Monday, 5 February 2018

Saga of the Goblin Horde: Quick Start version 15

Several friends have started converting their Savage Worlds settings across to Swift d12, so I've recently been splitting my time between the Saga of the Goblin Horde Quick Start rules, and a generic version of the core rules.

I've also been working on a small side project called "Blood & Bile", which I'm hoping to release later this month. However I wanted to release a small update to the Quick Start first, as there are a couple of playtests planned for this week.

Get it here: SotGH Quick Start

The changes are to the "Stunts" and "Conditions" sections on page 16. The original full-sized Swift d12 PDF included mechanics for disarming, grappling, intimidating and taunting, but they were left behind when I streamlined the rules. Now that I've decided to stick with the lighter version of the system, I've decided it's about time to bring those other mechanics over - so I've merged them into the stunt rules.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Saga of the Goblin Horde: Plans for 2018

Last year I successfully published the Savage Worlds version of Saga of the Goblin Horde, and even created some print-ready PDFs for those who wanted a physical book. However I still have many more plans for the setting, and some new goals for 2018, so I thought I'd give a rundown of what I'd like to achieve.

Savage Worlds

New One Sheets

I've already written 11 One Sheets for Saga of the Goblin Horde, but I'd like to publish some more, at least one every couple of months. Here are some of the adventures I'm thinking of releasing this year:

Day of the Fungids: When I was younger I watched a TV show called "The Day of the Triffids". Based on an earlier novel, it was a bit like a zombie apocalypse, except with mobile carnivorous plants called "Triffids". In fact the main reason I added fungids to Saga of the Goblin Horde (and why I called them fungids) is that I wanted to create a parody adventure inspired by the Day of the Triffids!

Gift Horse: Inspired by a piece of stock art (a mutant horse). A mysterious admirer gives Chief Bignose a gift, a strange horse-like mount named "Trojan". And of course the chieftain accepts the gift without question, because that's the sort of thing Chief Bignose does.

Hail to the Beast King: In the setting book, I mention that "Former members of the Treebiter tribe also speak of a beastfolk king, who apparently lives deep in the Great Forest, where he rules over all manner of exotic breeds." That's not a throwaway comment, it was foreshadowing for an adventure I planned to write.

Honey Plot: Inspired by a piece of stock art (a man with a beehive humpback). Bugbears love honey almost as much as regular bears do, and a crazy druid beekeeper has decided to use his unnatural talents to set traps for them. This adventure will give me the opportunity to expand the lore on bugbears, as they don't get much coverage in the main book.

Island Vacation: The gazetteer in the setting book mentions that a "mysterious little island has also been spotted several times in different locations near the coast, appearing then disappearing from one day to the next." This refers to an adventure I'd originally planned to include in the main setting book, but which I will instead release as a One Sheet.

Action Deck

A few weeks ago, +David Garrett asked if there was a deck of cards available for Saga of the Goblin Horde. I'd originally planned to create a Campaign Deck, but later scrapped the idea. However I did quite fancy having a custom deck, and there was apparently some demand, so I started brainstorming - I wanted the cards to offer something special (beyond simply being a deck of playing cards), but unlike my work on the Mutation Deck, I couldn't explicitly reference Savage Worlds, so I had to get creative.

I've now come up with a design, and hope to finish and publish the deck in the near future. Technically it won't be a Savage Worlds product, but I imagine that's what most people will use it for.

Swift d12

Although I will continue to support the Savage Worlds version of Saga of the Goblin Horde with the release of new One Sheets, most of my efforts moving forward will be focused on my new system, Swift d12.

Quick Start

The Quick Start rules are now up to version 14, but I'm still playtesting and tweaking them. I have notes and feedback that I still need to incorporate, such as revised stunt rules, the magic system, and so on, and I still need to add some better examples of playing the game. But overall, the core mechanics are fairly complete.

Full Setting

Once I'm happy with the Quick Start, I'll start converting the full setting over from the Savage Worlds version. I'm hoping this won't take too long, but it will still involve quite a lot of work. Probably a few months.


Although I will obviously convert the One Sheets, I also have plans for a few larger adventures, including Chronicles of the Goblin Princess, and Tales of the Technolich. These will only be available for Swift d12 (as I hope to sell them), but I'll offer conversion guides for anyone wishing to run them with Savage Worlds.

Generic Rules

After I've published Saga of the Goblin Horde, I plan to release a generic Swift d12 roleplaying system, with an open license for other publishers. This will also incorporate the expanded rules I've been working on, such as vehicles, firearms, etc, but hopefully the full rulebook should only be about a dozen pages (it's designed to be a pretty streamlined system). I hope to release this by the end of the year, and it will provide the foundation for my projects in 2019.

Gaming Conventions

I've never been to a gaming convention before, but I hope to attend one or two this year!

Genghiscon 41

Christopher Landauer asked me if I'd be interested in attending Genghiscon 41, and I was certainly tempted, but it would be a very long trip, and I had a lot of other things going on at the same time (such as moving home). Fortunately David Garrett has stepped up to represent Saga of the Goblin Horde, and he will be running two games this year!

Modena Play

Gio Dal Farra has invited me to Modena Play in April, and it's not too far to travel, so I'm planning to visit! This will be my first ever gaming convention, and I don't speak Italian, so I hope they go easy on me ;)


Some friends of mine attended ShaCon last year, and they had a blast. I couldn't make it due to other commitments, but I'm hoping they'll run another one this year (I just hope it doesn't clash with my friend's 40th Birthday party, because I already promised him I'd join him at a zombie shopping mall!).

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Saga of the Goblin Horde: Quick Start version 14

I was pretty busy last year with the Savage Worlds version of Saga of the Goblin Horde, but now I hope to spend more time on Swift d12. There are a number of things I need to add and/or change, but two of them had priority based on earlier playtests, so I've updated the Quick Start rules accordingly.

Get it here: SotGH Quick Start

The change first is initiative. The approach I used in the previous version (become Staggered when you rush) was annoying, as it ended up with a lot of Mooks becoming and remaining Staggered, so I've replaced it with a simple -2 penalty for rushing. I also added a "delay" option, and reworked the Lightning-Quick Feat. I've already playtested this solution, and it's much smoother. It feels more like the original tri-phase initiative system, but without the need for extra dice rolls.

The second change is Weapon Advantage. As much as I wanted to include this, it's just not very intuitive, and during play we kept forgetting to factor it in. I've replaced it with a "Weapon Classifications" section which still retains the four main concepts: ranged weapons are more likely to hit, shields provide additional protection against ranged attacks, unarmed foes are easier to hit, and improvised weapons are inferior to regular weapons.

There's still a number of other things I need to include, not least of which is the new magic system, but I wanted to finalize the core mechanics first as I have some more playtests coming up.

Monday, 25 December 2017

Saga of the Goblin Horde: Handmade leather cover

A friend of mine runs his own leatherwork business, and he sent me a surprise Christmas present - a handmade leather cover for Saga of the Goblin Horde. It's awesome! Thank you very much +Mathew Halstead :)

Check it out:

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Saga of the Goblin Horde: Print your own book

Now that the proofs for Saga of the Goblin Horde have been ordered, received, and checked (photos here), I feel comfortable releasing the print-ready files into the wild for others to use. You can download them from here:


You will need a front and back cover, and one of the PDFs, depending on whether you want your book to be in color or black and white. It should go without saying (but I'll state it anyway): if you want to print a hardcover PDF, you must use the hardcover covers, and if you want to print a softcover PDF, you must use the softcover covers. Don't mix them.

In case you're wondering why I use RGB instead of CMYK for the color PDFs, the answer is that Lulu prefers RGB, and the CMYK versions are really big (which can cause problems with the Lulu preparation process). Rather than confuse people with even more PDFs, I decided to stick with one color option.

Printing Saga of the Goblin Horde

Go to and create an account, then move your mouse over "Create", and select "Print Book" from the pull-down menu.

Choose the format you want to print: standard paperback, premium paperback, or professional hardcover. There's a video here which compares the standard and premium, however if you want a cheaper option, my personal suggestion would be premium black and white rather than standard color.

You will need to set the paper size to "US Letter". If that option isn't listed under the format, scroll down to the bottom of the page to view all the available sizes.

You can also set the binding, and choose between color and black and white. Be aware that not all combinations are permitted, so if you select one option it may disable something else. Once you've set everything, scroll back up and set the number of pages to 114.

Scroll up and down and double-check that you've got the right format, page size, binding and interior print. Once again, some combinations are not permitted, and different bindings and paper have different minimum and maximum page counts. If everything is correct, click "Make this book".

Set the title and author, and—this is very important—make sure you select "Make available only to me". Otherwise you'll start selling my book, which you're not allowed to do (otherwise I'd be doing it myself!). Click "Save & Continue" to proceed.

Click "Choose File", select the appropriate PDF, and then click "Upload".

Once it's finished uploading, click "Make Print-Ready File". If this fails, just try again, sometimes it can take a few attempts.

You now have the option of downloading and reviewing the PDF. Make sure you do this, even if it's just to take a quick skim through the pages. In particular, if you've uploaded the wrong file you probably won't have any bleed, which means your page will look like this:

See the white border around the page? That will appear on the printed book as well. You do not want that, it looks rubbish. If you selected the correct PDF there will be no white border:

No white border means the background will cover the entire page. Once you've confirmed that the PDF looks good, click "Save & Continue" and set up the cover.

Select "Themes" and "ImageOnly" so that Lulu doesn't try to print text across the cover. Then on the right hand side of the screen, press the orange "Add Images" button, click "Upload your images", then once you've uploaded you can drag them (from the right) and drop them (over the black images in the center with the camera icons). If you hover over the image it'll tell you the file name, the back cover should go on the left (the one with the barcode) and the front cover on the right.

You can also change the text on the spine by clicking on it, as well as the font and color. I experimented with different colors, but in the end found white looked the best. If you'd prefer to have nothing on the spine, you can simply delete the text.

Once you're done, click "Preview & Make Print-Ready Cover" (in the bottom right corner).

The preview always looks like that for me, it's not particularly useful. But if you click "Make Print-Ready Cover" and download it, you can double-check that it looks like this:

Make sure the back cover is on the left, the front cover on the right, and that the spine contains the correct text without spelling mistakes. Once you're done, click "Save & Continue".

You can now review the project. Once again, please double check that you've set it to "Private Access". You have permission to print the PDF for personal use, but you're not allowed to sell it.

I recommend downloading both the interior and cover files, to double check that they're correct. Once you're happy with it, click "Save & Finish". You can then click "Order a Proof Copy", or click "My Projects" from the front page of Lulu followed by "View/Buy".


At the time of writing this, the cost of printing the PDFs is as follows:

Standard B&W softcover: £3.51 / $2.97 / €4.76
Standard color softcover: £5.56 / $7.62 / (N/A)
Premium B&W softcover: £4.38 / $4.82 / €6.85
Premium color softcover: £19.94 / $22.74 / €23.28
Premium B&W hardcover: £13.38 / $14.07 / €11.08
Premium color hardcover: £28.70 / $32.74 / €23.74

Shipping is added on top of that, of course. Lulu is not cheap. However they always have lots of special offers such as a percentage discount on the book, buy three get one free, free shipping, etc. I picked up my hardcover with a 30% discount for Black Friday (and then discovered there was a 40% discount on Cyber Monday, d'oh).

You can only use one discount code per purchase, but you should always use one (if you can't find one you like, try closing your connection with something in your basket, and they will usually email you a code to try and encourage you to complete the purchase!)

Printing other PDFs

The solution I've described here can in theory be used to print other PDFs as well, however Lulu cannot print PDFs that contain transparent images, and I'm not sure if it supports version 1.5 (which is what I usually use). In fact, my print-ready PDFs were deliberately generated with version 1.3 in order to remove any transparencies.

You'll also find PDFs designed for the screen usually have a lower resolution to keep their file size down (I typically go with 150 DPI), while those intended for printing are usually 300 DPI.

PDFs designed for the screen also lack a bleed area (meaning the pages will probably have a white border when printed), they may not have sufficient space for the gutter (the text may be very close to the spine), and the cover will be part of the PDF (meaning that the first page after the front cover will be another picture of the front cover).

That doesn't mean the results will be bad, but they won't be as good as they are when using a PDF that's been specifically designed for printing. I will describe how to configure a print-ready PDF in a future blog post.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Lulu: Print on Demand

Last month I ordered a softcover copy of Saga of the Goblin Horde from Lulu. Despite a few minor issues, I was very pleased with it (you can see the photos of it here). After resolving the issues with the PDF, I decided to order a hardcover, and today it finally arrived.

Overall the book looks really good, it feels solid, the paper is thick, and the colors have come out well. Once again there are some minor issues (described below), but in general I'm very happy with it.

I added a black border within the bleed area around the outside of the cover, as I didn't want to lose any of the picture, and the edges already fade into black. A wraparound cover with bleed would have been much nicer, obviously, but I still think it looks pretty good.

The name of the book is not quite aligned with the author name.

One of the corners was a bit scrunched up. The book was securely packed, but the box had clearly been treated quite roughly, so perhaps this was an issue with UPS.

It seems that if the numbers of pages isn't divisible by four, Lulu will add blank pages at the end. I guess I could have added some extra artwork, but that would have pushed the price up - and there would still be at least one blank page at the front and back because of the binding. So really, it's just one extra blank page at the end.

Lulu's hardcovers are 10.75" by 8.25" (rather than the usual 11" by 8.5"), so I had to prepare a separate PDF for the hardcover. The text is quite close to the gutter, but I don't think it's too bad. It's certainly readable.

The resized map looks good (the map in the previous softcover had some of the text labels chopped off, so this time I moved everything in from the edges).

I discovered with the softcover that I can't print transparent images. I worked around the issue by creating separate page backgrounds for the hot air balloon (pictured above) and the arcane gauntlet, instead of drawing a transparent image over the standard page background.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Using DriveThruRPG: One Month On

Last month I started offering Saga of the Goblin Horde through DriveThruRPG, as a way to build up interest in the setting, and establish a captive audience for my future publications. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what sort of reception it's received after the first month.

I uploaded the main Saga of the Goblin Horde setting book on 3rd November, and it went live on 6th November. I then uploaded Bone of Contention and Worm Food on the 8th, Root of the Problem on the 10th, the Archetypes on the 15th, Cold Spell on the 19th, Hot Water on the 21st, Egg Hunt on the 26th, and Can of Wyrms on the 28th. You can see the download numbers for November here:

It's worth noting Cold Spell was a new One Sheet I hadn't previously released, and I promoted it on Facebook, G+, Twitter, and the Pinnacle forums. The other PDFs had previously been available on my website, and I wasn't sure how many people didn't bother re-downloading them because they already had an earlier version, but from looking at the download figures for Cold Spell, it seems to be fairly comparable with the other One Sheets.

DriveThruRPG promoted the setting book and the archetypes as "Free Product of the Week" in two of their newsletters, and that definitely boosted the downloads for those two products.

The main setting book has 14 ratings (12 five-star and 2 four-star) and 8 written reviews (or 9, if you include the one someone wrote in the discussions section). None of the other products have any ratings or reviews.

In total I've attracted 1768 unique customers in the first month, of whom 1457 have consented to be emailed. I don't know how this compares to anyone else, or how many people are actually interested in the setting (as opposed to just downloading it because it's free), but I feel it's a good start.

Even though I'm not selling anything, I still receive 20 Publisher Promotion Points (PPP) per month, which I'm saving up to promote future products. I regret not signing up for a publisher account earlier; if I'd used DriveThruRPG from the start I'd have earned hundreds of PPP by now!