jay@vanishingtowerpress.com

Friday, November 26

OSR Treasure Island Wrapped

 I'm feeling extremely liberated today for I have submitted the second draft of my manuscript for the Treasure Island adventure book for Freebooters. I experienced nothing new that any writer would have experienced; days when I couldn't even stand to look at the manuscript and tackle the editing needs of the work. There was always a hard turn into prepping for my next supers game. I hear this what kept the Game of Thrones novels being so far apart in release because the author would spend time on his rpg campaign instead. I get this. 

Also, I get ideas for other rpg stuff and of course it feels more interesting at the time than what I am currently trying to complete, fully aware if the projects were reversed I'd feel the same way. Something about commitment makes my human soul cringe, even though it thirsts for completion and accomplishment. Fortunately I sort out all these contradictions with music and drugs and make weirdly streaky bouts of content generation. My artistic process has much "linger and wait for it" strategies which don't go so well with deadlines. But deadlines are really the only way to get creative projects done. There is no end to anything, you just have to find the right moment to pull the rip-cord. 

I think I ended up with a 35,000 word manuscript and the publisher, Night Owl Studios, is really excited about what I wrote. I'm excited to. The quality of the writing is enhanced by having an editor on board. No book is ever going to be as good as it can without an editor. Period. Folks who can't take unvarnished criticism and turn it into gold, I weep for you.


Now that my work is done (mostly) I can relax and let the publisher do the next chunk of thankless work it takes to make a book. I've said it before, I have never worked on an artistic project as demanding as writing a book.  Now I have had the experience of working for someone else, and it has been very rewarding. Learning how to write adventure content for others to use at the game table has been a very rewarding experience. 

What next? While writing Treasure Island I sent what I had done to date for Deluxe USR S&S to my editor and now it is time to look at that bunch of harsh criticism. Writing can feel like self-flagellation, here is my stuff, rip it apart, tell me how bad it is, more more hit me harder...

I'm reading Patrick Stuart and Scrap Princess' thick tome Veins of the Earth right now to decompress. Along with some jazz, hot coffee and Colorado bud. 

Tuesday, November 23

Day After DnD Anyone?

 I happen to be one of the fortunate folk who have Friday off after Thanksgiving and have had some luck over the years (I'm looking at you Eric Hoffman) organizing a pick-up game of old-school DnD this day after the holiday. SO LETS DO THIS AGAIN!

Sign up in the comments section below. The game will run 11am MST/-7GMT and it will be a 4 hour session. 2nd to 4th level characters recommended, but go ahead and bring your 1st level loser if that is all you have. The adventure will be the OSR module Purging Woth Nrld Oakwyn's Muddy Hole, the Vanishing Tower's first ever OSR game module. Made the "No Regerts" list at 10 Foot Pole, so not to shabby of thing.



Tuesday, November 16

Even Heroes Bleed Issue #15 BAM! Bash

 Even Heroes Bleed Issue #15 BAM! Bash is now up on anchor for all you supers fan's listening pleasure. 


Frustratingly enough, this is the third issue in a row that has included the new supervillain NTROBee and the third issue in a row where all the scenes with NTROBee in it the audio got corrupted or the record button didn't get pushed down. Way to bad because the scenes have had a great effect on new tensions and drama being generated in game in real time and the player's reactions have been great. Also, the meta-currency of Hero/Villain points was on full display and showed how they worked really well supporting the genre and action intent. 

Here are the three action encounters featuring NTROBee in brief;

Red Runner's dad, Andrew Meyer, is in town on business and finds his son at the Wayward Journey, a bar where Red and his band Swollen Shut are set to play. During the gig NTROBee attacks Andrew Meyer. NTROBee is an eco-terrorist and Mr. Meyer works for an aggressive development corporation gobbling up important habitat for more skyscrapers and strip malls. Red Runner confronts the attacker and drives him off but not before 12 bystanders were injured and 3 killed from bee stings. 

Later, Bug and Red figure out what the villain is about and manage to track him down. In another violent encounter, NTROBee's power over killer bees is too much for Bug and Red to overcome and NTROBee escapes. 

NTROBee is confronted one more time at the Town & Campus bookstore and a tense stand-off ensues. In exchange for letting the eco-terrorist leave the city he won't kill the innocent bystanders shopping in the bookstore. 

With NTROBee chased out of the city the heroes return to their immediate problems; the Russian mob trying to kill them and catching those who firebombed the Baltimore.

Saturday, November 6

The BoH Combat Record Sheet from the Champions Combat Record Sheet

 I was fucking around with the shitty Champions adventure Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth in an attempt to pull useful "stuff" for my current The Blood of Heroes supers campaign and the book has the utilitarian Champions Combat Record Sheet printed out with the stats of major NPC's at the back. King Cobra, Coil agents, lame-ass super henchmen, etc. Now one of the ways (and there are several) Champions failed my GM attempts was these GM aids didn't make anything easier. Smack in the middle of the form are the speed bubbles you can color in to keep track of the turn order during combat. All this form ever did for me was demonstrate how unworkable the Speed Chart, the organizing principle for combat turns, of Champions really is for me. It added no clarifying function which to help with my TotM (Theater of the Mind) impressions while gaming. In a superhero game this is kind of disconnect is terminal.

So I started penciling in BoH stats for villains involved in the campaign's current combat. Specifically I crossed out the Champions verbiage and replaced them with BoH stats. Not only does it work, it works, in my opinion, better for this system than the original intended. Fucked up, I know!

Take a look for yourself, here is a PDF of the rewrite. Everything in BoH is created with APs. Attributes, Powers, Skills, etc. The common stats referenced in combat are character's Dexterity, Strength, Initiative and Body. Mind and Spirit are important Resistance Values which can come up and a GM needs to be able to see everyone's movement capabilities in a glance. You also want a space for offensive and defensive powers. A character's perception, the Intelligence attribute, is another factor which comes up during combat on a routine basis. All these track easily to the  Champions game form and some busy work with InDesign has given me a great sheet for my preferred supers game! There is even a couple of columns left over for your own customization.  They are perfect spots for gadgets! Just write in the AV/EV, OV/RV stats and your good to go. Another example of how the MEGS system which undergirds BoH is a marvel of elegant design. Check out my current gang of NPC supers filling out this form, the Gulag Goons!



Super Hero Super Villain Name Generator

Very generic name generator Now with one of 14 intriguing origins story included in every name pack! for superhero/supervillain inspiration. I came up with 386 450 "words" which would be part of a decent supers name and created a table to randomly choose a word twice from the table. Not perfect, but it will spark your brain with ideas you otherwise wouldn't have spontaneously fallen upon.



So take the result, shave it into shape and then build your new Supers character!

Super Hero / Super Villain Random Name Generator