Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Steel Road: Art, project development, promotional efforts, and crowdfunding concepts

I've been quite busy with projects for the last few months.  Comet over Echo Rock is almost ready for proofs to be ordered, so fulfillment is right around the corner.  This means I'm gearing up for the promotion of the next book release.  I'll be discussing what the book is, and presenting a sample of the fantastic art going into its production.  Finally, I'll discuss some of the thoughts behind the production, promotional efforts, and preparations leading up the crowdfunding campaigns.  I hope you'll find this information of use for your own projects as well.

If you enjoy this entry please share it with others.


THE STEEL ROAD ~ Art by: Zachary Viola  Written by: W.S. Quinton

The world has been a dangerous place throughout human history.  Every civilization has developed its own weaponry with which to confront enemy threats.  As geography divided the world, cultures evolved their weaponry in unique ways.

Trade flourished between civilizations and as caravans and fleets traveled the globe they encountered a vast array of exotic weapons.  Within The Steel Road we chronicle the journey of a caravan of weapon merchants.  Each weapon described is sketched to provide an authentic art style.

As both a role-playing game resource and art book you'll enjoy The Steel Road as you travel the world on the edge of a blade!

A sample of images we're using in this fantastic book.  Enjoy!


Project Development ~

As with any project, The Steel Road began with a simple idea:  Wouldn't it be cool to have a source book of exotic weapons where every weapon was illustrated?

Sounds simple, doesn't it?

As with anything that is genuinely worth doing, the project wasn't as simple as it sounded.  The simple idea needed definition.  What weapons would be included?  What size book are we talking about?  If each weapon is to be illustrated will we include an enchanted version and if so will it need a separate illustration?  What page count range will the book be designed for?  How is printing going to be handled?  How will we get copies into people's hands? How much money will it take to develop the project?  How long will art take? When will the book need to be released? How do the tasks involved fit into the existing development calendar? The list of questions grew as the scope of the project became more evident.

Don't be daunted by this!  You can accomplish any project you are determined to complete so long as you: (1) Plan your project out; and (2) Don't quit.  So planning began with conversations with the artist who immediately wanted this project, Zachary Viola.  We discussed the project, formulated a realistic goal for the number of weapons to be developed and illustrated, calculated the timeline, agreed to compensation, and signed the contracts.   Art was assigned to Zach and he began the work of illustrating the book in the summer of 2017.  It is a LOT of art ladies and gentlemen!

Weapon statistic design, weapon description, and narrative writing fell firmly on my shoulders.  It's a task for which there is great responsibility to create content at the highest level of quality I can.  Through development a few ideas emerged that were key to making The Steel Road a great product. A book people would not only use, but use often and enjoy.

The concept was finalized, with the introduction of a narrator who tells his story as he journeys the world.  This made ordering the chapters important as we wanted the journey to evolve organically.  This is to give you, the reader, a feeling of natural progression of the travels of the merchant caravan.  It is, arguably, a minor thing but I felt it was particularly important.  The Steel Road is more than just a catalog of weapon images and statistics, its a book I hope you cherish and enjoy using.

For those of you devising your own projects:  Careful formulation of production schedules, promotion events (see previous entries regarding podcasts, personal appearances, etc.),  planning and executing your crowdfunding efforts (assuming you're using crowdfunding) will help you to identify and accomplish key tasks.

Promotional Efforts ~

It is important to introduce people to your work.  If you are an author or game designer you hope people will read your work and play your games.  To introduce people to your creations, use your promotional campaigns to show people what you do.  Showcase the excitement of your game or the appeal of your book.  Your promotional efforts aren't about maximizing your profits as much as they are about bringing attention to what you are doing.  People will decide if they want your product based on what they know about it.  First step then, is to let them know about your project.

If you have little to know budget they you want to maximize your social media efforts. If you have followers on your social media pages, ask them to share your information with others.  Create fun content that people enjoy, allow people the joy of being curious about your design, and be genuine and honest in all your efforts.

I'm a big fan of no/low-cost promotions.  I've had good success with live streaming, pod cast interviews, sending information to bloggers, making appearances at local comic shop and game stores, and sharing information on audience appropriate pages. It's a simple approach, and one well suited for people with no budget for promotional expenses or marketing expertise.  For those of you who are well experienced with promotions/marketing this is remarkably low stress approach.

Crowdfunding ~

Crowdfunding is about getting the project funded for completion.  For The Steel Road, there was a tremendous amount of art created.  Funding for that project will be used for backer reward fulfillment and to pay the artist.  Surplus revenue will be applied to funding future projects.  The crowdfunding campaign for this book will focus on providing value to the backers while striving to meet our funding goal.

Here's how I'm setting up the crowdfunding campaign:

1)  Kickstarter ~ Kickstarter is the only crowdfunding platform I've had any real success with.  To date I've had three of my four campaigns successfully funded there.  I'll be launching a short campaign on that platform to reach our minimum funding goal, with stretch and social goals set to help us reach levels of funding that allow for additional content to be added as well as adding an exclusive cover for backers.

2) PDF and Print on Demand Code Rewards ~ The Steel Road is coming out at over 100 pages, with more than 100 illustrations.  It will be made available in a printable PDF and print on demand codes for low cost backer rewards. I'm making these rewards stretch goal eligible, to provide the maximum value for all backers!

3) Sketch copies ~ There is a very limited number of backer rewards available where backers will get their digital rewards plus a print copy with a unique sketch in the cover done by Zachary Viola.  For backers who want something unique.  This offers a rare opportunity for the backers and is something Zach and I thought was a reward.

4) Signed copies ~ I have a great appreciation for signed copies.  I'm told I do it in a weird way as I personalize the signature to the individual backer.  The Steel Road will offer signed copies for backers to give their reward that personal touch.

5) Dedications ~ Each version of the book, (5th edtion OGL version and the Pathfinder Compatible edition) will have their own dedication.  The backer will be able to dedicate that edition to his/her friends and/or family by name.  This is a great reward tier if you and your group want to be immortalized in a particular edition.

Stretch goals will bring a hard cover version as well as additional content.  I've also put aa social goal in place aimed at my personal goal of reaching one thousand backers (I know, its a tall order)!

The campaign for The Steel Road is planned to be a fast and furious three weeks of excitement.  The first three days of the campaign, will feature special 'early backer' levels allowing backers to get PDF and POD codes for either version of the book for only $8 USD.  Want both 5th ed and Pathfinder compatible versions?  That's cool, I've got an 'early backer' level for that too!

I really want this book to reach as many gaming tables as possible.  I hope The Steel Road will make it to your table as well.


For all of you who are developing your own titles: I hope this blog has provided you with insights that have been beneficial. I've written about my ideas, my ethics, my work schedules, my successes and my mistakes.  It's been a wild year of diving into the deep end of the pool of writing and self-publishing, followed by a lot of paddling to keep from drowning 😉.  If I can do this, so can you.

Thank you all for joining me on this great adventure.  I hope to see you next time as well.

P.S.: I've also been writing fan fiction for one of my all time favorite role-playing games.  It's a fun hobby of mine, telling the fictionalized stories based on game play.  So check out "Fan Fiction ~ Tommy's Story" for more (I recommend starting at the beginning as the stories run chronologically).

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Development, things to come, and art for "The Steel Road"

From: The Steel Road
Art by: Zachary Viola
A friend of mine recently said to me, "I don't know how you do it all."  This was in reference to my writing, blogging, publishing efforts, promotional work, crowdfunding campaigns, raising kids, and going through my divorce while working full time during the day. It sounds very daunting when you write it all out. I admit that I felt a bit conflicted about my friend's opinion. He is convinced that I achieve a great deal.  My perception, however, is that I actually just accomplish a little each day.  With each task I complete, I take another step toward completion of my projects.

Many of you who read this blog are interested in producing your own materials. I am certain you have had moments when you felt overwhelmed by the job ahead.  I know I've certainly had moments when I have looked at my "to do" list and it seemed impossibly huge.  Anything extraordinary, any kind of remarkable accomplishment, is going to require some extra effort. The thing to remember, is that any large task is really just the sum total of several small jobs. I encourage you to put your pen to paper, your fingers to the keys, and your time to the small tasks.  You'll have to set forth the effort. But if you can accomplish a little bit each day, or each day that you have a moment to work in, the work accomplished piles up.  You'll get a step closer to completion with every play test, every page written, and with every task you complete toward your goal.  Don't let naysayers deter you, don't allow an incomplete project to lay fallow, and don't worry about what other people are doing. Create your vision, bring it to the world, and enjoy the incredible sensation of seeing people appreciate your work.

I recommend to each of you (the writers, the visual artists, the game designers, bloggers, etc.), that you not let yourself become disheartened as you work.  Believe me, I know that sometimes it can seem like writing and developing games and titles can feel like a never ending task.  Its a lot like eating a whole cow, you do it one bite at a time (yes, I know the saying is 'elephant'). So get the outline written, write through that tough scene that has you wringing your hands, correct that layer you aren't happy with, and bring your vision to life.

People will say things like "Wow, how did you do that?!" or "That must have been SO hard!" but really its just that you were willing to put in the work, in order to accomplish your goal.  Don't be afraid to do the work, don't be scared of not seeing immediate results, and above all... DON'T GIVE UP!  You can produce your vision if you will just do the work to make it happen.

You may feel like you're not doing enough to get done.  I sympathize as I feel that way very often.  I have a full time day job, I have small children, and I have a divorce I'm dealing with.  Believe me, I know what it feels like to have your time tied up.  Certainly take a little time to relax and unwind, but don't sacrifice your vision.  Dust yourself off and get a little done.  Only have twenty minutes to write? Well, then write for twenty minutes.  I usually keep a notepad with me or some other way that I can write down notes, ideas, and / or blocks of text.  I encourage you to do the same.

Completing your project is very simply a matter of doing the work to get it done.  It won't always be easy.  This blog entry is a perfect example of that.  I didn't know what I wanted to talk about and I went through three different ideas before I found what was most important to me right now.  I wrote this for you, and to confront my own demons as they howl in my ear trying to decry my own efforts.  (Back hellspawn, BACK!) So this entry was beneficial for me as it allowed me to refocus on the important details.  So tonight I'll write, even if it's only a few words, and get that little bit done.  Day by day, and page by page, I'll complete those projects and more.

I hope you'll do the same.

Below are the things I'm working on right now.  Items in development and those things rolling into development.

As of this writing, I'm polishing up Tarot Adventures, Book Two: Comet over Echo Rock for its backer release /fulfillment.  Schedule is to release in April so time is coming up.  I had my laptop die and that slowed things considerably until I was able to get a new system (thanks to my friend Justin, for helping me out with that).  Art is done except for maps, which should be completed shortly.


What comes next:

Once fulfillment is complete for CoER, I'll be finishing up "The Steel Road" 5th edition OGL version.  I'll be creating the Pathfinder Compatible version as well and should complete that during its KickStarter campaign.

"The Steel Road" is a source book of exotic weapons from around the world.  It features fifty weapons, each of which is illustrated.  For each of the weapons within the book there is also an illustrated and fully defined enchanted "legendary" version of that weapon type.  This book provides you with a great range of available weapons for your game.  I have developed each weapon's statistics from real world data.  None of the stats presented are duplicated from any other text.  {In short, we're not copying anyone!}  The book is presented in an art style that mimics a sketchbook.  This is in keeping with the theme, as information is presented from our fictitious 'narrator', a leader of caravan of weapons merchants, as they traverse the far flung corners of the world.

From: The Steel Road
Art by: Zachary Viola

Following fulfillment of "The Steel Road" Kicstarter campaign, I will be commissioning the initial art for use in "Whispers of Persephone".

"Whispers of Persephone" is a resource book for players and game masters alike.  It brings a new arcane tradition to the 5th edition OGL mechanic, "Stygian Necromancy".  This book is being designed to resemble a spell book, containing pages of new spells, rituals, rules for ritual sacrifice (how and why you do it), notes on the tradition itself, tips on playing an evil spell caster, fiction concerning the Stygian Necromancers, and material to help bring the "DARK" back to the 'dark arts'!


In the late summer of 2018, I will be re-launching crowdfunding campaigns for "47 Furious Tails, Issue One".  If you've been following this blog since summer of 2017, you may recall that we didn't reach the funding goal on our first attempt.  To remedy this, I'm diverting any profits above operating costs into making this comic book a reality.

"47 Furious Tails" is a comic book re-telling of the Ako Incident. The story of 47 samurai who defied the will of the Shogunate to avenge the death of their lord, Asano Naganori. This series uses anthropomorphic characters to depict these legendary samurai.  You'll see samurai squirrels, foxes, monkeys and more as the tale unfolds.  Issue one begins before Lord Asano's last journey to Edo.  You'll see our insights into the way these samurai may have lived.

Based on historical and literary accounts of the incident, this comic series strives to bring the tale back to the modern era.  You'll see brutal samurai action throughout the series, experience intrigue, and catch a glimpse into the beautiful and deadly traditions of the samurai!


Late Fall and Winter of 2018

Tarot Adventures, Book Three:  Death comes to Glenfallow.

The Tarot Adventures continue in the later half of 2018.  I'll be releasing Death comes to Glenfallow, and if time permits, I will strive to release Book four as well (more on that title later).
Death comes to Glenfallow will bring yet more adversity to the denizens of Glenfallow, more challenges to the player characters, and more opportunities for heroics.

Luther's Revenge 

The sequel to my first adventure release, Tale of the Wizard's Eye, Luther's Revenge is a dark tale filled with assassins, murderous plots, and deceits targeting the player characters.  Look for fantastic art from none other than Lotus Blair  to make this a beautiful book.  Designed for high level characters as a difficult to deadly level challenge.  Be

Things on the back burner (I.E. my pile of other projects)

Children's books ~ I've written four children's in 2017 and I'm still waiting on illustrations on the first.  These projects are important to me, so I'm working on them as well.  It is likely that one or maybe two of these book will be released this year.

Card game ~ A friend of mine had a kickstarter to fund his own card game.  I thought to myself, "I can create a card game, sure" and so I bent my will to the task of designing a card game.  It was not as easy as I expected!  That said, the design is done, it just needs art and lay out to be completed then I can test it.  This isn't a high priority for me at the moment, so it is sitting in my "to play test" pile of projects.  (That pile is basically for things that I will inflict upon my play testers... they are such tolerant souls).

My original RPG ~ I have tons of work done on this and probably one hundred or more pages left to write  I don't have any art for this other than a few pieces for the bestiary so I'll have to fund that through crowd funding (and its going to take a LOT of money, so wish me luck and I hope you'll support the effort).  I'll run this game by my game group for play testing and we'll see how it shakes out.

I want to thank you all for once again joining me on my journey as I explore game design, self-publishing, and writing.  I hope you find this blog useful, of benefit, and that it helps you to avoid the mistakes that I have made while providing some clarity for your own efforts.

I hope you'll join me next time as we continue this bold adventure.

W.S. "Sam" Quinton

The Tarot Adventures series is trademarked by Sinopa Publishing LLC and W.S. Quinton.  All rights reserved.

The Steel Road is copyright (c) 2018 by W.S. Quinton and released by Sinopa Publishing LLC.  All art included in The Steel Road is copyright (c) 2017 and 2018 by Zachary Viola and is used with permission and under contract. All rights reserved.

47 Furious Tails is copyright (c) 2017 by W.S. Quinton and released by Sinopa Publishnig LLC. All art included in 47 Furious Tails is being created by Alexia Veldhuisen on commission from Sinopa Publishing LLC.  All rights reserved.

Whispers of Persephone is copyright (c) 2018 by W.S. Quinton and released by Sinopa Publishing LLC.  All art included in Whispers of Persephone is being created by Christian Martinez on commission from Sinopa Publishing LLC.  All rights reserved.

Monday, March 5, 2018

A Call of Cthulhu Crossover character concept

Very recently an old friend (of more than twenty years) asked me for a character concept for a new Call of Cthulhu campaign.  I did my usual, job of presenting him with a concept that I thought was cool and fun, but that his group didn't want to allow for.

Now before we get into what I recommended, understand that I only play Call of Cthulhu in the months of October and November, and I usually act as the game master, storyteller, punisher of players.  I haven't run a game in the current edition yet either.  One last disclaimer, I've had players complain of nightmares from game sessions ... which should probably be taken as a compliment I suppose, but is a bit off-putting for most groups. You should also be aware that I am a big Dr. Who fan.  Given some of the bad guys the Doctor has faced in the past, facing mythos creatures seems very interesting thing.

Still here?  Groovy.  So the concept I presented to my friend was ...

Dr.  Jamal King (Phd. Bio-chemistry)
Age: 29
Ethnicity: African American
Gender: Male


Born in the United States, Dr. King completed his Phd in England in 2045.  He became a companion to the Doctor (female) and traversed time and space seeing a variety of wonders. Something of a history buff, his travels with the Doctor into the past were a genuine treat for Dr. King.  He did come into conflict with the Doctor over the subject of making changes to the time lines, and fled from the Doctor during a visit in 1920 to Lodi, California. The Doctor confronted Dr. King and after a great argument, she left the intractable time traveler behind.

Dr. King was aware of the racial inequality of the period but was, nonetheless, shocked by the rampant racism he encountered. Desperate to change the course of history, Dr. King advocates for renewable energy sources while working in a laboratory for DeWhitt Chemical Engineering.  He has been saving money for a trip to Austria where he intends to assassinate Adolf Hitler in a bid to stop the second world war from occurring. 

Dr. King misses a number of conveniences from the 21st century, but is willing to sacrifice the internet, Netflix, and computer assisted research if it means he can help brunt the damages of fascism and help avert the environmental destruction of the fossil fuel age.  He plans to popularize the electric automobile, and is working to develop an environmental movement. 

Introduction to the Mythos:

While working at DeWhitt, he was called upon to analyze a curious organic compound.  The substance has defied his best efforts, so he is working from a premise that it is formulated from transuranic elements.  He is working on development of a crude spectrograph to test that theory. 

The substance is spoor from an extraterrestrial being that exists in a state between three and four dimensions.  As such the spoor fluctuates and is defying quantification. Dr. King's analysis to date has yielded some curious results of interest to his supervisors at DeWhitt.  Dr. King's boss routinely claims his work as his own to enhance his own reputation.  Unknown to Dr. King, or anyone else at DeWhitt, Dr. King's boss is a mythos cultist determined to bring the age of the old ones to Earth.


I thought it was an interesting idea that wouldn't need adaptation of the game mechanic.  Cthulhu mythology already includes instances of different types of time travel, and having an investigator from out of time who claims to be a time traveler (crazy right?) would be fun. 

Alas, my friend's game master didn't like the idea of crossing genres. 

I know this entry isn't much like my others, but I thought I would share a bit of my game life with you all.

Thanks for joining me on my blog as I explore writing, game design and self-publishing (and get some personal insights into my more mad moments). 

I hope you enjoy and find usefulness from this blog.  I hope to see you next time!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

A short entry on RPG story development

TriShula from India
Early art by: Zachary Viola
Art from: The Steel Road

If you have been playing role-playing games for any length of time, you are aware that there are many genres, game systems, and settings available for your enjoyment. Regardless of what type of game you are enjoying, an important component to any campaign is the story being created by interactions between the player characters and the plot points presented by the game master.

When you are developing a story for your RPG session keep in mind that it will likely NOT proceed in a manner exactly as you expect it to.  Player actions will often change the narrative with unforeseen results. Player interactions with NPCs can go awry, take on more in-depth properties, or the players may choose not to interact at all.  As the player characters interact with your plot points, you should be flexible enough to adapt the story's progression to a logical consistency with your overall plot and how the player characters have affected it.  This is not to say you should rely entirely upon improvisation, but to encourage you to help your stories grow organically from player participation.

To prepare a story that is adaptable you should flesh out the motivations of the NPCs.  This will help you conceive how those characters would react. This makes your story more dynamic and flexible.  Remember that the NPCs should react according to their character.

Address your story elements with attention to the interests of the players and their characters.  The story hook, grabs the attention of the players and Player characters, and should draw them into the story.  The antagonist(s) oppose your players/PCs and provide conflict.  Create antagonists that are interesting and that fit with the story.  Give them motivations that drive them to act and react.  Good stories have an ending of some kind.  Whether your ending is a springboard into the next adventure or not, make sure that your ending concludes or at least staves off the conflict created by the antagonists.  Wiley antagonists might escape to oppose the the players and PCs again, their plots only foiled for the time being.

Game sessions where the story unfolds are certainly more memorable, and generally far more enjoyable.  For your story, you'll want challenges for your player characters to confront that appeal to your players as well.  Use the challenges to move the story along, as well as to reveal new twists in the plot upon resolution of those plot points.  As an example, if your group is chasing bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside, then confronted and defeated the villains. How will they feel when they discover that the bandits were in the employ of a neighboring lord who sent them to stir up trouble?  Something like that may need to be looked into and the local lord should, perhaps, be notified as well.  Use these points to inspire your players to action and they will narrate the tale of what their characters do, and the story shall unfold in a more natural way.

Create stories that grab the attention of your players, that will facilitate the involvement of the player characters, and be flexible enough to adapt the reaction of the NPCs as the story unfolds.  When you are writing and designing your story, look for classic conflict themes for inspiration, or from real life.  Do you have conflict in your life that plays a huge role in your real life story?  If so it can certainly be a source of material for your game.

Thank you for joining me today on my New Adventure into writing, self-publishing and game design.  As always, I do hope to see you next times.

I saw a kickstarter campaign that I thought was really cool.  So in addition to "I am the Greatest, Hero Edition I also leave you with the link to a neat wooden dice case.  Check them out and support the ones you like.