I’ve moved this! You can now read By Beard & Ear here.
Since it was released, I’ve run and played a fair few games of Chris McDowall’s Into the Odd. It’s fast, simple, and the rules for character creation are probably my favourite out of any RPG. In fact, I’ve played enough games to warrant making an easy reference document merging the basic rules with some of my own ideas – namely what I use to quickly run games in my own setting.
Since Chris McDowall asked for it, here’s the PDF. Bear in mind it’s a little rough around the edges, as it was originally only meant for me. If you like the idea of a more developed version, let me know and I’ll work on it.
The giants were dead, victims of their own barbaric hungers. In time, the men of the northern mountains uncovered their legacy. They used their spells and relics to raise the dead, corrupt the living and bind the souls of free men. So began the reign of the Kang Admi, the first necromancers, whose very name is a byword for unspeakable sin.
The lady Mirka was the daughter of a mountain farmer, born into servitude during the heyday of the necromancer’s dread reign. It’s not known why their magic did not work on her. Strength of faith? Natural immunity? Or a skill, self taught and hard earned through years of oppression? Whatever the source, when she came of age she learned to share her power with her tribe. They became known as the first templars of Mirka, and with each victory, more of the undead were scourged from the land.
Though the thirteen-year campaign was a victory, the final cost was high. The necromancers had been destroyed, their relics and spells broken; but only a fraction of the original templars remained. Mirka herself was last seen leading her best warriors into battle, charging into the foul lair of the final necromancer. A day later, the entire lair collapsed upon itself. Not a soul emerged.
Though the region was searched for weeks, Mirka’s remains were never recovered. To this day, some believe she lived on; continuing her righteous crusade against the forces of evil. The truth of her disappearance is only revealed to templars who have completed their training; thus, it is the first task of the acolytes to travel the world in search of their saint.
I’d not heard of it before now, but I just bought it and read it off the back of this post (and that gorgeous cover.)
I liked it. I found it easy to read, and Van Oop and his pals sounded like they could cause a good amount of trouble in any campaign. I also liked the d100 dockside encounters table is getting printed to use in the future, LOTFP or not. I liked that it was at the start, after the ‘setting the scene’ text, so I read it at the same time as I was thinking about Amsterdam.
Personally, I like this kind of “themeing” for an adventure. A character-centric adventure feels more inspiring to me, because it’s a lot harder to invent a compelling antagonist off-the-cuff. (One of the things I love about Death Frost Doom is how the whole thing is ‘framed’ by meeting Zeke at the start. We’ve not even seen what’s within yet, but we can see what it’s done to poor old Zeke!)
I’m all for easter eggs, but my PDF reader (I don’t use Adobe) showed the hidden layers by default, I think – either that or there’s a hidden table or two I’ll never read. That’s a shame, but not such a shame I’m gonna muck about with file readers just to read them. Obviously if I didn’t know about the hidden stuff I’d be none the wiser, but still.
To anyone with an Internet connection and a love of literature, it’s obvious that self-publishing is the future of the book industry.
Self-published titles are up 17 percent just since 2012 and a whopping 437 percent over 2008.
Clearly (and much to the delight of readers), writers are finding themselves increasingly empowered by the leveling technology of software like Scrivener and SmashWords and online marketplaces like Amazon that, for better or worse, have proved crucial to the success of our industry while ripping power from the greedy, grabbing hands of the traditional gatekeeper publishers.
But make no mistake: behind all those ones and zeros, this historic success is cemented in the ever-lengthening line of remarkable novels, shorts, and series from self-publishing authors who’re using this modern technology to craft the kinds of stories that keep us all coming back for more.
You know what I always wanted to be, ever since I was a kid? A storyteller. Not just a writer, but a teller of stories.
At no point did I want to be a blogger. At no point did I want to teach or sell knowledge. At no point did I want to be an “authority” in anything. I’m entrepreneurial by nature, but that has much more to do with my desire for freedom and choice than it does with my wanting to build a business for the business’s sake … so you never would have caught me, growing up, talking about the big business I’d one day own. I just didn’t care that much.
The business was always a means to an end. Same for blogging, teaching, authority-making, entrepreneurism, and so on. I was in no way opposed to any of that, but it definitely wasn’t what was frontmost in my heart. I had bills to pay and a family to feed, and up until recently “telling stories” wasn’t a viable or reliable way to do those things. My dad said (affectionately, at least) that I was “whoring my talent” to do the things I did before I told stories for a living … but hey, a guy’s gotta do what a guy’s gotta do to make it in the world.
And admittedly? The Self-Publishing Podcast, for me, began as a means to an end. I liked speaking to an audience, but didn’t want to SPEAK TO AN AUDIENCE just because it was neat in and of itself. Sean and Dave knew how to make fiction work as a career, and I wanted to learn more. That was why I pushed the guys to start SPP. We never figured the Self-Publishing Podcast or anything that came from it would make us any money. For all of us, it was about masterminding with each other, meeting people who knew more than we did, and reminding ourselves, every single week, that we were writers.
Along the way, something changed.
Last year, 1.5 million words or so hit the market with my name on them. This year, the same thing happened.
Sean and Dave, working in various combinations with me or without me, produced like maniacs.
Sterling & Stone, as a bona-fide entity rather than just a name on paperwork somewhere, came to fruition. We wrote a book live. We grew to six publishing imprints. We worked our faces off … and, in the process, learned a whole lot of lessons.
Here are the highlights. May your holidays be grand and your learning curves be a bit shorter than ours.
LESSON #1: There Is A Time For Production And A Time For Promotion
We sorta learned this lesson right off the bat as 2013 began. See, truth be told we didn’t try very hard to sell stuff in 2013. We wanted to produce … and speaking from the Realm & Sands and LOL sides of the coin (that’s me and Sean), we did that in spades. We closed a dozen product funnels, completing either first seasons or complete arcs in all of them.
We knew we wanted to produce first (2013) and then promote all we’d produced (2014). Two tasks, discreetly separated. It was a good idea, and we still believe it. But because we’re squirrels, we ended up all over the place. It might have been more sensible to book a bit more direct promotion earlier so we had focus, but we didn’t. We were all over the place. We had a ton of stuff to promote, but it took us until the middle of the year to settle down enough to start doing it right.
Which is maybe a good segue to head into the next point.