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 Post subject: Creature Catalog
PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 12:12 am 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

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OK... so apparently 'forum' means start your own thread. Ooops. Can you tell computers aren't my strong suit? :oops:

I also don't have a design team, or art team, so no snazzy fliers here... sorry. All I have are my words, so I give you the text from the first page of the Creature Catalog...

----------------------------

The young man, his face showing the first downy growth of beard wandered through his old room above the smithy. For 12 long years he’d lived here and built up his muscles upon the bellows first, and then eventually the apprentice’s anvil for horse shoes and mending old pots. Eventually he’d learned most of the arts of the smith, as did his 2 older brothers. He was a dutiful son… he simply had no desire to spend the rest of his life sweating over the heat of the forge and growing old drinking in the tavern with the village folk.

He headed down the stairs, rehearsing in his mind all the different ways that he could think of to tell his father that he was off into the world for adventure and riches. His father was in the smithy as usual, but he was tending to the final details on a beautiful set of scale male. Beside it was an antique shield of foreign design, but it was the brass hilted longsword that his father now held to the grinding wheel that drew the young man’s attention. He’d seen it above the mantle in the house for his whole life and had often dreamt of fighting monsters and rescuing damsels… even if he wasn’t sure what a damsel was, or what was supposed to be done with one after you rescued it.

The screeching and the sparks came to an abrupt end and there was the sound of a sword sliding home into its sheath with a hollow click.

“This is the part where you tell me that you’ve decided you don’t want to be a smith… how the wild places of the world call out to you for glory… or that you’re bored with village life?” His father hadn’t even turned around, but the emotion was there in his voice. Something new to the young man… his father was holding back his sorrow.

“How did you know, Father?”

“I can see it in your eyes, Caenor, you yearn for a life outside the village. The life of tall tales and treasure hard won.” he turned finally and looked his son in the eyes, “I was young once. I remember the fire in my blood.” He handed the sword to the young man. “Come on lad, suit up,” He said as he pointed to the armor. Caenor knew how to use it, the sword and shield as well, because you can’t make them properly if you don’t know how to use them and his father had taught him and his brothers well. He made short work of the task, and then he faced his father; who made a few adjustments to the armor’s straps.

“Thought so…” he mumbled, “figures my old suit would fit you so well.” Then he grabbed his son by the shoulders and giving him a stern look, “Remember the things I’ve taught you son, and always mind your surroundings; but, if you forget all else… then cling to this.” There was a pleading look in his eyes.

“Remember: the creatures you encounter out there… live in the wild. That means they are meaner, more durable, and better able to take care of themselves than you are!” Then he gave his son a hug and walked away to the tavern.

***

Later that night, Caenor made ready to camp beneath the stars. His excitement was fading with the growing fear born of loneliness gnawing at his resolve. He recalled that never before had the hollow thumping of his father’s wooden leg sounded so ominous.

***

Welcome one and all to the Creature Catalog. In its pages you will find:
• Pre-generated DCC RPG compatible creatures from the banal to the horrific, because most DM’s don’t have time to waste tinkering with game mechanics every time they run an encounter.

For DM's who enjoy a bit of tinkering...
• Detailed notes and suggestions on cross-breeding creatures.
• Tables for mutating the standard creatures or any of the critters your inner mad wizard can devise.
• A new version of the find familiar spell that will allow you to jazz up your PC and NPC wizards with powers and abilities based on their bonded familiar.
• The guidelines for modifying a familiar, and training it in class levels, so that it may lend aid to its master.

***

Right now I’m in the process of transferring my scatter of critter notes into one standard format. This is the first draft, but I figure that I can have a “bare-bones” data file of everything ready for testing by the end of January. When I get to that point then I’ll start interviewing for artists.

The main premise of the creatures in this book, is that people should be afraid of what lives in the woods, and other wild places. The wilderness of a D&D environment is no place for a picnic or leisurely hike to your favorite swimming hole. It is full of all manner of hungry bothersome critters that are waiting to pounce upon the unprepared.

Things you will not find in this work:
• Treasure tables. Most creatures don’t bother with treasure, and the ones who do are likely to be using whatever it is against the players, not stashing it in their lairs. Besides, every DM has their own ideas on appropriate treasure so why bother to codify things with tables?
• Threat ratings and encounter balancing architecture. The creatures of the wild don’t look for targets of equivalent strength… they hunt the weak, the sick, and the foolish. {A.k.a low level adventurers.} :twisted:

----------

@goodmangames> LOL! You bet I'll be updating my module's rule set... but I'll have to dig it out of a file box in storage first. :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Creature Catalog
PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 7:50 pm 
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Hard-Bitten Adventurer

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Sounds promising!

Other than having DCC RPG stats, what makes these monsters special over against the thousands of D&D monsters found in the various published D&D monster books?

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 Post subject: Re: Creature Catalog
PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 8:29 pm 
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Tight-Lipped Warlock

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I agree. I think the mutating and cross-breeding rules sound really fun. I'm looking forward to checking this out.


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 Post subject: Re: Creature Catalog
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 5:56 am 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

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Geoffrey wrote:
Sounds promising!

Other than having DCC RPG stats, what makes these monsters special over against the thousands of D&D monsters found in the various published D&D monster books?


Thanx! What an awesome question! I've sat here in front of my computer for 30 minutes now trying to answer it. I have answers... the trouble seems to be in getting them down coherently. :?

For starters, this work was born from the need to create the stats for familiars so there is an emphasis on unique creatures. For example, in the 3.5e monster manual their is an entry for Dogs, and it is one set of stats to cover any canine of about the size of a Labrador or Coyote. In the Creature Catalog, Dog, Fox, and Coyote are different entries because they are different creatures with different strategies for survival. Extending out from this is the idea that when used as a familiar, each creatures then offers the wizard different abilities. In the Creature Catalog this distinctiveness is most prominent with Birds... because they make great familiars.

Secondly, nothing is more frustrating as a DM than having to stop the game flow to spontaneously generate stat blocks and such for critters. Case in point: when I was running the gaggle of 0 level PC's through the "Portal Under the Stars" module several players in both groups rolled up characters with dogs, sheep, chickens, and such. The next question out of their mouths was: "What are it's stats? What can it do?" This book is an attempt to provide DM's with an easy answer. As a DM I have a limited amount of time for prep-work & play, so I don't want to spend time writing up monster stats when I could be working on story and plot developments.

Third, I'm sticking mostly with real world analogs for most of the creatures in the catalog. In the 3.5 monster manual, real world critters are scrunched up into a 16 page section with another 6 pages for vermin. The rest of the monstrous offerings for 3.5e MM's breaks down as: 1041 pages of monsters out of 1219 pages spread over 5 books. Then there are the other supplements which add their own complexities to the mix with templates and new 'types'... it's an avalanche of data that is quite daunting. Most of which cost big $ and just sit on the shelf not getting any use except in specific (and rare) settings. I'm attempting the opposite with the Creature catalog, I'm providing a stock of normal every-day critters that your PC's will be interacting with on a daily basis as they wander about the landscape; especially at lower levels. When something truly strange is needed, that is when the cross-breeding and mutation rules are deployed. :D And you can build what you need to fit your game... not spend hours searching through those supplement manuals looking for a creature that your players may not have memorized yet.

The animals and such in this supplement are treated as if they were just another form of NPC, and are assumed to be experts at being themselves. A tiger is a scary creature, especially since you are most likely to encounter it in its natural habitat of 10ft grass and snarled jungle undergrowth. It knows exactly how to maximize its advantages and has thousands of years of inbuilt hunting prowess Vs. the player's tiny band of would be hero's...

Does all this mean that I haven't written up some strange critters of my own to throw into the mix? No. I have the book loosely organized into chapters for Air, Land, Sea and Other. The first three are alphabetized and full of normal creatures found in those environments; the last section is where I put things like dragons, unicorns, demons, elementals, and aberrations. This organization stems from the idea that creatures come in basically 3 types: natural, supernatural, and aberration.

Another difference: no elaborate lists of skills that you then have to go look up, I handle critter skills the same way as I do for players; action die +Stat bonus + 1/HD +Miscellaneous. Some creatures may have a bonus to stealth, or a bonus to spot from acute senses; but that falls under the 'Miscellaneous' heading, and is clearly listed in the text for each animal.

Probably the most radical difference is in the way things move. I've devised a way to maintain realism without getting bogged down in too many calculations, and it all relies on the individual stats of the creature in question. The current world record for the marathon is 117 minutes and 6 seconds to cover 26 road miles. In DCC terms this works out to 195.555ft/round or; just over 13 mph. Considering a humanoid with strength 18 and stamina 18 and a standard (or tactical) movement of 30ft/rd.; with my mechanic this means they can reach a running speed of 180ft/rd (12.3mph) and it takes 6 rounds of running (30ft x 6 rounds) to accelerate to their running speed. They can maintain this speed for 127 minutes, and Fortitude saves are at 30minute intervals (or fraction thereof) and the first check is DC 10 (assuming average traveling conditions) and each check after that the DC goes up by 1. Failing any of these means the run is over and they must rest for 1d3 hours before continuing at more than a walking pace.

{NOTE: I could have gone for extreme accuracy here and had everyone multiply their STR stat by 10.863; but, some how I just don't think folks would go for it... :mrgreen: }

So, taking the Golden Eagle as the example for the "Eagle" entry in the Catalog, it can reach sustained speeds of 50+mph without diving... in the DCC system that translates to 75 to 80ft per second or 750 to 800ft per round. It's entry lists its acceleration as 50ft/round, deceleration at 100ft/rd, and a glide speed of 25ft. so it must maintain at least 25ft of forward motion, or it can accelerate and add 50ft to its current speed until it reaches limit. In the game environment this translates to fly by attacks where the eagle makes a reflex save after each attack to stay in flight, successful attack or not. Success means any the eagle can use the rest of its movement to either carry away its breakfast, or fly off to set up another attack. Failure means the eagle's speed is reduced to 0ft and they must land. The mechanics are the same for any flying creature.

This system doesn't need to be used, I'm writing things so that (in terms of movement) a DM could employ standard 3.5e movement schemes if that is more preferable. If this is the case then the eagle listed above uses the speed listed under "acceleration" as its tactical speed per the 3.5SRD.

-----------------

Hope this answers your question, (after about 4 more hrs of rambling :) )
I'll post more later... I have a game to prep for :mrgreen:


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 Post subject: Re: Creature Catalog
PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 3:25 am 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

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So... Assuming my last post didn't chase anyone off, I thought I'd start the new year off by saying that the version of the final manuscript for the core rules is fantastic.

I've been busy chained to my desk cranking out the creature catalog, when my computers aren't crashing and generally having a couple of bad tech weeks. Fortunately I didn't lose any of the 80 pages or so that I've got down already; more than half of which are pages full of critters. Some mundane, some new twists on old ideas. Having access to the final version has really helped me nail down the focus for the Creature Catalog. The short version is that my book will greatly expand on options that are already available in the core rules! As well as add a few things that I think folks will like.

So here is a copy of our promo flyer.

Image

In the next few weeks I hope to have some sample art and layout for everyone, but I'm waiting to hear back from some of my artist friends.

One of the things I could use some help with is advice about copy-write rules. Specifically, what are the rules concerning the material in the books of appendix N? There are a lot of neat critters in there, especially in the REH works. I would love for the Creature Catalog to have a chapter on Appendix N critters... but I don't want to get in trouble stepping on someones toes.


Oh yah... Apendix C: Curses... IT ROCKS!!


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 Post subject: Re: Creature Catalog
PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 6:13 am 
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Just curious about your use of the word "mutation" since I also play Metamorphosis Alpha and other similar games that use mutations.

Do you mean mutation as in "another variety, different from the last" or mutation as in "could have three arms and shoot beams from its eyes"?

If it's the second one, I'll post a link on the MA boards I frequent. 8)

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DCC Minister of Propaganda; Deputized 6/8/11
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DCC RPG playtester 2011, C&C playtester 2003,T&T since 2003,
ADRP Since 1993, OD&D player since 1975

"The worthy GM never purposely kills players' PCs, He presents opportunities for the rash and unthinking players to do that all on their own."
-- Gary Gygax
"Don't ask me what you need to hit. Just roll the die and I will let you know!"
-- Dave Arneson


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 Post subject: Re: Creature Catalog
PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:58 am 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2011 1:44 am
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finarvyn wrote:
Just curious about your use of the word "mutation" since I also play Metamorphosis Alpha and other similar games that use mutations.

Do you mean mutation as in "another variety, different from the last" or mutation as in "could have three arms and shoot beams from its eyes"?

If it's the second one, I'll post a link on the MA boards I frequent. 8)



I vaguely remember Metamorphosis Alpha, but I never played it. I'm more of a Gamma World fella. If that helps. :)

Of the two options you present, I'd say that your first option is covered by my supplemental on cross-breeding. It can provide a series of "variations" on a theme. My mutation table falls under your second heading, but no eye-balls shooting weapons. They are kind of like heavy-duty corruptions that are fun for everyone... not just wizards. The crucial difference is that mutations can sometimes be beneficial... assuming you don't mind the extra limb(s). :twisted: I have made it so that even the "beneficial" mutations come with a price tag.

I tried not to make anything that was too "super hero", and I don't want the mutations to be about adding spell powers. The few mutations that are close to spell effects or anything like that are significantly less powerful than the arcane versions... though they are more reliable.

By all means, link away! It wouldn't take much to swap these into a DCC RPG sci-fi adventure; I've left the causes of the mutations up to the Judges, I'm just writing up the results... messy or otherwise. I could totally see someone using the Creature Catalog to support an "it came from outer space" to menace our tiny rural town style adventure. A Judge could just as easily use this book to create the new alien species for the star-ship crew to encounter this week on "lost in space" v7.0 :mrgreen:


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 Post subject: Re: Creature Catalog
PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 10:26 pm 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

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@ Finarvyn> DUDE! Its all your fault! :mrgreen: :lol:

After your last post I was inspired... so I got to thinking.

Now the Creature Catalog has two mutation tables. #30 on table 1 now reads: "Roll once on the advanced mutation table."

While I was writing the first table I came up with 8-10 mutations that I thought were too powerful, or outside the realm of an FRPG. As the saying goes: waste not, want not. I figured out a neat mechanic to balance out the use of these abilities that I think you all will like and worked diligently to give these mutations both a FRPG & DCC flavor. :twisted:

General Update: (+33,000 words and still going...)
I have the chapter on Mutations done and ready for editing and a minor revision on the crossbreeding then its ready for editing as well. I'm going with a vertical format for the creatures that is similar to the OD&D and D&D3.5e format, so the first chapter is all about explaining the entries and how to read them. There is also a section (too small to be chapter) on the use of a hex based environment & other optional rules; all of these sections are also ready for editing. For the last 3-4 days now I've been researching and writing critters. :twisted:

I suspect that I'll be writing and adding critters right up to the day I send it to the printer. :D However, I've given myself to the end of February to write up the Menagerie. Then I'll take whatever I have and turn it over to a couple of friends for editing while I write up the modules.

---

I did want to take a moment to address one of my other posts... While I have tweaked things with my optional movement rules, I want to reasure folks that they will not be having to make these calculations every time they want to move their characters. Tactical movement is tactical movement, I just changed the shape of the grid and had to modify some of the rules for flanking, etc. The rest of the changes are for dealing with overland movement and the creature entries have all the info listed. Mostly the information and movement speeds are given to empower the Judge with an understanding of just exactly how terrifying a lion really is... how far can it sprint in order to run down the party stragglers? It turns out that Lions have one of the smallest heart to body mass ratios in the animal kingdom; if they can't catch you in the first 100ft then they are too tired to continue.


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 Post subject: Re: Creature Catalog
PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 8:08 pm 
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Tortog wrote:
@ Finarvyn> DUDE! Its all your fault! :mrgreen: :lol:

After your last post I was inspired... so I got to thinking.

Now the Creature Catalog has two mutation tables. #30 on table 1 now reads: "Roll once on the advanced mutation table."

While I was writing the first table I came up with 8-10 mutations that I thought were too powerful, or outside the realm of an FRPG. As the saying goes: waste not, want not. I figured out a neat mechanic to balance out the use of these abilities that I think you all will like and worked diligently to give these mutations both a FRPG & DCC flavor. :twisted:
Oh, causing trouble is something that I'm good at! :lol: Glad to have nudged you in the right direction!

_________________
Marv / Finarvyn
DCC Minister of Propaganda; Deputized 6/8/11
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DCC RPG playtester 2011, C&C playtester 2003,T&T since 2003,
ADRP Since 1993, OD&D player since 1975

"The worthy GM never purposely kills players' PCs, He presents opportunities for the rash and unthinking players to do that all on their own."
-- Gary Gygax
"Don't ask me what you need to hit. Just roll the die and I will let you know!"
-- Dave Arneson


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 Post subject: Re: Creature Catalog
PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 5:42 am 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

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OK... taking some much needed downtime today, so I thought I'd post an update. One things I've learned in this process is that you really know who your friends are when you start a project like this. :? I also never thought I'd have this much trouble trying to find an artist. I can do some of it myself I suppose, but that'll push the publishing date back.

The Creature Catalog
29 pages of 'this is how I did it...' along with some new ways to use Mighty Deeds dice for running, lifting, etc. and some table top stuff.

171 pages to describe 240 critters spread over 63 entries ( OK so I'm cheating a bit here :wink: and counting everything, many entries list different sizes as well as 'advanced' versions)

21 entries left to fill, which will add maybe another 50-80 critters

no entries yet for "j,k, t, v, x, y, z" yet, but this has a lot to do with how I've organized things. For example, the heading for Undead has zombies and vampires, and Treant's are listed with the Faerie's, etc.

14 pages of mutation tables

9 pages on crossbreeding. Though I'm still working on this part...

30 pages for 3 new patrons, with 2 spells each + my version of the Find Familiar spell.

253 pages
99,069words
Uncounted gallons of strong Earl Grey tea... occasionally spiked with brandy. :twisted:

Many of the creature entries are written to allow folks to play monsters as classes, and several of the creature entries can act as story starters. The module that I wanted to include is probably going to get saved for the contest, but it's up in the air at this point.

Well, back the the cave...
:mrgreen:


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 Post subject: Re: Creature Catalog
PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 11:56 am 
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Cold-Hearted Immortal

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Tortog wrote:
I also never thought I'd have this much trouble trying to find an artist. I can do some of it myself I suppose, but that'll push the publishing date back.


It might be worth checking in with the other 3pp folks, and maybe even making a 3pp resource thread. In such a small community, it makes sense to pool resources when we can.

//H

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 Post subject: Re: Creature Catalog
PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 8:25 pm 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

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Harley Stroh wrote:

It might be worth checking in with the other 3pp folks, and maybe even making a 3pp resource thread. In such a small community, it makes sense to pool resources when we can.

//H



Thanks for the advice. :D One of the folks over at CRAWL! has agreed to do some work on the project. :mrgreen: Which is the first bit of good news I've had in quite some time.


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 Post subject: Re: Creature Catalog
PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2012 4:32 pm 
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“This is Phred Phreely with the Crystal View News Channel, with the latest on Critter-gate. We join our correspondent in the field, live at the scene of the battle. Take it away Fritz! What’s the latest on the action at the embattled editor’s desk?”

“Well Phred, things are lightening up in here and the smoke is clearing, but the casualty reports are only just now starting to arrive, and I don’t think the shredder will ever be the same again. I really must say it was grim there for a while. The red ink was flowing across the pages like the waters of the mighty Mississippi, and all I can tell you at the moment is that we have unconfirmed reports of heavy casualties.”

“Wow, Fritz, it sounds awful. Is there any hope?”

“Well Phred I think it is safe to say that it will survive to see the light of day… Wait a moment Phred… (Listening to an earpiece) I can now confirm that an entire chapter was among the casualties. It seems that the Crossbreeding section wasn’t bringing enough to the work to justify its inclusion as a separate entity. Unconfirmed sources are saying that it has left its legacy as a couple of re-written entries on the Mutations chart.”

“Amazing… what else can you tell us?”

“Well Phred, I can tell you that late in the reviewing process we learned that most of the work on magic has been well received and delivered up to the neo-natal intensive care unit. I’m told that it will remain there on life-support pending the start of a new work on spells and the metaverse.” (Looks shocked for a moment, hand flying up to his ear, then covers microphone and whispers vigorously with someone off camera.)

“WHAT is it Fritz?! What has happened?!”

“Well Phred, I can confirm now that the Book has had to have emergency surgery to amputate its title… It seems that the title of: “Creature Catalog,” has been sorely overused in recent years. I’m being told now that a new one has been chosen. Yes, it is referring to itself now as: ‘Critters, Creatures, & Denizens” and has been moved off the critical list and is considered stable and it is now being sent off to artwork & layout for recovery. There are unconfirmed rumors of perhaps yet another round of editing after some more play testing. I’m going to continue monitoring the situation here at the editing desk while we all wait for more information. This is Frtiz Frelgerwunten saying: Back to you in the studios Phred.”

“Well, an amazing journey so far Fritz! We’ll be waiting for your next up-date, but for now, this is Phred Phreely saying goodnight to all of you out there in adventure-land; and if you’re out there on the trails, remember… don’t stop to feed the trolls.” :wink:


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 Post subject: Re: Creature Catalog
PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 5:25 pm 
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Keep us updated. Sounds great!

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 Post subject: Re: Creature Catalog
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 1:44 am 
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News Flash! This just in…
This is Phred Phreely saying good morning, or evening as the case may be! I’m here with another update; I just wish I had better news…
“Critters, Creatures, and Denizens” was found unconscious in a back alley today. It had been beaten severely and is listed in critical condition, but there are unconfirmed rumors that a necromancer has been summoned to the critical ward. The few witnesses at the scene report that the book was dragged into the alley where the action went down. The beating itself was over before anyone could see or apprehend the suspect. However the victim had numerous paper cuts; and there are unconfirmed rumors that a bent Copic marker and the shattered remains of an easel were found on the scene.

We here at the CVN will do our best to keep everyone informed as this grisly scene unfolds. This is Phred Phreely saying good hunting to all of you out there in adventure-land; and if you’re out there on the trails, remember… don’t stop to feed the trolls.”

***

I have a lead on someone who might be able to knock out a cover for the book, maybe the fifth try for an artist will succeed. Frankly, I giving serious consideration to by-passing print publication and offering the work as an $8.00 text PDF download; with a $2.00 module offered separately. Or both bundled up for $9...


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 Post subject: Re: Creature Catalog
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 4:05 am 
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Art can be hard to find... especially made to order and high quality at the same time... for instance, I could offer my service as an artist - but I am completely amateur and have not been able to finish a single piece of art for the last 4 years because I cannot maintain style and quality between multiple sessions of working on a piece (and finishing anything worth being a cover piece most certainly would not be manageable by me in a single sitting)

Have you tried fishing around deviantart for artists willing to do commission work, or the more elusive artist looking to finally get their work used for something so they can start building a "serious" name for themself?


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 Post subject: Re: Creature Catalog
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 8:24 am 
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What are you looking for, exactly, in terms of art? There are some samples of work I've done at www.danieljbishop.ca.

If you like what you see, you can PM me; we can work something out.

RC

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Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.


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 Post subject: Re: Creature Catalog
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 11:17 am 
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This book sounds interesting but it also sounds a bit disjoint. Why would a "Creature Catalog" have Mighty Deeds, Hex-based tabletop combat rules, and Patrons in it? At 250+ pages already, perhaps you should consider breaking it up into multiple products. Personally, selling a 250+ page PDF at $8 is ripping yourself off. You'll never be able to recoup the costs of illustrators on such a book. And a monster book without illustrations is a hard sell to most RPG buyers.

Are you really doing this alone? Or do you have an editor? And why are you having so much trouble with artists? I know from my former life in RPG Publishing the care and feeding of artists is a special skill. But like anything, it is one you have to practice to get good at.

PM me if you are interested in any specific help.


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 Post subject: Re: Creature Catalog
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 11:03 pm 
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Tight-Lipped Warlock

Joined: Fri Jan 28, 2011 2:52 pm
Posts: 1084
As another guy who's doing his best with what he's got...

Art is hard to get. Artists are all over the board pricing-wise. I've had two or three just disappear. And the ones that are solid cost a lot for people like me. My budget on art is, well, minimal. I'm having conversations with my wife centered on how much money we're willing to lose to print a book. Fix bathroom that's cracked and rotting and about to fall through the floor... Buy art for Transylvanian Adventures...

I totally get the art thing. It's tough to be doing all this writing and editing and then have to turn around and be an art director (which I'd liken to being a booking agent for an indie band, actually). And even if you lock down a reliable artist, there's no guarantee that what you get will meet your standards for art or even the art direction of the product.

And I've contacted some folks off deviantart too. Some of them are wanting twice what established RPG artists are asking.

Two words.

In. Sane.

At this stage in my life, I don't have the budget to front four-figures for art. God bless those that do. I'm trying to make something fantastic with what I got. I salute anyone else who's fighting that uphill battle with me.


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 Post subject: Re: Creature Catalog
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 5:14 am 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2011 1:44 am
Posts: 334
@TheNobleDrake> Thanx for the leads, I'll check them out. Don't judge yourself too harshly, remember: as artists we are our own worst critics. If you're interested send some samples to cognitionpressworks@gmail.com

@RC> There's some neat stuff in there. I bookmarked your site so I can peruse at greater length. I like your art, but you might want to check the blog... about half of the art wouldn't download and showed up as broken links. :)

The simple truth is that I'm a small start up company with a shoestring budget. Originally, I wanted to mimic the AD&D MM and have a simple black and white sketch for each of the critters. I wanted to have multiple artists both to speed up the process and to remedy the problem that TNG points out: producing quality artwork on a continuous basis and with a dead line is difficult. I'm an artist too, I know how it goes... I know how much coddling it takes to keep an artist happy and productive :mrgreen: Several of my family members have had me create wedding cake toppers for them, and I did a chess set as a wedding present for another friend. When I'm sculpting and painting a mini- nothing kills my inspiration faster than a dead line.

But the truth is I can't afford more than one artist, and the idea of illustrating a 266 page book is a little daunting for one person. At the moment I'm waiting to hear back from an artist that my wife found through her contacts. If that proposal falls through I'll definitely consider both of your offers.

To that end I revised my goals to covers + an appropriately themed art plate for the start of each chapter, and successfully pitched this to the artist I had, but his life got to be too busy and my project was the lowest priority... oh well, life sucks sometimes. There were originally 5 chapters, but I felt that as much fun as the crossbreeding section could be: it wasn't sufficiently different from the mutation tables to justify keeping it. <chop> I've been telling the artists to look through the critter descriptions and giving them the freedom to draw whatever inspires them, with the idea that the $ for anything beyond the chapter plates will be negotiated as we go.

@jmucchiello> Yes. I am doing most everything. I'd love to send this thing off to a professional editing service, but the cheapest bid I found was an English Lit. Grad student that was willing to do it for $800; which is $200 cheaper than any of the professionals. So far the best editing advice that I've gotten has come from Mr. G. It was both candid and mirrored my own editing assessments in several places. My wife went and did the paperwork and stuff to get the company all set, and has been doing extensive research into self publishing for a couple of years now. Here is where I do have some advantage in my production costs. Everything we've spent on getting Cognition Pressworks up and running was cash we were going to spend anyway. She has a Knitting design book that has entered the photography and layout stage, so the software and stuff we've purchased can be amortized over time to minimize the overhead $. The second great cash saver is that I place no $ value whatsoever on time, it is something that I have in abundance. This book that I have produced is something that I would have written anyway to facilitate my own games; so in truth I'm merely gambling on the idea that other judges will find value in the work. To that end it functions like a Swiss-army knife for game masters. The table top rules are really intended as a "Robert's Rules of order" for table top gaming with a revision for hex grids because they are flat out better than using squares. The funny thing is, having taken the time to write it out I came to the conclusion that it wasn't really needed. I said as much to Mr. G when I sent him a preliminary copy for review... he liked that section, so I kept it: but it could get spun off as something to post here for others to use or ignore at their pleasure.

***
I have unabashedly stayed closer to the 3.x monster formats and ideas, but IMO it loses none of the things that make DCCRPG so much fun. I have found ways to use the new dice, incorporate luck, and the Mighty Deeds concept is extended and applied to lifting, running, jumping, great feats of endurance, etc. The inspiration for these came directly from REH stories "Conan and the Frost Giant's Daughter" and "Queen of the Black Coast". Many of the creature entries, Vampires for example, are detailed enough that they can be used as characters. Other entries are intended to act as mini adventure starters; the material on Ancient Spirits, and several of the extra-dimensional denizens are good examples there. I've written an extensively researched (and rather large) section on Faeries. After a few encounters, the characters (and possibly the players) will pee them selves when you say the word "Faerie". This is partially accomplished by the creation of a separate critical table for Faeries that is full of all kinds of nasty surprises.

One of the things that I've done for my own game environment is that only Type 6 demons are powerful enough to qualify as Patrons. I wrote up a type 6 demon, so I followed up with the info to flesh that out for folks to use. The other two patrons were the ones I built for my beta game. They, along with nearly 2 dozen spells that Ive already written and the stuff on the Gods, are set to be the core of my next project... assuming this one goes anywhere.

As far as costs for the book, $8 for a digital download is no problem. I make plenty on the deal. We plan on working with LuLu.com for our printing (assuming I release a print version) As it stands right now, with semi-gloss paper, color soft cover and B/W interior, I was going to offer it for $12-15. The neat thing is that LuLu does all the leg work to list the book with Amazon, and all the the major book sellers lists... including international listings. The also include free ePublishing as part of the service, the downside, I have to do all the layout and stuff my self and hand them a "finished copy" to print from. Fortunately my father has a degree in graphic arts and taught me everything he knows, so doing my own layouts and stuff is simply a function of figuring out the software. With the digital priced @ $8-10 I still only need to sell 50 to 60 books to break even. In the print-on-demand format the break even point jumps to 120 units give or take.

Truth is, if I'm willing to push the publishing date back to autumn, I can probably knock out some of my own art. I'm a fair hand with a pencil, but the real problem is that I've never been able to draw people in cloths and armor. Landscapes, forest scenes, architecture and cartography... no problem: but no critters, and no people. I never got the knack for that, at least, not in 2-d mediums.

Anyways, thanx to all for the advice


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 Post subject: Re: Creature Catalog
PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 11:54 am 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2011 1:44 am
Posts: 334
"Welcome one and all, I'm Phred Phreely here at Crystal Viewing Network HQ, where our motto is: "we're here to inform you... eventually." And now... out to you Bob! What's the latest news and developments on 'Critters, Creatures, and Denizens?'"

"Well Phred, the CCD discharged himself out of the critical ward over a month ago against the best advice of his critics, and was last seen heading off towards the nearest library mumbling something about the miracle of margins."

"How very odd... What ever could it mean?"

"Well Phred, it is rumored that yet another chapter has been amputated in the name of streamlining the book; and the manuscript did seem much slimmer, but better developed upon leaving the editor's desk."

"Fascinating. Any other news Bob?"

"Well Phred, the CCD was spotted at the Free RPG day event in Portland,OR last month for his first official public play test on the gritty streets of Punjar. According to eye witnesses the Stardust of Ygiiz provokes rolls on the standard mutation table. One halfling was heard later saying that the wizard's horrific transmogrification was really creepy!"

"Wow Bob What happened?"

"Well, according to the surviving witnesses: everyone was preparing to divvy up the loot from the gem merchant's vault when the wizard figured out what the stardust could do... he frantically began rubbing it into his skin in hopes of enhancing his fortunes. It worked. But whether or not he boosted his fortunes significantly remains to be seen because he promptly turned into something horrible. Apparently the wizard's legs spun around in opposite directions until they twisted themselves off his body, but left no wounds. He then began to mutate into something that was half human and half spider that remained floating in the air despite the fact that none of its new limbs touched the floor."

"Yikes! That does sound rather dreadful."

"Well Phred, there's more... My information says that a cleric of Gorhan was working within the cell of thieves as an 'under-cover agent'. When the cleric tried to heal the wizard; the cleric ended up with a mutation of his own. The cleric's leg enlarged to monstrous proportions, causing difficulty with his movements." {the player of the cleric rolled a '1' on his healing check :twisted: }

"Amazing! Has there been any development on the 'a - r - t' problem?"

"Well Phred, I did manage to put that question to the author, but he just got a glazed look in his eye and half cackled something about a possible 'Plan-B'... but he refused to elaborate. He would neither confirm nor deny the rumors that prayers and a possible ritual sacrifice would be involved in this mythical 'Plan-B'."

"Interesting, well, I guess we'll just have to see what happens Bob. We're running short on time here at the studios, so you keep investigating out in the field and we'll get back to you later."

"Good night Phred."

"Well folks, I guess that about wraps things up for this edition of 'How the pages turn.' This is Phred Phreely saying good night and good luck to all you folks in Adventure-land! Aaand remember! No matter how much your friends may nag you... DON'T STOP TO FEED THE TROLLS!"

*****************

Seriously> I must say that despite the disturbing amount of 'blank canvas' in the manuscript and the fact that I was completely clueless about how long a project like this was going to take: everything else is going quite well. I nearly finished the 0-1st level bonus module while my wife was doing the final edit; the module is entitled: "Sir Pendyvr Goes Hunting." My players and I just recently resumed the epic game I started up for the beta test, but I hope to have this module ready for play in a couple of weeks. The editors have finished there work and I'm spending time learning Serif PagePlus v6 so I can put down the text layout. Folks we're rapidly approaching the point where art will be all that is left...


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 Post subject: Re: Creature Catalog
PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 11:37 am 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2011 1:44 am
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"Welcome one and all, I'm Phred Phreely here at Crystal Viewing Network HQ, where we bring you last week's news today! And now... out to you Bob! What's the latest news and developments on 'Critters, Creatures, and Denizens?'"

Well Phred; "I checked in at the writer's desk to find that there has been a sudden reversal of fortune! It seems the search for and the negotiations to hire an illustrator have concluded favorably and the project is now rocketing forward at break-neck speed. I'm told by inside sources that the final art layout is mapped out and the artwork is now arriving for placement. The artwork that has arrived is absolutely stunning!"

"Wow! That's really great news Bob! When can we expect to see it in the stores?"

"Well Phred, so far all estimates as to arrival have been insanely naive, but not only does this artist have talent, he's fast as well! However, no firm estimate has been made though I suspect it won't be long now. Apparently art & a final edit are all that are left now according to trusted sources."

"Bob, have you been able to find out more about what Critters, Creatures, & Denizens is... how it works?"

"Well Phred, I have, but I think the author said it best. Fortunately I surreptitiously recorded the comments of this notoriously reclusive individual..." Bob holds up a pale blue crystal, then looks annoyed when nothing happens. He smacks it against his other hand a few times and then the fuzzy image appears: it shows a bipedal tortoise-like being standing at a desk covered in notes and jars full of strange creature parts suspended in even stranger fluids.

Author; "I have tried to provide a menagerie of ready made critters for the busy Storyteller to throw out as fodder for the most blood thirsty of players as well as detailed material for the storyteller to entertain the folks who like to focus more on the story. Let's face it, who wants to spend time custom crafting a monster for every encounter, especially if the players aren't going to take the time to study or admire it... they just hurry on to the fancy use of cutlery. Besides, weird creatures are best used sparingly in my opinion, I noticed early on in my Appendix N research that for the several authors I read; they all understood the true secret to making something horrific, and that is to start with something innocuous or mundane... something anyone can relate to, then give it a subtle twist. I found that R.E. Howard was particularly good at this. Many of the creatures Conan fights are described not in terms of strange alien - tentacled things; but rather as normal everyday creatures that are different in some subtle or not so subtle way. "

Bobs voice from the recording; "What about all the creatures available in the Core Rules, aren't they good for fodder too; and could you give an example about what you mean about the Appendix N authors?"

Author; "Sure, I'll start with the second part of the question. In the story "The Phoenix on the Sword" for example, Conan must face a creature that is described simply as an 'unearthly baboon with jet black skin...' R.E. Howard then throws in the fact that this baboon had '...the face of a withered mummy...' Conan found this to be quite unsettling. However, it is only when his weapon (which had thus far never failed to cleave and sunder his foes) bounces of the creature, leaving Conan feeling like he struck solid stone: that's when even Conan flipped out and started to panic... As to the creatures in the Core rules, I love the ideas behind most of them and the powers that they have are really neat: I particularly like the Dragons, Demons and Oozes. However, I find that most are way too lethal for my tastes and the idea of having to show up for a game with not just one, but several stories prepared in case there is a string of TPK's gives me nightmares."

Bobs voice from the recording; "Well, you know that DCC is supposed to be carnage incarnate right? You could always re-run the adventure, it might work better with a different set of characters?"

Author; "True, and many folks really like that sort of thing. It has been my experience that it doesn't matter how good your players are; if they are playing through the same adventure multiple times there is always a subtle knowledge creep from previous sessions. Sure, the Storyteller can always juggle the rooms or switch around the order of the encounters.. but to me that's not nearly as fun as covering new ground. As to the lethality levels... I diverged from the pack early on in the public beta test on this score. I believe that the DCC characters, especially the 0-levels, are perfect in all of their wee, quirky glory; but most of the discussions seemed to have centered around finding ways to tweak the characters to make them more powerful: and I'm just as guilty of heading down that road. But I got to thinking that 'just as DCC requires a different approach to playing the game'; DCC also requires a different, more flexible kind of Storyteller... the spells and patrons particularly keep me on my toes. Besides, it is difficult to dial back a creature that is too powerful, but you can always add more monsters if you need them."

Bobs voice from the recording; "So what did you do, how did you approach this situation?"

Author; "Well for starters, I deliberately framed everything in terms that hold much closer to the D&D3.5 scalar model presented in the SRD. I have always thought that chapter 4, of the 3.5 Monster Manual 1 to be an inspired piece of game engineering... but with the rather tragic flaw that the critter's powers are linked to feats, which are
linked to their number of hit dice. This onerous little detail prevents people from simply studying a real world critter and transposing it (or some variant) into their game environment. In order to give creatures their real world abilities in the game environment you must over inflate its hit dice to cover all of its real world powers. So I chucked that part along with the skill system... mostly. I figure that critters are expert at being themselves and so whenever such a roll is required, simply use their action die and add their hit dice; creatures that are known to be particularly good at something like hiding or if they have a really great sense of smell will have a bonus listed for such rolls. I take the same approach to their other senses as well; it is assumed that these animals will have better eyesight and hearing than most humanoids (other than elves) and so I don't list out those types of things unless the creature has a particularly strong affinity for a given sense."

Bobs voice from the recording; "Wow, that could lead to some really astronomical dice results! How did you account for this spike in the dice results?

Author; "Simple, I limited the number of hit dice for creatures to 15HD max... It's a bit unorthodox, but player characters only get 10HD and are supposed to stride the world like pseudo-gods. I must admit that the type 6 demon patron I wrote up has a fair few more hit dice than that... but It's an exception to the rule and not likely to be encountered all that often. Most interactions will be with It's minion demons and corrupted wizards. I also chucked the DCC concept of fixed DC values for tasks and saves; returning to the more modern concept of DC's expressed as a function of a creature's hit dice because it makes for more scalable and plausible encounters. That's why I first focused upon the mundane critters that the 0-level characters often start with. I had real world data for many of them and used them to build the math behind the scalar tables. BUt critters are more than their statistics: the common chicken for example. Usually it is completely overlooked in its ubiquitous banality... BUT, when you actually research these critters you find that traditionally they have been viewed with great reverence and have been considered quite noble. Having been considered the embodiment of the sun God Ra in Egypt, or that throughout history and in various cultures chickens were respected for their powers of prognostication; and we're not talking about reading their entrails. The Greeks would use a few bits of grain and put them in front of the chicken and ask their question. If the chicken refused the food then it was considered a negative sign, if the chicken when for the food then there would be favorable resolution to the petitioner's question or situation. For that matter, how many folks remember their folklore... and the little detail about how the sound of a rooster's crowing will slay a basilisk instantly? These are the kinds of details that I'm talking about. They seem innocuous and even silly, but they act to give the Storyteller something beyond combat mechanics to toss into the mix... HEY ARE YOU RECORDING THIS?! My, you're a cheeky S.O.B.!" The tortoise-like creature snaps his fingers and the feed cuts out to static.

"Thanks Bob, that was an interesting look 'behind the DM screen' as the saying goes, but man... he's a long winded ba$tard isn't he?"

"Well Phred, I've not met too many authors, but it seems to be a common enough characteristic for them. I'm told that it was initially quite a problem, the original draft being more than 115,000 words and around 338 pages. I managed to track down what he meant by 'the miracle of margins.' It seems that by reducing the type face and adjusting the margins he was not only able to preserve more room for art, drop the work to a rather svelte 230 pages and still managed to pack an extra 6,000 words in there to help clarify and polish off the rough edges; but he even managed to stay fairly close to the one critter per page format. It's not perfect in this regard and some of the more elaborate creatures have 2 or 3 pages, but you have 95% of the info you need to use the critter right there on the page."

"Zoiks! Bob, that's quite a difference, I hope he didn't use a font that'll need a magnifying glass to read it?"

"Well Phred, I've seen the final layout and the text is still larger than the font they used in both the AD&D manuals and the 3.x manuals... and it doesn't have all those annoying 'textured pages' or the gray-scale art behind the words BS."

"Sorry Bob, we're going to have to cut this off here, I'm getting angry glares from the network manager for going over time. You keep investigating out in the field and we'll get back to you later."

"Good night Phred."

"Well folks, that wraps things up for this edition of 'How the pages turn.' This is Phred Phreely saying good night and good luck to all you folks in Adventure-land! Aaand remember! No matter how much your friends may nag you... DON'T STOP TO FEED THE TROLLS!"


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 Post subject: Re: Creature Catalog
PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:10 pm 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver
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Id love to pick up a print copy of this. Sign me up! :D

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 Post subject: Re: Creature Catalog
PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:21 pm 
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Hey,i would like a print version too.

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 Post subject: Re: Creature Catalog
PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2012 12:08 am 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2011 1:44 am
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Primus wrote:
Hey,i would like a print version too.


Well, I'm a die hard tree hugger, so I'll definitely be emphasizing the digital version; especially since it is bookmarked and easy to print from. But there will be both print and digital versions of Critters, Creatures & Denizens. Tnanx for your interest! :D
--------

Since I'm here I may as well take a moment to chat about some of the other features of the book:

Chapter 1 is where I set down the details of 'what & how' I did things, but it can also be used to take existing creatures within the DCC core rules and tweak them a bit so they fit a little better along side the rest of the creatures in the book. It also provides the tables for scaling creatures up and down in size, however, I've done this for you already for many of the creatures. For example, the entry for frogs lists out the data for sizes: 'smallest' to 'huge' for the storyteller's convenience; but larger frogs can be easily created with the tables from this chapter.

The mutations chapter is where I tried to provide something for folks who may want to play a really weird character, or for the storyteller to do radical things with the creatures/ environments of his or her game. For example, one of the mutations is one that is familiar to all of us and it is called 'Displacement'; as in 'Displacer Beast'. I always liked this critter, but it always seemed that from an evolutionary biology perspective: this mutation/ ability would be more prevalent in herbivores and prey species... so allowing it as a direct mutation then allows for things like an entire 'displacing' ecology where EVERYTHING has this mutation... even the trees. :twisted:

Oh, and the demonic Patron has 2 new spells, Invoke Patron results, Patron taints, and several classes of demonic minions.

I'm currently trying to come up with an ad flyer to post at the two GG sites, but I'm also investigating other aspects of the marketing. I'd like to add a registration card (or its digital equivalent) so that people will open their email and occasionally find new creatures waiting for them to use. I regret the fact that I won't be able to add in the bonus module; Its written, but I have no room in the art budget for dealing with it, and I haven't had any time to play test it yet. I don't want to push the date back on the CCD any more than I must.

That's all for now... I need to get back to work. :mrgreen:


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