Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Dragonmeet & other Meetings

I'm in London for Dragonmeet alongside the Pelgrane crew!

Last year on the train into London from Heathrow, before Dragonmeet, I was reading Lavie Tidhar's The Violent Century, glancing out of the train at delapidated warehouses as the novel's superbeings negotiated the London fog.

Saturday afternoon at last year's Dragonmeet, the man wanting to talk about roleplaying games over the table at the Pelgrane booth turned out to be Lavie Tidhar! He said that RPGs weren't something he had really tried, though the friend beside him seemed to be more familiar with the genre. I gave Lavie a copy of 13th Age, and when Ken Hite came back to the booth Ken got him a copy of The Dracula Dossier.

This year, on the train ride into London, I was reading Catherynne M. Valente's Six-Gun Snow White, a beautiful strange little book. I'm pretty sure there's no chance of seeing Catherynne M. Valente at this convention, but perhaps something similarly magical will reveal itself.

Looking forward to seeing friends from this Eastern side of the pond in a few days.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Voting & Supporting Hillary

The stamp felt perfect for this ballot! 

On the way back from casting the ballot, I passed Neil Stephenson, out for a stroll in the neighborhood he works in. I'll take passing a socially progressive writer who appreciates good weaponry as a good omen. 

Earlier in the day, I appreciated this Rolling Stone summary of why voting for Trump is a terrible thing to do. Parts left out include the GOP's position as the major political party in the world that denies climate change and Trump not caring that Russia is mucking around in USA electoral politics because it has been in his favor. That would have been some sort of deal-breaker in previous Republican candidacies--but not this one. 

Earlier in the weekend, Jonathan Tweet, Mike Selinker and Gaby Weidling and I organized a game designers' support letter for Hillary Clinton. It's called #gamers4her and it's up to 327+ signatures and still growing, as seen here

I'm aware that Clinton isn't perfect. In politics as in creative work, the perfect is the enemy of the good. Clinton will be a good president, maybe even a great one. It's time to prove that a powerful woman can be President of the United States and make a way for great women leaders of the future. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Two snippets about Glorantha and The Gods War

Sandy Petersen's The Gods War kickstarter is ending in about twelve hours and I didn't get around to mentioning that I'd written a couple short bits about Glorantha involving that project. Even if you aren't in for the mythical battles, it's worth checking out Sandy's site for wonderful art.

Snippet #1 is something I wrote for Kickstarter and the Chaosium blog, statting up one of the miniatures from Sandy Petersen's The Gods War for 13th Age in Glorantha (you can never have too many broos).

Snippet #2 is something I wrote about growing up with Glorantha and having it become my favorite game world.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

PAX Schedule and beyond

We don't have an official booth at PAX this year, and by we I mean my company Fire Opal Media and the two other companies I work with most: Pelgrane and Chaosium. We will be at GeekGirl Con on October 8th and 9th in the same Seattle Convention Center.

I'll be around PAX a bit on at least Friday and Saturday, and definitely between noon and 2:00 on Friday at the table outside the Uncle's Games room, alongside Jonathan Tweet and Wade Rockett.

Here's the full schedule of of game designers who'll be at that table during the weekend. Vlaada Chvatil isn't scheduled to join us, but I'm glad his new version of Codenames is sharing the billing!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

GenCon Notes: Lights! Camera! Action!

I had a great GenCon. So did most of my friends, both old and new. I’ll post a couple highlights, now and maybe later.

Will Jobst and I left the exhibitors’ hall on Saturday night and went upstairs to watch the 13th Age and GUMSHOE games in the Pelgrane-focused game room. I admit that I was 13th Age-focused: where GUMSHOE is concerned, I’m not really a pro.

Early on, we were startled by what looked like impromptu chair dancing at a 13th Age table. Everyone’s hands went up in the air, the bass started thumping, hands spinning as disco balls. Turned out that the first time the sorcerer had used their dancing lights spell, the table discoed-out; and now it was a thing for the rest of the session! Dancing lights! I thought about filming it but decided to let it fly solo in memory.

The musical ambush left us happy and gave us a story to glide on the rest of the evening as we joined Steve and Paula Dempsey to ramble through the entire convention center.

The night before the show, Eric Lang won the Diana Jones Award! I’d talked with him earlier in the day and he said he had zero chance of winning—he expected it to go to Pandemic Legacy by Rob Daviau and Matt Leacock. We agreed that if Eric won, I should yell “Daviau was robbed!” Which I did, utterly happy and knowing no one could hear me, since you can’t hear much of anything at the Diana Jones Award ceremony and certainly not when everyone is roaring for Eric!

Then I got to see Greg Stafford, last year’s winner for The Guide to Glorantha, hand the award over to Eric, and the whole thing made me so happy I *did* get out my phone to take a picture. I knew it would be crappy but I didn’t care, it’s the fact, not the photo. That’s Jeff Richard of Chaosium in the middle, and Luke Peterschmidt all shiny in the foreground.


I knew that Upper Deck would be releasing the Legendary game I designed, Big Trouble in Little China. It’s a playful take on the Legendary deckbuilding game system designed by Devin Low for the Marvel Legendary games. Big Trouble in Little China was a game I had a huge amount of fun designing but I wasn’t sure how much of a marketing push the game would be getting, given that the film has been out for awhile. I’d heard that there was something going on with the GenCon lanyards, but I didn’t know that everyone wearing a GenCon lanyard would have Big Trouble in Little China art around their necks. And I had no idea that Upper Deck was gonna set up a Big Trouble exhibit with the Pork Chop Express big rig in the dealer’s hall! Right alongside a bit of a Chinatown shrine and a signboard for Egg Foo Yong Tours. That’s some action. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Doubling Up on the Three Storms: Big Trouble in Little China preview

I'm headed to GenCon soon, where previews will no longer be necessary, though an occasional design note may still be relevant.

Today's quick show-and-tell introduces the two versions of the Three Storms. Upper Deck's original card list called them, for example, Battle Armor Thunder and Business Suit Thunder. I loved the observation that when Sorcerous Lo Pan is cackling, he has the battle armor Storms with him, or at least martial arts gear. When Rain goes to see David Lo Pan, he changes into his business suit as a responsible member of the Wing Kong Exchange.

You can see I had fun giving them business titles! Thunder, Public Relations is one of my favorite combinations of image and card name.

As to the toughness of these villains. . . they can cause problems, But in the film they seemed pretty bad at killing the heroes that mattered, so I enjoyed making them melodramatic problems that can  also offer solutions if everyone plays nice!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Lords of Death: Big Trouble in Little China preview

I was gonna write my next preview about the two versions of the Three Storms, but I don't have time to tackle that topic today. Instead, here's a henchman.

The Lords of Death seem like a bunch of low-lifes with awesome sunglasses, but nobody ever wants to tangle with them. In the movie it's always, "Ooh, Lords of Death. Don't wanna mess with them." So I tried to capture that with the game mechanics. You can beat the Lords of Death. Heck, anyone can beat the Lords of Death. But if you're not already hurting, you're going to be hurting. Of course, once you've taken out one, you should just keep on going, because you're not going to be hurt any worse . . . until you shuffle your cards and the Wound gets buried in your deck.

As a bonus, Upper Deck followed through with the Lords of Death sucker punch on the game's Wound card!

My GenCon Schedule, 13th Age, & Glorantha

GenCon next week!! I’m going to be spending most of time at the Pelgrane booth, 419. Chaosium is in booth 423, so the two places in the exhibit hall you’re likely to find me are actually a single space with a blue curtain in the middle. I missed last year’s GenCon and I’m looking forward to talking with so many friends as well as a couple hundred people I don’t know yet!

Five Panels
I’ll be on three 13th Age GenCon panels and one Pelgrane Press panel alongside creators and Pelgrinistas such as Aaron Roudabush, Cat Tobin, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan, Ken Hite, Kevin Kulp, Lynne Hardy, Robin Laws, Simon Rogers, and Wade Rockett. (ASH LAW, Cal Moore, and Jonathan Tweet aren't attending this year.) 

I’m also on one Glorantha/Dragon Pass panel with Chaosium people including Greg Stafford, Jeff Richard, and Chris Klug. We may also have Sandy Petersen, who is about to launch the incredibly cool Glorantha: The Gods War miniatures game, but I’m not certain Sandy is with us on the Thursday night panel.

13th Age Adventure Design Workshop
     Thursday 11 a.m.
     Crowne Plaza: Grand Central Ballroom A

Dragon Pass—Mythology, Magic, & Board Games
     Thursday 8 pm
     Crowne Plaza Pennsylvania Station C

13th Age GM Roundtable
     Friday 11:00 a.m.
     Crowne Plaza: Grand Central Ballroom C

13th Age Monster Workshop
     Saturday 12 noon
     Crowne Plaza: Grand Central Ballroom B

Swords, Spies, & Shoggoths: Pelgrane Press Panel
     Saturday 1:00 pm
     Crowne Plaza: Grand Central Ballroom B

More Glorantha
There’s also a big RQ and Glorantha celebration at 7:00 pm on Friday night with Greg Stafford, Runequest—50th Anniversary of Glorantha in Crowne Plaza Pennsylvania Station A. That’s during the ENnies, but the 50th Anniversary party gets my vote for its scheduled hour.

The other good Glorantha news is from the 13th Age in Glorantha Kickstarter. Jeff Richard has finished the manuscript of the Glorantha Sourcebook and is sending the augmented 13th Age in Glorantha manuscript over later this weekend. I have playtest feedback revisions to handle from the past couple months and a few small improvements, nothing that will take me long after GenCon. We’ll have both manuscripts at the convention to show off and we’ll have updates on publication timing after the convention. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

One and the Same Person, Jack: Big Trouble in Little China preview

I'm happy about managing twelve new schemes in this Big Trouble set! One of them is a riff on a scheme from an earlier Marvel set by Devin Low. A couple others restructure familiar ideas. The rest of the schemes create experiences that haven't been played before.

"One and the Same Person, Jack" is wacky challenging fun and one of my favorites. It's probably the closest I got to capturing the arc of the full movie in a single scheme. And it shows off an unexpected bonus: Upper Deck added fun art to each of the schemes!

Here are the two Masterminds who take turns taunting you:

The next preview will show off a couple members of the Wing Kong Exchange and the Warriors of Lo Pan, which will explain a bit more about what's going on during games of "One and the Same Person, Jack."

Thursday, July 21, 2016

My Favorite Monsters: Big Trouble in Little China preview

Working on a bunch of 13th Age stuff today, so this BTiLC preview is going to be quick and self-indulgent, introducing two of my favorite villains from the set. They really are Monsters, the villain group associated with the worst of the Masterminds, Ching Dai.

I liked these two all  during playtest and I think they'll be fun in widely-recruiting games of Marvel: Legendary. When I saw the final art I was even happier, probably my favorite pieces, oozing personality.

I think the Guardian lives up to its on-screen appearance. It's a villain card that has a markedly different impact at the start of the game compared to the end of the game. At the end of the game, it's a quick 3 VP, especially for a player who has already been doing well. But if the Guardian shows up early, there's a decent chance it's going to escape and force you all to beat the Mastermind an extra time, and that one of your all-in efforts to beat the Mastermind is going to be rewarded with the googly-eyed booby prize of a Guardian card that's only worth 3 VP and doesn't do anything worthwhile for you as a Fight effect.

The Bug Monster is a one-card game dynamic! When it shows up at the start of the game, you're saying, "Thank you, thank you for springing out of nowhere and eating one of my lousy Chang Sing Warriors" (or maybe a Mediocre Hero like the Jerk . . . ). But if it does you the favor of eating a hero you can afford to lose, that's not the end, it gets shuffled back into hiding. The more of your 0-cost Heroes you get rid of, the closer you are to losing a Hero who matters. Eventually the Bug Monster gets a happy meal.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

ENnnies Shout Out

This morning I made the time to poke around on the ENnies voting site for introductions to cool games and websites I hadn’t looked at before. It was painless, informative, fun, and quick, and given the hassles I went through earlier this week coping with other organizations’ misaligned web sites, a hearty shout-out to the ENNIES for handling their voting process so well.
Things that I already liked, and voted for, include The Dracula Dossier, Feng Shui 2, the Dragon Age RPG, Ken & Robin Talk About Stuff, Illuminerdy, the Epic coins from Campaign Coins and the Frostgrave miniatures rules from Osprey.
Things that I worked on as the 13th Age line developer, and voted for, include the free product Race to Starport (written by ASH LAW) and the 13th Age GM’sScreen and Resource Book written by Cal Moore and Wade Rockett.
        The GM resource book that Cal and Wade wrote most of, and that I contributed three or four pages and chum-the-adventure notes to, comes wrapped in a wonderful triptych screen by our core book artists, Lee Moyer and Aaron McConnell and also includes Lee’s full-color map of the Dragon Empire.

        Voting can be handled a few nibbles at a time, but it ends tomorrow, so don’t miss the chance to voice support and browse links to new things you might like. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Green-eyed Brides with Killer Kung-Fu: Big Trouble in Little China preview

Towards the end of Big Trouble, the evil sorcerer David Lo Pan orchestrates a prenuptial kung fu exhibition and magical survival ritual for his two green-eyed brides. Am I the only one who thinks that when Gracie Law and Miao Yin float down from the burning blade, they should have learned martial arts?

Upper Deck arranged that we could add a touch of new content where it felt right, so I added green-eyed brides with legendary kung fu! Each of these cards appears once in the set, they're the rares for Gracie and Miao Yin. As you'll see, they also tie in to the two themes I talked about in my earlier design previews.

Fighting Bride is an example of the way the heroes of this set interact with each other. Gracie is into Jack Burton so much that she can see through his dumb glasses and hold onto him even if he's in his Henry Swanson guise. . . and yes, Henry Swanson is another of the game's heroes. No Jack? No Henry? Or during the Showdown when you can't recruit? Fighting Bride will handle the situation herself.

If you're wondering what the Energy symbol is doing on the card, you *could* imagine that her kick-ass kung fu spear is shooting fire! Or you could stick with this set's definition of that symbol as Magic. When Big Trouble characters have the blue symbol, they're dealing with Magic, but it still works fine to interpret it as the Ranged class when bringing in Marvel heroes or mixing the sets.

Certainly Gracie works better when played with the other heroes in this box instead of mixed with the general Marvel population. Playing by the letter of the rules, the Villains and Schemes and Bystanders in Big Trouble fit optimally into games built using the entire random cornucopia of Marvel cards. But if you want to script your own variation on the films, you *could* propose an alternate timeline in which Jack Burton isn't around to be Gracie's bad-boy love interest, but someone like Wolverine is!

Miao Yin's Green-eyed Bride is an example of the other design theme I talked about in the first preview, compelling player interactions. Everyone else needs to choose a gift. So do you gift high, figuring other players will go cheaper? Or do you go low to make sure you can afford to lose the card? If the lowest cards tie, the tied players all lose their cards and the Green-eyed Bride has a wonderful wedding party. And speaking of happy wedding parties, this was a card that my blue-eyed wife Lisa suggested the final version of the mechanic for! If the card causes you strife at your gaming table, try to remember that it was made with love.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Hero Buddies & Extra Hero Cards: Big Trouble in Little China Preview

Marvel Legendary uses Team Icons that match some iteration of the comic book universe's affiliation web. Teams are another fun way to create combos as you build your deck, but they didn't feel like a natural part of the Big Trouble in Little China story.

Instead of using the Team Icon shorthand to show how characters are affiliated with each other, I used Hero names to represent some of the stronger, more noticeable, or funnier connections between characters in the Big Trouble storyline. Here are three examples of a mechanic that's spread through the set.

Margo's Yeah, I'll Call the President plays off the 'romantic' subplot that springs upon viewers in the final scenes! She's definitely interested in Eddie. And in order to combo with cards that are more in the reporter's telephone-tech arsenal, the card can also combine with other Tech cards.

Eddie has a couple interesting combos, but given that he seemed surprised by Margo's interest, they don't involve Margo! Dragon of the Black Pool plays off Eddie's place alongside Uncle Chu, who is the grey 3-cost card that takes the place of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Officer from Marvel Legendary. The forgiving combo rule for this card's wording means that you can buy an Uncle Chu, put in your discard pile, and then play Dragon of the Black Pool and get the bonus.

Wang Chi's Time to Go! shows another way that a few of the Big Trouble characters interact. Given Wang Chi's longing for Miao Yin, it's not about *having* Miao Yin in your hand--it's about longing for her as she waits as one of the cards someone is going to get hold of! Or, in games that don't feature Miao Yin, or when the villains are getting close to escaping the city, it's about needing to kick butt when the other players haven't gotten the job done! If everyone is doing their job and taking care of the villains handily, the card's not as good, but that's what I call high class problems.

Players who prefer using optimal groups of Heroes may not want to use Time to Go! in games that don't involve Miao Yin. Unlike most of the other Legendary sets, Big Trouble in Little China provides an option. I wanted to increase the number of possible games and there was a limit on how many Heroes we could add. So instead of adding more Heroes, I created an extra 'common' card for the film's two central characters, Jack Burton and Wang Chi. In Wang Chi's case, if you'd rather not play with Time to Go!, you can play with You Gotta Help Me! and Everybody's Buddy instead.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Nosy Lawyers & Catacomb Monsters: Big Trouble in Little China Preview

Upper Deck is going to have Legendary: Big Trouble in Little China out at GenCon. That's less than a month away so it's time for some previews! 

One of my design goals was to create a set with a lot of player interaction. I wanted moments that made players talk and act during each other's turns and moments when everyone cares about the flip of a specific card. 

Nosy But Nice is one of the common cards for Gracie Law, meaning it appears five times, so it usually shows up in games that include Gracie. Nosy But Nice always does something good for the opponent to your left, letting them discard a card and then draw. It's not a *huge* help to your opponent, so you don't have to feel like you're handing them the game when you play it, but when someone helps you out with Nosy But Nice it a) feels great; and b) sets the tone for a game in which players will help each other out a bit instead of always looking to inflict little cuts. 

Towards the end of a tight game, or in the hand of a highly competitive player, Nosy But Nice may end getting discarded as too much help to the opposition and not enough help to its owner. But that's more likely to be true after its Covert trigger has gone off earlier in the game, allowing the owner to whittle out a strong deck that doesn't need more help from the 2-cost card. 

The Catacomb Monster belongs to the second style of interactive moment, creating tension as players take turns revealing the top card of their decks. Especially at the start of the game, the Ambush effect isn't so bad. It usually KOs a bunch of 0-cost starting Heroes and everyone is happy, which fits my sense that the Catacomb Monster feels ominous in the movie but doesn't wreak all that much havoc. On the other hand, the awful Escape effect becomes a universal problem that everyone tends to work together to prevent. Or pretends to work together to prevent, if they're aware that they have lower-cost cards then everyone else and are not as likely to be hit or hurt much if they lose a Hero. 

I'll show a couple more cards in another post next week, probably showing off the way the heroes of the movie interact, which is a bit different than Heroes in other Legendary sets. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

My Book of the Year: The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps

I've gasped out loud while reading one book.
This book.

I don't want to say too much about the story. Surprises exist. I'd rather not hint.

It's a blend of the brutal and the mythic and the humane, glowing in unforgettable language that's often worth reading aloud.

On e-readers the novella is cheap. $3 cheap. I'm buying a paper copy for my shelf of favorite books and to pass around to friends.

Thank you, Kai Ashante Wilson.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Pristine City

The Pristine City is a fun 57 page 13th Age-compatible adventure for 4th or 5th level characters from Stacey Janssen and David Noonan of Dastow Games.

While reading the adventure and framing my response, I realized that my gaming experience is probably different from most GMs. So far as I remember, and I'm thinking all the way back to Top Secret and Chivalry & Sorcery and Monsters! Monsters! and AD&D  and then Champions and RuneQuest and the days when I bought a LOT of rpg adventures . . . going all the way back and working forward, I have never run a published adventure that was written by someone else. Unless you count:
a) the pieces of published adventures I played as solitaire system-tests when I was a kid; or
b) the co-op/solo micro-dungeons published for The Fantasy Trip, when I was playing as well as flipping the pages; or
c) the adventures in 13th Age in Glorantha that were written by Jonathan.

I think Item C counts. That's a recent development!

So while I've read big chunks of The Pristine City, and skimmed the rest, I haven't run it. The fact that the book got me thinking about how I would run it turns out to be extremely unusual.

Without giving too many spoilers, here are some things I like about this adventure.
  • A clever overarching structure that will shape the game alongside the player characters' actions (I must not say more, but this deserves an exclamation point)!
  • Amusing reinterpretations of the icons that both dodge the copyright issues, add their own twisty values, and are still clear enough to anyone running a core Dragon Empire game. 
  • Interesting reasons why this singular place blends oddities you might find in a living dungeon within themes created by the dwarves. 
  • Well-themed magic items that enhance the storyline. 
  • Amusing touches in the price lists and great material for dwarf-oriented player characters in the list of Real Books in the Pristine City
  • Vignettes that could be dropped into other dwarven areas if you're not going to run the whole thing. 
  • Far more playable material than you'd expect to find in a 57 page book, because they didn't reprint monster stats from the core 13th Age rulebook or the 13th Age Bestiary. Page references suffice and the focus of the text stays on exploring the city instead of reprinted monster stat blocks. 
  • A couple new monsters I'll be using the next time I need [REDACTED].

Monday, June 6, 2016

Trump is running for impeachment

I don't think Trump is going to become president. But if he does, he’ll be in the running for an uglier prize.

Two-thirds of the Senate can vote to impeach a President for "treason, bribery, or high crimes and misdemeanors."

Trump’s campaign promises high misdemeanors. Given his current and intended disregard for the law, he may get around to some crimes. I don’t expect his conduct to change if he’s elected. Even if you believe his behavior could shift, Trump seems likely to provide enough for a Senate composed of Democrats and worried Republicans to work with. 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Three Dragon Ante mix, with coins

We played Three Dragon Ante a few weeks ago, just a couple days before the coins from the last Campaign Coins Kickstarter showed up in the mail. So for next game, I'm ready with metal coins. It's a benevolent circle, given that 3DA helped inspire Campaign Coins to start making gaming coins!

Later this year we'll be able to play with dwarven towers from the 13th Age Coins and Icon Tiles kickstarter, which sure looks like it's going to fund in style and will probably be making the twelve-sided icon die from our 13 True Ways kickstarter available again. (You can find a few of the square dwarven tower prototypes anchoring the coin pile above.)

For those of you who have both the original Three Dragon Ante and the Emperor's Gambit sequel, here's the card list I'm playing Three Dragon Ante with these days, a mix of dragons and mortals and dragon gods from both the sets. This set-up has a good mix of card drawing, outright theft, and manipulation of the ante cards. If people have other mixes they play to get different effects, I'm curious to hear it.



Mortals & Li'l Dragons: 
The Dragonslayer
The Druid
The Emperor
The Queen
The Sorcerer
The Spy
The Thief
The Wyrmpriest

Dragon Gods: 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Big Trouble in Little China!

GenCon is going to be fun this year!

In addition to however many volumes of 13th Age we have out by and for the show, I'll be enjoying the release of a new game from Upper Deck based on my favorite deckbuilding card game.

I've been a Legendary fanboy since Devin Low invited me to early playtests. You'll find my wife Lisa and me in the playtesters list for most of the Marvel Legendary sets. So it was wonderful to design a Big Trouble in Little China set intended to be playable with the Marvel sets.

The Villains and Masterminds and Schemes can all add something new for people who want to draft big trouble into their Marvel games, and Iron Fist could pay a visit to Little China. But BTiLC is very much its own experience, with interlocking characters and mechanics that want to be played together, as well as new Schemes that pivot around Chinatown. I'm particularly happy with the story-oriented solution for handling the starting heroes, but it's a little too soon to spill those beans. I'll say more about the game's design goals and solutions in future posts.

This was so much fun to make! The result is sort of a love letter: Legendary is Lisa's favorite game, and Big Trouble in Little China is designed to be Legendary the way Lisa likes to play it. Except for the worst of the Masterminds . . . Lisa saw that Mastermind and said "Oh. You just designed this to screw me, didn't you?"

Me: Not you. Your play style.
Lisa: The world.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Monday, March 28, 2016

Three Powerful Months

I'm excited about this year's 13th Age Monthly lineup. The first three months show off the mix of GM material and player goodies we're aiming for. The artists are doing splendid work, and in fact for much of the year, 13AM is likely to be the place to see color 13th Age art.

As you can see from the design credits so far this year, I'm staying fully involved with the Monthly. 13AM isn't quite a Ken Writes About Stuff situation, like Pelgrane's other monthly game subscription, because there will always be other designers writing for the Monthly. But I've gotten a lot more involved than we expected when we started this project, developing and art-directing all the issues. I've never handled a monthly publication process before. It started as a learning experience and has become fun.

We promise 4000 words a month and we nearly always publish more than that, because . . .fun!  If you're subscribing, you've already got the first two issues shown below, with covers and interiors by Lee Moyer and Patricia Smith. Sorcerer Summoning, with cover and interior art by Rich Longmore, is getting shown off for the first time below. It will be out at the end of this week. If you subscribe now you'll get all the issues from 2016 as well as the OP adventures when they release. . . . and that should also be happening at the end of the week, since ASH LAW's Into the Underworld Part IV is ready to be unleashed.

See you in the Monthly.

Monday, March 21, 2016

13th Age in Glorantha monster list sample

Jonathan and I are so close to finished with design work on 13th Age in Glorantha we can taste it. A taste is not a meal, and we're still working this week.

Jonathan is deep in a heroquest in which Humakt reasserts control of Death. I'm handling Sartar Magical Union mechanics and writing geography bits.

A lot of fun things have entered the game in this last phase of design. I thought I'd share one here that shows Glorantha's visual style and our use of the runes. This is the almost complete 4th level monster list that shows how we're using other 13th Age resources in Glorantha.

P. XX references are to monsters in the book, the other creatures are from previous 13A books as indicated. If names have been changed, the original name appears in brackets.

Monsters are organized by rune since that's often how they're encountered; Chaos creatures attacking alongside other Chaos creatures, Darkness creatures banded together, and so on.

The runes in the list start with Air swirling on top, then Beast like a dragon's eye, Chaos looking like a horned devil, the great blot of Darkness, one Earth creature, one Fire creature, several Moon creatures of the Lunar Empire, and a couple weirder undead with the Unlife rune.

We're pretty excited about how the full Monster List has turned out as both a resource and inspiration. GMs will have plenty to work with if they only have the core book and 13G, while anyone who has 13 True Ways and the Bestiary ends up with way more additional material than we expected.

[Click on the table for a better view]

Monday, January 11, 2016

early 2016 13th Age update

Here's the early 2016 update about a few of the upcoming 13th Age books and projects. Unlike updates that are all about the publication day, I'm writing from my creator-perspective; there are creative fountains I have to maintain, but the pipelines beyond the design/development/art phase are Pelgrane's (and Chaosium's), not mine to service. So I'll post later updates when I'm sure of street dates.

Except for Chaosium's 13th Age in Glorantha, these are all Pelgrane publications.

printing now
The 13th Age GM Screen and Resource Book has been in the printing process awhile already and will therefore be in stores super soon! Cal Moore and Wade Rockett did a great job with the screen info and book and as developer I chummed the waters. Pre-order people can already get the PDF from the Pelgrane store. It's an excellent resource for anyone running 13th Age and would be the new product to pick up for people who just bought into the 13th Age Bundle of Holding because of the help the 64-page resource book gives phrasing campaigns, running memorable sessions, and providing a big fold-out map of the Dragon Empire to lay in front of the wonderful screen art from Lee Moyer and Aaron McConnell. 

released and headed towards wider distribution
Greg Stolze's The Forgotten Monk novel is available in print and PDF from the Pelgrane store. It's going to have wider distribution through Stone Skin Press later this year. It's a charming book, by turns deadly serious and idiosyncratically funny. This would be the new product for people who just bought into the 13th Age Bundle of Holding because it's something completely different, a narrative entry point into 13th Age that shows how every GM/creator can make their campaign/world their own. 

about to start again
13th Age Monthly is back for its second year. The cover of the first installment of 2016 is pictured above and will be released toward the end of the month. Rakshasas & Reavers is a monster supplement, with a bunch of creatures Jonathan and I have been using in our games. As last year, each 13AM issue is slated for a minimum of 4000 words, but looking back at 2015 we were almost always over that. 2016's mix of GM stuff, player content, and stuff for everyone will include articles on summoning spells, phoenixes, rules for adventuring in the middle of mass battles, an adventure tie-in to 13 True Ways, and a piece on the forests I've been noodling with for awhile now and am finally happy with. People who like to cherry pick can eventually find individual issues on the Pelgrane Press store and on Drive-Thru RPG, but subscribers also get the new 13th Age OP adventures. That's a good deal. 

in layout
Cal Moore's High Magic & Low Cunning: Battle Scenes for Five Icons is now in layout. With 44+ battles and battlemaps, I believe the book is going to clock in at something like 190 b&w pages. The book was great fun to develop and art direct. Patricia Smith handled the cover and she and Rich Longmore shared the interior work. Above Patricia's wrap-around cover and below this text, I've inserted a couple of Rich's interior pieces I enjoy, lifted from battle scenes/mini-adventures involving the Archmage, High Druid, Orc Lord, Prince of Shadows, and the Three. I'm not going to say *which* icon these are from, don't wanna play the spoiler, we'll let players find out!

art in progress
Cal Moore's next book of mini-adventures and fight scenes to drop into campaigns is called The Crown Commands: Battle Scenes for Four Icons. Art is underway and I expect to finish development by the end of March. If the icon wears a crown more often than not, and is pretty sure they could rule the entire Empire, given the chance, their battle scenes are in this book. Dwarf King, Elf Queen, Emperor, Lich King.

design moving close to completion, art in progress
13th Age in Glorantha is the giant project Jonathan Tweet and I have been working on for Chaosium. It's late, but it's getting close to done. It's a Kickstarted labor of love like 13 True Ways and has a similar number of improvements that push the system into places it hadn't gone before. Moving 13th Age to Glorantha overhauled the storytelling mechanics, but all the new classes and transformation classes and monsters and rune gifts and subsystems will be entirely useful in core Dragon Empire games for people running campaigns not set in Glorantha. (Illustration above by Jan Pospisi is an early work-in-progress of Gagix Two-Barb, an  NPC/monster who Jonathan is busy turning into a long-running campaign nemesis; I love the energy of this early draft.)

second draft complete, awaiting a bit of dev work and art
Shards in the Broken Sky by ASH LAW will be the next adventure book on my dev-docket when The Crown Commands is finished. It's going to be quick and we've got an artist excited about tackling ASH's amazingly detailed art order, so the first adventure we announced will finally be out this year. 

first draft complete, devwork pending
Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan has outpaced my dev-calendar by finishing Book of Demons! It includes a pact-making demon summoner class we haven't decided the name of yet. Exciting work, and the same size as Book of Loot

three other things
There are three other books/projects underway under Pelgrane's wings and two of them are new styles of product for us. But I don't expect any of them to be published ahead of the books mentioned above, so let's save them for later. 

yours in the whirl, 
Rob Heinsoo