Thursday, June 22, 2017

Beautiful Maps

A year ago or so, my good friend Thorfinn Tait embarked on a personal journey to establish his Patreon business. For this, he selected the creation of new geographical maps.  Anyone who knows the world of Mystara and Thorfinn should understand why. His claim to fame originated from a wealth of game maps, updates from existing TSR's Mystara gazetteers and others (often my own more recently, and vastly improved.)  Since producing maps for Mystara as a professional cartographer just isn't a legal option due to copyright limitations, Thorfinn opted wholeheartedly to create his own mapping style for the world of Calidar. This was the same reason I shifted my efforts as a writer from Mystara.

Thorfinn initially produced poster maps for my first book, CAL1 "In Stranger Skies."  This wonderful piece of cartography came in two formats, an artful version and a stylized hex map inspired directly from the format of TSR's popular D&D gazetteer maps of the 80s and 90s. His next opportunity to emulate this feat will follow in 2018, with the next Calidar Gazetteer. Meanwhile, Thorfinn started developing more detailed and refined versions of kingdoms of the Great Caldera, Calidar's known world (see below.)

There is a plan to develop the "Dread Lands," which is everything else on the planet outside the Great Caldera: Calidar's other continents. This competes with the excitement behind opportunities to map out Calidar's three moons, Mars-like Lao-Kwei and its own watery moon, Kumoshima (settings inspired from Earth's Far East), and Mercury-like Draconia (the dragon's Hollow World.)  I posted some of his work here for your enjoyment. If you appreciate Thorfinn's maps and would like to see more in the near future, do visit his Patreon page, give feedback, and show some gratitude!

Click on these maps to get a better resolution.

Naturally, if you become a Patreon supporter, you can get access to full resolution poster maps that are truly amazing. So, on behalf of Thorfinn, I'll just say:

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Question for Game Grognards

To keep my mind off Calidar's Kickstarter, I'm working on an air combat system for skyships and fantasy monsters, using concepts introduced in CAL1 "In Stranger Skies." This concerns the effect of wind direction and strength on skyship flight speeds. Depending on conditions, a skyship movement can be halved, unaffected, increased by a half, or even doubled.

Ideally, one ought to check a skyship's speed once at the beginning of a battle round. This enables unlikely exploits, such as starting the round at max speed, immediately turning into headwinds, and continuing the rest of the move at no penalty. Simple, but lacking a modicum of realism.

The other obvious option is checking one's speed after making each turn. The question with this is: how do I compute this? Say a skyship starts the round with its speed doubled due to a favorable wind angle, allowing for a total 12 hexes of movement. Halfway through (after having spent 6 hexes) the ship's speed should now be halved due to turning into a more unfavorable wind angle. What's the best way to calculate this? I'm defining "best" as not overly complicated yet somewhat logical at least.

I'm thinking that the remaining move should be half the skyship's base move (6 hexes divided by 2) since it already spent half its MV, divided by two again due to headwinds, equals 1.5 hexes, rounded up to 2. This becomes a real pain when a skyship moves instead 1/4, 1/3, 2/3, or 3/4 of its base move, and this exercise gets done every time each skyship makes a turn. Hmmm.

Any suggestions?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Dreams Day 1

Day 1 of Calidar "Dreams of Aerie's" Kickstarter: we did very well. By the end of Day 1, we've outdone CAL1 "In Stranger Skies." All numbers were better across the board. Thank you everyone! To help continuing this success story, do feel free to pass the word around, or simply keep chatting about the project, here, on Facebook, in forums, or on Kickstarter directly.

What else can I say, but "merci!" ☺️
A good number of you did share the campaign announcement, and this helped a lot. I'm very grateful for your enthusiasm and support. Judging from the funding pattern, it looks like "Dreams" should be at least funded by the end of the event. So far, we have at least 111 visitors who watched the video; 59% of them watched it all the way through, which is pretty good actually. Out of 111 visitors, 86 are backers at this point. Compare this with "In Stranger Skies" where more than 5,000 visitors watched the video and about 400 became backers (after 30 days.) That's very encouraging, even though June is a difficult month for crowd funding.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

See You at 09:00 Central Time

See you all very soon this morning when the Kickstarter campaign launches for Calidar "Dreams of Aerie."  Search for this title on Kickstarter's home page.  I'll be back as soon as possible when the campaign launches, with the correct link.  The present one, for the preview page, will cease to work when the campaign launches.  You can also have a peek at the project preview posted on EnWorld, which reveals an extra poster map showing an "exploded view" of the aeries' upper floors on a night display of the main deck.  Until the curtains open, sit tight and enjoy the popcorn.

EDIT -- click here for the updated link.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Acute Designeritis Strikes Again

Here I am, just a few days before I launch "Dreams of Aerie's" Kickstarter campaign, looking at ways to improve the product.  I love the poster maps of the various deck plans.  They show much of the lateral outrigger masts and their unfurled sails.  On the other hand, with a landscape format, 11x17, a circular deck plan leaves out a lot of space, so I've embarked on a quest to produce an alternative map that referees will love: it adds on the outside of the main deck's top view the various upper floors of the aeries, displaying an "exploded" view of the whole.  The two images below show the original, daylight view of the main deck, and a section of the nighttime exploded view.  I'm only showing a quarter of the latter since it is a work in progress.  I'm not sure yet whether this will work, as some of the aeries have 4 floors above the main deck, which does take up a lot of real estate (pun intended) on the map sheet.

If you haven't visited the Kickstarter preview page, CLICK HERE.  There is still a bit of time left for comments and questions.  I'll be submitting the campaign for approval after elections in UK and Comey's testimony are over with, so I can see how this impacts the values of the US Dollar and the Pound Sterling (this affects the cost of printing and mailing outside the USA.)

If you are unfamiliar with the World of Calidar or the current project, check the tabs at the top of this blog for further information.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Dreams of Aerie KS Preview Page

Here's a preview of of the project's present Kickstarter page.  Your feedback is welcome.  Feel free to share the link to help spread the word during the days leading up to the event.  I had to delay the launch seven days to prevent the end of the campaign falling during the July 4th weekend.  "D-Day" is therefore Wednesday morning June 14th, ending Thursday July 13th at 9pm (21:00) US Central Time.  So far, as long as the British Pound stays roughly where it is, print and postage for backers outside the USA should require no additional fees, save for poster maps (especially those I would have to mail through the US Post Office).  I should mention that I noticed a 10-15% increase in US printing costs since the previous project.

Click Here for the Kickstarter Page

Friday, May 12, 2017

Dreams of Aerie Update

So here we are, just a few short weeks before the Kickstarter launches.  For now, it is set for June 14th 2017, barring any unforeseen obstacles.  I'll post the link as soon as I have it.
Where are we with this project?
The book is fully written and all the deck plans are complete.  Editing  has already started, as well as a pre-edit proofing "out of house."  My present occupation right now is setting up the kickstarter.  Math and accounting have already been figured out.  The video presentation is ready.  One artist, Joe Garcia, has committed to handle internal illustrations. Cover art is being negotiated--I expect resolution in the coming days.  Work will be starting in earnest on the Kickstarter page itself in the coming days.
I'll be taking a short break early June at North Texas RPG Con, where I'll be running a part of Dreams of Aeries to eager gamers, twice.  There is still one seat available for each of these two sessions. Click here for these events.
Dreams of Aeries is both a mega-adventure and a stand-alone setting.  Because it takes place on a flying circus, it is relatively easy to set in any other fantasy world.  As with other Calidar titles, it is meant as system-neutral:   game statistics are streamlined and adaptable to game mechanics of most RPG games.

Components:  At 124 pages, Dreams of Aerie may actually gain extra pages, depending on stretch goals.  It is intended for use with up to 6 poster maps (3 labelled maps for referees, plus an optional 3 unlabelled maps for players.)  These loose-leaf sheets are printed 12"x18" and folded once to be mailed in cardboard sleeves (separately from the books.)  Kickstarter tiers determine which maps are included with the backers' books; any of these maps can be purchased separately if need be.  They display the flying circus's three decks.  The three labelled maps are reproduced inside the book, as two-page spreads, with specific sections inserted in the text where most needed.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Glantri Revisited

I needed a break from the present Calidar project.  Here's the result: Glantri's Great School of Magic.  Hope enjoy the greater detail than what was on GAZ3's poster map.  I tweaked a few things but I think you'll be fine with the result.  Click on the map to enlarge the image.  This one was produce at 600 dpi, 8.5 x 11.  Cheers!

Note: I've updated the map scale to 5' per square.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Piecing a Dream Together

So, here I am trying to piece together Calidar's Dreams of Aerie, hacking away at a treasure trove of floor plans and getting a sense of how text and graphics fit together. The first two chapters were easy enough, though big charts became necessary to sort of throngs of personalities making up the flying circus staff. About a hundred NPCs belong to one of several professional guilds (acrobats, beast handlers, freaks, laborers, etc.) Each may also be aligned with one of three secret societies. If this weren't enough, some folk are cursed with an affliction which comes in addition to guilds and secret societies affiliations: ...plenty right here for referees to sink their fangs into. Illustrations will be needed to give a face to the most important characters. Kickstarter allowing, these may be color art (crossing my fingers.) Naturally, cover art will give a view of the circus, and I do have an artist already waiting to get started.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Beating a Dead Horse

Following up on my complaint about KLM's business.

Back when I first contacted the Dutch airline, I'd complained bitterly about their new policy of denying passengers the option of choosing their seats at the time they book their flights unless they pay $20-$25 extra fee per flight segment.  For my trip, this amounted to nearly $100, which I refused to pay.  The response from a customer disservice manager later on was that KLM needs to "become more efficient."  (More efficient at what?  Pleasing the Ferengi?  Driving away previously loyal customers?  I guess they succeeded in this respect.)  I spoke to another passenger travelling next to me -- a tour leader -- whose opinion matched mine and who will take her business elsewhere.  Good job.  The Grand Negus will be pleased.

The other response I got was that I would be able to get online 30 hrs before the flight, and pick my seats then.  I did get online, 29hrs 59mn and more or less 30sec before departure.  I discovered that seats cannot be selected 30hrs ahead of takeoff for flights in or out of the US... one needs to do this not more than 24hrs earlier.  So, there I was, 23hrs 59mn and more or less 30sec before departure... and the option was blocked.  I phoned the Ferengi drone who naturally explained that the day prior to departure, all seat assignment automatically reverts to the airport desk.  The jackass on the phone was quite flippant about this too.  So, the bottom line, getting online 30hrs before takeoff to select seats was a lie.

I also found the flight crew to be pretty bossy.  That's new too.  I was standing with another passenger by one of the exit rows when one of the attending Ferengi pounced on us instantly, ordering us to move along because the passengers in the nearby row payed the Grand Negus extra gold pressed latinum for the leg room.  So, move along we did to the back of the cattle carrier.  Once there, another popped up, telling us to shut the hell up because other passengers wanted to sleep.  Surely,they must have paid the wooden clog-footed, tulip-loving Grand Negus for that benefit too. Done with KLM.  

I've already ruled out most US-based cattle carriers... because they're cattle carriers.  I used to work for one of them so I have a pretty good idea.  I'm sorry to see European-based airlines are becoming this way too.  I think airlines are reinforcing the trend of passengers picking the cheapest possible flights when  the one thing that makes a difference is taken away: good customer service.  On the other hand, there are all those Middle Eastern-based airlines that offer top-notch service.  I may have to boldly go all the way to an emirate and then turn around to get back to France to experience some decent service... either that or just pick the cheapest, stinking, rat-boinking airline. O joy.  I'll probably end up in a Ford Tri-motor, with a seat tucked between chicken coops and bundles of who-knows-what.