Wednesday 24 June 2015

State of the Press June 2015

Summer has arrived somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere and we're past the Summer Solstice, though instead of referencing a pastime involving stately seating I shalt delve into how things are with Utherwald this month.

Fabled Environments Adventure

First up is the news that an adventure written for Fabled Environments has now been released and is called Voyage of the Sky Maiden.

It involves a heist onboard an airship and is setting generic, perfect as a one-shot or convention game.

Frozen Skies Survey

Posted on the Pinnacle forums is a Frozen Skies survey, chiefly to get people's thoughts on certain aspects of the setting, etc.

I cannot overstate how useful and important people's responses are, especially since the feedback will help shape Frozen Skies and effect the setting's development. So please read through and post your thoughts.

Upcoming Products

Hoping to have a good chunk of Frozen Skies' artwork done over the summer, the artist is currently on holiday and so its a case of sorting out the various odds and ends involved with producing a book. If the current funding keeps up then I probably won't go the crowdfunding route, though I still can't commit to a release date yet.

The Frozen Skies primer is still an option, people's feedback have been that they prefer fluff over mechanics and so the primer will be a basic guide to the setting.

More adventures are planned, The Lost Sodkan Mine is in the works and there is the possibility of another adventure for Fabled Environments.

Watch this space.

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Highway to Hell

So finally got the chance to see Mad Max: Fury Road.

It rekindled an idea I had for a convoy system for the Realms of Darmonica setting (of which Frozen Skies is part of), though its always taken a backseat to Frozen Skies. Some of the adventures I envision taking place in the world of Darmonica I view as the players being part of an outfit with a vehicle, either an aircraft or some sort of ground vehicle. Both generally will have the same format with pilot/driver, mechanic and dedicated gunners/fighters for defence. There is the optional support staff like the moneyman, etc whilst ground based outfits lean more towards being convoys with dedicated scouts, navigators, possibly even a commander who's in charge and perhaps a radioman.

Now the mechanics for a convoy system are more likely to be included in a general Realms of Darmonica core book, Frozen Skies is really more of a region guide/supplement and has a different scope. Thats not to say that convoys won't work in Alyeska, after all aircraft can only carry so much and railways are rather thin on the ground. Convoys could also work wonders for expeditions, or a relief column as part of a military game set in the Wulflands for example.

The Mule works, though more vehicles are going to be required and I do envision 'rigs' which are effectively a road train. Each trailer of the rig (chiefly when travelling through dangerous areas) are likely to have what are basically turrets or gun positions, either a fixed machine gun or firing point for a rifleman. Again convoy rules and the extra vehicles are unlikely to be in Frozen Skies, though if you wish to do a convoy based game then use the Mule, trucks from Deadlands Noir and the Semi in the Savage Worlds Deluxe rulebook (though limit it to three trailers each with a single 'turret').

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Buried In Snow & Ice - TAKE TWO! (UK Games Expo Edition)

At this year's UK Games Expo I ran the Lost Sodkan Mine adventure thats currently in the works, though featured a number of tweaks since I last ran it.

In the run-up to UKGE it was fully booked with all six places filled, even met a few of the players beforehand. However on the night only three of the players turned up, no idea what happened to the other players even though I did meet one of them whilst trading on the Friday. Regardless we soon settled on characters (I'd completely stat up a few characters), ending up with.

Talon - Marksman
Kate - Mechanic
Stella - Sneak

With no pilot we went with the group being a ground based outfit with a Mule Tracked Cargo Carrier, but no other real change. After a quick rundown of the setting we started with the party being deputized by the Royal Alyeskan Air Police, a number of remote settlements had been attacked by 'heavily armoured men' whom seemingly had no form of transport. The last settlement to report being under attack was the remote mining outpost of Prospector's Reach who radioed a distress call a couple of days previously but hasn't been heard from since.

After asking a few questions the party set off in the Mule, taking a few hours to cross the snowfields before spotting a column of smoke on the horizon in the direction of their destination. They found a low ridge to observe the town from, noticing signs of battle and an explosion in the area of the mine. Leaving Kate with the Mule, Stella sneaked into town to do some recon whilst Talon found a vantage point and settled down with his rifle. Quick search later Stella found where the surviving miners had holed up, fetching Kate to speak with the miners who confirmed that the mysterious raiders had indeed attacked them. The raiders were only interested in machinery and mechanical parts, at least until some of the miners attacked them at which point the raiders defended themselves. The miners lured the raiders into a trap that involved blowing up their store of explosives which explained the damage.

Promising to get some help the party searched round the town finding pieces of the raiders scattered around by the explosion and tracks leading to the north. Talon checked out the tracks whilst the others investigated the raider parts, some distance out of town Talon noticed tracks leading off from the main group and opted to follow them. Eventually he spotted one of the raiders, though seemingly staggering along, and took aim with his rifle. It took a few shoots before the raider was finally felled, Kate and Stella arrived just in time to see Talon land his telling blow on the raider. Kate then checked out the raider, finding that it was actually an automaton rather than a person. Further investigation they found that the power source appeared to be a strange crystal in the heart of the automaton's torso, plus some Sodkan writing.

With the mystery deepening the party retraced the main group of tracks and followed them northwards eventually hitting the coast and the frozen sea beyond. They did manage to spy an island a few miles offshore, but opted to leave the Mule and proceed on foot as they were uncertain about the ice. As they got closer to the island they were able to make out some sort of settlement or work camp, though there was an air of abandonment around it. Exploring the island they found signs of a skirmish, a transport plane that had been recently and partially dismantled as well as a building that had been fortified and was currently occupied. Stella went for a closer look and found that the building contained Sodkan soldiers and an officer who was in a foul mood, though the party elected to leave them alone for the time being.

Further exploration revealed the automaton tracks leading into a mine where there was more signs of combat, but the mine entrance was empty and the tracks led to a lift. With no other route to take the party took the lift down to the lower level of the mine, arriving in a large cavern with a number of tunnels that branched off. Taking the largest tunnel which had signs of recent work, the party had to duck into a side tunnel as a pair of automatons came marching by. Advancing further onwards they found another much larger cavern with large machines and production lines building even more automatons...lots more automatons.

Deciding that they'd completed their mission they elected to make a tactical withdrawal but found the two automatons from earlier unloading stuff from the lift, so the party made a distraction down a tunnel with some dynamite and made for the lift when the automatons went to investigate. Back topside the party set up more explosives to destroy the lift and mine entrance, though they were disturbed by the Sodkan soldiers. The party ended up hastily departing the island as the mine entrance was blown sky high and the Sodkans took potshots at them, though Talon's return fire proved effective.

Arriving back at Prospector's Reach they were able to contact the Air Police who duly sent out help and the party's reward, thus the adventure came to an end. 

Wednesday 3 June 2015

UKGE 2015 After Action Report

Now that 1d20 levels of sleep have finally been recovered tis time to duly file an After Action Report for this year's UK Games Expo.

Travelling down on the Thursday proved to be rather...interesting since a crash on the A14 near Cambridge closed that road which meant the coach driver having to take a detour, also some forgotten roadwork signs on the A11 caused that road to bottleneck for no reason resulting in the coach being an hour and a half late when it finally got to Birmingham. Some confusion at New Street station meant we barely caught our train to Birmingham International, where upon arrival we discovered our hotel was on the other side of the airport...not exactly useful.

With the Hilton Hotel only a short walk away we opted to setup our stand to lighten our luggage and went for dinner at Frankie & Bennie's in the airport, probably our most expensive meal during the entire weekend. Luckily the airport had a customer service desk of a sort who very helpfully told us that there was a local bus service that ran past our hotel, one that not only ran regularly but also did so almost 24/7. Dash outside and caught one of these buses, which unusually only accepted exact fare but the driver couldn't have been more helpful and even dropped us right outside our hotel despite the bus stop being a short distance. So Thursday evening we finally got the chance to put our feet up after checking in and getting our room.

On Friday the trade hall didn't open to the general public until 2pm but the press had free range from about midday, during this quiet period I took the opportunity to grab some Savage Worlds loot in the form of the Horror Companion, Day After Ragnarok and the GM screen. Friday proved to be the quietest out of all three days, me and Tori only sold a couple of things but I suspect next year Friday may prove to be busier. By contrast Saturday was the best day for sales, the copies of the Savage Worlds Deluxe rulebook pretty much sold themselves and I also managed to sell the postcard prints, some copies of Alyeskan Tales and the Firewater & Ice adventure. Sunday was sort of between the previous two days with regards to how busy it was, which was reflected by sales. But compared to Diceni at the start of May I made four times as much money and Tori sold some of her harder to shift stock.

The Frozen Skies game I ran Saturday night was really good even if only half of the players who'd signed up actually turned up to play. The adventure went better this time round compared to when I ran it at the UEA Gamessoc 24 Hour earlier in the years, the tweaks I made certainly improved it. Was dead chuffed to find that one of the players had worked on the D20 RPG Etherscope and was intrigued by the Frozen Skies setting, certainly had alot of interest and wish I was in a position to release it now but oh well. Tori's artwork was a hit, a few people suggested that it would be brilliant for a couple of games whilst a lass from a game company told Tori to get in contact with them.

Met loads of awesome people, including Matt McElroy who's the Publishing Director of DriveThru. Also attended a couple of seminars, something that I didn't do last year. Also looking ahead to 2016 and making plans, stuff that I'd do differently or possible stock to have on hand such as more Savage Worlds products. My only complaint is a lack of communication from the organisers, we turned up at our stand just after 9:30am on the Saturday and found the trade hall already swarming with people which meant we might've lost out on some sales. Least we did get told that the tarde halls would be opening early on Sunday, though it would've been nice to have known that it was also the case on Saturday.

Wearing costumes seemed to work as it drew some interest, though next year we're going to be making certain that we double check where the hotel is before we book it. Considering running a few games to qualify for a free room at the Hilton, but nothing's set in stone just yet.

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In Other News

Following a suggestion from Matt McElroy, the Firewater & Ice adventure is now listed as Pay What You Want. So you can grab it as a freebie or give some money to help Utherwald produce more products.

Also, looking at the possibility of changing Utherwald to Iceni Press. Mainly to create a stronger tie to Norfolk (Iceni was the name of a tribe native to the area during Roman times), easier to pronounce and also so that it would appear higher up in a list.

Thoughts would be most welcomed.