Tag Archives: Schlock Mercenary

The Planet Mercenary RPG Kickstarter will launch on April 14th


Alan and I met with Sandra on Friday and checked on the alignment of the ducks. There were several duck-vectors to be scrutinized, but in our assessment, those ducks will all be in a row by April 14th.

So that’s when we’re launching the Kickstarter.

For more information on the Planet Mercenary RPG, check our development blog at schlocktroops.com. The image above is available over there as a wallpaper.

The Border Between Books

Schlock Mercenary is a long form comic strip in which the fifteen years of daily updates are all part of the same continuity. That continuity is broken up into books, in large measure because I don’t expect anybody (not even me) to keep track of all the things that happened in the last 15 years of strips in order to enjoy the things happening this week.

When I start a new book, I reset some of the narrative “rules.” “New story” things start happening. We begin an all new set of dramatic and character arcs. If you’re blazing through the archives one click at a time, you’re going to miss this. With the current site design that can’t really be helped. If you’re reading the books in print, your arrival at the last page is a very strong signal that we’ve finished a story.

Today we sit at the boundary between Book 15 and book 16, and I created a “THE END” graphic and a “NEW BOOK STARTS HERE” graphic to try to communicate that. But what does the boundary mean? Here are the implications, with bullets:

  • Questions I left hanging in the last book are not on the front burner right now. Before I can answer them, I would have to ask them again.
  • Characters from previous books who are going to be important in this story will be introduced, or at least mentioned, fairly early on. This holds true for ships, locations, technologies, and events, as well.
  • The previous book’s themes are a closed matter. Delegates and Delegation is done saying what it had to say. Big Dumb Objects will open its own thematic discussion. If themes from previous books are going to be echoed, they’ll be reintroduced in order to prevent confusion.

You don’t have to read Schlock Mercenary in any particular way, and you certainly aren’t required to get out of it what I put into it (something I honestly don’t expect to happen very much.) Your reaction to a story–any story–is yours, and is based as much on who you are as on what’s in between the first and last pages of the story.

If, however, you want some clues as to how a story will unfold, it’s helpful to understand the form in which the creator is working. For Schlock Mercenary, that means observing the border between the books, and knowing that while the rules of the universe remain the same, each of these books has its own beginning, middle, and end.

As much as I’d love to start filling page after page with commentary about the stories I write, I’m going to leave that project for another day. For now, if you’ve got questions about the story, you’re supposed to. You’re on Page One. Everything is a question, including “what are the questions?”

I’ll do my very best to entertain you with the questions, the answers, and all the misery, misdirection, and mayhem that fall between them. This is my job, after all. And speaking of that, I need to get back to work…

Hullmetal from JayPig

I got some artwork from a fan last fall, and I was too busy to blog about it at the time. One thing led to another, and now it is spring, which means I’m a horrible person for not having said anything sooner. Here’s the piece:


It’s a chunk of aluminum made to look like a piece of the Kitesfear’s hull. I kind of love it, and it holds a prominent place in my office.

If you’d like to have something like this for your own mantle, the artist, JayPig, has a store for just that sort of commerce. If I’m reading things correctly, you can get something like this for as little as $20. At that price I may commission a chunk of a Planet Mercenary delivery box…

February’s Projects

I’ve got a full plate this month. Aside from wrapping up the climactic bits of Schlock Mercenary: Delegates and Delegation (the current story online) I need to tackle the bonus story, the cover, and the marginalia for Force Multiplication so that we can send it to print.

Then there’s the substantial task list for the upcoming Schlock Mercenary role-playing game, designed by Alan Bahr, with lots of input from me. The core game stuff is done, and once we’ve got some art to show off we’ll start building a Kickstarter page. That campaign will likely go live sometime in mid-March, and will support the production of a very nice, fully-illustrated rule book, and some odds and ends that will make some of our peculiar (maybe even unique) game mechanics fast, intuitive, and hilarious.

I say “we” with regard to the art. I’ll be doing a few, goofy comic-type things in the book, but most of the artwork will be the sort of thing that you’d expect to see in a wonder-invoking, far-future, science-fiction RPG book. Full-color, fully rendered characters, weapons that look like they’d actually work, and vehicles that are more interesting than the things I dash off with a straight-edge and a circle template.  Think of it this way: Schlock Mercenary, the comic strip, is the canonical story, but the comic’s artwork is mere caricature. The RPG book will show you that universe more clearly, and give you and your players much better starting points for your flights of fanciful shared storytelling.

Back to the task list: I’m also featured pretty heavily in the programming of LTUE, the SF&F symposium here in Utah on February 12th, 13th, and 14th (Thurs-Sat.) and at the end of February I’m flying to Chicago to record more Writing Excuses Master Class sessions.

You might get a movie review or two this month. I’ve seen Strange Magic and Into The Woods, and I’ll be seeing Jupiter Ascending, but the real time sink is actually writing them up.

And speaking of writing, I’ve got a bunch of prose fiction on my plate as well, so I should finish writing this, and start in on some actual work.