Category Archives: Savage Worlds

2016, in Review

Greetings, readers. 2016 has been a heck of a year, both in good things (for me, personally) and bad (though surely I don’t need to list some of the ways this year has disappointed us, especially with all the fine and talented folk who died).

I want to use this post to take a look back at 2016 and catalogue some of the ups and downs that have happened in my life, and especially in the gaming industry. These kinds of posts are fun for me, as I get to talk about my accomplishments and hopes for the new year. So settle down for a discussion of the last 12 months.

Personal Projects

This year I had a lot on my plate (see the Evil Beagle Games section, below), but I did manage to accomplish a good deal of things for myself or as a freelance writer.

Wikipedia: With the help of my good friend Chuck Thornton, I have a wikipedia page now! I’m very grateful to Chuck and deeply pleased to be able to check off “wiki page” from my bucket list.

Accursed: I’ve talked about this setting before, and how much I love it. Accursed is important to me, and I’m proud to say I supported the line throughout the year, starting with the World of Morden kickstarter (funded, fully delivered!)–creating a full-fledged sourcebook for the setting–and ending with a one-sheet for the Christmas season. In all, I completed three one-sheet adventures, the sourcebook, and something I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time: I wrote a novella for the setting.

Writing Pirate’s Oath was a major accomplishment for me. It’s the longest form of fiction I’ve ever produced, and I feel like it is also my best–thanks in large part to plenty of great feedback from friends and fellow professionals like Mel Odom.

BFG Armada: I was hired by Tindalos to write the characters, dialogue, story and trailer VO for this exciting video game. I’m quite proud of Armada, and I’d love to work with Tindalos again in the future. Armada won an award (4th place) for Best Sci-Fi game of 2016 at the Global Game Awards, and I’m positive the game will receive recognition from fans of Battlefleet Gothic.

Mystic Vale: This is one of the card game projects I write the story text for when working for AEG. The game is interesting, the box looks great, I have gotten numerous compliments on it from gamers during the year. Looking forward to seeing the sequel coming out in 2017!

Weird War I: This was a very fun project to work on for Pinnacle Entertainment Group. Creating bestiaries has turned out to be one of my signatures in the RPG industry, and I deeply enjoyed getting to create a series of monsters for this setting… including a ghost zeppelin, the Bloody Baron, and a latrine demon.

A quick side note: All told, I worked on 27 products that were released in 2016. That’s a current personal best.

Evil Beagle Games

2016 was a banner year for EBG. In partnership with Sean Patrick Fannon and Carinn Seabolt, we accomplished quite a bit. First, we completed the handover of the Shaintar line to Savage Mojo. As part of that process, we worked out a deal with Studio 2 to carry the physical books of Legends Arise and Legends Unleashed. I spearheaded this effort and helped adjust the layout to allow this mass printing of the core books.

However, once the handover was finished, EBG had only two products on our digital ‘shelves.’ I’m very pleased to say that we improved that number to 36 by the end of the year.

Savage Rifts: 26 of those products belong to the Savage Rifts line, and this is definitely where the lion’s share of my time was spent this year. Not only did I write quite a bit of material, I also served as the lead developer for the line. Savage Rifts has turned out to be a surprise hit, and we’re all very proud of how well it is doing out there amongst the gamers who love the setting. Thanks to our partners at Pinnacle Entertinment Group and Palladium Books, we made something truly memorable happen by bringing Rifts to Savage Worlds.

Primeval Thule: EBG prospered this year largely by partnering up with some of the industry’s best creators. We teamed up with Sasquatch Game Studio to bring Primeval Thule to Savage Worlds, which was a great project to work on. It’s also turned out to be very popular with our fans.

Aaron Allston’s Strike Force: On a more personal note, EBG partnered with High Rock Press to bring my friend Aaron Allston’s superhero setting–Strike Force–to life. We had a very successful kickstarter and delivered what I think is a stellar product and a great tribute to its creator. I believe that Strike Force is going to gain serious recognition in 2017.

Michael Surbrook Presents: EBG and Michael Surbrook have joined forces to bring out some great products. We’ve got three great books out, and many more on the way. Michael is one of my good friends and it is very satisfying to me that we can help him get his work out there for the gamers. This is really just the tip of the iceberg for MSP!

Personal Events

Gamer’s Tavern No More: One of the downsides to 2016 for me, personally, is that I needed to step down as the host of the Gamer’s Tavern podcast. I did not make this decision lightly, but it was the best choice for the show. Podcasting was very important to me, and I enjoyed hosting the Gamer’s Tavern a great deal. Ultimately, I hope I can get back into podcasting at some point in the future.

Conventions: I had an incredible year for conventions in 2016. Chupacabracon in Austin is always fantastic, and this year was no exception. Rincon in Tucson was stunning, especially as they created individual drinks at the bar for each guest. My drink was called the “Accursed,” and my god was it awesome. Spa-Con in Hot Springs was truly special because this brought me back to my old high school stomping grounds. Ropecon in Helsinki brought me back to Finland for an amazing experience gaming with the Finns one more time! And of course, Colorado’s own Genghiscon and Tacticon continued to provide me with unforgettable games.

Colorado: I’m loving living here. I wasn’t sure I could fully get Texas–especially Austin–out of my heart, but Colorado won me over with patience and graciousness. This state is regal and beautiful and full of amazing people.

Last, but certainly not least, I met someone truly awesome (at Tacticon, no less) and began a very fulfilling relationship.

Hopes for 2017

Here’s some things I’m looking forward to in the new year.

Torg Eternity: This is going to be a bad-ass setting. I’m very pleased to say I’m part of the core design team for this edition and working on new stuff for it even now.

The Endless: I have an RPG of my own design that I’m working on in between other projects.

More Savage Rifts! I’m sure this is no surprise. 🙂

A Novel: Now that I’ve completed a novella, the next step is to write a fully-fledged fiction novel. I’m very eager to complete this milestone.

 

 

A Rogue Warden at Ropecon

It is an immense privilege to be invited as a Guest of Honor to any convention. Even more so when that convention is held overseas. Ropecon 2016 extended me the esteem of being their gaming Guest of Honor this year, and it was an amazing experience I shall never forget.

Ropecon is held in Helsinki, Finland–a beautiful city with a rich history and plenty of interesting things to see and do. The Finns, as a people, are very welcoming and friendly. Especially the Finns who are also gamers–they have a very strong and dynamic community of gamers in that nation, and I got to meet several of them over the weekend of Ropecon.

The venue for this year’s convention was very impressive: roomy, clean, well-lit, with plenty of rooms for panels, workshops, and games. The areas for card games, board games, LARP, and miniature games were very roomy indeed, and there were built-in cafes and restaurants so attendees would not need to leave in search of food.

I must first single out my handlers for special mention, Joonas Katko and Ville-Eemeli Miettinen. Ville was a fantastic translator, making sure I understood everything being said at the opening and closing ceremonies, plus a great guide to Finnish culture. Joonas spent hours showing me Helsinki and explaining the rich history of the region.

The Ropecon convention staff were also excellent, including my “Finnish big sister” Eevi Korhonnen, Arrtu Hanska, Aarne Saarinen, Heidi Saynevirta, Aaro Viertio, and many others. From my perspective, the convention ran extremely smoothly. Security and event organization was top-notch and my friend Pekka Wallendahl ensured that the systems kept running!

I caught up with many of my Finnish friends from my previous trip, including a great conversation with Tiina Uusi-Rasi, Jukka Sarkijarvi, and many others (My apologies if I forgot your name!)

It was also a pleasure to meet some Finnish game designers, especially Miska Fredman, Mike Pohjola (both of whom I remembered well from Tracon 2013), and Ville Vuorela. Miska showed off his new work on Astraterra and Cthonian Highways, while Mike showed me the amazing boxed set for Age of the Tempest. Ville signed a copy of Stalker RPG for me as well. It was amazing to meet all these creative minds and share some ideas with them.

Claus Raasted Herlovsen was the other guest of honor, a very talented and famous Danish LARP organizer. Claus taught me a great deal about his chosen field, and I left Finland far more educated about LARP than when I arrived. Claus and I couldn’t seem to stop collaborating and discussing games the entire trip–Claus even sat in on my game design workshop and turned the last ten minutes or so into an impromptu LARP about the difficulties of designing and pitching games to investors!

As for myself, I ran two sessions of Savage Rifts: The Garnet Town Gambit. One was an “All-Star” game for Finnish game designers, the convention staff, and the Ropecon Pathfinder Society organizer. It went really well and was recorded on youtube for posterity. Later that same day, I ran the game again for many of my friends from Tracon and some new friends as well–and it went even better!

I participated in panels about “Passion in the Game Industry” and “the Business of Gaming,” both of which were excellent. I got a chance to meet one of my idols, the legendary Tuomas Pirinen (creator of Mordheim among many other great games), and I ran my very own Game Design workshop. I spent the first half of the session explaining my philosophies of game design, and the second half I guided the audience into creating their own game vision: this time, the audience wanted to make “Cold War Space Race,” a competitive board game where players take on the roles of nations trying to achieve milestones in space exploration despite espionage efforts against them. It was very well received (especially with Claus’ help at the end), and I felt it was a big success.

The afterparty for Finnish conventions is legendary at this point. I shouldn’t have to say much here, but I will give the highlights:

  • Fantastic food
  • Excellent company
  • Lots of alchohol
  • Finnish Sauna!

At the end of the night, I felt that Ropecon had left a lasting impression on me as one of the finest gaming conventions I had ever attended. Keep up the great work, you crazy Finns!

 

Year in Review: 2015

Greetings, readers! It’s time I took a look back at 2015 as we wave goodbye to this year and move on to 2016. Here’s some of the highlights from the year:

Professional

I did well this year, 17 different products got out onto stole shelves (virtual and physical), and many more on the way.

Regicide

This is a biggie. I’ve been working on this game for over a year, and it was truly fantastic to see it take full shape. I wrote the story and the characters, which was very sweet, and I love watching people play the game on youtube. I think Regicide was an interesting idea, but I have to say that chess is not something I’m very passionate about for game-play. Aside from a few small issues, this was a great job that I loved doing.

In Defense of Innocence

I deeply enjoyed writing this book, as it is mostly a setting that ties into an adventure in the world of Malifaux. I wrote about 85% of the book, detailing the main adventure and everything about the town itself. I enjoyed working with Brandon Gensemer on this one, but there were a number of production issues involved — Brandon did not receive any credit, for example — so this is a bittersweet entry.  Still, I am very proud of the finished product, and I welcome anyone to talk to me about it or tell me what they think of the book.

Accursed: Fall of the Tower

This adventure grew out of the special Gen Con adventure I ran for the backers of the Accursed Kickstarter in 2014. We had a great time during the game, so why not turn it into an actual product? I think this is one of my better adventures, including all the things I like to see in a published RPG scenario–choices, options, a fun climax, and so forth. Again, I’m very proud of this one.

Shaintar (Many books)

I joined Evil Beagle Games as a full partner and the Managing Director in 2014, so 2015 was my first full year with the company. One of my priorities was to take the Shaintar setting books and get things moving with the line. We successfully produced 8 books for Shaintar in 2015, and several more happened in quick succession when the line was turned over to Savage Mojo. For this line, my involvement has been almost entirely as a developer, although I plan on writing something for this setting in 2016.

Savage Lairs: Fantasy Forests

This was a fun project that came close to the end of the year. John Dunn is a good friend and a hell of a businessman. I learned a great deal about small-press RPG production from John, and working on Savage Lairs taught me more valuable lessons.

Savage Worlds: Lankhmar and Savage Tales of Horror

This was a fun project to work on for Pinnacle Entertainment Group. I got to officially write up the character sheets for Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser! Going back and reading all the Fritz Leiber books was interesting, although I think the earlier tales really work better than the ones written at the end of the series. I also wrote an adventure for one of the Savage Tales of Horror books produced by Pinnacle in 2015.

Card Games: Lost Legacy and Game of Crowns

AEG is a great company to write for as a freelancer, and in 2015 I got to contribute my writing and worldbuilding for two of their card games. I always enjoy writing for these projects, and I am pleased to say that I have even more coming out in 2016.

Personal

  • I turned 40 in 2015, a milestone number.
  • I became a true Denver-ite and Colorad-an.
  • Made some new friends–Christa and Jason Berger–and celebrated ties with very old friends, like Bryant and Kait Smith.
  • I attended a lot of very cool conventions, including Comicpalooza, Genghiscon, Tacticon, Gen Con, and many others.
  • I re-connected with my relatives in the area, from cousins to aunts & uncles.
  • I wrote my very first complete book entirely on my own–I’ve worked on many, many books before this, but in 2015 I had the entire enchilada. 65,000 words, all mine. It was awesome.

What about 2016?

I’m very much looking forward to bringing out stuff that I worked on in 2015. In fact, I worked very hard on some projects that aren’t quite ready to be released, but hopefully soon.

In particular, I’m excited about Torg: Eternity, Strike Force, Savage Rifts, and the forthcoming worldbooks for Accursed.

With that having been said, I’m also looking to become more productive. I want to get at least one thing per month completed in 2016. I know this is ambitious, and I know it is likely to fail, but I’m interested in the challenge. I want to rise up to meet my goal, not set a standard that I know I can hit without striving.

I want to get out more as well, see more of the country surrounding Denver, and visit friends more often who live in distant parts of the city.

Time to write some fiction! I owe a novella for Shaintar, and one for Accursed — I need to buckle down and make those happen. In fact, my hope is that by stating this ambition out loud here, I’ll be more responsible and disciplined towards achieving the goal.