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.