Time for some Axe Kissing

Are you ready for some Viking mayhem and adventure? Kiss My Axe: Thirteen Warriors and an Angel of Death is now available in PDF and Print. January of 2012 will see the release of Suffer the Witch, an adventure for Kiss My Axe.

Kiss My Axe uses the same underlying system as Sword Noir – the Sword’s Edge System – but it has been altered to provide a greater focus on combat, kind of important for Vikings.

Suffer the Witch is the one-shot used at Gen Con 2011, though updated to reflect both the experiences at Gen Con and further consideration of the scenario. If you played Suffer the Witch at Gen Con, you’ll find the establishing portion of the adventure slightly different, but the actual conflict and the characters themselves are pretty much as presented at Games on Demand in Indy.

For those of you interested, the budget for Kiss My Axe is just over $ 1,000. On the assumption that 75% of sales are PDF only and 25% are Print, I’ll need to sell 320 copies to break even (270 PDFs and 50 Print). Right now, with Sword Noir, we’ve sold 219 PDFs and 47 Print copies. Sword Noir has been out since April 2011, so that’s basically 8 months of sales. Sword Noir had a bigger budget than Kiss My Axe, but I expect to see fewer sales of Kiss My Axe. Given all that, there is some hope that Kiss My Axe will turn a profit within a year. That would be awesome.

You can find Kiss My Axe: Thirteen Warriors and an Angel of Death here.

You can find Sword Noir, the Sword’s Edge System, and other awesome Sword’s Edge Publishing products here.

Building Character(s) with Kiss My Axe

I’m only waiting on the print file for Kiss My Axe to be updated on RPG Now/Drive-Thru RPG and then it will be available for sale. Until it is, here is a sneak peek at building a character in KMA. The following is from the book itself, with the character building example interspersed with the description of the rules for building a character. This should give you an idea of characters in KMA.

Heroic Character Creation

Not all characters in the game are heroes, but all PCs are. These steps are for creating Player Characters or other heroic characters. Later, in Heroes, Regulars and Minions, there is a similar list of steps for regular and minion characters.

A Character is made up of Aspects, Prowess, Traits and Other Qualities. Each of these is divided further into ten Qualities that help to define a hero. Aspects include Concept, Faculty and Seafaring. A characters Prowess is measured in Fighting, Style and Protection. Traits are defined as Physique, Charisma and Cunning. Lastly characters may have Other Qualities that help to make them distinctive.

At character creation each of these Qualities has a default starting Rank. To help customize your character, you receive a total of six Ranks to spend on increasing your character’s Qualities.

What follows is a summary of the steps you could take when building a heroic character. Each point is discussed in more depth later in the text.

1. Create a Concept. This Quality relates to what the player intends the character to represent. The Concept has a default Rank of Good. This Rank can be advanced using the six Ranks available at character creation, but this is not mandatory. See Aspects.

2. Create a Faculty. This Quality represents a character’s secondary aptitude, is not necessarily linked to the character’s Concept, and is usually a skill or talent. The Faculty has a default Rank of Good. This rank can be advanced by spending Ranks at character creation. See Aspects.

3. Give Seafaring a Rank. Seafaring is a common Aspect for all Vikings. If you are creating a character who is not a Viking, replace Seafaring with a skill or talent linked to the character’s culture. Seafaring (or cultural skill) has a default Rank of Good. This rank can be advanced at character creation. See Aspects.

4. Rank Prowess. Prowess is divided into Fighting, Style and Protection. Fighting begins at Good. Style and Protection begin at Average. Each of these can be advanced at character creation. See Prowess.

5. Rank Traits. The Traits Physique, Charisma, and Cunning all begin at Average. These ranks can be advanced at character creation. See Traits.

6. Create Other Qualities. If the player has not spent all six Ranks provided at character creation, the player can use the remaining ranks to create and advance Qualities. A Quality is a short descriptor of some attribute of the character. A new Quality begins with the rank of Good, but may be advanced by spending more ranks. It is linked to a Trait. See Qualities. Remember, the player has six Ranks total to use at character creation to advance Aspects, Traits, Prowess and other Qualities.

7. Create Pivots. This is a goal or other character quirk that helps to define the character. Completing a Pivot provides Fortune Points for a character. The character may have up to three Pivots. Ranks are not used to create Pivots. See Pivots.

For our heroic character—basically, a Player Character—let’s have Helfdan Tokesson. I envision Helfdan as a poet-warrior who has many a dalliance as he trades and raids across Europe. For his concept, I’m going with Skald. This starts at Good. I’m going to spend one of the six free Ranks available at character creation to increase the concept to Great. I now have five free Ranks I can spend.

Helfdan happens to be very perceptive. He can read people very, very well. I’m giving him a faculty of Insight. This is at Good. I’m going to use one of the five free Ranks remaining to increase his faculty to Great.

Helfdan is damn sure a Viking, so he gets Seafaring at Good.

Helfdan gets Fighting at Good. I have four Ranks left, but I have plans for those Ranks, so I’m not going to spend any and I’ll leave Fighting at Good.

For Style, I’m going to spend one of the four remaining free Ranks to give Helfdan a Style. I imagine him as a pretty flamboyant fighter, using everything around him in the fight, and being very kinetic. As such, I’m calling the Style “Swashbuckling.” The term did not exist in the Viking Age, but for everyone playing the game, it should engender images of Captain Blood, the Three Musketeers, and Scaramouche. This leaves me with three free Ranks.

While Helfdan could get Protection, it doesn’t really fit with my character conception, so I’m not going to spend any of his three remaining Ranks here.

I’m going to spend two of the remaining three free Ranks for Helfdan and increase his Wit to Good and his Charisma to Good.

I have one free Rank left for Helfdan, and I’m going use it to create a Quality. I’m calling this one “Charming Rogue,” and linking it to Charisma. I only have one Rank, so I’m leaving it at Good. I am also going to assign Helfdan a Weakness (see Weakness below) which gives me another Rank to work with. I’m going to create a Quality called “I Know a Little . . .” at Good, and it refers to the common ‘I know a little French/German/Dutch/etc.’ so that Helfdan can usually understand parts of the conversations going on in foreign languages. Given that it is about languages, I’m linking it to Wit.

Helfdan has no Ranks with which to purchase an Item. Plus, it does not readily fit with the character concept.

And you know that I have to give Helfdan the Weakness “Loves the Ladies” at Basic, because it fits so well into my image of him. Taking this Weakness provides another Rank that can be spent at character creation. If you recall, I spent that rank creating the Quality “I Know a Little . . .” at Good.

While Helfdan may gain Fame later through the game, he has none now.

Helfdan’s Pivots will be “Talk My Way Into It,” “Buckling the Swash,” and “Saga of Greatness.”

For “Talk My Way Into It,” the Pivot will be “Words can be as effective as weapons. Luck is gained when the character gains an advantage or victory against a clearly superior opponent through words.” “Buckling the Swash” will be “What’s the point of a fight if you can’t have a little fun? Luck is gained when the character fights in an unorthodox, cinematic and amusing fashion against an opponent that clearly outclasses the character.” Finally, “Saga of Greatness” will be “When I declaim the glory of another, I bring glory to myself. Luck is gained when the character gains an ally or subverts an enemy through the use of saga or verse regarding the heroism of some third party.” That last one is going to be tough.

Helfdan Tokesson
Concept: Skald, Great               Fighting: Good
Faculty: Insight, Great              Style: Swashbuckling, Good
Seafaring: Good                         Protection:
Phy:     Wit: Good     Cha: Good
Charming Rogue (Cha, Good); I Know A Little . . . (Wit, Good); Loves the Ladies (Basic)

Pivot: Talk My Way Into It: Words can be as eff ective as weapons. Luck is gained when the character gains an advantage or victory against a clearly superior opponent through words.

Buckling the Swash: What’s the point of a fight if you can’t have a little fun? Luck is gained when the character fights in an unorthodox, cinematic and amusing fashion against an opponent that clearly outclasses the character.

Saga of Greatness: When I declaim the glory of another, I bring glory to myself. Luck is gained when the character gains an ally or subverts an enemy through the use of saga or verse regarding the heroism of some third party.

November 2011 Sales

The numbers weren’t so bad this month. I had hoped to have Kiss My Axe out in November, but it was delayed. I have the final in hand, but I’m waiting for the proof copy of the print edition before I release it. Unlike Sword Noir, I want to release the PDF and print editions of Kiss My Axe simultaneously, especially since so many people request print.

Gifts of the Elder Gods was meant to be SEP’s last planned release, and was scheduled for the first quarter of 2012, but with KMA delayed, I wanted to put something out in November to keep SEP’s visibility relatively high. It may not worked out as well as I would have liked, but we’ve had good numbers for the last week in November, so it might be doing its job.

December should be interesting, with the release of Kiss My Axe. I hope it will perform as well as (or even better than) Sword Noir, but I honestly have my doubts. Since its release in April of this year, Sword Noir as earned $958 against a budget of $1350. That sounds great, except the numbers are down lower than expected (I had hoped for at least 10 sales per month). If we continue forward with only 4 sales per month, it’ll take another two years to get into the black. I had projected two years total, so that would be one third longer than anticipated to make a profit. Not good.

Total Sales for November
Albenistan
Khorforjan Gambit, 3
Qalashar Device, 3
Raid On Ashkashem, 3

Arcane Kingdoms
Arcane Kingdoms, 1
Gifts of the Elder Gods, 18
For Simple Coin, 2

Covert Forces
Covert Forces Redux, 4
In Her Majesty’s Service, 2

Sword’s Edge System
Crossing the Millers, 5
Sword’s Edge System, Free Rules, 25
Sword Noir, 7
The Kheufer Scrolls, 5

Other
Operation Nearscape, Free Product, 20
Relief Effort, 1

Total Sales To Date
Albenistan
Albenistan: Election Day (Modern Dispatch 113): 30
Khorforjan Gambit: 98
Qalashar Device: 111
Raid On Ashkashem: 150

Arcane Kingdoms
Arcane Kingdoms: 29
Gifts of the Elder Gods: 18
For Simple Coin: 50

Charity Products
Relief Effort: 54

Covert Forces
Canada’s Combined Security Reconnaissance Section: 89
Covert Forces: 100
Covert Forces Redux: 145
In Her Majesty’s Service: 127

Modern Medieval
Gunpowder Plots: 73
Man-At-Arms Advanced Class: 36
Mercenary Advanced Class: 39
Spy Advanced Class: 34
Modern Medieval Compilation: 46
(for Japanese Disaster Relief)

Other
Cyber-state Avatar Toolkit: 35
Line Zero: 32
Operation Nearscape, Free Product, 254

Roles & Classes
Capable Hero: 84
Combat Hero: 83
Counter-Terrorism Assaulter: 95
Covert Hero: 92
Spec Ops Recce: 93
Special Operations Marksman: 93
Talent Trees Assembled: 68

Sword’s Edge System
Crossing the Millers, 44
Sword’s Edge System, Free Rules 749
Sword Noir 265
The Kheufer Scrolls, 85

Treasure Chest Unlocked
Gems: 66
Incense: 7

Gifts of the Elder Gods

A duellist in a dying city facing a weapon of fiery death, not to mention temptation.

Two fur trappers hunted by a spirit of hate that feeds on the very fear it engenders.

An arrogant apprentice to a vain wizard finds himself in a race to unlock secrets hidden for centuries.

MacBeth, beloved King of the Scots, faces his last day and learns his name will damned.

A cunning sorcerer has decided he will not be a victim, he would rather be a victor.

These are the wizards and warriors that populate Gifts of the Elder Gods. Join them in their adventures, touched by magic and the supernatural, with wits and weapons of mysticism or steel to overcome the snares of diabolical enemies.

Gifts of the Elder Gods is the new short fiction collection from Fraser Ronald. You can find it at RPG Now and Drive Thru RPG. It is available in PDF, ePub, and mobi formats, with print-on-demand coming soon.

October’s Sales

October wasn’t much of a month for sales. The free product I released (Operation Nearscape: An Osiris File) did fine, but the point of releasing was to get feedback on it and gauge interest. I got a good review, but that’s about it. I don’t think I’ll be moving forward with the Osiris Files.

Kiss My Axe is slated for release this month, both PDF and print. That should get things moving. In December, I’ll be releasing the adventure Suffer the Witch, and then we’ve hit the end of my release queue.

What will happen after that? I don’t know. I’ve completed the first draft playtest document for Centurion: Soldiers of Rome. I might see about crowdsourcing that through Indie-A-Go-Go since Canadians can’t use Kickstarter, but we’ll see. Until Sword Noir and Kiss My Axe earn back their investments, I’m not keen on putting more money into another game, especially since my family can really use the money right now.

Sales for October
Albenistan
Albenistan: Election Day (Modern Dispatch 113), 1
Khorforjan Gambit, 2
Qalashar Device, 2
Raid On Ashkashem, 2

Arcane Kingdoms
Arcane Kingdoms, 1
For Simple Coin, 2

Covert Forces
Covert Forces Redux, 4
In Her Majesty’s Service, 2

Sword’s Edge System
Crossing the Millers, 7
Sword’s Edge System, Free Rules, 25
Sword Noir, 9
The Kheufer Scrolls, 8

Other
Operation Nearscape, Free Product, 234

Total Sales To Date
Albenistan
Albenistan: Election Day (Modern Dispatch 113): 30
Khorforjan Gambit: 95
Qalashar Device: 108
Raid On Ashkashem: 147

Arcane Kingdoms
Arcane Kingdoms: 28
For Simple Coin: 48

Charity Products
Relief Effort: 53

Covert Forces
Canada’s Combined Security Reconnaissance Section: 89
Covert Forces: 100
Covert Forces Redux: 141
In Her Majesty’s Service: 125

Modern Medieval
Gunpowder Plots: 73
Man-At-Arms Advanced Class: 36
Mercenary Advanced Class: 39
Spy Advanced Class: 34
Modern Medieval Compilation: 46
(for Japanese Disaster Relief)

Other
Cyber-state Avatar Toolkit: 35
Line Zero: 32
Operation Nearscape, Free Product, 234

Roles & Classes
Capable Hero: 84
Combat Hero: 83
Counter-Terrorism Assaulter: 95
Covert Hero: 92
Spec Ops Recce: 93
Special Operations Marksman: 93
Talent Trees Assembled: 68

Sword’s Edge System
Crossing the Millers, 39
Sword’s Edge System, Free Rules 724
Sword Noir 258
The Kheufer Scrolls, 80

Treasure Chest Unlocked
Gems: 66
Incense: 7

Osiris: Running Silent

More than 200 downloads of Operation Nearscape since its release less than two weeks ago, and not one piece of feedback. I got a very nice review from Megan Robertson, and she seems to think that she would welcome more, so that’s something.

Maybe people are waiting to try it out. Maybe people are just mulling it over. More likely, most people who download it will glance at it and then file it or trash it. Whatever the case, this is a test, so if you would be interested in more Osiris Files, and would be willing to pay a buck for something like Operation Nearscape, let me know.

You can find Operation Nearscape here.

Sword Noir One-Pager: Kiss MacGuffin Deadly

This one-pager probably works best if your PCs are Urban Cohorts in Everthorn–or otherwise representatives of some level of law enforcement or other organization that imposes order in some fashion, like the Knights Templar and Hospitaller in the Holy Lands during the crusades. If not actual “police,” the PCs could be something akin to private detectives–if the setting has them–or some other freelance troubleshooters (or gunslinger/dirty-knight errant like Caspan Trey in my story “For Simple Coin”). Given that the PCs are expected to assist an innocent, criminals might not be the best choice.

This one-pager is also short on locations as it is long on everything else. You can always re-cycle a cool location from one of the earlier one-pagers if necessary.

 

Kiss MacGuffin Deadly

Situation
An innocent—to whom the PCs are likely to react positively but whom they don’t know—secretly connected somehow to a powerful mage of ill repute from afar requests the PCs’ help. This innocent needs to deliver a package to an individual in Everthorn. This is a matter of life or death. In an ambush, the innocent is killed or abducted. Various factions vie for the package, which is actually an uncontrollable item of power that destroys all around it when released from its confines.

Plot Points
1. The innocent does not have the package, but is receiving it from a trusted ship’s captain who travelled from afar. The innocent has a note to the captain to release the package to the bearer of the note. The innocent provides the note to the PCs once she secures their assistance. The innocent has a sense of impending doom.

2. The Evil Mastermind sends four mercenaries (possibly named Sucre, Xavier, Tang and Celeris) to get the innocent and the package. If the capture is unsuccessful, the crew are tasked with killing the innocent. The recovery of the package is a top priority.

3. When the PCs secure the package, there is a note included with it that it must be delivered to Al-Ansar or the Invisible Judge for safekeeping.

4. Just before the PCs make the delivery, the Evil Mastermind along with any surviving mercenaries and a total of eight toughs attack in an attempt to grab the package. The powerful mage of ill-repute, Skeleros, appears and joins in the struggle, attacking the strongest party first.

Location
1. Star’s Reach: The galleon of the Ship’s Captain. This is a large, fast vessel, able to cross oceans and perhaps introduce the PCs to entirely new settings.

Narrative Characters
1. The Innocent, plot initiator
Concept: Naïf (+2) Faculty: Engender trust (Cha, +2)
Phy 7; Agl 7; Wit 9; Cha 12; Wil 9

2. Mercenaries
Concept: Tough Guy (+4) Background: Street Hunter (+2)
Faculty: Rough housing (Phy, +4) Flaw: Unimaginative (-2)
Phy 15; Agl 9; Wit 7; Cha 9; Wil 7
Cracking Heads (Phy, +4); Powerhouse (Phy, +2)

3. The Ship’s Captain
Concept: Merchant Adventurer (+2) Faculty: Cold Read (Cha, +2)
Phy 7; Agl 9; Wit 9; Cha 12; Wil 7

4. Evil Mastermind
Concept: Underworld Spider (+2) Background: Arcanist (+2)
Faculty: Intimidation (Cha, +2) Flaw: Impatient (-2)
Phy 12; Agl 9; Wit 12; Cha 12; Wil 9
Fight Dirty (Phy, +4), Aggressive Negotiations (Cha, +2)

4. Skeleros, powerful mage of ill-repute from afar
Concept: Necromancer (+2) Background: Spurned Scholar (Wit, +2)
Faculty: the Arcane (Cha, +2) Flaw: Imperious (-2)
Phy 7; Agl 9; Wit 12; Cha 15; Wil 9
Arcane Quality – Water, Charm of the Grave (+4), Rain of Fear (+4)

Operations Nearscape: an Osiris File

The DNA of an astronaut and naval aviator declared MIA in 2006 has been found in a fragment from the Tunguska event of 1908. Is the aviator alive? How could his DNA be involved in the explosion of the Tunguska event, 100 years earlier? Osiris is tasked with learning the answers to these questions.

Black projects, super-science, and conspiracies all play a part in Operation Nearscape.

This product is part of the Osiris Files series and is systemless. It is not a complete adventure, but is a “concept module,” providing ideas and inspiration built around a central conceit to help the GM build an adventure suited to the GM’s campaign.

You can find Operation Nearscape at RPG Now, along with the rest of our products.

The Osiris Files: Operation Nearscape was created as the first of a possible series of similar concept modules. If there is interest, the plot arc conceptualized for the Osiris Files will be released through a series of concept modules.

The Osiris Files series
The Osiris Files take place in a world right beside ours. Next door, or perhaps just down the block. People drive cars you would recognize, have jobs you would recognize, and eat food you would recognize. Somewhere, though, there is a shadow world. It might be a world of super spies, super humans, or magic. It might be a world of hidden monsters, ancient threats, or that which man was not meant to know.

The characters inhabit this shadow world. They may pose as accountants, or librarians, or electricians, but they are not. They are not butchers, bakers or candlestick makers. They are something different, something special, and something absolutely dangerous.

The Osiris Files are not adventures, they are concepts. Each operation provides briefing materials, background and ideas. All the material is systemless, and therefore can be used with any role-playing game system. The core of the adventure and its place in the campaign are left to the GM. There are no maps. There is no conclusion. While the concept provides possible conclusions and ideas as to what is happening, there is no set path to solving a problem. The Osiris Files only provide ideas.

This has been a long time coming (copyright on Nearscape is 2009, if that tells you anything). If this moves forward, it will only be if I get enough interest that I believe I can sell enough of each of the other 7 planned “concept modules” in the Osiris Files plot arc to motivate me to get it done. The writing for module two, Operation Savage, is complete. Let’s see if this pans out.

Sword Noir One-Pager: The Lost

This one-pager only fits on a page with 10 pt font, but that’s fair, isn’t it? One thing I like about this one is that if the PCs are playing criminals, this is where they distinguish themselves from the scum. I talk about that a bit over at Sword’s Edge.

The Lost

Situation
Regher Gaunt, once an Urban Cohort, achieved something of note when he was drilled out of that corrupt organization for being too corrupt. He’s now a resident of the Gagerum, maybe the biggest slum in Everthorn, and an old enemy has taken the only thing that matters to him, his daughter. He almost got killed trying to get her back, and now he’s turned to the PCs as his only hope. Cut-Lip Caladis—who used to run with the gang known as the Fallen Ones—took the girl and has someone backing him up, a bunch of someones who almost killed Regher. Now Regher’s got nothing, no one to help him, and might not even live to see another morning. All he wants is his daughter safe.

Plot Points
1. Regher actually did his job when he put Cut-Lip to the oars for robbing and killing a family, but Cut-Lip holds a major grudge because this was one time when Regher couldn’t be bought. Regher knows Caladis is willing to kill children, so he’s desperate.

2. This is just sweet revenge for Caladis, who intends to sell the girl into slavery. He tried to interest the Fallen Ones, but only his previous association with them stopped them from gutting him. He’s gone too far. They didn’t stop him but they have no love for him. They know he’s on the way to the Pit.

3. Caladis indeed has Regher’s daughter, Lydia, at the Pit. He also has 8 hired goons led by Druxis, a mercenary.

Locations
1. The Aerie: The Fallen Ones congregate at an old watchtower that is now on the edge of the North Road, just on the outskirts of East Corners. It’s been modified and heightened so that it now climbs six stories up, and has a diameter of 20 metres at its base and 10 metres at its apex. Each floor serves a different purpose—tavern, gambling hall, brothel, and opium den—with the top two stories the headquarters of the Fallen Ones.

2. The Pit: Three kilometres north-east, off the North road, is an old quarry or mine or something. This is an illegal slave market that opens for one night during the full moon. The Pit is only the most recent location, as whenever the Urban Prefect learns of its location, he sends the Captain and his Whites to shut the place down.

Narrative Characters
1. Regher Gaunt, disgraced Urban Cohort
Concept: Loser (+2) Faculty: Tough Guy (Phy, +2)
Phy 12; Agl 9; Wit 7; Cha 7; Wil 9

2. Cut-Lip Caladis, holds a major grudge
Concept: SOB (+2) Faculty: Back Stabbing (Phy, +2)
Phy 12; Agl 9; Wit 9; Cha 7; Wil 7

3. Adreanna, leader of the Fallen Ones
Concept: Honourable Criminal (+2) Background: Kill My Way to the Top (+2)
Faculty: Drawing Blood (Agl, +2) Flaw: Tied to Oaths (-2)
Phy 9; Agl 15; Wit 12; Cha 12; Wil 9
Voice of Authority (Cha, +2), Sharpest of Blades (Agl, +2)

4. Druxis the merc
Concept: Mercenary (+2) Faculty: Swordsmanship (Phy, +2)
Phy 12; Agl 9; Wit 9; Cha 7; Wil 7

5. Hasault, runs the Pit
Concept: Flesh Merchant (+2) Faculty: Smell Weakness (Wit, +2)
Phy 9; Agl 9; Wit 12; Cha 7; Wil 7