1-Star review galore and a new POD title!

| September 17th, 2015 | No Comments »

I woke up this morning with 68 new emails; apparently one of our fine customers has decided to rate most of our titles 1-star. Now, I’m sure this was done after long and careful deliberation with a thorough review of each of the dozens of products in question, and *not* some childish attempt to exact petty revenge for daring to publish Tournament of Rapists.

In other news I got some files from Chris the other night and we’re going to be releasing our first POD book very soon!

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What I’m Working On Now

| December 5th, 2011 | No Comments »

As you can read from the last post, I have my iPad configured to do blog posts now. With my Blue-Tooth keyboard I am all set to get more regular posts up. So, just what am I working on right now?

Well, for starters I have some kick ass art coming in for the next Black Tokyo release. I’ll post some images soon. I also got a great piece of art back for a Sci-Fi setting I’m working on.

The Sci-Fi setting is still in the early stages of development, but the concept art piece I commissioned came in looking great. I have some setting notes and am planning a three tier release. The setting will be released with rules for the Traveller and Savage Worlds system. I’m also plotting some fiction set in the new setting that will also help it really take shape.

I sent some scripts over to an artist for the Pandora Rising project as well. Once the comic-book style pages come back I’ll put those out as a free preview of the setting. This project has been on the drawing board for a long time. I plan to do the setting akin to the War of the Dead series of linked adventures that take players from their “normal” world and throw them into the new reality. I really like that way of introducing a new setting.

The follow on will be the campaign book which will be more like what most RPG players are used to. I’m calling that Pandora Risen, and it will be more like picking up the Ebberron setting book or the Forgotten Realms setting book where all of the world is mapped, major powers and people detailed etc.

On the fiction front I’m also plotting out a short story based on the Black Tokyo setting with the intent to put it out on DriveThruFiction.

Lest you all think I forgot, I am still working on the Digital Copy Retail Experiment. I’ll update you soon on how that’s going.

I demo’d a new card game over the weekend. I was down in Virginia to see my daughter in a school play, and stopped by the local game store I used to work at to see my buddy Lee Garvin of Reality Cheque fame and the author of Tales From the Floating Vagabond. Well, it turns out he and a customer had worked out a new card game called:

Badass Zombie Killers!

With a name like that you *can’t* go wrong! The premise is that the zombie hoard has arisen and you have a very short period of time to construct the most badass zombie killing weapon you can from what you can scrounge. From there the hilarity begins.. I won’t go into too much detail because I don’t know what I’m allowed to say or not but I thought it was an awesome game. You win the game by having the highest “Badassery” rating for your chosen weapon when the hoard arrives at your door and it’s time to start zombie killing. Think more like Munchkin than Magic. No collectable cards but they were darn funny reads. I can’t wait to see the artwork to go with the descriptions I read.

Lee and I are in talks about getting a table together at this years GenCon. With luck you will all be able to come by and demo the game for yourself then.

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Blogsy for the iPad test post

| December 5th, 2011 | No Comments »

I was reading about some guy who is using his iPad full time instead of his laptop and he mentioned using the Blogsy app to update his blogs.  I downloaded it and set up a couple of my blogs in the control panel.  Easy as pie! Doing a first test post using my iPad and Blogsy.

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Why OneBookShelf is the best digital RPG storefront.

| December 2nd, 2011 | No Comments »

I’ve been toying around with the idea for this post for a while. I’ve said it before in other forums, but with the advent of DriveThruFiction I thought it would be a good time to lay it all out in one mega-post.

OneBookShelf (OBS) and its child sites, RPGNow and DriveThruRPG are the hands down winners in the digital RPG market. Whats more, they are so far ahead of everyone else, I don’t ever see Paizo, WOTC or other publishers/storefronts ever catching up.

I’ll even go one step further, and say that by carrying over the features they offer to RPG publishers to DriveThruFiction; they offer advantages even Amazon, Apple and B&N can’t touch.

Big words, I know. Lets break it down…

Money. Let’s talk %’s people. When OBS merged and they changed the payout numbers there was *a lot* of bitching in our tiny little industry. A few big names even left the site if I recall correctly. Now, I was not a big fan of making less per sale, but the promise of a bigger market was what OBS said to justify the fees. Fast forward a few years and what do we have? A bigger market? I’d say yes to that score. Also, since then we have Apple, Amazon, B&N and Smashwords all in essentially the same business except for the focus on RPG content. What is the average % of each sale these online retailers take?

  • Apple: 30%
  • B&N: 35%
  • Amazon: 30%
  • Smashwords: 15% (On top of whatever the stores charge.)
  • OBS: 35%
  • Paizo 25%

Notice a pattern there? That’s right! OBS has been charging about the same all along as what the big guns in the publishing industry decided they needed to charge to remain competitive. And they were a few years ahead of the game.

Since we are on the topic of money, lets talk about getting paid. OBS is hands down the absolute winner in this category, even when you factor in the “Big Dogs” like Amazon and Apple. With OBS I can get paid as often as I want. Go ahead and read that again. As. Often. As. I. Want. I can cash out my royalties any time I darn well please, have it transferred directly to my PayPal account and since I have a PayPal debit card I can hit the ATM and have *cash* in my hand within a few minutes. No one else even comes close. (Yes, there is a 1$ fee from PayPal but I’ll take that over having to wait for the post office to bring me a check that I then have to sign and haul to my bank, or waiting about a month for a direct deposit to hit.)

Paizo: They send me a dead-tree paper check every 30 days or so. Seriously, get with the program and start using PayPal Paizo! :-)

Amazon, Apple and all the rest are also in the pay-every-30-days camp. (Unless some of them pay quarterly, I haven’t bothered to dig into it too deeply.)

Oh, and OBS also lets me set up royalty payments that are auto-magically directed to the person. That is *HUGE*. That means collaboration is seamless since it gets you out of the accounting business, having to work out the amount due and sending it along. Paizo doesn’t do that, heck Amazon doesn’t even do that.

In summary OBS is very competitive on the % of funds they earn from each sale. They are hands-down the industry leader in getting earnings to the publisher/author.

I could end this post here, but there is so much more to cover! Let’s continue…

Promotion. Let’s talk about getting the word out about your product, making it look good when you do manage to hijack some eyeballs and helping you build your brand.

On OBS I have near complete control over the sales listing. I can massage the text, the layout, add images and I’ve even toyed around with embedding video and audio into the listing. I can change the listing as needed just by logging in and editing the entry.

They stole borrowed my implementation of the flash flip book and audio commentary feature. What’s more, what took me hours and hours of monkeying around and fiddling with they turned into a plug-and-play feature that every publisher can use to their benefit. Let that sink it for a second. I am an IT professional in my full time job, so I know my way around things like web scripting, Flash and web hosting. I managed to hack together Flash flip books of my product, record and audio commentary to go along with it and start putting those on my listings. I can’t begin to tell you time and labor intensive it was. OBS saw the idea, recognized it was a good one and made it *easy* for everyone to use. They are innovating on behalf of publishers who would otherwise not have the time or expertise to experiment on their own.

Not to let OBS off the hook entirely, as I think they could improve their flip-book code to make it work with longer books. Once you get over about twenty pages it just seems to choke. I have never had a large book preview work right out of the box. Also, I *hate* the measly three or four page default preview. Should be longer. Publishers; make your previews as large as possible. At a retail store I can open a book and flip through the pages. The online flip-books are there to re-create that process, so let customers see what they are buying! ( Now that is just my opinion, and it is hardly OBS’s fault, but I figured I’d stick that in there for all to see.)

Also, tied in with the look of the sales listing are the header and footer tools. If you check out one of Skortched Urf’ Studios sales listings you will see a footer we spent a little time tweaking that includes links to our various categories, a pointer to this blog as well as a scrolling banner with a selection of our titles that links to them. I can change the footer, create different ones for different categories and even stack different footers! (I haven’t messed with the headers as much as I would like, but I assume I have as much freedom there as I do with the footers.)

Lets continue with promotion and talk about email. OBS lets me email anyone who has ever purchased one of my products. They let me email people who have one of my products in their wishlist. I can sort, refine and finesse the report to people interested in a specific title, line or genre. Want to know what that kind of customer interaction costs? If you wanted to do it on your own it would cost you about $20 bucks a month. How do I know that? Because that’s what it costs me to have a aweber account. OBS includes most of what aweber does for free just for having a publisher account.

There are also email newsletters sent out by OBS, banner ads on the OBS sites you can take advantage of and none of them will cost you money. Just use your Publisher Promotion Points (PPP).

True, their featured reviewers are hit-or-miss. Not on the actual reviews, but in getting them to post a review of everything they download.

Lets finish off the promotion section with how easy it is to create special discounts, send free copies and create bundles or even subscriptions. (More on the subscription option when we start talking about DrveThruFiction.)

Information. Now lets talk about the data OBS gives me from my sales. I can run sales reports for the month all the way back to when I first started publishing. I can sort the sales by how many per month or lump them into one big overall view. This makes it easy to see what is selling the best, what lines need support and what just plain isn’t working.

That’s all well and good, but what about trying to wring more sales out of my existing catalog? OBS has me covered there too. I ran a report on Campaign Overlay: Fantasy Firearms and found out the following:

PENDING PURCHASES: 43 in wish lists
1 in shopping carts
86.3% potential growth

There are 43 people out there with that title in their wish list, and one fine fellow with it in his shopping cart. Given that I have already sold 51 copies of the PDF that leaves 86.3% growth if I get all of those people to actually buy the title. If I so choose, I can now create a special discount code and send it out to *just those* people with it in their wishlist! So I did. Several of them have chosen not to receive emails from the OBS system, but I still managed to get a discount code into the hands of 32 of those people who showed enough interest in that title to put it on their wish list!

The OBS email summary:

Sent 32 emails (out of 43 matching customers, 32 accepting mail).

So on the one hand I can blast an email to over 7,000 people when I target anyone who ever purchased one of my titles. (Including free PDF’s I donated to the various charity bundles.) or I can narrow down my focus to an individual title and email a few dozen targeted customers. Honestly, that is a very impressive marketing infrastructure.

(Oh, and if anyone reading this wants to pick up a copy of Campaign Overlay: Fantasy Firearms for half off, click HERE.)

I can run a product analysis on any individual title, as well as see how many page views each title has and how many page views per sale the average is. I know how many times I need to get eyeballs on a sales listing to convert it into a sale! Did you know that for every six people I get to look at Black Tokyo -Tales of the Tatakama I make one sale? That is my best preforming title so far as page views to sales goes. My worst product takes over 2,000 page views to become a sale! That is a clear indicator that I need to take a closer look at the cover, description, sales listing, category filters and other metrics to increase that.

Summary. So, putting all of that information together I have no problem saying that OBS is the hands-down winner when it comes to the RPG digital market. Why don’t I think Paizo or WOTC will catch up? Simply put; the OBS staff. They didn’t put up a standard, off the shelf online store and run with it. They have invested in coders who tweak and improve and add real-value features like the ones I’ve mentioned above. Sure, it *could* happen but to me it would be like B&N catching Amazon; I just don’t see it.

[Yes, I know I haven’t covered the print program at all. I’m still getting my feet wet in that area so I don’t have enough experience there yet. The fact that they have the program is a big “Win” in my book, though.]

Areas for improvement. No, OBS doesn’t do everything right, no one does. So what would I like to see them add or improve? I love the product and publisher discussion forums integrated into the Paizo storefront. I’d love to see something like that implemented into OBS. Their staff and featured reviewers program needs a major overhaul. The one best thing about Amazon is their reviews. That sets them apart from just about all other online stores. It builds a sense of community at Amazon. I’d really like to see us capture something like that on the OBS sites. I think the “discussion board” feature Paizo has might help along those lines.

DriveThruFiction. OK, I know they merged a couple of the niche prose sites into the new DriveThruFiction and I think its awesome! Ebooks are exploding, and gaming related sci-fi, fantasy and horror is a natural fit. So what will help DriveThruFiction stand out from Amazon and the other “big dog” storefronts? The same stuff I already talked about above! Amazon doesn’t pay you whenever you want. They don’t let you email customers with your book in their wish list. Another thing Amazon doesn’t do is let you buy books in a serialized or subscription format. Think War of the Burning Sky or War of the Dead. Now transfer that idea over into a serialized novel.

It seems to be working for these guys, why not DriveThruFiction authors? Add in the royalty auto-payment tools and collaborations between authors is now easier than ever.

No, I don’t think that OBS will give Amazon a run for their money in e-publishing. But I do think that they can carve out a nice piece of the market for themselves akin to what Baen is doing with their sci-fi and fantasy storefront.

A word of caution to early DriveThruFiction publishers. I have noticed that some of the covers are pretty lousy. Some of the descriptions are far too sparse. It’s the same problem many small RPG publishers have too. A good looking cover doesn’t have to cost a lot of dough. Be creative. Or, here’s an idea, go ahead and spend a little dough to get a decent looking cover! With freelance artists all over the web, stock art sites like iStockPhoto and plenty of other resources a good cover really isn’t that hard or expensive. I’d hate to see DriveThruFiction’s growth suffer because a bunch of “gold rush” companies sling up any crappy cover that belongs on a refrigerator rather than a book.

I’m excited for all the OBS has done in the past, and can’t wait to start using DriveThruFiction in conjunction with Amazon, Smashwords and other sites to get our fiction releases into the market.

These are exciting times to be a writer, a publisher and a fan in our industry!

-Mark Cathro
Owner/Publisher
Skortched Urf’ Studios

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Back into the swing of things

| November 17th, 2011 | No Comments »

I can now say I am officially moved into our new place here in Boston! The boxes are unpacked, the house is in order so we can have people come visit. Even starting to make a few friends.

Time to get back on the publishing train. Back when Skortched Urf’ Studios started, we were doing near two releases *a week* for the first year. While I’m not planning to replicate that feat just yet, I do think we can be more consistent than we have been. And when I say that, I am not talking about Chris Field and Otherverse games. Hes been on a roll for the last few years, with no signs of slowing down. What I’d like to do is start matching his output with Skortched Urf’ Studios projects.

So what do we have in the pipeline? I have a Pathfinder project a freelancer pitched to me on deck. I made a few suggestions and he has been busily revising and adding to the idea. Look for that soon. Also, I am dusting off an idea I had even before we published our first product. I have some concept art already done, more in development and several free previews coming soon. I’m calling the setting “Pandora Rising”. It will be a kick-ass modern setting where we re-introduce magic and fantasy elements in an cool and interesting way. I’m leaning towards making the initial release for the Savage Worlds rule set. More info on that soon.

On the Traveller front I’d hard at work on a new line called “Augments & Upgrades” which will cover all kinds of cool stuff your character can spend his credits on. Think of it as the Cybernetics book on steroids. That will be a series of short PDF’s with each detailing a specific area of augments. The first one, detailing various power plants and incorporating the Drain mechanic carried over from some of Chris Field’s D20 Modern cybernetics releases, will be out soon and I’ll probably make that one a free release. Following that will be PDF’s that cover various types of augments grouped by type such as Appearance, Armor & Protection, Stealth & Surveillance, Weapons, Sensors etc.

While Pathfinder is all the rage these days, I haven’t done much for the system. I am thinking of updating all of our Adventurer Essentials PDF’s and adding more content for a Pathfinder re-release of each, as well as adding the ones that still need doing like the ten foot pole!

Add in some fiction writing and a few other ideas that aren’t quite ready to be released and it is starting to look like 2012 is going to be a busy year!

Oh, and if your still reading this, please take a moment to sign up for “The List” using the form on the right hand side of the site.

When we send out a customer email it usually goes to over 7,000 people! While I love the idea that I can reach that many gamers, and will continue to use the RPGNow mail feature, I also see the real value in identifying our “True Fans”. Signing up for our mailing list of your own free will is a sure sign of that. Lets face it, most of those 7,000 people are ones who purchased one of the charity bundles RPGNow has done in response to the many natural disasters that have hit over the years. We think those have been great and were happy to donate products, and will do so in the future. But that doesn’t translate into us being able to reach our fans specifically; hence “The List”!

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OBS customer email I just sent…

| November 14th, 2011 | No Comments »

Hello all!

If you are recieving this email it is because you have purchased some of our products in the past. Unfortunately, I know that also includes several free items we donated to some of the disaster relief bundles RPGNow/DriveThruRPG/OBS have done in the past. So some of you reading this *might* not to get bombarded with every new release we put out. I get it, I’ve unsubscribed from a few lists myself. But, naturally Skortched Urf’ Studios wants to keep an open line of communication with our fans, as well as fans of our imprint partner Otherverse Games. So we have set up a second, opt-in only email list specifically for you!

To sign up for “The List” please go HERE.

So what’s in it for you? “The List” is for our true fans, and to reward them we will send out special discounts, occasional products that will never be avaliable anywhere else, and insidee information on our upcoming releases!

It’s our way of saying “Thank You” to the people that have helped us reach where we are now, and want to come along for the ride to where we are going next!

New Releases and Product Highlights

Otherverse America Revised Edition

Chris Field of Otherverse Games has taken his otherverse America setting to a whole new level. Included in this MASSIVE revision of the Otherverse America setting:

283 Page Full Color Otherverse America Core Rulebook

132 Page Full Color Otherverse America Game Master’s Guide

Printer Firendly versions are also included.

Over 400 pages of lavishly illustrated content from the mind of Chris Field!

This title normally sells for $26.99 but for alimited time it’s on sale for $17.95; over 30% off! Buy your copy HERE.

We also released the PDF version of our first print product for the Pathfinder RPG:

Campaign Overlay: Fantasy Firearms

Introducing firearms into a fantasy setting requires more than just gunpowder used by Orcs and Elves. Draksmoke adds that fantasy element to the simple discovery that charcoal, sulfur and saltpeter go BOOM when you mix and ignite them.

Draksmoke is fantasy gunpowder. Made from the burning liquid dragons use to make their deadly flames, Draksmoke is a dragon’s breath weapon in powdered form. Few alchemists know the secret to producing true Draksmoke, and they guard it with their lives. Rich and powerful guilds have risen up around those that know the secrets: The Black Brotherhood, the Armigers and the Monopolist Consortium all trade in mundane gunpowder, powerful Draksmoke and newly forged firearms; each pursuing their own ends.

To make use of such a powerful substance, new weapons have been hammered out on the forges of the world. Only the finest steel tempered in the blood of dragons can withstand the power expended by Draksmoke. Naturally, new magicks have been conceived to protect warriors, kings, and knaves alike.

* Included in this Sourcebook: Four new player species
* 10 new monsters
* 11 new spells
* 2 new Clerical Domains
* 30 new feats
* Dozens of new weapons (both mundane and magical)
* and more!

Everything you need to bring real firepower to your fantasy campaign!

One of our Facebook fans had this to say about Fantasy Firearms:

“The book is awesome. I personally don’t use the Draksmoke elements, as in my world Black Powder/Gunpowder exists, but the book is an essential part of my PF games. I owned both “FF” PDF’s from RPGNow before I bought this, but there is still more than enough content here to buy this as well!”

The print version sells for $24.99, but the PDF can be had for just $10.99! Buy your copy HERE.

And some of our other recent releases:

 

-Skortched Urf’ Studios

 

 

 

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7 RPG Perls of Wisdom

| September 26th, 2011 | No Comments »

From one of my long-time friends and a member of my online RPG game by way of advice to our buddy who is DM’ing his daughter and her friends in their first RPG…words we can (and have!) all live by:

  1. Prudent dice rolling is required for party happiness and success. They were right to berate the ranger for sucking. Hopefully in the future said Ranger will suck less. However the occasional death of a party member will remind everyone that dice rolls are important.
  2. If your not cheating you are not trying. Not every dice roll needs to be in the presence of the DM nor accurately reported.
  3. Learn the rules of the game so you can successfully argue with the DM. Getting the DM to capitulate can not only save the party from harm but can also pay good dividends in general party happiness.
  4. Always write down an extra zero when told how many experience points you have been awarded. This will allow your characters to get stronger faster and therefore survive more encounters.
  5. Have a shape shifter that can only turn into small furry woodland creatures such as a titmouse, owl or other worthless creature.
  6. Whenever anyone finds gold or silver coins, everyone should write it down; after a brief argument of who will take the treasure. This will allow the group to gather wealth faster
  7. Learn to bitch, whine and complain. The average DM will not be able to tolerate such an assault to the ears for any extended period of time and will assuredly change the course of the game just to make the bitching stop. If this is not working fast enough threaten to quit playing.
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On the Ground in Beantown!

| September 3rd, 2011 | No Comments »

I arrived safely. Most of my stuff did too. (Still waiting for a third of it to be delivered.) I have internet connectivity. Will be releasing the new and improved Otherverse America this weekend! Look for it soon!! *End Transmission*

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One Week To Boston!

| August 25th, 2011 | No Comments »

I’m homeless. Sold my home last week. I have all my stuff packed up in Relo-Cubes and a truck took them up North. I’m staying with a friend for the rest of my time in the D.C. area. A week from today I’ll be moving into my new apartment with my wife.

I’m not going to lie; all this has put a crimp on our publishing schedule. But I intend to crank it waay up once I get settled in up North. I’m already scoping out some freelance help. I’m shopping for a new computer. The one I have at home now is over four years old; that’s like seventy in computer years! I bought it with profits from the first Black Tokyo title! Anyway, I’m going to set up the new office and get cracking on some long overdue titles that need to be pushed out.

My final days are already planned out here. The last couple of days have been “goodbye” lunches from coworkers. Tomorrow is another. (I’m going to hit the game shop at lunch today!) Saturday will be spent teaching a women’s only NRA Basic Pistol Course at NRA HQ in Fairfax with my good friend who works there in the Education & Training division. Sunday is set aside for time with my parents. Monday the guy they hired to replace me shows up so I’ll have him for half a day after orientation, and all day Tuesday to continue his training. Wednesday I’m taking off early to pack up the car and head North. I’ll drive as far as I feel like and stop at a hotel; then finish the trip Thursday to Boston where I will begin unloading the Relo-Cubes and cursing my ability to cram too much stuff into small spaces. I’ll have the long holiday weekend to unpack. The Tuesday after Labor day I start my new gig up there. (I was able to transfer within the same company I work for now, which is awesome!)

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Aug 2011 Update

| August 11th, 2011 | No Comments »

What a couple of month’s its been! Things are crazy busy over here.

First, I finished doing all the work to the house and put it up for sale. After a whopping seven days on the market we had a cash offer! We settle on Monday. Tonight I’m having a couple of relo-cubes delivered. (Like PODS, only better.) Saturday I have several friends and some family coming over to help me finish packing. Sunday will be spent cleaning up the house. Monday morning we close!

I’ll spend the remainder of Aug living with a friend in Maryland and head up to Boston for the first weekend in September where we will unload the relo-cubes and move into our new apartment there. A few weeks back my wife and I signed a lease on the place, so that is good to go. It will be smaller than our current home, but until we decide the long term housing arrangements we think renting for a year or two is the best option.

So once settled in our new place the plan is to fire up the publishing schedule and move forward on some long overdue projects. In the mean time Chris Field has been putting stuff out at a furious pace.

I was very sorry to miss Gen Con this year but it just wasn’t in the cards. Next year for sure.

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June 21 2011 Update

| June 21st, 2011 | No Comments »

No, I have not stopped working on the Digital Download Experiment; in fact there are some very cool things happening behind the scenes. We’ve opened a dialogue with the fine folks at One Book Shelf about it. More information as it becomes available!

Last weekend was my last day working the part-time job at the game store. My wife has officially stopped working at her current job and we are in full-blown get-the-house-ready-to-sell mode. So naturally, after three years in the house without any problems the master bathroom started to leak and now the ceiling of the living room has a big water splotch. The plumber is coming over today to find the cause of the leak but for sure we will be painting the entire ceiling, which totally SUCKS cuz I was trying to avoid that.

My wife and her parents got the basement painted so now it’s up to me to put in the new flooring which I’ll be doing this week. After we finish all that we will finally be able to actually put the house up for sale!

On the publishing front I got my first check for Fantasy Firearms in the mail. While I can’t sneeze at the amount I will admit I was somewhat disappointed in the total number of units sold so far. I went with Mongoose because of their experience getting products into the market and their name recognition, but all that apparently wasn’t enough to get as many books sold the first quarter as I was hoping. We’ll see how the summer picks up, what with GenCon coming up and all.

I put up the new RPG Battlechangers last night from Chris Field and Otherverse Games. That one looks like a lot of fun, I have to admit. Chris has several more products on deck as well so look for them soon. I also saw on Chris Fields website that he’s thinking of doing a Pathfinder Modern rule set. I was initially against it as I was *sure* Paizo was going to do it, but there wasn’t even a rumor of it coming out of Paizo Con last week. So I told Chris I think it’s a great idea and offered to help if he wanted it. I have a ton of art and plenty of content. I’ll keep you posted, but even if Chris goes it alone I can’t think of any writers I know of that can make the old D20 Modern rules “sing” like Chris can; he’ll bring the fresh and deliver a top-notch system if anyone can. Yes, I pledged to the Kinckstarter that the Super Genius guys were trying to do, but $70,000 is a lot of scratch to put up for a RPG project. There are those guys (I forget the company name off the top of my head) who *OWN* the Psionics rules for Pathfinder; so why not Chris Field for a P-Modern version?

I spent an hour yesterday at my credit union setting up a business account because they didn’t want to take the $60 check that Paizo wrote me for last month’s earnings. (Even though I’ve been depositing small checks for about a year now.) So anyway, I now have an “Official” Skortched Urf’ Studios business checking account. (They had some trouble pronouncing it at the credit union!) So someone please tel me why Paizo can’t just send me funds via PayPal like everyone else in the free world? Come on guys, get with the program. I love the prestige of having a checking account with checks and an ATM card and all, but I write out like three checks a year since everything else is on a bill pay service or paid via credit or debit card. Paizo, you guys really need to move into the 21st century instead of mailing checks out to everyone.

Well, that’s about all for now. More info soon!

 

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A Big Update -Boston here I come!

| June 1st, 2011 | No Comments »

Well, as the three people that read this Blog know (Hi Mom!) my wife has been looking for a job. Well, she found one! She recently graduated with a Masters in Public Health and that landed her a job in Boston at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. She is *incredibly* excited about it since she went to college in Boston and loves the area. She was offered enough money that it doesn’t make any sense to stay here in VA, so we’re moving!

The company I work for full time has their HQ in Bedford, MA so I’m seeing what I can do to transfer up there. But even if I can’t right away, her new income will allow me to find another job or *possibly* go full time with Skortched Urf’ Studios. We’re still crunching the numbers and beating the bushes within the company to see if I can swing a transfer so I can keep my full-time income; which is plan ‘A’. (Though plan ‘B’ with me publishing and writing full time is also very enticing!)

She starts in early July so I have about five weeks to pack, prepare my current house for sale, and move to Boston. We’ll probably drive up there next weekend to start looking for a place. I’m going to be busy. I’m both sad and excited at the same time; sad to leave the DC area as I have grown up here, but excited to begin life in a new city.

On to other topics; the Digital Product at Retail Experiment continues!

I took the cards to the game store last weekend and showed them to Lee Garvin. We showed them to lots of customers to get input and feedback. Overall the feedback for the concept was extremely positive! The VistaPrint cards are a tad too thin, we concluded, so we’re looking at 16pt card stock from some other printers. Lee and I also concluded that the idea of using a credit-card sized plastic card with the scratch-off download code in conjunction with a 4×6 paper hanging card would be optimal in terms of customer recognition of *what the product is* as well as security since to get to the scratch-off code you would have to remove the plastic card from the hanging card. I did , however see a ton of the same type of cards at Best Buy over the weekend for all kinds of things like XBox live points, NetFlix and CinemaNow etc.

That brings up another point that needs addressing. I think we as publishers need to decide on a standard format for these cards. Look at CD’s and DVD’s; they all come in the same size box unless its a special collector edition or something. These hanging cards should be the same general size since the ultimate goal is that many publishers on board. I am proposing that a standard 4×6 inch card be that “standard” size. Most printers are already set up to do cards that size, and it leaves plenty of real-estate for images and sales text. Scratch-off cards for XBox live and Game Stop games are a bit smaller, but I don’t see a need to exactly emulate them in this case as we *want* room to tell our customers what the product is. So 4×6; what do you guys think?

Louis is working on a back end system to handle the download codes. I have two options I’m toying with myself, but I’d be happy to use a single middle-man for delivery if the price is right. (Are you listening One Book Shelf?) Between us we’ll come up with a good system for handling and protecting the download side of the equation.

More info soon! (I feel the need to go home and watch the Boondock Saints for some reason.)

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Digital Copy Experiment Video Update #3

| May 29th, 2011 | No Comments »

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Digital Copy experiment update #2

| May 27th, 2011 | No Comments »

I got the peg hook hole punch in the mail yesterday and tried it out on a giveaway postcard B&N had for the Nook. Perfect. I like the size of the card and the hole punch is heavy duty and will work great. Of course, I also found some other printers that will do the hole for you and even round off the corners if I so desire. I agree with Louis about the thickness of the card making the item “feel” more substantial; but that is what the test is for. If the VistaPrint cards do well enough, it will be hard to find a cheaper alternative.

The tracking numbers indicate that the cards will be here either tomorrow or Tuesday (with Monday being a holiday and all).

I’ve had a little bit of feedback indicating that the retailer community is reluctant to embrace the digital content idea. While I can’t disagree with that, I can say that the store owner I know has been hit very hard by the down turn in the economy and the two stores he’s owned for near 20 years are desperately trying to increase sales. Two of his employees, myself and Lee Garvin of Reality Cheque publishing, publish digital content that we could put in his store next week and it would cost him zero dollars. If I get Louis to send me some of his we have the start of a “Digital Content Section” in his stores to test the waters. Lets say Louis gets his local store on board and we send some of our products down there; that would be three test stores with three prolific PDF publishers able to fill a small section. I can also say that since the Kindle, Nook and iPad have been released, as well as all the new smart phones, XBox DLC add-ons etc. that the “idea” of buying digital content is not as weird as it once was. I mean *everyone* has gotten a gift card from Amazon or iTunes in the last few years, right?

Does that mean I expect a thousand retailers to start ordering in our Digital Copy cards? Nope. But every single one that does is one more chance I have to sell my stuff to the people that want it. I’d be happy if it was only three to five stores that did it. But honestly I think that number can be larger. What if it’s ten stores that embrace the idea? Would I be happy with ten stores carrying my stuff? You bet! (Remember, if I sell ten lousy copies of Fantasy Firearms I break even.) More importantly, I’d get even more excited when the distributors start carrying them. After all, to most store owners all items are just “things that go on the shelf” that then get turned around and sold to customers. Do you think a savvy retailer *cares* if it’s a card instead of a book? I think they will look at the smaller price point and realize it’s an easier sell to get someone to part with two or five or even ten bucks than the latest Fantasy Flight full color hardcover at $59.95. Plus you can fit four different titles via hook in the same space that a standard book takes up. Maybe most retailers won’t “see” that, but I *know* some will.

For those retailers that simply refuse to do anything different so be it. I’m not trying to change the industry so much trying to give the ones who want a “piece” of the digital market a chance to get it.

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Digital Copy Experiment Update

| May 25th, 2011 | No Comments »

OK, first of all I found some awesome stickers that already include the scratch-off coating! I ordered 500 of them for about a nickle each. They are sized near perfectly for the postcard I already ordered, but in the future I can easily adjust the cards to match the stickers. Like the postcards I can save money by ordering in bulk but 500 should last me a good while. The site I found them at sells a bunch of different styles and sizes of stickers at very reasonable prices. I was even more shocked at how cheap the shipping was for my order! In total I spent $24.99 (including shipping) for 500 stickers which comes out to .05 cents each.

The full color front-and-back postcards I ordered from Vistaprint cost me $26.91. (Again, shipping included and I went with one week shipping instead of the cheaper 21 day option.) Adding these two totals together and dividing to get the cost per card makes it .32 cents per card for my out of pocket cost. (Now I will admit here that I also invested in a one-time capital expenditure of $37.49 for a hole punch that is shaped to fit retail wall hangers. I did not include that in my per-unit average since it is good for an unlimited number of products and the more of these I make the cost will come down over time. But in the interest of full disclosure I figured I would share.)

If I sell the cards to retailers for $5.50, less my .32 cent cost I stand to make $5.18 per Digital Copy sold. That means I need to sell ten total copies to recoup my investment. (Minus the hole punch; that would take another seven copies.)

Now, what if I can reduce the cost of the postcards even more? I did color printing on the front and back of my initial order since I knew I would need a glossy surface for the scratch off ink. With the discovery of the stickers, that is no longer the case! The stickers include the glossy surface with permanent adhesive so once it is stuck on the product then you can’t get it off without ruining it. What that also means is I could just as easily stick it on a regular paper background and it will work just as well! Vistaprint sells packs of 100 postcards for “Free” where all you pay is the shipping. I re-ran my cards from yesterday through their online ordering system to see what it would cost me with the B&W back of the cards and the slow shipping option; it came to just $6.42. That’s about .07 cents per card. Add the .05 cents for the scratch-off sticker and your looking at about .12 cents per card! Can you make some money selling short two or three dollar PDF’s when you cost is .12 cents? I think so!

You can also use them as give-aways at cons or shows. Also, I’ve seen several publishers who want to include a free copy of the PDF with the purchase of a print copy; I can see this as an easy way to do that if you have retailers give a card away when someone buys the print version.

Now the trick is to figure out how to get them widely accepted in the regular distribution channel, as well as how OBS/DriveThru/RPGNow gets paid for their services. They way the test works now is a discount coupon code that gives the customer 100% off since they paid for the product at retail. In the long run that isn’t going to work, but it’s fine for the test run. As it stands now, OBS will not be getting a “cut” since the sale is for zero dollars. No, I’m not trying to juke them out of some money; as I said I could easily set the download up from my own website but I see real value in building a single “Place” to go for digital RPG’s and OBS is that place. So the question now becomes how would they make money under this arrangement? I’m not sure they would deserve the full 35% cut they get from standard digital sales since I “drove” the sale through the retail market *to* the online one. In this case they would simply be fulfilling the order; and possibly gaining a new customer that might not otherwise be on their site. But having said that, the hosting and digital fulfillment does deserve some form of remuneration. Maybe OBS starts selling these cards into the retail distribution channel on behalf of publishers? Maybe they “charge” my publisher account for each download by tracking the code I used on the cards? Still not sure, but we’ll figure something out!

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The Digital Copy Retail Experiment

| May 24th, 2011 | No Comments »

So I was on Twitter today when Louis put out a link to a very interesting article. The gist of it was selling copies of your digital content in the form of a plastic Gift Card like you see at checkout counters and those sections at grocery stores. I know Louis has always been trying to figure out a great way to let retail stores sell digital products but to date nothing has really caught on.

Well, that article got me thinking; why does it have to be a plastic gift card? It could be something as simple as a full color business card-sized product or even a postcard since that would give you more room for your sales pitch. So after work I busted out Photoshop and whipped up a quick template for selling Campaign Overlay: Fantasy Firearms at retail. Check it out:

I have the print MSRP listed as well as the digital price. I included a bar code so that a retailer could add it to their retail POS system if they have one. I was also quick to prominently display the “Digital Copy” text so there would be no confusion by the customer. I went to VistaPrint and ordered a batch of 100 glossy front and back cards with some expedited shipping. Once I get them I will use a peg-hook hole punch on them so that they can be easily hung on a peg. My final price for a hundred postcards with expedited shipping is about .27 cents per card. I could get that much lower if I didn’t do color on both sides of the card, used slower shipping or ordered in larger quantities.

I used the RPGNow feature that lets me create a special discount code; which in this case is 100% off so using the card will get you a fee download. (Since they will pay for it at the time of purchase, naturally.) I threw on the DriveThru and RPGNow logos since that is where the download will come from. Though I could just as easily set up a download link from my own personal website. But as this is a test-run with possible implications for other products and publishers I figured I’d use the OBS guys and push brick-and-mortar customers to their digital storefront!

Where the code is on the back I have the promo code and download URL. I’ll be covering that up with the same stuff they use for scratch off lottery tickets. I found a couple of good DIY articles on the web on how to do it. Once the code is covered up and the scratch off ink is dry, I’ll post some at the local store I work at as a test. If it works out, then I can easily see a small “Digital Download Section” sporting a bunch of cards for various downloadable products. Heck, I could fill up a small section with just my PDF’s!

Selling a PDF for $10.99 is one thing, but could you make any money on smaller PDF’s? That is the question! Lets say I want to sell some of my $1.99 PDF’s at retail; would the numbers “work”? I figure the retailer gets the card for 50% off so a $1.99 PDF Digital Copy card will sell to him for a nice round buck. ($1.00) That leaves me with a buck to absorb my costs as well as to generate a little profit. If I can get the cards done for a generous .30 cents that would leave me .70 cents profit; not counting some time invested in applying the scratch off ink to the cards. My wife is really into rubber stamps and scrap booking; and I anticipate using a stamp to complete the cards so the time investment should not prove too much. (Famous last words, I know!)

What if you sold a bundle of short PDF’s to a retailer instead of just one? I could see selling a pack of ten or twenty mixed titles as a retail bundle to get your short products on the shelves. Heck, if you sold a whole mess of cards to a retailer to display it would be easy to include a ton of Digital Copies in the Retail Bundle at an even greater discount. Remember, there is a really “long tail” on PDF’s so if I put ones up that have already paid for them selves selling as PDF’s online, then even a smaller fraction of profits from the retail pipeline is still pure profit!

I’ll post an update in a week or so when the cards come in.

 

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Mid-May Update

| May 19th, 2011 | No Comments »

Yeah, yeah, I know. I *really* need to get on top of this blog posting thing. Lots going on. Lets get to it…

Chris Field is cranking out material at a furious pace. His last PDF just dropped off the front page so look for another title later today. He’s got a slew of them on deck and at least two major projects in the pipeline. (Have you seen the new cover for his Otherverse America setting? It friggin’ rocks!)

The wife still hasn’t found full-time employment but she is interviewing like crazy. she had a phone interview last week with a company that will be flying her in this Monday for an in-person interview. She’s crazy excited about that one and hopes she gets it. If she does it would probobly mean a move from VA to where the company is located. If the money is right, I told her we would go. She also has another interview with another big-name company on Wednesday, as a follow up to her phone interview a few days ago. That would be more local, though I *know* she would prefer to other job. (I’m not naming names or anything until its official; cuz right now it’s just a phone call and a trip to interview and not a solid time-to-pack-our-stuff job offer.

We’ve been playing the Savage Worlds fantasy RPG online using Fantasy Grounds II and Skype and it’s going pretty well. My brother is having connection issues with FGII as he was unable to connect the last two times we played so we just rolled for him in the software and did everything else via Skype. We played last night and it was a blast!

I broke down and bought the Infinity rule book as well as a starting kit. (Line Cossacks.) I have started painting them already so my painting table is getting pretty crowded!

In publishing news I am itching to start back in to a regular production schedule. I dusted off the Augments & Upgrades ideas for Traveller and am aiming to put them out on at least a weekly basis. I have a few larger projects on deck as well.

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I know, I know…

| April 4th, 2011 | No Comments »

Two months without an update, I know. I suck at this whole blog updating thing.

Lets re-cap what happened in the past couple months. February; I spent all month sick as a dog. Came up for air about mid-month to buy chocolates and a big ass card for my wife and then went back to bed. don’t remember much else. March wasn’t much better, but had less sickness and more working. In no particular order here are some random thoughts…

-Fantasy Firearms came out. The store I work at ordered one copy that sold out like ten minutes after they put it on the shelf. So they ordrered six more copies. (I guess someone mentioned to the guy doing the orders that it was my book!) I bought one copy for myself just cuz. The remaining copies all sold fairly quickly. I abused my position at the store by putting it prominently on the top shelf of the new release rack and even sticking a copy next to the Pathfinder Core Rulebook in our Pathfinder section. I have not heard from Mongoose about what sales look like from their end. I’ll be putting the PDF version out later this week so that should be good as well.

-In my personal life I attended a three day NRA Training Counselor Workshop so in addition to being an NRA certified instructor, I can teach people to become NRA certified instructors themselves. It was three days of bookwork and teaching, with not a single shot fired; which is odd for an NRA class, huh? I’m working with my friend who works for the NRA teaching free woman’s courses and we have another class later this month.

-My wife is still looking for a job. She’s working now at a temp position that has plenty of work for her but wants to find something permanent. Fingers crossed!

-We had a flood in our basement due to a backed up pipe. This was discovered the same day that our blower fan died on the furnace. Cost me near a grand as I had the plumber and the HVAC guys traipsing around in the basement. I had to cut a huge swath of carpet out so we are going to have to re-do the floor.

-We played an awesome game of the Savage Worlds RPG last weekend when my twin brother was visiting. We wanted to game, but one-shot adventures can be problematic. I made up the characters before hand so everyone was playing “themselves” with some fun edges and hindrances thrown in. (I had Addiction: Diet Coke as a major hinderence for example.) The game started with “us” sitting around the table playing an RPG because my brother was in town, and then the Zombie Apocolypse kicked off! Since we were in my friends house who works for the NRA and has a rather large gun collection we were off to a great start. There were looting thugs, zombies, and soldiers. The players were wise enough not to heed the evacuation order to report to pour old high school which was over-run by the infected. :-)

-We had such a good time playing Savage Worlds we are kicking off a fantasy campaign using the rule set using the Fantasy Grounds software to play online. I’m looking foward to playing with some of my friends and family that live too far away to get together IRL. I’ll let you know how it goes.

-Yesterday I spent some time actually painting some figures! I darn near finished my Raputina Faction for Malifaux. I need to pick up a couple of colors I’m missing but for being so out of practice I think they are turning out pretty nice. Pics soon. There is a guy running demo’s at our game store on Saturday’s so I’m bringing them with me next weekend to get in a game or two after I get off work. I have two factions and the rule book but have never actually played the game yet! I have also promised myself I’d finish painting the two factions I own before I get any more. Can’t wait to pick up the Gremlins!!

The new Infinity core rules just hit and the figures look AWESOME! I am so tempted to get this game. If only I had some more disposable income!

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Fantasy Firearms is almost here!

| January 31st, 2011 | No Comments »

So as most of you (meaning the three or four people that read this blog ~Hi Mom!) know I am working part time at my Friendly Local Game Store to earn some extra money. Part of the job is really cool because, well I work at a game store! (Sometimes the smell of certain customers can be a BIG down side. I mean seriously, what is with some gamers that they can’t take a shower every gorram’ day?) Anyway, I digress. I was flipping through the latest ACD catalog looking for something else when I cam across this:

Looks like we are all “Official” and what not! It’s kind of exciting to see my book appearing in web stores across the web and now in the pipeline for distribution.

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The First Post of the New Year

| January 5th, 2011 | No Comments »

Hello all, Happy New Year!

Lots to cover, so I’ll jump right in.

Our first print release Campaign Overlay: Fantasy Firearms will hit the shelves of your local game store next month. I’m already seeing it show up in various online stores, which I admit is kinda cool.

Chris Field is sending me all kinds of neat stuff to put out. The layout for Black Tokyo III (still untitled as of yet, I’m thinking of calling it either “Into the Black Else” or rifting on the previous title and coming up with a couple of opposite words akin to Chastity & Depravity. What do you think?) The layout is done, and I worked on the cover last night. Chris sent me a couple of other smaller projects as well, including a new D7ACU.

I’m waiting to get my hands on the new Cybernetics release for Mongoose Traveller as that will dove-tail nicely into the Augments & Upgrades PDF line I’m working on. With luck I’ll pick it up this weekend. I like the idea of some shorter, focused PDF’s that will eventually build up into a print release.

So what am I working on? Well, several things. I am still cranking away as the editor of a small indy horror-comedy called Nudist Camp Zombie Massacre and you will even find my name on IMDB so I must “be somebody” now! :-) I’m trying to get the final cut finished of all the shot footage so far, with several more scenes to be shot when the weather turns warm again.

I have also started the manuscript for a new Modern RPG setting I’m calling “Department 7: Enemies Foreign & Domestic”. Yes, that’s right, I’m doing a Department 7 RPG. I think the initial release will be for the Savage Worlds setting. Naturally, there will be a Pathfinder Modern version when it see’s the light of day. (Prediction: I bet Paizo is working on it as we speak, and if they are not then they really should be!)

Here is a quick and rough blurb about the setting:

In the wake of the terror attacks of September 11th, 2001 it was announced that a new cabinet level position dedicated to securing the American homeland would be created, consolidating various government agencies with often overlapping duties under a new, unified banner. In the raw aftermath of this generations sorrow, the bill passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law in record time.

Thus was created the Department of Homeland Security, the most significant transformation of the U.S. government in over half-century by transforming and realigning a confusing patchwork of government activities into a single department whose primary mission is to protect the homeland.

This massive re-alignment of twenty-two government agencies under the new DHS was a lie.

The power concentrated in this new federal behemoth was designed to do one thing; lose a small and newly created agency in the billion dollar power shuffle.

The creation of the Department of Homeland Security was, at its core, a diversion to hide from the world, the public and even the elected representatives the true role Department 7 has in safeguarding America.

So does that sound like a game you would be interested in playing?

I also want to do some prose/fiction writing this year. If you have spent any time reading Joe Konrath’s Blog then you know that there is money to be made via the Kindle and other ebook readers.

I also want to do some more actual gaming this year too. I don’t do enough, but then again do any of us? I’ve still got the Savage Worlds War of the Dead game coming up and we are trading emails about the next session of our Star Wars Saga Edition Sith campaign later this month.

I also plan to get a few more people into gaming this year. One at a time, introduce new players by running games or inviting them to join your group. That’s how you grow the hobby, so I plan to do my part. I’m going to take some new people shooting this year also. I took my parents and my sister to the range last week; the first time my mom had ever shot a pistol in her life. (Though she had done some rifle shooting as a kid on the farm in Kansas.) Both hobbies could stand to have a few more participants this year.

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Projects and ramblings for 12/08/10

| December 8th, 2010 | No Comments »

I had a minor sanfu with the files for the upcoming Black Tokyo title. Gone! Fortunately Chris Field sent me new copies so I’ll be working on that this week. He’s also nearing completion on the new incarnation of Freeform Anthropomorphica so I’ll be working on the layout for that as well. I took two weeks off from work for the Christmas and New Years holidays so I’ll have a good solid block of time to devote to laying out a few projects.

The Savage Worlds game set for Friday night got pushed back. I was bummed but frankly I have a ton of stuff on my plate for the weekend so it will not be too bad to have the night off unexpectedly. I’m teaching a women-only NRA Basic Pistol class at the NRA headquarters building in Fairfax along with one of my best friends (who also happens to work in the NRA Training and Education department). It should be fun; I do enjoy teaching new students about firearms safety and marksmanship.

I’m trying to get the Zombie game re-scheduled for the following weekend. I have to say that the more I read the Savage Worlds rule book the more I like it. It has many of the things I like most from other systems, and doesn’t seem to have the “rules bloat” that the various incarnations of the D20 system and 4E suffer from.

One mechanic I especially like I first encountered in the Warhammer Fantasy Role Playing Game as the idea of continuing to roll damage if you “maxed” your roll. So if a dagger does 1d4 points of damage and you roll a 4 then you get to roll again; and if you keep rolling 4’s then you keep adding them. In most games a dagger stops being dangerous after about third level; there is simply no way to kill a sixth level dude with only a dagger. But in real life you could bring down Sly Stallone with a pocket knife jabbed into in the right place. It sets up the ability have one of those great RPG “moments” where you get lucky and rack up massive damage from a “lucky” hit or a well placed shot.

As I said I am planning on supporting the system. I’ve started outlining a setting book, but I want to get my feet wet actually playing and GM’ing the rule set. So I’m running the War of the Dead module once we get the schedules worked out. I bought a whole mess of Mantic Games Kings of War Zombies so I have a whole hoard to throw at the party!

I also ordered in a set of 24 plastic zombies on order from Wargames Factory which I should be able to mix-and-match for a truly massive zombie hoard! I plan to hit them with some Army Painter rotting flesh primer and then use the dip-flick paint stuff they sell and get them painted up right quick. I’ll be curious to see how that stuff works; I’ve read good things and I’m fairly handy with a paintbrush so I hope to get some fairly decent figures on the table without too much fuss.

In other news my friends and I have been playing a beta of a MMO real-time strategy game called Dark Expanse. You start with a planet, build resources, a shipyard and expand to other systems. You can build warfleets, send Black Ops troops into enemy planets to cause terrorism and destabalize the government before you invade and land marines. It’s a slow-paced, check it a few times a day kind of game but it has really grown on me.

Part of the fact is that for the last two days the server has been down so I haven’t been able to “get my fix” and play. I think the server crashed and the hosting company isn’t being as responsive as they could or should be. Anyway, the game is FREE and I expect them to back up and running any time now. Go check it out and sign up. Most of my friends are members of the same Federation (The Buttkick Protectorate) so if you do join; feel free to send me a dispatch and join our Federation. (Or start your own if you like!)

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S.C.A.R.E. Vol. 5 released

| December 8th, 2010 | No Comments »

We just put out the latest release in the S.C.A.R.E. line for the Traveller RPG.

S.C.A.R.E. – Secrets, Contacts, Allies, Rivals and Enemies. They are part and parcel of the character generation process, and provide endless opportunities for adventure, intrigue and complication. The S.C.A.R.E. line gives you NPC’s designed to provide maximum flexibility as they can be used in several ways; either as a valuable Contact or Ally, or as a dangerous Rival or Enemy. Secrets can be exploited for profit, patriotism or career advancement; and each could lead to danger, wealth or fantastic new discoveries. Multiple plot hooks and adventure ideas are also presented in each release, allowing easy integration into your game.

It’s a fact that 99.8 percent of all RPG adventures begin at a bar or tavern. Why should Traveller be any different? The latest release in the S.C.A.R.E. line details Marion “Sarge” Dynes, an ex ground assault marine turned bar owner!

This PDF release includes information on Marion Dynes, the “Charlie’s Last Stand Bar” (named in honor of his father), as well as his background, personality, and how he treats his Allies, Contacts, Rivals or Enemies. There are also dozens of adventure hooks and ideas for using “Sarge” in your game.

For sale now at RPGNow and DriveThru RPG. Click HERE to view the sales listing including a full Flash preview of the PDF.

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Post-Thanksgiving Post

| November 29th, 2010 | No Comments »

Hi all, I’m back at work after a long Thanksgiving weekend. I spent it with my family here local and frankly didn’t do too much all weekend. I caught the last disk of Glee Season One and most of Doctor Who Season Two. :-)

So now it’s time to dust off my desk and get back into the swing of things.

Black Tokyo has sold quite well, and work is progressing on the latest release which will hit before Christmas.

I have a few Traveller PDF’s on deck that need some tweaking; look for our latest S.C.A.R.E. later this week.

In print news the Campaign Overlay: Fantasy Firearms book is listed on the Mongoose Publishing site and slated for release in February! There is even a discussion about it on the Paizo site that I plan to wade into after I make this post.

In other news I’ve recently acquired the Savage Worlds rule books and am thinking about supporting it in addition to Pathfinder and Traveller. I plan to run a group through the War of the Dead scenarios to get a feel for the system.

I find I really like the “Rules Light” aspect of the system. Throw in a Zombie Apocolypse scenario and that has all the makings of a fun time! I am also really liking the linear way the scenario plays out in the War of the Dead campaign. The PC’s basically begin on a cruise ship when the Zombie outbreak occurs on ship. Eventually they arrive on land where they find out that it wasn’t isolated to just the ship but the world. I haven’t finished reading it much past the time they get to land and have a few enconters but I do like most of it.

I’ve always like the idea of leading players into a “new world” where we take them from a familiar setting and progress into the new events. Unlike many settings where they take great pains to set up a cool new “sandbox” to play in and just throw the players in. I think Rifts is a great example of this; the world is neat and the factions well laid out. They did a great job of spelling out how the world worked and what the changes were etc. But in the end you just make up a Juicer or a Full Conversion Borg and go have some fun shooting things in the face with a Shemarian Rail Gun!

Now what if they had the PC’s get up and go to work like normal, then have the rifts open and all these crazy things start happening around them? Now that is a completely different game. Don’t get me wrong; I played a ton of Rifts and am not putting them down; I’m just saying that starting within the Rifts (or any other) setting is different than being part of the transition. That is one of the real strenghts of the War of the Dead campaign so far; and I’m looking forward to running it.

I have some ideas I’ve wanted to publish as a linear format along the same lines for a while now. (My “Omens of Armageddon” modern setting/adventure path idea.) So now that I see how the pulled off the War of the Dead I am seriously thinking of dusting off that project and moving forward.

In other news I think I’ve mentioned I have a part-time job working at a local game store. Well, in the past few weeks I managed to get a steal on a massive 40K Ork army, and this weekend a guy came in wanting to off-load some old figures so I snagged a basic Lizard Man army and more Necrons to add to my army! (I only really wanted the Monolith, but it was like getting the figures for free to go with it.) The deals were too good to pass up but now I have even more stuff to paint that I’ll never get around to painting! :-)


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New Releases and the Black Tokyo C&D Cover!

| October 19th, 2010 | No Comments »

I just added The Eleusinian Covenant to RPGNow, right after the latest Stock Art release from Nathan Winburn fell off the front page. Be sure to check them out!

I also just finished the cover for Black Tokyo: Chastity and Depravity! Look for it VERY SOON. (Like “just in time for Halloween” soon!)

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One Crazy Month

| October 11th, 2010 | No Comments »

OK, seriously, sorry for the lack of posts. It has been one crazy month. (Well, five weeks anyway, since my last post.)

Did I mention that my car burned up in a fire? I have video:

Car-B-Q

So I had to buy a new (to me) car. Which is just as well, since there were a few things wrong with my old one that had me on the fence as to weather I wanted to fix it or look for another one. I guess the fire made the decision for me.

In other news I also made my directoral debut on the set of a new scene I wrote for the movie I’m editing. It was a great learning experience and will set me up for when I take the reigns of some of my own video projects in the future.

I still have the part-time job which is OK, but cutting into my time a tad more than I would wish. I hope to hand it off to someone else by the end of the year.

On the gaming front there are a few things happening around here. First up the Fantasy Firearms project has been accepted by Mongoose Publishing’s Flaming Cobra imprint and should see release in January or February. We are also talking about the follow-on projects that are fairly exciting; including a Mongoose collaboration!

Chris Field is hard at work on Pirates of the Bronze Sky for LPJ; but he has several projects in the works. Look for the first to be released tonight and the second to follow a few days later. Also, the follow-up to Black Tokyo is set to be released near the end of the month!

I’m also working with artist Nathan Winburn and released his first stock art collection:

He’s got more art on deck and is also taking freelance assignments! nathan_winburn*AT*yahoo.com

More updates to follow soon!

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New Releases

| September 1st, 2010 | No Comments »

I just uploaded a new Otherverse America PDF from Chris Field. Check out Razor Culture:

The almost mythic first generation of Razors predated the formation of the Enclaves. In the old days, back
before the Abortion War first went hot, those first Razors stole everything the Enclaves needed to become
independent: money, supplies, weapons, data, even power siphoned from metro fusion grids. These old school
cyberpunk thieves have become Lifer cultural heroes, because their scams, theft and sabotage helped build the
Enclaves.

Their actions are celebrated in hundreds of Lifer movies, novels and Mesh dramas, and if you’re reading
this sourcebook, you are fortunate enough to claim legit descent from one of these modern Evangelical Robin
Hoods. You are a Razor, like your father and grandfather before you, and you know what…. That’s all you’ll
ever be.

The Razors are best described as secularized Termites. Like their ideological cousins they use stealth and
guile to wage war on choicer society, but unlike Termites, a Razor will never brag or upload video of
one of his crimes. Razors are expert thieves and criminals, and they know that a good scam is worth
its weight in gold. Razors tend to be young, angry and poor… in that sense they are like every other
teenager grown up in an Enclave.

This fifteen page PDF includes all the background on the Razors for the Otherverse America setting, including
new feats, gear and a Starting Occupation to allow players to take up the mantle of the Razors.

And a few days ago I uploaded Beggars & Bandits; a new take on Goblin PC’s for the Pathfinder RPG.

Fast breeding and adaptable, Goblins are an incredibly diverse species. The little folk have adapted to every known environment, from the arctic tundra to the warrens of the world’s largest and most crowded city-states.

“Got that right. My clan’s been in this damn
city since they first laid the bricks, and my great to
the tenth power grandma stole that fool mason’stools!”

Get the low-down on all aspects of playing a Goblin in the Pathfinder RPG right from their very own mouth!

“Now the humans say we’re dirty minded.
Well, they’re right. But we got other sides too. Lets
see, I really like stealin’ almost as much as babymakin’.
Not just because I get something new and
shiny if’n I steal good, but because me takin’
something you was guarding means that you and
your big kind can’t deny I beat you. I just love out
smarting the big folk, and what else…”

This nine page PDF gives you all the insight needed to get inside the head of your next Goblin Player Character, or to breath life into the next group of Goblins your players face!

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Check out the new Fantasy Firearms Cover Image

| August 30th, 2010 | No Comments »

It’s been a long time coming. My first artist was unable to complete it so I handed it off the insanely-talented Jason Rhodes and he hit it out of the park!

Check it…

I have another release from Chris Field on deck later today. Jason also finished up an image for the next S.C.A.R.E. release and the sequel to Black Tokyo is nearing completion! I have art starting to trickle in and I plan to assign some more out this week.

Remember how I said I took a part-time job at my local game store after the wife got laid off? (She’s back to work, so that is a major relief!) Well, it turns out the guy that created Tales From The Floating Vagabond works there. I’ve been helping hi get his website up so look for it soon. He’s got some big plans for the future of the games but I don’t want to dish without permission. Looks like some very cool stuff indeed!

Anyway, I plan to take my meager earnings from the part-time gig and funnel them into our publishing efforts. With Fantasy Firearms 99.9% done, it will be time to move on to the next projects. I have the script for another Campaign Overlay, the updated Freeform Anthropomorphica, and a couple of other print-worthy projects.

Naturally, we are not going to stop our PDF releases either; the next S.C.A.R.E. is on deck, along with a few more Traveller releases including the new Augments & Upgrades line.

Lots of cool things happening; stay tuned!

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Blog Update for 08/02/10

| August 2nd, 2010 | No Comments »

A lot has been going on in all areas of my life.

Wife got laid off over a month ago.

Air conditioning broke on the hottest week of the year.

Spent three grand on a new AC.

I got a part time job at my friendly local game store to make some extra money.

I was contacted by a new artist who is doing a couple of images for our Fantasy Firearms book.
Check out the work in progress:

I have another artist working on the new cover. (My first choice ran into some scheduling issues and was unable to complete the project, costing me over a month of time. What are you gonna do?)

So I plan to have the Fantasy Firearms project completely wrapped by Mid Aug.

I am not attending Gen Con as planned. (See the above mention of my wife’s job situation.) But I’m still taking the time off from work to focus on Skortched Urf’ Studios business. I’ve got plenty of projects that need attention; the Black Tokyo follow up, Freefrom Anthropomorphica, the next Campaign Overlay and others. Like I said, lots going on.

I see Louis worked out a deal to sell his POD print stuff through Paizo. It will be interesting to get the details on that one. If your producing Pathfinder stuff, then Paizo is where you want to be.

While checking out the stuff on the shelves at my new job (to employ my employees discount!) I almost decided to purchase the Rogue Trader rulebook from Fantasy Flight.

Then I decided I’d rather just have the PDF so I can look at it on my iPad. That’s a big deal right there. I don’t really want a ton of books clogging up my shelf anymore. I do want the content, but I am just as happy with said content on my computer or reading device. Funny thing though, my copy of the Pathfinder Core Rulebook PDF is missing all of the “A”s in the section titles. They appear in the text and the chapter titles, but not throughout the book. I’ve tried two different reader apps as well. Weird. So now I have all 500+ pages of the Pathfinder RPG, along with the Game Mastery Guide (300+ pages), the Traveller core rule book (200+ pages) plus a bunch of other RPG supplements along with books, comics, screenplays and projects I’m working on in one handy device. (In color I might add!)

So when I do decide to get the Fantasy Flight books, I am leaning mightily towards the electronic versions for half the price of the dead-tree. Now of course that doesn’t mean I’ll never get another RPG Book again; far from it. But sixty bucks for the core rules is quite a commitment! Heck, they are even putting out the adventure modules (one-shot use items, bear in mind) as hardback books. Might as well be GW putting them out for the premium price one needs to pay to be fully invested in Rouge Trader and Dark Heresy!

I think the sweet-spot for RPG products is right near twenty bucks. Some products under and some not-too-far over. Think Palladium games, who pioneered the trade-paperback format for rulebooks. Back in the day they were all about twenty bucks; or twenty-four or maybe thirty for the main RIFTS book. That’s two twenties with enough change to let you hit McDonalds on the way home. Rouge Trader is three twenty dollar bills plus tax; so you will break four twenties before you hit the drive-thu for a burger and fries! Don’t get me wrong; they are awesome books. The production value is second to none on these things. Only Privateer Press and the other “Big Names” (WOTC & Paizo) even come close. But I’m just going to dog-ear the pages, spill soda and chips on them and scribble in the margins. Anyway, those are my two cents about the hardback trend in RPG’s. Unless it’s a collectors item or massive like the Pathfinder RPG then I’m happy with the paperbacks. And you can still have a darn nice paperback in color; just check out what Privateer Press is doing if you don’t agree.

More information soon!

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OBS Customer Email sent 07/14/10

| July 14th, 2010 | No Comments »

[Skortched Urf’ Studios] New releases and Announcements

Here is our semi-weekly email detailing the latest releases and company news & announcements from Skortched Urf’ Studios.

New Releases (More details below):

The Dragonbound Core Class (Pathfinder RPG)

Fantastic Races of the Otherverse: The Urlock (Pathfinder RPG)

S.C.A.R.E. Vol. 4 -Vasco Anurin (Traveller RPG)

Minor Races -The Arient (Traveller RPG)

Minor Races -The Neuralon (Traveller RPG)

Announcements:

Galaxy Command RPG setting now just $1.99!
We’ve lowered the price on the 93 page Galaxy Command RPG setting.

Galaxy Command takes place in the Stellar Year 3476.

Galaxy Command is an all-analogue future, a sci-fi utopia where technology got better, but
society still resembles America, circa 1976.

Galaxy Command is a coalition of a hundred sentient races that governs the Milky Way
Galaxy and battles tirelessly against the evil stellar empire, WARSTAR.

Galaxy Command is an interstellar band of astronauts, scientists, police officers, galactic
marshals, military geniuses and diplomats, all banded together to make a finer universe.

Galaxy Command is a gleaming, plastic and polyester future where billowing Afros never
went out of style, and futurism takes a back seat to pulp flavored adventure.

Now is your chance to get a glimpse of the Galaxy Command universe at 1976 prices! If you like what you see, then be sure to check out the other titles in the Galaxy Command line.

New Releases:

The Dragonbound Core Class (Pathfinder RPG)

Land became sky.

The world twisted upside down as Pellar kicked his dragon into a tight loop. The young knight screamed with mingled fear, excitement and pain as he forced himself not to black out. And the relentless line of flame, the hate-fed fire that would have killed both him and his dragon- his only friend, his other self- brushed by close enough to singe his scraggly beard. Pellar felt his dragon’s mingled triumph/fear/dominance urge come through the empathic link, clear and bright as the blue sky the pair flew through.

Pellar barely touched his reigns and his mount wheeled and recovered, reversing her flight path so quickly that even the young knight in the saddle could barely track the motion. The human smiled with pride, and feeling her master’s joy, the dragon bellowed a roar like a granary explosion. And than, without even needing to be told, Pellar’s ice-white dragon opened her great maw wide, and the blizzard inside her body leapt outward. Halfway across the sky, Pellar’s rival knight tried her best to pull her dragon out of its dive, to come up under the river of ice crossing space towards the pair. Too late! The ice river hit hard, knocking the red dragon and its female rider from the sky, killing them even as it wrapped them in gleaming planes of frozen crystal….

Pellar’s dragon roared again, and this time, Pellar added his own trembling voice to the chorus…..

Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series remains one of fantasy’s most enduring franchises, and the recent PS3 video game Lair allows the hero to take control of a mighty dragon steed. Young adult works like Eragon and How to Train Your Dragon follow young heroes as they bond with incredible beasts. Despite the popularity and sheer appeal of dragon-riding heroes, traditional fantasy gaming has never really supported the trope.

It’s easy to see why: giving a player character a bonded dragon at first level is equivalent to giving that hero a fully armed tank, while everybody else in the party makes do with swords and bows. A veteran hero, riding an adult dragon… the metaphor of a tank gives way to an even more alarming one: the metaphor a fully armed stealth bomber with a nuclear payload. Dragons are overwhelmingly powerful, and having one in your corner, loyal only to you… that’s a class feature that certainly outdoes Weapon Specialization and Barbarian Rage.

This sourcebook presents a new 20 level core class: the Dragonbound, a unique breed of knight who is defined by his empathic bond with a great dragon steed. The Dragonbound is an intentionally unbalanced campaign option; in terms of sheer damage dealing potential (as well as mobility and endurance), the Dragonbound certainly outclasses the Fighter and Barbarian. Character classes that depend on a mystical mount or animal companion, such as Paladin and the Ranger are similarly outclassed. Since the Dragonbound’s core concept resolves around a partnership with a dragon, and mounts and animal companions are tangentially related to the concept of what a Paladin or Ranger is, the Dragonbound’s companion beast is naturally more impressive.

From the moment the ritual of binding is complete, the dragon hatchling and the young knight who will one day ride it into battle are one being. Spiritually and emotionally, the two creatures are linked. When one is wounded, the other bleeds. When one is tired or afraid, the other weakens, but when one side of the partnership is happy and content, they both thrive. In every culture that produces Dragonbound warriors, the relationship between dragon and rider is a scared bond. Even the most evil Dragonbound refuse to mistreat their dragon steed, because doing so is more akin to self mutilation than rage. The love between Dragonbound riders and their mounts runs deep, all the more so because the two die together. Once bound, a dragon cannot survive long without its rider, and vice versa.

This twenty-level core class includes everything needed to include Dragonbound in your campaign; from customizing your dragon to the various factions of Dragonbound, iconic dragon-breeds, new Dragonbound gods, feats, and magic items.

37 pages, $2.99

Fantastic Races of the Otherverse: The Urlock (Pathfinder RPG)


The Fantastic Races of the Otherverse series converts the most interesting, unusual and powerful player races from Otherverse Games’ D20 Modern-powered settings: Otherverse America, Psi-Watch, Galaxy Command and Black Tokyo, and adapts them for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. More than a just simple conversion to the new rule set, these short sourcebooks imagine how heroes from super-scientific worlds would look in campaigns where magic and the divine are the norm. This series of supplements also provides a few new hints at how the vast and interconnected multiverse of Otherverse Games fits together.

In Galaxy Command, the powerfully built Urloks are an alien race of psychically enhanced warriors. They are known for their courage and sense of honor. The bear like humanoids have recently entered the galactic stage, after a successful first contact by Galaxy Command’s heroic astronauts.

Urloks first appeared in the Galaxy Command Campaign Setting (Otherverse Games, 2009).

For the Pathfinder Role Playing Game the Urlocks have been re-imagined…

According to the Urlok’s own creation stories, the bear-like giants fell from heaven long ago. Otherworldly and somber, Urloks know the Prime Material Plane as a cosmic penance for racial sins long forgotten. Talk to any Urlok and if you can over come the race’s legendary taciturnity, he will tell you that once upon a time, his race were the soldiers of Heaven itself. During a great battle against a legendary cosmic evil, Urlok soldiers fled the battlefield, and for their cowardice the entire race was cast down. Urloks strive to atone for their mythical ancestors’ betrayal.

Courage and loyalty are foremost virtues for the race, and an Urlok knight would rather die than betray a trust. Oathbreakers and cowards are punished harshly, with the normally noble bear-men reaching extremes of torture and atrocity that give even savage humanoids like Orcs and Hobgoblins pause when punishing traitors within their proud race. Urloks who show fear or even the slightest trace of deception brand and scar themselves with their mightly claws. More severe offenses are punished with the amputation of fingers, hands or even whole arms. Urloks hold themselves to incredibly harsh standards and a completely unscarred Urlok is a one in a million rarity. Among their own kind, the rare unscarred Urloks are treated with a living saint’s respect, and a bit of jealous suspicion: are they truly as righteous as they claim, or are they simply too afraid of pain to scar themselves for hidden offenses?

Urloks live far from most other humanoids. They prefer the cold places at the top and bottom of the world. Because of their distance from civilization and their savage and masochistic punishments, the Urloks rarely receive a warm reception in peaceful humanoid kingdoms. Urloks venturing into warmer regions are often mercenaries. Dozens of kingdoms, both good and evil, hire the bear-folk as indomitable shock troops. Urlok tenacity and courage is well known among fighting men, and the race’s soldiers will display reserves of bravado and willpower unknown in other races.

8 pages, $1.99

S.C.A.R.E. Vol. 4 -Vasco Anurin (Traveller RPG)


S.C.A.R.E. – Secrets, Contacts, Allies, Rivals and Enemies. They are part and parcel of the character generation process, and provide endless opportunities for adventure, intrigue and complication. The S.C.A.R.E. line gives you NPC’s designed to provide maximum flexibility as they can be used in several ways; either as a valuable Contact or Ally, or as a dangerous Rival or Enemy. Secrets can be exploited for profit, patriotism or career advancement; and each could lead to danger, wealth or fantastic new discoveries. Multiple plot hooks and adventure ideas are also presented in each release, allowing easy integration into your game.

Volume 4 in the series details Vasco Anurin.
The Starport Authority (SPA) manages and builds all of the starports in imperial space. SPA inspectors like Vasko Anurin provide oversight of Starport operations, arriving unannounced with a team of investigatorschecking everything from airlock seals, accounts, traffic control protocols, and the honesty of starport personnel to the customs procedures,security procedures and so on.

Vasco Anurin is good at his job; he can smell a fake manifest in hard vacuum, ferret out a contraband cargo and spot the holes in Starport security. Though he is harboring a terrible secret, his loyalty cannot be purchased.

He is notabove using his influence to help friends or hinder foes, however.

8 pages, $1.49

Minor Races -The Arient (Traveller RPG)


The Minor Races line details some of the many life form inhabiting your Science Fiction Traveller game. Unlike the Major Races who discovered Jump Drive technology and began exploring, the Minor Races have rarely ventured farther than a single system or planet. Of the numberless stars, planets and moons; many have hosted unique species and civilizations yet to be discovered!

The first race detailed in the line is The Arient. The Arient are a species of reclusive but arrogant psychics feared by the Imperium and Zhodani alike. They refuse to accept Imperial or Zhodani jurisdiction, and their home planet is Red Zoned by the TAS; though both the Imperium and the Zodanin have bases in system for opposing purposes.

While the Imperium wishes to isolate the Arient, the Zhodani continually try to foster diplomatic contact without much success. The key to this frustration is one of Arient arrogance: the superior psions regard the Zhodani as too impure as a whole strata of Zhodani society lacks any psionic capability at all and their culture promotes the use of Psionics in their daily life, thus damaging its purity and the achievement of celestial openness. Nonetheless, the Zhodani are resolute, hoping to alter the Arient attitude and gain inroads. It is mainly through Zhodani merchants and government-supported “smugglers” that the Arient gain their off-world technology.

This eight page PDF gives players and GM’s everything they need to add the Arient to your game including stats and description of the Arient home world, details about the race, Arient society, politics and religion, new skills and typical career paths. There are also player hints should a player wish to use the Arient race for his/her character in a game.

8 pages, $1.49

Minor Races -The Neuralon (Traveller RPG)


The Minor Races line details some of the many life form inhabiting your Science Fiction Traveller game. Unlike the Major Races who discovered Jump Drive technology and began exploring, the Minor Races have rarely ventured farther than a single system or planet. Of the numberless stars, planets and moons; many have hosted unique species and civilizations yet to be discovered!

The volume details The Neuralon; often called “Neuralon Seductors” by outsiders. The Neuralon are willowy, curiously seductive, non-human, bipedal pleasure-lovers. The Neuralon reputation within the Imperium is based around their medical knowledge, particularly in the area of analgesia, anaesthetics and in the treatment and management of both acute and chronic pain, and in luxury technological items of all sorts.

This peaceful race has evolved to be highly sensitive to those around them, using that sensitivity to create and broadcast pacifying pheromones and adjusting their own body language and vocal range to tones and flexions that quickly calm and pacify the aggressors. This automatic, uncontrollable pursuit of appeasing and pacifying aggressors through virtually undetectable means leads to a lifestyle that is monopolised by sensory seduction.

Their home planet, Neuralos, is a holiday destination for the extremely rich and powerful or for the decadent pleasure-seekers. The pleasures they can provide, from food, clothing, drinks, beds, entertainment or mere pampering cannot be matched. Oddly, (to an offworlder, that is) the seedier forms of entertainment do not exist outside startown. The Neuralon find it emotionally upsetting to see the degradation of enforced slavery or prostitution. What is more useful to offworlders is that the Neuralon medical capabilities, growing from their natural urge to appease and aid those they meet, exceed all expectations, and are on the cutting edge of technological advancement.

As a species and society, their strength is also a drawback. They do not build armed warships and are completely reliant on the Imperium and hired mercenaries for their defence: the very thought of inflicting pain on another sapient creature causes them severe distress, triggering their own, reactive-defence measures. As a result, when making their way in the galaxy, they either take jobs as medics or as entertainers, or sometimes as advocates, as many other jobs involve too much pain. There can never be a Neuralon empire or conquered world; but for the same reasons they cannot force their will on another, others find it difficult to force their will on the Neuralon.

Learn more about this race, their homeworld and some of their advanced technology in this eleven page PDF.

11 pages, $1.49

-END OF MESSAGE-

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Blog Update for 7/8/10

| July 8th, 2010 | No Comments »

Sorry for the lag in posts! The air conditioner died at home a few days ago and it has been HOT. Unbearably so. I have a guy coming out today with the part we need (or at least the part we think we need) to finish the install from yesterday. With luck that will get us back on track. There will be a new release up later tonight, with several to follow shortly thereafter. Still waiting on art from a few sources to finish up some other projects.

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Blog Update for 6/28/10

| June 28th, 2010 | No Comments »

The Arient just fell off the front page. Look for the Neuralon later tonight.

I have a couple more Traveller projects on deck behind them as well; another S.C.A.R.E., a new career option and the first Augments & Upgrades release.

Chris Filed is also working on some smaller releases. We’re also hard at work on the follow-up to Black Tokyo! I can’t wait to get the art back fro some of the concepts; should be a lot of fun.

I’m still waiting on the new cover for the Fantasy Firearms release. Between that and a few interior images that project will be done and “off to the printer” shortly with several other projects right behind it. Next on deck is the new, updated version of Freeform Anthropomorphica. Behind that there is another Campaign Overlay dealing with adding Ley Line magic to your campaign.

More info soon.

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What I’m working on now -6/21/10

| June 21st, 2010 | No Comments »

Sorry for the lack of posts! I have been super busy the last few weeks. On the home front my wife lost her job a couple weeks ago which really sucks. The job hunt is on but needless to say the stress level has jumped a notch or two. (It may even affect my GenCon plans!) Time will tell.

Also, work had me hopping last week. My day job had me clocking fifty hours including two days where I had to be in at Oh-Dark-Thirty which curtailed late night RPG work. (But the overtime will be nice since!)

But never fear, I have been toiling away every spare moment I could find. In fact yesterday I finished the layout of two new Traveller releases. Check out the first two releases in our Minor Races line:

We have quite a few new races lined up. These two were the first and a third one is already in my hand ready for art and layout. Just the thing to spice up your Sci-Fi game!

The first installment of the Augments and Upgrades line is nearing completion as well. I focusing on augments that change or alter ones appearance for the first release. I figure grouping augments by category will be a good way to tackle them. I’ve got some really cool ideas and can’t wait til we get into adding power-plants, weeapons and massive cybernetic re-construction to the mix!

I’m also putting the finishing touches on the big Fantasy Firearms release; including a new cover. I’m expecting a draft of the cover any day now.

On deck I have a couple of smaller releases of my own and quite a few from Chris Field. He’s been busy with a new core class, a short PDF on Alchemy and some more Fantastic Races of the Otherverse.

On top of all that I am also in the beginning stages of a large modern RPG setting/game.

Right now I’m trying to get as many small (5-10 page) projects laid out and ready for release as I can to clear up the log-jam. Once I have them all lined up and ready I can focus on the larger projects and automate the release schedule.

I really enjoyed seeing the free adventures Mongoose put out for the Traveller game. I may begin running them for a local group. It also gave me the idea of doing something similar. I’ve been reading what Louis Porter Jr. has been talking about regarding a free version of the Dungeon a Day concept, and spoken a bit with him about it. So I am toying with the idea of turning my Zhawaan Shipyard project into a “Base of Operations” around which to stage free adventures for the Traveller community to use. It’s still in the very early planning stages, but instead of a PDF or print project I envision it as a website where players and GM’s can access info about the system in general (Shipyard, High-Port, Low-Port, Breakers Yard, Naval Base, Scout Base, Asteroid Belt etc.) as well as specific adventures set in, around or that jump off from the system.

More info soon!

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Monday update 6/7/10

| June 7th, 2010 | No Comments »

I got some good feedback from two different sources regarding the Fantasy Firearms project. As a result of that, I am shopping for new cover art. I’ve already got a guy in mind, and hope to hear back from him later tonight. I’ll probably re-do a few of the interior images while I am at it; some of the stock art and a couple I had done before I had the finished script in my hand.

I’m also knee-deep in several other smaller projects getting ready to hit the streets. Look for a new Fantastic Races of the Otherverse very soon, as well as some Traveller stuff. The first Minor Races and a new series called Augments & Upgrades are nearing completion. I re-worked the augment description I posted earlier, which I think makes it much better. To wit, check it…

Skin Pigmentation Mod
Type: Biological or Hybrid
Description: This augment allows the user to change their skin pigmentation virtually at will. When activated, an amino acid sequence is altered in the host that interacts with the the pituitary gland (or alien equivalent) to regulate melanin content in the skin. This can be achieved naturally, limiting the available skin tones to those normal for the species, or use a supply of synthetic melanin that allows virtually limitless color variations. Higher TL variants can produce patterns rather than a single tone. This augment is fairly common, and is used to protect citizens of planets and bases where the star emits high levels of ultraviolet radiation. On particularly dangerous stations, a metallic sheen embedded in the skin is been used to actively reflect harmful rays or protect from extreme temperature ranges by reflecting heat away from the body. Naturally, the addition of a synthetic melanin supply has opened up the augment to use by the military for camouflaging scouts and forward observers, spies so they can blend in with a native population, and even entertainers who can now make their beauty literally ‘skin deep’.

Restrictions: Not typically restricted where augments are common, but might be on low-tech worlds.

TL9 Drain 0 Cr.1500 This version of the augment achieves the change in skin tone via a simple gene switch which causes the body to naturally produce the desired amount of melanin. Because the augment utilizes the bodies natural chemistry, it is limited to only the normal skin tone ranges for the species. This augment is undetectable by passive scanners and requires an advanced medical scan to detect. (Naturally, if the skin tone adopted does not match other physical features like the hair or eyes, then an advanced medical exam would not be required to detect the augments use.) The color change takes three hours per shade along a ten shade human normal range from pale white to deep ebony. (i.e. 30 hours to go from pale white to deep ebony.)

TL10 Drain 0 Cr.3000 This augment utilizes synthetic melanin along with that naturally possesses by the skin to create a near-limitless single color palette. Synthetic melanin is produced by hybrid melanocyte cells injected into the dermal layer of the augment recipient. These cells allow the user to control the activity of the melanocytes as well as the color of the cells output. This augment is undetectable by passive scanners and requires an advanced medical scan to detect. The color change takes three hours per shade along a ten shade human normal range from pale white to deep ebony.

TL11 Drain 0 Cr.6000 This augment works just like the TL10 version but adds a control unit that can alter the melanin output of melanocyte cell clusters to create patterns on the skin. While not precise enough to create something as detailed as a tattoo; it can create patterns, alternating colors, spots or mimic the surrounding area. The control unit is the size of a small coin and actively monitors the output of all melanin. It can be located just under the skin anywhere on the body. New patterns can be added to the unit via wireless interface or it can be tied into other augments such as visual sensors. The control unit is detecable by passive scanners due the material it is composed of and the low-power charge it emits. (Though not enough to cause Drain on the bodies bio-electric power since the pigment remains static after the change occurs.) The control unit is capable of storing patterns in memory and reduces the time to change by one half, thus it would take 1.5 hours per shade of change along a ten shade human normal range from pale white to deep ebony.

TL12 Drain 0 Cr.12,000 This augment works just like the TL11 version but adds multiple control units that and many more melanocyte cell clusters. This version of the augment includes the ability to change patters or add them to memory via a comm device or other augment sensor the user possesses. Multiple control units and the additional melanocyte cells increase the speed of the change to fifteen minutes per shade of change along a ten shade human normal range.

TL13 Drain .5 Cr.25,000 This version acts as the TL12 version but vastly increases the number of control units and melanocyte cell clusters which allows the skin to take on any appearance desired; including intricate patterns such as might be seen in a tattoo or other skin art. The larger number of control modules and the ability to adjust skin pattern on the fly increases the Drain and renders the augment detectable by passive scanners, but decreases to just five minutes the amount of time required to change shades. Adding a detailed pattern to an area such as a tattoo takes about five minutes for a small area such as the arm, and up to fifteen minutes for a large, detailed image across the chest or back for example.

TL14 Drain .5 Cr.50,000 This augment acts as the TL13 version but increases the power of the control units and adds an order of magnitude to the melanocyte cell clusters. Patterns can be changed on the fly via visual input from an optic sensor, stored memory or touching a sample of the color with either hand where a modified control unit analyzes the color. The increased power of the control units and melanocyte cells decrease the time required to a mere six seconds (one round) per shade of change, including intricate tattoo patterns!

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Project Updates

| June 3rd, 2010 | No Comments »

I sent off the next S.C.A.R.E. script to JDavid for some art treatment, so look for that soon-ish. I’m in the middle of laying out various other projects as well. The first of the new Minor Races line for the Traveller RPG is on deck, with another right behind it that both have art already done. I’ve got several short projects from Chris Field as well, including a couple new Fantastic Races of the Otherverse and a new class.

Fantasy Firearms is 99% done! I meant to bring the file with me to work but left the thumb drive plugged into my computer at home. I want to print it out and give it another read before I send it off. It’s been a long time coming, but I am quite pleased with the results and have learned a ton by producing such a large book. Looks like the final page count will be 96 pages of AWESOME! :-)

I started work on a Traveller release I’m calling “Augments & Upgrades”. I’m stealing borrowing the drain mechanic from work Chris Field did for D20 modern and implementing it into the Traveller system for augments. Some small augments have little or even no drain, but once you reach a certain level you’ll need some kind of power supply as many cybernetic augments require more juice that a normal human body can produce. I’ve got some really cool stuff planned, from P.A.N.’s (Personal Area Networks) that tie multiple augments together to Battle Dress interface mods and ways to make characters tougher, smarter and faster.

Here is a (still in the early stages) preview of one I worked up last night:

Skin Pigmentation Mod
Type: Biological or Hybrid
Description: This augment allows the user to change their skin pigmentation virtually at will. When activated, an amino acid sequence is altered in the host that interacts with the the pituitary gland (or alien equivalent) to regulate melanin content in the skin. This can be achieved naturally, limiting the available skin tones to those normal for the species, or use a supply of synthetic melanin that allows virtually limitless color variations. Higher TL variants can produce patterns rather than a single tone. This augment is fairly common, and is used to protect citizens of planets and bases where the star emits high levels of ultraviolet radiation. On particularly dangerous stations, a metallic sheen has even been used to actively reflect harmful rays or protect from higher than optimal temperature ranges. Naturally, the addition of a synthetic melanin supply has opened up the augment to use by the military for camouflaging scouts and forward observers, spies so they can blend in with a native population, and even entertainers who can now make their beauty literally ‘skin deep’.

Restrictions: Not typically restricted where augments are common, but might be on low-tech worlds.

TL9 Drain 0 Cr.1500 Simple, biological mod restricted to species normal pigments. Three hours to change skin tone.
TL10 Drain 0 Cr.3000 As TL9 but adds synthetic melanin for near limitless color palette. 3 Hr to change skin tone.
TL11 Drain 0 Cr.6000 As TL10 but can reproduce patterns stored in the mods memory chip. 1 Hr to change skin tone.
TL12 Drain 0 Cr.12,000 As TL110 but can reproduce patterns captured via camera, optics etc. 15 min to change tone.
TL13 Drain .5 Cr.25,000 As TL111 but with multiple melanin implants-points for added speed. 5 min to change skin tone.
TL14 Drain .5 Cr.50,000 As TL113 but with many melanin implants-points for increased speed. 1 round (6 sec) to change.

Some of my most astute readers (Hi Mom!) might recognize that mod from SCARE Vol. 2 but in this case I’ve actually spelled out how the mod works and how much it would cost to buy it in game terms. If you want simple protection and don’t mind waiting a few hours for the change it can be had fairly cheap, but if you want to change colors on-the-fly then it will cost you a bit more.

So what do you think? Like it? Hate it? Please share your thoughts on the matter by either commenting here, via Facebook or Twitter. Got any ideas for more mods you would like to see? I’m all ears!

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S.C.A.R.E. Vol. 4 Released!

| June 2nd, 2010 | No Comments »

S.C.A.R.E. – Secrets, Contacts, Allies, Rivals and Enemies. They are part and parcel of the character generation process, and provide endless opportunities for adventure, intrigue and complication. The S.C.A.R.E. line gives you NPC’s designed to provide maximum flexibility as they can be used in several ways; either as a valuable Contact or Ally, or as a dangerous Rival or Enemy. Secrets can be exploited for profit, patriotism or career advancement; and each could lead to danger, wealth or fantastic new discoveries. Multiple plot hooks and adventure ideas are also presented in each release, allowing easy integration into your game.

Volume 4 in the series details Vasco Anurin.


The Starport Authority (SPA) manages and builds all of the starports in imperial space. SPA inspectors like Vasko Anurin provide oversight of Starport operations, arriving unannounced with a team of investigatorschecking everything from airlock seals, accounts, traffic control protocols, and the honesty of starport personnel to the customs procedures,security procedures and so on.

Vasco Anurin is good at his job; he can smell a fake manifest in hard vacuum, ferret out a contraband cargo and spot the holes in Starport security. Though he is harboring a terrible secret, his loyalty cannot be purchased.

He is notabove using his influence to help friends or hinder foes, however.

Be sure to check out other Volumes in the S.C.A.R.E. series:

Or get them all in a bundle for maximum savings!

For sale now at OBS.

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OBS Customer Email 5/27/10

| May 27th, 2010 | No Comments »

[Skortched Urf’ Studios] New releases and Announcements

Here is our semi-weekly email detailing the latest releases and company news & announcements from Skortched Urf’ Studios.

New Releases (More details below):

Fantastic Races of the Otherverse: The Ubasti for the Pathfinder RPG

Adventurer Essentials: The Common Tongue for the Pathfinder RPG

Project Watchtower for the Psi-Watch Campaign Setting

Announcements:

New Website. I broke our website. So I built a new one! We are in the process of moving from one server to another and I managed to break the site. (Don’t worry, I have good backups!) Since I had to monkey around under the hood, I figured it was time to update the look and feel of the site. Now we have more of a company portal that a simple Blog. I think you will like the new look. There are still some things that need to be addressed, so stay tuned for heavy updating in the next few weeks. Check out the new site HERE.

Facebook & Twitter. In conjunction with the site re-build I’ve added Skortched Urf’ Studios to Facebook, Twitter and our site content can be read via RSS.

Please become a fan, follow us, or sign up for a feed!

Adventurer Essentials: The Common Tongue for the Pathfinder RPG has been in the top 15 on OBS since we released it! We are currently sitting at number 11. For those of you that purchased it, thank you so much for support. If you have not yet gotten a copy, now would be a great time get it so we can move up into the top 10 again. :-) Don’t forget about the Adventurer Essentials Bundle, that will give you all ten titles in the line at over 50% off.

New Releases:

Fantastic Races of the Otherverse: The Ubasti for the Pathfinder RPG

The Fantastic Races of the Otherverse series converts the most interesting, unusual and powerful player races from Otherverse Games’ D20 Modern-powered settings: Otherverse America, Psi-Watch, Galaxy Command and Black Tokyo, and adapts them for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. More than a just simple conversion to the new rule set, these short sourcebooks imagine how heroes from super-scientific worlds would look in campaigns where magic and the divine are the norm. This series of supplements also provides a few new hints at how the vast and interconnected multiverse of Otherverse Games fits together.

In Otherverse America, the Ubasti are a small species of genetically engineered lions which willingly serve the Choicer’s Coven of Bast. Created as military working animals, Ubasti proved smarter than anyone expected. As soon as their sentience was discovered, the Ubasti were freed. As of 2107, the Ubasti work with the Choicer nation as free sentient beings, and are beloved by Choicer America for their loyalty and courage.

The Ubasti first appeared in the Coven of Bast sourcebook (Otherverse Games, 2009).

For the Pathfinder setting the Ubasti have been re-imagined as nomadic, long-lived sentient lion-folk. Ubasti prides have prowled the veldt since before the bipedal races began recording history. Collectively, the Ubasti are ancient beyond imagining, with the race’s rich oral history acting as their memory and conscience.

This release gives you everything you need to add the Ubasti to your game as a player race. Also included is a short history of the Ubasti, their pantheon, new feats specifically designed for these four-legged warriors and more!

For sale now at OBS .

Look for more Fantastic Races of the Otherverse soon!

Adventurer Essentials: The Common Tongue for the Pathfinder RPG

To convert the unbeliever, you must speak his language. To command an army, your soldiers must understand the bellowed orders of their generals. To trade, to demand surrender or to plead for mercy, to complement or to insult, to seduce, to proselytize, to scheme, to plan….

a common language must first be found.

From almost the beginning of the hobby, fantasy gamers have used such a common language to allow their characters to communicate with one another, and with their friends and enemies. The omnipresent Common is a mostly unquestioned part and parcel of fantasy gaming. If gamers think about what Common is at all, other than a quickly filled in word on a character record, they tend to imagine Common as some kind of trade language, a pidgin blending words and grammar rules from dozens of other languages.

The Common Tongue is not a hodge-podge trade language.

Learn the origins of the Common Tongue as well as varient rules for employing it. Also included in this Pathfinder compatible PDF are a new Diety and his factions, the new Language Clerical Domain, four new language-realted feats and six new spells. Do something un-common with The Common Tongue!

Project Watchtower for the Psi-Watch Campaign Setting

Project Watchtower is a semi-secret government program whose stated goal was the control and supervision of America’s rapidly growing Mutant population. When the program was instituted in 1953, ‘controlling’ mutants meant extermination, and for generations of America mutants, the grimly iconic “Watchmen” mecha have been harbingers of death. Project Watchtower predates the creation of Psi-Watch by several years, and the two government agencies have worked at cross purposes at several points. Project Watchtower has the brainchild of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover- plans for the program date back to the late 1940s, but Hoover lacked the funding and technological know-how to initiate the black program until decades later.

The first Watchman mecha came on line in 1962. Prior to that, the agency used well armed, FBI-trained mutant hunters to capture or kill mutants. As to be expected, casualties were high, as the hunted mutants fought hard for their lives, slaughtering dozens of FBI-affiliated hunters. Hoover’s towering mechanical warriors were a welcome substitute, and quickly became the most potent weapon in the pure-human arsenal. Upgraded dozens of times over the years, the Watchman series of mecha have included several similar units of gigantic mutant hunters, as well as smaller, more efficient experimental models.

Psi-Watch itself opposed Project Watchtower since its inception, arguing that Mutants make excellent operatives and that hunting the species en masse only breeds more Mutant terrorists. Despite Psi-Watch’s objection, and despite several black operations against Project Watchtower itself, Hoover was able to keep his robotic army in service. By the late 1960s, the large scale Mutant purges of the intolerant 1950s had ended, and Watchman robots were only publically deployed to combat Mutant riots in the inner cities. Well connected, ultra-wealthy Mutant hunters (especially the close friends of Hoover) occasionally ‘rented’ a Watchman mecha as a bodyguard of sorts when they ventured into America’s ghettos to slaughter the genetically unfashionable.

Project Watchtower was officially ended by Jimmy Carter in 1979, but by that time its technology had fallen into the hands of various interests. The Republic of Cebary fields advanced versions of Project Watchtower’s creations, using them to police its enormous slave-Mutant population. The technology has made its way into the open market, becoming almost obsequious. China uses modified Watchmen mecha to maintain internal security, Al Queda uses jury-rigged versions of the robots to carry out terror strikes, while Humanity’s Sweat uses the massive war machines for their original purpose: the eradication of the Mutant threat, wherever it may hide.

This sixteen page sourcebook for the Psi-Watch Campaign setting details Watchtower Mecah units, rules for them gaining sentience, as well as Bio-Guardians and an alternat timeline that introduces Grendel Generation Technology.

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Fantastic Races of the Otherverse: The Ubasti released

| May 27th, 2010 | No Comments »

Skortched Urf’ Studios is pleased to announce the first in a new series of PDF releases: Fantastic Races of the Otherverse – The Ubasti.

The Fantastic Races of the Otherverse series converts the most interesting, unusual and powerful player races from Otherverse Games’ D20 Modern-powered settings: Otherverse America, Psi-Watch, Galaxy Command and Black Tokyo, and adapts them for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. More than a just simple conversion to the new rule set, these short sourcebooks imagine how heroes from super-scientific worlds would look in campaigns where magic and the divine are the norm. This series of supplements also provides a few new hints at how the vast and interconnected multiverse of Otherverse Games fits together.

In Otherverse America, the Ubasti are a small species of genetically engineered lions which willingly serve the Choicer’s Coven of Bast. Created as military working animals, Ubasti proved smarter than anyone expected. As soon as their sentience was discovered, the Ubasti were freed. As of 2107, the Ubasti work with the Choicer nation as free sentient beings, and are beloved by Choicer America for their loyalty and courage.

The Ubasti first appeared in the Coven of Bast sourcebook (Otherverse Games, 2009).

For the Pathfinder setting the Ubasti have been re-imagined as nomadic, long-lived sentient lion-folk. Ubasti prides have prowled the veldt since before the bipedal races began recording history. Collectively, the Ubasti are ancient beyond imagining, with the race’s rich oral history acting as their memory and conscience.

This release gives you everything you need to add the Ubasti to your game as a player race. Also included is a short history of the Ubasti, their pantheon, new feats specifically designed for these four-legged warriors and more!

For sale now at OBS and Paizo.

Look for more Fantastic Races of the Otherverse soon!

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General Update 5/26/10

| May 26th, 2010 | No Comments »

Lots going on. Since I broke the old site I am elbow-deep in the re-design. It’s coming together but will be a slow process as I get in and fill out all the pages. Bear with me. I really like the four rotating images that comprise the front page. The four there now I whipped up fairly quickly, but I can really see the benefit of promoting upcoming projects there.

I am starting to dig the whole Twitter/Facebook thing. I need to hit the marketing on these sites better. Possibly free swag for people who follow me on Twitter or Facebook? Time will tell.

I heard back from one of my artists; he’s diligently cleaning up a slew of sketches I approved so they should be in my hands in a few days. That will give me all the pieces I need for three Traveller projects on deck. One S.C.A.R.E., a new Minor Races (the first in a new line of Traveller PDF’s) and another I am keeping under wraps for now.

Chris Field has three short projects on deck as well; just waiting for me to finish the layout. The plan is to get one of them out later tonight. (Fingers crossed!)

After work I need to hit the DMV to renew the registration on my motorcycle and then to the gun range to sight in my buddies new .987 Huffalump Uber-Magnum. (Okay, .338 Lapua ***I was wrong it’s actually a .300 Winchester Magnum*** if you want to be all technical about it.) Either way I know my shoulder is going to be hurting when I get home tonight. But in a good way. :-)

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Three down and one to go

| May 25th, 2010 | No Comments »

I whipped up three quick front-page images and uploaded them.  I’ll do the last one after work I think. I’ll be working on a couple different projects tonight; one of them being the weekly release scheduled to go up on Wednesday. Fantasy Firearms is going to weigh in at 98 pages.  It is 99% done.  I need to polish the introduction, re-do the index since I added two pages after I had already done it (D’Oh!) and put some text on the back cover.  Then it’s off to wherever it is files go before becoming the dead-tree kind! Since moving the site I see I broke just about EVERYTHING I was hosting.  Looks like my footers are hosed on the OBS sites, as well as my self-hosted flip books.  I’ve got some work ahead of me.

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New site on Facebook, Twitter and still tinkering

| May 24th, 2010 | No Comments »

I created a Facebook page for Skortched Urf’ Studios as well as a Twitter account.

Facebook page HERE.

Twitter account HERE.

Pay no attention to the slide show images; they came with the site. I’ll whip up some cool ones to go along with our current projects shortly.

Right now I’m trying to figure out how to get Blog posts not to appear on the front page; just under the Blog heading. I want to use the front page for press releases and other “official” content. **UPDATE** I did it! I will be showing our “Press Releases” page as the front page of the site, and the Blog posts will now go right where they belong; in the Blog section.

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Hello world! [Part 2]

| May 24th, 2010 | No Comments »

I had to upgrade my version of WordPress and ran into some database issues.  Don’t worry, I have a good backup. But in the mean time I want to update the look of the site so the archives will be off-line for a while.  Look for some graphical changes to this site until I decide exactly which look I want to go with.

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