Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hardware Blues

So far, the holidays have been a major bust when it comes to my game.  The biggest downer occurred when my hard drive completely crapped out on me.  I mean it was DEAD.  Having had problems like this before, I routinely back up my documents on an external hard drive and even uploaded them into the “cloud.”  This time around, however, I discovered two very important weaknesses: a) backups can become corrupted and therefore useless, and b) it’s a good idea to backup your art assets as well as the finished documents the assets go into.  In short, cover your assets.

So, after installing an entirely new hard drive and reinstalling various programs, I discovered that I had lost almost all of the art I had done for the Ovid Incident (except for whatever was already in the document itself).  This means all the mutants and characters I had created are gone unless I had already put them into the Ovid Incident document (which had been safely backed up).

It was very demoralizing to say the least.

Along with all the busyness of the holidays (family, drinking, getting bailed out of jail), I haven’t gotten much done.  On the bright side, however, the New Year is upon us with its promise of hope and improved hardware performance.  Although I’ve learned some valuable lessons, I’m glad to say goodbye to 2009.

For those of us at the Imperium Chronicles, I wish you a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Crimson Kiss

Before writing the Imperium Chronicles RPG, I originally created an online graphic novel and (shorter) online comic based on the universe that would become the game. Although both have been available through my website, I decided to publish the latter (called Magnus Black: Born in the Grave) on DriveThruComics so people could download the PDF. Several people have downloaded it, but since the comic’s free, that’s really no surprise. On the other hand, H1N1 (Swine Flu) is also free, so I shouldn’t assume people actually like the comic.

I love the graphic novel/comic format because it combines story telling with a visual media. Films (live action and animation) also combine these elements, but I lack the money, skill, or time to make movies. Truth be told, I also lack the artistic skill to create a good comic. I’ve always depended on software like Poser and Photoshop to compensate for my lack of drawing ability. Even so, I’ve been playing around with the idea of writing a script that a real artist would then turn into something people could read. This is actually pretty common: there are countless comics writers who can’t draw a straight line to save their lives and plenty of artists who have trouble signing their own name (unless it’s in some sort of calligraphy).

So, besides working on the Ovid Incident (the adventure module for Imperium Chronicles), I’ve also started writing a script for an Imperium comic called “The Crimson Kiss.” It’s based on an adventure idea for the game, which I think would make a pretty good comic. Coincidentally, I first mentioned the Crimson Kiss in this blog entry which just happens to be the most searched post on my blog, apparently due to the words “naked elf women” in the title.

I won’t go into much detail right now about the script, but I will say its protagonist, Rowan Ramus, was included in my most recent supplement, Home Worlds, and in a story fragment I wrote here. He’s a Dahl outcast who’s teamed up with a Gordian named Orkney Fugg and a robot named Gen. They’re hired to investigate attacks on some merchant ships that eventually lead them to a surprising discovery. I’ll try to keep you posted about how it’s coming along.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Home Worlds Now On Sale!

Home Worlds is now available for purchase! Considering I delayed it by a month, I’m pretty pleased with the outcome (maybe because of the delay). As I explained before, I pulled out about a third or more of the content and replaced it with a lot of new stuff (including NPCs and new creatures). The end result is a better product. Now I need to see if anyone buys it.

Speaking of which, I’m happy with how my previous product, Cardboard Citizens II, has been selling. It’s not very expensive, so I’m not getting rich from it, but selling stuff you’ve worked hard on does wonders for my fragile self-esteem. Would it kill my Mom to buy a copy?? ;-)

Currently, I’m churning the story for the Ovid Incident in my head. The whole thing starts when the characters get a distress call saying a research station has been hit by a micro-singularity (a black hole basically). For that reason, I’d like to incorporate some fractures in time, perhaps ghost-like images from the past showing people from the base before the accident. I plan on using this as a storytelling device, to move the plot along as the characters explore the damaged structure.

Below is a work-in-progress for Ovid. It’s a mutant I’m calling “Dark Angel.” He hovers above the ground and kills with a burst of radiation.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ancient Temples (in Space)!

It’s taken four tries, but I think I’ve finally got something I can use for the cover of Home Worlds. I already did two images, the first was the Pool of Memory (which really sucked) and the second showed an Aztec-style temple (for the Draconian home world). Since the latter wasn’t really “sci-fi enough,” I decided to create a new one that showed a street scene with an alien walking down the sidewalk. However, the Editor (also known as the Wife) didn’t like it, so I tried again. With the Editor looking over my shoulder, I fashioned a scene with the Draconian temple again, but with a large alien moon filling the sky. This was met with a conciliatory gesture from the Wife (i.e.: she put down the stun gun), and the cover art was decided!

As for the rest of Home Worlds, it’s almost ready for re-proofreading, so I need to figure out what I’m doing for my next project. Previously, I had been doing stuff for the Ovid Incident adventure module, but all this work on creatures for Home Worlds got me thinking about doing a supplement on minor races. I’ve also considered doing a supplement about the Five Families (and the minor aristocratic families) of the Imperium. However, from a business point of view, I really think I need more adventure modules, so I’m going to finish Ovid before tackling anything else.

As a side note, I’ve been writing for the website lately. It doesn’t really pay anything frankly, but it does give me some experience. Take a look at one of my newest articles, an interview with another game publisher located here in the Midwest.

So, here’s the two cover images: the first is the rejected street scene, and the other is the one I think I’ll be using.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Fantasy/Sci-fi Smash Up!

I’ve been working full speed ahead on the Home Worlds supplement since my last blog post. Although I was disappointed with how the supplement was shaping up before, I’m feeling more at ease with it now. I pulled out everything that wasn’t related to actual home worlds, including Dark Psi and the racial abilities. Instead, I’ve been adding NPCs and creatures for each planet, and changing the formatting a bit to highlight each world.

The Imperium Chronicles RPG is a fusion (or “smash up”) of fantasy and sci-fi, and I’ve been able to continue that theme with Home Worlds. For example, the Dahl (who are analogous to fantasy elves) share their planet with a minor race called the Fae (or “fairies”). For die-hard sci-fi players, the idea of seeing fairies flying around their science fiction universe might seem crazy, but that’s exactly the kind of incongruity that I love. Besides, who wouldn’t like to see a centaur (a future race I have planned) running around with a missile launcher strapped to his back?? ;-)

Since my last post, I’ve also published a print version of my online comic, Magnus Black: Born in the Grave. Lately, I’ve been thinking about writing a script for a comic based on my adventure module, Scent of Decay. I wanted to write the script and then collaborate with an artist to do the actual drawing. Since I’ve never written a script for a comic before, however, I’ve been practicing with my Magnus Black story. Of course, this is backwards from what you’d normally do, but I thought it’d be a good way to familiarize myself with writing scripts. I’ve only done a little bit so far, but it’s been educational and a lot of fun.

Here are a couple of images from Home Worlds, both with a fantasy theme. The first is an NPC named Danu the Fae Queen, and the other is a minor race called the Sporemen:

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Evolution of a Supplement

NOTE: For people in Kansas, please use the title “Immaculate Changes by the Big Guy.”

When I first started work on my current supplement, it was entitled Pool of Memory and was going to be about five home worlds, weapon modifications, and a set of new abilities called Dark Psi. Early on, however, I decided to move the weapon mods to a different supplement. After going through the proofreading process, however, I also realized that there wasn’t enough content, so I added more information about each home world and added a section of racial abilities (one per race with each home world). I then changed the name from Pool of Memory to Home Worlds, since that seemed to fit better. After adding more content for each home world, I reached the point where the Dark Psi (and the racial abilities) just didn’t fit anymore. I had very nicely painted myself into a corner. After a lot of thought, I came to the conclusion that I needed to pull the abilities out altogether and just focus on the home worlds, including the addition of more content like NPCs and encounters (similar to Chapter 10 of the Basic Rules). For those paying attention, this is NOT the best way to write a game supplement. In fact, it’s quite possibly the WORST way to write a game supplement. On the other hand, this only gives credence to my belief that the world would be a better place if it was run by robots and not people (or at least not people like ME). ;-)

Soooo, instead of publishing Home Worlds this week, it’s going to be a while longer. However, I do have my other product, Cardboard Citizens II, which is just about ready to go, so I’ll probably be publishing that within the next week or two.

On another front, I’ve been taking more notes about The Ovid Incident, my next adventure module. I was doing some brainstorming last week and came up with some more ideas. It’s still only in the planning stages, and hopefully I can plan a little better this time around.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

They Drag Me Back In

As it turned out, I really wasn’t done with the content for Home Worlds. After going through the new sourcebook, I realized that each planet wasn’t fleshed out enough. I spent the last two weeks adding more details for each world, especially the geographical regions. I also added a few more cultural tidbits for some of the races. Now, finally, I think I’m getting close to the end and I’ve given the current draft to the Editor for proofreading.

In the last couple of days I’ve been doing some preliminary renders for the Ovid Incident adventure module. The adventure’s about a runaway retrovirus and the grotesque mutations that occur at the lab where the virus was developed. So, I’ve been messing round with different character shapes and textures in Poser. I’m not sure how good the results are at this point, but there’s lots of time to fiddle with it.

Lately I’ve also been thinking about doing some creative writing (with the Imperium as the background). A while back I wrote the beginning of a short story called Ramus, but never went beyond the first few pages. Over the last week, however, I’ve been putting together an outline and some character ideas. In the original story, Ramus was a human, but my recent work on Home Worlds got me thinking about having him be a Dahl outcast who’s dabbled in Dark Psionics. I’d like to tie the story into an adventure idea revolving around the Dökk (the Dark Dahl). I only hope writer’s block and a lack of time (due to my other projects) won’t keep me from writing the story.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Tiny Parvulians

I’m happy to announce that Imperium Chronicles is now available on the Your Games Now website. For the last year, my game could only be bought on DriveThruRPG/ (and its affiliates). Starting this week, however, my empire is growing a little bit bigger. Of course, if YGN could make their vendor application a little more idiot proof, it would make my life (as the before mentioned idiot) a lot easier.

Home Worlds is approaching the home stretch. I’ve pretty much added all the content that’s going in there and now I just need to do some finishing touches and have the Editor read through it for grievous typos. In my mind, I guess I’ve already moved on to the next project, but I still haven’t decided what that’ll be.

I was thinking about Lilliputians the other day. Well, technically I was thinking about a race of tiny humanoids living inside robots. Since I was a kid, even before watching Dr. Who (i.e. Daleks) and certainly before seeing Men in Black (i.e. the Arquillian living inside the corpse at the morgue), I’ve been fascinated about creatures living inside machines. Then I started thinking about the machines themselves and I was reminded of the Mechs in the Gundam series. I asked myself: “What if the people in Gundam were actually very small and their “gigantic” mechs were really human-size? So, I came up with the idea of a race of small creatures (maybe 15 cm tall) that interact with other races by walking around in machines. Basically, the Mechs allow the race (who I’m calling Parvulians, based on the Latin word for small) to interact with other races without fear of being stepped on or tucked away into someone’s pocket. My wife even suggested making them extremely boastful (like most tiny men you encounter). ;-)

Btw, here's an image from Home Worlds. It's a Dark Psi psionic that turns your hands into the claws of a bear:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Creative Juices

The creative juices are flowing again (ewwww), so I came up with two new ideas. The first is a supplement I’m calling Weapons of War that features new weapons, weapon modification rules, and military vehicles (including grav and hover tanks). I’ve been thinking about the mod rules and some new weapons of destruction, but it’s only been recently that I considered adding tanks to the game. For the tanks, I think I’ll be using the same basic “slot” mechanic that I’ve used for robots and starships. I don’t want to go too overboard with them, however, so there’s probably only going to be three sets of chassis (light, medium, and heavy) and three sets of turrets (small, medium, and large). It’s early days, though, so we’ll have to see.

The second idea is for an adventure module called The Ovid Incident. It starts with a cryptic message that reads "Mayday, Mayday ... [static] ... impact ... [static] ... micro singularity ... [static] ... losing containment ... [static] ... please help us ... [static].” Upon investigation, the characters trace the message back to a moon base where mutants and a runaway retrovirus have run amok. The characters must search for survivors and discover what’s gone so terribly wrong.

The Home Worlds module is also coming along. I’m working on the second half right now, which covers Dark Psionics. Right now there’s 26 new psionics that characters can choose from, mostly divided into two categories: metamorphism and so-called Death Magic. I’m hoping these new psionics will satisfy my players’ need for a darker side of the mind. ;-)

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Alpha Totem

The final home world I’m working on right now is called Septu VII and unlike the others that came before it, this one is shared by two of the major races: the feline Akiak and the canine Vogars. The planet, like its two main inhabitants, is a world of contrast: in the northern and southern latitudes, the climate is cold and snowy (kind of like the forests of Siberia). Along the equator, however, the weather is much hotter and desert-like. With that in mind, I envision the Vogars like the wolves of northern Russia and the Akiak like the ancient Egyptians (who actually worshipped cats). Since cats originally came from the desert, that also fits nicely.

Religiously, the Vogars have a shaman culture that values protective spirits called totems (similar to the Indians of the American Northwest). Each individual Vogar has his own guardian spirit, and each Vogar tribe/pack also has its own totem. All of the Vogars, however, have a supreme spirit called the Alpha Totem (like the alpha dog). This spirit protects the entire race.

Below is an image of Septu VII (click to enlarge) and the Vogar flag. The flag is split into two parts: the bottom white area represents the snow, including the footprint of a wolf. The upper part is black, representing the night sky, including the moon and a star:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Path of the Blade

I released the Basic Rules LITE (for free) about a week ago and already it’s been downloaded over 150 times. I’m glad for that, but I wonder if those who downloaded the free version realized just how much more is in the regular rules. I mean there’s a lot I took out that people won’t see unless they buy the full version.

This week I also took another stab at the cover art for Pool of Memory. I posted the image on the Facebook page, but I wish I could’ve done a better job. I see the stuff in other games and wish I had that level of artistic talent.

Today I’ve been writing about the Draconians and something they call the Path of the Blade. It’s a code of conduct similar to Bushido. The Dracs aren’t samurais per se, but they do follow the same ideas of honor and courage. Their planet was invaded by the Imperial military two hundred years ago and the Draconians have attempted to rebel at least eight times since then. The Dracs view the Imperials (and especially the Humans) as barbarians because they don’t follow the Path of the Blade. I’ve also written of a Draconian legend about a two-headed dragon whose one head is good while the other is evil. The legend incorporates the idea of good and evil being connected, and that you can’t have one without the other.

Here’s an image of the Draconian home planet and their flag. Notice the flag features a fist (symbolizing their struggle against Imperial occupation) and a volcano (symbolizing the mountain in which the two-headed dragon lived):

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Basic Rules LITE

Another week’s gone by, during which I found myself sucked into a side project (instead of Pool of Memory). Basically, I have a free product called the Imperium Grab Bag that people snatch up like hotcakes, so for a while now I’ve been thinking about offering something a little more substantial for free. That got me thinking about having a “Lite” version of the Basic Rules that people could download. This is actually pretty common: there’s a GURPS Lite and a d20 Traveller Lite, for example.

What is a Lite version? Well, mostly it’s a stripped down edition of the regular rules that introduces people to the game system who might otherwise pass on buying the full version. The trouble lies in how much or how little of the full version you’re going to include. If you keep too much, then there’s really no reason for the person to buy the full rules. If you keep too little, then the person might think your rules have nothing to offer. So, with that in mind, I’ve spent the last several days stripping out stuff from the full Basic Rules to create a Lite version. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, however. For one thing, I had to make sure that I removed any references to things I’ve taken out. I also had to make clear to the reader that there really was a lot more in the Full version that they were missing out on, and thus suggesting that, if they like what they saw, they should buy the regular rules. To that end, I included a little chart (similar to what software makers use) to compare the free version with the pay edition (click to enlarge):

Anyway, I’m hoping that I’ll have the Lite version ready this week so I can post it on DriveThruRPG by the weekend. It’s all a big gamble since there’s no guarantee that anyone will actually buy the Full rules after downloading the free version. Nevertheless, I’m hopeful it will help sales so I can be rich and famous like all the other Pen & Paper game authors. ;-)

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Liquid Computer

Sadly, I didn’t get much done last week. Over the weekend, however, I went to visit family and the long road trip gave me some time to think about the new supplement. Actually, the Wife kept asking “Are you listening to me?”, but thankfully I was able to drown that out.

I’ve mentioned how the Dahl accumulate knowledge and store the info in a liquid computer called the Pool of Memory. The question remained: how do the Dahl accomplish this and how do they “upload” it into the pool?

In the Basic Rules book, there’s a practice adventure about a monastery where a group of Dahl live and perfect their psionics. During my car trip, I started building on that idea and came up with another monastery of “mind monks” who go about collecting news from across the Imperium. They are divided into two groups: scribes and seers. The scribes spend their time using a form of astral projection to visit other worlds, learning about whatever is happening on that planet at that time. At the end of the day, the scribes visit the Pool of Memory where they begin chanting (think Gregorian Chants). Using their voices (and telepathy), they “record” data onto the surface of the water (think ripples) that then becomes part of the collective knowledge stored there. The pool serves as the home of the Oracle, a water nymph that acts as the computer’s main interface. Whenever the Dahl need guidance, the group of monks called the seers, go to the pool and ask advice from the Oracle.

Interestingly, I did a Google search last night about liquid computers and in fact they do exist (at least in the experimental stages). It’s not exactly what I had in mind, but basically it’s a bunch of designer molecules (with atoms that turn on and off, creating ones and zeros) dissolved in a solvent. Of course, the Pool of Memory is more about storage than computing power, but at least today’s research suggests that my idea isn’t completely beyond the realm of possibility. And isn’t that what Sci-Fi is all about??

Btw, here’s the Dahl national flag and their home planet, Gwlad Ard'un:

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Outpost Alpha on Sale

Outpost Alpha, my new 2D terrain supplement, is now available to buy. It allows GMs to quickly (and cheaply) create rooms and corridors; perfect for most sci-fi “dungeon crawls.” Outpost Alpha can be used with my 3D miniatures, including the next batch I plan to release in a month or two.

Meanwhile, I’ve been writing about the Magna home world in my new sourcebook Pool of Memory. Called Diavol (Romanian for devil), the home planet of Imperium’s enemy is a volcanic hell world with vast tracks of land covered in free flowing lava. Since the Magna, with their horns and reddish eyes, are demonic-looking, I wanted to carry on that theme throughout my design of their home world.

I also talk about the Magna caste system. I started by using the traditional Indian castes as a guide, and then changed things around a bit. In the Indian system, for example, the Kshatriyas (warriors) are second to the Brahmins (teachers and scholars). In the Magna system, the warrior caste (Regatul) is first while the teachers (Preda caste) are relegated to the bottom (since they don’t “contribute” to society according to Magna values). Of course, those who reject the caste system (or run afoul of the government) are exiled from their social group, becoming Outcasts. In my graphic novel Alexander the Prince, the character Maal-Bok was an example of this.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Scent of Decay Now Available!

Scent of Decay, my first adventure module for the Imperium Chronicles, is now available. It took a little longer than I had hoped, but I’m happy with how it came out.

Sorry it’s been so long since my last blog post. Besides putting the finishing touches on the module, I’ve been working on my next project, a supplement I’m tentatively calling Pool of Memory. It’s a source book for my game featuring lore for the six non-Human races. The name comes from part of the lore I’ve written so far. Basically, the Dahl, who specialize in chronicling all knowledge in the universe, store this information in a “liquid” computer called the Pool of Memory. A water nymph called the Oracle rises from the pool and acts as an interface to the computer. I like this because it mixes fantasy and sci-fi, which has been my goal for the Imperium Chronicles since the beginning.

I’ve also been creating maps and flags for the home worlds of the six non-Human races. I’ve been fascinated with heraldry and different flags, so I’ve really had a blast making the flags for each race. The one below is for the Gordians. I picture them as hard drinking Scotsmen who swear a lot and have poor personal hygiene (FYI: I’m part Scot). For the flag, however, I was having a lot of trouble deciding how it should look. Then I came across the image of the Celtic Knot. This fit perfectly because the Gordians get their name from the Gordian Knot, due to their stubborn and often obnoxious behavior (which is probably why I like them so much). Anyway, I put the Celtic Knot in the middle of the flag and gave it a Celtic border around the edges. I also used the color gray because their home world is called Grarfell (Old Norse for Gray Mountain).

Friday, June 12, 2009

Dark Psi

Scent of Decay is now with the Editor who, with a Mai Tai (with a little paper umbrella) in hand, is sitting in our comfy chair scanning the pages for mistakes. She should be done soon enough, but I probably won’t publish the module until next week.

Meanwhile, I’ve been working on my next project which is currently untitled. It’s a source book with information about some of the playable races (and their home worlds). I’m also including weapon modifications (i.e. adding a grenade launcher to your blaster rifle) and some new psionics. The latter ties into what I plan to write about the Dahls, namely an off-shoot group called the Forgotten. Basically, the Dahls are a mostly non-violent, studious people who chronicle everything that goes on so it can be remembered forever. Ironically, the so-called Forgotten are Dahls who’ve turned away from that lifestyle, preferring to seek fame and fortune in any way possible. This has led them to research a new form of psionics called “Dark Psi.”

Dark Psi are psionics with a more sinister nature than the kind introduced in the Basic Rules. For the new source book I’ve created over a dozen psionics in two basic varieties: disease and biomorphism. The first kind revolves around Necromancy spells typical in many fantasy games. These include psionics that require the victim to make a DISEASE resistance roll to avoid damage. The other kind allows the caster to mutate his body at the molecular level, changing his hands for example into animal claws or making his skin as hard as stone.

Again, I don’t have a name yet for the new source book and I’m not even sure what it’ll include, but I have about 3-4 months before I plan to release it so hopefully I’ll come up with something by then. ;-)

Monday, June 01, 2009

Outpost Alpha

As it stands now, Scent of Decay is about 90-95% done. I’ve got a little more writing to do before I can hand it over to the Editor (aka Mrs. Big Shot). Today I worked on the cover art as you can see here:

I also wanted to update everyone on the other projects I’ve been working on (all paper miniatures related), including one I haven’t mentioned yet:
  • Landscapes. This is on hold for now. I wasn’t happy with how it was coming out and I’m not even sure it’s a viable product to sell. I’ll revisit it sometime later, after I’ve thought about what I want to do with it (if anything).
  • Cardboard Citizens II. This is still in progress. I looked at what I’d done already and realized I’m going to need a lot more renders before I’m satisfied with it. Each render takes quite a while and I need a lot of them, so it’s going to take me awhile to finish apparently. I’m really trying to improve the quality of each render over what I accomplished with Citizens I.
  • Outpost Alpha. This is a new product I started only a few days ago, but it’s nearly done already. It’s a 2D product (unlike Dark Corridors I & II) that’ll have flat “building blocks” of rooms and hallways. You can combine the different blocks to form large complexes for use with your miniatures. Here’s a low rez example:

Friday, May 29, 2009

New Website Design

The People (God bless ‘em) have spoken and they’ve said the logo without the crests is the best. When Scent of Decay is ready to go, it’ll have the new logo on the front cover. It’ll also have a new header to replace the “cluster of arrows” design. As I mentioned in a previous blog, the arrows were too much like the one used by Franco fascists, so obviously I’d like to avoid the connection. ;-) The new one has five stars instead of arrows (see the logo on this blog). I can only guess what neo-nazi group probably uses that on their flag . . .

Using the new cover logo, I also tried messing around with a redesign of the Imperium website. Eventually, however, I decided that the logo took up too much screen space so I went with a flatter version. In fact, I published the new site yesterday and I’m happy with the results. The starry background and the new artwork on the main page give the site a more “sci-fi” feel. However, the new design broke the story pages (Alexander the Prince and Magnus Black). I spent a large chunk of today trying to fix it. For the most part, everything is fine now.

Part of the reason I’ve been working on the website is because I was procrastinating on Scent of Decay. I was at the part when the characters first meet the Nanomancer and he gives a little speech. It’s the classic Nemesis monologue, though it’s pretty brief. I’ve been struggling with it for a few days because I couldn’t think what he would say. Is it possible I’m not evil enough? (The Wife says “No.”) Anyway, eventually I jotted down something which I think will work. Hopefully it’s not too cheesy, because that’s certainly my strong point.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Enter the Nanomancer!

I’ve been chugging away at Scent of Decay (oh, I rhymed!) this week, including a rewrite of the climax. I think the new one is more dramatic and introduces a nemesis character that I hope players will enjoy. I haven’t written too much about this on the blog because I didn’t want to give anything away. However, I’m about to change that:

Spoiler Alert!!

The climax of the module revolves around Jon Fletcher (a brilliant scientist) and his work on self-replicating nanos. He’s been doing secret experiments to reanimate dead bodies using nanites to effectively take over for the corpse’s failed systems (brain, lungs, and heart, etc.). When Fletcher’s fiancée dies, he has her body stolen so he can try to bring her back to life. After injecting her with the nanos, he makes the mistake of kissing her on the lips which then transfers some of the nanos into his own system. The nanites then start self-replicating and eventually take over his body (since the little machines don’t realize Fletcher isn’t a corpse). At this point, Fletcher ceases to exist; replaced by a new being calling itself the Nanomancer. This new creature inherits all of the ambitions and intellect of Jon Fletcher, along with several million nanos surging through its body. Most of all, the Nanomancer wants to survive and, like any self-respecting self-aware entity, it thinks that taking over the world is a good place to start. Obviously the players will have to stop this from happening, and prevent their characters from getting infected with nanos in the process.

So, in a nutshell, that’s what I’ve been working on lately with the new module. I think it’s coming together pretty well so far. Btw, here’s a picture I did of both Barbara Bennett after being re-animated, and Jon Fletcher after he turned into the Nanomancer:

Friday, May 15, 2009

New Logo Designs

It’s funny how much writing I got done on Scent of Decay in the first few weeks of working on it, and how little writing I’ve done over the last couple of weeks. On the bright side I’ve gotten several sections done recently so at least I’m making progress. Scent of Decay is now over 20 pages and will probably reach almost 30 by the time I’m done.

While I was working on the adventure module, I’ve also had a couple of side projects going. One is called Landscapes and it’s basically another paper miniatures product: this time 3D terrain. I’ve also worked on what I’m calling Paper Citizens II: Friends and Foes. Along with the 3-sided miniatures included in the original Paper Citizens supplement, I’m including A-frame and tokens in the new one. The tokens are probably my favorite because I can zoom in a little more on the image to give greater detail.

Perhaps most exciting (at least for me) is a new logo I’ve been designing. Originally, I created the first Imperium Chronicles logo to be simple and, dare I say, “elegant.” Well, I achieved the former but not the latter, so I’ve been trying to design a new one that looks better. A few days ago inspiration took hold and I created a round logo with the crests of the five families on it. After some feedback, however, I designed a second version without the crests. Not knowing which version would be more popular, I posted both on an RPG forum and put it to a vote. So far, the non-crest version seems to be winning, but we’ll see over the next few days how the vote goes (hopefully without the need for a re-count). Here are the two versions (click for a larger view):

Monday, May 04, 2009

Zombies & Nanos & Ghuls, Oh My!

Seriously, how has it been another week already?? I feel bad that I haven’t updated my blog more, but then I’m also updating the Facebook fan page so that’s something. Btw, if you haven’t joined it yet, please click on the Facebook icon on the right and join the Imperium Chronicles fan page. It’s hard to explain how much I appreciate people showing an interest in my game. It really helps keep me motivated. Also, the Wife has a cattle prod . . .

Besides writing, I’ve been busy with more renders. Below are two logos: one for the SuTech Corporation and the other for the Dancing Jackal nightclub (click to get the bigger image). The first one turned out well, but I’m still on the fence about the Dancing Jackal. It’s supposed to be for a nightclub so it had to be a bit more “frilly” that I’d prefer. To me it looks too much like a gay bar (not that there’s anything wrong with it).

I also did these two Ghul images. The one on the left was my first attempt, but ultimately I decided not to use it. The arm and hand look odd, although I thought the face came out well (especially the teeth). I decided to use the second render instead. It’s a different model and texture than the first attempt and I think it’s a lot of more successful.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Basic Rules Version 1.1

Over the weekend I released version 1.1 of the Basic Rules. I’ve been trying to increase sales lately and I thought this might help. Basically the new version features material from the Imperium Grab Bag, including religions, new factions, and trade maps. Perhaps more importantly, I’ve also changed how players generate their character’s starting attributes. Originally, each character had a set of attribute values based on their race. I’ve now changed it so players roll for attributes and then get race-based modifiers. This will give players more flexibility when creating characters and it’s more in line with how other games do this.

I’ve also been trying to increase the number of fans on the game’s Facebook page. The Facebook site is nice because I can keep fans updated on the game more often than this blog, and I can also reward fans with special coupon codes. Overall, I’d like to build up the Imperium player community if I can.

Today I’ve been working on Scent of Decay. I’ve started the descriptions of several locations and the action that takes place there. While doing so, I’ve also been thinking about new skills (like Investigation) that are currently not in the game. I will likely add those ideas into the Basic Rules later on.

Here’s a new image I put in version 1.1 of a Fire Monk. I’ve been trying to add better artwork for a while now since I know people like “eye candy.” I thought about just putting in photos of me in a bathing suit, but the Wife once again said “No.”

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Little Miss Sunshine

After writing the secondary plot last week (featuring Barbara Bennett), this week I wrote her actual character bio. Like her fiancé Jon Fletcher, Barbara is a tragic figure who suffers a loss and then tries to fill the void with terrible results. She’s an aristocrat, so (in the Imperium universe) she has it all: money, prestige, and probably a robot to say how pretty she looks every morning. However, after spending too many nights at clubs and carousing with the wrong people, she’s introduced to a new drug called Sunshine. The drug offers ultimate euphoria, but then a deep depression after it wears off. Oh, and it’s also highly addictive. In a way, it’s kind of a morality tale, which is often the case in these kinds of stories. Eventually, the drug causes a brain hemorrhage, which nicely explains her cause of death.

The guy who gives Barbara the drugs is a Vogar named Rex Kazak. Of course, Rex comes from the typical name for a dog (since he’s from the canine race). I got his last name, however, from a dog featured in a Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. novel called Sirens of Titan. Besides the reference to the book, I think it has a nice ring to it.

Btw, I also did three new maps this week: the Ghul tunnels, a warehouse, and a secret laboratory. Maps are kind of boring to show on a blog so I’ll just include two other images: Jon Fletcher (sans facial hair) and Rex Kazak’s mug shot. I thought about including a photo of Barbara Bennett getting out of a limo without wearing any underwear, but the Wife said “No.”

Monday, April 13, 2009

SuTech the Destroyer!

Per Matt’s suggestion over at the Dwarf and the Basilisk, I did a new render of Jon Fletcher (one of the main characters in Scent of Decay) to make him look less sinister (and more cute and cuddly). I also did a render of Barbara Bennett (see below), and the SuTech office building. The latter is a corporation specializing in nano technology, and Jon Fletcher’s employer. The word SuTech is a play on the name Sutekh, which is the god of chaos in ancient Egyptian mythology. Sutekh was also featured in one of my all-time favorite Dr. Who episodes, Pyramids of Mars.

I sent Matt a copy of the Scent of Decay synopsis over the weekend and he suggested that I add some additional plot structure to act as a red herring for players. Unfortunately, this got my mind racing, which ultimately left me awake until 2 AM last night. D’oh! Eventually, I came up with a side plot that explains why Barbara had the brain hemorrhage that killed her. It involves a Vogar drug cartel called Cerberus and a fashionable nightclub called the Dancing Jackal. Keen-eyed readers of my posting from April 5th may’ve noticed that the mortician looks like Anubis, the jackal-headed guardian of the dead. Just a hint: every successful drug cartel needs someone who can get rid of a body without raising suspicions . . .

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter Sale!

For the month of April I’m running an Easter sale! Click HERE to get a coupon code to buy the Imperium Chronicles Basic Rules for a whopping 50% off! Yaaaah! Woot!!

Okay, too much coffee . . .

Yesterday I defeated my nemesis, Captain Writer’s Block, and wrote the full synopsis for Scent of Decay. This was a good start for the module since it gives a thorough outline of how the adventure is supposed to pan out. On the other hand, I’m writing the rest of the module in a more asymmetrical way since I know players don’t usually like to follow a plot from A to B to C. They have a nasty habit of going to C first and then getting some Starbucks in between. Darn you, Players!

Special thanks to Matt over at Dwarf and the Basilisk for writing a review of Monster Menagerie. I appreciate his kind words of support. If you don’t normally read his blog, you should bookmark it. He always has something interesting to say (unlike me).

Sunday, April 05, 2009

City of the Dead

Monster Menagerie is now on sale! The money and accolades are now pouring in (mostly from my Mother). I’ve also uploaded the newest version of the Basic Rules (1.0.2), which includes new artwork and some minor typo corrections. I’m doing my best to improve the game as I go along, so hopefully people will appreciate that.

Speaking of which, I’ve also started writing my new adventure module, Scent of Decay. I’ve also rendered some new pictures (see below). The first one is of a Vogar who works as the mortician where Barbara Bennett’s body disappeared. I used a Vogar (the canine race) because Anubis, the Egyptian guardian of the Dead, has the head of a jackal (dog). The second image is a crypt. Notice the door is slightly ajar . . .

Speaking of Egypt, the city where all the action takes place is called El’Arafa. This is named after an actual place in Egypt called the City of the Dead or just “the cemetery.” I’ve already started on the city map for El’Arafa. Just like the map of Regalis in the Basic Rules, I took the map of a real city and then flipped it to make it less recognizable. In the case of El’Arafa, I used the city of Paris. For Dr. Who fans, you may remember the story called City of Death which takes place in, you guessed it, Paris! I thought this would be a cool reference, even if most people wouldn’t get it. Just one of the many things I do to amuse myself . . .

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Scent of Decay

Besides putting the final touches on Monster Menagerie, I’ve been doing research for the next supplement, an adventure module called Scent of Decay. It has a very Lovecraft/Night Gallery feel to it, combining both horror and science fiction. Without ruining the surprise, it includes zombies, but with a sci-fi twist. It’s actually a concept I’ve thought about for many years, but this is the first time I’ve gotten a chance to actually use it.

The adventure revolves around a missing fiancée, or to be more exact, her dead body. Her father (a retired admiral) and her fiancé (a talented scientist) hire the characters to find her and bring the body snatchers to justice. In the process, the players will discover that the fiancée was not the only cadaver stolen, which leads to an even deeper mystery.

Yesterday and today I did a couple renders for the father and fiancé (see below). The father was especially tricky because my usual “sketch” style of art didn’t work very well since it made his wrinkles disappear (making him look younger than I wanted). So, I had to resort to some photoshop tricks, which I’m not entirely happy with. On the other hand, I think the fiancé came out pretty well. He’s an egotistical scientist who thinks he’s god’s gift to the universe (much like myself).

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's All Downhill From Here . . .

As some of you know, I turned 40 over the weekend. Now that I’m officially over the hill, it’s occurred to me how few naps I have left in my life. This has left me both sad and somewhat sleepy.

I didn’t take my birthday off from working on my game, however. In fact, I spent much of the day working on a cover image for the Basic Rules. The current cover doesn’t have any artwork except the Imperium Chronicles logo. I originally wanted it that way to have a clean and simplified look. After doing other products, each with cover art, I’ve decided that the Basic Rules needed something too. So, on Saturday, after a couple of hours of frustration, cursing, and laying under my desk in a fetal position, I came up with the picture below. It’s somewhat generic, but I’m happy with it (because I’m a generic kind of guy).

As for today, I created a new render of the Akiak race for the Introduction of the Basic Rules. The one I had before used a Tiger image, but I wasn’t pleased with how it looked. For one thing, he was naked and nobody wants to see a naked Akiak running around. So yesterday I downloaded some clothes for the model I’m using. I chose some clothes that had an Egyptian theme because the ancient Egyptians worshipped cats so I thought that was apropos. Anyway, the second image shows what it looks like. I think it’s an improvement over the Tiger one.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Watching the Watchmen

The Wife and I went to see Watchmen Monday afternoon. It had a lot more graphic violence and nudity than the original comic, so in other words, it was totally AWSOME. If you haven’t read the comic, I think the movie might be confusing for some. It’s possibly the most complex superhero movie I’ve ever seen, but I think necessarily so due to the subject matter. Btw, the Wife liked it too, even better than Mamma Mia!

Besides working on Monster Menagerie, I’ve been upgrading some of the images in the Basic Rules. I totally redid the artwork (except for crests) in the Introduction, including the playable races. Frankly, my artistic abilities are limited, but I’ve definitely improved since the Basic Rules first came out. I really like doing renders, even though I realize it’s merely a superficial part of the book.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

That's One Ugly Muse

Since it’s unseasonably warm today, shirts are now optional here at the Imperium Headquarters. Pants, however, are still required, especially among the editing staff (AKA the Wife).

I finally got an image for the cover (see below). I’ve been trying to come up with something for a while, but it wasn’t until I downloaded a new 3d model that I found my muse. In this case, my muse is a six-eyed monster with big teeth and a long tongue. The original render I did for the creature came out so well that I decided to do one for the cover too. It took several tries before I was happy, but the end product looks pretty good (at least to me).

Now that I’m getting closer to finishing Monster Menagerie, I also have a better idea of which areas need additional images. These are the white spaces at the end of sections, etc., that would look too empty if left alone. So, I’ve been trying different ideas over the last couple of days. Most of them sucked, leaving me in a deep funk. However, after a false start today, I came up with one that’s kick-ass. It features two reptiles with the image of a dragon behind them (see below).

Just as an update, I need another seven monsters before I’m done with the General Creatures section. That leaves just the New Abilities section left to finish, so I’m right on schedule.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Gelatinous Bob

I finished the NPC section of Monster Menagerie yesterday. It features five new NPCs, including a new character named Gelatinous Bob. I like Bob because he’s my homage to Jabba the Hutt, and he has a belly larger than mine (which is nice). As you can see from the render below, Bob’s a cross between a toad and god knows what else, with a little Buddha thrown in. He’s officially a bail bondsman, but he’s really a loan shark who lends money from “Bob’s Bank.” That last part is a reference to a Steve Martin routine I heard many, many years ago (although I could be remembering it wrong in which case it’s a reference to nothing at all).

I’m very happy with how Bob’s render came out. I actually did at least three separate renders, but the lighting looked all wrong. I then realized I could remove the roof of the dojo prop I was using, which made all the difference in the world. You can actually see the shadows from the rafters in the image below (after the roof was removed and the light could shine in). I enjoy using shadows a lot, perhaps due to the darkness recesses of my mind . . .

So, now that the NPC section is done, that leaves the Minor Races section (which is about 90% done) and the Creatures and New Skills/Ability sections (50% and 25% done respectively). It’s important that I try publishing new stuff every 2-3 months so I can maintain visibility (and continue earning income). If things continue the way they are now, Menagerie should “hit the shelves” in another month.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Damn You, Dweezil!

I’ve added four of the five minor races to Monster Menagerie over the last few days, including the Tor and Klixians from the Destination: Rochan sourcebook. I have no plans to go back to writing the sourcebook, actually, but I will use those materials elsewhere. In fact, all of the creatures and races from Destination: Rochan are going into Menagerie. As for the Tor and the Klixians, I’ve changed them a little from the sourcebook. The Klixians, for example, are now a xenophobic race of anal retentive insects bent on purifying the universe of all those other “filthy” races -- beware of an insectoid carrying a dust pan and a plasma rifle.

By the way, I’ve also decided to change the name of the Drazil (the “Lizardmen”). I never liked the name in the first place, perhaps because it reminded me too much of Dweezil Zappa. So, I played around with the letters (which spell out Lizard) and came up with Z’radil, which I like better. Also, you can tell it’s an alien race because of the apostrophe. ;-)

So I got a very nice email from a customer. He was having trouble using a coupon I sent out (due to my stupidity), so I sent him a new coupon that would actually work. He replied that “It is certainly uncommon in this day and age to receive such a high degree of attentiveness over something that most people would consider a trivial.” This really made me feel good, because, believe it or not, I don’t get a lot of feedback from my customer base. I really work hard to create quality products for people, so it’s nice to hear back from them from time to time.

Anyway, here are two new renders of the Tor (included in the new supplement) for viewing enjoyment:

Monday, February 16, 2009

Friday the 13th Sux

I hope everybody had a good Valentine’s Day. I gave the Wife a blue Ninja bobblehead (which may or may not be a colorful euphemism). The rest of the weekend, however, was nothing but an exercise in frustration, starting with Friday the 13th [insert ominous music here]. Basically, I was having a lot of trouble with Poser crashing or freezing up. Friday, I only got two renders done, and the second one (see female below) took me most of the day. I couldn’t get the textures to work first, and then once I got that done, Poser froze up. It took until the evening before I got an image I could use.

Then, on Sunday, I got some work done in Word, which was fine, but when I tried to do more renders, Poser crapped up again. To add insult to injury, this afternoon, I checked that final render and realized I had stupidly done it at the wrong resolution, so I had to do it yet AGAIN. Gaarrrrrr . . .

So, I did what any normal person would do: I went back to bed.

However, after getting up, I redid the render (which I’m calling Captain Ramsey) and it seemed to work okay. I’m just hoping the rest of the week won’t suck as much as the last few days.

Anyway, the following renders are 1) Magnus Black and 2) Sylvia Flax (both appeared in my Magnus Black short story). And 3) Captain Ramsey, who appeared in the Prologue of my graphic novel Alexander the Prince. All three will be featured as NPCs in the Monster Menagerie supplement:

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Blood Prince

Since Deck Plans went live on Friday, I’ve been very happy with the sales so far. It looks to me that even people who haven’t bought the Basic Rules are buying the supplement. I guess the sample deck plans I included are generic enough that people can use them in whatever sci-fi campaign they’re running. With that in mind, I sent an email to everybody who tried my free Imperium Grab Bag and told them about the new supplement. I’m hoping some of them will want to buy it.

The first image below is the render I did this morning. It’s one of the Drazil (or “Lizardmen”), a reptilian minor race. They work as mercenaries for crime syndicates and megacorporations. They have a bad reputation, especially for their habit of eating parts of a prisoner while interrogating him. As for the render, I’m fairly happy with how it came out, although the Wife didn’t like it as much (“Go do your own renders, Lady!”).

The other render is the Dökk boss, which I’m calling a Blood Prince. Each group of Dökk is called a Brood, and each brood is led by a Blood Prince. I did three different renders of the prince before I got one that I liked. The finished render has a definite Dracula vibe, though the Dökk are not actually vampires. Blood sucking is more of a hobby . . .