Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Tale of the Wizard's Eye: The adventure module begins formatting and things I've learned.

Scroll Illustration created by: Phoenix O'Faery
Art on this page was created by:  Phoenix O'Faery

Tale of the Wizard's Eye

What a wild ride it has been getting it published.

For those of you new to this blog, let me recap the history of this book (in short form, for details read prior posts):

The adventure module began as a large adventure campaign book for an existing RPG that I was really wanting to publish for.  I made attempts to secure license for such a release, was in contact with the license holder, but we were never able to finalize the license.

Having secured art for that book, I had an obligation (both to myself and to the artists) to release the best module I could possibly create.

From the earliest development, I had told my art team, that if the license didn't come through I would rewrite/recreate the adventure in a generic format.  That is precisely what I did. 

I found that in translating it from one mechanic to another and from a specific setting to a generic that the module lost much of its spark.  So I set that version aside, took a long look at the game mechanics I was writing to (5th edition Open Game license material) and set off to do a complete rewrite.

Title changed, adversaries changed, and I was able to sculpt an adventure that made good sense, was playable, exciting, and most importantly that was enjoyable!

Much of the art for the original module wasn't suitable to the new version, but with the new adventure being a single session design (with additional materials provided to allow the Dungeon Masters running the module to expand it into multiple sessions), I was able to use some amazing pieces of art for the new book.

Tale of the Wizard's Eye is a wonderful module, that is easy for dungeon masters to use.

Cover Art by : Phoenix O'Faery


Here is a little tip for anyone who is going to be using InDesign for creating their PDF file for publication:

Work up your drafts, conduct your edits, format in your art in those drafts BEFORE you do it InDesign. 

Unless and until you are professionally proficient with InDesign, I find it is far easier to work in Word (which I have a LOT of experience in), after carefully selecting my page settings to mirror the final product settings that need to be applied in InDesign.


Let me tell you.

I have my play test versions in Word.  I get feedback from my play testers and I'm able to edit in an environment I am proficient in.  Once the book is "done", I have that file on hand.

Then, I take begin my InDesign formatting.  I work up my master page (this is where you will layer background art, set up your page numbering, etc.).  I can then use my existing file as a guild in building my pages. 

How effective is that? 

Well last night I was able to completely format 17 pages in a very short time. This was the first time I had tried to format more than a single page, as I had only been toying with InDesign previously to become familiar with the interface. In that time, I was able to correct some grammar issues, reorder some sections on those pages, make editorial changes, etc. and still get those pages in and looking nice.

Text boxes are your friend.

Copying and pasting text, still leaves you with some work to do with regard to test you may want in bold face type or in larger font.  That is okay.  Highlighting and changing those properties is a snap in InDesign.  I am using templates provided from DriveThruRPG.com and they have a nice tutorial with them that works very nicely to familiarize you with the software and to do what you really want to do. Those templates have guidelines that will allow you to line up your text boxes in the format you need and to manipulate them if you need to change them.

What does that mean for me?

It means I'll have my entire book formatted with page space available for some material I'm still waiting on (maps and one image).  I'll then be able to upload my PDF file within minutes of receiving those documents.  Minutes!

So now I'm more confident with the software.  I don't dread formatting the books I've written (though proof reading is all important).  I am now, finally, going to see this first book publish. 


I'm proud of this module, and I hope you enjoy playing it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Remember you can find Sinopa Publishing LLC on Facebook :  HERE

And please do take a look at, like and share the KickStarter Campaign:  HERE

Thank you for joining me on my adventure into publishing.

I hope to see you next time!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Writing, Publishing, and Publicity... OH MY!

Art by Christian Martinez for The Draw of Glenfallow
You can learn more about Christian Martinez: HERE

It has been a busy week!

Tale of the Wizard's Eye:

The module has been beaten up in play test and has seen several finer points corrected.
Loot has been adjusted, and some encounters have been transitioned to additional material for use by the game master should he/she wish to expand the adventure beyond a single session.

Encounter areas are being modified following feedback from play test participants and another round of play test is being set up.

The KickStarter campaign for Tale of the Wizard's Eye is 28% funded in under one week!  As always, please do spread the word and share this blog and the kickstarter link (see below):


You can listen to the podcast:  HERE


The Draw of GlenFallow:

This module is progressing wonderfully.  A few more play tests are in order but I think it will be the beginning of a great series of adventures to come.  Initial play tests had some important suggestions for game master utility that will be worked on in coming weeks as well as some mapping questions.  All in all, things are shaping up nicely for this book!


In development:

A sequel to The Draw of Glenfallow is in the early development stages.  Artists have been tasked for the creation of the art for it, and by all accounts that art is on track to be completed by June 15th.

Earliest conceptual design for resource attachment to be included in the Glenfallow series material is underway.  Detailed art on equipment/weapons to be done by the very talented: Zachary Viola

The Rose of Relange RPG:   work on developing the play test materials will resume later this week and should be ready for play test on schedule.  Very excited to see what our playtesters make of the mechanics and the setting.

Coloring Book:  I am revisiting a project tossed around in one of our meetings a few months ago, for a fantasy/rpg themed coloring book.  This to be made available in printable pdf, to afford folks the ability to have multiple copies (whether you have children of not this will be fun). More on this as discussions progress.



Thanks to all of you who share this blog and the Facebook and twitter accounts I have seen a huge surge in views and visitors of late.  While not viral (yet 😇 )... the Facebook page for Sinopa Publishing LLC saw a 678% increase in people who saw the posts their in the last 6 days (may 17th through May 23rd ... as of this writing).  By any measure of progress that is incredible.

So please do continue to share the blog and the social media posts.  It has brought people to the kickstarter and I've received backing as a direct result.


Revisions to the adventure modules has been fun, a bit tiring, and necessary.  The drive to produce the best book I can is really pushing me on these and I feel like I'm getting very close with these titles.  They are getting very close to "DONE"... can't wait to see what folks think of them!


I am looking forward to the formatting of these books.  It will give me a final page count I can work with, as well as allow me to complete the product pages I'm working on linking to the blog.  (The business side of things, not so much fun but totally necessary!).

I do hope you enjoy this adventure of mine as I explore publishing.

Remember you can find Sinopa Publishing LLC on Facebook:  HERE

I'll see you next time!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

In the Beginning: The KickStarter Campaign for my first Adventure

Cover Art for Tale of the Wizard's Eye,
 Created by: Phoenix O'Faery
Thank you for coming along with me on my adventure.

Today we have a big encounter, my first KickStarter campaign, which I launched to fund "Tale of the Wizard's Eye".

Tale of the Wizard's Eye, is written for the 5th edition game mechanics used for the Dungeon and Dragons role-playing game.

I learned a few things setting up this KickStarter, and I'll share with you:

1) KickStarter is a great platform.  The user interface is very intuitive and navigation is simple.

2) Mathematics are important.  When creating your kickstarter pay attention to the fees collected by KickStarter for processing.  It is very important to keep in mind the impact of shipping costs as well.  So check your math for each and every backer reward you build.  Make certain it is not negatively impacting you.

3) Sharing on social media platforms is very handy.  I made the KickStarter go live at an inopportune time, but it was time I had when I could launch it (as I have a hugely busy day today).  But it's been less than 30 minutes (at the time of this writing), and I already have my first backer (and it isn't me). Saw 2 shares on Facebook right off, then another share to an rpg group with over 900 members!  So here is hoping I find some backers there.

4) It's exciting.  I would imagine that several of you already knew that.  I expected it may be a curious feeling, but it actually is rather exciting!  I logged in and checked and, low and behold, first backer!
If you ever decide to do a kickstarter, I think your first one will be memorable.  I have a long way to go until I see if my first KickStarter funds or not, but either way I expect it will be something I remember for a long time.


5) You will get lots of email from folks who want to "Help" you spread the word about your KickStarter campaign.  Personally, I don't want to spam anyone so I'm not responding to spammers who are hitting my email now.  I'm blocking them.  I'm not going to pollute my KickStarter or tarnish my conscious or reputation by spamming the world.  I've asked people to share my KickStarter on their social media, and that is going to have to be enough.  <This edit added after clearing out a dozen emails offering to propagate my KS information>

6) Be careful with the links you embed within your story.  I was lucky enough to have people tell me they were being bounced off the KickStarter page when they hit the links.  I also added a bit of a teaser about the plot/story to give folks some more information.  Now things look a bit better and are a more interesting read!

So, if you are interested in table-top role playing games (if you've been reading this blog I expect that is probably the case), check out the KickStarter.  Backing would be most appreciated, but if you don't want to or can't back it, please do share it on your social media platforms.  Every share helps raise awareness.  Thank you.

Link to the KickStarter Campaign is : Here

As always, I ask that you please share this adventure with others.

Lets bring the fun to our table-top games.

I hope you will join me next time, as this journey continues.

You can like/follow Sinopa Publishing LLC on Facebook: HERE

Sunday, May 14, 2017

What adventure do you want to play in?

Art by Brian Lee with Coloring by Rebecca Elisbet Coulthart
You can learn more about Brian: Here

As a game master, and now as a game designer, I find myself asking several of the same questions.

Perhaps the most common question I find myself addressing, is "How can I make this fun?" or "What would my players like in the game that would be fun for us all?"

In other words, "What do my players, and their characters/adventurers, want?"

This question is not so easy to answer when you are writing for publication.

For published modules, I feel I am writing to the game master and the players at the same time.

I write the story, environment, and encounters to the players while writing the backstory, narrations, and game aides for the game master.  I want to create modules that are easy for the game master to utilize, and fun for the players.  In other words, I'm trying to write the ideal adventure modules... which is a really tall order.

Writing modules for publication is a bit different than writing for your own group.  You don't know the capabilities of the player characters, don't know the group make up, and don't know the play style of game master.  To confront these issues, I've written in broad strokes, so to speak, for the characters that are present in the adventures.  This gives the game master great leave to customize as she/he may like.

But what do your players want? What type of story do they want to play through?  What types of quests do they want to undertake?  What type of stories do they want to share about the game after its over?

Please do comment below.  Let me know what type of adventures you would like to see in print. Make your voice heard.

As always, thank you for joining me on this grand adventure of mine.

Remember you can find Sinopa Publishing LLC on Facebook: Here

Please remember to share the adventure.  I'll see you next time!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

New Adventures, New Art, my writing method, and more opportunities to level up

Concept Art by: Alexia Veldhuisen
For the sequel to "The Draw of GlenFallow"
About the artist:  Alexia Veldhuisen is a talented professional artist, creating unique art for her first project with Sinopa Publishing LLC.  You can see from this concept piece above, that she possesses a remarkable talent for creating powerful imagery.

You can learn more about Alexia:  HERE


Stories sometimes take on a life of their own.

Such was the case when I sent out my first OGL adventure for the play test groups to play with. Each group came back with feedback of various sorts, but each also had the same question:  "What happens next?"

Thus was born the project for the sequel.

Even as I work to finalize the publication version for "The Draw of Glenfallow", design has begun on the sequel.  Just as had been done for the other modules, I began with a story concept, and I developed that by asking myself that same question, "What happens next".

Such a great question.

Without spoiling the story for those of you who will be playing through it, let me just say that I have decided to build on the story of the Tale of Glenfallow adventure (formerly Pieron's Keep) to tell the evolution of Pieron, and the restoration of Glenfallow.

Adventurers will play through adventures as they witness their friend grow in prestige and power.

Pieron will, at times, call upon the characters in his time of need and will, in other modules, make appearances related to the continuity of his story.

As each module is being designed for a single session of play, and they are setting neutral, this provides the opportunity for a parallel story to be told alongside the game master's main campaign story line.

Characters will advance in level as they advance the story line.

And so the story has taken on a life of its own.

A few insights on how I develop these modules for publication are included below.  Keep in mind that I am the "low level publisher" and my process may not be best for you, it may evolve as I learn more about the business, and others may have better methods.  But this is how I'm doing things, and so far it is working out nicely.


First Step: Develop Story Concept
When I put together the concept for the adventure, I want to address a few things at the onset.
I first want to know level range of the anticipated group, so I can plan challenges accordingly.
The next thing I want to know is what story do I want to tell.  This is the meat of the issue and where the story line takes shape.

Create a rough concept of the cover image.  Think on this with the initial story concept, but you will revisit it through each iteration of the product. Make arrangements with an artist for this if you won't be doing the cover yourself.

Finally, I want to conceive my setting.  I want to know where the action is going to be occurring so I can plan encounters that make sense.

I like to develop adventures from outlines.  These make my life easier as a writer, allow me to track my encounters, and help me to build the pace of the adventure.  I also find that helps me plan the player aides (hand outs/maps/etc.), art, and to anticipate the page length (so I know if I need more encounters/challenges/more complex story).

My initial draft lays out the story concept, usually has some initial "read to group" concept material included, and begins with layouts of the encounters.  I work in various story hooks for the game master to use if they need to point the group toward the adventure from other avenues, and get to work on the game master information that I need to include to help form the  story from their perspective.

I check the math.  I look at the encounters/experience awards/loot and compare it to the expected party levels.

Personally, I tend to design highly challenging encounters at multiple stages in the story.  This is similar to the concept of low level boss fights before getting to the floor boss in video games.

Send to play testers:
This is where the play testers take the module off the rails, and find plot holes, inconsistencies I missed in draft, encounter problems, and generally strip the module down as they put it through it's trial by fire.

Even as a new publisher, I am very aware of just how important this step is.  If the play testers tell you there is a problem LISTEN!  If they have recommendations, or if there is something they feel the adventure needs LISTEN!

Play testers have been used for decades now with rpg companies, and there is a good reason for it.
Get people who aren't your friends, people who don't know you, and people from different types of play preferences to put your work to the test.  You can't please everyone, but if a diverse group of people are all telling you something, then you should hear them and act.

All the work you've done before is the brew, and this is where you pour that brew into it's bottle.

Writing and rewriting your material at this point is building the working model of your product.  This is what the adventure will be.  Take the notes from your play testers, read them, digest that input, then apply those suggestions that make the most sense.  Be open to criticism, because it will afford you the opportunity to take what may be a good adventure, and turn it into a great adventure!

Format your art and writing into what will be the first version of you final draft.  Pay attention to page facing, space allotments in your formatting (bleed and page lines for print considerations), layer your art on then apply your text as the last layer (making it easier to edit if you find something you don't want, or need to add something that wasn't there).

Review and final play tests:

For my methods, I like to have the play testers that have played through then look at the revision, while having other play tester groups play through that revision.  Take the feedback from both groups with a fresh perspective (new eyes).  You will need that perspective to make any changes that are needed prior to final product.

Almost done:
Final formatting, check listings of all play testers, contributors/artists, copyright/legal/license pages, ISBN (where needed), and build your final cover.  Once done, order proof copy and look it over, have other people look it over, and make notes on any corrections that need be done.

Once any final changes are made, you are done.  This is it.  Time to release the work.

So I find myself today, working on the tail end of the Review and final play tests stage... which means I'm running up on my self-imposed deadlines (who ever said 'no pressure' may have been understating things).  I'm waiting on final art for "The Draw of Glenfallow" and making some final changes to "Tale of the Wizard's Eye" then sending them to the play testers for a last going over.

Today is May 11th, 2017, which means I have 14 days left to finish, upload, and order proofs for "Tale of the Wizard's Eye".  Yikes!  Final art work for "The Draw of Glenfallow" will be in and done by June 7th, at which point I'll be working on the "almost done" stage as play testing is wrapping up.

But in all seriousness I'm in a good place for time constraints.  I am taking the position that as a new publisher, getting two titles out in the first publication month is a good thing.

I hope that you enjoy playing these adventures as much as I enjoyed creating them (which was quite a lot).

As always, thank you for joining me on this grand adventure of mine.

Remember you can find Sinopa Publishing LLC on Facebook: Here

Please remember to share the adventure.  I'll see you next time!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Tale of the Wizard's Eye, and OGL adventure for characters of 6th through 9th level

                                          Art by: Rebecca Elisbeth Coulthart

Tale of Ages has been delayed, pending finalization of the license agreement.

In place of that module for June release, an OGL, generic setting adventure has been moved up in the release time table.

Written for characters of level 6 to 9, this module is designed to be played in a single session.

What is so great about this level range, is the type of monsters who can be brought to challenge the adventures.

Werewolves, vampire spawn, and a host of other frightful monsters make an appearance in this challenging adventure.

Centuries ago a wizard of vast power and knowledge, crafted a magical item to aid in his journey to greatness.

That wizard is long dead, the item all but forgotten.

Now the player characters have happened upon a clue to magical treasure hidden in the flooded ruins of town.  Long abandoned, monsters of certain power now claim the area as home.

Brave the forests along the river, descended into the partially sunken ruins, and maybe you can find the Wizard's Eye.

Insights as to goings on here:

Writing continues as a steady pace.  Formatting the writing and art into a finished product is actually more demanding.  I've been working to make the best products possible, and sometimes it seems as if I get stuck in that "I can do better" mode. Expect Tale of the Wizard's Eye and The Draw of Glenfallow modules to be available on DriveThruRpg.com in June (2017).  Thanks to feedback from the play test groups, The Draw of Glenfallow is getting a sequel/follow-up adventure providing more adventure and advancing the tale of the NPC Pieron of Glenfallow.  Look for that adventure (title pending) in August of 2017!

More artists have agreed to work on coming projects, making it possible to release those adventures and books sooner. (Yeah!)

Check these books out when they go up and are available on Driverthrurpg.com (I hope you like them as much I liked writing them!)

Thank you for joining me on this leg of the journey.

Having a bit of a setback with Tale of Ages being delayed, but there is plenty of work to be done in getting the OGL adventures out.

I hope you will continue to join me on this amazing adventure as I continue to explore writing and publishing in various genres.

You can find Sinopa Publishing LLC on Facebook: Here

If you enjoy this ongoing adventure please share it with others.

Thank you.  See you next time!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Low level adventures from the second level publisher

Art by the very talented, and only mildly evil,
 Jennifer Fraggle Dee
You can learn more about Jennifer: HERE
Even Goblins have to relax sometime.
When in the course of gaming history, a band of characters unite with a common purpose; that being to travel aimlessly about, slaughtering monsters and plundering their loot, empowering their own confidence through conquest, and honing their skills at mayhem...

In the beginning there was the idea, and it was good.

The idea being to unite friends in common purpose, for enjoying one another's company, narrating adventures of heroic fantasy, and for creating, through play, a great tale of a campaign of aspiring heroes.

Though many such campaigns are attempted, many fail and fall short of their ambitions.

Today then, how do we set the tone for a legendary campaign?

How shall we devise, write, and play our games so that cause has effect, and a sensibly progressing story emerges?

Where does the story plant the seeds that sprout greatness?

An answer lies in the first adventures.

When we begin our campaigns we introduce new characters to a new world which reveals its story before them.

So these first adventures, these first tales, are important to set the tone of the campaign.

Make your first adventures memorable.  Nest within them a fragment of the overarching story.  Don't relegate them as a simple stepping stone for leveling or advancing skills.

Make the story count.

Build upon the early adventures.  Let plot hooks evolve into divergent stories for the characters to explore.  Make them personal to each character individually, and you will see the immersion in your games deepen.

Within the first adventure the characters encounter a child, fleeing from goblins or other low level threats (to the adventurers) which are certainly a life and death threat to the child.

Rescuing the child will yield the benefit of feeling heroic and may open options within the adventure itself, but it need not end there.

Time passes and the young teen boy or girl may begin an apprenticeship or enter the clergy, or other vocational training (if they weren't already so).  Can your adventurers turn down a request for aid from someone they once saved from deadly peril?  Story hooks abound.

Five years pass, now a teenager, the same child may become promised in marriage by her/his family, in or against her/his best interests.  A desperate call for aid, either to save an imperiled fiancé, or to escape marriage, certainly provides a range of options for adventures for low to mid-level characters.

More years pass: as a young adult does this character perish in childbirth, become maimed by bandits, become a skilled artisan or knowledgeable scribe, does the child now wield political or magical might? What adventures may unfold, and what stories may wait to be told?


The above example, building on stories involving one character through the course of the campaign, need not be a primary or even secondary thought in the overall plot.  It may simply afford the story those touches that lend logical consistency, or a touch of familiarity, or could even become critically important late in the characters' lives.

Had the characters not been there to save the youth during their low level adventures, then none of the stories of that character's life could unfold.

Build on this, and you will see great things unfold at your game.  Harness the power of these "small" stories, and great memories of a fun campaign can be told in the following years.


I hope you find this principle helpful in your own campaigns.

Lets bring the fun to our table-top games.

I hope you will join me again for the next step in this grand adventure.

You can find Sinopa Publishing LLC on Facebook: Here