Monday, March 25, 2013

Hey There

Long time no speak, I know.

I've been not feeling it lately, between looking for work, dealing with getting my health in order and it being spring (or Sprinter as I am calling it).

Needless to say that I haven't been terribly inspired to rant and rav about gaming, comics or really anything in particular.

That said I feel the fog lifting, so you might see my return sooner than you think, with lots of opinions and comments, just like before.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Comics, Digital Revolutions and the Future

Hello again.

I would like to address the statement "Kinda long for a comic".  I have heard this from more than one person who has read the script.  It struck me as odd, like saying "Kinda long for a novel" or "kinda long for a movie".  Just because Marvel & DC feel that a comic should be 20 to 22 pages these days doesn't mean all comics have to be.  Do they?

I think not.

If nothing else, the digital comic self-publishing avenue allows us to tell comic stories as long as we want.  It isn't a TV show in the end, where we have to have X amount of minutes per half-hour set aside for commercial breaks and the show has to end on either the top or the bottom of the hour.

This is now a freer medium, due to the print impositions being lifted.  Much like in the roleplaying game world, the self-publishing revolution has lead to some brilliant pieces of work (and yes some turkeys) so to can that happen for digital comic books.

For that to happen though I think two very important things need to occur, first being that we need artists to start coming to sensible rates for their work (some do, but far too many do not).  While I understand that every artist is trying to make a living at this (note to too are writers), when the industry standard (IE: What you get paid walking in the door at Marvel or DC) is $100 - $125 per page of pencils, where is the logic in demanding $150 - $200 a page when you are an unknown artist and you are not working for Marvel or DC?  This, of course, is a discussion for another day, but one that needs to be had.

The second thing we need to do is to shake off the traps and limitations of the old ways.  Marvel and DC have worked out their formula of page counts from a mostly cost-to-profit basis.  Not because 22 pages is the best way to tell a story, or the audience will only read 22 pages and then get bored.  It is because based on art, writing, and production costs, vs. sales and advertising revenues, this hits a sweet spot for them.  Or it did for one of them and then like always the other played follow-the-leader.

I remember reading an article years ago, sometime after 2000 I think, where the writer took a critical analysis of the American comic book industry and compared it to the Japanese model.  His conclusion was that for the industry to survive another 20 to 30 years it would have to move away from monthly titles and start heading towards the idea of quarterly trade-paperbacks that told a complete story.  At the time most of the comments seemed to be geared towards telling him what an idiot he was and other less than savoury things, but here we are 13 years or so later and everyone is "writing for the trade" as they say.  Stories that come out monthly, but are being told with an eye towards collection sales, which are becoming the real bread and butter of the industry.

So make your comics as long or as short as you want them.  There is no one to tell you you are wrong, save yourself (or your publisher if you have one) and at the same time put as many or as few toppings on your pizza as you like.

Cause I'll tell you this, if you don't write something that makes you feel satisfied, how the hell can you expect a reader to be satisfied by it?


HEROIC: D6 Supers - Attributes Update

So as I sit down to make characters for this playtest, I realize something that I really wanted to change and forgot to, but am unsure if it would work.

The idea is to fold Strength and Endurance into one stat called Body.  This leaves us with Fighting, Agility and Body as our physical stats.

What this also means is that Super Strength as a power replaces Body for ALL Strength related tasks, including damage.  Now the only issue becomes this, well how much can one person lift if they don't have Super Strength?  Now I don't know about you, but I have never seen a Superhero comic where there was great drama for a hero lifting anything under a ton.  Maybe that comic exists, but I've never seen it.  So that leaves me thinking, we don't really need to know how much a hero can lift, except when they are either super strong (a power) or super weak (a hindrance), so is a "regular Joe" lifting chart really needed?

Now I can already see issues that could crop up like, needing to have more dice in Super Strength for it to be effective in combat, though you could simply rule that for damage purposes you add the two together (Super Strength + Body) or that if your Super Strength is less than your Body, use Body for hand-to-hand damage, or even for every 2D in Super Strength you have, you add +1D to Body Damage.

Actually that last one appeals to me the most.

Could also use that for resisting damage as well.

Not a perfect solution but easily one that can be used.

So, now we have our Body entry like this;


A measure of the raw physicality of the character, including his endurance, his ability to resist damage and his over all physical fitness.  It also determines the base amount of dice used in a hand-to-hand attack.

Rank    Benchmark
1          Reduced or impaired ability
2          Minimal ability or exercise
3          Occasional exercise
4          Moderate exercise
5          Regular exercise
6          Intensive exercise, limit of human ability
7          Enhanced ability
8          Enhanced and trained ability
9          Rarely tires, great fortitude
10        Never tires


For each 2D you have in Super Strength, add +1D to all Body related calculations regarding Damage (dealing and taking) and for any Skill that relates directly to raw physical power.

Rank    Benchmark
1          1 Ton
2          10 Tons
3          100 Tons
4          1000 Tons
5          5000 Tons
6          10,000 Tons
7          50,000 Tons
8          100,000 Tons
9          500,000 Tons
10        1,000,000 Tons



Climbing - The hero knows how to scale a vertical surface. She can move up the surface at her normal movement rate (barring environmental factors) with this skill; otherwise she moves at half her normal rate.  Specializations include rock climbing, indoor wall climbing, rope climbing, wall-crawling, etc…

Feat-of-Strength – When a hero has to push themselves or dig down deep and get that burning car off their teammate, or hold up the crumbling building, etc… this is the skill that is used.  Note it does not increase the amount the character can lift.  Specializations are things like carrying, dead-lifting and pressing.

Leaping – This skill governs leaping over pits, chasms, or other obstacle gaps, as well as jumping up and grabbing an outcropping. Specializations include things like long jump, high jump and such.

Resistance – Need to resist the effects of a poison?  Need to see if that power nullifying field is stronger than you?  Need to hold out against an alien plague?  This is the skill.  Specializations are toxins, diseases and energies.

Running – When you need to go a little faster or last a little longer in the race, this is the skill for you.  Specializations include sprinting, marathon and pacing.

Stamina – When all else fails and you have pushed yourself to your limits, this is when stamina is called into question.  Specializations are Pushing and Exhaustion.

Swimming – This skill helps the hero float as well as move quickly through water. For every round the hero wants to float or cover some distance, she must make a swimming roll.  Specializations include long distance, short distance, diving and treading.

Wrestling – The only hand-to-hand style that doesn’t use Fighting as its base.  Wrestling is used primarily for grappling attacks (see Combat for more details) and specializations include specific maneuvers.

The change to Body also means the need to change one of the Active Defenses, specifically Soak.


(Fighting + Agility + Body)/3 round up

I am now very sleepy, so I will get back to this later, but I think I am on to something here.

More tomorrow, but right now sleep!


HEROIC: D6 Supers - Playtest Imminent

So this coming weekend I get to run a game for my old group, with two players making a one time appearance (both have kids and haven't been able to game regularly for about 2 years now), and I have decided to pick-up and run my DC LEGACY campaign.

In this game the DC Universe starts with Superman in 1938 and everyone ages normally and passes down their mantles to their progeny or strangers pick-up the mantles.  It was a LOT of fun when I ran the campaign back in 2009 and I am really looking forward to running it again and playing with these friends.

Last time I ran it we used FASERIP (Marvel Superheroes RPG from TSR) but I think this will be an excellent time to test out this little monster I am creating!

I will be back with a full report after the game.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Heroic Issue 1 - 8th Draft

So here it is, the fabled 8th draft of issue one PLUS the Epilogue.

Now for the most part this is tightening and minor tweaks to streamline the script.

There won't be a 9th draft at this point, well except for the Epilogue, that might have one or two more rewrites to it, but rather than wait here is it for your reading pleasures!

HEROIC Issue 1 - 8th draft with Epilogue

Please leave any feedback below, good or bad.

For me, except for the Epilogiue, I am off to work on issue 2 now.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Zenith Comics, You and Me

So here we are in the middle of March and Zenith Comics is still struggling to get our first comic out the door.

Often, when these long delays in achieving goals or even getting production done I tend to get a bit squirrelly and start second guessing myself.

Let me share that process with you so you can understand how my mind works.

I chose to write the story for issue 1 that I did for a very simple reason.  There was no way I could see to tell the history of the Zenith Universe without performing a massive info dump on the readers.  Not the best way to introduce a new universe, treating it like a history text book that is.

Now this just makes sense, introduce the universe in 3 steps, 1 a prologue that sets up some of the universe back story and presents a mystery.

2 tell the story of a new hero entering the world so we can see it through his eyes.  Again I can't resist tying him to the rest of the mystery without making it too obvious.

3 add in the epilogue that introduces a 3rd side to the whole conspiracy angle.

This works and everyone who has given feedback on the script (minus the epilogue, which as yet remains unwritten) has been very vocal and supportive, wanting to see it in print.

Alex is gay.  It is the way it is.  I thought about changing it, making him straight and not worrying about it, but he won't let me.  He wants what he wants and I have no choice but to obey that or I will betray the story.

Okay, I can more than live with that and it makes the story stronger and unique.

So why am I losing the faith?  Why am I getting squirrelly?

Simply the lack of progress, after losing 2 artists and now in a holding pattern with a 3rd while he gets some other projects done.  I don't want to announce him to your all or show you his work, until I see the first set of work on the Zenith Universe.

One bitten, twice shy as they say.

So what is the point of all this rant?  I have no idea really, I think I just needed to get it off my chest.

Look, there is one thing I want to say, and that is this.  I need your interaction, I need your feedback, support and hope.  I need some outside energy to help me rekindle my engines, cause the tank is running dry and it's 100 miles until the next gas station.

If you get what I mean.

Read the script here, share it with your friends, post comments below and even jump over to the Facebook page and start the chat there.

If you want to Zenith go forward, this is a way that costs you nothing and pays off in spades as it will revive my imagination and my work ethic to get this product up and out.

So there it is, this is me asking you to help me by showing me that you care or that there is interest.

Consider it a reaching out, a cry for help or a shot in the dark.

Whichever you choose to see it as, but if even 10 of you do what I am asking, that could be the start of a ball rolling.

This is me, hoping and praying in Montreal.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Still Alive...

Sorry for the absence, but my personal stuff is occupying my mind these days.

Also, in the weirdest twist I never saw coming, I am starting a Star Trek campaign for my players tomorrow, using THOUSAND SUNS!

I know right?


More to come when I get the chance.