Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Role of Party Leader ... AKA: Project Manager

Art by Phoenix O'Faery
You can learn more about Phoenix: Here
Who does what and when?  Your party leader should give guidance and direction to the party as a whole.  Direct support to keep people well and safe, make key decisions, keep party members whole when they falter, and be the one who keeps eyes on the goal.  In many ways, fantasy mirrors life regarding leadership.

Real life:

Leading and directing people to address real life activities is not particularly complicated.

Leaders blaze a trail for their people to follow.  They do things to show how they are done and keep doing things to help them get done.   When you are embarking on your own projects remember to be a leader.

Some people would argue, "Hey it is YOUR company." or  " YOU are the BOSS,  people do what you say". I will always respond with "that is lazy thinking, poor management, and counter-productive".

My model of operation runs like this:  Get in front and lead.  Do the thing, show how the thing is done, explain how the thing is done, and keep doing the thing while your people start doing the thing.
I repeat LEAD from the front.  Don't try to sit back and let others do all the work.  That is being LAZY, foolish, and won't get much accomplished.

Think about the generals of old who conquered empires.  The greatest of these lead from the front lines, and people followed.

So I am making every effort to lead from the front.  I get the work done I need to get done on the schedule I have. If I'm running behind in an area I am honest about it (with others and with myself too... that is important).  I listen to the people working with me and take their suggestions to heart.  I encourage my people, and help them through tough patches.

Leadership works.  People follow leaders and great things get done.

I was spending a lot of time on this line of thought as I ran headlong into a week where everyone had some problems.  Not just first world problems like missing a phone charger, but real problems. Sickness, day job trouble, ill family members and more all hit the art team over the last two weeks.

Leadership time. Consolation, affirmation, and no condemnation were the responses I provided.  My artists are all contractors/freelancers (which ever term you prefer), but I would be a poor example of professional planning/scheduling if I had not built in allowances for such things (which I did).  So stress was mitigated (in that I wasn't a cause for more of it) and people were able to be people.

When things like this happen and everyone is being affected, you should not push people to perform harder when you know they are already doing the best they can.  Quite the opposite actually.  You should slow the pace, allow your people the opportunity to help each other and lead them to do just that.  Don't leave anyone behind.

There is an old quote that resonates very deeply with me, "we all go home or none of us go home".
Here we have a variation on that, "we all finish together. No one gets left behind"

Some might counter with arguments to the effect of, "pushing for excellence builds excellent people" and other such arguments.  There is some truth in this but I am not arguing to coddle people because they are having an off day.  No, I am stating that compassion is called for when circumstances demand that while one of your people is tasked to capacity, and life is interfering, there is too much to do in the time allotted.

Example:  Child is sick and the parent needs to take care of child.  Rather this need is born of limited child care options, the severity of the ailment, or the disposition of the parent is irrelevant.  You have a need created, beyond the control of the parent, that needs to be addressed.  If you just let work build up for that person while they are away, that is not leadership.  You slow down and redistribute the immediate tasks.  Try it.  You will find that you have a higher quality of work performance, happier people working with you, and you will be more satisfied as a human being with how you are treating your fellow man.


Your party member who handles negotiations has just failed to dissuade the brigands/pirates/gang members (whichever) from pillaging the community.  You don't leave that party member to fight for his/her life and still task them with trying to calm the raging horde. No indeed!  You stand shoulder to shoulder and fight off the obstacle to your peace.  You win the day!  Together you build a tale of legend.

Not so different from real life, really.

Thanks for joining me on my ongoing adventure.  Please comment/share/follow as you like.
You can post questions in comments and I'll answer as I'm able (though I am only fluent in English).

I hope you will join me next time.😉

You can follow Sinopa Publishing on Facebook, and see new art produced for my products (I try to release  a bit of new art every week or two).

Sinopa Publishing LLC
Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/wsquinton/

Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday morning coffee

Art by  Brian Lee
You can learn more about Brian: HERE
Monday morning and my first deadlines are looming largely on the horizon.

For the first release, I am putting out a role-playing game adventure module.  It is long standing tradition, that such works contain art relevant to the adventure within.  This is useful as a visual aid for the game master as he or she narrates and adjudicates the game.

I am well and truly blessed to be working with gifted visual artists.  With all things artistic it can be difficult to make production of original pieces adhere to a schedule.

This is where I find myself this morning.  I am eagerly awaiting art from several people.  This is not a bad thing.  You may have noticed I used the word "eagerly" in my description.  I do so, because I have been enjoying the images produced. I confess to being impressed by what the artists have done.

So now it is Monday and usually I have art coming in on the weekends.  I am almost ready to confess myself as being spoiled. Getting new art in brings a feeling akin to opening a new comic book, or seeing the first trailer for a movie you are anxiously awaiting to see.  

I imagine that some of you are cringing and thinking, 'oh no! things are running late!'.  Let me assure you that is not the case.  I specifically built in extra time to iron out any rough points on art or writing.  I didn't want to find myself in a position where I was moving release dates.  I know I have always dreaded such news and I do NOT want to put that feeling on all of you who are awaiting our releases.

Monday morning, and I'm having coffee.  I took the weekend off.  I spent more time playing with the kids and watching movies with my wife.  I thought I needed a break and a moment to recharge.  It was a good idea.  I'm ready to leap back into the thick of it this week.  I expect to do a good deal of writing tonight and throughout the week.   I look forward to getting art in and to producing more write ups.  It is going to be great fun.

Don't let the beginning of the week bring you down.  I would like to suggest you not inhibit yourself by thinking such thoughts as "Oh no!  Monday is here. I can't wait until Friday!".  Don't do that to yourself.

Take the day in hand.  It is your time and your life.  Make the most of today whether it be a Monday workday, or a Saturday on vacation.  Take the day and make it your own.  Have a cup of coffee and a bite of breakfast. Enjoy the taste of both and take that little bit of joy with you throughout your day.

Thank you, dear reader, for joining me for coffee this morning, and accompanying me on my adventure.  

You can check out the Sinopa Publishing Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/wsquinton/

I haven't finished the web page yet.  I think that may be a project for April.

Friday, March 24, 2017

How I find time to write... it is easier than I thought it would be.

Another week in the books, and we get closer to release of our first books.

A few things for you to know, to put things in perspective and to help remind myself how to manage my time:

I have a great full time job.  My publishing company is something I spend a lot of time on, but it is time when my I'm at home, and my kids are playing or asleep.

Kids, I have many :-)

How am I managing time, to get writing done?  What about coordinating art?  Web design for the site?  Outlining future products?  Writing the children's books?  Working full time?

It is surprisingly not hard.

So my day:
0600 wake up and I know I'm on a tight time frame
0605 I've awakened my school age children and have them getting dressed while I'm in the kitchen hammering out the morning breakfast (whatever that may be)
0610 I've got things cooking so its time to brush out hair for small children
0620 breakfast needs to be on the table, and children at the table and eating (or else we're running late)
0645 breakfast is done and school age kids are sent to brush teeth
0655 put same children on school bus... at this point the first part of my day is done
0700 prepare for work while caring for youngest child (some days are harder than others)
0730 make breakfast for spouse, as she will be home from her job shortly
0745 plate spouse's breakfast, play with child
0750(ish) I'm on the road to work (thankfully less than 10 minutes away)

0800 to 1630 (sometimes 1730) work with great people and do interesting things
1700 I'm home again (unless I had to travel that day, but this is a more general chronology)
1720(ish) I'm making dinner and spouse is heading to take a nap (as she only slept while smallest child napped earlier)
1750 dinner
1810 rotate children through showers/baths
1845 hopefully all children bathed and in pjs... hopefully
1900 playing with child or multiple children or watching cartoons and hanging out with the little ones
2000 put kids to bed
2010 prepare spouse's lunch for her shift
2045 wake spouse for her shift
2100 spouse to work and I begin working on writing and related activities
2345 I sleep and get an amazing 6 hours

Its those 2.75 hours a night that gets things done.  Write on projects, messages with the artists, catching up on analysis of what is going on in the respective genres I've been working in (children's books, and role-playing games).  A lot happens in this time.

I will admit that there are some deviations in this schedule... but generally this my day during the week.  So with just short of 14 hours a week spent on writing and projects related to those books, a lot gets done. That said, it still feels like more writing could get done, but I'm working on it.

Thanks for reading! Now if you will excuse me, I have a schedule to keep.  More to come soon.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

On my mind: Some words on designing Psychic Powers for the Rose of Relange RPG

It is my intent to blog on this adventure of mine at least once each week.  This post is a bit ahead of that schedule, but I had some things I was working on, contemplating, and they happen to be about the game mechanics of ..... psychic abilities (as if the post title didn't give that away-ha).

So a bit of back story:
I have been playing table-top role-playing games since around 1990 or 1991... somewhere around there.
In all that time, I've played a number of games that implemented psychic powers or abilities to one degree or another.  Some of these games were much more successful than others at making psychic abilities fun to play, and uniquely useful.  So now, as I work on building out game mechanics and checking for holes, I'm spending a good amount of time working out psychic abilities and rules.

"What do they do and how is it different from magic?"  That question is a big stepping stone on the work path.  A dear friend asked this of me and I have to admit, it forced me to take a deeper look.

The short answer, and one that I'll work on refining the wording of later, is that magic is a way of manipulating the world/matter/energy that is all about you using your own magical talent and those magical elements within your environment.  Psychic powers come solely from the mind and those energies from the psychic exert influence on the environment.  So magic comes from all of nature, whereas psychic abilities come solely from the minds of psychic capable people.

This theme makes it way into the game mechanics where magical might and psychic might are separate special attributes.  They are advanced separately.  The powers and abilities, what you can do with either are rarely overlapping.  So powers need to be varied, have a distinct "feel" to the play experience, and contribute to character capability in unique ways.  As a new game designer, I confess it is a daunting task.

You can always say "we have psychic powers in our game!", then put in some powers that do some things in the game and go away honest.  But the point of the game should be to have fun playing with your friends, and so the things you do should be fun too.  So for the sanctity of the game, the design has to incorporate something more than just a token assortment of abilities.  The game needs to have a sort of logical consistency, have it's fantasy elements thrive, and afford the players the opportunity to engage in different types of role-play.

So what have I come up with for psychic powers and abilities?  What will it do for my character when I play this little indie game of yours?

Without giving away too much....

Psychic abilities come in a variety of  types and characters can advance and enhance them.  You can have characters that have telekinetic abilities, pyrokinesis abilities, and other flashy powers in that vein, but you can also have characters who have precognitive powers, extra-sensory or enhanced sensory abilities, and others.  Each of which brings a different type of capability to the table.

So I've been drawing up a selection of powers, defining game mechanic effects, looking at how it meshes with other game mechanics and working to make it flow smoothly.  I've been drawing inspiration from myths/legends, modern folklore, movies, novels, and speculation /research of modern parapsychologists... its a lot of reading/skimming and math, really.

As I draw these abilities up I am contemplating the various character concepts people might use these powers with.  A classical martial artist who has awakened her/his mental abilities.  A tribal shaman whose spirit quests have awakened primitive portions of her/his mind and enhanced the character's perceptions.  Exorcists who "see" demons, and many other concepts have crossed my mind (no pun intended).  Also contemplating that some players may just pick up a bit of psychic powers to supplement their main them, and that is completely cool by me.

By way of example, one power I've been working with is of the precognitive sort.  It affords the character an intuitive sense, foretelling the immediate threats to the character on an instinct level.  Touching upon the fight/flight reflex and enhancing the character's response capabilities in dangerous situations.  Game mechanics enable the character to more aptly avoid being injured in direct combat by enhancing the character's defensive abilities.

So there you are... not a flashy, publication ready description, but a meaningful scribble to me describing what I'm working to achieve with the power's affect on game play.

It has made for a lot on my mind.

I want to thank you for reading about my real life adventure. I hope you will join me for my next post as development of the Rose of Relange RPG continues.

PS:  I wonder if people will say "Hey, lets play R&R".... just a thought.

Link to the Sinopa Publishing Facebook Page

Saturday, March 18, 2017

First level Publisher

When in the course of embarking upon new ventures you will, undoubtedly, encounter something you didn't expect.

For me, the first such encounter on this venture has been a positive one.

So what has happened? (Glad you asked)

I was considering the costs for publication of the Rose of Relange Rpg.  The figure was a bit daunting.

So I thought I would look at kick starter for some initial research in funding.  This would allow me to cover some costs associated with print (ISBN costs, costs for proofs, etc).

Now let me be clear.  I have never conducted a kick starter, and I've never really given it much consideration other than backing some things I had an interest in.  Now though, I've taken some time and looked at some of the Kick Starters for role-playing games.  It proved very informative.

Thing is... I like to verify data.  I like to find out things from other people who have trod the path I'm thinking about walking.  Get the lay of the land, so to speak.

So I bounced the idea off someone I respect.  His knee jerk reflex was along the lines of "dude, you don't do a kick starter until you are at least three quarters done..", which was cool to hear because I was considering not doing it until it was ready to send to printer for proofs (well after feedback from play test groups and the subsequent adjustments).  So it was good to know that we were thinking along the same lines.

This person happens to be a friend of person who has conducted successful Kick Starters before, so he offered to ask about advice for me.  Which I greatly appreciate.

The last five days have not been limited to friendly discourse though.

The Sinopa Publishing Facebook page has over 40 followers now (which I thought would take a few months to get, so that was a nice surprise).  Some of the artists working on the projects have graciously consented to allowing art from the books to be used on the Facebook page, and on the web site (still under construction).  I have to say, their art is really drawing a lot of attention to the Facebook page.  (Thanks folks.  You guys are awesome!)

Then, today, I found out that people are actually seeing my blog.  Wow!
Not a lot of people yet, but far more than I expected.

So to you who are reading this blog, I want to thank you.  It is very encouraging that people are taking a moment to read these posts.  I hope you find them entertaining, useful, or otherwise rewarding.

I hope you will come back for the next post, for more insights on this adventure.

Sinopa Publishing on Facebook

Monday, March 13, 2017

Continuing the Adventure in Writing and Publishing

Thank you for joining me here today.

It has been a productive weekend, with about 4500 words written for the Rose of Relange role-playing game rules.  That may sound like a lot, but after formatting it will only be around 15 pages or so.

Still, I did complete some parts that were desperately calling out to make their way into file.

Big encouragements for me this weekend were the responses I received from four people concerning the rule set and game mechanics. Responses were positive, with all people polled (a whopping four!) looking forward to the game.  There was some wonderfully constructive criticism regarding the system mechanics that have led me to reconsider a few rules.  So I've made some changes, looked around, slept on the changes, had some coffee and I think they may be for the best.  When play testing starts I suppose we will see how robust the system is.

Discussion with one of the Game Masters who will be heading up a play test group went well.  My old buddy James is coming through like the legend he is (go go Chubbs!!) and his enthusiasm has really pushed me to step up the writing.

I'm looking forward to what this week brings for Sinopa Publishing, and the continuing effort to make the best books possible.

My first children's book, titled "Momma taught me Manners" has been sent to be illustrated.  I am looking forward to seeing what the art will look like!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Starting my own business in publishing

Art by Brian Lee

March 8th, 2017:
You can learn more about the artist, Brian Lee:  HERE

I am a writer, role-playing game designer, and role-playing enthusiast.

Today I add the title of publisher to my list of roles.

I have registered my domain name, and began construction of the company web-site.

Its those little business details that take the most attention at the moment.  Designing the web-site, putting together the Facebook page, structuring the online fingerprint of the company (so to speak) of my brand new company is exciting.

Whats coming next?

I'm putting out an adventure module for an existing role-playing game, with a targeted release date of June 1st, 2017.  A release for my a favorite game of mine, so it is even more exciting!

After that, I have a children's book I'm releasing for children in the 2 to 3 year age range, that I'm very excited about. In 2018 I will be releasing my own role-playing game system and setting, so look for my work at your gaming table, soon.

So how is all this possible?

Self-publishing online.

Yes, its a new world for writers, where you can be your own publisher.  So there is a lot more to come from me in the future.  I hope you find me here and come along for my new adventure.