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The Pitfalls of Publishing

A minor change to the Player’s Handbook.

I check and check and then when I think I’ve got it, I release a file. Almost without fail, the moment I publish, I find an error that just galls me. I know this happens, so I’ll even go over the text several times just before, but I find it after publishing. Maybe there’s a change in psychology that happens after publishing? I go over the file with new eyes, maybe more relaxed than before?

I debate if I should leave it as is, after all it would be easier than reworking a whole new PDF. But no, It’s bad enough, or prominent enough that it really needs to be changed. In this case it was a non-sequiter in the introductory paragraphs.

It probably was a thought that made some sense in the original text, but the surrounding writing had been edited and now no longer had a place.

I fixed it and now I’m happy again. The links to the file have been updated.


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After a very long pause . . .

It took me long enough but I’ve made a lot of progress on the Player’s Handbook. The file in the downloads section is updated. It’s not substantively different from the Beta, but there are many corrections. This means that hard copies could be coming soon!

Player Handbook Cover

Player’s Handbook

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Still Alive

I’ve been away from forums and the blogs for a little bit now. I could make excuses, but I just wanted to pause for a while. I wanted to see what some distance from thinking about all this social internet stuff would do. All in all, not a lot has changed. My brain filled with other things that were present, I worked on a couple games.

There is a lot I want to do with The Artifact. There’s another sourcebook to write, there’s the Player’s Handbook to edit (No, I haven’t finished that, I’ve been lazy). But I have a few very difficult nuts I need to crack to keep moving on. There’s the warping technology that I’ve written a dozen times but I can’t seem to get to the place I want. There’s the equipment generating rules in the Player’s Handbook, that are flexible to a fault but very involved, I’d like to ratchet down the intensity of. There’s the new aliens that I want to introduce. I want to get their mentality right.

There’s a lot to do but I feel like I need some inspiration that’s beyond me to get them right. I want them to be perfect, but as Dr. Lang says, “Perfect is the enemy of done.”

And come to think of it, that hasn’t been my development method so far. My method has been to publish something that works and then refine it as it’s played.

So I really should drop my worries about getting it just right. I should just get it out and work my way toward right. The Artifact has always been a case of “bit off more than I can chew”. I should be used to it by now.


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Editors, start your engines!

I’m tearing into the Player’s Handbook finally. I thought I’d share a bit of my technique. I don’t know if I’m doing anything unusual here (or wrong) but it works for me.

I obviously try and keep things error free and consistent while I’m writing but that’s never enough to get it right. It is important though to do a healthy amount of error checking as early on as possible. Without worrying about quality, editing later would be a nightmare.

Stat blocks are usually my downfall. Along with importing old text, I hate having to re-write, and I should just get over it. Stat blocks need exacting consistency and vehicles are really huge stat blocks so you can guess where a lot of my errors are. I usually copy one stat block and then modify the contents, but that introduces the problem of having fields that look like they’ve already been filled in, when it’s really old data. Things like prices, or the mass of an object can get overlooked.

For some reason, with me, having a printed book in front of me is better than looking at a book on my iPad a thousand times. I read with more clarity on dead tree and marking up a page is easier than any pdf editor I’ve seen. For short documents in the 20-40 page range, I print out the book, usually with two pages to a sheet of paper and make a booklet by folding the pages in half. For longer works, I’ve used in the past to print out the book. I’m moving to Amazon Createspace, but they’re less forgiving and more of a hassle to deal with. There are more hoops to jump through. That’s good for a finished product, but I’m looking for a quick and dirty mock up.

Once I have my dead tree version in hand, I use a red pen or marker to start noting any errors I see. I’ve used blue or black, but it’s easier to lose notes made in more mundane colors. Especially when I’m noting that I missed a space. Red, almost universally stands out more.

Most of my notes are simple. If something is out of place, I’ll use an arrow to point to where it should be. If something is incorrect, like a number, or spelling it gets circled. In most cases, I remember what was wrong just looking at the circled item. In some I forget why I circled it, but after examination I can figure it out. Other times I need to write an actual note to myself about what I want to do with an edit. One of my common notes is “awk” as in awkward. After reading a sentence or a whole paragraph, it doesn’t convey the thought clearly or concisely. It’s awkwardly worded. This note usually requires that I throw the current paragraph out and start over, it’s not retrievable. A fresh take is the only thing that’s going to unstick my brain.

There are of course lots of simple notes, like adding an “s” or an “ing” to the end of a word, usually because the spellchecker didn’t like the suffix and dropped it. I know that I was up late writing when I see that I okayed the change. Write it in red after the word an move on.

So once I’m done with my edits, I go into the digital file and start making the changes I indicated. When I make the change, I write the date next to my edit. This lets me know that I actually fixed the problem and when.

I’ll usually go through the book again afterwards to make sure I didn’t miss any edits and that I still agree with them. If I find that I’ve missed some, I repeat the process over again, until my check runs clean.

Then the book is ready for prime time. (I hope.)

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Hoping to get back in the swing of things

I’m not even making excuses anymore. At this point I need to finish the new Player’s Handbook, I need to finish the Imbalance of Power sourcebook, not forgetting to put into it a lot of the new stuff I posted here for the Chezbah. I know, I’ve been slacking.

The Player’s Handbook needs a decent amount of editing. That will take a while, but it’s fairly straightforward.

The Imbalance of Power, or as we like to call it, the five year sourcebook (because it updates the initial setting by five years) STILL has problems with the feel of the tech introduced. I haven’t quite hit the sweet spot when it comes to getting the rules right. It also needs a lot of testing to get the new threat right.

There are also aspects of the world that still haven’t been developed fully. I have ideas for the Tanroc Fredar that I’d love to explore. There’s a new enemy that’s coming, in Imbalance, but I haven’t been able to fully describe them.

I have been working out some thoughts on Legions, the sequel to The Artifact. For one, the name needs work. The original name for the setting was Galactic Legions, but we always just called it Legions. Beyond that, “Galactic” sounds so. . . 80’s  Sci-fi. I’d like something that shows the desperation of the races in the setting. I was a little tickled by Exiguous Legions but. . . I’m not so sure. Beyond that, there were a few races that were coming to dominate the game’s landscape in terms of power. Oddly, one of those races was humans, but there are 19 races, all interesting, but too limited to compete with the big boys. I contemplated just leaving the rift and having in essence two separate game experiences but I think I have a solution now.


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Look what I got in the mail!



It’s always exciting to get new hardcopies in the mail. I also got a black and white economy version of the core rulebook but that looks mostly the same as the existing books.

The Player’s Handbook needs some work before I can release it. The cover lettering is slightly off on the spine, and the interior needs quite a bit more editing before it’s ready. But! It’s one more step that will bring it closer to happening.

The character book is a 40 page book. Half is character tracking and the other half is maps for recording information about games. Now, who am I going to give this one to for testing? Hmmm. Unfortunately I couldn’t push the price any lower than $3. I was hoping to have it at about half that, but $3 isn’t too much to worry about, right? Some people spend that much on a coffee every day.

The economy book has a minor issue here and there. It shouldn’t take much to fix. Some of the artwork is rather flat looking  without the color but it’s not likely I’ll be able to do anything about that.


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New Hardcopy Options On The Way

It’s been a while, what have I been up to? Not a lot. I started a new game, started a new job, made a really different tool for playing RPGs and totally rebuilt the character sheets for The Artifact.

In the next few weeks I hope to make those reworked character sheets available for purchase. That’s right, purchase. The new sheets won’t be sheets, they’ll be mini booklets. Theres much more space and a lot of rules are included in the book where you need them, when you need them. I’m hoping to make them as inexpensive as possible so if a character dies, the player won’t think of it as a huge loss. If there’s any way to do it, I’d like to sell them in ten packs.

The other thing I want to do is correct some errata in the current PDFs and books and in the process offer a black and white version of the main book as an economy option, and make the Players Handbook available as dead tree version. Because I really want one.

That’s what’s up.

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A Chezbah Campaign?

I’ve never lifted the veil on the Chezbah far enough to allow a player character. For me, that’s been a no-no because it would let the genie out of the bottle. The Chezbah are exotic because they are unobtainable, unknowable, unreachable.

But now I’m starting to rethink that. I have a specific need to playtest Chezbah technologies because I want to see how players would exploit the tech, get the strategies they would come up with. In a way, I want to hand over the keys to the unobtainable because I think the players will come up with better strategies than I will. I’ve come up with the obvious so far, what I think will be fair. Now I need a players mentality to try and grab onto all the advantage they can get.

I’ve written a few times about the technology called Warping. We’ve always thought about play testing the tech from the perspective of the players going up against it but I think it will be more revealing to see the players using it. To have them create the strategies that the Chezbah would use to spam against future players.

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The Imbalance – Warpies

For the next Artifact sourcebook, there’s a jump in technology that moves the main story forward. It may look like power creep but it’s really core to the main story. Earth forces will adopt and adapt technologies found on The Artifact but the Chezbah have also been working on their own technologies.

Leading scientists have come to believe that The Artifact was built to alter matter for an unknown purpose. The name given to these alterations has been called “warping”. Loc and apparently a small number of other groups have had access to this technology but using it has been problematic. Although some technologies have been built around the warped matter such as the War Engines or Titans as they’re called by Earthers, no one has been able to give humans the ability to control warps. That is until recently.

Loc has made a breakthrough in enabling humans to produce their own warps. A number of his priests have been training to use the technology and they are first seen in action in 2090, in the Imbalance sourcebook. Earthers start to call these priests “Warpies”.

What is a warp and what can it do? More importantly, how does it happen? A warp is altered matter. Matter is always in motion in directions, or dimensions that humans don’t perceive directly. What we do see is the effects of the motion. This includes matter having gravity, it’s motion through time and space, particle decay and electromagnetic fields. If the motion of the matter is altered, the properties of the matter is altered.

For in game effects, this means that there are certain effects that a Warpie can accomplish. This includes moving through these other dimensions, a process called shifting. They can alter the effects of energy, either amplifying it or dampening it. They can twist the fabric of space into impassable “dark fields” with concentrated gravity fields. They can make short jumps through time and space. Each effect is modular and can be combined with other effects to accomplish different goals.

A warpie could double the power of a weapon and then double it again for a single turn, or they could double it and then make that last ten turns. They can increase the hit points and armor of a vehicle. They disrupt the normal conventions of the game, and that’s on purpose. The Artifact was never intended to be a static story where the world stayed the same. Instead, the idea was to move along with humanity’s adoption of this alien technology that’s just beyond our control.

I’ve only recently come up with a structure to define this technology. I’ve struggled with it for more than a decade, constantly refining it. Well, now it’s time to sit down and get it done.

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The Fringe for 3rd Edition – Rough Draft

It took a while to reconstruct this document so I’m happy to have something editable to work with. The original fringe setting source book was the first sourcebook released for The Artifact and hasn’t been updated since.

The Fringe is about the people that live on the edge of inhospitable environments. Most people rarely go near hostile places like the methane wastes but some stout souls actually call it home. Orbit around the planet is also a difficult place to survive because of enormous orbital cannons that the major powers have employed to protect their territories. The I-CA has chosen to take them head on so they can stake their claim on the surface of the planet.

The document still needs a cover (it’s never had one) and there’s still some tweaks to be made but it’s well on it’s way to being finished. Enjoy!

The Fringe 3e-Draft

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