Two Years and Counting!

Today marks the two year anniversary for the Outer Dark! And what a year it has been. Looking back on things, I am surprised I was able to get any blogging done at all! I moved to a new city, lost my grandfather, I got engaged and then married, and my wife gave birth to our baby girl. Wow, I am tired! :-)

But I did publish quite a few posts this past year, which mostly dealt with the design and writing of Swords Against the Outer Dark: Sword & Sanity Roleplaying. This is a project that started out as a Labyrinth Lord supplement, but after writing about 80 pages of the book and spending quite a lot of time reflecting on the whole thing, I decided to take a break and put the project to the side, which I did mainly because something just didn't sit well with me about what I had written. When Goblinoid Games released Realms of Crawling Chaos I began to ask myself if the Labyrinth Lord community really needed this supplement? The answer I heard echoing back at me was, no.

I am glad to report that the Sword & Sanity RPG is not dead... but it is dreaming, and soon will rise again in a new form! The time away from the book has allowed me a fresh perspective, and a slightly different approach as well. The game will still be viewed as an old-school RPG, but I have taken a different direction with some of the design elements of the game, so I don't think it will be classified as a retro-clone. Let's call it a tribute to classic D&D, seasoned to taste. The one thing I can report right now is that one of the new design goals is to keep the page count very spartan. This game will be lean and mean. I have had quite a bit of exposure to Microlite20 and Mini Six this past year, and I very much like the format of these games. I want it to be a complete game, while maintaining a very minimalist page count. I will begin sharing much more on this in the coming weeks.

Another highlight for me this past year was interviewing artist Andrea Bonazzi. This interview is in the top three most viewed posts I have published thus far, and that makes me very happy! Andrea deserves as much publicity as possible. I feel he is an unsung hero of the Lovecraftian community, and I am very proud to have developed a friendship with him.

A more recent post announced the partnership I have formed with another online friend and fellow blogger, Sean Robson. Together we have formed Hopeful Monster Creations, which is our ambitious, and grossly undermanned, game publishing alliance. We have a lot of cool ideas, which cannot get written soon enough. A couple of projects we have already discussed: Sean has been busy working on Megadungeon!, which is now in playtest, and I have offered up a reference screen for the 4C System. I am sure the four or five folks on the planet who play 4C (which is a shame, because I personally like the system) will appreciate my effort. I am sure I will have much more to report on the Hopeful Monster front very soon.

Another super big post for me this past year was publishing my Advanced Labyrinth Lord Screen. I first published it via Scribd, but soon discovered that Scribd had moved away from free file hosting to charging customers to view archived documents, so I switched all my downloads to Google Docs. If my information is correct, between the downloads logged on Scribd and those from Google Docs, the screen has been downloaded over 1000 times since it was published. Not bad for a niche product for a niche game! :-) In hindsight, maybe I should have put a small price tag on this screen. It would have been a better fundraiser than selling t-shirts and mugs! Live and learn, and all that...

Finally, as I look back on this past year another proud moment for me was commissioning Chris Huth to illustrate a piece for the Sword & Sanity RPG. I think his illustration speaks for itself, and I couldn't have been happier with the final product.

So, there it is. If doomsday comes and goes, and we all live to see another year, you can expect a whole lot more coming from the Outer Dark. My thanks to all those who stop in and read my stuff from time to time. I really do appreciate it!


DCC RPG Free RPG Day Adventure Starter "Advanced Look"

Tuesday morning I checked my email and found a surprise waiting for me from Joseph Goodman. Besides a nice note saying something about "an advance look at our Free RPG Day module," the email had a PDF of the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG Free RPG Day Adventure Starter (cover art shown above) attached! Joseph, you made my week, man!

Unfortunately, I have not been privy to the playtest rules that have been introduced at various gaming conventions these past few months, but looking over this introductory pair of adventures I can say that I am excited as hell to get my hands on the upcoming beta rules that will soon be released! According to Joesph the beta rules are in a “race to the finish”, and Goodman Games is "hoping to release them a couple days before Free RPG Day." I can't wait!

Looking over the adventures, there are two contained within the adventure starter: The Portal Under the Stars (Level 0-1), by Joseph Goodman and The Infernal Crucible of Sezrekan the Mad (Level 5), by Harley Stroh. Both are well written, and seem like they are going to be a ton of fun. I really like the art direction Goodman has taken with DCC RPG. The artwork hearkens back to the game's pulp roots, as well as the roots of the hobby, and it makes me want to play the game. There are several full page panels that showcase fantastic pieces by Jim Roslof and Peter Mullen. The hand drawn maps illustrated by Doug Kovacs are inspired, in my opinion. Not to mention the great cover by Mr. Kovacs.

It is apparent to me that Goodman has pulled out all the stops here, and is setting a precedent with this Free RPG Day adventure starter. If this is a sign of things to come then it looks like DCC RPG is going to be a huge hit. If ever there was a time for this kind of game I feel this is the time. And I am saying this without having played the game. I can be a hard person to impress, especially when it come to games. So far, color me impressed!