Saturday, May 30, 2009

Two steps forward...

Well, I have turned down my initial offer, so distribution is not imminent, but is certainly still on the docket. Just means we're back to our original plan. Fear not; I still fully intend to get S&S and all of Elf Lair's products to come on store shelves within the year. There are other irons in the fire, and I am determined to do this the right way.

Friday, May 29, 2009

On and on...

Distribution potential continues to move forward...and sideways...and backwards...and kind of wibbly-wobbly off to the diagonal directions. I'm working a few angles, getting some anonymous advice from industry contacts, and trying to examine this from all directions before I decide what to do. While S&S is definitely an "old school feel" game, and I'm proud to be part of the Old School Movement, I don't want to pigeonhole the game--I'd like to reach as wide an audience as possible while still catering to the old school fans.

On that front, I've worked out the final revision for S&S, and am thinking my sales model is going to change.

I am going to leave the original pocket edition and "old school" pamphlets of S&S and the pocket edition of MM up for sale. The 9x6 versions will come down. This version will be re-dubbed "Spellcraft & Swordplay Basic," and will likely remain available only through the web.

The version that is going to see print in stores is expanded with all of the Elite Paths from MM except for Bard, the expanded unarmed combat rules, the disease rules, and the naval combat rules from MM. This version will be dubbed "Spellcraft & Swordplay Deluxe," and will be followed by an abridged (and likely less expensive) Monstrous Mayhem which includes the rest of the stuff I didn't transplant.

Deluxe will (hopefully, if all goes according to plan) see print in stores, though I haven't decided on the size format. Likely 9x6 or 8.5x5.5 (I will probably do both on the Lulu site for the time being).

Eventually, of course, my intent is to do print runs of these games--Basic and Deluxe--and handle direct sales myself.

Again, still working out all the details, though.

More as things progress.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Holy Amazonian Developments, Batman!

I got an e-mail this morning that Spellcraft & Swordplay has been selected to appear on Amazon's Marketplace! Apparently a ton of us in the old-school game have gotten similar e-mails (perhaps even every RPG publisher on Lulu), but wow! That's pretty cool.

The prices are higher on Amazon--to cover costs, Lulu imposed a 30% markup. But still, that's pretty rocking, to see my company represented on

Developments continue on the mysterious "soon into distribution" opportunity. I hope to be able to have a concrete announcement soon, but I will say if this happens the version of Spellcraft & Swordplay you'll see in stores will be the long-promised "Final Version."

Nothing will be changed to invalidate the versions you already have--I will likely incorporate some things from Monstrous Mayhem, as it's questionable whether the distributor will carry the sourcebook. Thus, a few of the Elite Paths (probably just Necromancer and Druid, though I'm waffling on replacing the Paladin with the Ranger, as the latter fits the mood of S&S better), the mass combat rules, unarmed combat, and some of the monsters will likely go into the core book. I'm not 100% on what will and won't go in, yet. I may then do an "abridged edition" version of Monstrous Mayhem (which would cost less) which just includes whatever didn't make it into the final core book.

The Lulu storefront will change dramatically--if I can even still sell through Lulu. It might go away entirely in favor of direct web sales. In any case, I think this will be the best way to go, given that I'm going to have to re-examine my pricing structure, and won't be able to make revisions and changes as we go anymore. I'll need to make sure S&S is in a truly polished, final version.

The Old School Renaissance in general is poised to make a huge leap forward, folks. Look out world; here we come!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

Just a quick note to wish everyone a happy Memorial Day and a reminder to take some time today to reflect on the sacrifices our soldiers have made (and make every day) for all of us. These are guys who deliberately put themselves in horrific, constantly life-threatening situations day after day just to ensure the safety and security of the rest of us at home. Kudos to the troops wherever they may be, and eternal gratitude.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Interesting developments

Can't say much right now, but a potentially exciting development has popped up which may enable us to get into distro much sooner than originally anticipated. Alas, if we take this deal our prices may have to go up, as the profit margins in distribution are far smaller than they are in direct sales or through Lulu.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Time it keeps a-turnin'

So I doubt this post will be as long as the first, as it's only been a day and there's not much new to report. The responses to the boxed sets have been truly astounding. I've been flooded with e-mails regarding the possibility of having any left over. These I must (to be fair) address first-come, first-serve, so at this point I think I'm definitely sold out.

That being said, if interest continues to be expressed, I'll certainly continue looking into options for a larger run. Printing and boxes are the big hurdles--if I can find a way to pull it off while still keeping costs manageable, it may very well happen.

The Space Opera game. Okay, since people seem very interested here's what I can tell you so far...but before I do, PLEASE do not take this as an announcement of impending release. This project is FAR from complete and to be considered in "development Hell" until further notice--it's NOT by ANY MEANS something people should stash away cash for now, or expect to see in the next 2 or even 3 months. Too many publishers get too excited about upcoming projects and "announce" them before they're ready to go, and then when the projects don't materialize, people (rightly) get pissed. I don't want to be one of those guys. So right now take this as ideas I am developing and nothing more.

The working title for the game is Twelve Parsecs. It's every bit as much of a settingless toolkit as Spellcraft & Swordplay and the two will be entirely compatible, though TP won't be released under the Open Game License, so you'll need to do a bit of back-engineering work to use them together (figuring out what terms are analagous to what terms, mostly, and I'm keeping that as intuitive as possible).

The game is specifically space opera/science fantasy. Do NOT expect to see hard science, real-world physics, or radiation rules broken down by RADs. This is a game where starships explode spectacularly in outer space. For those Asimov fans out there, my apologies but I can't write what I don't enjoy, and I enjoy Star Wars, Star Trek, and Battlestar Galactica, not hard sci-fi.

It will include some enhancements and advancements to the system--exploding (and imploding) dice for critical successes and failures (called Supernovas and Black Holes, respectively) are an example of one such enhancement.

I do intend to include rules for vehicle combat, as well as modern (and futuristic) weapons (obviously).

I hope to include rules for cybernetics, but we will see if that'll make the core.

There will be psionics and mystical powers rules, which function similarly to the magic rules from S&S.

Alien races are covered with four examples, and quick guidelines on whipping up new ones for your game.

Will there be a bestiary? Honestly, I don't know. Maybe a rogue's gallery would suffice better--some standard stats for space marines, evil armored troopers, smugglers, etc.

Where it stands now: I have character creation mostly done--one class and two elite paths need completed, as well as the list of psionic powers, backgrounds, and one other new customization option I'm dropping in. The rules of the game will mostly be transplanted from S&S, so if you know S&S, you'll pick TP right up. I'll need to finish transplanting those, and revising them for sci-fi rather than sword & sorcery, then do up the expanded rules needed for a futuristic game (guns and high tech armor, among other things).

So that's where we stand on Twelve Parsecs™ at this point. I'll post updates as I progress, though within the next month or so I'm starting work in ernest on a major freelance gig for another company that will likely consume a great deal of my time. Can't say anything about that one (NDA's and all) but suffice it to say it was an honor to be approached for the project and to me it's worth putting Elf Lair on hold very briefly for this one chance to do something really huge (to me).

Again, thanks for following along, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for your continued support. With your help and encouragement, before you know it you'll be seeing our logo on game store shelves (and dare we hope major chain stores, too?) within the year.

Sally forth and battle on!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Blog Launch

Well, all, here we are: the first blog for Elf Lair Games on Blogspot. Some of you may be aware I was doing semi-regular updates on Lulu when they had a blog function, but they killed that functionality, so I've been hem-hawing about doing another. I decided what the heck. It's nice to give people a place they can keep up with the goings-on as we try to build Elf Lair into a real publishing company.

At this point Elf Lair is about 70% me, and 30% Timothy Brannan, who's done a lot of behind-the-scenes work, been an invaluable sounding board, and is doing "free" writing (that is, he's working for copies at this point) for me. He may come on board as an official partner at some point, but we have to work that out, still.

So, what's new? The (very) limited-edition boxed sets of Spellcraft & Swordplay have shipped, save two that I have to send out today. Then I'm going to contact the 3 or 4 holdouts from whom I haven't yet heard, and I may still have a few for sale (I've already gotten four requests, though, so we shall see!) James over at Grognardia gave a wonderful review of the set, and as always I'm grateful to him--he's been a supporter ever since S&S first game out.

The sales of this boxed set are going directly towards setting Elf Lair up as an official business and producing an actual print run (ISBN and all) of Spellcraft & Swordplay, which we hope to see on game store shelves within the year.

On that note, I'd like to address something. We've taken some flak from certain vocal members of the Old School community for not making S&S free like other games such as OSRIC, Swords & Wizardry, and Labyrinth Lord, but I'd like to clarify that S&S is not a retro-clone like those games. It does NOT seek to reproduce an old system. Rather it is heavily inspired by the early days of roleplaying, but it is very much its own game. This is not to say I have anything against the guys producing S&W, OSRIC, or LL--indeed, Dan Proctor is a longtime acquaintence of mine from my freelancing for Eden Studios, and is a stand-up guy all around (and LL is probably my favorite of the retro-clones). S&W and OSRIC are absolutely phenomenal products and I'd heartily recommend them to anyone who enjoys old school gaming.

But what we are looking to do is build Elf Lair into a full-fledged game company, and S&S is our first flagship, which we hope to use as the basis for many products in the future, such as adventure modules, campaign settings (which may or may not be full games unto themselves) and even other genres. I have likened it to OD&D as Troll Lords' Castles & Crusades is to AD&D. So if you lay out C&C, OSRIC, and AD&D on one hand, and S&S, S&W, and OD&D on the other, you get an analagous relationship, with S&S filling the C&C role on the OD&D front. Same feel, very different rules.

I am currently working on a Science Fantasy/Space Opera game that uses the S&S system as its base. Don't want to say too much about that right now as it is in the early stages of construction, but I think fans of S&S will be more than pleased. I think the ideas flowing out are just a great deal of fun.

It won't be OGL, but will be compatible with S&S, this accomplished mostly by simply renaming the same concepts (ability scores, for example, are Strength, Agility, Toughness, Intellect, Willpower, and Presence, all of which have a direct parallel to the OGL abilities).

We had thought to call the S&S System the O.G.R.E. System (Old-school Generic Roleplaying Engine) but I am told that may conflict with Steve Jackson Games, who have a game called OGRE. So we may have to come up with a new acronym.

Thus, we are going to call the system the Old-school Roleplaying Core System (O.R.C.S.).

Well, I guess that's about it for the first blog. I'll try and keep updates here as I have them to post, and welcome! Don't forget to visit our store at and our message boards at

Zazzle Store

Design personalized gifts at Zazzle.