GeoCentric Review #1: A Forgotten Evil

GeoCentric Review #1: A Forgotten Evil

Publisher: Mischief, Inc
Author: Alex Karaczun
Game System: AD&D1e / OSRIC
PDF Page Count: 40 (2 cover pages, title page, preface/table of contents page, 2 map pages, 28 adventure pages, 5 pages of pre-generated characters, and a DM Notes page)
Price: $9.99 at RPGNow ($0.25 / page)
Link: http://www.rpgnow.com/product/183885/A1-A-Forgotten-Evil?hot60=1&src=hgrs

‘A Forgotten Evil’ is the first in the ‘Ancient Evil’ series by Mischief, Inc. It is for a group of 6-8 characters of 1st-3rd level.

In this, a group of goblins has released a half-demon that has been in stasis for centuries in an old tower and placed him in a dungeon for their worship. Hoping to lure help to release him, he has commanded the goblins to begin raiding surrounding towns.

The text opens with some background of the Twelve Kingdoms and about the war from the time the half-demon was imprisoned and moves into the present with the actions of the goblins in the area.

The format of the encounter descriptions is reminiscent of the early AD&D1e days as are the maps. One of my favorite things about this adventure is all the rooms/areas are there for reasons. There isn’t anything there ‘just because’. The only possible exception is the final room in the dungeon (a story twist I didn’t expect!), but it’s explained within the room’s text.

Another interesting note is that all magical weapons and armor/shields found are given names and short backgrounds to add more flavor to them. Also, coins are given regional names such as ‘silver wyrmlings’ and ‘silver regents’ depending their kingdom of origin.

Overall, I like this adventure. It isn’t overly long and can be completed in a few sessions. If you’re using another setting, it would be easy to replace the names and drop it into any area with hills and mountains.
Also, reworking this to fit almost any system would require very little work. Depending on the system, you might have to substitute a more appropriate creature in a few spots; but the work to do so would still be minimal.
The adaptability to settings and system make this more valuable to those outside the target audience.

On the grammatical side, ‘grammar patriots’ such as myself will find typos, spelling and punctuation errors, and grammar syntax errors to be at a minimum. The editor for this project did a fine job.

If you like the old-style AD&D1e adventures, you should get this. It’s great for kicking off a campaign.
It give the GM what he needs without bogging him down with things he just doesn’t need.

On a scale of 1-5, I’ll give this a score of 4.

Also, sold separately is an illustration book weighing in at 8 pages (a cover page with an illustration included plus seven more page sized illustraitons,) for $4.99 makes a nice companion for the adventure.
Link: http://www.rpgnow.com/product/183886/A1-A-Forgotten-Evil-Illustration-Book?manufacturers_id=5493

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New Beginnings

New Beginnings…

It’s been close to 18 months since I’ve posted anything to this blog page. It’s time for a new beginning!

Much has happened since the previous post: personally and professionally, good and bad. I’ll skip the bad and focus on the good here.

Personal:
I have two more grandchildren! My eldest daughter gave birth to twins on June 3rd this year. We will be making the trek to Oklahoma in less than two weeks to finally meet them and visit the rest of my descendants.

Professional:
I’ve had two more short adventures published by Kenzer & Company this year: ‘The Forgotten Monastery’ and ‘Vidar’s Final Trek’. Both were written for HackMaster but are easily converted to almost any other game system.
And I’ve entered the world of RPG Editing with my first project being ‘Mazes & Perils, Deluxe Edition’ published by Moebius Adventures. I’ve already done another project for the M&P line that will be released later this week and have started another for release in the near future.

Soon, I’ll be putting myself ‘on the market’ as a freelance RPG Editor. I’ll have my rates here on my blog site by the end of July and plan to pass out business cards at GenCon.

If you know of anyone needing some RPG editing work, let them know GeoCentric Designs will be available on September 1st, 2016.

Happy 4th, Everyone!

Kenzer & Company: http://www.kenzerco.com/
Moebius Adventures: http://www.moebiusadventures.com/

‘The Forgotten Monastery’:
http://www.kenzerco.com/product_info.php?cPath=25_94_99&products_id=1245

‘Vidar’s Final Trek’:
http://www.kenzerco.com/product_info.php?cPath=25_94_99&products_id=1246

‘Mazes & Perils: Deluxe Edition’:
http://www.rpgnow.com/product/181899/Mazes–Perils-Deluxe-Edition

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It’s cold!!!

WINTER IS IN FULL FORCE HERE!

Are you enjoying it as much as I’m not? The cold, the snow, it can all go away now. One day of it is a day too much for my liking. February is more than half gone, and Valentine’s Day is past for the year. The wife & I saw Tesla a few weeks ago and got to hang out with the band for a bit. It was pretty cool. If you have me on FaceBook, you can see pictures from the show.
But I didn’t start this blog to share things like this with everyone. FaceBook does a sufficient job of that.

Let’s chat gaming.🙂

The only writing progress I’ve had is doing a revision on a short adventure slated for publication in a month or two. After having a 3-4 hour chat with one of the KenzerCo staff a few weeks ago, I decided it needed some work. (More about the chat in a bit.) So, I modified some things, gave it a good reading, and sent it back in. Hopefully, it will be well received by the readers.

On January 30th, I drove up to Waukegan; and a my friend (Steve) and I visited Jolly & Barb Blackburn. We spent the evening just chilling out and discussing various topics including RPGs and HackMaster. Techniques for Hirst molds were discussed and almost anything you can think of for table top gaming from dice to miniatures to tequila to old systems to Maple Crown Royal to old business associates… You get the picture. I missed my normal bed time by several hours.
Saturday was HackMaster day. It was on! A few other Kenzer & Co people (Brian Jelke & Steve Johansson) arrived for a fun session of gaming. My new digital battle board (see below) made it’s debut at the gaming table that day. We had plenty of laughs and even discovered a rule that needed errata. At the end of the day, we had no deaths; but a few were close.

The main reason I made the trip was to get my TV-modified-into-a-digital-battle-board by my friend, Steve. The cover is completely removable and has a white board on the inside and a chessex battle mat on the outside. Using MapTool with the Fog of War feature, I can have a map on my laptop and reveal parts of it to the players as they explore with their miniatures. I still have things to learn about it, but I’m looking forward to that. I’m hoping to be ready to start using it by GaryCon at the end of March.

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After the game, I drove into the city and met Steve J at his place. As noted earlier, we had a long chat about HackMaster, adventure design, freelancing, and gaming in general. He gave me many things to think about.

The next morning I left Chicago with the snow coming in. Luckily, I was just ahead of the blizzard as it came down. I saw several vehicles in the ditches during my 4-1/2 – 5 hour drive home, but I made it safely in mid-afternoon.

In March, I’ll discuss what I’ve got going on with GaryCon and anything that comes up by then!

Hail & Peace!

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Another year has come and gone. 2014 has had its ups and down.

One of the highlights is two more grandchildren were born about three weeks apart last spring.🙂 Each of my three daughters has had a child now.

On a lower note, 2014 passed without a single blog entry. I’ve decided to change that by setting a goal of posting a minimum of one blog / month in 2015. We’ll see how that goes.

Speaking of setting goals, I accomplished a short-term goal I had set at the beginning of 2014: I was published in the RPG industry. TWICE!

The first was in mid-June and published by Moebius Adventures. It was my first paid freelance project: One Spot #3: Dolothar’s Shrine.
It can be found here:
http://www.rpgnow.com/product/131161/One-Spot-3-Dolothars-Shrine?term=dolothar%5C%27s

Kenzer & Company released a HackMaster adventure I had submitted for a contest in 2013. It didn’t place in the contest, but they still felt is was good enough for publication. Legacy of the Elm King was released as a PDF at the beginning of GenCon. K&Co printed 15-20 copies to have on hand at their booth as well. I was happy to see it sell out there.
You can find it on pdf here:
http://www.kenzerco.com/product_info.php?cPath=25_94_99&products_id=1146

I have two more products awaiting publication and a few in the beginning stages that I’ll be working on the next several months.

The process for the two already published items were completely different, so I’m going to use this first blog of 2015 to talk about those a bit.

Legacy of the Elm King was, as I said, a contest entry in 2013. There wasn’t much to that. I made this one to be a simple dungeon crawl for my regular HackMaster group. When the contest was announced, I scanned my maps and wrote the adventure based on the contest guidelines. I had to change the background a bit to fit those guidelines, but the meat of the product was as I ran it for my group.
I sent it in and eagerly awaited. The top two entries were to appear in Knights of the Dinner Table #199 & #200. Alas, it was not picked. I was a bit bummed, but it was the first time I’d ever actually written something for publication. I let it go and went on with my gaming life as usual.
At GaryCon in 2014, I was talking with one of the staff from K&Co. He told me the background was being reworked, and it would be released later in the year! W00T!
And I heard nothing more about it.
In June, I received an email with the subject line “SURPRISE” from him. He had attached the adventure ready for release but wanted me to proofread it and give feedback. SWEET! I scoured through it that night and sent my notes back the following morning.
And I heard nothing more about it.
Late July/early August, I sent him an email asking about it and was told it was debuting at GenCon. SWEET! My first adventure was to be a GenCon release! I was stoked. When GenCon arrived, I saw it sitting there in the rack at the K&Co booth.
So that product was a simple process of writing it and proofreading the modified product. There wasn’t any communication about making changes or adjusting this or that. Wrote it. Sent it. Proofread it. They released it.

One Spot #3: Dolothar’s Shrine was a different experience altogether.
I started talking with Brian Fitzpatrick (the man behind Moebius) 7 or 8 years ago. We talked several times about writing and such. Back around this time last year, we did a video chat do discuss my doing a freelance project for him. He left it pretty open as long as they fit within one of his current product lines and asked me to send him an idea when I got one.
Mid-February, I sent him the initial idea for ‘Geo’s Shrine for the Unwell’. As I didn’t have any ideas for a good name, yet, I gave it that as a placeholder. He liked it and set me loose.
The first draft , map included, was finished up and sent off in early March. He replied a few days later with several questions whose answers seemed obvious to me as I had written it. I’ll admit I was a bit irked at first; but as I read through it all again, it hit me that I was mentally filling in items. The critiques and questions were there to make me think more on it to make a better product. People that buy it won’t know the answers that I mentally fill in, so I set about adding more text and clarifying some things.
I worked on the revision and sent it off to him in early April. At this time, it had been renamed ‘Shrine of Dolothar’. Over the course of April, we made some tweaks to the text and map. About 20 or so emails were sent back in forth during this process. He kept asking for more details on the NPCs and added some text and tables of his own to it. By the end of the month, we had the writing and map parts ready to go. And I received payment. My first paid freelance job was finished on my end.
Early May saw the title changed to ‘One Spot #3: Dolothar’s Shrine’ which it would remain. Nothing else happened on my end during May as Brian awaited the artwork.
Finally, I got an email on Friday, June 13th (yes, Friday the 13th!) that is was complete and would go live on Tuesday, June 17th! Once Tuesday rolled around, I advertised its release all over Facebook. I’m not sure how much it helped, though. As of the end of 2014, Brian told me that 25 copies have been sold.

You can read a 4-star review of it on RPGNow here:
http://www.rpgnow.com/product_reviews_info.php?&reviews_id=112993&products_id=131161

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Kenzer & Company: http://www.kenzerco.com/

Moebius Adventures: http://blog2.moebiusadventures.com/

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Halloween is here!

Has it been two months? I can tell writing blogs is something not coming natural to me.

Much has happened since my last blog- mostly on a personal level. I’ve become a Grandpa! My first grandchild was born August 30th. Mama and son are doing well. Daughter #2 is expecting in May 2014. There must be something in the water.
On less happy notes, my nine-year-old son was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes. I made an emergency trip to Birmingham, AL to see him and get a crash course in diabetes.

As far as gaming goes, I’ve got a character creation session this Saturday for a brand new group & monthly campaign. My bi-monthly campaign has been dragging a bit due to scheduling conflicts, gaming cons, and unexpected trips; but that’s the way things go. We’ve got two guys missing the next session, but some guests will be joining us for a one-shot game.

Other RPG goodies:
Moebius Adventures has two new little pdfs that can help spark some ideas. The ‘Little Spaces’ line can fill in the gap with little details left behind when creating scenarios.

If you like Dungeon Crawl Classics and Ravenloft, Transylvania Adventures by Land of Phantoms should be right up your alley. It’s a 300-page horror setting designed specifically for DCC. The pdf is only $13, and I believe a dead tree version will be available soon. A 50-page adventure (The Winter Home: $4) is available as well at RPGNow.

And the main reason for this blog: my projects.
I’ve started working on my first adventure in hopes of having it ready the first part of 2014. I don’t have a title for it as of yet; but if it does well, I might work on a line of them along the same vein, calling in the ‘Legacy’ series. This first one is a re-imagining of B1: In Search of the Unknown. I’m not going to give out any details at this time, as all I have are some scribbling and the beginning of the map. The adventure will be a little more down to earth than the original. There won’t be any magical rocks that have magical effects when you place a chip of it in your mouth. Teleportation rooms won’t be found in these halls, nor will a room of pools or a hallway with a magical gust of wind that extinguishes all torches. This will be more like a normal underground stronghold where people once lived out their daily lives without these constant oddities. This will be different enough that I don’t foresee any ‘cease and desist’ from the current IP holder, but one never knows.😉
If it does well, I’ll consider doing other classics as well.
One thing I have not decided upon is whether or not to use this as a springboard to start a new setting. I have plenty of material on a published setting that I enjoy immensely and plan to use it to locate this adventure for my personal games. Perhaps I can contact the IP holder of this setting to get permission to reference it.

That’s it for now. Feel free to leave any feedback on my adventure idea, and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Links:
Moebius Adventures ‘Little Spaces’: http://www.rpgnow.com/index.php?cPath=4317_19461
Transylvania Adventures by Land of Phantoms: http://www.rpgnow.com/product/121110/Transylvanian-Adventures

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Gen Con 2013

GEN CON 2013!

I attended my 4th consecutive GenCon this past weekend. As always, I had a good time.

I didn’t arrive until late Friday night, so I was only able to attend on Saturday and Sunday.
After grabbing breakfast with my friend, Steve, I picked up my badge and waited for the vendor hall to open. I snapped pictures of costumes and chatted with a few people during this time.

Once the vendor hall opened, I maneuvered through the traffic and booths, checking out any that looked interesting to me. After about 30 minutes, I arrived at my destination: the Kenzer & Company booth.

At the Kenzer booth:
I hung out here when I wasn’t wondering around. I ran a few HackMaster demos in their arena and sat in on a short demo as a player that John the intern was running. I chatted with the various members of K&Co from time to time: Jolly & Barb Blackburn, Steve Johansson, Dave Kenzer, and Andy Miller (not part of the crew but he was helping run the booth)
Unfortunately for me, they had sold out of KoDT #200 before I got there. K
I chatted with various friends from the boards – some for the first time meeting face to face – and met the wives of a few of them that I’d not met before.

Wandering the vendor hall:
I had a specific booth I was trying to find so that I could pick up the new AD&D1e adventure, Night of the Black Swords by Allen Hammack and published by Die Cast Games. It was being sold at the Pacesetter Games & Simulations booth by Bill Barsh. While there, I picked up a copy of Gygax Magazine #2 and saw many AD&D1e adventures that PG&S was selling. Bill was nice enough to sell me one at a discount to check it out, so I told him I would come back and buy a few more which I did the following day. I picked up six more. Frank Mentzer was there as well, so we talked briefly.
I ran into Jamie Chambers of Signal Fire Studios and chatted with him a bit. We’ve talked on facebook for about a year, but we’d never met before.
My friend, Joel Sparks of Faster monkey Games and designer of the Call of Catthulhu game, was there. I ran into him a few times. He led me to the Indie Game Developer Network booth where he introduced me to Marissa Kelly. She told me about the group and its goals and explained the game ‘Our Last Best Hope’ to me. I will have to make contact with IGDN in the future.
Another friend of mine, Derek White the Geekpreacher, was manning one of the Christian Gamer booths. I stopped to visit with him for a bit and bought a few old AD&D adventures from him while I was there.
Just a few booths away was Inkwell Ideas, maker of Hexographer mapping software and several other little goodies. I bought a deck of encounter cards to check out.

Saturday night, I ran an RPG event using the Mesa Mundi Multitouch overlay. Basically, it turns any type of screen into a touch screen with its interactive software ran from a laptop or other computer and using the ‘touch screen’ as a second monitor. Using Fog of War, areas of the map could be darkened so that they are not seen by the players and tokens are set up so that they can be moved my ‘touch’. If a token is moved into a FoW area, that area is revealed on the touch screen. It was quite interesting.

I started off Sunday morning attending Geekpreacher’s worship service. I always enjoy listening to his GenCon sermons.
The rest of the day was spent in the vendor hall and hanging out at the Kenzer booth. I had a nice conversation about some HackMaster projects in the works with Dave Kenzer, Steve Johansson, and my friend, Steve Lawrence.
I picked up some last minute items (adventures and some wookie miniatures) before heading out for my drive home.

I will have to make plans to arrive a day or two early next year and attend all four days.

Links:
Die Cast Games: http://diecastgames.com/
Faster Monkey Games: http://fastermonkeygames.com/ ; https://www.facebook.com/callofcatthulhu
Geekpreacher: https://www.facebook.com/TheGeekpreacher
Gygax Magazine: http://gygaxmagazine.com/
Indie Game Developer Network: http://www.igdnonline.com/
Inkwell Ideas: http://inkwellideas.com/
Kenzer & Company: http://www.kenzerco.com/
Mesa Mundi Inc: http://mesamundi.com/
Pacesetter Games & Simulations: http://pacesettergames.com/
Signal Fire Studios: https://www.signalfirestudios.com/

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Writing: past, present, and future

            Admit it: as a gamer you’d love nothing more than to be a writer of RPGs. That would just be the coolest thing ever! We’ve all been there at one point in time or another. For some, the dream passes; and they move on with their career of choice. Others, though, keep that dream close and hope that ‘someday’ it will happen. Fewer still make that dream a reality.

            For more years than I care to tell, I’ve been part of the second group. I recall back in 1991 that I was going to start submitting articles to Dragon Magazine and Dungeon Magazine. I was going to write and submit enough that I would be able to quit my job to do so because I would make enough money to support myself.

            That never happened.

            In 2000, the OGL and SRD were introduced. Awesome! I could write and publish my own material with this! I could create the campaign setting I had bouncing around in my head and sell it! I could write adventures and supplements for it. I was going to write and publish enough that I would be able to quit my job to do so because I would make enough money to support myself.

            That never happened, either.

            A few years after that, WotC put out an open call for entries for a world-designing contest. I could enter the setting that was still bouncing around my head. I would submit a few others as well to increase my chances. None of my entries made it past the first round.

            Also around that same time frame, I signed up and was accepted as a play tester for the Kingdoms of Kalamar setting being published by Kenzer & Co. for D&D3.x. To be honest, I only did so to get early access to Kalamar material. I had done a small bit of play testing for WotC: D&D3e Monster Manual II and D&D3e The Book of Vile Darkness both have my name among the play tester credit, but my involvement with those weren’t anything more than a few online game sessions fighting some of the creatures contained in them. My feedback on them was minimal, and I’m not sure I really deserved to have my name in them.

            This new gig was completely different, though. I had access to the complete text files of the projects in process. I read through them and gave (what I considered) valuable feedback on them. I got my name in a few more books, but that wasn’t all of it.

            Some of the projects weren’t new. Some of them were previously published D&D3.0 material needing updated to D&D3.5. Although I worked on a few of them, not all of them went on to be updated and republished. These were the ones I enjoyed most. I wasn’t just reading and giving feedback. I was revising an existing product. It was the closest thing I’d ever done to writing, but actual writing never happened.

            Shortly thereafter is when I switched game systems to HackMaster Basic and now the full HackMaster system. My desire to write grew as I learned more of the game. I was accepted as an editor for HackJournal; but once again, I failed to write anything for it. For the time, I was content proofreading articles submitted by others and getting credit as an editor.

            I’ve met several ‘self-publishers’ the past few years (John Adams of Brave Halfling Publishing and the Sparks brothers of Faster Monkey Games to name a few) and had discussions with them about the process. I’ve also had discussions online with a few others I’ve never met face to face; Brian Fitzpatrick of Moebius Adventures/Game Knight Reviews being one. All have been more than happy to share their experiences with me and discuss some of their hurdles. Many of my gaming friends have asked me on several occasions why I’ve never written anything. I have plenty of support in this. Most importantly, my wife, Linda, supports me in this and believes in me.

            The time has come to break out of the second group I mentioned in the opening paragraph and join the ranks of group three.

            At the time of this blog, I am still unpublished; but I have submitted two short adventures and have a few other projects in the works that I hope to complete in the coming months.

            I have plans to freelance more items as well as publish a few things on my own under ‘GeoCentric Designs’. Some of the things I plan to publish are a setting with various regional and racial sourcebooks as well as adventures within this world.

            The core setting material will likely be systemless with guidebooks for various systems. Adventures would likely be released under different systems as well. I’m still sort of tossing all of this around in my head, and nothing concrete has been decided at this point. Some of the systems I’d like to support are some (not all!) of the following: Swords & Wizardry, OSRIC, Labyrinth Lord, d20 OGL or PathFinder, HackMaster, Castles & Crusades, and HERO System or GURPS. This list will definitely be trimmed down to just a few. I’m familiar with most of these, but a few of them will require some reading and research.

 

            What sort of items would you like to see? Drop in a comment and let me know!

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