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Monday, October 23, 2017

A home for Alt★Hero

Thanks to the enthusiasm of the Alt★Hero backers, we've just passed Stretch Goal #9 at 540 percent of the original objective, thereby committing us to providing a site dedicated to the series. This is a very positive sign as we enter the final stretch. There is strong interest in the role-playing game, so I'm confident that we'll hit #10 without too much trouble. I suspect #11 is likely to prove a little ambitious, which is absolutely fine with me as we already have a considerable amount of work in front of us.

Fortunately, we have already brought two more experienced lead illustrators onto the team. As you can see, we're now working with Timothy Lim, and although we lost Jinjerzilla as a lead illustrator, since he did not have sufficient time to take on the responsibility of illustrating full volumes, we were fortunate in being able to replace him with a longtime veteran of two major comics publishers who will be announced in the near future.

If you're at all interested in role-playing games, I would strongly encourage you to back the RPG rulebook, as I think there is a very good chance that the system we are designing is not only going to be the best one for superheroes yet created, but will provide mechanics that translate effectively to science fiction, fantasy, and even military role-playing. What we're doing here is more than creating a comics line, as we are building a strong foundation from which future offensives in the cultural war in comics, SF/F, and gaming can be launched.

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100 Comments:

Blogger Resident Moron™ October 23, 2017 8:06 AM  

Act tactical, think strategic. I love it.

Still not tired.

Blogger The Observer October 23, 2017 8:12 AM  

Excellent. Six more days, $1500 to go. I'm sure it's doable, especially as others have predicted the rate of backing will increase in the last few days. We'll see if that truly comes to pass.

I fully expect the nascent website to come under attack almost immediately, but given Castalia's track record I'm sure nothing untoward will get through Markku and co.

As for the art, you weren't kidding when you said Dynamique can be a bit of a narcissist - there is a clearly bored ZFG expression on that face. The fact that her pupils are but pinpricks only make things worse - or better.

I wonder how many Dynamique supporters have thought about the fact that she's technically with the "bad guys".

Anonymous Killua October 23, 2017 8:13 AM  

Glad to be a backer!

Blogger VD October 23, 2017 8:19 AM  

As for the art, you weren't kidding when you said Dynamique can be a bit of a narcissist - there is a clearly bored ZFG expression on that face.

Just wait until you see the whole image. This is a small crop of a preliminary version.

Blogger Al From Bay Shore October 23, 2017 8:34 AM  

Back in the day, the artwork featured on comic covers were the selling point. With Alt-Hero, the promise of good stories and narrative structure are the selling point. And yes, the artwork is good but I contributed because I want well constructed stories.

Thanx for doing this project!

Anonymous VFM #6306 October 23, 2017 8:49 AM  

I suspect #11 is likely to prove a little ambitious

I suspect this one goes to eleven...

Blogger Shimshon October 23, 2017 8:52 AM  

I have never been into comics myself. But I am looking forward to this and expect to get a great ROI on my $30.

Blogger Stilicho October 23, 2017 8:56 AM  

What's the anticipated publication date for the first comic?

Anonymous Faceless October 23, 2017 9:13 AM  

Jinjerzilla did yeoman's work at the start when it was greatest risk.

Anonymous Napoleon 12pdr October 23, 2017 9:15 AM  

Vox, a tip on the RPG: The success or failure of an RPG doesn't depend on game mechanics. It depends on the supply of pre-written, ready-to-run adventure modules. If you go with the RPG, you have got to have 2-4 modules ready for sale the day the RPG hits the street.

I suspect the right business model might be to GIVE the rule set away...then charge for the modules. My experience has been that the ability to create those is fairly scarce.

Blogger Jed Mask October 23, 2017 9:30 AM  

"What we're doing here is more than creating a comics line, as we are building a strong foundation from which future offensives in the cultural war in comics, SF/F, and gaming can be launched."

Now ^THIS^ is what I can personally get behind; however I tread a certain level of caution here keeping the "Way of Christ" in concern here as in all matters of life.

Seems like good work though. I know Mr. Vox and team do an excellent job in their work.

At the end of the day of anything though us "Christians" must UPHOLD CHRIST in all things we do before anything else.

Great effort. Amen.

~ Bro. Jed

Blogger Duke Norfolk October 23, 2017 9:31 AM  

I love the Rebel character, but there needs to be some more consistency in drawing her. So far there are several different versions of her that are distinctly different, to my eyes. Though I will concede that it may just be me, as I have a weakness in facial recognition and recall, etc.

I'm curious if others have the same impression.

That said, I realize that all this is in the nascent stages and this will no doubt be addressed as things move ahead and it all gels.

Blogger S1AL October 23, 2017 9:32 AM  

"The success or failure of an RPG doesn't depend on game mechanics. It depends on the supply of pre-written, ready-to-run adventure modules."

My experience has been very different. I've never had, or even heard of, a group that used pre-written modules. I have heard of groups abandoning a system because of mechanical issue.

IME, solid mechanics > flavor > great mechanics in terms of importance.

That said, easy to use villain/monster/enemy grunt templates are a must-have. DM's will splice and dice, but they don't want to spend 10 hours on mooks.

My biggest concern with a rule system is that it not be overly-complex at a core level. There are far fewer hardcore system gamers than general RPG gamers.

Blogger VD October 23, 2017 9:41 AM  

I suspect the right business model might be to GIVE the rule set away...then charge for the modules.

You suspect incorrectly, as you are leaving the supply and production side out of the equation. Futhermore, rulebooks usually sell better than modules because many RPGers like to read them even if they never play the game.

I can't tell you how much "advice" I have received in the past several weeks from people who have never crowdfunded anything or even started a business. Most of it can be best described as "disastrous". My favorite is the old "you have to lead with absolute top quality" chestnut, which almost guarantees failure and flies directly in the face of nearly every successful disruption in business history.

"Oh, no, whatever shall we do about this very expensive, high-margin competitor" said no market leader ever.

Blogger Ostar October 23, 2017 9:45 AM  

Napoleon 12pdr wrote:Vox, a tip on the RPG: The success or failure of an RPG doesn't depend on game mechanics. It depends on the supply of pre-written, ready-to-run adventure modules.

Wrong.
Modules help the publisher's bottom line, but only act as the new "shiny" for a while. The RPG system is what sells long term. And long term is what Alt-Hero is striving for.

Blogger Freeholder October 23, 2017 9:54 AM  

I know I'm upping my pledge by almost 200 in a day or two.

I'm not a comic fan but I understand where cultures wars need to be fought. Now with an RPG in the works.......RPG's are where I'm at. Already thinking about how to change the Malcolm Reynolds cosplay into SoulSight. (Fiance likes Cosplay, who am I to argue with her dressing up as Rebel)

Blogger Thot October 23, 2017 10:05 AM  

Freeholder wrote:(Fiance likes Cosplay, who am I to argue with her dressing up as Rebel)

Always nice when a significant other shares a hobby.

Blogger B.J. October 23, 2017 10:07 AM  

Yeah just look at it this way: In a gaming group of 7 people, would you rather sell the whole group a single $20 module or every player a $40 rulebook? Hmmm...

Blogger VD October 23, 2017 10:20 AM  

I know I'm upping my pledge by almost 200 in a day or two.

We are not at all sorry to hear of your intentions. Thanks very much!

Anonymous 5343 Kinds of Deplorable October 23, 2017 10:35 AM  

there needs to be some more consistency in drawing her

Meh. Every comics publisher is the world has this "problem".

It's not a problem. Artists differ, and that's the beauty of the comic world. Each graphic interpreter has his own vision of every character.

Compare a Keith Giffen Superman to Alex Ross's, or JRJR's Daredevil to Alex Maleev's. Both versions are valid, saleable and get the fans going, even if they are wildly inconsistent from one another.

That's where costumed heroes are useful shorthand: you always know exactly who you're looking at.

Blogger Aeoli Pera October 23, 2017 10:40 AM  

Found that SJW bestiary I mentioned: https://dangerous.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/The-Antifa-Handbook.pdf

Blogger Phelps October 23, 2017 10:47 AM  

An RPG?

Suddenly, the idea of VD and Steve Jackson in the same room occurs to me.

Anonymous VFM #6306 October 23, 2017 10:51 AM  

I can't tell you how much "advice" I have received in the past several weeks from people who have never crowdfunded anything or even started a business.

What's that you ask? Shall I assume that you secretly pine for more unsolicited advice from an amateur? Jolly good! How about:

1. Make sure your add-ons include personalized digital goods that can't be replicated or re-sold. Nothing raises money like collectible wallpaper!

2. For maximum PR effect, put impossible activities in stretch goal promises that are just beyond what you can attain. Say, 100% above goal.

3. Go viral. Make a goofy, high-quality video that includes a link to a splash page in it.

4. Pour money into production. Remember: all your profit will come from a lucrative contract from an existing traditional publisher.

5. Bob Kane toiled on Detective Comics #27 for years before releasing it to the public in its high-quality, prestige format. Only because DC had the patience for and commitment to well-crafted tales sensitive to the social differences of a diverse culture and artwork that simply sizzled did the acquire taste of Batman ever have the chance to blossom. It was just like Lady Thor today.

6. Do not allow "momentum" to get in the way of your vision. As long as you remain rigidly beholden to your great idea, you can survive catastrophic losses of initial enthusiasm with grace and aplomb.

7. Allow the crowd to dictate your deadlines. Most People Are Wise.

Blogger Dire Badger October 23, 2017 10:57 AM  

You know, while No one wants a repeat of F.A.T.A.L., I really would like an RPG that finally admits that Men and Women are drastically different.

One of the old D20 games did this by giving males more attribute points and females more skill points (although males could BUY more skill points with intelligence or something... ) Wheel of time maybe?

Blogger Dire Badger October 23, 2017 11:07 AM  

As far as publishing advice for an RPG? The only thing I can suggest is ignore all suggestions. Most of us have an ulterior motive of wanting something for free.

The only thing _I_ know about RPG's is from the failures and flops... Aberrant used White Wolf's amazingly popular world of Darkness Core, and Yet flopped utterly (a lot of us think it was because superhero gamers like to have an awful lot of meta... Rules submerged under tons of 'flavor' just flat piss us off).

FUDGE also failed, but far less spectacularly... probably because it didn't have enough 'framework' but more likely because They took Napoleon's advice of GIVING away the core rules... and were left with nothing to sell.

As far as I can tell, what marks the failure or success of a tabletop RPG is how friggin' Kewl it is... I mean, look at how popular rifts was, and yet it used the absolutely awful Palladium rules, and on the other side is champions... which had one of the best rulesets ever made, zero flavor, but lost a lot of people because it's beauty was too mechanical.

There may simply be no rules.

Anonymous BBGKB October 23, 2017 11:18 AM  

Futhermore, rulebooks usually sell better than modules because many RPGers like to read them even if they never play the game.

You can't exploit the rules or catch others exploiting the rules if you have not read all the rulebooks.

Blogger Dire Badger October 23, 2017 11:28 AM  

Bah, most G.U.R.P.S. worldbooks (which I would argue were NOT modules but rulebooks) were often darned entertaining Even if you never planned on playing in their worlds.(I am looking at you, Humanx)and worth adding to your collection.

And some were ONLY good for reading, like the original Star Wars supplements (before they bastardized with D20) Which were outstanding when they were considered part of the star wars 'bible' for fans that never rolled a die.

Blogger pdwalker October 23, 2017 11:31 AM  

Sort of related: You could mine this graphic for ideas on villians
https://xkcd.com/1904/

(Well, you could, if you wanted to - if I had the money to spare, I'd sponsor "The Dentist", just because)

Blogger 비글 October 23, 2017 11:31 AM  

I think this new art looks much better.

Blogger pdwalker October 23, 2017 11:32 AM  

On topic: Could the rpg also have a digital offering as an add on?

Blogger wired216 October 23, 2017 11:35 AM  

I am all in. We say we are just cogs in a machine & can't change the world. I beg to disagree.

Anonymous Brick Hardslab October 23, 2017 11:36 AM  

Nobody wants a rule system that requires three hours and a math degree to make a character.

Blogger Were-Puppy October 23, 2017 11:43 AM  

Mech gamers would disagree

Anonymous Brick Hardslab October 23, 2017 11:45 AM  

If Dynamique is five nine do you realize how big those gazongas are? Is she a runway model or Elsie the milk maid?

Blogger VD October 23, 2017 11:46 AM  

On topic: Could the rpg also have a digital offering as an add on?

You mean just a PDF version rather than the hardback? I suppose, although I don't know how it should be priced. What is normal for PDF rulebooks?

Anonymous Brick Hardslab October 23, 2017 11:48 AM  

Yes, yes so would Aftermath! fans and baseball sabermatricians. But do masochists really enjoy what they do?

Anonymous Brick Hardslab October 23, 2017 11:52 AM  

PDF only is usually a lot cheaper. If I want the rules just for me I just get the pdf if I want it as a game master or to give as a gift I want paper and ink.

Blogger S1AL October 23, 2017 11:56 AM  

Re: digital pricing

This is the most comprehensive site I could find -

http://www.drivethrurpg.com/m/?filters=44499

It looks like prices range all over the place, with concentrations at $10, $15, and $20. For me it would depend on content and quality, though I'd generally settle in the $5-20 range. Can't speak for the average, though.

Blogger Quadko October 23, 2017 12:03 PM  

pdwalker wrote:I had the money to spare, I'd sponsor "The Dentist"

That reminds me of one of my favorite jokes from White Collar. Criminal legend Mozzie turned out to have started at a young age, when he scammed the mob as a pre-teen by calling himself "The Dentist of Detroit" because he couldn't think of anything more frightening than Dentists.

Blogger Unknown October 23, 2017 12:13 PM  

Hey Vox, I am a contributor to the Alt hero but am a little unsure how to specify sizes and or other specifics on the rewards, (probably being a dumbass) Have I missed something? who do I contact? Keep making the snowflakes cry, I need liquid for my coffee

Anonymous Korbin Ransley October 23, 2017 12:32 PM  

Hoping to see an Rpg. Me and my peeps enjoyed reading rule books with plenty of fluff and history about the places and characters we liked, read about in books, and came across in video games. Seeing the stuff in the rule books then included in other media was really cool aswell.

Great art, and options are always nice.

Folks are changing the way they spend time and money because of leftist influence, toxic content, and the culture war.

Fun reading about, and sharing this kind of stuff with others. 8^)




Blogger James Dixon October 23, 2017 12:38 PM  

> Yeah just look at it this way: In a gaming group of 7 people, would you rather sell the whole group a single $20 module or every player a $40 rulebook? Hmmm...

You really only need one of each for the group. Everyone having their own copy isn't a necessity for role playing.

Blogger roughcoat October 23, 2017 12:44 PM  

I think it would be very nice to have a separate HTML version of the rulebook for active reference use on a tablet or laptop. PDFs are awful if you're not going to actually print them out, and a web document offers all kinds of possibilities for displaying information in ways that aren't practical/available in a PDF.

But formatting the web version of the rulebook would be a bunch of extra work. And I have doubts about how many people would find it useful unless you hosted it online with restricted access so they didn't have to download it and open it locally. Or maybe normal people know how to do that, IDK.

Anonymous Dave October 23, 2017 1:10 PM  

Duke Norfolk wrote:About that image. I generally love it, but her right eye looks wrong. I understand what's going on there, as she looks to her left we see more of the white of the eye and her iris/pupil get lost in the "mask". But it looks kind of creepy. Especially combined with shadowing of the left eye that makes the white of her eye disappear unless you go close up.

I'm no artist, but I'd say it would be better to show a bit more of the colored part of the right eye and lighten the shading on the left part of the face, to avoid the dead-eyed look that is my impression.


Duke Norfolk wrote:I love the Rebel character, but there needs to be some more consistency in drawing her. So far there are several different versions of her that are distinctly different, to my eyes. Though I will concede that it may just be me, as I have a weakness in facial recognition and recall, etc.

I'm curious if others have the same impression.

That said, I realize that all this is in the nascent stages and this will no doubt be addressed as things move ahead and it all gels.


From Friday and today...ffs the FreeStartr hasn't ended yet; the finished product is months away.

Anonymous b3k October 23, 2017 1:18 PM  

@VD

For comparison:

The just-launched Starfinder RPG from Paizo has the Core Rulebook and Alien Archive priced at $10/ea for the PDFs, where the hardcovers are $60 and $40, respectively. The first two adventure modules are $16 for each PDF and $23 for each softcover.

The Adventurer Conqueror King System rulebook on drivethrurpg.com is $10 for the PDF and $40 for the b&w hardcover.

Dungeon World is a $10 PDF, with physical editions hard to find.

Dungeon Crawl Classics is a $25 PDF, with a $40 b&w softcover.

Shadowrun 5th Edition core book is $20 for the pdf, $60 for the hardcover.

Blogger tuberman October 23, 2017 1:37 PM  

So the RPG rule book would give a deeper perspective on the Alt*Hero characters?

Blogger Freeholder October 23, 2017 1:42 PM  

That looks be be about what White Wolf and Catalyst pricing is for PDF versus Hardbacks.

Blogger pdwalker October 23, 2017 2:04 PM  

VD wrote:You mean just a PDF version rather than the hardback? I suppose, although I don't know how it should be priced. What is normal for PDF rulebooks?

$10-20 usually. Take pathfinder as one example - core print book $50, pdf $10.

I was just thinking I wouldn't want it to cannibalize $75 RPG offering. If you're offering modules and other versions, perhaps as high as $20-40 for digital only offering, depending on what else besides the core rule book is created

(I only ask for digital only offering because I really, have no more room for physical books at home).

Anonymous Panzer Man October 23, 2017 2:21 PM  

From bitter personal experience long ago, I can tell you that:

Modules (and campaign settings) do NOT sell enough to be anywhere near profitable enough to be worth the effort put into them.

Rulebooks (and monster books for fantasy RPGs) are the only RPG products, IME, that have even a slight chance of being profitable.

Anonymous Rick's Szechuan Sauce October 23, 2017 2:25 PM  

So is Lim taking over for JingerZilla? Sweet!

Blogger Jon D. October 23, 2017 2:41 PM  

Vox told me a bit about the RPG rulebook... I gotta tell you, this is exciting stuff. Don't ignore this one!

Blogger Last Redoubt October 23, 2017 3:09 PM  

I'd only take advice re: Modules vs Rules from someone like Alexander Macris

Love ACKs, hate what Paizo/Pathfinder has done with it's incessant adventures and splatbooks.

Blogger R Beisert October 23, 2017 3:12 PM  

As a kid, I had a bit of fun messing around with the Heroes System core books, a GURPS derivative focused entirely on the creation of super heroes. I assume that Vox and the crew already know about such games and are taking all the lessons they can from them, but for my two cents:

- Heroes had excellent versatility in character creation, which allowed you to build any character (from Harry Potter-esque spellcasters and potioneers to Batman to Captain Marvel).

- The Heroes rulebook I had was about 70% descriptions of various powers, advantages, and disadvantages. This may produce a tad too much versatility - cut-down rulebooks that calibrated for "supers" and "normals" and "tech" and "magic" users would probably have been less daunting.

- World building was left up to the player 100%. While it sounds like a good idea to some, in practice few have the time or creativity to produce interesting scenarios and worlds. Pre-fabricated worlds like those provided by D&D (or ripped out of the pages of a comic franchise) are a must for the average gaming group.

I'm looking forward to the RPG almost as much as the comic. Unlike the days of yore, we've got a wide variety of successful and unsuccessful games from which to learn.

Anonymous Napoleon 12pdr October 23, 2017 3:32 PM  

My support for modules comes from my experience with gaming groups. There is at most one person in five who can create new content. The rest of the group either runs store-bought modules or relies on that one creative person to carry the load.

This is how D&D came to dominate the industry. Not with game mechanics, but with a steady supply of modules. Without those, games don't do that well. I've seen too many games that had a rulebook and nothing else. Usually on the remainders table at a steep discount.

It's like shooting...you charge for the gun, but often the real profit is in the ammunition.

Blogger Ingot9455 October 23, 2017 4:03 PM  

@53 The problem is that nowadays you can't put out adventures for the same kinds of price points that you could in the old D&D days. You can definitely put out EPUB adventures to fill that need, and I think Castalia House has that capability. Still, those are quick sketchy things with a little artwork compared to the professional product.

With the essential demise of the Champions/Hero System roleplaying game, this a great time to put out a solid contender in that space.

Blogger Ingot9455 October 23, 2017 4:06 PM  

@52 The Hero System/Champions came out in 1981 - Gurps came out in 1986. Champions is one of the inspirations for Gurps.

Anonymous VFM #6306 October 23, 2017 4:15 PM  

There's 10,000 dollars to Freestartr, 6 days to a full RPG, half a pack of cigarettes, it's Ilk out, and we're wearing sunglasses.

Blogger SirHamster October 23, 2017 4:22 PM  

You've got me for another $75 in. I'd ask about offering rewards for stretch goals that haven't been hit yet, but the trajectory looks good.

Looking forward to getting product.

Blogger Thucydides October 23, 2017 4:46 PM  

At this rate, I'm starting to wonder when Vox is announcing the next goal being a live action movie?

Considering that studio quality equipment is reasonably priced now, and there is a ton of talented CGI artists to add the special effects, you could have a product as professional as the now stillborn Axanar movie project. Based on the short Youtube clips, they were visually pretty much on par with studio product, and their story (while Star Trek mythology) appeared to focus on issues like character rather than the SJW issue of the week. No wonder Paramount wanted it shut down!

Anyway, since the future for Hollywood (unless someone slips up horribly and the mask is pulled fully off the sexual predation) is going to be a never ending parade of Marvel and DC sequels, reboots, rebooted sequels and so on. I think audiences will be willing to run to something which isn't recycled SJW horseshit.

Something to think about anyway.

Blogger The Observer October 23, 2017 5:05 PM  

There is at most one person in five who can create new content. The rest of the group either runs store-bought modules or relies on that one creative person to carry the load.

1 in 5 is just nice for 1 GM and 4 players. I have only ever played homebrew settings on both sides of the screen.

Even with adventure modules, one needs to tailor the module to the PCs involved, sometimes heavily so, and be able to deal with the numerous moments they go off the rails.

Blogger R Beisert October 23, 2017 5:37 PM  

Murphy's Law of Roleplaying:

"1 in 5 can create new content. The five people in your group are not among them."

Anonymous Man of the Atom October 23, 2017 5:56 PM  

Here's the current status on the Alt-Hero Freestartr. The RPG offer made for a nice uptick. Only $10K plus change to make $150K.

So. Much. Winning.

Anonymous Man of the Atom October 23, 2017 6:00 PM  

roughcoat wrote:I think it would be very nice to have a separate HTML version of the rulebook for active reference use on a tablet or laptop. PDFs are awful if you're not going to actually print them out, and a web document offers all kinds of possibilities for displaying information in ways that aren't practical/available in a PDF.

But formatting the web version of the rulebook would be a bunch of extra work. And I have doubts about how many people would find it useful unless you hosted it online with restricted access so they didn't have to download it and open it locally. Or maybe normal people know how to do that, IDK.


epub.

I think Vox might know a guy. ;-)

Anonymous Man of the Atom October 23, 2017 6:06 PM  

Last Redoubt wrote:I'd only take advice re: Modules vs Rules from someone like Alexander Macris

Love ACKs, hate what Paizo/Pathfinder has done with it's incessant adventures and splatbooks.


+1

Anonymous Man of the Atom October 23, 2017 6:13 PM  

Jon D. wrote:Vox told me a bit about the RPG rulebook... I gotta tell you, this is exciting stuff. Don't ignore this one!

I'll take this guy's recommendation!

Blogger roughcoat October 23, 2017 7:05 PM  

Epub isn't really the answer either, for a reference book. It's better than a PDF but still has a lot of limitations because it conforms to a "digital book" format that was designed to work well with e-readers, not computers, to display books meant to be read straight through, not generally referenced. Even on a tablet it's a comparatively crappy experience trying to do anything with an ebook besides just read it start to finish. Fixing that problem is one of my medium term projects.

On the other hand, if you have the book in website format, you can have a bunch of different parts open at once, readily accessible in different tabs/windows. Collapsible content, embedded media, external links, hover text, linking and navigation, etc are all trivially implemented. Duplication of information doesn't matter, so instead of saying "go look in Appendix B" you can just have the information available at the click of an icon where appropriate.

You can do a lot of that stuff in epub/PDF if you take the trouble, but you're still locked into* displaying the special format in an inflexible application that comes with built-in limitations and problems. Odds are there will be compatibility issues, and an app update that breaks your fancy book could be a nontrivial problem to fix for a couple reasons.

Having the reference document available in a web page format also opens the possibility of easily giving GMs a customizable "what do you want at your fingertips" type of workspace, perhaps one where they could upload their own materials alongside the references (I was working on a web app like that for D&D a couple months ago) but that's another discussion.


*I am not considering using the browser to open the non-HTML document a viable solution here because epubs don't open in stock browsers, and it only solves the windowing problem. And depending on what you're opening several times (large PDFs), it may cause your computer to commit suicide.

Blogger maniacprovost October 23, 2017 7:08 PM  

In the Alt Hero universe, shouldn't Metric be standard in the US?

Only dangerously antisocial extremists use inch-lb-s.

Anonymous Eli October 23, 2017 7:35 PM  

Looking forward to seeing what kind of discussions come up in the forums. There of course will be the inevitable “cast the movie” thread at some point.

Blogger Cetera October 23, 2017 7:42 PM  

Eli wrote:Looking forward to seeing what kind of discussions come up in the forums. There of course will be the inevitable “cast the movie” thread at some point.

As long as James Woods get a role...

Anonymous Post Alley Crackpot October 23, 2017 7:55 PM  

maniacprovost: "Only dangerously antisocial extremists use inch-lb-s."

And this is why we're greatly looking forward to a trade union with the United States ...

But does it sound all that impressive, walking 500 kilometres just so you can walk 500 kilometres more, all so you can walk 1000 kilometres to show up at your door?

IT'S BETTER IN MILES. :-)

Anonymous Avalanche October 23, 2017 8:22 PM  

@12 "I love the Rebel character, but there needs to be some more consistency in drawing her. So far there are several different versions of her that are distinctly different, "

Not your eyes at all. I'm much more watching for Dynamique -- because she grabbed my heart on that very first page! Perfect blend (I thought) of classy and sexy. Then the other pages of her? Not so much... (In one, she looked 14!!) I'm hoping she'll go back close to that first page... I actually pulled the last frame to be my 'speed-dial' pic for FreeStartr!

Rebel, too, has been wildly different in the different pix. I'm assuming Vox and Castalia House Comics are trying out different artists, or different concepts.

And I love the ... atmosphere ... of the U.S. military one. Do they have names? Beyond, you know, "the European one," "the U.S one," and "the U.S. military one"? (And, then, "the Avalon ones"...)

I suppose everything is kinda in flux still...

Blogger Edgar Abbey October 23, 2017 8:28 PM  

The books related to Champions and Villains & Vigilantes that I found the most interesting were not the modules or adventures. They were the books of characters and organizations. I bought the hell out of those books.

V&V had a couple books called Most Wanted, with tons of villains, giving the stats using game mechanics and a brief origin story and description of the characters.

Champions had a couple of those books, too. I remember one was dedicated to VIPER, a knockoff of the Marvel Comics Hydra organization. It had the stats and character sheets of all the major figures and all the weapons and vehicles. I loved that stuff. Probably never used half of it, but I really enjoyed reading about it.

Blogger The Observer October 23, 2017 8:28 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Anonymous Avalanche October 23, 2017 8:50 PM  

@65 "you can have a bunch of different parts open at once, readily accessible in different tabs/windows. Collapsible content, embedded media, external links, hover text, linking and navigation, etc are all trivially implemented."

Trivially implemented, yes; but MASSIVELY complicated preparing! I'm not writing that it's not worth just -- it's not the 'technique' of preparing a huge "website" with all that stuff; it's creating and gathering all that stuff; deciding on the interlinking and cross-reffing needed; what stays, what goes.

It's why, in non-fiction books, the skill of 'indexing' is WAY better paid than lay-out or page design. KNOWING what goes where is nowhere near as easy as putting it there!

Anonymous Avalanche October 23, 2017 8:52 PM  

@68 "As long as James Woods get a role..."

Michael Martel's dad?

Anonymous Man of the Atom October 23, 2017 9:08 PM  

roughcoat wrote:Epub isn't really the answer either, for a reference book. It's better than a PDF but still has a lot of limitations because it conforms to a "digital book" format that was designed to work well with e-readers, not computers, to display books meant to be read straight through, not generally referenced. Even on a tablet it's a comparatively crappy experience trying to do anything with an ebook besides just read it start to finish. Fixing that problem is one of my medium term projects.

I don't disagree. Section headers and footers could feature links back to a TOC or index, or a return to the previous page, but that's a whole lotta gumballs, though. You are describing a wiki-fied system with selected cross-links, or again, XML/HTML with links in the headers and footers -- some way to go "home" from any point in the document.

On the other hand, if you have the book in website format, you can have a bunch of different parts open at once, readily accessible in different tabs/windows. Collapsible content, embedded media, external links, hover text, linking and navigation, etc are all trivially implemented. Duplication of information doesn't matter, so instead of saying "go look in Appendix B" you can just have the information available at the click of an icon where appropriate.

This seems like you are describing a wiki portal; say a page that features six or twelve or twenty tabs that each hold a page of content. Rapid tab flipping could work if the tabs don't eat up all the screen real estate.

Having the reference document available in a web page format also opens the possibility of easily giving GMs a customizable "what do you want at your fingertips" type of workspace, perhaps one where they could upload their own materials alongside the references (I was working on a web app like that for D&D a couple months ago) but that's another discussion.

Again, this seems to indicate a tab format of some type in the main window (portal). Each tab a chapter/appendix/section/etc.

Heh.

Making Culture Great Again.

Blogger Ingot9455 October 23, 2017 9:55 PM  

Here's a stretch goal: For X dollars, you get to write your own superhero adventure for the system, and have it edited into proper shape by the game's designer, max time some number of hours.

Blogger roughcoat October 23, 2017 10:38 PM  

@73 Avalanche

Yeah, but you don't need to get it right the first time if it's a web document. I'd probably take a database and parameterized template approach, and just build the document from there. Then listen to user requests, and add things if necessary. With logging, it would also be easy to see what links/refs people used and what they ignored, and remove the unused clutter.

What would be really interesting is building a sort of customization engine to change things on the fly. It would be useful for the dev/team in modifying the linking/reference layer without having to change the templates, and users could customize it themselves without touching the underlying document if they wanted to. Maybe keep different profiles for different groups/situations, share their profiles, etc. (I can see a way to do that that is not very complicated, but I'm actually suspicious of how simple it seems, because I think I must be missing something.)

Maybe nobody would use that feature. I dunno. What I think is useful and interesting often doesn't align with what normal people want.

@75 Man of the Atom

I'm thinking more of using expandable content than outright links, but links would be used too. It depends heavily on the content of the book and the system I suppose. I just want to be able to zip to other places in the document quickly, then get back to where I was, with minimal fuss. If I can avoid leaving my place at all because the data is already there in a minimized form and I just need to open it, awesome.

As far as the GM thing, I'm imagining them having a "campaign space" (or multiple) where they could pin references pulled from the book itself alongside their own uploaded content (or bought module content I suppose). They would have customized chunks of reference data, with links to the actual pages if they wanted them. Just say "add book chunk", navigate to the right place in the book, select it, submit it, and there it is. They could make it as cluttered or spare as they wanted that way.

But that gets into the issue of having to confirm the users own the book before giving them access, which would be a headache when people who bought the book from a third party wanted in.

I have no idea if people would actually use a system like I describe for GMing, or even be interested in using the book at all if it was in website format. Loads of people still resist ebooks, so maybe this is just ahead of its time. Sure seems like it, given that damn little information is presented the way I describe. I only really see this sort of thing in particularly good open source project documentation.

Blogger Dire Badger October 23, 2017 10:47 PM  

Or you could take that money and make your own RPG.

As far as I know, Castalia is not Vanity Press.

Anonymous Brick Hardslab October 23, 2017 10:48 PM  

Some superhero games scale so well you can have street level guys hang in there with Wonder Man some don't. I like the ones that keep everyone viable. V&V was good for that.

Blogger The Observer October 23, 2017 11:03 PM  

Edgar Abbey wrote:The books related to Champions and Villains & Vigilantes that I found the most interesting were not the modules or adventures. They were the books of characters and organizations. I bought the hell out of those books.

Pretty much. I may have never used the contents in my run of D&D 5E, but I still bought the SCAG, Volo's guide to monsters. The same thing for 3.5 - a lot of the supplements were never used directly, but I liked reading them - for example, the weapons of legacy supplement had a backstory and adventure hook for each unique item, which I enjoyed reading.

I think one of the RPG sub-forums or threads should definitely be a looking for group thing where people can arrange groups for playtesting over Roll20 or something.

Another thing I'm particularly hoping for in the Alt-Hero RPG is some sort of effective social combat/debate mechanic. Some of my best moments in TTRPGs were in either Burning Wheel's Duel of Wits, or ASOIAF RPG's intrigue combat. I know superhero RPGs are more action-y, but interrogating the Rubber Bandit into spilling the beans on his boss, talking Dr. Science out of his plans for world domination, or convincing Harry Hardboiled the police chief into letting those troublemaking superheroes operate on his turf - they seem like major events that shouldn't be resolved with a simple, single roll.

Blogger Thot October 23, 2017 11:39 PM  

Brick Hardslab wrote:If Dynamique is five nine do you realize how big those gazongas are? Is she a runway model or Elsie the milk maid?

oh..uh sorry i was distrated by......... so sorry what were we talking about again. Cows i think?

Blogger James Dixon October 24, 2017 12:08 AM  

> At this rate, I'm starting to wonder when Vox is announcing the next goal being a live action movie?

Don't you think "a strong foundation from which future offensives in the cultural war in comics, SF/F, and gaming can be launched" is rather open ended?

Blogger The Observer October 24, 2017 12:25 AM  

On a side note, put up an A-H discord here if anyone is interested:

https://discord.gg/mKR7xU2

Blogger Dire Badger October 24, 2017 3:31 AM  

The Observer wrote:Edgar Abbey wrote:The books related to Champions and Villains & Vigilantes that I found the most interesting were not the modules or adventures. They were the books of characters and organizations. I bought the hell out of those books.

Pretty much. I may have never used the contents in my run of D&D 5E, but I still bought the SCAG, Volo's guide to monsters. The same thing for 3.5 - a lot of the supplements were never used directly, but I liked reading them - for example, the weapons of legacy supplement had a backstory and adventure hook for each unique item, which I enjoyed reading.

I think one of the RPG sub-forums or threads should definitely be a looking for group thing where people can arrange groups for playtesting over Roll20 or something.

Another thing I'm particularly hoping for in the Alt-Hero RPG is some sort of effective social combat/debate mechanic. Some of my best moments in TTRPGs were in either Burning Wheel's Duel of Wits, or ASOIAF RPG's intrigue combat. I know superhero RPGs are more action-y, but interrogating the Rubber Bandit into spilling the beans on his boss, talking Dr. Science out of his plans for world domination, or convincing Harry Hardboiled the police chief into letting those troublemaking superheroes operate on his turf - they seem like major events that shouldn't be resolved with a simple, single roll.



Is that possibly an rpg group/Gamemaster thing? the games I play, generally the 'personality rolls' simply set how likely you are to sway someone... all the actual persuasion, threatening, and so forth are handled by roleplaying... with only the occasional rolled action to lend emphasis to a particular section.

Then again, I have been in the same gaming group for over thirty years... Maybe that has some effect on how well we interact and how little we need dicerolling to resolve noncombat conflicts.

Blogger The Observer October 24, 2017 3:59 AM  

@84: Nope. For example, Duel of Wits is formally coded into the Burning Wheel system as a way to mirror debate/argumentation. All the roleplaying has to take place, of course, and like you said, the "personality rolls" do affect the outcome. But most systems usually condense everything down to a single, say intimidate or persuade roll. If you fail that, you're out of luck.

To take the Burning Wheel example, Strato-Man wants to convince Harry Hardboiled the police chief to lend the cops' vital assistance when he raids Dr. Science's lair. Harry, on the other hand, isn't willing to risk the lives of his men for an out-of-town superhero. The two engage in a Duel of Wits, each with a Body of Argument (HP) that the other attempts to whittle down with various actions (pressing the point, feinting, intimidating, obfuscating, etc) based on various skills (persuade, intimidate, rhetoric, oratory, etc). These have to be roleplayed out - one can't just say "I press the point", but has to actually speak the point that he's trying to make.

Eventually, Strato-Man wins the argument by reducing Harry's Body of Argument to zero. However, since he's lost about half of his own Body of Argument, a moderate compromise is needed on Strato-Man's part: Harry and the cops will back Strato-Man up against Dr.Science's goons, but he'll tell his men to fall back if the good Doctor decides to start employing his death ray.

Why I'm so big on these kinds of things is that success or failure doesn't come down to one roll, there's usually an interesting complication to be had as a result of a compromise even if you succeed, I do enjoy playing social/support characters and systems that allow for such elaborate social combat let them shine as much as those who punch things. That, and the best and most intense roleplaying I've had in my sessions usually comes from such events.

Blogger Dire Badger October 24, 2017 4:31 AM  

Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems like you are arguing from the standpoint of someone that say... spends a week designing a nicely interesting puzzle-trap leading to mad loot for The PC's, with lots of hints to the correct solution at various points in the storyline, and an intricately challenging solution carefully weighed at their abilities both as characters and players...

And then the rogue says, "I roll my disarm trap skill" and shortcuts the entire subadventure.


I usually don't like the phrase 'agree to disagree', but in this case it may simply be GMing style... Call me power mad if you like, but any time 'the rules' get in the way of the story, the rules lose... My players do not argue with me about the rules, because they know I never look at it as 'me against them', and I always do my best to give them the best experience possible... decades of experience have proven this. Letting a player do this seems to me to be ummm....weak.

However, I cannot argue with the idea of including a system such as this as an 'optional' rule, especially as a way to let your more autistic players feel like they have a role in social roleplaying... It just seems like an awful lot of complexity for what could most easily be handled by conversation.

To me, anything that REDUCES the number of statistics, rolls, and mechanics is worthwhile to look into, as pausing to roll dice usually seems to get in the way of creating a great adventure, rather than enhancing it.


A great example is from seventh sea (I think)... It had a nice rule which allowed you to handle groups of 'unnamed mooks' in a much more streamlined fashion... damage took out individual members of the group which reduced their overall combat effectiveness rather than requiring you to focus on each individual. It also eliminated the 'entire keep full of crossbowmen don't scare me' effect of high level PC's, as the group difficulty was much less granular and a well-trained and equipped baseline human team was still a serious threat even to 'bulletproof man'.

Much like D&D combat, the blows and counterstrikes and heroic actions, swinging from chandeliers, and fencing your way up the side of a cliff is the realm of description, rather than checking to see if the chandelier had enough structural integrity to support a swinging man, or making constant balance and climb checks with a hefty penalty for 'withdrawing from combat' and 'balancing while fighting'.


I suppose this dichotomy between 'rules driven' and 'story driven' style gamers has always existed... the question is, is the RPG going to try to appeal to both styles? or specialize in one? I am not terribly sure if supporting the 'rules driven' set and alienating the storiers, or even trying to balance them in the unhappy middle (and maybe failing both) would be a great idea considering how MANY rulesets are already out there.

At least with a rules-lite system like FUDGE, if you find a system you like from another game, it's generally easy as pie to crowbar it in with minimal adjustment.

Blogger VD October 24, 2017 4:35 AM  

Duel of Wits is formally coded into the Burning Wheel system as a way to mirror debate/argumentation.

That sounds insanely tedious. Like an RPG designed to simulate being a woman. We are absolutely not going to design complicated mechanics for having conversations.

It sounds more valuable for teaching rhetoric than having fun playing an RPG. We are going to do what we always do and focus on a) the characters, and b) the stories.

Blogger The Observer October 24, 2017 4:56 AM  

@87:

That sounds insanely tedious. Like an RPG designed to simulate being a woman.

Heh, that's fair enough, and an apt description to boot. The Fight! and Duel of Wits systems are completely optional in Burning Wheel and people have criticised them for being overly complex and tedious, which is not unwarranted; I'm an odd duck.

@86:

I get what you mean. Apocalypse World reduces almost everything down to a simple 2d6 roll, and it's spawned a whole bunch of TTRPGs which use its system (powered by the apocalypse). I've had plenty fun with it as well. Mooks are reduced down to simple +1 modifiers per additional mook, for example. When I want to introduce players to TTRPGs, I start with Dungeon World because everything is simple and intuitively grasped.

And yes, story always comes first before rules. The point of the session is to tell a shared story, after all.

Much like D&D combat, the blows and counterstrikes and heroic actions, swinging from chandeliers, and fencing your way up the side of a cliff is the realm of description, rather than checking to see if the chandelier had enough structural integrity to support a swinging man, or making constant balance and climb checks with a hefty penalty for 'withdrawing from combat' and 'balancing while fighting'.

D&D 3.5 grapple rules. Those are so legendary in eye-popping complexity and tediousness, they've become a meme unto themselves.

However, I cannot argue with the idea of including a system such as this as an 'optional' rule, especially as a way to let your more autistic players feel like they have a role in social roleplaying...

Yeah, you're right. Seeing it put into words like that, I can't deny that. What I find the most fun, other people probably find stupid tedious, as the Dark Lord pointed out; still, simple systems with plenty of great characters and story are excellent, as Dungeon/Apocalypse World proves.

Blogger Dire Badger October 24, 2017 5:31 AM  

Well, one thing that is very important is the 'granularity' of roleplaying systems.

Granularity meaning how susceptible to randomness it becomes.

D20 is actually a highly granular system at low levels... and at high levels it becomes less and less granular, to the point where at 'epic' levels the die rolling for most skills becomes almost superfluous... you are simply checking for criticals. That is both it's strength and it's weakness, since newer players love random heroics but more experienced players have gotten disgusted with the unpredictability.

One of the WORST examples of excessive granularity was Iron Crown's 'law' systems... it's %percentage based system was so stupidly granular that it was nearly impossible to actually have any FUN playing the game.

But for a 'modern' or 'superhero' game, the granularity actually becomes a REALLY big deal... you understand that there must be some character advancement, something the players feel they have control over, but most modern heroes do not change very much... superman started out bulletproof with heat ray eyes, and he hasn't changed much since then. Thus whatever granularity the game system presents is what you are likely to have for a VERY long time....

That is why it seems that D20-based modern or superheroic systems were never a very good 'fit'. That is probably why they have never done very well, or they have weird advancement systems (like Mutants and Masterminds)to keep people right at the 'middle' level of granularity, artificially.

That is probably why white wolf's system worked well for so long... it was a nice granularity balancing act for a game set in the modern times.


I am actually quite looking forward to what sort of Game system and setup Castalia publishes... I have my own methods, but I am fascinated by what level of granularity someone with an entirely different gaming viewpoint and experience will produce... Even if I don't wind up using the RPG as-is, if he comes up with solutions to some of the thornier balance and granularity issues, I will happily crib them for my own game and consider the money well-spent.


From a monetary standpoint alone NOTHING beats roleplaying games in the cost/time entertained ratio. Nothing. I still play the original 'Ghostbusters' RPG I bought in the 80's... I have probably gotten upwards of 5000 hours of enjoyment out of a 15 dollar boxed set. What's a DVD? maybe 10 hours (5 watches) from a 20 dollar movie? a book is better at possibly 80 hours over the years from 5 bucks, but RPG's beat everything else.

Blogger The Observer October 24, 2017 6:21 AM  

@89:

I am actually quite looking forward to what sort of Game system and setup Castalia publishes...

Agreed. I think I'll shut my trap, remember that this is a Superhero RPG and not Medieval Court Simulator, and just have fun for what it's supposed to be.

From a monetary standpoint alone NOTHING beats roleplaying games in the cost/time entertained ratio. Nothing.

DVDs and the like give you fun wrapped in a box. TTRPGs teach you to make your own fun. There's some assembly required and it takes far more effort, but the payoff tends to be worth it.

Blogger Dire Badger October 24, 2017 6:51 AM  

I enjoyed the conversation. It's not often I get to discuss the 'Meta' of game design, and your feedback helped me rethink some thorny social situations in my own game, so thanks. I might go ahead and let one of my more... socially awkward players use a modified social system to deal with some issues he has been having.

Anonymous Avalanche October 24, 2017 7:12 AM  

@77 "What would be really interesting is building a sort of customization engine to change things on the fly. It would be useful for the dev/team in modifying the linking/reference layer without having to change the templates, and users could customize it themselves without touching the underlying document if they wanted to....
Maybe nobody would use that feature. I dunno. What I think is useful and interesting often doesn't align with what normal people want."

Now THAT sounds cool. And maybe do-able, if not quite now?

You know what Vox says -- don't ask for someone ELSE to do something; you do it!

At least, start sketching out the foundation, the structure, the possibilities. There isn't even an RPG yet. So, you could have the foundation /concept built for it is one Alt*Hero RPG is ready. AND if your system turns out great, it could be licensed to other RPGs?

Anonymous Avalanche October 24, 2017 7:20 AM  

@77 'Loads of people still resist ebooks, so maybe this is just ahead of its time."

Maybe stop thinking of it ("giving it a mental container" of) an eBook, and start thinking of it as a ... a resource hive, a game/GM -specific wiki, a .... what's the notetaking app? OneNote? I don't use it, so my understanding of it may be wrong -- but you throw info into it and then create your own linkages to 'sort' stuff into usable chunks? If you're a GM (which I'm guessing means Game Manager?), you set up your OWN "system" that supports how the games are set up and managed; with the linkages into, say a main (Castalia House Comics) game wiki? So -- each GM has a separate 'sub-wiki' (set up as best suits that GM) which links back -- and maybe pulls/embeds the info you want to have at your fingertips into your own subwiki?

Just throwing out some random things from out here on the ... "I'm not even sure how RPG are played" ... wing, based on what you're written!

Blogger VD October 24, 2017 8:01 AM  

I'm an odd duck.

Which is precisely why you should never give anyone advice on what they should do. If you know that, then you should also know your advice is likely to be bad for anyone who is not an odd duck.

Blogger VD October 24, 2017 8:07 AM  

Maybe nobody would use that feature. I dunno. What I think is useful and interesting often doesn't align with what normal people want.

This is precisely why engineer-driven companies so often get themselves into difficulties. "Hey, we can do something" is not synonymous with "hey, people want to buy that." This is the beauty of crowdfunding, as it is an excellent way to determine whether anyone is actually interested in your useful and interesting idea.

Engineers hate to admit that they break worthwhile things almost as often as they create new worthwhile things. "First, do no harm" should be adopted by them; it's an important principle the doctors aren't using anymore.

Who here doesn't shudder when Skype or Microsoft says they're going to improve your user experience and offers an update?

Blogger Dire Badger October 24, 2017 8:19 AM  

Avalanche wrote:@77 'Loads of people still resist ebooks, so maybe this is just ahead of its time."

Maybe stop thinking of it ("giving it a mental container" of) an eBook, and start thinking of it as a ... a resource hive, a game/GM -specific wiki, a .... what's the notetaking app? OneNote? I don't use it, so my understanding of it may be wrong -- but you throw info into it and then create your own linkages to 'sort' stuff into usable chunks? If you're a GM (which I'm guessing means Game Manager?), you set up your OWN "system" that supports how the games are set up and managed; with the linkages into, say a main (Castalia House Comics) game wiki? So -- each GM has a separate 'sub-wiki' (set up as best suits that GM) which links back -- and maybe pulls/embeds the info you want to have at your fingertips into your own subwiki?

Just throwing out some random things from out here on the ... "I'm not even sure how RPG are played" ... wing, based on what you're written!


Maybe scale is an issue... I mean, obviously, you don't want to invite piracy, so maybe you could look at what GM's and players NEED to look up frequently. And instead of setting up an entire PDF crosslinked and referenced for utility, you could just set up a set of quick 'cheatsheets' in a smartphone-friendly format.

stuff like... spending experience points, using superpowers, basic combat resolution, character creation, and maybe nondescriptive lists of variables someone might put on a character sheet... like limitations (code against killing, bloodthirsty) and/or powers, and the like.

That way the 'work' is only like a day or two for a truly useful item during a roleplaying session.


Of course, to be completely honest, if Castalia does NOT provide such a utility, The players absolutely will. I know I will, if no one else beats me to the punch, before I even start the first game.

So the real question is, how much content will Castalia ALLOW to be referenced by third parties, such as myself, without stepping on their rights? D20 toed the line at experience charts, and White Wolf at flavor text.

Blogger Freeholder October 24, 2017 1:07 PM  

From my experience, the http://www.d20pfsrd.com site for Pathfinder rules is really a go to source while GMing. Most of my players know the rules better than I do but I am the best at a consistent and believable world for them to run in, so therefore I GM. They seem to make money off of ads and ebook pdf's but I have no idea if it is a workable business model. The open gaming license seems to help facilitate this but I suspect the true economics are complicated.

Blogger Last Redoubt October 24, 2017 8:03 PM  

@VD

*Who here doesn't shudder when Skype or Microsoft says they're going to improve your user experience and offers an update?*

Me, because I've had to put up with the odd "improvements" in hangouts.

Not that I look forward to microsoft "improvements"

Or any "improvements" by any tech company these days

Anonymous The Danged Thing October 25, 2017 8:12 PM  

Roughcoat:
roughcoat wrote:I think it would be very nice to have a separate HTML version of the rulebook for active reference use on a tablet or laptop. PDFs are awful if you're not going to actually print them out, and a web document offers all kinds of possibilities for displaying information in ways that aren't practical/available in a PDF.
Have you seen EABA 2.1? They have a flat version, and an interactive PDF version with dice roller, etc. I don't care for the system much, but the interactive core ebook idea was new. http://www.btrc.net/eabav2

Dire Badger:
Dire Badger wrote:Maybe scale is an issue... I mean, obviously, you don't want to invite piracy, so maybe you could look at what GM's and players NEED to look up frequently. And instead of setting up an entire PDF crosslinked and referenced for utility, you could just set up a set of quick 'cheatsheets' in a smartphone-friendly format.

This is a fantastic idea. RPG cheat sheets are great. Few create these, unless you count quickstarts(which aren't really the same thing).

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