Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Olympus, Inc. Kickstarter is Live!

Hey there, sexy!
A shadow war lurks just out of mankind’s sight – an ancient war dating back to before the gods first shaped man out of clay. 

Banished to the edges of human consciousness by the primordial Gaia, the Olympians – the gods of Greek mythology – fight an ongoing battle against the monstrous Titans. Their soldiers are demigods, the superhuman descendants of dalliances between mortals and gods. Their battleground is the glass and steel towers, the boardrooms and development labs of the corporate world. 

The shadow war hides in plain sight behind the façade of Olympus, Inc.


Earlier today, John Dunn declared that Bone and Barrow – my part of the Accursed: World of Morden Kickstarter – was effectively funded. If you’re a backer, you can already download the working draft of my chapter. (Please do; I’d love some feedback!) With that safely completed (but please keep on contributing so we can hit all the stretch goals), I’d like to plug the next Kickstarter with which I’m involved.

Olympus, Inc. is the brainchild of Gilbert Gallo (see my interview with him about his previous Savage Worlds mythological setting, Mythos) and Charles White of Fabled Environments (makers of gaming floorplans and adventure modules). When they were drumming up support for the project a few weeks back on Facebook, I threw my hat in the ring and offered to write an adventure about Dionysus. Right now that adventure is a stretch goal at $10,500 of an $8,500 funding goal.

I honestly don’t know anything more about the setting than the rest of you. From what I’ve picked up online, Olympus, Inc. is more cyberpunk than superhero, more Shadowrun than Scion. Like in Mage: The Ascension, the Olympians and Titans must hide their war from mortal eyes, risking cosmic wrath otherwise. The monstrous Titans hide their true forms by day, while the gods operate through their proxy companies. Development artwork has shown off fancy new guns and soldiers in tactical gear, so I assume there’s a lot of corporate espionage involved.

Years and years ago, Robin and I briefly experimented with playing Exalted 1st Edition. We couldn’t wrap our heads around the setting (Creation is both too much like a normal fantasy world to evoke our sense of the mythological and too different to apply the usual FRPG tropes) but we did find the system interesting enough to attempt to hack it. For a couple of months, we played a campaign we called “Goddess Project,” in which the Japanese government funded the “cloning” of the kami and accidentally started a shadow war between semi-divine teenagers. The cyberpunk mythology theme of Olympus, Inc. feels like coming home to me. I hope I get the chance to contribute to their world.

Gilbert’s enthusiasm for classical mythology shone through in Mythos, and Fabled Environments produces highly-respected work. They’ve never failed to deliver before, so I think we can assume this Kickstarter is a safe bet. They’re already halfway to funding with most of a month to go, so please join me in joining them to make Olympus, Inc. happen!    

Friday, January 15, 2016

Accursed Update (and Something You Won't Find in the Book!)

The Accursed: World of Morden Kickstarter has hit its mid-campaign doldrums, and John Dunn and Melior Via want to give it a shot in the arm. To that end, they're knocking down the funding levels on the main stretch goals for this weekend only! As John writes:

Our goals for Accursed World of Morden are well calculated. Artwork for each book costs us about $1200. Writing and editing costs us about the same. Kickstarter takes ~10%, and we need to pay for the prints and mailing costs for backers who are getting print costs (as well as backers at premium levels). The $3000.00 figure is a pretty accurate number at the end of the day.

But, we've actually fronted a fair bit of that money already. And we really want to be able to justify creating all three of those PDFs as well as delivering the 120 page book to you (as opposed to the 60 page book we've funded so far). So, I'd like to try to incentivize things a little bit for the backers already on board as well as those considering jumping on. I think that in order to achieve those goals, we need to get some forward progress immediately.

To provide some perspective, as I write this e-mail we're at $5,069 on Friday, 1/15/2016.

So, here's the deal, I'm adding in some timed goals. I don't know if these are attainable, but let's give it a shot.
  • If the project pledge total reaches $5500.00 within the next 24 hours (Saturday 1/15, lets say noon Eastern), I'll reduce the stretch goal thresholds for the ebooks to $2750. So, we'll unlock Science and Sea at $5500, and that'll move the goal for Bone and Barrow down to $8250.00.
  • If the project pledge total hits $6000.00 within the next 48 hours (Sunday 1/16, again, noon Eastern), I'll reduce the stretch goals for the ebooks to $2500. So, we'd have already unlocked Science and Sea at $5000, and that'll move the goal for Bone and Barrow down to $7500.00.
  • If we can somehow get the project pledge level to $7500.00 by Monday noon eastern (1/17), not only will we unlock all three ebooks, we'll add in a bonus set of three new 1-sheet adventures to all backers at the $10 level and up. (One 1-sheet each tied into the ebooks funded by this project.)

These are timed goals, specifically because I really feel that for the project to be successful, we need to see some movement now. If we can't achieve them, then we'll revert to the $3000.00 tiers that remain on the front page of the project. If you think this sounds worthwhile, please help us by sharing the project with your friends as soon as possible. We have other stretch goals that we'd like to share with you, but we can't do that until we unlock the ones we've already announced.

I have no idea what these secret stretch goals are, but everything else about Accursed has been pretty danged cool so far. I have no doubt that whatever they've got planned must be good. 

In the meantime, everything's going swimmingly on my end. John has approved the approach I want to take and it looks like it should all proceed easily (providing it gets backed).

The Outlands chapter of Bone and Barrow will be divided into four sections:
  • Seaharrow: A nation of sailors and whalers -- inspired in equal parts by Melville's New England and countries of the Baltic Sea -- subjugated to the whims of cruel samurai and Nazi vikings. Features the hauntingly beautiful yuki-onna!
  • Riverspring: A broken and divided land of Vampire Hunter D-inspired vampire fiefdoms and ghost-haunted valleys (with a little bit of William Tell on the side). Features the deceptive and dangerous haunters of the hills!
  • Deepshadow: A realm of literal ghost towns and serpent-haunted tunnels, ruled by black magic and bandit kings in some unholy mashup of Robert E. Howard's Pictish and American frontier stories. Features the swift and grim shadow riders!
  • Other Outlands: A random generator to create new Outland nations, utilizing either Accursed's double poker deck or a simple eight-sided die. Complete with a sample new Outland!

If everything above sounds good to you, please back the project! My imagination is just wild for this assignment, and I've even had to cut back on some bits and pieces I wanted to add. That might actually be a good thing for this slightly tongue-in-cheek Hindrance that you will not find in the book:

Ash Sickness [Minor Hindrance]

The ash juniper is an evergreen tree pervasive throughout Riverspring and spreading far into the surrounding lands. While its berries are used for flavoring distilled alcohols and pickled cabbage, the tree is generally considered pernicious because of how quickly it grows and the disease it brings. The Springfolk burned the forests to keep the ash juniper away from their villages, but the devastation of the Bane War means the tree now grows rampant everywhere.

From early autumn to late spring, the fine, ash-like pollen of the juniper hangs heavy in the air of Riverspring. Characters who suffer from ash sickness must make a Vigor roll every day they are exposed or gain a level of Fatigue. A dose of the Alchemical power rejuvenating draft banishes the Fatigue for an entire day.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Support the ACCURSED: WORLD OF MORDEN Kickstarter!

A while back, I received an email from John Dunn (head honcho at Melior Via) asking me if I would be interested I writing for Accursed, their Savage Worlds setting of Gothic action-adventure. Given that I practically wrote a fan supplement already, I immediately and enthusiastically said "yes."

Just a day ago, Melior Via launched the Kickstarter for Accursed: World of Morden, a series of setting books to expand the tantalizingly brief world-building material found in the Accursed core book. I've already read Frost and Fang, the first book in the series, and I can tell you that the new setting material is informative without being encyclopedic, expansive without being intrusive. There's great new Edges and evocative Hindrances for players and wickedly awesome new Banes for Game Masters. The only complaint I ever had with Accursed was difficulty getting a real sense of the world, and the Accursed: World of Morden series will fix that very quickly. 

My assignment, should the Kickstarter meet its stretch goals, is to expand the Outlands, the big half-circle in the upper right-hand corner of the map. It's underdeveloped compared to the rest of the setting, and I'm humbled that Ross Watson and John Dunn trust a relatively inexperienced writer like myself to add to their world. I've been given a surprising amount of leeway and I intend to use that to make the Outlands an exciting, intriguing part of Accursed

The Kickstarter hit its basic goal within 24 hours. The first stretch goal is Science and Sea, covering the "clockpunk Italy" nation of Manreia and the pirate-haunted Discordian Sea. (Personally, that's the part of the world I'd love to play in, so I've pledged just to help make sure that gets published. Yay, pirates!) The second and final stretch goal is where Bone and Barrow -- my section of the project -- gets funded, so help a brother out and chip in! Please! I promise to make it worth your while.

(Just keep some money handy for the Olympus, Inc. Kickstarter too.)

Fast and “Fury”-ous

Evil Beagle recently provided me promotional copies of Leonard Pimentel’s Magnum Fury and Six-Gun Fury . No expectation of a review wa...