Monday, September 10, 2012

Affairs: See “State of”

It’s safe to say that August 2012 won’t go down as a banner month of posting here at the Society. Somehow, the entire last few weeks of unofficial summer here in the Northern Hemisphere slipped by without much activity around these parts. Such is the nature of blogging, especially when you’ve been doing it for four years now.

This dearth of regular postings does not reflect a lack of activity on my part, however. Quite frankly, I’m busier than ever writing, designing, planning, scheduling, corresponding, and brainstorming on new projects. If the OSR is in fact dead as the naysayers would have you believe, somebody neglected to inform my inbox of that fact! I’d appreciate it if you all kept it on the QT as well since I’m having a lot of fun keeping busy with the work.

So, like a neglectful boyfriend, I find myself needing to explain why I haven’t written you all lately. Hopefully, I haven’t damaged our blogger-reader relationship irrevocably, even if I’ve been catting around with other slutty projects on the side.

As long-time readers and fans of The Dungeon Alphabet undoubtedly know, Goodman Games and I are deep in cahoots. The lion’s share of work that’s been occupying my time has been for Joseph Goodman and the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. My adventure “The Undulating Corruption” debuted in this year’s Free RPG Day release from Goodman, but it’s not the first adventure I wrote for the game. That honor belongs to Emirikol Was Framed! which should be on the shelves of your finer FLGS either this month or next depending on when the printer gets finished with it. I’ve seen the layout of the adventure, including Doug Kovacs’ excellent maps and player handouts, and I’m mighty pleased how it’s all turned out.

When I took the job of writing Emirikol, I knew I was putting myself in the crosshairs. When you’re dealing with one of the iconic images of the hobby, you’ve got to accept that people are going to have their own expectations firmly in place before they even get a look at the damned thing. Early speculation pegged it as a parody module, but it’s absolutely not. It’s a solid, pulp sword & sorcery adventure, one where Conan or Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser would be at home. My hope is that once people get a chance to read it (or better yet, play it), Emirikol will be judged on its own merits. Time will have to tell.

In addition to Emirikol, I’ve completed two more adventures for DCC. One is The Sea Queen Escapes!, a nautical-themed adventure with a deliciously evil twist for the judge to spring on his players. The second is a more traditional “stop the evil brotherhood” dungeon crawl. I’m not sure if I can make any formal announcement regarding its content or title, but regular readers can probably speculate on its subject matter if you recall what I’ve play-tested at conventions this year.

These two are not the end of my scribbling for DCC RPG either. Contracts have been signed for at least two more adventures by yours truly and they’ll take us safely into the heart of 2013. I’m also doing work for a third-party DCC RPG release entitled Tales From the Fallen Empire to be published by Chapter 13 Press. Suffice to say, if you enjoy my work and DCC RPG, you’ll be a happy camper for the foreseeable future.

The DCC RPG stuff is in addition to two more books I’ve written for Goodman (well, one and half, really). Next month sees the release of the expanded version of The Dungeon Alphabet, available in both the regular and limited-edition covers. The third printing is 33% larger than the original and features new art in addition to eight more entries covering other classic dungeon tropes we couldn’t squeeze into the original. I think “T is also for Treasure Chests” is worth the price alone, especially when you see Holloway’s accompanying illustration, but there’s plenty more to inspire in there as well.

The second book in the schedule is The Adventurers’ Almanac, a title in the same vein as The Dungeon Alphabet. It’s not a “this is how you do it” text, but one written to inspire the referee and get the creative juices flowing. I had a lot of fun writing this one. A system-neutral supplement, The Adventurer’s Almanac provides an entire year’s worth of adventure seeds, monsters, interesting NPCs, magic items, weird events, strange celebrations, and other juicy morsels to season your campaign world. It’s also a big book, much larger than The Dungeon Alphabet, so you’re bound to find something in there to suit your purposes. The release date is not yet set on the book, but hopefully it’ll be available the first or second quarter of 2013.

As part of the grand plan to make DCC RPG your game of choice in 2013, I’m going on the convention trail throughout the fall and winter of this year and a lot of the next. I’ll be running play-tests, demo sessions, and regular games at various locales along the East Coast (or as we here call it, the “Right Coast”). The process of hammering out dates and appearances is still ongoing, but there’s a better chance than usual I might be in your neck of the woods in the months ahead if you rub shoulders with the Atlantic Ocean. More on these appearances as things get finalized.

Putting my Goodman Games projects aside for now, I still find I’ve got irons in the fire, on the anvil, or quenching in the bucket. As mentioned previously, I wrote an urban fantasy game for Goblinoid Games and the play-test period of that is at an end. No official word from Dan Proctor on it yet, but if you’re a fan of Hellblazer, Clive Barker, or classic film-noir, I encourage you to check this one out once it’s available.

I’ve not forgotten poor old Stonehell Dungeon either. I recently squeaked past the halfway point on the manuscript (thirteen quadrants are finished and there’s thirteen to go) and I’m desperately trying to ride the downhill inertia to completion. For those of you playing along at home, this means that Stonehell 2 is three quadrants larger than its predecessor. Even when the manuscript is finished, there’s still a lot to be done (cartography, editing, layout, and proofs) before it gets the green light for sale. I remain hopeful that it gets completed this year, but it’ll be close.

I decided that I won’t be doing a Kickstarter for the book, although that has been suggested. It’ll be in the same style as the original to keep the aesthetics identical and the cost down. If you own the first book, you know exactly what to expect. Perhaps, somewhere down the line, I’ll go back and combine the two books into a prestige version, but that’s so far over the horizon at this point you can barely even see it from space.

Finally, I’m writing my own role-playing game and expect to have the first draft of the rules and setting completed in the next two months. After that, I intend to spend a year in play-testing to make sure the wheels don’t fall off before offering it up for public consumption. It is not a retro-clone and it isn’t even a traditional fantasy game. Despite this, I’m designing it with old school sensibilities in mind. My goal is to keep it simple and flexible, and to leave as much agency in the referee’s hands as possible when running it. I hope to have a formal announcement as well as a design & promotion blog ready in October.

There’s more things going on, but I’ve already taxed your time and interest enough with this post. Besides, I’ve got work to do. I’m eagerly anticipating the fall months as they’re not only my most favorite time of the year, but also my most productive. Hopefully, you’ll reap the benefits of that intellectual harvest in the year ahead.


Anonymous said...

I'm exhausted just reading it all Michael, I hope it all goes smoothly and comes together nicely, I'm looking forward to the completion of your various projects.

grodog said...

Sounds great, Michael. Definitely looking forward to catching up again over a fine brew at our next meet-up (likely at GaryCon, unless you'll be in the Philly/SJ area over the Christmas holidays?)!


Michael Curtis said...

I am very tired, but, like in academia, it's publish or perish. That and I'd hate to disappoint 11-year old Mike who would probably go bonkers if he knew he would grow up and get to write this stuff for a living.

@Allan: Yes, most likely it'll be Gary Con. I think I'll be CT in December. Maybe I can finally get into a game of Aliens in LG...or a rematch of Pirates vs. Ninjas vs. Zombies vs. Monkeys, if Chris Holmes is in attendance!

Ynas Midgard said...

I am very much looking forward to seeing Stonehell 2.