Thursday, March 26, 2015

It's time for Expanded Petty Gods Prooofreading

Gather ye, oh minions of the petty gods of grammar and spelling,
for now is the time to lend your eyes!

IMPORTANT!!! DO NOT VOLUNTEER IN THE COMMENTS SECTION OF THIS POST!!!
PLEASE EMAIL THE ADDRESS NOTED BELOW!!! (I will not be following up with volunteers who do not email me as instructed.)


You must know how to use sticky notes in PDFs
(and if you haven't used them before, it's time you learn).

This book will consistently use the American spellings of things (e.g., "armor" instead of "armour", "traveler" instead of "traveller", etc.). You must feel comfortable enough to catch these on your own, or you will need to know how to change your dictionary for spell-checking.

Email pgcopy(at)newbigdragon(dot)com, with a short review of what qualifies you to help proof this beast (list relevant experience or other titles you've helped proof). Also, let me know how many pages you reasonably expect to proof during a single week (7 days).

You may leave questions below. You must email to volunteer.

Monday, March 23, 2015

"Valley of the Five Fires" Lead-in Suggestions



First off, I wanted to say "Thank you!" to all the folks who bought Valley of the Five Fires over the last few days. Next, I wanted to address a very good question that came up over the weekend.

"Because this is levels 4-9, what is the most perfect lead in module(s)
you can recommend to go with this?"


Welbo and I are actually working on a low-level module to do this very thing (tentatively intended to be module "VA0"), as well as plant some seeds for a third module ("VA2") that would act as a companion to the setting AND utilize the BX psionics system I've been developing. That being said, it doesn't really address the need for "now."

When I originally wrote Valley of the Five Fires, a lot of it was designed to be very flexible in terms of character level. For those seeking a lead-in from levels 1-3 or so, I would suggest the following...

Start by downloading The Lost Caverns of Azgot. It's designed to be part of the setting for Valley of the Five Fires. There are some very general area descriptions with complete flexibility for the DM to add his/her own monsters/treasure (it's got those little "fill in your own" spaces like the original monochrome version of B1: In Search of the Unknown). Given that the caves have been sealed off for so long, I'd suggest skeletons (using the armor and weapons specific to the setting; see. p.16-17 of V5F), as well as some giant rats, spiders, beetles, etc.

From there, you can actually get into the module itself...

The "Stupa of Divine Madness" is also very generic in terms of encounters (there are actually very few monsters, with most of the encounters being thinking/problem-solving in nature).

The "Tower Tomb of the Three Brothers (Bandit Lair)" (pp.48-50) is designed with a "scalable" encounter/treasure format. At the low end, you can run this as an adventure for levels 2-4.

By the time you run the three adventures above, the characters might not quite be at 4th level, but they'll likely be close enough to run a couple of other adventures in the book (possibly with minor tweaking).

From there, I'd suggest "Süm Sakhius (Ogre Lair)" (pp.52-52) and "Deathspire Rock" (p.54).

By the time they've complete the above, they'll like be ready for the major quest in the book, as well as the encounters with the chötgor and the phase giants. (BTW, you might want to throw some oil of etherealness as treasure in some of the earlier adventures. It will really help in those encounters with the phase giants.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Expanded Petty Gods: Preview of Back Cover Illustration

Now that I've had a chance to make sure it looks as good on the printed book as I hoped it might, I can reveal the back cover illustration for Expanded Petty Gods. It's "collage" of sorts that I created by retouching elements from a variety of Nicholas Roerich paintings, and combining them with a starry background that I "painted" in Photoshop. (I actually did the background when I was still testing that loaner Wacom Bamboo tablet a couple of months back.) I tried to pull colors that would hold it together with Thomas Denmark's front cover illustration, and the orange spine and type elements. I was actually pretty blown away by how well it held up when I got the "pre-pre-preview" print from Lulu.com on Friday. I also like how it seems to allude to the original Erol Otus back cover for Deities & Demigods, and acts as a nice visual contrast to the front cover (open/sky/mountains vs. intimate/temple/jungle) while still feeling they work together.



Thursday, March 5, 2015

Yet Another Expanded Petty Gods Update

Have a ton to do today so I'll make this short and sweet.

All copy is complete, minus the artists index!!!
I finished writing all the section intros and accompanying explanatory notes. I still would like to make a general content edit pass before I start doling out proofreading work, and I need to make the style sheet they'll use to check against, but this feels like a MAJOR accomplishment. It not only means all copy is complete, it also means that I now know every specific arthole there is to be filled.

I ordered a test print copy from Lulu.com last night.
There were still a couple of copy holes in the version I sent off (which I filled this morning). And there are still a few dozen "black boxes" acting as placeholders for final art pieces. But I did put the cover together, including a potential back cover. I want to see how it prints before I reveal it. (I'm not sure it works with the front cover, but it's hard to know until I see it "in hand").

There are less than 20 god/minion illustrations left to complete.
That's the good news. The bad news is, between the Divine Items, Spells, and Appendix art needs, there are still like 50 total illustrations that need to be done (including the gods/minions). I've created a list for this, so I know exactly what needs to happen, but I need some time this weekend to assess the list and put plans in place for getting this taken care of.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Another Expanded Petty Gods Update

Things keep trucking along with final elements. As I mentioned over the past week, I've completed the gods index and the writers index.

The other big step last week was getting the stats edit from Matthew Skail. Mostly, that just means he filled in a LOT of "TBDs" (particularly for Hoard Classes and Experience Points) throughout the book, and he called "BS" on a few additional XP stats. I know this was a daunting task, and his assistance was invaluable. That means all of the TBDs have now been filled in, except for some artist credits for some as-yet-undone art pieces.

Over the weekend, I started to work on the content for the intro/overview/explanatory notes page that begins each major section. I completed the "Minions" and "Spells" intro pages, I have an outline completed for the "Divine Items" intro page, and I have some reference notes for the Cults intro page. I'm hoping by the end of the week I'll be able to finish these pages. I'm also hoping to make a general edit pass of the book to tweak style issues and edit a few specific entries with the goal of releasing parts of the book to proofreaders next week. (I will be reaching out this week to those folks who've volunteered their services, in order to check on availability, etc.).

There will also be an "Appendix N." The list of authors/works referenced specifically inside the book is about 2/3 done, and Greg Gorgonmilk and Matthew Schmeer are working on helping me finish this out, as well working to create the "Inspirational Reading" list.

Things are moving, people. Things are moving!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Expanded Petty Gods: Alphabetical Index of Gods

Ultimately, I had hoped to build an alphabetical index of domains by which the gods could be referred. However, I realized how nearly impossible that task could be (possibly taking longer than laying out the whole book, if you can believe that). For example, for Erik Tenkar's Pandantilus, Lord of the Privy and Patron of Gong Farmers and Muck Rackers, I suppose I could create entries for "privy," "gong farmers," and "muck rakers," but that doesn't even begin to help DM's who might be looking for "feces" or something similar. Hell, even "gong farmer" can be "gongfermor," "gongfermour," "gong-fayer," "gong-fower" or even "gong scourer." Also, since the domain of so many of the petty gods are quite inclusive, building an exhaustive list would require re-reading each of the 315+ petty gods entries, adding a who-knows-how-long list of associated words, and trying to build the index from that. This is why building an alphabetical index by topic that would be truly useful seems to be near impossible (from my POV).

So I've made an executive decision. I've laid the index out alphabetically, with the gods' names, domains (as listed in each entry's header), alignment, affiliations (pantheons/cults), and page number. The entire section is 9 pages long. I think that's short enough for DM's to peruse in a few minutes and find a petty god that may fit their needs, but complete enough to actually be useful.

Even building this index still took several hours. Imagine how long it would have taken to build the other one.