Tag Archives: Merchandise

A Week of Feeling Famous

On Monday my friend Rodney posted “Hiding from the Mariachi” to the web. I linked to it, but neglected to mention that it was the first of a five-part series of blog posts that were kind of sort of all about me (except for the one which was all about Sandra, and which says a thing which indisputably the most important thing said during the entire series.)

Here are the links to the full set:

Take care with the Photo Essay: It has spoilers. The new maxims aren’t spoilers, so you can dive right into that post, no worries. It probably can’t compete with The Force Awakens for folks’ attention, but at least you can tell your friends about the maxims without making anybody angry.

I like this series of interviews and essays because yeah, they’re about me, and my ego doesn’t really get tired of that, but also because Rodney’s essays are always insightful, and having that insight aimed my direction is cool. I encourage you to read the stuff he’s written that is NOT about me, because frankly, that’s where he really shines.RodneyMBliss.com has all of it.

The “Handbrain” Game Chief Screen

One of the things Alan, Sandra, and I discussed building as part of the Planet Mercenary Kickstarter was a Game Chief screen that would take drop-in sheets of paper, and which would be styled to look like a handbrain or display unit from the comic strip.

We decided against doing this as part of the Kickstarter because we didn’t have enough information, and committing to something like this would put the project at risk. When the project overfunded to $300k, we committed to an R&D budget for unspecified stuff. This screen was some of that stuff. We contracted with a designer to build a proper prototype for possible mass-production.

The prototype arrived, and I love it.

ScreenBrainPrototype-01The prototype is a high-res 3D print, so the plastic is translucent instead of opaque. It’s designed to take half-sheets of US Letter sized paper. A full sheet of US Letter, printed with some game map stuff, is shown in the picture above.

ScreenBrainPrototype-02After folding that sheet in half, it drops into the screen quite cleanly.

The stand upon which the screen sits is angled so that the drop-in is visible whether you’re standing or sitting, but it’s not angled so steeply that players will be able to see what’s printed on it, nor will they be able to see dice you roll against it.

ScreenBrainPrototype-03Here’s a better look at the angle. For scale you can see a challenge coin, a couple of poker chips, some playing cards, and a pair of AMD CPU fans, stuck back-to-back because they look cooler that way (they were not cool enough when mounted in the PCs, and have been replaced with off-the-shelf liquid cooling rigs, making our game room much, much quieter, but I digress…)

The half-sheet size makes this much easier to see over than conventional game screens. We don’t want Game Chiefs unable to make eye contact with their players.

NOTE: There is a Game Chief screen shipping with the game. That screen will be made of card stock, and will be printed on one side with ship art, and on the other with useful tables and rules reminders. It, too, will have a low-profile format. Game Chiefs do not get to hide behind fortresses of stats and artwork.

ScreenBrainPrototype-07 Here it is from the back. The fiddly-bit sticking out of the corner is a yellow map pin from the local office supply place. Note that the final product will not be translucent enough for anything to be visible through the back.

ScreenBrainPrototype-06Obviously it needs to store flat, so the stand detaches quite nicely. As an added bonus, this means you can put a note, or other mission-specific information into it, and pass it to the players, just like the characters in the comic do with their their handbrains.

ScreenBrainPrototype-04Sliding things into and out of it is quite easy. If your game is anything like the ones I’ve played, this is a critical feature.

These aren’t for sale yet, and no, we’re not going to Kickstart them. We still have to grind a bit on the prototype to make sure everything is just right. The eventual plan is to mass-produce these and sell them in sets of three.

Small Biz Saturday Monkey Bundle!

Monday Update: Well, that’s it for Monkey Coins for 2015. We have sold out.

We’re running a brief sale on the very popular “Not my circus, not my monkeys” coins, which we usually just call “monkey coins.”

CC-Monkey Bundle-2
Buy four, get one free!

If you’re looking for the perfect gift for the person who has everything, this might actually not be the right gift. This is the perfect award for the person who jumped between you and a poo-flinging monkey even though the monkey was not, strictly speaking, theirs.

Alternatively, this is a consolation prize for someone whose poo-flinging monkeys are not your problem. I’ve been told it’s a great gift for when it’s your last day at a particular job, and you want to leave a memento behind for the poor sod who still works there.

These have been the runaway favorite among the available Schlock Mercenary challenge coins. We’re almost out of them, and may run all the way out before Christmas. We will re-order them eventually, but that won’t be until 2016.

Seventy Maxims, at Long, Long Last

Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that you’re not interested in the Planet Mercenary RPG. How could I possibly tempt you into that Kickstarter? What product could be sufficiently enticing to bring you over to our project page and enter a pledge?

The answer? Provide something that I’ve been anxious, thrilled, and quiveringly-excited about for months now:

The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries

We have a pledge level for the Seventy Maxims book.

This isn’t just 70 pages of aphorisms. It’s not something that would fit in the wiki, or on a poster. This is the hardback version of Karl Tagon’s personal copy of the 3001 CE Edition of The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries.  This is an in-universe artifact.

To introduce you to it, here is a block of text from the introduction:

In 2992, in a speech to the CDF Acadamy graduating class, Rear Admiral M. Randall Aarikaida dismissed the book as “an irreverent, irresponsible volume of malevolent canon.” In that same speech, however, he paraphrased maxims 9, 15, 35, and 70 without attribution, unconsciously cementing its importance in the field, and launching countless dissertations which focused on the cultural ubiquity of the very thing he was dismissing.

This edition serves as a distillation of that scholarship. The maxims are accompanied by commentary and corollaries, paraphrased, and in many cases translated from the original, unintelligible jargon so that the modern reader might grasp the essential point. By so doing we’ve made this book more accessible, and more affordable because now we don’t need to pay any of those scholars the ridiculous royalties they demand.

Barring handling them for yourself, the pages themselves are best experienced with an image:

This page is one of our early proof-of-concept versions, but it shows off the spirit of the thing. Don’t worry: the paper we use will NOT have a printed weathering on it. The weathering in this image is there to evoke the fact that we’ll be using a very toothy, heavy paper with a cream color to it.

The boxed text contains the maxims themselves. The text below that is “schlolarly commentary” which, as suggested by the excerpt above the image, is going to be all over the map.

The red-pen notes are from Karl Tagon, who acquired this book as an enlistee in 3044. His sergeant at the time told him he should use it as a journal of sorts, and so we’ll get an unordered series of snapshots of his military career. Paging back and forth to put the notes in order will be part of the joy of having this in hard-copy.

The blue-pen note above is from Alexia Murtaugh, to whom Karl loaned the book. (Well, “will-have loaned.” That bit of story has yet to appear on line.) While the book is in Murtaugh’s possession it is going to get picked up and scribbled in by a few others, including Sergeant Schlock.

We will leave room for you to write in it yourself, of course.


Note: PDF and eBook development is a project for another year. The final product wants to be rotated in your hands, dog-eared, thumbed through with multiple fingers holding your places.  It is not impossible to translate the experience into a purely electronic format, of course. Just time consuming. For now, we’re offering an in-universe artifact that is meant to be handled, and left out for guests to marvel over.