#ReadIndieRPG – Day One: #iHunt

I was inspired by the #ReadtheDMG videos that went around last week. I wanted to do something similar to celebrate and encourage folx to read and play Indie RPGs. Once a day, all through April, I will record a short video reading a passage or two from RPGs by some of my favourite creators. If you’d like to join in the fun, please post your videos using the same hashtag so everyone can find you.

In the meantime, please enjoy my NSFW (language warning) video for #iHunt.

Life in the Time of COVID

Have a picture of a Hedgicorn, for good luck!

I had been meaning to write about a great many things. And then life, as it so often does, took a turn. As I am typing this I am in my second week of isolation at home. I’m lucky, in that my employer issued a work from home order early in the isolation process, so I have been able to keep working. I’m not sure if I mentioned it here before, but I work for my City government as an administrator. Specifically, my section deals with granting and Family and Community Support Services, helping organizations that support the vulnerable sectors of our community. As you can imagine the COVID-19 situation has us particularly busy, as we help coordinate not just the municipal response but the Provincial one as well. To say I have been busy is an understatement, but it is important, necessary work and I am lucky (and privileged) to work for a City that has made helping our vulnerable sectors a priority.

But all of that has meant that my free time is not as free as it once was, even factoring in a lack of commute times. Projects like updating this blog and even the Salt Bay Pirate Radio podcast have had to go on the backest of backburners while I take care of work, and then sleep and eat so I can take care of work tomorrow. They’re still coming, never fear. But the timetable for them has been stretched out a bit.

With the podcast in particular, I may have to re-record sections of my Episode Zero, and record a new Episode One. My delay has meant that the season finale for Season 2 of Pirates of Salt Bay has already aired, and Season 3 will begin in a few weeks. That actually makes better sense as a launching point for the podcast, so the delay has that silver lining at least. But it will mean a bit of extra work getting ready.

I did take the time to write something over at The Rat Hole, so please check that out.

In short, I am tired, but I have hope. I know we can get through this. Wash your hands, practice physical distancing measures, use whatever supports are offered where ever you are. Choose people, choose kindness. And feel free to reach out to me if you need someone to chat with. We’ll get through this.

Interview and Updates

I will add my voice to the throngs lamenting the arrival of March already. It’s been a busy first quarter of the year, which has sadly kept me from posting here as often as I would like.

But I haven’t been idle! You can find a plethora of 2020 posts from me over at The Rat Hole. And Ben over at the Bone Box Chant posted an interview he did with me as part of his Editors series. If you’d like a peek behind the curtain of my editing process it’s a good read.

And things push ahead with Salt Bay Pirate Radio! I recorded an Episode Zero and am editing that now, and plan to record Episode One this Sunday. Plus the logo I commissioned is almost done, so I should have that in place when the first episode goes live, which will be keen.

I do miss posting here, however, so do expect me to get back to that. As I mentioned this past Monday I am revisiting my thirty year old AD&D Spelljammer setting house rules. My plan is to post a bunch of my process of updating it to 5e on here, so you can get an idea of what I love about that setting. And it will be a taste of the resource I will eventually publish.

Extra Life All Year!

I have been pretty vocal about my support of Extra Life over the years. I have taken part in the 24 hour game day every year for the past seven years, and I have been successful at hitting my fundraising goals. Last year I stepped things up a bit and created The Hedgicorn as a continual fundraiser for Extra Life. I also offered editing services for donations, which was surprisingly successful and something I plan to do again later this year.

But this year I plan to do even more. I would like to extend my fundraising efforts throughout the year, because I believe that children’s hospitals in general (and my local children’s hospital, The Stollery, in particular) deserve attention and support year round. I’ve set an Extra Life goal of $1000 this year, and it would be amazing to come up to game day already well within site of that goal; it would be a situation unlooked for to have actually surpassed it by then.

As part of this, I am going to go a bit outside my learning curve and comfort zone, and live-stream some fundraising events through the year. This will mean figuring out the technical side of streaming, as well as recording those streams. Luckily there are plenty of resources to help me navigate the process so it will be difficult but not impossible.

And thanks to my friend Amber, I already have a great idea for a stream. I waffled on Twitter about whether to keep my beard, and Amber suggested I not only keep it, but dye it blue and run a charity stream of Bluebeard’s Bride. Brilliant! Once I clear that cosmetic change with my employer, I think this will be one of my first streams, though I may do something a bit simpler first in order to test the waters.

So stay tuned, folks! Over the next year you’ll see me popping up on Twitch a bit more, and I’ll post links here when I am ready for players and the like. If you’d like to support my efforts in charity streaming you can do so in three ways. First, you can drop by my Extra Life page and make a donation, which will qualify you for some incentives listed on my donation page right now. Those are good all year round, and you can get an incentive for as low as a $5 donation.

Second, though I rarely mention it I do have a Ko-fi page, and right now I am saving up to get a better camera and proper lights for streaming, so watching these charity streams will be as entertaining as possible. If you have a few spare bucks and would like to support these efforts, consider buying me a coffee.

Thirdly, if you don’t have the cash to spare for donations or a coffee (and I get it, it’s rough out there) then please share and RT when you start seeing links to the event go up. Heck, even spreading the word about this post will help get the word out, which will help us be successful later on. And don’t let a low follower count stop you! Twitter’s algorithm  doesn’t care how many folks you RT’d to, it just cares that you did it. Trust me, it will help.

Have a great day, folx, and watch this space for more to come!

From My Table: Heir’s Guardian

I was re-watching the latest episode of Saving Throw Show’s Pirates of Salt Bay today, and was struck to create this wondrous item based on an item Eoj finds, and re-finds, during the episode. I am in no way saying that the doll found on the show is any sort of magical guardian. Of course, the only way to know for sure is to see if you’re on the safe list…

Permission is given to use this item at your table. If you do, let me know how it works for you. Enjoy!

* * *

Heir’s Guardian

Wondrous Item, very rare (requires attunement)

This children’s doll comes most often in the shape of a little girl or some type of stuffed animal, with a pull string in its back. Whatever its shape, once attuned the bearer can record up to five short phrases which the doll will speak whenever the string is pulled. The bearer of the doll can select one child to become the doll’s focus, placing that child under the doll’s protection. The person attuned to the doll can also set a number of people who are considered safe.

If anyone not considered safe comes within fifteen feet of the focus (if the focus is alone), or at a command word from the bearer or the focus, the defensive powers of the guardian activate. The focus is protected as if it was the target of a sanctuary spell (DC 18 Wisdom save). In addition, the doll transforms into a Shield Guardian, treating the focus as if it wore the shield guardian’s control amulet. The doll remains in this form until there is no one unsafe within fifteen feet, or until dispelled by the bearer or the focus. This power can activate once per long or short rest.

The DM and the player are encouraged to discuss the design of the doll and therefore what form the shield guardian takes. If the doll is a standard stuffed bear, for instance, perhaps the shield guardian takes the form of a metallic grizzly bear, and its attacks do slashing instead of bludgeoning damage. You might also consider giving the guardian some form of grapple attack. Feel free to be as creative in the guardian’s design as you like, while keeping it at the same relative power level.

Over at The Rat Hole: #iHunt: The RPG

Heya, gang! I wrote a review of Olivia Hill’s and Filamena Young’s #iHunt: The RPG over at The Rat Hole, up today! Please check it out, and then immediately get a copy of the game your own self. Pro Tip: buy it on Itch, Olivia and Filamena get a bigger piece of each sale over there.

Then feel free to let me know what you thought of the game, in the comments here or at The Rat Hole, or hit me up on Twitter.

My Devilish Good Looks

I’m working on some posts, but wanted to share this wonderful piece from my buddy Jeff Martin (@HEATComic). As part of backing his Hell, Inc Kickstarter I got a Hell, Inc Staff Portrait. Welcome, Devil Brent! Devil Brent (DB for short) runs the office TTRPG, and loves to switch editions on his players, sometimes mid-session.

Goodbye 2019, Hello 2020

Yes, I realize that time is fluid, and that we arbitrarily section it up into manageable chunks in order to make sense of a chaotic universe. I’m actually okay with that, so I want to talk a bit about this past year, and look forward a bit into the next.

I have to admit, the last year was a thoroughly mixed bag for me. On the one hand, it was probably the hardest year for me physically, as I got hit with pneumonia, a bad patch of migraines, and a number of injuries which kept me sidelined. Add in a number of family issues, and all of the things I had planned to do on my personal projects fell by the wayside. Prairie Dragon Press didn’t put much of anything out (though I am proud of The Hedgicorn), and while the Canadian Library of Roleplaying Games added to its collection, I wasn’t able to get that active in the way I had planned. My total time spent gaming was also down, and that’s just bad news at any time.

But then, my freelance editing work really took off in 2019. I worked for a number talented of writers on DM’s Guild and DriveThruRPG, I wound up working on the Uncaged Anthology (I’ve talked about how amazing that is before, so I won’t go into it again), and there are roughly eight to ten TTRPG publications out there with my name tucked into the credits. More than that, I’m proud of the work I’ve done, and I have been fortunate to work with some excellent writers and a stellar Managing Editor/Publisher, Ashley Warren.

I was also busy for half of last year consuming content for the ENnies and working with the judges to come up with a pretty amazing list of nominees. While I do think the awards themselves need some work and changes going into the future, I’m proud of that work as well. There were literally hundreds of strong contenders last year, and out of that we nominated some truly innovative and excellent games. I stepped down because I think there needed someone other than an older white guy in the judges seat, and I am excited to see that coming true with the latest team of judges.

Yeah, a mixed bag. Not great, not awful, it was a bit of a slog but I made it through. Taking time to reflect on the past year and look ahead a bit, I realize that many of the issues which plagued me last year are not there anymore. My doctor and I seemed to have fixed the migraine issues, and apart from a bit of the flu earlier this winter I have generally felt good. Given the changes I have already put in place ( better eating, more activity) I expect to move forward into 2020 feeling better than I have in a while; stronger, higher energy, more physically competent. And if that’s true, I can hope that a lot more things will fall into place for me, because my health has always dictated everything else I choose to do. After all, if I feel like crap, I am less likely to want to sit in front of my computer and write, let alone go to cons or play games with folx.

So assuming my health stays on an upward curve, a few things I plan for 2020:

  • at least four publications from Prairie Dragon Press next year. I have the text of an adventure complete, and I have outlined two other products. At worst I want to hit one project a quarter, but if I can get that to bi-monthly so much the better. This is as much about learning some publishing skills as it is getting some ideas I have had out into the world, so these will be mostly solo projects, not including art commissions and editing.
  • continue working as a freelance editor. I have some work lined up in January, with some “maybe” work in February. Beyond that, I look forward to seeing what I get to work on next.
  • attend more conventions. This shouldn’t be hard, as I attended *checks figures* one gaming con last year. It was fun, and I will be back again this year (to both, IntrigueCon runs a spring and fall con event), but I would like to travel to a convention as well. Big Bad Con is high on my list, and if I can get the funds together in time I’d also like to hit Breakout Con in Toronto in March.
  • start putting up content for the Canadian Library of Roleplaying Games. I really want to start talking about some of the history of gaming, as well as look at a lot of the new stuff coming out on itch and IPR. I’m not certain if this will be blog posts, videos of some kind, or a mix of both. But I want to get those conversations going with folx.
  • play more streamed actual plays. While I squeaked in under the wire and kept my annual average at one streamed game (thanks to Scratticus Academy), I would like to get that up to the dizzying heights of two or even three games over the coming year. Maybe even GM a game on stream for the first time, though I don’t want to push my luck.

That’s a bit of looking forward to the next year. I think it’s all achievable, and I have started working on the specific details to get to each goal. After all, intent is not a plan. So expect a post in the next little while getting into more details about one or more of these goals.

For now, I want to say thank-you. Thank-you for reading my content here or over at The Rat Hole, and for chatting with me on Twitter. Thank-you for the comments and feedback, it has helped me at every turn. Thanks to those of you who picked up a copy of The Hedgicorn, validating my desire to publish and donating some funds to Extra Life.  Thank-you to everyone who hired me to edit their work this year, it was a privilege.

Most of all, thank -you to everyone who works every day to make out hobby and industry more inclusive, and a less-friendly environment for gatekeepers and predators. More than anything, I would love to see 2020 be the year we finally fix the broken stairs instead of walking around them. Thank-you to everyone working to make that happen.

As we pass from one arbitrary year number to the next, I wish you all the best. May your dice always roll interesting.