Archive for Knights of the Hidden Sun

December Update: Dark Crystal Author Quest and NaNo The Childe Hel

Posted in Adventure Book, Anime, Dark Crystal, Dragon Trinity Crash, Fantasy, Fiction, Knights of the Hidden Sun, National Novel Writing Month, Publishing, Roleplaying Games, RPG, The Childe Hel with tags , , , , , on December 1, 2013 by Chall

Sorry for the delay in posts, I’ve been incredibly busy.

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

Dark Crystal Author’s Quest

I found out about this in late September, so I thought I’d give it a shot. September was spent drawing up a plan for a full Dark Crystal novel. Then, in November, new information came up on the Dark Crystal Online Encyclopedia that blew a huge hole in my plans. Undaunted, (well actually VERY daunted) I picked apart my previous ideas for something that would fit. I have to admit, the rewritten plan is much better than my original so I went with that.

I spent most of October writing my submission. I can’t go over the details of it but what I will say is I’m proud of what I’ve wrought, it’s perhaps one of the best things I’ve ever written. If I get picked as one of the final five I’ll be over the moon. If not I’ll look into sharing what I wrote as fan fiction and move on.

Pick Chris's novel, please? Make peace?

Pick Chris’s novel, please? Make peace?

Speaking of which.

National Novel Writing Month

I completed this. I’ve always wanted to try NaNo so I pledged 2013 to it. I’m glad I did.

Some authors may scoff but I found this hard. I work full time 5 days a week, so to write 1667 words a day is roughly an hour and a half overtime every day with no days off. Furthermore I’m used to working form a detailed plan. All my recent projects are all fully mapped out on Xmind before I ever commit the first word to word processor. My Dark Crystal submission followed this path but I couldn’t do it for my NaNo novel. Why? Author’s Quest took my October so, when November came around I had minimal planning for NaNo. I had to write words, immediately, on the fly. Yikes!

I did it though and it was worth while. I used a very general idea as my guide and just wrote free from for 30 days. At one point I got stuck with doubt and confusion but I powered through that and eventually reached 50’058 words.

The key was to always stay a little ahead. I clocked around 1800 words a day. This meant, on the rare occasion where I was pulled forcefully away form my writing desk, I never fell behind because my ‘word credit’ was still good. On the other hand, if I had let myself fall behind, it would have been far harder to catch up. So the lesson is; if you need to do x words a day aim for x+.

I have to admit, this method has been rewarding. My characters and plot have developed in ways I could have never imagined. Oh, I’ll still plan the snot out of my 2nd draft buuut I’ll have a wonderful 1st draft to work from.

I’m actually not done my novel but that’s okay. NaNo has given me a sense of how far I can push myself when I really need to. I’m going to complete it. Furthermore, I’ve pledged myself at least 1000 words a day knowing that 30’000 compared to 50’000 is easy.

What I will be up to?

The Childe Hel

My NaNo novel is about the Norse Goddess Hel. Not much is written about her. All that is known is:

  • Odin threw her into the underworld to gain dominion over it.
  • She’s a badass, everyone’s scared of her.
  • When Baldur goes to her domain it’s she who dictates to the Aesir the strict conditions for his return. The conditions are not met so Baulder says.

However, there’s no story, that I could find, on how she comes to power in the underword. When she’s tossed down there she’s a little kid. Therefore, I thought that a neat story would be how she fairs. This novel is about her growing up in the underworld.

When you were a kid you got Santa. I got the frozen wastes of Nifilheim.

When you were a kid you got Santa. I got the frozen wastes of Nifilheim.

It’s going to be a dark high fantasy about loyalty, family, love and war. At 50’058 words it’s about a third of the way through. Over this next month or three I’m going to finish the first daft and hammer out a solid second draft. Expect updates on it unless…

My Dark Crystal Novel (pretty please)

If I win Author’s Quest then my Dark Crystal novel will be my #1 priority period. If that happens you’ll here about it, trust me. 🙂

I’ll be orbiting the moon with delight.

ADX Anthology: Dragon Trinity Crash

David’s got my final draft of this. I’m waiting for him to release it to the backers before I share all the freebies I wrote about it. If you’re a fan of Slayers and/or Fate you’ll love this.

Space Pirate Alice Black: Blood Tribute

I’ve been pestering Jenny Xenotropos whose doing the art and layout. Truth is she’s super busy with commissions and Christmas stuff. She plans to get back on SPAB in January. Once she’s done I’ll be self publishing this on LuLu and/or RPG Drive Thru. More on this as it happens.

Knights of the Hidden Sun

Still shelved I’m afraid. So many new things have come up that I haven’t had a chance to take what Malcolm left me and finish the final draft. That being said…

I will finish this. My plan is, once I’ve written the 2nd draft of The Childe Hel, Hidden Sun will get the lion’s share of my attention. That is unless I win Author’s Quest. I don’t think anyone will blame me for choosing the next Dark Crystal novel over it. Regardless, I will finish Hidden Sun, one way or another, eventually.

And thaaat’s me.

I’ll update again sometime in January.

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Dragon Trinity Crash – Secret of NIMH – Knights Of The Hidden Sun – Update

Posted in Adventure Book, Dragon Trinity Crash, Fate, Knights of the Hidden Sun, Roleplaying Games, RPG, Space Pirate Alice Black, Writing with tags , , , , , , , on April 22, 2013 by Chall

So it turns out that the ADX kickstarter was a resounding success!

Thank you internet!

Dragon Trinity Crash will be part of the anthology as will a TON of other settings. Go the kickstarter to check them out.

Given all this I’ll be super busy. Here’s what I’ll be working on:

  1. My first priority is to get DTC to David. No updates until that happens.
  2. After DTC is submitted I’m going to add a whole mess of sample spells, sample characters, sample monsters and flash fiction to this blog. Why? Cause I’m that passionate about it. 😀
  3. After this I’m going to publish my Fate Secret of NIMH rules here. I promised a player at Phantasm this and I will deliver.
  4. After that Knights of the Hidden Sun will get my full attention until it goes to the editors.

Outside of this plan is Space Pirate Alice Black: Blood Tribute. That’s because I don’t need to work on it. Xenotropos is on art and layout. Once that’s done Blood Tribute will be ready for market without me doing anything.

And that’s my plan.

Expect DTC updates soon.

Knights of The Hidden Sun January 2013 Update – Reverence To The Lady In Black

Posted in Game Design, Knights of the Hidden Sun, Philosophy, Publishing, Roleplaying Games, RPG, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , on January 12, 2013 by Chall

Given Christmas/New Years I didn’t get too much done on KoTHS. That being said there was some progress.

Giving Reverence Where Reverence Is Due

In my November 2012 update I stated I needed to ‘tweak the Knights chapter. The current one is a little disjointed so a cleaning up and clarifying is in order. This will take a moderate amount of work.’ This is no longer the case.

The lion’s share of KoTHS background is written in IC. The first four chapters are nothing but history, news, personal experiences and advertisements from the game world. I found this cut down on dryness and made KoTHS hella fun to write.

The Knights Chapter was written as senior Knights handing down history and tradition to new recruits. I wrote it in a casual tone.

When Malcolm developed it, he changed the tone. The Knights became less casual and more reverent to their cause and Goddess. This irked me on first reading so I made a note to fix it. I reread the chapter again over the holidays and decided to leave it as is, here’s why;

My first rpg character was a 2nd Edition AD&D Cleric named Thohammer Folly. I chose a cleric because I wanted to A) kick ass and B) cast spells. I actually rolled a non-cheating 18 for one of his stats and I put that into Strength rather than Wisdom, because ass-kicking was Thohammer’s top priority, spells taking second place. As for exploring what it meant to be a disciple of Tamora, such a thing wasn’t even on my radar.

In my experience that’s how Clerics are played. They’re ass-kicker, healers and spell-slingers who give lip service to a deity.  The closest to displaying reverence these worshipers get is calling out the name of their God before smiting an Orc or sanctifying an area so pesky undead don’t rise. Some players don’t even pick a deity, they worship Lord Generic of the Coin and Hammer.

You know what? That’s is absolutely fine. My friends and I have had much fun running clerics in this fashion.

That being said, over time I found that I wanted to explore aspects of faith in my rpgs.

  • Why did my character choose his religion?
  • What’s her stance on her church’s dogma?
  • How does this faith manifest?
  • Is his Deity infallible?

So I wrote up  doctrine for each Cleric and occasionally  got into theological arguments with other PCs. Still, despite this, my Clerics never met their deities or even walked into one of their temples. There were no holy quests, no one seeking guidance, no machinations within the faith. The focus of these games were always killing monsters and treasure hunting.

Still fun but I wanted more.

I’d like to clarify this isn’t the material’s fault. I primarily played Forgotten Realms which has a TON of information on in game religions and cultures. I don’t think it was the fault of my DMs either; while I tried to throw in a rich, theological tapestries, I only did so IC and did not run any of these ideas past the people running the games.

Back to Hidden Sun. In Hidden Sun you play a Knight who serves a Goddess; the Lady In Black. The pact you’ve made involves trust as opposed to dogma, you can use her gifts for anything you want but your soul goes to her when you die. Both sides trust each other to do the right thing.

While this relationship is casual the major conflict in Hidden Sun stems from this Goddess acting against her brother, the God of War. Also, I specifically mention that meeting the Goddess is a BIG event that changes a character forever AND the Goddess, this ancient being of wisdom and power, regularly visits her followers throughout their lives.

So OF COURSE the Knights would speak about their faith and cause with reverence. Having contact with one who existed at the creation of the universe is something to be reverent about. Malcolm simply picked up on this and changed the Knights chapter to match.

This doesn’t mean all PCs in Hidden Sun are zealots. The Goddess demands nothing, not even worship, one can even have grown hate her and she’ll still lend her strength. What it does mean is that the GM is encouraged to make her important; to throw at the feet of the PCs Gnostic quests, audiences with higher powers and crises of faith. All the things I had hoped for long ago.

Hence I’m not changing a thing with the Knights Chapter.

That being said if your group just wants to run Hidden Sun as ass-kickers with divine powers, please feel free to do so; it can be most fun.

The Headaches of Star Travel

From an OOC prospective getting from planet A to planet B in Hidden Sun is easy: The GM says ‘It takes x amount of time, now onward to more interesting stuff.’ There’s no botching a navigation roll and having your ship collide with a rogue star. Granted, such things would happen in any Sci Fi/Fantasy universe but, at least as a player, I find such things annoying so didn’t include the possibility in my game.

That being said I needed to describe, in IC, how interstellar travel works. In Hidden Sun space travel is chaotic and hard to describe therefore Malcolm left it as a hurdle to tackle later. I’ve ended up tackling it.

Long story short I added a page and a half on Jump Gate theory and travel time to Chapter Three. I’ve tried to keep it short and descriptive so folks know how gate travel works, what it looks, sounds and feels like and how long it will take to get to the major worlds. I don’t think it drags on but the proof will be in the pudding when you lovely folks buy the book. 🙂

What’s Next?

I’m going to meld my character creation tweeks and further playtesting discoveries in the rules and GM chapters. After this it’s just some minor double-checks, one more read through, and it’s off to the editor.

Wish me luck.

Knights of the Hidden Sun December 2012 Update: Adventures In Character Creation

Posted in Game Design, Knights of the Hidden Sun, Roleplaying Games, Writing with tags , , , , on December 12, 2012 by Chall

As per my last update here’s what I have to look at:

  1. Fix up 1 section in my Magic/Tech chapter.
  2. Go over the Knights Chapter with a fine-tooth comb.
  3. Tweak the Character Creation chapter.
  4. Tweak the Rules chapter.
  5. Make sure the GM chapter reflects the changes above.

It would have made sense to start with 1 but I chose 3 instead because I’m a rules monkey.

Here’s the gist of what I did:

Lower The Dice Pools

In the first draft of KoTHS a starting character could end with a 12D dice pool in his primary skill. This was a little much so I scaled back to afford smaller pools, around 4 dice smaller to be precise.

The lower dice pools, when used in conjunction with simple dice saving mechanics, has kept the dice hoard to a minimum. This in turn has lead to a much smoother game.

Everything In Its Place

Previously in KoTHS you’d list all your character’s Edges and Flaws, even ones that affected Attributes, in one place; a place that happened to be no where near Attributes. I found this lead to confusion; often players would simply forget such bonuses and penalties in their rolls thus making them meaningless.

The solution?

List Attribute Edges and Flaws under their prospective Attributes; easy peasy.

Edges and Flaws Are Meaningful

My original list of Edges had some minor advantages such as Desert Adaptation and Claws and minor Flaws such as Arrogant or Eccentric. In play-testing I found these never came up.

Desert Adaptation was no good because very few adventures ever required a desert survival roll, as for Claws, Hidden Sun weapons blow them out of the water. Also, most PCs are arrogant to start with and eccentric was often funny but rarely flaw-worthy.

So I decided to remove such  from my Edges and Flaws list and only keep meaningful ones such as Immunity to Fire and Bane: Silver.

That being said you can still get the minor Edges, they just cost a pittance  Being a clawed desert dweller is more a fun description than an appreciable advantage in KoTHS. As for the minor Flaws, I’m regulating those to ‘you’ll get rewarded with Character Points or Will Points for throwing your character into tough situations’.

The Results

I ran these by my play-test group and I’m pleased to say they were able to draw up comprehensive, interesting characters in a mere 1/2 hour. If they had to do it again I imagine it’d take them 15 minutes tops, even the ones who aren’t rules monkeys like me.

This makes me happy.

What’s Up Next?

I’m going over Character Creation once more. This is just to check for typos or grammatical silliness.  Unless play-testing reveals a major oversight I won’t change anything further.

I’ll move on, get’er done.

After that I’m going to tackle the minor addition to the Magic/Tech chapter. Not a big change and nothing to do with rules. Completing it will simply make Hidden Sun one step closer to realization.

Expect another update soon.

Knights of the Hidden Sun – November 2012 Update

Posted in Knights of the Hidden Sun, Roleplaying Games, Writing with tags , , , on November 2, 2012 by Chall

As per my last update I was perusing the developed draft of Hidden Sun. I have finished this perusing.

First of all Malcolm’s and Geoff’s work is amazing. As I read through the draft I was extremely pleased and honored with their contributions. I’ve been generously authorized to use these but I won’t go through the details of the contract.

I can say that I’m allowed to keep my Ready2Run hack for Hidden Sun. Which is good because it fits with the setting, I enjoy the system and keeping it in Hidden Sun will enable me to get this game to market sooner than drawing on up a new set of rules.

I am toying with a Hidden Sun Fate hack but if that happens it will be after the main book is released.

All this being said there’s still some work to do:

  • I need to make an ever so slight addition to the ‘How Magic Makes A Space Fairing Society’ chapter. This won’t take long .
  • I need to tweak the Knight chapter. The current one a little disjointed so a cleaning up and clarifying is in order. This will take a moderate amount of work.
  • I need to tweak, not drastically change, some of the rules. While development was moving along I ran a ton of games and the results of these extensive play-tests have shown me I need to:
    • Ensure all character creation choices are meaningful. Character perks or flaws that no one uses will be broadened or removed.
    • Simplify the ancillary rules. In a game of high action one shouldn’t perform algebra (even simple algebra) to determine how much a character can lift or how far he can jump. This isn’t Malcolm’s Ready2Run’s fault, I added these complications so I’ll replace them with something simpler.
    • I need to reduce dice pools. I have a plan, it will work.
    • This may seem huge but I suspect these tweaks will only take a moderate amount of work. I’m not rewriting, I’m reducing and simplifying.

All in all I’m hoping to have KoTHS ready for editing by the end of February. This is a rough overestimate, if I get my work done sooner there won’t be any complaints, least of all from me :).

I’m restarting my monthly updates so you’ll be kept informed..

Once the Chall fine tuning stage is done KoTHS will be off to an editor to check for spelling and grammar, then will be art and layout, then publish, then profit!

If anyone has comments, questions or concerns please feel free to comment below.

Knights of the Hidden Sun: Changes and Progress

Posted in Knights of the Hidden Sun, Roleplaying Games, RPG, Writing with tags , , , on September 6, 2012 by Chall

This week Malcolm Sheppard stepped away as Developer/Marketer of Knights of the Hidden Sun. As mentioned in his blog there was no drama, far from it. He simply must commit to his own projects.

Let me say here and now that I appreciate everything Malcolm’s done for me over these past few years; from giving me the confidence to write KotHS to working with Geoff Grabowski to develop it. We’re still friends and I’ll keep him informed on the progress of this game.

As for what happens next:

  • First I’m going to take in the Developed draft of KoTHS to take stock of what I have. Once that’s done Xenotropos and I will determine what’s needed  to edit, play test, type set and  finally publish the full work. At that time we’ll decide if we need a Kickstarter to offset the costs. I hope to have the final decisions on this figured out by the end of the month.
  • After this I’ll set up a KoTHS Blog as a source site for all your Hidden Sun news and extra content. It’s high time this game had a web presence.
  • I’m not giving up. I’ve spent too many years working on Hidden Sun and I won’t let them go to waste.

Now that I’m in sole control of the project I’m in a far better position bring it to fruition. While it pains me to see Malcolm step away I’m also excited to have Hidden Sun back in my court.

As a side note, while waiting I’ve nearly completed another project, a FATE adventure book called Space Pirate Alice Black. It’s a small journey into the stars, where the fate of trillions hangs in the balance.

Expect more to come.

Back On The Horse

Posted in Fate, Knights of the Hidden Sun, Publishing, Roleplaying Games, Writing with tags , , , on June 5, 2012 by Chall

It’s been over a year since I last posted.

Why?

Laziness.

Despite this I have updates on my recent work:

Knights of the Hidden Sun

It’s been in development for a looong time. The reason for this is Malcolm’s other commitments, White Wolf work. That being said Malcolm was kind enough to invest in Geoff Garbowski (of Exalted Fame, yay ) to finish the rest. This has gone incredibly well. Very, very soon KoTHS will be developed. After this is editing, and type setting which should go muuuch quicker. I’m looking forward to getting this out, holding a published book I authored will be awesome.

If you don’t hear from me after Hidden Sun’s published it will be because I exploded with joy.

Space Pirate Alice Black Journey 1

I wrote a Fighting Fantasy Amature adventure for Wizard Book’s Valintine’s Day contest. You can find it here. I didn’t win. However, I did get this amazing review. It blew me away, so much so that I’ve decided to write my own for self publication. Enter Space Pirate Alice Black Journey 1. It’s a 50 section Book where you play a feline space pirate who takes a villainous job in order to keep your ship, freedom and crew. So far I’m at 48 pages. I’m thinking it’ll be over 60 by the time I’m done. I plan to release it in parts for free and sell the compilation on LuLu. It’ll be a solo adventure book using FATE rules.

Fun, no?

I the meantime I plan to keep blogging.

Expect updates, reviews, alignment game stuff and other goodness.

Chall