November 5, 2010

Brother Ptolemy & The Hidden Kingdom (4E D&D) Now Available!

We are very happy to announce that our first print offering, Brother Ptolemy & The Hidden Kingdom, is now available! The Hidden Kingdom is 110-page 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons adventure setting for 5th level characters. Brother Ptolemy & The Hidden Kingdom will be available in retail stores in January, but you don’t have to wait!
Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.
Fans on Facebook and followers of our blog can order direct starting today! Plus, as an exclusive bonus to our fans, if you order Brother Ptolemy & The Hidden Kingdom before November 30th, 2010 - we'll send you a copy of the PDF eBook for FREE! All you have to do is...
  1. Order Brother Ptolemy & The Hidden Kingdom in PRINT.
  2. Snap a picture of the book - in your yard, in your hand, with your dice... whereever! The crazier the better!
  3. Upload your picture of Brother Ptolemy & The Hidden Kingdom to our Facebook fan page.
That's it! Everyone who does this by November 30th will get an email with an exclusive link to a free copy of the PDF. But... it get's better! The person who takes the most laughable snapshot of our book will also get a free copy of either Open Game Table Volume 1 or 2 (their choice) in PRINT for free! Snap!
What is Brother Ptolemy & The Hidden Kingdom? Check out the back cover of the book and find out!

October 18, 2010


Just like they raised over $170,000 for HAITI after the earthquake - and affiliate publishers are now offering over $700 in RPGs for a $25 Donation to go to Doctors Without Borders for the Pakistan Flood Victims.

Click the link below for more info.

A FREE COPY OF OPEN GAME TABLE, VOLUME 2 (among dozens of other books) is included!!!

September 1, 2010

Nevermet Press Now The Official Publisher for Open Game Table

Well... it's a happy marriage that was bound to happen eventually.

Get the full dealio over at NMP's site.

August 4, 2010

Open Game Table, Volume 2 - AVAILABLE NOW

Well - as you might imagine - I'm super stoked to announce that the print version of Open Game Table, Volume 2 is available NOW. There are three ways to pick up a copy of the book too! First, if you are going to GenCon, swing by Studio 2 Publishing's booth and pick up a copy directly there. Second, the book will also be available at your local hobby shop later this month; let them know you want a copy and pre-order through them (thus also supporting your local game store). And finally, it can also be ordered directly online from the Open Game Table storefront on Lulu.

It get's even better:  a PDF version of the book is available from for under $10 bucks. Drop by the page and download your copy right now!

Once again... thanks to everyone who contributed to this amazing project. With over 70 volunteers - how could it _not_ be awesome sauce!

July 8, 2010


Last week I talked about several problems I had with printing with Well - another set of proof copies of Open Game Table Volume 2 have arrived -- and they look amazing; I'm psyched to say the least! Finally I have a book in hand that looks like it is supposed to!

Now... why the Lulu + Heart hyperbole? Well... they not only are re-shipping me additional (free copies) for all the misprinted copies I ordered; but they are also refunding me the the full amount for all the orders I made. WOHOO! That's awesome. often gets a bad rap from people on the 'tubes - but, my experience so far with their customer service (Yolanda - you rock!) has been great. I'm honestly super surprised, as I was expecting them to act like a giant faceless corporate Juggernaut. Well, they may still be a corporate juggernaut - but at least they are a nice one.

A print run for GenCon is being organized by Studio2Publishing next week -- so if you are going to GenCon this year; please stop by their booth and pick up a copy!

Question for TCM readers: Would you be interested in getting a preview of what Studio2Publishing will be releasing at GenCon this year before going? Let me know in the comments. If so - I'll see what I can do and if they are willing to provide me with some goodies...

July 6, 2010

Obsidian Portal donates over 70 Pre-Paid Ascendency Memberships

Today I recieved confirmation of some super-excellent news for the 70+ contributors to the Open Game Table, Volume 2 project. It turns out that the owners of are some pretty generous and classy guys - they are donating more than 70 pre-paid Ascendency Memberships to the Obsidian Portal, one for each and every contributor to the project. I was stunned - when I got the email from Micah Wedemeyer that said he was willing to sponsor the project AND donate premium memberships to the contributors I had to double check. "To the contributors"? That is over 70 people Micah... are you sure? And he wrote back:
I'm dead serious about offering free 6-month subs to all the contributors. Obsidian Portal only survives if the RPG community continues to grow, and initiatives like the OGT are a huge part of nurturing the community.
So - coocookachoo! Whoot!  The contributors to the project have been notified; but I thought the whole community should know how excellent these guys are.

Thanks for being Excellent, Micah. We all appreciate it! This is the type of "coming together" that I really enjoy about the RPG blogging community. It's great to be here.

So - head over to today and check it out. If you are already an OP user, let us know in the comments and share your experiences!

July 3, 2010

Lulu Printing Fail - Open Game Table Vol. 2 (Update; Fixed?)

I posted earlier today that I had finally received a galley / proof copy of the new volume of Open Game Table. Despite a perfect looking PDF, the book Lulu sent me had missing fonts and garbled text on 12 pages in the book. Well, one thing that has surprised me is the "personal" service I've received. They have already refunded my order and, after I resent them the raw postscript file and a re-distilled version of the prepress PDF, they are shipping me a new copy of the book. They even suggested it was likely an error in their file server; or the offset that printed the book. Either way, the email I received indicated (again) that everything was looking good and I should have my book in a few days. I'll keep you in the loop.Although I doubt they physically checked the printing; at least they are responding in a short time during a holiday weekend (trying to stay positive!)

Once the proofs come in and they look 100% to specs - then I'll make use of all the EXTREMELY generous sponsorship funds and place a printing order for 75 copies. Once those come in, I'll box and ship them out to every volunteer who contributed to the project. Stay tuned!

I only pray I haven't run out of time; Studio2Publishing placed a deadline for mid-July for the book to be printed in time for GenCon. We shall see (fingers crossed!). I may have to deliver them myself...

July 2, 2010

Lulu Printing Fail - Open Game Table Vol. 2

After nearly 3 weeks (no kidding...) of trying to provide Lulu with pre-press PDFs of Open Game Table Vol. 2 that would _not_ produce a RIP Error; I finally had success on Monday (see more here how/why the RIP Error was occurring). I have been fortunate in that I've been working with the same representative from Lulu since the start when my first PDF would not print on their off set printers, so I contacted her again and she did a great job telling me that my PDF printed just fine and that it was in the mail etc. I was psyched! For a while I thought that the whole project was going to crash because (for reasons I couldn't figure out for a LONG time, see below) my prepress PDFs of the manuscript just would-not-print. I spent HOURS slaving over the document in Adobe Acrobat, trying postscript, downloading Ghostscript, using Adobe Distiller directly, paying for a few third party apps that claim to "fix PDFs" (even though I couldn't see anything wrong with my PDF on my screen or in my pre-flight analysis). The PDF was just broken; it was a mystery.. until I turned off Ligatures in my document. As soon as I removed font ligatures -- Lulu then reported that VOILA! My PDF was ready to go.

Since Studio 2 is the distributor of OGTv2; I'm up against a deadline. So I ordered my galley proofs from Lulu using their super expensive rush order (~$80). The book arrived in three days. It looks awesome. The cover that is. But once I open it up... and start flipping through it... it's a different story altogether...

Either there's an Alien at Lulu trying to communicate with the mothership; or something really weird is going on. There are 12 other pages in the book that look like this -- but none of those pages look the way they do when viewed on screen from the PDF. I'm sure I'll get this resolved... it's just insanely frustrating when these sorts of things happen.

Back to the drawing board...

I'll keep you all updated when I finally have a clean / good galley proof in my hands...

June 13, 2010

Another Last Minute Sponsor -- LOREMASTER.ORG

BIG BIG THANKS to LOREMASTER.ORG and MATT JAMES for stepping forward and supporting Open Game Table Volume 2 as a Legendary Sponsor! He's got a great track record as a freelance writer in the RPG industry, and runs a fantastic website that you shouldn't skip if you are looking something a bit more personal and down to earth than some of the bigger RPG forums.

BRAVO Matt -- and the CREW -- a HUGE thank you from me to you!

June 12, 2010

Big Thanks to Obsidian Portal

Just a quick note for the weekend -- a BIG thanks goes out to Obsidian Portal! They came through on the red-eye express to deliver up an Epic Level Sponsorship for Open Game Table Vol. 2. What's even more - to show their added support - they are throwing in a complementary Ascendant Membership for ALL Open Game Table Contributors. WOHOO! They ROCK! THANK YOU!

June 6, 2010


Once again - I want to give a big big thanks to all the individuals and supporting publishing groups that stepped up to support Open Game Table Volume 2 with a Sponsorship.

To Stargazer's World, Gnome Stew, Engine Publishing, Silvervine Games, Sarah DarkMagic, Sea of Stars RPG, Tyches Games (a great FLGS in Athens, GA), Dragon Bones, Unconventional Dice, Chaotic Shiny Productions, Tabletop Armory, The Welsh Piper, Nevermet Press, Brian Fitzpatrick, Tony Hoffart, and Dan Swenson: THANK YOU!!!
We managed to raise over $500 towards the costs of providing all the 70+ authors, artists, and volunteers that worked on Volume 2 with complementary copies of the book. Printing and shipping is expected to run about $700 - but this is close enough. I think with the generous help of the existing sponsors, sales of OGTv1, ad and affiliate revenue from this website, and some extra help from my own funds I should be able to cover it. Thanks again for your help! The generosity of this community never fails to impress me. Bravo everyone! 

And here's the new cover design of the book. Aside from minor changes - this is what you'll get in August when the book is published and released at GenCon! What do you think?

(click for a bigger view)

Have any questions? Leave a comment and let me know!

June 2, 2010

New Sponsors For Open Game Table ! (and LAST CALL)

I'm very happy to announce the addition to two new Sponsors for Open Game Table,. Vol. 2


These sponsorships for Open Game Table, Vol. 2 were supported by a generous gift from Brian Fitzpatrick of Moebius Adventures! Hooray, and THANK YOU BRIAN!!!

Add these sponsors to those from our previous announcement, and that brings us up to thirteen (13!) sponsors for the book.

So - today's the last day. If you want to sponsor Open Game Table, Vol 2 - then please jump over to this post for the details. It's really for a good cause: i.e. printing of copies of the book to send out to the 77 volunteers that helped make OGTv2 a reality (something I can't afford to do without some help). AND... for your support you'll get some advertising space in the book. I'm doing the final layouts this weekend and sending it out to the printers for galley proofs. So, I'll need any last minute would-be-Sponsors to speak up as soon as possible.

Hope to hear from you soon. I'll keep you all posted on the progress next week.

Stay tuned! -- Jonathan.

May 26, 2010

OGT Sponsorships - Again? Yes, because this community rocks!

By "this community" I mean the community RPG blogs, indie publishers, fans, blog readers, and general awesome gamers out there. I wanted to post again today to add a BIG BIG THANK YOU to several people who were the first to step forward and add their support to Open Game Table, Volume 2, by becoming Sponsors of the project. A big shout out to

Michael Wolf, the author of Stargazer's World, for his continued support of OGT! He was the first to Sponsor the project!

Dan Swenson, David Martin, and Tony Hoffart  for being the among first to support OGT as individuals!

Martin Ralya and John Arcadian - and their associated companies Silvervine Games, Engine Publishing, Gnome Stew, and Con on the Cob - for their Legendary and Paragon Level Sponsorships!!!

Sea of Stars RPG designer and Tyches Games owner Sean Holland, for his Paragon Level Sponsorship!

Thank you everyone for your support, trust, and enthusiasm for Open Game Table! You have no idea how important it is to me that this level of support came so quickly! In ~24 hours I've managed to raise about 50% of the funds I need to cover the printing costs of the complementary copies of the book. So we are not out of the woods yet. I still have a ways to go!

I've sent inquiry letters to a half-dozen game companies that you probably have heard of - asking them to support the project. Hopefully I will hear back from them soon and get the added support we need.

In the meantime - if, as an individual or as a company, you would like to support the volunteers who helped make the next volume of Open Game Table a reality - then please jump over to Monday's post and check out the offerings we have set up, and why we are asking for the community to pitch in. There's a wide range of sponsorship levels available - from Community Sponsor all the way up to Legendary!

Cheers! -- Jonathan.

May 25, 2010

Triple Your Value - Johnn Four's Roleplaying Tips & Open Game Table Sponsorships

Johnn Four, the man behind the long running Role Playing Tips eNewsletter, has offered to give the first five Heroic Tier Sponsorships of Open Game Table Volume 2 free adspace in an upcoming issue of his eZine - a $50 value!

This was very unexpected and super cool of him to step forward this way and offer his support.

So... at the Heroic Tier Sponsorship level, not only will your company or blog's logo appear on the back cover of Open Game Table Vol. 2 as a sponsor of the project - but you will also get to triple your value by reaching out to tens of thousands of subscribers of Roleplaying Tips (currently in it's 489th Issue!). BRAVO Mr. Four - and thank you!

More generous sponsorships include interior ad space for you blog or company as well. Individuals, who lean towards random acts of kindness, are also encouraged to support the project. Jump over to the Sponsorship post to see more details.

Open Game Table Sponsorships - Now Available As Statblocks!

There is this one issue that I have not yet resolved. In creating the first volume of Open Game Table in 2009, each and every volunteer who contributed to the project was provided with a free copy of the book once it was published. These free copies, coupled with the two dozen copies I sent out to people for reviews, amounted to over 70 copies of the book printed and shipped at my expense. I knew what I was getting into, and I knew that it was a cost well spent. With the help of a few sponsors (Thank You Otherworld Miniatures & Rogue Games!)  last year, I was able to foot the bill for the printing and shipping of these comp' copies. But this year, the financial outlook is not as bright and I'm simply not in a position to make the same gesture. However, my desire to provide each of the contributors with comp copies of the book remains the same: I think this is the right thing to do, and they should all - at the very least - be provided with a copy of the book that features their work!

This is where you come in - I'm hoping that the fans of this blog, and of Open Game Table, can help.

So - beginning today - and starting right now - I am making an open call for sponsorships of the project. I've applied for a project ID, but until/if/when that happens I'll be working to arrange for funding myself. I need to raise $750 to cover the costs of printing and shipping the comp copies of the books to the contributors. So - to do that, I've put together a sponsorship proposal below. The jist of it is basically - any game company, publisher, merchant, blog, or individual who wants to sponsor Open Game Table can do so by purchasing sponsor space inside the book. In addition, anyone who contributed at least $25 will have the option to include their logo or name on the back cover of the book, in full color, under a heading that will read something like "Open Game Table, Vol. 2 was made possible by these generous sponsors..." [with the logo's covering much of the back of the book instead of just two spots]. I've put together a bunch of options for people to choose from - and hopefully some of you can dig deep and make a big impact.

click below to see the full size image

Please choose your sponsorship level from the diagram above - and then click the button below to become a sponsor. I will be in touch by email within 48 hours to make any further arrangements and to give you my personal thanks for supporting the project.

And yes - the sponsorships are statblocks - becuase I know that we gamers would rather things to be in statblocks whenever possible... =D

May 4, 2010

Introducing Open Game Table Volume 2

It's 1:17 AM - so I'll make this quick. The next volume of Open Game Table is going to be available at GenCon 2010. Retail distribution of the book begins in September. And YES (to those who are wondering) an eBook/PDF version will be released at the same time (instead of months later). And yes - that artwork down there is from Rob Torno - and it's awesome.

Now go, and enjoy the awesome cover that is coming your way soon!

A final note - we WILL be looking for Individual Sponsors and Corporate Sponsors for this project. Our goal is to raise $750 to offset the printing, packaging, and shipping costs associated with provide each of the writers, artists, editors, peer reviewers, and other volunteers with complementary copies of the book. I'll be making an official call for sponsors later this week - but for now; just know it's coming.

Thank you! -- Jonathan

April 20, 2010

The Monster MashUp Contest

In case you hadn't heard - Nevermet Press started accepting entries for a Monster MashUp Contest yesterday. The contest runs only until Monday of next week (April 26th) - so if you want to win some great prizes, simply answer the following question in 300 words or less.

Illustration (c) Rob Torno. Used by permission.

April 17, 2010

Unconventional Dice from @Dicecreator Rock

Two weeks ago or so I started following @Dicecreator on Twitter after a tweet by Michael Wolf (from Stargazer's World). Anyway... this guy @Dicecreator makes precision hand-crafted dice that he inlays with brass! How cool is that? Check out and subscribe to his blog, Dice Creator.
He makes the coolest dice I've ever seen. Make no mistake, he's an artist. 
I won't mince words: You should support his guy and buy his dice. He's doing some really cool stuff. Go to his eBay store page, Unconventional Dice,  and buy some dice from him. Yes - they are more expensive than dice from Chessex or [insert other company here]. But these dice are made with BRASS. Also, his dice are usually a flat rate of around 8 or 9 Euros per die (~$10.50 each)  - and, there is an auction going for one very special unique set of dice right now (which I'm trying to win), but that's unusual. Typically the die are sold at a flat-rate.

Just look at some of his designs! The first design below I bought myself a pair and - after having them in my hands for night of gaming - these are incredibly cool dice. And, after rolling 1000 times (with the help of my 6-year old son - poor kid) - BALANCED TOO. Very nice work.

Steampunk Dice

Manga Dice

Watchmen Dice (not for sale I think)

TRON dice - also not for sale.

Honeycomb Dice. Awesome Sauce... 

Dr. Manhattan dice

FUDGE dice. Sweet!

I'm also VERY happy to mention that @Dicecreator will be working with Nevermet Press for some upcoming contests. So, head over there to NMP and watch for the details!

Have a great weekend!

April 15, 2010

100% PURE Awesome Sauce: The One - Page Dungeon Codex

Today, Tabletop Games released their FREE One-Page Dungeon Codex.

If this doesn't scream crowd sourcing awesome sauce out of the big blue blogosphere, I don't know what does.
This rocks!
From the sales blurb...
This impressive free product showcases the winners of last year’s “One Page Dungeon” contest. Instigators of the contest (and editors of the project) are RPG bloggers Philippe-Antoine Ménard (better known as the “Chatty DM”) and Michael “Chgowiz” Shorten.

The Codex presents the contest’s top three winners, six runners up who were ‘Judges’ Picks,’ and another dozen entries which were awarded honorable mentions. With 'dungeons' ranging from “The Barnacle Cave” to the Victorian setting of “The Horror of Leatherbury House” to the prize-winning “Valley of the Necromancer Kings,” there is something here of interest to nearly everyone. All locations are entirely system neutral, and each includes a map as part of the one-page description. In addition, the editors have provided a series of articles on the development of the “One Page Dungeon” concept, and how GMs can create one-page dungeons for themselves.

The ebook is 54 pages, which includes the articles and dungeons, and information on the contest judges and sponsors. The cover is by artist Mark Allen, and Mates Laurentiu of Avatar Art provided illustrations of the three winning dungeons. The entire book is in full color, but a button is provided (on page 2) to hide the color page backgrounds if desired. (This feature functions only in recent versions of Acrobat Reader, such as version 8 and later.) The dungeons, and the One Page Dungeon template, are all released under the Creative Commons Share-alike license. (See the ebook for more details.)

April 8, 2010

Thank You Justin Achilli

Well folks, I have some great news to report today!

I just received word from Justin Achilli that he has accepted our invitation to write the Foreword for Open Game Table, Volume 2!

Who is Justin Achilli? Well, for one he's a 20+ year veteran of the gaming industry and is currently the Managing Editor at White Wolf Publishing. He previously was the line developer of Vampire: The Requiem and Vampire: The Masquerade. Check out his profile if you are interested; but basically he is someone who really knows games. That he is willing to lend a hand to support the OGT project is a great honor indeed.

So, wholeheartedly, a big big thank you goes out to him from everyone involved with the project. I can't wait to read his viewpoints on the blogging community and the future of RPGs.

In other news - editing of the raw manuscript (all the final entries) continues. Hopefully I'll get back the edits from the other members of the OGT Editorial Board this weekend and we'll have a real working draft ready by next week.

Stay tuned!

March 31, 2010

Checking In...

I got an email today from someone asking me if this blog was dead.

Gods I hope not!

I'm just up to my eyeballs in projects and unable to find adequate time to blog - yunno - for personal fun. There's this review of Lunch Money I've been wanting to write, and a round up of all the Gaming Art blogs I read - but they haven't made it out of the drafting house yet.

What am I working on these days? Well - you probably already know that Open Game Table (vol.2) is in high-gear. The editors and I are busily grinding away at copy editing the manuscript, while I am working with the artists to get some illustrations done to accompany the book (more artists wanted!). Hopefully the copy editing will be done in the next week or so, and then I'll be able to focus on getting the artwork in that we want and get [someone unnamed] to write the Foreword.

In addition to OGT - I'm managing several parallel projects over at Nevermet Press which include three upcoming eBooks and three adventure campaign settings; as well as acting as the lead developing for one of them (Loaerth & Feywyrd). We recently actually had our first meeting - so NMP should perhaps be called something else - my business partner (the author behind Mad Brew Labs) drove some 600 miles to my place in MD to talk shop, sign paperwork (NMP is a "real" LLC now), and brainstorm about future projects and transmedia endeavors. It was awesome.

All this - plus the Jay O Bee - are kinda keeping TCM on the back burner these days. There's barely time for much else.

I'll be in touch soon - hopefully with something more interesting. Thanks for hanging with me!

(just broke a blogger rule: don't blog about having nothing to blog about. Barnacles!!! )

March 17, 2010

Open Game Table Volume 2 -Participating Blog List!

I'm amazed at the quality of the blogs that have been selected for inclusion into the upcoming Open Game Table, Volume 2. It seems the work we put into developing the new nomination and peer review system really worked out extremely well. As you will see from the list of blogs that will be included in the upcoming anthology, the editorial board had their work cut out for them. It wasn't easy, but we finally have narrowed the final list to 32.

What I love about this list, and the list of all the nominations, is that there are just as many popular blogs as there are "new discoveries".

The professionals make an appearance this time. I'm very happy to say that the blogs written by Mike Mearls, Justin Achilli, and Monte Cooke are excellent examples of industry professionals who also love to blog about games. They -get- the (often scrappy) RPG blogging community too, and it should go without saying that we are stoked (!) that they will be included in the Anthology this time around.

There are also the extremely popular RPG blogs such as Kobold Quarterly, Critical-Hits, Dungeon Mastering, and Gnome Stew. Everyone wants to take these blogs to the Prom. They represent pinnacles of RPG blogging and have huge followings because the writing is excellent, on topic, and just plain fun to read. Honestly, the peer reviewers picked out more than a couple articles to print from these blogs, so the editors were tasked with making the hard choices and cutting some of these articles out.

What was a real surprise were the blogs that I (we?) didn't really follow before they popped up in the nominations list, made it through the peer reviews, and landed on the final list of 72 posts. These were an absolute pleasure to read both because the writing was excellent and entertaining, and because there's this inherent underdog quality to them. I'm referring to blogs such as Buried Without Ceremony, This Way Lies Madness, Kingworks Creative, The RPG Athenaeum and a few others.

It's really a great mix. And now we have the task of putting it all together for you. Art included. Hopefully we'll be done in time to print by GenCon. Wish us luck, and stay tuned.
- You can help Open Game Table too by getting the word out. We are still looking for artists who are interested in contributing. See here for more info -
In the meantime, enjoy this list of old and new favorites, all of them will feature articles in the upcoming Open Game Table, Volume 2*.

Until next time -- GAME ON!

* Well, technically I still have to receive formal permission to reprint material from 2 or 3 outstanding blogs. Nearly everyone else has given us permission to include their material in the Anthology; which is a good thing!

March 10, 2010


Well, the Open Game Table Editorial Board has finally finished going through all 900+ peer reviews of the 370+ nominations. We have picked about 72 articles from our list, but no doubt the final list will be shorter. Open Game Table Vol. 1 had about 48 articles included so we are probably going to cut out a few to get closer to that number. Either way though, it was extremely tough to make those calls, and all of us had to choose just 20 (!) from the top posts that were scored by the reviewers. I'm happy this part is over, and now we can focus on getting author permissions, artists to participate, and firming up the draft manuscript.
Which blogs articles made the "semi-finals"? Well, I can't spill the beans just yet - but just like we did for Volume 1; we will eventually release the list of blogs who were selected and who agreed to participate. I know, it's a process - but patience will be well worth it. The final list of articles has some simply incredible posts. In the meantime, feast your eyes on the complete list of nominations.

Starting today, Open Game Table will be canvassing heavily for Artists to participate in the project. We already have a few who have signed up, but we are looking for more. Interested illustrators, painters, and graphic designers who have a love for table top role playing games should contact me ( directly with any questions. Also, please include a link to an online gallery of your work.

What do Artists get in return for participating Open Game Table? If you are an artist - then please consider some of the highlights:
  1. Exposure. Your artwork will be showcased in a printed book along side some of the most highly regarded writing in the RPG blogging universe. The printed book will enter retail distribution via Studio 2 Publishing, featured at their GenCon 2010 booth, and sold online at The eBook version of OGTv2 will also be distributed by One Book Shelf, the company behind the RPG eBook selling sites and
  2. Satisfaction. By participating you will be helping a completely grass roots project focused on bringing light to the best roleplaying game blogs on the the Net.Your work will enhance the reading experience of Open Game Table Volume 2, and bring a new level of enjoyment to everyone who opens the book. I'll also buy you a beer when I see you at GenCon. Free beer is the best kind of satisfaction.
  3. Experience. Talented, early career artists are expected to be in the majority of artists who participate. By joining the Open Game Table project will be updated regularly on the project's progress, get to see how it evolves from nominations to manuscript to finished book, see the book launch into distribution, and connect with everyone else involved in the OGT project from start to finish. I know, that's laying it on a bit thick -- but you will get to participate in the process of getting OGTv2 out the door. The OGT volunteers are expected to play an active role in the creation of the Anthology. Give input whenever you want, and we do our best to accommodate, make changes, improve the book along those lines.
The goal of Open Game Table Vol.1 was to bring the best in RPG blogging into the hands of gamers everywhere. With over 1,500 RPG related blog articles  written every month in the blogosphere...  the goals are the same for Volume 2.

So... for the love of games - please spread the word. Tweets and all the Link Love you can muster to support OGT will be extremely helpful. The more exposure we can get the better. Thank you!

-- Jonathan

March 6, 2010

Savage Worlds On REDDIT

This post is just a quick pointer to a REDDIT I created specifically for Savage Worlds related links and topics on the web. It's just starting out and could use some additional input - so if you are a Savage Worlds fan please stop by the reddit page for SW and drop some links or comments. If you are a Savage Blogger, Savage Worlds fan, or just curious about Savage Worlds - then you might consider dropping by and sharing some links, starting a conversation, leaving a comment, or voting on what's already there.

If you are not sure what the heck reddit is all about, then stop by reddit/rpg (4,000 readers) or reddit/gaming (100K+ readers) to find out. It's a great, lightweight social networking service where people can submit links, ask questions, post topics, etc and everyone else can vote them up or down. The most popular links bubble up to the top. It's a great way to find new stuff on the net that google missed. As a blogger, it's also a great way to have new people visit your blog.

Did I mention that each subreddit has its own RSS feed too? That makes our lives much easier for tracking what's new @reddit.

March 3, 2010

Popular Topics In The RPG Blogosphere

The Editorial Board* of Open Game Table Vol.2 has been slogging though the nearly 1000 nomination reviews that were handed in by the Peer Reviewers last week. It's tough work, but extremely enjoyable to see all these amazing hidden gems of the RPG blogging community come to light.

Along the way, one of the things we asked the reviewers to do (in addition to commenting and scoring) was to TAG each nomination - in true tradition of blogging we didn't ask them to stick to any preset terms list either. We just wanted them to give each nomination at least two terms that described the post. Well... the graphic above shows all those terms visually.

It's a feast for your mind's eye. Over 500 terms are up there that the Peer Reviewers spontaneously came up with.

Not surprisingly... GM ADVICE was #1.

A complete listing of ALL the terms, ordered by frequency is available here (if you are interested).

* The OGT Editorial Board is made up of Jonathan Jacobs (me), Berin Kinsman, Kameron Franklin, Tony Law, and Ben McFarland.

** The above image was created using Wordle, a great little app for visualizing the prevalence of words.


OneBookshelf, the company the owns and (and all the related speciality sites) is having it's annual GameMaster's Sale. It's the single biggest sales event of the year at those sites - and it's the best time to get the deepest discounts on literally thousands of PDFs. This is no Joke. That sale runs March 3rd through March 8th and all the eBooks from participating publishers are 25% off!!!

So, if you are hankering to catch up on your eBook/PDF gaming fix AND you don't mind supporting The Core Mechanic, please click the link below or the image above.

* The Core Mechanic is an OneBookShelf affiliate site, so I'll earn a small commission and you'll be supporting us if you do. Thank you!

February 26, 2010

Eric Mona on The Future of RPGs

Couldn't pass up the chance to share this excellent video with everyone. Set aside some time - it's worth it.

He gets through his background about 20 minutes in (20m:30s or so)

February 22, 2010

Open Game Table Volume 2 - Peer Review Closed. Reviewers Revealed!

The peer review phase for the nominations made to Open Game Table Volume 2 has ended. As you can see from the numbers above - we recieved TONS of reviews from the peer reviewers. The average nomination recieved close to three score cards each, which is what I was shooting for. What remains are the 90 or so nominations (out of over 370) that didn't quite get the coverage they deserve.  So the OGT Editorial Board (listed below) is going to review these straglers over the next couple of days so that every single nominations gets at least two reviews. Once that is done, then the some serious heavy lifting is going to happen as the Editorial Board digs through all the data, cuts the nominations that scored low, and homes in on our A-list of top picks to be included in the anthology.

Please join me in thanking the Open Game Table Peer Reviewers. They have been immensely helpful in making OGT a possibility and a true community project!

Open Game Table Volume 2: Peer Review Panel
Aaron Broder
Brian Fitzpatrick
Cassey Toi
Enrique Bertran
Ben McFarland
James Iben
Jeffrey Horn
Mark Johnston
Michael Brennan
Michael Brewer
Page Bonifaci
Robert Sandlan
Steve Collington
Tommi Brander
Tony Law
Will Hopkins

Open Game Table Volume 2: Editorial Board
Jonathan Jacobs
Ben McFarland
Berin Kinsman
Kameron Franklin
Tony Law

Many of the above people you know as bloggers, authors, game designers and developers. It has been a privilege to work with all of them! I'm really looking forward to this next phase of OGT development: putting together the manuscript and finding artists who want to contribute. Our unofficial goal is to have everything done by GenCon 2010 so that Studio 2 Publishing can release the next volume of Open Game Table at the convention. So far - we are on track to meet that goal!

Now, for the more statistically inclined readers - follow the link below for some summary statistics of the reviews. Enjoy!

February 21, 2010

Pick Up a Six Pack of Dragon (But Dragon Dew is Still Better)

This ad brought to you by the wayback machine (circa a 1990's Dragon Magazine).

Some marketing campaigns just work I guess. Check out this one from this year (I know - old news to some... but still!)

Personally... I would have preferred the cans. Jones Soda for D&D is just odd...

You would think they would partner with Mountain Dew or Krispy Kreme though. I mean... JONES SODA??? What... are all D&D players a bunch of Wholefoods shopping health nuts? I think not. Odd choice of marketing partners IMHO. I mean.. instead they should have picked Mountain Dew. Check out the cool DRAGON DEW bottle below... 

mmmmm... Mountain Dew. 

At least Blizzard and Bungie figured out that GAMERS PREFER MOUNTAIN DEW.

What I wouldn't give for a Savage Worlds can of Red Bull... 

Or a Deadlands bottle of Jack Daniels... now that would be aweshum!

February 19, 2010

Felix Sundown Finds Twitter @FelixSundown

It's an experiment - but we've decided over at Nevermet Press that Felix Sundown is, basically, going to be the official mascot of Loaerth & Feywyrd. We kicked off the first article about L&F by interviewing Felix. Now we hope to continue exploring L&F development organicaly by having people interact with Felix, asking him questions, and following him on Twitter.

Wondering what I look like? Head over to Nevermet Press and find out! There's even a video!

Its a great way to help shape the L&F campaign setting - just ask Felix questions, or make suggestions. He's all ears.


February 17, 2010

Diablo III Female Barbarian Revealed

Yeah. That's just scary awesome. Finally a female character type in a cRPG that is not some dainty, lithe runway model look-alike. Thank you Blizzard. A chick tank is what the doctor ordered.

There's also a bunch of videos of the barbarian kicking zombie ass over at the Diablo III development site.

Unfortunately, the game does not have a release date yet - but I've been keeping tabs on its development. It's been fun to see the sneak peaks from Blizzard during the development process. Can't wait for the Open BETA...

I don't really have much more to add other than

It's going to kick ass.

February 15, 2010

How to Get Started Playing Fantasy RPGs With Savage Worlds

There's been a lot of continued rumblings about Savage Worlds in the RPG blogosphere over the last year or so - especially for some reason around the time that 4E D&D was first released. Although Savage Worlds has been out for a couple years now it seems like it has picked up a lot of steam - I mean, just check out the list of 3rd party publishers who are supporting it as a game system. Top this off with all the great products that Pinnacle has produced using Savage Worlds, and you have a huge list of nearly 250 games, supplements, and adventures to play using SW.

But players can't experience everything - so you are forced to choose. My first games with Savage Worlds were using Deadlands Reloaded, which I've been playing in for almost a year. It's been great fun - and a very different feel than D&D. Combat is faster, and the story seems to progress faster as a result. The players all seem to be (at least in my group) more engaged or connected to their characters as well. But Deadlands is a completely different genre than D&D - cowboys and zombies, Indian shamans and steam punk mad scientists. So - the obvious question I had was "How much of the fun is due to the genre, and how much is due to the game?"

I've decided I want to make a closer comparison to D&D by playing a 'fantasy' style game using the SW rule set. I then discovered I was once again faced with a huge number of options, the first of which was should I play a packaged campaign setting (e.g. Hellfrost, 50 Fathoms, EverNight, etc) or play even closer to stock D&D where the setting is a generic one such as Nentir Vale. I decided on the latter choice, which is what led up this post and this important question:

What Savage Worlds resources would I need to get started playing a stock fantasy campaign?

Well, here's the list of things organized by FREE and followed by things that will cost you something.

  1. Download the Savage Worlds Test Drive Rules (link to version 6 PDF) from Pinnacle. The Savage Worlds rules are generic, and the Test Drive Rules provide a free way to get started with the game regardless of what genre you are playing. It gives you most of the core mechanics of the game, along with plenty of options to start a campaign without the infamous "buy in".
  2. Pick up the (incredibly awesome) Tomb of Terrors Bundle (also free and available here). It that bundle you'll get
    • The (excellent!) Wizards & Warriors PDF - a set of options to play fantasy using Savage Worlds. A couple of new races and edges are included.
    • Tomb of Terrors adventure - a spin off of similarly named classic D&D adventure. Visit Grognardia for more about that.
    • Fantasy Character Sheets
    • Treasure Cards (magic items) for players to use in the adventure
    • Figure Flats (paper minis) to use with the adventure
    • Miniature Tiles for combat
  3. Grab the Fantasy Shark Bites Fanzine. Shark Bites is a free, community developed fanzine aimed at supporting all the variations of Savage Worlds. Two important PDFs were released that support fantasy genre games:
    • Shark Bites Volume 4 - Fantasy Issue. In this bundle you'll get  two PDFs - one for players and one for GMs. The GM's PDF (pictured at right) is 36 pages and includes four short adventures, a collection of magic items,  a bunch of awesome NPCs to pit against your players. The Players version of the PDF includes rules for Wuxia Kung-Fu Fighting Styles,  new powers, spells and rituals for sorcerers, a gallery of new magic items and trinkets, a generic system for fantasy religions and gods, and several new (but strange) races.
    • Shark Bites Volume 4 - Fantasy Extras. This bonus bundle includes a 21 page adventure and a collection of stock NPCs (called Extras in SW parlance). 
  4. Bookmark the Savagepedia - and poke around for new races, powers, monsters, and everything else!
Now, if you are willing to spend a little cash on the real game - then you'll need the following:
  1. The Savage Worlds Explorer Edition ($9.99 from Amazon). For people coming from D&D - this is like "the core rules". It includes all the base material needed to play SW for any genre, and for less than 10 bucks - it's hard to say no. You can also pick up the PDF version of this from for the same price, so you're better off just buying it in print.
  2. Savage World Fantasy Companion ($19.99 from Amazon). Now, here's thing - I don't own this book myself (or the PDF version). Instead, I picked up the SW Fantasy Toolkits (see below) which have a fair amount of overlap with the slick printed Fantasy Companion Book.
  3. Savage World Fantasy Toolkits (available as PDFs only). There are three toolkits: Character Generator (read:Players Handbook), Bestiary (read:monster manual), and World Builder's Guide (read:DM's Guide). You'll spend about 10 or 15 bucks on each of these - so if you are a player, just pick up the Fantasy Companion in print instead.
So, next to nothing $30 you can be well set up to create whatever fantasy campaigns you want using Savage Worlds. You'll also have a fair number of adventures to kick off your campaign. 

But wait - are you unwilling to try it because you just love your existing fantasy campaign setting so much? Well - fortunately for you there's a huge list of conversions that people have been working on. Just hope over here and check it out!

If you decide to play a fantasy style game using Savage Worlds - like I have - then leave a comment and let me know! How does it compare to D&D for you?

Once I get my SW fantasy campaign up and running in full (perhaps set in Loaerth) you can be sure I'll be blogging about it here on TCM. So, stay tuned!

The Forge - Four Name Generators That Rock

I recently stumbled on The Forge, a fantasy name generator that uses "A massive database ... of over 2400 fantasy words and names, totaling up to 20 million unique combinations." The flash based app has four styles of naming mechanisms: all purpose; beasts; spells; and place names. Awesome!

I've been a big fan of the 90's style Behind the Name and The Seventh Sanctum websites for years - but neither of these can touch how cool The Forge is. Not to mention how useful! It rocks! It's definitely going to be my premier go-to site now for name generation needs. Hopefully it will stay online for a long time to come.

Plus, the website of the developer behind The Forge is engrossing. I think I spent close to 20 or 30 minutes just exploring his site.


February 14, 2010

Get 33% Off Open Design's KOBOLD Guide to Game Design, Vol. 1 (PDF)

Quick FYI for readers of The Core Mechanic -

Using the special link below you can get a 33% discount on Open Design's Kobold Guide to Game Design, Vol 1. in PDF format. The offer expires February 23rd - so grab it while it lasts!


It's an excellent book. You can see what I thought about in a previous post, "3 Books To Improve Your RPG Game Before The New Year".

A print version of the book is also available from

February 12, 2010

World Building with Loaerth & Feywyrd (2)

Once again something small has grown to consume a big part of my free thinking time. World Building, as a topic in general and more specifically how it applies to Loaerth & Feywyrd. I mentioned in my last post that I plan to develop L&F just enough to serve as a creative foundation for a new campaign without going overboard. I'm currently thinking about RACES for L&F, what are they, what "stock fantasy" races (if any) should be included, where do they live in Feywyrd now and where were they originally from in Loaerth? That sort of thing. But detailing everything is a waste of energy, but the temptation to do so is (for me) hard to resist. I do, however, recognize this is probably me channelling my professional career as a scientist ("everything must make sense", "all the interdependencies must be explored", "there must be a reason for everything", etc). It's like the magic rabbit hole from Alice in Wonderland... once you go down there you'll never be coming back.

So, in the short term my medicine to avoid going down the rabbit hole is to do a ton of reading on world building. The problem is there is a metric ton of stuff on world building out there in the Internet wildelands, but not all of it is worth your time.

I've collected a list of relevant books, articles and other online resources I've read, tuned specifically to world building and race creation / demographics for now. Hopefully you'll enjoy the articles as much as I have.
  • "World Building", by Julie Ann Dawson from Bards & Sages, is a PDF/eBook that was developed from a syllabus of a world building seminar she ran at SUNY. It's only 16-pages in length, but for less than $1 I couldn't resist. It ended up being worth 10 times that in terms of what I got out of it. She basically covers world building in five parts: develop a clearly defined logic; Open, Closed, or Limited Access worlds; developing the logic; build the civilizations; and creating the crunch. As a long-time D&D player, my tendency was to do the last part first (the crunch), but she makes a strong argument against that approach and I'm better off for having read it.
  • "Four Maxims for World Building" by B9anders over at Strolen's Citadel. While I disagree with the authors assertion that you should avoid detailing things the players will never know about [1], the rest of his post made sense to me for L&F world building.
  • In "Four Easy Steps To Omnipotence", Drew Karpyshyn (Senior Writer for Mass Effect) lays out another four 'maxims' of world building. Common theme here? Yes: start small, stick to your common theme, be internally consistent, and use real world (or familiar) hooks to pull the player in.
  • "World Building 101: Races" by Brandon Landgraff over at takes existing "stock fantasy" races and recasts them onto your unique setting. Although this is not necessarily what I was looking for, the article nonetheless proved useful because Brandon reminded me of the (often overlooked) issue of Culture vs. Race in fantasy settings: they are not the same thing [2]. This article is part of a stellar series of World Building 101 articles by Brandon, worth checking out and bookmarking no doubt.
Again, there are TONS of resources out there on the net about world building - but hopefully these above links will get you started with some different perspectives.

If you have any other links that might be worth checking out - please leave a comment and let us know!

[1] I subscribe to the Tolkien, Donaldson, Hebert iceberg approach: 90% of what is known to the author is never seen by the reader. This is also why I'm so terribly affraid the whole L&F project could run aground if I get too caught up in the details.
[2] It is actually one of the things that bugs the hell out of me with the stock version of D&D: all dwarves live underground and drink stout for breakfast; all elf's love trees and are frilly wine drinking dandys, etc. You get the idea. It's one of the reasons why HardBoiled Cultures for 4E D&D is such a great resource.

February 9, 2010

World Building with Loaerth & Feywyrd (1)

As some of you may or (more likely) may not know is that I've started putting together a lightly developed campaign world called Loaerth over at Nevermet Press. The goal of the project is to build a campaign setting that is essentially an empty slate, while still giving the GMs (and the folks over at Nevermet Press) with just enough hooks to play off from for interesting new content and great adventures. Some campaign settings are so over developed that running an adventure in them often runs into Me vs. The Canon [1]. So, with Loaerth I want to develop it just enough so that I can get to the really fun part - a full blown adventure set in this new world. The way I see it, this is probably the best way to introduce this world to players without setting out to define everything under the setting suns.

So, here's the thing. I'm new at world building. I've done it a few times, but not in quite this way or on this scale. So, I'll be writing about my reading and research on world building here at TCM. I figure, this blog and the great community of readers that frequent this site are a great sounding board; you all no doubt have far more experience with this than I - so, I would be wise to get your input whenever possible.

My first steps in designing Loaerth & Feywyrd were to come up with a good hook. Sort of, what makes L&F different from the next setting. Take one part steam punk, one part fantasy, add a dash of manifest destiny, hit the delete key on "elf", and then click the undo button, and finally sprinkle some bonafide demihuman race wars on top - and viola: you have Loaerth and Feywyrd. You can find out more about what I'm talking about over on Nevermet Press. The way I'm decided to engage people in developing L&F's "mythology" is through a series of fictional interviews with Felix Sundown, an escaped feytroll who was the thrall to the Regent of Loaerth for centuries. So far, no one has taken a bite - but I'm hoping that will change.

The other first step is to design a map to place the relevant locations in; a world map that I can drill down on to a tiny scale to add detail where needed. I'm using Campaign Cartographer plus Fractal Terrains to design the world - it's relatively infinite zooming features makes it a very nice tool indeed. You can see the basic landscape layer of the world above. Thankfully, I'll likely have the help of Nevermet Press's resident cartographer Paul King to help add details where they are needed, but the goal is not to define or develop everything under the sun - only the content which we develop on NMP. The rest will be left either completely open or only very lightly commented on. The first area's I'll be adding some detail to will be Loaerth City and The Island, which I'll place on the above map in the future.

[1] This happened to me tons of times with Forgotten Realms. My players and I all loved the setting, but I also loved tinkering around with it so much that at times it became a nuisance . There's were often very long lists of house rules and changes to the Realms' history and politics.

Label Interactive to Release GameTable for iPad

It seems like the obvious is already happening. See point #3 in my previous post about the iPad.

Thanks to a tip from IGN, I found a link to Label Interactive, a company developing interactive games for mobile devices: like the iPad.

As you can see from the picture above - just imagine replacing those checker pieces with miniatures. The iPad GameTable App will be a great platform for RPGs if they develop the app with that in mind.

Just thinking about the possibilities makes me want to pre-order one...

If they do make this app useable for RPGs, would it temp you to buy an iPad?