Category Archives: Dice

My First Two Print-on-Demand Games

A month ago I announced the impending release of my first print-on-demand (POD) game, Cribbage Dice. Unfortunately, once my sample copy arrived I discovered that The Game Crafter’s (TGC) d12s are nearly sequential, which means they can’t be used as randomizers.

More fortunately, TGC’s Hook Box Challenge has inspired me to create three new games. Two of them proved to be untenable for the contest, which requires the entire game to fit into 18 cards and the box that holds them, but will be great as larger games. The third, Spellslingers, is nearing completion, and will be available for POD purchase shortly thereafter. The contest deadline is in six weeks, so expect frequent announcements on Twitter.

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My First Print-on-Demand Game is (Almost) Go

While I have been silent here for the past month, it’s not because of depression this time. If you follow me on Twitter or facebook then you may know that I have been busy getting read for the release of my first print-on-demand game, Cribbage Dance (that link doesn’t work yet). My sample copy should arrive in the next day or so. If all is well with it then the game will go on sale on November 13th at the link above.

I have also started work on several new games, including some for The Game Crafter’s “Hook Box Challenge”, which requires entries to fit entirely within an 18-card hook box. It seemed like such an interesting challenge that my wife is also entering. It will be her first attempt at designing a game from scratch, so she hasn’t even told me what it’s about so that I won’t be tempted to influence her design. Needless to say, I’m excited to see what she comes up with.

I’m also nearing completion of a free game for Looney Pyramids – I just need to get a few more people to playtest the rulebook itself. Once Lura and I have finished our entries for the contest we’ll get back to finishing up the Looney Pyramids game we’re designing together.

To Serif or Not to Serif

The debate of whether or not to use serifs in fonts has raged almost since Gutenberg invented the printing press back in 1440. What are serifs, you may ask? Serifs are the little decorative marks on letters, like the bars on the top and bottom of the capital “I”. Sans-serif literally means “without serifs”.

Since I write both fiction and rulebooks, I looked through an assortment of our roleplaying books and novels, and also some boardgame rules.

In our roleplaying books serifs are very dominant. I checked a sampling of our GURPS 3/4e, D&D 4e, OVA, and HackMaster 4/5e books, and they were exclusively serif fonts other than tables and sidebars in HM; sidebars, examples, and sample characters in OVA; and monster blocks in D&D. In other words, they use serifs unless the text is small enough that the serifs might make it harder to read.

Possibly the oldest novel in our collection is my much-loved and rather battered 1978 edition of Heinlein’s Space Cadet. It uses sans-serif for chapter headings and page headers, but serifs otherwise. My wife’s 2013 library book is the same – and some people say that’s the problem, but I’ll go into that shortly.

Boardgame rules are less cohesive simply because they come in a number of formats: sheet or two of paper, pamphlet, booklet, the box or similar material (Ultimate Stratego’s rules are written on the card used to divide the board while players set up). From what I have seen, those that print on card- or pasteboard tend to use serifs, while those on simple paper don’t. Munchkin uses fonts that fit the game’s mood, resulting in a mixture of serif and sans fonts in booklets. Pyramid Arcade includes a 75-page rulebook, entirely in sans serif.


The serif debate is as nuanced as any, but most people seem to fall into one of two groups:
* In long lines of uninterrupted text serif fonts are easier to read because the serifs help guide the eye.
* Sans-serif fonts are “cleaner”, and therefore easier to read. Serif fonts only seem easier to read because they are what we are used to.

I fall into that first group, but also agree that sans-serif fonts look “cleaner”, but in mixed case sans serifs can be confusing. Think of how the word Illinois looks without its serifs. In all caps or or all lowercase it doesn’t matter, but in mixed case capital “I” and lowercase “l” look exactly the same.

As a compromise I have developed the habit of using sans-serif (Arial for screen or Verdana for print) for headings, especially if they are all caps, and serif (Times New Roman) for text. Purely out of curiosity, I mocked up a fake page from my roleplaying game’s rulebook with one written completely in Times New Roman (right), and the other with Verdana headings (left).

Font Test with mock up of rpg rulebook page

So which do you prefer?

Cowboys and d6 Shooters

There are two Western-themed gaming Kickstarters going on right now by two of our favorite small game companies: Aces & Eights: Reloaded by Kenzer and Company, makers of HackMaster and Knights of the Dinner Table, and Six Shooters – Western Themed Dice by Black Oak Workshop, who we have backed twice before, for Bullseye d6, then Bullseye d4/8.

If you are a big fan of Wild West roleplaying games, then you may already be aware of award-winning Aces & Eights. What you may not know is that it was derived from Hackmaster 4e, which was itself evolved from AD&D 2E. HackMaster 5e, in turn, was adapted from A&8. To celebrate its 10th anniversary, KenzerCo is releasing a second edition, and it looks like the book will be a gorgeous, full-color, leather-bound tome like HackMaster 5e.

Even if you have no interest in the Wild West, its Shot Clock is an easy to way to resolve gunfire in a realistic manner without having to deal with cover and hit locations. Even better, the Kickstarter says it “can also be played as a skirmish-level miniatures battle.” I don’t have any particular interest in Wild West roleplaying, but we may well go for the $15 Showdown miniatures skirmish game rules.

Black Oak Workshop specializes in custom dice Kickstarters. We love our Bullseye dice, and are exceedingly happy with both the quality and how quickly they arrived. Like their previous project, this time the dice are 19mm rather than the 16mm of their previous offerings, which should make them much easier to read.

Take note that Aces & Eights is d20-based, while the Six Shooter dice are naturally d6s, but that didn’t stop Black Oak from backing Aces & Eights: Reloaded. Believe it or not, I actually heard about the A&8 Kickstarter from Black Oak Workshop before I did from Kenzer even though I’m on both mailing lists.

Happiness Jar #7 for 2017-03-27

Had several good things in the last week. One was the big 50th wedding anniversary party for my parents on Sunday – a goal far too many people these days will never reach.

I also finally got back to work on the lite game I made and then abandoned five years ago. First thing was copyediting the original post. How it got past my usual meticulous proofreading is beyond me – the number of errors was appalling. But it’s fixed now, and version .2 is nearly done.

Happiness Jars #4&5 for 2017-02-27

Got so busy I completely forgot to make happiness jar posts for the last two weeks, but since they’re related, here are both.

Happiness Jar #4

As planned, on Saturday the 18th we had our first meeting about the GURPS Fairy Tail campaign. I’d been bouncing around between which type of magic to use, but hadn’t been able to think of an actual character yet, until the GM told us about our guild. With my memory issues I can’t remember any actual details, but the guild’s focus is on time, and that led me to thinking about clockwork. Putting our heads together, the GM and I came up with the idea that my character might want to duplicate magic with technology.

Since then I’ve expanded it into this:

At some point in his past, he witnessed a non-mage getting mugged by a mage, and swore to come up with a way to give non-mages a inexpensive way to protect themselves from mages. His ultimate goal is to be able to build them cheaply enough that nearly everyone can afford one, and yet make enough profit to be able to give them to those who can’t.

We’ll iron the details of his invention later since that’s not something he’s going to have at the beginning anyway. Likely enchanting something like a bracer that grants the wearer Magic Resistance (making it harder to affect them with spells) and DR limited to Magic (so they’ll take less damage from fireballs and the like) and is powered by Lacrima.

When defending himself or someone else in combat, he relies on Requipping guns that he uses to fires magic bullets (or possibly enchant bullets/shells as he fires them, or simply uses the guns as foci through which he channels his magic; not decided yet).

That’s what I’m working no now. I’m going to build it as both Imbuements and Innate Attacks built as alternate abilities and see which I prefer. I knocked out most of the former sitting in the doctor’s waiting room this afternoon, and expect to finish shortly. The IAs won’t take me more than half an hour because I’m so prolific an IA builder (I even made Elmer Fudd’s gun (sometimes a rifle, sometimes a shotgun, even in the same scene) just to see if I could).

Happiness Jar #5

I had coincidentally been working on adapting Fairy Tail to GURPS purely for the fun of it for a couple of weeks before the GM announced the campaign, so I have pages of stuff for it now. To get things organized and to make it easier for everyone else to sift through, I posted as much of it as I could to a new section of my campaign wiki Friday afternoon. There was too much for me to be able to type it all up in one go, so I still have a good bit to do, but I got more than half of it posted.

GURPS Extra-Lite Finalized

I just uploaded what should be the final version of GURPS Extra-Lite. Other than the font and some formatting, the only thing that changed was that I finally made it compliant with Steve Jackson Games’ Online Policy for fan-made websites and game aids.

It used to say this:

The material presented here is my original creation, intended for use with the GURPS system from Steve Jackson Games. This material is not official and is not endorsed by Steve Jackson Games.

But in re-reading their policy several times we realized that was meant only for fan sites (which is why it remains on the Web version of Extra-Lite, and has been added to my Munchkin compatibility chart). Instead they want this for game aids:

GURPS is a trademark of Steve Jackson Games, and its rules and art are copyrighted by Steve Jackson Games. All rights are reserved by Steve Jackson Games. This game aid is the original creation of Frank Wilcox, Jr (fewilcox) and is released for free distribution, and not for resale, under the permissions granted in the Steve Jackson Games Online Policy.

They’ll also allow you to use most of their art as long as you follow their Online Policy. So if you ever see a game aid or other fan-work for any SJ game that doesn’t have one of the above disclaimers, send the author that link. Whereas some companies are really stingy with their IPs and actively discourage fan works (I would literally be in violation of Pokémon’s online policy if I were to even link you to it), SJG welcomes them, so the least we can do is give them their due credit.