Thursday, June 22, 2017

Beautiful Maps

A year ago or so, my good friend Thorfinn Tait embarked on a personal journey to establish his Patreon business. For this, he selected the creation of new geographical maps.  Anyone who knows the world of Mystara and Thorfinn should understand why. His claim to fame originated from a wealth of game maps, updates from existing TSR's Mystara gazetteers and others (often my own more recently, and vastly improved.)  Since producing maps for Mystara as a professional cartographer just isn't a legal option due to copyright limitations, Thorfinn opted wholeheartedly to create his own mapping style for the world of Calidar. This was the same reason I shifted my efforts as a writer from Mystara.

Thorfinn initially produced poster maps for my first book, CAL1 "In Stranger Skies."  This wonderful piece of cartography came in two formats, an artful version and a stylized hex map inspired directly from the format of TSR's popular D&D gazetteer maps of the 80s and 90s. His next opportunity to emulate this feat will follow in 2018, with the next Calidar Gazetteer. Meanwhile, Thorfinn started developing more detailed and refined versions of kingdoms of the Great Caldera, Calidar's known world (see below.)

There is a plan to develop the "Dread Lands," which is everything else on the planet outside the Great Caldera: Calidar's other continents. This competes with the excitement behind opportunities to map out Calidar's three moons, Mars-like Lao-Kwei and its own watery moon, Kumoshima (settings inspired from Earth's Far East), and Mercury-like Draconia (the dragon's Hollow World.)  I posted some of his work here for your enjoyment. If you appreciate Thorfinn's maps and would like to see more in the near future, do visit his Patreon page, give feedback, and show some gratitude!

Click on these maps to get a better resolution.

Naturally, if you become a Patreon supporter, you can get access to full resolution poster maps that are truly amazing. So, on behalf of Thorfinn, I'll just say:

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Question for Game Grognards

To keep my mind off Calidar's Kickstarter, I'm working on an air combat system for skyships and fantasy monsters, using concepts introduced in CAL1 "In Stranger Skies." This concerns the effect of wind direction and strength on skyship flight speeds. Depending on conditions, a skyship movement can be halved, unaffected, increased by a half, or even doubled.

Ideally, one ought to check a skyship's speed once at the beginning of a battle round. This enables unlikely exploits, such as starting the round at max speed, immediately turning into headwinds, and continuing the rest of the move at no penalty. Simple, but lacking a modicum of realism.

The other obvious option is checking one's speed after making each turn. The question with this is: how do I compute this? Say a skyship starts the round with its speed doubled due to a favorable wind angle, allowing for a total 12 hexes of movement. Halfway through (after having spent 6 hexes) the ship's speed should now be halved due to turning into a more unfavorable wind angle. What's the best way to calculate this? I'm defining "best" as not overly complicated yet somewhat logical at least.

I'm thinking that the remaining move should be half the skyship's base move (6 hexes divided by 2) since it already spent half its MV, divided by two again due to headwinds, equals 1.5 hexes, rounded up to 2. This becomes a real pain when a skyship moves instead 1/4, 1/3, 2/3, or 3/4 of its base move, and this exercise gets done every time each skyship makes a turn. Hmmm.

Any suggestions?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Dreams Day 1

Day 1 of Calidar "Dreams of Aerie's" Kickstarter: we did very well. By the end of Day 1, we've outdone CAL1 "In Stranger Skies." All numbers were better across the board. Thank you everyone! To help continuing this success story, do feel free to pass the word around, or simply keep chatting about the project, here, on Facebook, in forums, or on Kickstarter directly.

What else can I say, but "merci!" ☺️
A good number of you did share the campaign announcement, and this helped a lot. I'm very grateful for your enthusiasm and support. Judging from the funding pattern, it looks like "Dreams" should be at least funded by the end of the event. So far, we have at least 111 visitors who watched the video; 59% of them watched it all the way through, which is pretty good actually. Out of 111 visitors, 86 are backers at this point. Compare this with "In Stranger Skies" where more than 5,000 visitors watched the video and about 400 became backers (after 30 days.) That's very encouraging, even though June is a difficult month for crowd funding.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

See You at 09:00 Central Time

See you all very soon this morning when the Kickstarter campaign launches for Calidar "Dreams of Aerie."  Search for this title on Kickstarter's home page.  I'll be back as soon as possible when the campaign launches, with the correct link.  The present one, for the preview page, will cease to work when the campaign launches.  You can also have a peek at the project preview posted on EnWorld, which reveals an extra poster map showing an "exploded view" of the aeries' upper floors on a night display of the main deck.  Until the curtains open, sit tight and enjoy the popcorn.

EDIT -- click here for the updated link.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Acute Designeritis Strikes Again

Here I am, just a few days before I launch "Dreams of Aerie's" Kickstarter campaign, looking at ways to improve the product.  I love the poster maps of the various deck plans.  They show much of the lateral outrigger masts and their unfurled sails.  On the other hand, with a landscape format, 11x17, a circular deck plan leaves out a lot of space, so I've embarked on a quest to produce an alternative map that referees will love: it adds on the outside of the main deck's top view the various upper floors of the aeries, displaying an "exploded" view of the whole.  The two images below show the original, daylight view of the main deck, and a section of the nighttime exploded view.  I'm only showing a quarter of the latter since it is a work in progress.  I'm not sure yet whether this will work, as some of the aeries have 4 floors above the main deck, which does take up a lot of real estate (pun intended) on the map sheet.

If you haven't visited the Kickstarter preview page, CLICK HERE.  There is still a bit of time left for comments and questions.  I'll be submitting the campaign for approval after elections in UK and Comey's testimony are over with, so I can see how this impacts the values of the US Dollar and the Pound Sterling (this affects the cost of printing and mailing outside the USA.)

If you are unfamiliar with the World of Calidar or the current project, check the tabs at the top of this blog for further information.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Dreams of Aerie KS Preview Page

Here's a preview of of the project's present Kickstarter page.  Your feedback is welcome.  Feel free to share the link to help spread the word during the days leading up to the event.  I had to delay the launch seven days to prevent the end of the campaign falling during the July 4th weekend.  "D-Day" is therefore Wednesday morning June 14th, ending Thursday July 13th at 9pm (21:00) US Central Time.  So far, as long as the British Pound stays roughly where it is, print and postage for backers outside the USA should require no additional fees, save for poster maps (especially those I would have to mail through the US Post Office).  I should mention that I noticed a 10-15% increase in US printing costs since the previous project.

Click Here for the Kickstarter Page

Friday, May 12, 2017

Dreams of Aerie Update

So here we are, just a few short weeks before the Kickstarter launches.  For now, it is set for June 14th 2017, barring any unforeseen obstacles.  I'll post the link as soon as I have it.
Where are we with this project?
The book is fully written and all the deck plans are complete.  Editing  has already started, as well as a pre-edit proofing "out of house."  My present occupation right now is setting up the kickstarter.  Math and accounting have already been figured out.  The video presentation is ready.  One artist, Joe Garcia, has committed to handle internal illustrations. Cover art is being negotiated--I expect resolution in the coming days.  Work will be starting in earnest on the Kickstarter page itself in the coming days.
I'll be taking a short break early June at North Texas RPG Con, where I'll be running a part of Dreams of Aeries to eager gamers, twice.  There is still one seat available for each of these two sessions. Click here for these events.
Dreams of Aeries is both a mega-adventure and a stand-alone setting.  Because it takes place on a flying circus, it is relatively easy to set in any other fantasy world.  As with other Calidar titles, it is meant as system-neutral:   game statistics are streamlined and adaptable to game mechanics of most RPG games.

Components:  At 124 pages, Dreams of Aerie may actually gain extra pages, depending on stretch goals.  It is intended for use with up to 6 poster maps (3 labelled maps for referees, plus an optional 3 unlabelled maps for players.)  These loose-leaf sheets are printed 12"x18" and folded once to be mailed in cardboard sleeves (separately from the books.)  Kickstarter tiers determine which maps are included with the backers' books; any of these maps can be purchased separately if need be.  They display the flying circus's three decks.  The three labelled maps are reproduced inside the book, as two-page spreads, with specific sections inserted in the text where most needed.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Glantri Revisited

I needed a break from the present Calidar project.  Here's the result: Glantri's Great School of Magic.  Hope enjoy the greater detail than what was on GAZ3's poster map.  I tweaked a few things but I think you'll be fine with the result.  Click on the map to enlarge the image.  This one was produce at 600 dpi, 8.5 x 11.  Cheers!

Note: I've updated the map scale to 5' per square.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Piecing a Dream Together

So, here I am trying to piece together Calidar's Dreams of Aerie, hacking away at a treasure trove of floor plans and getting a sense of how text and graphics fit together. The first two chapters were easy enough, though big charts became necessary to sort of throngs of personalities making up the flying circus staff. About a hundred NPCs belong to one of several professional guilds (acrobats, beast handlers, freaks, laborers, etc.) Each may also be aligned with one of three secret societies. If this weren't enough, some folk are cursed with an affliction which comes in addition to guilds and secret societies affiliations: ...plenty right here for referees to sink their fangs into. Illustrations will be needed to give a face to the most important characters. Kickstarter allowing, these may be color art (crossing my fingers.) Naturally, cover art will give a view of the circus, and I do have an artist already waiting to get started.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Beating a Dead Horse

Following up on my complaint about KLM's business.

Back when I first contacted the Dutch airline, I'd complained bitterly about their new policy of denying passengers the option of choosing their seats at the time they book their flights unless they pay $20-$25 extra fee per flight segment.  For my trip, this amounted to nearly $100, which I refused to pay.  The response from a customer disservice manager later on was that KLM needs to "become more efficient."  (More efficient at what?  Pleasing the Ferengi?  Driving away previously loyal customers?  I guess they succeeded in this respect.)  I spoke to another passenger travelling next to me -- a tour leader -- whose opinion matched mine and who will take her business elsewhere.  Good job.  The Grand Negus will be pleased.

The other response I got was that I would be able to get online 30 hrs before the flight, and pick my seats then.  I did get online, 29hrs 59mn and more or less 30sec before departure.  I discovered that seats cannot be selected 30hrs ahead of takeoff for flights in or out of the US... one needs to do this not more than 24hrs earlier.  So, there I was, 23hrs 59mn and more or less 30sec before departure... and the option was blocked.  I phoned the Ferengi drone who naturally explained that the day prior to departure, all seat assignment automatically reverts to the airport desk.  The jackass on the phone was quite flippant about this too.  So, the bottom line, getting online 30hrs before takeoff to select seats was a lie.

I also found the flight crew to be pretty bossy.  That's new too.  I was standing with another passenger by one of the exit rows when one of the attending Ferengi pounced on us instantly, ordering us to move along because the passengers in the nearby row payed the Grand Negus extra gold pressed latinum for the leg room.  So, move along we did to the back of the cattle carrier.  Once there, another popped up, telling us to shut the hell up because other passengers wanted to sleep.  Surely,they must have paid the wooden clog-footed, tulip-loving Grand Negus for that benefit too. Done with KLM.  

I've already ruled out most US-based cattle carriers... because they're cattle carriers.  I used to work for one of them so I have a pretty good idea.  I'm sorry to see European-based airlines are becoming this way too.  I think airlines are reinforcing the trend of passengers picking the cheapest possible flights when  the one thing that makes a difference is taken away: good customer service.  On the other hand, there are all those Middle Eastern-based airlines that offer top-notch service.  I may have to boldly go all the way to an emirate and then turn around to get back to France to experience some decent service... either that or just pick the cheapest, stinking, rat-boinking airline. O joy.  I'll probably end up in a Ford Tri-motor, with a seat tucked between chicken coops and bundles of who-knows-what.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Still Not Amused

Though I didn't expect one, I did receive an answer from KLM (see my previous post).  Their answer to my first complaint missed the point entirely. I wasn't asking for an upgrade to business class.  The letter doesn't even mention the object of my second complaint  ...but surely, this passenger ought to remain loyal!  That's when my middle finger rises even higher.  Conclusion: KLM/AF/Delta customer service is both unhelpful and inept.

Here's the response letter:

Mr. Heard,

RE: Case Number XXX

Thank you for your email regarding our upgrade policy.

Please accept my deepest apologies for the unfavorable impression we have given you. It was not our intent in the least, we strive for all of our passengers to have a first rate experience.

With our business class compartment having limited space and our need to be competitive with discounted carriers we have to limit the use of some of our competitive rates to be upgraded to our business class compartment.

I realize this is a disappointment, and trust you will understand our position. We hope you will continue to make KLM your airline of choice.


William W.
Online Customer Support Desk
KLM / Air France / Delta  

Saturday, December 17, 2016

I'm Not Amused

Though this has nothing to do with gaming whatsoever, I'm annoyed enough with an airline to release a letter I posted on their complaint page.  As I promised them that I would, I'm therefore passing my comments along to the public.

To Whom It May Concern -- Dec. 15 2016

I've been flying KLM for years now, annually, from the USA to France, for family reasons.  I was very disappointed yesterday when I found out about some of KLM’s current policies. 

First, I discovered I cannot use my Delta SkyMiles (# XXX) for any sort of upgrade because my present ticket is rated as “discount” (purchased on Expedia,) or some such category.  It doesn't change the fact that I spent thousands of dollars with your airline over more than a decade.  As a fidelity “reward” this stinks.

By the way, your customer complaint page only accepts FlyBlue in its frequent flyer field.  I'm sure Delta, your partner company, will appreciate how much you care about its customers.  Your page also assumes that everyone has a cell phone (or wishes to share its number with you--which I do not); the complaint will not be processed further until a number is entered into that field. I dutifully entered a fake number therefore, just so you know.  Please don't call it.  

Second, I was told I could not select my seat at the time of flight reservation unless I paid more than $20 per flight in extra reservation fees.  For me, this adds up to nearly $100.  This is apparently a new policy at KLM and Air France. 

Dear KLM scrooges, you aren't doing loyal customers any favors.  This is shitty service!  I don't expect an answer from you people, nor do I believe you'll change anything.  With all due respect, I'll respond with my own policy, which includes my middle finger and spending my money elsewhere.  This is the last time I fly your airline (or Air France for that matter).  I run a blog that attracted more than 500K pairs of eyes thus far.  You can rest assured I'll post this letter there, free of charge, and tell everyone I know what a smart business your company is running  (. . .you're welcome.)

Thank you KLM.  You're doing a wonderful job.  Maybe in 15-20 years, you'll become an even more irrelevant airline.


Bruce Heard

Thursday, November 17, 2016

"Beyond the Skies" Goes Live

Ladies & Gentlemen,

Calidar -- Beyond the Skies
I'm pleased to announce that Beyond the Skies is now available for general sales on DTRPG, in all its hardcover glory!  It's been a long wait, but the final result is something to be proud of.  I hope you will share my sentiment.   (Click here for a peek at the book.)

Click on any of the images to get a copy of the new book.  Though the hardcover book can be purchased without its PDF file, I'd suggest selecting the bundle, which provides the digital copy for free with the printer version.

If you'd like to purchase Calidar's two printed books, In Stranger Skies and Beyond the Skies, there is a discounted bundle for this, including both PDF files.

Click here for the full listing of Calidar titles on DTRPG. Poster maps can be purchased via Facebook (USA only).  Click here for the poster maps.

Have fun, and do send feedback about the new book.  Thanks!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

GrogCast Episode About Calidar

In their own words:  "RPG Legend Bruce Heard joins us for a fascinating look at his roundabout journey from young game translator through running an entire product line for TSR to his current self-publishing projects with the World of Calidar.  As usual, we cover our current game-playing fun, and we also pester Bruce for a few war stories from the glory days of Mystara.  Oh, and Chris might have rolled his tongue back up.  Maybe."

Click HERE or on the image above.

CC1 Kickstarter Fulfillment

A major endeavor is getting completed at last!

Calidar Kickstarter Fulfillment
The "Bannister of Pain" -- lucky the cats didn't knock anything into the stairwell behind...

This past Monday, I e-mailed to most of you your digital copies of CC1 "Beyond the Skies," CST1 "Under the Great Vault," and CST2 "Skies of Fury."  This covers the following backer pledges: Master, First Mate, Captain, and Admiral.  If you haven't seen e-mails from DTRPG, do check your spam box.  If you haven't received anything, contact me privately and let me know (use your Kickstarter account to send messages--that's probably best).  I can easily obtain copies of the download links, which I can e-mail you directly if need be.  Airman and Bosun backer pledges will follow in a few days.

Just a thought -- if you haven't created a DTRPG account yet, it would help in the future if you did.  Once you have an account, it's easy to access all previous downloads and file updates from there. Please do not post any of these documents online as free downloads or for whatever other reason. If you see any on the internet, do let me know. Thank you.


Calidar Kickstarter Fulfillment
Cat Inspector not included...
US Backers:  Your packages have already been mailed to you via USPS.  A few will come from DTRPG instead, as the result of damaged copies received from the printer, and which I've refused to dispatch "as is."  These last few have already been ordered from DTRPG, but will run a bit late (allow for a good ten days before seeing them).  Wisconsin residents have already received their packages (good job USPS!)  or probably will today.  A few more will get them directly from me at GameHole Con in Madison WI, this weekend.

Foreign Backers:  All your copies were ordered from DTRPG last week.  They will ship from the UK.  I've already received notification this morning that many of those orders (if not all of them) are already printed and are being shipped todayKudos to the folks working at the printer in the UK!   In Europe, allow for about a week or two before delivery.  Outside Europe (incl. Canada) allow for more time evidently.  Your autographed copies were dropped off at my local post office Saturday morning.  Your poster maps have also been delivered to the USPS, in many cases separately in a padded envelope (allow at least two weeks for delivery).

Calidar CST2 "Skies of Fury"
Promotional Booklets: If anyone who didn't order either of the promotional modules in their softcover printed version and now wish to do so, please contact me privately to make arrangements (use your Kickstarter accounts for messaging).  These two books, CST1 and CST2, are available exclusively to Calidar backers.  For those of you who are reading this and who haven't backed any Calidar project as of yet, but would like to get their hands on these two books, do not despair.  You can back the next project in the first half of 2017, "Dreams of Aerie," to qualify. 

Final notes:  The softcover versions of CC1 "Beyond the Skies" and CAL1 "In Stranger Skies" will not be offered to the public, at least for the time being.  LSI, the printer, is changing their standard color paper to premium color, which is thicker and more expensive.  The backers' copies still use the standard stock.  I may or may not offer the softcover versions in the future, as they require new setup files, and evidently will come at a higher price tag.  

The public release of CC1 "Beyond the Skies" is going to be delayed until last minute corrections are made to the text.  Backers have already been apprised of this issue via Kickstarter (check your messages there).  Hopefully, general sales will begin mid- to late November 2016.  Sincere apologies for the production hiccup.

Some of you may be eager to post pictures of your treasure troves online.  I'm all in favor of this.  If you decide to post a picture of your autographed page as well, please blur my signature or mask it somehow.  

Thanks again for your support of CC1 "Beyond the Skies."  Your contributions made this project possible.  The next crowdfunding project will come during the first half of 2017, "Dreams of Aerie," which I mentioned earlier on this blog.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Skies of Fury

The printer's proof was finally delivered last evening, CST2 "Skies of Fury," the promotional booklet for CC1 "Beyond the Skies" Kickstarter.  I posted a series of pictures below, but beware: if you plan on being a player rather than a referee (and have not ordered this booklet), you might want to skip this part.  I'm including here some of you who will join my demo game at Gamehole Con in Madison WI, this November.  Seats are still available.

Two adventures are included, one which is entirely new, save to a handful of players for whom I've had the pleasure and privilege of game refereeing at NTRPG Con, last June.  You know who you are.  You will recognize a few things here and there as you cycle through the pictures.  For a closer look, click on an image.  For a full view, right-click on the mouse and select View Image.  The second adventure had originally been written for this blog (removed since), and was featured at VCon two years ago. A special thank you goes to Thorfinn Tait who completed CST2's layout despite real life obligations at home and at work, and managed fantastic work nonetheless. 

Both "Out of the Dark" and "The Black Blood" are written using generic game stats, which are explained in CC1 "Beyond the Skies." Since the book is offered exclusively to Kickstarter backers, there is no chance (at this point at least) that someone won't have CC1's guidelines.  I'll make those available as a file on Facebook's Calidar chat group.  Remind me if I forget.  If you are a backer of CC1 or CAL1 and want to order either CST1 or CST2, please contact me privately--likewise as regards the two poster maps.

I expect to receive another ten boxes via UPS this evening, and a few more Monday.  These are Kickstarter rewards for US backers (CAL1 "In Stranger Skies," CC1 "Beyond the Skies," and CST1 "Under the Great Vault" -- softcover and hardcover copies as appropriate).  Rewards for backers outside the US will ship individually out of the UK (except Admiral Level rewards, which must come from me so I can autograph books).  Since CST2's proof copy is good to go, I've now ordered those as well.  It'll be another 10 days or so before I receive them.  Meanwhile I'll start stuffing and labeling everyone's mailers.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Of Dreams, Mice, & Way Too Much Time

What does a game designer do while waiting for a last component to arrive from the printer before he can fulfill his latest Kickstarter rewards?  But of course: he works on his next project, with the (perhaps false) impression that he has all the time in the world since he really should be doing something else but can't.  So much for "way too much time."  Never mind that next year's project is really only a few months down the road.  Honestly.

Calidar Flying Circus
So, I had this idea in "Beyond the Skies" of a flying circus that traveled the Great Caldera--not the sort that Manfred Von Richthofen would imagine, but rather one a fantasy roleplayer would come up with.  Imagine this:  a huge triple-decked, flying platform with a circus on top (big garishly-colored tent and all), surrounded with fun-houses, food vendors, a ghost train, a roller-coaster, and a great wheel powered by diminutive fellfolk running within cables and crossbars like hamsters in a spinning wheel, all of this surrounded by a ring of multiple-level houses inhabited by the circus people and perched precariously at the very edge of the platform.  (Okay, you can breathe now.)  Add giant masts protruding from the sides, fitted with gargantuan sails and massive ropes to anchor them and the big tent at the center, amid a ballet of levitating barges bringing townsfolk from down below to attend the fabulous exhibition: The Greatest Show on Calidar. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Good News, Bad News

It's been one of those weeks.

The printer's proof for "Beyond the Skies" softcover came in, finally after a string of errors on the side of the printer, but this book had a problem: a white border on the outer edges of the pages, where the parchment background should be bleeding off.  After some checking, this wasn't a printer error.  Instead, a code had been missed flagging the need for the parchment background to extend past the cutting lines. What was worse was that the other two proofs (the hard cover and CST1 "Under the Great Vault") had been produced the same way--it was just luck that their printer's proofs came through looking OK.  Alas, this meant sending updated files back to the printer with the correct setup to ensure future prints won't end up with this dreaded white border.

Calidar softcover book