Monday, December 30, 2013

State of Rite Publishing 2013

State of Rite Publishing 2013

Illustration by Dennis Darmody

Best Year Ever!

This is the third year in a row I have gotten to make this statement, and I have no idea how we will top it next year.

I will give you a quick rundown of some of the highlights:

  • We finished up the Faces of the Tarnished Souk Npc series (PFRPG) and started work on a compilation of all 30 of these complex NPCs.  
  • Jonathan Roberts (who won an ENnie this year for best cartography and had me accept it for him) started his Fantastic Maps Iconic series moving away from battle maps to overland maps you could use in your campaign with customizable icons.
  • We released Heroes of the Jade Oath (PFRPG) as a full-color hardback to both critical and commercial success; this project had been in the works for over 3 years and was my #1 focus for the first part of 2013.
  • We launched a new series called 20 Foes by PFRPG stat-block master Justin Sluder accompanied by newcomer Elaine Betts with a focus on high quality art as exemplified by its first release 20 Variant Foes: Red Dragons    
  • We released The Secrets of Adventuring (PFRPG) our largest page count print product to date, and it has received extremely high reviews and critical praise even as a compilation of a number of small PDFs.
  • We had a surprising best seller with In the Company of Fey (PFRPG) by Wendall Roy, standing out from all the other playable monster class PDFS we created, finding financial success on both DrivethruRpg/RpgNow but on as well.
  • We started selling our Pathfinder compatible products through Herolab, it has been extremely successful, and after a few kinks on the business side at the start, I am really looking forward to continuing this trend.
  • We were part of a Bundle of Holding for the very first time, and I must say I was well pleased by the results, and look forward to doing this again.
  • We participated in a very successful steam-like deep discount sale via DrivethruRpg on our book 1001 Spells; in addition, have begun a higher focus on making print products available via DrivethruRpg’s partnership with the printer Lightning Source.   
  • We completed another full year of our Pathways e-zine (make it our third year for pathways!). With original cover art by a new and different artist each month, as well as moving that product from being Free to a “pay what you want” model with the help of DrivethruRpg, along with Herolab and Realmsworks becoming our official advertising sponsors of the e-zine.
  • We finished the first 4 issues of Adventure Quarterly and then launched a Kickstarter for the next 4 issues so that we could do all original artwork and hand drawn cartography, I am really looking forward to issue #5 next Quarter.  
  • We released our first stand-alone game using the FATE system The Demolished Ones by Brian Engard, it is an amazing Victorian, noir, steampunk, lovecraftian horror, murder mystery, quest for identify, roleplaying adventure game
  • We forged a new print/distribution partnership with my friend Angus Abramson and his new company Chronicle City and got to enjoy Gen Con selling The Demolished Ones (FATE) in the Chronicle City booth.
  • We had an amazing Kickstarter and retail release of our second stand-alone game, Lords of Gossamer & Shadow (Diceless Role-Playing). We went way over goal, and we released it to both backers and to retail on time, so this made me immensely proud, as I believe it is the best thing Rite Publishing has ever done.

And those are just some of the highlights and do not even cover them all, however with any high there are also lows and I will point out a few of these here.

  • The Martial Arts Guidebook: I will never do IndieGoGo again for a Crowdfunding project it was an experiment and it failed. We lost focus a lot on this one and that is my fault as I was off focusing on older projects like Heroes of the Jade Oath, The Demolished Ones, and Lords of Gossamer & Shadow. This has become the focus of my administrative duties. I am happy to say that authors and developers finalized the manuscript just this month and it is now in editing; with that manuscript done, I a requiring that the project move more quickly now.
  • Questhaven Campaign Setting: my pet project saw only one major update this year, this is something that has to change, and so it has become the focus of my writing. This meant sacrificing writing for the 101 Series, Lords of Gossamer & Shadow, Adventure Quarterly, and a host of other projects, as well as my goal to release a new product every week, and a new print product a month, but I need the framework done so that I can bring in freelancers to work on specific sections.
  • Dissolving our print/distribution partnership with Cubicle 7: I really like the folks, who work there, but from a business standpoint, it was a bad relationship, and it took us both a while to admit it. They have their focus on The One Ring Rpg, Doctor Who and the host of other games they do, and no longer have a need for partnerships. Because of the needs those other projects have they don’t have the ability to maintain the kind of business relationships I was used to with them, and to be honest what a partnership like that requires. Ultimately, this is my fault I should have acted sooner.  
  • I pitched a licensed miniatures skirmisher game to potential licencor and after some initial excitement on their part, the potential licencor went silent on us, maybe we were competing with their own plans for a similar game, but I really felt this was a major missed opportunity. Nevertheless, be on the lookout for what we do with this idea next year :0

Personal Highs

  • The University of Northern Texas had me give a guest lecture for their geek week, and I got the opportunity to talk about Kickstarter.
  • Another RPG company asked me to write a forward to their book. (And of course, I said yes!)
  • DrivethruRpg removed Rite Publishing from the small-press list (wait when did folks start considering me a big boy, I don’t want to grow up?!)

Final Thoughts:

It has been a glorious year, I have gotten to work with a massive number of amazing and talented people, and have enjoyed both commercial and critical success. I have also found happiness in my personal and professional life this year, when I look back, I immediately start looking forward not just to what we are releasing next week, next month, next quarter or even next year but what Rite Publishing is going to be doing over the next 5 years especially with our stand-alone games.   

All I can really say is thank you to our customers, fans, and all our staff. It really has been the Best Year Ever!

Steven D. Russell
Proud owner of Rite Publishing

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Secrets of the Divine Preview Part 2: Divine Orders.

Illustration by Ian Greenleee

This is a sneak preview of excerpts taken from "The Secrets of the Divine: Pantheon, Love, Sky, & Wright" coming out this month from Rite Publishing, this covers the flavor of various archetypes Steven D. Russell is introudcting in this supplement to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. 

Divine Vessels

I have found in my experience that Divine Vessels are an unusual occurrence in most lands they are somewhat more common in Questhaven and its surrounding Protectorate. From the divine servant Hadroniel the Majestic, Doorwarden of the Second Gate, which could not enter the earthly realm in its true form or when the elder titan Oreithyia, Prophetess of Tragedy sought to cheat death after having foreseen her own eminent doom. It was at times like these that one of Our Sovereigns of Heaven choses a wayward follower like Coel the Carter to serve as the instrument of its will and made him a divine vessel for Hadroniel, lucky Anwyl o’ the Antegate stumbled upon a fortunate opportunity to oblige Oreithyia. Yet there are even more examples, the Chardab’s Cart, now a sacred relic, judged the mere mortal Ren Dyrfanson worthy of “the gift” of becoming a divine vessel though I know not which spirit inhabits it, and once the Sisterhood of Rose Wheel powerful conjurers who bound Sahrewathe the Bounteous Immortal to the poor undeserving wretch Lynwen Quayle.
Divine Vessels are usually simple folk who can now summon the power of a mighty avatar of near deific might. This avatar does not come to the vessel's side, however; it takes over the vessel's body, transforming the mortal into an obvious being of power to smite its patron’s foes. The sight of the unleashed avatar is a either beautiful or terrifying, but few would suspect that such power erupts from so humble a servant.
Some mortals such as my friend Coel the Carter, see this as divine favor forming a deep bond of friendship with their alter ego, while others such as Lynwen Quayle see it as a divine penance for their transgressions, despising the possession and violation of their body.

Qwilion’s Note: Owain Northway has left one important point out of his comments on the nature of the Divine Vessels, but I would be remiss if I did not mention that Divine Vessels are not limited to divine beings, and then any outsider or extraplanar creature could fill a mortal shell. I have more than a few examples but the most prominent was Angra the Inhibitive Immortal who inhabited Captain Madern Barrett of the Stygian Myrmidons.

Hedge Knight (Cavalier Archetype)

In my opinion, these are the only true knights of the realm. Hedge knights live often live on the edges of civilization, and have given up most of their worldly wealth, they sleep outdoors, and often cannot even afford a mount, as what they do have they invest in their armor and shield.
Questhaven legends say the calling of the hedge knights was born o of knights sleeping under the ancient hedges that grow along the Oneiric River, who find themselves transported to the strange world of dreams. And they performed some of the most renowned and strange quests in our great stories. Due to this unlike in other realms Hedge Knights in the Protectorate have a high standing, and it is considered the highest blasphemy to slay a knight sleeping under a hedge, and only the followers of Their Vicious Brother of Destruction will violate this custom, robbing him and leaving him bound and gagged is another matter altogether.   
Hedge knights tend to live on the outskirts of urban areas searching for a patron to serve, many though take up the life of a knight errant, attending tournaments to make money and display their prowess, hoping that by making a name for themselves they will secure a patron. Many Hedge Knights though sadly are often forced by circumstances to resort to banditry, piracy, and mercenary work.

Order of the Nightingale

The Order of the Nightingale are the fairest of all the cavalier orders found within the Protectorate and in my opinion are the Protectorate’s greatest defenders of love, for they dedicate themselves single individual whom the love, be it a passionate marriage to a beggar’s son or a forbidden and platonic love with the king’s wife. These cavaliers believe in love and romance, and are willing to lay down their lives to protect someone to whom they are devoted. 
I have always found them attired as shining knights, in the finest cloth, while wearing garland wreathes of roses and lilacs, and bearing the heraldry of their order a black panther somewhere (though many have individual stylized representations). My friend Fair Dame Telyn Locke like many members of the order composes poetry, plays the lyre and harp, sings while she travels about the land, laughs loudly, and delights in the company of all good people but primarily the company of the one she loves. Her personal symbol is a rampart panther in front of a portcullis. If she rides, she covers her mount with gaily chiming bells, though many members of the order are hedge knights rather than mounted cavaliers.
The order’s purpose is to seek out and defend your love when it is in peril, or lost, and defend it to the death, to make sure that love prevails. Fair Dame Telyn loves one born to the bloodline of the hated Cynmark Dynasty, and has taken a vow of celibacy till all the evil of that was done it its name is atoned for. Fair Sir Riogoned Gwyrson, serves as the bodyguard to the Most Favored of Our Fairest Lady of Love and Song, who unfortunately for him is betrothed in an arranged marriage to a member of House Larkchild. While many are tragic figures others find true love and happiness and quest about with those they have fallen in love with; for as Fair Dame Telyn says “we represent both the best and worst of love, for love can exalt you unto Heaven, or guide you down the path to Damnation.”
From what I have been able to determine, members of the order follow the calling of their heart, and either another member of the order, a member of the clergy, or some manifestation of Our Jewel in Heaven leads them to a mentor, and sees their initiation into the order.
This solitary order has no true organization, and it is rare to find more than one aesthete with any other except when one is serving as a mentor to the other. The members of the order report to no one in the church hierarchy, though I believe the silent sect guides them from time to time.

Silent Sect of the Watchful Unicorn

The Silent Sect of the Watchful Unicorn, the avowed foes of Damnation and all the machinations that flow from there, is the oldest secret society in existence, and it was with great difficulty that I uncovered some if not all of their clandestine activities. I have no substantive proof but enough corroboration from various sources that I will put down the information here and let you decide.
Many members of the sect are fair ones and hedge knights of the Order of the Nightingale, along with many other occupations, but the primary members of the organization are apparently bards. They have no known symbol of office that I could uncover, I only learned of the name of the order when I learned of one of the pass phrases they use, this however I will not print here.
Understand if you meet someone who claims to be from the Silent Sect of the Watchful Unicorn  they are either lying and most likely serve the forces of Damnation or you are about to be recruited to join the order. Most often though you will encounter them and never know they belong to the sect, as they maneuver behind the scenes, moving forces such as adventurers like yourself into positions where you will oppose the forces of Damnation or the Dwellers in the Darkness. 
One of the things I have learned is that the sect knows the secret to tapping into the perfect music of the spheres of all existence. While Damnation and the Dwellers in the Darkness despise beauty and purity, the Silent Sect of the Watchful Unicorn gains power from them, I have listed some of these secrets below.

Hawks of Vengeance

The Hawks of Vengeance are the foremost order of inquisitors serving Our Father of Star and Sky. Moreover, they are nothing but stone-cold killers, just like their namesakes trained to naught but to hunt and maul. Believe me when I say they were not formed to look inward at the church like other inquisitors you are used to encountering, but to put fear into the hearts of the forces of darkness, and if such forces can know fear the hawks do their duty well.  Their style of fighting is fierce and bloody; they bring the vengeance judged from on high to the enemy, up close and personal. They believe one cannot reason with evil and that some creatures will find salvation only in death. Therefore, these high-minded butchers met out brutality and bloody vengeance against the enemies of the church and all the forces of the light. But be warned they do not care about the means of enacting their revenge, only the ends. To these ends, the hawks have become wild, passionate warriors, and when they come upon the forces of malevolence, they abandon any sense of “honor” or “mercy” and instead seek to ravage their foes completely. Yet they also seek to spread fear to those who would stray for the path of the righteous and will often maim their foes (as well as to burden their foes, with caring for their injured). They often horrify paladins and their religious brethren the eagles of freedom, and myself included.

Windrider (Dragon Rider Archetype)

Windrider’s are a unique gift from Our Father of Sky and Star, my opinion is that because dragons are so scarce in the lands of Questhaven (only 3 dragons are known to still be alive), Our Great Eagle felt a need for a different kind of aerial champion. And so after talking to the giant harpy eagle and windsteed, “Perch” , I have learned that she was struck by lightning our of a clear blue sky,  a fork of it struck her windrider (it arched through the ceiling of the prison he was held in underground), yet neither were harmed though the thunder did deafen them for at time. She says that during this time they both felt a continued calling toward her windrider.  My study of the bond has revealed that its power is drawn from the windrider, the windsteed, and the divine.
 Mostly windrider’s serve Our Welkin Patrician simply by flying and demonstrating their skills to those below, spreading the majesty of Our Sovereign of the Wind for all to see, though some choose to patrol a particular area, and more than a few enforce the aerial routes one is allowed to use to enter Questhaven.
While windriders personalities vary I have discovered that windrider’s do tend to fall into four groups though they rarely if ever form factions as the organization is too informal. The first are called North Winds, they are aggressive individuals who always confront things head on, with a relenting persistence. South Winds they are devious and cunning, and always seem to be working an angle they prefer trickery rather than persistence. West Winds are constantly on the move preferring to leave if forced into any type of confrontation or challenge, simply moving on to the next place. West Wind are the most likely to take on passengers and if they support violence at all, it is as cold blooded revenge, preferring to snipe at foes from afar. East Winds are defenders of the sky, gifted at both verbal and aerial sparing, aerial acrobats of the best sort.  Note if the rider does not display one of these personality traits then be assured his windsteed will for Our Father of Sky and Star seem only to care that one of the pair worship him.
It is rare for a windrider not to be a member of the Questor’s Society, and the order itself is considered to be a company within the adventurer’s guild. This is mostly done as a practical matter based on the society’s love of the church, the majesty and high esteem the windrider’s hold, and the simple fact that they are the greatest cavalry in the known world.

Relic Seekers

This errant and fanatical order of Our Master of Forges seeks to recover grand works that have been lost or hoarded away. They believe no one should hold the glorious work of artisans, that we should all let others behold these grand works where they will be safe. They see it as a great sin against both their fellow mortals and against Our Grand Wright in Heaven to miserly hide away the masterpieces that belong to the world. The Relic Seekers have hired me and other members of the Questor’s Society for expeditions to cleanse long-lost cities, recover corrupted temples, and retrieve lost works of beauty and powerful artifacts. They have a deep hatred for most dragons and the Fell Repositories of the Immortal Emperor Cynmark, as well as a number of those entombed in the Plains of Solace.
I once inquired of my fellow Questor Rhinfrew, what it takes to become a relic seeker, and he told me it requires a unique calling from Our Sovereign of Crucibles, and a special apprenticeship, which teaches them about the mystical secrets and history, of the world’s greatest of artifacts. Rhinfew and his fellows claim no special titles, but when I asked him what he does in the Guildhall of the Heavenly Bull, he simple said he was a relic seeker.
Due to the nature of their mission relic seekers are closely associated with the criminal underworld as they seek to recover objects from the blackmarket or from the thieves themselves. Rhinfew and Booglefool the Knave of Cogs are quite a famous pairing of a relic seeker and a rogue, with the two tracking down and retrieving valuable relics. Relic seekers will seldom if ever travel who are willfully destructive or have no respect for beauty. I know not what it says of Rhinfew’s association with me.
Rhinfew said he and is fellows, are most likely to be found adventuring, and are not closely tied to the guildhall. Instead he pursued a endless crusade for the reclamation of lost wonders. Some of his fellow relic seekers dedicate their entire lives to cleansing the ancient and magnificent dwarven hold known as Mithril Deep, lost to Those Who Dwell in Darkness centuries before, or relentlessly pursuing a single artifact, such as the The Ioun Golem, until they are old and frail. While the relic seekers follow the doctrine of the guildhall, they must also preserve the sanctity of the great wonders. A relic seeker would never allow a masterpiece to fall into the hands of one who would hoard it away, and will fight to the death to prevent it. If it should happen, the relic seeker must atone and seek to recover the item for the rest of his days. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Secrets of the Divine Preview: Artisan of Hallowed Vessels (Rogue Archetype)

Illustration by Ian Greenlee

This is a sneak preview of "The Secrets of the Divine: Pantheon, Love, Sky & Wright" coming out this month from Rite Publishing

Artisan of Hallowed Vessels

Just as clerics can use divine power granted them by the Our Grand Wright of Heaven, and paladins and inquisitors can forge their divine gift into martial prowess, the artificer of hallowed vessels receives gifts from Our Clever-Handed Craftsman of Innovation to pour into the items she craft. Though, like an oracle, deities bestow these gifts rather than being a result of any particular profusion of faith, unlike the oracle, the artisan forsakes learning the use of spells and instead learns to channel her sacred talent into a permeable and permanent form of magic.
The artisan of hallowed vessels is able to enchant items with divine power, and call upon her divine gift to exceed the limits of other less divinely inspired master craftsmen. Artisans of the hallowed vessels are known throughout the protectorate as the greatest magical craftsmen, and are highly sought after by the Honorable Order of Theugirc Master Craftsmen. If a project within the Guildhall of the Heavenly Bull is taking place, one can be assured that an artisan of hallowed vessels is amongst the leaders of the discussion.

Artisan of Hallowed Vessels (Rogue Archetype)

Skills: An Artisan of Hallowed Vessels gains Knowledge (arcana) (Int) and Knowledge (Religion) as class skills, these replace the rogue class skills of Knowledge (dungeoneering) (Int) and Knowledge (local) (Int).

Gift for Artifice (Su): The artisan is a master craftsman and artist when it comes to crafting items, especially magical items. For the purpose of creating and forging magical items the artisan is considered a spellcaster with a caster level equal to her artisan of hallowed vessels class level. Spellcraft is also considered a class skill. The artisan can ignore nearly all item creation prerequisites in their descriptions. The DC to create a magic item increases by 5 for each prerequisite the artisan does not meet (just as it does for normal magic item creation). The only exception to this is the requisite item creation feat and the caster level, which are mandatory. In addition, unlike normal spellcasters, an artisan of hallowed vessels can create potions, spell-trigger, or spell-completion magic items without meeting its prerequisites (the DC still increases by 5 for each prerequisites the artisan does not meet). The items artisans create are divine even if the spell emulated by the item is normally arcane. An artisan of hallowed vessels adds 1/2 her class level to spellcraft checks made to create magic items and to use magic device checks. This replaces the trapfinding class feature.

Bonus Feat (Ex): The artisan of hallowed vessels may substitute +1d6 sneak attack damage for a bonus item creation feat. She can apply metamagic feats to item she creates, though he still must meet the caster level requirements for the spell modified by the metamagic feat.

Divine Gift (Su): At 3rd level an artisan receives a pool of points she can spend instead of gold pieces when crafting a magic item, as she can now use mundane and inexpensive items in such an incredible way that they gain the value required. Each time the artificer gains a new level after that, she receives a new divine gift; leftover points from the previous level do not carry over. If the points are not spent, they are lost. An artisan can also use her divine gift to supplement the GP cost of the item she is making, taking a portion of the cost from her divine gift and a portion from her own wealth.
·        From 3rd  through 5th level the amount of points granted is equal to 250 x the artisan’s class level.
·        From 6th through 10th level the amount of points granted is equal to 500 x the artisan’s class level.
·        From 11th through 15th level the amount of points granted is equal to 1,250 x the artisan’s class level.
·        From 16th through 20th level the amount of points granted is equal to 3,125 x the artisan’s class level.
This ability replaces the trapsense, improved uncanny dodge and uncanny dodge class feature.

Skill Mastery (Ex): If an artisan of hallowed vessels takes Skill Mastery as an advanced rogue talent she must select Spellcraft or Use Magic Device as one of her skills. This class feature circumvents the normal rule that a character may not take 10 on a Use Magic Device check.

Sneak Preview of Artificer Rogue Talents

These are a sample of 2 of 14 the rogue talents available to the artisan of hallowed vessels.

Salvage Vessel (Ex): An artisan is capable of breaking down any existing magical item (non-artifact) into a magical crystal which is a small quarter foot sized crystal cube that gives off a very faint light (this permanently ruins the item). These crystals weigh one pound and contains the essence (1/2 the gold piece value) of the item that is rendered down for parts. If the crystal leaves the artisan's possession, it becomes nothing more than a glass shard. An artisan may choose to use any of the crystals in her possession in any way, and their bonuses stack together when she is crafting. After tapping a crystal for its stored magic it dissipates and the crystal is consumed.  A rogue must have the divine gift class feature to select this talent.

Quicken Craft (Ex): The artisan may choose this talent to increases the daily rate at which she creates magical items by a factor (i.e. the first time this is selected the factor is x2 so you create 2000 gold pieces worth a day). Normally you create items at the rate of 1000 gp per day. This rogue talent can be taken several times, and stacks with itself. Each time it is chosen, add another real factor (i.e. x2 becomes x3: 3,000 gold per day) to the value of a single magical item that the character can create per day. A rogue must have the gift for artifice class feature to select this talent.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Demolished Ones (FATE) Sales numbers first 30 days.

These are the sales numbers from DrivethruRpg/Rpgnow for the first 30 days of The Demolished Ones release (I don't have date on our direct sales from Chronicle City yet). The Demolished Ones was funded by the Kickstarter (155 backers final pledges $5,430.00) so it had no overhead costs at the time of release. Its total production costs were roughly $2,100.00

The Demolished Ones (Fate) 08/22/2013-09/22/2013
Copies Sold 104,  Gross Revenue $1,486.46, Net Revenue $928.68

I feel really good about this and a strong showing of over 100+ copies in the first 30 days even after a Kickstarter, as this shows good signs of being an evergreen product for Rite Publishing, I am very happy to say we have already released a Kindle & Nook version plus our first supplement Amnesia.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Steve's Tools: Encounter Design.

I do a lot of work as an author, game designer, art director, layout artist, and publisher.

So I am here to post some more of the tools I use. This time lets look at some of the things I use to help design encounters with.

Template for writing location descriptions stolen from Martin Rayla of Treasure Tables (now of Gnome Stew)

Unusual Places you need ideas from the real world before you throw in magic or fantasy too keep your players from getting too used to simple terrain features.

Your encounter now has a stage, now thin about how your going to light it. What about the weather there? Even underground you can have shafts of rising and cooling air.

If your outdoors you can have some amazing or unusual phenomenon that creates strange light or perhaps the locals like to do fun things with mirrors or magic, spotlights, deep shadows, magically enforced utter darkness, strobe effects, scintillating colors, rain, fog, sleet, hail, lightning, wind, dust devils, tornados, hazards & disasters waiting to happen etc.

The Book of Challenges which Mike Selniker worked on, has an introduction that is worth the price of the whole book. But I will sum it up here for encounters:  Box them in, Split them up, Show them one thing and give them another, Make them dig deep, and Hang'em if they can't take a joke.

Use iconic monsters with new twists ! The monster template is perfect for this and its easy to adapt to any game. I like Advanced Bestiary by Mattew Sernett (everyone should own this, if you play any d20 fantasy game), Book of Templates: Deluxe Edition, the whole Template Troves series, I kinda like modifying monsters, If you had not noticed already.

Your players probably have a particular hatred or fear of one kind of monsters. That’s because they have encountered it before and you can milk that emotional reaction. The same goes for iconic Npcs as Brandon Hodge shows us (and Ken Hitte has been telling me for a while)!

New monsters should be used very rarely, fear of the unknown is great, but unless its truly a memorable encounter think about using something else first. Remember GM know these monsters as well and it cuts down on their prep time if they know the monster already. Tweaks and modifications can still surprise players.

Iconic Monsters also have the advantage of rarely being utterly retarded monsters, of course what do I know.

Finally combine everything you have here, remember what I said about show them one thing and give them another, what if your monster was in disguise? A fire giant disguised as frost giant, "Oh no mr. wizard don't use the fireball on me!", then you make him a Jotunblooded Giant, You can now stage the fight in a crooked forest,  with high winds at night, then a forest fire starts raging, and fire whirls start to appear!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Preview 20 Variant Foes: Red Dragons (Omug, The All-Consuming Fire)

This is a preview for 20 Variant Foes: Red Dragons

Illustration by K. Wucke


The All-Consuming Fire

CR 19

Where to begin my tale...
When I was in the egg, I somehow came to be in Hell. I do not know how my master acquired me. It’s not important. I hatched in flames and my master baptized me in hellfire. I serve as a...messenger of sorts for Our Dark Lord of Fire who rules in Damnation, whose very name strikes terror in the hearts of mortals. I keep this terror alive by giving his orders to lesser servants and eliminating threats and enemies in ways befitting his...reputation. I see in your eyes that you understand. And now it is you who will write his message to the world. The message is this: the Dark One is coming. You will all bow to him in proper fear and deference, or you will burn.

Omug is terrifying. Most frightening is his ability to appear human. He assumes this form most of the time. I only saw his dragon form through the aid of powerful divinations. He is a creature of ancient and terrible power. It is wise to avoid him.

Omug, The All-Consuming Fire
CR 19
XP 204,800
Male advanced hellfire old red dragon
LE Gargantuan dragon (fire)
Init +5; Senses dragon senses, see invisibility, smoke vision; Perception +30
Aura fire (10 ft. 1d6 fire), frightful presence (240 ft., DC 26)

AC 44, touch 7, flat-footed 43 (+4 armor, +1 Dex, +29 natural, +4 shield, -4 size)
hp 367 (21d12+231); regeneration 32 (evil, good)
Fort +23, Ref +13, Will +18
DR 10/magic; Immune fire, magic missile, paralysis, sleep; SR 30
Weaknesses vulnerability to cold

Speed 40 ft., fly 250 ft. (clumsy)
Melee bite +35 (6d6+24 plus hellfire), 2 claws +35 (3d8+16 plus hellfire), 2 wings +35 (2d6+8 plus hellfire), tail slap +35 (2d8+24 plus hellfire)
Space 20 ft.; Reach 15 ft. (20 ft. with bite)
Special Attacks breath weapon (60 ft. cone, DC 33, 8d10 fire plus 8d10 divine), crush (4d6+24, DC 31, Medium or smaller), hellfire, manipulate flames (70 ft.), tail sweep (2d6+24, DC 31)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 21st; concentration +27)
At will—detect magic, pyrotechnics, suggestion (DC 19), wall of fire

Spells Known (CL 11th; concentration +17)
5th (5/day)—cone of cold (DC 21), waves of fatigue
4th (7/day)—bestow curse (DC 20), enervation, greater invisibility
3rd (7/day)—displacement, fireball, haste, slow (DC 19)
2nd (7/day)—alter self, darkness, resist energy, see invisibility, web
1st (7/day)—alarm, mage armor, ray of enfeeblement (DC 17), shield, true strike
0 (at will)—acid splash, arcane mark, bleed (DC 16), mending (DC 16), message, prestidigitation, ray of frost, read magic, touch of fatigue (DC 16)

Before Combat Omug begins each day by casting mage armor on himself. Unless surprised, he also casts see invisibility and shield on himself. All of these are included in his statistics.
During Combat Confident he cannot die, Omug begins combat with his breath weapon, followed by landing and crushing opponents. He then uses his abilities as best fits the situation. Once reduced below 250 hit points, he takes to the air again, executing strafing runs on his opponents where he alternates between using his breath weapon, and snatching opponents and dropping them from 250 ft. in the air.
Morale Omug has not been given permission to die, so he flees if reduced below 100 hit points.

Str 43, Dex 12, Con 33, Int 22, Wis 23, Cha 22
Base Atk +21; CMB +39; CMD 50 (54 vs. trip)
Feats Ability Focus (breath weapon), Flyby Attack, Hover, Improved Initiative, Improved Multiattack, Improved Natural Attack (bite, claw), Multiattack, Snatch, Wingover
Skills Appraise +30, Bluff +30, Climb +40, Fly +11, Intimidate +30, Perception +30, Sense Motive +30, Spellcraft +30, Stealth +13, Survival +30, Swim +40, Use Magic Device +30
Languages Abyssal, Celestial, Common, Draconic, Ignan, Infernal, Undercommon

Special Abilities
Hellfire (Su): While half the damage dealt by Omug is fire damage, the other half is raw divine power which is not subject to fire resistance. In addition, all of his melee and ranged attacks deal +5d6 fire and +5d6 divine damage.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Gaming Music (or Writing Music)

In this segment I will be posting some of the music I run in the background when I game.  

One of the things I like to do when I had a full sound system set up for background music was to create tow different files one for combat music and one for roleplaying or as video games would put it exploration music.

I occasionally would chose a particular song for a particular Npcs. Since moving to texas I don't use music as much as I used to.  

These also serve now as background music when I write. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Beyond The Cover: The Secrets of Adventuring, Taskshaper Introduction.

I thought I might start spending Mondays showing you a glimpse beyond what you see in the normal previews of our books.  Give  you a big piece of meat. Ed Healy told me he really liked the Introduction of the Taskshaper in The Secrets of Adventuring (PDF or Print +PDF) so I though I would share it with everyone. Oh and yes that is a taskshaper pictured on the cover.

New Base Class: Taskshaper

Owain Northway,

You hunt for the secrets of the lost children, those stolen away from this world, tricked by beings who see no value in truth. I have had enough of secrets, I also wish to change the way the world perceives us, and so I will give you truth, I will tell you of the taskshapers.  

Lanshuil Lostdottir

I am a taskshaper, and I will tell you the story of my kind. We are not changelings, we are those that were replaced by them, we are not doppelgangers, though now we often work with them. We are not a race; we are a class of individuals who for the most part share a common background of abduction, which has left us emotionally scarred. We are the mortal children snatched by the fey, kidnapped from our cribs, our playgrounds, and even our schools. We are the lostlings, taken to the primal enchanted homeland of the fey, the secret of our true heritage kept from us, oftentimes our memories altered by magic, especially if we were old enough to remember our previous life. We became blank slates for the fey to write upon.
Auberyon, the Solstice King, used his gift for deceit and the magics of the fair folk to transform us into adaptive tools, claiming we would serve to stop a fell and encroaching threat from the mortal realms. I believe this was his original intent but over time when the threat did not manifest we become something else we became entertainment. The Solstice King and many other fey now do this simply for their own amusement.
Then came the day we learned the great secret, our kindred were being taken to the realm of dreams to perform in a blood sport, a place where taskshaper’s died for the Solstice King’s  pleasure. Horrified by the betrayal we banded together and swore this would not be our fate, and so we brought about our own vanishing.
Learning the true intent of our captors, that there was no great noble purpose to our existence, we cast about seeking meaning, when we learned that the fey kidnapped us from our true lives. We thought to go home, and so the majority of the taskshapers banded together and escaped to the mortal realms, our true home, disguised in various forms and scattering so that the Solstice King could not corral us like so much cattle. Not that we knew what we would come home to find, so many of us taken as small children, barely remembering the vaguest shadows of what home might have been. Nevertheless, we wanted something real, something independent of the whimsy of a callous fey lord.
We hoped our return would be a grand celebration, instead, we found that no one remembered us; no one had ever missed us, for we had been replaced by changelings. Moreover, many of us could not even take revenge upon the changelings who had taken our identities. We were bereft of solace, for not even the ashes of our stolen lives remained. Tragically, we had not accounted for the movement of time in the enchanted lands of the fair folk, most of us had returned long years after our abduction.   
And so it began, we had returned to a world no longer our own, misplaced in time, but with all the talents and skills taught to us by the eldritch fey of the primal world.


Taskshapers like myself, bereft of all else, long for a purpose in life, and I along with them still desire a threat to strive against, to fulfill the emptiness left inside us by the false promises of the fey. Some like me become hidden guardians striving to defend some small remnant of our stolen lives. Others seek masters worthy of our service, becoming agents suited to nearly any task but most especially the betrayal-ridden shadow play of espionage. Others of our ilk seek out the trust and companionship of a loyal fellowship and will not hesitate to sacrifice everything including their very lives to preserve that circle of friendship.
Many of my fellow taskshapers ultimately choose this lifestyle because it is one of the few places we can find acceptance, as few other communities, professions, or tradecrafts will trust shapeshifters. Moreover, while some of my fellows chose to hide amongst you, if locals discover their true nature they flee to a life of adventure away from the prejudice and hatred the world holds for fey-touched lostlings. Ultimately, I believe that this lifestyle may have also be part of a tragic curse placed upon us by the Solstice King, denying us a permanent home since we chose to abandon his.     


Due to our shared upbringing in the primal plane of dark fey, taskshapers share a number of common traits. Most of us share a wild if not fully feral nature having spent our adolescents learning the hedonistic practices of the Solstice Court. Pulled away from our parents at an early age, many of us never truly grow up and seek to relive and recapture our lost childhood. The theft of our identities and our rightful place in the world has also left most of us are psychologically scarred, cynical, and skeptical, we trust very few people and expect little to nothing from people or the world, this has led us to value the beauty of the moment rather than worrying about the future. Moreover, we place the highest value on those who have earned our trust. Some of us therefore act with fits of sensual whimsy while others are grim and distance, regardless all of us are painfully lonely. 


It should come as no surprise to you that due to our ever changing and shifting nature that we taskshapers are usually creatures of chaos, however I know those who take up the neutrality of nature, and those how hold to a rigid code of personal conduct that would press the honor the greatest knight. Ultimately, we can go our own way or serve any of the forces of chaos, evil, good, or law.  
While I myself spend my days searching for my lost son, I have met a stonewarden gargoyle who they fey took from his rookery when he was still an egg. He killed his entire clan when he returned from the Solstice Court, for their failure to notice his disappearance. The authorities supposedly executed him for his crime but he now serves the Mournful Order of Kinslayers as one of their honorable assassins.


Taskshapers generally choose two paths when it comes to the divine. First there are those such as myself that curse and rage against the heavens for allowing this tragic fate to befall us. A few of them have joined with other fell powers and seek to actively overthrow the rule of heaven; others simply refuse to worship any deity.  
 The second group tends to worship deities they discovered during their time with the fey and believe these deities helped them discover the truth of the Solstice King’s deception. These deities tend to include cunning, laughter, madness, rebels, scouts, shapeshifters, tragedy, travelers, tricksters, thieves, and wine. I myself give praise to Our Mother of Many Ways who presides over badgers, creativity, geniuses, gnomes, half- wits, hyenas, inspiration, intuition, invention, jackals, lurkers, madness, oracles, prophecy, shapeshifters, tragedy, wine, and wolverines.
All of the above those are simple generalities and there are always exceptions to our common beliefs.
Govan Goneson is a devotee of The Great Church of the Pantheon believing that all of our tragedy was a test of our faith in Sovereigns of Heaven. While Telyn Wayward who fought in the Coliseum Morpheuon and has totally dedicated himself to the martial benefits offered by his talent for shapeshifting is an adherent of Our War Marshal in Heaven.


All taskshapers share one piece of common background; the denizens of the faerielands kidnapped us and left a changeling in our place. The newest of our kind the renegade taskshapers rescued, taking them on as apprentices. For this is what awakens the gift of shapeshifting within us. Yet the fey chose potentials for a reason, and therefore we have a few common background traits. The first of these is the easiest to recognize as before being taken we showed a propensity for not giving any thought to the consequences of their actions, and as such were often running away from trouble. The second of these traits was much harder for the fair folk to determine but with their ability to walk unseen throughout our lives, they would eventually learn that we tended to delight in the mess we could make of other people’s lives.
In their realm, the otherworldly fey used their magic and lies to manipulate us, until we consented to their torture, fleshly violations, and other things that were far worse so that our gift of shapeshifting could be awakened. Myself, the fair folk seized after I stole the roses from my sister’s wedding, they took me while I was sitting on the limb of a high tree watching people scramble about tiring to find my sister’s roses. The greatest of tragedies though was when the Solstice king seduced me and then later took my child from me, I still have not found him. 
This is another example besides having what could have been our lives stolen away from us, we all have had something even more tragic happen to us while we were in the realm of the faeries. Sometimes this does not happen until after we escape the Courts of the Solstice King, and it is my belief that some fell curse uttered by Auberyon haunts us still even after we leave wrecking misfortune throughout our lives. However, not everyone agrees with me that this is the case. 


Fey, no matter the court, do not care about what mortal race you belong to. They will steal from anyone. However, one will do tend to find that we belonged to cultures that had a greater chance of interaction with the faerielands. As such dwarves of nearly any region and the stonewarden gargoyles of Questhaven are the least likely to become taskshapers.
A few of the satyrs I knew, who were given to talk in excess when drunk on fey wine have told me a dark and disturbing tale about why humans tend to dominate our numbers. That some of the outlying villages in the Questhaven protectorate near the Dire Weald give children the fey select to the Solstice Court as part of fell bargains forged during the age of the Cynmark Dynasty when the Dread Lich ruled the lands.


Taskshapers can get along with the members of nearly any other profession though in general Paladins, Cavaliers, and Samurai often have the hardest time trusting us do to our ability to disguise our appearance, though we seldom harbor any ill will towards them. I have found myself most at home with druids, illusionists, transmuters, and rogues. What I have seen as the most violate of relationships occurs between divine healers and taskshapers who wish the destruction of all that is divine. It is difficult for most to turn away from the benefits of magical healing while still maintaining their hatred for what the Sovereigns of Heaven have allowed to happen to us. 


Within adventuring companies, and especially the Questor’s Society, we taskshapers often serve as the greatest of spies being able to change our appearance and our personalities. We can also serve as gifted scouts able to range far and wide by wing or by fin, often going where others cannot. Some of us become spiritualists spending time with the creatures we imitate, and seeking our own private lore. Others of my kind serve as companions to other shapeshifters from doppelgangers to lycanthropes often passing on our lore so that these creatures learn of our abilities. However, like me many of my kith and kin are outsiders searching for what the fey took away from us, a feeling of belonging and feeling of purpose in this world, or seeking for the truth of their former identity to the muddle of altered and false memories. These and others like me have taken up the life of an adventure and quest.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Steve's Tools: Adventure Design

I do a lot of work as an author, game designer, art director, layout artist, and publisher. So I thought I would on Fridays start posting some of the tools I use.

I have an ENnie nomination for my work on To Kill or Not To Kill so I feel I can show a few good tools to help you with adventure design. Therefore, that is what we will start with.

Adventure Builder by Wolfgang Baur: This article is my bible when I am thinking about writing a new adventure be it for Pathfinder, Arcana Evolved, Fate, or Diceless while a lot of the article is D&D specific it is really a great review source even after you have written your adventure to see what you have missed. (There are six parts to this and you should read them all.

Ray Winniger’s Dungeoncraft Essay’s: Ray’s rules for dungeoncraft still guide everything I write to this day, I love adding secrets to my campaign settings. I have expanded upon them always making them the answers to important questions but everyone should read and/or reread these articles.  I have all the dragon magazines in print and pdf but I love this place for collecting them all.

Let’s Read Dungeon Magazine from the Beginning: You want to learn how to make great adventures? Well how about learning from other folks mistakes, as well as learning what works. I actually do recommend going through the back issues and reading these. I can say the same about reading the reviews of the more successful parts of the Pathfinder Adventure Paths.

How to properly use dashes in text by Sean K. Reynolds; I really wish his Freelancer Advice and Punishment document was available online J

You all meet in a Tavern... by David Morgan-Mar. No, you do not meet in a tavern! It’s way too cliché, so look at this list of different options and come up with something different.

The Big List of Rpg Plots by S. John Ross. You need an idea for an adventure and you need a twist to make things go in a different direction? It is not that complicated because it Mr. Ross shows you what has gone before.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

1001 Spells Mega-Sale Breakdown!

The DrivethruRpg/RpgNow sale of 1001  Spells was a rousing success!

1001 Spells PDF was released to the public February 09, 2012, the same day as the release of the Hardcover via Cubicle Seven (which eventually sold out). It has always been priced an $19.99 for the PDF and $39.99 for the Hardcover. I have only ever discounted it previously during the GM’s Day Sale, the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales and recently at a one off Pathfinder Rpg sale at DrivethruRpg/RpgNow, and during those times its usually discounted no more than 30% off.

After reading Steve Weick’s Blog post about Pricing for income, that discussed the $5.00 Ptolus sale, I felt that once the Print on Demand 2nd Printing of 1001 Spells was ready it would be a good candidate for such a deep discount steam-like sale.  The timing of this worked out really well as this was also the weekend we released not only the updated Hardcover but also were able to sell the Hero Lab files through Wolf’s Lair Development.

And though my push for that weekend meant I would not get to take advantage of a “event” I felt strongly that 1001 Spells would still do well and it did. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s look at 1001 Spells sales numbers at DrivethruRpg

(Note this does not include our direct sales numbers, print copies sold, or the store sales numbers, nor does this include the 101 Spell series numbers this product was a compilation of).
1001 Spells (PFRRG) PDF total sales at DrivethruRpg/Rpgnow  prior to the mega-sale.
Copies Sold          Gross Sales Revenue         Net Revenue
153                           $2,416.47                         $1,625.86

1001 Spells (PFRRG) PDF August 2012 sales at DrivethruRpg/Rpgnow.
Copies Sold          Gross Sales Revenue         Net Revenue
2                              $39.98                              $25.99

1001 Spells (PFRRG) PDF July 2nd to August 27th 2013 sales at DrivethruRpg/Rpgnow .
Copies Sold          Gross Sales Revenue         Net Revenue
5                              $99.95                              $64.97

1001 Spells (PFRRG) PDF Mega sale at DrivethruRpg/Rpgnow (08/28/13-09/01/13) .
Copies Sold          Gross Sales Revenue         Net Revenue
425                         $1,270.75                         $825.99

What is also interesting is the number of copies sold of the hardback book as well.

1001 Spells (PFRPG) Print on Demand Hardback B&W
Copies Sold          Gross Sales Revenue         Net Revenue
12                           $479.88                            $212.86

I am also hearing good things from Wolf’s Lair development and over a 100 copies of the Hero Lab file have been sold ($9.99 per copy).

Special Thanks to Steve, Scott, and Matt over at DrivethruRpg for working with me to make this happen, as well as special thanks to Marie Small and Dave Paul without whom I could not have ever created this product. I would also like to thank Monte Cook who paved the way for this success by having the guts to be the first guy to do a deep discount sale.

Finally I would like to thank all 590 customers who have bought our product through DrivethruRpg/RpgNow (as well as the folks who bought it other places).   

Steven D. Russell
Rite Publishing

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Demolished Ones (Fate): GenCon launch in Print and PDF!

 (Illustration by Hugo Solis  text by Brian Engard )
 I Wake in a Room

The floor is cold, stone, dry like the grave. I push myself up with trembling arms, blinking in the darkness as my eyes adjust and take in the scant light.

Where am I?

I stand, brush the dirt and dust from the front of a tailor-made suit that I’ve never seen before. I inspect it, looking for familiarity, but find none. There’s a red stain on the sleeve and I panic for a moment. Maybe I hurt myself and I need medical attention. A closer inspection reveals that it is not my blood.

What happened here?

I look at my surroundings. The room is large, bare stone walls and floor, two electric lamps in the ceiling barely piercing the deep gloom. There are bodies strewn about, three of them, and again I feel the panic creep in. I kneel next to one, feel for a pulse and find it. She’s alive.

Who are these people?

Who am I?

“I . . . I don’t know,”

The Demolished Ones (Fate) Print + PDF Bundle Gen Con Launch! Come join our steampunk, victorian, noir, lovecraftian horror, dark fantasy, murder mystery, quest for identity, tabletop adventure game! You can order your Print/PDF GenCon copy or have it mailed to you via our Print/Distribution Partner
Chronicle City

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Lost In Dream (Kickstarter Novel)July Update by author Matt Banach

A busy summer has come and is now going... and I've enjoyed a lot of great progress on the novel, finishing Chapter 7 just this weekend. Surely and steadily, this project is trudging towards completion.
Chapter 6 brought our main character away from the intrigues of Halls of Painted Heaven to the dangerous realm of Leng - a mythological staple of Dream-fiction ever since its introduction by H.P. Lovecraft, author of the legendary Cthulhu Mythos almost a century ago. Hundreds of authors since Lovecraft have referenced or twisted the murky details we suspect about "the plateau of Leng", that cold place perhaps in Dream from whence the strange men in their black ships sail. It was enjoyable to imagine my own spin on Leng, and I hope Cthulhu fans out there enjoy my addition to its legend.
Further details keep emerging about what our main character's true quest is, and the plot thickens insofar as complications develop - other, unknown forces have their own plans in motion, and Chapter 6 reveals a smidgen about who might be to blame for the calamity that befell the Halls of Painted Heaven in earlier chapters. No spoilers.
Chapter 6 was also a great opportunity to briefly reference a few characters near and dear to my heart - old player characters of mine and my friends from the Clinton J. Boomer Planescape game which is the bedrock upon which all of my other gaming experience proudly rests. Mostly that was a struggle of limitation - to keep from gushing about characters I know so well, remembering to keep them confined to what they need to do for this story, nothing more. My dear friend Kendall provided me some wonderful inspiration for the use of his old character (Maze, a dangerous, jesterly serpent-warrior).
Chapter 7 is the final bridge that brings my characters to the final battleground of the novel - the Coliseum Morpheuon. Moved from the perils of Leng across the slumbering sea by a fully weaponized space-whale (yeah, I said that) and a lobster-shaped submersible, Rube and Jax have had further opportunity to view the wonders of the Dream setting, and all the colorful weirdness that entails. I got to use Le Loup Solitaire - a character from my Faces of the Tarnished Souk series, also through Rite Publishing. His will not be the last familiar Face we see in the book; after all, since I have an entire stable of fully developed characters especially for use in Dream/Coliseum Morpheuon, I'd be a fool not to use them. I hope fans of Faces enjoy the cameos.
The next few chapters will be the great challenge, where I now have to do the heavy lifting of resolving some of the mysteries and revealing the many plots that have been grinding behind the scenes all along. Cue drumroll!
~ Matt Banach, author
~ ~ ~
An excerpt from Chapter 6 of Lost in Dream:
“Capital mayhem!” Jax exclaimed, loud, right in my goddamn ear. He had risen to his feet, and was staring blearily across the way with a look of childlike awe. “What first-rate shenanigans are these?!”
“Covert operation. I really shouldn't say.” clicked the brass skull. “But thank you for asking.”
A man-sized ball of lightning shot down from the clouds, angling sharply just before it struck the city to skim horizontally across the rooftops, strafing foes and buildings with a heavy rain of sizzling white bolts. A series of explosions shook the ground beneath our feet, and we watched as the upside-down pyramid shuddered, tilted, then fell over with the terrible force of an earthquake.
“Covert?” Jax remarked, shielding his eyes from the ensuing cloud of dust and debris with his one big arm. “I just don't know what words mean anymore.”
~ ~ ~