Well, I have the finished product in my hand and I couldn't be happier with the way they turned out. I knew a proper printer would create a better resolution than I was seeing from the one I have at home but the images look so much crisper than I was hoping for.Altogether they look and feel like the "real roleplaying books" I've been buying for years and it's nice to reach the end of this phase.
On Friday December 1st I finally handed over the book for printing.
The image right is the "mock-up" including the cover. It's different to the cover I had at Origins and GenCon but I felt this cover better represented the contents of the game.
The other image I have lined up as the cover of the next book Steam Chamber (working title), a steam-punk genre game based, again, on the Hazard resolution system.
The books themselves will be ready to ship by December 9th leaving plenty of time for shipping to those who want it before Christmas. I hear it makes a great stocking stuffer!
Cover Price is $25, $30 if you'd like the .pdf too and $15 for your very own digital copy of the book so you can peruse it before the physical copy arrives or you decide to commit to the hard copy. The "buy now" button for the book is not active yet because of Christmas.
If you want to be sure to get it and you're far afield let me know and I can check out faster shipping.
Another two months on and, no, it's still not at the publishers. This time though I can hold up my hand and say it's not my fault (sort of).
Robert "Admiral Bob: Broomhall
I'm now just waiting for the plan and elevation views of the buildings in the sample adventure. After a few false starts I finally got a great artist to take on the the job. Caitlin Crawshaw is doing some great work under tyrying (timewise) conditions. Once her pictures go in, there will be a little more formatting (it never ends) and then the indexing. Fortunately Word does it automatically, not brilliantly, but much better than I could unless I was prepared to delay publication until next year some time.
I flirted with the idea of hiring someone to do the indexing but describing the book to them made me realize just how unusual a roleplaying book is. I've looked at them for years so they seem normal to me but when you try to size them up from an outsiders perspective they're actually a strange combination of fact, fiction, technical and scholarly writing. This makes it impossible to even send a sample of your writing for quoting purposes as there is truly no representative passage you can send out.
For all those patiently checking back from time to time I present the last drawing sneak peeks. Enjoy, and stand by for publication
I'm just coming to the end of my last run through and discovering a few odds and ends I mistakenly believed I'd taken care of: hence the delay to publish.
For those ladies, or women (I'm never quite sure if the former is considered sexist) who valiantly took up a male character because I'd (foolishly) only commissioned one I give you: Kate Guscott, Elizabeth Merriweather and, for those of you who can't get their mind off squid-man; Bartholomew Caxton.
These ladies will appear in the character template section while Squid-man will be a part of the artwork in the sample adventure section.
Once again thanks to Vin who can see pictures so much better than my imagination can come up with.
I've also seen a copyright lawyer, registered my book with the Canadian copyright people and most excitingly, for me at least, acquired my very own isbn 978-0-9877822-0-5 which I used to generate my own barcode. What a handsome little devil it is.
Other than that I've collected quotes for an initial print run of 50 books (be in quick!), inserted the last few images into the text and lastly, but not leastly, tweaked a rule or two after the experiences of playing with you guys at the conventions and reports I've received back from play-testers. Thanks to all you guys.
With all of that in mind, my last couple of tasks are to edit and insert the sample adventure A Victorian Prometheus which conventioneers will be familiar with (although there are a couple of new twists and some extra depth in there) and to generate an index.
I'm not giving myself a deadline but I feel like it's very close to going to the printers. I just have to remember (and flatter myself that what I'm producing qualifies)...
Art is never finished, only abandoned. Leonardo da Vinci
I'd made a few very minor adjustments to the system between Origins and Gencon and, thanks to the people that played it at origins, a few improvements to the game itself.
The first game of Friday (and apologies again to those that missed out on Thursday) was at 10. After some unpleasantness with inappropriate touching of Anne and Shelly's dice we got underway. Thanks to Pat (not shown below) for her patience and grace. I've not had experience witha visually impaired gamer before and was completely unprepared. Thanks too to Jason who did all the heavy lifting with reading the skills and dice for Pat and played a mean Reginald while he was at it.
It was nice to have Robert along too: a hardcore board-gamer who thought he'd give us roleplaying simpletons with our cute dice and colourful picture books a try.Jason (Reginald), Robert (Isambard), Shelly (Katherine) and Anne (Harold).
The second game of the day went well too. Watkins was in fine form which Patty seemed to enjoy. The John's were earnest but very effective Isambard and Dave driving the group along while James and Matt bludgeoned and threatened anyone that got in the way. Nicely done; the Doctor didn't stand a chance.John (Isambard), Patty (Katherine), John (Dave), James (Saul) and Matt (Reginald)
I was a bit worried about attendance for Saturday morning's game. There was a rumour going around that a gamer had snuck a couple of wine coolers out of their parents basement and brought them to the con.
Turns out my fears were confirmed and three of the six players signed up didn't show. Never-the-less, Keeley, Karen and Sean were all big enough personalities to count for two characters each.
Sean's Reginald proceeded to try drinking the imaginary world dry which must have fortified him somewhat as Keeley's Harold and Karen's Katherine, became progressively more horrified as events unfolded.
I'm not sure if these are smiles of joy or of madness...Keely (Harold), Karen (Katherine) and Sean (Reginald).
Unfortunately there was only one person signed up for my second game on Saturday and Geoffrey was sad...
The last game of the con (for me) was a full house plus Geoffrey from the previous cancelled game. With all the characters taken there was someone finally playing Burt AKA Hannibal. I'm not really sure why he the least favourite character but with the two conventions this year combined this was only the second time he was selected.
In any case, with a full house and no ladies in the game it was a rowdy affair but great fun. Doug's Burt was fabulous and Martin's hilariously inept Harold was a real treat. Geoffrey, Ron and Scott's Isambard, Reginald and Saul kicked some ass and tore a few heads off. All the while Bruce's Dave ran around putting out fires while Paul's Katherine made London unsafe for anything not nailed down.
After the last game I went for a stroll along the street from the convention centre in search of something to eat. Most of the places were full and I was about to give up and head back to the hotel but I happened to go back past the noodle bowl when there was almost no line.
Apart from getting some excellent pad thai I also had the good fortune to catch up with Karen and Sean from earlier on in the day when they graciously invited me to eat dinner with them. It was a good to meet a whole group of people including CJ and Kevin from The Walking Eye Podcast Paul and Jeff and a charming lady whose name I confess I do not recall.
It was the perfect end to my 2011 Gencon convention.
So far it's been frustrating and I'm not even there yet! As I type this I am bathed in a sheen of sweat after running (with a suitcase under my arm) the length of Toronto airport only to still miss my flight by a couple of minutes.
I'm not pleased, not just for myself, more for those who have missed out on Thursday gaming because all the other games are full by now.
With this in mind you hopefully found this note at the venue.
Heartfelt apologies I am not there. I know time is precious at Gencon and with this late cancellation you're probably going to miss out on gaming altogether for this time slot. I'm very sorry for that and as disappointed but probably sweatier than you.
Despite it being faster to fly long distances in theory, sometimes it doesn't work out that way and a "maintenance problem" caused me to miss my connection to be there today.
On Saturday at two there are still spaces available for this game so in the unlikely event you're not booked for that time I'd love to see you there. If not drop me a line at victoriarpg.com and give me hell for wasting your time. I'll make it worth your while.
This on top of a flight cancellation that made me cancel Sunday's game has made for a pretty poor run-up to something I had been looking forward to for some time.
Fingers crossed it's plain sailing from here.
Bad things come in pairs right...
The flight I was taking next to Chicago was also delayed which caused me to miss the Indianapolis flight. Fortunately that could be rebooked and I finally touched down in Indianapolis at 12 am.
Phew. Off to the hotel... which had had a flood making 8 rooms uninhabitable and was fully booked.
Being the last to arrive at the hotel meant I had to transfer to another hotel which was unfortunately 30 minutes away and I had to return to my original hotel first thing in the morning to catch the shuttle I'd booked for Gencon.
Origins was great again this year. It was a little different seeing it from the other side of the screen but it was still a good experience. It is often characterized as being "just the right size" convention, I don't have the benefit of convention experiences extending beyond Origins but I doubt anyone considering attending next year would be disappointed.
I was down for running five sessions of A Victorian Prometheus: two on Friday and three on Saturday. The sign-up was patchy which I understood; having limited time available at a con means you have to make some tough decisions. On that note, thanks to everyone who took the chance on Victoria. I hope you all enjoyed yourselves; I know I did.
Quite apart from having more than a few laughs it was interesting to see how people I'd not played with before responded to the game and the game mechanics. While it is good to have a group you're familiar with in the initial testing phase, the longer you've played with them the more homologous your styles become. Playing with a new group of gamers puts pressure on different elements of the system and shows up any cracks and deficiencies.
Overall things went quite well but there were a few areas I now know I still need to put a little more work into to make it play better. I also discovered that there are far more girl gamers out there than there used to be. I thought I was being clever making one girl character "just in case". It turned out that this wasn't enough. One of players mentioned that gaming was now almost reaching parity between the sexes and that was certainly true for the sessions of Victoria with the gender balance being about 60:40.
It was also good to put the scenario that will be the sample adventure through its paces. I think it improved every time so thanks on behalf of those that will play it in the future and thanks again too from me. A particular thanks on to those that add to my understanding of the victorian era as well as the colour of a "stereotypical Irishman".
Lastly, relating to the game, I was a little surprised at the number of things that people did similarly, and I'm not just referring to the path that the game took (which I freely admit was quite linear) but to the way that people did very specific things the same from game to game. I've kept track of them but in the interests of not spoiling anything for those playing at GenCon I'll save them for my post-Gencon post.
On a personal level it was great to see Fred Hicks from Evil Hat again this year. He looked a bit like he'd had enough of chatting affably so I didn't linger. I just left a proof copy with him and passed on a thanks for saying the right things at the right time to get me to actually write Victoria. So once again Fred, if you're reading this, thanks.
Well that's it for the Gencon wrap-up. You guys were awesome!
Daniel, Mr. and Mrs. X and Lindsay. Vince, Steve, Karl, Edwin, Bevery and Joey. Michelle, Matthew, Brian, Aisling and Suzanne.
Oh, and one last thing. If you're going to wear a utilikilt and you're determined to go without underpants, don't use the escalators.
EDIT: Matt from the third group to play through was nice enough to write a review of the session. So if your on the fence about playing it at GenCon check it out.
Matt's a game designer himself with credits across most systems and is currently writing a game himself. Inspired by a cover of John Lennon's Imagine, Curse the Darkness is currently in development and Matt's development blog can be found here.
Getting the artwork right has been one of the most challenging aspects of putting Victoria together. Fortunately as Victoria is set in Victorian times there is a lot of public domain art. It's not just clip art either its mostly period illustrations that fit perfectly with the contents of the book.
One area where I felt it was important to have original art was in the sample adventure. I'm no artist so I contacted a brilliant illustrator Vin Ganapathy, whose work I admired for a while, and managed to convince him to accept a commission to produce some character sketches.
Although I'm not very good at verbalizing the physical attributes of the characters that existed in my head, he got what I was talking about right away and produced images far better than I could have imagined.
The character sketches below will appear in the final product and also in the games running at Origins and Gencon.
After finishing the first draft I took a break over Christmas, for which I got a laser printer, and then began the revision process. There were actually a few pages here and there that didn't require much revising but I knew the bulk of the work was going to come in the sections where I needed to complete research and didn't have the time during drafting.
Sure enough by the end of March I had only got through about the first 18 pages(probably about 40-50 book pages with pictures and so forth) but they were all pages dedicated to the back story of Victoria. This took a lot of research.
I've written a scientific paper or two and I've also written fiction but I can now say that neither of them are as hard to do as historical fiction. Bending and fictionalizing history while maintaining an accurate timeline is very difficult.
By the time I was finished I'd added about 10 000 words and a layer to the game I'd always wanted in the game since admiring this part in White-wolf's 1ed releases.
Was I successful? That will have to wait until the game gets into your hands.
Through April I went over the skills and rules sections and as May slips away I'm completing the sections on Gming and getting the sample adventure fleshed out for... Gencon and Origins.