It’s Free RPG Day!

NicoeFor free RPG day Store32 is offering our entire PDF line up of games for free! Come and get The Artifact RPG and Steampunkfitters RPG PDFs at no charge! If you want to test the waters there’s also The Warp quickstart for The Artifact with only the rules you need for the included adventure.

How can we offer these fabulous titles for free? You could almost say that every day feels like free RPG day for us.

(Shhh! Don’t tell them that we normally offer them for free.)

Also check out 1KM1KT for more free games than you or your grandpa can shake a stick at.

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A Player’s Handbook? When?

The Player’s Handbook has been updated for the 3rd edition rules, I have the art needed to replace the pieces I took and put in the core book. Now I’m trying to think of a cover. One that screams “Player Character”. I have a few vague concepts that float in and out of my head from time to time but nothing has gelled yet.

Now I’m starting to think of something more radical. I want to combine the Engineer’s Resource with the Player’s Handbook.

Pros: This will bring the information in the Engineer’s Resource more to the center of the player’s experience. There’s a lot of world information in there that informs the players of behaviors that they can encounter.

It makes a bit more sense to have the Comm Officer’s Guide and the Engineer’s Resource in the same book.

It also means fewer books, which is helpful if a new player is looking at picking up the game and playing it. There’s less confusion.

I only have to make one cover.

Cons: Nearly a third of the new Player’s Handbook will be engineering information. Now that’s mitigated by the fact that a good amount of the information could be considered general use. Another factor is that a good amount of the rules in the Engineer’s Resource are now covered in the core rule book and Tech Challenges.

It’s also going to take a lot more time to put out the Player’s Handbook. The Engineer’s Resource is a hairy beast of rules and pointy things when it comes to building vehicles. I’m hoping that it can be simplified a bit as Tech Challenge rules are applied to the process but it’s still a lot of effort to get it right. I was going to do it eventually anyway but now it affects the handbook.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

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Optional Character Generation Rule

We tried this in our last go round of character generation. Even though my players didn’t get much out of it due to poor rolls, I think it could save a number of players from having to play a character they’re not interested in.

What we said was, that if a character starts the game with an attribute 20 or lower the player gets to roll on a bonus table of their choice for each low attribute.

That could be on bonus table one or bonus table two. It’s up to the player.

If an attribute is raised by using a limitations table roll it does not count for an extra bonus table roll. The player has to start the game with the attribute 20 or lower.

Of course the bonus table roll has the potential to raise the attribute above 20. That’s fine, it doesn’t recursively remove the roll which thereby removes the bonus which allows the player to roll on a bonus table. We’re not going there.

I’d feel bad about this not being in 3rd edition if it wasn’t a very difficult rule to explain, especially with the three different character generation methods. Let’s just say that if the above makes sense to you and you want to use it, enjoy.

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Not Obvious Tech Challenges

When explaining Tech Challenges to people, I often get the response that they don’t represent the kind of challenge the GM is looking for. While yes, they are designed to replicate technology challenges, “Tech” is actually referring to Technical Challenges. Let me explain how we’ve used them in our games to illustrate how flexible they are.

In our current campaign, I used a Tech Challenge when the players wanted to pick a lock. Obviously the first skill that was attempted was the Pick Locks skill but that roll failed. The next player didn’t have the pick locks skill, and this really shows the power of Tech Challenges, he wanted to use his sensor systems to see the internal workings of the lock to help. He rolled amazingly well and solved the challenge. How I interpreted this was to say that, with the internal workings of the lock understood, it was a trivial matter to now open the lock.

When was the last time you used sensors to pick a lock? It was a first for me.

With a typical skill system, I would be hard pressed as a GM know if I should allow that kind of cross discipline skill use. But that’s part of the beauty of the Tech Challenge system.

In another game, the PCs needed to figure out why a general was holding out on supporting them. We used a Tech Challenge using sociology and culture skills to find clues. It worked wonderfully well. Each Challenge Point reduced, yielded more information on the general’s situation.

The power here is that the players decide what skills they want to use to tackle a problem. They justify the use and the character’s skill helps to decide if the skill will help. The idea here is that someone who is very competent may be able to use even unusual skills in unexpected ways.

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Amusing Swag, Sometimes Artifact Related

We’ve talked about doing this for ages, and I just got around to doing it.

Dodge! T-Shirt
If in doubt Dodge!

Banner T-Shirt
The Artifact Banner on a T-shirt and Chezbah on the back

More Equipment T-Shirt
NPC = More equipment for my PC

Chezbah Hound T-Shirt
Big pointy teeth!

And unrelated fun stuff. . .

Grouchy Mad Scientist T-Shirt
Yes I’m a mad scientist, don’t hassle me, I haven’t exploded anything today and it’s making me Grouchy!

Averagezombie T-Shirt
Averagezombie & Fitch, fashion zombies!

Bacon Genius T-Shirt
Be a Bacon Genius!

There’s lots more so check out the rest of the store. If you want something that you don’t see, give a shout out in the comments and I’ll try and make it happen.

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Running

We’ve played with the new rules for 3rd edition for a while now but just last week I was able to see one of the rules play out. This was the rule that running (more specifically sprinting) acts as a defense, just like dodging does. The players have focused on their dodge skill for defense for so long. It’s been an part of play for many years and now it’s been upended.

For the longest time, it frustrated me that when faced with overwhelming danger, players would stand their ground and defend themselves. It occurred to me that when faced with danger, players concentrated on the safest course of action. That used to be dodging attacks and hoping to give as good as they got. It really was their only mechanically sound choice.

In the last few games the players have picked up sprinting to defend. That’s right, they ran away from a fight and it was marvelous. The reason it was so enjoyable is because by giving the players a mechanical advantage to running away, they were able to change their long ingrained behavior.

It’s very gratifying to see a mechanical change deliver the results they were intended to.

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Updated Core Download File – Now 5% Original Size

I promised to revisit the download files and get a smaller version out there. I got the time this morning to fiddle with the files and got the whole thing down to an astonishingly small 11.8 Megs. I think that’s as small as my original, first edition download.

The internal links are intact and I was able to add chapters to the file for your navigation pleasure.

Come and get it! The Artifact RPG

You can also get a softcover for yourself.

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3rd Edition Softcovers Are Available!

They’re finally here! You can order your very own 3rd edition softcover book here!

I got my proof today and it looks great. The wrap around cover looks good and there were some interior corrections to make. Interestingly, this proof is the full 8 1/2 inches wide. The first one was 8 1/4 inches. Maybe the last book was trimmed by the new guy? The trim job is also cleaner than the last one. Maybe someone was having a bad day.

So what’s up next? The Player’s Handbook is nearly updated for 3e. All the rules have been updated but there are two pictures that I used in the main book that had been in the handbook. To avoid redundant pictures I’ll have to do some new ones (I know, I said I wasn’t doing any new art for the handbook, oh well). The other thing that I’m debating is changing the cover. All the books before this had a consistency to their covers, with art in the center and a border of a solid color. That’s changed now.

I’ve re-opened Tortuga, there are still some textual updates to do but they’re minor. Again, it’s the art that needs some attention.

We’re running a game now that I would like to make into an adventure. It fits into Tortuga so I think I’ll build it into that document. I don’t want to say anything because my players might read this. Shhhh!

I have some ideas for posts about the Chezbah (that would eventually go into a sourcebook about them). Particularly more nasty toys for Priests.

I want to re-work an old adventure that I wrote a while ago that delved into the Chezbah and their culture. I really liked it but it was too railroady but I didn’t know how to fix it. Now that I’ve written more adventures and studying some other people’s, I think I can do it justice.

There’s a third adventure that I set down so I could concentrate on 3e. With that done I could also work on kicking it out the door.

So pick up a softcover! You know you want to!

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What’s Up? When Can I Get My 3e Book?

Not just yet, soon though. I made some corrections to the interior and made a full wrap around cover. I just didn’t like the spine text that came with CreateSpace’s cover designer. I just got notification that the new proof is shipped. I should have it before the end of next week and if all goes well then the books will go up for sale.

I’ve been playing with the files and their sizes for the downloads. I did get one copy to shrink down to 56 Megs but some of the text got garbled in the process. I’m still trying to preserve the links in the document while shrinking it but that isn’t working so far. I can re-add them after shrinking the PDF but that’s a slow slog that I’d like to avoid.

I’m also working on The Player’s Handbook and making progress. I’ve worked my way through most of the document but I’m still hung up on viruses. I know where I want to go with them but I’m not exactly sure how I want it to work. Mainly I want to have a solution that feels natural to the system and so far I haven’t quite gotten there. I can do simple but it still doesn’t feel right. I’ll keep at it.

I also need to rework some of the existing art for Tortuga so that can be released. I also have several adventures that I’m working on that showcase some of the deeper mysteries of The Artifact.

I also have an idea or two for Chezbah Sourcebook material that I can put up as blog posts.

*Sigh* Busy busy.

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Proof Received

Today I got the third edition proof for The Artifact in the mail. Very exciting! Overall I’m happy with the book, the pictures look great and the text is crisp.

Proof Cover

Before now I’ve gone with Lulu as a POD provider. I like Lulu as a company and they make good books. They also charge nearly double that CreateSpace charges. After getting my proof copy I think I understand why. The book from CreateSpace seems sturdy and the printing is well done but Lulu’s quality is better. Instead of making vague statements, let me break that down as to why I say that.

The paper that Lulu puts into a book is a better quality. The pictures in a Lulu book are glossy so it’s strange for me to see the CreateSpace book with matte pictures.

Lulu’s books are 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches. The CreateSpace book is 8 1/4 by 11. Not a big difference but it matters for layout. It didn’t hurt anything in my case but it was surprising. The odd thing, is that even though the third edition book from CreateSpace is much thicker than the second edition books from Lulu, the thicker book is lighter. I don’t know if that has to do with the extra 1/4 of an inch of material on the Lulu book or if the paper is somehow heavier.

I used CreateSpace’s cover designer to make the book’s cover. Apparently it’s still in beta, so I guess I shouldn’t complain too much about this but the only adjustment you can make to text on the spine is the font color. The font that the text is in is the most boring font imaginable. You also can’t change it’s size or position. I found that frustrating.

Proof Game RulesThe trimmed edges of the third edition book is rough. I’ve seen how books are bound and trimmed. There’s this big press with a razor blade that comes down and slices off the excess material. The blade must be getting dull because the edge of the pages show telltale tracks from the cutting. Although now that I look at one of my Lulu books I see the same thing only less pronounced.

As far as things to be fixed, I missed a few orphaned headings and tables that are nearly impossible to find when looking at a document on the computer but easy to see when dealing with a printed book. I’m unsure if I’d get it right if I try making my own cover to fix the problem with the spine font. I’m not sure what to think of that. There are two or three pictures that are too low of a resolution to look good. They’re old scans and I thought they might squeak by but no. Those will have to be fixed.

GM's SectionIn the end, will I go with CreateSpace or Lulu? If I were just making a book to have my own copy of, I’d want the highest quality which would be Lulu. The issues I’ve brought up are worth the cost savings though. As it is I can offer The Artifact Third Edition for $39.99 on CreateSpace. If I went with Lulu the price would be near $70 for a full color 300 page book which is not reasonable for my purposes. I do remember Lulu’s quality improving over time, maybe the same thing will happen with CreateSpace.

So with a few minor tweaks, I should have hard copy books available soon!Back Cover

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