Tuesday, October 30, 2012

May the Force Be With --- Mickey?

Wow!  Star Wars got sold to Disney today for 4.05 billion dollars.  This opens up many possibilities for the franchise including both prequels and sequels. I know personally I would like to see them do the Timothy Zhan Thrawn trilogy and also a few movies on Rogue Squadron.  Giving the heartkey to Disney though may be a good move as we hopefully will see better productions and less Jar Jar Binks destroying the galaxy. "Mesa is responsible for all dis evil." I for one hope that they do not do to Starwars what they did to John Carter (OF MARS GEESH) although I enjoyed the film they could have done better.  Hopefully this will breathe new life into a gallaxy  far far away but please do not go down the road that Indiana Jones went down....

So the new movie in 2015... What do you think it will feature?

Thrawn
Rogue Squadron
Emperor Roan Fell and the Gray Knights
Yuzan Vong
Legacy Series

Just please don't add more gungans or brats with super power!

Friday, October 26, 2012

ICFBTS Factions On The Way!


I put in the order to the caster today for the first production run for the factions!  It has been a long journey and I appreciate all the help and support we've been given!  Thank you!

You can purchase from our site directly at www.hillbilliesvsaliens.com

Thursday, October 25, 2012

More than Attack Attack Attack



I believe that the Pathfinder rules have taken what was a pretty good system in 3.5 and fixed and streamlined a great deal of the mechanics.  The combat maneuver rules that replace the clunky grappling, disarm, sunder and trip rules make for one simple but effective method for handling special actions in combat.  They also gave every class a significant power boost with the addition of new class abilities and more feats!

Many of the feats have also had a makeover.  Specifically the multishot feat that previously gave a ranger (or character with the feat) the ability to shoot 1 extra arrow per x in base attack bonus up to y. This was a full round action in of itself that was in addition to the normal full round attack granted by the class level.  I ran into this last week and my immediate reaction when I was asked if a player could use it with rapid shot was no.  The reason for this is that the original version of rapid shot was a standard action while multishot required a full round action.  There was an excellent sage advice article that went out several years back addressing this exact point.  There was just one problem with my call though.  After some research online on Piazo forums after reading how they changed the multishot feat I started to rethink my original call.

Although not specifically addressed by Piazo staff there has been enough people to get into this discussion that I believe that the answer is actually a very simple one.   The new rapid shot feat says to take a -2 to all attacks as part of a full round action to get an additional attack at your highest attack.  The new multishot says that you can use it as part of a full round action and if your first attack hits you roll the arrow damage for the arrow type (only the arrow not strength or magical bonuses such as flaming) twice.  Did you catch that?  Both say they can be used ‘as part of’ a full round action.  This means that not only can they be used together, they can be used together whenever making a full round attack action.

Similar changes to the rules such as how a character (npc or monster) can use the combat maneuvers ‘instead of’ an attack action allow you to make multiple combat maneuvers per each attack action you have when making a full round attack.  Thus a character with three attacks as part of their full attack action could make a sundering attempt on an enemy, trip another and use the final to make an attack (or any other combat maneuver including grapple).  I think this is pretty darned cool because it allows for cinematic combat and gives players with multiple attacks more choices than just ‘attack attack attack. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Steampunk RPG

So we are just about done with our first draft of the WTNW skirmish rules.  These are rules for platoon level engagements between like forces.  We are working to get something that will be a lot of fun and also very playable but that will also let you tinker with the mechanics to build your own tech.

As we progressed in the WTNW universe and further developed the metahistory of the world we were asked a good deal about the possibility of an RPG.  This has led to more questions regarding how things might be handled.  Would we use Pathfinder or create as my friend James puts it (ADS- you can figure out what that stands for I am sure) was the most common question.

So I put it to you, my readers.  What would you like to see in a WTNW Steampunk RPG?  The world of WTNW is already very rich and rife for playing extensive campaigns.  Is there a current system that you love that you would love to see it developed from?  Savage Worlds perhaps?  We do have a license.  We can also get licenses for Pathfinder.  The problem with OGL and that kind of thing though is we are limited in mechanics to the scope of what the game offers.  True we can change some of it but the core mechanics must remain the same for it to be a supplement.

So I ask you.  What would you like to see out of the possibility of a WTNW RPG?  All feedback is extremely appreciated!

Dream of Steam
-Rob

Monday, October 15, 2012

Superdungeon - The Merfolk Treaty


In the Tuesday group in case you do not know, Errtu the Demon Lord has taken over much of the southern Aminish boundaries and has pushed down into Calimshan as well.  The demon territory has been growing steadily and the players have formed the Acti (named after their brass dragon friend) to form an organized militia and adventuring company to combat the demons.  The problem is that there are border forts and walls protecting much of the demon empire boundary and the acti have had mixed results in assaulting the towers as almost as soon as they fall another rises in its place.  The Acti leaders are hopeful that if they are able to bring up warships they will be able to supply the warmachine with much needed ammo and food for the siege.

This Tuesday the Superdungeon main characters are supposed to go negotiate with the merfolk of the Amnish River.  They are negotiating specifically for the rights to bring shallow-hull warships up the river to lay siege to several towers that are in the demon occupied lands.  I have several nasty surprises in store for the party including the possibility of an Aboleth lair not too distant from where they intend to meet the merfolk. If I do that then I plan on providing some clues in the form of stagnant and corrosive water in places, disappearances of civilians in dock towns, etc.  I could also have a local group of Sahuagininstead of the aboleth but then I would need to have different clues.  It could also be a giant beast down there that the merfolk want dealt with such as a giant moray or some other nasty. However I think it would be fun to get your input on what should be down there as I know that Forgotten Realms offers a host of fun possibilities.  So feel free to weigh in and let me know!



Some ideas for what could be down there: (Basically what are the merfolk going to want fixed before they say yes to the proposal)

  • Aboleth lair (2-5 aboleth and several hundred skum)
  • Sahuagin tribe with those cool manta creatures (Indrixitl or something I believe)
  • Giant Beastie
  • Ghost Ship?
  • Angry Water Spirit
  • Something Else?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Site Feedback

Friends,

We have updated the main site for the company.  If you would be so kind as to go check it out and let us know what you think of the site or ways in which we can improve I would greatly appreciate any feedback you leave.  The site can be accessed by clicking on the ACG link to the left or by going to here.

Again, we are all very excited about the new page and we are working hard to get you a page that you can easily browse and purchase our items!  Thank you!

The Blob Faction

Thursday, October 11, 2012

DM Advice - Things I Learned from My Startup Business


Lesson One – Research Your Market (Customers and Competition)
No matter if you are going to start your business in widget creation, game design, or publishing you really need to do your research on the market. This means getting into the specifics and learning about your potential customers.  What is hot right now? What do they want? What is considered outdated? What do you offer that your competition does not offer?

When I started this business I thought I had gotten all of those bases covered but I quickly learned that it is almost impossible to have every angle covered.  I highly recommend that people do a little bit of research before jumping in the deep end.  Some of what I learned in the business is that not everything can be researched and some things, such as people seem to really like to customize their own bases, are things that you just have to figure out by trial and error.

Another point to consider when researching your market is who are you potential customers?  If they are into new technology they might want to see something that seems fresh and new and not something that you think is fresh and new.  Let’s face it.  We get older.  I know back in the day I thought that a table design web layout was the best thing since sliced bread but I have since come to learn that this isn’t the case any longer with CMS so readily available.  As I am going for a broad market I need to have my products ready for people to get and quickly.  A suggestion pointed out quite openly was to put the products on the front page of the site.  I have to say – duh.  I didn’t think of that and to my web master’s credit she did but wanted to do what I wanted her to do. Sometimes we have to learn from our mistakes and I hope she forgives me for that one.

Lesson Two – Get a Good Solid Group
Nothing will make or break a company faster than having a bunch of people who aren't dedicated to the cause.  By putting a people into a room and telling them that you want them to be creative you are basically opening up the floodgates.  I find it is best to let each person do whatever it is that they are most talented with.  I therefore have writers, editors, graphic designers, webmasters, marketing gurus and layout artists.  Some I pay and some get royalties as we sell product.  Let me say this – without those people this business would fail big time.

During the Gnomecon panel that I cohosted with Richard Launius of Arkham Horror fame we both had the same thing to say in regards to people.  You need to get someone to work with that you can trust and that is on the same page that you are on.  Having a core group can also help when it comes to bouncing ideas around for the newest product line or book idea.  So use those people skills!

Lesson Three - Learn the Business (Research, Research, and Research)
If you are getting into game publication research your distributors.   What do they want from you?  Often times they need time to solicit and want to get your photographs of your minis and art for your books as soon as possible.  You need to get this to them ASAP!  I have had several products that almost died because I didn’t get Warpath Games what they needed in time to solicit.  Oh and when you give them the stuff to solicit – give them time to solicit! I have made this mistake and the results are actually irritating for both you and them.

If you plan on getting into publication you need to learn layout.  I recommend hiring a layout artist.  There are so many facets when publishing a book from what type of paper to use to how much bleed to setup that really you need to have a professional.  This is where Joey Caso has been so very helpful for my business!  I went from a single column full color layout that I did myself in Word to a double column black and white 10pt font layout that Joey did and the results were so obviously better it wasn’t even funny.

When it comes to art do not skimp!  You need to get a decent artist or graphic artist or photographer.  If your products look like they came from someone’s used art bin box or your photos look like you took them with a 2mb camera (like some of mine have in the past) then you will probably not attract many customers. Once again I can point to James Miller of Scrying Eye Games for the wonderfully zany art that he provided for me for the It Came From Beyond the Still product line and the steampunk inspired art for When the Navy Walked not to mention both book covers for my fiction!  While I am on the subject of thanking people for art I want to thank Jaz for all the work she put into the graphics for the website.  The time and effort paid off imho and the art was fantastic!

You will also want to research costs.  Printing is not cheap and neither is paying a sculptor or a spin caster. I wanted to offer a product that was fairly inexpensive so I went with black and white interior and a color cover for most of my books.  For the miniatures I also wanted to offer the products at a decent rate and so have opted to go with blister boxes from Placon rather than try to find box art and set all of that up.  Now I am considering if I am going to go with printed labels or if I will go with stickers on the boxes which I will print from home as needed.

Lesson Four - Startup Capital Is Necessary!
You just finished your Kickstarter and now you are ready for business right?  Wrong.  Trust me in this one.  You need startup capital.  Why?  There are so many non-listed costs to operating a business that it isn’t even funny – from cost of goods sold for the product to marketing costs and art the idea of having a business is great but the truth of it can be daunting.

The second truth and this is just a matter of fact is this; business will grow at their own pace.  That’s right.  You cannot force a business to grow or push it to grow.  True some are lucky enough to hit exactly what the customer wants right away but the truth is that businesses usually take two to four years to really get going.  We are at the end of the second year but really only the first year since we've been selling through anything other than ONEBOOKSHELF.

Lesson Five – Market and Demo!
This is true for all businesses – you have to get out there and show the flag!  I was lucky enough to have Mike Williams of Bring Your A Game volunteer as my first real demo team!  Since he offered to help me It Came From Beyond the Still has been shown at all of the major conventions and trade shows!  He plans on doing them again for me next year.  This is a HUGE boost for me as I cannot normally make those shows myself.

Hire a marketing girl (or guy) early.  I did this.  It was kind of late when I finally did do it but so far it seems to have paid off.  I think that it is very important to get your name out there and to let customers know who you are and to let them know what you have to offer them.  The basic premise of this lesson is to get out there and to market and demo as much as you can. Go be a vendor even though it sounds boring to sit behind a table (it is) you have to do it!

Lesson Six – Integrate Everything
Got a blog, twitter, facebook and CMS site?  Integrate them all!  Social media is here to stay folks so let’s get with the program!  Also make sure you have your events posted clearly so everyone can follow what you are doing and where you are going. Twitter is good for product announcements and teasers.  Facebook is good for catching up with friends but it is also good for marketing!  Blogging is good for articles like this one where you share your mistakes and hopefully learn from them as well as showing new products, posting AARS of your games and generally offering support for products and your hobby.

Lesson Seven – Make Your Products Easy to Find!
You would think it was a no-brainier but for me I thought it was a good idea to put the product page deep under each product type.  I had several customers tell me that they wanted to pickup some hillbillies but they couldn't find them!  This is a problem!  As I look at the new way to setup stuff it is apparent that new products should be setup at the front of your page or at least only one click away!

Lesson Seven – Be Brief
The age of giving a verbose monologue of who you are and what you do for a living is over, it has been replaced by concise to the point statements of fact.  The fact is that no one cares if I am a second generation gamer who designed the game when thinking about it one day at a family reunion after playing something similar and thinking hey you know what would be cool.  They just want me to be brief and show my products so that they can use them for their own uses. 

Wrap up
In the end it is all about learning from your mistakes and not repeating them.  Good luck and happy business owning.





Redesign the Redesign

I have been informed that site design is far eaiser than it used to be back in the day.  As such, I am going to be redesigning the ACG site to current standards using Wordpress.  Our site is still accessable via http://www.whenthenavywalked.com/welcome but the main site will show the default wordpress template while I update. Edit Jaz and I updated the site with wordpress. later I will add the blogfeed and get the graphics updated and optimized. www.whenthenavywalked.com

Monday, October 8, 2012

Yellow Plague Beastie

They found the lair of the cult just as the eclipse began!  Deep in the sewers they were confronted by a monster of legend.

What happens when the DM crosses a Giant Squid with a Mosasaur?

They fought valiantly against the tentacles when all of a sudden the ground roars and collapses to show the massive head of the giant beast! The centaur was swallowed whole, the rogue grappled by the tentacles and the wizards clawed. The Knight used his power attack to slice the rogue free of the grabbing tentacle! The rogue Kas used a maneuver to tumble past the creature into its head and stabbed it in the eye. Arrows, fireballs, indigestion, sneak attacks, celestial servitors and massive damage later they had a defeated monster!

This was just the guard dog...




Thursday, October 4, 2012

Dragonlance - The Yellow Plague

Tomorrow we continue the game.  The party will go up against the Yellow Cult deep beneath the streets of Palanthis.  The showdown promises to be a fun and challanging one as the Plague Knight and the cultists call upon alienist creatures in a final bid to corrupt Palanthas.  Will the party discover the truth and learn of the involvement of the highest nobles?  The end may be just the beginning.





Wednesday, October 3, 2012

When the Navy Walked - Hurricon 2012


ArmChair General, When the Navy Walked, at Hurricon 2012

Rob and I went to Hurricon this past weekend and had a good show.  Our demos of both When the Navy Walked and It Came from Beyond the Still were well attended and had lots of action.

When the Navy Walked

We played the meeting engagement from the core book with each side having 2 Infantry Battalions, 1 General, 1 Colonel, 1 Landship, 1 Machine, and an Artillery Battery.



The first 3 turns or so were spent maneuvering for position as the British and German forces found solid cover for their guns and infantry.  The machines also spent time maneuvering as the German Land Ironclad Blucher switched flanks in an attempt to turn the British left flank.




 

Turns 4-5 saw the artillery make life tough for both the infantry and the ‘clads as they opened up on targets of opportunity.  British guns primarily took the German infantry under fire while a combination of German guns and one of the machines attempted to take down a large “Penny-Farthing” type wheeled machine, prompting the commander of said contraption to call out, “they broke my bike”.  A valiant push by one of the German columns, in column, at the double through a hail of shot and shell damaged, but did not eliminate, part of the gun battery. 






 Turn 6 saw the elimination of the German spearhead as it was surrounded by the British infantry and shelled by the British artillery.  The British P-F took more damage, but refused to go down, as the Sovereign moved to bring the German Landship Blucher under fire.  British and German infantry engaged in a fierce close range fire fight in the woods on the German left.


Turn 7 and the British infantry turn their attention on the Blucher while the Germans continue to hammer the P-F which is looking rather pathetic with smoke and fire pouring out of it.  British rifle fire begins to tell, doing some damage to exposed portions of the Blucher’s crew and controls.  The Royal Sovereign is maneuvering to bring the Blucher’s flank into range for a shot.  The German and British infantry continued to hammer away at each other in the wild woods melee.

Turn 8, the end is here!!

The P-F finally gives up the ghost, but not before the British Royal Sovereign manages to cause catastrophic damage destroying the Blucher and giving the win to the British.  A real “come from behind” turnabout!  All the players had fun and really enjoyed the theme and the game.
Our new website is up and running and we are taking pre orders of all to cool It Came From Beyond The Still Miniatures that we have been previewing. 

ACG Site is Live!

Our site is live!  Special thanks to Jaz for a great layout!  Our preorder page is up.  Just click on the products page and if you want the minis go to the Icfbts page four! (miniatures)!

www.whenthenavywalked.com

Monday, October 1, 2012

Hurricon and Kentucky Haunting AAR



We came, we saw, we sold some preorders of miniatures and we ran some games. That in a nutshell is how the convention Hurricon 2012 went for us as a company.  It was nice to see all of our friends and play in a few games.  Customers seemed to have liked the Cephs, Hatfields, Warmachines, Grays and Blobs that were on display and hopefully this is a good sign for our small company!  There was also a lot of buzz about the Reel to Real book that is coming out this month!

We are now taking preorders for all factions and ICFBTS III - From Reel to Real!  Email cronickain@gmail.com and we will get you an invoice alternatively you can wait until the website is completed.  Jaz has been working hard on the site and it is looking fantastic if I do say so myself!


Mike Baker, our Director of Marketing ran a very fine game of When the Navy Walked using the meeting engagement scenario in the core rule book.  The game was ran using 20mm Airfix models and some scratch builds that were very cool and showed well on the table!  Mike will get an AAR of that game later in the week.

The convention itself was attended by a little over 200 people and for some reason to me it seemed smaller than it has in the past.  I am not sure if that is due to the proximity of the holiday season or the economy or a combination of both but there were some old friends that I missed this year.

We ran our second game Saturday night opposite the always fun pulp game put on by Jacksonville Garrison’s Chip Coffee.  Now I usually play or help or both with that game but we had our own Kentucky Haunting to run. The Kentucky Haunting scenario is from the second book of It Came From Beyond the Still and it features zombies and cultists as well as hillbillies.  We took that scenario and added Something’s in the Cornfield from book one to get a table of six players.

The Kentucky Haunting Game featured Blobs, Grays, Cephs, Hatfields, McCoys, Men in Black, Cultists and Zombies!  I played the Cultists and Zombies and the players played everyone else!  The missions were as following:

  •  The Blobs mission was to eradicate the Cephs
  • Cephs were looking for some live samples and a cat that was hidden somewhere in either the McCoy’s RV or the Hatfield’s house.
  • Hatfields were trying to defeat at least one of every alien and protect their still.
  • The McCoys were looking for the buried bones of Toby, their dog which they believed that the Hatfields killed and buried in their graveyard.
  • The Men in Black were trying to capture an alien without anyone knowing as well as collect DNA samples from at least two other aliens.
  • The Cultists were looking for their cat, Fluffems (from Pet Taxidermy faction in ICFBTS Book III)
  • The Zombies were there to eat (what else would they be doing?)


Round One had everyone setting up with the Men in Black’s SUV and the McCoy’s RV getting caught on the stream bed.  The Blobs made a nice showing of immediately attacking the Grays who were as they put it “just there to probe some cows”.  The player of the Blobs and the Grays were husband and wife. The Hatfields immediately started shooting at the Cephs who retorted by shooting some of the Hatfields livestock for good measure. The McCoys got out of the RV and were immediately attacked by some strange alien creature that was summoned by the Cultists.  Rex Hatfield, always the intrepid companion, charged at the approaching Cephs and scored a hit that the Ceph player would later call “the death of that dog”.  Finally, the zombies lay low in the graveyard (no one was aware that they were there because they weren’t’ yet on the table).
 
Round Two had the Blob player sneak up on her husband’s Gray and knock him out of the game.  This was answered by the Gray Giant Robot shooting the Blob to pieces throwing the gelatinous creature into the woods.  The Men in Black engaged the Blob player in a game of cat and mouse and the Cultist Peggy the Hairdresser sent a newly summoned major servitor (Elder Thing) after the Men in Black. Granda McCoy ended up taking out the creatures in the woods and shooting Sam the Gun Store Owner (Cultist) until he fell down. Finally, the Cephs and the Hafields continued their attacks on one another with the Ceph capturing a prized cow for their live sample basket.

Round Three and the Elder Thing attacks the RV sending it screeching across the forest into the open where the Hatfields can see.  The Hatfields open up but the RV driver backs out after turning on the floodlights and seeing the hordes of zombies coming out of the graveyard.  Rex charges the zombies and falls down when a zombie bites him. The Hatfield player, a young teenage girl said “When can the zombie bite Rex so he can come back as a zombie?” This and “Well I didn’t know Blobs tasted so good” were probably the best lines of the night. The Grays were able to collect three of their five samples by the end of round three. The Blob player came riding in on a horse that they befriended (no kidding) and immediately ate a ceph.
 
Round Four had the Cephs engaging the Grays and the Ceph tripod vaporized poor Jenny Hatfield.  The Hatfields were avenged however when the Blob slid under their house and ate another Ceph. Luckily for the McCoy player he had just about wrapped up the cultists except for the Elder Thing which kept harassing the RV!

Round Six and the Men in Black had scored a capture of an alien DNA from the Blobs and were heading to collect more when another cultist monster appeared and attacked them!  GrandPa McCoy started digging around with a shovel and the Ceph’s warmachine was blown to kingdom come by the Gray Robot.
 
Round Seven had the Grays and the Cephs complete their objective with the Cephs finding Fluffems in the Hatfields’ house. Grandpa McCoy fended off the rest of the zombies and was in position to dig up old Toby when the Men in Black started zapping their Forget Me Sticks and the Blobs were left in the open explained as “Swamp Gas.” 

A big congrats to the Gray player who had the most to do but pulled it off AND taunted his wife in the process! Way to go!