Corsairs – Characters

Corsairs will be coming to Kickstarter as a part of the ZineQuest in a few days time. In the lead up I wanted to show a few of the details, and today that means talking about characters!

You can tell a lot about a role playing game from the character sheet, and this is the character sheet for Corsairs:

Characters are built around their statistics: Finesse, Might, and Wits. This dictates the base number of D6 rolled when a character is attempting a task. Each statistic has three linked skills, and these will provide bonus dice a character may roll, and can be improved with experience.

Characters also have Luck points, and these may be used to modify dice, or to add some narrative element or device to the game that aids the character in their hour of need!

As the pirates close in on poor old Edward Evans he stumbles across a small gully, Evan’s player spends a luck point and states that in the gully are some picketed horses… just in the nick of time!

Characters will also have positive and negative relationships with the other characters in the group. In our playtests Del Fuego had a negative relationship with Scarred Pete because Pete’s Monkey nearly pulled out Del Fuego’s infamous moustache.

Relationships provide a benefit or impose a negative effect when the characters are working together and helping each other out.

Characters have gear! Each character will also begin the game with one special item. Scarred Pete had his monkey, Del Fuego had his moustache. Special items provide a bonus to one skill.

At the bottom of each character sheet has a Damage chart, which is where a player tracks how injured a character is. Injuries can mean negative effects for the characters, like the Cursed condition. The Damage chart also shows how difficult the injuries are to heal…

Lastly, most characters will have a role on ship, this will mean certain jobs they are in charge of when a ship is getting ready, plotting a course, sailing, or locked broadside to broadside with an enemy!

Corsairs will launch on February 2nd! Check out the pre-launch page here, and click to get notified when it launches!

Corsairs – Coming Soon to Kickstarter!

The Corsairs Kickstarter preview is up! Check it out here!

Corsairs will go live for Kickstarter’s ZineQuest on February 2nd.


Corsairs is a 32 page RPG zine of sky ships, floating islands, and high adventure! All the expected rules are there: actions, combat, giving a foe a damned good tongue lashing, Corsairs even includes rules for sky-ships and broadsides!

Corsairs does not include a GM chapter, or the usual ‘What is an RPG’ section, but it is choc full of rules, Scoundrels, and background. It also includes a Summary page, a character sheet, and a ship sheet.

Again, you can check it out here!

Zine quest – The wait is on…

Well, I did it. I hit submit. I had a few butterflies, but I submitted the Kickstarter project for review. I’m not sure how I’m feeling right now… nervous certainly. Hopeful. Worried. Excited. Anxious. All a mix of various things.

I think I have calculated everything, and goodness knows I have been over the project and the maths 1000 times. I think I have it all covered. We shall see.

The ship is set to sail! I hope the winds are favourable! I hope the course has been well plotted, and any dangers for the voyage have been thoughtfully navigated in the process. If the project passes review Corsairs will be launching on February 2nd. My contribution to the Zine Quest.

Zine Quest – Starting Line In Sight…

For the briefest of moments I was going to title this: Finish line in sight… but then I came to my senses. The starting line is in sight, and the kickstarter page for Corsairs is almost ready to be submitted for approval. I need to make some small final adjustments, run over the maths again for the millionth time, and hit submit… it is close!

The bleed has been adjusted (I made an error with the cover that has been fixed), and the finished book will use a light blue cover stock.

A part of all the organisation and planning that has gone into this is sorting out the costs of shipping. Shipping from Australia is expensive, and maybe, just maybe, the currency conversion rates for the weak Australian dollar in comparison to the US dollar, the Euro, or the Pound, will make a difference, but the fact remains: shipping from Australia is expensive. Working out exactly what those incidental costs will be is important. The cost of printing the zine is A, the cost of art, writing, and all those other creative parts B, the cost of shipping is C, and the cost of the shipping materials is D.

The cover is 250gsm stock, while the interior pages are 100gsm. The zine is saddle stitched, and printed in black and white. Again, the printed book will have a light blue cover.

A+B+C+D is what the zine costs me, to send to you, the backer. I have quotes for A, a cost for B, and know what D will be. The cost of C, shipping, is dependent on weight. The weight of the zine, the weight of the packaging, and the added weight of shipping labels and so forth.

To aid in this process, and to make sure everything is ready to roll as it should be, I have had a test book printed. This proof helps me for a number of reasons, one: I can test the actual finished weight of the zine. Two, I can make any adjustments required (already I can see that aspects of the character sheet are too close to the gutter and need to be adjusted), and so on. Plus, it is super nice to hold a physical copy of the zine, and to see what it will look like.

It should be noted that the print proof is not using blue stock for the cover (as the finished zine will), but all the paper weights are correct and accurate, and will give me the information I need to move forward with shipping estimates. I must say that I am rather happy with the finished product. A neat, nice looking little booklet that contains all the rules required to go a-plundering the ships and shipping lanes of the Alderil Empire in a sky ship are present and correct! Very nice!

A sneak peek at the contents – all the rules and background included. Rules for characters and actions, rules for creating characters, rules for ships and ship to ship combat, rules and lists of equipment, scoundrels, a quick reference, and the obligatory character and ship sheets!
Also, my playtesters complained that I didn’t mention all the arson they undertook in the dedication, and to be fair to them, there was a lot of it.

Zine Quest – Shipping from Down Under

I went to a local post office. I figured it was better to speak to someone with expertise rather than noodle around on the Australia Post website for hours to find the same information.

“If I was interested in sending an A5 booklet. This size (I had two samples). What would the cost be to post domestically? Internationally? To the US? The UK? Europe? China? etc…

Before too long the scales held the samples (both), and a price was forthcoming.

“How much?”

Shipping from Australia is expensive. Hell, shipping to Australia is expensive, in the instances when I have purchased games from overseas the shipping has often cost more than the game.

Shipping domestically is fairly well priced, a little over a dollar for something like an A5 Zine, plus the cost of the envelope it is put in.

Shipping internationally, wow.

A5 booklets can be sent as letters in the appropriate packaging, packaging from Australia Post can cost anywhere between $50 for 100 envelopes, through to $90, depending on the quality. In other places, like Office Works or similar stores that specialise in stationary and office supplies, you can find cheaper alternatives.

Postage costs, in the case a zine being sent as a letter, are based on weight. If the total weight (the weight of the booklet and the envelope together) is less than 50g, then the cost to send to most places internationally is $3.20. Between 50g and 125g, and the price jumps to $8.30. If it’s between 125g and 225g, the prices jumps again to $13.50, and beyond that and you’re probably not sending a zine.

So I’m waiting for the printer to get back to me with options and projected weights, and the choice here lies somewhere between getting as low a weight as possible and maintaining a level of quality.

The postage costs are high, which makes them difficult to roll into a backing level in the case of the Zine Quest. If my zine ends up weighing over 50g (envelope included), which is likely, it will mean adding or absorbing $8.30 on top of the cost of printing, and on top of any additional margin for losses, profits, and so on).

What does this mean for the Corsairs Kickstarter? Well, if the weight is over 50g, which is likely, it means that I will likely charge for shipping on top of the cost of the Zine – backing levels will be set at x, shipping at y, and backers who want a physical copy will be required to pay x+y.

If, in the unlikely scenario, that the weight is beneath 50g, then I may be able to increase the cost of the backing level for the physical Zine slightly, and absorb some of the shipping costs. Is the prospect of ‘free shipping’ worth it? What will it bring to the campaign? These are questions I need to ask myself.

On the upside the Australia dollar is fairly weak compared to most major currencies, so my $8.30 (well, $8.30 plus the cost of the envelope) for shipping translates to about $5.70 USD, €5.15 EUR, ₤4.5 GPB, $7.5 CAD, or ¥39.5 CNY. Perhaps that makes it more palatable, perhaps it doesn’t…

All food for thought!

Zine Quest – Moving Forward

Tentative cover…

As Zine Quest approaches with the unstoppable momentum of… a… a thing with unstoppable momentum, preparations are well underway. The rules are fairly well finalised, and playtesting continues apace. Layout is almost complete, though I have a few more pieces of art to finish. I have finished the cover, and have investigated shipping costs. I still need to confirm with the publisher, and finalise the weight of the zine, which will give me the final shipping costs, but everything is moving, and generally speaking, it’s moving forward.

Prior to Zine Quest, everything has since been modified to accommodate the KS rules for colour.

It has been a lot of fun running through playtests, we’re currently in the process of testing a mini-campaign that will be available as a stretch goal, should Corsairs make it that far. There has been much chaos, many fires, and even a riot or two in the ports of the floating island of Teboa. All good fun!

Playtesting with the old character and ship sheets, but with the new rules.

Over the course of playtesting, we have changed a bunch of the smaller rules, streamlined some others, and heavily modified stats throughout. Playtesting is such a valuable process. I was thrilled the core mechanisms held together and work well, but playtesting has helped everything else. The book has been significantly restructured as a result of feedback, as well as a result of flipping through to find things during play. If I had my time over, I wouldn’t draft the zine in a layout program like Affinity – I would write it in word, and transfer it to Affinity, but it has been a hell of a learning process, and I feel much more comfortable dealing with Affinity had I done it the other way around.

The manor house, storage sheds and stables are all on fire… it was meant to be such a simple mission!

At the moment I am working through a list of updates, creating the Kickstarter page, and working on ideas for Stretch Goals. When I get the final weights from the printer, I will be in a better place to set the funding goal, backing levels, and make the choice about whether to roll shipping into the price, or to charge for it separately. Being in Australia has some serious implications for shipping, and everything comes back to weight, but I’ll write more about this another day.

With everything coming together, albeit slowly, I am hoping that Corsairs will be launched as a part of the Zine Quest in the first or second week of February! Keep your patchless eye open for it!

Zine Quest – Resources…

I added a page to this site to catalogue resources I found across the internet in the lead up to the Zine Quest. You can find it on the page tab, or here. As February approaches, I am finding a few more useful threads on Twitter and on various blog sites around the web. I wanted to highlight some of these here.

First off is @zeshio on Twitter. Zeshio has a number of fantastic Twitter threads about various things to remember and consider when it comes to creating a Zine for the Zine Quest. Three of these particularly caught my eye, and are linked to on the Zine Quest page. The first of these is a Twitter thread about printing. In this thread there are a range of useful tips, tricks and nuggets of advice. Things to do with paper weights, binding types, costs of printing, things to remember when creating the file, and so on. Well worth a read, a reread, and then a rereread.

Second in the list of helpful posts from Zeshio is his blog post about shipping. Shipping, he states, is likely to be the largest cost for producing a zine. He then delves deeper into the subject, considering weights, shipping methods, satchel sizes, and so on. Again, this post is well considered, and contains a huge amount of very useful information. Check it out here.

Last of the three (but not last of Zeshio’s great advice – check him out on Twitter!) is a compilation of stats drawn from the last Zine Quest. This is a google-doc that contains a wide range of data points, how many Zines were a part of the Zine Quest, how many funded, how large were they, how many had stretch goals, what were the funding levels, what level did they fund at, and so on. Really interesting and relevant stuff, that contains a lot of useful points that can be extrapolated. Do stretch goals correlate with funding? Are higher backing levels more likely to succeed than lower backing levels, and so on. On the summary page of the google doc Zeshio develops some thoughts around the data, and asks some interesting questions. Well worth checking out!

I’ve said it already, but if you are looking at developing a Zine Quest, or are a fan of the TTRPG industry, you should most definitely check out and follow @Zeshio – on top of all that he is a fantastic artist.

Next cab off the rank is Exalted Funeral, @ExaltedFuneral, who put a call out for anyone interested in having them handle fulfillment. Well worth checking out!

Last, but not least, is a wonderfully in-depth article by Clayton Notestine, @ClayNotestine, that has been circulated on Twitter, reddit, and elsewhere, all about layout. This blog post really delves into the subject of layout, takes a look at dos and don’ts, as well as examines some wonderful examples from a range of RPG products. This link is not just for Zine Quest, but a must read for anyone interested in learning about layout (like myself), or who is jumping into the subject without having any great prior knowledge (like myself).

I am trying to keep a track of the various links I find interesting or useful over on my Zine Quest page, so if you’ve read this far and have some links that you think would suit – shoot me an email (you can find it here) or hit me up on Twitter!

As an aside, my Zine Quest project, Corsairs, has nearly finished being laid out (I am doing this myself this time around, and using the Affinity Publisher program, which I have thoroughly enjoyed). I’m currently in the middle of playtesting a campaign that I hope will be available as a stretch goal – we shall see!

Achievements – Board Gaming

2019 saw me step back into board gaming in a bigger way than I had for a number of years. Last post I wrote about all things related to 2019 and role playing, this post will focus on board games.

ShepparCon

2019 saw the third ShepparCon take off, a local game convention squarely focused on board games. Every year we have grown a little more, and given our venue for the last two years, some questions need to be asked and answered in the planning phase for 2020. It was a great event, and over 150 attendees came over the weekend for games large and small. I am proud to be a part of the organising committee for this convention, and have had a blast running the Wits and Wagers tournaments the last few years. A big shout out to Dominic Crapuchettes, from North Star Games, for being such a sport and recording a silly congratulations message with me for the winning team, or, as they were dubbed, the Wits and Wagers Champions of the World. It was a highlight!

Game Designs

Tentatively: Colour Jungle…

One of the other organisers of Shepparcon is a board game designer by the name of Karl Lange (you can find his website here), and we had the opportunity to put our heads together and brainstorm some ideas over the course of the convention. One game concept span out into three or four different game ideas, some of which are still in development. The most polished of these Karl took with him to Essen last year, and while we haven’t had any solid bites yet, we have had some positive and encouraging feedback, so that is something!

Working with a co-designer has been a great experience, and I hope it is something Karl and I can continue into 2020. This general focus on board games led me to create two other small prototypes, both of which deserve junking, but the bug has bitten. I am hoping to continue it in the coming year.

The hardest thing, as I have previously expressed in regards to role playing games, is finding both the time and the people for playtesting. I’m lucky enough to live in an area with a lot of gamers, but very few (that I know at least), who are interested in design. I am lucky that I have a long suffering group of close friends and family who will tolerate playtesting my games, but it is still a significant difficulty to find the time to make it happen.

As for playing games, this year has seen a significant rise in the number of games I have managed to get to the table. There has been some solid variety, many new games (many of those from Kickstarter), but I have also managed to blow the dust off a bunch of older games that have been sitting in my shelf unloved for years. For stand outs and most played games, well, I think that’s something I’ll come back to in a later blog post!

Podcasting

Last but not least 2019 saw me dust off my microphone and get a few things recorded for some podcasts. Last year I had the pleasure of gracing the On Board Games and On RPGs podcasts. It’s always a pleasure to have the opportunity to talk with Don and Erik, both wonderful people, ever accommodating of my umming and ahhing, and general inability to finish a sentence with brevity.