Saturday, January 11, 2014

Staples, Home Brewing and Playoff Football - Oh My!

So, I realized something as I was getting the packages together from the 12 Days of OSR Christmas - the only mailing tubes I had were ones that were keeping my own maps and such safe - so, onward to Staples. I returned with stuff to mail out goodies AND a new desk chair for my wife. Now I need to hit a private postal affiliate that is open on Sundays...

Today was the time to bottle the home brewed beer for secondary fermentation / carbonation. 30 25oz bottles. The wife helped filling the bottles, so I guess I do owe her chair assembly. Mmmmm! Beer!

Halftime in the Seattle / New Orleans playoff game.

Need to prep for tonight's S&W game at 930 tonight.

I plan to give the d30 Sandbox Companion a bit of a workout tonight...

Wayward Kickstarter - They Became Flesh - Two Years Late and Still No Books for Some

Before I even get into the nitty gritty of this post, let me start with a public service announcement: If you are going to have an part in the running of a Kickstarter project, PLEASE make sure you have decent health insurance. From the Kickstarter updates I've read over the years, you can expect to get hit with: Con Crud, the flu, the whole family gets the flu, depression, undisclosed illnesses, broken limbs and other assorted debilitating illnesses and injuries - often you'll get more than one instance of the above. Don't forget that one instance of the flu can put your whole project back months.

Aright, on to They Became Flesh. I must say I am almost disappointed that I missed this one when it was live over two years ago, as I would have had an amazing time getting pissed off with many of the updates. They were interesting to read, and frustrating - that's coming from someone without a horse in the race.

Basic facts - Funded December 12, 2011. Asked for $1,500 and hit $7,434. Estimated delivery January 2012 (talk about shooting oneself in the foot right from the start).

Now, time to look at the updates, kindly provided to me by an anonymous source:

Update #1
Nov 16, 2011
Goal reached! And a special BONUS goal added!
Hey guys!

Holy crap, I can't believe we made our goal of $1,500 in just three days! You are AMAZING. I want to tell you a little bit about what's going on behind the scenes, and then tell you what you all want to know anyway: what you get if we hit $3,000.

The crack development team currently hard at work on turning THEY BECAME FLESH from a game to a book includes me (you know me), Mist Robed Gate's Shreyas Sampat and Push: New Thinking About Roleplaying/Stage One's Jonathan Walton. We're refining the GM advice, including new setting guidance— so that you can still create a world to your liking, but we'll give you jumping-off points if you need 'em. As this evolves, we'll be posting links to iterations of the PDF for backers so that we can get your feedback— and so you can start playing right away. (how they planned on a January 2012 release date is beyond me)

But riding out the next 25 days without a new goal to hit wouldn't be much fun, would it? So here's the deal, guys: if we hit $3,000, the game will include a special supplement called THE KEYS OF HELL AND DEATH. It will take the mechanics from the main game and twist them, so your characters from THEY BECAME FLESH can soldier up for the final war in Heaven. Will you fight for God or for Lucifer— or will you risk almost certain death to fight for the cause no one expected, Humanity?
THE KEYS OF HELL AND DEATH will be available to everyone pledging $5 or above.

Update #2
Nov 30, 2011 (you hit goal in 3 days but wait 2 more weeks to give an update? it would seem to me you would want to fan the excitement)
New Goal: Custom Dice

Well, we’ve got a little time left before we’re funded, and everyone on the team is absolutely amazed by the outpouring of interest and support for THEY BECAME FLESH. We’ve got our noses to the grindstone and we’re working hard to make this a success.
You've made THE KEYS OF HELL AND DEATH possible, and now we've got a new goal to push for: if we hit $6,000, we’ll be able to offer custom THEY BECAME FLESH dice to our backers! We’ll send Archangel backers 2 dice, and any backers pledged at $25 or above will receive the set of 15 dice along with all their previously-planned pledge rewards. If we reach our goal, the dice should be available around Valentine’s Day.

Update #3 - For backers only
Dec 1, 2011
Dice Survey!
Hi backers!

We need your help making a decision. There are two styles of dice that we're considering for TBF's bonus dice. The dark dice are opaque black with iridescent swirls in red, blue, and gold; the light dice are clear with black swirls. They both look really beautiful in motion. Please let us know which style you like best!

Update #4
Dec 2, 2011 (alright, frequent updates while the project is live - look like they are hitting their stride)

For people who missed out on the leather-bound edition (and a note on dice):
We're not going to do more of those, because we said it was a limited edition and we want to be fair to people who have put up their hard-earned money for something we promised would be no more than 25 copies.

That said, so many people have asked about it that we're considering adding another reward at the same price level (because it costs me the same with this particular binder). Would there be any interest in a cloth-bound edition with the hand-illuminated cover? A traditional case-wrap hardcover? Both would have the same coffee-table-book, archival quality of the leatherbound, and color (if we do color illumination on the interior, which we are considering).

People who have the leather-bound, would this make you feel cheated? People who want the leather-bound, would this make you happy?

And about the dice: if we can hit the stretch goal, I'll do a thing where you can get an extra set of dice for an extra seven bucks. But I don't want to make a reward tier based on something that might not happen; that would suck.

Update #5
Dec 6, 2011
Custom Dice are a GO! And here's how to get two sets: (dice will be a problem later)

You guys are AMAZING!

We noticed that while most of you prefer the light dice, those of you who prefer the dark dice REALLY prefer it— and some of you want the chance to get both. So we're splitting the dice order!
$12 backers will receive one Light and one Dark die. $25 and above will be able to specify a full set of either light OR dark dice. Additional sets (of light or dark!) will be available to Kickstarter backers ONLY, for an additional $7 once the Kickstarter has completed— I don't want to create a whole bunch of additional tiers right now when this thing is almost over. Which should allow those completionists among you to catch 'em all.

Any leftover dice will be used in demos, and limited quantities might be available at conventions I attend.

Thank you so much for supporting my game. All money raised over the $6K is just going to go towards even fancier art— so thanks again!

Update #6 - For backers only
Dec 22, 2011 (Note, this is the first update in over 2 weeks. It funded 10 days prior and did not update then)
Reward surveys have gone out!

So be sure to check your email. We have something pretty fantastic in the works for your holiday card— expect it on Christmas Eve. It will be chock full of fun things: wallpapers, new info, and most excitingly, a new version of the playtest document with some really exciting GM advice for God and Humanity, as well as a sneak peak at our slowly-finalizing layout.

Due to the wild success of our Kickstarter— leading to the development of THE KEYS OF HELL AND DEATH, custom dice, and an actual art budget— it's going to take slightly longer than our original estimate to get the final product out there— probably an additional month. (probably an additional month - heh) Hopefully this is not a problem for you guys— and for those of you who are interested in this sort of thing, we want to keep you involved in the process of turning this game into a book.

I know not everyone is thrilled by a slew of Kickstarter updates, though, so we'll be doing an opt-in thing instead— publishing updates on elizabethsampat.com so you're not automatically notified every time we start going back and forth between font choices or something.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season, and keep your eyes peeled for our gift to you in your inbox!

Update #7 - For backers only
Dec 24, 2011
Here's your Christmas card!

This will be going to email as well, but in case you lose the link later on, I wanted to post it here:

The password is: [REDACTED]

Please feel free to let us know what you think about the PTD, what you'd like to see added to better support play and prep, and especially what you think if you decide to playtest!

Have an awesome weekend!

-Elizabeth, Jonathan, and Shreyas

Update #8
Jan 12, 2012
Dice Update

We've just gotten prototype photos from the representative at our dice manufacturer. They look pretty rad! The details came out perfectly, and the laser engraving process they use creates a subtle texture in the recessed elements that Shreyas likes a lot. It adds something to the graphic.

Update #9 - For backers only
Jan 19, 2012
Dice: Good News and Bad News (some dice issues)

Hi friends!

We have placed our order for They Became Flesh dice from Chessex. They've been great to work with, and we expect the dice to arrive in a couple of months.

Unfortunately they have a shortage of the Light color, so we will need to wait some extra time for that. This means that some of you will need to wait a while to receive your Light sets. We would like to offer, as compensation, an extra set of Dark dice, at no additional cost.

If you are willing to wait a while for your Light set, please inform us. We will get you an extra set of Dark dice and ship your Light dice when they become available.

If we don't have enough volunteers, we will hold a lottery for the available Light dice; again, anyone who does not receive Light dice on release will get Dark dice at that time, and Light dice when they become available.

Thanks again for your support! We will also have a new version of the PDF soon.

Update #10 - For backers only
Feb 21, 2012
New Version of the Playtest Document Available!

You can download it right here:

In other news, the custom dice are in production, and I'm waiting to receive the prototypes of the T-shirts. One thing that has always bothered me with Kickstarters (and with RPG merchandise in general) is that the T-shirts were never something I'd wear; the material felt cheap and the printing wasn't great. One thing that has been important to me since the day we started considering wearable reward levels was that any T-shirt we offered would have to be a T-shirt I would actually wear. As a result, my estimates on how much the shirts would cost are way off! People who ordered at the T-shirt level actually paid me less than the unit price will be, but that's okay. I might put the shirt design (at a much higher price point) up on Spreadshirt or something to help recoup costs later, but not until everyone has their copies of the books in their hands. (keep this in mind folks - t-shirts can kill your kickstarter)

Speaking of: you're probably wondering when those books will come! Like I said, the dice definitely added to our production time, as did some personal issues.  That said, if all goes well the STANDARD EDITION packages should be sent out the first week of April! (not too late, all things consider - but won't happen) Due to the unique and hand-embellished nature of the LIMITED EDITION copies, those will go out before April is finished.

We're also hoping to have copies to sell at PAX East (from what I understand, copies have been sold at cons but backers are still waiting today), so if you want to pick up your package there— or drop by to say hello!— please do!

Update #11 - For backers only
Mar 30, 2012
Dice and Books Update

Hi, folks!

The custom dice are in our hands now and we're busy getting them sorted and packed for our backers. They look even better in-person than they did in the manufacturer's prototype photos, and we're excited about getting them into your hands.

Layout and design are complete. We're working out some kinks with the covers now, and when we get past that, the books will go to the printers. Thanks for being patient with us.

Update #12 - For backers only
Apr 1, 2012
Help us choose the cover!

Hi guys! Elizabeth here. Shreyas updated you briefly on the state of the peripherals. We're in the final pre-publication stretch— hopefully we will have the standard books in hand by the end of the month. Additional backer rewards, like the LE books and the shirts/hoodies, might take a little longer; please bear with us and we will be transparent and prompt as possible.

Speaking of transparent: I've been having a bit of art angst, you guys. An incredible artist that I deeply admired approached me about doing some art for the book, and due to the success of the Kickstarter I thought "What the hell? We can afford a big name guy for the cover." I am guessing I am not as good at art direction with artists I've never worked with as I am at art direction with artists I know. As amazing as many of the details are, the finished product is not as finished as I would like, nor is it as close to spec as I was hoping. Cue much angsting from me and wondering if I should just throw the whole thing out and go with the T-shirt/promo image, or if I am being too much of a perfectionist and the image is actually fine for my purposes.

And then I thought, HEY— ask the backers! It's THEIR money, after all.

So which of these cover mockups is more compelling to you? What would you imagine each one of these games were about?

Update #13 - For backers only
Apr 5, 2012 (based on the frequency of updates, you would expect the project to be nearly ready)
And the cover is... (Also: new PDF, T-shirt update)
Once again, I feel pleased and amazed to have the world's best backers. Even this far along, you're insightful, attentive, and engaged. I can't thank you enough and this game would not exist without you.
That said, we're going to go with cover #1— the black and white. I might use the second image as a giveaway poster with wholesale purchases for local gaming stores; I'll probably have Shreyas turn it into a backer-exclusive wallpaper, too. But the majority of you guys prefer the black and white cover, and with the comments about boob-armor and it making people feel that they weren't in the target audience, there's no way I want to end my streak of awesome, inclusive art in my games.

A couple hours after I posted that update, a friend of mine was in an IRC channel with me and said "46 comments later, this just goes to show you shouldn't ask backers for art direction help." I TOTALLY disagree! I got exactly what I asked for, and I feel better about the decision because you guys are as invested in this as I am.

In appreciation, here's the link to the latest PDF:


The mechanical stuff is all done, the finishing tweaks are to add more information about endgame and more resources for people not familiar with the setting or source material. But we would LOVE your feedback— especially if you decide to run the game and tell us how it went for you, but also if there's more information you want in some places, or additional background material.

And more serendipity on the cover image: we also got the prototype T-shirt! I think we might go for a metallic silver instead of this gray, but I'm really happy with how it turned out (despite how tired I look in this photo)! This is the most comfortable, soft, stretchy and generally awesome T-shirt I've owned, too, and they run a little big.

[Image - Elizabeth wearing a TBF t-shirt]

Update #14 - For backers only
May 13, 2012
Character Sheet, Printing Info

Hi friends!

Things have been happening since our last update. It turns out Jonathan Walton will not be a co-author on the book after all, but we thank him for his support. (how do you drop someone from the book AS it goes to print?)

We are expecting a proof from the printer by the end of next week, at which time we'll take photos and let you guys get a look at the finished product.

If you're already playing the game, we're pleased to show off one of the final play aids, the Angel character sheet. These will be in the book and available for download.

Update #15 - For backers only
Jun 8, 2012
Print and Apparel Update, Google Hangout

Hi, folks! Shreyas here. We are closing in on our final pieces of legwork before we can start shipping product to our backers. (what happened to  the picks of the proof copy?)

As a thank-you for your patience, we will be running a Hangout on Google+ this Sunday (noon PST), where Elizabeth and I will both be available to answer questions, and possibly do a demo of the game. Circle Shreyas Sampat to stay updated on this upcoming event.

We are now waiting on the printers for paperback books, shirts, and hoodies. As usual,the current PDF (this is the final, print version) is available for backers to download. As you know, we have the dice in hand and we're packing them up for delivery.

Finally, I'd like to show off a page from the hardcover special editions. Take a look.

Thank you so much for your patience; this has been an adventure both personally and professionally, and it means a lot that you have all stuck by us.

[Image - Sample page]

Update #16 - For backers only
Jun 28, 2012
Finally! Proofs are in!

Hi guys,

We have had some small printing issues, and we're working with our awesome representative at the printer to work them out, but we've finally got a proof in our hands and we wanted to show it off. Take a look! (The dotted lines on the cover proof are not going to be in the final) (6 weeks late or so)
[Image - Cover proof]
[Image - Interior proof]

Update #17 - For backers only
Jul 24, 2012 (mark this date, as nearly 18 months AFTER the books arrived with the publisher, they still haven't reached every supporter - but were sold at Gen Con)

Last Thursday, the books finally arrived! There were some initial problems with the first proof so it took longer than expected, but as usual our amazing printers knocked the book out of the park. It's gorgeous and I'm very excited to get it into your hands!

We spent all of Thursday sorting the fifty pounds of dice we bought into 2 and 15-dice bags, and now we're ready to begin shipping.

If you are an Angel, the PDF has been linked and is available to you.

If you are an Archangel, the books will be on their way to you by the end of the week.

If you are a Principality, your books will go out next week!

Transparency time: we are having a hell of a time getting the printer we chose for our shirts and hoodies to return our emails or calls. (told you t-shirts are the fucking doom of many a Kickstarter) I could probably get the shirts and hoodies done easily and cheaply by someone else, but I really want these to be the best-looking, best-feeling game T-shirts ever and available in a wide range of sizes, instead of the scratchy, stiff, boxy T-shirts that usually come as rewards for this kind of thing. So I'm open to asking you guys: are you tired of waiting for your rewards or are you willing to wait for something good? Do you have a line on a great printer who has non-astronomical prices and high quality?

We are sourcing more of the leather for the hardcovers, and finalizing the illuminated cover design. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, feel free to ask! And if I miss your comment or you feel like it's not getting the attention it deserves, feel free to email me directly at eshoemaker@gmail.com.

I just played another game of THEY BECAME FLESH this past weekend with friends and it was amazing. I am truly excited to share this game with you, and appreciate the patience, input and support you've given me as I work through my first crowdfunding experience. I promise the next time will be smoother! :)

- Elizabeth

PS: I am a Guest Of Honor at GenCon this year! If you're going to be joining us in Indianapolis, feel free to drop by the Machine Age booth and say hello! Maybe we can play a game!

[Image - Box of softcover books]
[Image - Ziploc bags of dice]

Update #18 - For backers only
Aug 2, 2012
Shipping for Books and Dice, Other News

Hello! We have lots of news today.

As I write this, we are collating books and dice for shipping. As we said earlier, availability of light dice sets is limited. Everyone who has already paid for light dice will receive them; we don't have enough extra sets to open up ordering for those of you who were planning to put in for extra at this time, but when we do, we'll inform you. We are working with Chessex to make those available as soon as possible.

To make that fully clear: If your Kickstarter reward level includes a pair of dice, you will receive a pair of dice, light and dark, as previously stated. If your reward level includes one set of 15 dice, you will receive that set. If you have already paid for two sets, you will receive them. If you have not yet paid for a second set of dice, then you are on our backer-only mailing list, and we will have a backers-only sale once the dice become available again, but there's no point in our taking your money now, because the availability of customized dice depends on the manufacturer having dice blanks in stock, and we can't predict when that'll happen.

Finally, I'm administrating a different Kickstarter campaign opening soon, as a representative of FailBetter Games, the awesome makers of Fallen London. This upcoming campaign is not a Two Scooters Press project, and it has no impact on, or financial relationship to, They Became Flesh, but we hope you'll check it out anyway.

Again, if you're going to be at GenCon, I'd be happy to meet you and chat or play a game! Thanks again; your feedback and support have been invaluable to this project.

Update #19 - For backers only
Aug 25, 2012

Hi folks!
As some of you have noticed, shipping has begun. We should have your books to you soon.
You can download PDFs here:
The Special Edition
The Electronic Edition
Angel Play Sheet
Humanity Play Sheet
God Play Sheet

Update #20 - For backers only
Sep 20, 2012
Shipping Update

Hi guys, the domestic Archangel books and dice have been shipped. The international ones will be going out by end of week, as will Principalities and books and dice for Powers. You should expect some extra time for international orders to ship due to customs.

Sorry this is taking so long; it is a much more involved process than we expected it to be.
There are links to all the PDFs including the basic edition, special color edition, and play sheets, in the updates below.

You can contact me at ssampat at the google powered email service if you need to.

Update #21
Oct 15, 2012
More Shipping and Apparel News

Hi backers!

I'm sorry that so many of you are frustrated about the shipping delays that are keeping you apart from your books. We have been wrestling with production issues around the t-shirt and hoodie backer awards, as well as the hardcover editions, and that has led to a significant holdup on our side. (but those weren't the only ones waiting on their books to ship, and updates are becoming less frequent again)
Sorry for that.

Instead of delaying any longer, we will be shipping books and apparel separately so that we can get books to you in a more timely fashion.

Update #22 - For backers only
Oct 18, 2012
Books Shipped, Possible Kickstarter Messaging Issues

Hi, folks. We know you're frustrated by the shipping delay, and we've finally been able to get it sorted out. If you are a softcover backer, your books and dice are either in the mail RIGHT NOW or they are in the trunk of my car so I can take them to the post office tomorrow.

It has come to my attention that some backers have attempted to contact us through Kickstarter's messaging service and we have not received those messages. I apologize for that. There are definitely a few messages that have slipped through the cracks, but there are also some that I am unable to find any evidence of. I have contacted KS support in hopes of getting to the bottom of this.

I don't want to miss any more messages from our backers, so I'm going to give you my private contact info.

In order to ensure that your communication gets to us and I'm able to answer it in a timely fashion, please contact me at my email address ( ssampat at gmail dot com ) if you don't see your package within seven days. (or seven week, or seven months)
Shreyas Sampat

Update #23 - For backers only
Oct 28, 2012
Answers for some Questions

João: We are legally liable for falsifying customs information and therefore, we have marked all our international packages with accurate information, which means that your envelope, just like those of other international backers, is marked as merchandise. Sorry; I know that you were hoping that we'd be able to grease the wheels.

Michael: Thanks for raising this question again. To be truthful with you, I would love to have more details than I do right now; the suppliers that we are attempting to work with are painfully slow in their communications with us, and as frustrating as that is, there is very little within our power to do about it.

Joseph: The shipments that I've sent out reflect the information that I have in our backer reports and subsequent communications. As I recall, you are on the list of backers signed up for extra sets of dice, so you should have received those.

Luke: The shipping thing is on me; it's my responsibility to get items out to our backers.
The convention thing is Elizabeth's gig. She's the person who represents us at conventions, runs our games and so on. Running games and making books available at GenCon is just her job here.
Now I understand that you're upset about that, and all I have to say about it is, I dropped the ball, not her, and your ire should be reserved for me. The fact that I'm doing my job poorly shouldn't constrain my partner from doing her job effectively. (notice the attempt to insulate Elizabeth Sampat from criticism, even though it is here name on the Kickstarter)

Update #24 - For backers only
Nov 20, 2012
Keeping in Touch
Hello, backers. Shreyas here.
American Thanksgiving is coming up at the end of this week, and until now we have been dealing with an urgent health issue. I know that I have some emails from you in my inbox, and I will get back to each of you who wrote to me individually. Thanks.

Update #25 - For backers only
Dec 1, 2012
Leisure Games
Hi folks,
I see that there is some question about Leisure Games' selling of TBF books.

Leisure Games was a backer of the Kickstarter campaign and they received books along with the other softcover backers. I'm sorry that we didn't make that clear. Of course once they have the books it is their decision to distribute them as they see fit. (I notice there wasn't an update addressing the selling of books at Gen Con prior to any backers receiving their copies)

João, I'm particularly concerned that you have not received your book by this point, as I'm aware of a couple of other backers in your country that have gotten theirs after a reasonable shipping interval. It seems odd that your shipment should be singled out in this way. I will be writing to you in an attempt to solve this issue.


Update #26 - For backers only
Dec 10, 2012
I have an apology to make

Hi, backers. Shreyas here.

I have to apologize to all of you. You all put your trust in us and I've let you down. I dropped the ball on shipping and customer service, and you're justifiably upset. Most of all, you want answers.
So, I have an apology and some answers.

I'm sorry.

We have handled this project as a freelancer relationship — I don't take a cut from sales of TBF. Elizabeth paid me for the work I did on the book, and for my role as fulfillment and CS guy. I've never done this on this scale before; she took a chance on me. On that front, I've really screwed up. It has taken entirely too long to get your stuff shipped out. So I apologize for that.

The truth is, the last time I cleaned the garage, I actually left a box full of TBF packages, ready to ship, in there and lost it in the debris. I was too embarrassed to actually tell you folks that I did that, because it's a stupid thing to do, but there it is. For a while I just didn't know where your stuff was. I apologize for that.  (this is really a fucked up excuse)

I've also been maintaining a pretty minimum level of contact with you all, and that's unfair to you. I have several emails I'll be sending after I post this to those of you who have contacted me directly. And I apologize for that.

Now I've located the missing inventory (it's undamaged), and I've taken some long evenings making sure that everything is packed and labeled. I'll be double checking that stuff before it goes out to ensure that nothing goes to outdated addresses or anything of that kind.

I want you all to be able to wash your hands of this, and have your Kickstarter rewards in your possession. So I'm taking a few days to deal with unfinished business.

The rest of the outstanding Principalities will go out on December 15th.

For those of you that are waiting on apparel and hardcovers, we're clearing the final hurdles on those processes, and we hope to have them printed and shipped by the end of January. We hope that the community can help keep us accountable on that. Look for updates with hoodie photos and hardcover designs in this coming month.

Thanks, Shreyas

As always, you can reach me at ssampat at gmail dot com.

Update #27 - For backers only
Dec 26, 2012
Happy Holidays

Hi, backers. Shreyas here.

It's the end of December and the winter holiday season has passed. I hope that you all had an enjoyable holiday season, and you enjoy your New Year festivities as well.

Hopefully by this time, or shortly after the Christmas shipping bottleneck, all the Principality backers should have their books. I have gotten a few changes of address since I last updated you, so I will contact those of you for whom that is true, to ensure that your books end up in the right places.
I see that some of you are interested in refunds. I will contact you tonight and make arrangements with you.

Talk to you soon,

Update #28 - For backers only
Mar 16, 2013 (almost three months of silence)

T-Shirts in the Mail, Hoodie Update

Hi backers,

For those of you who have backed for shirts, we have placed orders for all of them. Because I've been super crappy about shipping, we're eating the additional costs to get them shipped directly to you.

Spreadshirt says that domestic orders should arrive at your doorstep within 4-8 days. They are shipping via UPS, delivery by USPS. International orders are a little less predictable.

For those of you who backed for hoodies, we are working with Spreadshirt to alter the design so that it works with the zip-up as you requested.

For those of you waiting on hardcovers, because our hardcover printer works mainly with archival photo albums, we have to break down the PDF into individual JPG images for them. Once that's done, we'll have a proof to show you. (maybe you picked the wrong printer?)

Update #29 - For backers only
Mar 19, 2013
Spreadshirt Confirmation
Spreadshirt has contacted us to let us know that all the T-shirt orders have shipped.

Update #30 - For backers only
Sep 4, 2013 (nearly six fucking months - did the Sampats misplace themselves in their garage?)
Hello, backers.

We are still at work trying to deliver your product. (uhm, no you're not) As you know, we made a decision to expedite the t-shirt tier by shipping each order directly from the manufacturer to the backer, which ended up costing more than the entire tier backed us for.

This is part of our effort to balance expedience and expense with the delivery of every backer tier. We are aware that the higher backer tiers are still waiting on product delivery, and we're working continuously to resolve that problem. Thanks.

Update #31 - For backers only
Oct 25, 2013
Shipping Address Confirmations

Hi backers, Shreyas here.

Once again, I abjectly apologize for how roughly this has been going for you. I have a shipment of books prepared to go out the door and I want to be sure you receive them, so I am asking you to confirm that the shipping addresses in your backer surveys are still current. If we have heard from you recently, I'll also be sending you a direct message to this effect.

I would love to do this by sending out a new backer survey, but that's not possible so I'm doing this the hard way.

Please let me remind you again, the whole issue of shipping mismanagement is my responsibility. Both my name and Elizabeth's are on the book, and shipping is part of my job, so please direct your ire toward me. (again, we need to insulate the bread winner from the ire of our paying public)

and so it was written. from what I've been told, there are backers still waiting for their books, which I'm sure are for sale at every major Con...

Taking OpenQuest to the Stars - River of Heaven SciFi Kickstarter

I'm a big fan of OpenQuest, and hope to run a few sessions later this year as time allows. It evokes a feel, to my non-expert eyes at least, of classic RuneQuest 2. I really liked RQ2.

Anyhow, River of Heaven takes OpenQuest to space and puts a scifi twist to it. The manuscript is already written - the Kickstarter is for art assets, and it's already hit it's basic funding goal.

Prices for print copies include a coupon for "at cost" printing from RPGNow, which is way many publishers are going to get around the high costs of international shipping.

+Newt Newport produces good stuff, and I'm looking forward to OQ in the Stars ;)

Friday, January 10, 2014

Weekend Plans - Reviews, Critiques, Kickstarters, Games and Hopefully Mail

I've got a full plate this weekend (which is even fuller with four games of playoff football here in the states and I expect to watch three of them).

Here's what I have planned thus far:

- A look at the DCC RPG Dice Kickstarter

- A review of the Cartographer's Guide to the Creatures of Eira

- A review of GURPS Martial Arts: Technical Grappling (I don't do much GURPS these days, but I did in the past, and got on board back with Man to Man, so this isn't all that huge a stretch for me)

- A trip to the post office to get some of these OSR Christmas gifts in the mail. I appreciate the patience from those receiving, but my wife is losing hers and wants it OUT! ;)

- An in depth look at the Kickstarter fiasco - All Flesh Must be Eaten They Became Flesh (edit: oops!)(complete with backer only updates thanks to an anonymous patron of this fine Tavern - I owe them a drink)

- Grumpy is going to pick apart the latest update of info on D&D Next - it may not be as bad as you fear, but worse than you think - or something

- I get to run a session of S&W Complete with the "A Team" tomorrow night - woot!

I'm sure other stuff will sneak in - "safe words", "unsafe words", "words that go bump in the night", "words that make sure every kid is a winner and gets a trophy, so no one loses, because that is what real life is like, right?"

Sorry, two episodes of Game of Thrones with the wife with three beers and I have my Irish up. I'll go back to the non-offending schlep everyone loves... or not. Because I've NEVER been that guy ;)

Need a "Safe Word" for your RPG Group? How About "F*ch Off!"

+Tim Shorts has an excellent post over on Gothridge Manor about the idea of "safe words" at the gaming table, and he says what I say above, but in much nicer prose.

Really, if you need a "safe word" at my gaming table, Fuck Off!

My players torture and burn adversaries, sometimes as the SAME FREAKING TIME! I thought it was just the weekly group, but my once a month group BEHEADS their dead adversaries!

The players dont need a fucking "safe word", this DM does.

All I ask is that my players wear pants during our G+ Hangout, or we may need a different type of safe word...

As a side rant, no one has "a right" to be part of a gaming group. No one has "the right" to try to change group dynamics to fit their own, then bitch and whine when it fails to happen.

I've heard folks write into podcasts, complaining about the horrible gaming groups they are a part of, but suffering because there are no other groups to play in locally. If the group doesn't fit you, go on the internet, use G+ Hangouts, or Fantasy Grounds, or Skype, or whatever, and find a group that does. Or fucking adjust. If the group is having fun and you are not, maybe you are the problem.

Gaming is a social contract of sorts, and it's running on all fours when the social aspect takes precedence over the gaming aspect. It's worth finding a group that is running on all fours along with you as opposed to complaining that they are running off without you.

Alright, enough Grumpy thoughts. Game on!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Some Questions / Thoughts On NTRPG Con 2014

Alright, I've worked the details out with the wife and it looks like we are both going to Dallas / Fort Worth area in June 2014. I'll be there for gaming, she'll be there for the pools and shopping ;)

So, obvious questions:

What are the sights to be seen in the area?

Are there any events at the con for "non-gamers"?

Arriving on Wednesday, leaving on Monday - is there anything / anyplace that is MUST SEE?

My wife is the one that brought me back to gaming - if she hadn't fully encouraged my return to the hobby, I wouldn't be making this post, as I wouldn't be going to NTRPG Con. I want to make sure she has things to do as I do my thing ;)

I will say this - any gatherings that include beers and burgers, she'll be right there pacing me, as +Joe D can attest to...

A Kickstarter to Bring Back "Ares Magazine" - Sci Fi Fiction with a Board Game Too

Somewhere packed away in storage I have an issue or two of the original run of Ares magazine, before it was folded into the back of Dragon Magazine and then lost altogether. I wan't a big sci-fi guy back in those days, so Ares was relatively unappreciated by me.

Now, there is a Kickstarter to bring Ares Magazine back to print with an all new issue #1, complete with board game! I think The General used to do the same.

I know I wont get to play the included board game anytime soon, but I still have fond memories of the board games included in the occasional issue of The Dragon.

$6 bucks to back for an issue without the game, $20 bucks to have the issue with the game.

Here's the pitch:
Bringing you 80 pages of amazing new science fiction and a complete board game in a bi-monthly periodical. 
What's the big idea? Our big idea is to fill a void with a new magazine that combines a standalone, unique, playable board game with a collection of spectacular, new science fiction in each issue. We need your help producing issue #1.
 Screw it, I'm in for $20 :)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Why I Haven't Added "Sponsored Ads" Here at The Tavern

This has exactly WHAT to do with RPGs?

(the above is a screenshot from a popular gaming site)

I may curse like a NYC Cop (which I am) but I'm not selling "tits and ass". Not saying I don't appreciate "tits and ass", but like most things, it has it's time and place. Personally, I don't feel it belongs on a gaming site.

What little monies this blog raises is from OBS referrals, and goes back into giveaways and review item purchases.

I'd love to make some beer money (as I have expensive "microbrew" tastes) but not if the above is what I need to use to pay for it.

I'm sure it's just another company slipping some bullshit into an ad company's rotation, but I refuse to put this fine Tavern at the mercy of some advertising fuck up - I can fuck thing up on my own, thank you very much.

There Will be TWO "Best of Kickstarter 2013" Posts - My Picks and the Picks of The Tavern's Patrons (Two "Worst of Posts" Too)

I am not so full of my self that I believe my opinion has more weight than that of The Tavern's loyal patrons. I do, however, like to praise those proejcts that deserve compliments and snark on those that deserve snark. So, what I plan on doing is a two posts - my best and worst of 2013 Kickstarters AND two posts for my readers' best and worst picks of Kickstarter 2013.

Obviously there are lots of gaming Kickstarters that I have not been following, and leaving determinations of best and worst solely in my hands would be a disservice. Besides, I'd hate to fail to highlight some of the gems out there or miss out on some excellent snark ;)

I'll leave nominations for best and worse open through tomorrow evening at the least.

Excellent feedback already on earlier today's post.

IF I Were to Do a Best of / Worst of Kickstarter 2013 Post, Which Projects Would Make the Cut?

Does "2013" mean completion date, project going live date, holy shit that is some fucked up bullshit date, failure date, etc?

I'm leaning towards "newsworthy date", such as "when did folks start talking about how great / fucked up / late / early / etc" the project was.

I'm leaning towards 2 posts - the "worst of the worst" and the "best of the best".

As always, I'm open to input.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Savage Worlds for 5 Bucks in PDF (and other Fine Bargains)

That New Year, New Game promotion at RPGNow has some non-OSR standouts too.

Savage Worlds Deluxe works out to be 5 bucks for the core rules. If I wanted to play a multi-genre RPG system, this would probably be my choice. I'd need some hand holding, but hey, it's an inexpensive enough investment that I'll
suffer through the hand holding ;)

Numenra is Monte Cook's big get these days. There's a good game system behind the annoying watermarking behind the text. 10 bucks isnt a bad deal for what you get, and it's probably more playable than D&D Next is anyway.

Sorcery & Super Science! - for $3.50 you get a pulp sci-fi game wrapped up in 48 pages. Ot take it for a free test drive with the House of the Blue Men Quick start / Advernture

Thousand Suns - maybe you're like me, waiting for the endless journey known as Dwimmermount to

come to completion. Some might not know that James Mal, the Grognard himself, had a life before he found the OSR. At $7.50, you can read some of James' work now, unlike those of us waiting on Dwimmermount.

Achtung! Cthulhu: Three Kings - PDQ Core Rule Book - this is just fucking cool, and at $7.50, I may just need to grab a copy. Nazis and Deep Ones for the win!

Iron Age FRP - wow, I remember the failed Indigogo fundraiser. Now it's all grown up and
just $7.50 in PDF. At least the cover looks cool.

King Arthur Pendragon: Edition 5.1- an amazing game in the hands of the right gaming group. Alas, that group is not mine..

Legend of the Five Rings - I've only heard good stuff about this game. It may finally be time to check it out.

Alright, I have Savage Worlds, Numenera and Pendragon. Anyone want to sell me on any of the ones listed above, or others on sale not listed?

Do You Sandbox, and if so, By How Much?

Sandboxing as a campaign style is not absolute. Some campaigns leave the players to develop their own plot hooks, some drop in plot seeds for the PCs to pick through, some wall of their sandboxes for a limited area of exploration and others leave their world wide open. There are other variations, kinda like the Heinz 57 Varieties of Ketchup.

Me, I'm looking at a walled off sandbox with seeds that will lead to a wide open sandbox as the players develop their own plot hooks.

So, how do you sandbox, or do you not sandbox at all?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Exploring Ruins in the d30 Sandbox Companion

We've looked at Taverns and Cults so far. Now it's time to step into the Ruins...

Page 19 in the d30 Sandbox Companion for those playing along at home:

Ruin One

Type - roll of "8" makes it a Hamlet.

Let's check out the character and degree of decay - a roll of "6" indicates it's "barely sunken"

A roll of "29" indicates it's overrun by reptiles of some sort - a roll of 10 on a d15 indicates it some sort of dragon.

Hmmm... sunken hamlet inhabited by a dragon. We'll make this encroaching swampland. Damn, which kind of dragons inhabit swampland? Probably a young adult in size. Possibly nesting with an egg or two. That would make it a high stakes encounter...

Ruin Two

Type - roll of "16" makes it a Catacombs.

Rolling a "4" indicates it has been slightly vandalized.

A roll of "6" indicates there is a nuisance amount of magical inhabitants - a roll of "6" on a d15 looks to make that a rust monster. Shit, that might be more than a nuisance ;)

Catacombs speak for themselves. Grab a +Dyson Logos or +matt jackson map, throw in some mindless undead along with the rust monster and you have a prefect recipe for a low level dungeon.

Overall, quick and dirty and fine for a quick encounter. If I was looking for more in depth (and done in advance) I'd probably opt for Tome of Adventure Design for a fuller effect (as I already have it in my gaming library).

AS&SH, DCC RPG and Liberation of the Demon Slayer 50% Off in PDF

RPGNow has put a slew of games on sale at 50% off for the next week, but there are few choices that are solidly OSR pics (and solid pics whether one is looking solely for OSR or not). Here's what I found:

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea is a no brainer at 5 bucks. A finer choice for Swords & Sorcery in the OSR will not be found. If all you can spend is 5 bucks, spend it here. Tell +Jeff Talanian that The Tavern sent you ;)

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG is the game that brought back the magic of
my first D&D session for me. It's close enough to feel like the game you love and different enough to be that magical new experience. Lot's of ideas to borrow and steal for your more "normal" OSR styled game (I've converted "Luck" for use in my Swords & Wizardry game).

Liberation of the Demon Slayer is a nice little dungeon crawl compatible with just about every OSR game. I ignore the section of house rules that are included, as I have my own personal set and mixing the two might be combustible. Others might find use for them. The dungeon itself looks like fun, but I've yet to try it in game.

There are some other, non-OSR gems on sale that I will highlight in a later post.

Random Tables - Do You Roll, Pick and Choose or Something Else?

I was a notorious "pick and choose"er. Tome of Adventure Design, Roll XX and the like are full of tables I browsed and picked from. It wasn't until this weekend, with the d30 Sandbox Companion, that I forced myself to roll on random tables and to take the results "as is" for the Tavern and Cult posts here on the blog.

Holy shit but I'm glad I did, as it forced me to use my imagination to turn the results into workable sandbox elements - it was a fun and rewarding challenge.

So, put me in the "used to pick and choose but now roll" column ;)

Where do you stand?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

It's Not a Cult - It's the d30 Sandbox Companion!

When I talked about the d30 Sandbox Companion last night with my gaming group, one of the tables that elicited a "hot damn!" of excitement was the Cult Generator on page 21.

It has five columns, the first two help supply the name of the cult, and the last three cover worship, immediate goal and strange practices.

Let's try to randomly roll out two cults (remember, this is more to seed your imagination than anything else - it's barebones and needs to be fleshed out for gameplay):

Cult One

Rolls of 21 and 22 for columns 1 and 2 gives us "The Partnership of the Smoke".

A roll of 17 indicates the worship / following of a male elfin magic-user. Hmmm, make that elf a drow and the "smoke" could refer to the hair. Or maybe he specializes in wall of fog and cloudkill like spells.

A roll of 16 for "immediate goals" results in a cult that seeks the destruction of libraries and books. Maybe this is a cover for the cult leader - maybe he is looking for certain magical books and is seeking to destroy the others as a distraction.

Finally, the last roll is a 13 - these kooks never cut their hair.

Cult Two

Rolls of 4 and 11 for columns 1 and 2 gives us "The Church of the Elect".

A Roll of 1 indicates they worship a beholder. There's no way this could be anything but a death cult ;)

Another roll of 1 gives their immediate goal as anarchy. See, told you this shit was bad...

Finally, a roll of 21 indicates that they sleep from hooks. This is the type of cult the PCs best run from or destroy outright, because they are crazy enough to be truly dangerous and they have a beholder pulling their strings.

Damn, this shit is fun and supplies some damn good hooks for my current sandbox. Further details would be needed to run with this if it were to be more than background noise in the campaign, but as my players do read the blog, I'll leave them as is for now ;)

Just think, over 24 million cultish variations from one table...

Putting the d30 Sandbox Companion in Motion - It's Tavern Time!

I figured talk is talk, but rolling dice is the game, baby! Or some such nonsense. In any case, I figured I'd roll up two taverns using the tables provided in the d30 Sandbox Companion.

Using the Tavern Name Generator on page 36, I roll a 10 for the first tavern, giving me a result of TNG 2b / TNG 3d - so, 2b and 3d are the tables I roll on.

2b - roll a 1 - "angry"

3d - roll a 2 - "brownie"

The Angry Brownie

For the second tavern, I roll a 21, for a result of TNG 3b / TNG 3b - 2 rolls on the same table - interesting.

3b first roll is a 14 - "queen"

3b second roll is a 1 - "mage"

The Mage Queen - you know there is a story behind this one.

Lets go to page 37 and get some further details of these taverns. There are 5 tables, and they cover accommodations, rooms & bedding, physical features, reputation and featured main dish.

Note: The Accommodations Table is not read as a standard d30 - instead, the 1s digit and the 10s digit are read separately.

Starting with The Angry Brownie, we roll a 13 on the Accommodations Table - 1s digit tells us it is a 1-story, timber and stone building and the 10s digit tells us it's new.

Rooms and Bedding is a 3 - poor accommodations, hammocks in the main room.

Notable physical feature - 12 - exterior wall is constructed from salvaged stone from a previous wall.

Reputation - 16 - it is known for it's demi-human patrons.

Food - 30 - featured main dish is venison ribs in wine.

So, The Angry Brownie is a recently built tavern of salvaged stone and timber (rumors of the origin of the stone abound). It's frequented by the shorter races, who aren't put off by the hammocks hanging in the main hall. It's known for it's venison ribs in a wine sauce - at least, they claim it is venison.

Moving on to The Mage Queen we get the following:

Accommodations - 9 - old, 2 story, stone

Rooms and Bedding - 20 - medium rooms with straw mattresses.

Notable physical feature - 29 - stained glass windows.

Reputation - 25 - it is known for it's heinous prostitutes.

Food - 11 - featured dish is its liver sausage custard pie.

Hmmm. The Mage Queen is an old, two story stone tavern adorned with weathered stained glass windows. Known for some of the most heinous looking harlots within 2 days ride, one does not go there for the company but rather for the food. The liver sausage custard pie is surprisingly good.

If one wanted some info on the tavern keeper, page 35 - Shop & Shopkeeper Information has tables that would be useful.

Just think the tavern tables allow for over 2 million combinations of taverns...

Best Laid Plans Plans and All That Jazz

Yesterday was supposed to be "post office day" for the 12th Day of Christmas prizes. Didn't happen. Between the snow thursday into friday and all day vet travel yesterday (I've got all wheel drive now) the post office never happened. Good news (if you can call it that) is that between the vet and testing at the animal hospital, my parents' cat has either irritable bowels syndrome OR cancer. Both are treated with steroids, but with cancer it just masks the symptoms. Long fucking day. Fritzy is only 12, and his sister came down with an untreatable respiratory illness and was put to sleep this past spring. Very emotional day and the cat will be at the vet for the next couple of days to see if the steroid treatments improve his condition.

I'll try and leave work early one day this week and get to the post office and get this stuff out.

Luckily, +Joe D stepped up to run last night's game session, as I don't drink when I DM, and I need a drink or three last night.

I'll give a bit of a write up of Joe's Blood Island session later, but it was spot on and epic. Well done Joe!
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