Saturday, July 14, 2018

Blog to the Future

When I started this thing, it was with largely frivolous intent. There was no real plan. Just a place to chronicle some of my gaming pursuits. Well, some of those pursuits panned out and caught on. Avremier became a published property and Mothshade Concepts became a business entity.

From here, things are due to change. I want this blog to be useful. And interesting. Something that reflects the full spectrum of what Mothshade Concepts is meant to be. Yes, there is more than just Avremier...and more than just 0E.. It is my intention to make this blog a more regular and reliable thing. As the initial Avremier 0e project draws to a close with the looming publication of the fifth supplement, I will be diving into other projects and even more Avremier...much more Avremier.

This blog will have editorials and articles. Possibly an occasional review. Definitely some ongoing features. This will be where I address some of the excellent questions I receive from time to time regarding my projects and process. Sometimes, social media just doesn't provide the right forum. This is Mothshade's Lair. You are welcome - and forewarned.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Mothshade's Excellent 0D&D Adventure (Part Three of Three)

Not that I didn't do my best for the first Avremier booklet, but once people start giving me money, I feel a certain obligation to give them value for it - especially when strangers send me money entirely on faith. That obligation has led me to devote all my spare time to this project. I've taught myself publishing and printing. I've produced four volumes on a tight schedule and seen them shipped across the world. When the fifth volume is done, I have a production schedule that will take me through the next five years - and beyond. 

This is what the OSR RPG community has done to/for me. I chose the 0E format for nostalgia and for simplicity. I stumbled into a market for it, quite unexpectedly. Now, I am a fledgling indy OSR publisher. All of this has come out of love for the game, and a drive to create and share. Money or recognition were never on the radar at the start.  
Avremier will continue. There is far too much material to be covered in five small booklets. There is much more to come. Plus, I have other projects that people have been anticipating for years now. The feeling of obligation to those who have supported this for so many years is overwhelmingly strong. With the warm and enthusiastic welcome Mothshade Concepts has received from new friends made in the community, the drive to produce more material is akin to a tidal wave. 

For now, Mothshade Concepts is a one-bug operation. Requests for Avremier D20 or Avremier 5E have been met with regretful "maybes." Until I am Mothshade full-time, there just isn't any way to produce more than I already am. So, Mothshade Concepts remains an OSR publisher for now. To be honest, I'm not unhappy about that. 

Avremier is just a setting. I've run Avremier games using B/X, 1E, 2E, 3.0, 3.5, 3.75 and 5E rules. Now that Avremier is in publication, I've realized one lifelong dream. I've been a player in an Avremier game - not the DM! Other players have participated in Avremier adventures - where I wasn't the DM...hell, I wasn't even present! My lifelong campaign setting is no longer just mine. To adequately describe the feeling of excitement and contentment would be beyond the scope of this blog. 

0E Dungeons & Dragons has done this for me. The OSR community has allowed me to become Mothshade Concepts - to share my lifelong love, and some of my fondest dreams. Whatever happens next, I am content.

Mothshade's Excellent 0D&D Adventure (Part Two of Three)

In my 35+ years of D&D gaming, I've spent most of that time as DM. And, I've never run a game not set in my own campaign setting. So, Avremier has undergone that much playtesting. 

Having often wished to have been involved in the early days of the game, it was probably inevitable that some kind of effort at an Avremier homage to the "little brown books" would at least be attempted. It is no secret that the Avremier 0E project was intended as a personal thing. Some neat nostalgic books for me, my players, and a few gaming friends. Maybe a print run of ten or twelve copies. I was writing, illustrating, editing, compiling, printing, and binding them myself. Being as lazy as I am, the idea of larger printings was beyond comprehension. 

But, I shared the project on my Facebook wall. The response genuinely stunned me. People were quite literally throwing money at me (through PayPal) for a book I never intended to produce for purchase. The first print run quickly expanded to thirty copies. 

The Avremier supplement was not something I'd considered marketable. It was an homage to 0E Greyhawk. It was entirely written as an overview of my own personal campaign setting. Who would want a vanity publication of a setting they'd never heard of, published by a nobody like me, for a ruleset that was obsolete more than thirty years ago? Lots of people. Yeah - I was flummoxed. At the time, I was only peripherally aware of the OSR. I had to start my own LLC (with a Facebook page). I ended up doing a second print run. People "in the industry" were starting to notice. 

Avremier was the first of a nostalgic five-volume homage. Today, the fifth volume is on-target for a mid-year release. Every volume pre-sells out. Retailers are carrying copies for sale. Soon, the Mothshade Concepts DriveThruRPG store will open to the online public. I have no idea what to expect then. But, I do have plans. 

This rambling mess will be concluded in Part Three.

Mothshade's Excellent 0D&D Adventure (Part One of Three)

This year, for 0E RPG Appreciation Day, I (as Mothshade Concepts) have been invited to contribute to the observances. It seems that, during the development of my Avremier 0E project, I've managed to offer a significant contribution to our hobby community. Color me thrilled beyond my wildest expectations. Truly. 

This all began a few years back with a sudden passion to revisit and examine the first version of the Dungeons & Dragons game. The "collector's reprints" were being released, but I found them insufficient for my needs. I was going for historical accuracy, so I pursued the original booklets and gathered a complete collection. From there, I set about to compile and edit a "compleat volume" of OD&D rules for my own reference. The idea was to teach myself the rules (having started playing with the Moldvay-Marsh-Cook B/X game) from a historical perspective, and see if I could actually complete such a project - in preparation for the Avremier 0E work to come. The intent was for a three-volume set that presented every relevant 0D&D reference I could find - from Men & Magic, Monsters & Treasure, The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures, Greyhawk, Blackmoor, Eldritch Wizardry, Gods Demigods & Heroes, The Strategic Review, and The Dragon. Each book would be compiled and edited for clarity and completion - not changing the rules or presenting any personal bias of my own. Just a cyclopedia of everything I felt worthy of inclusion. As far as I knew at the time, no one else had done this. Also, I wasn't interested in a clone of 0E. 

Flushed with modest success, but exhausted from research, cross-referencing, compilation and editing, I published a free PDF (not having contributed any original material) of my "Compleat Men & Magic" for the use and abuse of anyone that cared to have it. Though two more volumes are obviously in the works, I found the need to diverge from my intended path to realize a different concept. 

This began the Avremier 0E project - where everything unexpectedly exploded. I'll talk about that in the second part of this three-part saga.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

From head to page


Development questions are fun for me to answer. I get to see what people are interested in, and I get to share my thoughts and ideas with those who appreciate them. Also, during some of these exchanges, I get to examine my own creative process in a different way. By analyzing how I explain a concept to someone, I find myself looking at the concept from the outside-in. 

I've been asked how some of the process works for me. I smile at the thought of having an actual process, but I get the gist. Most of the time, it starts with quick and incomplete notes for a concept - often hand-written in my notebook. Don't bother about the page titles - they're usually just for fun. At a later point, the notes are transcribed into Word archive files for eventual translation into publishable material.

Below is an example of the initial concept outline for a bizarre creature due to appear in the Avremier setting at a later date. From these initial impressions will come a stat block and official description for game use. It is also entirely possible that the name will change. I'll also need to determine where the creature will have a place in the Avremier 'verse. The notes below are about a half-hour old and are being shared here for the first time.

Shadowlight Horror: Naturally-invisible creature of arms and tendrils – similar to a spiny starfish with many more arms. tentacled horror. Casts light instead of shadow – toward a light source, not away from. Difficult to look directly into the creature’s cast light. No way of knowing facing or specific anatomy beyond arms and tendrils – some with feathery extensions that are probably sensory organs, and some with stinging spines that look pretty much the same. Hardly any weight, the creature moves lightly across any surface without a sound. When grappling with arms, the horror may permanently steal a victim’s shadow. This somehow renders the victim “less-substantial,” permanently reducing HP, STR, and CON by 1. They are also uncomfortable in bright light (-1 to attack rolls for first three rounds). One stricken adventurer had her shadow restored after dying and being raised. There is no other known way of undoing this effect. Many living creatures find those with lost shadows somehow unnerving or unpleasant to be around.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Yes - magic.

I've listened to people insist that "Because - magic" is a copout in fantasy fiction or gaming.

Okay. Agreed. Tentatively.

These are many of the same folks that seem fine with dodging laser blasts, fiery explosions in space, and lightsabers - but, that's cool.

Right now, I only care to address this in regard to the Avremier setting. Avremier has magic. In fact, to some extent, the setting IS magic. If you see things like islands floating on the surface of the sea, a group of mountains sitting by themselves in an area that looks unlikely for mountains, a great big rubble-choked gap between two broken halves of the planet, or a diseased-looking moon hanging suspiciously close to the world - assume there are valid reasons - probably to do with elemental, divine, or magical forces. But, trust that there will be a purpose behind it all. Not to serve as a plot device. Not because it looks kewl. Not for the sake of being weird. But, because the setting warranted it.

Because - verisimilitude.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

You have a very high badness level - I can tell...

Creating monsters for the Avremier setting is a lot of fun.
Creating villains for the Avremier setting is even more fun.
A lot of monsters/villains of Avremier are variants or amalgams of existing creatures - designed to suit a specific concept or circumstance. Less work is good - and not having to build a monster from the ground-up is a good example of less work.
Sometimes, you just have a niche that needs to be filled with something special.
Sometimes, an existing monster just isn't awful enough for your purpose.
Sometimes, a play on words just demands to be carried through to the bitter end.
And then, there are those glorious moments that encompass all three.

This is one of those moments.

·        Will-o-Lich: Glowing, flying demilich skull that creates will-o-wisp slaves from drained souls. When the ‘wisps feed upon the life force of their dying victims, a portion of that energy is channeled to their maker. The ‘lich has all the properties of a will-o-wisp, able to become nothing more than an immaterial globe of light and unable to utilize its “death howl” ability during that time. If choosing not to glow, the immaterial ‘lich is effectively invisible. 

      It is thought (hoped) that only one of these monsters exists, and the identity of the will-o-lich in life is unknown.

AC -7, Move 15”, HD 75 hp.