sheet. A couple of the more recent character generator tools are on the verge of becoming available to us, if not already useful.

Savage Outfitters
This looks like a powerful tool for creating characters using official resources as well as creating custom character assets all through a browser or smartphone. Savage Outfitters is cross-platform character tracking- not just in creation, but also designed for use at the table during play.

The product is mainly designed for use with Smart Phones or tablets, but is also quite usable for people who go about the more traditional method of make it at home and print it for the game table. Savage Outfitters can be used for this style of play, too.

Savage Outfitters is not completely finished with the project, but is well on it's way after a successful Kickstarter drive. They've stated a release-early-update-often plan. Their model appears to be- official modules are created and available for purchase to be used with the program. You are also able to create your own custom modules that can be shared.

Wild Card Creator

The simple idea behind Wild Card Creator is as, Will Herrmann states- if you already own the PDF of a Savage Worlds setting you can simply add those character assets to your Wild Card Creator program. More info, including a list of which Savage Worlds settings are available for this can be found here at the Kickstarter site. This is a winner for those who already collect the Savage Worlds books no PDF.

A very cool selling point for Wild Card Creator is in the export features, beyond a simple Stat Block, you will be able to export onto any character sheet PDF you desire. And there are a lot of amazing Savage Worlds character sheets (Cheyenne, I'm looking at you).


Savage Worlds Web Tools
A very useful selection of Savage Worlds tools including a character generator. For more details about this site check out the blog post.

The Old boys...

Hero Lab
Hero Lab for Savage Worlds
Lone Wolf Development has been doing character generation for a long long time and for a lot of different RPG systems. Although tried and true, one disadvantage Hero Lab has is that the above tools are designed specifically for Savage Worlds where this is a Savage Worlds version of Hero Lab. Probably a moot point.

Another disadvantage Hero Lab has was I didn't see any reference or support for Smart Phone app.

While not directly developed for Linux, I personally have gotten the demo program to work fine on my system (CrunchBang!). This was not exactly user-friendly and required a lot of combing of forums.

Metacreator Savage Worlds template 
This might be the first one marketed for profit. The AlterEgo Software website is not encouraging as it appears to be decades out of date. Lets celebrate it as the grand-dad of the products on this post and move on.

Zadmar's Savage Worlds Character Builder
Zadmar's character creation is all web based and pretty thorough. Upon completion, you get several options for exporting the Stat Block- such as HTML full sized or small, or straight up text. Very nice little tool.

Bonus! - That's not the only thing Zadmar offers on his website. There are a lot of neat tools there. Check it out - Zadmar's Savage Worlds Stuff.

Sherlock series 3 titles

The titles for the third season of Sherlock have been revealed.

S3E1: The Empty Hearse
Written by Mark Gatiss, Directed by Jeremy Lovering

S3E2: The Sign of Three
Written by Steve Thompson, Directed by Colm McCarthy

S3E3: His Last Vow
Written by Steven Moffat, Directed by Nick Hurran
sherlock by dotdodoe
US will have to wait until 2014 to see these episodes, which makes it sound like the UK will be getting them before the New Year.
sherlock by rikkitikki

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Kingkiller Chronicle television series / plus The Doors of Stone

Kvothe the Bard under the Moon by SurugaMonkey
Kvothe is coming to the small screen in an ongoing series from FOX.

New Regency Productions and 20th Century Fox Television have optioned Patrick Rothfuss’ fantasy trilogy The Kingkiller Chronicle to develop into a drama series. Eric Heisserer (Hours, The Thing) is attached to adapt the series and will exec produce. Arnon Milchan, Andrew Plotkin, Brad Weston and Robert Lawrence (Die Hard With A Vengeance) also serve as exec producers. Set in a compelling world where the sharpest minds can master magic, The Kingkiller Chronicles tells the story of Kvothe, a streetwise young man who hopes to one day hunt down the mysterious group that murdered his family. The first book, The Name of the Wind, was published in spring 2007; the second, The Wise Man’s Fear, dropped in March 2011. Both hit No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list. The third book in the trilogy, The Doors of Stone (working title), is expected to be out some time next year.

The Doors of Stone. Cool.

Also, it's been reported that there very well could be more stories from Kvothe's world coming after the Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy concludes!
The September 2012 issue of Locus Magazine lists a recent book sale by Patrick Rothfuss to his longtime editor (and 2012 Hugo winner) Betsy Wollheim at science fiction/fantasy publisher DAW Books. The sale is listed as “the first book in a new fantasy series” by the Kingkiller Chronicles author.
Rothfuss fans are currently eagerly awaiting the concluding volume to the Kingkiller Chronicles (currently being examined in incredible detail in Jo Walton’s Patrick Rothfuss reread), but this news is a welcome guarantee that fans have yet more to look forward to even after Kvothe/Kote’s story is concluded.
Although the sale is listed as a new fantasy series, could it be set in the same world as the Kingkiller Chronicles? If it is, what events or characters would you like to see take the spotlight?

Kvothe the Bloodless by IcE-MarioTeodosio

Nimona by Gingerhaze

Nimona is a highly entertaining webcomic by Noelle "Gingerhaze" Stevenson.

Nimona is about a supervillain, Lord Ballister Blackheart, who teams up with a young girl, Nimona, who also is a very powerful shapeshifter. The comic takes place in a kingdom where the good-guys aren't as good sometimes. The setting appears to be like a fantasy world, but there are elements of modern technology, magic and super science.

The comic is gaining momentum. HarperCollins has purchased the rights to Nimona to produce two graphic novels in 2015. Slate Magazine awarded the comic the Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Web Comic of 2012. Io9 favorably compared Nimona to the Venture Bros (though, with fewer pop-culture references and not quite as vulgar, in my opinion).

Stevenson's art style is very unique and stylized. She leans way towards an artistic style rather than realistic art, which really adds to the feel and spirit of the comic. It's clear that the web comic will translate very well to print.

Stevenson updates Nimona on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Doctor Boo

Came across this incredible theory today- that ALL Pixar films exist in the same universe. Check it out here:

The idea is pretty far fetched, but a good read none-the-less. I liked the idea that Boo becomes the Witch we see in Brave. Having witnessed a time when Monsters (which are cognizent animals) via the door network uses this somehow to search for her dear friend, Sully. She ends up traveling back to the Dark Ages where she is stuck and settles in Scottland and becomes the Witch Mireda contacts. As they said in the article, it all starts with the Willows Wisps.

So, wouldn't it be cool to have an adventure following Boo as she travels from Pixar setting to setting searching for Sully? Traveling time and space. As my wife said... Doctor Boo.

Boo Revisited by Weezi

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