tafeanorn: (Default)
2012 is the year of Ellis: Kingdom in Turmoil.

What is Ellis?  Ellis is a pen-and-paper roleplaying game that I have been writing for the last couple of years.  It is a setting, Ellis is the name of both the capital city and the kingdom where the game takes place.  It is also a set of game rules, the +3 System, specifically designed for this setting.

What makes it special?  Why does the world need another rpg?  Ellis is about roleplaying, about playing a character.  Characters are detailed, but not just details about combat -- when you make a character you make his or her whole life. 

And Ellis is a world that focuses on real people, doing real things.  No wizards destroying armies or priests raising the dead.  But people -- some important, some common -- trying to succeed in the world, trying to resolve conflicts with their neighbors, trying to keep true to their own morals.

Combat is quick with a fair amount of detail.  It encourages movement around the battlefield, and allied fighters assisting one another.  There is no magic, though you may encounter evil witches or evil demons.  But even those foul abominations must bow to the power of the church.

Ellis is a kingdom in turmoil.  The old, beloved king, Heinrich, has died and his three sons have begun fighting over his land.  Greedy lords, kept in check by a strong ruler, are quick and eager to take advantage of the dispute.  And an ancient evil, responsible for Heinrich’s death, is loose again on the world, ready to drown the world in blood.

And it’s almost done.

Yes, really.

The first week of the new year were busy at work doing inventory, but since that was over, I have been devoting a great deal of my time tackling the manuscript.  And it’s nearly ready to go to the printer.  The rules are all playtested and working.  The setting and fiction are fully edited.  The interior art is nearly done, with only a handful of pictures still due to come in. 

And the maps. I’m still waiting on the maps, but I’ve been in frequent contact with my cartographer and I’m confident it will be done by the end of the month.

How close am I?  Very.  I could finish this weekend.  Figure the week after just to make sure.  Very close.

Which has spurred me to think: What’s the next step?  After thinking about it, I think it looks like this:

Sunday 1/15
Print the last proof copy, examining it for layout errors and image problems.

Monday 1/16
Get the Ellis Kickstarter posted with list of perks and video promos.
Talk up the Kickstarter on RPG.net and RPGgeek.com and elsewhere.  Continue this for the next few months.
Make website for EllisRPG.com

Tuesday 1/24
Have the manuscript completely ready (except for maps) and Kickstarter perks.

Tuesday 1/31
Have maps and cover done?

Monday  2/6
Kickstarter ends

Tuesday 2/7
Finalize manuscript and send to printer

Friday 2/10
Proof returns from printer

Monday  2/12
Send revised proof back to printer (if needed).

Thursday  2/16
Second proof returns from printer.  It’s perfect (hopefully!) and I place an order.

Friday 2/17 through Sunday 2/19
RadCon.  Promote book and show off proof.  Sit on RPG panels.

Tuesday 2/18 
Books Arrive!

Or something very similar.

Let’s see if I can keep to it!
tafeanorn: (Ellis)
Today I started in on seriously catching up on work. I cleaned the kitchen. I weeded (partially) out gravel parking lot. I worked on Ellis. All things that I just haven’t had the time or energy to tackle. It felt really good.

Then Becca and I went out thrift storing and garage saleing. We found some games -- nothing spectacular, but a new copy of Word on the Street, a Scrabble, a Rumikub, a Castle Risk, a Battleship and a few others that I don’t recall at the moment. And we just had some together time, which has been hard to come by. That felt really good as well.

And then worked more on Ellis. It is coming along well. The real work is done -- it’s all written, all playtested to my satisfaction, and laid out. It just needs four things: a major proofreading, artwork, a cover and maps. I have a map artist and a cover artist working right now. Their works in progress look very good, and though it’s coming along slower than I’d like, they’re going to look great. That leaves me with proofreading and art.

Christine got the first go-over of the manuscript and made a bunch of great comments in record time. And then Layla and I are going over it as well. It’s slow going and that’s disappointing on a let’s-get-this-thing-done-and-move-on perspective. But at the same all three of us have noticed and commented on how well it intrigues the reader and draws them in. It’s not a stuffy, academic-style world book. It’s actually fun to read. The fiction quickly demands that keep reading to kind out what happens next, so you tell yourself that you’ll skim through the next section, but that section grabs you and makes you savor it, forgetting for a moment the fiction.

We’re all probably biased for having spent so much time in this world working on this project, but even still, it’s extremely good. Better than I imagined it could be when I first started working on it.

And then artwork. The interior artwork is going to be nearly all public domain images. Not Dover Books line art that you see in all of the indie RPGs, but scans of actual medieval and classic artwork. I did that for one main reason -- I really wanted that style of artwork but found few reliable and affordable artists willing and able to do it. It just also happens to be free and thus very affordable.

So I’ve been searching for art. Online, searching through galleries of medieval manuscripts. The Maciejowski Bible. The Manese Codex. The University of Heidelberg has a stunning collection of manuscripts available on their website and you can just download the entire book as a .pdf. http://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/ I’ve been to our local library and gone through all of their art books. I’ve been through my personal library . . . So it’s coming along. I probably won’t start actually inserting images until we get back from vacation.
tafeanorn: (Ellis - King)
Tonight, about an hour ago, I finished the Ellis manuscript (my fantasy roleplaying game). Final, no more than fixing a typo here or there, done, no more editing or fixing or changing. Full stop. No more. Done.

284,500 words. Three years. Much playtesting. Uncountable hours. I’m very happy with what I have here, but also very happy that it’s complete.

And on my birthday, too. I’m 41 years old today, and writing and publishing a roleplaying game has been my dream for at least the last 25 of them.

I am very pleased, though the work is not quite done. Layout and art are the next steps, but I’m going to give myself a few days off before I tackle that monster fully. A few days to catch up on a few delayed projects around the house, spend time with my family . . . that sort of thing. Between work and Ellis I have been neglecting my friends and other social festivities. Sorry everyone!

Thanks to everyone who has been so helpful and supportive. It has really helped. We should see the fruition of all of our efforts within the next month or two. I’m looking forward to it.

In the meantime, we’ve got a combat playtest scheduled for Thursday night. Bring characters or I’ll have some.

Christi: I’m going to bed now, but I’ll send you a long e-mail first thing in the morning.
tafeanorn: (Ellis - King)
It's been quite a while since I posted. I've been busy and really haven't had the time. I've had a lot of semi-major projects going on that have seriously cut into my blogging time and my time to work on Ellis -- gardening, book publishing, taxes, getting Sabledrake Enterprises in order, home repair and maintenance -- that sort of thing.

Most of them are done however, except for a large bout of home repair that will be going on this week while my parents are visiting. Look forward to pictures of a new back porch. We'll also be doing final cosmetic work at our rental (the one that had the roof trouble).

So, Ellis is now on the agenda. Here is the plan:


  • Final text draft done by July 31st

  • Final layout done by August 31st

  • Galley back from printer by the middle of September

  • Fix problems and re-send it, get another galley by the end of September.

  • Order copies and have them ready for a debut party on October 16th (which will be party of Gary's Games' 20th Anniversary celebration)




Also in there I need to contract for artwork. I need both a cover and a large map. I have artists in mind for both of those, I just need to contact them and see if I can afford them.

I think that's all do-able. Most of the work left isn't that hard, it's just not very much fun. Editing, playtesting little sub-systems, making indexes . . . that sort of thing. There's still a little bit of fiddliing around to do with character generation to plug some holes that Ben and Layla found. Quite a few people have also been having trouble with experience, so I may want to mess with those rules as well. Crafting probably needs the most work (though I may still decide to leave it out).

But it's mostly done and I can certainly have a draft in 3 months. If, that is, I get off my butt and work on it.
tafeanorn: (Elrond)
Monday I couldn’t start right in on Ellis because I had other responsibilities. Princess Smith and the Clockwork Knight is the next book due out from Sabledrake Enterprises, and will be released sometime in November. So I spent the day laying that out and getting proofs ready. I needed some artwork for that, so I renewed my subscription to ClipArt.com and spent much of the day downloading artwork from them. The layout went well, and everyone here as well as Rob, the author, liked how it looked.

Tuesday I finally got back to Ellis and dicked around for a long time before I figured out what exactly I wanted to do with the Bestiary section. And, since I had been playing around at Clipart.com, I decided to include artwork for the beasts. It took a long time (I didn’t finish until Sunday), but it looks really good.

That evening, I took Becca to a meeting at Deaconess Children’s Services, a local non-profit helping families and children. She had an interview to begin volunteering. She was a little shy at first, but was in a surprisingly good mood, and pretty well aced the interview. She was supposed to start helping with dinner food prep the following Thursday.

Thursday, there was a huge fire on the same block as Gary’s Games. It destroyed four little restaurants and damaged the Taproot Theater. It now turns out that the fire was arson, but we only found that out recently. KC, my co-worker, came in to see what was up with the fire and we had a long talk, both about the Ellis layout and about Gary’s Games’ web presence.

Saturday I worked on Ellis in the morning, and then we went out Halloween shopping. Becca has turned 15 over the week, so she got taken out to Mexican food for lunch. After a short nap, [livejournal.com profile] chubling came over for a bit and we strategized for an online RPG she’s playing in. Wallace & Gromit’s new movie for family movie night was a big hit and very cute, with better pacing than the last few.

Sunday, I got a private message over Facebook from Kelly, my neighbor across the street. He was having his roof done (I had only found that out Thursday morning as they delivered the industrial-sized dumpster) and was offering me use of the dumpster. We wound up having a long conversation during which I mentioned that I was having my roof done too.

Then we started comparing. He’s getting his done for less than $4000. That was quite a shocker. It actually made me want to cry. But then I was able to point to things that I’m getting that he’s not. His roof was being done by an independent contractor (just one or two guys) and his 10 year old son, who was wandering around cleaning things up. He only had one layer of roof to remove, while I had three (one more than the current building code allows). I’m getting top quality shingles (even that other bid that I got, the one for just materials, listed a price of $8k for the same brand of shingles with only a 30 yr. warrantee). They’re putting in new vents and flashing, and dealing with the difficult flat roof. All with a lifetime warranty, and we plan to keep this house as a rental for a long time.

And I guess that flat roof section is really the key. It has been troublesome the entire time we’ve owned the house. While it didn’t leak while we were there, it always sagged, and it being “fixed” was actually a condition of us buying the house. And by fixed all that really happened was that a support post got put in, rather than any actual repair to the structure. There is definitely something not right going on in there, the real question is just how much bad, how structural is it and how difficult will it be to fix. So I really want someone with experience and the resources to be able to fix whatever is under there.

This is all me trying to justify my decision, but I think it’s still a good one. While I would love to get a roof for $4000, I do want a good one that I can ignore for a long time. But on the other hand, for the price I’m paying, I could buy four cheap roofs. Even if they each only lasted 15 years, that would still be a lifetime’s worth. So I don’t know. It literally makes me sick to my stomach to think about it too much and to wonder if I’m really wasting that much money.

Other than that, Kelly and I had a great chat, over an hour standing outside on the very chilly morning. After that, I went inside and finished up Ellis while the girls worked on Becca’s zombie Halloween costume.
tafeanorn: (Gil-Galad)
The weather was horrendous that Saturday. The rain was coming down in buckets. So much so, that even on the drive down to Gary’s Games with no traffic, we were only going 40 MPH on the freeway.

I had gone to the bank on Tuesday and confirmed that I could get $10k out of home equity line of credit, and then Evan had come back over Wednesday night for us to sign papers on getting the roof re-done. Of the four contractors that came out to look at the house, only two actually got back to me with quotes! Only Jorve offered to meet with me and discuss options. And the other one, while they did send a quote, only quoted me for materials, not for time, permits, disposal of the old roof, etc. Jorve also gave me copies of all their licenses, insurances, Labor & Industries documents and the like. Professional through and through.

And with a professional price tag. $15,200 plus tax and possible overruns. So I’m figuring $18k. That includes new underlayment, new vents, flashing, a lot of work on that troublesome flat roof area that necessitated this whole thing and a lifetime warrantee. But they also said that they would come out and tarp down the roof so that it wouldn’t leak while they fit me into their schedule.

And so I drove by the house on my way to the game. Nearly the entire roof was covered in tarps and in the wind and rain it wasn’t fluttering or looking like it was going to blow away. A good, professional job. Later, when I called the tenant, he said that they had arrived on Thursday morning (remember we signed the papers Wednesday night, after business hours) and that the rain had started about 15 minutes after they left. Perfect timing!

I got to the game nearly late and drenched. Despite the poor weather, there was a good turnout -- five out of six spots. The game went very well, though there was a strange, unanticipated bit where everyone decided that I had not outfitted their characters properly and they wanted to go shopping.

We went a little late and wound up having to skip the big final battle. That is, we didn’t skip it, but also didn’t actually play it out. I thought it went well, and many of the player’s talked about coming to the next session.

That night we watched the really cute, and not at all cheesy Shaun the Sheep, in two videos for Family Movie Night.

Sunday was a major chore day, and I would up cleaning, doing yard work, shopping and dealing with several large totes full of old computer manuals left over from our July garage sale that had been left on the front porch but uncovered so that they had filled up with water and the paper rotted. Quite disgusting!

I followed that up with a second try at cheese making, which went much better (at least for the cheddar, the ricotta failed).
tafeanorn: (Elrond)
A lot has happened in our little corner of the world since my birthday party, which was my last post.

That weekend we had planned to go downtown to BrickCon, a lego convention, but when we got down there, we encountered a line of 8-12 year-olds around the block and decided that it would be too much for us. That evening Becca went to a birthday party.

The next day we drove north to the Skagit County Festival of Family Farms. Becca had said beforehand that she didn't want to go, but that morning she changed her mind and came with us and that made me very happy. She really seems to hate my new-found gardening/farming hobby, but sometimes it shines through that maybe she just enjoys being contrary.

We spent the day touring the farms and bought some really good cheese and egg nog from Golden Glen Creamery. We will certainly go back there. We hit some thrift stores on the way home, looking for a copy of CandyLand, because Charley's birthday party was the next weekend.

Becca had complained that her wrist hurt ever since the party so I wound up taking her to the doctor on Monday. After a long wait and having to witness a 40-something daughter badger and berate her elderly, not-all-that-with-it father for most of it, she got x-rays that were inconclusive. We got a brace and were told to go easy on it.

That week, I finished the writing of the hopefully-final Ellis edition (v. 1.7). I also went down to the local co-op and bought supplies for making cheese, because after getting the cheesemaking kit for my birthday, I was eager to start in on that.

In less fun news, we had roof issues. We have a rental house and it has, for several years, had a leaky section of the roof. Every year I go up, slather on some tar, and that gets it through the winter and the tenants don’t complain. This year, that didn’t cut it. When I looked at it from the inside, looking behind sheetrock and pushing away insulation, it was obvious why none of my efforts topside had helped.

The wood of the roof (this is on a section of flat roof) was rotted through and you could see the underside of the tar paper. How it had kept the water out was really the bigger question.

So I also spent much of that week calling roofing contractors and arranging for them to come out at look at the place and place bids. On guy, Evan from Jorve Roofing, even came out to the house on Wednesday night to go over everything and teach me everything I wanted to know about roofs.

Needless to say, this stressed me out immensely and still continues to, but more on that later.
tafeanorn: (Ellis - King)
I managed to get 2100+ words written yesterday, all about the changes I wanted to make to religion. They were hard words to pull out and I had been struggling with exactly how to change things for several weeks. But it all finally came together during my walk yesterday and then I actually managed to get it onto paper.

Also, Simon, the artist I mentioned now has in his possession four paragraphs describing scenes for pictures I'd like to see in the final book. I had expected that writing up the scenes would be kind of boring and feel like work, but it was surprisingly fun. Which is good, because I have 150 or more that I eventually have to write up.
tafeanorn: (Ellis - King)
I ran a game down at the store on Saturday and it went very well. The game was fun and everyone enjoyed it. Two new players, one his first time playing any RPG.

I realized some small changes that I wanted to make, mostly having to do with damage numbers as compared to armor number.

I had lunch with [livejournal.com profile] raffenshiv and Victoria today. We talked about the game for about 3 hours. They had a bunch of good ideas that I really don't want to incorporate/change, but I think I need to. I want to move forward, but when it isn't quite right or could be made plainer, it has to be done.

So I'm going to re-write combat. I'm going to see how much I can finish tonight, so that I can work on saints tomorrow.

I've been on a little break from the game design since January, and it feels really good to be back!
tafeanorn: (Gil-Galad)
It's a short work week for me, as I am taking Friday off to go to MisCon in Missoula, Montana. I'm not particularly looking forward to the drive, but once we get there it will be a blast. Last year was our first time going; small con, lots of face time with the guests, great hotel with a creek running through it, good people.

I've been fighting off a cold all week and it still has yet to fully take me over. I keep telling myself I'm too busy to catch a cold and taking Vitamin C.

My wife has started a new guild for City of Heroes and so on Tuesday when I tried to work on Ellis and after two hours had gotten nowhere (not quite that bad, but it was rather irksome) I decided to write some fiction about my character for it. That went well and I was happy.

I have four half-written posts for my other blog that I have to tame and get posted. Maybe I can do that at MisCon.

I'm also back on my diet and have already seen some of my vacation pounds vanish. Yeah!

My parents got me hooked on The Mentalist while I was on vacation and I managed to watch the first 7 episodes this week. Very fun show.
tafeanorn: (Gil-Galad)
I only woke up three hours ago and already I've:


  • Finished the rough draft of Mystery at the Monastery

  • Weeded my wheat field

  • Cleaned up the old dog-run that is adjacent to the wheat field. I intend to use it as the place to use and store my other medieval experiments -- quern, oven, etc.

  • Been to the store

  • Laid out a batch of Apricot Wine to start fermenting.




The strangest bit of the day (so far) was with the wine. We had bought a large can of apricots in syurp to be the base of the wine but the can was too big to fit into our under-the-counter can opener. So I was forced to use an old fashioned turn-key can opener. The one we have is very old and cheap and has no vinyl padding or anything. It took a lot of effort to open this large, thick can and by the end of it my right hand was rubbed very raw.

As I was cleaning up, I noticed my thumb feeling odd -- tight, warm. It had already swollen to an immense size and the pad of my thumb was a dark purple. I've put ice on it now and it's a bit better but it is still very tight and I can feel my pulse in it. It doesn't actually hurt, but it's a very odd feeling.

Chris just made Scotch Eggs and they are very good (though very bad for me, I'm sure). They're a very good mix of texture between the yolk and the crispy sausage and difference in taste between the dry, creamy yolk and the meaty, spicy (and greasy) sausage.

Bonus Day

Apr. 17th, 2009 07:03 am
tafeanorn: (happy)
I have today off!

After working the last two weekends I mentioned to my boss that I'd like to leave a little early, to even out my time (I'm salaried). He said that was fine and then hesitated, "You know, I don't really have anythign for you to do in the morning either, so if you can find coverage for the middle of the day, you can take the whole day off."

Needless to say, I found coverage.

The game went well last night, despite seemingly endless interruptions. Part of the problem when trying to roleplay at work.

I want to spend my bonus day catching up on projects. I want to finish Mystery at the Monastery, the intorductory adventure that will go in the Ellis book. I want to do some other writing and maybe post the story I wrote last month.

The family is also going to make some apricot wine over the weekend, and I need some supplies for that.

Busy Week

Apr. 2nd, 2009 06:57 am
tafeanorn: (Gil-Galad)
There was a lot going on this week, but I've been doing my best to take it easy. I've been feeling really stressed and kind of ... unstable, if that's not too strong a word. Not my usual solid, predictible, stay-the-course self. Too random in my emotions.

Anyway, I decided to take things very easy, still get things done, but make sure I get enough sleep, eat well, take my vitamens, no news or newspaper or newsfeeds, and just not let things get to me. All in all it's worked pretty well.

Had a fun night socializing at the painting party. Played my third (and last) game of Battlestar Galactica (sorry guys, it just doesn't do anything for me). Worked on Ellis some -- I'm almost done witht he included adventure, just need to do more character descriptions and draw a map.

I went through the 250+ page program book for the Medieval Conference I'm going to in May and made myself a schedue of panels that I want to see. 250 pages condenced down to 5. Whee! I ordered some wheat seed and bought some fertilizer for planting my back 40. I baked bread and did lots of cooking. I ran errands. A good week.

The next two weeks I'm working extra shifts at GGH. I'll be working on getting that wireless internet up and going, re-organizing the miniatures, updating pricing on the entire website and doing a full spring cleaning. Fun, Fun, Fun. Hopefully I'll get to play some games too.
tafeanorn: (Gil-Galad)
This post is only 6 weeks late. To go along with my accomplishments of 2008, we have, in no particular order, my goals for the upcoming year:

Household Goals

  • Fix the fence

  • Build a garden to grow wheat in

  • Insulate the underside of the bathroom (we discovered this winter that a large draft was coming in under the bathtub)

  • Clean out the attic and have a garage sale



Personal Goals

  • Read 20 fiction books

  • Read several history books

  • Listen to audio books

  • Work on becoming more self-aware and in touch with my feelings and desires

  • Get down to 175 lbs.

  • Talk to people and network at conventions

  • Write short fiction

  • Write the outline of a novel



Work on Living History Projects

  • Build a quern


  • Build an oven

  • Plant a field of wheat

  • Make a batch of mead

  • Make a batch of medieval-style ale

  • Experiment with more bread recipes

  • Go to Kalamazoo



Sabledrake Enterprises Goals

  • Increase local awareness of us

  • Sell significant quantities of in-stock books

  • Print Ellis

  • Start a line of d20/4e/Ellis compatible map sets of real locations (castles, churches/monasteries, inns & taverns)

  • Do a book/pdf (with Lizzy) of fashion in Fantasy RPGs?

  • Sell the sets of Lawn Darts I've been collecting

tafeanorn: (Ellis - King)
Yes. Finally it is done. Clocked in at over 102,000 words.

It is not perfect. It is not complete or entirely clean. But it works and I will be filling in those holes over the following weeks while the thing gets playtested to death.

I'm going to spend the rest of today and tomorrow quickly laying it out and turning it into a pdf, I hope. I haven't actually tried making a pdf yet on the new computer. I also have some tables and charts that need to be laid out (weapon lists, skill lists, etc.).

I could finish by the game on Thursday and I'd like to, but I'm not going to commit to it. Definitely by the end of the weekend though.

Anyone who is not a part of my regular gaming group who wants to see has but to ask . . .
tafeanorn: (Elrond)
I'm going to come right out and say it from the start: 2008 falls into the category of one of the best years in my life. Top ten without even thinking about it, top five with little competition. Top 3? After 1992 and 1994. I think so.

What was so great? Let's look at my accomplishments and growth for the year: )

Look for a "Goals for 2009" post in the next few days.
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