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Monday, January 20, 2014

What should I give away for free?

I've read a lot of blogs about how to market and generate interest in a new RPG product. One of the best and most effective things I have seen is to offer a free product.

However, more questions are raised than answered by that option. What should I give away? How do I get it in people's hands? How do I generate buzz and blog views? How can I represent my "brand" in an appealing and easy to pick up fashion? In short, How do I use a free thing to help market the product I am going to ask people to pay for? Since CnS is not yet complete, my strategy is to build up to the formal release of the game.

First up, I intend to release a free role-playing game. Who doesn't like free? If the free thing is actually fun, so much the better. Every page will have this blog's address, and a log line of sorts about Cyborgs and Sorcerers. The free game will be under 15 pages making easy to read, pickup and understand. It will have a very light, free-form version of the CnS rule-set. this will prepare the way for the basics of the full game when it comes out and create fertile ground for the real thing.

Second, I will write a few short stories regarding the setting of Cyborgs & Sorcerers.Major events in the history of Erealind will be featured, as well as a few slice of life vignettes which will featured in this blog, or as free downloads o whoever wants them.

Third, as I work on designs and plans for the game, and figure out a way to get art into the book, I will be able to release pictures of the world or parts of it to gain or enhance interest.

Fourth, if enough interest has been generated, I hope to create print on demand products, , even 3-d printed products should any cool ones come to mind.

Fifth, as I have beta session testing, I will have logs of the games events, and hopefully have guest writers in the form of my beta testers.

There are many things to work on still, but having a plan is the best way to succeed. As you can see, I have one. As you will see, I'll succeed.

Why I have been gone

Most often, when a blog is dormant this long, it is pretty much dead. This is not the case. Since my last post there have been a variety of family issues and sicknesses that made other activity basically impossible. MY dad finally returned home this weekend after his latest hospital visit. He has spent 80% of the time since my last blog post in the hospital. Since that time I have taken over my parent's finances, and filed for divorce.

I feel things are finally as close to on-track as they will be. So now it is time to write, and I shall indeed do so. To any who visit I welcome, to those who have kept checking this site (all two of you), I offer my abject apologies.

More to come...

Friday, April 12, 2013

Quotes that inspire me...

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
~ Maya Angelou

“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I'm afraid of.”
~ Joss Whedon

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
~ Stephen King, On Writing

"It's not about what I got wrong, it's about what I can do better."
~ Me

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Effects of Using Magic

Effects of Using Magic
(An excerpt from Chapter 12: magic Rules in the Cyborgs & Sorcerers RPG handbook)

              Everyone knows that Arkein casters power their spells with portions of their soul and as a result engender the blessing of Ki the Word. Those who cast Naturalis spells use their own blood as a catalyst to gain the help of Enki. But what does this do to a person? What are the long-term effects? It is known that Dráva-Veid and Magus have extended lifespans which average three times what is normal for their given race. Even Sentinels and Wardens who do not have anywhere near the same access to power that the others do seem to live on average twice the normal span if they do not fall in battle.
            There have been many different opinions as to what causes this, but often the simplest is the best. In addition the great Magus Jectin has written a large tome on the subject which I will paraphrase here.
“Just as a weakling who exercises becomes strong, so does the Magus or Dráva-Veid as they practice their arts. Every spell used, every time they stretch themselves to their limits, and each moment they strive to understand the universe from a particular perspective, they become more than they were. Their Intellect and Insight grow as a tree drawing strength from the roots of the deep earth and the light of An.
The cumulative effective quickly seen is knowledge and greater capacity to cause their will to manifest. The unseen is this, they have changed themselves by these actions. At the cellular level, these spell casters who cause things to be are all the same causing themselves to be. If a mountain is moved, is not Erealind changed? Does not Enki feel and know this? Spell casters move much more, how could they not be changed?”
            In essence, Jectin is arguing that the more a spell caster uses magic, the more likely it is to change them including their lifespans and how they age. Just as a weakling cannot bend the bars of steel a strong man can, so novice Magus and Dráva-Veid cannot cast the spells. Their soul and blood does not have the potency is will. It is also argued that it takes time for Karus to build up in their bodies, which also makes them more capable of casting greater magics.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Money, Money, Money!

     Every fantasy world needs some type of currency. The main problem I had was coming up with something recognizable, but still manage to be unique. First, I had to determine which materials would be in use, then decide on their value in the world. Once i had all that information, I had to decide what to call it. I'm sure to most players, it will just be silver pieces and gold pieces, regardless of what I name them, but I want to put that extra effort in to make even the money mean something. So I present to you the currency of Cyborgs & Sorcerers from Chapter Seven: Commerce and General Equipment.

Accepted Currency
1 lead piece = 1 Parvus
10 Parvus = 1 brass also called Unum
10 Unum = 1 copper also called Decem
10 Decem = 1 silver also called Centum
10 Centum = 1 gold also called Mille
10 Mille = 1 Mithral  also called X or Decem Milia
Mithril is half the weight of steel and twice as strong. It is also acid resistant and does not conduct electricity or heat, and is rust-proof. Each Mithral piece is worth 0.3 grams of Karus.
100 Decem Milia = 1 ounce of Karus (30 grams)
Karus (meaning dear, beloved, costly, precious, high-priced, valued) can only be rendered from the heart of magical creatures. Generally, any magical creature's heart can be rendered down for Karus and generates 10 grams of Karus per 5 HD. Because of the rendering process, you must kill  15 HD of magical creatures  and render the hearts down through a special and expensive alchemical process in order to obtain 1 ounce of pure Karus.
Once a character hits level 5 and above, their bodies begin to change and, though not technically a magical creature, their hearts do contain a measure of Karus equal to magical creatures.
The only other way to obtain Karus is to mine for Mithral. Only around and in Mithral veins is Karus ever found in the wild. In order to purify and separate Mithral from Karus, a long, very sensitive process is required. This long process (too detailed to note here) is why mined Karus is just as expensive as that taken from the body of a magical creature.
Please refer to Chapter 16: Bestiary & Agricultural Compendium for further details about Karus.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Chapter 16 Bestiary & Agricultural Compendium

            To add to the fantastic element of any world, there must be some measure of uniqueness to the the environment and creatures in it. To that end, I have been working on Chapter 16: Bestiary & Agricultural Compendium. Plants can be both useful and dangerous. Sometimes, this comment can be applicable to the same plant. In the cases below, I have given the basic descriptions of two very unique plants. One is a giant version of a very real plant, the other is entirely fantasy based. Which do you like?

Voracious Moss
This is a type of moss which can be a variety of different colors based on soil and light availability which grows thick and in wide swathes in most deciduous forests. It is different most other types of moss in that the individual strands have small hooked thorns and leaves have razor sharp edges. At the base of each leaf there is a small reservoir meant to hold and preserve water. When it becomes full, the reservoir closes. Within that reservoir, the natural coating of the leaves and the contained water become more and more acidic until consumed by the plant.
If a leaf is stepped on, it will spray out in a fine acidic mist that corrodes virtually anything within a 10 foot radius. It is not that an individual reservoir holds that much liquid, it is that multiple reservoirs open at the same time. Some brave Wardens have found the entire plant seems to have small filaments running through each strand and leaf that are interconnected, and vaguely resemble fibrous muscles. Thus, any pressure on a particular portion of the moss causes it to contract, which often has the unfortunate effect of engulfing the poor creature that stepped on it. Some have theorized this is the primary means of nutrition for the plant, as its acid eats away at the captured creature, while the creature’s pained convulsions cause the sharp leaves to saw through clothing and flesh.
Spot check: 13 (daylight) 15 (night)
Acid spray: 10’ radius from point of contact
1d6 acid damage occurs in the first round
            Unless a reflex check of 13 or greater is made
If the Reflex check fails, the subject is considered entangled
If entangled, and unmoving, take continue taking 1d6 acid damage per round and 1d4 piercing damage from leaves.
If entangled and moving, take 1d6 acid damage and 1d8 piercing damage per round.
It is possible to free a being entangled by this plant by chopping them free, but this will cause the one trying to free their comrade to sustain 1d6 acid damage per round (no save).
Of course, the plant is flammable, but the entangled person would be damaged as well.

Opscuro Umbra  a.k.a. Shade Trees
            This is a type of tree that has dark grey and black bark, with internal wood in varying shades of grey. The leaves vary in color from light grey in the spring to pitch black in the autumn before falling. They always have an organic dusting of some kind that is always black.
It is one of the strongest woods available, and has been used for the best staves, bows, mace and morning star shafts, polearms, etc. Only the elves have ever been able to use it, along with a closely guarded process to fashion light, strong bladed weapons that never need sharpening. As it only grows when cultivated by elves, the supply is very limited since they only allow a tree that died of natural causes, which is very seldom, to be cut down and used.
            Calling it a Shade Tree is because of two things humans noted about the leaves. First, in wars against elves, humans found that the elves covered themselves with these leaves are were very hard to see, especially where shadows were. Further, if a human inhales the smoke from the burned leaves, they begin to hallucinate, and in certain cases, some may actually be able to interact with the spirit world.
            The earth around a Shade Tree is highly valued because it offers virtually all races that need sleep, a comfortable, quiet, and restful night. Often used by healers and those who treat the mentally unstable, the earth containing the decayed leaves is used for pillows or even as padding in strait jackets as it seems to have a calming effect. This ground is also used in the rituals of necromancers and those who worship or consort with the dead.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What makes a crisis? What makes it believable? Part 1

For a long time, when figuring out how to start a game, or create a crisis for my players to deal with, I would think big. Who is the BBEG? Are dragons going to attack? Did a powerful Magus cause a magical plague? I tended to think big, magical, sometimes even world spanning issues. But I failed to recognize two very important rules.
1.      A crisis can be caused by small, seemingly trivial things.
2.      Players need a personal reason to get their characters involved

A crisis is defined as:
A stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events, especially for better or for worse, is determined; turning point.
A condition of instability or danger, as in social, economic, political, or international affairs, leading to a decisive change.

A crisis can be caused by small, seemingly trivial things.
Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne was assassinated by the Serbian terrorist group The Black Hand, and because of complex alliances, the rest of Europe was pulled into a war that basically was between Austria-Hungary and Serbia. The Archduke wasn’t even really liked by anyone except for his own wife and children, Even his own king and the Czar of closely allied Germany did not attend his funeral, yet that was the relatively small spark that started World War One.

Sometimes a country has a bad harvest, and decides conquering the neighboring country is better than paying them for their good harvest.

Merchants get into a fight, and that can escalate to their noble investors, who begin sending guards with the caravans, and they get into fights with the opposing side more and more, and soon, the nobles are fighting to such an extent that the Kings are brought in, and by that time, there may be so much money, bloodshed, and bad feeling that nothing can stop the war. That was a long run-on sentence, I know. However, what if your players were introduced at one of the early steps? What if they were the guards, rather than the noble’s own men? Would it develop into a quiet, long running skirmish between mercenaries? Would the players be sent to take out the other merchant, or ruin his business? Would they perhaps come in later and save an important guard who might be a family member of a merchant and spare his life causing the noble to force his merchant into peace, maybe even offering an alliance and using the players as trusted go-betweens?

This is how a crisis, when considered from multiple angles can become a story with many role playing opportunities. The next question is to figure out how to get the players personally involved. I’ll look at that in part two of this article.