Tabletop Game Design Tip #1

Hi, all. Over the decades, I’ve designed more than two dozen board, card and rpgs. I’m not boasting – I don’t have any of them on the market (I’ve spent little time trying, frankly, but that’s starting to change.) Recently, I started a complete revamp of one of my designs, this time with the intent to try and get it on the market (I know – about time!)

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about game design, theme, mechanics, components, etc. and I’ve done a ton of research, learned some new tricks, and thought I’d do a short series on tips I’ve learned over the years. Hopefully you’ll find something useful here, or at least a good reminder. (Btw, the pic below shows part of the cover of my last novel: The Shadow Reaper, and one of my custom dice: The Overkill D20, heading to Kickstarter very soon.)

Using Space to help identify problem areas
Whether you’re designing a card, reference sheet, character sheet, hero board or rule book, you can learn more about what you are actually doing, what works and what doesn’t from how you have been using the space you have and what you had in mind.

When I first started my revamp for Freeze Or Burn, I wrote up a bunch of spells then tried putting them on the cards and had a rude awakening. I shouldn’t have been surprised. It was an amateur mistake, but it had been awhile since I’d messed with cards and I was still coming off the excitement of reworking an already cool game. There was no way the text was going to fit without being super small, and even if my eyes were less than stellar, I wasn’t interested in giving a wall of text to read for something that should be fairly quick to digest. Instead of using bigger cards, I simplified the rules and the cards were better for it.

Super tiny text more often than not is a red flag that you might want to rethink how you are handling the concept, simplify how the effect/spell/monster works, use more iconography, come at it from a different angle, etc. This has helped me with RPG design and board game design. If your game is intentionally crunchy, then you can get away with more and smaller text (though older gamers may struggle to read your text), but if you are going for something slimmer (not simple), but more elegant, or at least faster to understand and play, you will want to be very mindful of space.

As the years roll by, attention spans and patience for complicated games and reading in general declines. This is a serious issue, so even if you don’t mind reading large volumes of text, you have to consider what your players might be willing to do. Also, if you can use fewer words, you should, if it doesn’t decrease understanding. Throwing a spell on a card and seeing that you need to cut out half of the text is a good way to force yourself to think smarter about how you are writing spells, for example. It helps you get creative about how to handle things. More than once I’ve done this trick and it helps me actually improve the spell/magic item, etc.

Character Sheets and Rules: Making a character sheet or hero board/character board helps you see where your rules get bogged down and how much emphasis you are placing on certain themes, whether you meant to or not. i.e. If 50% of a character sheet is skills you have to ask yourself if skills are that important to the game – half of what your character is about. Maybe they are important to you, but is there a better way of handling skills? Do you need that many? Is it truly 50% of what a character is, and if it isn’t, should it take up as much room?

Cluttered rules, text-heavy cards and character sheets are also like noise and do nothing to carry the game’s theme, tone or mood. What type of gamer are you focusing on? What are you trying to achieve with the space you have? Are you offsetting the flavor text from the rules? That’s a good idea more often than not. I’m all about theme, but I try not to inundate when what the player is really looking for is how the mechanic works. It’s one thing to naming something that carries the theme, and another entirely to delve deeply into lore in the middle of a rule. Fluff belongs in their own sections/side bars. But that’s another topic.

The mind needs some blank space. Things need to be aired out for the mind to appreciate them, digest them, and understand them. A little iconography is great. A lot is difficult to remember and is therefore confusing, even with big icon legends. Find a happy medium. If you’re having trouble remembering them all, imagine those who haven’t lived with your game for a year or two. Some gamers just walk away without ever playing your game to find out how awesome it is if it looks intimidating.

Thoughts? Tips of your own? I’d love to hear them! As for what else I’ve been up to, we’re gearing up to run a custom RPG dice Kickstarter (our 3rd Kickstarter), recently put up The Shadow Reaper novel on Amazon and are working on a bunch of other goodies. I don’t post on the blog regularly because there aren’t too many folks who know it exists and I’m very busy with writing, designing, art and publishing, so to make sure you don’t miss anything, join our mailing list (that’s also a great way to get some cool, free fiction!) Well, have a great week, all!

Posted in author, Cosmoverse Publishing, dice, Fiction, Game Design, games, Kickstarter, publishing, QT Games, Role-playing, Roleplaying | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Custom Dice, Art and Fiction Kickstarter

Hi, all. Very exciting things happening at QT Games. Yes, yes, there’s the Kickstarter, but why I’m doing it and why you should care is worth taking an extra moment or two to unpack. Here’s the Kickstarter and here’s an overview . . .

There’s actually way more going on than the big pile of amazing goodies above, but that should whet your appetite. I’m doing the Kickstarter because a little over 40 years ago when I was just a young teenager, I started dreaming up 2 universes, and I’ve been writing stories and designing both rpgs and board games set in those universes ever since. Oh, sure, some of the early ideas were crude, but I’ve matured over the years, kept and polished the cream of the crop and replaced what wasn’t worth keeping.

Everything I created and continue to create is a thick blend of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Sometimes there’s even superheroes and other genres blended in where appropriate. The universes aren’t kitchen sinks. Countless hours went into lovingly crafting every detail. Being universes, they are herculean things that are really never complete, so I keep expanding and polishing and writing more stories.

I formed QT Games to publish these universes. We have 1 book on Amazon (The Shadow Reaper, another on some smaller sites that was written by 7 authors (Arcane Synthesis; I was the developmental editor and wrote 2 of the novellas). It’s heading to to Amazon shortly. My 3rd book, Sea of Worms only needs to be formatted and will be heading there shortly as well. You can read excerpts from all 3 books on my website: QT Games.

Of course that’s not all. Not by a very long shot. I’ve written other novels that I liked, but set aside to work on more important ones, and there are box loads of short stories and more than two dozen game designs, in addition to piles and piles of concept sketches I’ve done over the years for the different creatures, technology and magic items. And then there’s maps. Loads of maps. This isn’t pride—it’s just a list to give you a sense for why I’m spending time celebrating 2 universes you’ve probably never heard of if you aren’t a follower of this blog, my website or my other online hangouts.

Despite all these accomplishments, I can’t really be prideful because I don’t have much to show for it on the market. I only started publishing some of my work (and that of others I’ve brought on board at times) recently. Sure, there’s plenty of friends who have played my games over the decades, but with busy careers and building families, friends lose track of each other, and it’s difficult to get together for a drink, much less to squeeze a game in these days.

I’ve spent hundreds of hours researching how to get noticed, have spent an equal amount of time networking, making friends, hanging out at different websites, forums, etc., but it’s still very difficult to be discovered. It’s literally harder than anything else I’ve ever done.

Forty years. That’s a long time to do the same thing, but I have to tell you that I’m more excited than I’ve ever been, because I see the potential this body of work has. Then I’m also reminded that if people don’t take a chance on this Kickstarter, and on QT Games, it doesn’t matter how wonderful the goodies are (and I only use pro editors and pro artists), if people don’t take a chance and actually spend some time with my creations, they’ll never fall in love with them.

But why should I care?

Well, if you love great Science Fiction and Fantasy, if your heart starts pumping when you see gorgeous, blended-genre paintings, or get giddy over very cool, custom dice, or even love adorable monsters like these from our Toonaria universe:

Then you just might care very much! Check out our Kickstarter and let’s see if we can get it funded, and keep pushing forward, because we’ve got more than a few killer projects in the works!

As always, I’d love to hear from you all. Have an amazing rest of the week, friends. Cheers!
—Bob

Posted in Art, author, blended-genre, Campaign Setting, Cosmoverse, crowdfunding, dice, eBook, fantasy, Fiction, free, Game Design, games, Kickstarter, novel, publishing, QT Games, Role-playing, Roleplaying, RPG, science fiction, Toonaria, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Together Alone

I haven’t been bored since I was ten, and that was only temporary. It wasn’t long before I discovered board games, D&D, girls and other delightful pursuits. Now I’m fifty-five, and while I’d like to think my thoughts are deeper than they were at ten, I’m still basically a kid at heart, and I still get excited about many of the same things. I still don’t get bored and still like to dream and write, but sometimes my thoughts wander onto topics I didn’t spend much time thinking about as a kid.

As an author, I usually write fiction and do so after much brainstorming and outlining. Recently, I got up early before work and just started writing with no real goal in mind. I’m very productivity-minded, but I was thinking about a project I had to do at work and began writing something random as a joke. I was going to slip in a bit of fiction into a work project to shock whoever ended up reading it, likely my boss.

See, I recently found myself having to do a bit of technical writing at work (Although I’m a fiction author, I pay the bills as an artist during the day, so being tasked with doing some technical writing was quite a surprise.) Ultimately, I decided against including the text, but thought you might enjoy it (though I warn you – unlike my published works, none of this has been edited.) Still, I think it’s a fun read. It takes place in the murky future and is quite a diversion from my regular blog posts. Okay, here goes . . .

Silence has been an unbearable companion. Five of them lie still together, unmoving, and unable to reach out and embrace those who have been so physically close to them these past three hundred years. In life, they scarcely said a word to each other, but now with time to spare and regretting their past, they were desperate to seek forgiveness, to express their love for each other, but found they couldn’t utter a word. Five thousand pounds of rubble pressed against their ruined bones. Their organs, blood and sinew had long since abandoned them.

Shortly before they had succumbed to the wounds they suffered when the roof of their home had collapsed upon them during the mysterious GodStorm, the arcane energies within that very storm had embedded their minds and memories into their bones to ride out time ever thinking, but never able to voice thoughts.

Oh, how they wished they could wash away their past and start again – to not merely co-exist with those around them, but to embrace each other, to share in each other’s dreams and heart aches – to truly love each other. So many were the missed opportunities, now well out of reach. They lived outside of town where they wouldn’t have to interact with the outside world any more than they had to. Oh, the kids would have liked it otherwise, but they didn’t have a say.

The family had to drive forty minutes to the nearest gas station, an hour to the nearest store. Like others, they went to work, to school, to the market, but they resisted building relationships. It was easier that way – to just mind your own business, care for yourself, do your own thing – to just be, and not have to become embroiled in the affairs of others.

A downside they had not considered was when the accident happened, no one knew where they lived, nor thought to come looking for them. It was assumed they had simply left town, as so many others had before them. The family was soon forgotten, having made no lasting impressions on their community.

Together, the family was utterly alone with their thoughts, wondering what the others were thinking and wishing they had not squandered the opportunity life had given them. At different times, each had thought the very same things, but now for the first time, their thoughts were in sync, each thinking exactly the same thing at the same time, for they were no longer alone together.

Something had shifted above – they felt it in their bones. Someone was stirring through the remains of their fallen home. Opening the drawer in that ugly old dresser in the master bedroom, Scrambling over the rubble, they came to a fallen shelf below which were a number of broken picture frames displaying plastic smiles and unknown faces – some of them unknown, even, to the younger members of the family listening from below the rubble. Yes, someone was indeed sifting through the treasures the family had hoarded over the years, now ruined with time, if ever the things had been worth what they had cost.

With their arcane awareness, the family sensed their visitor was a young child exploring what was once their master bedroom. Below, the family listened as little feet passed overhead, from room to shattered room over broken glass, powdery carpet and unrecognizable clutter.

Without eyes and ears or other natural senses, the family focused on the child so free of worry or regret, so full of hope and wonder. They focused intently on each sound, until for the first time in hundreds of years an old sensation rose up within them – one they had long forgotten. They became hungry, and soon all other thoughts melted away . . .

So . . . did you like it? Hate it? Would you like me to write blog posts more often? Less often? What have I been up to, anyway? So many questions! Seriously, though, I’d love to hear from you. I’m not trying to live in a vacuum. As for what I’ve been up to – a ton. I have two finished novels waiting for formatting so I can put them on Amazon and elsewhere.

I recently put a novel up on Amazon (The Shadow Reaper – check it out – it’s a seriously good read!) Speaking of that novel, I’m in dire need of some more reviews. So far, all I have are editorial reviews – all from Goodreads. They’re all 5 star, thankfully, but I need some Amazon ones, too (hint, hint!) I’m also in the middle of a custom dice, art and fiction Kickstarter (getting close to launch), and am working on a really cool board game design.

If you haven’t read anything of mine, what are you waiting for? Good stuff, I promise! Get a taste for my universes and writing by signing up for my newsletter, which comes with a free novella!

After I format those other novels (Sea of Worms and reformatting Arcane Synthesis), I have a 4th that’s waiting for a final rewrite. It’s all been fun and exhausting. Hoping it will all be worth it!

Well, that’s all for today. Cheers!
–Bob

Posted in author, blended-genre, Campaign Setting, Cosmoverse, Cosmoverse Publishing, dice, Fiction, Kickstarter, Life, novel, Post apocalyptic, publishing, QT Games, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Questions that Matter with Bob Whitely

Dove Winters, a Young Adult Fantasy author, did a fun interview with me about
The Shadow Reaper, my recently released Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror-blended novel. It’s a fun read—both the interview and the book, and be sure to check out Dove’s own blog as well—it’s a fun little corner of the web!

DOVE WINTERS

The Shadow Reaper: A Blend of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror by [Whitely, Bob]

I asked the questions that matter of Bob Whitely! But first, the book: https://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Reaper-Science-Fiction-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B07T4XD5LZ

And now some fun!

Bob, come on down! Name the top five things you take with you during a zombie outbreak.

Every time there’s been a zombie outbreak in my neighborhood, I’ve rushed the family over to my buddy’s house, because he’s the one with all the guns! As for what top five things I take along, that’s easy: the biggest knife in my kitchen, the industrial stapler I bought to ship my novels (makes a surprisingly good hammer), my iPhone, a supreme pizza (I’d prefer Papa John’s, but I’m not that picky during an outbreak), and of course my truck! These five things have never failed me in the past!

What neighborhood do you live in?!! You’re in my zombie squad, so long as you bring the pizza! Time for a board game! Which is…

View original post 710 more words

Posted in author, Cosmoverse, Cosmoverse Publishing, eBook, fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Life, novel, publishing, QT Games, Sci-fi, science fiction, Toonaria Publishing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

It’s not always as glamorous as it seems

Hi folks. So, we’ve got a lot going on. In fact, we’ve been really slammed putting out novels, working on a board game, RPG dice designs for an upcoming Kickstarter, and quite a bit more. As a publisher, author, game designer and artist living in an era in which nearly anything is possible and publishing is easier than it’s ever been, it really isn’t nearly as easy, nor as glamorous as some might think. It’s actually pretty exhausting—and creating things is the easy part!

I can write a solid novel much easier than I can do the herculean task of formatting it, getting it on the market, spreading the word, getting reviews and convincing people to actually give my work a chance. I use only pro editors (sometimes 2 of them), plus at least 1 proof reader, pro artists (in addition to doing my own art, and I’m a pro, too.) I think my biggest headache has been eBook creation. It makes me want to pull my hair out. I’ve converted ebooks over 100 times and don’t have much to show for it. It’s not much easier now than when I started. It’s the one area where I don’t use a pro (but hope to one day. After paying for editors, advertising, art, etc. I just don’t feel up to paying for conversion when I “mostly” know how to do it myself. The Shadow Reaper turned out great but it took me months just to get the eBooks right, and that’s just crazy!

It’s nearly enough to drive an indie to do traditional publishing, but even there, you have to do some of your own marketing. Basically, chasing your dreams and becoming successful is very difficult, regardless of talent. There’s just so many things you have to do right to make it all work out.

As I said, The Shadow Reaper turned out great, but yeah, it took me months to take the manuscript and create decent print, EPub and Mobi files, and it cost a large chunk of money to get to that point. So, the next time you turn your nose up at a book that’s a whopping 4.99 or even 8.99, please consider that maybe a lot went into it. (Sadly, that’s not always the case with self-published books, but hopefully more authors will take the time to do it right. Corners are cut because of several factors, but I never cut corners on the quality of the actual text and art. It’s expensive to do it right, and some just don’t know how.)

Most authors these days try to give away some examples of their work. it’s a good idea to read an excerpt or other example of a writer’s work before you invest your time and money in them, and also why you shouldn’t avoid books that cost a little more. A good book is worth more than the author is charging for it.

Speaking of price, for a limited time, my pre-order for The Shadow Reaper is on sale for only $1.99! (Gotta get noticed somehow, but eventually, I need to actually break even, or even make some money, so I can rationalize the huge numbers of hours I spend on the craft.)

I’ll keep it on sale for a little while and then jack the price up to something more reasonable. If you like science fiction and fantasy (and maybe a bit of horror, too), then I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of it. Now, if only I can get some reviews! I spent about 2 solid months contacting reviewers, but they were all busy (those guys and gals are being inundated with thousands of authors asking for reviews, and some reviewers won’t even review indies.)

The amount of up front money I shell out to publish is scary, because there’s no guarantees any of it will come back. I believe in what I’m doing and in the quality, but it’s still a lot of money up front. Kickstarter isn’t any easier. It’s actually a tremendous amount of work, which is why some game companies that have done Kickstarter in the past have opted to skip it for future games. Now, I’ll probably do a Kickstarter for my upcoming board game, Freeze Or Burn, but my budget is very tight and I’ll have to shell out a ton of money before even launching, so I’m not going to rush it out the door, but spend a good chunk of time playtesting (once I’m to that point.)

I’ve heard from numerous authors who balk at spending money on their novels, preferring to do their own covers, even though they aren’t pro artists. Many of them skip pro editors and it shows. QT Games LLC stands apart from many companies in that we only use pros. It means we may not make a profit and will eventually fold if people don’t take a chance on our product lines, but we believe in what we’re doing and don’t feel that quality is a good place to start cutting corners.

Don’t get me wrong—I don’t regret the fast-paced lifestyle, investing the money and time, but for those who have been considering publishing a book or running a Kickstarter, I suggest thinking long and hard about it. I’m not being negative, I’ve just been there more than once and continue to be surprised just how hard it all is and hope you are ready for it when and if you do it. Be sure to do your homework!

Speaking of Kickstarter, as I mentioned in a previous blog post, I’m behind in celebrating our 40th Anniversary of our 2 universes: The Cosmoverse for much of our fiction, and Toonaria, for most of our games and some fiction, so we’re running a Kickstarter soon! We’ll be sharing RPG dice, art and fiction.

We have designed several Cosmoverse and Toonaria-themed dice and are considering various color combinations and other options, and will showcase them in the Kickstarter.

In our last Kickstarter, we showcased four gorgeous, glossy, 2-sided Cosmoverse Campaign Cards. This time we’ll be showcasing our first Toonaria Campaign Card painted by yours truly.

What’s next? Sea of Worms and Arcane Synthesis have been long done, but still need formatting and then they’ll be on Amazon and around the world just like The Shadow Reaper will be 7/31/19. I have several other projects in the works, but this has gotten long, so I’ll end the update here.

If you would like a taste of my writing, you can get a free eBook just for joining our quarterly newsletter (and that way you’ll also get even more sneak peeks, and stay up to date.) I’m all ears, friends. let me hear from you! Thanks and I hope you have a terrific weekend!

—Bob

Posted in Art, author, blended-genre, Campaign Setting, cartoon, Cosmothea, Cosmoverse, Cute, cute critters, dice, eBook, fantasy, Fiction, free, games, Horror, Kickstarter, novel, Post apocalyptic, publishing, QT Games, Role-playing, Roleplaying, RPG, Sci-fi, science fiction | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Out of the Shadows

The Shadow Reaper just went live on Amazon for pre-orders (Publication date is 7/31/2019). For a limited time, we’re offering it at a reduced price.

Check out the blurb (or better yet, just head over to Amazon using the link above):

The Shadow Reaper is a star-spanning tale of survival, doubt, and self-discovery in the 31st Century.

A starship caught inside the mysterious GodStorm falls through a dimensional rift. Shortly after regaining control of the ship in orbit around an ancient ringworld, the crew faces a creature they struggle to even prove exists. Soon, that terrifying battle for survival engulfs the primitive inhabitants of the ringworld below, where a small town stands in the shadow of a dragon, and a reluctant knight must make the biggest decision of his life.

The Shadow Reaper is a smooth blend of science fiction, fantasy and horror set in the Cosmoverse, a universe where one seemingly insignificant person can change everything—not merely in one city or on one world, but perhaps even across the dimensions.

Illustrations and maps are included, as well as an overview of the vast Cosmoverse (the dying universe that most of our fiction is based in), and an excerpt from Voices, a novella by Bob Whitely. Published by Cosmoverse Publishing, an imprint of QT Games LLC.

What else is going on around QT Games? Plenty! We’ve still got our book giveaway going on over at Goodreads. We’ve got 2 more books popping up on Amazon later this year, both have been long-since finished, except for final formatting. And, we’re putting together a special Kickstarter to help celebrate our 40th Anniversary. We’ve also got the Freeze Or Burn Board Game in the works and couldn’t be more excited about its progress. It is a complete revamp of one of our earliest tabletop games. More on all that very soon!

I’d love to hear what you all think of our two universes. The Cosmoverse and Toonaria have been around almost as long as the roleplaying game hobby (I know – we’ve been terribly slow to publish our stories and games, but we’re trying to rectify that now!)

Have a great week, friends, and hope to see you online at our QT Games Fan Page.

Posted in author, Campaign Setting, Cosmoverse, crowdfunding, eBook, fantasy, Fiction, Game Design, Giveaway, Horror, Kickstarter, novel, publishing, QT Games, Role-playing, Sci-fi, science fiction, superheroes, Toonaria | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Win a Free paperback of The Shadow Reaper! + more big news!

Hi, all! We just launched our Goodreads Giveaway. Enter to win one of 10 autographed copies of my latest novel: The Shadow Reaper!

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The Giveaway runs from 6/6/19- 7/1/19. Check it out using the link above!

Oh, I mentioned “Big News” in my title, didn’t I? Yes, the giveaway is big news, but I have more big news.

We’ve been rather quiet on this blog for awhile now. Why? It’s difficult to get noticed in a sea of blogs, but the biggest reason is because we’ve been very busy working on a number of cool projects. So busy, in fact, that I totally forgot about the 40th Anniversary of our two campaign settings!

The Cosmoverse, a dying universe I created for most of my fiction and roleplaying game, Cosmothea, and Toonaria, an epic, “way over the rainbow”, seemingly light-hearted universe I made for my board and card games (and for my WIP Epic Destinies rules-lite roleplaying game, and occasional fiction) are 40 years old.

Actually, I’ve been so busy at QT Games that we’ll be hitting our 41st Anniversary in July. Yeah, but about the “more big news” bit? Right. Um, we are launching two new imprints: Cosmoverse Publishing and Toonaria Publishing to support our upcoming fiction and games. We are also kicking around ideas for a Kickstarter to help celebrate. We’ve done it before for our Arcane Synthesis: A Blended-Genre Anthology, and it may be time to run another. More on that soon.

We are also working on our Freeze Or Burn board game, and couldn’t be more excited about that project. Not sure if I mentioned it, but we launched a new website not that long ago. Check out other posts for a bit more on the board game and our universes. Join our mailing list for a free eBook and insider info and more. Our newsletters only come out a few times per year so you are never inundated. Join the conversation below, and over on our Facebook page! Good stuff ahead . . .

That’s all for today. Join in the celebration and be sure to enter our giveaway. Have a great rest of the week, all! As ever, I’m open to questions and comments. I’d love to hear what you all think of this blog, our fiction, the Cosmoverse and Toonaria. Embrace the blend!

Posted in author, blended-genre, Campaign Setting, Cosmoverse, fantasy, Fiction, free, Game Design, Giveaway, novel, publishing, QT Games, Sci-fi, science fiction, Toonaria | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Only 3 hours left until our contest!

[Edit: Actually, 2 1/2 hours left as of finishing this post.] Hi all! Just wanted to let you know about a special promotion QT Games is running today starting at Noon, PST! It’s an easy contest to enter (just join our Fiction and Tabletop Games newsletter), but will be over fast—only the first 3 people to respond with an post to our QT Games Facebook page will win a special prize (though everyone who signs up for the newsletter also gets a FREE eBook!)

2019 QT Games Promotion Follow up.jpg

As for this here blog, if you want to see more exciting content from QT Games about our vast Cosmoverse or epic Toonaria universe, please leave feedback (either here, on our Facebook page or at info [@] qtgames.com). As people show interest, we’ll blog more often. Have an amazing weekend, all!

 

Posted in Contest, Cosmoverse, eBook, fantasy, Fiction, free, games, publishing, science fiction, Toonaria, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Sea of Worms

Sea of Worms map sample.jpg
These are exciting times! My latest project, Sea of Worms, is nearly ready for the editor. The image above is a sneak peek from the upcoming book.

Where’s my Toonaria blog post?
I’m interrupting my regular Toonaria spotlight because I’ve decided to take a break from blogging in order to get Sea of Worms out the door. Sea of Worms is a bridge between the Cosmoverse and Toonaria—they are sister universes, after all, but it’s my latest project. It’s also much more than a bridge. Sea of Worms introduces a major turning point in both universes, and delves into the lives of some important characters and events. Those that have been following my regular fiction and game design posts: don’t worry, I’m hard at work and will be back—I’m working on some really cool projects for both universes!)

Wait, what is Sea of Worms?
Sea of Worms
is a journal-styled book about a young apprentice and his planet-hopping adventures with a ruthless arcane duelist. It includes plenty of art and lots of yummy Cosmoverse lore. (for those who are new to all this, both the Cosmoverse and Toonaria are thickly blended genre campaign settings—universes‚ and have been around for my entire adult life and back into my youth.)  It has all been a lifelong, wonderful experience, and I have no plans to set either universe aside as long as I draw breath! I’m even cooking up a webcomic that takes place in Toonaria to explore them in yet another way, but more on that later. Back to Sea of Worms . . .

This latest book also spotlights exotic creatures and my unusual magic system, and should be ready to roll later in 1st Quarter 2018. If you would like to see even more creative content on Toonaria besides my previous blog posts or more on the Cosmoverse for that matter, I’d love to share more, but need to know that you’re there. Let’s get a conversation going here, on my QT Games facebook page, GoodReads, my forums, wherever!

There are so many cool things to explore between my two epic universes: Toonaria and Cosmoverse. If you’ve missed my earlier blog posts, you’ve really been missing out, so be sure to check them out. Also, if you’ve missed our Arcane Synthesis: A Blended-Genre Anthology or our FREE BOOK, you’ll want to check those out, too, if you like fantasy and science fiction! You can the free book I mentioned just for joining the QT Games newsletter, but this post is just to let you know I didn’t disappear.

I couldn’t be more excited about Toonaria, Epic Destinies, the Cosmoverse and other projects I’ve been working on at QT Games, but this blog just isn’t producing enough comments despite the exciting posts, so for now, it’s taking a back seat while I finish Sea of Worms and evaluate this blog as a means of interfacing with my friends and fans.

The Power is Yours!
Cheesy, but true: YOU decide how much content I publish. If you want to see more, let’s chat. If you have something specific you’d like me to explore in Toonaria or the Cosmoverse, or would just like to provide feedback good or bad about my fiction and upcoming games, I’m all ears!

Want to read more awesome blog posts? It’s up to you! You are important to me. Neither I, nor QT Games exists in a vacuum. We rely on your feedback and your spreading the word to keep putting out top quality, creative products.

Let’s see more Toonaria and Cosmoverse goodness get out the door. Thanks, my friends, and hope to talk with you soon!

—Bob Whitely
QTGames.com

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Toonaria: The Apocalypse Pit

The Apocalypse pit

Evil, pain and suffering are hardly new concepts. They were part of Toonaria long before people started building first villages and then an entire city around a great pit on the Collossea floating island chain. Magic flowed from the pit and power shards were found in great number in the caves dotting its walls. The region was wealthy and many came to see the mysterious stone heads found there, and the great pit itself. But in recent times, the pit has become an ever present reminder that not all hold life dear on Toonaria.

Back then, the great stone heads overlooking the pit caused many to cast their own gaze upon the depths and speculate whether some powerful good or evil might one day rise up. When the truth was revealed, it changed life on the sky ark forever. Great champions have fought in the pit, and at one point the tech savvy traaku moved in and lit the place up with pyrotechnics to kick off and broadcast epic battles between terrifying titans of power. As the pit is not shallow, the traaku projected the battles high above the conflict using holographic projection. Magic powered Arcane Pictoriums (APs) received moving imagery of the battles in homes all over the sky ark. The traaku did not do all of this merely for financial gain, though no doubt that was a factor. Great mechs and bio-engineered beasts clashed in the pit for good cause, but perhaps I should back up a bit.

Traaku scientists have been monitoring the island chains—stability, gravitic factors, atmospheric conditions and such—everything they can to understand how Toonaria and the magnificent sky arks function. They also wanted to know more about the pit itself, and sent teams of scientists down into the pit to explore its depths, record the exotic creatures living in the caves and analyze the magic flowing like a vertical river through it. They discovered currents in which a person could float upwards or downwards from the surface to the distant bottom. And then they discovered it—the great obelisk buried below the pit in a hidden chamber. A great vault lie there as well, and held many secrets. It had been a great struggle to open the vault, and when they did, they found something so terrible that they quickly sealed it back up again.

As for the obelisk itself, others had been discovered over the centuries. Their purpose became clear in time. They maintained island stability—it was the obelisks keeping the islands from falling out of the sky. The one at the bottom of the pit was a Master Obelisk, responsible for controlling all the others on the island chain. Should a Master Obelisk come to harm, the entire, vast island chain would collapse, destroying millions.

Shortly after their discovery, Malistar, the Dark Illuminarii revealed himself. He rose from the pit and confronted the traaku. The god-like being cursed the pit. From that point forward, the island chain of Colossea would remain afloat only if there were regular, public battles within the pit. Should the conflict stop for more than a week, Colossea would fall—a short distance if the absence of combat was short, farther, if the absence was greater.

No one had heard of Malistar and almost no one took the curse seriously until the island began to sink in the sky. And so the battles began. Robots were sent in to fight, but to no avail. The island continued to sink, revealing that Malistar’s curse required at least the potential for loss of life. The citizens of Colossea were desperate to find a way to break the curse, but none was found, and so the battles continued.

Eventually, a colosseum was built around the pit. With such colossal creatures battling, from time to time both the colosseum and city around it were damaged, only to be rebuilt. It was an exciting, terrifying time. In time, fewer and fewer came to such events, forgetting part of the curse that such battles must be public, witnessed, for Malistar wanted no one to forget the pain and suffering.

Sometimes only family members and close friends came out to watch, and those who were drawn in by the shocking, violent action. When the floating island chain continued to sink, the details of the curse were remembered and people came out in droves to watch, despite the safety concerns of flying shrapnel, cave-ins, and other side effects of colossal, megaton creatures going to battle.

In those early days, great beasts, monsters, war criminals and regular prisoners were forced to fight in the arena until public outcry deemed the act unethical. After that, only captured evil beasts were forced to fight, but capturing such creatures came with its own hazards, and the complaints continued. Prisoners were given a choice to reduce their sentences in exchange for volunteering to fight in the arena, but everyone knew that wouldn’t be a long-term solution. Regular citizens also volunteered to battle in the pit to ensure there were no prolongued gaps in the conflict. In some cases, citizens nobly sacrificed their lives in order to keep the island chain afloat. Even Toonarian superheroes from other realms have come to help save the island chain from destruction.

While individuals continued to battle in the arena from time to time, ultimately, the titanic mechs were brought in to fight in the Apocalypse Pit on a regular basis, most designed by traaku scientists. Each team piloted a mech and operated its weapons, sometimes representing a nation or corporation, and attempted to do battle without the loss of life. Lethal injuries still happened, however, but it was safer than previous methods. The public no longer comes out in any serious numbers to view the battles as the events were broadcast magically via Arcane Pictoriums (APs). This met the criteria of the curse without putting the audience in harm’s way.

One day during an AP broadcasted event, Malistar released Red Syndrome over Colossea and the battle in the pit turned bloody. Since that time it has been difficult to keep the casualties down, as tainted combatants sometimes lose control, take things personal and fight for real. Such has been the situation at the Apocalypse Pit for a long time now.

These days, combatants train their minds, not just their bodies to be able to withstand the Red Syndrome, with some success, even as scientists continue to seek ways of minimizing or even curing Red Syndrome, and ending the curse forever. And of course the threat of whatever’s in the vault remains an ever present threat as well. Additionally, there has been some concern that the battle in the pit might disturb the Master Obelisk itself. As such, a reinforced platform was built at the bottom of the pit, and the walls and floor have been reinforced as well, to minimize seismic disturbances.

To this day, the curse remains in effect and the battle continues. Such is life on Colossea, a realm far removed from the pleasant tea parties and afternoon naps of the gubblings and other tiny races living on the higher island chains.

Well, that’s all for this week, friends. The above, like the other posts in this series are overviews of material slated for further exploration and polish in setting books down the road, depending on fan interest. That said, let me know if you’ve been enjoying this series and if you’d like to see more. Thanks, and Happy New Year!

[The Apocalypse Pit is part of the Toonaria Campaign Setting ©2017 QT Games LLC. All rights reserve.]

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