Monday, June 29, 2009

Spellcraft & Swordplay Deluxe Edition released!

Elf Lair Games is proud to announce the release of the Deluxe Edition of Spellcraft & Swordplay.

This 176-page game incorporates all errata to date and includes revised and expanded material, including new Elite Paths, unarmed combat, naval combat, disease, new spells, and more. It is our intent that this will be the final version of S&S to hit the market, barring any true second edition years down the road.

The great thing about PoD is the ability to fix errors as you go, but you can only take that so far. So it is our hope that this version of S&S gives our fans and those who have been undecided the game they've always thought and hoped S&S could be.

As a final note, if you already own S&S AND Monstrous Mayhem, there's no need to purchase this book--it doesn't have anything that S&S and MM don't already include.

The Deluxe Edition is available at our Lulu store, accessible from our web page at The hardcover retails for $28.00, the 5.5x8.5 softcover for $15. An e-book edition is also available for $6.50.

Monday, June 22, 2009

12P work...

Well, I got a holy crapload of work done this weekend on Twelve Parsecs. The vehicle rules are progressing well, and I think people already familiar with the system will pick them up instantly. As with most stuff powered by O.R.C.S., they can be as complex (if you include the tactical minis stuff) or simple (if you freeform it) as you like. Generally speaking vehicles work just like characters, with the same 6 Ability Scores (though they combine in unusual ways with PC Abilities--a PC, for example, would make an Intellect check to use a ship's FTL drive, but capped by the ship's Strength, which represents its engines).

Ship combat works off of Ability Checks rather than weapon vs. armor as does man-to-man combat, but I think it works.

Anyway, after I finish with vehicle rules I'll probably get the psychic powers written up--been putting that off. Then I'll decide how detailed I want to get with cybernetics, robotics, and computer hacking systems. After that, "rogue's gallery" and "vehicles" appendices and it should be about ready to move to playtest, editing, and layout.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Twelve Parsecs cover art!

Well, folks. Here it is: a preview of the cover art for Twelve Parsecs. Enjoy!

Friday, June 19, 2009


Well, Twelve Parsecs has taken off at breakneck speed the past couple days. I'm well into the vehicle rules, now. With these done it'll be about ready to start playtest, though without Mystics or cybernetics involved (as I've not done psychic powers or cybernetics rules).

If you follow this blog and would like to be in on discussions about our games and products or whatever, PLEASE by all means stop by our forums at and contribute! I've just put up a forum for 12P and would love to hear about what people would like to see.

Also, I'm pleased to announce that the S&S boxed sets are now OFFICIALLY SOLD OUT. The last four went to my FLGS today. Will we do another run in the future? Depends on a lot of factors, the most important being whether I can find a better, more economical way to do it than sitting at my dining room table for hours ad nauseum stapling booklets by hand and stuffing boxes. Seriously, just doing 30 of them took me WEEKS of work.

If I can find a way to produce the booklets without having to do it by hand, and if I can find a good box supplier (better than the one I used which screwed up three consecutive orders, sending me all lids and no bottoms), then yes, it's a possibility down the road. But for now, they're sold out.

Thanks for your continuing support!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Twelve Parsecs

Twelve Parsecs is creeping along. A few other things have distracted my attention of late, not the least of which are a major freelance project which I was going to back out of, but which the guy talked me into sticking with, and the fact that I GOT ACCEPTED TO GRADUATE SCHOOL.

However, I have just taken steps to license a GORGEOUS piece of art for the cover. Once that's all settled I'll see about posting a preview. We're looking to have a real art and layout budget for T.P. (hopefully it doesn't bite us) and if that works out, you'll see much nicer, higher-end product from us in the future. This includes Eiru and Apotheosis (which has yet to be given its final title).

Just a quick update. Not much else to post. Sally forth and battle on!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


A few minutes ago I posted a ranger variant...that wasn't meant for here; it was meant for my other blog, The Wasted Lands, which is dedicated to OD&D. Apologies if anyone thought I was posting an S&S Ranger Variant.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Our revenue from Lulu this month was our best yet by THREE TIMES what it's been in the past. That means you guys continue to spread the word about S&S! Keep it going, folks! With your help we're going to have some very slick product on store shelves very soon!

Friday, June 12, 2009

On and on we go

Sorry I haven't posted in a few days. Nothing really new to report. We're still selling great on Lulu, work continues on Twelve Parsecs, and I've begun to put some notes together for my Swords-and-Sorcery game, while Tim works on Vampire Queen and Eiru. I'm waiting on some in-house playtest comments from a board game I'm developing, then I have to find someone willing to manufacture it, if it's deemed worth manufacturing. The first edition may just be a "do it yourself" set of rules (the board can be drawn on any 1" hex grid, and minis can be used for pawns) on Lulu.

The trials and tribulations of trying to become a real publisher when I don't have a real bank account. Heh.

That's all for now. Sally forth and battle on!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Just like the Cylons, we have a plan.

Unlike the Cylons, we know what our plan is.

For now, for the time being, Spellcraft & Swordplay will remain in print-on-demand through Lulu. We are still going ahead with the expanded version of S&S--I will divide the store into separate pages for various product lines, these being Basic S&S and Expanded S&S right now.

It has been brought to our attention that the wide use of public domain art will hurt S&S's chances on game store shelves, and after some careful soul-searching, I tend to agree. S&S is my baby and I love it--as, I'm gathering, do most of you. But presentation matters a LOT in game stores.

So here's the plan.

S&S stays PoD for the time being. Fear not, however: we will continue to support it, and Tim Brannan is currently working on our first adventure module. He's also got a second sourcebook in the works.

We will be using all the profits from S&S for a real art and layout budget on our three (yes, THREE) upcoming games. These games (1 mythic fantasy, 1 weird sword and sorcery, and 1 space opera), we will attempt to get into distribution. Hopefully, with these games on shelves we can make enough to revisit S&S, give it a real art and layout cleanup, commission a great cover, and it can join the rest of its brethren on store shelves.

It is also likely that if all goes well you'll see us at one or more cons next year, and I plan to have copies of the Pocket Edition handy to sell.

Soon as I get my proofing comments back on the Expanded edition of S&S, it'll go live, at which point I'll tear through Monstrous Mayhem to produce a version of it that will go with Expanded S&S. Like as not I'll remove the 9x6 softcovers of S&S and MM basic, leaving the hardcovers and pocket formats. The Old School versions will, of course, remain.


So that's where we stand, now. Sally Forth and Battle On!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Distribution woes...

It's possible that Spellcraft & Swordplay may not see distribution. I've advice from someone whose opinion I trust greatly that visually speaking, the game isn't up to store standards, though he says it is a great game that he has no doubt is perfect for PoD and will build a strong fan base. This makes sense--I had NO art budget and the layout is modest at best. It was distressing to hear, but not unexpected.

So what does this mean for Elf Lair? It doesn't mean we're giving up, I'll tell you that much. There are other avenues I have yet to examine--one or two direct-sale fulfillment houses who may be amicable to working with us. We'll still be re-examining our sales model on Lulu to tighten it up a bit. We have three other core games planned, two of which are fantasy games powered by O.R.C.S.

We may well end up keeping S&S as a PoD and direct sale generic system, while trying to adopt a higher production value for the upcoming games, so they can find a place on store shelves. It's just a matter of coming up with the funds to do that. To this end, Spellcraft & Swordplay (and its sourcebooks and adventures) will aid in funding our growth as a company. All the profits from the S&S line are going towards developing and building Elf Lair Games. And some day, perhaps, we'll be able to afford a really clean version of S&S with professional artwork, which will find its rightful place on store shelves.

We'll get there. With your continued support it'll be sooner rather than later.

Thanks for hanging in there with us!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Elf Lair Games "Paraphernalia"

Due to a number of requests from fans, I've set up a cafepress store where you can get tote bags, journals, travel mugs and stickers for S&S and Elf Lair. I also have a Zazzle store where you can buy T-shirts, hoodies, coffee mugs, beer steins, hats, and mouse pads (with more products coming).

In any case, the stores are here:

I'll likely update the designs periodically as we become more advanced in terms of art and layout. For now both stores are open for business, though as Zazzle adds more options I'll be gradually moving away from Cafepress, which is just too limited in what I can do and how I get paid. Plus, you can buy from the Zazzle store right at the top of my blog, and there's something to be said for that.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Me and my accidental games...

I seem to be getting adept at accidentally writing games. Now it's a board game that is reminiscent of Blood Bowl, but again has its own flavor and strategy and is a lot less complicated than BB was.

Best of all, the game can interface with S&S or just about any other class-and-level-based fantasy RPG.

The gist of it (sans game mechanics) is posted over at my Wasted Lands blog as "Orcball!" but I'm now calling it Skull-Smasher. I've just put it into playtest. We'll see if it merits selling.

In other news, I'd like to clarify something. It's been brought to my attention that I've referenced all of our different "editions" of S&S without clarifying what the difference was. I've assumed too much knowledge out of the gate, and it's true, I shouldn't do that. So, just to clarify...there's no textual difference between the editions of S&S.

Our strategy (which seems to have worked) was to put S&S out in a bunch of different formats to cater to a number of different tastes. We have the "Old School" edition, which is 3 little brown booklets. We have the "standard" 6x9 edition, and we have the digest-sized "pocket edition."

Unfortunately, when you go into distribution, unless you have a LOT of money to blow on printing, you don't have the option of maintaining all these different formats. So I am forced to choose. That's what the recent blogs have been about.

Truthfully, I probably shouldn't have used "Edition" when titling these, but rather "Format." In any case, the books are the same as far as the text content. There are layout differences and some differences in artwork, but ALL of the text is identical across the editions. So when I talk about re-examining our sales model, I'm just talking about which size formats we're keeping and which we aren't.

Hope that clarifies things somewhat.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Distribution and the Old School Edition

or, "Why You Won't See the Old School Edition in Stores Any Time Soon."

The Old School Renaissance is a great and amazing thing. I've been a booster for it, and involved with it since shortly after OSRIC first came out. I was involved with the development of ZeFRS, a lesser-known retro clone of the old TSR Conan rules (done with the blessing of its original creator, Dave "Zeb" Cook.)

I love Labyrinth Lord, Swords & Wizardry, and OSRIC. This is a movement of which I am proud to be a part and with which I'm thrilled to be associated.

That being said, as a burgeoning RPG publisher, I have to tread with great care. Being associated with a movement like this is a great thing--it's something to be proud of. And yet, a publisher involved with such a movement needs to ensure his product has legs beyond the movement if he wishes to expand his venture, like I want to with Elf Lair Games.

I think that, while the Old School Movement has been great for those of us who want to bring back those old games, there's also more that can be done to bring new gamers, younger gamers, into the fold. This is why I do not identify S&S as a retro clone. It is why I incorporated so-called "new school" streamlining to my rules system, allowing for ability checks and background skills that allow for customization and flexibility in character design. It's why I have consistently moved more towards a unified resolution mechanic: 2d6 plus modifiers vs. TN 11. Hell, arguably even our combat system can be broken down to that by changing the weapon vs. armor type table to show modifiers instead of final results (but that would too closely resemble the old AD&D weapon vs. armor table, which is gloriously unpopular--it's far faster just to say, "this is your TN after base modifiers are accounted for.")

In any case, while the Old School Edition is fun, it was mostly a "gift" to our fans in the Renaissance. When we move into distribution, we have to take care not to irrevocably tie ourselves to the movement as "just an old school publisher--I mean, just look at their games!" Because trends in the industry change, and we have to be malleable enough to change with them.

Now, I am an old school publisher. Not only do I not deny it, I'm damn proud of it. However, I also like to think that Elf Lair is more than an old school publisher, that we can have a broader appeal. Our sales on Lulu have been staggering, and it's those sheer numbers that convinced me to pursue distribution. But the Old School books are not our best sellers. Indeed, of the four editions we have up (including the e-book) they're at the bottom of the list.

Not to mention, the Old School Edition is surprisingly expensive to produce.

I'm not saying--or at least, shouldn't be saying--that you will never see the Old School Edition on shelves. I've looked into (and continue to seek) options for doing another, larger boxed set run. But it won't be our first release, or probably even in our first few. We have three other games on the docket--two fantasy games and a sci-fi game that are all powered by O.R.C.S. There's also one or two adventure modules in preparation. Only after we've secured our own niche and identity on game store shelves will we revisit the idea of distributing the Old School Edition of S&S. I'll leave it up on Lulu, though, for those who dig it, and it's available now on Amazon (though you need to search by the individual names of the booklets or by my name due to my stupidity in product IDing).

So that's where we stand with that. I hope that makes sense, and I sincerely hope that our fans within the old school movement don't think I'm snubbing them. I'm really not--I'm just working on balancing old school with general appeal. I also think (and hope) that fans of the Old School Edition will dig the new cover art for the final, "deluxe," expanded edition of S&S that will hopefully see a place on store shelves.

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