Tag Archives: GenCon Indy

A Planet Mercenary Update

I just posted an update to the Planet Mercenary Kickstarter page. Here’s most of it:

We plan to ship in September 2016, rather than in May as originally planned. May is now impossible, and even July would mean rushing the editing and final layout phases. We don’t want to “rush” anything. We want this book to amaze and delight you. And now we plan for that delighted amazement to land in Autumn rather than Spring.

  • Backers can change their shipping addresses using their Backerkit links (email schlockmercenary@gmail.com, if you’ve lost your link. We’ll re-send it to you.)
  • This schedule should let us have PDFs out to all backers in July.
  • If you will be at GenCon in August, we will have a few advance copies for people to handle, but not to take home.

(Details on the schedule slip are below. Please don’t be distracted by this picture of an Ursumari and a Human)

Art by Rodolpho Langhi
Art by Rodolpho Langhi

Back in December we began working with Patrick Kapera, who is serving as our editor, and as an RPG expert who does not know the Schlock Mercenary universe. When Patrick joined us he was pleased to see that we were much closer to a finished product than he expected us to be. We were not, however, as close to a finished product as we thought we were.

At that point we expected that we would be sending things to our printer in April rather than February. Shipping to the printer in April would have meant that we could ship books to backers in July, and then have books to sell at GenCon Indy in August. During the last week of February, however, we carefully evaluated the progress we’d made, and realized that April wasn’t realistic.

Sandra and I decided immediately that we would not try to have the books at GenCon¹. That would have been terribly unfair to you, our backers, who wouldn’t receive your Planet Mercenary goodies until after people who bought them at the convention.

With this decision made, we knew that the earliest we could ship books to our backers would be September of 2016. We are now driving toward sending books to the printer by mid-June, and shipping things to backers 90 days later (it takes 90 days for our printer to turn around an order of this size.)

So where are we, really, in terms of the book?

  • Editing is 100% done on the Mayhem Cards and Mayhem rules. This means the cards can go to print now.
  • Editing is 75% done on the rules text.  These sections on character creation, basic rules, ship combat, charter rules, and equipment are by far the most time-consuming part of the editing, because there are words that must be used very precisely to avoid confusion.
  • Layout is running in parallel. As pages clear Patrick’s queue, they get final layout. Overall, the layout is only about 10% done, but every day more pages get finished.
  • Art is about half done. We took a long break when we realized that we needed much more layout finished before we could know what art to go get. During March, April, and May we’ll be grinding hard on the art.
  • The “fluff” text is about 75% done. Once Patrick reaches that stage, he and Howard will be blasting through it very quickly. Patrick’s job is to make sure that Howard tells players what they need to know while finishing the various worlds, cities, warrens, and Big-Dumb-Objects that will go into this book. In word-count terms, Howard probably has another 15,000 words to write. That’s about a week of work, once Howard knows which 15,000 words Patrick wants players to have.

It’s worth noting that one of the most popular elements of this project, the in-universe copy ofThe Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries, is coming along nicely. Howard has about 3,000 words to write here, but we already have book-blanks in hand that are telling us we’ve picked the right paper, and the right aspect ratio for the pages.

There is a remote possibility that the 70MoMEM books will go to the printer early—far enough ahead of the core RPG book that we will be able to ship Maxim books separately. We’ll post an update if the print schedule and the shipping budget can be aligned to make that happen.

We’re sorry to slip the schedule, but we believe that the extra three months are necessary for us to deliver an RPG that meets the high standards you’ve come to expect from us. Thank you for your patience, and again, thank you for your generous, enthusiastic support for this project.

—The Planet Mercenary Team
Howard, Sandra, Alan, and Patrick

1: Yes, this decision costs us about $10,000 in lost sales at GenCon Indy. We budgeted this project independently of selling things at GenCon, so we’re not actually losing any money by doing this. We’ll find other things to sell in Indianapolis this August.

Find Me at GenCon Indy! (the 2015 edition)

I’m exhibiting at GenCon Indy with Jim Zub and Tracy Hickman this week. You can find us at booth 1935.

GenCon2015Map

We have new pins and badge holders, and all eleven print editions of Schlock Mercenary, along with slip cases.

Here’s my event schedule:

Thursday

  • 6:00pm, Room 224  Worldbuilding: When Your World is a Character

Friday

  • 10:00 am, Room 224  Character Craft: Motivation and Obstacles
  • 5:00pm, Room 245  Business of Writing: Advanced Kickstarter
  • 7:00pm, TBA  Planet Mercenary Field Marshal Play Date (players have been pre-selected. If you want to come spectate, watch me on Twitter for the location.)

Saturday

  • 6:00pm, Room 242  Writing Excuses: The Live Studio Audience Episodes (will be recorded)

When I’m not in events I’m almost certainly at my booth, though I have been known to sneak out for breaks from time to time. Mostly, though, I’ll be glued to my seat working on the cover art for Schlock Mercenary: Force Multiplication. I’ll also have some images from the upcoming Planet Mercenary RPG book if you’d like to peek at those.

GenCon Indy is one of my favorite events of the year. We have a fantastic crew working our booth with us, and Tracy, Jim, and I have lots of fun talking with fans and with each other throughout the day. Come get stuff signed, or just stop by and watch the magic happen.

GenCon Indy 2014

This was probably my best-ever year at GenCon Indy. With bullets:

  • The Wallrike scooped me up at the airport, saving me cab fare, helping me sort out a housing snafu, and basically being excellent company.
  • The Kokomo Irregulars had the booth completely loaded and assembled by Wednesday at noon.
  • I got all of my Massively Parallel bonus story rows penciled on Wednesday by dinner time, while sitting in the awesome booth.
  • I got to hang out with cool people all weekend. Some of them are name-droppable. Some are awesome people whose names only carry cachet with the folks who are privileged enough to have met them.
  • How many books did I draw in? I don’t know. Pretty sure it was “hundreds.”
  • My panels went well, with only one exception, and that one went so far off the rails it made for great commiseration fodder.
  • Our booth did better sales-wise than it has in any prior year. 15% better than our next best number, and up 25% from last year.
  • I learned important stuff from Jim Zub, who is a great boothmate, a brilliant writer, and a very savvy industry insider.
  • I came home energized, and I got work done the very next day. No con-crud, no post-convention blues, no problem.

The one blemish on the experience is that this year the one game I managed to play was “D20 roll-off” in which you sit down at the bar and roll dice to see who rolls better. And really, this is the blemish every year. I don’t get to play games. When I’m away from the booth, I’m not making money. Sandra sent us some handy bar graphs that showed just how much money we weren’t making when Jim, Tracy, and I had to be away from the booth.BoothGraphSat2014

 

 

 

Adding to the blemishy darkness of this is the fact that while we had plenty of players interested in testing the Schlock Mercenary role-playing game, we never were able to align ourselves for a table and some dice.

Back to the positive notes: Symposium! If you’re a writer, and you want to attend panels in which writers talk intelligently about writing, and do so with the understanding that they’re talking to an audience full of writers, you should seriously consider attending GenCon Indy just for the Writing Symposium. It has attracted an all-star cast, and when the panels are over there are a million things to do. Marc Tassin has done an outstanding job of growing the symposium over the last three years, and when I talked to him about it I could see that he’s committed to continuing to improve it.

Find Me at GenCon Indy 2014

I’m at GenCon Indy this weekend. I arrived on Tuesday for setup, and don’t fly home until Monday the 18th, and yes, this means the convention is eating a week of buffer. Like a voracious monster with 70,000 mouths…

GenCon2014-1437-ZubTaylerHickman

I’m in Booth 1437 with Jim Zub and Tracy Hickman. We’re pretty much smack-dab in the center of the exhibit hall, facing the Asmodee folks.

Is there convention-exclusive merchandise? Yes, there is!

Exclusive pins

(Note: for those unable to attend GenCon, these exclusives can be purchased during the month of August if you’ve got the “Schlock Troops” level of patronage ($2.50/mo) over on Patreon.)

We’ll have plenty of other goodies, including the sale-priced ten-book bundle, and the latest Schlock Mercenary title, Longshoreman of the Apocalypseand not only can you get me to sketch in the back of that at no charge, Zub can sign it for you too! He wrote the bonus story (and it is awesome).

Zub will have Skullkickers collections, and will happily tell you all about Wayward, his new project. He’l also be signing comic books galore – Pathfinder, Samurai Jack, Figment, Skullkickers, and more – and maybe, just maybe you’ll be able to coax a commission out of him. (Hint: use money.)

Tracy will be signing books and books and books (thirty years of writing will do that), and will have his Sojourner Tales game! Brand new!

My schedule is pretty packed. If you have to pick just one thing, you should pick my solo presentation at 7pm on Thursday, “Crafting Humor for the Page.”

Here’s my full schedule:

THURSDAY
  • 12pm — Room 245:  Cliches and Stereotypes, with Susan Morris, Erin Evans, David B. Coe, and Brad Beaulieu
  • 1pm-6pm — Booth 1437 (with occasional breaks)
  • 7pm — Room 245: Crafting Humor for the Page, my solo presentation!
FRIDAY
  • 10am-1pm — Booth 1437
  • 2pm — Room 243: Author Networking 101, with Kerrie Hughes, Kameron Hurley, Marc Tassin, and Carrie Harris
  • 3pm-5pm — Booth 1437
  • 6pm – Room 243:  Getting Great Reviews, with Susan Morris, Steve Diamond, and Kelly Swails
SATURDAY
  • 10am-12pm — Booth 1437
  • 1pm — Room 245: Writer’s Life: Tales from the Trenches with Don Bingle, Howard Tayler, Ed Greenwood, Michael Stackpole, and James Sutter
  • 2pm — Westin, Capitol III: XDM – X-treme Dungeon Mastery, with Tracy Hickman (note: I’ll be a little late and a lot out of breath.)
  • 4pm-6pm — Booth 1437
SUNDAY
  • 10am-3pm — Booth 1437 (note that Jim and I will be there, but Tracy will not! If you want to catch up with Mr. Hickman, don’t wait until Sunday to try.)

Lots of folks, including business partners, peers, fans, and fellow gamers, have asked about my evening schedule, or about “catching lunch” at the convention.

Unfortunately, lunch is taken on the run, and my evenings are booked with private meetings or crash time. There is one, and only one free-floating event, and that is the GenCon Indy Schlock Mercenary RPG playtest. I made that sound WAY MORE OFFICIAL than it really is. Alan will be holding a few of these, catch-as-catch can. Find Alan at GenCon!  I will be able to attend (as a player) exactly one of these. I don’t know which one.

If you want to maximize your chances of playing or watching, follow @AlanBahr, @HowardTayler, and/or @Schlocktroops on Twitter.