War of Ashes: Fate of Agaptus is a 2016 ENnie Nominee!

ENnies 2016 Nominee
The 2016 ENnie Awards nominees were just announced and War of Ashes: Fate of Agaptus has made the list in four categories:

  • Best Art, Interior
  • Best Family Game
  • Best Rules
  • Product of the Year

It’s up against high-quality, popular releases but it’s so nice to be on the list. (Now I know that at least four people read it!)  ^_^

I am so very fortunate that on my first professional writing gig in the role-playing world, Evil Hat Productions let me create a book the way I wanted to, with the support of their fantastic knowledge and staff resources. It doesn’t get any better!

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Christmas Eve Exchange

As a tradition inherited from Edmund’s family, we open our Christmas presents after Christmas dinner, to make the holiday last as long as possible. However, as an offering to impatience and my traditions, we usually exchange and open one present each on Christmas Eve. So Edmund gave me The Badass Feminist Coloring Book, and I gave him a long-overdue portrait I drew of Kuri, the character from my book War of Ashes: Fate of Agaptus. It was all very art-y.

Kuri was just an aspect on sample character Iva the Stubborn’s character sheet until I needed one more character for a playtest event and Edmund decided to play Kuri, who ended the episode with a pirate’s hat as a trophy. Kuri is a Jaarl fawn who also appears in the micro-fiction penned by Edmund in the book. He had asked me a long time ago for a drawing of the character; I had several false starts but I finally completed it.  Hee!

kuri

Convention Report: Big Bad Con 2015

Big Bad Con 2015 badge
Badged and proud of it.

I recently attended — and helped with — my favourite game convention in the world, Big Bad Con.  I can’t believe it was the fifth edition already!  And Edmund and I have been to every instance — and have a ton of souvenir pins to prove it.  (You can read Edmund’s description of this year’s event starting here.)

Every year has been better than the previous, an amazing feat of continuous improvement of an already superb convention.  But this year was also organized differently.  Because of a SNAFU with the hotel, negotiations were difficult and a contract did not get signed until mid-May 2015, for a convention that takes place in October.  If you have ever tried to put on an event of this scope, you know that they take the better part of a year to organize, so this was a challenge.  Plus, organizer Sean Nittner had been putting on the convention with a handful of staff for the first four years through sheer personal energy, and I think exhaustion was setting in.

The Big Bad Wolf and the Wolf Pack

So this year Sean started with a call for volunteers which Edmund and I answered, followed by a Kickstarter campaign to make up for the hotel’s increased fees. The KS campaign was a runaway success, with 205 backers pledging $14,050 or seven times the sum of $2,000 Sean was asking for.  He used the extra money to bring in a bevy of guests selected among enthusiastic community builders and diversity champions in our hobby.  Continue reading “Convention Report: Big Bad Con 2015”

War of Ashes RPG: Icy Sounds

iPhoneDock-01Edmund gave me a speaker dock station for my phone a few days ago, so I now have my Agaptus playlist in the background while I prepare my two War of Ashes: Fate of Agaptus adventures for next weekend’s Big Bad Con: Jean Sibelius (Finlandia, The Tempest), Edvard Grieg (Peer Gynt Suite), Camille Saint-Saëns (Le Carnaval des animaux), Paul Dukas (L’Apprenti sorcier), Sergei Prokofiev (Peter and the Wolf), Danny Elfman (Music for a Darkened Theatre), etc.

The two adventures are Ice, Ice, Baby and Curse of Agaptus, and will both be released as downloadable content on Evil Hat Productions’ website in the not-too-distant future.

Edit: Here is the Agaptus playlist on Spotify if you want to peruse it.

War of Ashes RPG: Diorama…

When Edmund starts painting miniatures for War of Ashes: Fate of Agaptus, this results:

Besieged

From this:

Besieged-spread

Credits:  Photo © Edmund Metheny 2015, used with permission; end pages art © ZombieSmith and Evil Hat Productions 2015, used with permission but my photo doesn’t do it justice.

War of Ashes RPG: The Troops

WoA_minis-KuldZombieSmith have supplied us with a bunch of War of Ashes miniatures in addition to the ones we owned, so little metal creatures are now covering the game table. Edmund has been painting up a storm so I can field bad guys in my two War of Ashes: Fate of Agaptus games at Big Bad Con.  They’re not finished yet, but they’re coming along nicely!  Shown here: the voracious Kuld, pre-shading and highlights phases.

Credits:  Photos © Edmund Metheny 2015, used with permission.

WoA_minis

War of Ashes RPG: It’s Here!

The ThingYes, I’m finally holding a real book in my hands.  That’s my very own stack of books, at EndGame, freshly arrived from Evil Hat Productions’ printer: War of Ashes: Fate of Agaptus.  Dang, it’s real!  I’m real!

Luscious matte-finish hardcover, full-colour printing on thick glossy paper, glorious end sheets.  It’s so wonderful to be on a project where the whole team excels. I’m awed by:

  • Karen Twelves‘ editing and way, way more: she identified the correct “voices” for various portions of the book, tied this into a coherent text, reorganized it several times as we answered the playtest feedback, hunted for typos and cross-references, selected appropriate images from the pre-existing pictures from ZombieSmith, and wrote extensive art notes for new pieces.  In all this, we worked on multiple sections in parallel and the only time we had a version control problem was my fault.
  • Dale Horstman‘s beautiful layout that brought out the art while conveying mood, his choice of images where we had not provided instructions, his skill at visually distinguishing the different types of text (instruction, narration, examples, fiction, etc.), his extensive work to showcase art pieces in the best way possible, his patience with our edits and changes, and his attention to detail.  He also did “invisible” work, such as making sure all those hyperlinks worked properly in the PDF version, and preparing the layout for a smooth transition to ePub.
  • Edmund Metheny‘s micro-fiction, coming to my rescue when I was too exhausted, mentally and physically, to write it.  His little bits of dialogue are funny and zippy, they are short enough that they don’t interrupt the “gamer” reading, they convey a whole lot of flavour and background info in small bites, and they make the characters come alive.
  • Mike Olson‘s help with the conflict rules, and particularly his ideas on using zones more intensively.  I think the playtesters generally loved this rule sub-set, and it’s completely portable to other Fate games.
  • Sean Nittner and Stephen Bajza‘s excellent project management, unexpected in the world of gaming.
  • Sean also acted as creative director, and he was always there with a good idea when I was stomped. To his particular credit: the cycle of approaches in the Froth rules, and reminding me of the usefulness of invoking aspects for effect.  There were tons of other things, but these two bits right there had important ripples in the book.
  • Plus we had an all-star team with all the specialized tasks: Jessica Banks (proofreading), Krista White (indexing), Carrie Harris (marketing and tie-in fiction), Rob Donohue, Leonard Balsera, and Brian Endgard (internal reviewers), Twyla Campbell (playtest survey consultant), Josh Qualtieri, Anthony Brown and the artists at ZombieSmith (art and concept), and of course the business savvy and long-term vision of Chris Hanrahan and Fred Hicks.  (Also, Fred decided to switch from a softcover to hardcover book, which I think the art and graphic design totally deserved.  Thanks, Fred!)

And it smells good!

Smells good! Pretty pictures It has pages! It's in a real store!

P.S.: Of course, as soon as I opened the book I started thinking “Oh, I could have done better here!” etc.  But when I play it, this is a miniatures-based role-playing game I enjoy. I’m also pretty pleased with the game-master tools I provided in there.  I hope you’ll like the book.

War of Ashes RPG: In Layout!

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Oh, how I want to show you the beautiful layout that Dale Horstman is creating for War of Ashes: Fate of Agaptus! But I want to wait until I get the go-ahead—he deserves a chance to show his finished product, not just a draft. This book is going to look so good!

Credits:  Art © ZombieSmith 2014, used with permission.

Going Ape!

Golden GorillaEvil Hat Productions has instituted the Golden Gorilla awards, their “tongue-in-cheek way to recognize spectacular work above and beyond the call of duty.” Editor Karen Twelves and I get to split one for wrapping up the draft of the War of Ashes RPG and sending it to layout!

The Golden Gorilla for Grimsical Speed goes to…Sophie Lagace and Karen Twelves! Sophie and Karen have been under tight deadlines on the War of Ashes RPG, and they’re killing it. As in turning around drafts in a single day. Yeah. A DAY.

Recipients also included luminaries Amanda Valentine (for Editing like a Superhero) and Brian Engard (for Leading the Creative Charge), so it’s amazing company to be in.

War of Ashes RPG: Social Conflict with Miniatures!

War of Ashes RPG: Playtesting social conflict

This is what happens when we mix miniatures with Fate’s social combat mechanics: here is a snapshot of today’s playtest session of the War of Ashes RPG I’m writing for Evil Hat Productions. With Sean Nittner, his lovely daughters, and Karen Twelves.

Photo:  Photo Sophie Lagacé 2015.