GE17: Meet Ben and Brent

Ben Gerber & Brent Newhall cover for Jonathan while he’s engaged with real life stuff for his first home.

Brent and Ben sneer at real life, preferring to spend our time on the internet. Where it’s virtual, and friendly. They do what comes naturally, which is talk about themselves.

They discuss their upcoming projects, talk a bit about board game design, and Ben also does a month in the life of a indie publisher, where the cover about the numbers. Total units “sold” (including free stuff), total gross and total net $$$ and the fact that a lot of people who get a free copy to review it, don’t end up reviewing it.

Many thanks to Ben and Brent for covering for me while I was indisposed.

Don’t forget to listen to Episode 16: 5 Great Soundtracks, if you haven’t done so yet.

Continue reading “GE17: Meet Ben and Brent”

The ZOMG! Indie Talks Podcast sale!

Indie Talks launches tomorrow! ZOMG! My new podcast hits the etherwaves with episode #0 on June 6th.

On Indie Talks, you’ll get to meet the people behind independent gaming. Also the people in front of it. And those slightly off to one side of it. As I’m preparing to record episode #4 tonight, and launching with my little introduction tomorrow, it occurred to me that I, too, am an indie game developer.

This means that I answer to no one but myself. Am master of my own fate! Can achieve anything! And I get to say when my stuff goes on sale.  So a sale it is! Get $12.95 of my best selling stuff for the nice, round sum of $5.00.

This sale will last a week – until Indie Talks episode #1 with Tracy Barnett goes live on Wednesday, June 13th. What you get:

  • Argyle & Crew – Adventures in the Land of Skcos
  • Argyle & Crew – The Little Book of Big Ideas
  • Devious NPCs and Curious Creatures (Pathfinder)
  • Herbology of Aruneus (Pathfinder)
  • Mirkmoot’s More Magical Mayhem for Creatures Great and Small (Pathfinder)
  • The Supplicant – a new Character Class for Aruneus and Pathfinder (Pathfinder)
  • The World of Aruneus – Contagion Infected Zombies (Pathfinder)
  • The World of Aruneus – Orcs! A new Player Character Race (Pathfinder)
  • Mirkmoot’s Magical Accouterments for Creatures Small and Great (Pathfinder)


The Gods of Aruneus – available today!

The latest Aruneus PDF has hit the streets! The Gods of Aruneus is available as of today, for $1.00 at Drive Thru RPG.

Aruneus is a source book for the Pathfinder Role Playing Game detailing the world, politics, and lives of those living in a high fantasy world one hundred years after a cataclysmic zombie apocalypse.

Aruneus is a new world for use with the Pathfinder Role Playing Game system. 100 years past, Aruneus experienced an apocalyptic event. Starting in a small village, a family infected by a strange sickness died, only to rise again several days later. Within weeks hordes of undead were roaming the Human empires, ravaging any warm blooded creature that fell in to their grasp. Aruneus was devastated – losing in a few years over 10 million sentient beings.

After 100 years of fending off a complete collapse, the sentient races are rebuilding their societies and for the first time there is hope that the undead menace can be destroyed and life given a chance to flourish again.

The Gods of Aruneus gives the divine backdrop in which the zombie apocalypse was formed. Have the gods abandoned this world?

  • Six gods
  • Six new Domains
  • A new threat for the world of Aruneus

You’ll find 10 pages of new material for use in your Aruneus campaign, or in any Pathfinder or d20/OGL game. You’ll also find a new, tougher class of zombie which not only turns humans, but other races as well!

I'm a guest on the Tri-Tac Games podcast, as we talk about zombies in RPGs

If you haven’t heard of the good folks at Tri-Tac Games, you should certainly check them out! They’re the publisher of Buerau 13, Fringeworthy and other great titles.

A few months ago I had the opportunity to sit down with them (virtually) and record a podcast about disasters and surviving them in RPGs. This particular disaster is one that I have a passing familiarity with – a zombie apocalypse!

Go grab the podcast right here!

More about the Tri-Tac guys. They host a weekly podcast titled Fringeworty: Tri Tac Games Podcast and it’s quite good. They do a bit on their own games, but more often then not cover many topics dealing with RPGs on a whole.  The relationships between players, GMs and product.  I’ve gotten a number of good ideas from them and have enjoyed many of their discussions on game theory.  Certainly worth a listen!  Their episodes fall between 30 minutes to an hour long (except the occasional actual play episode, which are longer).

Find them via Podbean, or iTunes.

Finally – an Aruneus update!

A rough from Aruneus module 1

With my shoulder finally cooperating again (I was knocked out of action for a bit of the old major surgery) I’m finally able to get back into writing, editing and layout.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been taking stock of everything I have written for the Aruneus project, and everything that still needs to be done.

I’ve added about 2000 words and done a lot of compiling, editing and moving around. I’m slowly being able to put more hours into this, which is a good thing. I want to get back on track and finish this first sourcebook as quickly as possible.

I’ve now got a bit of experience in doing print on demand as well, which will make layout and optimization of this book a whole heck of a lot easier (and faster).

I’m starting to get the last of the artwork I need to finish! I’ve made the decision that once Tim delivers the rest of the artwork he’s got on order, I’ll be using stock art I’ve already purchased to fill out the rest of the book where needed. I already have this on hand, and while it won’t be created on spec, it’s here already.

I’ve included an unfinished piece that Tim’s currently working on for the 1st module, because I like showing off new artwork and you all deserve to see some progress on this project! Note that this is an unfinished work and it will look a lot more polished by the time Tim’s done with it.

The Supplicant – a new Pathfinder character class

Forged from the resolve of a single tortured soul, the Supplicant is willing to give up everything to become that which they are devoted to destroy. They are a force of divine power bent on the destruction of the zombie hordes which plague Aruneus and have sworn a sacred oath to themselves to fight until the last of the undead are destroyed.

Meet The Supplicant – the latest addition to the World of Aruneus!

Supplicants are a class that draws from the reserve of the ambient divine power. Through their utter devotion to their cause, they can tap this in a way others cannot. They have two major roles. To move through this world as freely as possible, even in the presence of the undead, causing as much damage to them as possible is their first role. Their second roll is to make survival easier for others left alive.

The Supplicants are a new addition to the world or Aruneus and their numbers are not great. There are thought to be less than two hundred Supplicants currently alive today. Because of their history, they are generally violently opposed to the Order of the White Cloth, and place some of the blame for the zombie apocalypse on the Order’s shoulders.

Since the Supplicant can, for a time, make themselves immune to detection from  Contagion Infected Zombies, they are incredibly formidable foes against them. Anyone who has seen a Supplicant take the field single handed against a horde of zombies and emerge alive and unscathed can attest to this.

Spreading yourself thin creatively and why that can be positive

When I get right down to it and take a good look at myself, I’m an optimist at heart.  I’ve also been going through a burst of creativity these last few months as I’m working on old ideas and new ideas keep popping in to my head. The result is an almost overwhelming flood of projects heading straight towards me.  But honestly, this is a good thing.

Granted I’m looking at all of this from the hobbyist/creator point of view. I’m not getting paid by anyone to do all of this and since they’re all my projects, that means any deadlines I face have been set by me. Sure, I do make some money off of these things but it’s really a trickle – just enough to keep me in new bits of my gaming hobby and support the projects I already have going.

The good thing about being almost overwhelmed by projects is that when I grow tired of working on one thing, I can take a few moments to mentally shift gears, and then I have a whole range of other things to choose from.  There are projects that take a certain amount of sarcastic humor to work on, and others that involve as much number crunching as creative writing.  Funny things, interesting ideas without mechanics, crunchy mechanical bits, writing about other people’s projects.  It’s all good!

I’ve always wanted to write for an RPG publisher, or develop a new board game, or do some creative writing! I’ve just gone about shoving my way into the field on my own, rather than following the older, more traditional path.

I like to keep lots of things going, and actually enjoy managing it all. This is of course happening while I’m not at my day job or spending time with my family, which limits the number of actual hours I can pour into the pot.

Argyle & Crew

Argyle & Crew, the “Sock Puppet RPG” is my latest nearly complete project. I have a kickstarter project going for it (with just 9 days left as of now) to hire professional artists and layout folks.  I’m not confident this will get funded, with just 9 days left and only at 35% completed.  Funded or not, the game will move forward! I’ve really, really enjoyed working on this.  A few months ago I took a break from my other big project to avoid serious burn out and Argyle & Crew was the result of that break. It took me about two months to write and, as far as the game itself is concerned, it’s finished.

A&C is a cooperative storytelling game with RPG-lite rules designed with kids, parents, educators and councilors in mind. Instead of a character sheet, you have your Soppet (SOck puPPET) which represents your character.  Adventures take place in a magical land called Skcos and are limited only by imagination. It’s an important project for me because I’m hoping to bridge the gap between a child’s natural tendency towards free play and the enjoyment of the more structured hobby of role playing games.  I have kids, I enjoy hanging out with kids and I think that they can benefit greatly from using games as a learning tool.

I’ve also learned a lot developing this!  For the first time in years I’m able to put my MEd. to good use. I was able to put together a CC licensed mix-tape soundtrack for the game that’s free to download, and I’ve connected with the Wayne Foundation to donate 25% of any profits made from this to help end the sexual exploitation of kids in the USA.

Just this week I’ve redesigned the cover, gone through and completely changed the layout, added some brilliant new artwork donated by the talented Khairul Hisham (example below) and done a second complete round of editing.


Work continues on the Aruneus project, which did get successfully funded through Kickstarter.  I’ve just published the Herbology of Aruneus, dealing with six magical plants and the extracts that can be made from them.  Up next will be two new character classes.  The first, the Supplicant is directly mostly towards the world of Aruneus itself. The second, the Quantamancer, will be useful in both Aruneus and generic Pathfinder as well.

The Supplicant is done and ready to go. The Quantamancer still needs a lot of crunchy mechanical stuff ironed out with it.  After that class is finished, I’ll be working on the Gods of Aruneus, with several new clerical-type tweaks and powers available.  The first adventure, the Haunted Mine is complete and just in need of some more artwork and formatting. The second adventure is written in outline form (and playtested) but in need of more creative writing, artwork and formatting.

Then will come a complete overhaul of all the Aruneus products, the addition of several new creatures and the compilation of it all into one 100 page+ source book.  Then, Aruneus will be done! At least, as far as the scope of this first project.

The Devil’s Dogs

This is a brand new RPG I’m working on.  It’s going to be a lightweight system based off of the very lightweight rules I’ve already written for Argyle & Crew.  Think modern gritty noir, combined with strong demonic and angelic elements.  You’ll also score points for both very good and very bad one liners.  Right now this system is purely notes, scribbles, thoughts and hastily written emails to myself.  But I’ve gotten a few pages of those together and about a page of fiction written for it.

The mechanics will be based on a d6 system and this will be designed to be a lightweight game, easy to jump into, 10 minutes or less for character creation, with the primary focus of the materials being creatures, adventure ideas and stuff to use in game.

Night of Darkness

It started out as a joke post to Google Plus.  An RPG embracing the most cliches, the best of the worst mechanics, ideas so thoroughly overused that they’re laughable.  And it turned into an honest to god side project.  I think of this as the Spinal Tap of RPGs.  Something made well, but made to be intentionally bad. I’ll probably utilize the same system as Devil’s Dogs, since it’s fast to ramp up, easy to use and great for one shots.

Somewhat surprising to me is how quickly everyone on Google plus jumped all over this!  Lots of people willing to help out, which will be fun! I won’t be devoting the majority of my gaming time to developing this, but I plan on nursing it along.

To me, saying “Night of Darkness” is like saying “Ocean of Wet” – it’s self referential, almost instantly overdone and makes me crack a smile every time.  The tag line for this game will be “When it’s dark, no one can see you scream!”

Kick Ass Swords

Another project that started out with my tongue firmly pushed into my cheek.  Kick Ass Swords started off as the cover you see here. Then people started contributing ideas for swords. That kick ass. So I brought the idea to Reddit and got lots of great feedback and even more ideas for edged weapons that put boot to cheek. I have not spent all that much time on this – other than formalizing the cover and setting the designs for 15 or so swords. I’d like to hit at least 20 swords before I push that old publish button.

This Website

I have a great group of people writing for me here, which is a fantastic help.  But the website still takes time. There’s always back-end updates, writing my portion of the content, getting the word out and supporting my authors and editors.

Featured Reviewer – DriveThruRPG

When I’m not gaming myself, or writing, or working on this site, I spend time reviewing other author’s products.  It’s a fantastic gig with a truly staggering amount of material flowing past me on a daily basis. Anyone who says this hobby is dying, should take a quick look at how much new product appears on sites like DTRPG on any given day. I can really only look at a few things a month, but I do my best to highlight both the coolest new RPG books I find, and also the cheapest indie products featured on the site.

Magical Muddle

I can’t talk much about this one, except to say it is a stand alone board/card game being developed by Aruneus artist Tim Reardon and myself. And it’s going to be freaking awesome.

So yeah. That’s pretty much what I do with every minute of my spare time.  I still occasionally find myself playing a video game on my computer but my tendency when I sit down in the office now is to fire up word or GIMP and get some work done, rather than shoot terrorists or level up my latest online character.


More updates on Argyle & Crew, Aruneus, and other cool stuff

A few updates on, well, just about everything I’m working on!

Starting with Argyle & Crew, there will be a new update posted on the Kickstarter project which features a brief example of play with old people (i.e. anyone not a kid). You can see all of the updates I’ve posted right here.  Speaking of the Kickstarter project, as of this writing it’s at 25%!  In 5 days, that’s very good!  I know it’s coming right at GenCon, so I appreciate anything and everything that people are doing to help me out, whether it’s contributing to the project, spreading the word or cheering me on!

A few quick facts about Argyle & Crew.

  • It will weigh in at over 30 pages and under 50 pages once all of the commissioned artwork and layout is completed.
  • It will cost $2.99 for the PDF and as low as I can get it for the printed version – hopefully $12.99 or less.
  • As long as there are adults around to interpret the rules, kids as young as 4 can play and enjoy the game.
  • It has optional rules to add varying degrees of structure, right up to a lightweight RPG so adults can enjoy it just as much.
  • It features sock puppets heavily.
  • It will be printed with a Creative Commons license, allowing free sharing.
  • It has this ninja in it.

Moving right along, I’d like to point you to some great reviews of existing Aruneus and Pathfinder products I’ve writtenGaming Tonic reviewed six of my PDFs and said some great things about them!

Speaking of previously published Aruneus and Pathfinder works – they’re all on sale for the next few days.  You can get the whole collection for $7.49.  That’s 8 Pathfinder compatible PDFs, seven of which are concerned with Arunes and one print and play board game called Mi Gato se Incendia! (My Cat is on Fire!).

I’m still working heavily in the world of Aruneus.  I’ve got a preview of the Supplicant class for you below (not terribly edited and layout work just started). It’s so fresh, you can see that I haven’t taught word all of my vocabulary yet.  I was able to get a first editorial pass done tonight on it, as well as close to 1,000 words (and one table) in to the Quantamancer class.

That’s where I’m spending most of my free time these days.

More Aruneus work – two new classes coming soon!

Two new images from the forthcoming Supplicant class. This class is for use in Pathfinder games, and specifically in the Aruneus setting.

The Supplicant is one of the two new classes to be introduced with the source book.  They are all about using the ambient divine power in the universe to combat the undead. They specialize in this to the point where they can emulate zombies to a startling degree.

Here you’ll find the Supplicant’s BAB progression and special abilities:

And here is the rough of the actual cover:

I’m currently working on the cover and doing some initial layout work for the class itself. This class will be bundled in a PDF with the Quantamancer class – another new Pathfinder/Aruneus class which can manipulate reality to their advantage.

Aruneus is a high fantasy setting which has experienced an apocalyptic undead uprising. The game setting takes place 100 years after the event, as societies are just pulling themselves back from the brink of extinction.

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