Thursday, April 11, 2024

The Release of How to Make a Fantasy Sandbox and the Isle of Pyade

The Release

With the successful conclusion and fulfillment of my Kickstarter, I am releasing How to Make a Fantasy Sandbox and The Isle of Pyade to the public on Friday, April 12th, during the livestream of the Random Party Generator at 8pm EDT. Special discount coupons will be available for those joining the live stream, along with a live drawing for at-cost print copies of both Blackmarsh and at-cost hardbacks of both books. The discount coupons will be active for one week after the show.

Until they go public during the live stream you can monitor the Bat in the Attic storefront on DriveThruRPG.

Special Thanks

I wish to say a special thank you to the 908 backers of my How to Make a Fantasy Sandbox Kickstarter. Your generosity not only made this project possible but also allowed me to upgrade the production values beyond my previous expectations. 

Also, a shout out to my wife, Kelly Anne, who not only supported me throughout the project but also contributed two pieces of art to the book. This marks her debut as a professional artist. 

Thanks to Joethelawyer, Tim of Gothridge Manor, and my friend Josh, whose support and advice were instrumental in making this project a success. 

Finally, thanks to Erik Tenkar of Tenkar's Tavern who is hosting the Random Party Generator. 

How to Make a Fantasy Sandbox

How to Make a Fantasy Sandbox!

Starting in 2009, I wrote a series of 24 posts on the Bat in the Attic Blog covering the different aspects of creating a hexcrawl formatted setting.  Now that the blog posts are completed, I combined and rewrote these posts into a single book.  In addition to advice about creating your setting, the post fleshs out the Isle of Pyade into a small setting that you can drop into your own campaign.

What is a Hexcrawl-formatted setting?

This type of setting starts with a hex grid placed over the map with each hex numbered.  The hex locations of the various locales, such as lairs, are noted and arranged into an index.  This format provides a convenient way to reference detailed local information within the setting.

You can look at the map, see the hex number the location is in, and then look it up quickly in the book.  It works in reverse as well.  You can read about a location in the book, with its hex location noted in the text.  Then, look up where it is on the map quickly.  This format allows easy access to dozens of detailed locations scattered across the setting map, if not hundreds. 

Hexcrawls and Sandbox Campaigns

Sandbox campaigns are distinguished by the fact the players drive the campaign forward by their choices.  In a sandbox campaign, the players may decide to head west instead of east in pursuit of their goals.  The ease of looking locations up makes the hexcrawl-formatted setting a valuable tool for the referee trying to keep ahead of their players while running a sandbox campaign.

How to Make a Fantasy Sandbox will teach you how to make a hexcrawl-formatted setting and explain what details are essential to include to handle the different types of sandbox campaigns. 

The Isle of Pyade

A thousand years ago, this island emerged from the Cataclysm as a bare expanse of rock and soil. Whatever existed here prior was obliterated in the chaos. It took a hundred years for it to transform from a barren expanse to a weed-choked landscape and finally back to its original wooded condition. During that time, survivors, both humans and animals, found themselves washed up on its shores. They established several fishing hamlets in and around East Bay. Despite the chaos of the time, they managed to carve out an oasis of tranquility due to the island's isolation and the great fishing in the Midland Sea.

This was all shattered when scouts of the Lich Tavaras discovered the Isle of Pyade. Tavaras decided to claim Pyade as his own. The lich and his undead army landed on the shore of the Bay of the Dead with his undead army. He quickly subjugated the fishing hamlets and enslaved the populace.

Within the Caves of Mount Devon, Tavaras decided to establish his stronghold. On the North Downs, Bone Keep was established at the center of several latifundia, which were developed to feed the growing slave population.

Tavaras ruled Pyade as his personal domain for nearly 200 years. He survived the fall of the Dark Lord and the collapse of the Dark Empire. His downfall came with the arrival of crusaders from the United Church. Their forces besieged Tavaras' stronghold, breached the mountain and brought down the Lich Lord.

After the downfall of Tavaras, the island was liberated and made part of the Eainian Empire. When the empire collapsed amid civil war and anarchy, the island was incorporated into the Kingdom of the Isle and granted to the Gevon family five hundred years ago.

Over the centuries the Gevon invited halfling families and dwarven clans to help settle the island and exploit its rich lands and resources.

Bone Keep and the other ruins from the lich Tavaras rule remained abandoned. The wars that liberated the islands did not leave much time to cleanse the island of Tavaras' evil taint and abominations. To the present the northern half of the Isle of Pyade remains dangerous to the unwary.

Today, the Isle of Pyade is starting to emerge from relative obscurity. The new Empire of Po threatens the independence of Pyade and the Kingdom of the Isles. Ancient evils are beginning to stir again in the depths of Mount Devon. Once again, the island has become the center of attention, providing opportunities and wealth to those willing to brave its dangers.

Blackmarsh, Digest Edition

Rob's Note: The PDF on DriveThruRPG is free to download. So, no preview is needed.

In the days when man knew only the working of stone and fought for their existence against the orc and the goblin, the sky turned to ash and down fell the fiery mountain onto the land. The world tore open and the grey waters rushed in. Those who survived the impact were lost as boiling clouds rushed out in all directions leaving a wasteland in its wake.

The Mountain That Fell left a gift; magic. Near and far, those of learning and strong of heart discovered new powers to shape the world. In the desolation around the Smoking Bay the adventurous found viz, magic in physical form. And there was more, scattered amid the landscape were strange artifacts and stranger creatures that survived The Mountain That Fell. For a time men, dwarves, orc, goblins, and other races braved the dangers and fought each other in the wastelands. Then the elves came into Blackmarsh expelled the feuding races, drove the monsters out, and healed the land.

In the present day, many come to Blackmarsh to harvest viz, kill monsters, or seek the strange artifacts left by The Mountain That Fell. The only force that stands against the wilderness is the Blackmarsh Rangers. Anyone who is willing to defend the land and its people are welcomed into their ranks. Powerful kingdoms outside of Blackmarsh are beginning cast a covetous eyes toward the land's riches. Will the adventurers of your campaign become wealthy and powerful? Or will their bones join the many that have sunk into the swamps?

Blackmarsh is a complete, ready to run setting for your campaign. It can be run as its own setting or an expansion of your existing world. Contained in Blackmarsh are 17 geographical entries, 78 described locales, and one detailed town; Castle Blackmarsh. Each entry provide one or more adventure hooks to use in your campaigns.

Rob's Note: If you can afford it the hardcover print option comes with two blank pages in the front and three blank pages in the back that you can use for handwritten notes. The inside covers are also blank. The printing process for hardcovers wraps a heavy paper protector between the covers and the first and last pages of the book

The books have been released for the public links in the titles.

Monday, January 1, 2024

Happy New Year, and the annual DriveThruRPG report.

 Happy New Year

I wish everybody a Happy New Year! I have much to be thankful for in 2023, especially family, friends, and work. I want to thank everyone who supported my How to Make Sandbox Kickstarter. I appreciate the outpouring of support for my project.

How to Make a Fantasy Sandbox

Because of my backers' generosity, I was able to increase the size of my art order. I commissioned 17 additional pieces from Rick Hershey of Fat Goblin Games. I also got back the cover art from Richard Luschek, who did an outstanding job!

Once I get the interior pieces back I will be able to complete the layout and start the process of ordering proof prints of the two remaining books: How to Make a Fantasy Sandbox and the Isle of Pyade setting book. 

DriveThruRPG Numbers

Ever since I released Blackmarsh in 2011, I have had at least one download every day. Each download is accompanied by an order number. By tracking the first download of Blackmarsh every year I gain a rough sense of the volume of business that DriveThruRPG does. I am sure that many of the order numbers are internal transactions; however, from the experience I had with accounting, those increase as the total volume of business for a company also increases.

So, without further ado, here are the latest figures.  From a pandemic high in 2020, it appears that DriveThru's total volume of sales has been relatively flat from 2021 to the present. 

Once again Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Isle of Sedra Kickstarter

 My good friend Douglas Cole over Gaming Ballistic has launched a new Kickstarter for his Isle of Sedra setting. It is written for Old School Essentials. Along with the setting, there are several adventures available including solo adventures.

Douglas is also a third-party publisher for Steve Jackson Games's The Fantasy Trip and supports that RPG's long history of solo adventures. He has converted many of his TFT products over to Old School Essentials so fans of the classic editions of DnD can enjoy them as well.

Isle of Sedra Kickstarter.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Blackmarsh in print again.

The print version of Blackmarsh is now available again both in softcover and hardcover feature cover art by Richard Luschek. Many of you will know him from his work on various Harn products available from Columbia Games. The books are using the new digest size layout.

The full map of Blackmarsh is still inside the book and the book fold has been taken into account for its presentation. 

Softcover Digest edition - $6.99

Hardcover Digest edition - $11.99

Again appreciate the support of all of you have given me over the years and the kind words in your reviews.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Last 48 hours of How to Make a Fantasy Sandbox Kickstarter.

We are in the last 48 hours of my Kickstarter for the book about How to Make a Fantasy Sandbox. The level of support far exceeded what I expected from my Basic Rules for the Majestic Fantasy RPG Kickstarter. I am humbled and appreciative of the support that has been shown. 

There is still time to sign up just click on the link below. The beta PDFs of both How to Make a Fantasy Sandbox and the Isle of Pyade are available to backers. 

How to Make a Fantasy Sandbox Kickstarter

Because of the level of funding, I was able to upgrade my art budget and commission some pieces from Rick Hershey of Fat Goblin Game. 

The Black Queen rules from her throne in the Fortress of the Lich Lord

Prince Ormus of Aventis searches for arcane lore 

The Rot Lord creates another undead servitor in the Sable Port

Monday, October 30, 2023

First beta layout posted for How to Make a Fantasy Sandbox backers.

How to Make a Fantasy Sandbox Beta Layout

I am pleased to share the first beta layout of How to Make the Fantasy Sandbox Kickstarter for my backers.

Some of the art are placeholder pieces. I have been buying stock art over the years but there are gaps, particularly in pieces that depict various characters. Thanks to your generosity I can not only cover those gaps but also expand the amount of custom pieces I can order. 

I want to give a shout-out to Fat Goblin Games, and The Forge Studios where I bought much of my art from.  They both have Patreons and I recommend them if you are looking for art for your project. 

The various maps and other example illustrations are created by myself and represent the final version. There may be further tweaks because the original we designed to be part of a blog post. 

The PDF is bookmarked but I haven't linked all the URLs yet.

Further Steps

Up on deck is the beta layout for the Isle of Pyade. 

The print proofs for the new digest version of Blackmarsh have been shipped.  Like with my Majestic Fantasy RPG Kickstarter, I will be releasing the print codes immediately after I check over the proof.  Each backer will get a code for the hardback version and the softcover version.

Interviews and Livestreams

I have had a couple of interviews and livestreams talking about How to Make a Fantasy Sandbox.

Random Party Generator

The regular livestream that I am part of.

Games with Dave

A live stream where Dave and I talk about the Kickstarter and fantasy hexcrawls.

Fumble Table

Damien and I discussed Fantasy Sandboxes and my background in fantasy roleplaying.

Also, check out his review of Blackmarsh

Wrapping it Up

Again I appreciate everybody's support and feel free to ask questions and leave comments on the draft and the project. 

How to Make a Fantasy Sandbox Kickstarter

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Your World Awaits! How to Make a Fantasy Sandbox Kickstarter!



Starting in 2009, I wrote a series of 24 posts on this blog covering the different aspects of creating a hexcrawl-formatted setting.  Over 150,000 views later I have finished the series. Along the way, many of you thanked me for writing the series and told me how it helped your own efforts.

Now that the last post has been completed, I combined and rewrote these posts into a single 150-page book. I also consolidated the small fantasy setting I was using, the Isle of Pyade into its own document that you can drop into your own campaign.

Many of you enjoyed Blackmarsh, Points of Light, and my remastered version of Judges Guild's Wilderlands of High Fantasy. Now with How to Make a Fantasy Sandbox, you can learn the techniques I used to make these settings to make your own world to adventure in.

The project rewards will consist of a digest-sized version of my Blackmarsh setting with a new layout and art. The How to Make a Fantasy Sandbox book and the Isle of Pyade setting book will be available as PDF and Print-on-demand books using at-cost print coupons from DriveThruRPG.

I hope to see you at the launch of my Kickstarter on Friday, October 13, 2023.

Launch Party!

I will be launching the Kickstarter during tomorrow's Random Party Generator show on YouTube at 8pm. We will be discussing world building and I will be glad to answer any questions folks have.


Thanks to everyone's generosity the Kickstarter is now funded!