Monday, May 21, 2018

Japanese combat fan and The Steel Road ~ and shameless self-promotion

Art by: Zachary Viola
From: The Steel Road

When I created the list of weapons to include in The Steel Road, the tessen was a weapon I knew I wanted.  Tessen show up in the history of feudal Japan in unexpected ways. Whether being used to prevent Oda Nobunaga from killing you with a door (seriously, this is believed to have actually happened!), or deflecting the sword of a young general trying to kill his adversary in his tent, the stories associated with this elegant weapon are always interesting.

In RPG moments, the tessen has fantastic opportunities to shine in social encounters that turn violent.  Are you attending a ball thrown by a local count and can't bring your sword?  Bring the your tessen, just in case things go badly.  Were you disarmed by guards and locked in a cell?  Having a tessen with you provides a discreet weapon that is often overlooked. 

Don't miss the opportunity to boast of your victory. "He pulled a dagger from under his coat, so I beat him unconscious with my fan,"  is a fantastic story to tell.

Look for the tessen, appearing in The Steel Road,
coming to KickStarter May 24th, 2018 at 7:00PM (EST)


If you've been following this blog you know I talk mostly about my experiences in game design, writing and self-publishing.  The above segment is an obvious plug I slapped together to remind people of the coming KickStarter campaign. 

When you are working to promote yourself, please provide something for people to enjoy.  I like the history of the tessen as a weapon.  I wanted to share some of that with people because I think other people would enjoy it too.  Make a point to provide people with that kind of value.  Give something interesting and genuine in your promotional efforts.  I'm sure you'll find it both rewarding and rewarded.

I do hope you'll come out in support of the KickStarter on Thursday.

I also hope I'll see you here next time as we continue the adventure into game design, writing, and self-publishing.  I hope I can encourage you to launch your own creations, explore your own writing, and to create fun games for people to enjoy.

I'll see you next time!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Dungeons and Dragons campaign Idea: Sword Art Online survival of the fittest style campaign/event

No art for this, I just had a random idea ...

What if, as part of an area wide campaign, you took a sign in registry of all the players who wanted to play in one grand campaign.

You then create one list of random encounters drawn up for all the GMs to use at each level of the overall map.

Everyone makes up first level character.  All seems normal.

Until ...

Each session you rotate GMs, with each using the random table for that level, as well as running a homebrew adventure of their own devising for that level.  Neither the GMs nor the players know who will be running/ playing what until you meet up that week.

Every time a character is killed, that player is removed from the event.

As players are removed you reorder the groups, to fill in gaps.

The campaign ends when the characters have survived a fixed number of sessions, or you are down to one group of six or fewer.

When the campaign ends, the final test is to send those player characters through a high level dungeon.

I think this would be awesome!!!!  Something you would stream for posterity.


Game design / event  thought of the day...

Friday, May 18, 2018

Fun things you learn when you let people see a preview of your new KickStarter campaign

Screen capture from the KickStarter campaign for : The Steel Road
This image was grabbed last night while I was working on the page

Hello everyone!

I'm about to launch my fifth kickstarter campaign.  With my fourth campaign I had made previews of the campaign available to some bloggers I'm acquainted with, and ran the information by some friends to look it over.  It was helpful.    For The Steel Road I wanted a broader spectrum of people to take a look at the campaign prior to launch.  I was looking for feedback and I got it!

Things I had pointed out to me from the earliest of drafts were that I had too much text. Really, I had written to much, put forth a lot of detail, and had pretty much made the page read like installation instructions.  That kind of format is no fun to create, and no fun for the people coming to the campaign.  So, don't over do it, be honest and sincere, and don't worry about things that people are likely to already know.

Also from The Steel Road Kickstarter page
This  capture shows the pledge level for pdf and pod after the early backer tier expires

The next thing that was pointed out to me, was that I needed to tell people what the book was for.  Somehow, in all the excitement and in the process of putting words to page, I had forgotten to indicate the book was for the 5th Edition game mechanic.... oops?    So I did a bit of work to clean that up.

I cut down the extraneous matter (still clipping that back a bit), and tried to stick with just the meaty bits of the thing.  Its a book for your 5th Edition game, it has a bunch of weapons, all are illustrated, please support it... that kind of thing.  I found it was much more fun to read through, easier to digest, and people didn't have to try to interpret things.  All good things I believe.

Page from: The Steel Road
Art by: Zack Viola

Stretch Goals:  

Everyone seems to want more stretch goals.  I've been torn on this point as I don't want the project to get out of hand, but then something great happened.  One of the people looking at the page had been a backer of a prior campaign and he made a suggestion about something he would like to see as a stretch goal.  Its easily done, and I like the idea, so I'm checking the math to see if its feasible. Thank you very much Alexander for such insight!

My position on stretch goals is that they should always be something that makes a great contribution to the project.  Additional art, more content, better quality materials, and things in a similar vein are what I like to see.  As a creator though, you must balance these ambitions against your costs.  It is critical if you are to succeed in the business side of things and be able to afford to create new projects in the future.

So for all of you who are planning campaigns, be mindful of your stretch goals!

original page art for The Steel Road
Art by: Zachary Viola


I talk a LOT about how to treat your audience when you are a crowdfunded creator.  I always encourage people to do all they can to make the best products possible, in order to give their audience the best value.  Yesterday, I was reminded that people appreciate the effort.  I'll not get sappy about it, but I received some very kind words from a few backers of my last KickStarter (for Tarot Adventures, Book Two:  Comet over Echo Rock) which had its fulfillment running late (two weeks late as of this writing, but fulfillment is underway).

Once again, I'll recommend that in all dealings with your audience be honest, realistic, and put forth your very best effort.  I hope that in your creative endeavors you receive the same kind of messages I have.  They really do mean a lot to me because they are encouraging and really make all the work more worthwhile.

Yesterday I was told that my work mattered, that people are looking forward to my next book, and that they have fun with their friends as they play through the adventures I've created.  I can't think of a better reason for all the hard work, than knowing that the people supporting my kickstarter campaigns, my audience, are enjoying what I do.

(Thanks folks, you ladies and gentlemen have been the best!)

Your audience makes your creations possible.  Cherish them all.


Thank you for joining me once again on this adventure into game design, writing and self-publishing.

I'll be continuing the countdown toward the KickStarter campaign for The Steel Road with a new entry tonight.  

I do hope you will share this entry with others to help fellow creators.

Adventure awaits!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

50 Exotic weapons and 50 Enchanted weapons in one beautiful book: Coming to KickStarter May 24th!

The KnobKierie from Africa
Art by: Zachary Viola
page from: The Steel Road
All rights reserved

Announcing the KickStarter campaign!

The Steel Road     (link takes you to details on the book)

This is it: the KickStarter campaign will launch on 
Thursday, May 24th, 2018 at 1900 EST (7:00 PM Eastern)

Backer levels start at $8 (USD) for PDF and PoD codes for the early backers.

I hope we'll see you at launch for a great campaign.

Please do share this with RPG fans everywhere!

Written for the 5th Edition game mechanic (we like our DnD)!

Zack Viola and I will be on KickStarter live, taking questions at launch.  Come hang out with us and support the project.

Thank you all!

Monday, May 14, 2018

"The Steel Road" ~ A look into a weapon of Africa

Work on The Steel Road, has been progressing nicely.

To give you a bit of insider information on this project, let me tell you that I'm presently formatting the text into the book's file.  What this means, is that in a few days time it will be ready for editing, and then final corrections before it's ready for release.

Yes, we're that far along!

As you've likely heard I'm launching a KickStarter campaign to cover the costs on this project.   That KickStarter campaign is less than two weeks away (based on my present projections).  I'll be announcing the launch date in few days, once I finalize it.

But that isn't why you're here.  Nope you're here a look at the weapons we've been hinting at for so long. So let's take a look at one of the weapons you'll see on the KickStarter campaign.

From out of Africa,  the Akrafena 

The Akrafena
Prized sword of the Ashanti (among others)
Page from the "The Steel Road"
Art by: Zachary Viola
Copyright(c) 2018 All rights reserved

This is an example of how the book is going to look.  

We are cleaning up the art layer this week. 
The book will be done before the KickStarter campaign is over.

A lot of work has gone into The Steel Road.   One hundred weapon illustrations (50 exotic weapons and 50 enchanted "Legendary" versions) took a lot of time to create.  

I want to thank Zachary Viola for his long hours sketching over the last ten months, which has brought us to the point where we are readying the KickStarter campaign!  Zack, you are awesome!


I hope you will help support The Steel Road by sharing this post with others through social media, and by supporting the kickstarter and sharing it's links.

I do want to thank all of you who have been following my adventure into game design, writing, and self-publishing.  I do hope this blog helps you to avoid the mistakes I make, and inspires you to create the games, books, and art of your dreams.

I hope you'll join me against next time!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Shadowrun Community thing... Chummers check this out

I had to cobble this together as I couldn't get the widget from GoFundMe to workBut check this out

I am big fan of Rusty Zimmerman's work.  So when I saw him share this around I had to take notice.

Check it out, contribute as you can.  Donate some cash, share the link with others, tweet it around, whatever. 

Lets get united for a fellow runner.

Cry Havoc!

5th Edition and the Darkest Arts of a new arcane tradition

Art by: Brian Lee
From: Tale of the Wizard's Eye


The word conjures dark imagery, a foreboding sense of wrongness, and is reviled for the evil of its practices.

We typically see much less of the evil and vileness in play.  So what do you do when you want your dark arts to be, well, DARK?  The arcane tradition of 'necromancer' just didn't strike me as foreboding.

It occurred to me that I had rarely seen someone role play a character in a truly evil way.  Sure, people had played evil characters, and those characters had done some things that may be seen as evil, but usually the action was done "because I'm evil".   Where then is the drive to forego societal norms in a quest for power?  What drives the character to undertake horrific tasks?  What makes a character pursue evil?

These questions are a bit dark, but stick with me.

There have been MANY books about evil and how to play through them.  Unfortunately, many of those books simply provide a litany of evil acts a character may do "because they're evil" or "because they enjoy it".  That's not much help in determining character motivation.

To my thinking there is a significant difference in doing something because you're truly evil and the ends justify the means; and doing something just because the act is evil and you're playing a jerk.  Think about that for a moment. 

I was thinking along these lines when I began developing Whispers of Persephone.   I wanted to create an arcane tradition that pursued power through genuinely evil practice.  A tradition that inspired fear as others wondered if they would fall prey to these darkest of wizards.

Art from: Tale of the Wizard's Eye
Artist: Rebecca Coulthart

Not being particularly evil myself (at least, I don't think I am) I had to ask myself the age old question: "what drives people to commit evil acts".   I eventually concluded that each person would have their own reasons, but by and large it often comes down to a quest for power.  As a quest for personal power is often a big driving force in a wizard's mentality, I pursued that line of thought.

Death and Magic 

Let's face it, we're all going to die someday.  That said, we hold this fantastic survival instinct that usually makes us fearful of dying ourselves, in spite of its inevitability.  To that end, death is scary to people (usually) and people who deal in death are likewise scary.   

Enter the magician:  the practice of magic has long been feared.  The two together bring us the modern concept of the necromancer.  Our present concept of the necromancer is relatively new, and perpetuated by novels and film.  Where once the necromancer consorted with the spirits of the dead to learn of things (much like the modern medium), now they are dark sorcerers who create monsters to torment the living.   With all that going for them, necromancers should be frightening!

So I made the new tradition frightening.  I burdened it's pursuit with a need for death.  I researched old curses that people feared in the past (some of it was really weird, seriously).  I thought about the ancient magical rites of the Aztecs and those that were ascribed to cultists of the middle ages.  I looked to the ancient writings of Homer and considered the Underworld, the River Styx, Charon, Hades, and the long list of vile magicians and sorceresses the Greeks and Romans named in their writings.

In truth, I think Whispers of Persephone could easily be twice the size I'm creating it as.  There is just so much to draw from! 

Art by Brian Lee
From: Tale of the Wizard's Eye

I'm going to be putting together a play test document for some of the material from Whispers of Persephone and sending it out to my play testers soon.  It won't have any of the art yet, as I'll have to KickStarter  the funding for it.  But it will have a ton of material, and some seriously dark stuff to haunt their games.  New spells, rituals, rules for blood sacrifices, feats, alchemicals, potions, poisons and new magical items are already designed and ready to get shaken down in the play tests.

What horrors will they unleash in their games?  

We'll soon see!

Keep the dark arts DARK and remember that there is a big difference between being EVIL and just being a jerk!

Look for Whispers of Persephone to come to KickStarter later this year.
I use KickStarter to fund the fantastic original art for the books I release.

All art for Whispers of Persephone will be done in full color by the incredible
  Christian Martinez

Art by Christian Martinez
From: Tarot Adventures, Book One: The Draw of Glenfallow

Art used in this entry is from Tale of the Wizard's Eye, my first self-published adventure, and Tarot Adventures, Book One: The Draw of Glenfallow.  You can find them on


As you all know, I'm a big believer in building community and helping to spread the word for people who are creative, innovative people.  Well, Bull could use some help.  

Check out his GoFundMe for details:
GoFundMe Screen Capture (as the html embed didn't work)

Thank you for joining me once again as I continue our adventure in writing, self-publishing and game design.

Do remember that the KickStarter campaign for The Steel Road is launching in just a couple of weeks.  Follow my blog for the announcement or you can follow me on KickStarter!

I hope you'll join me next time.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Robotech ~ Is anyone interested in a new Robotech RPG?

Hello everyone!

Thanks for taking a look at this entry, as it is not my usual fare. 

Lets get down to the question at hand:

How many of you would be interested in a new Robotech RPG? 

This subject came up earlier tonight as I was enjoying dinner with family.  We were talking about Palladium Books not having the license anymore, Harmony Gold's license expiring in 2021, and what would be involved in producing a new Robotech pen and paper role-playing game.

I did a little brainstorming with some of my brothers and the idea is buzzing in my head right now.  So here is what I'm thinking right now (2300 hours EST, May 9th 2018).


1) Licensing ~ With the current license with Harmony Gold set to expire in 2021, what would licensing look like?  An initial license set to run through Harmony Gold's tenure and a second license running under Tatsunoko?  How much would those licenses costs?

Licensing the IP is the critical first step in a realistic effort to create a new Robotech game.

2) Funding ~ Funding an RPG is daunting.  If you are not creating your own art you need to pay people to create it.  You also need legal documents for licensing and copyright ownership, ISBN and bar code costs, legal fees, edit and layout costs, etc.   

3) Game mechanics ~ Its a game, you need rules.  Those rules need to be play tested before release (because you want a game to be good).   

4) Art ~ Personally I would like to see an all color art selection.  That means a LOT of funding for art! 

My thoughts on addressing the issues at hand:

1~ part a) Where licensing is concerned, I think the discussion would have to begin with Tansunoko.  Afterall, with only three years remaining at Harmony Gold for their license period, one would need to look to the future of the game's viability.  Discussions with Harmony Gold would follow, to address the period of their license.  Any agreement reached would be dependent upon funding which will make things tricky.

1~ part b) As an incentive I would recommend that as part of the license an open game license of the sort that have been so productive on the DM guild be implemented.  As with DM Guild, a percentage of the revenue from community produced content would be distributed to the license holding entity with an agreed upon percentage of that total distributed back to Tansunoko (more on this below, stick with me).

2) As all of you who have been following this blog are aware, I'm a huge fan of KickStarter.  I would imagine that the best course, and one that would avoid the debacle that Palladium Books ran into, is to limit the initial reward structure to a digital format.  Basically, keep it simple, get the license funded and get the books created and out to the people expediently.

A simple digital file reward would be easy to produce, optimize the funding to provide for licensing as well as some initial art.

3) I'm a fan of simple game mechanics.  I'm also a fan of hard-hitting, lethal combat rules.  I have a game mechanic system that I believe would work well for Robotech.  There are also a plethora of well designed game mechanics out there which I could see working for Robotech.  I think that ultimately it would depend on how things rolled out during the play testing as to how the game mechanics evolved and were finalized.

4) Art funding can be accomplished through the crowdfunding with enough interest.  Palladium's Robotech book was only a little over 100 pages (if I remember correctly).  Even for a small book like that, art costs can total a few thousand dollars for good quality work.  I would expect styling of the art to mimic the source material, with a higher level of detail on the machines (lets face it, we expect it today). 


A few thoughts I've come up with tonight about this:

I like Paiso's methodology in the development of Pathfinder and Pathfinder 2 as a good model here.  First produce the playable "Play Test" book and get it into the hands of the people who want to play.  Use whatever funding is raised for that to facilitate the license, and begin the shake down of the game mechanics.  For this I think using a few different open source game mechanics is a good idea as well.  Several are readily available and have the benefit of years of play built in already.  I would still want to construct a core rules system for the game, specifically to address the variations in actions between humans, machines, zentradi, etc.

I think that the next step would be a refinement of the game based upon player feedback (again, a la Pathfinder approach).  Use that feedback to produce the best rules for the game possible.  Make this version available to all the original backers/play testers without further funding at this step.  This is basically the final live fire test for the game before going forward with any funding efforts for end product art.

Crowdfunding of a finalized version to pay for final art would be next.  Here I suggest that PDF awards go out through Drivethrurpg, but that print awards be handled by offset printing to cut costs.  Print on demand is terribly expensive overall for large numbers of runs, but ideal for small numbers of prints.  As the costs necessary, just for the art alone, are likely to run up into the ten thousand dollar range and then some (again, I'm talking about full color art here) you would want to minimize your print costs per unit.  I say that not just for a profit point, but also for a sustainability point.  Think about this: why have your backers support a project where the individual book cost is $18 for printing and another $12 for shipping, when you can get the same or better quality book at a print cost of $9 (same shipping though)?  Any company taking on the license would need funding for future projects, keeping up with the license, and operating costs associated with the books (and they should probably earn a bit of profit as well... just being realistic).

I think that any open game license implemented should coincide with the reversion of license back to Tansunoko.  It would make things far easier for the community for release purposes. Afterall, how many open game licenses should you have to have?   This is not to slight Harmony Gold by any means, its just a real concern involving the IP and proper release of community content so as to avoid unnecessary legal problems. 

Please keep in mind that I'm spit-balling here.  I haven't reached out to Harmony Gold or Tansunoko on this as of yet to inquire as to licensing.  Its a bit premature for that. 

I'm interested in what you, the community of Robotech and role playing game fans would think about a new Robotech rpg.  I hope you'll comment below and share this with others.  Lets find out what the community thinks.

Thank you all!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Preparing the KickStarter Campaign (Art:The Steel Road)

Art by: Zachary Viola
From: The Steel Road

Things are busy for me.  I'm finishing up the fulfillment for Comet over Echo Rock, I've been working on the first proof copy draft of The Steel Road, and also working on the test draft of Whispers of Persephone.  As promised at the beginning of the year, 2018 is shaping up to be a very busy year indeed!  As The Steel Road KickStarter campaign is launching soon, I've been preparing that campaign.

Having survived four KickStarter campaigns so far, I have learned a few things about setting them up, the mathematics behind them, and fulfillment.  So today I'm going to talk about setting up a KickStarter campaign, and I'm going to use The Steel Road as an example and as a shameless plug (hope you'll support the campaign when it launches) 😇.

Art from: The Steel Road
Artist: Zachary Viola


For purposes of our discussion today, I'm going to assume you have developed your project fully.  What I mean by that is that your book is written, your game is designed, your widget prototype works, etc.   You may be raising money for art, printing, manufacturing or whatnot: that is fine.

You should be very particular when calculating how much money you will need to raise.  Keep in mind the costs associated with the project, the KickStarter and transaction fees, shipping costs, and your tax obligation (as applies or may not depending upon your jurisdiction).  I would also recommend building in an additional amount to help cover unexpected expenses. 

For The Steel Road, costs are very small, so we set the goal at $1000 (USD).  While we certainly hope to reach a much higher level of funding, it is important that a funding goal that meets the project needs is set.  It is also important that the goal be realistically attainable, otherwise you may be wasting your time as well as the time of your backers.  I have a high degree of confidence that The Steel Road can reach $1000 in funding. I am not as confident that it would reach $25,000 in funding. Fortunately, KickStarter is a very flexible platform that will permit a project to fund well over its goal. So I've set my goal low, and hope that the value to the backer, and the cool concept will help to attract much more funding beyond the base goal level.

A few words of advice here:  Shipping can be tricky!  When you are designing your campaign, be very attentive to your shipping options.  If you are planning on shipping items yourself, don't forget to calculate your costs for your shipping boxes, envelopes, packing paper etc.  Also, factor in the time it will take you to process your shipping (particularly if you are doing it yourself) when you calculate your fulfillment timeline!  Remember that the funds collected for shipping are also subject to the KickStarter fees.

Read the Creator Handbook

While this may seem obvious, it is critically important that you read the handbook before designing your campaign.  Read the handbook, its not long, and you need to be conversant in it. 

Images and Video:

KickStarter's page recommends including videos and/or images in your campaign.  They claim to have statistical evidence supporting the assertion that campaigns with videos and images receive more funding. I believe this to be true.

Select relevant, high quality images that accent the text and show off the project.  Use your images intelligently to drive home your points and show prospective backers why they may want to support you. 

Screen shot from campaign Preview
Art by: Zachary Viola

For the video, I would suggest keeping to the same guideline as for images.  Make it relevant and of the best quality you can.  Regardless of whether you record yourself speaking to your backers, or a sophisticated animation, keep the video on topic.  I have seen many people recommend to keep the video at or under three minutes in length.  I don't subscribe to that theory so much as I believe that so long as the video is interesting and engages the audience the total length can range beyond that recommendation.

Backer Rewards:

Reward tiers should constructed to afford options to the backers, while being priced to help you raise the money you need to fund your project.  You should ask yourself, "would I be willing to pay $X for this?" as you build the rewards.  There should be value for the people who are supporting you.  Don't treat your backers like they are your personal money machine. 

I want to point out that having just a handful of backer rewards makes it far easier to fulfill your obligations than having several different ones.  Take a long look at the logistics of fulfillment when determining how many backer rewards you will include and what those tiers should be priced as. 

Once you have your calculations for your reward tiers, take a few minutes and compare your numbers with those of campaigns from similar genre/type projects.  (Example: if your project is a new board game, take a look at similar games to see what reward tiers were popular and what those price points were.)

My opinion and a few words of advice on backer rewards:  In the long run it is more important that many people support your project than a handful of people give you a lot of money.  Having many people come out to support you creates an audience.  While some may come and go between campaigns, it has been my experience that people continue to support your projects as you continue to provide good value.  (Example: for The Steel Road, I have created an Early Backer tier which rewards the backer with a PDF copy and a POD code for only $8!  This is to provide a great value opportunity to all of you who have been following my adventure here as well as those fantastic people who have been following me on KickStarter! As always, "Thank You" to all of you who have supported my campaigns.) 

Art from: The Steel Road
Artist: Zachary Viola


Whether it is a novel, RPG book, or comic book make certain to have the file formatted and backed up somewhere before you launch. I've had a bad experience where my computer died, which forced me to reformat all of Comet over Echo Rock.  I would like to recommend that you save your work locally, to a removable medium, as well as to a cloud storage for redundancy.  This was careless of me in several ways, and cost me more hours than I care to admit.  Don't make the same mistake I did!

All books should be written, at least in the first draft stage, before launching your KickStarter campaign.  If additional content comes in through backer contributions, make certain the backers understand the timeline for submitting their material.  If stretch goals add to the project, make certain to have that material in development or fully developed before the campaign ends.

For printed works, be fully aware of your print and shipping costs.  I will point out that signed copies get shipped at least twice: once to you for signatures and then the second time on to the backer.  Be certain to factor in the additional shipping in your calculations.

Books that are released electronically or via a print on demand code the backer uses are inherently easier and faster to fulfill.  I strongly recommend a digital version of any book created as a backer reward.  I'll be offering POD codes as backer rewards for The Steel Road.  This is my first time employing this option, but I've read up on it and I believe it will allow for a more rapid fulfillment and will lower costs for fulfillment. 

Screen shot from Campaign preview
Art by: Zachary Viola

Promoting your KickStarter campaign:

I'm a big believer in using social media to promote your projects.  I'm also a big fan of building community and helping others.  Make connections to people who share your same interests, tell them about your project and campaign, and ask if they would help spread the word. 

Reach out to other creators whom you have supported in the past, Social media circles, and any social media personalities you may be acquainted with.  Whether it is a podcast channel that has fifty followers or a just your friend who has five hundred facebook friends, ask them to help promote your project.  Be cordial, professional, and honest in all such dealings.

Many people will tell you to use paid ads of one form or another.  I can only say that I have had more people find me from word of mouth on social media than I have from

{Example:  I routinely promote KickStarter and Indiegogo campaigns I find interesting or which are being conducted by people I network with.  This is great for building a mutually supportive community but it does take effort on your part.  You also have to begin building that community well in advance of your own campaign launch.}


Communicating with your backers is incredibly important.  I would go so far as to say that it is incredibly rude not to do so. 

I recently added a link to a KickStarter campaign I found interesting.  I had never communicated to the creator before, I don't know her, but her campaign was really neat.  Over the last few days I've been watching as she has failed to respond to comments from backers.   This appears to have cost her some backers so far.  I have no intention of embarrassing anyone so I will not specify which campaign this is.  What I will say is: Do not make this mistake!

Be genuine in your communications, honest in your statements, and realistic in the expectations you create.
Art from: The Steel Road
Artist: Zachary Viola


KickStarter provides a magnificent opportunity for your to develop and release your creativity.  Where once a person may have left an idea to linger and die, now you can pursue your idea with the help of others.  I strongly recommend that you utilize the funding available to create the best version of your project possible.   By creating the best product or service possible, you will be able to realize income outside of the crowd funding campaign. 

Don't get me wrong, you should hope to make some extra money from your campaigns.  What I am recommending is that you create the absolute, best version of your vision before claiming any funds as revenue.  See my previous post concerning my recommendation on what to do with "Profits" in my previous post HERE

This has been a very basic overview of how to put your KickStarter campaign.  I would like to recommend that you do your due diligence and research crowd funding at length before designing and launching your campaign.  If you have questions, please post them in the comments below.  I will make every effort to answer the questions I can, but those I cannot answer I'll try to point you to resource if I know of one. 

Be honest in your promotions, be meticulous in your calculations, innovative in your project, and treat your audience and those who support you with respect and professionalism.  Do all this and you'll find that during those moments when you may wonder if you'll reach your goal that you will know you have done your best and acted ethically.  You cannot put a price tag on that kind of peace of mind.


Thank you for joining me for this entry.  I hope this helps you in developing your own crowd funding efforts. 

The Steel Road is coming to KickStarter in coming weeks.  You can follow me on KickStarter to receive notification of the launch, or follow this blog as I'll be announcing the launch date here.

Thanks for joining me on my adventure in game design, writing, and self -publishing.  I hope to see you here next time!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

KickStarter fulfillment for Tarot Adventures, Book Two: Comet over Echo Rock

I received proof copies for Tarot Adventures, Book Two: Comet over Echo Rock today!

Cover Art by: Brian Lee
This was pretty cool, but I did discover a formatting problem and a few text problems that had managed to slip past our editing.  So I'll be correcting those issues through this week and will begin fulfillment once the updated interior files are complete.  So backers for this KickStarter campaign will begin receiving their rewards next week.

This adventure is released under the Open Game License, and is designed to be a difficult to deadly level challenge for characters of second through fourth level of experience.

Some of art going into that adventure:

Art by: Alexia Veldhuisen

Art by: Kelsy Cowan

Art by: Christian Martinez

Art by: Jake Ochoa

Art /Cartography by: James Lee

Background/border art by: Nick Caponi
 You can see more of Nick's work by checking out his web comic SANDI on Tumblr


Whether you are new to the Tarot Adventures, or a survivor of The Draw of Glenfallow, you and your friends will enjoy this brutal adventure!

What is going on in this book:

Monsters remain in the Echo Rock silver mine.  Pieron wants your group of brave adventurers to rid the mine of its monstrous inhabitants to avenge the deaths of those who have tried to reopen the mine before you, as well as to bring the wealth from the mine to help continue the growth of Glenfallow.

Survive the climb into the northern mountains, brave the depths of Echo Rock, and rid the mine of its infestation.  There is wealth to be had, political clout to be earned, and monsters to kill.

Packed with several full page illustrations, a selection of six (6) pre-generated characters, example dialogue, a selection of example skill results, and pages of NPC and setting data, this adventure is full of material for the adventure at hand as well as material that easily adopted for expansion.


As a final note, I do use KickStarter to fund my various projects.  There are some neat projects on KickStarter right now and I want to point a few of them out to you.

Here are some of them:

At the time of this writing there are two days left to support the Coronary campaign.

At the time of this writing there are twenty-two days remaining to help fund Shinobi: Ninja Princess
Disclaimer:  I don't know the people responsible for Shinobi, I just think it looks like a cool project.

Gadget, another project that I saw that really just looks cool to me.  It is early in the campaign and could use a LOT of help in reaching its goal.  I haven't backed this comic yet, but I'm planning to in the final week of its campaign.  Give this campaign a long look, the numbers look realistic and the concept seems really cool to me.  I do wish it had an electronic copy only option or an option for print copy only.  I've messaged the creator to that effect as well.   It's the creator's first KickStarter campaign, at least that is what KickStarter says, so lets share this around and help make it a great first time experience.

Finally, one of the most exciting KickStarters that is running right now (to me anyway), I was looking into developing something similar but I just don't have the coding chops to make it work.  If there is any RPG themed KickStarter you are going to support right now, this is it!

How cool is an Augmented Reality monster?  Just check out their visuals to see.

Thanks for joining me today as I explore writing, game design, and self-publishing. 

I hope I'll see you again next time!

W.S. Quinton

Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Steel Road, Pathfinder, and the New Pathfinder 2

Bakuba the dagger of the Nobility
From: The Steel Road
Artist: Zachary Viola

When development for The Steel Road began it was decided to release it in two editions.  The first edition for the 5th edition rules set under the Open Game License (SRD5.1) and the second as a Pathfinder compatible version.

However, since planning was completed and work began a new version of Pathfinder was announced.  You may have seen the new Pathfinder Playtest page already.  Personally, I think it is a really cool idea.  But with a new version of Pathfinder on the horizon, it doesn't make much sense to me to release a version of The Steel Road for the current edition.  To this end I have spoken with Zachary Viola, and it has been decided that a Pathfinder compatible version will be put off until after the release of the new Pathfinder Edition.

You may be asking "WHY?"

While I am in business to create books, it is important to me that I conduct business in a manner that is responsible not just to myself and the artists whom I commission art from, but also in a manner that is in best faith with my audience.  It seems irresponsible for me to release a book knowing that it's playable lifespan could expire with the coming edition (which seems likely), and in just a few months time. For business reasons it doesn't make sense and for my own ethics regarding my audience it doesn't make sense to release a Pathfinder compatible version at this time.

I hope all of you who were looking forward to the Pathfinder compatible version understand this decision, and will join me in looking forward to the new Pathfinder edition and the wealth of new books that will certainly be created in response to its release.


In the meantime, I've been doing some initial formatting of the rough draft for The Steel Road.

Putting down the art layer The Steel Road
Art by Zachary Viola

I intend to complete that draft so as to have a proof copy in-hand when we launch the KickStarter campaign.  That will permit me the luxury of having a hard copy in hand to note any problems, as well as to give me a feel for the book.  It will also be good for the KickStarter campaign for people to be able to see what has been done already.  That campaign will have a pretty rapid turn around time from the point the funding comes in to the fulfillment, so it is important that people see how far along the development is.

Image capture of the art layer for the
Legendary Knobkierie
Art by: Zachary Viola

If you're interested in the 5th Edition version of this unique book, I invite you to follow me on KickStarter to receive notification of that campaign's launch, or continue to watch this blog for the launch date announcement.   As was announced previously, the PDF and Print On Demand code will be packaged together for early backers for only $8 (USD) for the first three days.

Thank you all!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

My journey as a writer and publisher to "The Steel Road"

Promotional image for "The Steel Road"
The sketch is from the book
Art by: Zachary Viola

I've been rather busy.  I finished up the final formatting on Tarot Adventures, Book Two: Comet over Echo Rock.

Screen grab of the title file for the hard cover collector's edition
Art by: Brian Lee

The book is presently in premedia set up at the printer, and I'm expecting to order proofs either later today (04.26.2018) or tomorrow (hopefully today).  I've also been writing out and formatting my coming project:  The Steel Road!

All of you who have been following this blog know that I'm very excited by
The Steel Road  project.  It's my first source book and I'm thrilled to be putting it into the hands of all the people who have been supporting my projects here and on KickStarter.

Promotional image
Art is by Zachary Viola
Actual art from "The Steel Road"

It's been a year of exciting projects, hard work, mistakes, making new friends, supporting other projects, and learning from comments and criticisms.

It is incredible to me, that it all started with Tale of the Wizard's Eye barely a year ago!

Cover Art by Phoenix O'Faery
Tale of the Wizard's Eye

With Tale of the Wizard's Eye I learned that I had a LOT to learn.  I also noticed that several people on Drivethrurpg had one title, and then they just didn't make any more. That bothered me.  I didn't want to be done after my first title.  Sure, it took work, but anything that is worthwhile always does.  Tale of the Wizard's Eye received some very kind reviews.  Enough of them, in fact, that I have been working on a sequel to bring characters back to the flooded city, and bring them face to face with an adversary far more deadly than they faced before *insert super villain laugh here*!

There were (and still are) several projects on my "to do" list, so I set my mind to completing them.  Money is a limiting factor, so I set off to produce my second adventure as my next project.  This was sensible as I could immediately apply things I learned from TotWE, and it was a lower cost production than trying to tackle a source book or the original RPG I have been developing.  That adventure gave rise to a series, as all of the play testers asked "what comes next".  Of course I'm talking about  The Draw of Glenfallow, the first book in the Tarot Adventures!

Goblin Chieftain from The Draw of Glenfallow
Art by: Christian Martinez

TDoG is my most funded and best supported KickStarter campaign to date.  Packed with fierce encounters for low level player characters, amazing art, and a fun story. Kickstarter backers, and those people who have bought this adventure since its release, have been kind enough to tell me they really enjoyed it.  As a writer and game designer I can think of no higher compliment.

It hasn't all been success and chocolate bunnies.  Oh no!  There is a project I am fantastically proud of, obsessively committed to, and which failed to reach the funding level needed to make it a reality (on its first crowdfunding attempt).  My first comic book project, 47 Furious Tails, just didn't reach its funding goal.  But I'm relaunching in a few months and I hope you'll help spread the word about it, as this comic needs to see print!  47 Furious Tails is packed with fantastic art from the remarkably talented artist, Alexia Veldhuisen.

Cover of Issue One
Art by Alexia Veldhuisen

The failure to fund was due to poor planning and execution of the crowd funding campaign on my part.

I didn't have enough finished art content at the time, and backers were left to speculate as to how awesome the book would be.

Next time, that changes!

I'm going to be using any extra funds from coming projects (over and above what is used for fulfillment, meeting stretch goals, etc.) to have more of the book done in time for its relaunch.  Getting a comic book illustrated is not for the faint of heart, but this is a tale that needs to be told.  The story of the Ako incident, of 47 samurai who became ronin and avenged the death of their lord.   A classic tale told with a twist!

Crowdfunding add-on poster
Art by Alexia Veldhuisen

I spent a lot of time looking at 47 Furious Tails' KickStarter campaign.  I had some doubts, for about thirty minutes, as to if I would ever see that comic book in print. Then I realized it was just a matter of time.

If you take anything from today's entry, I hope it is this:  failure is a momentary stumble as you travel to your goal.  In other words, so long as you don't quit, so long as you keep working, you will see your goal realized.  I know that one day I'll hold 47 Furious Tails in my hands.  I hope everyone else who holds it and reads it, experiences the same thrill at this story as I do!

As 2017 came to a close I found myself with some huge changes in my personal life.  To be frank, I got divorced.  It slowed down my writing, or more accurately I allowed  it to slow down my writing.  Many people tell me there is no shame in that.  I'm not ashamed but I do see now, just a few months later, that I could have put my time to better use.  Yes, I needed to work out my own emotions about the divorce but now it's time to get back to work!

A tough encounter!
Art by: Jake Ochoa
From: Comet over Echo Rock

I launched Tarot Adventures, Book Two: Comet over Echo Rock with a completed adventure that had already seen some play testing.  I had most of the art done.  All I really needed was the remaining art and to complete formatting.

Then my computer died.

Yep.  I was saved only by having my physical notes, work I had saved on my cloud, and a dear friend who offered to build one for me (and who let me use one of his in the interim).  Unfortunately, I had to reformat the art, which led to text format changes.  It cascaded a bit.  No worries though.  I had given myself an extra month of time outside my original project timeline when I planned my KickStarter campaign, and had targeted an April release date for fulfillment planned.  As it turned out, I needed every hour of that time. (See above comments about waiting for the files to clear premedia.)

Why did I need it?

Because I saw that I could make the adventure better.  Reformatting led to some rewriting.  Which in turn led to some changes for adventures I have planned down the line in the series, which led to a few more changes in CoER.  

It's not as complex as it sounds.  

I genuinely want to put my best effort out with each book, to give the people who have been supporting me the best work I know how to produce. In my mind, I owe it to the people who backed the KickStarter, I owed it to myself, and if an adventure is going to have my name on it I want it to be the best I can make it.  I hope you'll take the same position in your own project development.

a dangerous denizen of Echo Rock
Art by: Kelsy Cowan

Completing the formatting of Comet over Echo Rock brought me a great amount of joy.  I'm proud of that book.  It was labor intensive, costly, and incredibly important.  Important because my backers put their faith in me to deliver the best book I could.  Important because it turned the Tarot Adventures into a published series.  Important because it brought a wide range of talent together on a book that now carries their craftsmanship.  Its a grand adventure, with some seventy-one pages in the book, including encounters, source material, several npcs, a nice (or nasty) environmental hazard and more (71 pages total, that counts the legal stuff like the Open Game License.)

Now I'm looking at the writing I've put together for The Steel Road, making myself a nuisance to my artist as I ask more and more of him (even though he has done a FANTASTIC job already).  There is so much art, and it all looks amazing.

the iconic Iklwa, the heavy Zulu iron spear
Art from: The Steel Road
Artist: Zachary Viola

The Zulu spear, the Iklwa has received a lot of attention.  I love the sketch look concept of the whole book, and this illustration really drives it home for me.  The no nonsense look of the warrior, his weapon at the ready, is the kind of image I hope is evoked in the minds of players and game masters alike as they put The Steel Road to use.

the Otsuchi from Japan
Art by: Zachary Viola
from: The Steel Road

All of the teased art for The Steel Road has been art that is actually doing into the book.  Zack has delivered consistency, creating great sketches that are authentic to the weaponry and the environment they were created in (though some liberties were taken with the undead skeleton wielding the suburito).

I feel like I've walked life on a steel road myself these past few months.  Weird thing is that I'm happy about that. I like looking on my shelf and seeing two books I've written there.  I like knowing that a third is coming out in a few days. I look forward to seeing how people respond to Comet over Echo Rock and I can't wait to launch the KickStarter for The Steel Road. I hope people support it with the same zeal I feel about the project.

Life is an adventure in and of itself.  The steel road each of us walks is often feels like the edge of a blade.  We walk through our own trials toward our goals and when we make it to the end, when we're standing on the tip of the weapon itself, we then face new and more challenging goals ahead.

Welcome that feeling as that is how you go forward and achieve those goals you once saw as so distant.

The Steel Road, travel the world on the edge of a blade.  I hope you will come out and support the KickStarter.  It will be launching in a couple of weeks (check out this blog for final launch date).

As I like to say of Sinopa Publishing's books... "Adventure Awaits!"


The art for these books was created by some remarkably talented people.
I want to thank (in no particular order):

Phoenix O'Faery
James Lee
Brian Lee
Rebecca Coulthart
Jennifer Fraggle Dee
Samantha Vogelsang
Christian Martinez
Kelsy Cowan
Anthony Ojeda
Jake Ochoa
Alexia Veldhuisen
Zachary Viola
Nick Caponi

And, for work she'll be doing in the future, on Luther's Revenge:
Lotus Blair!

Thank you all!

I hope you'll join me next time as I continue my own adventure in writing, self-publishing and game design.