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





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!