Monday, January 4, 2010

So Where's This Companion, Anyway?

Yeah, it’s written, proofed, edited, and formatted but it ain’t done. There are a few things that need to be added before it’s complete, and I’m NOT just talking art.

First off, it needs both a table of contents and an index. Unfortunately, I’m kind of holding off on these until the art gets added, as I know page numbers are going to change and I don’t want to have to do the whole thing twice. On the other hand, I can certainly get the base topics and contents typed up withOUT the page numbers so they’re ready to go…but I just haven’t done so. This is a bit of laziness on my part (or under-prioritization around the home front); however, I anticipate having a bunch of free time in the next few days for buckling down and getting this done.

Second off, let’s talk art. So far I’ve been contacted by three folks that are interested in submitting pieces and I’ve emailed a couple others that expressed interest earlier last month. Right now, I’m waiting to get stuff back.

For me, this is the most challenging part of the program: waiting. I’m not paying folks so I can’t impose deadlines, but man, I’d like to get this thing out no later than February. However, as with the Contents and Index there are still proactive actions I can take while I wait.

For one thing, I dug out my own sketch book, and damn it I’m going to try my own hand at some illustrating. We had dinner with some (non-gaming) friends the other day and when I told them about my project, they were fairly excited. The wife has self-published a couple publications herself, and gave me several pieces of advice on the process, especially with regard to the art (like having interns from the Art Institute clean-up the jpeg line drawings for free). I am now carrying my sketch book with me at all times, and will work on drawings during my breaks.

For another thing, I haven’t got on the cover art yet. I’ve got to hit up my buddy, Joel, and I just haven’t taken the time to do so. HIM I might need to pay, but it will be worth it to get a full color cover for this baby. But I need to talk to him, and that’s another thing I’ve been slacking on.

By the way: does anyone out there know how the hell to get in contact with Erol Otus? I mean, I might as well shoot him an email and see if he is at all interested in doing a sequel to his original covers of the Basic and Expert sets. I have no idea how much he’d charge for such a project, but it’s worth asking…I know he’s done work for other Old School game product, but I couldn’t find a web address for him (his official web site seems to be “under construction”). If anyone knows how to contact/contract The Great One, please comment here or email me at bxblackrazor AT gmail DOT com.

All right SO…contents, index, art, what more is needed to roll this out to the public. Well, shoot…I wanted to keep this under wraps because it might fall through, but now that it’s starting to pick up some momentum: intention is to release this thing as a box set WITH an introductory adventure module.

Ugh. I grimace as a I look at that sentence. Especially, as I should probably make life easy on myself and release this as a pdf download. However, I want a module! I’ve written before (more than once) that the introductory modules packaged with the Basic and Expert sets (B2 and X1) were incredibly helpful in INFORMING play. Plus it’s more bang for your buck, pure and simple.

So, I’m working on a module for inclusion; I’ve already got the basic outline, some new monsters, and some ideas for using the new material presented in the Companion. I will be doing my best to keep the adventure from falling into the pit traps of TSR’s latter day modules (specifically the linear plot lines and kill-kill-kill attitudes). My buddy is going to do the maps, and shoot…I have such a conflagration of inspiration right now, I hope I can churn out the text by the end of this weekend (the Seahawks are done for the season…thank goodness!...and my wife will be out of town on business). Ambitious? Sure. Unrealistic? Maybe…but I’ve got to wait for the art anyway, right?

Regarding THE BOX: in my mind’s eye I see a much slimmer box than the one used for the original Basic, Expert, and BECMI sets. This is due to the fact that I am simply packaging two slim books (I will NOT be including dice or crayons). This may be the silliest idea of the whole project, and if worse comes to worse I’ll just shrink-wrap the Companion rules with the module. But I would like a box for this opus. And I know that on one of these blogs, somewhere, there was a discussion on “putting together your own box set” where some dude re-created an original boxed game (though I think using a retro-clone). I haven’t been able to find that post again (I think I saw it back in August or September…why didn’t I bookmark it?!), but somewhere there must be a company that makes boxes. After all, where do all the boxes for board games and such come from? I sure as hell don’t know!

Welp, that’s about all the updates I can give at this time. Again, I’m shooting for a February release. Price will be based on my costs plus shipping and handling, but I’m not looking to make money off this thing. My goal is to just get out to people in a form that…well, in a form that I wouldn’t mind buying myself. It’s pretty neat…I’ll let you know when it’s ready.

: )


  1. Having Otus do the final piece of the cover would be so awesome that I'm afraid to even imagine it.

  2. A couple of thoughts on where to find the stuff you need.
    1) Erol Otus was involved with an art contest for Fight On!, so if you contact those folks, I'm sure they can get you hooked up.
    2) Boxes: John @ Brave Halfling is doing the Swords & Wizardry whiteBox boxed sets, so he knows the process. I'd bug him for more info - either at BHP's forums or Swords & Wizardry's.

  3. Is this the retro clone box set you were thinking of?

  4. @ Jay: that is EXACTLY the site I was talking about! Bookmarked! Thank you!