Sunday 29 July 2012

Challenger is Finished (Sort of)

Dear Everyone,

I've essentially finished the new version of Challenger in time for my self-imposed deadline of the end of August. However, my artist is running far, far behind and has informed me it might take as long as next year before all the artwork is finished. I freaked out, so hopefully that will mean the artwork will be finished sooner.

I'm heading out on vacation this week and won't return for a couple more weeks because I'll be out in the bush. After that I'm planning on getting a few key pieces of art ready and then hopefully putting out the updated Challenger without quite as much new artwork as I'd hoped for. Then, whenever the bulk of the rest of the art is done we can hopefully have the sweet print version out.

There were a couple last minute major changes, but I've been told the new version is looking good by one of my playtesters. I might use the extra time to alphabetize the monsters and magic items (because there are a lot more now) and perhaps get some extra playtesting in. You can't have too much playtesting, right?

Thanks for waiting. I know it's annoying, but what can we do, right? Hopefully, I'll have the new rules ready to rock and roll by the end of next month (if not sooner) and who knows when the art will come out. It all depends on the artist and how much yelling I can get in without ticking her off.

If anyone cares to leave comments with sad faces so the artist will feel sorry for us and get the work done faster, that would be much appreciated. No problem if it's too much work.

Thanks to reader request, there should also be a new half-elf race to look forward to and possibly a Shadow Sorcerer class as well! The book is now eighteen chapters of chaos and feels much more serious than the earlier versions. I'm not sure if I like that or not, but so long as I can still play Godzilla, I'm happy.

Best Regards and Thanks for your Patience,

David L. Dostaler
Author, Challenger RPG
Heading on Vacation in the Bush


50,000 downloads on Amazon in under 6 months. Thanks guys!

...Want to get your own stuff in Challenger? 

Thursday 12 July 2012

Challenger Brainstorming and World Map

Hi Everyone,

I'm currently finishing up the edits to the new version of Challenger and aiming to be done by the end of the month. However, I still have to wait on all the artwork which is being created for the new print version of the book.

Edit: ***All Kingdoms now Claimed!***

If you'd like to have your favourite character done up by my artist and included as the leader of one of ten play-tester and player-created kingdoms in the upcoming Kingdoms of Sileeria expansion, please send me an e-mail and include "About Kingdoms of Sileeria" in the heading. Each entry is volountary only and I won't be paying royalties. However, this is your chance to be immortalized in print and the Challenger World Lore.

For a list of claimed kingdoms on the map, see the below second edit.

Challenger RPG World Map for Kingdoms of Sileeria

In the meantime, if anyone has any brainstorming ideas for Challenger, feel free to post them here as a comment or e-mail me at the official Challenger e-mail through the contacts page. Nothing's set in stone yet so if you have some great ideas you think should be included, feel free to let me know! If you have an awesome, class, race, power, or whatever you'd like to see in the new version of the game, go ahead and mention it.

I'm hoping to have a full size color piece of artwork for each class in the game (possibly all races and monsters) but I'm told one piece of art every few pages is a good thing. I've also beefed up the power lists so all classes have approximately 9 powers and weakened the teleporter and shape shifter so you don't have to take a power point penalty to play them any more. Armor defenses have been replaced with a more organic dodge rule which your armor can still effect and the rules on engagement and combat have been tweaked slightly to run more smoothly and make more sense.

The Challenger world map will probably be included in the Kingdoms of Sileeria expansion if that project goes through. I have the concept art for it, but the labels for the kingdoms haven't been written in yet. I have dibs on a pirate kingdom and New Moons University setting but the other 8 kingdoms are pretty much up for grabs. I'll probably e-mail my play testers for first dibs on the other 8 kingdoms but if you want your kingdom and leader to be included just let me know and I'll see what I can do. I can't really afford the time to lease out copyrights and pay everyone for their contributions so all submissions will be voluntary and attributed to whoever put them in, but I won't be paying out royalties.

2nd Edit: Claimed Kingdoms!: To avoid confusion, I'll be listing the claimed kingdoms here when I can. ten of ten Kingdoms have been claimed so far. The island in-between the continents (Pirate Kingdom), the lower left bottom kingdom (Mountain Kingdom), human empire (central kingdom), dwarf kingdom (underground) on the far continent, three unknown as yet kingdoms, and New Moon Universities (pocket dimension and small kingdom of unknown location filled with monsters). Good luck in getting your kingdom in there before they run out! 17/07/2012 10:48 PM

3rd Edit: I think I have enough Kingdoms to go on now. Thanks guys! 

Anyone included in Kingdoms of Sileeria will get to design their own kingdom  and a leader for that kingdom modeled after a favourite character. I'll have my artist draw in the world map and do some concept art for each character based on the descriptions I receive.

If there's too much whining and complaining about copyrights, payments, and so forth I'll be more than happy to just put the book together myself. I just think it's a great idea and an opportunity to get your character immortalized in the Challenger World Lore. After all, you don't have to submit ultra-sweet stuff unless you want to.

Thanks for being patient while I fnish up re-writing Challenger. I'm kind of itching to get it done so I can get back to work revising my eight book fantasy series and writing more sweet RPG stuff.

Best Regards,



In Other News: I've recently found out my website wasn't listed on Yahoo and Bing so I've tried to address that problem. I've also been mucking about with Alt image tags, added an RSS feed, and made some other minor internal improvements. I hope you like the changes!

We're up to 50,000 downloads in under 6 months on Amazon, more 4 and 5 star reviews are coming in (I very much appreciate it!), and the website doubled it's hits from being created last month for a total of 2,000 this month and 1,000 last month. Great stuff guys! I really appreciate the support. I've been turning all the profits around into more artwork for the book and design and layout. Know that your contributions are helping improve the game!

For those of us who are computer inept (me) here's an explanation of RSS: Basically it's that little doo-hickey thing at the top left of the page over my Twitter feed. Apparently, clicking on it and having some kind of feed thing lets you know when people update posts on their website so you don't have to keep checking back all the time. Cool eh? Who knew.

On a related note, it took me about 6 months to figure out the Mentions and Communications thing on Twitter. Thanks for bearing with me, techno wizards!

...Challenger RPG Submissions 

Tuesday 10 July 2012

10 Keys to Suspenseful Adventures

Want to know how to scare the pants of your players and create suspenseful adventures? Well, you've come to the right place! long as you don't mind a little humor along the way.

Pants Piddling and Mindless Horror 101 
Warning: This Post Contains Dead People 

1. Fear and Danger: The first key to generating a suspenseful adventure is an element of danger. This will generate the required fear and suspense you're looking for. The element of danger must be hidden and worthy of fear. I'd recommend keeping the antagonists of the adventure hidden or at least only spotted in the shadows. Allow the player's own minds to dream up all sorts of horrors. Have strange dead bodies lie around, people die in weird ways, and odd noises and findings throughout the adventure. Feel free to ham it up and exaggerate the shadow of the crazed, murderous beast. It may turn out to be a small weasel, but as long as the element of fear is intact, you're doing your job properly. Most players will scare themselves silly if you give them the opportunity and lay the seeds of doubt.

 2. Use Foreshadowing: Just because the players can't know exactly who the bad guy is or what exactly he's doing doesn't mean you can't drop hints. Some of these 'hints' might even be way off base. Allow the players to make outrageous assumptions like they're facing hundreds of invincible, invisible undead or the enemy of the adventure has access to horrible 9th level spells that kill without a saving throw. Allow the piles of odd deaths, clues, and strange occurrences to point to unavoidable conclusions which should scare your players out of their minds. However, not all of these unavoidable conclusions are accurate. The key to suspense is not knowing what will happen next and that's something an RPG excels at. In a movie, the audience wonders if the heroine will spot the zombie hiding in the shower. In an RPG the players should be wondering, "What the heck's in that shower?!" even though it might be nothing or maybe the zombie is hiding in the toilet.

 3. Mood and Phobias: Use classic forms of fear building such as the following: claustrophobic places, dead things, mysteries, darkness, beasts, strange or inexplicable noises and occurrences, slime, high places, raving lunatics, and so forth. A simple thing you can do is ask the players what scares them and then about a year later remember it and work it into your suspense stories. The trick is to do this without seeming cheesy. Another good idea is to remember what scared you most as a kid and try to get the 'feel' of that into your adventure. Chances are if something scares you, it'll generate suspense in the adventure itself. Be sure to establish the mood. If the players have no clue what you're doing, they might come into the adventure with the attitude of, well, adventurers. Heroes tend to take most things without being fazed. Let the players know this will be a deadly mystery and suspense adventure. They might not be scared out of their minds, but they'll at least know what you're aiming for and won't complain so much when a psychopath starts ripping their favorite character's head off.

 4. The Unknown: One of the best tools in your suspense arsenal is the fear of the unknown. Never be straightforward in your answers to player's questions. Don't say, "There's a dragon in the room." Say something like, "You see a massive fanged beast with talons dripping coming toward you. You know you're in inch from death." Don't interpret clues or occurrences for the players, or if you do, make up the worst thing it could be (even if it's not). When their swords fail to hurt the gargoyle don't say, "It appears to be immune to non-magic weapons." Say, "The being of stone laughs in the face of your blows. It appears to be utterly invincible, moves with the speed of the wind, and wants to rip your legs off."

 5. Red Shirts: Go Star Trek. Be sure to include a lot of red shirts who can mysteriously disappear or die. Sometimes someone going missing is more frightening than someone dying. If you cast shades of gray on the characters helping the group, the players are bound to be scared out of their minds by everything, everyone, and any small noises in the night. If you're doing your job properly, that's probably a wise thing. Consider a guy sharpening his knife in the middle of the night. He chuckles malevolently, disappears for a time, and then returns without the knife. One of the players sees this, but when asked about the knife the guys says, "What knife?" Maybe he just lost it in the woods, but with all kinds of crazy weirdness going on this should drive the players nuts.

 6. Don't try to Scare the Players: This may sound counter to what I was arguing earlier, but really it's not. Never set out to scare the players. It'll never work; they'll only laugh. Never say, "Oh, this is such a scary adventure with so much suspense you'll all be biting your nails and piddling your pants." It just doesn't work that way. Everyone would love to scare the daylights out of their players on occasion but, literally, it doesn't work that way. If you run a good suspense adventure, and keep up the work they'll appreciate it and they'll still enjoy the game. You might not scare the daylights out of people, but if you do your job right there will be just enough doubt in their minds to cause the creeping tendrils of fear and suspense to invade.

 7. Don't Answer all Questions: Even at the end of the adventure, don't reveal everything. Have another dead body turn up after the villain was already captured. What's going on? That's the whole key to suspense adventures. Some should end like the old X-files TV series: with a shred of doubt.

 8. Employ Killer Descriptions: One of the best ways to establish suspense is to actively create it. The players take absolutely all their cues about the game world from your descriptions. If you describe something as the fiercest, ugliest, most horrible, and most terrible area ever, and the fact that if they enter they'll probably die, you can bet your dollar the players will just turn around and walk away. Once upon a time I described something to be so fierce and terrible the players just ran over the mountains and never went there. Be sure to include a very good motivation for the players to go somewhere obviously dangerous and of insane suspense value. Otherwise they'll more than likely just run away. For your fearsome description to have any weight, the area must actually be seriously dangerous. Don't overuse your fearsome descriptions either, or there will be problems. I try to include only one suspense adventure for about every 5-10 normal ones. If you go for suspense all the time the players will get used to it and it'll lose that edge you're looking for.

 9. Build up Suspense: In literary terms, there is an arc to all stories. The villain is fought at the end, the identity of the killer is finally revealed, the little girl survives the alien attack with the cat. In a game, you can't say for certain the players won't kill the villain the first time he shows up. Therefore, it may be prudent to have him not show up for a while. To build suspense you must start out with small occurrences and strange clues. As the players explore the clues they should find more and more out about the horror of everything. Finally, toward the very end of the scenario, the villain(s) should actually start showing up and taking people down. Have the toughest, wisest, most invincible NPCs die first. If the players have any sense, this should scare them. Let the villain do unreasonable things like kill 15 people in 12 seconds even though they're all hundreds of feet away from each other. Make sure one of the NPCs has the great idea to 'split up' and search around. Separating party members with traps, darkness, or whatever is also a good strategy. In a group, the party is at its strongest and most confident. If you injure the group, split it up, and have their keys to survival thwarted like torches blown out, weapons dropped, equipment destroyed or whatever; you make them sweat. Consider if the party mage was to fall down a pit, lose his magic from a trap, swamp water puts out his torch and ruins his equipment, and then he gets lost and hears growls on all sides. Don't overdo it either, or the players will just think you're out to get them. Don't take it easy on them, or they'll just laugh. There's a balance to it, as in everything. Give them plenty of opportunities to foul up their situation and cause themselves risk and danger of the unknown sort. If you do that, they're bound to give you just the opportunities you need to make them sweat.

 10. The Evil GM Chuckle: Sometimes just chuckling malevolently and rolling a lot of dice will do the trick. So long as you don't abuse this, this could be one of your finest strategies for generating suspense. For example: "Oh, so you guys are yelling? Here, let me roll 20d6 for random monsters. Oops, this doesn't look good...Ha ha ha!"

...Yet More GM Advice 

My Favourite Twitter Tweets #3

Here is the third rendition of my favourite Twitter Tweets. Please enjoy them while I avoid Twitter and continue to rewrite Challenger. I'm currently adding in loads of monsters and magic items. I know that's no excuse for not putting out the book yet, but quality over speed, right?

If you write to impress it will always be bad, but if you write to express it will be good. THORNTON WILDER
Healthcare? Why do you think we bring along the cleric?
Girl: "How much do you love me?" Boy: "Look at the sky and count the stars." Girl: "But, it's daytime..." Boy: "Haha, exactly."
Definition of "I'll think about it." = I'll forget about it completely until you bring it up again.
My new business idea will make you see dollar signs! (My idea is to press coins against people's eyes.)
If there’s one thing to be learned from horror movies, it’s that children are absolutely terrifying.
Nothing like having your power shut off all weekend to make you realize what's really important in life. (Electricity.)
What? Amazon's #1 most popular tabletop is... "Challenger"?
People who think bloggers are losers who live in their mom's basement are so misinformed. Some of us live in the garage or attic. 
It doesn’t matter if your lead character is good or bad. He just has to be interesting, and he has to be good at what he does. DAVID CHASE
An ant on the move does more than a dozing ox. ~ Lao-Tzu

Someone pointed out that wizards should be intoxicated at all times. At-will magic missile FTW!
Show up. Get to work even when you don’t feel like writing—especially when you don’t feel like writing. DANIEL H. PINK
Universal truth: Prodding a fire with a stick makes you feel manly.

Unknown - "Of course I had my work edited before I published. I ran it through the spell checker 3 TIMES !"
When people ask me, "Plz" because it's shorter than "Please", I tell them "No" because it`s shorter than "Yes".
: That joke went over like a fart in church.”Ahh..That's why they call it a PEW! Right! Thank you, I'll be here all day! LOL
I want my tombstone to just say ":("
I don't wanna shock anyone, but... I'm a woman.
Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. ~ Confucius
I say "sorry" even when i didn’t do anything wrong. Because I. AM. CANADIAN.
TWITTER is an acronym for Troubled Witty Individuals Trying To Escape Reality.
An optimist is the dude who yells out "Wet T-Shirt Contest!" during the sinking of the Titanic.
Fav cust service line I used today, "Maybe you need to cast a "Lift Mail Curse" on your mailbox?"
I want to find someone to start a family with! Someone who will do most of the housework and stuff you have to do with kids. Like cooking.

...RPG Art